Open Culture — A mission to collect the content that is free and [arguably] the ‘best in class’

Up to this point, NSR’s Free Content Alerts column has focused almost exclusively on ebooks. Of course, though, the Internet is an expansive place and offers a seemingly endless variety of choices. Openculture.com attempts to partially fill the gap between ecollections and all the variety of other material that has been brought together across the Web. It describes itself this way: “Open Culture editor Dan Colman scours the web for the best educational media. He finds the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & movies you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between. Daily email updates about the site are available as well.” Continue reading Open Culture — A mission to collect the content that is free and [arguably] the ‘best in class’

The rise of the Indie Author in Libraries

This is the first article in an ongoing series that will examine every aspect of indie authorship and how developing relationships with indie authors and their communities can benefit both libraries and writers. We will explore why trusted names in the library business, such as Ingram, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal support indie authors. Likewise, we will look at the efforts of libraries—from huge Los Angeles Public Library to not-so -huge Williamson County, VA—on behalf of indie authors. We will examine the forces that have led to the rise of the indie author, and since NSR is about digital content in libraries, we will look closely at how the internet, the worldwide web, and ebooks are the technologies that have made indie publishing viable in a way that vanity publishing never was.

What is an Indie Author?

Let’s first try to understand what an indie author is, and why knowing something about what makes indie authors indie helps librarians understand how to work with them.

We all know how traditionally published authors work with their publishers, or at least we have a general idea. We know that the author is supported, and to some extent directed, by an editor or several editors. The editor may guide in the development of a manuscript, that is in developing characters and plot in fiction. The editor will assure that the manuscript receives thorough fact checking and vetting in nonfiction. Every manuscript will be copy edited. The cover will be designed and executed by a professional. The book will be typeset in a pleasing font and printed on book paper. The finished book, whether printed or digital, will truly be a finished product. Whether we care for the opinions expressed or the fantasies created within, we know that the book meets what we commonly call good editorial standards. Continue reading The rise of the Indie Author in Libraries

Key Issues Surrounding Ebook Purchasing in Academic Libraries

In an ongoing effort to cover the ebook market and its complexities, No Shelf Required has recently embarked on a mission to bring to light some of the pressing ebook issues faced by academic libraries today, clear up confusion where needed, and examine short-term and long-term benefits as well as drawbacks of the most prevalent purchasing methods and models. These are the three articles in the series so far.

Demand-Driven Acquisitions: Do Library Patrons Get What They Need?

“The last few years have seen a steady proliferation of business models used for selling and acquiring ebooks by libraries, each with a unique set of benefits and challenges, but no other model has held as much promise to give patrons what they needed—at the moment they needed it—as Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA), also known as Patron-Driven Acquisitions (PDA). This is because at its core, DDA places the user (the patron), not the librarian or the publisher, in the driver seat. For the first time in the history of institutional book buying, patrons decide, for a portion of titles, what the library collects, leaving publishers and vendors without the predictability they enjoyed for many decades before ebooks came around.”

Read full article here.


The Approval Plan: A Sorting Hat That Discovers the Right Books for the Right Libraries

“Has the Approval Plan stood the test of time, many now ask, as some libraries move away from buying to own to embrace the access-based services. Does the complex process of profiling (books and libraries), which stands at the core of Approval Plans, still make sense in the age of advanced technologies that track user activities in order to provide proof of what is needed without guess-work or prediction? Does the emphasis on thoughtful curation rather than on the immediate—and perhaps momentary—demand of the user put libraries at risk of developing collections that won’t be used?

Not only has the Approval Plan stood the test of time as a highly effective book buying tool—especially with the integration of ebooks—it has evolved with libraries consistently and to the point where it may not even be appropriate anymore to consider it a ‘traditional’ method. In fact, there are more Approval Plans running in academic libraries today than ever before. How is it possible, one wonders, that a method used to support buying scholarly books for over half a century continues to adapt so well to new technologies and not appear outdated?”

Read full article here.


Ebook Collections: What’s the Deal with Big Deals?

