Category Archives: NSR News

Introducing Free Reading Zones to Brazilian librarians and publishers

NSR’s Mirela Roncevic, who launched the Free to Read initiative in 2016 and orchestrated the world’s first attempt to turn an entire country into a Free Reading Zone, will speak at the 10th International Seminar of Public and Community Libraries in Sao Paolo this coming October, with the goal of encouraging and inspiring librarians across Brazil to implement Free Reading Zones (in cooperation with publishers, technology companies, and private and government sponsors).

Since turning Croatia into a Free Reading Zone in December 2016 (read more about this No Shelf Required pilot here), Roncevic has been speaking publicly at a number of conferences about Free Reading Zones and the project’s potential to transform how books and knowledge are accessed inside and outside libraries and institutions. The goal and mission of the project is to celebrate the potential of digital books (and digital content in general) to equalize access to knowledge (in ways not seen before) and afford new opportunities for all in the book ecosystem, including librarians, publishers, educators, and readers. Continue reading Introducing Free Reading Zones to Brazilian librarians and publishers

Highlights from NSR’s Understanding Ebooks webinar — What publishers and librarians need to know [and can be inspired by]

The slides from last week’s NSR webinar, via the American Library Association (ALA), are available for viewing on Slideshare (or below). Thank you to ALA for the opportunity to conduct the webinar as well as to the librarians and non-librarians who attended it and who engaged in the discussion afterwards (not only live but also via private messages). As always, I learn from you and hope that I was able to inspire you to embark on new initiatives with ebooks and to consider new options for your libraries.

The goal was to present a grand overview of the vast and ever-expanding landscape of ebooks easy to understand even if you have no prior knowledge of the ebook ecosystem, its players, and the issues facing those who produce, buy and sell ebooks (and this ecosystem is large and complex).

The key questions I posed at the beginning of my presentation (that I hope I answered by the end) included:

  • How vast is the ebook landscape?
  • Who are the key players in the ebooks market?
  • How are ebooks evolving in libraries (public, academic, and school)?
  • What does the future hold for ebooks?

We examined the types of ebooks (free, vs. low-cost vs. paid-for), the sources of ebooks (extending far beyond publishers and traditional distributors), the business models in various markets, and key players and brands not only in the context of ebooks in libraries but also in the context of a larger ecosystem of e-content, of which ebooks (and libraries) are only a small part. Continue reading Highlights from NSR’s Understanding Ebooks webinar — What publishers and librarians need to know [and can be inspired by]

No Shelf Required is now on Facebook

Dear NSR readers,

As our readership grows and our columnists’ views expand beyond libraries and beyond the confines of the book industry, we launched our Facebook page today to reach more readers and book professionals around the world.

As you may know, NSR has been around for almost a decade but it’s taken us a while to start a Facebook page (as if maintaining Twitter feeds over the years hasn’t been hectic enough; forgive us, there is only so much social media one can take).

Our Facebook page will include much of the content published on NSR but it will go beyond and hopefully become THE PLACE where so much insightful dialog takes place it leads us in the direction of a better future for the book — one where books and knowledge are accessible to all beyond the confines of institutions (because some of us are dreamers who believe in the power of ebooks to do that). NSR will also remain the place where we keep an eye on the present and the ever-evolving book and ebook landscape (because some of us are realists with a deep understanding of the complexities of the book and library market today).

The Facebook presence will also help us reach deeper into the communities where access to books and knowledge is limited or hardly exists. Groundbreaking initiatives that push the limits of what is possible, such as what we accomplished with Croatia Reads last year (when we turned the entire country of Croatia into an open library) remain closest to our hearts and we hope to do more of those soon.

Let’s passionately agree and respectfully disagree on the future of the book. Let’s stumble and fall. Let’s try and learn. What a privilege it is for all of us to live in such interesting times for books and the written word.

Thanks for liking us on Facebook. Thanks, especially, for following us on Twitter and subscribing to our feeds all these years. Onward and upward.


Croatia is home to the First Café in the world turned into a Free Reading Zone


No Shelf Required is honored to announce that Café Velvet in Zagreb (Croatia’s capital) is the first café in the world turned into a Free Reading Zone. Guests of the café (located in downtown Zagreb, on the iconic Dezmanova Street) can log into a virtual library (via any iOS and Android smartphone and tablet) and access thousands upon thousands of books in several languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Croatian, among others. The locals may enjoy literature in their native language while countless tourists who visit the country’s’ capital each day can read in other languages. All they need is to log in using an Access Code provided by the café.

