8.26.2008

I miss those "smokers"

I'm back from vacation with a bunch of news from last century. This week's report will be from the August 27, 1898 issue of Publishers' Weekly, No. 1387.

NOTES IN SEASON


CHARLES SCRIBNER's Sons will pubish during September "The Goede Vrouw of Mana Hata," by Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, an exhaustive history of the manners and social life in New York City from the time it was founded until the death of the last of the Dutch matrons... Several new juveniles are also ready, including three new books by Henty, and a new edition of Amelia B. Beard's "Girl's Handy Book" and Mary White's "The Book of Games," the latter greatly enlarged.

PERSONAL NOTES


JAMES BOWDEN has just arrived in this country for a short visit by the steamer Teutonic. He comes upon his own account and also in the interest of George Routledge & Sons, and hopes the trade will take notice of his stay among them.

NOTES ON AUTHORS


THE late Gustave Freytag left valuable manuscripts, but unhappy litigation has sprung up between his widow and a son by a former wife as to their possession.

LITERARY AND TRADE NOTES


P. BLAKISTON & SON, Philadelphia, publish a timely monograph by W.C. Hollopeter upon not only "Hay Fever," the growing plague, but upon "Its Successful Treatment," a claim which many would be happy to believe justified.

AT the next meeting of the Booksellers' League, in September, it is proposed to amend Article 4, Section 1, of the Constitution by increasing dues to such an amount as may be necessary to meet the additional cost in making the monthly meetings informal dinners instead of "smokers." Notice of the day and place of the meeting will be given later.

FIRE was discovered on the top floor of the five-story building at 25 Park Place a little before 5 o'clock, August 23. Two alarms were sounded, and the firemen had the flames under control within half an hour. The fire was confined to the fifth floor, which was burned out. The second, fourth and fifth floors are occupied by E. Steiger & Co. , publishers of kindergarten matter in German and other foreign languages. At the time of the fire half a dozen girls and about twenty men, employed as compositors and bookbinders, were on the top floor. They all escaped safely by the stairs.

"MORALS OF THE MIDLANDS" is the title of a new sporting novel which will be published next spring by Messrs. Hutchinson & Co. It is by Mrs. Kennard, whose busy pen has already produced five-and-twenty novels of sporting interest.

A LIFE of the late C.L. Dodgson, including specimens of some of his earlier compositions and drawings is being prepared by his nephew, S.D. Collingwood. The personality of the author of "Alice in Wonderland" was not well known in his lifetime beyond a narrow circle, but it was one of considerable interest.

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8.13.2008

When Publishing was a Dangerous Game...

I'm away from the library for the next week so here's a double-sized portion of news from the wonderful world of Victorian publishing.

From Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1890 [No. 968].


NOT IMMORAL, ONLY TRASH


The Grand Jury, on Tuesday, we learn from the New York Times, refused to indict Manager Patrick Farrelly and two clerks of the American News Company, charged with selling obscene books. Acting District Attorney Bradford and Assistant District Attorney Lindsay sat down one day and read the books- "L'Affaire Clemenceau," "An Actor's Wife," "The Devil's Daughter," "Speaking of Ellen," and "Thou Shalt Not." They marked several passages for the instruction of the Grand Jury and said the books were nothing but trash. The Grand Jury could not find anything in them that would be considered obscene or lascivious.

NOTES ON AUTHORS


A MELANCHOLY AUTHOR went to Dumas and moaned that if he did not raise 300 francs he was afraid he would have to charcoal-smoke himself and his two children. Dumas rummaged his coffers at once, but could only find 200 francs. "But I must have three, or I and the little loves are lost," said the author. "Suppose you only suffocate yourself and one of them, then," said Dumas.

"THE little red house near Lenox, Massachusetts, where Hawthorne lived forty years ago, and wrote some of his best-known works, has been burned. Hawthorne," says Harper's Weekly, "was visited here by Longfellow, his classmate at Bowdoin College, Herman Melville, G. P. R. James, and Fannie Kemble, who lived in the vicinity. There are residents of Lenox who remember the novelist well, and are able to tell of the rambles which he and his literary friends used to take over the country. Hawthorne loved Lenox in the summer, but grew tired of the boisterous Berkshire winters, and soon after returned to the eastern part of the State."