“If purchasing e-journals through big packages (so-called Big Deals) has become the norm, has it also become the norm with ebooks? What are the benefits of purchasing from aggregators as opposed to purchasing directly from publishers? What type of content do eCollections entail and how relevant is that content to today’s researchers? And what are some of the challenges faced by libraries purchasing eCollections? As we’ve seen with DDA and Approval Plans, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for any ebook model or any library—however big or small, affluent or modest—and the better we understand the possibilities afforded to libraries through packaged vs. title-by-title deals, the closer we get to an understanding that eCollections hold a significant place in ebook collection development and have, indeed, become a new version of ‘big deals’ in academic libraries.”

Read full article here.

Introducing Indies in the Library™: A new column on NSR

How does a library benefit from working with indie authors? Does working with indie authors help a library achieve its mission? How are indie authors different from vanity press authors and self-published authors? Does anyone want to read indie books, even if the library stocks them? What if they are ebooks? How does a library handle that? If a library wants to help indie authors, how can it do this? How do other libraries work with indie authors, and what can I learn from them? If I am an indie author, how can I work with libraries to further my cause?

If questions like these run through your mind, then the new NSR column Indies in the Library is for you.

The first article, The Rise of the Indie Author in Libraries, covers some surprising facts about indie authors and why librarians should take them seriously—such as that several of them have sold millions of copies of their books, and if your library cannot supply them, then your patrons will look elsewhere. Continue reading Introducing Indies in the Library™: A new column on NSR

Book of the Week: The Hunter: Awakening (Nicholas Arriaza)

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 Hunter: Awakening

Nicholas Arriaza has worked as a pizza maker, an electrician, a carpenter, a luxury home electronics salesman, and an owner operator of a successful luxury custom home theater design company. He is now a stay at home dad and fantasy writer. He lives with his wife, their infant son, and Pit-Bull Basil in Los Angeles, CA. THE HUNTER: AWAKENING is his first published novel. He is currently working on the second novel of the saga.

About BlueInk Review

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.

Scribd adds the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian

Content types in digital format continue to co-exist across platforms. Scribd just added major newspapers to its collection of ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines.

From a Scribd PR:

Scribd, the premiere digital reading subscription service that provides monthly access to the best books, audiobooks, magazines, and documents, is setting a new standard within the premium digital reading space with the addition of select articles from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian, as well as select archive content from the Financial Times. Scribd is further supercharging its news portfolio with the addition of articles from more than a dozen top-tier news brands including NPR and ProPublica.  

The expansion is tied to Scribd’s mission of helping readers become their most knowledgeable and informed selves. Scribd is debuting major platform enhancements led by an overall cosmetic redesign and enhanced recommendation tools designed to better showcase news articles alongside Scribd’s existing selection of books, audiobooks, and magazines. Continue reading Scribd adds the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian

Literacy Happens When….

Dated Fiction Meets Ironic Narration

Back in the mid-1960s, a magazine writer who had some working experience in law enforcement, some living experience in the nudist movement, and some floor experience in martial arts, began publishing a series of police procedural mysteries. The popularity of
author John Ball’s character Virgil Tibbs mushroomed with the excellent film adaption, in 1967, of the his first novel in the cycle (published 1965), In the Heat of the Night. Other film sequels followed and even a short-lived television show. As for Ball, he kept writing new cases for Tibbs (not the ones that appeared on screen adaptions of the main character after that first one), including six more novels and four short stories.

Ball was a white man from New York State via the Midwest; Tibbs was a black man transplanted to Pasadena, California, from the Old South. Several of the later novels in the cycle include both Asian and Asian American characters, cases related to locations in Asia, and storylines that rely on aspects of culture in Japan, Katmandu, and Singapore. An important character in the fourth novel in the series is a young woman of mixed Japanese and African American descent: she’s never met her father, who was stationed as an American soldier in her mother’s occupied postwar country. The second novel in the series is set in a nudist camp and, except for Tibbs, the main characters are white, a potentially fraught situation for investigator and suspects in mid-1960’s US, even in its California location. Ball’s storytelling addresses race, racism, racialism, and Tibbs’ own reflections on all of these matters directly, just as he does with gender. This made for provocative reading half a century ago. How does it all stand up to 21st century reception? Continue reading Literacy Happens When….

