Odyssey Online

Entries Tagged as 'Essay on Bibliography'

E-Book Prices

February 8th, 2010 · Comments Off on E-Book Prices

…Virginia Postrel has an interesting piece in Atlantic Online about e-book prices, arguing that “E-books aren’t really cheap.” Frankly, I can’t get past the faint cold fear that e-books are going to all about control, and that we are going to find the purveyors of e-books putting all kind of stipulations and restrictions on e-book content that simply don’t (can’t) exist with print books.  I can’t get by the faint cold fear that the companies like Google, Amazon, etc., treat all text as information and that in this scenario Catcher in the Rye is treated as being identical to an advertisement that the opportunity to possess the e-version of this text won’t exist in any meaningful way.  I ccccoooouuuulllldddd be wrong…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography · Essay on Technology

Atlantic on Holden Caulfield

February 2nd, 2010 · Comments Off on Atlantic on Holden Caulfield

…okay I’m reading Atlantic this mid-day, but under the catchy title Is Holden Caulfield Still Relevant Alex Eichler links to and annotates a number of web-borne articles about Caulfield specifically and the late J.D. Salinger generally…it’s a substantive list…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography

Friday Blogging, Licensing Agreements

January 8th, 2010 · Comments Off on Friday Blogging, Licensing Agreements

…just before the holidays Jessmyn West over at librarian.net got to blogging about e-books.  In objecting to some promotion Amazon.com was doing, she made the assertions that

The idea of owning materials or accessing them via digital technologies as a controversy withered years ago for librarians, just think about all the stuff we have only electronic access to.  Yet, with the Kindle this question now bleeds over into personal book collections, into everyone’s interaction with what we have, up to this moment, thought of as books, and it seems to have energized energized the ownership v. access question enough,  to give pause. Because, stated simply, Jessmyn’s right–you don’t own an ebook.

A big part of the issue is with Amazon is their inability to clarify what exactly the terms of the license for content are. As Thomas Claburn reported in Information Week, Amazon had to amend/clarify policies on deleted books (after one lease had expired) after controversy and accompanying rumors swirled. This and concerns of Google privacy policies have brought to the fore that licenses for digital content are not static, they aren’t, (I can’t resist) book-like. They can be changed, and changed without consent or even knowledge of the purchaser/reader. Remember shrinkwrap licenses?  Those we licenses you agreed to by removing the shrinkwrap from a package, only the terms of the license were in the shrinkwrapped box which you couldn’t actually read until you got the shrinkwrap off…licenses for software or digital content are not (nor do they show any signs of becoming) simple transactions.

This and the idea of the content of a book without the physicality of a book give, for me, an unfortunate feeling of a disposable object to the narratives that were books. Of all of the things that were commonly kept that are now commonly thrown away–table ware, razors, food scraps (for everyone who doesn’t compost), hay, clothes, spouses–books were a permanence.  The book as object was a ballast (as John Updike characterized it) to a well navigated life.  Jessmyn West links to a Cory Doctorow asserting the place of books in people’s lives.   He makes an interesting assertion about how the image of book burning is one that comes to mind for very diverse groups of being when thinking about barbarism.  His point is that technologies like kindles represent a kind of book burning…do I agree completely, no, but to dismiss the permanence of an on hand library is a misplaced thought on a Friday afternoon…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography · Essay on Technology · Information Studies

Postcards as Twitter

April 22nd, 2009 · Comments Off on Postcards as Twitter

…a nice story on CNN.com about postcards.  Gently makes the case for them as an analog twitter/texting…a print twitter/texting. Of course, postcards also came complete with handwriting so that a person’s penmanship with the emoticon that came with the message. The person came with the message–in a Paris Review “Art of Poetry” interview, the English Poet Ted Hughes remarked, “Handwriting is drawing.”

