Last year in books read

January 1st, 2017

Given the sheer amount of research I did in 2016–Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 and Gray OA 2012-2016–it’s a miracle I managed to get through any books at all. But I did.

As usual, my goal was 39 books: three books for each 4-week library circulation period. As usual, I did better than that, although nowhere near as well as in 2015: Looks like I started 49 books and finished 45 of them. Abandoned, for various reasons: Reinhart & Rogoff: This Time is Different; Graydon Carter: Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells; Peter Carey: Amnesia.

Books I thoroughly enjoyed:

The Days of Anna Madrigal Armistead Maupin
When Christ and the Saints Slept Sharon Kay Penman
The Truth According to Us Annie Barrows
Strip Tease Carl Hiaasen
School Days Robert B. Parker
Sixkill Robert B. Parker
Walking Shadow Robert B. Parker
Ring of Fire III Eric Flint
1635: A Parcel of Rogues Erik Flint &c.
1636: The Viennese Waltz Erik Flint &c.

Books I enjoyed a lot but which weren’t quite as good:

Saint Mazie Jami Attenberg
Maybe the Moon Armistead Maupin
The Devil’s Bones Jefferson Bass
I Don’t Know How She Does It Allison Pearson
All Our Yesterdays Robert B. Parker
Lucky You Carl Hiaasen
Time and Chance Sharon Kay Penman
Sick Puppy Carl Hiaasen
Thin Air Robert B. Parker
Trouble in Paradise Robert B. Parker
Small Vices Robert B. Parker
Playmafes Robert B. Parker
Hard Drive James Wallace & Jim Erickson
Service Included Phoebe Damrosch
1635: The Dreeson Incident Erik Flint &c.
Ring of Fire II Eric Flint
1635: The Papal Stakes Erik Flint &c.
1636: The Saxon Uprising Eric Flint
1636: The Kremlin Games Erik Flint & c.

Those are the “A” and “A-” grades; another nine were also enjoyable but B+ at best.

Of course, I also wrote three books, but that’s another story.

[If you looked at this and saw two identical tables: brief problem…]

Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015: December update

December 31st, 2016

It’s December 31–the last day of the month, when I fetch usage statistics for my websites (as always, omitting about 5.5 hours of that last day), so here’s an update on GOAJ–just the total numbers this time:

  • Paperbacks: Two copies of GOAJ itself sold. So far, none of the others.
  • Dataset: 978 views (irrelevant), 440 downloads (relevant).
  • GOAJ: 42 Lulu copies, 9,162* copies from my site: total 9,202.
  • Subjects: 19 Lulu copies, 211* other copies, 230 total.
  • Countries: 8 Lulu copies, 1,054* other copies, 1,062 total.
  • C&I: 1,139* copies of the excerpted GOAJ version (16.5) and 3,925* copies of “APCLand and OAWorld” (16.4.)

As a sidenote, the most downloaded issue of Cites & Insights for the period between October 2012 and December 31, 2016** is issue 14.4, with 15,936 copies, half again as many as the second most downloaded. The primary essay is The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall. Unfortunately, more recent and probably more important related commentaries have not reached anywhere that audience…and it’s clear that many librarians and even more scholars take Beall’s word (typically offered without a shred of evidence) as gospel. [Look to the third essay in the hyperlinked issue–the one with “Trust Me” in the title.]

**The most downloaded C&I will probably always be the Library 2,0 and “Library 2.0” essay, with nearly 34,000 downloads before I added a speed bump.

*Note added 12/12/16: These numbers do not include November 13-December 15, 2016 for C&I or November 13-30, 2016 for downloads from my site; downloads during that period, almost certainly in the high hundreds for GOAJ, are simply missing.

Cites & Insights now CC BY

December 30th, 2016

As a somewhat overdue finish to the year, I’ve changed the Cites & Insights Creative Commons license from BY-NC 1.0 to BY (that is, attribution) International 4.0.

As before, this applies to all original material in C&I–and since the license appears on the home page, you should assume (as I do) that it applies retroactively.