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to Henry Fonda, born in Grand Island, Nebraska, May 16, 1905. His mother, Elma, was friends with Dorothy Brando, mother of you know who and director of a local theater group, who suggested the shy Henry take an interest in theater (thank you, Mrs. Brando!).

He pursued a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota, but dropped out at headed east for theater work, starting in New England before landing Broadway jobs. In New York he roomed with Jimmy Stewart, who he already knew from back home.

Fonda was top shelf in so many films, but my favorites are his collaborations with John Ford: My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, and, especially, The Grapes of Wrath. The studio pushed for Tyrone Power to play Tom Joad, but Ford knew that Fonda was born to be Tom (thank you, Mr. Ford!).


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

Ebook Collections: What’s the deal with Big Deals?

In our analysis of the ebook buying methods in academic libraries, we’ve examined thus far the unexpected effects of Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA), a model that showed promise at its inception but eventually led librarians and publishers to question its long-term sustainability, and we’ve cleared up some confusion surrounding the Approval Plan and explained why it remains as effective for purchasing digital books as for print. If we take a closer look at these two tools for acquiring content—the former a radical departure from traditional curation-based methods of buying that places the user and his/her activity at the center of buying, and the latter a decades-old method that has stood the test of time and evolved to support new technology and new methods (including DDA)—we discover that they share one key feature: both are centered around ‘title-by-title’ purchasing. Both invite and encourage a focus on individual titles, which are ‘picked’ or ‘chosen’ for purchase either automatically based on a set of pre-determined parameters or based on usage.

This begs the question: what about the packaged collections? What about the collections of ebooks sold to libraries in bulk? What benefits and challenges await libraries choosing to bypass the process of selecting individual titles (at least to some degree, if not entirely) and welcome packaged deals? Has the availability of ebook collections (hereafter referred to as eCollections) enhanced and/or improved collection development practices in academic libraries? On the heels of recent announcements that some libraries across North America are canceling their Big Deal e-journal packages—citing inability to keep up with the rising cost of subscriptions and insufficient use of old journals that make up a large portion of those collections—it seems fitting and necessary to examine how eCollections perform as part of libraries’ acquisitions strategy in a rapidly changing ebook market. Continue reading Ebook Collections: What’s the deal with Big Deals?

New ALA webinar: Understanding Ebooks — The Challenges and the Possibilities

I am grateful for this opportunity and hope that we will bring each other to higher levels of thinking about what is possible with ebooks. MR

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  • Understanding Ebooks: The Challenges and the Possibilities
  • A 90-minute workshop
  • Thursday, May 25, 2017, 2:30 p.m. Eastern/1:30 p.m. Central/12:30 p.m. Mountain/11:30 a.m. Pacific

The popularity of ebooks exploded with the emergence of tablets and ereaders like the Kindle and has risen steadily ever since. For librarians, this growth has meant the development of a new area of service and content delivery. For the librarian who is new to ebooks and ereaders (as well as for a content creator new to digital publishing), this can be intimidating. Where do you start? How can you learn what you need to know to provide the services that your patrons expect?

In this new workshop, Mirela Roncevic, director of No Shelf Required, a well-known site on ebooks and econtent in libraries and beyond, will help you get started. Roncevic will cover ebooks from every angle, giving a practical overview of the ebook landscape that’s easy to follow no matter your experience working with ebooks or ebook vendors. Continue reading New ALA webinar: Understanding Ebooks — The Challenges and the Possibilities

Ebook Models in K-12 Libraries, Part 3—Choosing Ebook Platforms

This is the third in a series of  articles on ebook  models in K-12 or school libraries. The first article was about why school librarians would want to know about anything as abstract as an ebook business model (hint: knowing the basic models will help you choose the best products to meet your library’s goals). The second article examined the four basic models and boiled them down to their simplest levels. One treats ebooks like printed books. One treats ebooks like journal articles. One treats ebooks like books in a bookstore. One treats ebooks like shared resources. Today’s article will show how to use these basic concepts to select the best kinds of ebook products for your library.

Some issues to keep in mind

Before going further, let’s look at some of the issues that come with ebooks in school libraries. We want to have these in mind as we consider how to create a combination of products with different ebook business models. These issues involve three areas: the supplier’s platform and business model, assuring that the ebooks are used to support the educational goals of the school, and bridging the digital divide.

