The Internet and the Library

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

Distributor Baker & Taylor have unveiled atrepparttar recent ALA a prototype e-book distribution system jointly developed by ibooks and Digital Owl. It will be sold to libraries by B&T's Informata division and Reciprocal.

The annual subscription for use ofrepparttar 108503 digital library comprises "a catalog of digital content, brandable pages and web based tools for each participating library to customize for their patrons. Patrons of participating libraries will then be able to browse digital content online, or download and check outrepparttar 108504 content they are most interested in. Content may be checked out for an extended period of time set by each library, including checking out eBooks from home." Still, it seems that B&T's approach is heavily influenced by software licencing ("one copy one use").

But, there is an underlying, fundamental incompatibility betweenrepparttar 108505 Internet andrepparttar 108506 library. They are competitors. One vitiatesrepparttar 108507 other. Free Internet access and e-book reading devices in libraries notwithstanding -repparttar 108508 Internet, unless harnessed and integrated by libraries, threatens their very existence by depriving them of patrons. Libraries, in turn, threatenrepparttar 108509 budding software industry we, misleadingly, call "e-publishing".

There are major operational and philosophical differences between physical and virtual libraries. The former are based onrepparttar 108510 tried and proven technology of print. The latter onrepparttar 108511 chaos we know as cyberspace and on user-averse technologies developed by geeks and nerds, rather than by marketers, users, and librarians.

Physical libraries enjoy great advantages, notrepparttar 108512 least being their habit-forming head start (2,500 years of first mover advantage). Libraries are hubs of social interaction and entertainment (the way cinemas used to be). Libraries have catered to users' reference needs in reference centres for centuries (and, lately, through Selective Dissemination of Information, or SDI). The war is by no means decided. "Progress" may yet consist ofrepparttar 108513 assimilation of hi-tech gadgets by lo-tech libraries. It may turn out to be convergence at its best, as librarians become computer savvy - and computer types create knowledge and disseminate it.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and

Visit Sam's Web site at

A Brief History of the Book - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

The never-abating battle between industrial-commercial publishers with their ever more potent technological and legal arsenal andrepparttar free-spirited arts and craftsmanship crowd now rages as fiercely as ever in numerous discussion lists, fora, tomes, and conferences.

William Morris startedrepparttar 108502 "private press" movement in England inrepparttar 108503 19th century to counter what he regarded asrepparttar 108504 callous commercialization of book publishing. Whenrepparttar 108505 printing press was invented, it was put to commercial use by private entrepreneurs (traders) ofrepparttar 108506 day. Established "publishers" (monasteries), with a few exceptions (e.g., in Augsburg, Germany and in Subiaco, Italy) shunned it as a major threat to culture and civilization. Their attacks on printing read likerepparttar 108507 litanies against self-publishing or corporate-controlled publishing today.

But, as readership expanded - women andrepparttar 108508 poor became increasingly literate -repparttar 108509 number of publishers multiplied. Atrepparttar 108510 beginning ofrepparttar 108511 19th century, innovative lithographic and offset processes allowed publishers inrepparttar 108512 West to add illustrations (at first, black and white and then in color), tables, detailed maps and anatomical charts, and other graphics to their books.

Publishers and librarians scuffled over formats (book sizes) and fonts (Gothic versus Roman) but consumer preferences prevailed. The multimedia book was born. E-books will, probably, undergo a similar transition from static digital renditions of a print edition - to lively, colorful, interactive and commercially enabled objects.

The commercial lending library and, later,repparttar 108513 free library were two additional reactions to increasing demand. As early asrepparttar 108514 18th century, publishers and booksellers expressedrepparttar 108515 - groundless - fear that libraries will cannibalize their trade. Yet, libraries have actually enhanced book sales and have become a major market in their own right. They are likely to dorepparttar 108516 same for e-books.

Publishing has always been a social pursuit, heavily dependent on social developments, such asrepparttar 108517 spread of literacy andrepparttar 108518 liberation of minorities (especially, of women). As every new format matures, it is subjected to regulation from within and from without. E-books and other digital content are no exception. Hencerepparttar 108519 recurrent and current attempts at restrictive regulation andrepparttar 108520 legal skirmishes that follow them.

At its inception, every new variant of content packaging was deemed "dangerous". The Church, formerlyrepparttar 108521 largest publisher of bibles and other religious and "earthly" texts andrepparttar 108522 upholder and protector of reading inrepparttar 108523 Dark Ages, castigated and censoredrepparttar 108524 printing of "heretical" books, especiallyrepparttar 108525 vernacular bibles ofrepparttar 108526 Reformation.

It even restoredrepparttar 108527 Inquisition forrepparttar 108528 specific purpose of controlling book publishing. In 1559, it issuedrepparttar 108529 Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("Index of Prohibited Books"). A few, mainly Dutch, publishers ended up onrepparttar 108530 stake. European rulers issued proclamations against "naughty printed books" of heresy and sedition.

The printing of books was subject to licensing byrepparttar 108531 Privy Council in England. The very concept of copyright arose out ofrepparttar 108532 forced recording of titles inrepparttar 108533 register ofrepparttar 108534 English Stationer's Company, a royal instrument of influence and intrigue. Such obligatory registration grantedrepparttar 108535 publisherrepparttar 108536 right to exclusively copyrepparttar 108537 registered book - or, more frequently, a class of books - for a number of years, but politically constrained printable content, often by force.

Freedom ofrepparttar 108538 press and free speech are still distant dreams in most parts ofrepparttar 108539 earth. Even inrepparttar 108540 USA,repparttar 108541 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),repparttar 108542 V-chip and other privacy-invading, dissemination-inhibiting, and censorship-imposing measures perpetuate a veteran though not so venerable tradition.

The more it changes,repparttar 108543 more it staysrepparttar 108544 same. Ifrepparttar 108545 history ofrepparttar 108546 book teaches us anything it is that there are no limits torepparttar 108547 ingenuity with which publishers, authors, and booksellers, re-invent old practices. Technological and marketing innovations are invariably perceived as threats - only to be upheld later as articles of faith. Publishing facesrepparttar 108548 same issues and challenges it faced five hundred years ago and responds to them in muchrepparttar 108549 same way.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and

Visit Sam's Web site at

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