Archive for July, 2011

Liblog Profiles 37-40

Posted in Liblogs on July 21st, 2011

Yes, somebody purchased a copy of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010. So…

Profiles 37-40

AbsTracked

“A blog listing useful links. (Since this blog is from the perspective of an off-duty law librarian, links will generally be related to the topics of law, libraries, reference, technology, and fun.) …” By Abbie Mulvihill. U.S. Blogger. Began February 2005. Lasted 62 months: Most recent post March 10, 2010. Group 2 (only one post March-May 2010).

Overall Posts

718

Per Month

11.6

Quintile

1

Quintile

1

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

0

35

4

1

Quintile

5

2

4

5

Words

0

4,985

373

130

Quintile

5

3

5

5

Post length

0

142

93

130

Quintile

5

5

5

5

Comments

0

13

8

0

Quintile

5

3

3

5

Conv. Intensity

0

0.37

2.00

0

Quintile

5

4

2

5

Academic Evolution

“the order is changing…the change needs order” By Gideon Burton. U.S. TypePad. Began December 2008. Lasted 15 months : Most recent post February 23, 2010. Group 3 (no posts March-May 2010).

Overall Posts

47

Per Month

3.13

Quintile

4

Quintile

4

2009

Posts

10

Quintile

3

Words

3,560

Quintile

3

Post length

356

Quintile

2

Comments

27

Quintile

2

Conv. Intensity

2.70

Quintile

1

Academic Librarian

“On Libraries, Rhetoric, Poetry, History, & Moral Philosophy” By Wayne Bivens-Tatum. U.S. Movable Type. Began July 2007. Lasted 40 months through May 2010: most recent post July 7, 2011. Group 1.

Overall Posts

185

Per Month

5.29

Quintile

3

Quintile

3

2008

2009

2010

Posts

26

9

10

Quintile

2

3

3

Words

28,440

10,274

14,986

Quintile

1

1

1

Post length

1,094

1,143

1,499

Quintile

1

1

1

Comments

56

30

36

Quintile

1

2

1

Conv. Intensity

2.15

3.33

3.60

Quintile

1

1

1

Accidental Aussie

“A personal account of an information professional’s journey to the Sunburnt Country of Australia….” By Robyn. Australia. Blogger. Began April 2006. Lasted 40 months: most recent post August 1, 2009. Group 3 (no 2010 posts). Partial metrics.

2007

2008

2009

Posts

10

7

3

Quintile

4

4

5

Words

1,066

1,756

563

Quintile

5

4

5

Post length

107

251

188

Quintile

5

3

4

Comments

3

6

0

Quintile

4

4

5

Conv. Intensity

0.30

0.86

0

Quintile

4

3

5

 

Hyperlinks in Cites & Insights

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 20th, 2011

The August 2011 Cites & Insights adds hyperlinks, for the first time.

And I’ve already been told by a reader that they don’t work.

That’s true, in one area: Hyperlinks in the PDF version of Cites & Insights do not work at this point. That’s a weakness in both Acrobat 9 as a PDF printer and in Office2010′s “Save as PDF” function: Neither one turns Word hyperlinks into PDF hyperlinks.

“So what’s the problem? Just use the PDF tab on the menu bar instead.”

Sure…except that Acrobat 9 will not install an operational PDF tab in the Word2010 menu bar.

I suspect that Acrobat X will do so.

But, of course, that requires upgrading to Acrobat X, which takes money.

Revenue received from Cites & Insights: $0, for all intents and purposes.

So, y’know, just not gonna happen at this point: since I don’t need hyperlinks in other PDF situations, there’s no justification for me spending a couple hundred bucks of my own money.

The hyperlinks do work in the HTML versions of the essays. I’ve tried them.

“Well, then, you should be maintaining two entirely separate versions of C&I: One with hyperlinks for HTML, one with plain-text URLs and without annoying blue underlines for PDF.”

Not. Going. To. Happen. I can’t justify the effort at this point, given the diminished reception and importance of C&I in the community.

One solution: Drop the hyperlinks altogether. If there’s enough uproar, I’ll do that. Maybe adding them was a bad idea…

If I’ve missed something–if there’s a handy-dandy trick for printing to PDF, or Saving as PDF, that maintains hyperlinks–I’d be delighted to hear it. If it involves upgrading Acrobat, I’d be less delighted.

