Sunday, May 19, 2013

London light years

London in the UK is light years ahead of the rest of the world in encouraging ereading. Through the London Evening Standard, Barnes and Noble agreed to donate 1,000 Nooks to a charity (Beanstalk) and now major publishers are donating their books on those Nooks to make this cause — called Get London Reading — a success for schoolchildren. What a wonderful combination of collaborators — ereader-maker for the devices, newspaper for the promotion, and publishers for the content. It's a win—win-win for students. According to The Bookseller story: "Hachette UK, HarperCollins, Penguin and Random House have signed up to donate titles from bestselling children’s authors, including Michael Morpurgo’s A Medal for Leroy (HarperCollins) and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Penguin).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I went to see Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby on opening day. Oddly enough, my parents who are halfway across the country from me did the same exact thing, and we both had no idea until the next day. While comparing our experiences, we came to a couple of realizations. My dad noted that his movie theatre was packed, and he realized that every single person in the theatre had probably been forced required to read F. Scott Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby, in high school. Heck, I had to read it in high school and college (much more enjoyable read in college). So, you have to love Luhrmann's emphasis on "visual splendor" as puts it, as well the addition of his interpretation of what was really happening with Gatsby and Daisy between the lines. It's Luhrmann's creation inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald's book, "old sport".
The other realization we came to, is that Nick Carraway can be a great metaphor for where we are between the physical and digital world right now. Nick is a man who is both inside and outside everyone's world. He is not fully in Gatsby's new money world, nor is he in Daisy and Tom's old money world. Just like we are flirting with our love of the physical book, and enticed by the glamour and laid back style of the new digital world. What is going to happen?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bookless in San Antonio

I first blogged about a bookless library in San Antonio last January 17, 2013. Now it's getting closer. Bibliotech in Bexar County should be live in August, according to Goodereader. Update: "The publicly funded library has raised over $200,000 to finance its new digital library and will feature 48 computers, 300 e-readers, and three Discovery Terminals via 3M." This is a first in the world as far as I know.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Google's World Brain

I've often wondered how Google convinces libraries, such as Harvard, to allow the super-rich company to digitize books for free. Now I know. A new documentary "Google and the World Brain", which, by the way, is described by TechCrunch as a very anti-Google movie, explains: "They pitch it as a way to avert disasters like the burning of Alexandria or the flooding of Tulane University’s library during Hurricane Katrina." Of course, any librarian worth his or her salt would want to avoid a disaster. But authors, in particular the Author's Guild, have objected and asked the courts for $3 billion from Google for scanning copyrighted books. However the Guild settled for $125 million; but then a District Court judge dismissed the settlement. So we are unresolved. The bottom line to understand about all this is that Google is not interested in making books available for reading as much wanting to mine the data for all its worth.

Africa as in tiny

We've all seen people read novels on a tiny cellphone screen. Maybe we should realize that they obviously really wanted to read that title. That's called motivation and we often underestimate the value of motivation, or just plain need. So here comes Africa where cellphones are "a huge component of how consumption is happening," says Angela Wachuka, executive director of Kenya’s Kwani Trust, which publishes the popular Kwani? literary journal. Ms. Wachuka notes, in a Christian Science Monitor story, that she's seen Kenyans devour hundreds of pages of text on their tiny screens, plowing through tell-all memoirs and other accounts of the country's recent political turmoil. In the U.S. we are obsessed with the newest trend in e-reader devices (of which the newest is Microsoft buying Nook) as if the perfect device will render the perfect reading experience, as opposed to the perfect content rendering the perfect reading experience, the device be damned. Even here in the U.S. though things are changing: Microsoft, rumor has it, will use Nook to develop apps for somebody else's device. Mmmm.

Asia as in mobile

No surprise that when you look at ebook adoption in Asia it is mobile generated and not ereader-centric. Check out this report from Publishing Perspectives. that deals with Korea (see earlier post), Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. Korea -- meaning South Korea, of course -- clearly is the growth center, but to put things in perspective in those four countries ebook sales remain less than 2% of the local book market. I would summarize: Just as in the Western culture, there is not enough time for people to enjoy long-form blogging; in the East there are not enough devices for people to enjoy long-from anything.

library brouhaha

The controversial PEW report on libraries, has the information I deem most important: The report shows that parents are largely in support of expanding both e-book offerings (62 percent) and interactive experiences (54 percent). That information has just been ignored because of the so-called much larger brouhaha caused by whether libraries should focus on reading or other services to the community.