LITERARY AND TRADE NOTES


WARD & DRUMMOND will publish, Sept. 1, a new book by Col. Thos. W. Knox, entitled, "Tetotlar Dick."

ISAAC PITMAN & SONS, 3 East 14th St., N.Y., will issue, September 1, the "Complete Bible in Phonography." It is now 20 years since the last edition was published.

THE Lew Vanderpoole Publishing Co. have just published what they rightly denominate "a literary wonder"- a story by a thirteen-year-old child, Jessie Agnes Andrews. Its name is "Eteocles, a Tale of Antioch," and it is said to be "a picture of the stirring times of persecution."

D. VAN NOSTRAND CO. have just published "Electrical Light Fitting," by John W. Urquhart, an excellent handbook for electrical engineers; "The Naval Annual for 1890," edited by Thomas A. Brassey; and in their Science Series, Frederick Waller's "Practical Dynamo Building for Amateurs."

WARD, LOCK & CO. have just issued "A Dead Man's Diary," by a writer who prefers to remain anonymous, but who is said already to have published essays and stories "that have been received with high appreciation on both sides of the Atlantic." This record of experience in which he was believed to be dead, is written with a serious moral purpose, and the author's teaching, if put into practice, would conduce greatly to the happiness of the world.

NOVELS dealing with the outdoor life are welcome at this season, and a special interest will be felt in the graphic sketches of yachting and of a Canadian athletic contest which appear in the new novel, "Geoffrey Hampstead," just published in the Town and Country Library by D. Appleton & Co. The Author, Thomas Stinson Jarvis, a barrister of Toronto, evidently knows from actual experience the excitement and the perils which he describes so vividly that he should have a sympathetic audience even among those whose interest in outdoor life in indirect.

C.S. PRATT, 155 Sixth Avenue, reports that his bookstore opened a short time ago is proving a successful enterprise. Mr. Pratt firmly believes that the book business can still be made to pay if a bookseller knows his business and is not afraid of hard work. He has little patience with those who sell everything else along with books, and is determined to make his bookstore pay without doing any catering except to the literary tastes of his patrons. We heartily wish him success, and hope his capital of hope and energy will not be too severely drawn upon.

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8.10.2008

Potential diversion titles

The library at Simmons has a special borrowing collection called the Diversion Collection. The idea behind the collection is that the library should not only provide the necessary support for academic research but it can supply a few fun reads for students and staff. The Diversion Committee convenes every semester and chooses about 90 books per semester to add to the collection. Everyone on the council gets to suggest about 9 book to add to the collection. In preparation for the coming semester, I've listed the titles I am thinking about submitting to the collection:

As you can see there are quite a few titles on this list, so I'll need to start narrowing it down to a select 9. Feel free to add any additional titles to the comments.

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8.08.2008

Free baby, but not open source

So, someone shared a link with me for Richard Laermer's new book, 2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade. It mentioned that McGraw-Hill was offering a free copy of the e-book. Intrigued, I went to freebabyfree and found this posted on the site:
Just fill in the form below and you'll get a link to the e-book. The whole book. Not excerpts. There are 77 chapters ~ bound to be something you love~!~

No tricks, no gimmicks, no spam. In 2008, this is the way to publish a groundbreaking book about the future.

Fill in below. We are being as open-source as possible here. Oh and to buy this book as a hardback then log on to Laermer.com.

In order to gain access to the book, you need to provide an e-mail address and they will send you the link to access the book (not necessarily a trick, but why aren't you just providing online access to the thing directly? Why do you need my e-mail address?), so I did so, I got the link e-mailed to me and. . . . the experience was horrible. Why?

Let me count the ways:
  1. I have limited access to the book. Sure I can read the whole book- as long as I do it in a week in their format. (I would define this as a trick).
  2. I need to read the book on the site so I'm stuck reading it on my computer screen thanks to the hosting by zmags.
  3. The page layout make the book unreadable unless you zoom in.
  4. The zoom is so sensitive as to make you feel sick.
  5. The scroll wheel is used to zoom in and out and it's always active. In other words, you can't use a scroll wheel to scroll down a page.
  6. I feel duped because some marketeer misused the term open source to describe the material (Open source means you're giving everyone access to the material in a format that is open for them to manipulate. You want to offer this material locked down in a specific format, fine, it's a valid method of providing access, but don't call it open source).

