Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four

That’s the title of the preliminary edition of my “benefits ratio” study of American public libraries, as discussed in earlier posts. (Those four links are in reverse chronological order; if you want to read the posts and comments from oldest to newest, start with “posts” and work back to “discussed.”)

The 193-page 6×9″ paperback is $49.50, but at least from now through the end of the ALA Annual Conference, it’s discounted 30% to $34.65. (If sales continue at the rate of five a week or more, I’ll retain the discount.)

If you prefer, you can buy a PDF version for $29.50 (and save shipping); that version will go up to $39.50 when the paperback discount goes away. (Lulu doesn’t offer a way to discount an ebook.)

I’m specifically looking for feedback–the book includes the URL for a page that links to a survey, and explicitly invites email feedback no matter how negative it might be. I believe this book–at least in later, refined versions–can be useful for public libraries, but I’m not a public librarian. If I’m wrong–if there’s general agreement that the book is either useless or damaging–it will go away. If people do find it valuable, at least as a concept, I’ll use feedback to produce a more refined version using 2010 data (after IMLS makes that data available).

The earlier posts describe the project fairly well, so I won’t repeat the description here.

Review Copies

I can make a limited number of review copies–PDF only, but since it’s a 6×9 book it should work well on most e-readers–available on request directly to me (waltcrawford at gmail.com) on the following basis:

1. If you ask for a review copy, you’re committing to writing an online review of some sort (on your own blog, on some other website, to a list) and either sending me a copy or a link. (I say “online” because this is a preliminary edition: It should be replaced or defunct before print reviews are likely.) At the very least, I’d expect you to complete the survey, send me direct feedback or both. [A review could be as brief as “What a waste of time” or could include pages of suggestions on how to make a possibly-good idea better.]

2. I do not care whether the review is positive, mixed, negative or slashingly negative. Period. If you’re a friend, what you say in the review will not damage that friendship. Period. I’m looking for honest feedback. I’m willing to believe that this just isn’t a good idea. (I’m absolutely certain that the preliminary version could use a lot of improvement!)

3. I reserve the right to stop sending out review copies at a certain point. Right now, I’m thinking half a dozen, but that could grow to a dozen.

Closing Notes

If you look at the preview, you’ll see that the cover is bland. I used one of Lulu’s canned cover designs (a bit less striking than the one for Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader, also a canned design).

That’s because this is a preliminary edition. If there’s a “real” edition down the road, it will have a slightly nicer cover. Probably.

I’m also not adding this book to the C&I Books section at the foot of this blog page, again because this is a preliminary edition–one that may disappear as early as August 1, 2012, depending on feedback and sales.

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