Readersforum's Blog

March 14, 2013

SA kids keen to read, but can’t afford to

South African children are keen readers, they just cannot afford books, a survey has found.

“It was found that most young South Africans enjoy reading, and want to read more, but are held back by the cost and availability of books,” said market research company Pondering Panda’s spokeswoman Shirley Wakefield.

She said the government should support the youth by making it easier to access books.

“Two things it can do right now are expand the library system, and make books VAT-exempt, so that they become more affordable for young people… 88% [of people] said they would definitely buy more books if they cost less.”

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March 5, 2013

An open letter to the shoplifter caught stealing my book

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 7:43 am

john-birmingham-127x127-90x90By John Birmingham

Hey buddy.

How you doin’? Not so well I guess. I’m sorry to hear you got pinched trying to steal one of my books from Dymocks yesterday.

How’d I know that? The magic of the interwebz of course. A Facebook friend was in the store and saw you get nabbed. Ouch. Said you looked like a nice enough young bloke, well dressed, not hard up, but obviously in need of a read and short of the requisite folding stuff.

Have to say, I feel for you. I am surrounded by things I would like but can’t have. A big arse retina Macbook. A credible and properly funded defence policy. That ridiculously expensive whisky on the ep of Nikita I watched last night. ($12,000 a bottle. Can you believe that?)

I don’t know whether you went into Dymocks looking to steal my book in particular, but I’d like to think so. It’s an odd, left-handed compliment in a way, to have written something you wanted so much you couldn’t wait until you had the money to pay for it. You, me, the Department of Defence, we all know all about that my friend.

Still, you know, you could have gone to your local library. I get a shekel or two for every one of my books borrowed, and I like local libraries. I encourage you to support them. You could have got it second hand. Do you like second hand book stores? I love them.

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February 16, 2013

Harlem Shake at HarperCollins

By Jason Boog
The Harlem Shake meme exploded online last week, as a video maker named Filthy Frank took an infectious beat created by a producer named Baauer and invented a kooky dance sequence.

UPDATE: The Epic Reads team at HarperCollins posted a publisher edition of the Harlem Shake today, bringing the dance craze to a major publishing house (embedded above).

Videomakers around the globe took the same 30-second clip from the song, choreographing surreal dances in everyday locations, including firemen, office workers and an entire news team.

Below, we’ve collected a few other literary video takes on the viral video phenomenon. We would love to see more literary participation, perhaps in a large-scale library performance, a big bookstore dance or even an Amazon warehouse ballet.

We have already uncovered a few examples of librarian patrons doing the Harlem Shake, but our favorite was the West Point Library edition of the dance.

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February 14, 2013

The mystery of crime writer MC Beaton

beaton11_2474214bJake Kerridge profiles MC Beaton, the crime writer who’s the third most borrowed adult author in Britain.

At first glance, there are not many surprises in the newly released list of the most borrowed authors in UK libraries in 2011-12. The products that come off the James Patterson conveyor belt still retain their unfathomable popularity, putting him in the number one slot, while the tear-jerking romance writer Nora Roberts is number two.

But in this who’s who of authors, there comes a who’s that? moment for many people when they reach the third name on the list: MC Beaton.

We don’t see Beaton having chin-stroking conversations with Alan Yentob on television à la Ian Rankin (17 places below her) because her detective stories are light and amusing. She writes two series, one featuring the laid-back policeman Hamish Macbeth, the other set in the Cotswolds and starring Agatha Raisin, a retired PR queen turned amateur sleuth.

Ms Beaton, whose real name is Marion Chesney, is a small, elegant 76-year-old Glaswegian with a waspish sense of humour. She worked for many years as a journalist, in the days when she and her colleagues would blithely listen in to the stolen police radios they kept on their desks.

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January 11, 2012

Glad tidings of mood-boosting reading

Bill Bryson … has clearly been reading his own books. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

I’m much cheered by a Reading Agency promotion of 27 books to give your spirits a lift

By Alison Flood

As the yearly dump of diet and health titles hit bookshops, here’s another reason to love libraries: branches across the country are promoting “mood-boosting” books through January, with titles ranging from Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie to Tove Jansson’s wonderful A Winter Book. The promotion, says organiser The Reading Agency, follows research that shows reading improves mental wellbeing and reduces stress by over two-thirds.

Running in 135 library authorities, the 27 titles for the Reading Agency promotion were picked by eight reading groups around the country and endorsed by Charley Baker, lecturer in mental health at the University of Nottingham. Although it’s aimed specifically at adults who “might have experienced mild to moderate mental-health conditions linked to stress, anxiety and depression”, I say it’s a lovely idea, and that we could probably all do with a mood-boost in January.

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November 21, 2011

Plug pulled on Public Library Journal

   21.11.11 | Benedicte Page

The Public Library Journal, published by the Public Libraries Group of CILIP, is to cease publication after 26 years.

