Category Archives: E-books & Reading

E-Everything in an Ever-Changing World

I just finished Carson Block’s article, If Books Are Our Brand, in Public Libraries magazine. It’s yet another look at the changing world of libraries and how e-books have shaken things up. Block says, “I would love our brand to be ‘access to the resources and tools in an ever-changing world.’ That means access to e-everything, including the tools and training needed for content creation, and in physical spaces. Places to gather and discuss ideas. Places to learn, and places to teach.”

I agree with Block when he says we need places to gather, learn, and teach. But, Block’s statement made me think more specifically about our reference collections. For years, we have been shifting to an e-reference model. Many print reference collections have been shrinking as they’ve been replaced by subscription databases. In the past year, my library’s reference collection has been weeded by close to 50%. Our pushback on doing so came more from internal sources than from the patrons.

I think it’s interesting that libraries have been able to successfully shift to online database usage, but we can’t seem to find a common ground with book publishers on making a transition to e-books. I’m not saying I want to make a complete and total transition to e-books. I still am very much a print person, but I hope we can give the people what they want in whatever shape that may take.

-Post by Carrie Straka, Tame the Web Contributor

Overcoming e-book ‘stagnation’ by Åke Nygren

Don’t miss this article by Åke Nygren at InformationToday Europe:

Åke explores how Stockholm Libraries are responding to e-book stagnation:

Since 2010 the Stockholm Public Libraries have been working hard at coming to grips with the conflict between a growing public demand for e-books and the devastatingly low percentage of e-books available in their stacks. The overall conclusion: instead of waiting for a print oriented publishing market, paralysed by its anxieties for possible loss of market shares, let’s get the job done ourselves! 


The third step will be to explore the potential with EPUB 3, an open format that has the potential to move e-reading from a disclosed and lonely activity towards an open, creative and social experience.

In brief, Stockholm Public Libraries response to e-book stagnation is to:

  • Cooperate:  we can’t do it on our own, let’s find strategic partnerships, for e-book openness and innovation.
  • Digitise: let’s not just sit and wait. If nobody else seems keen on digitising, well, then we do it ourselves.
  • Integrate: making literature accessible for everybody in 2012 is not just about digitisation, it’s also a question of packaging and integration of the content in user friendly and flexible user interfaces.
  • Engage: let’s explore the potential of co-creating new content together with the users of today: the prosumers.

Hack A Kindle*

UPDATED ON 1/28/12 (see below)

*sort of


I bought a Kindle for these reasons and for the past few days, I’ve been using it in a few different ways.  I bought two books from Amazon totalling $6.99.  But most of the space on my Kindle is taken up by a collection of PDF’s.  Yes, this is how I’m hacking a Kindle.  It’s my PDF collection device.

Does your library subscribe to some databases?  Chances are, they do, and this will be where you will start your hacking.  My current topics of interest include empowering patrons to create “stuff” in the library, user experience, teens and technology, and The Beach Boys.  I dove into these topics pretty deeply one night and searched for PDF’s that interested me.

I was always happy to see this PDF Full Text icon

If I couldn’t find an article in PDF form, I turned to Google Chrome extensions to help convert that text into a PDF.

I highly suggest "Save as PDF"

Once I downloaded the articles, I sent them to my Kindle account using my Send to Kindle email address.  The next time I turned on my Kindle, I synced the device and viola!  My PDF’s showed up, ready to view, highlight, share, and cite.

At first, the process may be a bit cumbersome (and there may even be better ways to do it!), but once I got into the groove of searching/saving/uploading PDF’s, I had quite a collection in no time.  I highly suggest that if a librarian has a patron that has a Kindle and is interested in collecting their research that they at least think about using this way to aid the patron.

I got an email from @verbivoria last night (thank you!) that explained how to use Instapaper to  send web articles to your Kindle:

You can use Instapaper to save web articles you like, convert them to Kindle files, and then import to the device.

The neat thing is this: you install a “Read Later” button on your browser, and when you find something that you want to peruse later, you click the button. I find this invaluable.

