<![CDATA[The Book, My Friend - Boards, Books, and Bytes]]>Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:45:39 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Students prefer convenience more than anything]]>Thu, 11 Feb 2016 14:32:09 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/students-prefer-convenience-more-than-anythingNate Hoffelder has a great post critiquing the much ballyhooed "fact" that 92% of students prefer print over ebooks.  When I first saw that factoid making the rounds it seemed obvious  that it was lifted out of context, as I could tell from my own work with students that students interests, needs, and concerns about textbooks cover a wide range of variables, most of which are not scholarly, but matters of convenience and price. Like Nate I have a copy of Words Onscreen (the book the factoid was lifted from) and would highly recommend it.  It is the type of nuanced and balanced examination of the digital transition that has been lacking from the conversation.  Unfortunately media types don't often get the full context, and entirely miss the point of Dr Baron's findings.  But Nate did a great job covering that.

What is interesting to me is that answering the question is not that difficult for the right scholar in the right place.  Since I first started working with digital texts in academic settings (Kindle 2), it became apparent that we needed to clarify more than quantify a lot of different variables around digital text.  I ran a number of informal surveys that gave the general impression that we also needed to separate light reading from heavy reading, as most readers found little difference in reading something light and easy on screen rather than paper.  But it gets messy when we read more complex books.  Dr Baron delves into this in her book.  I had the same conversation with my Mass Communications undergrads this semester about their textbook and their opinions were all over the map.  This is because their motivations were all over the map.  We need to separate students into those that read and those that don't, those that are motivated to succeed and those with less motivation.  It even seems that taller and more muscular students care less about the weight variable than smaller students.  The point is that there are lots of variables affecting student responses and surveys are the wrong methodology for studying the question.

While I tend to believe that print has some  advantages over digital when it comes to absorption and retention, I am not convinced that those advantages are endemic.  Millennials brains seem to be wired differently than mine, and it may be possible to develop tech that mimics the advantages of print.  In my mind the jury is out and we should always be wary of attention grabbing headlines.  They tend to be wrong 92% of the time...
<![CDATA[Books that can't be printed]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 18:35:29 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/books-that-cant-be-printedThis is receiving widespread coverage, so there is not much to say other than to agree that it really stretches the concept behind the term "book".  The entrances and exits one seems very interesting.  The sample is enjoyable.  Before librarians hyperventilate about this, I would remind them that this is actually a good thing for traditional print books, because the more differentiation there is between ebooks and print books the better.  Consumers will see them as two distinct products rather than interchangeable ones.  As someone who believes that print books maintain a number of unique advantages to ebooks this is a good thing.
<![CDATA[500px year in review]]>Thu, 31 Dec 2015 16:40:19 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/500px-year-in-reviewPicture
500px has a year in review of their activity.  It is fascinating.  I screen captured one of the most amazing stats here: iPhone came in a strong third as most popular camera.  Given that Canon and Nikon  always top this may not seem that impressive, but Olympus, Sony, and Fuji are all overshadowed by the iPhone.  I have more to say on the iphone below, but suffice to say that 500px's short summary is full of fascinating data for an information ecologist.  19,000,000 photos were uploaded in 2015.  That is an absolutely staggering amount of data, especially given that these are all good photos.  This is not Flickr, but rather a curated site for photographers who meet minumum professional qualifications.  Only 2 million photos were accepted into their marketplace and only 6k photographers made money licensing through that marketplace.  This indicates a serious struggle for photographers to monetize their product.  The business model we have developed for local photographers seem well poised to help photographers once we get it off the ground and running.

But back to the iPhone.  Watch the skateboard video below.  I am familiar with the filmmaker and expect high quality, visually appealing video from him.  What shocked me was the end credits where he mentions that it was all filmed on iPhone 6s using Moment lenses.  I went back and watched the video again and sure enough you can see people in frame shooting on a cell phone.

Here is the video:

<![CDATA[Kickstarter success]]>Wed, 16 Dec 2015 16:13:45 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/kickstarter-successOur kickstarter for the app "Wild Colorado" was successful thanks to a large donation from Alpine Bank.  To the best of our knowledge this was the largest, most successful library kickstarter.  This is probably due to the fact that most library kickstarter's are very local, but ours affects the entire state of Colorado as well as all outdoor visitors to the state. Now we have to build the thing, but our developer is confident we will be able to manage that component.

