Reproduction and the value of noise

I’ve just been reading David McKitterick’s Old Books and New Technologies and something he says on page 15 (clearly, I’ve not gotten far yet), has made me pause. He is writing about the reproduction of early texts done by the ProQuest (then known as University Microfilms), in which the pages were copied onto microfilm. “Not surprisingly, quality varied, of the film when it was originated in libraries across mostly Britain and North…

A Reader’s Manifesto

A Readers’ Manifesto Written in response to Phillip Jones call for a ‘Manifesto for the Future of the Book Business‘, which I came across too late. In our digital age when all things appear possible for writers and publishers, in an age when the entrepreneur of the book trade believes “if you build it he will come”, the reader has frequently been reduced to the role of the consumer who…

eBooks and Audio books

Downloaded audio continued its multi-year growth track. The category hit record growth in both units (27.0%) and revenue (26.8%) over 2013. While the category has been growing steadily and significantly, physical audio slightly declined. (source: dbw 2015) The popular wisdom regarding eBooks, and what some see as their inevitable replacement of physical books for the majority of readers, is that eBooks are far more convenient than eBooks and therefore a superior…

Amazon is a delivery service

I’ve just been reading Clay Shirky’s recent post on the Amazon – Hachette feud, Amazon, Publishers, and Readers, in which he does a good job of presenting the standard argument that Amazon is on the side of the consumer because it keeps the price of books low. Publishers, the argument continues, are only looking to support their own profits. I suppose it makes sense to assume that Amazon is not…

eBook Ecosystems

Joseph Esposito recent article “An Industry Pining for Bookstores” makes a strong argument for the value which bookstores have in the current book industry and the effect that ebooks will have on the ecosystem of that industry. Bookstores, he argues, are where we find physical books; and “with bookstores collapsing everywhere, the print business collapses along with it.” Esposito argues that the decline of the bookstore, however it may have…

A bookstore by its cover

Thumbnails of home pages

Although you can’t (shouldn’t?) judge a book by its title, we do. They are part of what Gerard Genette referred to as “paratext”, the “threshold … that offers the world at large the possibility of either stepping inside or turning back”; in effect, they are the front door. For e-commerce sites, the home page performs a similar function, inviting the site visitor to enter deeper into the site by clicking…

A Bookselling Timeline

The retail book business in the United States may have begun with John Dunton’s visit in 1685-86 where he is said to have sold a load of books to help cover some debts. He is said to have found the New England book buyers “‘smart’ customers and slow paymasters.”(Chambers 1832). This time line, however, concentrates on the 20th and 21st centuries for now. Chambers, R., 1832. The Book of Days:…

1930s Bookstore access

Almost every week a web page announces the closure of another bookstore. This week we have Queen Anne in Seattle and Capital Comics in Raleigh, NC among others. The flood of closures appears to have been stemmed somewhat by the closing of Borders across the country, an event that provided a lifeline for the indies. It is worth putting the closures of recent years into some sort of historical perspective….

The pleasure of the book

I received this book in the post earlier this week, the day after I ordered it through ABE UK from Charles Bossom Books. It arrived tightly packed they way my father taught me books should be packed, with the description enclosed in the book and a quick word about Mr Bossom’s store, which I had not known but which he has been running since 1963. The book itself struck me…

The osCommerce Book Store

I recently began  updating the design and function of the Parnassus Book Service website, simplifying the look and updating the code to use HTML5 and CSS3 (which will  improve its suitability for mobile devices). This has meant working through many, many individual web pages to remove the old table-based layout and replace it with block tags and classes. The site was created about ten years ago using osCommerce, an open-source…