I found these two articles to be really helpful if you need help setting up this process: Lifehacker

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Helping Communities Create Digital Works

One of the BEST things I’ve read about e-books in a long time:

In this transitional time, public libraries should aim for the future and invest in toolsets and programming that help their communities produce and participate in new digital works, not simply consume them.  To make something is to understand something.  If you build a radio from parts in your garage, you’ll have a very different relationship with every radio you listen to from that day on. A tomato you grow in your garden will always taste better than the tomato you bought from the grocery store, and you’ll develop a deep understanding of what that tomato is after you’ve nurtured its growth for months.  Every time you have tomatoes at a restaurant after you’ve grown your own you’ll have a different understanding of tomatoes; what they are, where they came from, and the potential they hold.  To help our communities taste better tomatoes, public libraries need media labs, hacker spaces, coworking spaces, expert staff, and a long term investment in technologies supporting community creativity.

Go read the full post by Nate Hill here:

Slow Reading: TEDxLibrariansTO Presentation by John Miedema

Reprinted with permission from John’s blog:


Say the words, “slow reading”, and you will have a reader’s attention. In a time of information overload, we all feel pressure to read more quickly. Three years ago I performed a Google search on slow reading. I found studies on dyslexia and eye disorders, advertising for speed reading courses, and complaints about the scanning rates of I/O devices. At the time I was doing a Master of Library and Information Science, and decided to undertake a broad search for research and concepts about the benefits of slow reading. The results were published in a little book aptly called, Slow Reading. I was surprised at the level of interest. Many of us share a quiet conviction that to read slowly is preferable at times. It is a pleasure when reading for recreation, and an aid to comprehension when studying a complex text. Today I will share with you the results of my search.

The concept of slow reading can be traced back to the practice of bibliophagy or book eating in the Bible, when prophets were commanded to eat a book to gain spiritual insight. The earliest explicit reference to slow reading is in Nietzsche’s preface to Daybreak where he defines his task as a philologist to be a teacher of slow reading. Today, scholars in the field of literary criticism practice close reading, the evaluation of a work through careful analysis of its text and language. English students often learn rigorous techniques to extract a work’s layers of meaning.

While prophets might obey divine commands to consume books, and scholars might use prescribed techniques for close reading, all of this may be sufficient to ward off a reader curious about slow reading. It need not be so. One professor complains that the literati are doing what her sex education nurse did in her seventh grade – forget to tell the students that the practice is quite fun.

In her book, Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose describes how she uses close reading to help students who find reading stressful. We all begin life as close readers, she says, learning to read by listening word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase to those reading to us. Prose transforms what has become drudgery for some into “the bliss of childhood reading when time, mercifully, stands still”.

The perception that slow reading is only for advanced readers is challenged by teachers who are innovating with slow reading techniques with students of all ages. I imagine many of you have re-read a favourite book. Faust & Glenzer used re-reading in the classroom. The title of their article came from the testimony of their children: I could read those parts over and over. The students readily grasped that re-reading literature is like watching movies and listening to music more than once.

Speed-reading courses teach students to read as fast as possible, but slow reading is not about reading as slow as possible all the time. One person savours each word while another skims, slowing down only for certain passages. Slow reading may involve arguing with a text, so to speak, or seeking out additional materials to add context. Some readers prefer the classics while many advanced readers rate half their pleasure reading as trash. Variability and personal control are essential in slow reading. As Virginia Wolf said, in the final analysis, no one can give another advice on what to read or how to read it.

A second stream of thought points to slow reading as an explanation for the persistence of print, books and libraries alongside the rise of digital technology.

The notion of a “paperless office” was coined in the seventies at the Palo Alto Research Center, formerly Xerox, “the paper people”. The now familiar idea was that digital documents would replace print. It grew into a popular conception about the death of print, books and bricks-and-mortar libraries. Fredrick Lancaster rose to prominence as a librarian who promoted a vision of a paperless library. His vision was a totalizing one. He did not foresee a combination of print and digital media but rather a complete displacement of print.

Many of us bought into the vision of a paperless society, and with good cause. In the eighties, the typewriter, the indispensable tool of writers for a century was superseded by the word processor. In the nineties we witnessed the mainstream integration of the web. By 2000, Google was busy digitizing libraries. Just this year, Amazon announced that e-books outsold hardcovers and paperbacks combined.

Fourty years later, the paperless society is still just around the corner. Never mind that global production of print has tripled since the seventies. A downturn in 2008 was due to the recession not the Kindle, and figures are back up again. Amazon does not publish research, it advertises to increase sales. If you can buy ten 99 cent books for the price of one paperback then sales reflect an overall larger book pie. Two generations after the prediction of a paperless society, print, books, and libraries are thriving. How come? It is not a mystery to slow readers.

