Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Publishing Trends Blog Has Moved

We have integrated the Publishing Trends blog into our new website. Check it out here.
Blog posts are denoted with a mouse symbol and "Exclusive Online Content."
Hope you will enjoy having everything in one place! We will be taking this blog down soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

IDPF Digital Book 2009: Forget DRM

The afternoon panels and presentations at yesterday's International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) Digital Book 2009 were filled with promises of impending hardware and software innovations. Sony Director of Business Development Bob Nell talked about the number of outlets that will be selling the Sony Reader next Christmas--6,000, which is double last year's number--and hinted that wireless and Mac-compatible readers are on the horizon. Adobe's Nick Bogaty demonstrated how the latest version of CS4 allows direct (and reflowable) ePub export from InDesign. Lexcycle's Neelan Choksi showed Stanza's true range--the iPhone app comes in 12 languages, 21 fonts, and a stunning 135 font colors, plus background textures--and its 1.8 million users come from 60 countries.

But the major theme of all the talks was--ultimately, and appropriately--the consumer. As Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blogger Sarah Wendell put it, what all readers want is a device that is "durable, flexible, accessible, affordable....[Readers] can help you grow the digital book market if you stop creating obstacles for them."

One current obstacle, said panelists at "Emerging eBook Business Models...and the Role of DRM," is DRM. Here's what Andrew Savikas, VP of Digital Initiatives at O'Reilly, had to say.

Direct book sales through O'Reilly's website make up 10% of its business, and most of those sales are digital books. When customers buy eBooks directly through the site, they receive free lifetime updates--and the books are DRM-free. Meanwhile, because of those benefits, O'Reilly has been able to sustain an eBook price that is 80% of the print book price.

Best of all, eBook sales have impacted print sales positively. For example, O'Reilly offers its book iPhone: The Missing Manual by David Pogue as an iPhone app, a printed book, and an eBook. When O'Reilly raised the app's price, fewer people bought the app AND sales of the printed book on Amazon fell. When O'Reilly lowered the app's price, people bought more copies of both the app and the printed book.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our New Website!

Our new website is up...and lovely, if we do say so ourselves.

The address is the same. Check it out at

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hands Across the Ocean

On Shakespeare’s birthday, it seems only fitting to talk about the London Book Fair and what it suggests re book publishing’s future. It was, as others have said a smaller fair than in recent years, and there were noticeably fewer Americans, with some publishers (viz Random, Scholastic) represented only by their sub rights people.

A focus of the fair became – whether by design or default – the US/UK continuum. There were panels on what, how much and how Americans read vis-à-vis their British brethren (who are slightly likelier to be so, rather than sistren). London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, noted that London has twice the numbers of bookstores as New York, and made fun of Americans for being poor practitioners of the English language.

Meanwhile, on the floor of the exhibit hall and in the International Rights Center, the tug of war between the UK and their US counterparts continued apace and as the traditional channels shrink, the debate will only intensify. It was easy when a publisher bought a book, and if it owned them, sold rights around the world, and territories were recognized – and recognizable. Nowadays, if the UK and US publisher belong to the same corporation, one edition comes out in the UK, and finds its way to Europe. If not, then increasingly two editions vie for shelfspace. Publisherslunch refers to an article in Deutsche Welle about English language books, noting “One reason US and UK publishers are fighting over export rights is the fast rise in sales of English-language books in Germany, where the Booksellers' Association says market share has doubled to 3 percent over the past five years.”

In a digital world, all bets are off. Who – the publisher(s), the etailer(s), the ebook reader(s) platform -- controls which territory? Who controls the online marketing of a p- or ebook? What about the publisher’s niche sites, created to attract teens or science fiction fans, or romance readers? When does its oversite reside with the local publisher, and when does it become part of the corporate strategy? It’s one more thing for US publishers to fight with their UK colleagues over – and vice versa. Ironically, though US publishers often have (or had, in an era before draconian cuts) larger biz dev budgets for online initiatives, the UK is ahead of the US in certain key areas, like mobile usage.

