Tag Archives: technology

Cuts, Moves, and Downsizing at NYC Libraries

IMG_0050Yet again, another sad story about libraries losing funding — and this time, it’s regarding one of the most well-known libraries worldwide, the New York Public Library.

According to The Screwy Decimal, a blog written by a public librarian from Brooklyn, New York City’s preliminary budget is proposing a 35% cut in library funding, the largest funding cut that NYC libraries have ever faced. The $106.7 million library budget could result in slashing library hours in half, eliminating almost 1500 jobs, and closing more than 60 libraries.

This comes just after news broke that the Brooklyn Public Library (which is included in the New York City Library System) would be selling its two libraries — one in Brooklyn Heights and one in Boerum Hill. According to NYC real estate site The Real Deal, the library in Brooklyn Heights will be sold, with the lower floor remaining a library and the upper floors being converted into apartments. The library in Boerum Hill will be relocated to an as-yet unnamed space, set to open in 2016. It will remain open in its current location until the new space is ready.

With all the moves, cuts, and closures, it’s obvious that libraries aren’t able to offer what they once did simply because of financial restraints. And it’s a shame because with the economy the way it is, and with libraries advancing in a technological capacity, library usage is on the rise. If my library closed or cut hours, I would be devastated. Thoughts?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under News Articles

Libraries Adjust to Loss of Bookstores

As bookstores continue to flounder, libraries are now making it a point to take advantage of the moment and roll with the times.

According to The New York Times, libraries are realizing that print is coming in second to digital. As a result, libraries are now offering more e-books and technology options (like more space for computers within the library walls). But libraries are also making more of the big bestsellers available, and then selling them for a reduced price when the library starts to carry the books in excess. Karen Ann Cullotta explains.

At the bustling public library in Arlington Heights, Ill., requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer tracking system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out best sellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: the library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Of course, librarians acknowledge that when patrons’ passion for the sexy series lacking in literary merit cools in a year or two, the majority of volumes in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy will probably be plucked from the shelves and sold at the Friends of the Library’s used-book sales, alongside other poorly circulated, donated and out-of-date materials.

With less waiting and larger scale sales down the road, libraries are becoming more and more like bookstores. And in a post-recession age when people are willing to do most anything to save a buck, why not? Why pay for a book when there’s a magical little place in your hometown that will allow you to take it home for free?

These are moves that libraries hope will increase foot traffic and users. Do you think they will?

1 Comment

Filed under News Articles

Barnes & Noble Launches Nook HD

In an effort to bypass Amazon, Barnes and Noble announced this morning it is releasing two new high-definition versions of the company’s popular e-reader, the Nook HD. This comes after Amazon announced earlier this month it would release four new versions of the Kindle, including the Kindle Fire in HD.

According to the Associated Press, the Nook HD will come in two sizes, one with a 7-inch screen for $199 and one with a 9-inch screen, called the Nook HD+ for $269. It will also be lighter and narrower than Amazon’s new Kindles. In order to compete with Amazon, the Nook HD will offer a video purchase and rental service for both movies and TV shows, making it more of a tablet and less of an e-reader.

Barnes & Noble will continue to sell its Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with backlight, but will start phasing out the Nook Tablet and Nook Color.

Experts say there are pros and cons to both the new Nook HD and Kindle HD, as Mae Anderson explains.

On specs alone, the new Nook presents a tough choice for consumers seeking a cheap option to the iPad this holiday, analysts say. The 7-inch Nook HD is slightly lighter and narrower, with a sharper display than the similarly priced 7-inch Kindle Fire.

“If the decision the consumer is making is whether to buy based on hardware, these new Nooks will beat out Amazon,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “But that’s not the decision every consumer is going to make — hardware is only as good as the services the hardware enables.”

So far, Amazon offers more services, McQuivey said, with a bigger app store, and more extensive video library, not to mention Amazon’s vast product offerings and its Amazon Prime free-shipping service.

One thing the new Nook HD has going for it? Some retailers like Walmart and Target have stopped selling Amazon’s Kindle because of the online competition, but Barnes & Noble products will still be available in these stores.

1 Comment

Filed under News Articles

Apple Reinvents Textbooks

Ah, behold the power of textbooks — educational and valuable? Yes. But they’re also pricey, heavy, and often not used to their full potential. Students tend to avoid opening them at all costs, and even teachers only use certain sections from them. But Apple is reinventing the wonderful world of textbooks — or hoping to.

