Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: New York Public Library

Children’s Books in a Globalizing World

Click me to check out the book, Wild Things!

This post might be seen as directed to only English-speaking folk.

Yet, I’m hoping a few of my readers from other countries will share their comments about translations into their own home languages

And, there is, now, a Translation Widget at the top of the left side-bar :-)


As far as finding someone dedicated to broadening children’s educational potentials, Elizabeth Bird should certainly claim the attention of interested individuals


She’s currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library

She also blogs at Fuse # 8 Production

And, she’s also one of the three authors of Wild Things! ~ Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature

But, for today’s post, I’ll focus on an article she did for the School Library Journal — Outlandish: Braving new perspectives through books in translation.

She begins with this:

“Putting aside the fact that these are written works for children, what do Pippi Longstocking, the Moomins, many of the books by Cornelia Funke, ‘Press Here’ by Hervé Tullet, and the works of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm all have in common? If you said every one of these was a work of translation, you have earned yourself a cookie.”

Later in the article comes this impressively important statement:

“…now more than ever it is imperative that children read books that reflect our globalized world. We’ve heard a lot about needing more diverse books for children, and it’s true. All of it. But the fact of the matter is that talking about diverse children’s books goes above and beyond the familiar. Sure we need windows and mirrors, but don’t those windows need to look out at something besides our own backyards?”

Yet later, she offers a quote:

“‘I think we overdo books as mirrors and underemphasize books as windows’, adds author and educator Marc Aronson. ‘A translated book is precisely a window into another way of thinking and seeing.’ And when we miss out on seeing the world through the eyes of someone who is actually from that country, we deny ourselves the chance to experience a culture from within a story.”

Then, after a meaty discussion of the problems and troubles that can be encountered in even trying to get books for children translated, she says this:

“To make the ‘other’ recognizable, not just to children, but to teachers and librarians, is to work with translated literature. As we raise the next generation of readers, we must work to help them be open to the world. To do this, they need to hear world voices and to see alternatives to their own way of life. In the end they may still value their own country, but learning about other cultures, straight from the horse’s mouth, adds a richness to their perspectives.”

And, while I earnestly encourage you to go read the full article (there’s much to ponder), I know many blog readers don’t take links; so, here are some of Elizabeth’s final comments:

“…consider taking to heart National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang’s recent Reading Without Walls Challenge. In May 2016, he introduced an initiative that challenges people to read a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you, read about a topic you don’t know much about, and read a book in a format you don’t normally read for fun. Global children’s literature is a perfect fit for this experiment.”

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“Books In Browsers” ~ Where Is Digital Publishing Headed?

{ I wrote this in 2014 but it still has much that’s quite relevant to Digital Publishing… }

It’s easy to think that digital publishing is moving swiftly away from the Internet browser—Apps on phones, E-books on phones and tablets, and dedicated E-readers… Books In Browsers

Yet, last month, the New York Public Library and the Frankfurt Book Fair sponsored the 5th Annual Books In Browsers Summit, “…for the new generation of internet publishing companies, focusing on developers and designers who are building and launching tools for online storytelling, expression, and art.”

The BiB’s official media partner, Publishing Perspectives, had this in a recent article:

“…improvisation and creation requires people to have a certain level of proficiency with the tools they are using. Composing requires ‘an abstracted mentality’, …and ‘if digital fiction is going to be a widespread art form…we have to be able to play with it.’ Instead of building tools for authors to write…we should be building tools that allow authors to build their own tools.”

Now that’s some heady stuff!

“…tools that allow authors to build their own tools…”

A recent article in Digital Book World said:

“Unlike operating system-specific apps that require discovering and downloading said app, the web is available to readers on just about every digital device—all they need is a URL. And every tablet, phone and desktop comes equipped with a web browser—almost all of which are more powerful than even the most sophisticated e-reader.”

They went on to give reasons to reconsider the Web as a publishing platform:

  • Ubiquitous access
  • SEO optimization
  • Better design control
  • Analytics and user acquisition

And, one last bit from that DBW article:

“…publishers and readers will in most cases both be better served by ebook content managed in a content management system (CMS).”

And, if you really want to get inside the heads of the folks who are working to create tools that let authors create their own tools, watch this series of videos from the Books In Browsers Summit:

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Are E-books Going to Kill Libraries or Refashion Them?

I’m referencing two stories today, both concerning New York, the world’s second largest city—one about the New York Public Library and one about The New York Times e-book bestseller list.

I often do a search on this blog after I’ve discovered another site’s story to see if I’ve written past posts that are relatable.

When I plunked the word “e-book” into the search box up there, I noticed that many of the post titles mentioned libraries—makes sense if you follow the changes happening in our BookWorld.

