Monday, March 31, 2014

The scale of Wikipedia in print

NPR has a story about a group that is looking to create a print copy of Wikipedia to allow people to see a physical representation of how big Wikipedia is. Here is the estimate of how big a print version of Wikipedia would be - One thousand volumes, 1,200 pages each — more than one million pages in all — about 80 meters of shelf space.

The article has this additional quote about Wikipedia - "Nobody can imagine this number. It's only when you see this in print or in a physical form that you realize how large it really is."

What is ironic is that when you get this in physical form it is really not that big. The following picture shows a range of books in a library. In this picture there are 771 volumes. Each volume is 1300 - 1500 pages. If we use the low end of the page range and take that times the number of volumes - 771 volumes X 1300 pages = 1,002,300 pages.

Admittedly this is bigger than your average set of printed encyclopedias. So comparing the picture above to the picture below you get the difference between Wikipedia and a regular encyclopedia set.

But to the scale of a library Wikipedia is not that huge.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Synchronicity bookshelf

Synchronicity bookshelf 

 Go to your local library and randomly select several books. I have found 5 to be a number that works well. Then you check the books out and browse them during the checkout period. If you really enjoy the book you are welcome to read the entire book but you can also just reads portions of a book. Reading portions allows you to learn about things you might not have otherwise read about. The idea is to be exposed to new things.

Why do I call it a Synchronicity bookshelf?

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence, although the events need not be exactly simultaneous in time. (Definition from Wikipedia)

I have had numerous occasions where the brief blurbs I have read from a book have been useful in a conversation or project. What I find odd/humorous is that the smallest things I have pulled from a book become amazingly relevant.

Here is my one of my best examples of that. One time when I was selecting books one of the books that I picked up was a cultural dictionary. The idea behind the dictionary was to lay out the major terms and concepts that someone should be aware of as part of our culture.

I had opened the dictionary and read one entry. The entry was on the Summa Theologica, one of the best known works of Thomas Aquinas. The dictionary was doing it's job because before that moment I did not know anything about the Summa Theologica. The next day a person comes into the library and says to me that they are working on an analysis of Summa Theologica. I respond, "Ohh the major work of Thomas Aquinas." The person thought I was extremely knowledgeable because I knew about the Summa Theologica. I did disclose to them that I had only learned about it the day before.

Here are my current 5 synchronicity books:

The Art of Cruelty
Learned about Marina Abramović and her performance art - Rhythm 0
Book was not just about Ms. Abramovic but other artist as well.

The Octagon House Inventory
Book list octagon houses around the country. I learned about this book from the inventory book - The Octagon House: A Home for All. I even saw an octagon house in another city that I don't think I would have noticed. I was in another state visiting friends and while driving through the city I noticed what I thought was an octagon house. When I got home I looked at the octagon house inventory and the house was listed with a picture. The house was not in a prominent place so had I not read this book I don't think I ever would have noticed it.


My Secret Life on the McJob
I have read almost all of this book and will likely finish it. It is about a business professor that gets jobs at fast food restaurants to gain inside information on the businesses. It has been an interesting read so far. One major take away point is that fast food work is hard work and you should appreciate the people that work at these businesses.

The most they ever had
Book is about the people that worked in the textile mills. The parts of the book I have looked at so far focus on the closing of the mills in the late 20th century and the impact this had on the people. I found the book very engrossing and after reading it I felt a connection with these communities.

The Deviant's Advantage
This was the book out of the five that I thought I would pull the neatest things from. Currently I have not really connected with any of the sections of this book. The author created a term "devox" that is the voice, spirit, or incarnation of deviant ideas, products, and individuals. Really did not that they presented this concept very well. Term is mentioned all through the book but the description I listed above is the extent they seem to explain the term.

Availability of these books outside the library
Out of the 5 books the only one that I did not see on Amazon at all was the octagon house book  Not only are there no copies available but there is no record for the book at all. The book does show in Worldcat. Some things you can only get at your library. Three of the 5 books can be obtained as ebooks. The book - The most they ever had - is available for less than $6 as an ebook.


Additional comments on the Synchronicity bookshelf
If you try this remember you do not to read the entire book. You just look at each book to the extent that you want. I think it is useful to at least look over the table of contents, read the first and last chapter, and read anything you noticed in the table of contents that catches your interest. But in the end you make the rules and you engage with each book to the extent it keeps your interest.

