Archive for July, 2014

See chapter 1 free; save 15% on Cites & Insights Books

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 17th, 2014

Just a quick note on two semi-related issues:

Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage

If your academic library doesn’t already get Library Technology Reports–or even if it does–you might want to look at Chapter 1 of this report, the overview, which will provide a sense of the overall picture. To a great extent, the damage is in the details (covered in the other chapters), since a few very large academic libraries with strong budgetary support make the overall figures look better less bad than they otherwise would.

You can view Chapter 1 for free here. You can also purchase other chapters in e-form at that location.

(A reminder: I strongly believe that every academic library and academic librarian in the U.S. should be aware of this report, but not for personal gain–as with all Library Technology Reports, the writer–me, in this case–receives a single payment, so additional royalties don’t enter into it. I’m not complaining, and I’m delighted that LTR and editor Patrick Hogan saw fit to publish this.)

Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing–15% off the print version through 7/21/14

I’d like to think that dozens or hundreds of academic libraries/librarians will also find this book useful; it examines changes in the state of academic library circulation (no, it isn’t “down everywhere” or close to it), book coverage, and both professional and overall staffing relative to student population during the 2002-2012 period, using the same divisions of libraries as in the LTR report.

From now through July 21, 2014, you can save 15% on the print version by using the coupon code

DOGDAYS14

at checkout. The coupon code applies to all print books (technically, that’s not true, but it includes all the Cites & Insights print books–there’s a new economy category akin to mass-market paperbacks that isn’t included) in a single order, so it’s also a great time to buy Your Library Is... or one or more of the C&I Annuals.

Cites & Insights 14:8 (August 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 15th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:8 (August 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i8.pdf

The two-column print-oriented issue is 32 pages long. A single-column 6×9″ version designed for online/tablet reading is also available, at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i8on.pdf   (The single-column version is 61 pages long.)

This issue includes the following:

The Front: Once More with [Big] Dealing   pp. 1-2

If you read the June 2014 issue, you may be aware that “Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage” wasn’t available when I thought it would be.

It’s available now; this brief essay offers the link to the ALA Store page for the Library Technology Reports issue and notes the complementary book for those academic librarians with deeper interests.

I believe every academic library should pay attention to this issue of LTR. If your library subscribes, it should be available now (electronically) or in a few days (in print form). If it doesn’t, you should buy the issue as a separate. Some of you really would find Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing useful as well.

Words: Doing It Yourself  pp. 2-18

Notes on self-publishing and whether or not it makes sense for you (or for your library to assist with).

Intersections: Access and Ethics 3  pp. 18-32

A range of commentaries having to do with open access and ethics over the past 18 months or so–and a couple of brief followups on previous essays. (You may notice that one Very Large Journal Publisher doesn’t show up much in this essay. Its time will come.)

What’s not here: the list of C&I supporters and sponsors. I’ll add the three names (yes, three) in a later issue.

The Final Economist

Posted in Media on July 10th, 2014

It arrived on Monday–two days later than the cover date, but that happens sometimes.

It’s sitting in the special throne room plexiglass stand used to hold magazines being read in the throne room.

For the last year, it’s been the only magazine there–because it takes more than a week of throne room visits to get through an issue.

I never actually paid for The Economist; it was a Magazines-for-Miles deal using airline miles from one of several airlines I never plan to use again. Even at the absurd $0.02/mile exchange rate (which most people now think grossly exaggerates the worth of airline miles), the “price” was nowhere near $160, the one-year subscription price; I think it was around $60.

I’m one of those readers: I read most magazines cover to cover, and we subscribe to a lot of magazines. (Including ones that come with various other arrangements–e.g., VIA, On Investing, AARP The Magazine, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife, and now the new ACLU magazine–it’s something over two dozen.)

So next week I’ll go back to having a mix of magazines in the throne room stand–Fast Company (well suited to the location), some of the infrequent “comes because you do something” magazines, maybe Fortune if I’m ahead on other things.

I decided not to renew some months ago–quite apart from the $160/year, which is more than we spend on any four magazines, much less one.

A few of the reasons why:

What I Won’t Miss

The strained British/slang/invented language the “newspaper” uses.

The feeling that the only difference between “leaders” (editorials) and other articles is that the leaders are explicitly slanted.

The constant slagging of the U.S. and especially Obama.

Added 7/11: I especially won’t miss the frequent admonitions for the U.S. to get into another shooting war.

The special definition of “liberal” used when business or markets are involved.

The sheer volume of it all.

What I Will Miss A Little

Being better informed (to the extent that you can filter out the slant) about a range of nations and economic issues.

Some of the special sections.

I might say “The World in 2014″–but I never received that special issue, and by the time I realized I should have received it, it was far too late.

