Tag Archives: libraries

What are Occupy Wall Streeters Reading?

Gabe Habash -- October 13th, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street Library (also known as The People’s Library), maintained by a number of volunteers, has been getting lots of press coverage (here, here and here). Among the titles to be found (all of which are listed at LibraryThing), is everything from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra to Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy.

Now, thanks to Chelsea Green Publishing, the People’s Library can expect 1,500 new books–a number that more than doubles their current inventory of 962. The books are composed of 20 titles from Chelsea Green’s catalog, including Economics Unmasked, The Challenge to Power and The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. Chelsea Green, which has a focus on books on the politics and practice of sustainable living (they’ve printed books on recycled paper since 1985), sent the books to Occupy Wall Streeters c/o the UPS store on Fulton Street. The publisher hopes that “this might inspire other publishers to get into the act and on the side of the people.”

Lending E-Books is about B-2-C

Peter Brantley -- September 27th, 2011


Last week, Amazon released its widely anticipated Kindle ebook lending program.  The launch catapulted out with such speed that Overdrive scrambled to update FAQs and policy pages relating to Amazon’s offering.  It also created a flurry of attention among librarians, who raced to develop helpful guides for their patrons. Drafts flew across the country from one library to another. Concern arose over the impact on e-book acquisition budgets, as Overdrive suggested that Kindle lending could double e-book borrowing rates, as well as questions about the privacy of e-book lending records, and whether Amazon would come up with new privacy policy guidelines.

Just prior to the Kindle launch, Library Journal reported that the President and the Executive Director of the American Library Association (ALA) met with Tom Allen, president of the American Association of Publishers (AAP), in New York. Undoubtedly this must have been an interesting conversation, and certainly one we hope will be followed by many others. But with two major publishers, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, not yet making books available for lending, and with HarperCollins resistant to modify their 26-loan limit, it seems that publishers are still having quite a bit of trouble wrapping their heads around e-book lending.  Eric Hellman writes that Macmillan CEO John Sargent has said, “You get the book, read it, return it and get another, all without paying a thing. ‘It’s like Netflix, but you don’t pay for it. How is that a good model for us?’ ”

Evidently that’s not a problem for Amazon. If the largest online retailer in the world has made the determination that library e-book lending is not deleterious to its revenues, why has it been so difficult for large publishers to renew their historically much-older library commitments?

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What Will Amazon’s ‘Netflix for Books’ Do to Libraries?

Gabe Habash -- September 12th, 2011

Amazon is at it again–this time looking to open a lending library for digital books (also covered here). The details: Amazon is supposedly discussing with publishers a way to get books on the e-tailer’s digital platform so users could read an unlimited number for a subscription fee. The digital library reportedly would be part of Amazon’s growing Prime services, which put unlimited streaming video under its umbrella earlier this year, in addition to giving subscribers free two-day shipping for $79/year. Amazon’s digital books library, which would basically operate like a “Netflix for Books” (as a side note, it seems relevant to point out that Netflix has had problems since Amazon’s Prime Streaming Video feature was added), would, like every announcement Amazon makes, momentously affect others. This time, those “others” are libraries.

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The 5 Most Stolen Books

Gabe Habash -- July 13th, 2011

Yesterday, historian and author Barry H. Landau was arrested on charges of stealing historical documents, including ones signed by Abraham Lincoln, from the Maryland Historical Society. The arrest eventually led to Landau’s locker, where police found upwards of 60 documents worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Laudau’s heist and the tremendous value of the stolen documents got us thinking about the other end of the literature theft spectrum: what are the most frequently stolen books from bookstores?

The results are surprisingly consistent–the same books and authors keep getting stolen across the country, so much so that many of them are frequently shelved behind the counter. Here are 5 of the most frequently stolen books, with sources listed below.

1. Anything by Charles Bukowski – if one name had to be chosen to top the list, it’s Bukowski. From The New York Observer:

“But when I called up a Barnes & Noble to see if they had a couple of Bukowski titles I was looking for, one of the clerks told me that in order to check I’d have to call one of the cashiers, because all of the Bukowskis had been removed from the open shelves and were kept on a shelf behind the cashier’s desks–out of reach, in other words, of shoplifters.”

2. Anything by William S. Burroughs – In the sources, Burroughs and Bukowski went hand-in-hand, with writer Ron Rosenbaum going so far as to identify them as “The Killer Bees,” and the type of person who steals their books as a “Bukowski Man.” Rosenbaum, from On the Media:

“There’s a certain kind of person who feels that Bukowski and Burroughs and literature that, you know, dwells incessantly on excrement and vomit and the lower depths, is literature about the truth. And I guess they identify with these down-and-out heroes. And so they feel that that somehow validates their desire to just shoplift the books.”

