Archive for June, 2011

ALA 2011: Random Impressions

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

I think I started attending ALA conferences in 1975 and, through 2010, had missed one Annual and no Midwinters during that time. It’s likely that I’ll miss most or all Midwinters from now on, and events over the next few months should help determine whether I’ll attend future Annuals.

This post doesn’t include the “serious business”–what I saw and perceived in the exhibits. That may appear elsewhere; we’ll see. This is about the rest–noting that, for various reasons, I didn’t make it to any formal programs at all.

Digression 1: The ALA Connect Conference Scheduler is partly to blame for that, in a very indirect way. People can check off programs that they plan to attend. I went back to the scheduler two days before ALA and looked at each program I was thinking about attending, figuring that the count on the Scheduler was probably no more than 2/3 of how many would actually be there. In one case–maybe two cases–I downgraded the program because there were likely to be too many people. On the other hand, I think the scheduler is a great idea.

Almost Not Getting There: Kind Words for American Airlines

We won’t go back to pre-conference days and how I got a really good deal at the Hampton Inn Downtown (using AARP rates), which wasn’t a conference hotel. No, it wasn’t on the bedbug list (which several conference hotels were on)–I noted that none of the Hampton Inns in New Orleans, including the one that’s closer to the ALA part of the convention center than any other hotel, were on the conference hotel list, and I’m guessing Hilton didn’t offer that chain to ALA.

We go back to 90 days before the conference, when I was booking flights. I’d decided to take a red-eye from San Francisco so that I could spend Friday in NOLA without paying for a Thursday night hotel room. I’m an American flyer, so I was about to book the 11:45 p.m. red-eye through Chicago…and then said, “maybe it would make more sense to go through Dallas-Fort Worth,” and changed to the 12:30 a.m. red-eye.

Without realizing the consequences, which were certainly there on the screen, and in the confirming email: To wit, when you change from 11:45 p.m. on June 23 to 12:30 a.m. on June 23, you’re going to arrive on June 23, not June 24…

I’d planned to have my wife drive me to the Pleasanton-Dublin BART station around 3:30 p.m. (because there’s a 4 p.m. Farmers Market in Livermore), get to SFO around 5:15, check in, have a leisurely dinner, explore the brand-new Terminal 2, and read until the flight.

But when I logged on to American to check in, I found something else: A big CANCELLED next to my reservation. Why? Well, I hadn’t showed up for the 12:30 a.m. flight–that is, that flight that left six hours ago, dummy…so American properly cancelled the three other legs of the itinerary.

Panic, pounding heart, recognition that you have a $500 non-refundable plane ticket plus $135 non-refundable (this late) conference registration plus $136 first-day hotel charge (that, I might have been able to fix) plus the people you’d set up appointments with at ALA plus…

Called the AAdvantage Gold desk (I don’t fly that much these days, but after you hit a million miles, you get Gold–the first Very Frequent Flyer level–for life). Explained the situation, taking blame for it. Asked for help. Was told: “Go to the airport NOW. Get on standby. If you get on a plane, the rest of the trip will be restored.” That was at 8 a.m. “NOW” wasn’t possible–my wife was just getting up and needed breakfast, and it’s at least two hours to the airport in any case–but I did start packing right away.

Wound up at the airport around noon. Went to desk (Gold also gets you the first-class check-in and security lines). Explained the problem. The clerk said yes, I *might* be able to get on standby, although the flights are going out pretty full. I noted that I had plenty of reading and, in some ways, would just as soon go out on the 12:30 a.m. red-eye I thought I was booking originally (that is, the Friday early morning flight on 6/24). She said, “Well, there are seats, and for a $50 change fee, I can give you an actual boarding pass.” Sold, with enormous gratitude.

In both cases–on the phone and in person–the American people were gracious, efficient, helpful, and reminded me why I primarily fly American Airlines. [OK, so when I changed seats on my return flight from DFW to SFO, so that two kids flying without parents could sit together, the attendant not only thanked me, she gave me a free drink. That was nice, but I would have changed seats anyway so that the kids could be together. Wouldn’t you?]

