The Biblio Blogazine

Reviews, Opinions, and More

The Biblio Blogazine - Reviews, Opinions, and More

Sunday Salon: Quotas Shmotas

014.jpgHow much do you read?

How important is it to you that those closest to you are readers?

Or is it good enough that even though they may not read, they understand and support your love of reading?

Book Riot just had an interesting post about judging others who read – or don’t read.

As for myself, I always have goals and challenges I work on. However, I do not judge others by whether or not they read as much as I do or at all. I don’t even care what they read as long as they read.

To quote Jill Guccini‘s article: “If someone reads fewer books than you do, it does not make them less intelligent than you. It does not even make them a worse reader. If someone reads different types of books than you do, it doesn’t make them a bad reader, either. It just means they are a different human being than you.”

EXACTLY

If I judge at all, it’s not on those who don’t read, but those who make themselves a hindrance to those who do; the ones who challenge books and try to ban them from schools and public libraries; who say stupid crap such as, “Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books . . . I am a proud non-reader of books.”

Snobs and haters exist and in the case of that last statement, narcissistic idiots. They always will. Our society seems to have a very strong superiority complex and seems to revel in it any way it can.

Some may think I’m being harsh on Mr. West. But it’s not him as much as his reasoning. If he just came out with, “I don’t like to read.” I’d be okay with it. However, his reasoning is [expletive deleted] vacuous.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to see things as they are by turning up your nose at them. From that position, one completely loses perspective.

It doesn’t matter whether they buy books, borrow books, read them on the iPad, Laptop, or eReader – what matters is that books get read; that the opportunity is always there for any person in any way possible to read what they want, when they want, and how they want.

This is a freedom we must protect at all cost no matter how much or how little your friends and neighbors enjoy this freedom. It is ours to cherish and share, not to belittle and judge.

JC

 

 

Sunday Salon: Books I Recommend Regularly

toptentuesday.jpgI know it’s Sunday Salon time, but I figure I’d kill two birds with one post.

Over at Top Ten Tuesday this last week, we were allowed to re-visit a topic. Since I never did this one, and it’s something I do a lot of, I thought I’d make it easy on myself and pick the week when they asked us about the Top Ten Books We Recommend.

Easy? Yeah, right.

The hard part isn’t about the recommending, but keeping it to a list of ten, which I didn’t, but what else is new?

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    If you’ve only seen the movie, the book is better in that some of the characters you only see briefly in the movie have a more important role in the book, especially in supporting the moral and ethical themes of the story.
  2. Shel Silverstein Books
    It’d be easy to say Where The Sidewalk Ends or The Giving Tree, but all his books are worth recommending.
  3. Watership Down by Richard Adams
    This story began as one the author told to his daughters on long car drives. It is a hero’s journey told in a form that anyone can read and follow.
  4. Harry Potter Books
    Magical and fantastical, yet like Watership Down it has themes that go way beyond a simple children’s book. Kids of all ages will love this series.
  5. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    Besides Shogun, this novel helped in cementing my love for historical fiction. The detail is dazzling but not overdone, showcasing how valuable good research is in telling a fictional story based on real events.
  6. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
    Another historical fiction based on excellent research as well as a personal connection to the Chinese culture. At it’s core is a story about a complicated relationship that spans a lifetime and how it survives through tragedy and hardship.
  7. A. Lee Martinez books
    He writes fantastical stories with a comic flair. I don’t think I’ve ever read a horror novel that made me laugh out loud as much as his do. His characters are ones you will immediately like and the narrative very entertaining.
  8. Belgarion series by David Eddings
    Other than Mary Stewart’s books, this series will lure the reader in and never let them go until they finish. Just have some tissues handy. The story will take you places emotionally as well as imaginatively.
  9. Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy
    (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment)
    Long before Merlin was a TV series and the Arthurian legend a box office boon, Stewart was bringing these mythological characters to life, giving me (and I’m sure many other readers) a glimpse of a legend we couldn’t get enough of.
  10. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster
    (My World Book Night choice this year)
    A modern fairy tale that has a universal appeal. It’s easier to read for those who like Lewis Carroll but are unsure it’s appropriate for youngsters that won’t understand all the nuances. They may not in this book too, but that just makes it a book that should be read more than once – even by adults.
  11. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    (My World Book Night choice last year)
    You’d think that a book narrated by Death would be morose – and being set in Nazi Germany, it could be. But it isn’t  Amid tragedy, especially war, life still goes on and in many ways still carries hope and love.
  12. The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
    It’s easy to recognize the Dickensian theme running throughout this novel, but The Good Thief has excellent merits all its own. This is a book where I recommend the reader have time set aside, because once they start, it will be a hard task to walk away from it for very long.

Have you read any of these? Would you recommend them, or are there others you’d add or change on this list?