3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – You may be starting to notice a trend in the topics of these books–the top three all share a similar spirit of “liberation” or, to put it bluntly, sex and drugs. If there is one sociological conclusion we can draw from this list, it’s that the “type” of booklifter is likely young and male, and there’s probably a link between the draw of the content of these top books and the actual act of theft. In other words, someone who wants to commit a reckless act is most interested in reading about reckless acts.

4. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster – The first living author on the list! Along with the works of Raymond Chandler, who was also cited multiple times by booksellers in their most frequently swiped lists, Auster’s New York Trilogy is a noir novel. Bookstore manager Tom Cushman, from On the Media:

“I had a whole stack once of about 20 or 30 copies of The New York Trilogy of his that somebody just came in and just took the whole stack.”

5. Anything by Martin Amis – Another notorious behind the counter dweller, including at St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York. From The New York Times:

“Sometimes the staff isn’t sure whether an author is still popular to swipe until they return their books to the main floor. ‘Amis went out and came right back,’ Michael Russo, the manager, said.”

Honorable mentions: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, anything by Don DeLillo, The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman.

Booklifting in libraries is a different story altogether, summed up nicely in On the Media by NPR’s Brooke Gladstone:

“One place where the book thief is more likely to read what he hath took is the public library, and library theft tends to lean toward the practical more than the popular; news you can use, so to speak – how-to books ranging from auto repair to divorce, how to ace the GEDs and The Joy of Sex, also anything – and this is from libraries across the country – anything to do with witchcraft, the occult, UFOs or astrology. And there are some other popular choices for the kleptomaniacally-inclined – the Bible, for instance.”

Sources: New York Times, On the Media, The AWL, The Stranger, The New York Observer.

Library Card Catalogs Turned Into E-Reader Storage Drawers

Craig Morgan Teicher -- March 15th, 2011

Amidst all the nasty controversy over library e-book lending and HarperCollins’ loan limit, here’s a tidbit about a happy meeting of old and new library technology.  A middle school librarian has repurposed her old wooden card catalog cabinet (the “cards” are online now) as an e-reader storage cabinet.  See how nicely they fit?  She bored some holes in the back of the drawers to run the charging cables in.  Perfect harmony!

[Via eBookNewser via Bloomington Junior High School Media Center]

The PW Morning Report: Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 4th, 2010

All the news that’s fit to link:

Is Justin Bieber Really Old Enough for A Memoir?: Is that really the question?  From the Guardian.

The Big Read Gets Smaller: The NEA is severely reducing the budget for the Big Read, a national reading initiative, once among its flagship projects.

Bookstores in Pittsburgh: Popcity Media takes us on a little tour.

Haruki Murakami Movie Trailer: Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is being made into a film (not in English), and here’s a teaser vid.

Sean Penn to Star As Legendary Editor: An imperiled bid to make a film about famed literary editor Max Perkins is on firmer ground now that Sean Penn has expressed interest in resurrecting the project.

A Man on a Qwest for Typos: Salon reviews a new book about a man who traveled across America fixing spelling errors.

Newsweek on Self-Publishing: This is a few days old, but relevant that such a major media outlet should discuss  the self-publishing book biz.

Library Parodies Old Spice Guy

Craig Morgan Teicher -- July 20th, 2010

We had to snag this from GalleyCat because its so darn good.  This Old Spice Guy is getting lots of play these days, this time in parody form in a video produced by Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library.  The video advocates for studying in a library rather than in “your shower.”  No doubt it will also encourage people to use more deodorant, never a bad thing.

The PW Morning Report: Monday, July 19, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- July 19th, 2010

Monday and Friday are just two sides of the same coin…

Shteyngart on Technology: The author of Super Sad True Love Story tells the NYT about his technology addiction.

Apple Backlash: If you’re following the saga of the iPhone 4 antennae, here’s another volley–now the smartphone makers Steve Jobs accused of having the same reception issues as Apple are calling his bluff. From Mashable

Library Draws a Crowd: Here’s a heartwarmer about how hundreds attended the opening of a new library. From Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Can E-Books Make School Fun?: This LA Times story looks at how e-books can make kids who ran fleeing from boring textbooks enthralled by apps like The Elements for iPad.

NPR Remembers Harvey Pekar: You can read or listen to this 40 minute show.

The Old Spice Guy on Libraries and The Written Word

Craig Morgan Teicher -- July 14th, 2010

“Written words are the non-pictures that convey anything to other minds.”  This is what The Old Spice Guy has to say about why books and libraries are important.  Genius.  True!

You may or may not have heard about a new campaign Old Spice is running featuring the handsome, shirtless, scene-switching man featured in recent commercials for Old Spice deodorant.  Now, he takes requests on the Old Spice You Tube channel–you can send in a question or topic, and maybe  he’ll vamp on it for a bit.  The above comes from a question about libraries.  Click here to watch the whole, wonderful video.