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Above the Fold

A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

March 28, 2011
Vol. 4, No. 12
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Kevin Kelly on Generating Value in a Free Copy World  (External site)

Scholarly Kitchen   •  March 11, 2011

People of the screen. Watch Kevin Kelly's presentation from last month's O'Reilly Tools of Change conference for a thoughtful evaluation of where we've been and where we're going with the evolution of information. Kelly's talk starts with the ubiquity of screens as portals to information; touches on the changing ways we access and share and interact with content of all kinds; and finishes up with predictions on the future of publishing, as eBooks move toward what he calls an "as-if-zero price point." It's well worth the 25 minutes.

This is really two presentations in one talk. For the first 20 minutes Kelly talks about reading: Screening, Interactivity, Sharing, Accessing, Flowing and Generating. His conclusions do not always follow his logic (it will be so cheap to have everything that you will only be interested in accessing it), but most are very insightful. In the last five minutes he talks about what is valuable in a world where copies are free (the Internet is a "copy superconducting machine"): Immediacy, Personalization, Authenticity, Attention, Interpretation, Accessibility, Embodiment and Findability. I agree—watching this is well worth the 25 minutes. ( Hickey)


eBooks: Durability Is a Feature, Not a Bug  (External site)

The Guardian   •  March 8, 2011

Con job? eBooks have several limitations, but flimsiness is not one of them. HarperCollins' move to retire libraries' eBook titles after 26 checkouts is absurd, says Cory Doctorow, who points out that the publisher's questionable attempt to turn a "pro" into a "con" is "tantamount to asking librarians to embrace entropy."

Doctorow compares eBooks with print, and that imposing an arbitrary cap on checkouts is "bizarre." Eric Hellman calls the current model " Pretend It's Print." He has done more detailed analysis of circulation of printed books in The Pareto Principle and the True Cunning of HarperCollins, noting that "HarperCollins has gotten us to overlook the 80% of books that don’t circulate much at all. Libraries pay full price for those, too, and it’s pretty clear that publishers make infinitely more money on books that don’t circulate in libraries than on books that don’t sell in bookstores!" Note that other publishers, like Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, don't provide eBooks to libraries at all. The lack of a model that is amenable to publishers, libraries, and library patrons will likely hinder eBook access through libraries for some time. ( Smith-Yoshimura)


eBook Lending: The Serpent in the Garden of Eden  (External site)

Copyright and Technology   •  March 3, 2011

Deviling details. Copyright expert Bill Rosenblatt tackles the HarperCollins decision and suggests that the end result of self-destructing eBooks "can only be the slow and painful death of library eBook lending" at the very time that libraries need to ramp up their eBook business. Rosenblatt warns against the potential chaos that could result from each publisher capriciously dictating its eBooks' lending shelf-life and calls on libraries to take action by requesting a Copyright Office exemption that would allow them to "circumvent (hack) DRMs in order to lend e-books as long as they re-package them for the library patron with the same type or strength of DRM."

Libraries are currently lending eBooks while respecting the rights of the owners, via Hellman's " Pretend It's Print" model. This model, however, can lead to policies like: in order to fill an ILL request for an article from an e-journal, the article must be printed and re-scanned before sending to the requestor. I worry that treating library eBooks like other library books has become our goal, when it would be so much nicer to actually take advantage of digital-ness to make library lending better. ( Erway)


Either a Borrower or a Lender Be  (External site)

The Economist   •  March 6, 2011

DIY lending. We all lend out our hard copies, so why not eBooks? A couple of Web sites are making informal eBook lending easier through an Amazon—sanctioned matchmaking process, but time-limit restrictions on access are a rude reminder that we don't purchase eBooks—we lease them.

Services are emerging that take advantage of the limited loaning capabilities of some eBooks. These services act as a broker between borrowers and lenders. The article does a good job of describing the two leading services: Lendle and Book Lending. After reading the article, two issues leap to mind. First, the issue raised in our blurb of the article: we don't own the eBooks we buy. The sellers/publishers are asserting rights to the material after we have paid for it. We are clearly licensing these materials today. I hope that will change soon. Second, where are libraries in this business?  I have wanted for ages to be able to buy books and have them go straight to the library and let the library be the broker for lending my books. The service Lendle and Book Lending are providing seems like exactly the same service, but for eBooks. It seems like my library, or some agent for the library community, should be doing it as well. ( LeVan)


The (Kinda) United States of Wired America  (External site)

Personal Democracy Forum/Tech President   •  March 9, 2011

Reality check. Listening to the popular media, you might feel that being Twitterless is a sign of personal failure. Click through to this interactive map for a state-by-state analysis of Twitter and Facebook penetration, derived from Census Bureau data and DCI Group's own research. In most states, less than 1 percent of the population tweets and fewer than half have Facebook pages—something to think about when you're revamping communications strategies.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be ubiquitous these days, so it is easy to assume that everyone is immersed in updating Facebook pages and churning out tweets. But a new study by DCI Group belies this impression: in fact, less than half the US population is on Facebook, and only about 1 percent are on Twitter. Moreover, the level of participation in these two social media giants is distributed unevenly across the 50 states. DCI Group has produced an interesting interactive map which ranks each state according to its population’s participation rate in Facebook and Twitter. Washington has the most enthusiasm for social media, ranking number one in Facebook participation and number two in Twitter participation. Nevada ranks number one for Twitter, but only 38th for Facebook. Nevada’s results are an extreme case of a phenomenon found in many states, where the participation rate is relatively high for one social media forum, and relatively low for the other. New Mexico ranks last in Facebook participation; Utah is last for Twitter (but 10th for Facebook). The message from the map is that when considering communications strategies, don’t assume that Facebook and Twitter will cover the audience that needs to hear your message. ( Lavoie)


Above the Fold Quiz:

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is Dryad?

Click here to find the answer.


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Above the Fold is a Web-based newsletter published by OCLC Research. It has been developed to serve a broad international readership from libraries, archives and museums. News items are supplied weekly under contract by Suzanne Douglas, Ibis Communications Inc. Research items are supplied by staff in OCLC Research. Please send comments and questions about this or other issues to rlg@oclc.org.
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