Saturday, July 26, 2014

ALA Survey: 90% of Libraries Lending E-Books

Shelf Awareness

The Digital Inclusion Survey, conducted by the American Library Association to examine national digital trends, has found that 90% of libraries lend e-books, up from 76% in 2012, and nearly 100% percent offer digital readiness programs. The survey collected data from a nationally representative sample of public libraries at the branch/outlet level between September 3 and November 30, 2013.

Among the Digital Inclusion Survey's findings:

  • 98% of libraries provide free public access to wi-fi, up from 89% in 2012.
  • 98% provide technology training, ranging from internet safety and privacy to coding to using social media.
  • 98% provide assistance completing online government forms.
  • 97% provide online homework help.
  • 95% offer workforce development training programs.
  • 56% offer health and wellness programs regarding developing healthy lifestyles.
  • 50% offer entrepreneurship and small business development programs.
  • Average number of computers provided by libraries is now 20, up from 16 in 2012.

The survey also found that while most libraries have shown progress since the last national library technology study in 2012, advances are uneven. Fewer than half of rural libraries reported they increased bandwidth speeds in the last 24 months, compared with 64% of urban libraries and 56% of suburban libraries. Fewer than two-thirds of rural libraries reported having access to information technology (IT) staff, and 66% said they would like to increase their broadband capacity, but cost is the leading barrier to doing so.

BA's Tim Godfray: 'Upbeat-ness' Evident Among U.K. Indies

"It's been a difficult, challenging, tough trading period this past year, but we believe that we are in a better place today than we were a year ago. I think you would be very surprised to hear the upbeat-ness that is evident with so many of our members, particularly the independent booksellers.

We are not looking at the end of the printed book. We are not looking at the end of bookshops. There has been a perceived change in that publishers are much more supportive of bookshops; and consumers, too, realize that it is really beneficial to communities to have bookshops on High Streets."

--Tim Godfray, CEO of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland, in an interview with Bookselling This Week
via Shelf Awareness

The New York Times Book Review

'A Spy Among Friends'

By BEN MACINTYRE
Reviewed by WALTER ISAACSON
Ben Macintyre's latest nonfiction thriller, "A Spy Among Friends," is about Kim Philby, the high-level British spymaster who turned out to be a Russian mole.


Also in the Book Review

The American Embassy in Beirut after the 1983 truck bombing that killed Robert Ames and 62 others.

Undercover Portraits

By MARK MAZZETTI
Kai Bird tells the story of Robert Ames, an American operative in the Middle East, while Jack Devine's memoir recounts his time helping rebel fighters battle Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz: By the Book

The author, most recently, of "The City" is a fan of Marilynne Robinson and Cormac McCarthy: "Both offer voluptuous yet highly controlled language and profound moral purpose."
Amy Rowland

'The Transcriptionist'

By AMY ROWLAND
Reviewed by AMANDA EYRE WARD
Amy Rowland's solitary heroine is unhinged by a harrowing stream of disembodied words.
Olivier as Uncle Vanya in 1927, at age 19.

'Olivier'

By PHILIP ZIEGLER
Reviewed by JOHN SIMON
A biography of the "strangely hidden" man who, since boyhood, wanted to be "the greatest actor in the world."
Brando in

'Brando's Smile'

By SUSAN L. MIZRUCHI
Reviewed by WESLEY MORRIS
A biographer of Marlon Brando delves into the archives and tries to demystify her complex subject.
Elia Kazan, with both arms raised, as Agate Keller in the Group Theater's production of

'The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan'

Edited by ALBERT J. DEVLIN with MARLENE J. DEVLIN
Reviewed by CHARLES ISHERWOOD
Elia Kazan's letters underscore his central importance in the maturing of American film and theater at midcentury.

'Eyrie'

By TIM WINTON
Reviewed by ALISON McCULLOCH
Tim Winton's hero, a disgraced and despairing activist in Western Australia, is called to help a childhood friend.

'Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open'

By PHOEBE HOBAN
Reviewed by BARRY SCHWABSKY
A biography of the painter who crossed paths with everyone from Kate Moss to the Kray brothers.

'The Golden Age Shtetl'

By YOHANAN PETROVSKY-SHTERN
Reviewed by JONATHAN ROSEN
A history of Jewish life in the villages of Eastern Europe before the period familiar to American Jews.

