Friday, April 30, 2010
Purple Cow Transforming Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
Seth Godin is a motivational speaker about business. His focus is on marketing goods and services. He does not just talk about marketing; he also has created a social network, Squidoo http://www.squidoo.com as well as a very popular blog http://www.sethgodin.com . His focus is on being exceptional and different. He is the most popular marketing blogger on the internet.
In his words, a "purple cow" is a remarkable thing to see. Of course, it is also a Mother Goose nursery rhyme which many people remember as well from their childhood, "I never saw a purple cow, I hope, I never see one, but I'd rather see than be one."
Mr. Godin combines an ethic of showmanship with a very straightforward style. The message is easy to follow in this book; produce a remarkable unique product, find the early adopters who will sell your product by word of mouth, and try and create a strategy that others have a hard time following.
He urges people to take risks, because people are no longer paying attention to the tried and true methods of advertising. Television and radio do not catch peoples attention as easily. Most everyones basic wants and needs have been met. You must create a unique message with strong knowledge of what you are selling. His statements are quite compelling. They sound like common sense.
Seth Godin's examples are of newer companies; Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Jet Blue, Ben and Jerry's, Apple Computer, Google, and Yahoo. His pitch seems to come right out of new media.
He consistently combines design with marketing. If you look at the cover of the book, Purple Cow, it is bright purple with white splotches and a picture of a cow on the front of the book. The book itself is well laid out with black and white pictures and very simple charts. There is a list of very prominent companies in the back of the book which would appeal to most business people.
This book is entertaining, focused, well designed, full of snappy writing, and not boring.
Seth Godin, the author of Purple Cow, the book I am currently reading.
Daily Thoughts 4/30/2010
This is an article on self publishing in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/magazine/02FOB-medium-t.html?ref=technology It is kind of interesting. Some of our staff members have written books with Author House which is kind of interesting. The results in trade paperback form are about on par with many big publishing houses. http://www.authorhouse.com
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Intermediate commentator notes "the truck appears to be an electric and has solid tires."
Daily Thoughts 4/29/2010
I am looking at two books, What To Do When The Economy Sucks by Peter Sander and Bill McKibben Eaarth. This is about some changes which may be coming in how we live because of global warming. He is talking about how disasters like Katrina, rising oceans, and other things will effect us economically in our every day lives.
2010 Best Crime Novels from Booklist http://www.booklistonline.com/default.aspx?page=show_product&pid=4145591
I am reading Purple Cow by Seth Godin which is a book about marketing. Seth Godin is a very popular business writer. He is making the argument that to succeed in marketing a product these days you need to have a very unique product which will be taken up by early adopters and spread quickly. He is arguing that television does not work that well. I kind of agree with this, I rarely read television, and untargeted newspaper and magazine advertising are not read that much. It is surprisingly entertaining for a business book.
I also took some time to look through library recommendation lists for websites. Most of the ones I looked at have very few review sites for films, audiobooks, and games for libraries. They still are very book oriented. They even miss some of the genres completely like media tie ins or inspirational fiction.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/28/2010I finished reading What Distant Deeps by David Drake. It is basically an advanced reading copy. The book like most books in galley form had a few spelling mistakes, but was fairly polished. There were a few things I might have changed here and there, but it was an entertaining read.
I also read Live Free or Die which I really can't recommend. I think John Ringo does a better job as an action writer than a humor writer. I liked his Posleen stories better than this. He is also drawing from the webcomic, Schlock Mercenary which I like a lot http://www.schlockmercenary.com . I would rather read Schlock than Live Free or Die.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/27/2010
The system has provided us with a content management system called Book Letters http://bookletters.com/ , that allows us to create newsletters, add widgets, and add material recommendations to our website. I am hoping that it will be interesting and useful. We also have been working on revamping our website which should be a big improvement.
I am reading an E-ARC from Baen Publishers called What Distant Deeps by David Drake. It is part of the Lieutenant Leary Commanding series. It is also the second ebook which I have ever purchased. It is not the completely edited text, but I like the series enough to read it early.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/25/2010
Publishing 3.0 A World Without Inventory http://ereads.com/2010/04/publishing-3-0-a-world-without-inventory.html . This is an interesting phenomenon. We can view print on demand as a reaction against physical inventory in bookstores. It is a way to limit returns. It is also a way to limit what gets printed. The number of titles which we order at our library which get cancelled has increased. If there are not enough copies for a particulr item ordered, the item gets cancelled. This has some benefits; we are less likely to get a book which no one will read.