JC

 

 

 

Rough Seas

It’s been rough seas for book lovers. Not only are the soothsayers continually ringing a death knell for publishing, but for libraries, booksellers, and *gasp* readers. It’s hard to fathom that the book and those that read for pleasure are inextricably connected and will go the way of the rotary phone and floppy disk, but more and more pundits are predicting just that.

People may not be reading as much as they used to, but the ones that do are loyal – very loyal. However there is a growing impediment and it’s not technology, it’s pricing and availability. That is why when many are looking for their next read, they tend to go for a deal (Amazon) or go free (library).

Publishers need to do what they can to stay in the black, not to mention pay authors their fair share. I understand that. But I’m not sure why they haven’t realized that we wouldn’t go cheap or free if we didn’t have to spend upwards of $35 for a brand new hardcover. It’s no wonder Amazon has grown to be the megalithic beast it’s become.

Digitizing books seemed such a great idea. An invention to make reading more convenient, economical (hard to type with a straight face, but I did), and help literacy grow instead of stagnate.

In a recent ALA report, they seem to hit the nail on the head:

Because of the fundamental shift facing trade publishing, including the entry of retail companies that currently dominate the ebook market, publishers and authors have much to gain from enabling libraries to distribute ebooks. There is compelling evidence that during periods of technological, social and economic change, people use libraries more. With many bricks-and-mortar bookstores closing, publishers need new ways to “showroom” their titles. Publishers may be willing to offer more favorable terms and lower prices in exchange for specific accommodations.

Yet, instead of working with libraries to help them make it this new technological age, they have spent well over a year bickering over pricing and availability. Meanwhile Amazon is laughing all the way to the bank, which reminds me of something I quoted in an earlier blog post:

There hasn’t been enough discussion about the role that the ongoing battle between Amazon and the Big Six plays in the problems arising with ebook lending. While lending has been a concern for the publishers in terms of trying to prevent piracy and protect the interests of the authors, there didn’t seem to be this much fighting over ebook lending until OverDrive became compatible with Kindle e-readers. Once that compatibility was put in place, publishers quickly began pulling their titles from ebook lending, suddenly citing these concerns that, oddly, were not all that troublesome before. – Mercy Pilkington – Libraries, Patrons to Pay the Price in Random House’s eBook Lending

[For those of you still unfamiliar with the particulars, check out A Guide to Publishers in the Library Ebook Market by Michael Kelley.]

Stuck In The Middle With You

A business model is needed, but not one model will work for everyone. Right now, the only option for publishers and libraries is to negotiate aggressively for what will benefit them the most. In the middle, wanting affordability and availability are consumer’s and patrons who wonder if our concerns are being considered, let alone addressed. I like what the ALA has proposed, but know in my heart several of the publishers don’t see it the same way:

  • All ebook titles available for sale to the public should also be available to libraries.
  • Libraries should have the option to effectively own the ebooks they purchase, including the right to transfer them to another delivery platform and to continue to lend them indefinitely.
  • Libraries need access to metadata and management tools provided by publishers to enhance discovery for ebooks.

Even the current ALA president feels all these may not be “feasible, and a library may elect to do without one or more in return for more favorable terms”, but these options are important and not just for the library, but for the patron. I hate sounding like a broken record, and I know I’m not the only one, but libraries can be a relevant and profitable sales channel for publishers. Especially in areas that have lost their bookstores to the economy and competition with big box stores and online retailers.

A Spark Of Hope

In an almost too good to be true scenario, Random House has stated, and stands by its assertion that they “sell copies of [their] ebooks to an approved list of library wholesalers, and those wholesalers are supposed to resell them to libraries. In [their] view, this purchase constitutes ownership of the book by the library. It is not a license.”

Hold the freakin’ presses. Skip Dye, Random House’s vice president of library and academic marketing and sales actually said that and then backed it up. You can read about it here. However, a licensing agreement of this type is not available with every vendor. As some Kindle owners know all to well, any ebook with DRM attached means they only own it as long as the originator says so. Vendors may promise ownership, but only the publisher can grant it.

I hope this works out and sets a precedent the other big publishers will take into account in future negotiations to get their ebooks back into the libraries. With my health issues, it’s not always convenient to be running back and forth to the library to get the physical books because I can’t download the digital versions. If I’m forced to make that kind of effort, I’d rather spend my money and gas getting a copy at the local, independent used bookstore. I’ll then donate it to Friends of the Library so they can raise money for the library, which needs all the financial help it can get.

*Tap Tap Tap* Is this thing on? Publishers, are you listening? You should be. As a consumer and library supporter, I get to say who benefits financially from my patronage.  So I’ll be keeping an eye on all these talks and hoping you finally realize that there are some great ways to generate revenue instead of animosity.

 

 

Sources quoted or used for this article:

 

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