Saturday, February 27, 2010
In fact Batman's first appearance in comic books have regulary set auction sales records. Now one has broken the $1 million barrier.
And at a time of economic recession, when conventional investments in stocks and real estate are questioned, collectibles do well and have growth potential. This week's transactions appear to be smart investments.
The 1939 Batman book, Detective Comics #27, was the first edition of the superhero ever published. It was bought for $1,075,500 through Heritage Auction Galleries by an anonymous source. The consignor, also anonymous, was a collector who purchased the comic 40 years ago for $100.
The Superman comic which debuted a year earlier, as Action Comics #1 in 1938 and would seem more valuable, sold through a private arrangement on February 23, for more than three times the price paid a year ago - also a record sale.
From: The Independent
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
According to The Bookseller, publisher HarperSport says the first title will be "an illustrative narrative celebration" about the sprinter's Caribbean roots, inspiration, and career trajectory. The autobiography will released shortly after the London Olympics.
Usain Bolt - called "Lightening Bolt" by his fans - rose to prominence at age 15 when he won the 200m event at the 2002 World Junior Championships. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he won gold medals in three sprinting events: the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay. He currently holds the world and Olympic records in all three events, having beat his own records in the 100m and 200m at the 2009 World Championships.
From: The Independent
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
by: Alison Flood
"Photo Evidence: Michelle Obama Keeps Socialist Books In The White House Library," blared the headline on conservative radio host Rob Port's blog following a tour of the presidential residence last week, after he spotted books including The American Socialist Movement 1897-1912 and The Social Basis of American Communism on the library's shelves.
Port ignited a storm, quickly drawing almost 300 comments to his post on the popular political blog SayAnythingBlog.com, and a rash of links across the internet. "I wonder if the liberals who mock conservatives who refer to Obama as a socialist still find it funny?" wrote All American Blogger. "By itself, this wouldn't be that big of a deal. But [in] the context of Obama's economic policies? Well, I'll let you make your own call," wrote Port, a self-styled bibliophile.
Some commenters were just as scandalised by the books' presence in the White House library as Port. Others were more cynical. "Fortunately, most of us live in a world where we're allowed to have books besides the Bible and a sticky copy of Going Rogue," wrote one. "I have a copy of Mein Kampf on my shelf (next to Winston Churchill, incidentally). Does that make me a Nazi?" asked another, while a third sarcastically suggested dealing with the "filthy socialists" by starting an organisation. "Perhaps call it the National Anti-Socialism Institute, or NASI (perhaps change the 's' to a 'z' to give it a little edge?), and go around removing this unconscionable literature from our country in the interest of protecting and promoting our pure culture."
The only problem, the Washington Post reveals, is that the books have been in the library since 1963, after Jackie Kennedy asked a Yale University librarian to oversee a committee that would select books for the library. The librarian told the New York Times at the time that there was "bound to be criticism" of the choices. "There will still be people telling us what should be in this library, but we'll just have to be adamant," he said in 1963.
"I guess if they have been in there since the 1960s then they have been there through several presidents," Port admitted to the Washington Post. "All I said was that our tour guide told us they were chosen by the First Lady. I thought the books were interesting in the larger context, but now I guess it is what it is."
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Every day, when the main library opens, John Banks is waiting to get inside. He finds a spot and stays until closing time. Then his wheelchair takes him back to the bus terminal where he spends his nights.
Like many homeless public library patrons, all Banks wants is a clean, safe place to sit in peace. He doesn't want to talk to anyone. He doesn't want anyone to talk to him. But the day he decides he wants help, he knows what to do: ask for the social worker.
The main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, where hundreds of homeless people spend every day, is the first in the country to keep a full-time social worker on hand, according to the American Library Association.
But cities across the country are trying different approaches to deal with patrons who use bathroom sinks as showers or toilet stalls as drug dens. In Philadelphia and San Francisco, libraries have hired homeless patrons to work as bathroom attendants who guide others to drop-in centers or churches where they can bathe.
In Portland, Ore. the downtown library is trying a penalty system for patrons who commit infractions - banishing them from the library for a day for shaving, three years for fighting.
While San Francisco is the first to hire a social worker, other libraries may follow. As the economy languishes and cities shut down social programs, public libraries are becoming repositories for those who have been kicked out and turned away from all other places.
Camila Alire, president of the Chicago-based ALA, said that while libraries have long been refuges for the down and out, anecdotal reports underscore that they are dealing with more people than ever before with mental health issues and basic needs such as food and shelter.
"Public libraries are trying their best to serve their users and people who have traditionally been non-users," Alire said. "I hope that what the San Francisco Public Library has done by hiring a social worker serves as a model, because these people are educated and trained to help these patrons who have every right to use the public library system."
More libraries across the country are hiring therapists to train staff members how to handle stressful patrons. Edmond Otis, a psychotherapist, trains librarians how to talk to patrons who may be mentally ill or on drugs.
"There is a gigantic homeless population that basically 'passes' except nobody knows where they sleep," Otis said. "That population is growing. But we're looking at the mentally ill and drug addicted. And there are ways of talking to someone." That includes remaining calm, treating all patrons with respect, and setting rules and sticking to them, he said.
Some libraries are dealing with large numbers of destitute patrons.
In San Francisco, the main library, a six-story building with gleaming glass walls, is located in the Civic Center, where many homeless people congregate. It is near a neighborhood of single room occupancy hotels, soup kitchens and other service providers for the very poor. Some mornings, just after it opens, the library seems to have more people who appear to be homeless - wearing half their clothes and carrying the rest - than not.
Frank Bunnel, who is 53, comes every day carrying a large duffle bag and a blanket. "Sometimes I fall asleep here," he said.