Last week, the techie company rolled out a new app called iBooks 2, which would allow students to download textbooks onto an iPad for only $15 each. That’s a price students are more willing to pay if it also means having more portable, interactive books.

According to this article by Huffington Post, Apple says the iBooks 2 app — the next step up from its iBooks app, which only offers non-textbook-books — will allow publishers to incorporate 3D models, images, and videos into the books. Students will also be able to look up words, highlight text, and search through the book.

The app is available for free download on the iTunes store. So far, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin have partnered with Apple.

The article only references high school textbooks for the iBooks 2 app. But Apple also announced an iPad and iPhone app for iTunes U that would allow teachers to create syllabi, upload videos from class lectures, and publish class notes.

Overall, this seems like an awesome plan. Yes, the kids will need an iPad to use the program, but many high schools have them now, and if not, the money kids will save from textbooks can now be put toward an iPad! I love the idea of interactive textbooks. It’s a modernized way of making learning fun, and I think that’s something any teacher, student, or parent can appreciate.

1 Comment

Filed under News Articles

Bill Gates: Book Critic

Bill Gates is best known for his computer work. But now he’s entering another field: book reviews.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, Gates has been reviewing books on his personal web site, The Gates Notes, since March of this year. It seems that the majority of the books he’s read and reviewed are nonfiction and align with his philanthropic interests, like healthcare, education, and technology. Just a few of the books he’s read include Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools by Steven Brill, Global Warming: The Complete Briefing by John Houghton, and The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa by Deborah Brautigam.

When I first read this article about Gates’ new venture into book reviews, I thought “What does he know? I thought he only knows computers.” But he is a Harvard dropout, and his worldly interests and opportunities have given him a real-life perspective into many of the topics he’s reading about and reviewing. That being said, his reviews are pretty good and eloquently written.

So if you ever get sick of me, just know you can always go to The Gates Notes and see what Bill Gates has to say about the latest nonfiction reads on prevalent social issues.

Leave a comment

Filed under News Articles

First Came Smartphones, Now Come Smart Books

As if smartphones don’t already do enough thinking for you, now they will be equipped to assist with your reading.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, Atria will begin publishing books with smart chips inside. They will be compatible with NFC-enabled (Near Field Communication) smartphones to provide additional materials for the book.

Right now, the concept is mostly functioning as a marketing tool. Shoppers can use their phones at the bookstore to see what else the books have to offer. The ability to interactively connect with the book lures in the buyer, instantly sparking further interest in the material.

So if books that might otherwise be overlooked start to use this technology, they might do better in sales than anticipated. Though the author of the article brings up a few good points.

I guess this makes me old-fashioned: the way I decide to buy a book in a bookstore is to pick it up and look inside. Would it be possible for a book with a smart chip that adds enhanced content, rather than marketing? How could it be packaged if the book is sitting there on the shelf, easy to flip through?

The first smart book Atria is publishing is The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes Them Buy by Gary Schwartz.

What do you think? If a book were a “smart book,” would you be more inclined to buy it?

1 Comment

Filed under News Articles

iSteve: The Bio Has Been Moved Up!

There’s more news on the way from Steve Jobs. No, it’s not a newer version of the iPad, iPod, or iPhone, but rather a history of iSteve.

The uber-rich, turtleneck-loving Apple CEO’s biography will now be released November 21st, according to the L.A. Times. The book, written by Aspen Institute president Walter Isaacson, was initially set to come out March 6th.

With the release still 3 months away, the bio has already undergone a number of changes. First: its title — originally iSteve: The Book of Jobs — is now Steve Jobs: A Biography. And the cover has also changed from this (somewhat clever, but unrecognizable) mock-up to the one included in this blog post.

There’s no question that Jobs’ bio will do well, like all of his other products. In fact, it’s already an Amazon bestseller thanks to pre-orders.

But what’s most interesting is what will be included in the biography. According to this L.A. Times article, it’s more than just his rise to the head of an internationally-renowned technology company.

A quote from Jobs in the [Barnes and Noble] description seems to hint at what the Apple CEO has to say in the book.

“I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of, such as getting my girlfriend pregnant when I was 23 and the way I handled that,” Jobs said, according to the description. “But I don’t have any skeletons in my closet that can’t be allowed out.”

The Barnes & Noble listing said that Jobs was, at times, brutally honest “about the people he worked with and competed against,” and his friends and foes were the same.

Sounds like Steve Jobs had a juicier life than we all thought! He’s man who’s created so much and shared so little…until now.

So, are you going to read it?

Leave a comment

Filed under News Articles