 

 

Cites & Insights August 2011 available

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 19th, 2011

Cites & Insights 11:7 (August 2011) is now available.

The 18-page issue, PDF as usual, includes three sections, each also available in HTML form (and, for two of them, with live links as appropriate):

Bibs & Blather  pp. 1-2

The state of the ejournal, such as it is.

Copyright Comments: Talking About the Public Domain   pp. 2-10

A mixed bag of notes on relatively recent items related to the growth (or non-growth) of the public domain.

Offtopic Perspective: Mystery Collection Part 4  pp. 10-18

Notes on movies (and early TV shows) on discs 18-24 of the 60-disc, 250-movie Mystery Collection.

En*ti*tle*ment

Posted in Stuff on July 18th, 2011

I’m still basically a lurker on Twitter, but I’ve come to appreciate one particular hashtag, one that I also see used a lot on FriendFeed:

#firstworldproblem

It’s a nicely terse way of saying, “Yeah, I know that this thing I’m carping about is pretty much irrelevant in the overall scheme of things, and would be laughed at by anybody in countries that aren’t absurdly wealthy. But I’m going to carp about it anyway.”

I can appreciate the sentiment. At times–I think more so in the past–people can get a little holier-than-thou in dismissing complaints. “What? The fries on your $50 steak frites aren’t as crisp as they should be? Millions of children are starving in [name your favorite third-world nation]!”

On the other hand, I admit to getting a little tired lately of what seem to be more and more posts, tweets and status updates that strike me as

#entitlementblues

Which is to say: “The universe revolves around me, dammit, and I will bitch about anything that fails to take my exalted status into account.” And also: “If I was getting an absurd bargain and somebody wants to charge a rational price instead, they’re harshing my cool and should be pummelled mercilously.” And more along those lines.

#entitlementblues also means you can ignore facts and wildly misstate figures because, after all, you’re entitled. So, to use one example, an increase of 60% becomes “doubling.”

You bought an expensive toy that requires wifi, and some place you go to either doesn’t have wifi or doesn’t have free wifi? Bitch about it, long and loud: That’s the #entitlementblues.

You like paying $9.99 for an ebook that would be $20 in hardbound, and it goes up to $15–which is still more of a discount than the likely cost differential for the physical object (almost never more than 1/7th of the purchase price, so less than $3 in this case)? Bitch about it, long and loud: That’s the #entitlementblues.

Do I actually hope to see a reduction in #entitlementblues posts and tweets? Nah–and they’re fun to snark about. Heck, for that matter, “This freebie online service isn’t working precisely the way I think it should work” is a classic #entitlementblues…and just watch the furor if that free service goes away or starts charging!

(Do I post messages sometimes that may be #entitlementblues? Yeah, probably.)

Comedy Kings 50 Movie Pack, Disc 5

Posted in Movies and TV on July 16th, 2011

False Pretenses, 1935, b&w. Charles Lamont (dir.), Irene Ware, Sidney Blackmer, Betty Compson, Russell Hopton, Edward Gargan, Ernest Wood, Lucy Beaumont. 1:08 [1:04]

A beautiful young waitress who’s unfortunately dating a brutish truck driver gets fired because of his abusive behavior and somehow manages to lose her final check, blown away in the wind—at a bridge where she sees a drunk gentleman who seems to be contemplating suicide. One thing leads to another; she finds that he’s a wealthy, well-known man who’s lost his money (but wasn’t really suicidal). She talks him into a scheme wherein he’ll find investors for an unknown venture, using the proceeds to put her up at a resort hotel where she’ll meet wealthy friends of his, get one of them to marry her, and repay the investors—and the gentleman, who incidentally is trying to avoid marrying a wealthy woman—with a premarital settlement.

Oddly enough, it’s all rather innocent. We also get a former bootlegger trying to become a socialite (and his butler, who just can’t stop being a burglar) and an oddly satisfying Happy Ending. The only one who winds up disappointed, presumably, is the truck driver—and that’s as it should be. Not falling-down funny but mildly amusing with a fine cast. Unfortunately, there are some missing frames leading to a little choppy dialog. Still, probably worth $1.25.