For years, said Karen Strauss, the assistant chief librarian of the main branch, staff members could do little more than empathize with the desperate regulars who spend their days sitting among the stacks, reading, or just sitting, some with body odor that lingers in the air when they leave.
When other patrons have complained about the disturbances caused by mentally ill or drug addicted patrons, all the library could do was call its officer, a full-time city police sergeant.
Last year, the library decided to partner with the Department of Public Health to hire Leah Esguerra.
As resident social worker. Esguerra's delicate task is making herself visible and available to those who might want help without intruding on the privacy of those who do not.
She estimates that she has helped 200 people in the last six months, not all of them homeless or lacking basic needs. "Some people are depressed because they can't find a job," she said. "Or they've lost a loved one. When people ask for me, I go to them. Or through word of mouth those who haven't asked know about me."
John Banks, who is 40 and cannot remember how long he has lived unsheltered, or how it happened, said he might ask for Esguerra one day. For now, if he could blend into the walls, he would. That cannot be, not with his wheelchair stacked high with all he owns, like a pickup truck. To accommodate it, he must stick to open space, usually on the third floor near the computer station, where so many people can see him.
He doesn't read well, he said, so he skips the books and magazines, knowing the staff will let him be.
Yes, he said the other day, he might call for the social worker soon.
"I've got all this laundry to do," he said, gesturing to large plastic bags filled with clothes behind his back. "Maybe she can help with that."
from: Associated Press
Monday, February 22, 2010
Since the advent of the Amazon Kindle and its successors -- before, even -- everyone in the book business has been wondering and fretting over the future of the book. Will e-books completely take over? Are we witnessing the death of the paper book? The arguments fly back and forth, and between them, publishers are moving forward with innovations to keep the book as we know it contemporary with the Google generation.
Simon & Schuster recently launched their first Vook titles through the multimedia start-up, Vook.com. They're combining book and video, which has been working well for the few non-fiction titles available. But the target audience is adults for whom iPhone apps and Internet downloads have only recently become a way of life. They're still novelties. If you really want to get a taste of the multimedia book experience, better look to the people who've grown up in the golden age of information: pre-teens and teenagers.
Multi-platform books are still in the experimental stage, it's true. But one blazing success has cleared the path for more to come afterwards: Scholastic's 39 Clues. Launched in September 2008, the action/adventure series follows siblings Amy and Dan on an action-packed, globe-trotting treasure hunt for the source of their ancestral power. In addition to the books (written by different popular Young Adult and Middle Grade authors), there's a website where kids can play a game and win prizes, 350 collectible cards, and audiobooks -- not to mention a film deal with DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg. Recently, Scholastic Media expanded the interactive reach of 39 Clues with apps for the iPod and iTouch.
Before the launch of The Maze of Bones, first in the 39 Clues series, people were skeptical. It was a gamble -- internet games, collectible cards, movie deals, all for a book whose popularity was yet to be determined? Since then, the doubts have been blown out of the water. As reported in Publishers Weekly as of June, the 39 Clues web site had attracted more than 500,000 online game users from 191 countries. The great success has inspired other publishers to recreate that model - HarperCollins has launched an online game [www.warriorcats.com] to pair up with its bestselling Warriors series, by Erin Hunter.
Both Warriors and 39 Clues are meant for the younger set of teens, but rest assured: there's plenty of multi-platform books out there for young adults. Running Press published the last in the Cathy's Book trilogy (by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman, and Cathy Briggs) this year. Cathy's Book once one of the first interactive young adult books of its kind -- it came packaged with "evidence" (letters, phone numbers that readers could actually call, pictures) and online components, including a discussion forum, and MySpace, Facebook, and Flickr pages. iPhone apps were also created for the series, as well as sweepstake prizes. Following on the heels of Cathy's Book, Running Press is launching two new interactive series with Weisman: the Nanovar series for middle grade, and the Lost Souls Trilogy.
Also for the young adult crowd is Scholastic's new multi-platform series (written and produced by Patrick Carman, who also contributed to 39 Clues), Skeleton Creek. Skeleton Creek is a creepy mystery series told through books and online videos. The series is really a book and a movie simultaneously -- readers (viewers?) need both elements to get the full story. So far there are two books in the series, and Scholastic has signed on Carman to produce another multimedia project in 2010. As Patrick Carman tells it, "It's not about bridging the gap between technology and books-it's about erasing it."
Everyone wants to get in on the multi-platform, multimedia, interactive scene. 39 Clues is by far the most successful so far, but that doesn't stop innovators from experimenting with different models. Fourth Story Media is a company that aims to create multimedia stories that encourage reader participation. Their first "transmedia" project is a digital mystery geared towards teen girls called The Amanda Project; the first book, invisible i was published in September by HarperTeen. The books are different accounts of Amanda's disappearance by her three friends; the website provides clues and a space for reader interaction.
All of the above -- successful or not -- are pioneers in what is sure to become the norm in YA publishing: interactive, multi-platform stories. Most of today's teens are online, and that's where publishing has to go if they want to reach them. Blog and book trailers are well and good, but why not take advantage of the rich storytelling opportunities that multimedia has to offer? It's going to be very exciting to see how it will change the reading experience for today's teen readers.
From: The Huffington Post
Friday, February 19, 2010
by: Ellyssa Kroski
New social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter enable librarians to converse, communicate, and collaborate with patrons as never before, because they are increasingly a part of people’s everyday lives. A brochure that describes your library with a few pictures is great, but a video tour that people can watch on your website or blog is immeasurably better. Enabling patrons to save their catalog searches is important, but offering the ability to notify patrons via email and text messaging when new acquisitions arrive presents a fresh way to connect with users.
Librarians who are still becoming comfortable with the Web are often reticent to begin using new technologies in their day-to-day work because the learning curve often takes more time than they have at hand. When I begin teaching people about Web 2.0, mobile, and emerging technologies, I try to answer three questions:
- What is it?