Just to remind ourselves what a library can be, in this world that seems to be morphing into a digital dreamscape, here’s a quote from the first article, The Bookless Library:

“…libraries are not just repositories of books. They are communities, sources of expertise, and homes to lovingly compiled collections that amount to far more than the sum of their individual printed parts.”

While it’s still true that libraries acquire more traditionally-published books than self-published, the second article, Four self-published authors on New York Times ebook bestseller list, relates this truth:

“…’readers are more focused on a good story that they can enjoy instead of where the book was published…Thanks to the internet they can research books before committing time and money on them.'”

It’s also true that folks can research books at the library before buying them.

Yet, that’s only true if the library already has the book and one is willing to leave home

If you peruse some of those past posts that the search for “e-books” yields, you’ll see that quite a few libraries are redesigning themselves to attract more patrons and working to bring e-books into the building.

The Bookless Library says:

“…several hundred prominent writers and academics, have gone so far as to allege that the NYPL’s new president, Anthony Marx, formerly the head of Amherst College, sees the libraries of the future less as repositories for books and learning than as glorified Internet cafés.”

Yet, further along in the article:

“Since 2010, a consortium of libraries, foundations, and other organizations has begun to create a so-called Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), that will, in the words of its mission statement, “make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all.” The DPLA aims to bring together work already digitized by a range of electronic initiatives…”

Also, I assume libraries want to have all the bestsellers available for their patrons.

Yet there are now digital books, that have never smelled like paper, becoming bestsellers.

In the article about The New York Times e-book bestseller list, Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, says:

“We knew this day was coming. Self-published ebook authors are landing on the New York Times bestseller list in a big way [and] lightning struck multiple times….It’s a big deal to see a single Smashwords author on the New York Times Bestseller list, let alone four in one week. A year ago, it was unheard of. A year from now, it’ll be more commonplace.”

David A. Bell, author of The Bookless Library, is an historian of early modern France at Princeton University, yet he wrote a fascinating fictional look into the future in his piece:

“One nightmare scenario is all too easy to imagine. The year is 2033, and the Third Great Recession has just struck. Although voters have finally turned the Tea Party out of office in Washington, the financial situation remains dire across the country. New York City in particular faces skyrocketing deficits as a result of the most recent Wall Street wipeout, and the bankruptcy of Goldman Chase. In City Hall, a newly elected mayor casts a covetous glance at the grand main branch of the New York Public Library. Think how much money the city could save by selling it, along with the thirty remaining branch libraries scattered throughout the five boroughs. After strenuous negotiations, the mayor announces a deal with Googlezon, under which the company will make fifty electronic copies of any book in its database available at any one time to city residents, for two-week free rentals on the reading device of their choice. Two years later, where the main branch library once stood, the mayor proudly cuts the ribbon at the opening of the Bryant Park Mall. As for the services once performed by actual librarians, these have now been replaced by a cloud software package, with customer service representatives standing by online in case of technical difficulties (most of them physically located in suburban Manila).”

Then, he goes on to sketch-out a far more positive and believable future for libraries

So, what are your thoughts and feelings about self-publishing, e-books, and libraries?

Will print books disappear?

Will libraries disappear?

Will traditional publishers disappear?

Will the world ever stop changing??
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Should We All Self-Publish A Book?

You’ve probably heard the old adage: “Everyone has a novel in them.”

Sometimes, it continues with, “and that’s right where it should stay.”

I can believe everyone does have a novel or autobiography or memoir or non-fiction book inside them.

What I can’t believe is that everyone has what it takes to get it out.

Some folks use ghost writers. And, the ones who are brave write it themselves and self-publish.

I guess you could call me brave………

If you’re new to this blog, you should know that, even though my latest book is for sale, I still give it away. [HINT: it’s one of the pink links in the left side-panel]

I self-published for two reasons:

* My book needs to be read as soon as possible by people because, even though it’s a novel, the story has the potential to help our human family.

* I really didn’t think traditional publishers would see my book as a profit-maker.

By the way, that particular book, even though it’s only six months old has found its way into at least one library.

Naturally, I’ve written a number of other posts about various aspects of self-publishing but there’s yet another angle:

Sacramento Public Library: Self-publishing made possible through Espresso Book Machine

Darien Library to Become First East Coast Library to Install Espresso Book Machine

New York Public Library gets first Espresso Book Machine

And, there are more places, libraries and bookstores, getting into the act…

Walk in and, in five minutes, have one of thousands of books, possibly one you’ve just finished writing (and, hopefully edited well), printed on the spot, for extremely nominal cost. I saw one library charging only $6.00/book

What does this phenomenon mean?

Not only can folks self-publish through companies that take care of the production end of book-birth, people can walk into a library or bookstore and walk out with their own book in mere minutes

Is this intriguing to you?

Does it sound like something that will turn into a short-lived fad?

Will it make lots more people believe they have a book in them just waiting to get out?

Want to check out the company that makes this machine?

Wanna watch a book being made?

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For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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