'All the Rage'

By A. L. KENNEDY
Reviewed by MOLLY YOUNG
Cruelty and lust predominate in A. L. Kennedy's stories.
Brando Skyhorse

'Take This Man: A Memoir'

By BRANDO SKYHORSE
Reviewed by RHODA JANZEN
Brando Skyhorse's turbulent childhood was built on myth.
The Times Square theater district, circa 1920s.

'Supreme City'

By DONALD L. MILLER
Reviewed by BEVERLY GAGE
In the 1920s, Manhattan was transformed into America's entertainment and communications epicenter.

'Next Life Might Be Kinder'

By HOWARD NORMAN
Reviewed by STEPHANIE ZACHAREK
This novel's protagonist cannot surmount his grief over his wife's murder.

'Liberalism: The Life of an Idea'

By EDMUND FAWCETT
Reviewed by ALAN WOLFE
A history of liberalism, told through the lives and ideas of a dynamic group of European and American thinkers.
Ellen Willis, circa 1970.

'The Essential Ellen Willis'

Edited by NONA WILLIS ARONOWITZ
Reviewed by CARLENE BAUER
Ellen Willis, who emerged in the 1960s, asked serious questions about culture and politics.
Kseniya Melnik

'Snow in May'

By KSENIYA MELNIK
Reviewed by MOLLY ANTOPOL
These stories portray women's lives in Magadan, Russia, a town known as an entryway to gulag labor camps.
Lisa O'Donnell

'Closed Doors'

By LISA O’DONNELL
Reviewed by ANDREW ERVIN
A boy in a remote Scottish town tries to understand the terrible thing that has happened to his mother.

'Stuff Matters'

By MARK MIODOWNIK
Reviewed by ROSE GEORGE
Why do paper clips bend? What makes elastic stretchy? A scientist examines the ubiquitous substances we take for granted.

Jules Older is not feeling especially optimistic about making a living as a writer.............

That Best-Time Gospel Hour

I'm just back from a writers meeting where the speaker, a literary PR-maven, was overflowing with enthusiasm: “This is the best time for writers!” she said again and again and again.

I thought she’d inadvertently left out the comma: “This is the best time for writers, unless you intend to make a living from it.” But if she had a subordinate clause in mind, she never voiced it.

Question time was short, so I never got to ask this:

My wife says I'm not only an optimist; I'm an insane optimist. Yet, when I listen to you — and so many other speakers like you — I feel like the biggest pessimist in California. Are you not aware that in this “best time for writers,” writers are unable to make a living through their work, unable to feed their families? Can you be unaware of the recent British study (“Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’ levels”) that showed English working writers are making a poverty-level 11,000 pounds a year? In case you somehow missed it, here's a quote:

"… the number of authors able to make a living from their writing has plummeted dramatically over the last eight years, and that the average professional author is now making well below the salary required to achieve the minimum acceptable living standard in the UK.

I never got to warm to my subject and add this:

We've recently been traveling with European travel journalists, and those from every country tell the same story — more work expected for even less money. Much less money. I'm in touch with many North American writers (that's most of you, Lifeguards), and they say the same.

Last week I spoke with a highly successful freelance journalist who’d lost her job as a magazine editor. “How's it going?” I asked. Her reply said it all — “Lot of work, shit pay.” A highly successful American book author told me, “My last contract was for one third of my previous ones.” A highly successful ski writer left a presentation by another best-times-through-social-media speaker shaking his head in disgust. “You noticed,” he said, “that she never once explained how we could make money from all this.” So when you say we’re living in the “best time for writers,” why don't you tell the rest of the story?

Here's why I think she and all her clones preaching this Best-Time Gospel don't.

Though they'd call themselves service providers, they're really enablers. They're there to convince authors and would-be authors that if they'll just hitch their miserably paid, broken-down wagons to the enabler’s star, they'll be rich and famous and wildly successful. As this one also kept saying, “It’s simple. Not easy but simple. Simple!”

I don't think so. Those stats don't lie. And if you're thinking they apply to those who write for “heritage” publishers but not e-publishers or “pay-your-way hybrids,” in Great Britain, these Digital Age writers are making even less than those sorry fools who stuck with tired old Guttenberg. I'm confident that it’s the same throughout North America, as well.

