The fungibility of books

two shots of a woman reading books in a library stacks aisle with her mask on, In oe of the shots she is looking at the book, in another she is looking at the camera
COVID-19 safety with mask, gloves by Michael Neubert. Public domain.

I’m on a mailing list where we discuss book issues. There are authors, publishers, industry people, and librarians on this list. Recently we’ve been discussing the Internet Archive’s ongoing legal dispute with the AAP (Association of American Publishers). If you recall the Archive made many copyrighted books available on their website via the National Emergency Library (NEL) during COVID. Publishers did not appreciate this and sued them. There has been a lot of paperwork and blog posts going back and forth. Most recently the Archive requested “comps” or sales data for not only the 127 books that the Archive made available that are the core of this suit, but also similar books to get an idea of what sort of market effect the NEL had on these publishers. The publishers pushed back on this claiming “… since books are not fungible widgets [the request] rests on a false premise…. There is no such thing as a ‘comparable book’—even if ‘comparable’ is defined as some undefined period of sales data. Should Catcher in the Rye have similar sales to a bestselling cookbook, no one could plausibly contend the two works were ‘comparable.” I decided to push back a little on this idea, from a librarian perspective and talk about whether books are fungible….

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2020 reading list and commentary

the cover of a box of postcards that is called BIBLIOPHILE and the postcard on the cover is a stack of books

Here was the twitter thread of what I read last year. It was, as you might expect, a weird year. And I read LESS than the year before. Not sure if this is because I had less access to graphic novels, or because I had less time on airplanes, or something else. I started 110 books and finished 109 of them.

Here are stats for the books I finished and I’m adding one more: ebook vs. print book. Obviously they’re both books, but I think it would be nice to track how much I am reading digitally versus in print.

Here are stats for the books that I finished.

average read per month: 9.1
average read per week: 2.1
number read in worst month: 6 (October)
number read in best month: 15 (September)
number unfinished: 1
percentage by male authors: 52%
percentage by female authors: 48%
percentage of authors of color/non-Western: 14%
fiction as percentage of total: 64%
non-fiction as percentage of total: 36%
(many comics compilations in there which are a mix of both)
percentage of total liked: 89%
percentage of total ambivalent: 11%
percentage of total disliked: less than 1%
ebook to book ratio: 1:1

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. The always-updated booklist, going back to 1997, lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.

2019 reading list and commentary

double pile of books on my kitchen table, some of which were there this time last year.

I started 132 books this year and finished 127. New this year: a twitter thread of everything I read in 2019. I read a lot this year but that was partly because I wasn’t feeling great, so it’s a new high number, but not necessarily a cause for celebration. I try not to become too competitive with myself and my reading. However, I did really work on reading more female authors this year and I think, even though I read a lot of S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, it paid off. That said, my non-Western/POC reading is down and that needs work, I’ll be referring to this list to get some good ideas for 2020.

A few books hit my best list this year: The Library Book (of course), The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a surprise fave, and Underland, a look at the things that take place under the ground, told in a great rich style. Haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can easily track pages read, but I’d sort of like to. The booklist tweeting was a fun addition and I’ll keep that up for 2020.

Here are stats for the books that I finished.

average read per month: 10.6
average read per week: 2.4
number read in worst month: 7 (June)
number read in best month: 17 (March)
number unfinished: 5
percentage by male authors: 32%
percentage by female authors: 68%
percentage of authors of color/non-Western: 19%
fiction as percentage of total:  72%
non-fiction as percentage of total: 28%
percentage of total liked: 94%
percentage of total ambivalent: 4%
percentage of total disliked: 1%

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. The always-updated booklist, going back to 1997, lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.

Ask A Librarian: How can I get my product or book viewed by librarians?

Image of a glass statue of a woman who appears to be reading a book in front of a bunch of illuminated glass books

This is a question from the FAQ but I’m updating it and fleshing it out. Even as blogs are not the main place where people go for information, I still get pitches from people who find me when Googling “librarian” or some other impersonal way. I know it’s hard to promote a book or software, especially in today’s days of information overload. At the same time, barring you becoming some sort of viral sensation, libraries learn about books in a lot of the usual, normal ways.

The short answer to this question is “Go to library conferences. Have a decent, short pitch. Be familiar with their issues and concerns. Don’t be the typical salesperson.” Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: How can I get my product or book viewed by librarians?”