Retro though it is in the digital realm, perhaps it’s still important for publishers working on all aspects of the business to remember that besides Shakespeare, this is also World Book & Copyright Day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Ultimate Publishing Blogroll

We are compiling a giant list of publishing blogs for the May issue of Publishing Trends. We'll also be posting it online and constantly updating it on our BRAND NEW WEBSITE (coming very soon, stay tuned!) What are your favorite publishing blogs? Whether they are about books, design, or writing or are from publishing houses or literary agencies, e-mail them to me or list them in the comments.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cuba is (not) book country

Last week a group of publishing folk, moonlighting as humanitarian aid workers, invaded Cuba. We spent the week in Havana and its environs and – because it was the 10th Havana Art Biennial – found ourselves immersed in a vibrant city-wide exhibition that focused on third world and Latino artists.

Havana is a mass of contradictions – beautiful colonial architecture backing on to dusty, crumbling buildings; state run bookstores that are almost empty of books and people, down the street from a thriving Mondadori store geared to tourists; eager and articulate locals who admit they are cut off from the “real world,” while continuing to refer un(self)consciously to 1959 as the “triumph of the revolution.”

Though we were interested in meeting with Cuban writers and understanding the contemporary literary scene, writing is, as it happens, the least developed of Cuba’s remarkably sophisticated cultural cache. The visual arts – paintings, photography, sculpture, graphic arts – are well represented, even in non-biennial years, and subversive political content seems “allowed,” if within limits. Music is everywhere, and Cuban dance companies – modern, classical and Spanish flamenco – are world-renowned, in part because dancers get to perform outside of Cuba. (Six dancers had recently defected while performing in Mexico, though we were told this would not have an effect on the group’s future touring.)

But books and writing in general suffer from the gatekeeper syndrome: how can you find an audience unless your efforts are correct enough to be acceptable to the retailers who – with the single exception of the tourist store on the Plaza de Armas, which is stocked with Stephen King, Isabel Allende and Dostoevsky, among others – are state-owned? Though some publishers, like that run by the Union of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC), are “non-governmental” and have an independent editorial board consisting of union members, the distinction is moot when books are sold through sanctioned retailers and all media are also controlled by the state. And in a world where the internet is closely regulated (there is a state-wide “intranet” system, but computers are prohibitively expensive for most Cubans), modern options like POD or ebooks are of course nonexistent. As a result, books published in Cuba are of decreasing interest to its inhabitants, with the typical printing running between 1,000 and (occasionally) 5,000. Nor can people go to libraries to find something to read, as these too are government-run, and seem to have few contemporary books or indeed books of any vintage. (A school library we visited had mostly yellowing textbooks, dictionaries, and propaganda – and nine dog-eared copies of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, in Scribner paperbacks vintage 1965.)

Indeed, a union member explained that books are not published simply to provide entertainment, but rather (as one of our guides put it) to promote “real values.” But commercial fare is nevertheless available: at an artist’s kiosk in the Capitol Building, a Spanish language copy of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons was spied and in the state-run bookstore we visited, there were, in addition to Che and Fidel speeches, a lot of books by Danielle Steel, Nicholas Sparks, Elizabeth George and Michael Crichton, as well as a (fairly recent) biography of Sigourney Weaver!

Still, there is an annual International Festival of Poetry in Havana, and the Cuba International Book Festival draws publishers from Latin America and elsewhere. Initially also a Havana fair, it was, apparently, Fidel’s idea to make the event a national celebration so that all Cubans could meet authors – and pitch their books to publishers. His suggestion that fairs be held simultaneously across the island was impractical – it was difficult for authors who might want to visit their home towns, but still participate in the hubbub of the Havana fair – and now the festival travels throughout the country on successive days, thereby allowing authors to travel around the country, courtesy of the state. Rights to some books are sold abroad at this fair, and some publishers attend other fairs as well. Authors receive a portion of the royalties -- small, according to UNEAC representatives, though they’re lobbying the government to increase it. To access UNEAC’s site, go to

Above: Hemingway’s typewriter at his estate, Finca Vigia. No books are available in any language at the gift shop. T-shirts, random CDs and postcards, however, are.

