Archive for February, 2013

Oregon and Washington: Special Give us a Dollar edition now available

Posted in Books and publishing, Libraries on February 28th, 2013

Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four: Oregon and Washington Libraries, a special edition prepared as part of my speaking engagements at this April’s joint annual conference, is now available.

The 6×9 PDF ebook version, linked to above, is free. That’s $0.00, including $0.00 shipping & handling (always true for Lulu ebooks). No DRM–and it carries a Creative Commons BY license, meaning you’re free to pass it along, derive other material from it, even sell it, as long as you include the attribution that I wrote it.

Printing It Out

If you’d like to have a printed book(let), assuming that you have a duplexing color printer (laser or inkjet), here’s what to do:

  • Download the PDF
  • In Adobe Reader, click on Print (either the icon or in the File menu).
  • In “Page Sizing & Handling,” click on Booklet.
  • Print it. It will require 19 sheets of paper. Since the original page size is 6×9, the resulting pages (each half of an 8.5×11″ page) will be roughly 92% of original size–still plenty large enough for easy reading.
  • Fold the book(let) in half. There you have it: a nice little book with its own bright cover.
  • If you have access to a stapler with a 5.5″ throat (or longer), which your library may very well have, you can center-staple it to make it more useful as a book.
  • Or, if you’re feeling flush and want a more permanent version, you can buy a hardcover printed copy–see below. I offer these instructions because any printed color book from Lulu is expensive (even though only some pages have color, and very little of it except the cover page, all pages have to be printed in color, at $0.20/page instead of $0.02/page. I figure that, if your color printer costs $0.03/page for all black ink and, say, $0.12 for color pages with 5% coverage, and the paper you use costs $5/ream, you’ll spend less than $4 to print it yourself).

The Audience

The primary audience is public librarians and library consultants in Oregon and Washington and also library schools in those states or elsewhere. Think of this freebie as part of your conference registration, although you’re also welcome to it if you’re unable to attend the conference (or my session on the book).

The second audience is public librarians or library agencies in other states or regions who might want to commission a similar project. This is one example of what I could do for you.

The Hardback Book

If you want a permanent version of the book, there’s a hardback (casewrap) version for $34.99. I get about $5 of that. If you buy a copy and would like me to sign it at the conference, I would (of course) be utterly delighted. (Heck, I’d sign “saddle-stitched” printouts as well.)

Why a hardback version? Because a paperback version would still cost at least $19 or more, even if I didn’t take a piece of it. I figure that, if you’re willing to spend five times as much as it costs to print your own copy, you might as well get a sturdy version. The casewrap has one little value-added feature: The color mosaic strips on the cover wrap all the way around the cover. The cover looks something like the image below, although I cleaned up the bottom strip somewhat before finally uploading the book.

cvrsamp

 

 

Ohio public libraries

Posted in $4 on February 27th, 2013

Another post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options. Note that Lulu prices for the paperback and hardback versions are now lower.

The 249 libraries profiled (two omitted) are generally well supported, with 61% in the top four brackets. The benefit ratio is consistently over 5 before adjusting for Ohio’s 92.8% cost of living, and over 4.8 after that adjustment.

Circulation is strong: 28% of libraries circulate 24 or more items per capita and 74% circulate at least 10 (compared to 6% and 38% overall); only tree libraries circulate fewer than four items per capita. Expenditures correlate consistently with circulation. Patron visits are also strong, with 51% having seven or more visits per capita (compared to 33% overall). The budget table is striking for circulation: the median for libraries with the best funding is just under 43 circulation per capita (and 38 of the libraries are in that top bracket). The correlation between spending and circulation is also consistent in the budget table.

Program attendance is slightly on the high side of typical, as is PC use.

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
<700 0.0% 1
700-1,149 3 1.2%
1,150-1,649 3 1.2%
1,650-2,249 3 1.2%
2,250-2,999 6 2.4%
3,000-3,999 6 2.4%
4,000-5,299 12 4.8%
5,300-6,799 24 9.6% 1
6,800-8,699 14 5.6%
8,700-11,099 26 10.4%
11,100-14,099 21 8.4%
14,100-18,499 14 5.6%
18,500-24,999 19 7.6%
25,000-34,499 23 9.2%
34,500-53,999 26 10.4%
54,000-104,999 28 11.2%
105,000-4.1 mill. 21 8.4%

Circulation and spending per capita

Circulation per capita correlates very strongly (0.84) with spending per capita.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category

17 Categories of Academic Library Where Most Have Growing Circulation

Posted in Cites & Insights, Libraries on February 25th, 2013

People seem to love lists, so here’s one: Seventeen categories of academic library (some of them overlapping) where most libraries (with any circulation at all) had more circulation in 2010 than in 2008. (I’m leaving out an eighteenth, “all of them”—but that would also be a true statement.)