I was an early adopter of the Kindle. As Jeff Bezoes of Amazon promised, it is bookish. It has the dimensions of a paperback and is tapered to emulate the bulge of a book’s binding. It uses e-ink to simulate real print. I found the Kindle was good for the kind of reading in which I scroll form beginning to end without interruption. It was fine for my summer reads. I ran into problems using the Kindle for slow reading of longer, denser, richer material. Reflective reading requires more deft handling of pages than the Kindle’s buttons can manage. The note-taking functions were limited, preventing simple copy-paste operations from the device to my computer, no doubt due to DRM.

I am still waiting for the invention of an e-reader that surpasses the print codex for slow reading. It may not be possible. Print has one feature that undercuts digital technology: fixity. Fixity is the ability to capture an idea so that it can be read slowly and processed. No message notifications. No clicking away. An e-reader could only mimic this state by turning off all of its digital bells and whistles. For the Kindle to serve the purposes of slow reading, it must become a print book.

There is no question that digital technology is a major driver in the reinvention of libraries. But there is good evidence that it is the books that kept people coming back. The massive restructurings to offer digital services go largely unnoticed by users. This finding may dismay those with a futuristic bent, but it should send a signal to the library administrators and budget makers – avoid Lancaster’s mistake and instead plan for multiple futures of the book, both digital and print. In other words, continue planning around complex information needs, the tradition that has kept libraries thriving through the information age.

A third theme from my research on slow reading found connections with the larger Slow movement. In his book, In Praise of Slow, Carl Honoré documents the rise of Slow Food, an organization that promotes eating fresh local foods produced in season by sustainable farming practices. Honoré’s interest in the Slow Movement began with slow reading. One day in an airport he spotted a newspaper article on a series of condensed fairy tales called The One-Minute Bedtime Story. At first it struck him as brilliant – the cure to his nightly tug-of-war with his son’s demands for more stories – then the absurdity of his fast lifestyle called him to his senses. These days he goes into son’s room, leaving his watch behind and his computer turned off, and slows down to his son’s pace, talking about whatever as they read a story. It has changed from a task to be hurried to a reward to be cherished.

The Slow Food organization promotes local eating, and this theme of locality also fits with slow reading. Libraries have long been considered the physical embodiment of knowledge, the home of shelves of books. Within the library, one can be sure to find every item in the collection catalogued with a specific call number. In this ordered world, information clearly has a location.

The advent of the Web has called this view under scrutiny. Cloud computing, for example, promises a complete separation of physical hardware from it users. Information seems ethereal, transcending the limits of its container or physical embodiment. People tout e-books as a greener alternative. The pitch is good marketing but it caters to a false perception. Digital products occupy physical space, consume physical resources, and fill our dumps. Each megabyte moved across the web consumes energy. The Internet is a large, hungry creature placing a heavy footprint on our planet. The Slow Movement reminds us of the physical nature of our reading.

One day, perhaps, accelerating developments in technology will lead to a merger of human intelligence and machines. Our minds will be engineered to absorb information at an incredible pace and with penetrating depth. There is reason to be doubtful. Will the information mean the same thing? Can it maintain the desirable qualities associated with slowness, such as intimacy and sociability? Reading research suggests that slowness is in fact an important factor in understanding how we read and think.

Carver’s “rauding” theory proposes that we have five “gears” of reading. Unlike the first two gears of scanning and skimming, the third gear, rauding, includes comprehension and it is what we normally think of as reading. The last two gears are learning and memorizing; they are slower and more powerful than rauding. Carver found that most people read at a constant rate, their rauding rate, and it is best for comprehension of relatively easy material. When difficult material is encountered, individuals will temporarily shift down to slower rates of reading.

Reading is work for most of us and difficult for others. Dyslexia is a common cause of involuntary slow reading. Interestingly, dyslexia has a greater than chance association with increased creativity, including geniuses like Thomas Edison and accomplished performers such as Johnny Depp. What would be lost if we could fix dyslexia with surgery or force brains to read faster using technology? Our brains have evolved to use slowness as part of our overall information processing experience. This pattern points to a more fundamental design found throughout creation, the constant oscillation of a process to its opposite, yin-yang fashion, be that neural excitation and inhibition, sowing and reaping, kingdoms rising and falling, or the universe expanding and contracting. As fast as our minds become, ultimately slowness may be required to make the most of reading.