However, not everything we order is based on circulation. There are prize winning books, or extremely well reviewed books which have literary quality which may be advertised, but not have enough demand from the warehouse. This brings up the question of how a publishers deals with very small runs in a print on demand system. With something like the Espresso Book Machine, it is very easy to print a single copy, but is that single copy economical. Do you have print on demand for small distribution houses like Small Press Distributors. http://www.spdbooks.org/Default.aspx
The other issue is the view about libraries. Libraries are even more of a warehouse for books and older materials than bookstores. We have far fewer returns than bookstores. We also store far more books for a much longer period. As print on demand increases will there be more demand for older books in libraries because they will be uneconomical to print for print on demand systems. Being careful with weeding and preservation will become even more important because of this.
Ebooks are another story. There are all sorts of issues surrounding ebooks in libraries. It is very easy to recommend free ebooks in a library setting. Many of the classics which are not available in the library are easily available as ebooks. We also subscribe to ebooks as part of our library system. The interesting thing about ebooks is that you can download them from any location with a library card and an internet connection. They do reduce inventory, but they limit access in some cases requiring specific devices. You might say, they exacerbate the digital divide. Making ebooks usable on any device, I think, is better for libraries.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Chuck Klosterman Eating The Dinosaur
Chuck Klosterman writes novels and journalism. This book is a collection of essays focused on popular culture. It has a slight edge to it, a kind of independent feeling you might associate with independent rock or independent bookstores. I had heard comparisons between Chuck Klosterman and Hunter S. Thompson, but it really does not feel that way. There is no sense of outlaw violence or danger in reading Chuck Klosterman's writing.
The essays are very self reflective and can seem a little overwrought at times. Even so, I can identify with what the author is writing about. The topics he is writing about, alternative rock, sports, film making, and popular culture seem to be aimed at men in the age range of twenty to forty. There is a bit of humor thrown in. I especially liked his chapters on why he hates television laugh tracks and why time travel movies got it all wrong.
To understand some sections, of his writing you have to be familiar with pop culture. He makes statements like Details magazine was the best interview magazine from the 1980s. This can be silly sometimes. He also refers to major rock bands like Curt Cobain and Cheryl Crow. I can almost picture his ideal reader as being a thirty year old man who listens to Garth Brooks, watches the Super Bowl, and likes to watch PBS documentaries.
He is especially good at picking out interesting and eccentric figures in popular culture. I liked reading about Errol Morris, the most prominent American documentary film maker. If you look in the index it looks like he picked names out of popular culture dictionary running from Paula Abdul to Tom Wolfe.
This was a relaxing read; a way to spend an afternoon letting your mind wander.
Daily Thoughts 4/25/2010
Today has been a quiet day. I wrote my review of Eating the Dinosaur in the laundromat.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Français : Service des expéditions - Librairie Hachette - ca 1880, Hachette is a French Publisher.
I was reading Booklist today. I am looking forward to seeing Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos out in June. I enjoyed reading The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love. I am a bit conflicted about the book, He Walked Among Us by Norman Spinrad. It is a science fiction story about a prophet from the future. It has very mixed reviews. I liked reading Child of Fortune and Bug Jack Barron by him.
I checked out The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer which looks like a more literary style of steampunk. It should be interesting. I tried to read some of it on the train, but found myself losing interest. I follow the fifty page rule where if a book does not hold my interest after fifty pages, I usually stop reading it. I read until page 62. The style is fine, but a bit dry. I think I will read something else.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/23/2010
Today has been a nice day. We had an instructor come in and teach us about Microsoft Publisher. We make a lot of bookmarks, flyers, posters and banners. It was interesting learning some new techniques.
We are also putting up new signage for the shelves. We are designing shelf cards, banners, and shelf labels. I am hoping it will look nice. We are using the green and gold colors from our logo as part of the design.
This afternoon, the gentleman who is interested in the poetry program came by. He brought a wireless microphone which he wanted to show me. I also let him borrow the manual which I had from the PITB Poetry In The Branches program. I think we will be able to put together a very interesting program. http://www.poetshouse.org/librariespitbw.htm
I also finished reading Chuck Klosterman, Eating The Dinosaur on the way home from work. It is very cerebral. He is making a kind of commentary on popular culture that is very self reflective.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Alexander Jablokov Brain Thief
Bernal Hayden Rumi works for an eccentric millionaire. He troubleshoots projects like an attempt to reseed the great plains of the United States with mammoths. One day his employer disappears and he ends up on a chase through wild and strange circumstances. The author is quite original in his approach and his subjects.
This novel is the landscape of fringe science, stolen crogenically frozen heads, black market scientific equipment, planetary exploration robots, and animal experiments gone wrong wind through this story. Alexander Jablokov philosophically challenges scientific experiments on animals and the idea that the singularity when robots become smarter than humans is a good thing.