  1. Academic institutions in the Great Lakes states: IL, IN, MI, OH, WI. This region includes 501 libraries serving 2,307,450 FTE with 22,915,607 circulation. Of those, 251 (50.1%) had more overall circulation in FY2010.
  2. Academic institutions in the Southwest: AZ, NM, OK, TX. This region includes 297 libraries serving 1,544,746 FTE with 14,685,903 circulation. Of those libraries, 150 (50.5%) had growing overall circulation.
  3. Academic institutions in the Southeast: AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV. This region includes 828 libraries serving 3,499,810 FTE with 25,587,943. Of those libraries, 428 (51.6%) had growing overall circulation.
  4. Schools of art, music and design. This group includes 92 libraries serving 148,590 FTE with 2,281,734 circulation. Forty-eight of the libraries (52.2%) grew in total circulation.
  5. Health profession schools other than medical schools and medical centers—e.g., institutions that award most of their degrees in fields such as chiropractic, nursing, pharmacy or podiatry. This category includes 84 libraries serving 69,342 FTE with 504,641 circulation. Forty-four of those (52.3%) grew in total circulation.
  6. Institutions where bachelor’s degrees represent at least 10 percent but less than half of undergraduate degrees. This group includes 80 libraries serving 226,661 FTE with 1,108,987 circulation. Forty-two of the libraries (52.5%) grew in total circulation.
  7. Associate degree institutions, public, rural, serving small communities/areas. This category includes 96 libraries serving 96,123 FTE with 499,506 circulation. Fifty-two of the libraries (54.2%) were growing overall.
  8. Associate degree institutions, public, rural, serving medium-size communities/areas. This category includes 277 libraries serving 677,669 FTE with 3,195,228 circulation. One hundred fifty-four of the libraries (55.6%) grew overall.
  9. Academic institutions in the Far West: AK, CA, HI, NV, OR, WA. This region includes 433 libraries serving 2,468,872 FTE with 22,908,372 circulation. Two hundred forty-five libraries (56.6%) had growing overall circulation.
  10. Associate degree institutions, public, rural, serving large communities/areas. This category includes 136 libraries serving 792,792 FTE with 3,224,141 circulation. Seventy-eight of the libraries (57.3%) grew overall.
  11. Associate degree institutions, public, suburban, single-campus. This category includes 103 libraries serving 605,463 FTE with 2,322,250 circulation. Fifty-nine of the libraries (57.3%) had more overall circulation.
  12. Public 2-year colleges in general. This sector includes 890 libraries serving 4,212,965 FTE with 16,849,788 circulation. Of those, 521 libraries (58.5%) had growing overall circulation.
  13. Associate degree institutions, public, suburban, multi-campus. This category includes 88 libraries and systems serving 721,936 FTE with 3,584,304 circulation. Fifty-two of the libraries (59.1%) had more overall circulation in FY2010 than in FY2008.
  14. Private for-profit, 4-year and above [excluding institutions reporting no circulation, e.g. University of Phoenix]. This sector includes 255 libraries serving 497,575 FTE with 1,376,850 circulation. Of those, 154 libraries (60.4%) had growing overall circulation.
  15. Associate degree institutions, private for-profit. This category includes 195 libraries serving 190,513 FTE with 345,399 circulation. One hundred twenty-five of those libraries (64.1%) had growing overall circulation.
  16. Private for-profit 2-year colleges (not quite the same group as above). This sector includes 180 libraries serving 153,752 FTE with 173,808 circulation. One hundred eighteen libraries (65.6%) had growing overall circulation.
  17. Associate degree institutions, public, urban, multi-campus. This category includes 125 libraries serving 1,218,789 FTE with 3,651,040 circulation. Eighty-three of the libraries (66.4%) had growing total circulation.