A few more notes on the “Big Three”

December 27th, 2016

…or…”What? Two posts within a week of one another that aren’t about C&I or OA? What is this world coming to?”

The most recent post was about the “Big Three” science fiction magazines and the fact that, as of January 2017, each one publishes six very large issues a year (to save money on postage and handling: the amount of fiction appears to about the same, the equivalent of one longish novel in each two-month issue).

I thought I’d add a few notes about the “Big Three” and my own reactions to them.

What’s so Big about the Big Three?

In 1980, Analog and Asimov’s each had about 100,000 circulation. That’s a lot for a print fiction magazine of any sort. F&SF ran about 60,000: still enough to make it one of the Big Three–especially since so few other magazines survived for very long (sigh: I do remember Galaxy and [Worlds of] If).

At this point, these three are mostly survivors of the pulp fiction era. By 2004, Analog was don to something like 40,000; Asimov’s to something like 30,000; and F&SF to something like 20,000. By 2009, those numbers were 26,000; 16,000; and 17,000 respectively.

The latest figures I can find for print circulation are lower, but not that much lower. The latest USPS form (in the Jan/Feb 2017 issues of Analog and Asimov’s, which curiously arrived on the same day) are–for the year as a whole–19,963 for Analog and 13,966 for Asimov’s; the latest-issue figures are in both cases nearly the same. The most recent figures I can find for F&SF have print circulation just under 12,000; I’ll update this post when the USPS form appears. (Unlike Analog and Asimov’s, F&SF actually publishes issues within the cover date range.) All three have electronic subscriptions as well, probably numbering in the thousands: it’s quite possible that overall circulation has stabilized. On the other hand, I wouldn’t pay more for a lifetime subscription than for a five-year subscription…

These are three distinctively different magazines, even if all three use small type on cheap paper (they’re still pulps) and the two A’s are the same length and published by the same company. Here’s my current personal take:


The one with the visible gears–this is very much the Hard Science Fiction place, also in some ways the traditionalist magazine. If you know about the Sad Puppies…well, they’re more likely to appear here than in the other two. It’s the only one where you can expect letters saying that certain stories Really Don’t Belong Here.

I’m finding more and more that the gears show in the writing as well. While some first-rate writers appear here, there’s more clunkiness here than in the other two; I’m finding a couple of authors that appear all the time where it’s liberating to give up after a few pages, something I almost never do elsewhere.

No fantasy. Humor tends to be frowned on (except in short-short “Probability Zero” pieces). Lots of science and “science” articles.

I’ll look at this one very carefully when renewal time comes around (like the others, subscriptions tend to be around $37/year or $63/two years: these mags just don’t have many ads). Maybe after decades of reading I’ve gotten too young for Analog.


To my mind, the best writing tends to appear here (but F&SF is close), and there’s a broad mix of all types of science fiction, including humor and some fantasy. For a long time, you could predict that a significant percentage of Nebula and Hugo short-fiction and editorial nominees would be from Asimov’s, and as of its 40th year, the magazine notes that stories have won 53 Hugos and 28 Nebulas, with editors receiving 20 Best Editor Hugos.

[I just slapped together a little table using Wikipedia’s lists of Hugo nominees and the find function. Here’s what I find from 1978–when Asimov‘s began–to the present:

Analog Asimov’s F&SF
Novella 34 80 28
Novelette 32 78 30
Short Story 27 77 33

That suggests something about writing quality, I think. (Asimov‘s editor has apparently been nominated every year but one, and won half the time.)

Here’s a similar table for the Nebulas, chosen by writers–again since 1978:

Analog Asimov’s F&SF
Novella 23 75 42
Novelette 15 66 56
Short Story 8 55 48

Anyway: I’ve read Asimov’s from the start (kept ’em for 20 years but lost them somewhere along the way, more’s the pity: were it not for the mailing labels defacing covers, that collection would probably be worth something…) and I’m likely to keep reading it for years to come.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

I think the order of the title is significant: F&SF is particularly strong on fantasy and the occult, and tends not to have much hard science fiction. It uniquely runs cartoons and reader competitions, and has a healthy respect for humor.