Did anyone do any usability on this e-book to see what the actual experience of reading it?

I would like to ask Cory Doctorow, Suze Orman, Charles Bock and the various groups working on the epub standard if this is indeed "the way to publish a groundbreaking book about the future" because I certainly thought the rest of the world was getting rid of DRM and freely sharing content with others.

If you want an example of a publishing company really publishing for today, check out Joe Wikert's entry on Thomas Nelson.

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8.05.2008

Soy Milk at Starbucks

While Jim Cramer may only see Starbucks as a investment opportunity and the newspapers report on the 600 closings around the US, the local Starbucks near my college has made a slight change that I think is worth pointing out.

So, here's the deal- The Starbucks on Longwood Ave. in Boston has soy milk out in a little carafe along with the other milks. This makes me happy as I would prefer to use soy milk over real milk for almost everything. No other Starbucks that I know of in or around Boston has soy milk this readily available. Every other store has it behind the counter where it is generally used for decaf soy lattes. Yes, I have the distinct impression that the conventional wisdom in cafes is that soy milk falls in to the same category of decaf (something that gets enough use to be needed but not readily available, i.e. one pot of decaf to every 3-4 pots of regular).

Let me explain why this small change in one store has made me like it above all other Starbucks in the greater Boston region: most Starbucks shops generally equates soy milk with the higher-priced espresso drinks. In all cafes, ordering a regular black coffee at Starbucks is one of the most efficient transactions there is:

Me: "medium coffee" (notice "medium" this Starbucks has dropped the pretense of only serving "Grande")
Barista at register: "Room for milk?"
Me: "Yup."
Barista at register turns around, pours coffee, turns back.
I pay and walk away with coffee.


If I add one small change to that transaction by asking for soy milk, I'm spending twice as long in the cafe with two people waiting on me- one to take my order/ pour the coffee, another to get the soy milk and hand it and the coffee to me at the other end of the counter. This workflow makes sense for a drink that needs espresso, flavor shots, whipped cream, foam, etc., but not for a regular coffee.

By doing something as simple as putting the soy milk out on the self-service counter with the other add-ins to the coffee, the Longwood Ave. Starbucks has basically modified themselves to deal with people like me. I'm sure that the number of people who ask for soy milk for their coffee (not lattes) is minuscule, but at this location (perhaps due to the proximity of several hospitals) it appears as if someone noticed that enough people were ordering soy milk to identify it as a problem ("Gee, it looks like a lot more people are ordering soy milk and slowing down our rush hour lines") and found a very simple solution to the increased requests.

So what impresses me about this?

  1. A simple and effective solution to the perceived problem.

  2. They identified a potential customer base that might appreciate the change (I certainly never asked for soy milk and always used skim milk or half and half, but now...)

  3. They kept the focus on a streamlined workflow.

  4. Customers don't feel like soy milk is some special ingredient that they keep hidden behind the counter.

  5. They did something different than other Starbucks. This makes this particular store stand out from the other Starbucks down the street.

  6. The problem of some cafes not honoring the "free soy milk with your registered card" disappears.

  7. I still get my coffee quickly.

What are potential benefits I see from this?

  1. Dedicated customers (I now wait until I'm at work to get coffee instead of stopping at one along the way).

  2. Costs- how much additional soy milk does this Starbucks go through and how does that compare to the reduction in drinks being added to the queue (this will differ at every cafe based on the customer profile).

  3. Customer satisfaction: I get soy milk and I don't have to wait.


And why am I writing about this in such detail? Because I'm a library geek who work at a library where our circulation and reference desk have a lot in common with Starbucks: we have people who need different levels of help and there may be something as simple as putting out whatever our soy milk may be to help improve the experience in the library.

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The Dangers of Drinking, Biking and Tramps...

... hot topics for August, 1899.

Here are some of the top tidbits from the world of publishing as reported by Publishers Weekly, no. 1436, from August 5, 1899.


Literary and Trade notes


THOMAS WHITTAKER will publish immediately a volume on "The Temperance Problem and Social Reform," by Joseph Roundtree and Arthur Sherwell, of which three editions were quickly taken up in London.