This is Lorraine Shanley’s second – but not last – trip to Cuba. Thanks to fellow travelers Bill Goldstein for suggesting the title and for editing this posting, and to Harold Weinberg for the photograph of Hemingway’s Corona.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Publishing Trends, April 2009

Just posted on the Publishing Trends website, new content from our April 2009 issue:

April Book View

Book Clubs: They're Alive.
Depending on whom you ask, liberal and conservative readers are both underserved audiences, and the Progressive Book Club and Conservative Book Club seek to fill the respective gaps. David Rosen, editor of PBC, and Elizabeth Kantor, editor of CBC, say their book clubs are necessary because they are reaching out to readers who can't find the books they want to read anywhere else.

What's the Story with Bookspan?
Despite its sale by the Bertelsmann Group to Najafi Companies last year, Bookspan's 21 book clubs (including Book-of-the-Month Club, Doubleday Book Club, Quality Paperback Club, and Literary Guild) still exist. Given the company's tumultuous past few years, how has it held up?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Publishers Are Scarce at SXSW

Book publishers--and agents--are scarce at SXSW’s Interactive Festival, and when they do show up, they’re not always treated with love and respect (see Booksquare's "New Think? Not So Much"), but at worst it’s a love-hate relationship between the digital crowd and the page turners. At best--and there is a bright side--it’s because this crowd (about 9,000 of them) loves books and wants publishers to do with them what digital creatives have been able to do to movies, music, comics, art, games, and many other aspects of life--enhance it in ways that makes it smarter, more intuitive, faster, more responsive.

The few publishers at SXSW include several from Penguin, which hosted an inadvertently raucous panel that pitted a group of publishers against an angry crowd of bloggers, authors, and digerati. The panel included Clay Shirky and Bloomsbury’s Peter Miller as well as the two Penguins, Ivan Held and John Fagan, who--to give them credit--chose to come to Austin because they knew they should engage with this group. In the audience were a few others, including Taunton’s Don Linn. Several more are also at SXSW, but given the amount of book talk here, it's amazing what a disconnect there is between the book talk and the book publishers present. Nate Silver, in his interview with Stephen Baker (The Numerati), mentioned Irrational Exuberance and Nixonland. Silver is also writing (okay, he admitted, still outlining) a book for, ironically, Penguin Press. A panel of teenagers assembled by Anastasia of Ypulse revealed that, despite being obsessed with iPhones, Xboxes, and MySpace/Facebook, they are readers too--Stephen King, J. D. Salinger, Watchmen, Joe Haldeman--all read as p- or e-books, depending on where they can get them fast and free.

There are also dozens of author signings, right in the middle of the trade show, where B&N has set up a ministore. Oh, and lots of authors, including Jeff Howe, Chris Rettstatt, Guy Kawasaki, Sloane Crosley--in a range of categories, from fantasy, business, marketing, to futurist, and humor books--have long lines of fans.

But the point is not just that there are books are readers here in Austin; the point is that there are creative people who are blogging, tweeting, composing, developing, and conceptualizing in a remarkable variety of areas that could both inform publishing and out of which brilliant and marketable books could emerge. Why isn’t the book world in this glorious playpen?

If you are a book publisher who's at SXSW this year, let us know in the comments.

Friday, March 13, 2009

From Production to Interaction

For those of us who are in the business of keeping abreast of industry trends, this week will rank as one of the busiest, filled with all manner of diverting events.