Omitted from this list: eight other sectors with fewer than 50 institutions, where most libraries reported growing circulation, including associate degree, public, urban, single-campus; public and private for-profit 4-year institutions offering primarily associate degrees (two categories); schools of engineering; technology-related schools not included elsewhere; law schools; “other special-focus institutions” (e.g. military institutes) and tribal colleges.

Bonus List: Five Growing Categories by FTE

  1. Institutions with 10,000-14,999 FTE: 182 libraries, of which 52.2% had growing circulation.
  2. Institutions with 1,000-1,499 FTE: 369 libraries, of which 53.7% had growing circulation.
  3. Institutions with 600-999 FTE: 352 libraries, of which 53.7% had growing circulation.
  4. Institutions serving 4,000-4,999 FTE: 205 libraries, of which 58.1% had growing circulation.
  5. Institutions serving 3,000-3,999 FTE: 257 libraries, of which 58.8% had growing circulation

For lots more information…

Including circulation per capita changes, the extent to which libraries with growing circulation also had more circulation per capita than those with shrinking circulation, and another brief study taking this back to 2006-2008 and 2006-2010, read the March 2013 Cites & Insights—in the one-column “online version” if you’re planning to read it on an e-device (the charts and tables in the second essay are easier to read), in the two-column “print version” if you plan to print it out.

New York public libraries

Posted in $4 on February 25th, 2013

Another post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options. Note that Lulu prices for the paperback and hardback versions are now lower.

New York has the second largest number of libraries (second only to Maine): 745 in the tables, 11 omitted. Many of New York’s libraries are quite well supported, with nearly a quarter in the top bracket and 37% in the top two (compared to 20% overall). Circulation is fairly strong, with 49% circulating at least 10 items per capita and 63% doing eight or more (compared to 38% and 50% overall); expenditures track consistently with circulation. Patron visits are also fairly strong, with 42% of the libraries having seven or more visits per capita (compared to 33% overall); spending also tracks consistently with patron visits. (The budget tables also show consistent correlation between spending and both circulation and visits.)

Program attendance is also fairly strong, with 47% having at least 0.5 attendance (compared to 33% overall). PC use is almost exactly typical, never varying by more than 2% from the national figures.

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
<700 45 6.0% 2
700-1,149 36 4.8% 1
1,150-1,649 50 6.7% 2
1,650-2,249 51 6.8% 2
2,250-2,999 58 7.8% 2
3,000-3,999 57 7.7%
4,000-5,299 57 7.7% 1
5,300-6,799 65 8.7%
6,800-8,699 47 6.3% 1
8,700-11,099 35 4.7%
11,100-14,099 43 5.8%
14,100-18,499 46 6.2%
18,500-24,999 33 4.4%
25,000-34,499 48 6.4%
34,500-53,999 43 5.8%
54,000-104,999 20 2.7%
105,000-4.1 mill. 11 1.5%

Circulation and spending per capita

Circulation per capita correlates strongly (0.51) with spending per capita

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category

New pricing on most Cites & Insights Books

Posted in C&I Books on February 23rd, 2013

I’ve repriced most Cites & Insights Books, following a new simplified principal: except in cases where I’m more-or-less giving the book away, I’m pricing books (paperback, hardback and ebooks) at Lulu so that I’ll get at least $8 from each sale.

Here’s what that means in terms of modified prices:

Ebooks (at Lulu) [all PDF, no DRM]

Those that aren’t even cheaper (or free, as in the case of Open Access and Libraries) are now $9.99. That includes Balanced Libraries, The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010, and But Still They Blog.

Print books (at Lulu)

Most prices have gone down; I think one went up slightly.

  • Balanced Libraries is now $19.99
  • But Still They Blog is now $20.99
  • Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader is now $18.99
  • The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010 is now $18.99
  • Give Us a Dollar… (paperback) is now $19.99
  • Give Us a Dollar… (hardback) is now $28.99
  • Cites & Insights 6: 2006 is now $25.99
  • Cites & Insights 7: 2007 is now $25.99
  • Cites & Insights 8: 2008 is now $23.99
  • Cites & Insights 9: 2009 is now $26.99
  • Cites & Insights 10: 2010 is now $25.99
  • Cites & Insights 11: 2011 is now $22.99
  • Cites & Insights 12: 2012 is now $25.99

Just go to lulu.com and search for “walt crawford” to find all of these and The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing (hardback edition), which is published by ITI but fulfilled by Lulu in the case of the hardcover.

