Michael Stephens at Tame the Web points to an upcoming service called BookSwim that will launch the 1st quarter of 2007. Basically they're going to do the NetFlix thing for books - for a subscription fee (amount unknown), you can enter your name in a queue for one of their 80,000 titles and they'll ship you the book to read. Keep it as long as you like, then ship it back (no cost to you either way, other than your subscription fee).
I'm conflicted. I'm definitely not their target market, as I'm a heavy user of the local public library system, which has an excellent collection. Maybe for the rural folk? So maybe it's a good idea, but will it work as well as NetFlix? Aren't DVDs a lot cheaper to ship than books would be? And storing inventory will be a challenge with books - they're all different sizes, unlike DVDs. BookSwim has a brochure (PDF) that compares their model with that of traditional bookstores and libraries and has a few iffy claims (their books are always in excellent condition while libraries are at best "good" condition - not sure how they'll guarantee that one unless they're replacing worn books).
I don't think I'm knocking it just 'cause I'm a librarian; I don't feel threatened, and I think I think it's a good idea. Just not sure it's going to fly. Keep an eye on 'em.
Technorati Tags: Libraries, Netflix
I'm on the board of editors for the Journal of Access Services, and one of my roles is of course to drum up business. There's a special issue coming up you might want to consider: Best Practices in Access Services. Laurie the Librarian has all the details. Deadline is Feb 1, 2007.
Technorati Tags: JAS
Rich at eContent has pointed to two interesting sources of free books in the past week. The first is to a site called FreeLoad Press that sounds really familiar, but I didn't blog it before so I must've not seen it before ;-) From the site: "Thanks to our sponsors, you can "freeload" e-textbooks and study aids for some of your college courses in Business, Math and Computer Applications." I haven't had a chance to look past the list of titles, but Rich says there are ads on the first page of each book, but that's it. If you're supporting students in Business, Math or Computer Applications, you might want to have a look.
The second post is about WikiBooks, "a collection of free, open-content textbooks that you can edit." Interestingly, a number of these books are also available as a downloadable PDF. You can still edit these books, but there's a disclaimer that, "The HTML files show the current state of the book - the PDF Editions are often out of date relative to the HTML files." Very interesting.
Technorati Tags: eBooks, wikis
CLA today announced that Canada Post will extend the current Book Rate until January 2008. That's great, though what actually impacts my department is the last little paragraph in the press release (PDF) that reads:
Recognizing that some smaller libraries have had challenges in implementing the new electronic tools, Canada Post has also extended the deadline for libraries to convert to electronic tools from September 30, 2006 to January 15, 2007.I don't think it was the smaller libraries that have had challenges, I think it was the bigger libraries that kept finding their address books deleted! Regardless of the reason, it's great to have a little extra wiggle room to find the best way to implement the electronic shipping tools into a distance-delivery workflow!
Business Week and BoingBoing both alerted me to the fact that you can now download public domain books in their entirety from Google Book Search! I haven't visted GBS for a while, but when I went to check it out tonight I see that there's a new search option radio button to limit to Full View titles. If you choose this and run a search, you'll get material that the publisher has made available in its entirety, but not available for download, and you'll also get the downloadable public domain stuff. I chose a title that turned out to have been scanned from the New York Public Library - Conversations on Canada: Written for the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society. I see someone's blurry fingers on a couple of early pages, and then nothing but nice clean PDF scans. Turns out, despite what the BusinessWeek article says, the PDFs are not text-searchable (at least the two I tried weren't). Google attempts a little education by including the following disclaimer as the first page of each downloaded book:
This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project to make the world’s books discoverable online.Neat!
It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that’s often difficult to discover.
Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book’s long journey from the publisher to a library and finally to you.
Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.
We also ask that you:
+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.
+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google’s system: If you are conducting research on machine translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.
+ Maintain attribution The Google “watermark” you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it.
+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can’t offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book’s appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.