It started tamely enough with the American Book Producers Association's annual conference, which had actually been moved from the end of last year to March 10 in hopes of attracting a larger crowd (it did). As usual, the morning sessions were devoted to walking members through the nuts and bolts of the business, but in the afternoon, two panels brought a group of publishers and consulting types on to the stage to opine. In the first panel HarperCollins' Carolyn Pittis got a discussion on "The Internet and Electronic Publishing" going. Everyone had a story to share, including Seth Radwell, recently of Scholastic, who talked about a survey he's been involved with on converting readers to ebook buyers. It shows that the barriers to ebook purchase are cost (61%) and lack of experience with the product (57%), followed by two lesser issues personal preferences (40%) and convenience (37%), resulting in only 1% of the 55% of those aware of ebooks actually completing a purchase. However, 'Try it, you'll like it' is true -- more than a third of those who tried, bought. The digital panel was followed by a "Trends in Publishing" panel, where Bob Miller, David Steinberger, Doug Pocock and Don Weisberg shared their insights about dealing with the changing landscape (stressing focus/niche/quality) after Google's Roland Lange had attempted to turn the panel into yet another informercial for Google Book Search.

That subject was front and center on March 11 at the annual AAP meeting, which included a demo of the new Google Books Registry ( along with an interview with Google's Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond. But with Bill Clinton as the surprise speaker, it was hard to concentrate on much else. Still, John Sargent said a fond farewell to AAP CEO Pat Schroeder, but not before ribbing her for signing her name at the bottom of letters, accompanied by a smiley face. (Is it a surprise that she's retiring to Celebration, Florida?)

Now comes the interactive side of the week -- South By Southwest, where developers, social networkers, and the occasional publisher will mingle in between panels on "Online Comic Books," "Remixing the Museum Exhibition" and "SEO for Startups." Penguin is throwing a party for Clay Shirkey right after a panel on "New Think for Old Publishers," and Sourcebooks' Dominique Raccah will undoubtedly be hanging out with Taunton's Don Linn, Cookstr's Will Schwalbe and Fourth Story Media's Lisa Holton -- all old (or ex-) publishers who think very, very new.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Twitter Trends on Trend Central

Trend Central is a great site that covers up and coming people and trends in music, lifestyle, entertainment, and media. Today their topic is what's new with Twitter, including:

Twitter Branding: Want to check out how the competition is using Twitter? A new directory of tweeting brands, Twitter Tracker, compiles real-time updates from companies using the service, such as Whole Foods, JetBlue, and Starbucks.
Check out the full list here. You can also sign up to have their short trend newsletters e-mailed to you daily.

Friday, March 6, 2009

How TSTC Publishing Uses Twitter

Since our article on how book publishers should be using Twitter, some other publishers have chimed in with their own experiences. Here's Mark Long, publisher of TSTC Publishing in Texas, on how Twitter can help small companies track larger trends:

"For me, I think the best part of Twitter is being able to engage in the ongoing 'conversation' about the publishing industry . . . something I wouldn't be able to do face to face as we're based in Waco, Texas. We follow bookstores, bookstore buyers, sales reps, freelance consultants, and, of course, other publishers. It's a great way to stay in the loop of what's happening in the industry all over the country (and beyond) and not just working in a vacuum in our own office. And, it's nice to be able to drop these folks a line periodically to ask (and answer on our own end as well) questions that crop up that are pretty specific that nobody we know around here could address.

"Plus, given that I was really interested in publishing long before I began working in it, I think Twitter is a good way to get a sense of the day-to-day realities of the industry. (It's certainly not long martini lunches . . . although we do eat at On The Border pretty regularly with folks.) I was a college English teacher for about 10 years and I like Twittering in the sense that it gives our graphics and editorial interns an idea of what goes on outside of the specific work they do for us as well so there is that teaching/informing aspect to it."

Follow TSTC Publishing on Twitter at @tstcpublishing and read the company's blog here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Twitter article posted!

Thanks to all who helped us with our Twitter article. The March issue is now out, and you can read it here:

Plus, check out Chelsea Green's amazing Twitter story here--they're a great model for how a publishing company can use Twitter successfully.

