How a café in Croatia became an open virtual library (and what it teaches us about the future of books)

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No Shelf Required announced on Thursday that Café Velvet in Zagreb, Croatia, opened its doors on September 22 with a new mission: to not only serve first-rate coffee and cake but to allow its guests to access a Virtual Library of 100,000 (and counting) titles in several languages and to read to their hearts’ desire (using an access code) without paying for any of it. In other words, Café Velvet is the world’s first Café turned into a Free Reading Zone.

How do I know it’s the first? Because I run this initiative, and this was the first time we turned a café into a Free Reading ZoneSM —the kind your local library simply wouldn’t be able to pull off without the right technology. Allow me to share the story behind how it all came together and why I think the Velvet story serves to remind us that books are asking (begging, in fact) to be read freely online, just like we enjoy all other creative mediums in digital format for free (music, articles, news stories, etc.). And that the whole world, it seems, is waiting for us—the book industry—to get our act together so that books in digital format can realize their full potential.

In the beginning

As fate would have it, I met Yoav Lorch, CEO and Founder of Total Boox, in 2013. At the time, Total Boox was a new entrant into the ebook market and a company from Israel on a mission to change the world of reading. How, I asked him. Simple, he said. “We will make all of the world’s books available for reading upfront (by asking publishers to give us their entire catalogs; no buying in advance), we will expose them for reading, and we will pay publishers for what was actually read. We will charge readers (or whoever pays for the reading) only for what was read (not downloaded).” In other words, books and knowledge will flow in all directions, and readers will be in charge of what they want to read (not publishers or libraries).

I remember our meeting like it was yesterday. We set in a café right across the street from the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and he offered me the job of helping Total Boox build a collection of titles that would be always available for reading. No restrictions. No barriers. No expirations. Little did we know then that a few years later, we’d be turning cafes around the world (like the one we were siting in that day) into Free Reading Zones and open virtual libraries using the brilliant ebook model he came up with. And little did we know that neither of us would be in New York to do it.

The Total Boox story

Total Boox entered the book and library market with a mission to change the ebook game. The book industry had at that point been stuck between a rock and a hard place with ebooks (and slowly losing interest, it seemed) and Yoav’s powerful no-barriers-to-reading model—I was certain then as I am now—would forever change the way we think about books and reading. I accepted the job offer and spent the following three years orbiting the planet (with Yoav and other colleagues from Total Boox), attending library and book shows and convincing publishers that the Total Boox model was the future. Meanwhile, my colleagues were busy promoting Total Boox to libraries.

As libraries began to provide Total Boox to their patrons, several immediately took interest in working with us to go beyond the library walls and make titles available in the collection in areas outside the library (the ‘zones’ would be great places for libraries to attract new card holders). That’s when it hit us: Why only the U.S. and why always the affluent areas? What about the rest of the world? And why only libraries? Why not any public or private space that wants to be endowed with culture? We’ve got this ebook model that allows people to read instantly and simultaneously while paying publishers and authors, and with the support from businesses willing to ‘sponsor reading,’ we can take this mighty collection anywhere.

Somewhere along the way it hit me more than it hit others on the team: this collection of 100,000 quality books by the world’s top publishers—which grows weekly by 1000 new titles and which I stand behind since I helped build it—can be accessed by anyone, anywhere! Let’s go global with it. Let’s spread reading wherever books are welcome. Let’s find sponsors who will be willing to support ‘free reading’ in their communities. I loved the idea of a kid in a small developing country having free access to the exact same collection of books as a kid in New York. I loved the idea of turning remote rural places around the world into Free Reading Zones. I also loved the idea of turning businesses (like hotels, cafes, etc.) into places where culture is abundant and knowledge free to all. Most of all: I loved the idea that when it came to access to books and knowledge, we could all be equal. No shelf required. No pass required. Pure availability of books. Pure reading.

