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Several months back I suggested a book for discussion for the LISNEWS Librarian's Book Club. The book was: Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. At that time the book was only available in hardcover and was held by under a 100 libraries. Currently the book is out in hardback and paperback and over 300 libraries have the book according to WorldCat. Previously several people were interested in discussing the book but wanted to wait until it was more available.
Here are the chapters of the book.
Chapter 1 Commercial Culture and Its Discontents
Chapter 2 From Dry Goods Merchants to Internet mogul: Bookselling through American History
Chapter 3 Providing for the Sovereign Consumer: Selecting and Recommending Books
Chapter 4 Designing the Bookstore for the Standardized Consumer
Chapter 5 Serving the Entertained Consumer: The Multifunction Bookstore
Chapter 6 Bargaining with the Rational Consumer: Selling the Low-Cost Book
Chapter 7 The Revolt of the Retailers: Independent Bookseller Activism
Chapter 8 Pursuing the Citizen-Consumer: Consumption as Politics
Appendix Ownership Histories of Major American Chain Bookstores
Discussion of the book will begin on August 6th to allow people that would like to participate in the discussion
time to get a copy of the book.
mdoneil writes "(That headline was painful to write. Free audiobooks from people of whom you have heard would not fit. )
Simply Audibooks, a vendor, has some free audiobooks to download. Free is good.
Off to download The Art of War."
Ruth Kneale writes "A new book has recently been published on image and librarians — called "Casanova was a Librarian", it touches on the "lighthearted, humorous, sexy and intriguing side of librarians." Check it out at http://www.casanovawasalibrarian.com/."
Molly K writes "Boing-boing reports on a new website called BookMooch, where users can "give away your old books, get others". Salient points: it's free (the only cost involved is shipping your book to it's new owner), it works on a point system (you have to give away books to receive them) and you can donate your unused points to charities (like hospitals or a library fund). Nice site design too."
The discussion of the book Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age is going to be very interesting. Recently Blake posted an article called 10 Reasons Why The Web Is Almost A Substitute For Libraries which was a counter piece to an older article called 10 Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library. Scrolling Forward deals with this debate. Chapter 7 of the book is titled Libraries and the Anxiety of Order. We will cover this entire chapter later but I want to give a few tidbits from the chapter to demonstrate why this is an excellent book to discuss.
Here is one paragraph from Chapter 7:
Of course it isn't just stores or shopping malls that need to be constantly maintained. Everything does. Gardens go to seed, bridges fall down, clothes become frayed and stained, The same is true for documents. Without proper care they decay, lose their intelligility and intellectual currency, and become inaccessible. And this isn't just true of paper documents. We are quickly discovering that digital materials, too, need to be properly tended. Web pages disappear and links break. Digital media - floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and so on - degrade after a matter of years, and the files stored on them have to be copied to new media if they are to be preserved.
Later in the chapter the author provides the opening paragraph from a 1909 Library Bureau Catalog. Library Bureau was the company founded by Dewey to sell library supplies. The paragraph reads:
The development of library science during the last quarter century has made it evident that a library in the true sense is not merely a certain number of books, but rather a collection of books so arranged that they may be conveniently used for reading or reference. Five thousand well-choosen volumes classified and administered according to modern methods may better deserve the name of library than four times the number carelessly or erratically arranged, even though the larger collection might contain every volume to be found in the smaller group.
I think these paragraphs are enlightening in regards to the discussion of the two articles discussing why or why not the web may be a substitute for the library. Chapter 7 in it's entirety is wrestling with this debate.
If you would like to join in the discussion all you need to do is obtain a copy of the book Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age by David Levy. You then are welcome to post replies to any of the LBC posts. If you would like to create your own post on any aspect of the book you choose just submit it as a story to LISNEWS and one of the LISNEWS authors will approve your posting. Note: If you don't have access to the book your are still welcome to comment in the discussion. This is an open forum.