Thought about it further. If I’d taken a standby, I would have gotten in to NOLA around 11 p.m. and had to beg for an extra night’s hotel room (my wife had said: Call the hotel as soon as you think you’re getting on a plane, and see if you can extend the reservation)–and, if a room was available, paid an extra $130 with tax. So I spent $50 for a day pass to the Admiral’s Club, a brand-new club in the brand-new terminal, including lounge chairs I could nap in and, by the way, free wine & beer (new “free drinks” policy for domestic clubs). Heck, even a shower, if I was so inclined.

So I spent all of Thursday–well, from noon to midnight, at least–at SFO, but that was OK. Flights went forward without any real hitches. Since all four flights going and returning were 100% full, I can believe waiting for standby might have been tricky…

Digression 2: I thought the new Terminal 2 would be worth an hour or two to explore. Not so much. Unlike the glorious Terminal D in American’s part of DFW, Terminal 2 doesn’t amount to all that much, although there are one or two interesting art installations and one interesting permanent interactive sculpture. Did you know SFO is actually an accredited museum?

Hampton Inn couldn’t check me in at 9:45 a.m.; I was finally able to check in, shower and change around 1 p.m. But at least I was there.

Impressions of NOLA and the Conference Center

I wore short-sleeved shirts throughout the weekend and walked everywhere, I’m guessing about 1.5 miles from the hotel to the far end of the CC where ALA always seems to be.

Digression 3: Why is ALA always in Halls G through J, half a mile down the endless Morial CC hallway? I’m sure there are good reasons…apparently, in this case, another exhibition that finished just before ALA, rather than the usual simultaneous exhibition or one coming in just afterward.

Since I went back and forth twice each day, I figure I was getting around 6 miles of walking each day. That’s a good thing.

I didn’t really feel too overchilled in Morial, and the hotel was even better, but wouldn’t it be lovely if more CCs and hotels were like DC last summer–that is, with inside temperatures in the mid-70s so your body isn’t shocked so much by transitions?

Other than registration, my only real ALA thing on Friday was the LITA Happy Hour, which was big and good. (I’m no longer in LITA, but that’s where I tend to run into people, and since LITA doesn’t pay for the drinks, I don’t feel bad about going.) Ran into several LSW folks and a bunch of LITA folks I haven’t seen in a while. Good stuff.

NOLA–New Orleans, Louisiana? Great. On Friday and Saturday we didn’t even get the usual summer afternoon showers (on Sunday, we did–and I got pretty thoroughly soaked, since my umbrella was safely back at the hotel), and Friday was even cooler than expected.

Digression 4: There’s another substantial building on the way from my hotel to Morial, at least if you walk from my hotel to the Hilton Riverside to Morial: Harrah’s. I visited Harrah’s between breakfast and exhibits each morning and for a couple hours Friday. Always played multihand double-bonus poker slots, either at $0.25 or $0.10/hand, playing at least two hands per draw. Loved it, and planned to contribute no more than $50 to NOLA’s economy through this method. In fact, it worked out the other way–but that’s another story, wholly irrelevant to the blog. Fours of a kind should occur roughly once in every 423 hands of slot draw poker, but that doesn’t mean they can’t occur considerably more often (after all, the virtual cards have no memory)–and when you’re getting anywhere from 50 to 160 payback, they can mean a lot to your bottom line.

Other Notes

I loved the dual internet cafes–for once, I was actually able to check email & FF once or twice. That’s unusual.

I was talking to a lot more exhibitors than usual, especially small publishers and independent press distributors and self-published authors. I also talked to a rep at one place that I thought might be a third “pure play” service provider similar to Lulu and CreateSpace–and didn’t realize until I came home and checked their website that, well, let’s say this is a company with a History and not really a pure play provider.

Digression 5: As I was walking by the Swets booth, a pitchman pulled me in to be part of a close-up magic act that was also a sales pitch of sort. He was a really good close magician–I will be damned if I know how he managed some of the things. (Two of them involved my direct participation, and I still haven’t the vaguest idea how he was doing this stuff.)