I’ve read it for decades off and on, and am likely to keep doing so; I sometimes think I’m likely to outlast the magazine (which could, unfortunately, be true for all three). I’m not sure I have a “favorite” between Asimov’s and F&SF; both seem to have high editorial standards and publish a wide variety of good fiction.

Trying to imagine a Venn diagram of the three–that is, with overlaps for stories that could appear in more than one of them without raising the ire of the readers (that being apparently mostly an issue for Analog), I’d guess about a 20%-25% overlap between Analog and Asimov’s, about a 30%-35% overlap between Asimov’s and F&SF, and maybe a 5% overlap (if that!) between F&SF and Analog, although that overlap would have been higher before Asimov’s came along.

[When do I read these magazines? Back when I was speaking, we were vacationing, and I was attending conferences, I mostly read them during travels. Now I read them at lunch–and I’m about half a year behind, one reason that Analog may get cut.]

Science fiction magazines: the “big three” all 6 BIG issues a year

December 23rd, 2016

I’ve subscribed to all three of the “big three” of science fiction print magazines for a long time–e.g., I’ve read every issue of Asimov’s, which is in its 40th year, and both Analog and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) even longer.

I put “big three” in scare quotes because none of them have large circulations. (There are other SF magazines, some of them probably in print, but these are the three with long histories.)

A couple of years ago, F&SF switched from monthly issues to bimonthly (that is, six times a year), while making each issue much fatter: the postage costs were killing them financially. Meanwhile, both of the others (which are both published by Dell, also home to two mystery magazines) went to slightly larger but fewer pages–and to 10 issues per year, two of them double-thickness.

Now the shift is complete: as of January-February 2017, all three magazines publish six double issues per year. (They’re double issues so they don’t have to double the length of outstanding subscriptions.)

Initially, I thought the results meant less fiction. Now, I think it may mean more, as fewer pages are devoted to columns, editorials and overhead. So, for example:

  • The November/December 2016 F&SF has four novellas and seven short stories in addition to its two book review columns and film column.
  • The January/February 2017 Asimov’s has one novella, four novelettes and seven short stories plus poetry, a book review column, and three other editorials and columns.
  • The January/February 2017 Analog has one novella, four novelettes and eleven short and short-short stories plus a fact article, book reviews, poetry and several columns.

That’s a lot of text–novellas are 17,501 to 40,000 words while novelettes are 7,500 to 17,500 words.

It felt like I was getting at least a fairly long novel’s worth of reading in each issue. A quick scan and crude OCR of page pairs from each of those issues bears that out. F&SF has smaller pages and a little more leading, but more pages: 256 pages, which seem to average about 370-400 words. In other words, with six pages of overhead an issue could have up to 100,000 words; I’d guess the average is 90,000 or more (given that four novellas alone are at least 70,000 words!). The other two appear to have 650 words per page (roughly), and run 208 pages; given 8 pages of overhead, an issue could have 130,000 words or so, and I’d guess these issues run on the order of 100,000 words.

(Those numbers could all be seriously off–this was just one pair of pages scanned using Canon’s built-in OCR routines. Let’s just say that each double issue is probably between 75,000 and 130,000 words, and quite possibly 100,000 words or more–in any case, at least as long as a novel.)

Now, if I could keep up with them…while still reading actual novels. I wonder how long they’ll survive in these book/zine forms?


*British* libraries [may be] dying/in decline

December 22nd, 2016

I’ve seen half a dozen U.S. library site links already to this story in The Guardian–and feel it’s important to say that the facts (assuming they are facts) in the story relate to British public libraries. It’s a sad story there (and I regard the “combine libraries and churches” solution as a little strange, but…I’m not British), but it has nothing, zero, nada, zilch to do with American public libraries.

Worth noting because The Guardian publishes so much online stuff aimed at and appearing to speak authoritatively about American issues. No reason a British paper should qualify a headline with “British,” but readers should be aware of context. (And posting this because, so far, the number of American posts/tweets/status updates linking to the story and providing that context is zero.)

