In the age of Amazon, used bookstores are making an unlikely comeback

Riverby Books D.C., a used-bookstore on Capitol Hill, closed last year after owner Steve Cymrot was hit by a truck and killed. His son Paul reopened the store in the fall — and didn’t hesitate. “The business side of it never gave us a moment’s pause,” he said. “We’ve never had better business.”

And it’s a business with good economics. Used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones — so good that many indies are adding used sections.

Sensing a good deal, entrepreneurs are jumping in.

From In the age of Amazon, used bookstores are making an unlikely comeback - The Washington Post

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Zuckerberg compares free internet services to public libraries and hospitals

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has written a forceful defense of the company's plans to offer limited, free internet access in India, comparing Facebook's Free Basics service with libraries and public hospitals. In an op-ed written for The Times of India, Zuckerberg says that although libraries don't offer every book to read and hospitals can't cure every illness, they still provide a "world of good," suggesting that just because free internet services like Free Basics only offer access to a limited number of sites — which third-parties can apply to join but that Facebook ultimately controls — they're still an essential public service.

From Zuckerberg compares free internet services to public libraries and hospitals | The Verge

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When will the librarians start to throw offline literature away?

Libraries cost money.  Do we need large buildings, heavily staffed, full of paper, if “everything of importance” is online, in databases, collections, and so forth?  For a university accountant, the answer is self-evidently not.  A generation may be needed, but those volumes will be sold, the staff dismissed, and the building repurposed.

Such changes in information technology have happened before.

From When will the librarians start to throw offline literature away? at Roger Pearse

Japanese bookshop stocks only one book at a time

With hundreds of thousands of books published every year, the choice of what to stock can prove bewildering for booksellers. The owner of one small bookshop in Tokyo has taken an unusual approach to the problem: Morioka Shoten, located in the luxury shopping district of Ginza, offers just one title to its customers.

From Japanese bookshop stocks only one book at a time | Books | The Guardian

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Meme Librarian for Tumblr

Amanda Brennan is a librarian for the Internet. Her career in meme librarianism began in graduate school at Rutgers, where she received a master’s in library science.

But instead of heading to a brick-and-mortar library, Brennan continued documenting online phenomena at Know Your Meme and then at Tumblr, where she solidified her profession as information desk for doge, mmm whatcha say and the other viral Internet sensations in need of classification, categorization and preservation.

Here's the meme-ish story from the Washington Post.

Why James Billington’s Retirement is a Wake-Up Call for Librarians

In quieter decades, the absence of charismatic, visionary library leaders might not have mattered, writes Peter Brantley. But in the Internet age, it is a self-inflicted wound.

From Why James Billington’s Retirement is a Wake-Up Call for Librarians

2016 Call for Speakers Now Open! – Big Talk From Small Libraries

Big Talk From Small Libraries 2016 will be held on Friday, February 26, 2016 between 8:45 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (CT) via the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Speakers will be able to present their programs from their own desktops. The schedule will accommodate speakers’ time-zones.

If you are interested in presenting, please submit your proposal by Friday, January 8, 2016. Speakers from libraries serving fewer than 10,000 people will be preferred, but presentations from libraries with larger service populations will be considered.

From 2016 Call for Speakers Now Open! – Big Talk From Small Libraries

German machine vends books in exchange for unwanted presents

German trade publisher Bastei Lübbe and book retailer Hugendubel have come up with an unusual idea to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents.

The companies have invented a vending machine (pictured below) where consumers can dump a present and exchange it at the touch of a button for a book.

From German machine vends books in exchange for unwanted presents | The Bookseller

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Computers Get Busy for National Novel-Generating Month

Last month nearly 200 entries turned up in a strange event on GitHub challenging programmers to write computer code that can generate 50,000-word novels. “The only rule is that you share at least one novel and also your source code at the end,” posted the event’s organizer, Darius Kazemi, who’s been staging “National Novel-Generating Month” every November since 2013.

From Computers Get Busy for National Novel-Generating Month - The New Stack

The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve

Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. This custom is so deeply ingrained in the culture that it is the reason for the Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood,” when the majority of books in Iceland are sold between September and December in preparation for Christmas giving.

From The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve : TreeHugger

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Bringing libraries closer to Wikipedia: Merrilee Proffitt

Merrilee Proffitt (Merrilee) is on a mission to bring American librarians closer to Wikipedia—a group she think is hesitant towards the idea of a community edited encyclopedia.