The Gang’s All Here, 1941, b&w. Jean Yarbrough (dir.), Frankie Darro, Marcia Mae Jones, Jackie Moran, Keye Luke, Mantan Moreland, Laurence Criner. 1:01.

The first problem is that this isn’t funny—unless you’re just wild about a particular brand of racist humor that was unfortunate in its day and just doesn’t work these days. That’s right—Mantan Moreland in full flower as a deliberately lazy bug-eyed stereotype—this time coupled with another black actor (Laurence Criner) with the name “Ham Shanks.” Other than that, it’s a plausible mystery plot of sorts: A trucking company’s trucks keep getting hijacked with the drivers killed, but insurance covers the losses; an out-of-work type (Darro) and his good-for-nothing sidekick (Moreland) sign up as drivers and wind up uncovering the complex situation, with the assistance of Keye Luke as a Chinese-American investigator for the insurance company.

To be honest, I found the whole thing faintly embarrassing. Decent print. If you’re fond of this sort of thing, it might be worth $0.50.

The Inspector General, 1949, color. Henry Koster (dir.), Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Barbar Bates, Elsa Lanchester, Gene Lockhart, Alan Hale, Walter Catlett, Rhys Williams. 1:42 [1:39].

Here’s what I said when I reviewed this as part of the Family Classics set: Wonderful, wonderful. Based on the play by Nikolai Gogol, this film is a delight—not only Danny Kaye’s character but also the rest of the cast. Very good to excellent print with a few tiny flaws; fine color and sound. Even if the print was damaged, this would be a wonderfully enjoyable movie.

I usually don’t rewatch movies I’ve already seen in another set, but for this one I made an exception. This time around, the only thing I would change is that the color is typical of aged Technicolor—that is, mostly washed out. Was I just being kind in 2005? I spotchecked that version. Turns out the movie in the Family Classics megapack and the one in this set are from different sources (which I’ve never seen before): The older one really is full color, but the print is sub-VHS quality, while the new one is extremely faded color but the print’s good enough that, even expanding it to fill my big HDTV (for this movie, the “just” function produces a wider picture without fat-faced actors), I was never aware of video issues. (The old one, on a large screen, has persistent problems.)

So: two different versions, each with its own flaws, but both wonderful—if you like Danny Kaye. It’s a great story (illiterate gypsy is mistaken for the Inspector General when he wanders into a corrupt town; just wants something to eat but winds up doing wonders) with some musical numbers and plenty of Kaye at his best. Given the washed-out color, I’ll only give this $2.25.

The Kid, 1921, b&w (silent). Charles Chaplin (dir., writer, star), Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan, Carl Miller. 1:08.

This one was also part of the Family Classics set, and I’m not enough of a Charlie Chaplin fan to watch it again. Here’s what I had to say then, adjusted only for my different price limits in 2010—and I know it’s short, but I’m not sure there’s a lot more to say about Chaplin’s silent Little Tramp movies:

One of the classic “Little Tramp” movies, in a good-quality print. If you like Chaplin in his silent roles, this is a must-see. $1.75.

An interjection just for this post: I read the IMDB reviews for The Inspector General–including some very negative ones. I would say something about the difficulty of watching comedies with a stick stuck that far up your posterior, but others might say the same thing about my attitude toward the East Side Kids, so let’s just say that tastes differ. And if you think Danny Kaye is a talentless buffoon or that it’s a bad thing that he’s strong on physical comedy and facial expressions–well, then you probably won’t enjoy the movie.

Rational pricing and reality

Posted in Movies and TV on July 12th, 2011

Another Title Too Important For The Post candidate…

I might as well alienate all my Netflix-using colleagues at once, instead of bit by bit on FF and G+.

Namely:

  • We’re on a budget (not having earned income will do that to you), and part of that–and our distance from the nearest telco office–is that we have 1.5Mbps broadband, and would have to pay a LOT more, to a company we despise, to get faster broadband.
  • Which means Netflix streaming is useless for us–the picture quality is too poor to even consider.
  • Which means I wasn’t happy about the previous rate increase, which got us unlimited streaming–that we can’t and don’t use–along with the three-DVD-with-Blu-ray paln that we do use.
  • I complained to Netflix about this.
  • So I’m real happy with the forthcoming rate changes: we’ll pay for what we use, and won’t pay for what we can’t use. We get a $4 or $5 monthly decrease for no change in service. Sounds good to me.
  • On a broader basis, I have yet to figure out how $16/month is “twice as much” as $10/month, and to the best of my knowledge there is no rental+streaming plan that now costs twice as much as it used to.