The Velvet story

Café Velvet in Croatia’s capital was not a random choice when selecting the first café to be turned into a Free Reading Zone. Croatia is the country of my birth (even though I spent most of my life outside it) and Zagreb has always been home away from home, which, for 23 years, was none other than the center of publishing: New York. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Zagreb lately, and I’ve fallen in love with the city, particularly its arts and literature scene.

Café Velvet is a very well-known hangout, located on an iconic street in the heart of Zagreb’s Old District. The minute you walk into the café, you notice immediately that Velvet celebrates art and human creativity in every form imaginable. Impeccable attention is given to every detail. It’s a café that’s also a gallery displaying the artwork of Croatia’s well-known artist and florist, Sasa Sekoranja, and it is also a literary establishment that hosts author signings and readings, several of which I attended last winter. Velvet has a history you sense before you know anything about it.

It only took one meeting with the cafe’s owners for them to agree to work with us. And in that meeting, I promised to add top Croatian books to the collection even though at that point we had none. A few weeks later, everything fell into place quicker than I could have imagined. Top Croatian publishers (among them my own favorite: Fraktura) welcomed the idea and quickly signed contracts with Total Boox. The team at Total Boox worked around the clock to set up daily access codes, welcome newsletters for registered users, pop ups, and built a new app designed for Free Reading only (which is different from the app Total Boox uses in libraries). We dealt with an onslaught of metadata overnight as publishers rushed to send us titles in epub to be available for the big day.

Local celebrities and influential figures—including well-known actors, writers, journalists, and artists—joined forces to support the opening of the First Reading Zone in their country and agreed to be photographed for the media and publicly support the project. The goal here was to get the public excited and to show people what was possible with the book in 2016. Important to note: once the news got around that this was going to be a special project which would create a lot of value for a lot of people and make the whole city and country proud, everyone I got in contact with was happy to support it. They also understood that Velvet was essentially the pilot that would set an example for all other Free Reading Zones to follow throughout the region.

Around the same time, I opened a page on Facebook called Free Reading Zones: Croatia and began educating people about ebooks and what they can do for the world.  Within 7 weeks, we had over 10,000 likes and people from all over the country (and the rest of Europe) shared their thoughts about ebooks, digital reading, tablets, cost of reading, libraries, etc. Most of their comments could be summed up as follows: “I love paper books, but I also love the idea of an open virtual library. I wish someone would teach me about ebooks and what’s possible with them. Most of all: I wish I could read books online for free.” In short: the people of Croatia embraced the idea of reading books freely and immediately recognized that the reason for the Facebook page’s existence was not only to raise awareness but to show potential sponsors that they, the people, were ready for this. The Facebook page was also our PROOF to potential sponsors that people wanted this.

It was, in fact, all of the activity on the Facebook page that made me realize what few of us in the book industry dare say out loud: it was US, publishers and libraries, stifling the progress of the digital medium all along. We are the reason ebooks haven’t transformed the world by now into a place where knowledge flows freely. We have been protecting too many internal interests and resisting new possibilities. And we have shown little interest in educating the public about what is possible. As it turns out: people want to read ebooks. They just don’t know how.  And we’ve made it very difficult for them. It is more important to us that the bottom lines of our institutions and organizations are protected (even when there is no substantial proof that sales of print books are threatened) than that the books we produce in nauseating quantities are actually read.

The Velvet lesson

So what is the ultimate lesson here? Simple: we now have the technology to turn a small private business (like Café Velvet in Zagreb) into an open virtual library—the kind of library that allows users to have access to knowledge in ways people couldn’t imagine before. This same technology can turn any space into a zone where people read freely (thanks to the sponsors willing to support it): a park, a hospital, a train, an airport, an entire city. And thanks to the Total Boox’ technology we are now able to create a circle in which everyone benefits:

  • the sponsor of the ‘zone’ (who has the privilege, and responsibility, in fact, to support literacy and access to knowledge)
  • publishers and authors (who are compensated for every reading and are given an opportunity to bring a lot of unread books back to life)
  • the technology company (in this case Total Boox, the company behind the app and the business model)
  • the people (who get to consume content for free just like they consume everything online for free)
  • the society (because conditions are created that allow knowledge to detach itself from institutions in ways not seen before)

This is what the future of reading looks like, folks. And in this future, books will flow freely to all who want to read them and they will not need a library card to access them. In this future, there is no more buying or borrowing. There is simply free and uninterrupted access. Also, in this not-so-distant future, the book will reach its highest potential. Our society will go through a READING revolution—the kind Gutenberg couldn’t pull off (but he gave us a hell of a start). The kind that levels the playing field for all mankind. The kind that allows us to ‘FREE’ THE BOOK FROM THE PRESS. And that, dear colleagues, is the ultimate democratization of the written word.

But don’t worry: the print book isn’t going away. It was never going to go away. It was US—the people who produce, sell, and distribute books—who feared it might, and this is why for the past 20 years we’ve been stuck. Inside the Velvet Café there is a beautiful old-fashioned library full of books, and on every table, there is a book next to the menu. One of the joys of visiting Velvet is reaching for the book on the table and wondering if the book you find there has any special meaning for you. If Velvet does not want to decide between print and digital and is choosing to embrace both formats and make them available for free reading to their guests, what is our excuse? If Velvet says “give them ALL of the experience of reading,” what is our problem?

ivana

filip

darija

danijela

damir

vlatka

natasa

mislav

julija

josipa

 

 


Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required and Director of Free Reading Zones. For all NSR-related news and reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her creative writings, follow her on Facebook. Contact her directly at mirelaroncevic@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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

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No Shelf Required is pleased, honored, and thrilled to announce that Café Velvet in Zagreb (Croatia’s capital) is the first café in the world turned into a Free Reading ZoneSM. 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 revolutionary 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 initiative was launched in 2016—under the leadership of Mirela Roncevic, Managing 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. They may also continue reading once they leave ‘the zone.’

“It’s truly 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.

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Zagreb, 06.12.2014 - Praznicki ukraseni kafici

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Book of the Week: A Pigeon’s Tale by S.A. Mahan

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews of a wide variety of titles published on BIR’s site each week. Enjoy this week’s pick.

A Pigeon’s Tale

About Author

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S.A. Mahan writes children’s books and stories for young adult readers, gaining  her inspiration from hiking in the Rocky Mountains and her love of adventure. In addition to being an author, Mahan is a fiber artist, barista, and rancher. She lives in Colorado with her husband. This is her third 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.

A time to soar above the level plain of tradition

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By Mirela Roncevic

As you may have noticed, the focus of No Shelf Required has been shifting in recent months. What once was a blog covering ebook news in the publishing and library market has morphed into a mission-oriented portal with the purpose of educating, enlightening, and inspiring book professionals of all walks of life (writers, editors, publishers, librarians, reading app developers, etc.) to recognize the power of the written word in digital format—namely its ability to transform our world into a place where access to books and knowledge is open and free to all individuals regardless of their location, affiliation, or background.

We think that it is only a matter of time before books are open to the world online the way other mediums have been ‘open’ for years (think music on youtube, news and magazine articles, etc.). We are here, therefore, to draw attention to what is on the horizon for our industry, and what’s on the horizon looks a lot like what is already happening on the Internet every second of every day: free digital reading.

Countless sites give us up-to-the-minute news about emerging ebook technologies, new companies entering our restless market, and new partnerships forming between libraries, publishers, and vendors. There is also no shortage of press releases and advertorials coming at us from all sides on a daily basis. Even the most informed among us are finding it hard to keep up with the sheer amount of information released each day.