We'll be continuing the Twitter discussion here on the blog--stay tuned!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Publishers and Twitter

The feature article in our March issue will be about how book publishers can use Twitter--which, as Chris Brogan says, is an increasingly important business tool. We would love to include input from blog readers in the article. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, via e-mail, or, of course, on Twitter.

Do you and/or your company use Twitter?
If you do, what has your experience been like?
If you don't use Twitter, why not?
How do you think book publishers should be using Twitter? Do you follow any book publishers on Twitter? Whose Tweets do you like, and why?
Any great Twitter business stories to share?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

5 Things We Learned About Teens at TOC

At TOC on Wednesday afternoon, we attended "Youth and Creativity: Emerging Trends in Self-expression and Publishing," a session by Evangeline Haughney (Adobe) and Bill Westerman (Create with Context). They hung out with real teenagers in their homes to get a look at their creative processes. When choosing which teens to follow, they looked for those who were creative, but not necessarily planning to go into art or design after high school. They picked those who were involved in interesting self-expression activities and who were creating digital media to share with others outside their immediate circles of friends. Here are five not-so-obvious takeaways (beyond the fairly apparent "Teens want to create identities for themselves online" and "In general, teens are pretty tech-savvy"). (The panel didn't focus much on book publishing, but it provides useful background to YA publishers who want a better look at what their target audiences are doing online.)

  • Teens don't see buying a software program (like Adobe Photoshop) as a major "life event." Whereas people in their twenties and thirties may sign up for classes and buy instruction manuals after purchasing a program, teens churn through many different technologies quickly, using programs only for what they need and then moving on.
  • At the same time, teens feel as if they have mastered these programs. Westerman pointed out that when he asks an adult, professional Photoshop user if she knows everything there is to know about Photoshop, that adult will usually answer, "No, I haven't even scratched the surface." Teens, on the other hand, will answer, "Yeah, I know Photoshop." Nor are they concerned that they haven't learned all the "right" ways of doing things with a program--they're concentrated on the outcome, not the tool. They don't ask, "How do I use the masking tool?" They ask, "How can I create a cool rain effect?"
  • That's not to say that teens aren't asking for help. They are! But they're going to their peers online or typing queries into Google. There's a return of the "apprenticeship"--teens learning skills from their more knowledgable peers, actively seeking critiques of their work, and really adopting a craft mentality. Learning is a process of watching and doing on the fly. "There's no more learning curve," Westerman said.
  • Any niche site can become a social hub--teens aren't just using Facebook for social networking. One subject in the study, "David," spent most of his time on the "Silverfish Longboarding" discussion boards. (A longboard is a type of skateboard.) These microcommunities give teens, who tend to define themselves through 2 or 3 major interests when creating online personas, a sense of belonging.
  • Teens aren't using the fanciest, newest technology. Most of those surveyed had fairly old computers and older versions of software. They were making do with what they had. And they were not pirating software. One teen, "Gina," bought a copy of Adobe Photoshop with her friend at Costco, and the girls took turns using it at home, since they only had one license.

Haughney said that future studies will target teens who DO plan to enter the design field after graduation, since the ways they are using technology now may have a major effect on the field--and on how software is designed.

TOC: The Narrative Is Changing

On the final day of TOC, Tim O’Reilly gave his keynote, following on the heels of the inventive Nick Bilton from the NYT’s R&D labs. (Bilton created the interactive website for David Carr’s book.) Much of what he discussed was focused on the topic that was subsequently addressed at the next session, where a group assembled to address the big issue: The Changing Role of the Publisher. Not surprisingly, given TOC’s pursuit of the future, the only traditional publishers were Michael Hyatt from Thomas Nelson and O’Reilly himself. And even these two would hardly be considered traditional in any other setting.

