Monday, 28 November 2011

Book publishers curb library access to e-books

Published On Mon Nov 28 2011
Vanessa Lu Business Reporter, Toronto Star
The Toronto Public Library’s e-book offerings are being significantly curtailed as publishers struggle to cope with the growing popularity of the new format. Penguin initially announced it was pulling all library e-titles downloaded on Amazon’s Kindle device over security concerns, but last week amended it to library access to its new Penguin e-books instead. That comes on the heels of a March decision by HarperCollins Publishers to restrict library circulation of e-book titles to 26 times, after which libraries must buy another copy. It argues that with an average two-week borrowing period, 26 times works out to a year — about the length of time printed books wear out and popularity wanes. But the Toronto Public Library hasn’t bought any HarperCollins e-titles since the new policy went into effect, because it doesn’t have the technology to keep track of downloads. Susan Caron, manager of collection development for Toronto’s libraries, said Penguin has concerns over pirating through the Kindle device, which is not sold in Canada. “We’re collateral damage,” Caron said, calling it a technical problem with Penguin officials working on a solution. “It’s huge. (Penguin is) one of the largest and most important publishers in the world.” Its titles includes paranormal romance, top literary fiction and popular authors like Nora Roberts and Tom Clancy. U.S. publishers, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, do not sell e-books to libraries. While e-books make up less than 1 per cent of the 32 million items that the Toronto Public Library circulates, they are growing in popularity. Users can also read e-books on certain tablets and smartphones. The library’s statistics show e-book downloads jumped 196 per cent from 2009 to 2010, and are up 288 per cent so far this year from last year. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year, the Toronto public library saw a huge spike in downloads of its e-book collection as people tried out their new gifts. The library currently carries about 13,000 e-book titles, which are checked out more than 20,000 times each month. It can only circulate a single copy of an e-title to one borrower at a time. Patrons can borrow 10 books for up to 21 days. After the due date, the book disappears from the individual’s reading device so the item can circulate again. The global e-book market is one of the fastest growing segments of the consumer technology industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 36 per cent through 2015, according to third party market research firms. Toronto’s Kobo, which was spun off from Indigo book retailer in 2009, has been acquired by Japan’s Rakuten for $315 million (U.S.) Because library patrons can easily borrow an ebook just sitting at their computers without stepping inside a branch, publishers are naturally worried it will affect sales. Would people bother to buy books if they can conveniently access them for free? “It’s a threat. It’s very easy to understand where the book publishers are coming from, but the problem is it’s flying in the face of some version of common sense,” said Joshua Gans, a University of Toronto professor at the Rotman School of Management. “Publishers still want to hang onto the idea that one individual will buy their book, and that will be it,” Gans said. “This has never been true. If you buy a book, everybody in your household reads it. You’ll lend it to friends.” But he doesn’t believe there is a clear-cut solution yet. “Publishers may experiment. But it’s still a bit of a waiting game,” he said. Top e-books The top circulating e-books at the Toronto Public Library this month are: IQ84 by Haruki Murakami The Perfect Order of Things by David Gilmour Catherine the Great by Robert Massie Falling Backwards by Jann Arden. Source: Toronto Public Library

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Occupy Toronto Library

Here is the second in the series of  Libraries aren't just Buildings anymore.  Here is an article for the National Post on the Occupy Toronto Library book collection.

What is on the Occupy Toronto library’s reading list?

Nov 22, 2011 – 7:25 PM ET | Last Updated: Nov 22, 2011 11:11 PM ET
Mark Blinch/Reuters
Mark Blinch/Reuters
Some of the books available at Occupy Toronto's library.

As night fell on St. James Park Tuesday, two men remained chained to the yurt in St. James Park that houses what the Occupy Toronto protesters call the Toronto Open Library. On Monday afternoon, Jordon Walsh and Brandon Gray chained themselves to the yurt to keep it safe from anyone who might seek to evict them.
After they chained themselves, other members of the group built a kind of cage around the men, comprised of shipping pallets and plywood panels fastened together with nails, fishing line, nylon rope and bungee chords. A number of blue tarps cover the roof of this structure.
The men had plates stacked with sandwiches, along with candy and coffee. Mr. Gray said one of the supporters has been emptying their chamber pot.
According to the protesters, police burned 5,000 books when they evicted protesters from Zucotti Park on Wall Street in New York last week.
They say there are about 2,000 books in the yurt, all donated to the cause. The “open library,” is still open, just barely, Mr. Gray added.
“One of us has a longer leg chain and they can go and get books by request,” he said. “But you can’t browse. Blame the police.”
Among titles available:
1) Animal Farm, by George Orwell (three copies)
2) The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx
3) Plato’s Republic
4) The Trouble With Billionaires, donated and signed by the author, Linda McQuaig, who wrote: “To my heroes in Occupy Toronto. Down with billionaires! In solidarity, Linda.”
5) The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
6) Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky
7) Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
8) The Paper Bag Princess, Robert Munsch
9) Selected Works of Bertolt Brecht
10) Fear and Trembling, by Soren Kirkegaard
National Post