- Why is it important?
- How can it help me better serve my users tomorrow?
Here are 10 ideas you can use to start creating, collaborating, connecting, and communicating through cutting-edge tools and techniques. All of them are culled from the 10 books in the Tech Set series, to be published by Neal-Schuman in March.
1: Create a library video tour to welcome people 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any location.
With today’s technology, even inexperienced video producers can create a video tour and put it on the library’s website for little time and money. The tools of the trade are: a camera, microphone, lights, computer, video and audio editing software, tripod for the camera, microphone stand, a portable lighting structure, and headphones. It seems like a lot, but with some bargain-hunting you should be able to get everything you need for a webcam setup from about $100.
Library video tours aren’t just about the facility and its features; they’re a way to invite nonusers to come and visit. It’s about the warm welcome and the friendly service they will receive when they do come. It’s about the pride you feel being part of the community. It’s much more than just a tour!
The secret is to pretend that you have never been to the library and are discovering it for the very first time. The tour should begin from the moment potential users decides that they are coming to the library. So the first thing you want to do is welcome them, introduce yourself, and tell them the hours you are open. Then introduce them to any library feature or service that you’d like, from information about travel, parking, and restrooms to instructions for getting a library card or visiting the reference desk.
2: Use SMS to send patron alerts and notifications.
SMS (short message service, a.k.a. texting) is ideal for broadcast services. If your library sends out notices to its patrons, having the ability to send SMS alerts is a nice alternative to e-mail, and much more useful for most younger patrons. Research has shown that the current generation of students sees e-mail as old and outdated; they rely almost exclusively on texting to communicate with each other. There are ILS systems that provide a direct SMS gateway option and natively send texts out to patrons. But even if an ILS doesn’t have SMS capabilities built in, it probably has e-mail, and, with a little effort, you can give most patrons the option of receiving info via an e-mail SMS gateway.
Most cellular carriers have a gateway that allows e-mail to be transmitted to a mobile phone via SMS. If your ILS can send out alerts via e-mail, you just need to give it the equivalent e-mail address for a patron’s cell phone, and it should work transparently. SMS has a 160-character limit for transmitting text, so if your e-mails tend to be very wordy or have extraneous text (signatures and such), you will need to pare them down before implementing SMS in your ILS.
3: Feed your library’s blog posts into Twitter without doing any more work.
Twitter is immensely popular right now, and it’s a great way of letting your community members know what’s happening at the library. Is today’s storytime canceled? Let patrons know automatically. You can begin using Twitter by posting tweets yourself, but there are ways to automate Twitter so that it instantly posts content that other parts of your organization— from public programs to children’s services—originally creates. This can help to both reduce your workload and improve your library’s communication with patrons.
4: Improve customer service by developing a technology skills list for your staff.
One of the easiest ways to start getting content into a Twitter account is to set up a blog feed to post to your Twitter account automatically. You don’t have to use a blog; any application that can give information in RSS format (such as many online calendars or other social networking sites like Facebook) can be used as seed content for a fledgling Twitter account. All you have to do is find the RSS feed; once you’ve got the address for the feed, you can then use a third-party service such as TwitterFeed to have all posts automatically added to your library’s Twitter stream.
A technology skills list is an easy and efficient way to organize an ongoing technology training program at your library. Technology skills or competencies are the technology-related abilities, qualities, strengths, and skills required for the success of the employee and the organization. As you might imagine, these skills have increased in number with the advent of personal computers, the internet, and Web 2.0. Technology skills are crucial for the success of any organization, but critically important for successful customer service in libraries.
Many of us in libraries are acting as first-line, de facto tech support. If we do not have a handle on the technology tools that we use, the technology gets in the way of our service to our users and things don’t run smoothly. We want everyone on our staff to be able to help our users equally. Our technology skills need to be so second nature to each of us that they come as naturally as breathing. By getting everyone on the same page with their technology skills, the library creates a frontline force with technology know-how, expertise, and ability, each one ready to step in and solve whatever problem or question comes up—right then and there. No more shuffling a user from one person to another or making the user wait minutes, even days, for an answer.
5: Create a special-event wiki.
A wiki can be a good solution if you are creating a website for a special event but do not want to bother your webmaster with the regular updates you are planning to make. If you choose to host the wiki yourself, you will need to work with a webmaster in setting it. Once the webmaster has set up the backend, or you have used a third-party site to meet your requirements, you are ready to start adding content.
Like any upcoming-event site, your wiki should be designed to include relevant information for the participants you are targeting. If you are planning a lecture series, you will want to include when, where, and who will be speaking. Your audience will find it useful if you include an image of the speaker and a biography; you might also consider embedding video footage of the speaker at another event. If you are planning a workshop or conference, you might start the wiki with just an announcement. As you figure out more about what is going to happen at the conference, what hotel will offer a discount, who the keynote speaker will be, and all the other conference details, you will want to add this information to the website.
6: Help your catalog evolve with personalization.
A website can offer many additional features to users willing to register and sign in. Traditional library catalogs have offered such services to patrons as the ability to view the materials currently checked out, make renewal requests, place requests to be notified when items become available, make interlibrary loan requests, pay fines, and many other actions that might otherwise require a visit to the library. Self-service through the website has become increasingly expected.
Personalization also enables the use of customized settings related to search and retrieval. Users might want to save search results for future consultation, bookmark specific items, or establish preferences regarding narrowing searches to their favorite databases or disciplines. Notification services also tie in to personalization, such as the ability to set up alerts to be notified by e-mail when the library obtains new materials in a specific area of interest.
7: Put together a Guitar Hero tournament that will attract a wide range of nonusers to your library for the very first time.
