Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Miss Scarlett, in the Library, with a Kindle

Posted: 21 Jun 2014 07:29 AM PDT

9340655085_4c5b88068c_b[1]Libraries everywhere are ereaders and tablets for their patrons, but some are discovering that it’s not a good idea to let the devices leave the building. A small library north of Anchorage, Alaska recently learned the hard way that expensive electronics are tempting prizes for thieves.

Palmer Public Library, which is part of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Library Network, used to let patrons check out a tablet and take it home. They’ve recently had to stop that policy after several devices never returned.

Three of the library’s six tablets, including 2 Kindle Fires and a Nook Color, have vanished, and while the  library knows who checked out the tablets the thieves have proven hard to contact. According to library director Beth Skow, “Now those patrons, their emails don’t work, their phones don’t work and their addresses don’t work,” Skow said. “It’s very, very sad. A few ruin it for the rest.”

And thanks to limited funding, the tablets probably won’t be replaced. While Palmer Public Library received a technology grant from the Alaska State Library last year to buy its ereaders, funding for the tablets had come from the library’s limited budget. “My book budget’s been cut so there’s no way I can keep replacing them, so I’m going to keep them in-house,” Skow said.

While a growing number of libraries in the US and around the world offer tablets and ereaders, not all let the tablets be taken home. Some, like Garfield County Public Library or Harrison Public Library in NY, only let patrons use the tablets in the library (and also require that patrons hand over thie driver’s license as collateral).

Other libraries, including a significant number of libraries at universities and colleges, do let patrons remove the gadgets from the premises. Of course, the college libraries have a very effective tool to make sure the tablets find their way home; outstanding fines would likely block students from registering for the next semester.

And as for ereaders, more libraries have then but few report problems with theft. The Wasilla  Public Library, for example, used funds from the same technology grant to buy eleven ereaders, “12 if you count the Sony e-reader, but no one ever seems to borrow that one,” library director K.J. Martin-Albright said. The WPL allows patrons to take the ereaders home and has had “two ereaders borrowed and not returned” in as many years, Martin-Albright said.

Some libraries, however, aren’t so generous, and keep both their tablets and ereaders in the building.

On a related note, I was surprised to see just how many libraries are buying ereaders in 2014. Given that libraries have a legal obligation under the ADA to provide accessible technology, I was expecting to read more about libraries buying accessible tablets and fewer buying ereaders which cannot be used by the visually impaired.

Two public libraries, in Sacramento and Philadelphia, have settled lawsuits related to using federal grant money to buy ereaders, so I was doubly surprised that the state of Alaska had itself violated federal law with their library ereader funding grants.

Anchorage Daily News

image by mattcornock

The post Miss Scarlett, in the Library, with a Kindle appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Christina Brashear Returns as Publisher at Samhain Publishing

Posted: 20 Jun 2014 03:02 PM PDT

Samhain-Logo[1]Dogged by reports of conflicts with authors, struggling digita- first publisher Samhain Publishing announced today that owner Christina Brashear is returning to the company and taking up the role of Publisher.

As part of Brashear’s plans to take Samhain back to its roots, the current publisher Lindsey Faber is set to depart the company and take on a consulting role, while Heather Osborn will transition from being editorial director to freelance editor.

Launched in 2005, Samhain Publishing was one of the very first of the new publishers that came into existence with the rise of ebooks. With a catalog of 2,500 titles from 600 authors, Samhain has developed a reputation for quality romance, urban fantasy, and related genre titles, but lately there have also been worrying complaints from authors.

There haven’t been any rumors about financial issues, but in May 2014 Dear Author reported that authors were having problems getting Samhain to revert the book contracts to the authors.

The publisher was in general described as being unresponsive to queries, and they had also recently started using a new boilerplate contract which reserved copyright over a book’s metadata (title and other technical info about the ebook) to Samhain. While it might seem unimportant at first, that new contract clause could make it more difficult for an author to subsequently republish an ebook.

All in all, Samhain was showing signs of being less willing to let go of old ebooks when the contracts were up:

Perhaps the final straw for some authors was that when the reversion was requested, a new contract was sent to the authors that would bind them to additional terms along with the original contract signed. Samhain asserts that this language could be negotiated as it was the result of an overzealous attorney designed to protect Samhain's rights. However, a reversion of rights is a contractual right. A request to get the right to that work returned to the author should not be met with new contract demands (unless there is more money involved).

This blogger hopes that Brashear’s return will resolve these issues, but that awaits to be seen.

The post Christina Brashear Returns as Publisher at Samhain Publishing appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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