Return of the Book Blogger

The longer I go without posting, the more I want to be able to offer either a really good excuse or a really brilliant post to make up for it. Well, I don’t have an excuse (other than the existence of February) and I don’t have anything brilliant, so instead I’m just going to let you know what I have been thinking about the past couple of weeks and try to get back on track.

Revenge of the Ebooks

If you don’t work in a library, you may not follow ebook news as rabidly as I do. It’s no secret that I am not the world’s biggest ebook fan, but they aren’t going away, and libraries are kind of stuck with whatever scraps get thrown our way as publishers desperately try to figure out how to handle this new medium (and how to keep Amazon from taking over the entire world while they’re at it). A couple of weeks ago Random House, the only publisher of the Big Six that was really playing nicely with libraries, announced an ebook price hike of about 300% to libraries.  That ebook that costs you $15? Libraries are paying $40 or more for it now. For the exact same book. (We can still buy the print copy for the same price – actually, we tend to get a discount on print books, since we buy so many.)
Normally I encourage people to go to their libraries for books. I know I’d never be able to read as much as I do if I had to rely on books I could buy or get publishers to send me. But ebooks? You can’t get any new Penguin titles from your library,  although they might have some older ones. HarperCollins books only circulate 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy. (For what it’s worth, our storage copy of Wicked, a HarperCollins book, has been out that many times and still sits happily on our shelf.) Your library probably can’t afford to buy too many Random House books any more; maybe the top five or ten or twenty bestsellers, depending on their yearly budget. And the other Big Six publishers? Well, they won’t sell ebooks to libraries at all.
Libraries have been trying to negotiate with publishers. Publishers just aren’t having it. I’m getting sick of it – and I’m not the only one. There’s been some discussion among the library blogosphere lately about libraries just dropping ebooks until there’s a more viable system. I’m not in a position to make that kind of decision for my library (lucky me), but I don’t think I’d argue against it. I can, however, use my little corner of the interwebs to increase awareness of the issue. Look for some changes in the footers to my reviews in the future.

Attack of the Book List

I have finally – finally! – decided to stop checking out new books from the library so that I can get some work done on that giant to-read pile of mine. You know, the one I wrote the challenge for? Or rather, I’ve finally managed to stick to my resolution. So right now I’m working my way through the books I have checked out right now, discarding them at an alarming rate (I’ve never given up on mediocre books so quickly) and devouring the good ones. I’m developing a small fixation on Russian sf thanks to watching both Night Watch and Day Watch in the past couple of weeks and now reading The Scar by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. When I finally free myself from my to-read pile of doom, I shall definitely be ordering more of this.
And the to-read pile itself? It’s metastasizing all over the living room in exactly the way I was hoping to prevent. I got a preview copy of Chrysanthe from Tor, and my new roommate (also a book blogger) got a copy of Range of Ghosts, so those are at the top, closely followed by the armload of pirate books I got from Frugal Muse. On the other hand, at least I’ve used up all my book store gift certificates for now?

The Reviews Strike Back

I am so far behind I can’t even see caught up at this point. So rather than drive myself crazy with my backlog, I’m going to stop trying to post a review for every single book I read and focus on writing good reviews for the ones I have something to say about. This means that the recap is pretty much going away (possibly to be supplanted by an In My Mailbox to keep up with the ever-growing throng). If you’re really curious about what I’m reading from one moment to the next, you can always follow me on Goodreads for instant gratification. (I like Goodreads friends!) Hopefully this will mean better reviews on a more regular schedule, which are more fun for me to write and more fun for you to read.
You’ll see some design changes in the near future, too (including the dropping of those unbelievably pointless Google ads). I don’t want to over-commit, though, so no deadlines, just a promise: I aten’t dead, and things will be happening soon.
(Many links curated by Bobbi Newman at her blog Librarian By Day, a fabulous resource.)

4 thoughts on “Return of the Book Blogger

  1. EBooks are definitely a sticky topic right now. I’m grateful that the academic publishers are reacting slightly better than the popular publishers, though they still don’t make it the easiest thing in the world, and I’m afraid they will take cues from other publishers, there being a precedent now and everything. Yours is one of the better overall summaries I’ve read of the issue – concise and easy to understand.

    1. Thank you – I work hard to make sure my rants are as intelligible as possible. :) I admit to knowing very little about the academic side of publishing. At least there is a sense in academia of the value both of the knowledge itself and of having it spread around as much as possible; but at the same time, academic journals are notorious for having the worst pricing conflicts in the world. It’s a messy time, all this upheaval.

  2. I envy the fact that you have decided not to review each and every book that you read. I too have a lot many to review and don’t know how to go about it. I feel kind of guilty if I don’t review a book – as if I have left a work undone.

    1. Oh, I feel that guilt too – that’s why I have Goodreads. 😀 I first started reviewing books with little one-sentence responses, though, and only went into blogging when I realized how many reviews required more than that. There are still definitely one-sentence books in the world, though.

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