Guitar Hero is a very popular videogame. Its controllers resemble musical instruments allowing players to “play music” by pressing the appropriate key as it scrolls across the screen. One of the reasons for Guitar Hero’s success is its popularity among both male and female gamers; another is that it can be played on almost every console (as well as mobile phones).
The first thing you should do is determine what age level to target for your tournament. While the majority of your programs might group similar ages together, keep in mind that video game skills often can transcend the age of the player. It’s important to be clear about what age range your tournament is open to so that people don’t feel the rules are being changed midway through the registration period.
8: Use Facebook for chat reference.
Many libraries have expanded into digital reference service by providing chat or instant messaging service to their users. Libraries use a variety of programs to provide chat service to library users. Facebook, as a social environment, is a perfect place to distribute chat reference service. In some cases, applications are already available for Facebook users. Services such as MeeboMe and AIM Wimzi can be added to librarian profiles as a way for users to ask for help.
In addition to these applications, Facebook also has its own chat service available to users. As librarians add library users to their Friends lists, they should not be surprised if they get the occasional question or comment about the library from Facebook Chat.
9: Collaborate and communicate with internal blogs.
Several types of internal blogs exist. Especially for libraries serving members of a specific organization, some blog types may be visible only to those inside the organization, such as subject-specific or subject specialist blogs.
Other internal blogs are meant for use by the library staff for communication with one another. Some types of blogs you might consider to boost your internal communication:
- A weeding blog discussing what has been removed from the library shelves and why.
- A training blog discussing what is being taught in library-run seminars and the related resources and logistics, giving you a place to discuss new ideas before trying them out.
- An acquisitions blog explaining buying decisions and reasons for purchase delays.
- A professional development blog where staff share what they learned at conferences, seminars, and courses or in their own reading.
- Blogs from each of your departments or teams discussing the work they are doing and their latest projects.
The larger your staff, the more value they will see in these kinds of blogs as they will not have time to talk with everyone and learn what they are doing. Blogs discussing department work help keep everyone up to speed on what is happening in other departments, and invite a spirit of collaboration.
10: Hold a themed unconference to tackle important issues.
Of course any library unconference already has a theme: libraries! But some unconferences, or library camps, are also built around a more specific theme. Technology-related themes are popular, but they’re not the only kinds of themed unconferences that have been successful.
- The L2 Unconference in Melbourne and Library 2.0 on the Loose in Perth were two Australian unconferences in 2007 that took Library 2.0 as a theme.
- RepoCamp was an unconference held at the Library of Congress in 2008 for people who are “interested in managing and creating digital repository software and their contents.”
- Mashed Libraries UK 2008 was devoted to library applications of “mashups”: the programming practice of bringing data together from multiple online sources to create a new service.
- The Radical Reference group hosted an unconference as an unofficial preconference to the 2009 Association of College and Research Libraries meeting in Seattle. The meeting focused on “social justice and alternative and radical collections and programs in academic libraries.”
Many good things can come out of having a theme for your unconference. Rather than having sessions that range widely from high-tech topics to community and personnel issues, a themed camp will keep participants talking about issues around a single agreed-upon topic, offering participants a more focused experience. There will also be more carry-over from one session to another, and participants may feel comfortable with less uncertainty about what they’ll be talking about that day.
These are just a few ideas for ways that libraries can start implementing these new technologies right now to enhance public services, communicate with staff, and facilitate remote collaboration. What makes these 10 tools and techniques particularly appealing is that most can be utilized to create cutting-edge programs and services with just a little investment of time and resources and a low learning curve. These simple suggestions can get you started creating innovative programs and initiatives using today’s hottest technologies as soon as next week.From: American Libraries
Thursday, February 18, 2010
by: Alison Flood
Jammed into a packed commuter train on a Monday morning, the last thing most people would think of doing is striking up a literary conversation with their fellow travellers. But that's exactly what First Capital Connect is hoping they'll do after launching a new monthly book club for its customers.
Kicking off in March with bestselling US crime author Jonathan Kellerman's new thriller Evidence, which sees investigator Alex Delaware looking into the murder of a man and woman who have been bludgeoned to death on a building site, the initiative will see thousands of chapter samplers given away every morning and evening on around 10 days each month at First Capital Connect stations. Commuters will also be able to download samples from a website, with plans for discounts and competitions also in place.
First Capital Connect, which operates trains between London, Brighton, Bedford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn, said it hoped the scheme would brighten journeys and help improve its service. It plans to offer a new title in the book club each month, but did not comment on whether Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, in which a man is stabbed to death in his sleep on a train, might be a future offering for its readers.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Pulling away from the Cafe Flore on Market Street, San Francisco author Daniel Handler feels all the power and the weight of the 33-foot-long bookmobile as he cajoles it up the Market Street hill en route to his childhood library branch at West Portal. Unused to navigating large vehicles - "I've never even driven an SUV" - he is remarkably calm as he chugs through traffic on a recent afternoon.
"My wife made me promise not to do anything that would result in the headline 'Author Dies in Unfortunate Event,' " says the characteristically deadpan, pen-named author of Lemony Snicket's 13-volume orphan saga, "A Series of Unfortunate Events." Except for one scarily sharp right turn with an inch- and-a-half clearance between the back wheel and a parked Toyota, Handler keeps his promise without breaking a sweat.
As he drives, Mill Valley musician, author and documentarian Tom Corwin rides shotgun, peppering him with soulful questions about what books have been important to him, while cameraman Jim Dziura captures it all on HD video for a documentary called "Behind the Wheel of the Bookmobile."
Corwin bought this decommissioned bookmobile in October, for $7,500, from a library in a suburb of Chicago after Marin County author Peter Laufer told him over dinner that he'd seen it on Craigslist and wished he could buy it.
