This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 85th birthday to Little Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia’s Pleasant Hill section December 5, 1932. One of rock ‘n’ roll’s inventors and certainly its most flamboyant founder—Richard was pioneering glam rock when David Bowie was still in high school. He influenced rockers as wide ranging as the Beatles to Patti Smith.


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Cengage’s new e-textbook subscription service seems reasonable, but the question lingers: Who needs textbooks anymore?

As reported by Inside Higher Ed (IHE) on December 5, 2018, Cengage has just introduced a Netflix-like subscription service giving students access to e-textbooks (in Cengage’s digital portfolio) for one set price, regardless of how many materials they use.

According to IHE, the new service, called Cengage Unlimited, “will give students access to more than 20,000 Cengage products across 70 disciplines and 675 course areas for $119.99 a semester. For 12 months’ access the price is $179.99, and for two years the price is $239.99. For students taking three or four courses a semester with assigned course materials from Cengage, the subscription could offer hundreds of dollars of savings a year, versus buying or renting the products individually.” [Read the full article here.]

As stated on Cengage’s site, this is “the first-of-its-kind digital subscription that gives students total and on-demand access  to all the digital learning platforms, ebooks, online homework and study tools Cengage has to offer – in one place.”

For added context, over 2,000 institutions in the United States reportedly assign Cengage materials in more than 10 courses; some 1,400 institutions assign Cengage materials in more than 20 courses; and some 600 institutions assign Cengage materials in more than 50 courses.

Given these numbers and given the steep price of educational materials, a Netflix-like subscription for course materials sounds logical. But, as Nate Hoffelder points out in The Digital Reader, it really comes down to how many textbooks students need a year.

Speaking of ‘use,’ I’m using this opportunity to put the spotlight (back) on the utility of digital textbooks in an age of interactive learning and massive amounts of (quality, reliable) educational information available freely on any given subject all over the Internet. Questions arise (in my mind, at least): Continue reading Cengage’s new e-textbook subscription service seems reasonable, but the question lingers: Who needs textbooks anymore?

Book of the Week: Eagles and Hawks and Also People as Well (Frank Marcopolos)

In an effort to draw attention to quality self-published literature and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week, including a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. This week’s pick:


Eagles and Hawks and Also People as Well

A young man with the weight of the world resting on his shoulders is the focus of the excellent novel Eagles and Hawks and Also People as Well by veteran author Frank Marcopolos.

Enzo Prinziatta’s father has died unexpectedly, his girlfriend is pregnant, and he’s trying to decide whether to pursue his dream of playing major league baseball or to settle down and quietly raise his new family in his home town of New Paltz, New York. Continue reading Book of the Week: Eagles and Hawks and Also People as Well (Frank Marcopolos)

Papers of Florence Nightingale now digitized using Handwritten Text Recognition technology

From Adam Matthew:

Medical Services and Warfare, 1850-1927, the latest primary source collection from Adam Matthew Digital, has transformed access to the personal and professional writings of Florence Nightingale with exclusive Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR). The HTR technology allows these handwritten papers to be fully searchable for the first time.

“[HTR] is going to transform scholarship and the types of questions researchers can ask,” commented Dr Patrick Spero, Director, American Philosophical Society Library, explaining the impact of HTR. “The technology has tremendous potential.”

Along with the Nightingale Papers, thousands of digitized documents from prestigious archives will give students and scholars first-hand knowledge of the development of medical practice as influenced by the wars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Continue reading Papers of Florence Nightingale now digitized using Handwritten Text Recognition technology

This Library Wants Every Book—Including Indies: The Internet Archive’s Open Library Project

What kind of a library would have a totally open collection development policy? If it’s a book, they want it. If it’s a political ad on TV, they want it. If it’s a sound recording—you guessed it—they want it. It’s the Internet Archive. It wants to preserve digital copies of everything and then share them with the world through its Open Library project.

Mirela Roncevic, Director of No Shelf Required, and I have begun work on a book about cutting edge ebook projects and trends. ALA Editions will publish it in the fall of 2018. As part of my research, I am learning about the Internet Archive and their Open Library Project. The forthcoming book will contain a detailed description of the project, including an analysis of the legal issues surrounding scanning and lending copies of books. Mary Minow, the leading authority on library law, will author the chapter. Today’s article will focus on how indie authors can benefit from the Internet Archive and Open Library.

