The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-4-15

Sunday Post

The Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop started yesterday, so there’s plenty of time to enter. This seems to be hop season, as there is yet another hop scheduled for this week, and then there’s the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop starting in mid-October. This may not be Christmas yet, but it still seems to be the season to give away books and bookish prizes.

But speaking of giveaways, I don’t say this often because it feels just a bit crass, but Reading Reality is an Amazon Affiliate. Buying one of the books you find on my blog (or any other book, for that matter) by going to Amazon from one of my links nets me a few cents or a dollar per book. Those affiliate fees add up, and they are how I fund the giveaways. So I very, very much appreciate when I see that someone has bought a book through my links, both because it means that I reached that person with my review, and because it helps provide the giveaways that introduce new readers to Reading Reality. So thank you all very much.

alternate banned books banner 2015And before we end the weekend, let’s take a look at what happened last week. It was a theme week for Banned Books Week, so all the books I reviewed were on topics related to Banned Books Week in some way. One book is currently under challenge, one talks about reading the world and what breaking out of our Western, anglophone reading habits might mean. And then the recent and controversial history of one of the world’s great libraries, as well as a book about our First Amendment rights and then a book about how those rights are being eroded by ubiquitous government and commercial surveillance. The books were fascinating and occasionally frightening. And compelling enough that I only made one change from my original plan – not because I’m not planning to read Terms of Service but because I needed to carry my book around the day I was supposed to read it, and I didn’t have an ebook.

Also, I admit, Patience and Fortitude was about half the length of Terms of Service, and it was starting to matter. These were all marvelous books, but not the kind of thing that keeps one up until 3 am because you want to see what happens next. I may do this again, for next Banned Books Week if no other time. If anyone has any thoughts on the concept or how it worked, please let me know in the comments.

And next week we’re back to our regularly scheduled genre fiction! I need a break from the serious.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Gift Card or $10 Book in the Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop is Jennifer H.
The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop is Susan D.

immortal life of henrietta lacks by rebecca sklootBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
B Review: The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan
B+ Review: Patience and Fortitude by Scott Sherman
A Review: Freedom of Speech by David K. Shipler
A- Review: Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier
Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

books to movies giveaway hopComing Next Week:

The Guilt of Innocents by Candace Robb (review)
An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff (review)
Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller (blog tour review)
Books to Movies Giveaway Hop
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (review)
Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh (blog tour review)

Review: Patience and Fortitude by Scott Sherman

Review: Patience and Fortitude by Scott ShermanPatience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library by Scott Sherman
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook
Genres: current events, history, libraries, nonfiction
Pages: 205
Published by Melville House on June 23rd 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

A riveting investigation of a beloved library caught in the crosshairs of real estate, power, and the people’s interests—by the reporter who broke the story   In a series of cover stories for The Nation magazine, journalist Scott Sherman uncovered the ways in which Wall Street logic almost took down one of New York City’s most beloved and iconic institutions: the New York Public Library.
In the years preceding the 2008 financial crisis, the library’s leaders forged an audacious plan to sell off multiple branch libraries, mutilate a historic building, and send millions of books to a storage facility in New Jersey. Scholars, researchers, and readers would be out of luck, but real estate developers and New York’s Mayor Bloomberg would get what they wanted.
But when the story broke, the people fought back, as famous writers, professors, and citizens’ groups came together to defend a national treasure.
Rich with revealing interviews with key figures, Patience and Fortitude is at once a hugely readable history of the library’s secret plans, and a stirring account of a rare triumph against the forces of money and power.

The iconic lions that welcome readers to the entrance of the New York Public Library’s Central Library are named “Patience” and “Fortitude”. This made me wonder about the names of the two equally iconic lions that guard the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago. Those two don’t have official names, but their unofficial titles are “stands in an attitude of defiance” and “on the prowl”. The difference in names may describe the difference between New York and Chicago, right there.

At the entrance to the New York Public Library
At the entrance to the New York Public Library

But the patience and fortitude in this book about the New York Public Library and its most recent step into controversy may be better attributed to those who campaigned against what looks remarkably like a real-estate boondoggle, at least from the outside looking in.