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.

I finished the conference with a really nice reception (put on by Oxford University Press) at the Louisiana State Museum–drenched, but ran into a bunch of people, heard good music and drank good (California) wine. Oh, and had some great BBQ brisket on mashed potatoes.

Digression the last: I probably had four, maybe five, different gumbos during the weekend, every one of them good. Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that the best of them was…in the DFW airport at a New Orleans-style seafood restaurant.

Next year and beyond?

We shall see. Next year’s Anaheim, which is easy travel for me and a reasonably good site. 2014 is in Vegas, and I’d like to touch down there. Otherwise…we shall see. Who knows? I might even get to an ITI conference such as CiL one of these years…

Single entendre

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Yes, I plan to blog about ALA Annual in New Orleans. No, this isn’t that post–or the first of those posts. Other stuff to catch up with first. But I couldn’t resist…

On the back page of the Datebook section (entertainment, editorials, columns, reviews) in today’s San Francisco Chronicle is an article from Hong Kong: “Plan for Bruce Lee museum stalls again.” The caption on a picture:

Now an hourly motel, the former Hong Kong home of Bruce Lee won’t be turned into a tribute to the star.

“Hourly motel”? First I thought “hot-sheets motel.” But I thought I might be jumping to conclusions–after all, some Asian airports and cities have these places with larger-than-coffin-size cubicles you can rent to get a few hours of sleep. Maybe it’s perfectly innocent…

So then I read the story, and the relevant sentence:

Their hopes appeared to be answered two years ago when the Hong Kong government and the owner of Lee’s former home reached an agreement to convert the property–a two-story house currently used as an hourly love motel–into a museum.

Love motel?

So I was right the first time around–except that “love motel” strikes me as an extreme euphemism, at least for what I suspect is a majority of the use to which a property like this is put. (OK, I’m sure there are times when “get a room!” translates into actual love-making in hot-sheets motels, not just sex. But I’d guess that’s not true most of the time.)

I wonder what Bruce Lee would think of all this?


Cites & Insights: Little steps and opinion request

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

While I’m sticking with my plan to do no actual writing for Cites & Insights until after ALA, I did do a little thinking and work–and could use feedback on the work.

At one point, I was considering making C&I “web first”–writing articles with live links and designing the HTML version first, then flowing the articles into the PDF version (with possible changes) later, possibly making the two different.

Given the overwhelming enthusiasm for that change–other than the “it’s just a blog, who cares?” comments, which I’m choosing to ignore–I’ve moved to a different potential strategy:

  • Do add hyperlinks to sources named, in Word itself, which would mean the PDFs will have blue underlined text areas–but also that the HTML versions will have live links. (Unless I’m mistaken, the links in the PDF should also be live.) (Note: If I add hyperlinks to the source titles, I will omit the plain-text URLs that now appear from time to time, which should simplify layout to some extent. Does that reduce findability for the source material?)
  • Don’t go “web first” or have the text differ between the two. As long as C&I continues, the PDF will be the authoritative version, and it would simply be confusing to have different text in different sources.
  • Do clean up the “web” template to be more consistent–and make sure it’s used properly when converting an issue to web chunks.


I’ve done some work on that final bullet.

This special version of “Perspective: Reading about Writing” uses the revised web.dotx template. You can compare it to the Perspective as it appeared in the April 2011 issue.

Is it better? Worse? About the same? Does the regular body type need to be larger yet?

I think the new version looks much better in print-preview mode. I’m not sure what I think about the on-screen look, although it is more consistent, at least.

Comments welcome. I might or might not tweak the template again before the next issue (whenever that may be). I won’t respond to comments left between Thursday evening and next Monday evening, not until I return from ALA Annual.



Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

A non-obligatory pre-conference post. And since this is my only conference of the year, well…


I’ll be in New Orleans for ALA Annual from Friday morning (prob. around 10 a.m.) through Sunday night (Monday morning return flight assures no activities on Monday).