To begin with the platform and business model issues, we need to understand what an ebook platform is, and why it is important. We already know what a business model is and how the four kinds of business models affect school libraries. The platform is the specific technology that an ebook supplier uses to provide ebooks. It includes a web-based interface for student use. It may include apps that make the books readable on mobile devices. It will have an administrative interface or dashboard for you to use so you can control loan periods, track usage, etc. It may also have a teacher interface so that teachers can assign reading to students, and then monitor their progress. If you need to select and purchase individual ebooks before your students can read them, it will also include a book ordering function. In other words, the platform supports everything you, your students and your teachers do with ebooks. Without the platform, you cannot use the ebooks. Continue reading Ebook Models in K-12 Libraries, Part 3—Choosing Ebook Platforms

Book of the Week: The Recipe: Love Made Simple (Dr. Rick Blum)

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 Recipe: Love Made Simple

Dr. Rick Blum is a licensed psychologist in the state of Connecticut, enjoying a full-time psychotherapy practice.  For many years, Dr. Blum has been teaching others what his years of experience have taught him. The Recipe is his second book.

 

About BlueInk Review

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.

Dutch startup Sweek—a free reading and writing platform—welcomes 100,000th user

From a Sweek press release:

Sweek, a platform for free reading and writing, has welcomed its 100,000th user last week, since the official launch at the Frankfurt Book Fair seven months ago. Meanwhile, readers and writers from over 100 countries are already using Sweek. Both aspiring and top authors have joined Sweek, and traditional publishers are starting to use Sweek as a talent-scouting platform. Continue reading Dutch startup Sweek—a free reading and writing platform—welcomes 100,000th user

Digital Public Library of America Launching Ebook Pilot

This just in from DPLA:

This is the second in a series of updates about DPLA’s work to maximize access to ebooks. Check out the first post in this series introducing DPLA’s plans.

* * *

At DPLAfest this past April, the DPLA Board of Directors approved a plan to move forward with an ebook pilot aimed at improving access to a broad selection of open and licensed ebooks through market-based methods. We at DPLA are evaluating what we could potentially do from a community and technology perspective to help libraries maximize patron access to ebooks and other e-content. Through the pilot, set to launch in early fall, DPLA will manage technology solutions for 3-5 large public libraries and consortia.

First, some background: US libraries began providing ebooks through OverDrive in 2004. Since then, library ebooks have been provided through siloed, vertically integrated systems in which users can discover and borrow books from a given vendor only in that vendor’s website and apps. In 2012, a group of frustrated library leaders mobilized to form Readers First to fight for a better user experience for their patrons. This grassroots movement has advocated with some success for more open systems and empowered libraries to demand more from e-content vendors. These innovative, library-driven efforts have also led to multiple IMLS-funded grant projects moving us closer to the vision of a national digital platform. Continue reading Digital Public Library of America Launching Ebook Pilot

When Kids Listen Again and Again

Anyone who has shared books with a child aged between two and four has probably experienced the “read it again” syndrome. You just read it aloud—three times in one go  yesterday—and now it’s being thrust at you for another round, which will be followed immediately by a plea to read it another time right now, please. Of course, this kind of instant repeat wish didn’t spring to human evolution with the invention of the printing press or popular literacy; narrative “bathing” comes with maturing language acquisition whether it’s tell-me-that-story-again, recite-that-poem, or read it again.

Verbal repetition when a child is relatively new to language, is both exciting and soothing.[1]  Every repetition of the same text aloud provides the joy of recognition spiced with the curiously pleasant realization that some tiny, previously unheard nuance now strikes consciousness as well as the ear. Lindsay Patterson wrote last month of research conducted regarding podcasts for kids that opened up new insights on the attraction of repetitive listening by young children.[2] The sample surveyed giving rise to this preliminary research was small and details about it, so far, don’t include socioeconomic, gender, or ethnic demographic reference points. However, having a starting point is better than having none to push forward exploration of the power of listening to the development of children’s capacity to internalize information provided through language. Continue reading When Kids Listen Again and Again

The Four Basic Ebook Models for K-12 Libraries

This is the second article in a three-part series on ebook business models in K-12 libraries. In the first article, we looked at what a business model is and at the four main kinds of ebook business models that K-12 librarians need to know about. In this article, we will look at each of the four basic models in more depth and glance at some examples of them. We will not attempt to compare product offerings in depth, but I will mention an example or two of each model. Because ebook technology is still in its early stages, the platforms and feature sets of each offering change rapidly, so any comparison is bound to be a snapshot at best.