Bernal gets to experience the worst aspects of human behavior while he seeks his employer; a serial killer, kidnapping, drugs, murder, thievery, and violent irrational philosophy.
The story is an intriguing, fast read without a happy ending. It is a mix of speculative fiction and mystery. The dialogue is crisp, often surprises, and takes unexpected turns. Many of the characters are more than a little deranged. The science is on the edge of the possible. This was a very entertaining read. The writing is quite high quality. There is nothing quite like it.
Daily Thoughts 4/22/2010
I have been reading Chuck Klosterman, Eating The Dinosaur. For some reason the book reminds me of readers advisory. It feels like the author is reviewing and creating opinions on a variety of subjects. This is something which I do a lot of in the library.
One of the central functions of talking to patrons is recommending other titles to compare what they are reading with. I've been doing this a lot of other things than just books. For example, a person might ask for American Splendor, the film, then I might recommend the graphic novel, American Splendor, and the film Crumb which was quite disturbing, David Lynch who produced Blue Velvet helped in writing the biopicture for Robert Crumb. I might also recommend Art Spiegelman if the person liked Harvey Pekar the writer of American Splendor It is about creating connections between books, film, and other media.
Another person who was looking for something more lighthearted might ask for Shannon and Dean Hale's graphic novel, Rapunzel's Revenge and I might suggest the sequel, Calamity Jack as well as the anime movie, Steamboy. There are various connections that can be drawn.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Linnea Sinclair Rebels and Lovers
Linnea Sinclair writes science fiction romances. This is a sequel to the novel Hope's Folly. Hope's Folly was nominated for the Reviewers Choice Award by Romantic Times. It is a story of forbidden love and rebellion. Devin Guthrie, the scion of a wealthy family is chasing after his nephew, Trip Guthrie who has run off to join the rebellion.
Devin and Trip must avoid imperial forces and criminals who are attempting to kidnap Trip. There are many classic devices used; the bar fight, the chase, the family betrayal, the evil imperial bureaucracy. It makes for light hearted escapist reading.
While this is happening Devin falls in love with Makkaiden Griggs, a down on her luck starship captain. She needs a bit of saving. The saving adds a bit of spice to the love scenes.
There is just the right amount of technical wizardry to make it science fiction. Trip hacks the computer of a spaceship, there are laser pistols, a few aliens, and even a medical malady caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.
If you want to read some lighthearted science fiction romance, Linnea Sinclair's novels are very entertaining. I especially liked The Down Home Zombie Blues, it had some poetry and musical lyrics in it. Her website is at http://linneasinclair.com/books.html
Daily Thoughts 4/21/2010
This morning, I finished reading Before The Throne on the train in to work. It is a very interesting story. The leaders of Egypt are being judged before the ancient gods Horus, Osiris, Isis, Ptathotep, in the tribunal of the dead. Each must state their case in life. This determines their place among the immortals, or whether they will be sent to hell, paradise, or purgatory.
The summaries are very brief one to two pages of the leaders down through ages, Ramses, Khufu, Amenhotep and other ancient egyptian leaders are judged down the ages. It changes slightly with more modern leaders from the caliphates, the ottomans, and even modern Egypt. The elder gods get a first chance to review them before they are sent before their appointed god; christian, coptic, or islamic.
Each is judged by how they ruled and what they did for the Egyptian people. It is a quite interesting book. There is a sense of nationalism in the writer. He includes the nation builders of Egypt like Anwar Sadat and Mustafa Kamil.
It is a kind of literary imagined history. It gives a different view of history by a modern Egyptian writer. Naguib Mahfuz won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988. He is an excellent literary writer.
Today we had an order meeting. I put in my orders for the month. I also ran the Graphic Novels club today. We had the president of the Graphic Novels club from the high school and the middle school at the club today. I showed one of the parents some of our newer graphic novels. I changed the books in the rotunda gallery displays to books on portraiture by artists as well.
Chuck Klosterman, Eating The Dinosaur came in for me to read. I think it will be an interesting read.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Louise Erdrich Shadow Tag
I was watching Bill Moyers interview Louise Erdrich about this book in the laundromat while I was folding my clothes. Bill Moyers is retiring on May 7, 2010. The interview really caught my attention. This is a link to Channel 13's website which includes a bit about the interview. The interview made me want to read Shadow Tag. http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04092010/profile.html
Shadow Tag is a literary novel. Louise Erdrich's novel Love Medicine which was excellent won the National Book Critics Circle Award. I remember having to read Love Medicine as part of my orientation to being a library at Brooklyn Public Library.
