Saturday, July 31, 2010

one more new format

Librarians aren't used to paying attention to the nuts and bolts of formatting the materials we provide to patrons, but in the digital world we at least have to be aware of changes. The latest Big New Thing is html5, which according to some forcasts in Publisher's Weekly will change e-book publishing forever. Why do we care? Well, if e-books finally do become the majority choice for many books, our collections will have to change. One aspect of e-books that isn't often discussed is the cost of them. Oh yes, they can be cheaper than hardcover books, but very few children or teens ever buy hardcover books. In fact, not many people buy hardcover books any more except for textbooks and Bibles. In recent years many people depend on the library for hardcover books, but are willing to buy paperbacks on their own. But if the public deman shifts to e-books, what will be the economic model for libraries? This is something library leaders should be concerned about and discussing. At every library conference in recent years there have been many discussions about new technology but we should shift our attention to the economics of e-book publishing and make sure that libraries are able to continue to offer patrons free access to the books they want in the formats they want. How will we be able to do that?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Curiouser and curiouser

The classic picture books about Curious George and the man with the yellow hat continue to fly off the shelves in libraries and bookstores. Now the Library of Congress has decided to feature these characters in their ads to promote reading. According to a story in the N.Y. Times today, ads designed to encourage parents to read to their young children will be shown on TV and published in magazines. Many researchers have demonstrated that children whose parents read to them during their preschool years generally develop a love of reading and learn to read on their own more quickly than children whose parents do not read to them. Anyone who has worked in a children's library or school knows that Curious George will fascinate any child so the campaign is likely to succeed. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Reys for producing the books and to Random House and the Ad Council for making the campaign happen as well as to the Library of Congress for sponsoring it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Something good for your library--and the birds

Like just about everyone else in the U.S., children's illustrators are worried about the oil spill in the Gulf and how it is affecting wildlife. Now a number of them have joined together to offer small illustrations that are available for a donation to one of the nonprofits working to save birds and other creatures being affected. An article in School Library Journal tells how this new website will work. Kelly Light is the generous illustrator who cared enough to set this whole thing up on her Ripple blog. Those of us in California and other Western States will have to get up early to join in because the bidding starts at 6:30 AM Eastern time, but it's worth rising at dawn to send some help, especially when it comes with a beautiful illustration as a remembrance.Thank you Kelly Light for making this possible!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

China leads the way

Not very many American librarians go to the Hong Kong book fair, but it sounds as though those who did got a glimpse of the future. For the first time, according to the NY Times, the e-book made a splash at the fair and children's books were front and center. Kiwa, the New Zealand software company, showed off its i-Pad app for children's picture books. Not only do the pictures and text appear, but they can be translated into half a dozen different languages. Chinese children and American children can watch the action and laugh at the jokes while their parents read them the story in whatever language they choose. What an asset this would be for libraries in multi-lingual schools or neighborhoods in the U.S.! It may take a while, but almost inevitably these will be added to the collections at many libraries.

Monday, July 19, 2010

E-books top list

For the first time announced today, e-books have topped print books in sales this quarter. 143 copies of e-books have been sold for every 100 print books. Does this mean the end of print books? Will kindle versions eventually take over all sales? That's unlikely no matter what some media reports suggest. As librarians and publishers have insisted time after time, the book is a very convenient package that serves a valuable purpose in many people's lives. E-books add to our options, but it is likely both formats will persist for many years to come.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watch for this one!

There is nothing like a good film to get parents and sometimes children more interested in children's books. and if you are dealing with committed middle-class parents, a connection with a New Yorker writer doesn't hurt. That's why it's good news for librarians and teachers to hear via Publishers Weekly that Adam Gopnik has collaborated on a new film of interviews with authors, illustrators and editors of children's books. Gopnik's article about the Babar books that came out in 2008 about the same time as the Babar exhibit at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, excited many parents and inspired new authors and illustrators. The film, Library of the Early Mind will be released this summer and outtakes from it will be available on DVD for the educational market soon. The trailer now available on its website gives snippets of interview that will whet every librarians' desire to hear more. Be sure to put this one on your wish list.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Books still do it

For years librarians and teachers have been preaching about the important role books play in a child's academic success. Now a supporting voice comes from an unexpected place, David Brooks, New York Times columnist writes about the way giving a child twelve books to take home for the summer increases their scores on reading tests and seems to eliminate the "summer slump" in reading. Possessing these books seems to help, reading them certainly does. At the same time, Brooks points out, having a home computer and Internet access appears to depress children's academic success. This second report seems a lot less believable than the first, so let's stick with the tried-and-true finding that reading over the summer is one of the best ways of keeping children on track for learning. The old familiar summer reading program may keep librarians busy and cause some grumbling, but from all indications, it is worth all the work we put into it. Children owe a lot to the traditional summer reading programs--let's not slacken in our efforts to get books to children all summer long.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Something completely different

Sometimes even librarians get tired of worrying about the state of publishing or the future of books. When you want to hear a cheerful story about how kids can interact with books, click on this one from Publishers Weekly blog and see how children can react to an imaginative project suggested by a creative school librarian. Building birdhouses out of old picture books may not strike you as something you'd ever want to do, but it is refreshing to see how cheerful and inspiring an unusual work of art can be. It may even inspire you to create other inspiring projects for the children in your library.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Where did they get that cover?

For librarians who have wondered about how the covers for YA books are chosen and produced, there's a don't-miss article in the current Publishers Weekly telling the whole story about what publishers are looking for to attract teens. As we all know, covers do sell books, so the selection of a cover must be right and the current idea about "right" seems to be photos of teenagers. But choosing the right face, the right make-up and the right clothes isn't easy. Editors and photographers agonize over getting a look that appeals to a wide range of today's teens. Take a look at this backstage story about the "Autobiography of a Cover" it will help you understand how publishers spend their time.