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    Nation's First Bookless Public Library Could Be in Texas →

    The library system, dubbed BiblioTech, proposes to make thousands of e-books available for county residents both online and at a 5,000-square-foot physical location on the South Side of the county, according to a statement issued by Bexar County officials. Visitors would be able to check out books to read on their own e-readers or tablets, or borrow one of the library’s 150 take-home e-readers.

    — 1 year ago with 5 notes
    #technology  #ebooks  #ereaders  #libraries  #books  #library 
    Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close →

    “A library has limited shelf space, so you almost have to think of it as a store, and stock it with the things that people want,” said Jason Kuhl, the executive director of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Renovations will turn part of the library’s first floor into an area resembling a bookshop that officials are calling the Marketplace, with cozy seating, vending machines and, above all, an abundance of best sellers.

    As librarians across the nation struggle with the task of redefining their roles and responsibilities in a digital age, many public libraries are seeing an opportunity to fill the void created by the loss of traditional bookstores. They are increasingly adapting their collections and services based on the demands of library patrons, whom they now call customers.

    Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grass-roots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries are determined to prove they can respond as quickly to the needs of the taxpayers as the police and fire department can.

    “I think public libraries used to seem intimidating to many people, but today, they are becoming much more user-friendly, and are no longer these big, impersonal mausoleums,” said Jeannette Woodward, a former librarian and author of “Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model.”

    — 1 year ago with 7 notes
    #libraries  #books  #ebooks  #library  #technology a crafty new way to resurrect lost classics → was set up in May to “unlock” hard-to-find titles and get them back into the hands of passionate readers. A Kickstarter for literary types, crowdsources appreciation for classic books, soliciting donations from superfans with the aim of acquiring the rights and releasing them as free ebooks. Its first success, Ruth Finnegan’s Oral Literature in Africa, an authoritative study unobtainable for many years, was released a couple of weeks ago, and is now available to anyone, for free, with a host of new updates including audio material. For its author, its new availability to an African audience is particularly gratifying: “It is wonderful to think that it will now be freely read in the very continent it discusses.”

    — 2 years ago with 8 notes
    #unglueit  #publishing  #ebooks  #out of print  #ereader  #classics  #rare books 
    But Is It a Book? →

    When he talks about bibliographic codes, Mr. Suarez means the elements that together make up the book as object. That includes paper stock, bindings, typeface, and illustrations. Just as important, he says, are the social codes embedded in a book. A Harlequin romance has cues built in that alert a reader to what it is. (Picture a bare-chested Fabio against a Scottish highlands backdrop.) A scholarly monograph announces itself through a different set of cues.

    “When you see a book in the airport, you know what it is and what it’s for,” Mr. Suarez says. Ditto a book in an academic bookstore, although the cues will be rather different. “There are social codes kind of signaling to you all the time,” he says.

    Those codes disappear, though, when a text escapes paper and becomes electronic. Put a bodice-ripper or a scholarly treatise on an e-reader and what remains is the text itself—what Mr. Suarez calls the linguistic codes of a book.

    That may be all a casual reader craves. Portable and able to hold many books at a time, e-readers can be great text-delivery systems. But they don’t hold the physicality, the history, the social context of a book. The packaging and reception of Moby-Dick “is part of the story” to a book historian like Mr. Suarez.

    “The problem with that is in English departments—that’s what we’ve been taught the book is,” he says. “It’s only the linguistic codes. ‘Call me Ishmael … and I alone survived to tell you.’ And that’s all there is.”

    To a book historian, though, “every book is an interpretation or theory about the embodiment of some ideas about who that author is, an embodiment of ideas about how the story should make its meaning,” he says. Try conveying that on a Kindle.

    — 2 years ago with 5 notes
    #book  #library  #rare books  #ebook  #ebooks 
    E-book Bargains: Is There a Heavier Price to Pay? →

    Publishers’ willingness to experiment makes a change from the insistence that price be determined by the effort that goes into producing something, and no doubt they’re enjoying the roaring sales. But by letting their ebooks practically be given away, they are complicit in eroding the value of their product. Macmillan’s CEO, John Sargent, recently warned that books are “in danger of becoming roadkill” in a digital war. It will be hard to tell who ran them over.

