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It’s holiday time though ….. so perhaps I will manage to reduce the number in the pile just a little bit before returning to work next month!

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Almost single-handedly, Amazon, the online giant store, has redefined how we shop.

Amazon’s dominance in the book industry has been profound.  Large retail bookstore chains and small independent bookstores have been impacted greatly by the seemingly unstoppable growth of this online monolith forcing the closure of bookstores and changing the way we search for and purchase books.

And ….. it seems ….. there’s no end insight.  Amazon Books has launched into retail sales.  And, as they have in the past, Amazon have once again set out to redefine how we shop by using data driven stats to create book displays that tempt and guide the purchaser.

A not too happy account of how Amazon is reshaping bookstores appeared recently on the KOTTKE.ORG blog: Amazon’s data driven bookstores.  For the most part, this post laments the fact that online sales data rather than informed bookstore staff recommendations are being used to promote good reads to the public.

But, as in the past, little will stop the growth of this incredible market driven company.   As I blog, 7 Amazon Bookstores are already open in the US, with 6 more slated to be opening soon.  Without a doubt the current list will be updated regularly as the rollout across the US continues.

A recent post on Recode (a fabulous website I’ve just discovered!) gives an up close look inside the recently opened New York Amazon Bookstore.  In between the telling photos are some interesting observations by Dan Frommer – so take a few minutes and have a read of the post: Photos: Inside Amazon’s first New York City bookstore.

My day to day life is immersed in books.  Not only do I love reading, but my day time job revolves around igniting the magical spark of a ‘love of reading’ in young adults.  To nurture this love of reading, I  constantly make recommendations and, like the staff in book shops, I talk to my library patrons about the kinds of books they enjoy and ask what they have read previously to inform me about their tastes and interests.  The kind of philosophy that has dominated libraries and book shops for millennia – putting the right book into the right hands – cannot be achieved by relying solely on circulation or sales stats, the approach reportedly being adopted by Amazon Books.

Anything that encourages reading though is undoubtedly good!

So instead of looking at the flaws and mistakes of Amazon Bookstores, perhaps those of us encouraging and promoting books in schools can look at some of the great ideas being introduced by Amazon Bookstores and adopt them:

  • lots and lots of face out books for starters certainly makes for an appealing look
  • increased displays of ‘if you like this, how about this’ would also be welcome
  • and how about if we start using circulation stats in a big way to drive the creation of displays

Hmmmmm ….. it seems like I’ve just hit a new spark of inspiration!

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It’s the start of the new year here in Australia.

For many libraries, particularly school libraries, a shortage of qualified and capable library staff is a real issue.  So for many of us, Pepper may just be the perfect ‘extra hand’ needed to jazz up the library!

Pepper is appealing, informative and knowledgeable – as long as you teach it everything it’s likely to be asked!

And that’s exactly what’s happening at Dudley Denny City Library in Mackay, North Queensland, Australia.  Library staff there have introduced this new staff member to their library patrons and have taught it to dance, play games and share historical stories with library patrons.

Currently, Pepper is only one of two humanoid robots in Australia.

At just 1.2 metres tall, Pepper has arms and hands similar to that of a human being. It moves around on wheels, and uses eye colour to indicate whether it understands a message.

Read more about Pepper at Dudley Denny City Library or check out this video below where Pepper shows of its talents at a meet the staff of the Financial Times briefing earlier last year.

 

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Now that the long summer break has finally arrived, I’m starting to think about all those ‘projects’ that have been hanging around on my ‘to do’ list for some time.

One such project is sorting through the massive pile of cook books I seem to have accumulated and are now overflowing from three separate book shelves around my house.  Maybe it’s time for me to go through them, digitally store the few recipes that are standouts in some and to then – finally – move those no longer needed onto another hungry cook book lover.

Contemplation of the task reminded me of a post I read a while ago on Open Culture which featured a 1585 recipe for pancakes.

1585-panckae-recipeIn between sorting my cook books, I just may have a go at making this yummy treat for those around over the holidays.   The recipe ‘translation’ provided by Open Culture will make it that little bit easier to experiment!

