E-books and The Library…

Interesting article from the New York Times:

Publisher Limits Shelf Life for Library E-Books


Imagine the perfect library book. Its pages don’t tear. Its spine is unbreakable. It can be checked out from home. And it can never get lost.

The value of this magically convenient library book — otherwise known as an e-book — is the subject of a fresh and furious debate in the publishing world. For years, public libraries building their e-book collections have typically done so with the agreement from publishers that once a library buys an e-book, it can lend it out, one reader at a time, an unlimited number of times.

Last week, that agreement was upended by HarperCollins Publishers when it began enforcing new restrictions on its e-books, requiring that books be checked out only 26 times before they expire. Assuming a two-week checkout period, that is long enough for a book to last at least one year.

What could have been a simple, barely noticed change in policy has galvanized librarians across the country, many of whom called the new rule unfair and vowed to boycott e-books from HarperCollins, the publisher of Doris Lessing, Sarah Palin and Joyce Carol Oates.

“People just felt gobsmacked,” said Anne Silvers Lee, the chief of the materials management division of the Free Library of Philadelphia, which has temporarily stopped buying HarperCollins e-books. “We want e-books in our collections, our customers are telling us they want e-books, so I want to be able to get e-books from all the publishers. I also need to do it in a way that is not going to be exorbitantly expensive.”

to read the whole thing, go here. The comments are also worth perusing.

(originally published on March 14th, 2011).


Mark Twain left a comment about “Huckleberry Finn,” in his copy of “The Pen and the Book” by Walter Besant.

There was an interesting article in the New York Times over the weekend about marginalia, that is, writing comments in the margins of books. Mark Twain was an avid marginaliast; many of his annotated books are in the archives of the Newberry Library in Chicago. Books once owned and annotated by authors are known as association copies (my new word for the day!) and is the subject of an upcoming conference, sponsored by the library and the Caxton Club: Other People’s Books: Association Copies and the Stories They Tell. It sounds like an interesting day–one of those events that if I had unlimited time and unlimited money I’d attend but alas, I have neither so I’ll be staying put in Maine. 🙂

I’ve never been one for annotating books, actually, nor was I ever much of a highlighter. My mother always admonished against writing in books; worse was folding down the corner to mark the page. “It makes the book cry,” she’d always say. Back in the old days when we had “bib cards” I’d make notes on those. Then I went through a post-it phase, sticking them all over photocopied articles. Now I read online and I just try to remember where I read something! I can annotate with my Kindle, but rarely do. One new habit I’ve developed with Kindle reading is looking up new words in the online dictionary and then clipping the definition to save for future reference. A few of the words I’ve learned in recent months: pellucid, kickshaw, thurifer, numinous, and ormolu. Any guesses about what they mean?

Writing this reminded me of an MNRS conference I attended in April 1984 in Minneapolis. I was presenting–on what, I don’t remember. Maybe my thesis? Pam Reed was there and (I believe) a presenter, too. For some reason I had the October 1983 issue of Advances in Nursing Science with me and Pam had an article published in that issue. I asked her to autograph it for me. She obliged and seemed flattered, although I think she thought I was a little bit crazy. LOL. I saved that issue for years. It is probably still tucked away on my bookshelf, somewhere.

Does anyone know–is there a name for people who collect autographs? I just did a quick Google search and didn’t come up with anything.


Those of you who know me know that I am an avid Kindle enthusiast. My three years of Kindle obsession diligent research recently paid off when I was invited to be co-author on Kindle for Dummies which will be published by Wiley sometime in the next few months. We turned the final manuscript in on February 4th. The technical edit process is underway and then I’ll get to sign off on the final revisions. It was an interesting experience to be writing something that was definitely not nursing or health related!

In late January, Kindle books achieved a new milestone: they are outselling paperback books at Amazon.com. For every 100 paperback books that are sold, 115 Kindle books are purchased. This same milestone was reached for hardback books in mid-2010.

When the Kindle was introduced in 2007, naysayers were loudly predicting that it was doomed from the start. “Ereaders have never been successful,” they said. “People like the smell and feel of paper books.” I think eInk was the innovation that broke through this longstanding resistance, making ereaders a viable option for consumers. The Kindle is the best selling product at Amazon of all time. The other eInk readers on the market, primarily from Sony and the Barnes & Noble Nook, are also selling well with favorable reports from owners.

What about the iPad? It certainly has a nice interface for reading books. There is also a free Kindle app for the iPad (and iPhone, as well as a number of other handheld devices). Being a gadget-freak, of course I had to buy an iPad last summer. While it  is sleek and great for calendar, email, games, and other applications, I really prefer reading–plain ol’reading–on my Kindle.