Avoiding bookstores

On Tuesday this week my wife and I took the day off for trip to the countryside. There were no bookstores on the agenda. We planned to visit two rural towns we knew and go for a bike ride. I was not looking for books, did not want to buy any books, and meant to have a good bike ride followed by a cold beer before heading home. So I…

The Old Bookshop

We’ve all been there. The sign says used books, or old books, or just books for sale, so we turn in the drive. Usually it is an old barn or a garage where the owner has stacks of used books on tables or tossed onto shelves — popular fiction from the last twenty years, at least one Arthur Hailey novel (for some reason it’s usually Airport), a stack of microwave…

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…

Booksellers lead innovation

he Poets of Great Britain Complete from Chaucer to Churchill all fitting in a single book-shaped suitcase

It’s always nice to find historical evidence of the leading role the bookseller has taken in innovating the book industry. eReaders, which are frequently sold based on the portability they provide (the Kindle claims to hold 1100 books, therefore Kobo claims 10,000 and so on), are typically dated back to the Rocket eBook or Softbook Reader, both of which were the result of technological innovations developed by engineers. Thanks to Mike…

Innovation in edtech

History of Crayola colors

This is a presentation I’ve played with to show students on Bangor’s PGCert in Higher Education induction course. I’ve done tried all the ideas listed, nor have I listed all the ideas I could. But hopefully it will inspire some ideas. Feel free to share them below.

Why would Amazon go physical?

Digital Book World reports  that, according to research by the Codex group, about one-sixth of new books are now discovered on-line, often through on-line retailers, but increasingly through social networking sites. While more than half of books — ebooks and print books — are bought online in some form, a much lower proportion of discovery occurs in those venues. On the Web but outside of online retail spaces, readers are…

Book Signal and Publishing Noise

Reading Ted Striphas’ blog entry from last February, The Shannon and Weaver Model brings to mind another one of Shannon’s contributions to information theory, and one that I find applies directly to the business of bookselling. As I have written before, I think discovery is destined to become once again a core service of independent bookstores. The easiest way to explain why is to use Shannon’s concept of signal to…

Discovery, trust and bookstores

I was reading Peter Turner’s blog post Nobody Knows Anything—But Let’s Not Let That Stop Us this morning, in which he reviews some of his assumptions about the book trade (while on the long drive to Maine). I was struck in particular by the first of these assumptions: As the volume of content that is available increases, both delivering and determining content of quality will become increasingly difficult and valuable….

Blocked bookman

I’ve just been trying to visit Greg Gibson’s Ten Pound Island Book Company web site. Like most people, I used Google to find the site, which it did. However, it then refused me entry. It seems someone had hacked the site with malware, and it was currently being banned by Google. In the current Internet age, that is the equivalent of a medieval excommunication. It effectively cuts the site off…

Patents

I’ve just been reading John Carrolls’s article, “Why I hate Apple” (www.zdnet.com/blog/carroll/why-i-now-hate-apple/1925) and Nilay Patel’s “Apple vs HTC: a patent breakdown” (www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-vs-htc-a-patent-breakdown/), both from 2010 when the Apple/HTC patent suit began. Carroll provides a pretty clear explanation of why Apple as a company needs to be considered more skeptically than many people do. It does not matter whether you like or dislike the company’s products. They are generally well designed…