The Natural Listening Literacy Diet

Mark Schatzker’s popular science book, The Dorito Effect (audiobook edition read by Chris Patton for Dreamscape Media, 2015) delves into the industrial hijacking of our concepts of natural flavors. This has been the order of the modern American food chain in an effort to expedite a shorter cycle of both plant and animal life from birth to table, increase shelf life of prepared foodstuffs, and tease taste buds with dramatic sensations that encourage more snacking. In short, the modern favor cupboard relies on predictability in exposure: every bag of salt and vinegar crisps will offer uniform tang and crunch. And that disposition isn’t reserved only for the foods our bodies both need and crave. We’ve put too many minds on market-assured nutrient replacement literacy diets as well.

Instead of encouraging true experimentation with narratives written by artists and researchers for the joy and engagement of discovery, we line up the fortified tan-tinted bread of leveled readers and roll our eyes if a reading child develops a prurient taste for stories in which the juvenile characters don’t show respect for their fictional parents or prefer listening to page-gazing. In short, the acquisition of literacy too frequently devolves into measuring how many 2-ounce bags of cheese powder-flavored chips a new reader can hack with a single bottle of orange-essence-scented fizzy water. This is truly junk reading; escapism called junk reading, on the other hand, might just as often be venison or creek-caught crawdads swallowed illicitly but to the tune of collecting really-o, truly-o unfarmed protein. Continue reading The Natural Listening Literacy Diet

How enormous is Sci-Hub? And does its size signal the end of paywalled research?

According to biodata scientist Daniel Himmelstein (University of Pennsylvania ) and his colleagues, who recently conducted a survey that investigated the impact of the web site and its repository, “Sci-Hub can instantly provide access to more than two-thirds of all scholarly articles.  The self-proclaimed “first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers” (as stated on its homepage)  continues to grow rapidly while still facing legal issues.

Himmelstein’s study (published on July 20th on PeerJ Preprints) found that Sci-Hub’s reach is even greater for research papers protected by a paywall (instant access is provided for 85 percent of all papers published in subscription journals). In a conversation with ScienceInsider, Himmelstein said that the results of the study could mark ‘the beginning of the end” for paywalled research.

When asked if librarians would ever endorse Sci-Hub over paying for journal access, Himmelstein said: “I don’t think librarians would ever endorse it, given the legal issues of instructing someone to do something illegal. But in a way they already do. There are many libraries nowadays that can’t provide 100% access to the scholarly literature.”

When asked if there was anything publishers could do to stop new papers from being added to Sci-Hub, he said: “There are things they could do but they can really backfire terribly. The issue is, the more protective the publishers are, the more difficult they make legitimate access, and that could drive people to use Sci-Hub.”

Indies Unlimited, a one-stop source of reliable information for indie authors

You’re sitting behind the Reference Desk or maybe trying to slip unnoticed through the stacks on your way to a staff meeting, when an elderly lady or gentleman quietly asks for help.

“I am trying to write my memoir. I’m a retired (doctor, lawyer, construction worker—you know the drill, so fill in the blank) and I want to write the story of my life. But I’m stuck. I thought it would be easy. After all, I lived it. But now I see I don’t know much about writing, much less about getting published. I just spent $4000 with a company that was supposed to help me with the writing and then print the book, but all they did was type up my notes and print them on cheap paper with a shoddy cover that didn’t even show the photo I sent them for it. Now, what do I do?”

In your mind, the question is not only what does your patron do, but what do you do? The patron doesn’t need a referral to a long list of resources that might or not be of help, much of which is appropriate for published indies but not for novices. He or she needs direction to a reliable, trustworthy resource that is written for someone in his situation—the beginning, unpublished author. Continue reading Indies Unlimited, a one-stop source of reliable information for indie authors

Book of the week: Reflections on Mortality (Robert B. Brooks & B. Glenn Wilkerson)

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:

Reflections on Mortality: Insights into Meaningful Living

Robert B. Brooks, PhD, is the former director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School (part-time). He has lectured nationally and internationally and written extensively about different psychological themes, especially resilience across the lifespan. B.

Glenn Wilkerson, DMin, is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities in elevating social/emotional health and creating positive self-concepts in children. He is the author of the nationally acclaimed ARK (Adults Relating to Kids) Program, incorporating best practices in parenting and teaching.

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.