And, as usual, when Lulu has sales (they haven’t for a little while, but I imagine they will again), you’re encouraged to take advantage of them: The discount comes out of Lulu’s share, not mine.

Authors who get public libraries

Posted in Libraries on February 23rd, 2013

I originally planned a short note pointing to a story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle (and available on SFGate): “‘Free for All’ explores libraries’ value“–about filmmakers who are working on a documentary called “Free For All,”

exploring why Americans are using public libraries in record numbers and what would happen to democracy if libraries became extinct.

It’s a good story, well worth reading.
And as I was checking email before putting up that link, I ran into this: “A Personal History of Libraries” by John Scalzi at Whatever–a clear, eloquent story of how Scalzi grew up with libraries and (although he doesn’t use public libraries as much these days) what they mean to him. A key paragraph:

I don’t use my local library like I used libraries when I was younger. But I want my local library, in no small part because I recognize that I am fortunate not to need my local library — but others do, and my connection with humanity extends beyond the front door of my house. My life was indisputably improved because those before me decided to put those libraries there. It would be stupid and selfish and shortsighted of me to declare, after having wrung all I could from them, that they serve no further purpose, or that the times have changed so much that they are obsolete  My library is used every single day that it is open, by the people who live here, children to senior citizens. They use the building, they use the Internet, they use the books. This is, as it happens, the exact opposite of what “obsolete” means. I am glad my library is here and I am glad to support it.

Oh, and a key description of how Scalzi sees the public library (his current one is small–the town has about 1,800 residents):

A focal point and center of gravity for the community — a place where a community knows it is a community, in point of fact, and not just a collection of houses and streets.

You will not be surprised to hear that Scalzi was inspired to write that post based on that horrible piece by a UK author who really should know better.

I couldn’t resist looking up Scalzi’s local library. It serves more people than Scalzi’s “1,800” estimate (the FY10 LSA is 3,168), but it’s still a small library–and a well-used one: 19.3 circulation per capita, nearly two reference transactions per capita, decent but not great funding ($46.88 per capita), almost five patron visits per capita–and pretty good hours for a small library, open 1,716 hours in FY10. (PC use is also strong, 1.64 per capita; program attendance is 0.7 per capita, which is also a strong number.)

50 Movie Comedy Kings Disc 11

Posted in Movies and TV on February 22nd, 2013

Three Husbands, 1951, b&w. Irving Reis (dir.), Eve Arden, Ruth Warrick, Vanessa Brown, Howard Da Silva, Shepperd Strudwick, Robert Karnes, Emlyn Williams, Billie Burke, Louise Erickson. 1:18.

Pan up to the heavens, to the Lower Gates Authority, where a couple of newly-dead souls (voices only) ask their wish, which is granted—and then an Englishman who’s lived n California asks to be allowed to observe Earth for 24 hours. The reason: His lawyer is delivering three identical letters to three of his acquaintances on earth, each one confessing that he’d been intimate with the wife.

That’s the setup. The movie’s actually quite good (with, surprisingly, pretty much happy endings). The characters are interesting, it’s a fairly broad range, and the women are—as they should be—more important characters than the men. Eve Arden is, as always, first-rate, but so are the others. Not quite great, but close: $1.75.

The Villain Still Pursued Her, 1940, b&w. Edward F. Cline (dir.), Billy Gilbert, Anita Louise, Margaret Hamilton, Alan Mowbray, Richard Cromwell, Joyce compton, Buster Keaton, Diane Fisher, Hugh Herbert. 1:06.

A send-up of melodramas, almost a little too much so. We get a silly disclaimer up front, a buffoon of a host telling us to applaud the good guys and hiss the bad guys, and then the show (occasionally interrupted by slides with messages). The tale itself involves a widow and her beautiful daughter, the banker who’s just died (who didn’t care if he was ever paid), his Evil Lawyer, the innocent son—and the curses of drink. No scenery goes unchewed, and the fourth wall is ever absent—except that sometimes a character has to wait for passersby to pass by before he can deliver his direct speech to the audience.