Looking at it more broadly:

  • I see people saying “Well, I’ll just go to streaming and use Redbox if I want a DVD.” I suspect that’s just fine with Netflix.
  • I see people saying “Netflix is trying to push everybody to streaming-only.” If Netflix is doing that in a way that rewards those of us who really just want discs, more power to them.
  • Realistically: Next time around, you can pretty well bet that Netflix’ agreements for streaming are going to be, at least in part, based on actual streaming usage. That’s partly true for DVDs: If Netflix has more demand, it spends more on discs–and only one account can use a disc at a time.
  • So: If, say, 20% of Netflix users don’t stream at all, then it’s to Netflix’ benefit–and, ultimately, to the subscribers’ benefit–for those 20% not to have streaming: The eventual cost of streaming licenses is likely to be roughly 20% lower.
  • Am I sympathetic to those who (a) pay enough to have really high-speed broadband, (b) watch enough TV to “need” both streaming and discs, (c) in some cases even admit that the new rates will still be cheaper than cable, but (d) are complaining bitterly about the new rates? Perhaps less so than I should be. In the long run, I’m pretty sure those folks will be a lot worse off if Netflix insists that everybody have both streaming and discs.

I could be wrong, of course, and I’m sure I’m not going to get much agreement on this. But unless you can convince me that Hollywood would never, ever do something like make streaming licenses usage-dependent (and if you believe that, talk to Pandora and other streaming radio services…), then we’re dealing with economic reality.


Update, July 13: While nobody’s commented directly on this post, it’s pretty clear from watching other streams that I must be an Evil Employee of Netflix to even suggest that this is anything other than:

  • Doubling prices! (In the new math, 60% of one plan is now doubling all plans.)
  • UnAmerican! (You know, “Life, liberty, and unlimited streaming plus one DVD at a time by mail for $9.99 total”–isn’t that in the Declaration of Independence?)
  • Vastly increasing the price of every Netflix service! (I’m apparently hallucinating about saving $4/month)
  • A deliberate attempt to force people to stop using DVDs! (And the statements by Evil Netflix Employees that some folks–like me–prefer to stick with DVDs are clearly lies, lies, lies…)
  • A huge crisis requiring tens of thousands of semiliterate complaints on Netflix’ Facebook page (many of them along the lines of “This food is terrible…and the portions are so small!”) and the like.

Oh, OK, there is Jenica, but hell, she’s rational anyway, so she doesn’t count.

Anyway: I hereby apologize for trying to add logic to the discussion. I’ll stop now. After all, $6 can buy two lattes or, what, about three days of cable TV, so this is clearly a Very Big Deal.

Social networks and professional affiliations

Posted in Libraries, Stuff on July 9th, 2011

Serious title for a fairly frivolous post, although the post could turn into a more-serious essay later on…

Social networks

I have no idea how many of these still have me as a resident or member or whatever. (I know Second Life is a Hotel California application, but I may have simply never bothered to delete accounts elsewhere–Orkut, for example).

And, yes, I added one more–need I say which one, or will a “+” suffice? I hadn’t been planning to join for a while, especially not while the initial “let’s all talk about what a cool thing this is” wave of buzz was going on.

See what I’m doing there? No? Oh well…

But a colleague–one I’ve never met but whom I respect enormously–sent me an invitation out of the blue, and I chose to accept it. And, of course, logging, found literally dozens but not yet hundreds of library folk who (a) are in my email contacts list, which only means “at some time either they sent me an email or I sent them an email” and (b) are already in the network.

For now, I’ve set up two named circles–one for library folk, specifically people who either are part of LSW or should be, and another for open access folk and scientists I’m vaguely acquainted with. The latter currently has eight members; the former, currently, 64, but it probably could have more than that. Which, given that I probably haven’t yet spent an hour total in the network, is pretty amazing.