Take new thicke Creame a pine, foure or five yolks of egs, a good handful of flower and two or three spoonefuls of ale, strain them together into a faire platter, and season it with a good handfull of sugar, a spooneful of synamon, and a little Ginger: then take a friing pan, and put in a litle peece of Butter, as big as your thumbe, and when it is molten brown, cast it out of your pan, and with a ladle put to the further side of your pan some of your stuffe, and hold your pan …, so that your stuffe may run abroad over all the pan as thin as may be: then set it to the fire, and let the fyre be verie soft, and when the one side is baked, then turn the other, and bake them as dry as ye can without burning.”

Fingers crossed I get this holiday project started and done!  It will be a relief to clear some shelf space so I can, of course, buy more cook books!!

Have a safe and happy holiday.  See you again in 2017.

PS.  I’ll let you know how the pancakes turn out!!

 

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Not very far from The New York Public Library lies Bryant Park – a beautiful, peaceful spot to wander and indulge the beauty of nature.

But ….. did you know that underneath Bryant Park, there is space for 2.5 million books?!

While it’s kind of eerie to think that a huge stash of books lays under the beautiful surrounds of this park, a seroius relocation of books from the New York Public Library has been operating for quite some time.

A recent article by Sarah Laskow: The New York Public Library is moving 1.5 million books to an underground lair outlines the comprehensive plans that have been put in place to create a safe, secure and highly organized location for books that can no longer be stored in the library.

Twenty-five years ago, when the library first moved books under the park, construction crews carved out two underground floors, but only the top one was finished. The second level, deeper down, was an unlit hollow, until, starting in April 2015, renovations transformed it into an archive-quality storage facility.

It is a beautifully cool 65 degrees down here, with 40 percent relative humidity, and there’s a new electric trolley system, in which books can be sent off to reading rooms upstairs in bright red carts. Most importantly, there is space for 2.5 million books.

The process of relocating the books, organizing, storing and thinking through how books requested can be easily retrieved is quite fascinating, so take the time to have a look at the article.

UPDATE:  Further to details outlined above, I’ve just read an article on Quartz which describes the unusual method of storing the 4 million – yes: 4 million! – books stored in the underground collection in Bryant Park.  Out with Dewey and in with ….. size!

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I love a good thriller!

So when I saw the headline in a recent edition of The Advertiser: Crime fiction, thrillers and then romance are the most borrowed books of the year I felt satisfied that I most probably was among the stats that had been collected for the writing of this article.

I’m a sucker for flicking through the weekend paper and checking out the top 10 reads and then peeking at the week’s best recommended reads even though I very rarely go off looking to read those that appear on the lists.

But when I come to an end of year list, such as those published in this article, I find myself feeling kind of warm and fuzzy realizing that I’ve been enjoying the same books that many others have enjoyed over the year.

Have a read through the short article – it’s quite interesting – but if you can’t be bothered, here’s the 2016 listing for the Most Borrowed Fiction:

1. The Girl On The Train (2015) Paula Hawkins

2. Make Me (2015) Lee Child

3. Personal (2014) Lee Child

4. The Burning Room (2014) Michael Connelly

5.The Rosie Effect (2015) Graeme Simsion

6. Never Go Back (2013) Lee Child

7. The Rosie Project (2013) Graeme Simsion

8. Gone Girl (2012) Gillian Flynn

9. The Road Back (2014) Di Morrissey

10. The Gods of Guilt (2013) Michael Connelly

Have we shared the joy of reading many of these books over the last year?!

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Egypt Hieroglyphics

If you’ve ever stared at Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and wondered what they say, a recently published book is about to unlock the mystery!

Published as a Penguin Classic, Writings from Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson opens the door to readers of writings from an ancient civilization.

NovaNext, elucidating a recent article that appeared in The Guardian, says:

Toby Wilkinson, a fellow of Clare College in the U.K., wants to change that. He’s publishing a book that, for the first time, amasses the writings of ancient Egyptians and translates it into English for the general public. His goal is to make the culture of ancient Egypt, as well as its literary canon, more accessible to people outside his small corner of academia.” (NovaNext, 23 August 2016)

Penguin Classics describes this work as a “groundbreaking publication” making the writings of an ancient civilzation accessible, for the first time, to the general reader.

Some snippets – translations of Ancient Egyptian stories – included in these two articles, makes this book a very tempting addition to my bookshelf!

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