The PLG said it was making the announcement “with profound regret” but that financial reasons were behind the closure.

The group said: “Ever-increasing funding problems have, unfortunately, had a significant impact on PLG’s ability to finance the production of the journal; it is no longer something which the group can afford to sustain…As reforms to PLG progress, it is hoped that the spirit of PLJ will be continued in a new form.”

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October 8, 2011

Authors Guild Files File Amended Complaint Against Libraries

By Andrew Albanese

The Authors Guild has filed an amended complaint that expands its suit against university libraries over a book-scanning  collaborative known as HathiTrust. In a release, the Authors Guild said its suit would be joined by a host of international author groups, as well as individual authors, including Norwegian academic Helge Rønning, Swedish novelist Erik Grundström, and American novelist J. R. Salamanca. The Authors League Fund, a 94-year-old organization supported by Authors Guild members that provides “charitable assistance” to book authors and dramatists, is also now a plaintiff, as it claims to be the holder of the rights to an “orphan” book by Gladys Malvern.

The suit is also now joined by the U.K. Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, the Norwegian Nonfiction Writers and Translators Association, the Swedish Writers Union, and The Writers’ Union of Canada.

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September 29, 2011

Books that deserve to be banned

Not that we take Banned Books Week lightly. But some classics are painful enough to ruin reading forever.

By Laura Miller

Book banning is a serious matter, and the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week is an important consciousness-raising exercise. True, a lot of the titles on the ALA’s list of targeted books have been “challenged” rather than actually banned, and — thanks to the ALA’s ability to mobilize the press and public opinion — most of those challenges end up being disregarded or overturned. Still, every year dozens of citizens, usually parents, try to get books removed from school curricula and libraries.

And so we ask: Where were these censors when we really needed them — that is, when our 10th-grade teachers assigned “Beowulf” or “The Pearl”? As deplorable as real-life book banning may be, there’s some required reading that those of us at Salon would love to see retired from the nation’s syllabuses simply because we were tortured by it as kids.

“What is the educative value of making nerdy kids (or anyone, I suppose) read ‘Lord of the Flies’?” asks film critic Andrew O’Hehir. “Is it pure sadism? To rub their faces in the gravity of their predicament, and the likely fact that they will sooner or later be sacrificed to a nonexistent God by their classmates? Now, I recognize the book’s literary value, no question, and the point that it’s an allegory about human society and not strictly about children or for children. But that’s not how you read it when you’re 11, for the love of sweet suffering Jesus. Really hated that experience.”

For my part, while I was a voracious independent reader of children’s fiction from the second grade on, “Lord of the Flies” — and another novel I was ordered to read at age 10, “Animal Farm” — convinced me that “grown-up” books were unrelentingly bleak and politically didactic; this kept me from venturing beyond the kids’ section of the library for a few years.

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September 28, 2011

Barnes: dismantling libraries is “self-mutilation”

Filed under: Libraries — Tags: , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 6:34 am

Julian Barnes

|By Benedicte Page

Author Julian Barnes, shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize for his novel The Sense of an Ending, has said it is “national self-mutilation” to damage the public library service.

Barnes said: “Like most writers of my generation, I grew up with the weekly exchange of library books, and took their pleasures and treasures for granted. The cost of our free public library system is small, its value immense. To diminish and dismantle it would be a kind of national self-mutilation, as stupid as it would be wicked.”

The author’s comments came as the Man Booker prize announced it would be hosting an event to show its support for the library service.

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September 14, 2011

Why Browsing Is So Important to Content Discovery

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:44 am

    By Laura Larsell

  Laura Larsell is the information ontologist at Trapit, a content discovery, personalization and curation platform currently in beta.  Laura holds an M.A. in library sciences from the University of Texas at Austin.

I love libraries and bookstores. I love the tactile, olfactory and social experiences these physical spaces allow. Clearly the Internet has given us ample and exciting new opportunities to engage with information resources, but the digital realm is still a ways off from satisfying many of our real-world needs.

Putting aside the physical niceties of brick and mortar information repositories, one thing the Internet has yet to reproduce is the ability to easily and pleasantly browse its vast reaches. Browsing is a crucial component of information discovery; it allows an information seeker to expand organically upon an initial vague, often unarticulated need.

Imagine head to the stacks at your local library to browse through the cookbooks. As your eye traverses the shelves, you spot a book on kimchi. This book is exactly what you wanted to read, even if you couldn’t have initially articulated that desire.

Experiences like these sit at the heart of browsing — aimless navigation by subject or genre that brings you to something unexpected, yet ultimately rewarding. Browsing is a common manner of information resource discovery. However, the practice is not well-supported by the search-based or social methods of information discovery that dominate the web today.

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