"By the end of dinner, I had come up with this whole concept of buying the bookmobile myself," Corwin recalls, "and having authors join me, taking turns behind the wheel, and driving across the country interviewing people about the books that have touched their lives and creating a documentary film and a Web-based literacy outreach component. Peter Coyote was my first call, and he said, 'I love it. I'm in.' "
Corwin has raised about half the money he needs to make his film. He has a deal with Whitewater Films in Los Angeles, which made a substantial investment, and the support of the National Book Foundation, the Association of American Publishers and the American Library Association. But he is still seeking corporate sponsorship and individual donations, which can be made through his Web site, Bookmobiletravels.com.
His trip back to the Bay Area in the bookmobile featured a few colorful misadventures - including getting stuck bumper-deep in Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats - all caught on camera. Along the way, he interviewed regular folks, from a waitress in Battle Mountain, Nev., who writes and performs cowboy poetry to an Army vet in Boulder, Colo., just returned from Afghanistan, who talked about how important books are to soldiers away from home.
He is planning a six-week trek in late spring and summer, with authors driving different legs and stops to offer locals a book from the bookmobile's shelves in exchange for an interview. Between now and then, Corwin is filming jaunts with Bay Area authors, Handler being the first.
Arriving at the West Portal branch, Handler disembarks and ascends the stairs he used to climb weekly with his dad after they walked the six blocks from their home. He enters the Children's Room, flooded with light and adorned with exposed beams stenciled with pastel flora and fauna.
During the drive, Handler had talked about how he "read and reread" the books of Mill Valley author Zilpha Keatley Snyder, who wrote Newbery Honor Book "The Egypt Game" and many others.
"Her books show there's something secret and mysterious that's lurking beneath the everyday world, and I took that lesson very seriously."
Once inside, he goes over to the "S" shelves, where her books - and his - are displayed.
"It's kind of poetic," Corwin notes, "that kids are kneeling exactly where you kneeled down to pick out Keatley Snyder's book, but they're going one shelf up to pick out your book."
"It is - it's astonishing," says Handler, whose Snicket series has sold 60 million copies worldwide. "But it wasn't right here exactly. I think it was over there," he says, scanning the room and his childhood memories simultaneously.
Corwin explains that his project is really "an opportunity for the authors and readers to connect on their common love of books."
He will also weave into the documentary the history of bookmobiles, which started in Maryland in the early 1900s and are still thriving all over the country. He stopped at the ALA Conference in Chicago before he rushed back to San Francisco for Litquake (festival co-director and author Jane Ganahl is a big supporter of Corwin's project), and interviewed the librarians who drove his bookmobile for 18 years. They described the magical relationship they had with their patrons as they exposed them to new things through literature.
"I could see the sense of purpose they have in their jobs," says Corwin. "I think that will be a real powerful thread in the film."
While he was parked outside the conference, a man approached the vehicle and said, "It looks just like the one from my childhood." He came on board and began to reminisce: "Growing up African American in Mississippi, I was not allowed to use the library. But I was allowed on the bookmobile. There was a white driver and one white librarian, and they didn't care what color I was. I discovered books and the world on the bookmobile. I would probably not be a reader or a writer if it were not for the bookmobile."
The man turned out to be W. Ralph Eubanks, director of publishing for the Library of Congress and author of "Ever Is a Long Time" and "The House at the End of the Road."
"His story is such a great example of the kind of illumination that happened though these vehicles," Corwin reflects, "and also through books."
In the bookmobile, he asks Handler what book most influenced him.
"All of them," he answers. "My life feels like nothing but a tapestry of ideas hijacked from literature."
For more information about the bookmobile project and the fundraising campaign, go to www.bookmobiletravels.com.
from: San Francisco Chronicle
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
by: Robert McCrum
The news that a 17-year-old Berliner, Helene Hegemann, has run into a storm of abusive publicity over the authenticity of her cult teen bestseller Axolotl Roadkill looks like another of those plagiarism rows that surface from time to time in the European press. See, for instance, my recent Observer article about novelist Marie Darrieusecq's bitter feud with Camille Laurens.
But this one is, I think, more complicated than usual. Of course, at one level, there are passages in Hegemann's gritty exploration of the Berlin nightclub scene in the aftermath of her mother's death that are plainly lifted wholesale from another novel, Strobo, the work of a German blogger who goes under the name of Airen.
Disentangling fact from fiction in a spat that looks like a nasty blog-war is tricky, but it's clear from the reports I've read that Hegemann, a child of the internet age, simply does not understand, or recognise, the charge of plagiarism. To her, coming from the cut-and-paste world of blogs and Facebook, what she's done is no more than "mixing" (she seems to use the English term, by the way.)
It may be unwise to pronounce on a German literary scandal. But it does seem to me that, in a naive way, Hegemann is simply following a line of argument that is gaining momentum at the moment, especially in California: when everything is available free online, what is the meaning of copyright?
If you come, as most adult readers still do, from an established print culture, then copyright is the bedrock of the European intellectual tradition. But if you have come of age outside that cultural inheritance, or at odds with it, then you are likely to claim, as Hegemann reportedly puts it, that "Berlin is here to mix with everything".
In this context, which cannot be ignored, plagiarism is just one part of the literary contract that may now be up for renegotiation in Google-world. Some will say, with Cavafy, that "The barbarians are coming." I don't take that line, but I think the renegotiation is increasingly urgent.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Nearly all of the Phoenix Suns players read on road trips these days (the Bible counts, says Suns center Channing Frye). Miami's Dwyane Wade isn't afraid to admit that one of his favorite books was Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," which he first read as a student at Marquette.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
God bless South West Trains. Not a phrase you'll often hear in London's leafier southern suburbs – but without one of their seasonal delays in service last week, I wouldn't have stumbled into the waiting room at Wimbledon Station and discovered, joy of joys, the Station Bookswap.