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Murdoch Mysteries Continue!

I was very disappointed when CITY-TV cancelled the very popular television series, Murdock Mysteries, which are based on the bestselling mysteries by Canadian author, Maureen Jennings.  Like many others, I felt that the series had more stories to portray.  In addition, it is the only mystery series set in Victorian times and is popular in many countries. 
I am pleased that CBC has acquired series.  My patrons will be pleased as well.
Is the Murdoch Mysteries show popular at your library?
Toronto— Globe and Mail Update 
Last updated

Murdoch Mysteries will be moving to CBC-TV after City-TV announced earlier this year it was ending the period drama.
CBC says it has ordered a sixth season of the popular mystery series, based on a turn-of-the-century detective who pioneers radical forensic techniques to solve crimes.
Murdoch Mysteries is expected to air its fifth season on City-TV in 2012. CBC says production on more episodes is expected to begin in the spring.
CBC executive Trevor Walton says the public broadcaster is “delighted to welcome Murdoch Mysteries to the network,” noting it complements current programming.
Producer Christina Jennings says the series has many stories left to tell and that she looks forward to bringing the show to a national audience.
A favourite of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the show stars Yannick Bisson as Detective Murdoch and is set in late 1890s Toronto.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Looking for a new job?

CIA’s ‘vengeful librarians’ monitoring Twitter, Facebook


McLean, Va.— The Associated Press
In an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets - up to five million a day.  At the agency's Open Source Centre, a team know affectionately as the "vengeful librarians: also pores over Facebook, newspaper, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms - anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.

Yes, they saw the uprising in Egypt coming; they just didn’t know exactly when revolution might hit, said the centre’s director, Doug Naquin.

The centre already had “predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the centre. CIA officials said it was the first such visit by a reporter the agency has ever granted.
The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But its several hundred analysts – the actual number is classified – track a broad range, from Chinese Internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan.

While most are based in Virginia, the analysts also are scattered throughout U.S. embassies worldwide to get a step closer to the pulse of their subjects.

The most successful analysts, Naquin said, are something like the heroine of the crime novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a quirky, irreverent computer hacker who “knows how to find stuff other people don’t know exists.”

Those with a masters’ degree in library science and multiple languages, especially those who grew up speaking another language, “make a powerful open source officer,” Mr. Naquin said.

The centre had started focusing on social media after watching the Twitter-sphere rock the Iranian regime during the Green Revolution of 2009, when thousands protested the results of the elections that put Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad back in power. “Farsi was the third largest presence in social media blogs at the time on the Web,” Mr. Naquin said.
The centre’s analysis ends up in President Barack Obama’s daily intelligence briefing in one form or another, almost every day.

After Mr. bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in May, the CIA followed Twitter to give the White House a snapshot of world public opinion.

Since tweets can’t necessarily be pegged to a geographic location, the analysts broke down reaction by languages. The result: The majority of Urdu tweets, the language of Pakistan, and Chinese tweets, were negative. China is a close ally of Pakistan’s. Pakistani officials protested the raid as an affront to their nation’s sovereignty, a sore point that continues to complicate U.S.-Pakistani relations.

When the president gave his speech addressing Mideast issues a few weeks after the raid, the tweet response over the next 24 hours came in negative from Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, the Persian Gulf and Israel, too, with speakers of Arabic and Turkic tweets charging that Mr. Obama favored Israel, and Hebrew tweets denouncing the speech as pro-Arab.
In the next few days, major news media came to the same conclusion, as did analysis by the covert side of U.S. intelligence based on intercepts and human intelligence gathered in the region.