It is often said that a person can only read about five thousand books in a lifetime. It is a small range of books given the accelerating quantity available to us. This limitation might lead some readers to rush their reading, thereby increasing the number of books. This response turns a reader into a tourist, jumping from experience to experience, noting only the highlights, being able to say he or she has done it, though not entirely sure what was done. Another response is to simply and happily acknowledge that life is indeed short, and that our smaller selection of books represents a unique expression of our character. This second choice removes the needless pressure from reading, and restores it as a great pleasure.

What is “Social Reading” and why should Libraries care? – A TTW Guest Post by Allison Mennella

Part 1:  Defining “Social Reading”

“Social reading,” as a concept, is actually quite simple:  people want to share what they have read with other people and receive feedback about their thoughts and ideas.  Technology is the great enabler for social reading, and the natural place for this activity to cultivate.  Social reading has several key characteristics.  First, social reading is an extremely public activity.  Gone are the days of “selfish,” private reading: reading alone in the bathtub, alone under the covers, alone on the couch, alone in the park, etc.  Social reading exists because of the interactions between two or more persons and the text, whether in-person or digitally.  Second, social reading extends the reader’s experience.  It takes the reader out of the book and encourages the reader to make connections, draw conclusions, summarize thoughts, and ask questions in conversation with others.  Social reading helps a book become memorable; it can be a conversation starter between two new friends, or a way to develop online skills like reviewing, recommending, communicating via social media platforms, and exploring what it means to be part of a community of shared interests (both on and off line).  

In that sense, it is important to point out that user-added content is also a crucial aspect of social reading.  Readers must be willing to express their points of view and leave a lasting “impression” on the work whether it is by posting comments on a review board, or leaving notes in the margins of a text, then loaning that book to a friend to read.  Social reading also leads to shared writing and shared thoughts which fosters better idea formation and explanation, than solitary, deep-focus reading (Johnson, et. al, 2011, p. 8).  Finally, social reading “[allows] journeys through worlds real and imagined, undertaken not alone, but in the company with other readers” (Johnson, et. al, 2011, p. 8).  In short, social reading is a way to connect with others and explore thoughts and ideas that might have gone unnoticed in a solitary reading of the text.

Part 2:  Describing “Social Reading” in its various forms

It is now time to examine the various forms of social reading.  The first is the traditional book club.  A traditional book club consists of a group of readers who meet in person, typically once per month, to discuss a specific book in-depth (, 2007).  The demographics of book club members do vary, but typically club members tend to be almost exclusively females and a majority of book club goers are either over sixty-five years old and retired, or mid thirties and forties, and stay-at-home-moms (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 1-2).

There are numerous reasons why people join traditional book clubs.  Perhaps the main motivation is for the social interaction between group members over a common interest (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 3).  People are constantly looking for ways to connect with one another, and the traditional book club setting offers a chance to be part of a real “community” of people who share similar hobbies (Hoffert, 2006, p. 37).  Social reading in a traditional book club has a number of other advantages such as the ability to meet new and interesting people, the opportunity to read things outside of one’s typical repertoire of works, and to receive recommendations and reviews from other avid readers (Lloyd, 2010)

The next form of social reading is the online book club.  An online book club offers several advantages over the traditional book club model.  One advantage is the variety of book clubs available online, many dedicated to a specialized interest, genre, author or series.  Also, online book clubs tend to be more convenient as participation can take place at any time of day (, 2007).  Online book club participants tend to be younger and more varied in demographic than traditional book club attendees.  The description of an online book club participant can often be described as:  “adult reader, primarily female, but also including men, twenty to forty years old, Internet savvy, with at minimum, a medium reading level” (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 7).

People join online book clubs because they are often a motivating and convenient environment to encourage voluntary book reading (Scharber, 2009, p.433).  Joining an online book club can be a great way to ease people into the book discussion format as there is less pressure to participate and participants have the option to remain anonymous until they are comfortable with joining in the discussion.  The 24/7 environment is also more convenient for people who have busy schedules and cannot always make it to a scheduled meeting, or for those who live too far to travel to the meeting destination.  Online book clubs are also great for those who want to have in-depth analysis and discussion about a particular book, genre, author, topic, etc because the online format gives every member ample time to express their points of view without running into the time constraints of a more traditional book club setting (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 3).