    — 2 years ago with 2 notes
    #ebooks  #ereader  #amazon  #publishing  #books  #reading  #sales 
    30 Clients Using Computer-Generated Stories Instead of Writers →

    Forbes has joined a group of 30 clients using Narrative Science software to write computer-generated stories.

    Here’s more about the program, used in one corner of Forbes‘ website: “Narrative Science has developed a technology solution that creates rich narrative content from data. Narratives are seamlessly created from structured data sources and can be fully customized to fit a customer’s voice, style and tone. Stories are created in multiple formats, including long form stories, headlines, Tweets and industry reports with graphical visualizations.”

    The New York Times revealed last year that trade publisher Hanley Wood and sports journalism site The Big Ten Network also use the tool. In all, 30 clients use the software–but Narrative Science did not disclose the complete client list.

    …The Narrative Science technology could potentially impact many corners of the writing trade. The company has a long list of stories they can computerize: sports stories, financial reports, real estate analyses, local community content, polling & elections, advertising campaign summaries sales & operations reports and market research.

    Here’s an excerpt from a Forbes earnings preview story about Barnes & Noble, written by the computer program:

    While company shares have dropped 17.2% over the last three months to close at $13.72 on February 15, 2012, Barnes & Noble (BKS) is hoping it can break the slide with solid third quarter results when it releases its earnings on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

    What to Expect: The Wall Street consensus is $1.01 per share, up 1% from a year ago when Barnes & Noble reported earnings of $1 per share.

    The consensus estimate is down from three months ago when it was $1.42, but is unchanged over the past month. Analysts are projecting a loss of $1.09 per share for the fiscal year.

    The company originated with two electrical engineering and computer science professors at Northwestern University. Here’s more about the company: “[It began with] a software program that automatically generates sports stories using commonly available information such as box scores and play-by-plays. The program was the result of a collaboration between McCormick and Medill School of Journalism.

To create the software, Hammond and Birnbaum and students working in McCormick’s Intelligent Information Lab created algorithms that use statistics from a game to write text that captures the overall dynamic of the game and highlights the key plays and players. Along with the text is an appropriate headline and a photo of what the program deems as the most important player in the game.”

    This, to me, is more game-changing for the publishing industry than all of the innovations in e-books and e-readers combined. Think of genres (like bodice rippers and some sci-fi or children’s books) could be written with some basic narrative inputs! Think of sports recaps or breaking news stories that could easily be generated with a few inputs! 

    I’m not saying this is ideal, because I can certainly see there would be a large margin of error with any program like this (not even touching on the whole job loss issue and fact that these stories would lose the “human” touch of writing and much personal opinion), but it’s interesting to see how programs like this will play out in the future.

    — 2 years ago with 13 notes
    #ebooks  #publishing  #gamechanging  #ereaders  #computer  #technology  #narrative  #news  #journalism 
    Can bells and whistles save the book? →

    Attempts to invigorate books with video and other digital bells and whistles keep bumping up against this fundamental problem: You can’t really pay much attention to anything else while you’re reading, so in order to play with any of these new features, you have to stop reading. If you’re enjoying what you’re reading, then the attentional tug of all these peripheral doodads is vaguely annoying, and if you’re not engaged by the story, they aren’t enough on their own to win you over.

    This article makes a great point. Given our already-scattered and very distracted reading/TV watching/web browsing, we really can’t stand to have yet another distraction to pull us away from a book or e-book’s main feature: the text.

    Has anyone else had similar issues with their “enhanced e-books”? 

    — 2 years ago with 7 notes
    #ebooks  #ereader  #reading  #distractions 
    Traditional books, dressed to kill… →

    The immediate future of the book is clear. E (electronic) is for easy; P (print) is for posterity. Book readers today are leading double lives. We are faithful to our libraries at home, but stray towards the delights of digital the moment we board a plane, train or automobile.