From Bringing libraries closer to Wikipedia: Merrilee Proffitt « Wikimedia blog

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Where the Wild Books Are

This raises an interesting question: When one person finds a rare book, is their gain always at the expense of somebody else? “That can be true,” Barry says, “but among the booksellers I work with, especially those that belong to organizations like the ABAA or the ILAB, there’s an ethical obligation not to swindle each other or people who don’t know any better, like little old ladies selling their husband’s things. Personally, if I were to go to a garage sale and thought I had found a $5,000 book on sale for a dollar, I would feel conflicted. In most cases, though, the more common example is that you see a book you feel like you’ve seen before and decide to take a chance on it. It’s only after you get it home and do your research that you know if you’ve hit the jackpot—or overpaid.”

From Where the Wild Books Are | Collectors Weekly

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The birth of the web | CERN

Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automatic information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.
The first website at CERN - and in the world - was dedicated to the World Wide Web project itself and was hosted on Berners-Lee's NeXT computer. The website described the basic features of the web; how to access other people's documents and how to set up your own server. The NeXT machine - the original web server - is still at CERN. As part of the project to restore the first website, in 2013 CERN reinstated the world's first website to its original address.
On 30 April 1993 CERN put the World Wide Web software in the public domain. CERN made the next release available with an open licence, as a more sure way to maximise its dissemination. Through these actions, making the software required to run a web server freely available, along with a basic browser and a library of code, the web was allowed to flourish.

From The birth of the web | CERN

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Against all odds, print books are on the rise again in the US

While it’d be a stretch to say that the physical book is thriving, it’s at least staying strong. The same can’t be said of the e-book, which is seeing a decline in popularity. A Pew Research Center study in October found that fewer Americans are buying and using e-reading devices like Kindles and Nooks than they did in past years.
Assuming these trends continue, 2016 might just be the year that the physical book makes—fingers crossed—a real comeback.

From Against all odds, print books are on the rise again in the US - Quartz

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Don't sneer at prison libraries, Chief Justice Roberts

For those who are wondering, I’m talking about a remark the chief justice made last month during oral arguments in Bruce v. Samuels, a dispute about federal prisoners paying legal fees. Here I quote from Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog: When reminded that prisons maintain libraries, “Roberts then shot back, presumably sarcastically, ‘I’m sure they are very good libraries too.’”

From Don't sneer at prison libraries, Chief Justice Roberts - Chicago Tribune

Edgar Allan Poe's textbook on seashells was his only bestseller

Because of the shady circumstances of the book's publication, Poe sustained some career damage, being accused of plagiarism and finding himself blacklisted for a time with Wyatt's publisher. Nonetheless, the book's first edition sold out in two months; during Poe's lifetime, the Conchologist's First had the best sales of all his books. 

From Edgar Allan Poe's textbook on seashells was his only bestseller

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Librarians take legal battle against library closures to government

“We’ve had enough. We’ve marked our line in the sand here. The government is behaving as if it doesn’t have a duty of care and they do, under the law. We think it’s time to be clear about what that means,” said Nick Poole, the chief executive of Cilip, after it was announced that more than 100 library branches were shut last year, and as further branches up and down the UK face closure.

From Librarians take legal battle against library closures to government | Books | The Guardian

“To conserve or not to conserve, that is the question”

From time to time this blog shows damaged manuscripts. One may be inclined to think that books are better off in pristine condition. However, Karin Scheper, conservator at the University Library Leiden, explains why it is sometimes better to leave a book be. Here is an intriguing guest post about useful disrepair and the upsides of damage. Enjoy! Erik Kwakkel

From “To conserve or not to conserve, that is the question” | medievalbooks

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A new trove of confidential research goes public

www.CRSReports.com joins at least two other efforts to wrest the highly regarded studies by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service from the confidential files of Senate and House lawmakers, who request the research and keep it secret unless they choose to release it themselves.

[Trying to crack open Congress’s confidential think tank after a century of secrecy]

“What we’re doing is simply accessing publicly available websites and downloading what we think are CRS documents,” said Antoine McGrath, 30, who is based in San Francisco and has a passion for digital archives. “We’re casting a wide net.”

From In the race to open Congress’s secretive think tank, a new trove of confidential research goes public - The Washington Post

Barnes & Noble is dying. Waterstones in the U.K. is thriving.

This large chain in the U.K. made a shocking turnaround by doing something surprising: trusting its booksellers.

From Barnes & Noble is dying. Waterstones in the U.K. is thriving.

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