Audiobook Reviewing in Communities of Affinity

Among readers and collection developers both, there is a contemporary argument ongoing focused on how criticism—not in the popular meaning of negativity but in the academic sense of analytical—belongs or is even necessary to potential readers. With fiction, literary as well as genres written for quick consumption, much trust seems to be placed in large publishing houses’ editorial and marketing departments identifying need-to-read titles. That this might be healthy in the longterm cultural accretion diet seems debatable: small, less moneyed voices are silenced; reading interests and tastes that hue away from the demographics of those editorial teams; reviewers—both professional and amateur—find plenty to keep them busy in the main hall without exploring the potentially better furnished chambers.

It’s a bit like the contemporary American food chain: more than enough to stave off hunger and even maintain energy and general health, albeit at the expense of taste, flexibility, and longterm threats to wellbeing of both ourselves and the planet. This isn’t a screed calling for elite snobbery among reviewers (or publishers); it is a call to amateur and professional reviewers alike to consider more deeply than simply tendering personal feelings about the reading they’ve consumed. Audiobook reviews long on blurbifying the print book’s reviews, or recapitulating the narrative content, perhaps with a one-line aside deeming the narration “great” or “not so good” aren’t audiobook reviews really. Saying they are simply doesn’t make them so. Continue reading Audiobook Reviewing in Communities of Affinity

Children’s Books Online: The Rosetta Project — the largest collection of illustrated antique books online

The 10 collections of online sites available to readers for free downloading and reading that we have considered over the past months have almost exclusively focused on books for adults. A number of these sites do include a section for children. However, some sites are devoted exclusively to children’s books, such as Children’s Books Online (CBO), and those books mostly done in a classic time for such writing: between 1880 and 1930.

CBO describes itself in the briefest of terms: It is a library of illustrated books begun in 1996 by just one person with a handful of books. Today it is a volunteer-driven organization of almost 100 residing throughout the world (see long list o volunteers here) who assist in website development and maintenance, and translating many of the titles into a variety of languages. The extent of the collection is not given but I would estimate several thousand volumes have been digitized. Each page of a book is downloadable as a jpg file. Books can be accessed by chapter and even image.

Titles are indexed by age, interest and reading levels, which are categorized from Pre-Reader to Adult.  In addition, downloads (as zip files) of almost 500 titles are available for purchase. CBO relies on donations and grants for this work.  The collection is certainly unique in presenting what many children’s literature specialists consider the Golden Age of the genre.

Navigating Research: OUP’s whitepaper explores how users view and use reference sources

As stated in the summary of OUP’s newly released whitepaper titled Navigating Research, “this study explores users’ and librarians’ perspectives on the role of reference resources in research and teaching in today’s academic institutions. It examines how users seek contextual information and guidance for areas of scholarship as they conduct research, and how reference resources can support their work.”

Key findings include, among others:

  • recognition of ‘reference’ as a specific category is declining and users are not likely to identify ‘reference resources as those belonging to a distinct category
  • research needs of today’s researchers are moving away from basic factual information and terminology (for which free online sources are used)
  • resources offering guidance to a field of study retain appeal as a ‘bridge between introductory materials and specialized research publications”
  • resources offering guidance to a field of study are also used to support work in interdisciplinary fields
  • use of reference sources relies on their visibility and discoverability; this is likely to remain a challenge for publishers, librarians, and researchers

The whitepaper comprises three strands:

  • a review of existing literature
  • qualitative interviews with 16 librarians and 18 users (faculty and students)
  • a survey of 164 librarians

The full whitepaper may be downloaded here.

Book of the week: Swarm (Guy Garcia)

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:

Swarm

Guy Garcia is a journalist, novelist and multimedia entrepreneur who specialzes in multiculturalconsumerism and socio-economic trends.  His work has been featured in Time, the New York Times, LA Times, Fortune, and Rolling Stone.  He is from Los Angeles, California.

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.

Oral History, Aural Culture

Audiobooks offer access to the distant history of human artistic expression through technology, an ironic fact that flies in the face of print purists. Before ebooks, there were print books, and before that manuscripts, tablets…and oral tradition. Audiobooks can give us back that visceral discovery of a bigger culture beyond our family’s home and our neighbors’ conversations that oral storytelling first provided.

To regain the experience of pre-literate narrative, not any performance available in recording will do. Here, the issues of pacing and tone need to be sensitive to delivering a work as though the audience cannot encounter it in print. Given the reality that such audios, made now, offer the original works in new languages (modern English, for example!), care to emulate storytelling rather than book-reading is required to keep the listener engaged as much as possible as would audiences of millennia back. Continue reading Oral History, Aural Culture

This week in Literature and Arts

July 12, 1946: The Adventures of Sam Spade debuts on radio. The program ran until the early 1950s, jumping from ABC to NBC and finishing its run at CBS (more than 200 episodes all together). Howard Duff initially played Spade, but other actors assumed the role on the various networks.