Shadow Tag is a tragedy and a love story. It is a story about a marriage that slowly drifts towards disaster. The two main characters, Gil and Irene America are symbolic of the darker side of artistry. Gil uses his wife as his model for his paintings. Some paintings are described as tender and beautiful and others as dark and degrading. Irene America writes her thesis about George Catlin a painter of Native Americans who had a very troubled and exploitative history.
Gil is filled with jealousy and envy about his wife, and Irene has a tendency to be passive, manipulative and alcoholic. This combination is used to explore the darker side of love where love and hate mix together into abuse. The abuse doesn't just affect the couple, it also affects their children.; Riel America constant imagines the end of the world and the teenage son Florian drifts into drugs and alcohol. The only one who seems oblivious is Stoney the kindergartner.
There is no positive end to this story. The story is not just about the anger in the marriage, it also touches on the anger of being a Native American in an unjust society. It explores the history of why the characters are the way they are.
The writing is intelligent and complex. It is a difficult, mature novel on hard subjects like trust, fidelity, lying, rage, sex, art, and alcohol. It does not try to redeem the characters. I found the book to be excellent.
Daily Thoughts 4/20/2010
We are working on new signage for the shelves. I am looking at a couple examples of shelf signage. Hopefully, some examples should be put up today. On April 23, 2010, we are having a computer instructor from the system come in to give some instruction on Microsoft Publisher which should be helpful.
Last night, I went on a tour of Channel 13 in Manhattan and visited the library which was quite interesting. Everything is now digital. It was like being in a network operation center for an internet service provider.
I started Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention by Stanislas Dehaene on the train to work this morning. I also checked out Naguib Mahfuz, Before the Throne.
The cable person from Time Warner came and fixed my internet connection today. I had a chance to start reading Before the Throne. Naguib Mahfuz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. His writing is compelling.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/19/2010
Today has been a quiet day. I signed up for Library Journal's Day of Dialog on May 25, 2010. http://www.libraryjournal.com/info/CA6720797.html It is well worth going to this to learn what publishers are planning for the coming year for public libraries.
I think I am going to the Channel 13 archives today. http://www.meetup.com/NYLibrarians/calendar/13068957/
We put up a sign today for a display of jazz books, dvds, and cds. Displays with more than one media are often better than displays with only books. We also moved most of the fiction books out of the old fiction room. I also picked out some books to show for the graphic novels club on Wednesday.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
My internet connection died at home today. I think the cablebox is no longer working. Time Warner Cable told me that they would have a technician over on April 21, 2010 on Wednesday. This is a little bit of time away. They also said something about they might have someone call me today and let me know if they can reschedule the technician for an earlier date. The last time I had a problem was about three years ago. It is an expensive service.
I am reading my various emails from yahoo, looking at Facebook and Blogcatalog. I also learned that Ning is shutting down its free networks, http://bookblogs.ning.com will probably shut down. I am hoping that they find a new place to migrate to or get a sponsor for their site.
Right now, I am at my local library using their computers. I have about an hour to use the computer then I will think about what else I might do.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Today has been a nice quiet day. I spent some time looking at donor lists and events from public libraries in the area.
Paolo Bacigalupi has a new young adult novel coming out in May, Ship Breaker. He is a very interesting author. I am hoping it is as good as The Windup Girl. His writing is excellent.
I am reading two books at once right now, Linnea Sinclair, Rebels and Lovers, and Louise Erdrich, Shadowtag.
We put up a display with jazz books, cds, and dvds.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/15/2010
I finished reading Brain Thief by Alexander Jablokov this morning. It was fun to read. I have not read anything quite like it. He manages to combine a mystery with science fiction. The elements are quite a surprise, a serial killer, a thief of cryogenic heads, and an edgy setting.
I spent a little bit more time going over my orders and reading Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. I also spent some time talking about the poetry program to an older gentleman. I think it will get even better next time.
I also spent a bit of time cleaning my desk and sorting through the donations. I found a few large print donations to add including Salman Rushdie, The Enchantress of Florence.
Digital Eel which makes independent computer software games has a nice selection of free etexts of classic speculative fiction and horror which they call The Dusty Bookshelf. http://www.digital-eel.com/blog/library.htm
On the way home, I read a bit of Shadowtag by Louise Erdrich. It is a story about an artistic family. The story focuses on the strained relationship between a woman and her artistic husband. The woman keeps a set of diaries on her life. I am just starting to get a feel for the novel. It is about jealousy, love, and all the emotions that go into a marriage.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/14/2010
I finished reading Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran. I especially liked the short story at the end of the book, The Incident of the Dog's Ball. I also liked that she was Robert Grave's neighbor. The book was interesting to read. It was mainly a set of notes rearranged to give details on the different works she wrote. Agatha Christie was more than a mystery writer. She also wrote successful plays and radioscripts as well as wrote as a novelist under a pseudonym. This book has notes on almost all of her short stories, plays, and books. If you are an Agatha Christie fan it is well worth reading.
