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Amazon tries to appeal to Hachette authors

by Public Libraries on July 18, 2014

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The feud between Amazon and Hachette has been detrimental to many authors and readers. Not only are readers not getting access to upcoming titles, authors are not able to market their new releases. Amazon, at least, is now making it possible for the authors to make a bit more money off the ebooks they do manage to sell.

Like any other publishing company, Hachette makes a percentage out of every book they sell, whether it is a hard copy or an ebook. This percentage can vary a little from company to company but there is a standard.

Amazon is now offering to give authors one hundred percent of the revenue on their ebook sales, which, if true, could mean a huge financial boost to these authors affected by the battle between Amazon and Hachette. Of course, the authors still have a contract with Hachette, so they would probably not be able to keep the hundred percent of the ebook sales, but it still shows that Amazon is willing to negotiate.

Amazon is known for being very PR-guided. They have suffered a backlash of negativity from this fight with Hachette and have lost many customers who instead prefer to take their business to independent bookstores, even online ones. This could easily be seen as a way to appease some of the upset customers and fix the way people see them.

They claim they have been trying to resolve this issue with Hachette, but there has been no real compromise. This offer of a hundred percent cut for Hachette author ebooks is more like a Band-Aid than anything else. The problem still exists, and though it is a nice thought that the authors are getting more money for their ebooks, is it really true?

Yes, maybe Amazon is willing to lose their own percentage in each sale, but Hachette still has a contract with the authors stating that they get a certain percent of each ebook and hard copy sold, whether in a bookstore or through Amazon. This means that, in the long run, the author is still not going to get the compensation he or she deserves after dealing with great loss of pre-order sales. For debut authors, who depend on these pre-order sales, this quick fix is too little, too late.

A debut author who is not able to get the kind of pre-sales expected runs a very good chance of not being able to earn the kind of royalties they need to make a living, so in essence, Amazon has still done a great disservice to people who deserved more. Offering them a hundred percent cuts on ebooks is not going to be enough.

It doesn’t seem that this offer Amazon has put on the table will make a big change in what the Hachette authors have been going through. It seems much more like a ploy to get their public image cleaned up.


Borrow a drone from the library?

by Public Libraries on July 10, 2014


Libraries are extending their collections beyond books and movies. More than ever, libraries are trying to meet the needs of their communities by providing computers, printers, and classes. However, the recent purchase of drones by the University of South Florida may create even more headaches for them as they consider how the drones are used.

The drones that were purchased can fly up to 400 feet above ground and record video. Students and facility in the Patel College of Global Sustainability proposed a project to create an environmental map of USF and wanted the drones to film an aerial view, but any student or faculty member can use the drones in their classes and research.

The students do have to be trained on the use of the drones and would have to show an academic project under supervision of faculty. However, there are many issues concerning their use or misuse. In addition, each drone costs $1500, and if damaged while in the student’s care, who is liable for fixing or replacing it? People attempt to knock drones out of the air by throwing objects at them. Would the student be responsible if it’s damaged through no fault of their own?

With advances in drone technology and usability, new regulations are being formed. The FAA has detailed rules about the use of drones outside, allowing recreational use, but not commercial use. Of course, the library intends that the drones be used for educational purposes, but students, while still adults, have been known to use bad judgment.

Although most libraries haven’t purchased drones for their patrons, and probably don’t plan to, more and more library visitors are expecting additional services when they go to the library. According to a 2013 study, among Americans who are 16 years of age or older, 77% consider free access to computers and the internet as very important at libraries. But many libraries go beyond just providing computers.

In Chattanooga, the library recently purchased a laser cutter, 3-D printers, and a loom. Libraries are evolving into newer community centers. North Carolina State University’s Hunt library has collaborative workspaces with group study rooms for videoconferencing and a room for editing sound and video.

As libraries grow to meet the needs of the community, it presents new problems for them. Libraries are often trying to keep up with the latest technology. They have to determine if offering something new is valuable to their patrons and is a good use of resources. They also need to work closely with legal counsel to address issues of privacy and misuse. This is especially true in the case of drones.

By purchasing the drones through the library instead of the science department, USF has made it easy for lots of students to access them. It will require a little bit more effort than it would to check out a book or use a computer, but many students will meet the requirements to borrow a drone.

It’s interesting to think about all the things that people could do with drones if they were available at the library. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to see a lot of problems that drones could create for libraries and their patrons.


Simon and Schuster ebooks are now available at libraries

June 30, 2014
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Within the past decade, traditional hardbound paper books, which have been a staple in society for centuries have slowly given way for ebooks, or electronic books. There are many reasons why ebooks have experienced such a boom in popularity. For one, they are much more convenient. One ereader can hold up to thousands of books, making titles more accessible to readers across the world. That is why many major publishing […]

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Is technology making libraries obsolete?

June 20, 2014
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In 2011, popular political comedian Bill Maher said, “We have the Internet.  We don’t need a library.  I don’t know anyone that has gone to a library since 1998”. Is the tradition of putting ideas in print going the way of the dinosaurs? It can certainly seem that way these days, given all of the new technology we have for gaining knowledge and interacting with the world. Today, about half […]

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Court rules in favor of searchable database of scanned books

June 13, 2014
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It’s every college student’s dream: to be able to use the ‘find function’ so often utilized on computers to pull out bits of text from an actual printed book. While that isn’t exactly what the HathiTrust Digital Library has done, it’s pretty darn close. Basically, since 2008, the project has involved scanning over 10 million books and assorted works into an online database. These books come from a number of […]

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Self-published authors learn how to get their books into libraries

June 5, 2014
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Are you associated with or working in a library? If so, you might want to prepare for an influx of bids from self-published authors asking you to stock their work. Just this week, the Book Expo America kicked off in New York City, with thousands of books, library, writing, and reading enthusiasts gathered to a plethora of various talks and events. Within the conference, however, sat uPublishU, a sub-conference whose […]

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SUV crash disturbs library patrons in a big way

May 29, 2014
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Most people go to the library expecting a quiet, relaxing area in which to conduct work or research, or to read a new or favorite book in. It makes sense, presumably, as these types of activities are exactly what libraries are setup for. Unfortunately for half a dozen people in Spring Valley, NY, however, Tuesday evening was anything but relaxing. Around 7:45pm, a Toyota RAV4 SUV slammed into the Finkelstein […]

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Austin is getting an expensive library of the future

May 22, 2014
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The people of Austin, Texas voted in 2006 to construct a new library in the middle of downtown on Cesear Chavez Street. The library, originally slated to cost $90 million, recently ran into some budget trouble and the leaders of the project asked for more funding – an additional $30 million, to be exact. In return, representatives and city officials decided unanimously to give the contractors of the project an […]

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Do university students suffer when books get pulled from shelves?

May 15, 2014
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Soon to join libraries across the country – and even across the world at many colleges and universities – Colby College of Maine is slated to move approximately 170,000 books into storage in the next year. This comes as a result of renovation plans which will turn some of the current library’s floor space into administrative offices. The other floor space gained, according to the school, will be used to […]

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Los Angeles Unified School District closes school libraries

May 9, 2014
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Elementary schools are the basic gardens for growing minds, and, inevitably, they’re where most people learn to take their first steps into the world of books and reading. Unfortunately for many students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest district in the nation, libraries have been closing recently. Worse yet, there is no date set for the re-opening of many of these facilities. It’s hard to […]

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