There’s plenty of story here. It begins with the very origins of NYPL, and its rather strange and certainly unique financing. In spite of the name, NYPL was never a public library in the way that most of us think of one. It is not a department of the city of New York, and is not owned or managed by the city. Nor is it an independent taxing district as many libraries are in the Midwest (and probably elsewhere)

Instead, NYPL is a private non-profit entity that owns the buildings of the library, while the city provides funds for personnel and other services – funds which are then administered by the private non-profit. To add to the confusion, the research function of NYPL was never intended to be supported by taxpayer dollars. The intent was for the research library to be supported by donations.

So there are two effectively competing agencies housed uneasily under one administrative roof, while everyone hopes that someone else will pay the bills. A plan which never works, but does provide at least some of the genesis for the mess that NYPL found itself in from 2007 until 2014.

Entrance to Donnell Library Center
Entrance to Donnell Library Center

The plan was to sell both the Donnell Library and the Mid-Manhattan Library, and to gut the Central Library’s book stacks, then combine all the services into the single remaining building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. While the Donnell Library building was sold, the great recession intervened before any more damage could be done.

As the text makes pretty clear, it’s not that there wasn’t a financial crisis that needed to be solved, it’s that in the end, no one except the consultants and their staunchest supporters believed that the solution being proposed would actually solve anything at all. Those in opposition were convinced, and it looks like correctly, that the plan would cause structural damage to the Central Library building, further erode services both to the public and to researchers, and would not actually generate the income necessary to sustain the library. It didn’t help their cause that the claims of damage and rot to the structure of those incredible book stacks seemed overblown, and that no less drastic solutions were even considered.

In the end, it all looked like a grand shell game being played with other people’s money. In this case, NYPL’s money. It also looked increasingly to outsiders that even though no one involved from the library’s side did anything illegal, or made any money under the table, that there was more than a whiff of sweetheart dealing in the way that the properties were going to be, or in the case of the Donnell Library actually were, disposed of.

And no one anywhere should ever believe any consultant on a major building project who claims that there can’t possibly be any cost overruns. There almost inevitably are cost overruns, and the less you expect them, the more ruinous they are.

Reality Rating B+: Before I discuss the gist of this story, I need to insert a caveat or three. I am a librarian, and while I never worked at NYPL, I did work at two of the other city libraries named in the text, Chicago and Seattle. I also served in a middle-management position, not just at CPL and SPL, but also at several middle-sized public libraries, which gave me the opportunity to observe library board meetings on a regular basis, and interact with the boards of trustees at some of those institutions. What I am saying is that I know something about how the sausage is made, and can see similarities to situations I worked in fairly clearly.

So reading this book felt a bit like insider baseball. Some of the people involved were nationally recognized it the profession. And the situations they got themselves into had the ring of familiarity.

The financial situation at NYPL was never very stable. As a librarian, it was considered a great place to have on your resume, but a lousy place to actually work because NYPL did not pay a living wage for the city of New York. Reading the introductory chapters of this book makes it pretty clear why the finances were so precarious.

One of the things that I found amazing was the way that the powers that be at NYPL during this era used their unique situation to suit themselves. They went to the city hat in hand to beg for money for this project, while at the same time frequently ignoring Freedom of Information Act Requests and even demands from the press or the State Legislature for information, and they did it with impunity as a “private non-profit”.

The main part of this saga begins in 2007. This was just before the great recession dropped the bottom out of the real estate market pretty much everywhere. It was also the point where the Google Books project to digitize the collections of great research libraries, including NYPL, was in full swing – and before it ran afoul of the copyright laws in court. Some pundits on the bleeding edge were predicting that libraries would either be all digital or completely obsolete in a relatively short time. Basing the building design on a premise that hadn’t yet been proven looks foolhardy in retrospect. Especially when combined with the notion that “everything will be digitized” when the volume of “everything” that existed prior to the ubiquity of computers is much too high a volume to be digitized within the lifetime of anyone now living.

There has also been a longstanding shift in the library profession to a “give ‘em what they want” mentality. The other side of that coin is when “they” stop wanting something, it’s time to throw it out to make way for something new that “they” will want. This works fairly well in most public libraries, and is an absolute necessity because real estate and shelf space are generally expensive and always finite. But in a research library like the NYPL Central, the intention is to keep a broad and deep collection because we don’t know what some researcher will want 5 or 10 or 50 years from now. But we know that if we don’t preserve it, it won’t exist for that researcher to find.