Of course, online book clubs are not without flaw.  One major con of online book clubs is the idea of “membership.”  Membership in online book clubs can often be unpredictable and less interactive.  In fact, a majority of readers prefer “to read others’ messages and get reading suggestions without commenting themselves…the majority of online book club members might be looking for readers’ advisory rather than participatory activities” (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 4).  While membership commitment may be an issue for the online book club reader who is looking for stability, many people are perfectly content with the “revolving door” atmosphere of the online book club, and value the ability to come and go as they please.

A healthy mixture of the traditional and online book club has manifested itself through social media platforms designed for cataloging, recording, discussing, recommending, reviewing and searching books that anyone from anywhere is currently reading, has read, or wants to read. “While some readers still get their book recommendations from newspaper reviews or Oprah’s Book Club, increasingly book lovers are turning to their friends and social media contacts for recommendations” (Hartley, 2010).  Social media “has taken reading and sharing literature to the masses, catalyzing conversations and perspectives from eager readers who want to share their thoughts to a broader world” (D’Andrea, 2010, p.11).  Users can post updates, comment on other’s reviews, show appreciation or dissatisfaction for a book through a ratings system or build conversations inside the book itself on these social media sites designed specifically for books (Johns, 2010).

The latest form of social reading is experiencing unprecedented attention from readers and publishers alike and deserves extensive attention. EBooks and eReaders are beginning to challenge the very definition of what constitutes as “reading.”  For example, eBooks are visual, audio, interactive, extremely social, and a relatively new phenomenon that will no doubt begin to see magnificent and significant changes and additions to newer additions.  EBooks have the ability to extend the reader’s experience into the larger world, connect readers with one another, and enable deeper, more collaborative explorations and interpretations of the text (Johnson, et. al, 2011, p. 8). However, it is important to note that eBooks, while wonderful inventions, are only as “social” as the eReader device they are read from.

In order for an eReader to fully maximize the potential of an eBook and promote the concept of social reading, the eReader itself must be fully social.  A great example of an eReader manufacturer that has accounted for the more “social” aspects of eBook reading is the Amazon Kindle.  The Kindle has recently introduced several new features that encourage readers to share their thoughts with other Kindle users around the globe.  The most popular and most controversial feature is called “popular highlights.”  Popular highlights appear as dotted lines under phrases in books that multiple Kindle readers have highlighted (Johnson, 2010).  Popular highlights appear when Kindle users have turned on their “Public Notes” feature.  This feature lets Kindle users choose to make their book notes and highlights available for other to see.  Now, any Kindle user can choose to share their thoughts on book passages and ideas with friends, family members, colleagues, and the great Kindle community of people who love to read.  This is a new way for readers to share their enthusiasm and knowledge about books and get more from the books they read. (Dilworth, 2011).

Another newly added social feature is called “Before you Go.”  This application prompts users to not only rate a finished eBook on a 5-star scale, but to share their thoughts on the book with their social networks (Facebook and Twitter).  Recommendations for future eBook reads are also provided at this stage (Dredge, 2011).  Finally, the Kindle has also introduced a “lending” function that allows readers to share the book with a friend after completing it (Cain Miller, 2011).  Friends that borrow the book will be able to see the previous readers’ notes, comments and ratings, making the read a more personal, social experience.

Of course, not everyone is touting praises for the Kindle’s new social updates.  Many argue that features like public notes take the privacy out of reading, because “not only is the e-book not yours to be with alone, it is shared at Amazon which shares with you what it knows about you reading and the readings of others.  And lets you know that you are what you underline, which is only a number in a mass of popular views” (Codrescu, 2011).  Others worry that popular highlights will perpetuate “compulsive skimming, linking and multitasking” that will “undermine the deep, immersive focus that has defined book culture for centuries” (Johnson, 2010).  Finally, some accuse eBooks and eReaders of stripping the reader of a nostalgic and valuable experience that occurs with physical books, claiming “books that we’ve known and handled often have a personal, physical connection to the past that e-books won’t be able to capture” (Ng, 2010), noting that connections are made between reader and book based on components like the cover, spine, colors, paper type and fonts.  Because the Kindle is so much less personalized, in their opinion, some worry that the purpose of books and the reading experience itself will be lost.