The app is a unique endeavor for libraries in that it marries our past, present, and future in a tangible resource.  In my opinion successful change management happens when the product or service you are targeting is simultaneously close to your past products and services, while being radically different at the same time.  Wild Colorado is just that.  Even at the design level it feels and functions like a reference book and reference service, it just has been adapted to a 21st Century interface and medium.  One one level, it is not much different than traditional reference services, but at the same time nothing like this has ever been offered by any library anywhere.

At least that is the goal.  The app will be released in June on both Android and iOS.  We will see if it can attain those lofty goals.
<![CDATA[Spotify affecting user behavior?]]>Mon, 16 Nov 2015 20:10:17 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/spotify-affecting-user-behaviorI have been sitting on this article for a while now as I am not sure what to make of it.  Obviously, the subtitle is a bit presumptuous, "The best way to reduce illegal downloads is to offer good legal services."  The report is 42 pages long and is less conclusive than the Ars article linked above.  It's conclusion is that Spotify is revenue neutral.

But I feel that I need to share the article and the report because I would have assumed that Spotify is not revenue neutral and is negatively affecting the music economy.  This proves at a superficial level that Spotify is at least creating an equal amount of revenue.  The problem is where does that revenue go?

I have a hard time thinking that Spotify is really affecting piracy that much, but it seems possible based on this report.  However, we need to see this replicated many times over to make any strong conclusions.

<![CDATA[Human interest]]>Mon, 26 Oct 2015 22:46:30 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/human-interestWhile not connected to libraries in any way, this is a moving story.  I do know some of the men involved and have worked with one of their Uncle's on a library project, but that is about as library connected as I can make this video:

<![CDATA[More Netflix wizardy]]>Thu, 24 Sep 2015 16:25:34 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/more-netflix-wizardyNetflix has calculated when viewers get hooked on a series.  Just amazing.  Bibliocommons and other library attempts to copy the industry pale in comparison to Netflix.  This is truly amazing and offers a glimpse into netflix survival and what libraries can learn from Netflix.  Many people smarter than me expected Netflix to start dying off after its strong foray into digital because we all knew that the studios would not appreciate Netflix taking a share of streaming revenue that seemed unnecessary from the studio perspective.  One of the core differences between the digital economy and the traditional economy is in distribution.  Studios like publishers needed movie theaters and bookstores to capitalize on their product.  The need was real because the studios could not replicate that service without massive cost and risk to themselves.

But that is not true in the digital age.  Instead of building thousands of stores all the studios need to do was build a software interface and they can serve the entire planet.  The cost is insignificant compared to the reward.  The obvious question is why would they share that profit with Netflix when they could cut them out?  Which is exactly what studios started doing a few years ago as they licensed less blockbuster material to Netflix.  But Netflix was nimble and a few steps ahead of the studios.  They began developing original content and figured out how to move b list content, which is what libraries have always done -with less success than Netflix- with their traditional bookshelves.  We have yet to figure that out online and are nowhere near figuring it out because books are inherently different than movies, and because we are simply not as smart, strategic, or nimble as Netflix.  But we can learn from them and keep trying to solve the same question.
<![CDATA[Too Cool]]>Wed, 09 Sep 2015 15:09:45 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/too-coolYou have to search to find redeeming value in this, but it is incredible.  I don't even want to try and calculate how many hours went into the color corrections and other editing tools to create this mash up. Bonus points if you recognize everyone:

<![CDATA[The difference between Netflix and Libraries]]>Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:53:43 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/the-difference-between-netflix-and-librariesPicture
This sentence jumped off the page of an article I read recently:

From its recommendation algorithms to its auto-play features, the objective isn’t to make sure you find what you want when you search — it’s to make sure you never search at all.

No sentence has summed up my frustration with library interface development than this simple statement.  It came from this article in the Verge that is actually about catalog depth in Netflix and other streaming services, but that throwaway line encapsulates all the frustrations I have had with the direction libraries are taking in their UI development.  Our catalogs and websites are designed for focused, terminal searches.  I had a quick email conversation recently with Nate Hoffelder of the Digital Reader about the trouble libraries have getting readers to try something that is not a blockbuster or bestseller.  The above quote perfectly captures the difference between libraries and Netflix.  Our physical bookstacks function more like Netflix's approach where a user wanders in thinking one thing and wanders out with three extras they did not anticipate.  But our best virtual efforts to date  appear only at the item level:

Some might argue that our search results do this as they utilize key words and other control vocabulary to rank search results, but the similarity is only superficial.  Contrast Netflix's interface with a library's:

Even at first brush anyone familiar with both interfaces recognizes the visual and experiential difference.  Searching is the prominent library experience, but Netflix uses data mining and algorithms to make content the primary experience.  Now this may be a reasonable and intelligent programming choice.  The problem is that even if libraries have the better design and UI, the market and our patrons are moving in the opposite direction. 