My so-called schedule is still too open and fluid to say where I’ll be, although I’ll certainly be spending a fair amount of time at exhibits, I’ll probably be at part of the LITA Happy Hour 5:30-8 on Friday, I’ll probably be at the OUP reception 6-8 on Sunday, and there’s at least a reasonable chance I’ll be at some of:

An 8-10 a.m. Saturday PLA program on “beautiful and cheap websites”

A 10:30-12 Saturday ACRL Copyright Discussion Group

A 4-5:30 Saturday LITA session on SF, Fantasy and Information Science

TopTechTrends 1:30-3:30 Sunday (I’ve generally sworn off TTT, but this session’s roster seems likely to shed more light than heat)

4-5:30 Sunday Retired Members Cafe

…and who knows what else?

I’m mediocre with faces and terrible with names, but say Hi anyway–if you have your badge on and visible, my ability to “remember” your name improves considerably!

Hmm. Just got a promotional email touting a new online information system that uses a product name (with qualifications) that was earlier one of my most important work projects, long since shut down. Not sure how that makes me feel. I am sure that “every Canadian provinces” is peculiar English, whether Canadian or otherwise…


So has everybody decided that whatever restrictions publishers want to place on ebooks in libraries, including charging per use, is just peachy-keen?

No, I didn’t think so. Planning to ask hard questions at exhibitors’ booths? Really?

Even though it seems to have been pretty much universally ignored (and absolutely convinced me that C&I is not designed for hot topics), I’ll still say that The Zeitgeist: 26 is Not the Problem is a worthwhile overview of what this particular dispute is/was all about. (Personally, I think it’s easier to read as part of the May 2011 issue in PDF form, but that’s me…)

Plans to improve the HTML template for C&I and include live links? Up in the air, as is everything else about C&I, including its continued existence.

In any case: Enjoy NOLA if you’re going. I’m sure you’ll be flooded with tweets, posts, status updates and whatever from the 25,000 or so who are there if you’re not. Not from me, at least not during the conference: The limits of my traveling technology are an 8GB Sansa Fuze MP3 player and a “feature phone” that’s usually off.

One interesting situation: As Livermore jumped directly from late winter to mid-summer, it looks as though I’ll be traveling to slightly cooler weather in New Orleans (if the long-term forecast holds)–but a whole lot more humid!


Box Office Gold Disc 4

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The Missouri Traveler, 1958, color. Jerry Hopper (dir.), Brandon De Wilde, Lee Marvin, Gary Merrill, Paul Ford, Mary Hosford, Ken Curtis, Cal Tinney, Frank Cady, Will Wright. 1:43.

A charmer all the way through. A 15-year-old orphan (De Wilde) is running away from the orphanage and gets picked up by the biggest landholder in Delphi, Missouri—and, eventually, “adopted” by the whole small community. The landholder/farmer (Lee Marvin) is gruff and rough, and will only stand by agreements if they’re in writing. The other protagonist, the local newspaper editor (Merrill), is much softer. Lots of other characters involved, and at one point I had to remind myself that the lead woman was not Marian Peroo. (The local restaurant owner, who was running a beer parlor until the temperance ladies made the town dry, is also essentially the mayor—and is the same actor (Ford) who was the mayor in The Music Man.)

Not a terribly deep picture, but a charming one. Good cast. Decent print. I’ll give it $1.50.

Rogue Male, 1977, color (TV movie). Clive Donner (dir.), Peter O’Toole, John Standing, Alastair Sim, Harold Pinter. 1:43.

Peter O’Toole is a British aristocrat and author of books about hunting who attempts to assassinate Hitler in 1939—missing and being captured because of a stray quail. (Don’t ask.) The interrogators torture him, including pulling out all his fingernails—then, finding out that he really is related to a high-up in British government, stage an accident to explain his death. An accident that doesn’t actually kill him.