About Google Book Search
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers discover the world’s books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web at http://books.google.com/
Sarah passes on a great idea from Helene Blowers to use Amazon Library Processing to ship books to the end user, and when s/he's done, the book will be returned to the library and thus be entered into the circulating collection. I like that idea a lot. It's very similar to what we've been trying to do in COPPUL, which is get a direct delivery project off the ground. Cut out the middleman library when a distance student requests an item that ends up being filled by another consortial library. Instead of the U of A shipping to the U of C, then us ship to our student, we'd love for the U of A to be able to ship directly to our student. But hey, if we're going to buy the item, why not have Amazon ship directly to them, since the book's completely pre-processed. Of course any of the library vendors could offer this as an option, but Amazon seems to have the stock and the ability to ship quickly. Anyone know if they're as fast for library-processed material as they are for "normal" stuff? Near as I can tell, Library Processing isn't available (yet?) from Amazon.ca
Technorati Tags: document_delivery, Amazon, Libraries
Amit posts about a new product/service called PrinterAnywhere (beta), that allows one to send a print job to any printer that's connected to an online WinXP computer. Interesting idea. Got an international student? Why not send a print job consisting of a requested document directly to her printer? The service is free, but requires Windows XP on both ends - we run Win2K here, so I can't try it, and the website is just amateur enough that I'd hesitate recommending that you try it, but if you want to, it's there.
Technorati Tags: document_delivery
Michelle at Western Michigan University has a very brief survey on how your students access Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery systems at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=120282309518. It's only 8 questions long - can you take a moment to fill it out for her?
Technorati Tags: document_delivery, surveys
My penultimate post from last week's Off Campus Library Services Conference. Ellen Safley took us on a tour of her institution's exploration of E-book usage. Apparently there will be four new ebook appliances on the market in 06/07:
One or more of these promise to use a USB port to add titles from a computer—any PDF file - wouldn't that be nice? I'll believe it when I see it :-)
NetLibrary was one of the first purchases, and UTD librarians expressed the usual complaints about passwords, one simultaneous user only, one page printing, and limited copy/paste.
Next up was ebrary, which has a subscription model, no selection needed, more generous printing, no passwords. UTD librarians feel the ebrary supplied bib records have “issues”, and they note that ebrary passes off journal issues as e-books. But the best quote of the conference was from Ellen, who noted that “In all my years as a reference librarian, I’ve never had a patron complain that ‘I don’t like the quality of your bib record!’”
They also looked at Safari TechBooks the History Ebook project, and something called EBL. With EBL, titles are handpicked, good statistical package, bib records from OCLC, reserve module, Service Fee, 325 uses each year – when you reach the limit, you need another copy.
Helen offered the following essentials when examining ebook products:
It was interesting to note that while UTD librarians reported that lots of people didn't like NetLibrary, it has shown a steady increase in usage since 1999, and Ellen suggested that librarian perceptions were muddying the picture. Since they often dealt with the password and printing problems with NetLibrary, they assumed the product was no good and nobody liked it, but the statistics suggest otherwise.
Similarly, ebarary statistics showed a 129% increase from year 1 to year 2.
Ellen notes that it's impossible to directly compare use of ebooks with print, (How did they use each format? Did they open the book? Checkouts do not always equate to use. How long are students using each ebook? Reading vs Factual Information.) we do know the rate is increasing!!! As an illustration, she showed a slide that the top-circulating ebook was "checked out" 47 times in a month, and the top print book was 1.4 times.
And now for the payoff - the impact of ebooks on distance learning:
Ellen's ppt is available here.
Any readers in Europe should be pleased about the just announced European Digital Library:
The European Commissions’ plan to promote digital access to Europe’s heritage is rapidly taking shape. At least six million books, documents and other cultural works will be made available to anyone with a Web connection through the European Digital Library over the next five years. In order to boost European digitisation efforts, the Commission will co-fund the creation of a Europe-wide network of digitisation centres. The Commission will also address, in a series of policy documents, the issue of the appropriate framework for intellectual property rights protection in the context of digital libraries.