To what extent am I actually social in networks? Of those that I’m aware I’m part of, I’d say:

  • FriendFeed: Very active. I spend way too much time here, but it’s become my primary source for new ideas and comments (other than RSS feeds).
  • Google+: Mildly active. For now, I’ll probably check once or twice a day, and could see becoming involved in some conversations here.
  • Facebook: Barely active. I think my current status is two or three weeks old. I probably comment on someone else’s item as often as twice a week. I do check it at least once a day, but mostly look at recent items from a very small family group and somewhat larger “libclose” group.
  • Twitter: Almost entirely a lurker, and even then rarely more than once a day.
  • LinkedIn: Technically there, realistically not. As the Big Network for Professional Advancement, the only relationship of LinkedIn to past or present jobs is that it was taking over space that RLG was vacating, little by little, in the final Mountain View offices.
  • I don’t know of or can’t remember any others.

Professional affiliation

As I noted in my random impressions of ALA NOLA:

The one meeting I started to attend was the fledgling Retired Members Round Table. Turns out that, quite apart from the $20 dues, it probably isn’t for me–it felt like a way for Involved ALA Members to continue to be Involved ALA Members. Frankly, it made me feel old–whereas my primary professional involvement (and the only ribbon I was wearing), the Library Society of the World, makes me feel, um, less old.

That’s probably unfair to RMRT. It’s quite possible that future gatherings will be vibrant and full of fascinating discussion. But for now it really is clear: My primary professional affiliation is the Library Society of the World, LSW, a disorganization of considerable and mixed repute.

Putting them together

Just for interest, I checked a couple of places.

The primary nexus for LSW at this point is a room in FriendFeed. As of right now, there are 703 FriendFeed folks in the LSW room. Given that FriendFeed really isn’t growing and probably never had more than a million or so regular users, that’s pretty remarkable. Frankly, the small size of FriendFeed is, to me, one of its great strengths…

There’s an LSW group in LinkedIn, with a remarkable 2,006 members–and my initial reaction is “Who are all these people and what do they have to do with LSW?” The button-down business-card nature of LinkedIn seems at odds with the irreverence and informality of LSW, and that shows in the threads on this version of LinkedIn.

Then there’s the LSW site itself, with 162 members and, shall we say, not huge amounts of activity.

At one point, a Meebo room was the hot LSW spot. If it still exists, I’m not aware of it (which mostly means I’m not aware of it).

And there’s “my personal LSW,” the circle on my G+ account, with 64 people to date (some of whom are no longer in FF/LSW, and some of whom might never have been there).

But the current key group is FF. That is, of course, subject to change.

(Is there an LSW page on FaceBook? If so, I think I’d just as soon not know… And I’m pretty sure there’s no LSW Island in Second Life and no LSW MySpace page. But what do I know?)

 

 

Cites & Insights non-progress report

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 5th, 2011

It’s been a bit less than two months since the latest Cites & Insights appeared.

The next C&I will not appear on July 10, 2011, which would be exactly two months.

Yes, there will be a “next Cites & Insights.” No, I’m not sure when it will appear. But I thought a non-progress report might be in order.

Progress toward making C&I more viable

None. No donations. Two print purchases of the L2.0 Reader (for a total of five purchases to date). Looking at views for the “speedbump” versions of the essays in that compilation, it appears that most people who link to the original essay don’t really care enough about it to either buy the book or type in the new link…assuming that these are really people at all, not just bots and spiders.

On the other hand, readership for the “traditional” issue isn’t bad–more than 900 to date for each essay, combining issue downloads and essay views.

Progress on other fronts

The eventuality that might keep me firmly in the fold for a while longer: Not quite there yet.

My current book project, one I continue to be excited about–and one I really do believe belongs in every public library and many academic libraries: Great. I’m doing the third editorial pass now (conforming to ITI’s style book, even if that means inserting Oxford commas, and making other changes based on an offline “red pen” review of the manuscript). The fourth pass, probably next week, will combine one final paragraph-by-paragraph readthrough and a set of visual tweaks, before submitting the “manuscript” (really a fully-formatted book in PDF and Word form, because of the nature of this project).

Digression, but not really: If you’re a public librarian or academic librarian who thinks “micropublishing”–very short-run books serving family and micro-niche needs, with total editions running from two to maybe 500 copies–is a neat idea, I’d love to have you review and possibly write a blurb for my book. Send me email (waltcrawford at gmail dot com) by August 1, if possible.

I’m deliberately not starting on any C&I essays until that book is on its way to the publisher for editorial review and editing suggestions…

…but I do plan to write the next C&I before I start working on the book after that (which isn’t due until March 2012 and not wanted until then).