Alexander Jablokov, Brain Thief came in for me to read. It looks like a combination of a cyberpunk science fiction novel and a thriller.
I spent some time today looking at different library fundraising around the county. I also checked on the progress of shifting fiction books and short stories out of the fiction room.
I also spent a little time looking through the gift books. We had some new African American romance paperbacks which were donated to us with popular authors like Rochelle Alers and Brenda Jackson. We also got a few books on cd, including an unabridged CD of a Isabel Allende book.
A patron suggested that I read Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur. He compared him to Hunter S. Thompson. I have put it on hold.
Today is the first National Book Mobile Day, April 14, 2010. Our book mobile went out today to do the rounds with the older adults. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6726127.html
National Library Week 2010 America's Most Amazing Libraries from the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/12/national-library-week-201_n_533978.html
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/13/2010
I read some more of Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks. Agatha Christie would arrange her plot outlines using an initial alphabetical format, then switch the sections around. I found it interesting that in addition to plays and radio plays, she would also arrange mystery treasure hunts.
Today has been another quiet steady day. I picked up books for the Bookmobile which goes out on April 14, 2010. People wanted books on the navy, treasure diving, art, books by Anne Coulter, Danielle Steel, Nicholas Sparks, and romantic biographies. Comfortable books to reminesce on. They also wanted romance audiobooks, biographical audiobooks, and videos of masterpiece theatre mysteries like Miss Marple or Inspector Lewis.
I also placed orders for graphic novels. I looked at the Diamond Comic Distributors bestseller list and New York Times graphic novel bestseller list to pick out some popular graphic novels. Stephenie Meyers has a Twilight graphic novel and there is a Halo Helljumpers graphic novel written by Peter David.
I also spent some time looking at the Indienext Bestseller List and the Bestselling Science Fiction titles list from Locus Magazine this morning this morning as well as the Staff Picks section online on the Strand Bookstore and Powells books.
A copy of Linnea Sinclair, Rebels and Lovers came in for me to read. I also picked up a copy of Louise Erdrich, Shadow Tag.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/12/2010
I am reading Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks. I learned that Agatha Christie was a member of the Detection Club, a dinner group for British mystery writers. Dorothy L. Sayers and Anthony Berkeley were founding members. It included many distinguished British mystery writers like S.S. Van Dine and G. K. Chesterton.
We are looking at relabeling the shelves after the books have been shifted. The shifting is still happening in the storage area. It should make things easier when it gets done. We are also going to be adding a link to the ebooks page from the system as well as setting up a download station for ebooks, audiobooks, and other downloadable media.
I spent quite a bit of time reading various reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly today and putting together orders for Wednesday.
I have been reading some more of Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks. There is a section which lists a number of mystery which influenced her writing: E.C. Bentley, G.K Chesterton, John Creasey, Rufus King, A.E.W. Mason, Edgar Allen Poe, and Dorothy Sayers. She also had a habit of using nursery rhymes as part of her plotting. She names many of her stories after nursery rhymes; Three Blind Mice, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, A Pocketful of Rye and some of her other stories are named after nursery rhymes.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar is an overview of philosophy described through a series of gags, jokes, quotes, and short vignettes. It is more amusing than funny. The book was enjoyable and relaxing to read.
The reader learns about metaphysics, logic, epistemology, ethics, and other subjects as they may have been taught by Woody Allen or Groucho Marx. On the books cover, there is a quote by Groucho Marx, "These are my principles. If you don't like them I have others."
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein use a lot of counterpoint and one liners. A good example of this from Pp. 64 is:
Secretary: Doctor, there's an invisible man in the waiting room.
Doctor: Tell him I can't see him.
There are a lot of philosophers covered. Almost all of them are western philosophers; Plato, Leibniz, Kant, Sigmund Freud, Pascal, Heidegger, and others. The authors briefly mention Confucius and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Each chapter has several single panel cartoons, snippets of dialogue, quotes from famous people, and brief philosophical definitions. There is a timeline of philosophers at the end of the book, a glossary of philosophical terms, and an index.
This is a pleasant way to spend some evenings reading. I liked the book enough to read the followup, Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through The Pearly Gates Using Philosophy (And Jokes) to Explore, Life, Death, The Afterlife, and Everything In Between.