Creator Dashiell Hammett’s name apparently was dropped from the credits when he was suspected of being a closet commie (how utterly ridiculous does this sound now?).


July 16, 1951: Little Brown publishes The Catcher in the Rye.

If Holden still were around today would he be on Facebook, would he tweet selfies, or would he think it was all phony?

 

 


Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.

The [powerful] connection between digitalization, creativity and society

An interesting discussion is taking place in the Frankfurt Book Fair circles. This press release hints at the opportunities afforded to society through digitalization, To understand it fully, it helps to understand what THE ARTS+ is about.  It is “a fair, business festival and international meeting place for the culture and creative industries,” which launched in October 2016 during the Frankfurt Book Fair and will return in October 2017.

The goal is to exploit the potential of digitalization for creative content and to develop new business areas. International artists, opinion leaders and experts will present at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair innovative approaches from the fields of publishing, museums, architecture and design, brands and agencies.

Publishing professionals and librarians can draw inspiration from such discussions as they may lead them in the direction of new partnerships, collaborations, and initiatives with ebooks and econtent, particularly (but not limited to) those promoting visual arts. Continue reading The [powerful] connection between digitalization, creativity and society

Follett and EveryLibrary partner to advocate for K-12 Libraries

The focus of this new partnership between Follett (the largest provider of educational materials and technology solutions to PreK-12 libraries, classrooms, learning centers and school districts in the United States) and EveryLibrary (a 501c4 political action committee dedicated to building voter support for libraries) is to “return librarians to schools and expand funding equitably in districts.” Full press release below:

Follett announced today it is intensifying its support of K-12 school libraries and librarians by partnering with EveryLibrary, a Chicago-based political action committee dedicated to advocating for libraries and librarians at the state level. The Follett-EveryLibrary partnership will initially focus its work with school library associations in six states: Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, and Mississippi.

Though each state effort will be different, according to EveryLibrary’s John Chrastka, the goals will be similarly focused to bring back school librarians to schools and expand funding equitably across schools and districts. Chrastka explained Follett’s support of the initiative will allow EveryLibrary to execute targeted outreach and activism in the targeted states, and help bring attention to pending bills in state legislatures, such as Pennsylvania and Nevada, which are calling for more librarians in each school. Continue reading Follett and EveryLibrary partner to advocate for K-12 Libraries

Book of the Week: The Last Train to Tokyo (Michael Pronko)

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 Last Train: A Tokyo Mystery

Michael Pronko I lives with his wife in Tokyo and works as a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University. He has published three award-winning collections of essays and is a regular contributor of  columns for The Japan Times, Newsweek Japan, Jazznin, ST Shukan, Jazz Colo[u]rs, and Artscape Japan.

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.

Great to see major publishers embrace alternative ebook models in public libraries, but let’s give credit where credit is due

This month, libraries across North America that work with hoopla digital will be able to provide access to some 15,000 (backlist) titles by HarperCollins, one of the ‘big five’ publishers that have resisted working with non-traditional ebook business models and adhered to the one-copy-one-user approach, resulting in less-than-ideal user experience for public library patrons. The news came the day before the official launch of the American Library Association conference in late June (see original press release here) and has already received ample coverage, much of which has revolved around statements that with this move HarperCollins was changing the game, breaking new ground, and giving libraries something exciting to look forward to.

While HarperCollins deserves credit for being the first of the Big Five (others include Penguin Random, Macmillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster) to go a step beyond the restrictive one copy-one user model (it was also the first to provide ebooks to libraries when others weren’t ready), HarperCollins isn’t the first publisher to embrace alternative models and certainly isn’t the one that is breaking new ground with this move. In fact, as many already know, hoopla has offered the cost-per-circulation model (which pays publishers per ‘loan’ instead of paying fixed fees to acquire titles) for a few years.