The rest of the movie concerns his flight back to England, his discovery that he’s still being hunted by Gestapo agents, and his attempts to survive. It’s slow and gritty (much of it takes place in and about a small hand-dug cave) and with O’Toole, it’s well worth watching. Not great, but worth $1.50.

Agency, 1980, color. George Kaczender (dir.), Robert Mitchum, Lee Majors, Valerie Perrine, Alexandra Stewart. Saul Rubinek, George Touliatos. 1:34.

Robert Mitchum is the new owner of an ad agency, a tad secretive and with little known background in the biz. Lee Majors is the creative head, prone to jogging, getting in late and being, well, Lee Majors. He’s divorced and sometimes dating Valerie Perrine, a doctor. And his buddy Goldstein, a brilliant copywriter, thinks Mitchum’s up to no good.

It’s all about the sure-fire wonders of subliminal advertising and how they can enable any group to take over the world. I’m not sure how much more there is to say about it. It’s lackluster but not terrible (although there are a few bizarre digitization errors and some really crude censorship, as certain words are obviously blanked out). The sleeve calls this “The Agency,” but there’s no pronoun in the flick’s title. A paranoid trifle, worth maybe $1.25.

The Steagle, 1971, color. Paul Sylbert (dir.), Richard Benjamin, Chill Wills, Cloris Leachman, Jean Allison, Suzanne Charney, Ivor Francis. 1:27 [1:30]

Richard Benjamin is a professor in New York who hates to fly and has a typical suburban family: one wife (Cloris Leachman), two kids. Then comes the Cuban Missile Crisis and he goes—well, let’s see, he gives a lecture of complete nonsense language, tells off his dean and starts hopping across the country on first-class airplane flights, making up a new identity each leg, screwing a married colleague at work, the daughter of a former wartime flame in Chicago and anybody who’s convenient elsewhere. We also see a minister turn lecher in Vegas. Benjamin winds up in LA, getting drunk at the Stork Club and thrown out after a strange scene involving Chill Wills as an over-the-hill, drunk, befuddled old Western actor who supposedly thinks he’s Humphrey Bogart—and the two of them wind up shooting live ammo and exploding live grenades at midnight on a studio set.

After which a cop wakes the two and doesn’t run them in—because the Russian ships have just turned around and Kennedy’s saved the day. Exit Benjamin, back across country, by train, across from a loudmouth Texan who thinks we shoulda’ bombed Cuba flat.

I found it more annoying than anything else, and as a “comedy” it lacks humor. So the crisis was an excuse to abandon all morality, your family, everything? Really? That’s not quite the way I remember it (I was at UC Berkeley at the time.) Maybe if you find Benjamin charming enough you’d like it. For me, meh. But a good print and good cast; I’ll charitably give it $1.

How Not to Offer Coupons: A CVS Story

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

We used to like Longs Drugs pretty well, as chain drugstores go. (For those outside California, the rest of the Pacific Coast and Hawaii, Longs was a regional chain of about 400 stores, headquartered in Walnut Creek. The name still exists in Hawaii, although it’s just a name at this point.)

It took us a while to warm up to CVS after it acquired Longs. Seemed like lots more booze, lots more store brands, lots more tchotchkes and “seasonal” crap–but the stores were convenient, and at least they didn’t have the vaguely creepy “I’d rather be at 7-11” feel I used to get from the ubiquitous tiny CVS stores in the eastern half of the US.

And, of course, we signed up for the ExtraCare card–after all, 2% back is 2% back.

Coupons Galore!

You get coupons with the ExtraCare card. Lots of coupons. $4 off a $20 purchase (with various exceptions), printed at the bottom of most receipts. Emailed coupons for 20% off (with an asterisk), good three days only, or whatever.

Last week, there was a 25% off coupon–good for one shopping trip, three days only. We took advantage of it: I was running low on multivitamins and glucosamine/chondroitin, my wife needed some photo albums, and more. The subtotal was about $85. The 25% discount was $8.54. Hmm. That’s funny…

Asterisk time: Well, the vitamins and glucosamine were already buy one, get one free, so you don’t get the discount. OK. We were still short about $2, but there was apparently some other explanation. Ah well…we’d be more careful, since the “buy one get one free” price was not much cheaper than Target’s or Trader Joe’s regular price, but what the heck.