Some of it’s very well done: a pie fight, for example, and a discussion between the Best Friend (Keaton in a late role) and the Villain where people keep walking between the two of them until, at one point, the pedestrians must back up because the BF is declaiming with his arms upraised. There’s also a little scene in a barn where the hero, in his drunken abandon, has awoken in the straw after collapsing the last night—and belches. A pig lying next to him rises, offended, and walks away.

It’s an odd one, it is, with a fine cast. All in all, given the length and oddity, I’ll give it $1.00.

A Bride for Henry, 1937, b&w. William Nigh (dir.), Anne Nagel, Warren Hull, Henry Mollison, Claudia Dell, Betty Ross Clarke. 0:58.

A resplendently dressed bride is outraged because the groom hasn’t showed, and all her high-society friends are waiting downstairs…so she sends for her lawyer. And marries him, to show her fiancé what’s what…never quite realizing that her lawyer’s loved her for years.

That’s the highly plausible start for an odd sort of bedroom farce, one that never really gets into bedrooms: The three wind up on a curious honeymoon. The bride is somewhat of a self-centered bitch. The ex—whose excuse is that he got drunk at the bachelor party, woke up puzzled and went to a morning movie instead of the wedding—turns out to be somewhat of an priggish oaf. Tthe lawyer’s quite a charmer—charming all the ladies at the honeymoon hotel, off with his charming wealthy female friend (who may have a thing for him), charming when he sings a number at the friend’s party. All ends well, of course.

The print’s problematic in some ways—a few clips, some waviness at times—but watchable. The movie itself is light romantic farce and works pretty well. Given the length, I’ll give it $1.00.

We’re in the Legion Now, 1936, “color” (but the print’s b&w). Crane Wilbur (dir.), Reginald Denny, Esther Ralston, Vince Barnett, Eleanor Hurd. 0:56.

The sleeve says color. The opening credits include a “color by Magnacolor” line. Unfortunately, that’s the only color you’ll see (other than shades of gray)—it’s another one of those “it should be color, but it’s not” flicks. (Apparently Magnacolor was an early two-strip color process and TV prints—which this is probably sourced from—were b&w.) The story’s colorful enough, I suppose: Two American gangsters (one of whom speaks with a British accent), in Paris on the run, join the French Foreign Legion and wind up in Morocco. One’s a heavy drinker who always throws empty bottles over his shoulder; the other’s a charmer and also a heavy drinker. They wind up in a labor camp—and, in the process, manage to redeem themselves.

I didn’t find it particularly funny; you might feel otherwise. It’s OK, but at best I’d give it $0.75.

Big day for open access

Posted in open access on February 22nd, 2013

If you’re one of my few readers who don’t follow open access developments elsewhere–and I’m guessing there aren’t many of you:

This is a very big and mostly good news day.

Specifically,

  • The White House responded to the We the People petition on open access.
  • The nature of the response is excellent, almost astonishing. Quoting from Dr. John Holdren’s response (the link above):

I have issued a memorandum today (.pdf) to Federal agencies that directs those with more than $100 million in research and development expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publically available free of charge within 12 months after original publication. As you pointed out, the public access policy adopted by the National Institutes of Health has been a great success. And while this new policy call does not insist that every agency copy the NIH approach exactly, it does ensure that similar policies will appear across government.

This is probably the biggest gain in OA since the NIH policy became law.

And there’s more (again quoting from the response):

In addition to addressing the issue of public access to scientific publications, the memorandum requires that agencies start to address the need to improve upon the management and sharing of scientific data produced with Federal funding.

That goes beyond free access to reports, to encourage open data–access to the actual data.

So why the mostly?

It’s good news. It’s very good news. But, as usual, it could always be better.

  • I’ll suggest–as other more knowledgeable sorts are–that this does not mean FRPAA isn’t needed. This is an administration policy, subject to reversal by a new administration. FRPAA would be a law (also, to be sure, subject to reversal, but a little stronger).
  • This memo (and NIH policy) allow for up to a one-year embargo. Ideally, there would be no embargo, or at most a six-month embargo. Delayed open access still delays progress.

But in this case, three-quarters of a loaf is most decidedly better than none!

You’ll have no trouble finding oodles of cheering, commentary and (I imagine) bitching & moaning from all the usual suspects. Meantime, it’s definitely a fine day for OA.

 

Nevada public libraries

Posted in $4 on February 22nd, 2013

Another post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options.