The technology is powered by Total Boox, ebook service known to U.S. publishers and librarians for its pay-as-you-read ebook model which makes ebooks instantly available, with no limitations, holds, or expirations, while paying publishers for reading. Readers may browse Total Boox’ collection of 100,000 titles, which includes books in all categories—from literary and genre fiction to poetry and philosophy; from cookbooks, arts, and photography to sports, entertainment, and travel; from children’s books and YA literature to professional and scientific literature. Publishers represented include an array of world-class brands from around the globe, including, to name a few, Lonely Planet, Workman, Sourcebooks, F&W Media, O’Reilly, Other Press, Elsevier, New World Library, Marshall Cavendish, Berret-Koehler, Lerner, and Berlitz.

The Free Reading Zones project and initiative was launched in 2016—under the leadership of Mirela Roncevic, Editor of No Shelf Required, and in cooperation with Total Boox—with the goal to spread reading to various public and private spaces beyond libraries and endow them with culture. These ‘zones’ may be sponsored by private and public institutions, corporations or government entities and include, among others, parks, hospitals, trains, airports, schools, universities, cafes, etc. When Free Reading Zones are sponsored by libraries, users inside the zone access the collection via their active library card; when sponsored by private entities (as in the case of Velvet Café), readers simply log in using an access code and the cost of reading is transfered from readers to the cafe.

“It’s an honor to lead such an important initiative, and to take it outside the United States,” said Roncevic. “It’s strongly aligned with the mission of No Shelf Required—to educate, enlighten, and inspire everyone inside and outside the book industry about what ebooks and digital content can do for literacy. In short, they can transform the world into a place where access to knowledge flows freely in all directions. There is a way. And we are paving it together.”

Read Mirela Roncevic’s editorial on how it all came together here.



Zagreb, 06.12.2014 - Praznicki ukraseni kafici



Are you a ‘reader’ when listening to an audiobook? Yes, of course.

audiobooksThere is really no need to recite numerous reports that have come out recently correlating audiobooks with reading success of children and young adults. There is also no need to convince librarians and publishers that listening is learning and that listening is synonymous with literacy. Those who have been on the frontlines know the benefits of audiobooks and listening to the spoken word.

However, many people outside the library and publishing industry still believe that listening to audiobooks is a form of cheating and not really the same thing as reading.  This is puzzling. All one needs to do to dispel this belief is think back in time and consider how people passed on knowledge to each other for generations. Did they all have the privilege to access urban libraries for books? Or money to buy books on their own? Did they even have a bookstore or library anywhere in the vicinity of where they lived? How did they learn exactly? Continue reading Are you a ‘reader’ when listening to an audiobook? Yes, of course.

Interested in publishing an opinion piece on No Shelf Required? Read on.

No Shelf Required® is an online portal on all things ebooks and econtent and for all reading, writing, publishing, curating, and distributing books and other content in digital format, including authors, editors, publishers, librarians, content developers, distributors, retailers, and educators.

Contributions welcome

In addition to its regular news posts, NSR has recently expanded its coverage to include reviews and opinion pieces written by industry insiders of all walks of life: writers, editors, librarians, publishers, vendors, independent authors, and entrepreneurs, to name a few.  Some creatively draw our attention to the issues (e.g., the ridiculousness of “waits” and “holds” in libraries when patrons check out ebooks), while others offer sobering perspectives on what various statistics tell us about the state of the publishing industry. And this industry includes all who produce, consume, distribute, and curate books in digital formatand not only books but all content, including audiobooks, magazines and newspaper, learning resources, databases, etc.

The goal of each opinion piece (800-1000 words) must be aligned with the mission of the portal: to focus on ideas, discuss trends, point to possible reasons why things are the way they are, and offer solutions to what seems to be holding us back from transforming the world from one that ‘struggles’ with ebooks to the one that fully embraces them. Contributors  address a specific audience as both insiders and outsiders with clear arguments and purpose (please read NSR Mission page for more information on Editor’s vision). Continue reading Interested in publishing an opinion piece on No Shelf Required? Read on.

Introducing Book Reviews on NSR

NSR Book Reviews logo - Copy

NSR is pleased to announce that starting this week, the site will regularly highlight book reviews published on BlueInk Review‘s web site. We are proud to join forces with BlueInk Review (an effort to provide “serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books”) in drawing more attention to quality independent literature.

Each year hundreds of thousands of books are self-published by aspiring authors, some available in digital format only, others in multiple formats, including print. And each year large numbers of those titles make their way into all sorts of ebook services, many of which are available in libraries.

While NSR wholeheartedly supports the ability of aspiring writers to publish their work independently and distribute it digitally in ways unimaginable just a decade ago, NSR also supports the efforts of the professionals in our industry holding these writers’ hands through the process (editorially speaking, not just technologically), commending their independent efforts as well as encouraging them to improve their writing.

In the grand scheme of e-things, uploading files to various ebook platforms is the easy part. Reviewing those files and offering constructive criticism on the writing in the ‘container’ is not. All who distribute, buy, and consume books should remain aware of that.

NSR is kicking off its Book Reviews section with a spotlight on Jeri Parker’s Unmoored.

More reviewing TK.