DODD, MEAD & CO. have in press "Wine on the Lees," by J.A. Steuart, a story that turns upon certain phases of the drink question.

MISS MARGARET LEE of 344 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y., intends, with others, to petition Congress to remove all limitations of time as they exist in the copyright law of the United States, and to make the rights of the author and his heirs perpetual.

"AT last," says the New York Evening Post, "a publisher has been found to bless the bicycle. A couple of years ago bicycle riding was made responsible for the falling off of so many persons (no pun intended) in literary enthusiasm. The wheel took them away from books, and overcame the allurements of the library. Now, however, one publisher has discovered that the bicycle has at least been the means of awakening an interest in natural history, and reports as a direct result an increased demand for books on the subject."

THE CENTURY COMPANY has in preparation a volume entitled "Tramping with the Tramps," a collection of articles by Josiah Flynt, who has made a special study of the tramp question. The book will have an introductory note by Dr. Andrew D. White, Ambassador to Germany, who speaks of the work as one of great importance and fascinating interest. Mr. Flynt has lived for many months among the tramps at home and abroad, and knows them more intimately, perhaps, than any other living man. His work will be illustrated.

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8.04.2008

Jetstreams

Hey, look over there--> Yeah there's some new stuff in the sidebar (if you somehow figured out how to add this as an RSS feed from the sidebar, you're missing out on some new ways to obsessively read about me).

I'm starting to really get into this whole Twitter thing so you can follow me there. I also have another account where I'm posting all the new titles that are processed through our Collection Services department. It's another experiment that let's me test how microblogging works as a delivery device for a lot of information. It's not ideal but neither is the RSS feeds that I see from the ILS vendors.

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8.03.2008

An experiment

This blog for me is more of my personal sandbox to try different things out. I don't see this as my soapbox where I can flex some imagined journalistic skills. Nor do I see this as my private journal that's open to everyone. I think those are the two main reasons people blog and I'm not really here for either of those reasons. I'm hear to see what you can post on this platform and how difficult/ time-consuming it is to post different things in this format.

The purpose of this post is to see how well a post on new titles works on a blog. Listed below are the new titles that our School of Management ordered for the Fall semester. On Monday I'll be downloading the bibliographic records from OCLC, updating OCLC to say our library has these books (you know for ILL and general searches in Worldcat), and setting up orders for the book. Before I do that I also wanted to take the list and post it in a blog format to see:
  1. how much work it would take to write this post
  2. how useful it is to have the information gathered in one place
  3. if this would work as some form of marketing that collection services could provide to the selectors
  4. the benefits of having this list in electronic form with links for others to purchase
  5. to see if I'm missing any other benefits of putting this kind of information online for anyone to find


If this isn't too much work and seems to have value I might start posting more lists of new titles that I am ordering for our library.

So here's the list of titles that you will be able to borrow from the Simmons School of Management Library at the beginning of the Fall 2008 semester.

Reference Titles

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Talking bout my g-g-generation? Wait which one?

One of the hot trends in Library Science literature is to write about the needs of the various generations using the library. Some of them discuss the special needs of retirees (understandable), grade school students (of course) and high school students (again, a nature group to focus on), but more and more articles have moved away from the specific needs of these groups to frame the discussion in terms of generations. There are the Baby Boomers (my parents), Gen X (myself and my siblings, well, I thought my sisters were Gen X as we're 2 and 4 years apart in the mid 70s) and this new generations (Gen Y or the Millennials). This Friday the librarians for the School of Management ordered the American Generations series which included:

What I find interesting is that the New Strategist has put the demarcation of generations right on the birth year of my family's middle child. According to this series I am a different generation from my sisters and anyone else who started school after I was in third grade.

I understand that generations are for statistical and marketing purposes and really have no bearing on reality, but I think cutting the generation so fine really proves how outdated our thinking about age groups has become. In some ways I have a lot more in common with those born in the mid 80s than those in the mid 60s, but marketers see me as the same core audience as someone who may have been a baby or toddler at Woodstock.

The good news is that I can complain about these new Millennials with their computers and e-mail and ignorance of news from newspapers with my boss all the while texting with those same Millennials about the Baby Boomer manager who whines about how it's so hard to use a photocopier (because he's old and this is new-fangled technology, not because, you know, copiers tend to be confusing and counter-intuitive for everyone).