Before diving into the Internet Archive and the Open Library Project, let’s ask ourselves some questions about the value of books and other cultural expressions. If you are an indie author, you may have already asked yourself these questions. Continue reading This Library Wants Every Book—Including Indies: The Internet Archive’s Open Library Project

AudioFile Magazine Names Best Nonfiction & Culture Audiobooks 2017

This is the season when “best” lists bloom like gardens in spring and understanding who declares a publication as best of the year is the first step to deciding why that declaration deserves what amount of attention. Since AudioFile Magazine is the only publication that has been reviewing audiobooks only, and for 25 years, the accumulated experiences of their editors and reviewers puts them in the lead for a demonstrated capacity to judge the best from a year’s output of new audiobooks. AudioFile’s reviews concern themselves with the specifically audio format of the presentation: narration quality, suitability of the written work to audio performance, and directional and engineering attention during the publication process.

This year’s list of more than 100 best audiobooks is divided into topical areas, with Nonfiction and Culture audiobooks accounting for 11 titles on the full list. From the mathematical and molecular delights in the history of CAESAR’S LAST BREATH, written by Sam Kean and read by Ben Sullivan, through the all-the-rage Danish cosy movement discussed in THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE, written and read by Meik Wiking, to the fascination with language shared in WORD BY WORD, written and read by Kory Stamper, this category of Best Audiobooks offers delight for the omnivorous autodidact as well as for listeners seeking comfort or advice. There’s comedy in Paula Poundstone reading her own THE TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC STUDY OF THE SEARCH FOR HUMAN HAPPINESS. Contemproary racial bias in policing is examined in journalist Matt Taibbi’s I CAN’T BREATHE, read by Dominic Hoffman. Personal and professional development take center stage in OWN IT by Sallie Krawcheck, read by Ellen Archer, and FINISH written and read by Jon Acuff. Continue reading AudioFile Magazine Names Best Nonfiction & Culture Audiobooks 2017

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 75th birthday to Jimi Hendrix, born November 27, 1942, in Seattle, WA. His first name actually was John, but his father, James, later changed it to match his own.

Jimmy enlisted in the army in 1961, serving with the 101st airborne “Screaming Eagles.” By 1965 he was a popular session guitarist playing for the leading black stars from Little Richard to Ike and Tina before becoming a headliner.

Alas, Jimi overdosed when he was only 27.


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With the recent addition of Florida’s collections, Digital Public Library of America now comprises 18 million resources

From DPLA:

We are pleased to announce that over 74,000 new materials from Florida’s Sunshine State Digital Network (SSDN) are now discoverable in DPLA. Please join us in welcoming SSDN partners Florida State University, University of Miami, and Florida International University to the DPLA network.

With this new content, DPLA now makes over 18 million resources available to all, but it’s not about the numbers for us. Each new partner, institution, and collection added to DPLA means we expand the network of people, communities, and stories that we represent and can share with you, our community. Newly added collections from Sunshine State Digital Network provide rich content documenting Florida’s unique culture, landscape, and people, as well as materials that represent and reflect our shared national heritage. Continue reading With the recent addition of Florida’s collections, Digital Public Library of America now comprises 18 million resources

[Re]introducing the Freda app: DRM-free public domain titles in ePub format

Have you heard of the Freda (short for ‘Free Reader’) app? It is a free ebook reading app that allows users to read free ebooks and other content in epub format, but it can also read books in FB2, TXT and HTML formats.  The app is free but ad-supported, in the form of a single banner ad from the app’s home screen, which can be removed with a $1.99 in-app purchase.

Users can use Freda to read non-DRM epubs on any Windows platform and, as of last week, the app is also available for Android devices (in beta version). Freda comes with a number of classic public domain titles displayed on the homescreen and it includes links to several online sources, including, among others, Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks and Smashwords, where users go to select free ebooks to download them into their app collection.

In addition to being able to pull books from other web sites, the app can also access books on DropBox, SkyeDrive and removable storage cards.

This is how Chris Meadows described the app in a Teleread review published last year: “the real magic of Freda comes from the reading interface, because it has a clean interface, excellent layout control, and literally the most expansive reading options screen I’ve ever seen on any e-reader application. In a new Teleread post last week, David Rothman sheds light on some new features. Read it here here.