It was the poster pinned to the door that pulled me in. "Never be bored on a train journey again!" And there, propped up on the window sills, a smattering of books, their covers tantalisingly open to view. The selection ranged from a mint copy of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, through some battered Jodi Picoult and James Patterson hardbacks to a decent Penguin Classic edition of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, all bearing the fingerprints of Wimbledon readers.
And it's true what they say. Books really do furnish a (waiting) room. The formerly dank and draughty surroundings of Platform Five seemed instantly less prosaic. Most colourful of all were the children's picture books, not just Spot at Christmas but bilingual texts in Hindi, Tamil and Chinese.
Some reading around reveals the man behind the scheme: twenty-nine-year-old Anthony Fairclough, legal researcher and chair of Merton Liberal Democrats, who does the Wimbledon to Waterloo commute every morning at 7am. Finding the cut-and-paste PR of the Metro newspaper barely lasted him two stops to Clapham Junction, Fairclough set up the book-swap last November.
The rules are simple. Take away a book, any book, to read at your leisure and return it once you're done for another. The idea actually originated further down the line at Raynes Park, where a swap has been running since the local library refurbished and wanted to offload some stock in 2005. To date, commuters have picked up 22,000 titles and rumour has it they're swapping at Morden Tube now, too, making Merton London's most borrower-friendly borough.
Anything goes, says Fairclough, from cookery books to out-of-date legal textbooks. His last find was an old 80s anthology entitled Sixty Tales of the Supernatural – like a book club, the swap gets you reading things you might not pick out in a shop. It certainly brings new meaning to the term "travelling library", a bit like those dog-eared copies of Alex Garland's The Beach that do the rounds of the South East Asian backpacking circuit. Except these books are on a return ticket.
At least, that's the idea. As yet, they rarely make it back to base. The book-swap is getting through 100 volumes a week, and while local libraries and Wimbledon's Freecycle network help Fairclough keep up with supply, he is exploring other ways to encourage returns, from printing up stickers to tapping into BookCrossing, which allows you to register titles and track them from person to person across the world.
Buoyed by his community spirit, I drop off a bag o' books on my way into London, including one of the four One Hundred Years of Solitudes our house has somehow accumulated. Hanging around for as long as I can without risking arrest under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, I keep watch on the waiting room. No one goes in or out.
And yet, returning the same evening, Gabriel García Márquez has gone. It's a thrill, imagining his onward journey. (As blogger Cover Girl has discovered, reading on public transport can be quite the ticket to romance.) Is it too much to hope that one day there could be a swap in every waiting room of every station of every town in the country? Would you use them? And what books do you recommend for the daily commute? Anything has to beat Metro, after all.
Friday, February 12, 2010
"Keeping traditional school libraries up to date is costly, with the constant need to acquire new books and to find space to store them. Yet for all that trouble, students roam the stacks less and less because they find it so much more efficient to work online. One school, Cushing Academy, made news last fall when it announced that it would give away most of its 20,000 books and transform its library into a digital center.
Do schools need to maintain traditional libraries? What are the educational consequences of having students read less on the printed page and more on the Web?"
Read the responses from
James Tracy, headmaster, Cushing Academy
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, English professor, University of Maryland
Liz Gray, library director, Dana Hall School
Nicholas Carr, author, “The Big Switch”
William Powers, author, “Hamlet’s BlackBerry”
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Some are hunched over computers and a state-of-the-art scanner. Others busy themselves in an air-conditioned laboratory, surrounded by fumigation units, bell jars of chemicals, trays of clear liquids and metal drying racks.
This is the institution's rare books restoration project, which aims to return ancient and hard-to-find works to their former glory, so the scholars of the future can learn from those of the past.
Everyone involved shares the same enthusiasm for the task - making damaged books fit for another 100 years.
"Future generations should know what our history is," said Kirti Joshi, an assistant conservator, wiping her hands on a white apron. "To do so we have to preserve it."
The 2.5 million rupee (55,000 dollar) project began early last year and is nearing completion.
So far 100,000 pages - or around 300 books - have been digitised to UNESCO standards and 88,000 pages cut, cleaned, laminated with chemical-free Japanese tissue paper and rebound in red leather covers with gold-embossed lettering.
Those involved want to extend the project, hoping that if money is found, 500,000 books from the university's 800,000-strong collection can be saved.
Amol Divkar, an academic whose private archival science firm is undertaking the restoration work, says it has been a labour of love, with the funding just about covering the cost of materials and labour.
But he said it has a wider significance - to set a precedent for other institutions around the country.
"We are determined to show that despite all the constraints, we can do a wonderfully positive project," the historical researcher told AFP.
India is one of world's oldest civilisations, home throughout the years to pre-historic settlements, Mughal invaders, British colonialists and modern-day freedom fighters.
But bar a few exceptions, the upkeep of the nation's heritage is often lacking.
Mumbai's Anglican cathedral, St Thomas's, for example, has birth records dating back to the 17th century, which could be a boon for family history enthusiasts and historians, said Divkar.
But the piles of hand-written ledgers are gathering dust, mould and decay.
Like many areas of life, funding is a problem, he said, and getting government help involves a painfully slow process of tenders and red tape.
Trained book preservation specialists like Joshi and her colleagues are in short supply, with some of their work correcting that of well-meaning individuals who have previously attempted emergency repairs.
"People do preservation but they don't have the right kind of knowledge about how books should be treated," said assistant librarian Anjali Kale, holding up one tome restored with greaseproof paper.
"See, its pages are curled. That's to do with the heat."
With a lack of will, capacity or knowledge, it's left to passionate individuals like Tilaka Joseph, the former assistant librarian who initiated the project, to stubbornly look for alternatives.
She convinced Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest software exporter, to provide funding.