Nevada’s 22 libraries (none omitted) have a range of funding—indeed, nine of the ten brackets are occupied (no libraries spend less than $12 per capita), with the only real clusters being the four libraries spending $53 to $72.99 and the seven spending $26 to $30.99. With so few libraries and systems, other tables are predictably choppy—but it’s fair to say that circulation is on the low side (only 27% circulate at least eight items per capita, compared to 50% overall), as are visits (18% have at least six patron visits per capita, compared to 42% overall). In both cases, the single library in the highest bracket (it is the same library) is also exceptionally well-funded ($398.04 per capita).

Program attendance is low and odd: While 18% have at least 0.7 attendance per capita, that same percentage applies for 0.4 or more—leaving 82% with less than 0.4 (compared to 58% overall), and 64% in the lowest two brackets (compared to 31% overall). PC use is also on the low side.

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count %
700-1,149 2 9.1%
1,150-1,649 2 9.1%
2,250-2,999 1 4.5%
4,000-5,299 3 13.6%
6,800-8,699 1 4.5%
8,700-11,099 1 4.5%
14,100-18,499 2 9.1%
25,000-34,499 1 4.5%
34,500-53,999 3 13.6%
54,000-104,999 2 9.1%
105,000-4.1 mill. 4 18.2%

Circulation per capita and spending per capita

Circulation per capita correlates almost perfectly (0.97) with spending per capita, but that may be an artifact of the peculiar distribution: One (small) Nevada library spends several times as much per capita as any other—and circulates several times as many items as any other.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category—an essentially meaningless chart in this case.

Paint.NET and Pinta: One informal comparison

Posted in Technology and software on February 21st, 2013

I’m not a big graphics person, but sometimes I need to do some graphics work.

I don’t do it often enough to justify one of the commercial programs (say Corel Paint Shop Pro, which my wife uses and likes, or Adobe Elements)–and, as I found when I tried to use Paint Shop Pro, if you’re not using them reasonably often, there’s a significant learning curve each time you use them.

I tried The GIMP–I guess it’s now just GIMP–and the learning curve seemed like a cliff in front of me. I gave it up fairly quickly.

Then I tried Paint.NET, and found that I liked it pretty well. I used Paint.NET for a couple of book covers, for example.

More recently, I heard about Pinta–which I mistakenly took to be a fork of Paint.NET. It’s not. It’s another open source software/freeware effort, “inspired by Paint.NET” but–like GIMP and unlike Paint.NET (which is Windows-only)–available for Mac, Windows and Linux. I downloaded it as well, without deleting Paint.NET

Background

Recently, I prepared a report based on Give Us a Dollar… but specific to Oregon and Washington public libraries, as part of a speaking agreement (I’ll be doing two talks and, if people sign up, a preconference during the 2013 joint conference in late April 2013). Initially, I planned to make the report available exclusively as a free 6×9″ PDF. To make an interesting cover page without needing to be an artist, I decided to create two mosaic strips, each 3″ high (900 pixels) and 5″ wide (1500 pixels), consisting of graphic elements taken from Washington and Oregon public library websites and Facebook pages. That didn’t always mean pictures of libraries; some Oregon libraries using Plinkit for their sites use images evocative of where they are.

I used the wonderful Windows Snipping Tool [if you ever need to capture screenshots and you're using Windows, I suggest you find this tool--key "snip" in the Start box--and make a shortcut to it on the desktop or, better yet, the taskbar] to capture images from various libraries. I think I used Paint.NET to normalize image sizes and then to fit the three dozen (or so) images into two mosaic strips. It wasn’t difficult, and I was happy with the results. You can see a smaller version of those results, and the rest of the cover page, in this post (which also discusses the three talks).

Foreground

A bit more recently, I thought it would be nice to make the Washington/Oregon special report available to others as an example of what I could do for other states or groups of states, either as part of a speaking engagement or as a separate project. The person who I’m working with on the conference and I agreed that the following approach would be reasonable:

  • Beginning March 1, 2013 or thereabouts, the PDF–it’s a 73-page 6×9 PDF–will be available as a free download from Lulu. I’ll probably take it down around October 1, 2013. It will be available to anybody, and it’s the best example I have of at least one approach I could take.
  • When I do the formal announcement, I’ll also say how people can turn the PDF into a nice little printed book, albeit a book that’s just slightly smaller in each dimension (telling Adobe Reader to print it in booklet form, which puts two 6×9 pages–reduced to 91.7% of original size–on each side of 8.5×11″ paper and prints the pages so that, folded, they’ll be in proper order, then center-stapling the results).
  • I’ll offer a slightly expanded version of what I just said for a simple reason: Because 20 of the 73 pages include color graphs, a paperback Lulu edition would be expensive–the whole thing has to be printed in color, at $0.20 a page rather than $0.02 a page. Whereas a color laser printer or inkjet with, say, $0.03/page for black text and $0.15/page for 4% coverage in four colors (a lot more coverage than the color pages–except for the cover page–actually use), using $0.01/sheet paper, can probably print the whole thing for less than $6, maybe considerably less. (Actually, I’d guess around $3: since each “page” is really two pages, figure $0.03×37 plus $0.15×11 plus $0.36.)
  • But I’ll also offer a true book for those who might want it–and it will be a book, hardcover and all. It will probably cost around $30-$35, a couple of bucks more than production costs. (It will only be available while the PDF is available–probably March 1, 2013 to October 1, 2013.)
  • To do the book right, I needed to strip off the “cover page” and add a true cover–and I liked the idea of a wraparound cover with those mosaic strips wrapping all the way around. That meant having two strips each 900 pixels high by 4,260 pixels wide (front, back, spine and enough extra for the binding bleed). And it meant building a new cover 3,225 pixels high and 4,260 pixels wide.

I captured a whole bunch more images using Snipping Tool and normalized them (not all to the same size, but all to sizes that could plausibly be combined into a mosaic) with Pinta. I found Pinta a little less smooth than I was used to, but…well…OK.

If you’re wondering, which you’re probably not, both the original strips and the new strips are chosen to include a broad cross-section of libraries by LSA in both states; the new strips include roughly one out of three Oregon and one out of two Washington libraries–Washington has fewer libraries.

Then I wanted to paste the old Top strip into a new, much wider, Top2 strip and add more images to fill out the almost-three-times-as-wide strip. And immediately ran into trouble. Pinta would turn the bottom half of that large strip image into garbage. I “fixed” that by opening the strip, resizing the canvas to the new size, and going from there–but I ran into the part-garbage situation in a few other cases, when I was copying-and-pasting larger images. I also found that the copy-and-paste process was slow and difficult, enough so that I wound up with a few places where the pieces aren’t combined as carefully as I’d like. But since this was all just a frill, I accepted the results.

And then, wondering, decided to do the Bottom strip with Paint.NET rather than Pinta. It went much better–no problems with larger images, much smoother operation, some convenient info on the screen that Pinta didn’t offer and that made life easier… Well, it just went better. So much so that the Bottom strip became the Top strip for the new cover, since that’s more prominent. If this was a project where I anticipated lots of sales for the hardcover book (where “lots of” is significantly more than, say, 3 copies), I’d probably redo the other strip from scratch. I didn’t.

As you can probably guess, I used Paint.NET to create the full cover as well. Once I remembered the layer tricks to be able to get the spine text done properly (you have to put that text on a separate layer and rotate that layer–there are other ways, but that’s the most straightforward) and to have guidelines where I wanted them, it was a snap.

cvrsamp

Here’s a small version of the cover (you’d never see all of it–the leftmost and rightmost 1/3 inch or so is swallowed up by the binding, as are the top and bottom fraction of an inch). As you can see even at this small size, the bottom strip is, well, a little ragged by comparison to the top.

Conclusion

For me, at least, and with a Windows computer, Paint.NET is the tool of choice. It just seems to be more polished, smoother, more powerful. I wish I’d used it for both strips. (But for various reasons, it would be a LOT more work to go back and redo the bottom one…)

That doesn’t matter if you’re using Linux or Mac OS X: Paint.NET isn’t available.

It might be the other way around for some other uses–there are aspects of Pinta’s UI management that seem to be clearer and more modern. I think.

Of course, you can have both: they’re the same price. Still…after using both, I’m more fond of Paint.NET than I was before.


Update, February 22:
As I was maybe procrastinating a little on preparing the Powerpoint slides for the talk that features this book, I found myself touching up that lower strip with Paint.NET. Not redoing it entirely, but doing a little selective modification. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better. And I found it easier to do on Paint.NET.

After which, I did do the PPT…


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