Victory for Google Books, larger victory for the public




Have any of your Google searches turned up pages from a book? Google began to experiment with scanning books in 2002 and announced plans to establish a digital library, now known as Google Books, in 2004. The project quickly became mired in controversy as the Authors Guild, some individual authors, and several major publishers sued Google for copyright infringement. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently upheld a 2013 district court ruling on Authors Guild v. Google that Google’s activities constitute fair use under copyright law. The Authors Guild plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. … Continue reading






Writers write about reading, writing, research




Not everyone who reads is doing research. Not everyone who does research in the broadest sense (looking up useful information) writes about it. But everyone who publishes research must read first. Indeed, anyone writes anything must read first. A friend of mine wrote an autobiography, and compiled as much documentation as he could find in order to refresh his memory and insure accuracy. Novelists must not only read other literature voraciously, but if they want respect for their novels, must conduct research to make sure that they describe places, customs, etc. accurately. Whatever else they write about, writers often write … Continue reading






Reference books and sets you must read in print




In my last post, about editing, I cited my father’s entry in Contemporary Authors, a still-growing set with more than 200 printed volumes. I couldn’t find the photocopy I made several years ago when I first stumbled across it. I found an online version in WorldCat, but it’s available only at 8 libraries, none within 500 miles of my home. I had to go to a local library to consult the print version. How many other important reference works are available¬†only in print? … Continue reading






How the Web changed reading, and how writers must adjust




Reading online is a different experience from reading print. In part because hypertext has made it easy to jump from one place to the other, people’s attention spans have gotten shorter. It almost seems a stretch to call most people’s online behavior “reading” at all. They wander throughout the Internet searching for something in particular. They stop to read only when they find it. Perhaps they want simple facts. Beyond just facts, people look for explanations of unfamiliar topics. They look for reviews of products or movies or books. They look for controversy. [ad name=”Google Adsense links 468×15″] Foraging Whatever … Continue reading






Library robots




Libraries have always been at the forefront of adopting new technology, but their innovations usually have something to do with organizing and retrieving information. The online library catalog is a good example. Now some libraries are borrowing technology from manufacturing: robots that shelve and retrieve physical books. It may come as a surprise to some people that printed books are still such a big deal to academic libraries. After all, much of formerly huge reference collections has been replaced by online databases. Long runs of many important journals and other periodicals are likewise available as full text online. Ebooks have … Continue reading