Daily Thoughts 4/11/2010
I did not go to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art festival this weekend. Every day life caught up with me. Laundry, shopping, reading Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar. Watching The Hurt Locker on dvd.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/10/2010
I finished reading Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar this morning. It was enjoyable and a bit fun. This morning, I also put Linnea Sinclair, Rebels and Lovers on hold. Linnea Sinclair writes space opera with a dash of romance. I also put Alexander Jablokov, Brain Thief on hold. I also read a little bit of Library Journal this morning.
I enjoyed reading Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar enough to start reading Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates. It is a nice mix of philosophy and gags.
Todays poetry open microphone went well. Two of the people were published poets. One was published in an anthology, and another had their own book of poetry. We had ten people for our initial meeting in total. Nine people signed in. The gentleman who wanted to start a poetry club asked me about doing another one. I was pleasantly surprised.
I watched some of The Hurt Locker on dvd tonight. It is a war film about Iraq. The story focuses on a bomb squad. The film won an Academy Award. It is a quite interesting film.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/9/2010
April is National Poetry Month. Take some time to read some poetry. I am going to put up a poetry display today of poetry books. We have two new copies of Nikki Giovanni's collection of poems called Bicycles which is pleasant to read. Tomorrow, April 10, 2-4 p.m. is the day for the poetry reading at the library. Hopefully some people will come to read poetry. I've picked out a few books to show at the beginning including The Collected Poems of Audre Lord, Words in Your Face A Guided Tour of The New York City Poetry Slam, and The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. The April issue of American Libraries has a poster in it for National Poetry month.
We are looking at setting up Overdrive on our webpage. I have to think about it a little bit. I have been reading some more of The Value of Nothing. A lot of it is about enfranchisement of the impoverished into todays market economy. He talks about ways that tomato pickers, people in South African townships, and the very poor can share in the global economy. A lot of it is very social policy oriented, union oriented, and politically left. It has a utopian feel to it.
I finished reading The Value of Nothing on my train ride home. There are parts of it which come across as impractical and even extreme, and other pieces that I can identify with. I like that he describes that many people are looking at Wikipedia and Creative Commons as models for more direct democratic governnance. He also brings up quite a bit about how cap and trade only limits pollution and does not really stop it. There is quite a bit to think on in this book. The beginning is a series of criticisms on objectivist philosophy and laissez faire economics. There are points where he goes too far toward government control of economics. The book is starry eyed enough in its thinking to be impractical at points and can get fairly radical. I will write a review soon.
I am looking at Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. Apparently it made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list. There is also a sequel, Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates Using Philosophy (And Jokes!) to Explain Life, Death, The Afterlife, And Everything Else in Between.
I also read a bit of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar on the train. The jokes are more moral vignettes than true jokes. They are the kind of stories you use to make a small point with humor. They cover different philosophical subjects like metaphysics, inductive logic, and epistemology. Some of the jokes are a bit ribald. A good example from the book is, The Optimist says, "The glass is half full." The pessimist says, "The glass is half empty." The rationalist says, "The glass is twice as big as it needs to be." They make you think.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Wrapped In Plastic
I had a new experience yesterday. I found out that plastic coated paper labels for books cost four times as much as plain paper labels. This makes sense as far as the idea that if you wrap it in plastic it must be worth a lot of money. It is not a particularly logical idea.
But, if you watch what happens with books and comic books and plastic packages, you learn that something must be a lot more valuable if it is in a plastic dust jacket or sleeve. A comic book store can put a comic book in a plastic sleeve with a small piece of cardboard and charge at least a dollar more for it. They can further claim that because it is in a plastic wrapper it is most likely collectible. This is also true with bookstores. The act of putting something in a plastic package means you must be trying to make it safe.
What is ironic about this is that plastic packaging is not particularly safe for books or comics. The plastic degrades and cracks easily. Most of the cheap cardboard backers are also not acid free. If you don't watch your collectibles, they can get damaged. Acid free paper envelopes and acid free hard cardboard boxes are what libraries use to store comics and other paper ephemera.
I have never been particularly enamored with this kind of packaging. The more complex the plastic packaging or labeling the more you have to pay as an end user. This however, is changing with ebooks, software, and other downloads. There is of course no plastic packaging to make it more expensive. In fact, publishers have a hard time convincing people to pay extra for images associated with ebooks or computer games downloaded online. It used to be, you would pay extra for the box art on computer games. These of course would be wrapped in mylar shrink wrap to make you convinced that the contents were special.
