Monday, January 25, 2010

Moving the Blog

For those of you that look at this blog, I've moved to Wordpress.  The new address is:

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Book Additions

I know it's been a while, but with the holidays, looking for work, internet problems, and a whole host of other things good and not so good, I've finally made it back to do a post. I have to say that Christmas was good for me as far as books and my collections. No books cases I'm sad to say, but that's ok. It looks like I finally have a job so I can buy my own :D Anyways, I received several books. All were of what I wanted. The most practical of which is The Sailmaker's Apprentice. This book is a non-fiction on how to make and repair sails (you know, for sailboats. I LOVE sailboats) and all the theories that go with it. I hope to make some canvas bags and stuff in my free time. It's fun and I can make a little money on the side too. That book is the only one that isn't part of a collection.

I received, as well, two books on the history of Dragons. I have a thing for dragons. The seem to be interesting books all about the history and myths of those incredible creatures. I'm in to anthropology type books, so books on myths are right up my ally. I may do a review on one of them at a later time.

As well as the books above, I also received a gift card to Borders. I ended up getting three books for myself and a book for my lovely girlfriend. She's into the whole young adult paranormal type books so she got Friday Night Bites. Not my cup of tea, but she enjoys them so more power to her. The books I got where The Shadow Rising which is the fourth book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. A great fantasy series. A classic in the genre. I have the first two books and the prequel already. With 12 books, so far, in the series, I still have a lot of collecting to do to get them all. The next book I got is The Wizards First Rule in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. This book is a replacement of a very well read copy. Not really into collecting all the books in that series, but still, it's a very well written set of books. Finally, the last book I got was Armageddon's Children which is the first book in the post-apocalyptic trilogy Genesis of Shannara by Terry Brooks. This will go into my slowly growing post-apocalyptic collection.

That's it for book stuff for Christmas. I have some plans for blog posts in the near future and I hope to get at least one of them up in the next couple of days.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Mail Order Library (Part 2)

In the last post I talked briefly about an idea for a mail order library. Today I'm going to talk about the book tracking systems that would be needed for such a thing to occur. I'm more than likely to touch upon a few other systems, but only as it pertains to the general tracking.

The first thing to be encountered by a patron is the website and database. Besides allowing access to the system, it would also provide a great place for book reviews and/or talks, as well as other tools that might be of interest to a reader looking for a new book to read. While all that would, and should, be on the website, the main focus will be on the display of information from the database.

Let us start with the search. The database should be able to be searched by
author, book tile, and subject. Those are your basics and are already options
in the current inter-library loan system. Our system, though, will also allow
someone to search on a character name, quote, and publisher. Of course you
could also run a search with filters. Once the patron finds a book they are
interested in they click the link and all the information from the database on
that book is pulled up, including a basic synopsis of the book. As a way to
make money, a link to or some other site to buy the book, could be

"That's all fine for someone that knows what they are looking for. What about
the person that just wants to look around and see what he finds?" We can do
that too! The site should be set up in such a way that it makes for easy
navigation. One feature that should be included would be book suggestions based
on previously checked out books. There would also be an option to add 'books
you like' to the system so that you don't really need to check out books you may
own just so that the system knows the type of books you enjoy.

So the book is ordered, what now? Well at a set time each day all the orders
from the last 24 hours and any holds that are available are printed out by the
computer, by Dewey decimal. the librarians than get all the books the package
them up. They are then shipped to the patrons that ordered them. Now comes a
little confusion. Normally I would say that people could keep books as long as
they want, but then people would just collect books from the library and never
give them back. So I think that a credit card should be left and books can be
borrowed for up to a month. Or, a better idea that keeps with the whole free
thing, is to limit the amount of books that a person or household may have out
at any given time. After that, once the book is returned, it is run through the
computer has being available and the cycle continues on.

There are certain other considerations that need to be taken into account, but
I feel that something like a mail-order library would work out very well. With
the fast paced environment that most of us lead these days, it would be nice to
just be able to 'order' a book and then have it show up. Take a look at
Netflix if you don't think people are either to busy or to lazy to go out to
the video store, or library.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Mail Order Library (Part 1)

I went to the library today, I go almost everyday so that's nothing new, and as I was looking through the shelves I got to thinking about my use of the Inter-library Loan System. Both myself and my girlfriend use it quite extensively. I have often times thought that it would just be easier to have the books delivered right to the house (most of my library visits are to get books that have arrived). My question is why can't I get books delivered right to the house? Why not cut out the trips to the library almost entirely? I think it can be done, and why it hasn't been I don't know.

I'm assuming that all of you know what the Inter-library Loan System is. Almost all libraries are on one network at least. My idea is just an extension on that system. Why not have one repository of books in the state, as book warehouse as it were. This warehouse would hold copies of almost all the books in the state library system, except for reference material. The local library could then be reduced in size since a person would really only need to go to use the computers or get access to reference materials. For all the other books, they are ordered online and delivered either to the local library or right your home.

This model, of course, can also be adapted to a commercial venture.  Just think Netflix for books! With public libraries though, it makes it hard to convince people to pay for a service that they can get for free. The only think paying would get would be home delivery. This could also be used with the Nook's lending feature (sorry kindle fans, you guys don't have it... yet) making it possible to borrow books for you e-reader for whatever price the service was
going for.

Monday, November 30, 2009

All I Want For Christmas...

Yes, a Christmas blog, well, more of a blog about what I'm hoping to get for Christmas.  There are, of course, the large list of specific books I want.  Most of them of the collectible variety, though not to terribly expensive.  For those that don't know I focus my collectible book collection to two areas:  books about books, which include both non-fiction and fiction books, and books dealing with a post-apocalyptic themes.  I've been having a reoccurring dream lately that I got the first edition of of Shelley's The Last Man for Christmas.  Fat chance of that happening, but I can dream can't I?