Additional comments on selecting books
One major idea that I try to incorporate is that I am trying to look at books that I would not necessarily have looked at otherwise because the goal is to discover new things. When I am browsing library shelves I don't want to pick just what catches my eye because I may be picking things that are related to ideas I am already very familiar with. One way to address this is that I will go into a row and mentally pick out a location like - 3rd stack, one shelf from the top, and a the third book from the left on the shelf. I then find that book and check it out. Then the selection is not because I found the cover pretty or the topic was something I knew. Because I usually select 5 books I use a little different process for each book. Usually two of the books are selected by the physical method location I just discussed but I will also pick some of the books by looking for ones that look interesting to me. The idea is to get a diversity of books to explore.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction
Personally I usually select just nonfiction books but I think it can be a good idea to select books from both areas.


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Amazon might lose interest in total hegemony over the book business before they achieve it

The industry got the news that Amazon was probably reassessing its own publishing program a couple of weeks ago when it was announced that Laurence Kirshbaum was stepping down as the head of Amazon Publishing and being replaced by a 14-year veteran of the Seattle company, Daphne Durham. Whatever are Durham’s strengths and connections, they don’t include the familiarity with the New York publishing scene and agents that Kirshbaum brought.

While this certainly does not suggest an overall reduction in Amazon’s publishing activity, it does signal a change in tactics. It would appear that the unorganized but united stand by Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores to boycott Amazon-published titles and refuse to give them shelf space made it virtually impossible for Amazon’s publishing enterprise to compete with the big houses for brand name authors. The few that they tried — Penny Marshall and Timothy Ferriss wrote the high-profile titles that were watched — had disappointing results. Whether that was largely because the stores wouldn’t play along or for other reasons (not all books by famous authors or celebrities are equally edited or equally appealing), the overall environment did not leave agents or the authors everybody wants panting for an Amazon publishing deal.

Full piece at - The Shatzkin Files

Indie Bookstores Don't Take Kindly To Amazon's Kindle Offer


Amazon is asking independent bookstores to sell Kindles in exchange for 10 percent of the revenue from ebooks bought on the devices for two years. But the offer, under a program called Amazon Source, has been met with widespread derision.

This and other book news at the following NPR piece.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Hunt for Red October

Tom Clancy's first novel, The Hunt for Red October, was published by Naval Institute Press. This was the first novel ever printed by the press. Prior to this they only published nonfiction.

I wanted to share a little piece of trivia that would let you spot a true first edition of this book. On the back of the dust jacket there are blurbs giving recommendations. The true first edition has six blurbs. Later printings had eight blurbs on the back.

See this picture for a Naval Institute Press edition with the eight blurbs.

On used book seller sites you may come across people selling first editions of this book for $900-$1500. If the book has six blurbs on the back cover you have a true first edition / first printing.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

House of Cards


Netflix purchases the rights to stream movies and television shows. If the owners of the rights decide to significantly raise prices or to not do business with Netflix the existence of Netflix streaming is in jeopardy  One strategy that Netflix is employing to address this problem is to create their own content. They spent $100 million to fund the series "House of Cards."

By owning the content Netflix can protect itself in different ways. The price cannot be raised for content they own and they can also keep content away from their competitors. Netflix is a subscription service and unique content can be used to draw new customers to the service.

In regards to ebooks libraries have similar problems to Netflix. Some publishers refuse to make ebooks available to libraries while others have significantly raised cost of accessing ebooks by libraries.

What if libraries had a "House of Cards?" If a consortium of libraries purchased the exclusive rights to a book they could draw users with this content. The book would not have to be restricted to the ebook format. Libraries could also have the book in print as part of library collections.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Penguin to Expand E-Book Lending


Major book publishers and libraries have been sparring for months over acceptable terms for making e-books available for lending. From time to time, they find some common ground.
The Penguin Group plans to announce on Monday that it is expanding its e-book lending program to libraries in Los Angeles and Cleveland and surrounding areas though a new distribution partner. In a pilot program that will begin this year, Penguin has worked with Baker & Taylor, a distributor of print and digital books, to start e-book lending programs in the Los Angeles County library system, which will reach four million people, and the Cuyahoga County system in Ohio.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

E-reading still quite feasible without steady power supply

Teleread story about using an ebook reader due to the power outage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

I came home from the Charleston Conference with a couple of new thoughts

Publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin has this commentary after attending the Charleston Conference: I came home from the Charleston Conference with a couple of new thoughts