You can't wrap an ebook or a software download in plastic. There is also no cover so you can't really judge the content of an ebook by the cover. Well, the cover may be online, but I would much rather have a few sample chapters to see if I want to read a book, than an image.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/7/2010
Today has been another quiet day. I changed the display for the storage books from fairytales to books on the west including westerns. People read a lot less western and pioneer literature. Zane Grey, Max Brand, Owen Wister, and Louis L'amour are not as popular as they used to be.
I also had some time to read Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. The idea of the agency is kind of interesting. The publisher determines the price for the ebook, then the retailer gets a fixed percentage of profit, 30%. It puts more power into the producer of the work; the author and the publisher. It is a rather interesting idea.
We also had a collection development meeting. I have to check out the price for a docking station for ipods, iphones, kindles, and other devices for Overdrive. I'll probably do that on Friday.
Things are moving along steadily with the shifting projects. We have to look at labeling the shelves for the paperback fiction.
Things have been a little tight lately. We are starting to look at different vendors. http://www.librariansyellowpages.com/
We are going to have a poetry open microphone on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. I have learned a few things. The first thing is to have a sign up sheet beforehand. The second thing to do is to call the people on the signup sheet a couple of days before the event to confirm people are coming and ask them to bring a friend. I have to think of which poetry I am going to read. I think we may open with people introducing themselves and asking people to make a short statement of why they are here. I think we will have a few poets from the community this time which should make it a a little bit better. Also we may have people from the senior center.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/6/2010
I did not get a whole lot done today other than my taxes. Not a lot of reading or thinking. I probably should be thinking about poetry for April 10, 2010, but I am not.
Mainly I relaxed today.
I also learned that the May 16, 2010 plan to restart New York Is Book Country did not work out. It is disappointing. I was looking forward to it. Things are changing in the book world. http://www.newyorkisbookcountry.com/events/home.jsp
Monday, April 5, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/5/2010
All federal libraries have been consolidated under a single library agency. It should be quite interesting to see what happens next. I can see legislation coming up soon which will change libraries. http://bit.ly/9qRRby
You can't judge a book by its cover if it doesn't have one. From New York Times Books section. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/books/31covers.html?hp
I had a chance to read some more of The Value of Nothing by Raj Patel. He is critiquing free market absolutism. He challenges objectivism and the idea that the market must be free. His arguments are focused on the social and environmental costs of having a purely free market. In traditional economics, things like the environment and social problems are considered externalities. Problems caused by obesity from junk food, or environmental dumping are not considered in the cost of doing business.
I especially like his criticism on free giveaways. Raj Patels talks about how this causes people to increase their consumption, eating or buying many things which they don't need. Giving away breakfast at a restaurant for a day in the hope that you will come back regularly. There is a price in habits of consumption if we take every single free thing given to us.
I am not a huge fan of advertising or mass consumption. This book has a certain appeal to me. I also have seen how close to disaster markets can get if they are not watched carefully.
I am thinking of taking the Readers Advisor 101 course from the American Library Association in June. http://bit.ly/aCdpNg
Sunday, April 4, 2010
art piece at title page of William Blake, painter and poet by Richard Garnett Publisher: London, Seeley, 1895.
Daily Thoughts 4/4/2010
This morning, I finished reading The Ruling Sea by Robert V.S. Redick. It was quite compelling. I had a hard time putting it down. The writing is quite compelling.
I am reading Raj Patel's The Value of Nothing. What caught my attention was a rather interesting claim by a cult that Raj Patel was the messiah. It made me interested enough to want to read his book. I don't think he is the messiah, but he probably has something worthwhile to say. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/19/raj-patel-colbert-report-benjamin-creme
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/3/2010
While I was at Barnes and Nobles, I saw a hardcover copy of Live Free or Die by John Ringo which is libertarian military science fiction. I went to Baen's webscription site to see if it was available as an ebook. The ebook cost $6 through their webscription service. There is a cover price of $26 for the hardcover book. I have already read several sample chapters in the ebook. Financially, it makes more sense for me to buy the ebook if I cannot find it at my library. Ebooks are cheaper than books if you want to buy something to read immediately.
I have been reading The Ruling Sea by Robert V.S. Redick which is the sequel to The Red Wolf Conspiracy. It is proving to be an enjoyable piece of fantasy writing.
A Better Pencil Readers, Writers, and The Digital Revolution by Dennis Baron
Dennis Baron is a professor of linguistics at the University of Illinois. He is writing about how technology expands and creates new varieties of communications. He includes his own experiences with early computers, Wordstar, and word processors. He is writing about the history of technology from the point of a social scientist.
He starts with what it means to transition from an oral culture to one where everything is written down. I liked Plato's idea that writing everything down limits memory. Written records started as a means to record business transactions.