All the participants argued for greater interplay between author, reader, and publisher. Eileen Gittins of claimed that the company doesn’t publish, but rather goes after “folks who’ve got stuff” that they want to share. With triple digit growth since its founding, “we’ve tacked to that part of the slipstreams and found a goldmine,” she announced. There is also an ongoing effort to get the community of folks all over the world who have money but don’t know how to publish together with those who have skills but no money: BlurbNation. Ultimately, this cross-promotion “amplifies word of mouth.” In an ambitious demonstration of that idea, Blurb worked with flickr and the Tate Modern to create a participatory show of street photography. Tate curated the work that came out of it into a book, which Blurb sold. To celebrate the participatory event, the Tate threw a party for 5,000 people.’s Bob Young basically said he planned to follow Blurb’s lead, but meanwhile he also is seeing an uptick in revenues and titles published--5,000 a week. He surmised that there has been a huge increase in people who meant to write a book and are now unemployed, so have the time. Clint Greenleaf of the Greenleaf Book Group argued that to break out of the pack, the author must create a platform, but that the credibility of work is what counts.

Like all the participants, Thomas Nelson’s Michael Hyatt Twitters, because it draws attention to what is going on at the company, and creates specialist blogs that often highlight books. A recent innovation is a book review bloggers site that allows serious reviewers to get review book

Tim O’Reilly, who published his wife’s play on Lulu, talked of the Lulu and Blurb models as publishing as a social act--a chance to share an experience. These publishers offer a combination of social networking and the creation/curation/production of books. The book is, in the Lulu sense of publishing, “a souvenir of that shared activity.” But there is much traditional publishers can learn from it. Earlier he had talked about O’Reilly’s “Rough Cut” initiative, a peer review program whose books are getting 2.5 times the revenue of books that weren’t in the program. As he said earlier, but could have reiterated to sum up the discussion, “Participation drives revenue.”

Factoid from Nick Bilton: The number of links on the Huffington Post alone in one day is 657. Multiplied by the average media consumer’s grazing, that’s 162,000 possible links in a day. “Our social networks are becoming paths to social aggregation--swarm intelligence to disseminate content flow.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10 Things We Learned from Chris Brogan at TOC

Yesterday, PT attended Chris Brogan's "Blogging and Social Media" tutorial at Tools of Change for Publishing 2009. Brogan is a social media/community-building super blogger--check him out here. His panel wasn't a lecture or traditional speech; rather, it was a conversation with the audience. He jumped from topic to topic; showed us his Facebook, Google Reader, and Twitter pages; played his friends' YouTube clips and book trailers; and took questions throughout. Here are ten takeaways:

  1. Focus on grabbing your customers' attention and keeping it. Don't get too upset over the fact that people's attention spans are short. "We don't have time for Moby Dick," says Brogan. "It's at once depressing and a reality."
  2. Twitter is THE social media tool publishers should learn how to use. (If you keep hearing about Twitter but have no idea what it is, don't worry--it will be the topic of the feature article in the March issue of PT!) Many people in the audience were Tweeting throughout the panel, and when someone asked a question about book social networking sites, Brogan Tweeted the question to his followers and got many answers within a few seconds.
  3. Twitter is a better marketing tool than MySpace or Facebook because it allows users to develop genuine relationships with each other. Brogan described most MySpace and Facebook marketing as being much too pushy and impersonal: "If I'm using my hand to shake your hand, don't put your tongue in my mouth."
  4. How should publishers (and others) decide which social networking sites to use? Brogan recommends they find out where their customers are, and go there. And it's better to be very involved with them on one site than to do a lackluster job of being everywhere: "If you're going to be everywhere," Brogan said, "you have to answer the phone and you have to offer customer service everywhere."
  5. Try putting your slush pile online! What a great way to find out what readers would be interested in before you publish it.
  6. Want to try something new? Don't look to other book publishers for ideas, Brogan says. Instead, "Why not rip off people in other verticals? Can you adapt it to what you're doing?" Take a look at Viddler, for instance--it's like YouTube, but lets users comment on and tag specific parts of a video.
  7. Segregate your list! Forget the "Here's everything we're publishing" e-mail blast. If you're a publisher, nobody is interested in ALL your books. You can use technology to splice your lists and target specific people with only the ones they'll be interested in. To help you do this, check out BatchBook.
  8. It's all about the fans. "It is always awesome when the would-be famous person celebrates the audience, rather than the other way around," says Brogan. "That never goes out of style."
  9. A quality blog is always trying to interact, rather than just delivering or pushing content. "You are hoping to inspire some level of two-way," Brogan says, even if it's not on the blog. Seth Godin, for example, doesn't allow comments on his blog. He'd rather have readers write their own ideas on their own blogs and link back to him.
  10. Books are a distribution problem. "Think of solutions that are not so DRM-ful," he says to publishers--i.e., don't focus on protecting your content from people who would want to read it. "You will not lose all money," he says. "You will lose some money. But you lose money every time you release a book. It's called marketing."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Librarians on Street Lit

