According to Library Journal, leaders of two industries trying to figure out their business models in the rapidly-changing digital world met today. American Library Associate executives met with representatives of at least three of the major publishers at the ALA Midwinter 2012 Conference in Dallas. From the Annoyed Librarian:
There’s some tough talk from the ALA Executive Director, who said, “I want to assure you that the dialog will begin with us saying ‘you need to deal with libraries and you need to do this as soon as possible,’ then we can have a dialog starting from there.” I’ve attended a lot of meetings in my time and I’ve never seen one that began so belligerently accomplish anything.
Were I a Simon & Schuster representative – and for all you know I am – my response to that line would be, “Or what?” That sounds mild, but I’d say it in a really hostile tone of voice, and I’d be really menacing and all.
Read the article In Which I Solve the Ebook Library Lending Problem.
Several major websites will go black tomorrow, January 18th, to protest SOPA and PIPA.
In case you haven’t followed the story, SOPA is House Bill H.R.3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act which is moving through Congress. PIPA is Senate Bill S.968, the Protect IP Act. The goal of SOPA is to allow the government to block access to websites which it suspects engage in illegal intellectual property distribution or merely host users who do so. Opponents insist it will fundamentally change the Internet and allow government to censor it.
Two of the most-used websites will “go black” in protest. Wikipedia will black out its English language site for 24 hours beginning at midnight. The Internet Archive (internet.org) is going dark from 6:00am to 6:00pm (PDT) in protest.
Internet companies have joined sides, and some (such as GoDaddy) have switched sides due to popular pressure. The House Judiciary Committee published a List of Supporters of SOPA. Last month, 83 prominent Internet founders and innovators wrote An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress. Anti-SOPA companies have written joint letters to Congress stating their opposition, as well.
Regarding SOPA/PIPA’s effects on libraries, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) (which consists of the American Library Association, the Association of College and
Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries) has issued a letter showing the negative impact on libraries and making them more susceptible to prosecution.
Last year Google started an online periodical called Think Quarterly. Rather than looking back, Google will explore aspects of the Internet on future culture. From Think Quarterly‘s About page:
We don’t want to review what’s happened; we want to prepare you for what happens next. For each issue, we tap our homegrown visionaries, plus heads of industry, innovators and experts, to lend their insights and outlooks on the digital future. We hope it gives a view into what drives us as a company and inspires those of you who lead the way.
Previous issues have be titled “The Innovation Issue” (July 2011) and “The People Issue” (September 2011). The current issue is called “The Speed Issue”. All of this is great reading for the librarian who wants to understand the digital world in which we work.
One interesting article in the current issue looks at the speeding Internet time and its disruption of just about every sector of life. The author makes an analogy to “Gutenberg Time” when the new printed book disrupted the Church, increased information and the pace of the Reformation, allowed scientists to more easily build on the past work of others, and created new jobs and whole industries. Read more from the article Not So Fast.
Access the current issue Think Quarterly.
Eric Hellman has a New Year’s Day blog post listing the “ebooks wars” that broke out in 2011. The year was indeed a disruptive one in the retail ebook market as well as the time when the future role of libraries is put into question. His nine skirmishes are:
- Harper-Collins and Overdrive Stop Pretending
- Amazon Occupies Overdrive
- The Penguin Strikes Back
- Prime Pretends To Be a Library
- Publishers Decide Google Is a Lesser Evil
- Authors Lob Legal Grenades at HathiTrust
- Amazon Obliterates Borders
- Libraries Muster the Resistance
- Anti-Piracy Hysteria Threatens Freedom Loving Citizens
Many of these battles are ongoing and 2012 should see more surprises and further disruptions. Authors, publishers, online retailers, and libraries will all position themselves to get control of the burgeoning ebook market.
Read the blog post 2011: The Year the eBook Wars Broke Out.