The ones who are bringing home the piñon-smoked, private-reserved, artisan bacon are the enablers. Like vanity publishers of yore — and, oh yes, of today — they feed off false hope, make empty promises, take on writer clients who will never in their lives make back with their self-published book or ebook half of what they handed over to the enablers… who never revealed that waiting for the writers at the end of the stairway to stardom was not feast but famine.

How do you spot Digital Age enablers? Here's a start:
They'll be speaking at your next writer’s meeting or conference.
They'll lace their talk with the same key phrases: brand, platform, presence, and social media brand/platform/presence.
They'll never, except by implication, tell you how you're going to actually make money in all the wondrous worlds they weave.
They’ll preach from the Best-Time Gospel Hymnal.
And you'll leave either writing them a check or silently seething.

I'm silently seething, a.k.a.


— jules

Books out, 3D printers in for reinvented US libraries

Across the US, libraries are setting up maker labs as they turn themselves into hubs for high-tech innovation and training

IN THE small town of Fayetteville in northern New York, you'll find the local library in an old furniture factory dating from the turn of the 20th century. The refurbished building retains hints of its industrial past: wooden floors, exposed beams, walls lined with carefully labelled tools.
But instead of quietly perusing stacks of books, many of the patrons are crowded around a suite of 3D printers. One machine is midway through a pink mobile phone case; another is finishing up a toy sword.

This is Fayetteville's maker lab – and it may very well be the future of libraries.
In 2011, Fayetteville became the first public library in the US to set up a maker lab. Besides 3D printers, the space features a laser cutter, electronics kits, workshop tools, Raspberry Pi computers and an array of sewing machines. It functions somewhere between a classroom and a start-up incubator – a place where people from all over the region can get involved with state-of-the-art technology.

Since the lab opened, similar spaces have been popping up across the country, including in cities like Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Denver and Detroit. According to the American Library Association, about 1 in 6 libraries now dedicates some of its space to maker tools and activities. The New York Public Library – one of the largest in the country – is watching these developments to inform its upcoming renovation.

We Love This Book


 
EMMY THE GREAT READS: TAI PEI
Our new guest reviewer is singer-songwriter Emmy the Great. Emma is going to be writing a monthly review for us, and is starting with Tai Pei by Tao Lin.

Last year, while procrastinating for several months over whether or not to buy the book Mr G by Alan Lightman as a Christmas present for my dad, I became aware, due to the proximity of Lin to Lightman on alphabetically organised bookshelves, of an author called Tao Lin. I would flick through Tao's poetry collection You're a Little Bit Happier Than I Am. Then I would pick up the thickest of his books, Tai Pei, with its glitter hologram typeset title, and I would read Bret Easton Ellis' quote proclaiming Tao the voice of his generation, and I would procrastinate over whether or not to buy it as well. 

READ MORE >



 
 

 FEATURES  
 
    

MICHELLE MAGORIAN'S INSPIRATION FOR BACK HOME

The author of the iconic children's book, Back Home, tells us about the photograph that inspired the story in celebration of the book's release as "A Puffin Book" edition.
MORE >


MAN BOOKER 2014 LONGLIST ANNOUNCED

This year's contenders were revealed on Wednesday, in the prize's first year to include American authors. Longlisted books include Us by David Nicholls (pictured).


MORE >




 
 BOOK OF THE WEEK 
 
 
IN LOVE AND WAR
by Alex Preston
This is a novel that captivates the reader immediately then ramps up the tension until you can’t put it down. It begins with the charming, naive Esmond Lowndes, despatched to Italy to escape the scandal of an unsuitable affair and prove himself by setting up a radio station in Florence. But this is Italy in 1937 and the radio station is intended to promote links between the British Union of Fascists and Mussolini’s government. 
The narrative position shifts from third person to a more intimate and immediate knowledge of Esmond from his letters and the secret diary recordings he makes on the back of the broadcast tapes, pulling the reader closer and closer into Esmond’s changing world and the realities of the Italian Resistance movement. Beautifully written, this is a fresh and fascinating view of Italy before and during the Second World War, and an unusually complex story of the death of innocence.