Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: books

More Conversation about Libraries . . .


Sandusky Ohio Library Our current conversation began this past Monday, with A Blog Conversation about Libraries . . .

To kick off the conversation, I said:

“I’m going to be rather desultory with this beginning of our discussion—bounce around a bit—rather like being in a library—So much to do…”

And, we had four comments—one from Australia, one from the UK, and two from the USA…

Here’s Jane, from Australia:

“I did love the local library that was in the basement of the town hall near my school. It seemed to have all the books I liked and I had completely forgotten about it until I read this post. I also loved my father’s Volkswagen which had a strange compartment behind the back seat, lined with carpet, into which passengers could throw their paraphernalia. I threw almost all of my favourite books into this sweet spot, so I could read through my collection in the morning on the way to school. Until one day my father said: ‘A book or two is fine in the back but an occasional cull may work well, you know. This is not a travelling library’…then, he smiled because he knew it was…”

I love the early focus here, the local basement library, the library in her father’s Volkswagen, reading on the way to school…

I truly wish my memory were that good—the best I could do (in the first post of this conversation) was the city’s main library I shelved books in when I was 18Though, I’m sure I was in some library before that—at least at school…

It would be interesting to have an ethical hypnotist take me back to my earliest libraries—hang out for a bit, see what books I took out…

Now, Julie, from the United Kingdom:

“We have just come back from Charlbury in Oxfordshire where I took some of my books, to what I thought was an independent bookshop.
“When I got there I found it was a room where local people brought books and bought another copy for 50p—rather like a charity shop. In fact, it was a charity, for the upkeep of the building. Not strictly a library but almost the same. I had to donate, rather than sell.
“The library I use is a mobile library that is only nearby for one morning a week. I get out four novels and have usually read three by the next week!
“I have always used libraries and rarely buy books.”

I tried to find Julie’s charity-shop-library—best I could do was the link up there for Charlbury; plus, on that site, a Gallery that shows the atmosphere of this small English town…

And, speaking of small town libraries, that image up at the beginning of this post is my hometown library in Sandusky, Ohio

Now, Ali, from the USA:

Adventures at my local library:

*seeing the dog for Paws to Read walk herself…
*searching for books from Ursula K. Le Guin and Andre Norton in both the adult and children’s section—doesn’t matter if they’re in the same series or not…
*discovering the library has more than books—music, ways to learn other languages, tv, free wifi access…
*finding lots of old Victorian books printed in the original individual hardback volumes as books used to be printed then…
*learning the library has some ebooks, but not everything I want to read and wondering why…

Speaking of library ebooks; and, referencing a news article from 2014 (plus, considering the pace of institutional change probably not having resolved these issues...):

“Publishers put restrictions not just on which ebooks libraries can offer, but how they can offer them. Some publishers only allow for an ebook to be borrowed 26 times before the library has to purchase the license again. Others opt for the license to expire after a year. And still others instead charge libraries significantly more than they do consumers for ebooks.”

Then, there’s the situation of libraries using self-published ebooks

Finally, this wonderful comment from Tea, also in the USA:

“Well, my first memories of books were of my mothers old encyclopedia collection. I used to tear through the thin pages, resisting the urge to color inside. But my early memories of the library began with the book mobile—the local children’s mobile book service. Inside that huge old colorful bus was a fantasy world where my imagination could run free. Later, as a young adult walking around town, every day I would visit the local University’s library. The long hot days and walks in the southern sun were exhausting. As soon as the automatic doors opened, out rushed the cold air conditioning. Of course, the smell of books was the first thing to jar my senses. The days of my younger years ended in that small library on campus. Later, as an adult, the public libraries became more of a necessity for my lifestyle. There, I could find media resources too, not only books. Also, there was a local popular cafe I frequented. Here people would sit and talk for hours and read. Nowadays, it seems like the laptop has replaced that physical book you held in your hand.”

I happen to know Tea…

I’d never seen anything she’d written. And, though she’s an accomplished artist, apparently, the creative impulse easily crosses over from canvas to the realm of words…

I wonder how many folks reading this post might be willing to share their memories of the library (“…the smell of books was the first thing to jar my senses…”)

Or, how many of you might comment about imperfections of libraries—or, your home libraries—or, street libraries—or, specialized libraries—or, personal digital libraries—or, prison libraries—or, possibly, famous libraries…

All it takes is one comment to let this conversation continue on Friday………
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

A Blog Conversation about Libraries . . .


