Link roundup, things you might like

the future of the book is ….

The future of the book, the printed book, is up in the air. People stand to make a lot of money if they can convince you that their version of the future of print and reading is correct. Many of us would just like to separate the wheat from the chaff and keep delivering good content to various sorts of readers, from now until forever. The Green Mountain Library Consortium released their statement about Harper Collins this week which, while not as strong as I personally would have liked, I think sends a “hey man, not cool” message and at least sends a “hey we’re paying attention” message which I think is the important part. In the meantime, there are a lot of people who have a fairly good understanding of the general ebook situation who are deciding to poke a bit of fun at the crazy world we’re currently inhabiting. John Scalzi has made an electronic publishing bingo card which, while amusing in and of itself, has a weath of great discussion in the comments.

I’ll note that I spent a good chunk of time over this past week going over my page proofs [again] and yet I have no idea at all what the ebook for my book will look like or even what format(s) it will be available in. I can’t wait for this in-between time to be over with.

Real Lives Revealed – readers advisory by Rick Roche

Longtime friend of librarian.net ricklibrarian [aka Rick Roche] has published a book Real Lives Revealed A Guide to Reading Interests in Biography featuring 600 revieed and categorized biographies. Nice job Rick. For those of you going to ALA, be sure to say howdy and check the book out.

in case you needed another reason to raise an eyebrow at Elsevier

I sometimes get a case of schadenfreude reading about bad things that happen to big companies that have a hand in library businesses. This latest mess involves Elsevier publishing what can charitably called a “sponsored journal” and what can uncharitably be called a fake scam journal, sponsored by Merck and internded solely to be cited in support of their drug Fosamax. If anyone has ongoing dealings with Elsevier and would like to get across to them how uncool this is, I’d appreciate it. Original article published at TheScientist.com available here with free registration. [nowthis]

Elsevier acknowledged that Merck had sponsored the publication, but did not disclose the amount the drug company paid. In a statement emailed to The Scientist, Elsevier said that the company “does not today consider a compilation of reprinted articles a ‘Journal’.”

“Elsevier acknowledges the concern that the journals in question didn’t have the appropriate disclosures,” the statement continued. “It is worth noting that project in question was produced 6 years ago and disclosure protocols have evolved since 2003. Elsevier’s current disclosure policies meet the rigor and requirements of the current publishing environment.”

The Elsevier spokesperson said the company wasn’t aware of how many copies of the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine were produced or how the publication was distributed in Australia, but noted that “the common practice for sponsored journals is that doctors receive them complimentary.” The spokesperson added that Elsevier had no plans to look further into the matter.

secrets of book publishing

I’ve been sitting on this link for a while but I figure it’s worth tossing out here. Secrets of book publishing I wish I had known what authors should know about how most (not all) publishers work.

reading about typing – technology books

One of the suggestions I frequently make in my library talks is that one of the things that libraries can do to help patrons deal with technology is have many current books about technology for check out, and to bring these books to computer classes so people can take them home when the ideas are fresh in their minds. The whole Web 2.0-as-meme idea came from Tim O’Reilly who was looking for a way to brand a new conference about how the web was changing. I explain this to people and then I say “You probably know Tim O’Reilly, he publishes the best series of tech manuals out there, the ones with the animals on the cover…” and I’m always amazed that most of the librarians I speak to don’t actually know about them.

This isn’t totally surprising, the books cater towards a techie market, they’re expensive and many of the people who would need or want them are buying them themselves. I had them as textbooks in several library school classes. But it’s also interesting to look a little in to what the deal is with technology books and the publishing industry generally. Tim O’Reilly talks about how Amazon sees themselves (according to tax filings) as competing with not just bookstores but publishers. He has a really good follow-up in the comments section.

Let me give you an example of how today’s much more consolidated marketplace makes it harder to place publishing bets. Borders and B&N have largely thrown in the towel on many high end books, saying “Amazon’s going to get that business anyway.” So they’ve shrunk their computer book sections, and are taking zero copies of important books, even from important publishers like us. We recently told them of our plans for a Hadoop book for instance, and both B&N and Borders said they won’t carry it. That leaves us with Amazon. Amazon will pre-order only a couple of hundred copies.

I’ve had to fight with my publishing team to get this book approved, since they’re worried that they won’t make back the investment it will take to bring it to market. It’s a lot easier to be sure of making money on a book like Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, to which the chains will commit an advance order of thousands of copies. Now that’s also good publishing, but you can see how the opportunities are shrinking.

Meanwhile, Amazon is increasingly throwing their weight around. Conversations with the buyers start to sound like this: “Are you really telling me that our books won’t show up in searches unless we agree to contribute to your new merchandising program?” [emphasis mine]

I don’t doubt that in the long run, there will be new long-tail economic models that support investment in specialized forms of content that don’t have the volume to be supported by advertising, but we’re heading for a really tricky period where the old models will be dead before the new ones have arrived.

How do libraries fit into this model? We’re frequently told that we’ve got crazy buying power in the aggregate but what happens when we’re not even given the option to see these books brought to market? O’Reilly also has some interesting commentary on ebooks and their profitability that’s worth a looksee. [rc3]

Balanced Libraries, a new title by Walt Crawford

Mazel tov to Walt Crawford on the publication of his new book Balanced Libraries. Walt published this book via Lulu Press and has devoted some space in his most recent issue of Cites and Insights to discussing how the Lulu Experience worked for him.

I’ve spent some of the last week going back and forth with editors of various things I’ve written. In one case an article I’d written had a blurb that I felt totally missed the point of my article, and in another case the changing of an ellipsis to a period made the last paragraph of a book introduction I wrote come across in a way I hadn’t intended. I decided not to continue co-editing a column for Serials Review because the sheer amount of process involved in communicating with Elsevier — making sure each web-page citation was in proper CMS style, getting a ton of automated email, most of which I was directed to ignore — wasn’t worth it for me. Every time, I was working with great editors, but there is only so much they can do between the time an article is written and the time it appears in print. No one enjoys being edited, but I think for most of us it’s the cost of doing business.

Between Walt’s Lulu experience and the books that Rory has been putting out as part of Library Juice Press — which I shamefully confess to having received and not yet had time to read but man do they look lovely — there are now alternatives to the slow intractable schedules and my-way-or-the-highway agreements that print publication has given us. Granted, these may not be legitimate in the eyes of tenure-granters, but not all of us are looking for tenure nowadays. I wish this shift were giving more of us bargaining power with existing print publishers, or changing the way they do business somewhat, but my feeling is that it will.