Then came the 30% coupon

That’s right! 30%. Good for three days only, on one checkout. After groaning about the fact that CVS had tempted us with a less-valuable coupon that we used for most things we wanted, and reading the asterisk paragraph more carefully, well… there were still some things we could use, and 30% is 30%. (CVS is right next to the Safeway we use, even though we’re using Safeway less and less, what with farmers’ markets and the walking-distance Lucky, but still…) Although, even then, when my wife looked at their price for Polysporin, compared to Target’s non-sale everyday price, she noted that 30% off still wouldn’t make it a good deal.

Nonetheless… Some low-sodium house-brand cashews ($5.79 each, 2/$10, not marked as a sale price; a small photo album; two greeting cards: $18.49 total.

And we got $1.20 off. Which, by my calculations, is 30% of $4.

This time, we went back to the checker and complained.

The response? “It’s not good on sale items.”

The small photo album? “If you’d gotten a second one, the second one would have been half price.” But we didn’t get or need a second one. “That’s OK; it’s still a sale price, so no discount.”

The cashews? “$10 for 2 is a sale price.” So if I put one back, we’d get 30% off the other can (30% of $5 being roughly twice the 2-can discount)? “No–because if you get two, then it’s a sale price, even if there’s no date on the “sale” and even if you don’t buy two.”

In other words, if it’s in any way potentially under some circumstances currently sold for less than CVS’ highest marked price–which covers a pretty substantial percentage of a “sale!”-heavy place like CVS–then the 30% doesn’t happen. Even if they have to stretch “sale” pretty hard.

“Oh. So it’s a Macy’s coupon.”

That was pretty much the reaction my wife and I both had as we left the store–that and my wife’s comment, “Don’t bother saving any CVS coupons from now on.” There is one exception: The 2% “ExtraBucks” is a pure cash rebate on your next purchase–as clean as, oh, Kohl’s occasional $10 coupons.

We had long ago figured out that Macy’s Big Discount* coupons had an asterisk that basically excluded anything in the store you might actually want to buy or that Macy’s had reduced from its “We never actually *sold* any for this supposed list price, but doesn’t it make the sale look great?” phony list prices.

Net effect of the 30%-off coupon? Well, there’s a RiteAid store that’s not much further away… In practice, I suspect we’ll cut our CVS purchases by a lot more than 30%.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Trader Joe’s manages to make a lot of shoppers happy without coupons–or sales, for that matter. We use Safeway’s Club Card; the chain has lived up to its no-third-party-identification pledge, and the discounts are legitimate ones on things we’d be buying anyway–and, as we found when a coupon did ring up wrong, Safeway’s customer service errs on the customer’s side when there’s an ambiguity. Target’s coupons are pretty much always legitimate–and, unusually, the chain lets you use both a manufacturer’s coupon and a Target coupon on the same item. Kohl’s–well, so far, we haven’t learned to love the merchandise, but the coupons are 100% legitimate, period. $10 off any purchase of $10 or more means any. I can’t say enough good things about Office Depot’s practices, especially the store in Mountain View we used to use. The list goes on…

Lesson for Libraries?

Maybe, maybe not. I suppose it might be this:

If you claim to be offering something and it’s a phony offer, you’ll sour your intelligent patrons/users/customers badly. Doing that is much worse than not making offers at all.

In this case, RiteAid’s likely to gain through CVS practices. (Geez, I wish we still had local/statewide/regional drug chains–are California and the Pacific Northwest really too small a market for such a chain to be profitable?)

Heck, it probably hurts CVS even more than losing some of our business. After all, this blog has at least 900 readers…

I have seen the light!

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

The light bulb, that is–all glorious four watts of it.

Which wouldn’t be particularly interesting except for one item: One hundred ten years.