No matter which side of the argument a reader falls on, the popularity of the Kindle, and other eReader devices like the Barnes and Noble “Nook,” the Sony eReader, and the Kobo are certainly worth noting.  With consistent additions and improvements being made to the eReading experience, libraries are and should continue to monitor the ways in which eReading and its social capabilities will affect current and future aspects of the patron-book relationship fostered through the library.

To conclude this section, my ideal social reading experience would encompass all four of the above mentioned forums.  I would create a book club that met in person once a month.  I would use GoodReads as an online portal for the book club to facilitate structured dialogue about the book as the readers progressed through the story.  I would encourage the book club members to create and maintain profiles on the social networking site, GoodReads, so that members of the group can get to know one another and receive recommendations, reviews and ratings from the fellow members.  Also, I would encourage members to read the book via the Kindle or eReader, highlighting passages along the way and making their notes public so other members of the group could read the “instant,” thoughts of other readers.  I would also pick a Twitter hashtag for the book so that members can tweet relevant passages, discussion points, thoughts, or questions in real-time.  The physical book club meeting would focus more on overall impressions of the book and discuss questions that members brought up through the month that may have gone unanswered.  Mixing these four mediums would absolutely create the ultimate social reading experience.

Part 3:  Discussing Libraries and Social Reading

Libraries are in a unique position as they have the ability to both encourage and stifle social reading depending on their openness to the concept.  In order to avoid the later scenario, libraries must take a greater look at what makes social reading a successful and necessary component of the reading experience.

One of the biggest factors for successful implementation of social reading in the library is the participation of librarians and the willingness to adopt, work with, and, in some cases, develop Web 2.0 tools to assist in facilitation of social reading scenarios.  There are essentially three steps that librarians can follow in order to promote and create thriving social reading experiences in their libraries.

Step 1:  Develop a social network, online, so that the social reading experience can continue away from the physical building

To increase both the library’s appeal and stress its value to users, libraries should consider implementing customizable and participatory services for social reading.  There are a number of ways to accomplish the creation of this social space from designing blogs, podcasts, a wiki or even using an existing social media platform like GoodReads.  The key is to build and maintain a site that uses moderated trust to give patrons a voice in this social space.  If possible, libraries should give patrons the opportunity to design and manage their own “space” within the library’s broader social platform.  In doing this, libraries will encourage user participation, a crucial component in Library 2.0 and the backbone of successful social reading.  Ways to encourage user participation includes allowing: “customizable interfaces, tag creation, and the [ability to] write reviews, or provide ratings of materials…” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.14).  The creation of this online space and the presence of user participation will help create a strong foundation for online social reading to occur in the library.

Step 2:  Encourage patrons to start book clubs of their own that use both the physical library and/or the library website or social network as a meeting space

As Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk (2007) point out in their book, Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service, patrons enjoy a mix of the traditional and newer services of Library 2.0 (8).  There is much to be said about the ability to meet in person to discuss a book versus “meeting” strictly online.  Libraries must be willing to hold on to the more traditional elements of their service models while supplementing these features with electronic resources and updated ways of thinking about and promoting reading.

Step 3:  Encourage participation from everyone

Book clubs traditionally provide a place for people to discuss “the hits,” in other words, the books that are very popular.  The social reading experience, however, aims to include the “long tail” of readers—those who enjoy the “non-hits”—which will always be great than those who prefer the “hits” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.64).   Social reading, especially in an online space or via an eReader like the Amazon Kindle, allows people who are part of the long tail to connect and discuss their niche subjects in more depth (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.67).  Librarians must be willing to encourage participation from all users—new, existing, inactive and unfamiliar—in order to provide a wide variety of social reading groups for readers to join.

One way of accomplishing this is to allow everyone the ability to create a reading group for virtually any topic within both the physical and virtual library setting.  Likewise, the long-tail aspect of social reading could be maintained through the purchase and lending of eReader devices like the Amazon Kindle that allow readers to follow their favorite books and see the highlights and notes from other people who have also read the book and have similar shared interests.  Providing patrons with appropriate and varied ways to connect with others to discuss a text should be a main goal of libraries seeking to enhance and enrich the social reading experience for their patrons.

