Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Free Stuff @ Your Library

On the last post, Will Manley left a comment speculating that bestselling authors eventually “will go directly to readers and bypass the middleman (publishers and libraries acting as e book portals).” The e-book format is perfect for the bestselling author.  E-books are ephemeral and what could be more ephemeral than a bestseller?  What will the result be?  The big publishers will die off fairly quickly because they live off bestsellers, and public libraries can get back to the business of giving the patrons what they don't want. This could well happen, and it would indeed be disastrous for publishers, who have both reduced the amount of editing on bestselling authors while betting their future entirely on bestsellers. Commercial publishers have all but abandoned midlist authors, and in their quest for the fastest, highest possible profits have done what they could to undermine an interest in anything but lowest common denominator fiction. This hasn’t been a complete disaster for ...

Suckers, but Resilient Suckers

A long time ago public librarians worried that by providing the public with popular novels they were lowering the taste of the public, or at least not trying to elevate that taste. In this, they were correct. As it turned out, the public didn’t want its taste elevated. Lowbrow reading was just what they wanted. Over time sentiments changed. The readers with the lowest brows, metaphorically speaking, abandoned reading altogether, or confined their reading to Maxim and the National Enquirer. Lowbrow readers had no need of the lowbrow fiction because they had television and videogames. But still there was a small core of Americans who wanted to read popular novels, who were still able to derive some emotional pleasure from words and not just images. Public libraries devoted themselves to these people, doing everything they could to make sure that all and sundry could get quick access to the latest bestsellers. Libraries devoted their scarce resources to buying multiple copies ...

Publishers Have Met the Enemy, and It is Them

In the last post, I suggested that book publishers, frightened by the future of digital information, are trying to pretend that libraries are part of the problem in the book business. If libraries instituted a national policy of Filesharing Literacy, things could be worse for publishers, and they’d whine. Then again, they whine about lots of things because they seem to think that every book in the world should be sold from a specific publisher to a specific individual, preferable in multiple formats. What else could they be thinking with some of the things they've been saying? There are a couple of good examples of such whining recently. Look at this article on legal ebook lending. It’s about an online Kindle ebook lending sites that allow Kindle owners to register and loan books among themselves. For a long time Kindle books couldn’t be loaned at all, and even now they can be loaned to one person at a time for two weeks, during which time the book is unavailable to the owner. ...

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