A panoramic view of the Rose Reading Room
A panoramic view of the Rose Reading Room

And then there was the issue at NYPL that the steel book stacks are physically supporting the Rose Reading Room on the top floor. Take out the book stacks and the top floor becomes the bottom floor with a sudden and resounding crash. While there were designs to account for this, none of them seemed as sturdy, robust or even as beautiful and simply functional as the existing stacks.

Part of the plan was that the 3 million volumes housed in those stacks be relocated to off-site storage in New Jersey for better preservation. There was a frequently articulated promise that books would be made available within 24 hours. The problem with this part of the plan was that patrons already had plenty of experience with off-site storage, and 24 hours was known to be a laughable dream. Three or four days was considered an achievable dream, but a week was not unheard of.

As part of this phase of the plan, the powers that be conducted a stealth removal of the books in the stacks, sending them to off-site storage and to private warehouses. The stacks are now echoingly empty, even though the grand plan is dead, and some of the books are completely inaccessible. Others were lost in transition.

There have been any number of libraries and library directors who have found themselves in the midst of hurricanes of controversy over plans to vastly eliminate or move the collections of their libraries. One of the more infamous cases occurred at the San Francisco Public Library in the mid 1990s (see Nicholson Baker’s scathing book, Double Fold, for an example of just how acid the vitriol became). There are more recent stories from the Urbana Free Library in Illinois and the Berkeley Public Library in California. Every librarian knows that massively weeding or otherwise removing the collection is one of the fastest ways to generate negative publicity that libraries can fall into. But the librarians seem to have been left out of the decision-making loop in all of the planning for this great plan.

The NYPL Central Library, with its enduring and patient lions, is a living symbol of the city. It is also a storied place of history, where many scholars and writers did their research and composed some of their greatest work. It’s also a place that, in spite of its often shaky finances, fulfilled every library’s purpose of being the “People’s University” with its doors and its collections open to any researcher or reader who visited its hallowed halls. There were too many people, both famous and forgotten, who loved that building and the purpose it served.

The real estate moguls never had a chance. Just this once, the pen was mightier than the pocketbook. But it was still one hell of a fight.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-19-15

Sunday Post

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who participated in my Blogo-Birthday celebration for their suggestions. I very much appreciate the kind words, and will take the suggestions seriously. I know Reading Reality needs a makeover, and I’m on a waiting list to get that done. (I actually CAN carry a tune in a bucket, but I can’t draw a bath. My graphic and artistic skills are seriously limited, so I need help!)

On the more directly bookish front, I was surprised when I looked at next week’s schedule and saw that all my books are blog tour books next week. When I was in school, even though I loved to read, I hated to read anything that was assigned. I guess that because I assigned these to myself, it doesn’t feel quite the same. And of course I only sign up for tours when I really think I’m going to like the book. It usually works out that way.

Current Giveaways:

$25 Gift card + ebook copy of Ivory Ghosts by Caitlin O’Connell

Winner Announcements:

The winners of the $10 bookish prizes in my Blogo-Birthday Celebration are: Jennifer K., Ann S., Michelle L. and Amyc.

bookseller by cynthia swansonBlog Recap:

B+ Review: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
A Review: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
B Review: One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann
B+ Review: BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey
B Review: Ivory Ghosts by Caitlin O’Connell + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (131)

 

 

bite at first sight by brooklyn annComing Next Week:

Bite at First Sight by Brooklyn Ann (blog tour review)
Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert (blog tour review)
Medium Dead by Paula Paul (blog tour review)
Seduced by Sunday by Catherine Bybee (blog tour review)
Officer Elvis by Gary Gusick (blog tour review)

Review: BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey

bibliotech by john palfreyFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, ebook
Genre: nonfiction
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Basic Books
Date Released: May 5, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Libraries today are more important than ever. More than just book repositories, libraries can become bulwarks against some of the most crucial challenges of our age: unequal access to education, jobs, and information.

In BiblioTech, educator and technology expert John Palfrey argues that anyone seeking to participate in the 21st century needs to understand how to find and use the vast stores of information available online. And libraries, which play a crucial role in making these skills and information available, are at risk. In order to survive our rapidly modernizing world and dwindling government funding, libraries must make the transition to a digital future as soon as possible—by digitizing print material and ensuring that born-digital material is publicly available online.

