NSR Presents: Ebooks & Tourism — A Passport to Heaven

NSR is pleased to announce that NSR’s Mirela Roncevic will be a keynote presenter at the Tourism in Southern and Eastern Europe Conference in Opatija, Istria on May 4th, 2017. The presentation, titled Ebooks & Tourism: A Passport to Heaven, is strongly aligned with the Conference’s focus on ways in which the Tourism sector can parter with creative industries through innovative ideas and projects.

Mirela’s presentation will center on her Free Reading Zones efforts, explain the benefits of a society in which open virtual libraries thrive beyond physical libraries and zero in on ways in which the Tourism industry can join forces with the Publishing and Library industries to tap into the potential of ebooks to transform the world from one where readers must go to ‘knowledge’ to the one where knowledge comes to readers.

Mirela will invite the attendees to consider turning physical spaces as small as cafes and hotels and as big as cities and countries into Free Reading Zones, where visitors, tourists, and residents can have access to free books via reading apps (supported by private and government sponsors and in cooperation with publishers and libraries).

Roncevic founded and now directs the Free Reading Zones Project, which brings developers, publishers, and sponsors together to turn public and private spaces into zones where people have free and uninterrupted access to books, so that individuals all over the world, regardless of their location, status or education background, can be empowered through knowledge. The culmination of  her FREZ efforts was the turning of the entire country of Croatia into a Free Reading Zone this past December.

The presentation will be streamed live on Facebook and later archived on NSR for future viewing.

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

At a time when academic libraries are investing more time and resources experimenting with models that place user demands at the center of library acquisitions (via such models as DDA), there seems to be confusion and misunderstanding about which methods compete and why. Publishers and libraries spent a significant amount of time pitting the print book against the ebook in the early years of digital reading—at the time very few were pointing out that there was no real competition between the two formats to begin with, at least not to the extent that one should cancel out the other. Similarly, librarians have been tempted to decipher the maze of book and ebook buying models as a zero-sum game, i.e., that some models must clearly stand in opposition to others.

While it could be argued that some ebook models do, indeed, encourage ownership while others encourage access (making it easy to distinguish between purchasing and subscribing to provide access), or that some models encourage purchase of a whole book while others ask for micro-transaction payments based on use, such arguments become problematic when applied to methods of discovering and acquiring content that were intentionally designed to adapt to the changing needs of libraries over time rather than to compete with new models. Nowhere is this confusion more evident than in the case of the Approval Plan—the many decades-old method that thousands of academic libraries around the world use to discover and acquire scholarly books.

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

Book of the Week: Hel’s Storm (K.A. Keith)

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:

Hel’s Storm

About Author

K.A. Keith was born in Oklahoma. He has studied in Rome, is a practicing ER physician, and served with distinction in Just Cause and Desert Storm. K.A. Keith has lived and studied with Arab peoples, yet currently resides in Dallas, Texas, where he practices knightly virtues.

 


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.

EServer.org, an alternative niche for free quality content (including ebooks) in the arts and humanities

At this point in our journey into major sources of free ebooks, we are able to see that some of the collections operate as academic consortia, some use board members to set policies, and still others strive to be a true community of  users (e.g., Unglue.It). This week, we will again focus on the last group because my sense is that this approach to sharing knowledge is where the sympathies of those advocating true free access are. Therefore, I’ve chosen eserver.org.

Eserver is (justifiably) proud of its community and describes itself this way: The EServer is a growing online community where hundreds of writers, artists, editors and scholars gather to publish works as open archives, available free of charge to readers.

In a publishing industry dominated by corporate publishing of books and ebooks, value is placed on works that sell to broad markets. Quick turnover, high-visibility marketing campaigns for bestsellers, and corporate “superstore” bookstores have all made it difficult for unique and older texts to be published. (Further, the costs this marketing adds to all books discourage people from leisure reading as a common practice.) And publishers tend to encourage authors to write books with strong appeal to the current, undermining (if unknowingly) writings with longer-term implications. Continue reading EServer.org, an alternative niche for free quality content (including ebooks) in the arts and humanities

Speeding kills

Ten days ago Quartz published a piece associating America’s “unhealthy obsession with productivity with the rise in audiobook publishing and market popularity. The article puts forward relatively ancient survey data, claiming that the 2006 Audio Publishers Association’s consumer survey is the latest. It’s not and a very quick search of the same site the author used to locate this report leads to 2012 survey results, posted in 2013, and a n online search that takes all of one minute longer leads directly to the Edison Research audiobook consumer research report of 2016.