That’s how long the bulb has been burning–in various Livermore fire stations, starting in June 1901 and continuing through today, when there was a four-hour celebration of the “Centennial Light Bulb,” as it’s now known.

One hundred ten years? One light bulb?

That’s the history, and it seems to be reasonably well documented. Here’s one story filed this afternoon; here’s the website (grammatical errors and all) and the webcam.

We got to the four-hour celebration (noon to four) around 3 p.m.; there were still at least a hundred people there, more arriving all the time. Several beautifully-restored old fire engines; some well done displays on the Shelby company (makers of the carbon-filament lightbulb in question), the lightbulb, early Livermore and the like; a similar Shelby bulb available for close-up views; the authors of two children’s books on the bulb signing copies; and, of course, the bulb itself–up high near one wall, serving as a nightlight as it has continuously since 1976 (when it came to the current location). They had birthday cakes (mostly gone), free ice cream sandwiches (still available), free water…and, too loud but fortunately out in back, the usual live music.

Yes, there’s even a documentary DVD about it, premiered last night at Livermore’s local non-multiplex movie theater, the one that sells wine & beer and delivers food from the next-door restaurant. (No, we didn’t see the documentary and aren’t buying the DVD.)

This may be the longest-burning light bulb at least in America, although it’s not the only one with at least a century life. (Apparently, thick carbon filaments didn’t give off much light…but lasted a LONG time.)

Interesting little local celebration.

Library 2.0: A Minor Modification

Friday, June 17th, 2011

First off, I’d like to thank whoever purchased a print copy of Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader yesterday. That’s the fourth copy (and first print copy) purchased.

It may also be nearly unique, depending on how Lulu’s production process actually works. That will be true even if 500 more copies sell (which seems likely to be off by about two orders of magnitude).

How so?

This book is not only a trial balloon for Cites & Insights Readers; it’s also a proof of concept for the Word template also being used for my next professionally-published book–a template that will wind up on my personal website for others to download.

But I uploaded and published the book on May 27–and since then, I’ve made some changes in the template based on discussions with the publisher and doing a triple-check of which typefaces are “standard” as of Windows 7 and Office 2010.

Namely, I found that while Office 2007 included a wide range of text typefaces, Office 2010 includes no typefaces beyond those supplied with Windows–and while Windows 7 has some excellent typefaces, the list doesn’t include Goudy Old Style, the text face in the template and the book.

After experimentation, the template now uses Palatino Linotype for text–and, rather than Calibri, Verdana for headings. Both are present on pretty much every Windows computer and, as Palatino rather than Palatino Linotype, on every Mac.

But that suggested another change: Palatino sets large, so that 11 pt. text on 13 pt. lines was bigger than it needed to be and had a little less interline spacing than we wanted. So we changed it to 10 pt. text on 13 pt. lines–and 10 pt. Palatino is about as large as 11 pt. Goudy Old Style.


So I reformatted the book using the new version of the template, spent part of this morning making adjustments for vertical justification and bad breaks, and have now uploaded the new version and modified the available book.

Technically, the new book is one page longer, although the actual number of sheets doesn’t change (it’s 210 pp. instead of 209–or, rather, 206+iv instead of 205+iv). That means I get charged for one more print page, which reduces my net slightly–but it’s still slightly over the $4 target for C&I Readers, so the price remains $13.99.

(I also expanded the spine typesize, which was smaller than it should have been, and deleted some text on the back cover referring to ePub and Kindle versions, since those aren’t happening any time soon.)

Result: Same text, slightly different appearance.

The text is unchanged (except for the copyright page). The front cover is unchanged. The back cover and spine are slightly different. The pages all look different, since it’s entirely different typefaces.

Oh, there is one variance from the template used for my micropublishing book, the one that will become freely available:

The publisher I’m working with likes sans for block quotes, and that works fine for most books–which have very few block quotes. Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader has loads of block quotes, way too much sans for my taste. So I did change that one style, just for this book, to use Palatino Linotype rather than Verdana.