Part 5:  Determining the future of social reading

To conclude, social reading has been predicted to develop drastically over the next five years.  One of the biggest changes in development is that literary content will become more dynamic and retrievable, especially through the use of eReaders and eBooks.  With the eBook in high demand, libraries need to recognize that social reading is not just a trend, but rather a shift in preference.  In order to stay abreast of this cultural shift, libraries will need to play an important role in the distribution and promotion of social reading via traditional, online, and eReader spaces in order to enhance the user experience and evaluate the staying power and usefulness of different forms of social reading.  With the ubiquity of technology, libraries have many tools at their disposal to create, maintain and develop new and existing avenues of social reading.  While no one can predict the future of the book, or new forms of social reading, libraries can “maintain the momentum of change” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.xxv) and prepare themselves and their patrons for what’s to come.


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Johnson, S. (2010, June 19). Yes, people still read, but now it’s social. The New York Times  (Online), Retrieved from

Lloyd, D. (2010, February 25). Five reasons to join a book club. Huffington Post, Retrieved from

Ng, C. (2010, May 14). When we go digital, what happens to the flyleaf? [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Scharber, C. (2009). Online book clubs: bridges between old and new literacies practices. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(5), Retrieved from Academic Search Premier doi: 10.1598/JAAL.52.5.7

Thanks to Allison for sharing this paper she wrote for LIS768. Download the full length paper for LIS768 here:

Allison Mennella currently works for the Naperville Public Library in the Community Services Department.  She will receive her MLIS from Dominican University in December 2011.  Allison’s is interested in library advocacy and promotion as well as community engagement.  She hopes to use her passion in Social Media Marketing for creating new and innovative ways to connect community members to the public library.


Fascinating and brilliant post by Sarah Glassmeyer. Please take a look:…..

I also think, that given the weak negotiating position that libraries are in, it’s too confrontational.  I think a better way would be to include the Rights and Responsibilities of all participants in the information consumption chain.   I’ll be thinking about this more and trying to fill in the pieces myself, but here’s a rough idea:

I see four principle players:  Information Consumers (patrons), Information Creators (Authors), Information Distributors (publishers, other vendors) and Information Guardians (I had a hard time coming up with a term for this…Information Maintainers, Information Collectors, Information Preservers, Information Farmers…nothing seemed to adequately cover all that libraries do. The parallels between farmers and librarians is another post for another day, but trust me it’s there.)  Information Consumers have the right to expect much of what was said in the eBook User Bill of Rights.  But they also have a responsibility to respect the Intellectual property of creators and distributors.  Information Creators and Distributors have a right to make money from the Information business.  But they also have a responsibility to engage in fair business practices. Information Guardians have a right to preserve, protect and reuse information (within the bounds of the other rules.)   It’s going to have to be a balancing act and everyone involved will have to give and take a little. Libraries cannot simply demand to be heard anymore.


Thank you Harper Collins (for making the path forward a little clearer)

Note from Michael – I’m deep in two projects today  and tomorrow and haven’t had much time to catch up on the hubub with Harper Collins and ebooks. I can say that I agree with Justin’s take on the potential and promise of promoting content creation, access to technology and building the community memory (whatever community it might be – civic, academic, education) as a big part of our future in libraries. I appreciate Justin’s hard work and insights.


The news about HarperCollins placing loaning caps on ebooks in the Overdrive catalog—known as #hcod on Twitter—gobbled up my Twitter feed last Friday afternoon.  On one hand, I knew some publisher was going to pull this stunt, so I wasn’t shocked. On the other, I learned two things about libraries and the profession in general.

First, the lending-digital-goods jig is up. With DRM, publishers have found a way to cut out libraries and used booksellers. This kind of greed is absurd when you consider how much business libraries give the major book publishers. The average annual teen book budget I’ve worked with over the years at a few different libraries is $20,000—and that’s often one of the smaller pieces of the pie. Adult public library book budgets for systems serving upwards of a million people range from a cool $1 to $2 million. And let’s remember: libraries don’t ever return books. The obvious solution to the HarperCollins slight is to stop buying its wares. The lack of library cash flow will speak loudly. Also, no more booktalking HC’s backlist or generating word of mouth, the rumored force behind best sellers. You’re grooming your next Neil Gaiman, HC? Wonderful! Good luck making him or her a star without our readers advisors and community centers, where people can talk about what their discovering in the stacks.