That not-minor quibble aside, the Quartz writer goes on to characterize audiobook readers as “book lovers in a hurry” and notes the availability of proprietary technologies that “speed listen,” altering the audiobook’s playback by eliminating intentional pauses in the performance’s recording and even tripling the speed of the cadences chosen by narrators and directors. At this point, the writer is no longer really discussing audiobook listening; instead, the subject is the avoidance of listening, and, thereby, the avoidance of actually falling into the audiobook. Continue reading Speeding kills

This week in Literature and Arts

Birthday greetings to Sir Alec Guinness, born in London’s Paddington vicinity, April 2, 1914. I like him best in the David Lean films, and he brought a touch of class as Kenobi, and, of course, the man was born to play Smiley.

Guinness wrote a few memoirs, very charming and worth breezing through.


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

ProQuest’s mission to keep up with the high and growing demand for Chinese-language content

According to a press release, ProQuest recently surveyed academic librarians about their needs regarding non-English language content. The results demonstrate a strong interest in making Chinese-language content available to address the needs of researchers:

  • 47% of respondents purchase Chinese-language content.
  • Nearly 30% say Chinese-language content is among users’ most requested non-English language content
  • 24% say they are not adequately supporting patrons’ needs for Chinese-language content.
  • When asked what non-English digital format resources they would like to offer, 30% said frontlist ebooks and 25% said backlist ebooks.

From the same press release:

ProQuest is collaborating with Asian Studies scholars, librarians and Chinese-language publishers to offer a selection of Chinese- language ebooks, enabling libraries to provide resources demanded by researchers. The growing collection spans thousands of titles available on the Ebook Central®, ebrary® and EBL platforms. The platforms’ multi-language interfaces accommodate readers of traditional and simplified Chinese, and other languages. Continue reading ProQuest’s mission to keep up with the high and growing demand for Chinese-language content

De Gruyter and major university presses make 500 books and journal articles across nine topical areas free through 2017

As part of their “Rights, Action and Social Responsibility” initiative, De Gruyter and a number of university presses are making books and journal articles across nine topical areas freely available (to download in PDF) until the end of 2017 on degruyter.com, more precisely here.

The topical areas included in the initiative are:  Constitutional History, Dissent, Truth & Ethics, Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, Geopolitics, Human Rights, Immigration & Urbanism and Islamic Studies.

The content includes more than 500 books and selected journal articles from Columbia University Press, Cornell University Press, Harvard University Press, Princeton University Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, Transcript-Verlag and De Gruyter. Access the content via this link.

Broadening access to these areas of scholarship enables more people, including non-academics, to address these issues in an informed manner: it helps to combat false news sources, to reflect on the nature of truth and ethics, and to understand the struggles of all members of society.

“Public debates surrounding immigration policy, climate change, international relations, and constitutional and human rights are currently at the forefront of the national discourse, especially, but not only, in the United States. Together, De Gruyter and its partners are keen to support a thoughtful and informed debate on these sensitive and serious issues,” said Steve Fallon, Director Publishing Partner Program.

Watch rare socialist film footage via “Socialism on Film,” an Adam Matthew resource produced in partnership with British Film Institute

Researchers will now be able to view the world through a communist lens in Adam Matthew’s newest digitized collection: Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda, a resource that focuses on rare socialist film footage from the twentieth century.

Unique in nature and scope, and enabling comparative global research, this collection provides access to previously unseen footage captured by film makers from the USSR, Vietnam, Cuba, China, East Germany, Eastern Europe and more. The footage gives a rare glimpse into all aspects of socialist life using documentary films, features and newsreels. “This is a very important opportunity for teachers of propaganda and the twentieth century,” commented Jo Fox, Professor of History, Durham University. “It is a unique visual record.”

Socialism on Film provides a counterview to Western perceptions of communist states and their actions, while illuminating how socialist countries saw themselves and the world around them during major political and social events of the twentieth century. Students and scholars can now watch such significant history as:

  • Soviet fears on President Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ defense initiative
  • Interviews with imprisoned American pilots shot down and captured over Vietnam in Pilots in Pyjamas
  • Vanessa Redgrave’s emotional response to nuclear testing in The Nuclear Plague
  • Footage previously banned from general release in Britain

Continue reading Watch rare socialist film footage via “Socialism on Film,” an Adam Matthew resource produced in partnership with British Film Institute

Alexander Street’s Social Work Online encompasses 100 hours of video

Encompassing 100 hours of video, Alexander Street’s Social Work Online is a multimedia resource that combines compelling documentaries, original training videos and client demonstrations with relevant text to illustrate the complex and challenging realities students of social work will face as practitioners.