So the thousands hundreds dozens of others who buy the print book from now on will see a slightly different book. One I still believe is a pretty good bargain, especially in its $5.99 PDF version (which, to be sure, also has the new typefaces).

Balanced Libraries on iTunes/iBook, maybe

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

It’s possible that you can already, or will soon be able to, buy an ePub version of Balanced Libraries on the iTunes or iBooks site (since I don’t use iTunes, I’m not quite sure what’s what).

If you do so, I’d love to hear about it–and whether the ePub rendition is good.

The skinny

Lulu has been doing conversions of some number of Lulu-published books to ePub for submission to iBooks–always with email to the authors and the possibility of opting out or changing the $9.99 price Lulu sets.

I’m guessing Lulu’s going by sales (Balanced Libraries is currently the 3,082nd best selling book on Lulu) but don’t really know that.

I didn’t opt out. I think it’s a great idea. Since Lulu is, of necessity, converting from PDF (which is all Lulu has), I’m mildly interested in the success of the conversion.

The oddity

This is also interesting because I’d intended to provide the first C&I Reader in ePub and Kindle formats (in all cases, with the price set so my yield would be $4, as it is for the paperback and PDF versions)–and found that, at least for ePub, the freely-available tool to do the conversion just didn’t yield a standard ePub, one that Lulu would allow for submission to iTunes/iBooks. Converting from HTML (Word HTML with headers and footers stripped) should be much easier than converting from PDF, but Calibre–while doing a great-looking conversion–doesn’t yield “standard” output.

So I’m interested in how Lulu’s own conversion actually went. Not interested enough to open an iTunes account and pay for it, to be sure, especially since I don’t have an ereader.

Just curious.

Of C&I, Library 2.0, ALA2011 and so on…

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

First there’s Cites & Insights.

Or, rather, there isn’t–any news on that front, that is. I published an unusual two-month issue on May 10, 2011. I didn’t plan to do any work on C&I for at least a month. That’s exactly how it’s worked out.

All’s quiet on the C&I front. In the long run, that’s not tenable. In the short run…well, there will be an issue that includes August 2011 as part of its stated date. Just when, I have no idea. At that point, I’ll probably remove any mention of “monthly” from the site pages and masthead–until/unless there’s a reason to restore planned monthly publication.

Then there’s Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader. The status of that effort:

  • As an example of micropublishing with little or no budget, and as a series of screen captures (hurray for Windows7’s Clipping Tool!), it’s great…except that we changed the template after the book was uploaded. I may update the book with the new template. I may not.
  • As an easy way for people to support C&I and get a really good combination of essays…well, I’d like to thank the three (3) people who have, to date, downloaded PDF versions. No paperback copies sold except for my proof copy. Not quite enough to date to pay for two lunches at my favorite Chinese restaurant, but close…
  • As an indicator of whether people really cared about the Library 2.0 essays, given that the first of them continued to be downloaded more than most current issues, well… the book appeared on May 27, at which point I instituted “speed bumps” for the original essays. You can still get them for free, but it takes additional steps. Here’s what I’ve seen since then: 106 downloads of 6:2 (yielding the single PDF page describing the book and providing the new temporary names), 29 of 11:2 (ditto)…and 108 downloads of the temporary version of 6:2. And, as noted above, three people who cared enough about the essays and C&I to pay $5.99 for 6:2, 11:2 and others in between and after. So “cared enough” to hand-copy another link is one thing; “cared enough” to spend the price of two lattes is quite another. Interesting. Not terribly surprising. Early yet. We shall see.

ALA2011? I’ll be there. I’ve prepared a tentative schedule. I’m still extremely open to suggestions.

And so on…actually, you could think of this post as mostly a reminder that:

  1. Cites & Insights hasn’t completely gone away yet.
  2. There won’t be a new C&I before ALA2011.

PS: Given FF and other discussions of the past week or two, it would be tempting to talk about fair contracts for articles and books–and I’m beginning to recognize that I’m lucky enough to deal with extremely honorable companies at this point. But that’s another discussion…