If there is enough interest in an up-to-date comparison, I may write a series of comparison articles after this series has been completed. In the third article, I will draw some conclusions and provide links to other articles on ebooks in K-12 libraries, including some in-depth comparisons. After reading the three articles, you will be able to see how any ebook offering is based on one or more of the four basic ebook business models. This will help you decide whether or not the offering will help your library achieve its goals.

As you read, keep in mind that ebooks are not simply digital versions of printed books. Legally, they are licensed as software, so when you buy an ebook you are buying a license to use a piece of software. You are not buying a physical object. You do not own it in the same way that you would own a printed book. Technologically, they are completely different, too. While they may look like pictures of books on the screen, under the skin they are software.

On the one hand, this brings some limitations, but at the same time, it is possible to use ebook technology to empower readers in ways that cannot be done with print technology. Continue reading The Four Basic Ebook Models for K-12 Libraries

Book of the Week: Love and Crime: Stories (V. S. Kemanis)

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:

Love and Crime: Stories

V.S. Kemanis is a California native who now makes New York her home. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law at Boulder. In her legal career she has been a criminal prosecutor for county and state agencies, argued criminal appeals for the prosecution and defense, conducted complex civil litigation, and worked for state appellate courts.  Her short fiction by  has been published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Crooked Road Volume 3, and several noted literary journals.


About BlueInk Review

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.

Library for All — not another ebook collection, but rather an idea

It has been a pleasure and an honor to write about various free ebook collections for the No Shelf Required community. I believe we share a number of commonalities about  reading and ways to make it more accessible apart from historical models  based on a buyer-customer relationship. The nine free e-collections I profiled thusfar have various models by which they operate, but all wish to disseminate information outside of  traditional methods.  And, to go a step further, I would be safe to assume that those of us who read NSR, share Mirela Roncevic’s passion to bypass the corporatized process by which print or electronic books are made available worldwide.  From our perspective, Mirela’s efforts to show that a country in its entirety can be a “Free Reading Zone” were not merely experimental, but could well be the leading edge of a future norm. Thus it is, dear readers, that, in my tenth post, I want to present you with not another collection, but rather an idea. Continue reading Library for All — not another ebook collection, but rather an idea

Own Voices

We Need Diverse Books (#WNDB) has gained energy and publisher awareness since its launch in 2014. The proportion of published kids’ books continues to skew below parity for those by and about people of color, varied gender and sexual identities, and specific disabilities, with the latter two broad spectra receiving less census taking and data analysis to date in the publishing world. However, inclusivity has become a publishing value, with more people now noticing that skew and more publishers and publishing gatekeepers are actively working to correct it. The efforts have been concentrated on print titles. While both titles for kids and visually read books desperately need this attention and change in publishing traditions, adult readership and readers who use their ears need increased and sustained inclusivity in publishing as well. Among these are reviewers, whose critical pronouncements on audio materials needs to include articulate and culturally competent attention to authentic inclusivity.

An essential element of moving publishing resources toward inclusiveness, again largely in the kids print market, is awareness of own voices, which has been building broader social media consciousness with the #OwnVoices hashtag. This effort draws attention to the need for justice in publishing: narratives from and about marginalized experiences and characters from authentic sources should be sought and supported. Those who live beyond and beside the empowered culture’s contours are the ones whose voices need to be heard. Inclusivity is necessary to all of us if we are to inhabit a cultural home that has windows, mirrors, and doors. Continue reading Own Voices

Portal on all aspects of ebooks and digital content and for all creating, reading, publishing, managing, curating, and distributing the written word and other content in digital format, including publishers, writers, editors, content developers, distributors, educators, librarians and information science professionals. With contributions from book and library professionals and thought leaders in the United States and around the world.