Another digression that’s not really a digression: Writing this post is in keeping with my full focus on getting the book done as well and as promptly as possible. For the editing pass I’m doing now, and the one after that, I find that it’s essential to do one chapter at a time, taking a significant break between chapters. This post is being written during one of those breaks.

Best guess

Chances are, the next C&I will appear in late July or early August. It might be dated August 2011; it might be dated August-September 2011. A lot depends on other things that might happen over the next few weeks.

Beyond that? Absent sponsorship or clear evidence that C&I is yielding indirect revenue (e.g., speaking engagements, book sales), C&I needs to return to the priority it had for me early in the millennium: Something I do when I’m enjoying it and not doing something that does yield some income.

Who knows? That might even yield a better, if less frequent, ejournal.

Tiny little food post: Peachcots

Posted in Food on July 4th, 2011

One of the few things unfortunate about going to ALA Annual in New Orleans is that it meant four days without this year’s crop of stone fruit–a crop that’s generally been unusually good.

How good? Last year, there were no Bing cherries at all from local orchards. This year, the Bings are first-rate–and the Brooks cherries aren’t far behind.

New pluot varieties keep popping up, and some of this years’ (such as Flavorosa) are wonderful. Ditto the Modesto apricots, not all that much less glorious than Blenheims.

And then there are peachcots.

Peachcots? We’d never heard of them until a year or two ago. At this point, precisely one vendor at one of the two Farmers’ Markets we go to has them–and for all of one week. We got ours last week. We probably won’t get any more. This is sad.

You can guess the cross from the name: A cross between peach and apricot. What you can’t guess is either the look or the taste.

The look? Smooth skin like an apricot, size larger than most apricots but smaller than most peaches…and color like an apricot with red tinges that’s been rendered using oversaturated artificial colors. An apricot the way Andy Warhol might paint one, or perhaps what you’d get taking a picture of an apricot using high dynamic range filtering.

The taste…heaven. Just plain heaven. Very strong apricot flavor, some peach flavor, almost sweet enough to be candy, with a great texture. As with most apricots, it’s a freestone fruit, which makes cutting and serving easy.

I just finished off lunch with two apricots, ten cherries and a peachcot. The apricots were excellent. The cherries were better. The peachcot…well, it was in a category all its own. I’ll miss them.


Followup, July 8: To our considerable surprise and pleasure, the same booth had peachcots again yesterday. So it will be another week before I start missing them…

ALA 2011 Exhibit Notes

Posted in ALA on July 3rd, 2011

I focused on exhibits during ALA Annual 2011, in addition to personal and business meetings. Given the book I’m working on, I was talking to self-publishers, small presses and distributors for independent publishers, but also noting exhibitors who seemed to have something unusual going on—and a few seeming trends in the exhibits as a whole.

Smith & Press (www.smithandpress.com)

This very small publisher produces new versions of very early books—the first offering being Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Chronicarum or Nuremberg Chronicle from 1493—a copy in the private collection of the publisher’s owner. They were showing all three versions being produced: A full-size facsimile limited to 100 copies, hand-bound in an astonishing binding made using the same materials and methods as the original (and costing several thousand dollars), a reference edition facsimile (85% size, 16.25×11.5″, on 70lb. paper in burgundy cloth binding, priced at $369), and an English translation with side-by-side facsimile and translation pages, issued in three volumes at $225 to $325 each (the first two volumes are currently available).

It’s clearly a labor of love, with superb handmade paper for the full-size facsimile and first-rate book paper for all three versions. Here’s the interesting part: The books are printed on…inkjet printers, namely large-format archival printers. (They’re thinking of doing a letterpress version of the full-size facsimile, but note that at that point they’ll have to use watermarks and other means to make it clear that this is a facsimile, not a forgery.)

Fascinating stuff. Beautiful paper, beautiful workmanship, an interesting blend of analog and digital tools.

Self-Publishers

I talked to a number of first-time exhibitors selling self-published books—or, in one case, selling books published by iUniverse.

I asked the iUniverse author for an honest opinion—and got it. The author would never, ever work with the company again—something I’ve heard previously from iUniverse, AuthorHouse and other similar “publishers” who charge hefty up-front fees.