The centre is also in the process of comparing its social media results with the track record of polling organizations, trying to see which produces more accurate results, Mr. Naquin said.
“We do what we can to caveat that we may be getting an overrepresentation of the urban elite,” said Naquin, acknowledging that only a small slice of the population in many areas they are monitoring has access to computers and Internet. But he points out that access to social media sites via cellphones is growing in areas like Africa, meaning a “wider portion of the population than you might expect is sounding off and holding forth than it might appear if you count the Internet hookups in a given country.”

Sites like Facebook and Twitter also have become a key resource for following a fast-moving crisis such as the riots that raged across Bangkok in April and May of last year, the centre’s deputy director said. The Associated Press agreed not to identify him because he sometimes still works undercover in foreign countries.

As director, Mr. Naquin is identified publicly by the agency although the location of the centre is kept secret to deter attacks, whether physical or electronic.
The deputy director was one of a skeleton crew of 20 U.S. government employees who kept the U.S. embassy in Bangkok running throughout the rioting as protesters surged through the streets, swarming the embassy neighborhood and trapping U.S. diplomats and Thais alike in their homes.

The army moved in, and traditional media reporting slowed to a trickle as local reporters were either trapped or cowed by government forces.

“But within an hour, it was all surging out on Twitter and Facebook,” the deputy director said. The CIA homed in on 12 to 15 users who tweeted situation reports and cellphone photos of demonstrations. The CIA staff cross-referenced the tweeters with the limited news reports to figure out who among them was providing reliable information. Tweeters also policed themselves, pointing out when someone else had filed an inaccurate account.
“That helped us narrow down to those dozen we could count on,” he said.

Ultimately, some two-thirds of the reports coming out of the embassy being sent back to all branches of government in Washington came from the CIA’s open source analysis throughout the crisis.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

10 reasons this man is giving up his Amazon Kindle

November 01, 2011 By Ellen Roseman, Toronto Star 
A reporter tries out a new $79 Kindle reader, Amazon's cheapest model ever, at a news conference during the launch of Amazon's new tablets in New York, September 28, 2011.
A $79 Kindle reader, Amazon's cheapest model, at a launch of Amazon's new tablets in New York, September 28, 2011.
I'm a fan of electronic readers. So, I was surprised to hear that Jim Edmonds has had enough of his Amazon Kindle after using it for two years.
He gave me 10 reasons why he's going back to physical books.(Some reasons have more to do with the Kindle than with other models.)
1) You don't actually own the e-books you buy. They're only licensed for you to use on a Kindle and/or Kindle software.
2) Amazon tracks what you read on your Kindle (as outlined in its terms of service agreement).
3) Most e-books have DRM (digital rights management) and can only be used on a specific device, such as the Kindle or the Nook (from Barnes and Noble in the U.S.)
4) You can't donate, resell or give away e-books that you've bought.
5) You can lend some e-books once, but only if the author or publisher allows it. Most don't..
6) You have no way of knowing that the e-books you're buying will work on any other device in the future.  You might have to repurchase them to use on another device.
7) Prices for e-books are going up. They sometimes cost more than a regular book
8) E-books usually have more errors in them than physical books do.
9) Your local libraries may have a limited selection of e-books. And the waiting list for e-books may be longer than for physical books.
10) Your local library may not have e-books in its catalogue before they're released, so you can't get onto a waiting list in advance (but only after release).
Edmonds often sends me his comments. He's president of Fellowes Canada, which specializes  in records storage, shredding machines and computer accessories.
I'd argue with him about his seventh point. E-book prices are going up, but only because publishers are flexing their muscles and dictating what Amazon, Kobo, Sony and Apple can charge. They felt Amazon's early pricing was predatory.
The $9.99 price isn't as widespread as it once was, but it's still around. And I've never seen an e-book that costs more than a physical book, unless it's an esoteric title.
Meanwhile, I'd agree with him that e-books often have errors. And I've had some bad experiences when my reader stopped working.
Recently, my Sony Reader was replaced with a later model. I kept all the e-books I'd purchased (a few dozen), but lost all my bookmarks during the transition.
As a result, I couldn't pick up where I'd left off and had to search for the spots where I'd stopped reading. I doubt that would happen with cardboard bookmarks inside traditional books.
Amazon launched its first Kindle in late 2007. We're still discovering how this new business works and how it may evolve. And thanks to Edmonds, we have a list of reasons why e-books may not be everyone's choice.