Brooklyn and NYPL librarians recently ran a survey about street lit (what is it? here's Wikipedia's entry), and they've written up the results in the most recent issue of School Library Journal. Some findings:

  • 49% of the respondents worked in urban libraries, 43% in suburban libraries, and 8% in rural libraries. 92.5% offered street lit in their collections.
  • Of the 7.5% not offering street lit (and, no, they're not all from rural areas!), 50% say it's because there's "no patron interest."
  • A librarian from urban Ohio wrote, "Our library director does not allow us to buy it because he feels it is inappropriate for our town....I am going to try to sneak some in.”
  • Street lit is often stolen, possibly because some patrons feel embarrassed about checking it out. To help solve this problem, the authors say librarians should shelve street lit where it's easy to find and be ready to answer questions about it openly and cheerfully.
  • An encouraging result, the authors write: "One thing we hoped our survey would show is that street lit is bringing nonreading teens into the public library—and that appears to true. Indeed, librarians are actively using street lit as a jumping-off point to create relationships with teens. As a librarian in an urban California library wrote, 'Talking about urban fiction with teens is a great way to get to know them… Having read some of the titles and/or at least being familiar with them helps to start the relationship.'"
For the full article, and examples from the "street lit canon," click here. And here are street lit resources for librarians--including lists of publishers and popular titles for teens.

Creative Commons image from satanslaundromat on Flickr.

Why Do You Go to the Library?

In the most recent issue of Publishing Trends, we wrote about book rental companies BookSwim, Booksfree, and Paperspine. Read the article here.

The comment that leapt out at me during the interview process and has stuck in my head since I wrote the article was from Doug Ross, CEO of Booksfree, who said:

"When you go into a library, more than half the space is taken up with entertainment product. Mass market paperbacks and hardcovers are all over the place and there's a little bit of room where kids can go in and do research and use computers."
I found the phrase "entertainment product" totally jarring and assumed librarians would hate it, too. But when Ross posted similar comments in a response to a post entitled "Will Libraries Go the Way of Video Stores?" on Strollerderby, the librarians who responded in turn weren't outraged at him. They seemed more irritated by the original post. One commenter, Matthew, wrote:
"Admittedly, I am annoyed by this reoccuring question: 'Will libraries go the way of videostores?' or, phrased another way, 'Have libraries outlived their necessity?'. Both of these questions assume that libraries are primarily about books, and not about information & literacy. All of this assumes that all citizens have the same level of easy access to newer technologies, and that class doesn’t separate us as information consumers."
It's true that I, and most people reading this entry, don't need to use computers at the library because they have their own computers at home and at work. And the realization that librarians themselves think libraries are much more than books is a good reminder that they are many different things to different people. So how ARE people using libraries? The results of a recent Pew survey "challenge the assumption that libraries are losing relevance in the internet age. Libraries drew visits by more than half of Americans (53%) in the past year for all kinds of purposes, not just the problems mentioned in this survey. And it was the young adults in tech-loving Generation Y (age 18-30) who led the pack. Compared to their elders, Gen Y members were the most likely to use libraries for problem-solving information and in general patronage for any purpose."

We'll delve into more of the results of the Pew report in the next post.

PT will still never refer books "entertainment product," though.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Here's Kate, "The Library"