We do not wish to add to this clutter, and this is the reason you now only see NSR covering news on Fridays in Paul Biba’s News Roundups. The rest of the week is devoted to celebrating books and authors (including independent authors), highlighting opinion pieces by various professionals with inspiring thoughts on the present and future of the book, and bringing to your attention stories about projects and initiatives from around the world pointing to how individuals and institutions are going beyond what is ‘normal,’ ‘expected,’ and ‘traditional’ with books in digital environments. And, again, those initiatives look a lot like what is already happening on the Internet every second of every day: free digital reading. And by ‘free,’ we mean no strings attached. We mean: no institutions acting as middlemen, no free ‘sampling’ to encourage print sales, and no humanitarian efforts needed to enable free access. We simply mean: every person is able to read what, when, and how they want to online.

Book professionals: now that we have two decades of ‘trial-and-error’ behind us, now that we have had a lot of practice about how to make ebooks available to readers, now that we have done so much respectful disagreeing among ourselves, the time has come to “soar above the level plain of tradition” (to borrow the words from Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening) and catch up to other industries that have long been exposing their content online for all to see, use, and learn from. The truth is plain to see if we are willing to see it: we are trailing behind, and we have no one to hold responsible but ourselves.

Now is not the time to comfort ourselves with meaningless reports pointing to ebook reading declining or reaffirming people’s emotional connection to paper. Now is the time to recognize that we—the very people producing, selling, and managing books—have been standing in the way of books reaching readers (and there would be no stopping them online if we just got out of the way). Now is the time to recognize that reading matters more than containers. And that those containers we love to hold and display on our personal or library shelves have never even been at risk of disappearing. Now is the time to learn from our setbacks and embrace the only logical next challenge in the evolution of the medium we are all devoted to, and at the heart of this challenge lies but one simple question: How can we make ebooks and econtent freely available to all so that we all benefit from it?

Now is also the time to face some issues about our own professional identities. These include, among others:

  • Libraries cannot keep up with all of the e-content being produced anymore.
  • Existing ebook business models have created a lot of chaos for us all and they have only driven readers away from embracing ebooks.
  • Most of the world’s books in digital format are never discovered or read because no one knows they exist.
  • Most of the world’s population does not live in prosperous urban areas where people have access to well-funded libraries (the only ones with sizable ebook collections).
  • Independent authors and self-publishing services are here to stay, and here to flourish, and they are not being served.
  • Many of the world’s publishers haven’t even started digitizing their backlists due to the cost involved.
  • Are our fears that making ebooks free will harm print sales justified?
  • Have we done enough to educate the general public about ebooks and ebook technologies?
  • Does it really make sense to be borrowing anything from libraries in the 21st century?
  • Why don’t we care more to embrace the idea of people reading openly and freely and without the rules we impose on them?
  • Isn’t it our collective responsibility (perhaps even our moral imperative) to make knowledge available to everyone, everywhere?
  • Are we failing to see that consumption of digital content is all around us and that it flows freely online and that books are the last medium still ‘locked?’
  • Have we considered all viable options when it comes to how writers can share their work with the world beyond packaging it and turning into a physical object?
  • What is a book anyway? How much of our thinking about the book is driven by tradition rather than the many possibilities afforded to us by new technologies?
  • Are there enough leaders among us not afraid to chart new territories?

These are some of the issues we wish to explore on No Shelf Required as we forge ahead. If you have thoughts on these and similar topics, we invite you to submit an opinion piece. We hope NSR’s mission and vision inspire you to think beyond what you now perceive as your role. And regardless of how you identify yourself today—as an accomplished author, an independent author, a small publisher, a Big Five publisher, a rural library, a major urban library, or a start-up catering to the book business—expect to be challenged tomorrow. Everyone who has ever attempted to soar above the level plain of tradition has been.

Thank you for reading and contributing to No Shelf Required. We look forward to learning and growing with you.


Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her creative writings, follow her on Facebook. Contact her directly at mirelaroncevic@gmail.com.