Hybrid OA: 2-3% of gold OA?

December 16th, 2016

Repeating what I just posted on Google+:

If this article is even close to being right–and I have no reason to doubt it–there’s finally a good figure for how much we undercount OA by omitting hybrid: 2.8%–for 2013, 13,994 hybrid as compared to 493,475 gold (in DOAJ journals, that is, not including 188,000-odd in “gray” OA journals: include those and hybrid’s just barely over 2%: 13,994 compared to more than 682,000).

So: next time somebody says “but you’re not counting hybrid articles,” a reasonable rejoinder might be “So?”–and, of course, a link to this [fully available] article.

And a tip of the hat to Valerie Hawkins for pointing out the article…

Cites & Insights v. 16 available as paperback–and a sale!

December 16th, 2016

The paperback edition of Cites & Insights 16, 2016, is now available. The best way to get it is from the Cites & Insights Annual Volumes page.

This is a relatively slender volume, not surprisingly given the two major research projects in 2016 and various medical issues. It’s also the final 8.5″ x 11″ edition, since Cites & Insights is now published in single-column 6″ x 9″ form.

The cover is taken from the same photograph (Linda Driver’s photo taken in Papeete, Tahiti) as was used for the cover of Balanced Libraries–but in addition to being larger, this version turns out to be crisper and with better color balance. I don’t know whether that’s an improvement in scanning (as I’ve gone through two or three multifunction printers since 2007) or in’s current version over whatever I was using in 2007.

Temporary (?) Reduction on All C&I Annual Prices

From now until at least the end of January 2017, prices for all eleven Cites & Insights annual volumes have been reduced to $35 (each, not all 11!).

For each volume ordered between now and January 31, 2017, I’ll extend that price for another month, up through December 2017 if there are 11 sales.

When I remember, I’ll also post Lulu sales codes as new posts.

Note: I have modified the cover on Volume 11 so that the title is now readable on the spine (changed the background to the same lighter color as the back cover and enlarged the type).

Purchase of C&I Annuals helps to support Cites & Insights, and it’s the only way to get the annual indices. In a couple of cases, the Annuals also have special issues that are no longer available online.

Adding a new category for W.a.R. posts

December 11th, 2016

I’ve just added an Important New Category for posts that offer my superior wisdom to those who have thought about something on their own, especially when those people lacking The Truth are women.

The new category is “Actually…”

Check back periodically to catch up on “Actually…” posts.

If I behave as I believe is appropriate, checking back once a month year decade should be sufficient.

[Updated a bit later: The real reason for the category and this post is to remind me when I’m on the verge of something like mansplaining, that it’s almost always a bad and pointless idea.]

Cites & Insights Number 200 available

December 2nd, 2016

A very special Cites & Insights, Volume 17, Issue 1, whole number 200, is now available for downloading at (or at if you prefer).

The 72-page 6″ x 9″ issue is a monograph:

Gray OA 2012-2016: Open Access Journals Beyond DOAJ

It’s the result of several months of investigation into the rest of gold OA, beyond “serious gold OA” (journals in DOAJ). I liken it to making brandy out of sour grapes, since it relies on Beall’s lists as the most complete known lists of “other” OA publishers and journals [journals that are also in DOAJ–a few hundred–aren’t included in the monograph].

This monograph is not available in paperback form; at 72 pages (actually 68 + front matter) it just didn’t make sense. It looks at — gulp — more than 18,900 journals and “journals,” of which 7,743 appear to have published at least one article between 1/1/2012 and 6/30/2016–and, if you’re familiar with a certain article claiming 420,000 “predatory” articles in 2014 [Chapter 4 of this monograph deals with that paper], the maximum number of articles for 2014 appears to be 255,183–but only 113,996 of these were in journals on the lists at the time the article was done, and only 29,947 in journals where a legitimate case against the journal or publisher had been made.

It doesn’t look like a typical issue (the first page is a book title page but with the C&I banner at the bottom of the page) and it’s distinctly not typical: more effort went into this issue than into a year’s worth of typical issues.