You can argue that libraries are starting to catch up as our catalogs are moving away from text and more to images and content, but the adaption is really superficial because we are not data mining and curating our content to user preferences the same way Netflix, Amazon, Google, Apple, Spotify... you get the idea.  The items we display on our home page are not tailored to the individual user, meaning that we are far less likely to get a positive feedback loop.  The only way to increase our clicks and checkouts with our superficial design tweaks is to put bestsellers and blockbusters on the home page, which leaves us no closer to expanding the depth of our circulation than before.

 I attended the National Association of Broadcaster's conference this year and heard the same question pop up about Netflix.  How had they managed to grow while their A list catalog shrunk?  The answer was that Netflix figured out how to move B list content.  They did that using the opposite design and interface philosophy of Libraries.  Netflix doesn't want you to search, they just want to deliver content that you like.  They have a much smaller catalog than us, but tech tools could easily manage the differential, we just aren't using them because we still adhere to 20th Century privacy ethics.  I don't know if that is a good choice for us anymore and Bibilocommons doesn't really fill the gap- yet.
<![CDATA[Kindle Unlimited at .0057 dollars per page]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 21:45:30 GMThttp://www.thebookmyfriend.com/boards-books-and-bytes/kindle-unlimited-at-0057-dollars-per-pageSo how much is a half cent royalty per page  worth?  Since Kindle Unlimited launched Amazon has tinkered with author payment models and their most recent monthly report reveals that Amazon's gross payout has grown from 1.2  to 11.4 million is just over one year.  During that time the book collection has  grown by about 25%, which  indicates that Amazon is proportionally paying more per book in the collection.  This is not necessarily a bad deal for Amazon as their income pool is practically unlimited.

This is the Spotify model for ebooks, and like Spotify Amazon does not pay per album/title, but rather per page/song like Spotify.  Spotify has a catalog of about 15 million songs and pays .01 cent per song play, which seems low in comparison to Amazon's extravagant .5 cent per page read, but consider the fact that I can play Spotify all day long in my office, so over the course of one hour I play around 20 songs which if we were to calculate out based on my behavior would still place Spotify in the pole position for highest weekly payout on me.  But I am not the average consumer whose consumption of the titles in Kindle Unlimited would be much more voracious as KU has a fairly rich popular and best seller catalog.

Which is where things get interesting for libraries.  Large urban libraries have recognized for a number of years that their popular music collections are outmoded in the age of Spotify and Pandora.  Patrons aren't even ripping our CDs anymore because they are so easy to get elsewhere.  At my library we are consciously tracking CD circulation and preparing for that moment when blips in our stats become trends and we begin the process of phasing out the CD collection.  The analog between music collections and Kindle Unlimited has many corollaries.  First, we have a much richer and deeper collection that KU, but the majority of what circulates is popular fiction.  Best sellers and the like make up the vast majority of what leaves our collection.  What is ironic is that early data suggests that KU has figured out how to move more of the "B list" titles, as Amazon is seeing a lot of casual reading outside of the best seller list.  So could KU pose a similar threat to libraries as Spotify does?

Not necessarily, because a majority of Spotify's clients are nonpaying, and I don't think advertising in books works as easily as it does for "radio".  Because even though Spotify is not radio, it still serves and operates in that same realm and patrons are willing to put up with those ads.  Wowio tried to use ads in ebooks some time ago and it never really worked.  This has to do with what I call the commodification effect digitization can have on a product.  Music has been thoroughly commodified to the point where the actual file has little to no dollar value, but because there is still a small monthly charge for KU, KU is not quite ready to fill that market the way Spotify and Pandora do.  As long as Amazon has this barrier libraries should be relatively safe from seeing subscription ebook services have the same affect on our book collections as Spotify has had on our music collections.  Instead of a large exodus, we will see a trickle of patrons choosing to pay for KU each year.