This content addresses 12 of the most critical subjects in the social work curriculum:

Children and Families
Diversity
School Social Work
Older Adults
Substance Abuse
Criminal Justice
Mental Health
Health Care
Poverty
Crisis and Trauma
Social Welfare
History of Social Work

Created in collaboration with expert advisers comprised of faculty and librarians, Social Work Online supplements its video with 50,000 curated pages of text to deliver insights that go deeper than traditional social work textbooks. Continue reading Alexander Street’s Social Work Online encompasses 100 hours of video

Book of the Week: The Highmore Circle (Cricket Reynolds)

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 Highmore Circle

About Author

Cricket Reynolds, a casino executive, holds a master’s degree in organizational communications from Purdue University. Twenty years, two crashed laptops, one corrupted jump drive, one career, and two children later, she is finally bringing Gracie Anderson’s story to life. The Highmore Circle is her second novel. She presently resides with her family in Northwest Indiana.


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.

What books are becoming [and what we may not be seeing]

This is Article 2 (following What readers want) in the “Lessons from Croatia Reads” series of articles on NSR, which aims to describe the experience of turning the country of Croatia into a Free Reading Zone in December 2016. The series is not meant to be a standard case study of all that various numbers and figures prove and don’t prove about the future of books and reading in digital format. It is an attempt to highlight the perspective that I think is missing in the publishing and library industries. The Croatia Reads project was/is meant to give all who work with books a glimpse of a future that holds so much promise for the written word. In this future things look radically different than they do today, but the possibilities are greater than they are today.


I start by responding to what I have heard publishers, librarians, and authors say for many years (especially in recent months), and what I no longer relate to as a publishing professional, passionate writer, life-long learner, and restless reader. This idea—this insistence—that books and knowledge must be protected. That there is a lot of logic behind how books are written, how they are published and distributed, and how they are curated and ‘saved’ for future generations. But is there? What if there used to be a lot more logic behind it all but that sam logic no longer applies today?

Books, I see now, do not want to be guarded or protected. They do not care to belong to any entity (human or artificial) and, in fact, do not want to belong even to those who create them (authors), claim them (publishers), and collect them (librarians). Books don’t want to be recommended and they don’t want to be judged. Like traveling souls yearning to meet a curious companion on their journey, they want to be free to reach the reader on their own terms. They want a relationship with the reader that is genuine and organic and does not involve outside forces.  And it is clear: they can only accomplish all this in digital format. Continue reading What books are becoming [and what we may not be seeing]

The power of free choice in literacy acquisition–kids’ edition

With the explosion of digital audiobook publishing, dedicated listeners now exercise a wide range of free choices for their literate ears: diverse genres, classics, backlist sleepers, hot-off-the-press new titles. There are other choices they can make now, too: performances by single narrators, full cast performances, audiobooks enhanced with musical beds or realistic sound effects, short-form works and those that require more than 40 hours of submersion. The choices literate listeners make are shaped by both wide-ranging experiences with various options and awareness of which of these holds the most satisfaction in their personal consumption. These two shaping mechanisms function iteratively to further develop listening taste. And every choice made regarding listening taste deepens the listener’s skills and comes courtesy of the freedom to choose.

Varieties of tea
Range Beverage Choice Tea Exotic

In contrast to all these benefits of free choice, children new to literate listening come up against forces of external power over their potential to gain independent skills. For school children in marginally progressive classrooms, this typically takes the form of adult insistence that a child listening to an audiobook must have a print paper or ebook copy in hand. Many American schools, still subscribing to the benighted Accelerated Reading cult, keep any kind of literacy freedom bound to prescribed levelling codes and a schedule of completion over immersion time. Continue reading The power of free choice in literacy acquisition–kids’ edition

This week in Literature and Arts

March 26, 1959: Raymond Chandler goes for the big sleep, dying at age 70.

He didn’t invent the hardboiled PI, but nobody had done it better since.


March 26, 1920: F. Scott Fitzgerald catapults into the American literary scene with the Scribner’s publication of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (the book started life as The Romantic Egoist, but was revised after failing to sell).

He was 25 years old and working on cars for money.


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

Not all libraries are created equal. What would the world be if they were?

According to an article I recently read in the New York Times, Merryl H. Tisch, the former chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, and her husband, James S. Tisch, the president and chief executive of Lowes Corporation (who sits on the New York Public Library’s board of directors) will give  20 million dollars to the New York Public Library (NYPL) to “expand and strengthen its education programming, from early literacy classes to technology training.”

The article goes on to explain that owing to this gift, a new position for a director of education will be created and Tisch added that she hoped the money would help the library create more job training courses and other programs to help expose students to the library’s rich collection of resources. Christopher Platt, the chief branch library officer, is also quoted saying that, to his knowledge, “this is the first educational gift to public libraries of this scale in the country.”