The giant Tata Group conglomerate is also involved in helping the prestigious Asiatic Society of Mumbai restore its 200,000-strong collection.
Some 3,200 books have been restored there, including a manuscript of Dante's "Divine Comedy", a copy of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" and delicate illustrated Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts dating from the 13th century.
An adopt-a-book scheme has been running at the 195-year-old institution since 1991 for individuals to donate cash towards the cost of restoration.
Galileo's 1632 work "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems", one of the many volumes gathering dust in the society's dark, musty basement, is to be restored with finance from local Italian business people.
"The main thing is getting donors to adopt books or boosting the coffers to allow us to restore the books," said the organisation's president Aroon Tikekar.
Without consistent funding, Tikekar and Divkar fear for the disappearance of India's heritage as misuse, overuse and the damaging effects of tropical temperatures, monsoon humidity and insect infestation eat away at old pages.
"It's important that this information or knowledge is disseminated to all," Divkar said.
"Some of the best pieces of information in the world from the 17th century are available in Mumbai. Very few people are aware of it.
"If this is not made available for future researchers, it crumbles to powder and is lost to posterity. Valuable knowledge will also be lost.
"We have what we have because of what our ancestors have done and produced for us. If we can't preserve it, we will have failed."
from: The Independent
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
MORE than 65,000 19th-century works of fiction from the British Library’s collection are to be made available for free downloads by the public from this spring.
Owners of the Amazon Kindle, an ebook reader device, will be able to view well known works by writers such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy, as well as works by thousands of less famous authors.
The library’s ebook publishing project, funded by Microsoft, the computer giant, is the latest move in the mounting online battle over the future of books.
While some other services, such as Google Books, offer out-of-copyright works to be downloaded for free, users of the British Library service will be able to read from pages in the original books in the library’s collection.
Most downloadable books on the Kindle are by contemporary authors because they are the most profitable for publishers. Many companies have not yet decided what to charge for older, out-of-copyright books.
While the British Library books — which will include Dickens’s Bleak House, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge — will be available free online, the public will also be able to order printed copies from Amazon.
Like the onscreen versions, the paperbacks, costing £15-£20, will look like the frequently rare 19th-century editions in the library’s collection — including their typeface and illustrations. Originals of works by Austen and Dickens typically cost at least £250.
“Freeing historic books from the shelves has the potential to revolutionise access to the world’s greatest library resources,” said Lynne Brindley, the library’s chief executive.
Microsoft and the British Library, which by law purchases at least one copy of every book published in the UK, have been scanning the books over the past three years. The library concentrated the first stage of digitisation on the 19th century because the books are out of copyright and so can be offered free. Copyright runs out 70 years after an author’s death.
The library, which receives an annual government grant of £100m, declined to disclose the sum paid by Microsoft, beyond saying it was “a very generous amount”.
Books to be made available will include Victorian classics such as A Strange Story by Edward Bulwer-Lytton and The Story of a Modern Woman by Ella Hepworth Dixon.
Many of the downmarket books known as “penny dreadfuls” will also be made available to the public, including Black Bess by Edward Viles and The Dark Woman by J M Rymer.
Altogether, 35%-40% of the library’s 19th-century printed books — now all digitised — are inaccessible in other public libraries and are difficult to find in second-hand or internet bookshops.
The library hopes to extend the digitisation scheme by scanning books out of copyright dating from the early 20th century. As yet, however, neither Microsoft nor the institution itself have set money aside for the project.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
by: Stephen Towey and Helen Cota
A version of this post previously appeared on The Biblio Files blog.
If you listen to an audiobook, have you read the book?
It's undoubtedly a different experience to read a book with just ink and paper (or pixels and screen) between you and the author, than it is to listen to someone's vocalization of the sentences. In "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain" author Maryanne Wolf describes how the brain processes written information differently than audio or other information. Stanislas Dehaene delves even further into the science of reading in his book "Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention." Listening or reading? It seems like an academic question. What difference does it really make? But a couple of articles I read recently have made me wonder.
In this New York Times article, we find that many blind people, including the governor of New York, don't read braille. Instead they rely on audiobooks, recordings of newspapers and magazines, and human assistants to orally brief them on the business of the day. Text-to-speech technology allows people to hear their e-mails and other documents.
And in this Canadian Broadcasting Corp. article, we find that the major provider of books in braille in Canada is about to go out of business if it can't get government funding or some other source of revenue. They are having a hard time convincing people that braille is even necessary anymore.
In the New York Times article, one advocate for the disabled characterizes blind people who don't read braille as illiterate. He describes their writing as "phonetic and butchered." If it were merely a matter of acquiring information, as seems to be the case with the woman profiled in the New York Times, then there's no doubt that the quickest, most efficient method of “reading” is preferable.
I can't help thinking that it's a mistake to let braille die, though. According to the National Federation of the Blind, only 10 percent of blind children learn braille today, down from 50 percent in the 1950s, and only 10 percent of blind people in America read braille. Is it just as good to listen to a book as it is to read it? When I listen to a book, my mind wanders more often than it does when I read a book. If I want to read faster or slower, it's up to me, not the person who is reading (although there are audiobooks now with adjustable speeds). My brain seems more passive when I'm listening than when I'm reading, but that could be a lack of mental discipline on my part.
Human beings have been talking and listening to each other for at least 50,000 years. We've been reading and writing for around 7,000 or 8,000 years. People don't have to be taught to listen. Reading is a different, more complex activity than listening.
Don't get me wrong -- audiobooks are great for car trips or when you're in the gym. Multitasking dynamos like Gov. Paterson and others, blind or not, find audiobooks and other recorded documents an efficient way to acquire information. You have to admire that.