News Roundup [September 16, 2016]

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Every Friday, NSR releases a compilation of news stories related to ebooks, epublishing, elibraries, and digital literacy from around the world and from various news sources. The goal is to help information professionals (of all walks of life) keep up with what is happening in the world of ebooks and econtent beyond the confines of their organizations, institutions, countries, and continents.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the most important news that occurred this (or any other) week. But it is a curated list, and a way for NSR to not lose sight of the big picture.  Enjoy this week’s compilation.


Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here? (No Shelf Required)

Hop in and fire up ‘Citroen Origins’ virtual museum website (Autoblog)

80,000 Students Receive Digital Library Card (Good Ereader)

One of the most frequently overlooked cornerstones of effectively #publishing digital content is semantic tagging (Aptara)

Europe’s biggest and best digital publishing conference is coming. Here’s @philipdsjones on #FutureBook16. Join us! (The Bookseller)

Comic book readers still prefer print over digital (USA Today)

Bonnier Books CEO Jacob Dalborg: ‘Digitization Is Not Necessarily Evil’ (Publishing Perspectives)

Streaming, abonnement : 25 % du marché de l’ebook d’ici 3 ans (Hélène Merillon, Youboox) (Actualitte)

Amazon adds another Prime benefit: Audible Channels and free audiobooks (Techcrunch)

Bookboon Brings Free eBooks to South African Commuters (The Digital Reader)

Open Ebooks Announces Compatibility with Clever (Digital Book World)

Pearson, Follett Partner on Digital Textbook Program (Campus Technology)

Copyright reform fails EU citizens in favour of industry (Open Rights Group)

It’s official — ebooks really are books and Euro tax could plummet (Roger Packer)

A Promising New eBook Reader for Linux Appears (OMG Ubuntu)

Download: Publishing Perspectives Fall 2016 Magazine (Publishing Perspectives)

European Commission introduces copyright on links… that’s right, hyperlinks (Privacy Online News)

This Ebook Publisher Doesn’t Have Authors. It Has Writers’ Rooms (Wired)

Museum of Modern Art Digital Archive Goes Live Tomorrow, Thousands of Images, Documents Will Be Accessible Onlin (Infodocket)

Shelfie Announces Launch of Ebook Deal Finder (Library Stuff)

Paul Klee, for Kids | Touch and Go (School Library Journal)

Snakes, Mandrakes and Centaurs: Medieval Herbal Now Online (Medieval Manuscripts Blog)


Paul Biba is former Editor-in-Chief of TeleRead. For his curated ebook/elibrary/epublishing news, follow him on Twitter @paulkbiba.

Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her creative and all things related to creativity and literacy, follow her on Facebook.

Book of the Week: What Remains by Tracey Lee

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers from around the world) and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week. This week’s pick is Tracey Lee’s novel What Remains.

What Remains

About Author

tracey-lee

Tracey Lee is a former schoolteacher from Southern Australia. After 32 years of teaching, she is now pursuing her love of writing fiction. Lee notes that she finds inspiration for her work from observing human behavior. Many of her stories relate to ordinary people and their response to extraordinary events.  The author received her Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Canberra, and is currently living in New South Wales 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.

Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here?

 

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In this week’s opinion piece, Michael Zeoli (of YBP Library Services) takes a close look at how collection development practices have evolved in academic libraries in recent years, especially since the advent of the ebook and proliferation of digital content. Regardless of how familiar book professionals are with complex purchasing models in academic settings, it is important that we understand how we ‘got here’ before we can understand how best to move forward. We also must acknowledge that we all willingly participated in the creation of complex business models for buying and managing content. We must now all participate in simplifying them. The reality is, as Michael explains, that the academic library book world is shrinking, even as more content is created and new technologies are implemented. This raises serious questions about the future of the academic library and the roles we all play in shaping it. Perhaps the most important sentence in the piece is: “All parts of our ecosystem have an active role to play; none should act out of fear and remain passive.” Full article below. —Ed.