Clearly, the app is being developed slowly, with a great deal of feedback from users, and it continues to improve its functionalities.

Book of the Week: Detached (Tanner Lutheran)

In an effort to draw attention to quality self-published literature and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week, including a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. This week’s pick:

Detached

Though his stories are fictional, Lutheran tends to use pivotal real-life experiences as cornerstones in his work. In his newest piece, Detached, he writes as if the roles were reversed and he is no longer the victim of an accidental tragedy from his childhood, but rather the culprit. Lutheran grew up on the coast of North Carolina, where he became passionate about writing at a young age in his seventh-grade creative writing class.

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Califa forms ongoing agreement to bring Total Boox to California libraries

Total Boox, the ebook service that offers unlimited simultaneous access while minimizing cost with payment based on actual reading, and the Califa Library Group, the consortium of California public libraries, have announced that Califa will continue reselling the Total Boox service to its members following the conclusion of a pilot period. Califa members will receive a discount on Total Boox, making it even more affordable to them.

Total Boox provides a collection of nearly 100,000 titles from reputable publishers, and libraries pay only for actual reading that their patrons do. This allows the library to expand its ebook collection from bestsellers-only to cover many areas of nonfiction and specialized fiction that it normally cannot provide. Continue reading Califa forms ongoing agreement to bring Total Boox to California libraries

#GivingThanks for Digital Audiobooks

In the opening scene of the new and Sacramento-hatred-drenched movie Lady Bird, the title character and her mother are listening to the closing 30 seconds or so of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath while driving on an August hot highway. They each shed a tear as the audiobook ends and then teenaged Lady Bird pops the cassette—the final of about 20—from the car player and back into its rigid, made-to-crack plastic shell. It’s 2002 and this is how most listeners handle audiobooks. Continue reading #GivingThanks for Digital Audiobooks

Free trial access to Adam Matthew’s Literary Print Culture granted to NSR readers through January 12th

Recently Adam Matthew announced the publication of its latest collection, Literary Print Culture: The Stationers’ Company Archive. NSR originally reported on it in late September. Widely regarded as one of the most important sources for the history of the book, publishing and copyright, the archive of The Worshipful Company of Stationers & Newspaper Makers is now available for research via this digital archive.

Adam Matthew is now offering free public access to the archive through January 12, 2018 for No Shelf Required readers. Here are access details:

Libraries and other institutions interested in subscribing may contact publisher for pricing details. Generally, pricing is based on FTE, purchase history, and Carnegie Classification.

Book of the Week: The Trumpets of Jericho (J. Michael Dolan)

In an effort to draw attention to quality self-published literature and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week, including a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. This week’s pick:

The Trumpets of Jericho: A Novel

“If any four things could be said to characterize not only my outlook on life but my writing, they’d be my hatred of hypocrisy, meanness for meanness’ sake, blind obedience to authority, and cowardice in the face of injustice. I like to think of my novel, The Trumpets of Jericho, as a story so larger than life, so human, that once read it will become a permanent part of you. I live by myself just east of Austin, Texas, a magnet of a city for the freethinking young, or in my case, the young at heart.”

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Listening to Speak Well

November 19th marked the 154th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln delivering his Gettysburg Address, an event that, of course, was not recorded by any mechanical means. However, because of its brevity, powerful prosody, and stark imagery, it continues to live not just as a document but also as script for oral performance.

The flip side of listening to read is listening to learn how to speak, and listening to stellar deliveries of careful language choices to learn to speak well, compellingly, and clearly in terms of conceptual communication. Without practiced listening skills, speakers lag in oral communication skills, a situation that can lead to frustration, alienation, and exclusion from power.

While the writing of Presidential speeches has evolved over time to comport more popular styles of grammar, phrasing and word choices, how we experience them has also changed. We tend to read them in full and listen to only moments of the whole. Often that listening, truncated as it is, also comes via video and thus invites visual appraisal of postures, faces, and other details beyond the spoken words. Except for those who elect to join forensics teams or involve themselves in school drama departments, young students now rarely, and most never, have the opportunity to experience delivering speeches or master communication intended to be heard (beyond music).

After millennia of human ideas and ideals being shaped aloud, are we now in the Age of Unspeaking?