But listening isn't reading. I hope that braille instruction and braille books remain an available option for people who can't read print.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Read the report
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Looking for a T-shirt to show off your great literary taste? Look no further than Out of Print Clothing's line of shirts featuring classic book covers. Yep, they have the iconic orange horse cover that graced the first edition of Catcher in the Rye.
But we think that the amazing Rockwell Kent, Moby Dick cover would look great on any literate hipster.
As a plus, Out of Print Clothing, sends a free book to a community in Africa with every purchase. We suggest that you actually read the books before buying the shirt, not doing so would just be wrong, poseur.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
by: Richard Adams
Walk into just about any US bookstore or library and you'll find a copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See. It was first published in 1967, and illustrated by Eric Carle – who also gave us the equally famous The Very Hungry Caterpillar – and written by Bill Martin Jr.
As books go, Brown Bear couldn't be any more harmless – but that didn't stop the Texas state board of education from renoving it from a list of approved books for schools - because of a book entitled Ethical Marxism, written by an entirely different Bill Martin.The Fort Worth Star-Telegraph reports:
"In its haste to sort out the state's social studies curriculum standards this month, the State Board of Education tossed children's author Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system."
"Trouble is, the Bill Martin Jr who wrote the Brown Bear series never wrote anything political, unless you count a book that taught kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, his friends said. The book on Marxism was written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago."
Still safe for now are Goodnight Moon, although The Little Engine That Could has some clearly subversive messages. In the meantime, here's Bill Martin Jr – the non-Marxist one – giving a stirring rendition of Brown Bear, Brown Bear:
from: The Guardian
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The Booker Prize was created in 1968 as a retrospective prize - that is, honoring books published prior to the award year. Then, in 1971, two changes were made in the Booker rules: the Booker became a prize for the best novel published in the same year as the award, and the month in which the award was given changed from April to November. As a result of the new rules, books published in 1970 were never eligible for the prize.
Nearly 40 years later, Peter Straus, honorary archivist to the Booker Prize Foundation, discovered the gap that led to the creation of the "Lost" Booker prize. "I noticed that when Robertson Davies's Fifth Business was first published it carried encomiums from Saul Bellow and John Fowles both of whom judged the 1971 Booker Prize. However judges for 1971 said it had not been considered or submitted. This led to an investigation which concluded that a year had been excluded.
"The longlist, also announced February 1, consists of 22 books that are still in print and available today. Authors include J.G. Farrell, whose The Siege of Krishnapur won the prize in 1973; Iris Murdoch, whose The Sea, The Sea won in 1978; and previously shortlisted authors David Lodge, Muriel Spark, Nina Bawden, and Susan Hill.
Brian Aldiss, The Hand Reared Boy
H.E.Bates, A Little Of What You Fancy?
Nina Bawden, The Birds On The Trees
Melvyn Bragg, A Place In England
Christy Brown, Down All The Days
Len Deighton, Bomber
J.G. Farrell, Troubles
Elaine Feinstein, The Circle
Shirley Hazzard, The Bay Of Noon
Reginald Hill, A Clubbable Woman
Susan Hill, I'm The King Of The Castle
Francis King, A Domestic Animal
Margaret Laurence, The Fire Dwellers
David Lodge, Out Of The Shelter
Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat
Shiva Naipaul, Fireflies
Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander
Joe Orton, Head To Toe
Mary Renault, Fire From Heaven
Ruth Rendell, A Guilty Thing Surprised
Muriel Spark, The Driver's Seat
Patrick White, The Vivisector
The judges - journalist and critic Rachel Cooke, ITN newsreader Katie Derham, and poet and novelist Tobias Hill - will choose a shortlist in March. The public will then be invited to vote for a winning title via the Man Booker website. The overall winner will be announced in May.The regular 2010 Man Booker Prize will be awarded in October.
from: The Independent
Monday, February 1, 2010
by: Katie Allen
Amazon has conceded that it will have to give in to Macmillan in a row over the pricing of ebooks that saw the publisher's titles removed from the retailer's virtual shelves this weekend.
After a meeting between the two parties on Thursday ended in deadlock, Amazon stripped books from Macmillan – including Hilary Mantel's Man Booker prizewinner, Wolf Hall – from its website in the US.
In a posting on its site, Amazon said the talks stumbled over Macmillan's push to switch to a pricing model where $12.99 to $14.99 is charged for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases. Amazon, which has long been under fire from the publishing community for selling ebook bestsellers at $9.99, sought to paint Macmillan as the pricing tyrant.
"We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for ebooks," the online retailer added.
"Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling ebook. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced ebooks as an alternative."
Thursday's price spat with Amazon – home of the Kindle ebook store and reading device – followed the news that Macmillan was one of a handful of publishers to be the first in Apple's new iBookstore. Apple, which is potentially providing Amazon's biggest ebook challenge yet with the iPad, is expected to allow publishers more freedom to set their own prices.
Macmillan's chief executive, John Sargent, said the row with Amazon was about the "long-term viability and stability of the digital book market".
"Amazon and Macmillan both want a healthy and vibrant future for books. We clearly do not agree on how to get there," he said in a statement to authors, illustrators and literary agents, posted online.
Visitors looking up Macmillan titles on Amazon's US site this morning saw a list entitled "available from these sellers", but no Amazon price or order button.
The retailer is under pressure to stay competitive on price as digital books become a growing part of its business and rival sellers increase.
Macmillan's description of Amazon as "a great innovator" reflects the retailer's development of the Kindle, which publishers such as Penguin have credited with invigorating the ebook market in the US. Amazon recently passed a milestone when on Christmas day it sold more ebooks than traditional books, as people who got Kindles for Christmas bought titles to download.
But now it has a new challenger in the form of Apple. The iPad tablet brings with it the iBookstore and new pricing models for electronic publishing.
From: The Guardian