Academic library staff has been shrinking for 2 decades, while the quantity of scholarly content has grown exponentially.  In the 1960s Richard Abel & Company began the Approval Plan service as a systematic approach to help libraries manage the volume of new books published.  Libraries rely on vendor services (i.e., companies catering to libraries) to discover and acquire much of scholarly content.  Since the 90s, libraries have also depended on vendors to provide shelf-ready services for print books, customized cataloging, to manage financial transactions electronically, and to maintain online interfaces to support collection development and acquisitions processes.  Ebooks brought another layer of labor and complexity to library workflows.

Ebooks elbowing their way into the landscape

Within a decade of their birth, ebook aggregators entered mainstream library collecting.  Initially, the ebook appeared as just another format or manifestation of the print book; the library choice expanded beyond paper or cloth to include ‘e’ versions (in many cases PDFs).  Technology changed this: ebook models have upset the balance in traditional library collecting and continue to challenge traditional understandings not just of collection development, but of the role of the academic library.

The ebook aggregators’ business models exist outside the realm of print books – except as a distribution model on which to piggyback for just as long as necessary (think ‘the scorpion and frog’ fable).  The business of the aggregator is to sell ebooks, not books.  Aggregator ebook platforms are designed for this purpose.  Each is different from the others in design (technical as well as strategic):

  • User interface & experience
  • Library acquisition models
  • Library control of patron access
  • Publisher control over: 1) Library acquisition models; 2) License terms for each model; and 3)  ‘Triggers’ to purchase and loan (Patron-Driven Acquisitions – DDA / Short-Term Loan – STL / Evidence-Based Acquisitions – EBA)

‘Standards’ in the industry exist only to the degree necessary for one company to compete with another (‘not-for-profits’ are not exempted!).  Focus has been split 3 ways:

  • Competition to win market-share
  • Sustainable development of the market
  • Alternatives to ‘unsustainable models’

To a large extent, the futures of libraries and publishers live at the margins of these considerations.

Competition is driving complexity.  Beyond complexity, competition does not always favor clarity or transparency, even when possible.  Libraries and publishers struggle to gain full vision into some of the forces acting under the surface of a rapidly evolving landscape. Continue reading Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here?

News Roundup [September 9, 2016]

News Roundup

Every Friday, NSR releases a compilation of news stories related to ebooks, epublishing, elibraries, and digital literacy from around the world. The goal is to help information professionals (of all walks of life) and ebook supporters keep up with what is happening in the world of ebooks and econtent beyond the confines of their organizations, institutions, countries, and continents.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the most important news that occurred this (or any other) week. But it is a curated list, and a way for NSR to not lose sight of the big picture. Here’s the thinking behind what we choose to highlight. Enjoy this week’s compilation.
New York: “Queens Library Launches Digital Archives” (Infodocket)

Preview ICER 2016:Ebooks Design-Based Research & Replications in Assessment & Cognitive Load Studies,by @guzdial (Computing Education Blog)

How to add fonts to the Aura One or other Kobo ereaders: Why won’t Amazon let us do this? (Teleread)

Major Publishers are hurting. It’s easy to see why: (Hugh Howey)

eBook pricing resembles three dimensional chess (Idealog)

Reabble is an RSS Feed Reader for Your Kindle (The Digital Reader)

BookShout and T-Mobile Partner to Distribute 237,000 Ebooks (The Digital Reader)

A Return to Print? Not Exactly (Bloomberg)

Whale Math: If Reasonable eBook Prices Devalue Books, Then What About This? (The Digital Reader)

New report by Bowker: Self-Publishing in the United States, 2010-2015, Print and Ebook (Bowker)

Start Saying Goodbye to eBook Pagination (Go to Hellman)

Kobo, OverDrive Post Instructions on How to Use Library eBooks on the Aura One (The Digital Reader)

BookShout Partners With T-Mobile to Distribute 237,000 eBooks (The Digital Reader)

Survey on E-Book DRM Licensing (Copyright and Technology)

Why PRH Sold Author Solutions: Business Dropped by a Quarter in 2015 (The Digital Reader)

Colleges making up English and maths GCSE shortfall given lifeline with free e-books (JISC)

Why the Hammer Museum’s new free digital archives are a game changer (Library Stuff)


Paul Biba is former Editor-in-Chief of TeleRead. For his curated ebook/elibrary/epublishing news, follow him on Twitter @paulkbiba.

Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her writings related to books and all things creativity and literacy, follow her on Facebook.

Unlocking knowledge means empowering people, and MIT is setting a powerful example

MIT OPenCourseWare

No need for an elaborate introduction here about what exactly MIT is doing by opening up their digital content online. Best to start by simply quoting Dick K.P. Yue, Professor at MIT School of Enginnering: “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”

If you haven’t heard about MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), here is the scoop. It’s intended not just to help educators at MIT improve curricula and make learning more effective for those enrolled at MIT, but to invite independent learners anywhere in the world to use the school’s course materials in their own educational pursuits and at their own pace. In other words, they are free to ‘take’ the course in the privacy of their own home by following full notes and having full access to materials every step of the way.

This is admirable. Truly admirable. And this is what the leaders among us who recognize the true value of digital content do: they open it up to the world. They eliminate all frictions and find ways to bypass man-made rules and institutions and simply make knowledge available to all. They have outgrown all unnecessary discussions of print and digital competing, and about complicated models that serve the select few, they recognize that unread/unused content has little to no value, and, most of all, they are pushing their own ‘institutional’ status quo by embracing the idea that learning never stops and that it is our collective responsibility to educate the world beyond the confines of university walls at a time when, despite all of the technological advances the world has seen, more than 90 percent of its population is not college-educated.

In a way, one can even argue that the same way the print book (the physical ‘paper’ object) is the container we buy, while consuming the content inside for free online (well, not really, but we hope to get there one day, don’t we?), the brick-and-mortar institution becomes the ‘experience’ we now buy (to directly engage with others, including professors and fellow students), while consuming the content (from course materials) online for free. So if we can’t afford to ‘be there’ in person, we can still afford to do it on our own terms.

Everything related to one’s ‘physical experience,’ then must come at a price, for obvious reasons: books must be printed (and before that, they must be written and produced); professors’ time must be paid, and the school’s expenses must be covered. In the same way, we are now able to listen to music for free online, while we must pay to attend a concert or by a CD or an LP (those of us who still collect them).

If we are able to recognize that digital content helps us open up knowledge to the world virtually while doing no harm to the ‘physical experience,’ we are able to create a circle in which everyone benefits. In fact, digital content and its widespread availability enhances the value of the ‘physical’ experience. All other creative mediums have caught on to this but books and textbooks. Initiatives like the one at MIT are a step in that direction.

Materials from 2340 courses are available, and the site is visited by millions. Each course includes lecture notes, slides, videos, instructor insights, Further Study listings, and much more. Here is a list of the most visited courses. MIT accepts donations to keep the operation running. For more info, go here.

Unlocking knowledge means empowering people not only beyond the university but beyond the borders of the United States of America. MIT is setting a powerful example.

Book of the Week: The Cannabis Revolution by Stephen Holt

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews of a wide variety of titles published on BIR’s site each week. Enjoy this week’s pick.

The Cannabis Revolution©

About Author

Stephen HoltStephen Holt, MD, has written over 25 books relating to medical issues such as aging, osteoporosis, weight loss, and sleep deprivation. He is the founder of Holt Institute of Medicine in New York and an emeritus professor.  Holt holds a medical degree from Liverpool University Medical School and is a board certified Internist and Sub Specialist in the US, UK, and Canada.

 


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.

 

Portal on all things ebooks and econtent and for all reading, writing, publishing, curating, and distributing books and other content in digital format, including publishers, librarians, content developers, distributors, retailers, and educators. Managed and edited by Mirela Roncevic, with contributions from professionals and thought leaders in the United States and around the world.