One person suggested the book Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age by David Levy to be the current LBC selection. The author is going to be a participant in the presidents program for ALCTS at ALA next month. Lots of libraries have this book and you can buy a copy online for under $5 and that includes shipping. There were no other book suggestions so I say we go ahead and make this the book to read. Comments anyone?
The Librarian's Book Club at LISNEWS has been inactive for awhile. I think it is time to give another book a try. A LISNEWS story suggested a book that I think has lots of promise. The book is Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Do we have a few people that would be interested in discussing this book? I think librarians should have a good understanding of the book trade. Especially in a world where libraries are asked to be more like Borders or Barnes and Nobles. (coffee shop, etc...)
Here is one review of the book from a UK source. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
The LBC book selection for January and February 2006 is Ambient Findability : What We Find Changes Who We Become. The book is currently number 900 on Amazon.com's bestseller list. It looks like there is a lot to discuss in this book so please start your comments. Website for the book.
An LISNEWS reader sent these comments on the book, The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
I have read through chapter 10 in the book. Battelle has definitely written a fascinating glimpse of Google and a few of its rivals. Some things that have stood out to me:
The majority of the quotes from Google executives come from Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt; there are hardly any from Larry Page. However, Page has a self-confessed reticent nature (p. 68) so that probably is enough explanation.
It is interesting to read about how hit levels in Google effect businesses, small ones in particular (Chapter 7: â€œThe Search Economyâ€). It makes sense that there is such a strong correlation, but I had never quite realized the impact before reading the story of Neil Moncreifâ€™s specialty shoe business.
The controversy of Google Print and publisherâ€™s concerns is barely covered, but give the recent and evolving nature of the issue, that is probably understandable. Unless I missed it, there is also not a direct reference to librariansâ€™ concerns over Google and Print.
I did find an interesting reference to libraries and privacy on page 193 and 194. Battelle mentions a book by sci-fi author Piers Anthony. The book is entitled Chthon and was originally published in 1967. The apparently undated future is a â€œdictatorial futureâ€ where all knowledge is stored on computers. The protagonist who is â€œtracking down a mysteryâ€, decides to do all of his research in libraries where he know that his trails wonâ€™t be found and that he wonâ€™t â€œalert the authoritiesâ€. Interesting twentieth century speculation of our present day online privacy concerns.
In Chapter 10: â€œGoogle Today: Google Tomorrowâ€, Battelle offers an interesting comparison of Google and Yahooâ€™s cultures and practices. How their intended end results are the same yet their approaches to those have been quite different. Yahoo has made no bones about equating search results with commerce and media delivery. At least in the past, Googleâ€™s Page and Brin have been reluctant to tie search and commerce so intimately. However, that has been changing over the last couple of years and is sure to continue to change. Battelle makes the point that Google is looking to be an all-purpose content delivery company.
The Librarian's Book Club discussion of "The Search" by John Battelle continues:
Chapter 2 starts off with a smart idea: Who, What ,Where, Why, When "and a corollary: who's making the money, and how much?" Good on Battelle for thinking of the profit motive here.
Another good quote that caught my eye, on page 23: "At the end of the day, the holy grail of all search engines is to decipher your true intent â€“ what you are looking for, and in what context." And when that happens, will we be needed? Once computers become "extraordinarily good at incoherence", once they can understand the "nearly infinite combinations of dialects, words and numbers", would anyone even bother asking for help? Will they ever overcome the complexities of language? How far away is that day? The "What" section would have been a perfect place to talk about how cataloging relates to how search engines work.
Google says over 50% of all searches are unique. Though the "long tail" thing is old and tired, it's an important thing to consider when we're talking about how people search. Another neat factoid I hadn't considered is the vast majority of searching is done in languages other than English.
"So why do we search? To recover that which we know exists on the web, and to discover that which we assume must be there..."
"How Much" reminds me that though libraries and search engines strive for some similar goals, e.g. getting answers to questions, they are after a very different end result, money. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing, though it certainly can be corrupting. We strive to find the best results for our users. They strive to serve them the best ads.