Not all of these changes will be easy for libraries to implement. But as Palfrey boldly argues, these modifications are vital if we hope to save libraries and, through them, the American democratic ideal.

My Review:

ALA_NLW2015_FBThis week is National Library Week, so it seemed logical to review a book about libraries. Not just because I am a librarian, but because I believe that libraries are important to our future as a democratic society.

BiblioTech attempts to answer a question that most librarians and library workers face multiple times in any given month: whether libraries are still relevant in an age where any information an average person (or library user) might desire ostensibly can be found in the palm of one’s hand – in other words, accessible on the internet via any smartphone.

For those who believe that libraries’ primary purpose is to provide repositories for books, especially popular books, isn’t everything anyone might want to read available for instant download as an ebook?

In the face of those two questions, the author of BiblioTech provides a plausible and mostly reasonable answer.

However, the subtitle of BiblioTech is “Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google”. After having read the book, I got the sense that the question the author actually answers is “How Libraries Can Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google”.

The words “should”, “ought” and “must” get used much too much to let this book stand as “why”. The prescription here is that if libraries make some significant and necessary changes, they are capable of mattering more in the Google Age.

We aren’t there yet.

While it seems that the intent is to reach a popular audience rather than an insider (inside libraries, that is) audience, I can’t help but wonder how much of a popular audience this book will manage to reach. I’ve read most of these prescriptions before – but then again, I feel as if I am a part of the choir that this book, intentionally or otherwise, preaches to.

So from the point of view of this librarian/reviewer, the book reads as more of a prescription rather than a description.

It is an interesting prescription all the same.

The author’s questions, and in fact most librarians’ questions, revolve around finding, creating or transforming into a mission that draws on libraries’ unique strengths instead of continuing to do what we have always done, because what we have always done is in many cases being served more ubiquitously, if not always better, by for-profit entities.

But there are things that libraries do that are not done elsewhere, or are not done as well elsewhere. Most people support their local libraries and value them highly, but that support is not translating to tax dollars or institutional budgets.

Libraries as places do provide a sense of community. They are clean, well-lighted and climate-controlled “third places” in our society where anyone can come to get in out of the sun, to find a less distracting place to read or study, and to get information assistance if one needs it.

Too many of the places that provide some of these functions are Starbucks, where you need to buy something to “rent” a table, and someone will help with your coffee but not your homework.

Also, Starbucks may provide “free” wifi, but doesn’t provide laptops for those who need a computer to apply for jobs and services, to make the leap onto that first rung of the ladder that can get a person onto the ladder of success, or simply to get help.

(The above is not to say anything terrible about Starbucks. Just that their mission is different from a library’s – and so it should be.)

There is a long-term preservation mission that libraries fulfill. The entire sum of human knowledge has not, and probably will never be, digitized. But digitization makes remote or unique resources available to a wider world. And if you believe that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, well, libraries and archives and museums are the places where that past is preserved and analyzed for future applications.

The irony, as the author makes quite clear, is that it is proving more expensive to preserve the current digital output of information for future researches than it ever was to preserve the paper records of the past. Paper is still readable 50 years later, but the computer files of 20 years ago may only be readable on a device that no longer exists except in museums.

Also, libraries provide information from all sides and in all formats, without an agenda other than making the information available and protecting the privacy of those who seek it. If Google controls the availability of information, keep in mind that their agenda is to make a profit. Things that are not profitable may be deemed of lesser importance and suppressed or simply made too difficult to find. (I am not saying this is necessarily happening now, only that it can. This is similar to the arguments about Amazon’s power over the book marketplace.)

One of the strongest chapters in the book is the chapter on copyright law and how it both affects and hinders library mission, especially in this current age where the much more restrictive law of licensing is having greater and greater control on what libraries are able to offer and the means by which they are able to offer it.

As much as I agree with the author about the need for libraries in the future, and the need for libraries to change in order to be a part of that future, I have some difficulty with the way that the author addresses how libraries should go about that change.

One of the premises is that in order to provide funding for research and development into the necessary changes, and to provide funding for capital equipment and especially for professional development (meaning training) for library staff, that libraries will need to convince their current user base to accept less and fewer services now in order to pay for this bright new future that the author envisions. I find this more than a bit too idealistic. In order to maintain funding now, libraries are generally in the position of having to maintain all their services at the current levels with shrinking budgets, just to keep those budgets from shrinking even further in the wake of dissatisfied patrons screaming at their funding bodies about what they consider poor service.