    The pleasures of E means downloading the new book we fancy, from reviews, word-of-mouth or plain curiosity. The satisfactions of P come from acquiring lovely print editions for our bookshelves. In due course, but not quite yet, the world’s writers and their agents will work out how fully to monetise this double market.

    One unintended consequence of this irreversible trend has been to give the hardback a new lease of life. If the ebook is all about ease, and short attention spans, the ink and paper book must satisfy not just the thrill of reading, but the deep aesthetic pleasure associated with owning, holding and even scenting a favourite text. Already, there are signs that some publishers have cottoned on to this.

    Not since the palmy days of late-Victorian publishing has so much care and attention been lavished on the hardback. Go into any bookshop now and you will find piles of brand-new hardbacks sporting coloured endpapers, scarlet silk bookmarks, heavy, deckle-edged paper and elaborate laminated boards. If Stevenson, Kipling or Conan Doyle were to wander into Waterstone’s today, they would feel quite at home. Selling to high-end readers, admittedly a smaller market, allows the publisher to charge £35, even £40, for the new edition destined for the library shelf…

    The e-publisher’s riposte to beautiful books has time and technology on its side. This is also the age of the book app. 2011 was a milestone year in lots of ways (Arab spring, death of Bin Laden, English cricket revival), but never more so than with Faber’s launch of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land as a book app.

    Even the most devout print-conscious bibliophile could hardly fail to be impressed by the possibilities of reading, and listening to, this great poem in many different formats, including two recordings by the poet himself. Agreed: this treatment works especially well with a long poem, but Jamie Oliver also understands, and is profiting from, the market for the book app.

    In every Darwinian struggle there must be a loser, an injured beast that slinks away into the undergrowth to die, alone and forgotten. Amid the celebrations for the brave new world of E, we should not forget that other kind of P, the trashy, mass market paperback. That’s where the future’s murky, and where the corporate publishers are really worrying.

    I agree with most of McCrum’s stance on the relationship between ebooks versus print books, but I would also add that the mass market paperback may be dying in print, but it is certainly surging in the ebook market.

    — 2 years ago with 8 notes
    #ebooks  #books  #publishing  #print books  #reading  #readers  #technology  #art 
    New Study Shows E-Textbooks Saved Many Students Only $1 →

    Despite the promise that digital textbooks can lead to huge cost savings for students, a new study at Daytona State College has found that many who tried e-textbooks saved only one dollar, compared with their counterparts who purchased traditional printed material.

    The study, conducted over four semesters, compared four different means of textbook distribution: traditional print purchase, print rental, e-textbook rental, and e-textbook rental with an e-reader device. It found that e-textbooks still face several hurdles as universities mull the switch to a digital textbook distribution model… Even students who adapted to the technology quickly sometimes struggled to open up the digital course materials during lectures. Wireless networks in classrooms where several students were using e-textbooks at once sometimes became overwhelmed, making access to publishers’ sites inconsistent. As a result of these hiccups, more than half of survey respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the e-textbooks.

    However, most said they would still be willing to try e-textbooks—if the price were right. Specifically, respondents said they would consider the switch as long as they could obtain their materials for $35 or less.

    — 2 years ago with 9 notes
    #books  #ebooks  #technology  #university  #education  #cost-savings 
    Selling Books by Their Gilded Covers →

    Even as more readers switch to the convenience of e-books, publishers are giving old-fashioned print books a makeover.

    Many new releases have design elements usually reserved for special occasions — deckle edges, colored endpapers, high-quality paper and exquisite jackets that push the creative boundaries of bookmaking. If e-books are about ease and expedience, the publishers reason, then print books need to be about physical beauty and the pleasures of owning, not just reading.

    “When people do beautiful books, they’re noticed more,” said Robert S. Miller, the publisher of Workman Publishing. “It’s like sending a thank-you note written on nice paper when we’re in an era of e-mail correspondence.”

    — 2 years ago with 5 notes
    #books  #ebooks  #reading  #publishing