In succession we learn about the development of writing tools and methods; pencils, clay tablets, handwriting, typewriters, early wordprocessors and computers, and the modern digital revolution are covered. In each section there are interesting anecdotes. Henry David Thoreau designed lead pencils. Pencils are still the most used writing implement.
There is a theme that each successive generation of communication technology expands the variety and amount of communication that occurs between people. It does not necessarily improve the quality of communication or education. More people are reading and writing, not necessarily writing better things. Another analogy is the move from the letter to the telegraph to the telephone. There is more communication with more people. Is it better?
If we think of the Google Books Project for example, the objective is to make all the books in a number of universities and libraries available to the public. Because the book is in the library it must have some value and be scanned into a database. Initially the goal is to push all the information into one place. The attempt to organize and clean the data was not the first priority. The idea is that it is a good thing to have everything available. There are benefits and drawbacks to this approach.
Dennis Baron includes arguments for and against the advancement of writing technology. He argues that digital technology is another step in a continuous line of progress from the pencil to the typewriter to the computer. Is it good that everyone can now be an author? Are face pages like myspace and facebook safe places for people to communicate? Is Wikipedia a reliable source of information? We get a sense that how we choose to use the technology is as important as the technology itself.
A Better Pencil includes many illustrations, black and white photographs, and anecdotes. He quotes many different people including Plato, Sartre, Thoreau, Shakespeare, and many others. There is an extensive index and notes. The book is easy to read, well laid out, and entertaining. If you are interested in the history of the written word, this is well worth reading.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/3/2010
I finished reading A Better Pencil today. It is an overview of the different technologies of writing covering pencils, clay tablets, typewriters, blogs, word processing, and other forms of communication across time. I will write some more about it tomorrow.
I took some time to go to the park today to walk around and look at the geese, the pond, the turtles, and the willow trees. It was relaxing sitting on the benches and walking around. Today was a very nice day to relax.
I felt like watching some nonsense today, so I watched Chariots of the Gods on dvd by Erich Von Damiken. It seems utterly silly today. There are better explanations for Easter Island, building the Pyramids, and Troy than they had when Erich von Daniken was writing his book. Jared Diamond's book, Collapse does an excellent job of explaining Easter Island.
Some people claim that Erich Von Daniken created his ideas from the fantastic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft which is rather entertaining. Still it was interesting seeing the various sites which he visited.
We do not get as many requests for books on pseudoscience, cryptozoology, and aliens as we used to. There are also a lot less requests for tea reading, esp, and astrology. People seem to be caught up in technology far more than they are in imaginary places. There are also a lot fewer requests for books on mythology and monsters. It is sad in a way. People have lost their sense of wonder. Science fiction is not as popular as well.
Maybe it has something to do with the loss of interest in the high frontier as well. People seem to be very focused on making money, learning about technology, and surviving. The every day things. It may seem odd that I would link this together. But, there is a turning inward from more abstract goals in the United States. A real loss of a sense of wonder. The United States has pulled way back on its space program while the Russian program keeps on moving ahead.
We are not buying that many books on space as well. There are still requests for books on the Apollo program. I am not seeing many new books being published either. Mainly people are interested in more immediate technologies, especially alternative energy and electronics.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Daily Thoughts 4/1/2010
I read some more of A Better Pencil on the way to see the dentist this morning. There is quite a bit of interesting material. Dennis Baron describes the experience of writing in clay tablets telling us that no tablet comes out the same and that they are often quite hard to read. He describes his early experiences using Wordstar one of the first word processors as well.
I especially like Dennis Baron's commentary on how as early as Gutenberg, people chose the author and publisher over the format of the writing. It did not matter so much that a book was printed on papyrus, vellum, or paper, the content was what was important to people. What Gutenberg did was make the content more available to people. The main detraction was that vellum and papyrus lasted over a thousand years leaving a more permanent record. Even in the 15th century "content was king."
This idea still has relevance to us today. It is the content that matters. The package is more of a convenience and a preference of tools than a necessity. There are benefits to printed works on paper as well as electronic works. I think there will be less paper books, but those that are printed will be better laid out, have higher quality paper, as well as better illustration to compete with digital books. They also will be printed more quickly, be more easily recyclable, and be easier to get. At least, this is my hope. Ebooks will make many more books available to people. This is especially true for books that are creative commons or no longer under copyright. Both the ebook market and the print on demand market are the two fastest growing segment of the publishing world.
I had a chance to stop by the library after my dental visit where I work to pick up two more books, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran, and The Ruling Sea by Robert V.S. Redick which is a fantasy novel.