“IT’S BEEN A ROUGH WEEK FOR PUNK, DUSTIN.” Books, eBooks, CISPA, & Failing Better

This is sure to be a scattered post, but I feel like there are a number of things happening in the book world at the moment, so I’ll start with those and see where I end up.

  1. Simon & Schuster has finally agreed to ebook lending in libraries

A year-long pilot program has begun that allows New York City libraries to lend S&S ebooks.  Library ebook purchases are good for 1 year but may be checked out an unlimited number of times in this time period.  Additionally, there is a feature that allows patrons who don’t want to be on an ebook waitlist (even though it’s digital, only one person can read it at a time) to purchase a copy of the book directly through the library website, giving the library a small cut of the sale.  I’m not completely sure how this last part works in the larger scheme of library-vendor relations, but I guess that’s why it’s a pilot program.  I’ll be interested to see if it is more costly for libraries to have ebooks that “expire” after a certain period of time has passed or after a certain number of views.  Neither seems an ideal option to me, as librarians don’t even have the option of extending the shelflife of an ebook by mending it with etape.  Still efforts are being made, and that’s progress!

See the press release and Digital Shift article for more information: http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/04/ebooks/simon-schuster-launches-ebook-lending-program-with-nyc-libraries/

2.   CISPA’s Back!

Ugh. The Cybersecurity Intelligence and Sharing Act was up for a vote this week, and with it your right to online privacy.  The ALA announced today that CISPA passed the House with 288 yeas & 127 nays (see the yeasayers & naysayers here).  Basically this Act “grant[s] companies  more power to obtain ‘threat’ information (such as from private communications of users) and to disclose to the government without a warrant–including sending data to the National Security Agency” (http://capwiz.com/ala/issues/alert/?alertid=62523966).  So yeah, that includes Google and Facebook and other coporate bohemoths.  Did I say ugh already?

3.   Neil Gaiman’s keynote address at the Digital Minds Conference

Currently, my favorite place to get book news is from the indie publisher Melville House.  They are snarky and insightful and I love them.  Today they ran a piece that “overanalyzes” the bits of Gaiman’s speech that have garnered the most attention by the media thus far.  It is cleverly entitled, “Overanalyzing Neil Gaiman’s Digital Minds Conference keynote address” and was written by Alex Shepherd and Dustin Kurtz.  Please do yourself a favor and read it when you get a chance.  I won’t go into too many details, but I will say both authors admire Gaiman, yet question a few of his major points–namely, is accepting Amazon really necessary for the future of books?  Can publishing, writing, bookselling, and book technologies exist without an Amazon monopoly?  Also on the table for Shepherd and Kurtz are, is “…Generation X having its Big Chill moment?”;  what’s up with “Gaiman’s transition from ‘punk’ to ‘walking TED talk?'”; and how might we “fail better?”  Why don’t you pop on over and see what Shepherd and Kurtz have to say and…Something something oysters. (See what I’ve done there?  You have to read the article to get my final sentence!)

4.   World Book Night Approaches!

Don’t forget that World Book Night is next Tuesday, April 23rd!  I can’t believe it’s nearly here!  If you are signed up to be a book giver, you should have heard from your pickup point by now.  If you haven’t, I’d give them a call to see if your box of books and other WBN materials are available for pickup.  Also, keep your eyes peeled: many pickup locations are hosting WBN parties, so you may be able to get some snacks thrown in as well.  This just keeps getting better!

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