On the other hand, a couple of authors using Outskirts Press were fairly happy with the services. That may not be surprising—while Outskirts is still selling packages, they’re more reasonably priced, and the company seems somewhat more upfront about what they do and don’t do.

Some self-publishers use CreateSpace or Lulu; they were uniformly positive about the experience and understood exactly what they were getting. I was informed of at least one more university press that is now using Lulu as its actual print provider, focusing the press itself on ebooks.

Then there’s PublishAmerica, which was there and whose representative made it appear to be a plausible alternative to Lulu and CreateSpace as a pure-play service provider, with no upfront costs. When I checked a little, I remembered PublishAmerica: It’s a peculiar situation, but not in any way comparable to Lulu or CreateSpace and generally, shall we say, not well-loved by its former authors. I picked up a few books at the exhibit and noted the same truly odd statement on the copyright page of each one, stating that the author’s words had not been changed at all. Since when is total lack of copy editing seen as a good thing? Yes, the author should have the final say, but as someone who’s published more than a dozen books (not including self-published books), I question whether there really are authors whose prose is so superb that it can’t benefit from judicious editing. If there are, I’m guessing they’re not publishing through PublishAmerica.

Small Publishers, Independent Publishers and Distributors

What’s an independent publisher? When I asked that of one distributor, the answer basically boiled down to “everybody but the Big Six”—or, a little more restrictively, every publisher that’s not part of a conglomerate. Chronicle Books? Yes, an independent publisher. Hyperion (part of Disney)? A tougher question.

The definition of small publisher is also getting interesting, given the growing number of publishers that rely on services like CreateSpace and Lulu for actual book production and, in many cases, fulfillment. This is, in my opinion, both a good thing and one of the trends that’s likely to grow in the mixed ebook/pbook future.

Here’s an interesting item: Boom! Studios, an independent publisher, publishes lots of Disney books (collected comic books and others). Disney itself has a Book Group, including Hyperion and several other imprints—but happily licenses some of its creations to other publishers.

Oddities and Trends

Why all the jewelry booths? For that matter, who would be buying sheets—bedsheets, that is—at an ALA annual conference? T-shirts I’m used to, and the vaguely creepy statuary, but it seemed as though there were more jewelry booths than I remember.

I was a little bemused by the Library Ideas, LLC booth. The flagship product is the Freegal Music Service—which I tend to think of as being a Sony product. Mysterious…

I was also impressed or bemused by the number of exhibitors showing book scanners (at least five, and I think that count is too low) and, a different group, book vending machines (I saw at least four, and again I think that’s a partial count). At least four exhibitors offer open-source library system support; that’s a good thing and suggests that the open-source systems (Koha, Evergreen and others) are doing well.

How many online catalogs and integrated library system vendors are out there? For many years, I’ve felt that the answer was the same as life, the universe and everything: 42 (give or take 10%). That still feels about right. Depending on how you add up numbers in the exhibitors index, there are at least 35 such vendors—and I’m pretty sure that’s not all-inclusive.

Then there’s furniture—at least 18 exhibitors—and the vast empty spaces found in so many of the furniture booths and, when I was in the exhibits (almost all day Saturday and about half of Sunday), most very large exhibit spaces (other than book publishers). I’m not sure what to make of this. Furniture vendors need to show their wares, of course. For others, perhaps some of the booths are a bit grander than they need to be.

Which brings me to the “who is this?” issue—booths that I think are badly designed for the exhibit hall. Specifically, booths where the primary or only corporate name display is on one of those really high hanging structures, signs that seem to be at least 18 feet up in the air. In the case of one furniture vendor, I could not identify the vendor when I was at the booth—I had to back away at least 20-30 feet and look up. Yes, I know, drama and all that—but perhaps self-defeating.

Closing Notes

The exhibits were an odd blend of crowded spaces and near-empty aisles, but I think that’s typical. Biggest crowds: As always, book publishers, especially those giving away advance reading copies. But there were also quite a few booths that seemed to have more booth staff than visitors, and a few where the booth staff seemed wholly engrossed in their own conversations, ignoring people passing by. (OK, if I’d been a potential customer instead of some random guy, maybe they would have snapped to attention. Maybe not.)

Trends? You want trends from a library conference exhibit hall? If so, you’ve come to the wrong place.


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