In these types of scenarios, everyone wants someone else’s ox to get gored, and not their own.

But while I think that the implementation of many of the author’s prescriptions will prove much more complicated in practice than is evident between the pages of a book, the need for libraries to change in order to continue to adapt, and to adapt faster, in the future is more than evident. These prescriptions for one such future deserve a wide readership and much further discussion.

Reality Rating B+: I agree with a lot of the message that the author proposes, but the book also reads as if the author is “preaching to the choir”, in other words, talking to believers. At the same time, as part of the choir being preached to, I have heard most of these arguments before. I found the chapter on copyright law and its effects and issues to be the most informative. It contained information that I was aware of, but found this author’s description to be both a good summary of the current state of affairs and to provide new information. I also think it is accessible for a layperson, and that is needed.

Reviewers note: In the text, the author refers to himself as a “feral librarian” because he became a library worker (in fact, director) without having ever received a library degree. As someone with decades in the field, I have never heard that terminology. Some research (i.e. Google) leads me to wonder if this is a term in currency in Boston or the New England area. I’ve not heard it in other regions. The Urban Dictionary says it applies in academic libraries, but the person supplying the definition is also from Boston.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

 

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-12-15

Sunday Post

You still have a few hours left to enter my 4th Annual Blogo-Birthday Celebration Giveaway. I’m giving away four(4!) $10 gift cards or books, so that’s four chances to win. But time is running out!

The big piece of bookish news this week has been the continuing fracas over the nominee slate for this year’s Hugo Awards. If you are looking for balanced coverage of the mess, take a look at either George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog entries or File 770’s posts. I am planning to attend WorldCon this year in Spokane, which means that yes, I was eligible to nominate. I’m glad that I did this year, even though very few of my nominations made it to the final ballot. I am definitely planning to vote. I think I’ve figured out what I’m going to do, but there are lots of thoughts still running around my head. This has been a big topic of discussion around our house this week. While it certainly makes the evening walks go faster, it is also an exhausting piece of chaos, and there are not going to be any winners at the end, possibly including whoever takes home the actual Hugo rockets. If anyone does.

I thought seriously about writing a blog post on this mess, but I have decided not to. What I wrote for my own amusement was cathartic but probably not helpful to anyone except me.

Besides, I believe that Robert A. Heinlein, who seems to be the patron saint of the Puppies, said it best in The Notebooks of Lazarus Long:

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for…but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

In the meantime, here is what’s happening on Reading Reality…

blogo-birthday-april6Current Giveaways:

Four $10 gift cards or books in my 4th Annual Blogo-Birthday Celebration!

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 bookish prize in the Fool for Books Giveaway Hop is Danielle S.
The winner of a paperback copy of Never Too Late by Robyn Carr is Natasha D.

doc by maria doria russellBlog Recap:

4th Annual Blogo-Birthday Celebration + Giveaway
B+ Review: Wildfire at Larch Creek by M.L. Buchman
B+ Review: The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
C Review: Bite Me, Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann
A- Review: Doc by Mary Doria Russell
Stacking the Shelves (130)

 

 

 

bookseller by cynthia swansonComing Next Week:

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg (blog tour review)
The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson (blog tour review)
One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann (review)
BiblioTech by John Palfrey (review)
Ivory Ghosts by Caitlin O’Connell (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (120)

Stacking the Shelves

As you read this, I am at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference, which is being held in Chicago. While voluntarily going to Chicago in January may seem strange, it could be worse. Last year the conference was in Philadelphia. We may be cold in Chicago, but we’re not snowed in. Or out.

Actually out might not have been so bad. It is way warmer back home in Atlanta than it is in Chicago in January. Oh well, the June conference is in San Francisco. But then again, there’s that famous Mark Twain quote: “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”

For Review:
Behind Closed Doors (DCI Louisa Smith #2) by Elizabeth Haynes
The Belles of Williamsburg edited by Mary Maillard
Below the Belt (Worth the Fight #3) by Sidney Halston
BiblioTech by John Palfrey
The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley
The Diamond Conspiracy (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #4) by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Footsteps in the Sky by Greg Keyes
The Kill Shot (Jamie Sinclair #2) by Nichole Christoff
Never Too Late by Robyn Carr
The Poser by Jacob Rubin
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Purchased from Amazon:
Against the Cage (Worth the Fight #1) by Sidney Halston
Full Contact (Worth the Fight #2) by Sidney Halston
Kingston 691 (Cyborgs: Mankind Redefined #2) by Donna McDonald

Guest Post by Author Jeffe Kennedy on Ebooks and Libraries + Giveaway

My featured guest for today is Jeffe Kennedy, the author of the marvelous fantasy romance series, Covenant of Thorns. The series concludes with today’s featured review book, Rogue’s Paradise, which answers so many of the questions that series fans have been waiting for.