Libraries Our last conversation was about different types of readers and was on July 2nd, July 4th, and July 6th

Now, let’s launch into Libraries…

I’m going to be rather desultory with this beginning of our discussion—bounce around a bit—rather like being in a library—So much to do…

When I was 18, I spent a season working in a library being what’s called a “page“; essentially, putting books back where they belonged…

I became infatuated with a fellow page; and, during one of our breaks, when she deeply embarrassed me for not inhaling a cigarette being passed around, I promptly began a 50 year addiction (which I quit a couple years ago…)—Ah, such memories…

I really did love the smell of a library…

I didn’t get to the library in my home town until I was in my 60s—rather like a sacred journey…

Then, there were those times I was homeless and appreciated various libraries as warm places to take a nap…

Oh, and mobile libraries; and, incredible library book sales…

But lately, since I’ve let myself roam in the pasture of confirmed bachelorhood and grown very long hair (except for the front and top) and a yet longer beard, even though I’m an author, I don’t dare do readings in a library—don’t wanna scare anyone…

I have however published a moderately large repository of posts about libraries(this post just might sneak into that repository…)

Let’s see… what else can I desultorily throw out, perhaps to engage you enough to have you share a comment, so this conversation can continue beyond today…?

Well… How about that Dewey Decimal System? I hear there are over 135 countries using it to keep their books organized…

Oh, yeah… Try these 25 mini-adventures in the library

Of course, if you’re a writer, you can read your books out loud there; and, I bet some libraries would even let you read your final draft before publication (talk about pre-order opportunities...)…

Then, there are all those Little Free Libraries (they’re really cute and they’re all over the world…)

And, there are, naturally, many other types of libraries

So, how about this…

Instead of me searching Google for links about libraries, why not share a comment about *Your* experiences with libraries…?

I can already hear all those books saying, “Right On!”

Yes, I can hear books talk—can’t you?

Looking forward to the comment that will let this conversation continue………

Almost forgot—what about all those cool librarians?—oh! and, those digital libraries folks carry around now………
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Book Fair Bonus Post ~ with Free Downloads :-)


Do you know about the Frankfurt Book FairFrankfurt Book Fair

It was held from 19 to 23 October this year (2016) and will be from 11 to 15 October next year.

It’s a pretty big deal…

Plus, you can Download All 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair Show Daily Magazines !

As they say:

“Our show daily magazines include coverage of the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair discussions on copyright, freedom to publish, cross-media, rights and more.”

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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

A Few More Reasons to Consider #SelfPublishing


This will make the 148th post I’ve done about “Self-Publishing”.

To see all the others, find the word in the Top Tags widget (down a bit in the left side-bar…)—you’ll see this post there, too, since I’ve tagged it with “Self-Publishing” :-)

So, a few more reasons to consider this “new” (it’s been around since the ’90s…) way to publish

You may not have noticed that traditional publishers are floundering all over the place to “adjust” to the economic realities of the BookWorld.

You also may not have noticed that governments around the world are flailing about, nearly helpless to stop the global economy from unravelling.

About the only thing that’s positive about these situations is that the economies of most countries all depend on one another—unified whether they like it or not—so the “leaders” might just work out some solutions

It’s times like these that breed individualistic activity

Two cases that boldly highlight these issues are in Australia and Israel.

The Australian government has recently attempted to change the traditionally published authors’ protections—witness this articleCall for Clarity on Copyright.

I believe the government may have backed down but the situation is still a sign of the times.

Just one excerpt from that article:

“The government risks seriously damaging an Australian book market that generates $2b in revenue per annum – a healthy, competitive and unsubsidised creative industry — with its unproven plan to abolish the right to buy a licence to publish and market a book in Australia.”

Now, the situation in Israel

Amid Controversy, Israel Repeals Its Fixed Price ‘Book Law’

Again, just one excerpt:

“…the law resulted in a large increase in the price of new titles along with a subsequent decline in sales. Publishers say that while book sales overall fell by 20 percent, sales of newly published books–which fell under the law’s restriction on discounts–declined by as much as 60 percent…”

Something to consider:

As long as there are still governments and economic systems and global communication, self-publishing is “relatively” immune to governmental malfeasance—and, I should add, as long as governments don’t shut-down companies like Amazon and FastPencil and Smashwords and many other outlets for self-published books.

For instance:

I published my novel through FastPencil (though you can grab a free copy Here…).

FastPencil distributed it to Amazon, Ingram, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.

Primarily because it appeared on Amazon, it was picked up by retailers in many other countries, with FastPencil and I not lifting our fingers—just a function of the global economy.

Even in Australia, where they apparently have various restrictions on books from other countries, my book is available on AmazonAustralia

The main point is that my book is as open to not being available as traditionally published books, IF society in general unravels a lot more; but, if it can hold itself at its present wobbly level of functioning, self-published books are more immune from government interference than traditionally published books.

Do be aware, I’m not trying to present a “well-reasoned” “case” for the dangers of traditional publishing—just presenting a few situations that seem, to me, to indicate the worth of investigating self-publishing.

The only thing I can’t do in this post is predict the future………
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century


I don’t really “review” books here—I tend to mention them, make somewhat desultory comments that I hope characterize them (somewhat), then let you decide… Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century

So, this book—Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century.