By and far the most important thing I want to get for Christmas is, well, two things really (if you don't count books... which really makes it three things... I better stop now).  One is a nice bottle of LBV or Vintage Port to enjoy with a good book.  The other is another book case.  More than one would not be unwelcome.  In fact, there is still room in my bedroom for at least another... 4 book cases I should think.  We've pretty much run out of shelf space now and I don't even have half my books with me!  I'd love to get a large wall book case, but that would not be the easiest thing to move into and/or around the apartment.  Still, maybe I'll get that with the Shelley.

OK, that concludes my rambling for today.  You all may go back to reading or whatever it was you where doing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Great Book Debate: The Death of Paper Books?

There has been much talk about e-readers and the 'death' of books for quite a while. With the release of B&N's Nook it seemed to take a fevered pitch, at least for now. I'm sure that this blog will not be the first, nor the last, to offer up an opinion on this subject. I just want to throw my two cents, for whatever it's worth, into the fray. Now, on to the show!


There are some good things about e-books. Things that trump traditional books in a way that can never be duplicated. One of the biggest perks for e-books is the amount of books one can have on hand at any one time. The thought of having thousands of books to browse through is a compelling one. It was not that long ago when most people had, at most, only a small handful of books to their names. Even now, few outside of collectors and bibliophiles has more than a bookcase of books.
The functionality of e-readers can also be a big plus in certain cases. To be able to search text is a big plus for text books, non-fiction, and magazines. I can see schools switching their text books to ebooks, which would save on costs and virtually eliminate out of date text books. Anyone doing research would also be greatly helped with a search function on their books or research material.


A big hinderance to e-books is the fact that they can't hope to simulate traditional books. Paper books are warm and inviting. They have a smell to them that I for one enjoy. The texture of the paper is as pleasing as the sound of the pages being turned. These are things that can't be duplicated in an e-reader. Another major problem is a consumers vs. publisher kind highlighted by the recent Amazon debacle. One has to wonder this: if ebooks to take over traditional books, will they follow the same copyright BS as movies, music, and software? Will you stop paying for ownership of a book and merely pay for the 'privilege' of being able to read the book, but only at the publisher's whim? I, unfortunately, think that will be the case, and that problem alone should be enough for people to for go making ebooks their primary source of reading material.
So now the big question, who will prevail? I honestly think that ebooks will find a nitch in schools and research settings, as well as the few people that happen to buy them. I don't think that they will take over the traditional book and there are a couple of reasons why I think that. First and for most is that the majority of book buyers are older, a group of people that don't like and have a hard time with new technology. I get the feeling that the e-reader producers are trying to market to the wrong crowd. A large portion of the book buying population are also collectors. How are e-books going to be collectible? I'll even go so far as the 'hardcore' book buying population are also fans of printed books over ebooks anyway, which will severally hinder the amount of ebooks sold (not to mention that there are some great sources for FREE ebooks like Project Gutenberg, which will destroy publisher's bottom line, among other things like the big three's predatory pricing (which is something for another post).  Another problem is the fact that there are no set standards for e-readers. A few, like the Kindle, are DRM protected which means they will only play books that have been bought off of or has been converted.. Others are much more open in the formats that they play, but with all the different formats out there, it's hard to include them all. Until there is some standard format, which will come as the RIAA and their ilk try to bring book publishers into their fold, it'll be hard for ebooks to take off since people are not going to want to spend money on readers that may or may not work in the future.
With all that said, the only thing I or anyone else can do is wait and see. I for one am pulling for traditional books and am actively pestering my family and friends about it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Love and Hate for the Public Library

The library, a bitter sweet institution of acquired knowledge and learning. Dedicated to preserving the accumulated writings of the world. In so doing so, though, it has also taken actions against books that make any true bibliophile cry in horrid despair. In an attempt to provide free books to read to the masses, they have taken to rather destructive practices. At cross purposes within itself, the library is an unpalatable gruel of life sustenance that I frolic in with overabundant joy. It's a curse.

The experience of a library is meant to be enjoyed and savored like a fine meal or wine. One must allow ample time to browser and select books with care. Rashness or hurried browsing more often than not leads to making a bad selection. The library opens doors and windows of possibilities that may not usually be explored. Every avenue of literary delight should be rooted out and devoured with happy abandon. Libraries offers the hope of mankind. If more people would stop for a few moments to read a book, there would be a lot more understanding in the world... and a lot less stupidity.

In the libraries unwavering stampede towards complete and total access of all books to everyone, they have also set about to destroy the very things that libraries were originally set up to protect. Don't get me wrong, everyone should have access to books. There just has to be a better way to go about it while protecting the books. It use to be that books where chained to the shelves with just enough slack to take to a nearby table.   There are still plenty of libraries who's books are not open to circulation. For sure every library has those few reference books that can not be taken out or, if the library is lucky enough, a collection of rare books, but I'm talking about libraries that do not let any of their books out. The Grolier Club is a great example. Perhaps I should look into a better way and do a blog about it in the future.

For many people the library is their only source of books and is an indispensable resource when it comes to research. The shear number of books written is staggering and it is impossible for one to get all the books. When those people that collect only certain topics will have a hard time getting everything. What will be interesting to see is what happens to the library with the coming ebook craze. How will they adapt and change? While the slip slowly into obscurity, relegated to preservation only with access to their books only available to academia? I hope not.