Now, let’s all quit being shocked that the ebook loaning cap happened and take the long view of digital goods in libraries. Two of the so-called Big Six book publishers already refuse to lend ebooks to libraries, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. Overdrive, the vendor involved in the HC incident, is a pile of garbage in terms of usability. Don’t believe me? Read this comic.

Tell me you haven’t run into this problem before. As a Teen Librarian, I’m working with the one-click-and-the-file-saves-to-your-computer generation. Do they use Overdrive now? No. Will they later? Doubtful, if the interface and DRM remain. Does this bode well for the future of library services and literacy? For an answer, look at what’s happened with digital music products for libraries. Like ebooks, they are locked up in crazy DRM or come with an insanely high price tag. Let’s not even get into databases.

ZT IPv6 software tool: try this calculator

The second thing I learned from this incident is that the library world is terrible at advocating for itself. DRM and greedy publishers are here to stay. No number of tweets, emails, or blog posts is going to change their minds. If HC and other publishers in their wake want to cut us out of the ebook market, let them—it gives us a chance to do what we need to do, that is, reinvent ourselves. REVOLUTION!

What do I mean by “revolution”? Let’s use this slap in the face as an opportunity to make libraries modern institutions. For a while now, we’ve loaned popular materials like DVDs in our communities. To many people, libraries are like free versions of Blockbuster. Meanwhile, our unique local collections are hidden away, either hard to browse or physically out of reach. Instead of giving patrons access to cutting-edge technology they can use to create original works and teaching them how to use it, we give them basic Internet connections so they can watch YouTube clips and Facebook themselves into oblivion. We’ve become lazy, boring; extensions of people’s living rooms, essentially. 

And now that we’re being squeezed out of lending popular materials like ebooks, what do we lend out?  The answer is simple: we turn to our community to create the content that we collect.  We “check out” distinctive experiences and educational opportunities to our patrons instead of the Twilight saga ad nauseam. We become the go-to place for people to record music, film movies, write original stories, and do anything else creative, educational, and life-improving.

We then take these works and make like libraries and catalog, store, and share them. Sure, we may only have one or two ebook copies of James Patterson’s crapfest, but look at the awesome content we’re encouraging our community to create! The best part? It’s one-of-a-kind material that we can now share easily with the world. The other rad part? We’re empowering our patrons to become creators instead of consumers.

Finally, the first person to say, “But my library doesn’t have the money to do this kind of stuff!” in the comments section loses. It’s easy. 

As for my take on DRM, cut and paste what Cory Doctorow has said and put it in my mouth because I feel the exact same way. It’s a bad, ugly thing. His post on the #hcod debacle was brilliant from start to finish, but this chunk of gooey goodness keeps on repeating in my mind:

And that’s why libraries should just stop buying DRM media for their collections. Period. It’s unsafe at any speed.  I mean it. When HarperCollins backs down and says, “Oh, no, sorry, we didn’t mean it, you can have unlimited ebook checkouts,” the libraries’ answers should be “Not good enough. We want DRM-free or nothing.” Stop buying DRM ebooks. Do you think that if you buy twice, or three times, or ten times as many crippled books that you’ll get more negotiating leverage with which to overcome abusive crap like this? Do you think that if more of your patrons come to rely on you for ebooks for their devices, that DRM vendors won’t notice that your relevance is tied to their product and tighten the screws?

Cory’s got it right: stop giving them our money. Instead of buying 80 copies of Dan Brown’s bound schlock, buy some cheap netbooks, toss on some open-source software that will turn patrons into creators, and lend them out. Invest in your community instead of bleeding time and money on ebook garbage.

In no way am I the first person to ever say something along these lines:
Thank you DOK Library Concept Center and Eli Neiburger (watch #1 and #2)

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Are we ready?

Joshua Kim has a nice piece on reading with a Kindle:

But if Amazon is smart, and Bezos seems very smart to me, than I’m sure that the Kindle experience will continue to improve. We are not there yet, but the end of the future of the printed book format is in sight. The printed book will continue to live on, as either a high-end speciality item (as a tactile object and work of art) and a low-end mass market item, but the center for the printed book cannot hold. By the time my kids are both in college (2017), the majority of new book sales will be digital.

Is your campus ready for this transition?

Universities, K-12 and libraries are all grappling with this question of transition. I’m excited to see what happens.

My reading has changed with the Kindle app on my iPad as well as Instapaper. I’m also having a bit of technolust about adding the new Kindle to my options for e-reading. :-)