What’s more, other companies and other players in the ebook market have even gone beyond this model (e.g., Total Boox, Odilo) to provide instant, simultaneous access to ebooks in libraries and beyond. The fact that this move by HarperCollins is leading so many to call it game-changing is on some level a testament to how our industry (including publishers and libraries) views and values change and innovation. We often center our sentiments on what the most powerful do. Continue reading Great to see major publishers embrace alternative ebook models in public libraries, but let’s give credit where credit is due

Able Listening

Literature from every age has reflected fact and fantasy about a variety of human conditions named, in contemporary terms, disabilities. Chief among these across genres as well as time are emotional and intellectual disorders ranging from the madness in the sailors evoked by the Sirens’ song (Homer) through the curtailed capacity of Lennie Small (John Steinbeck) to the currently news-grabbing Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher). Physical incapacities that inhibit movement are also pan-historical narrative staples: the Mali epic of Sundiata, Shakespeare’s Richard III, and the quintessentially Victorian Little Lame Prince (Dinah Craik) are but three extraordinarily tall trees in a forest of works where character movements are disabled.

Some recent youth fiction in which characters live with blindness, communication-inhibiting stuttering, and mutism have been recorded with care and talent that offer listeners more than the distinctive clarity each author evokes in these particularly challenged characters. Because listeners meet these worlds with ears instead of eyes, the language used to create and sustain storytelling in which such capacity differences is realized absorbs the listening reader in an even richer experience: the power of words, and of speaking, ascends to a personal experience with the characters’ worlds. Continue reading Able Listening

This week in Literature and Arts

July 2, 1961: In the early morning hours, Ernest Hemingway, physically, mentally, and emotionally ravaged and knowing he is finished as an artist, places this shotgun’s muzzle in his mouth and meets death on his own terms. He was 61.


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

Business of Books 2017: A new whitepaper gives valuable insight into the state of publishing worldwide and the impact of digital and self-publishing

The Business of Books 2017 is an annual publication from Franfkurter Buchmesse that gives insight into the trends related to book publishing (traditional and digital) worldwide, including markets in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

While the paper’s focus is on the publishing industry—particularly the trade side of it, and, unsurprisingly, the Anglo-Saxon influence of it—much insight can be gained here on many other aspects of the book industry by all who are in one way or another, directly or indirectly, involved with the book business, especially librarians, educators, independent authors, and various media companies that look to publishing (trade and educational)  to expand their offerings, particularly in the field of ebook distribution, audiobooks, multi-media, and gaming.

The white paper may be downloaded on the Book Fair’s web siteContinue reading Business of Books 2017: A new whitepaper gives valuable insight into the state of publishing worldwide and the impact of digital and self-publishing

Odilo solidifies its North American presence with new offerings and features

According to a recent press release, Odilo—a privately-held Spanish and US-based company that offers innovative ebook and econtent solutions for libraries worldwide—has seen notable growth in recent months, with 140% increase in new customers and close to a 500% increase in new publishing partners.

For those not familiar with Odilo’s suite of products, here are the newest offerings and features, which were highlighted at this year’s American Library Association conference in Chicago:

    • Over 18,000 Pay-per-Use (PpU) eAudiobook titles allow libraries to build an eAudiobook collection for a minimal investment. ODILO currently offers over 250,000 PpU eBooks, eAudiobook, and streaming video, with new titles ingested daily.
    • Streaming offline reading functionality allows end-users to read without an Internet connection or the ODILO app (available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Kindle Fire).

Continue reading Odilo solidifies its North American presence with new offerings and features

STM, trade and education industry leaders offer perspectives on digital transformation in publishing

Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s white paper, Industry Leaders’ Perspectives on the Digital Transformation Journey in Publishing, is based on interviews with leaders from the STM, Education and Trade sectors. The objective was to gain insights regarding five core elements in the digital transformation journey: Content Storage, Metadata, Content Agility, Discoverability and Collaboration. The interviews were conducted in early 2017 and include senior leaders holding “C-Suite,” Vice-President and Director+ positions.

The full PDF may be downloaded here. Some highlights below.

On how publishers are progressing with digital transformation

  • Half of the interviewees believe their current transformation efforts were ‘on par’ relative to peers in the publishing industry.
  • STM organizations cited significant investments in 3 of the 5 transformational areas over the past few years, bolstering their claim to “lead” the rest of the industry.
  • Conversely, over 30 percent of Trade and 50 percent  of EDU respondents feel that their companies are lagging the industry on the transformation journey.
  • 50 percent of publishers interviewed are looking for ways to replace declining revenues from print and advertising, with 41 percent  looking to new product options.

Continue reading STM, trade and education industry leaders offer perspectives on digital transformation in publishing

Book of the Week: Bedtime Stories for Grown-Up Girls (E. B. Lande)

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:

Bedtime Stories for Grown-up Girls: A Novel

E.B. Lande is a writer, entrepreneur, teacher, traveler, former high-tech executive and low-tech manufacturer who reinvents herself every ten years (or so).  When not on the road, she lives in Boston with her husband.

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.