What I Will Miss The Most

I’ll miss this enough that I’ll probably start extending my library visits so I can catch up with recent issues (I’m assuming they keep at least four back; if not, I’ll have to start going more often).

The final page, especially when there’s no obvious candidate for the obituary of the week.

I find the final page superb. I plan to keep reading it.

[By the way, in case any silly person thinks the only reason I'm dropping The Economist is the price and thinking of giving it to me: Please don't. Contribute a third of the cost, or a little less, say $50, to Cites & Insights.]

In some ways, I’ve liked having a weekly magazine. Time is such a shadow of its former self that I’d find it sad to take (I read it for years, back when there was some substance to it). I might look at The Week or, less probably, Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Most likely, I’ll get used to not having a weekly–after all, I do still read the daily, even if via Kindle Fire 8.9.

liberation management: a non-review

Posted in Books and publishing on July 6th, 2014

I tried, Really, I did! Apparently once some years ago, three or four times in the last couple of weeks.

But I just couldn’t! Right around page 225 of 834, I decided I don’t need a soporific and no longer care why Tom Peters is/was so important.

The book title’s in the post title (the first two words, with “necessary disorganization for the nanosecond nineties” as a subtitle), all-lower-case and all, It’s by TOM PETERS, all upper case (with the T and M in yellow, the O in red, and “PETERS” in green with a red shadow–all very impressive).

Inside the book, oddly enough, the orthography is more normal!

Oh, sorry, reading Peters, I got in the habit of thinking every second or third sentence should end in an exclamation point–possibly as a way to enliven some seriously plodding prose.

The copy I have is a $15 mass-market paperback published by Ballantine (it’s a Fawcett Columbine book) in 1994, two years after Knopf published the hardcover. Both are divisions of Random House. The book’s copyright is held by “Excel/, A California Partnership” (I assume the slash is part of the corporate name but the comma isn’t). “A Note About the Author” at the end tells us that Peters is founder and chief of The Tom Peters Group (which, he tells us in the book, is really five different corporations or something like that), which is in Palo Alto even though “he and his family spend much of their time on a farm in Vermont, thanks to the information technology revolution (the Fax machine).”

Really. In 1992, the Fax machine (capital-F) was an “information technology revolution.” Maybe so; while the commercialization of the internet and the first ISPs go back to 1989, by 1992 it probably wasn’t very widespread.

Oh yes: there’s a doorstop of a book that I should say something about.

The first thing to say is that, if Knopf is/was supposed to have high editorial standards, they sure seem to be missing on this book. The proofreading is fine, but a good editor should have sat down with Peters and said something like “Drop 90% of the exclamation points, try saying things five or ten times instead of thirty or forty times, cut this by 75% and we might have a decent book–with a lot of editorial work.”

But, of course, Tom Peters was already hot stuff by this time, based on a book (with a coauthor) that may or may not have had falsified data (the link is to Wikipedia’s article; on one hand, I can believe Fast Company sensationalized a headline, since the magazine tends toward sensationalism–but on the other, based on too many other business books to count, I certainly believe that Peters cherry-picked at the very least).

This quote from an LJ review of this book is cogent: “Peters doesn’t have the benefit of an official coauthor, and it shows” (In Search of Excellence and his second book did have coauthors).

What I learned from the 200 pages I did read:

  • Tom Peters is 100% certain that every company in America must transform itself (long before now) into small self-selecting project teams that work closely with customers to meet their needs–pretty much “we’re all consultants of one sort or another,” although he doesn’t put it that way. (Somehow, I don’t see that working in ordinary retail at all, but I lack Peters’ vision.) It is, of course, true, as every student of Steve Jobs and Apple knows, that its successes in the iStuff category came about strictly because Jobs and small groups met with potential customers to see how Apple could best meet their needs…oh, wait…
  • Peters is Very Sure of Everything He Says! Hey, he’s a multimillionaire at this point so who am I to quibble? (One of the links from the Wikipedia article has him dismissing the fact that 98% of internet startups–companies done the way he thought everybody should do things–had failed. In essence, he said “So what? Some succeeded.”)
  • Peters is upfront in saying that everybody has to be a businessperson and, at least implicitly, that everybody must create and keep building Their Own Brand.
  • What comes through loud and as clear as the turgid prose allows is this: Peters’ future is 100% for extroverts. There’s no room for introverts in the “nanosecond nineties.” If you’re not out pushing yourself into project teams, creating your own new projects, and being assertive about everything…well, you’re toast.

Some of that may be unfair. In any case, I gave up. I’m sure others read this brick all the way through, were enlightened by it, and went on to found the only companies that could possibly survive the nineties and beyond. No, I don’t intend to read Peters’ more recent books. I’ll give some other absolutist guru a try.

 

 

 

 


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