Giving money—especially large amounts of money that can make a lasting impact—to support any organization and institution on a mission to promote literacy, education, and access to knowledge is admirable on every level, yet this article (and story) has left me with unsettling thoughts that I wish to share here, in hopes they are not misunderstood or taken out of context. And these are pervasive thoughts, similar to those I have often expressed on NSR in my effort to draw attention to unequal access to knowledge and books permeating our society. Continue reading Not all libraries are created equal. What would the world be if they were?

Leanpub Podcast Interview with Mirela Roncevic on Free Reading Zones and her vision of the future (for books)

A few weeks ago, NSR Director Mirela Roncevic talked with Leanpub about her Free Reading Zones efforts and explained the experience of turning an entire country into an open virtual library as a way of showing the potential of ebooks and digital content to democratize the written word, transform the publishing industry, and envision a future in which libraries serve people beyond the confines of their buildings and assigned zip codes. She has written about it in her Lessons from Croatia Reads series on NSR (the  Sponsor of the countrywide initiative in Croatia to spread free reading) and is in the midst of writing a lengthy case study/report on the project, to be published by ALA later in 2017.

This is the most revealing (audio) interview on the project thusfar, in which she sheds light on the challenges she and her team encountered and why she believes the future of reading will look radically different than it does today.

Excerpt:

Len: I was wondering if you could talk, just for a few minutes, about your current vision. I mean, of course, there will still be experiments, but what is your vision of a global open virtual library? How would it work? Would it have a sort of single, central administration or?

Mirela: I have visions of it. Somebody asked me in an interview, “What is the ultimate Free Reading Zone?”  And I answered, “Oh, the entire world is the ultimate Free Reading Zone.” Not a particular country.

But I do think that for many, many reasons, we have ways to go to get there. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s probably not going to happen in my lifetime. Continue reading Leanpub Podcast Interview with Mirela Roncevic on Free Reading Zones and her vision of the future (for books)

Book of the Week: Metamorphosis by Decree (Brian Pigg)

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:

Metamorphosis by Decree

About Author

Brian Pigg was born and raised in Florissant, Missouri. He spent time in the army and commercial construction before settling in the IT industry. The hours in front of the computer seemed like a good time to write down some of the stories that existed in his head. One of them gives birth to “Metamorphosis by Decree,” his first published 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.

 

Unglue.it, an ebooks site that functions like a true participatory democracy

This week, we focus on Unglue.it, which also uses a collectivitst approach to DRM (Digital Rights Management), somewhat along the lines used by Knowledge Unlatched (the focus of Free Content Alert last week). Unglue.it was launched in 2012 and is based on the premise that small gifts by many users can free ebooks from the DRM fetters that bind them…in essence, ‘ungluing’ them in a virtual way.

The concept was to use ‘crowdsourcing’, as is done with sites such as Kickstarter and Gofundme. In contrast, Knowledge Unlatched uses membership fees paid by a consortium of academic libraries to purchase the necessary Creative Commons License (CCL)  giving access to verified members of those academic communities.  Unglue.it’s method at the outset was described by the Huffington Post here. As I understand it, authors who are independent (or otherwise hold the copyright to their work) set a fee for releasing their work as an ebook. If Unglue.it is interested in acquiring it for their collection, a fundraising campaign to reach that amount in a certain time frame is launched. Various incentives are offered for various levels of gifts, much like fundraising  for public radio and public television in the United States. Unglue.it gives details in its FAQ page. Continue reading Unglue.it, an ebooks site that functions like a true participatory democracy

Renewing literacy through sustained listening

Putting aside (although hardly forgetting) concerns with truly universal access to audiobooks for this post, let’s consider how listening can build engaged literacy. As the Walrus article ALA made sure to circulate broadly last week argues, literacy is as much endangered by lack of interest on the parts of those with the skills as other human epochs have experienced its fragility through lack of the skills themselves.

True literacy, when it comes to experiencing the world- and empathy-expanding powers of lengthy, carefully crafted narratives (that is, books) requires the reader to maintain connection with what the author has to say and how the author says it to a vanishing point between the book and its reader. Having the skills to decode letters, words, phrases, and passages is akin to amassing the bricks, mortar, glass, and roof shingles needed to build a house: unless you can stick with the efforts to reconstruct this pile of ingredients by following the author-supplied blueprint, you’re left with a lot full of debris or a haphazard stack that offers no fit dwelling place. On the other hand, once you’ve followed the blueprint, you then have a staging point (a house) from which you can go forth with the experience of building and dwelling in it. Continue reading Renewing literacy through sustained listening

This week in Literature and Arts

March 19, 1962: With the release of his eponymously named first album, the world meets Bob Dylan.


Happy 48th anniversary to John and Yoko, married March 20, 1969, by registrar Cecil Wheeler in a ten-minute ceremony at the British Consulate Office in Gibraltar (near Spain).


Continue reading This week in Literature and Arts

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.