The world’s first virtual reality book series launches exclusively at Walmart

Reading continues to evolve right before our eyes. We saw this coming, and now it’s arrived. A children’s book series which combines traditional print with AR and VR to drive engagement and to ultimately get today’s young readers to read in ways native to them (not us). This means using technology to bring literature to them  with a whole new approach.–Ed.

From Quantum Storey Company, Inc.

An exciting new children’s publishing venture is launching exclusively today at Walmart that will combine the tradition of illustrated printed books with the dynamic, self-directed action of virtual reality. The Quantum Storey Company, publisher of the disruptive, new book series, Operation YOU®, which insightfully addresses the highs and lows of growing up today, is hitting the shelves exclusively at Walmart, reaching millions of families in time for the holiday season.

Blending “old school” and new, Quantum Storey’s new category of Virtual Reality Books have the potential to transform both the publishing and nascent augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) content markets.

Watch promotional video here.

Continue reading The world’s first virtual reality book series launches exclusively at Walmart

No Shelf Required founder Sue Polanka gets an award for contribution to academic libraries in Ohio

Sue Polanka

It is such a pleasure to publish a post here on NSR about our very own Sue Polanka, the academic librarian from Wright State University (OH), who has been instrumental in transforming the coverage of ebooks in libraries and who, in fact, founded and launched No Shelf Required almost (hard to believe) ten years ago. The blog quickly became THE site on all things ebooks for librarians of all walks of life: public, school, and academic.

As noted on WSU’s site, Sue was honored by her peers for her contributions to the university and with academic libraries in Ohio. She received the Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award from the Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO) at its annual conference on Oct. 27 in Columbus.

The award recognizes an individual who has promoted academic libraries and librarianship around Ohio and who has provided leadership in the promotion of the association through service, including committee membership, executive board office or interest group office.

“No one wins these awards alone. I couldn’t have accomplished all I have without the support of my colleagues at Wright State and so many talented librarians across Ohio and beyond,” Sue said.

An expert on ebooks, Polanka is the editor of several books and publications on ebooks including “No Shelf Required: E-books in Libraries,” “No Shelf Required II: The Use and Management of Electronic Books” and “E-Content in Libraries: Marketplace Perspectives.” She was also a columnist for EBook Buzz in Online Magazine and Off The Shelf in Booklist. She was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2011.

I had the privilege of collaborating with Sue many times and on several projects over the years (we edited a book together, worked on a quarterly journal together, etc.) and I consider her one of the most knowledgeable librarians around. I also consider her a dear friend.

It is an absolute honor to carry on the mission of No Shelf Required (which she entrusted me with two years ago) and to be part of its story.

Sue, congratulations. Well deserved.

Two million open access nature illustrations available on Flickr via Biodiversity Heritage Library

From Open Culture:

“The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), an ‘open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives,’ has for many years been making it easy for people to connect to nature through nature writing and illustration. In 2012, they announced the “success story” of their Flickr streams, both containing thousands of illustrations and photographs uploaded by the BHL staff and readers from their huge collections of books.

The first stream, currently at 122,281 images, has been carefully curated, and includes searchable galleries and albums divided by book title or subject…The second stream, consisting of over 2 million images, is a massive grab-bag of photos, illustrations from nature, advertisements, and imaginative renderings.”

Read the full article here.


More about BHL, as noted on its web site:

“The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, rights holders, and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage is made available to a global audience through open access principles. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, the BHL has digitized millions of pages of taxonomic literature, representing over 120,000 titles and over 200,000 volumes.”

Spain will be the Guest of Honor at 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurter Buchmesse and Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, in the presence of the Spanish Publishers Association, have signed a joint memorandum of understanding to prepare for Spain’s participation as Guest of Honour at the Frankurter Buchmesse (20-24 October 2021). This means Spain will be Guest of Honour in Frankfurt exactly 30 years since it was last present in this role. Spain’s most widely read and important contemporary authors include Fernando Aramburu, Dolores Redondo, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Javier Marías, Almudena Grandes and Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Some 500 million people speak Spanish, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

The partners describe Spain’s appearance as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse as an excellent opportunity to showcase the developments and trends in Spanish culture in recent decades and to present Spanish literature and authors to an international audience. Another goal of Spain’s participation is to create an international network for the Spanish creative and cultural industries. Continue reading Spain will be the Guest of Honor at 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair

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