I’ll first share what their blurb says:

“Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in the fifteenth century introduced an era of mass communication that permanently altered the structure of society. While publishing has been buffeted by persistent upheaval and transformation ever since, the current combination of technological developments, market pressures, and changing reading habits has led to an unprecedented paradigm shift in the world of books. Bringing together a wide range of perspectives — industry veterans and provocateurs, writers, editors, and digital mavericks — this invaluable collection reflects on the current situation of literary publishing, and provides a road map for the shifting geography of its future…”

I, personally, don’t feel it provides a “road map”—more like a large group of “potential hints”

Here are a few excerpts that I found to be particularly potent:

Most people walk around with some kind of device or have access to some kind of device that allows them to choose how to use their time. . . . In a world with that much choice, books need to continue to evolve to compete for someone’s time and interest.”

“Evolve” toward something more than “content” to feed the ravenous masses, I hope………

Books travel through the world collecting strangers. They are public spaces. Readers meet in the margins, at the edge of a text they share in common.”

“The audience is as ready for change as we are; they’re ready to be addressed as readers sharing the common space of a book, strangers ready to recognize each other across difference.”

“A culture of reading makes an economy that is, like reading itself, slower than shopping. It’s conversational, open-ended, interested in detail, difference; it goes on and on, back and forth; it accepts what is available, rather than unilaterally demanding satisfaction.”

Now, a few that trouble me (from a variety of essays in the book):

“How the digital age might alter attention spans and perhaps even how we tell one another stories is a subject of considerable angst.”

“As Wired put it, when you buy the Kindle Fire, ‘you’re not buying a gadget—you’re filing citizen papers for the digital duchy of Amazonia.’”

“Some people still confuse the newspaper literary culture—a small subgroup, almost a fetish really—with literary culture as a whole.”

“Today, not many university presses are flourishing…”

Now, a particularly damning statement:

“Those of us who’ve worked in literary publishing for years know that some pigs are definitely more equal than others. You add class into it and you see that the literary world at the highest levels is a group of tastemakers comprised by a majority of male writers and editors who frequently hand publications, prizes, and other essential forms of recognition back and forth to one another.”

Here’s one from an extremely clear-headed person:

“The question industry professionals need to ask themselves is: ‘How can I use my position to help create a literary world that is diverse, equitable, and doesn’t just represent the same segment of society it always has since its inception? What concrete actions can I take to make actual change and move beyond the tired conversation we’ve been having for decades?’”

And, there are one or two very biased individuals in the book (the following quote omits to mention that traditional publishing is just as much “counting on a miracle”…):

“There’s a role for self-publishing, definitely. But just playing the odds, if you’re a new author, it’s almost always going to make sense to publish with a big or small professional publisher, if you can—a proper editor, some degree of marketing, some degree of professionalism and advice. Want to upload your book onto a self-publishing platform along with hundreds of thousands of others that month, and hope for the best? That’s fine, but you’re basically counting on a miracle.”

Also, that last quote makes the assumption that self-publishing authors don’t avail themselves of editors and never think about book promotion

Still, the variety of voices in this book, from a wide range of disciplines and businesses, is a valuable consideration for those of you who want some important issues to think about—issues that do and will continue to matter in the Book World

So, to bring this non-review to an end—one humble, pithy, utterly true quote, from a book that deserves to be read and pondered over:

“One may counterpose the book to many things, but technology shouldn’t be one of them. The book is not counter-technology, it is technology. It is the apotheosis of technology—just like the wheel or the chair.”

Table of Contents:

Reading the Tea Leaves: Notations on the Changing Look of the Literary SVEN BIRKERTS

The Ends of the Book: Reading, Economies & Publics MATTHEW STADLER

The Amazon Effect STEVE WASSERMAN

The Self-Hating Book Critic JESSA CRISPIN

The View from a University Press DONNA SHEAR

Poetry in Translation: Hemispheric Perspectives GABRIEL BERNAL GRANADOS, KRISTIN DYKSTRA & ROBERTO TEJADA

VIDA: An Interview with Erin Belieu ERIN BELIEU & KEVIN PRUFER

19 Things: More Thoughts on the Future of Fiction JOHN O’BRIEN

Hold the Damn Door Open: Idealism Is No Currency MEGAN M. GARR

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER

Comics Publishing DOUGLAS WOLK

The Art of Agenting: An Interview with Chris Parris-Lamb CHRIS PARRIS-LAMB & JONATHAN LEE

The Open Refrigerator GERALD HOWARD

A Culture of Competition: Some Notes on Writing Contests & Literary Publishing KEVIN LARIMER

Coming to Milkweed Editions DANIEL SLAGER

The Overnight Success of Lookout Books EMILY LOUISE SMITH

The Southern Review at Eighty JESSICA FAUST & EMILY NEMENS

What Is the Business of Literature? RICHARD NASH

The Future Value of a Literary Publisher JANE FRIEDMAN

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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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