Tags: Essay on Bibliography · Facebooked

Back and Forth, Kindle V. Book

April 21st, 2009 · Comments Off on Back and Forth, Kindle V. Book

…in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal Steven Johnson says all things bibliographical will be possible with a Kindle and coming Kindles (while acknowledging that sustained linear reading might not be likley when reading by a Kindled fire…) and in todays New York Times Noam Cohen describes web content translated to paper. The result is an “opt out:”

In fact, the xkcd story previews the much more likely future of books in which they are prized as               artifacts, not as mechanisms for delivering written material to readers. This is print book as vinyl record — admired for its look and feel, its cover art, and relative permanence — but not so much for convenience.

…of course, one can make the case that ituned music listeners today don’t understanding what listening to an album meant…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography

Friday Blogging, Used Book Stores

April 17th, 2009 · Comments Off on Friday Blogging, Used Book Stores

…a couple of days ago the Boston Globe published a photo essay on used book stores in Boston. Glory.  With summer inching closer and closer the thought of old books a beach day reading is, well, enthralling.  Thoughts of Kindles and commentary on Kindles brings to mind, among other things, going to the bookstore. The experience of browsing in a bookstore, the mood, the drowsy anticipation, as one fingers books and decides how to spend an upcoming portion of one’s life as a reader.   Books out for sale across the north country soon, and from a card table on a lawn to one’s hands by the beach, used books are a great summer time thing.  Updike spoke on books and bookstores, lucidly, (of course), not too long ago…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography

E-Books Everywhere You Look

February 20th, 2009 · Comments Off on E-Books Everywhere You Look

…over the last week or two there have been quite a number of articles (that is, quite a number in the streams of news through which I wade) on e-books. Notably the viability and curious lack of traction that e-books have had up until this point and time.  E-books are curious in that they evoke such strong reactions in some people. Even twenty-somethings I’ve met who invest a huge amount of time in Facebook, e-mail, and such might very well react with a wince when faced with the prospect of e-books–I’m not going to suggest that we don’t have our share of nonreading twenty-somethings, but a number I’ve met who’ll invest time in reading just don’t want anything to do with e-books. Could this change? Rob Horning in his blog makes the case that Kindle may not kindle any excitement, largely because ripping e-books doesn’t make sense in the way ripping music does. His point is that hard copy books are just to easy to lend…Bobbie Johnson at the Guardian makes the case that the Kindle’s slow development (and market share) have to do with the fact that noone is hacking it, and on Britannica Blog Nicholas Car worries that Kindles will make writing history “provisional” not “permanent.”

Google books has also been in the news. In a long New York Times Piece Robert Darnton thinks about the role of libraries and the public good in the age of Google Books (and for Mr. Darnton it’s pretty clearly a history dominated by Google books). He looks back to the enlightenment to suggest ways in which libraries can continue to have a role, be a public good (good Sunday morning reading!) Paul Courant responds to the article by cautioning that Google’s domination may be a monopolistic one, and, in a like vein, on “Books Do Furnish A Room” the case is made that Google now holds all the cards in the wake of their recent copyright settlement. Google has the arbitor of all digital books is, to say the least, an unappleaing idea…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography · Google

Public Libraries in a Recession

February 2nd, 2009 · Comments Off on Public Libraries in a Recession

…somewhat off the stated topic of Odyssey Online, but the news today carried a number of articles about public libraries. Notably, several articles (here, here, here) appeared detailing how that the demand for Public Library services has increased dramatically with the economic downturn. (My mother, commenting on a Friday visit to Manchester New Hampshire’s Carpenter Library said “The place was mobbed.”) At the same time, with the economic downturn, has come severe strains on public funding, with, in some places like Darby PA, potentially dramatic consequences. It’s a conundrum–the invisible hands that are moving people to libraries are the same invisible hands that threaten their funding. If I had the answer I’d be clapping my hands but it does, and this is admittedly coming from a bibliophile, seem like the word “investment” is connoted in the phrase “library funding.” If you have an institution that is empowering people–by their own initiative–in hard times, perhaps their is reason to look to the future. Difficult, obviously, but the thought for the day about public libraries…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography

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