In her guest post, Jeffe talks about one of the subjects near and dear to my heart, getting ebooks into libraries.

Rogues Paradise Button 300 x 225

I love that Reading Reality focuses on ebooks and ebook integration into libraries. This is partly because libraries and librarians have always been such a huge part of my life as a reader. As a writer, too, which is less visible to me. But more and more, librarians come up to me at events and tell me how my ebooks are in their collections and I should know how often they’re checked out and how their patrons just love, love, love them! I’m glad they tell me, because otherwise I have no way of knowing that.

I also appreciate that Marlene is dedicated to bringing ebooks into libraries, especially genre books, because I strongly feel that, without Carina and their willingness to take a chance on my digital series, A Covenant of Thorns, then these books might never have seen the light of day. That’s the terrific thing about ebook publishers—they’ve allowed books that don’t neatly fit into genre categories to have a chance.

rogues pawn goodreadsWhen I started Rogue’s Pawn,, I had no idea that I was writing a story that would “fall into the cracks between genres.” My tale of a modern woman, a professor of neuroscience who passes through a magical gate at Devils Tower and ends up in Faerie—exactly as in the tales of old—would maybe be an urban fantasy. Only with more romance. And sexier.

Okay, like many newbie writers, I had no idea what I was doing. I understood my story, but not how the marketplace worked.

Since I first started shopping that book—to praise for the writing and imagination, followed by rejection for marketability—the market has changed. Carina called it Fantasy Romance and now there’s lots more of those books out there. The Covenant of Thorns trilogy doesn’t sit squarely in Fantasy Romance, but it gets to be in the club still. More, the books have found readers and I’ve gotten to write others.

All because people embraced ebooks and the windows they open.

I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Jeffe KennedyJeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Foreword Literary.

To learn about Jeffe, visit her website or blog or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

~~~~~~GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Because I enjoyed the Covenant of Thorns series so much, I want to give some lucky reader the chance to enjoy it too. So, the prize is the winner’s choice of Rogue’s Pawn, Rogue’s Possession or Rogue’s Paradise. These are all ebook only, so anyone can win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post from Author Mary Ann Rivers on Why I Love Libraries and Librarians + Giveaway

Today I’d like to extend a very warm welcome Mary Ann Rivers, who recently published her terrific first book, The Story Guy (reviewed here). Her guest post topic is particularly near and dear to my heart, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

The-Story-Guy-Blog-Tour-300x83

Why I Love Libraries and Librarians by Mary Ann Rivers

Libraries are the very best effort of society. The very best. Humans are very good at falling in love and at making libraries and precious little else. Everything else we do, is basically the business of filling libraries—with stories, with information about the human project. The very tiniest towns have some kind of library, and big cities have libraries that are glorious expressions of architecture and media.

I had a difficult childhood, and libraries saved me. I could be just exactly who I was in a library, or I could be someone else entirely. Physically, libraries are beautiful and safe; inside the mind they’re dangerous and illicit. As a child, the combination of that, of being safe with a free mind, was completely irresistible. Is still irresistible. I go every week, sometimes every day—even though I borrow most of my library books as digital media on my ereader (I love digital borrowing—it means the library is open 24 hours a day).

Librarians dedicate their work to the service of the very best of what it is we do as humans. It’s difficult schooling, and so librarians are obviously gorgeously smart; but also librarians have to negotiate the whole world and their community at the same time. Digital engagement is huge, but what if you serve poor rural or urban patrons? How do ereaders get in your community’s hands? If you’re serving in a world class library, you have the challenge of trying to represent your patrons, AND all other librarians.

Librarians help us ask questions, not just find the answer. They look at their community and try to fill the holes in it. They read to our kids, sometimes when no one else does. They figure out how and why we read so that the most perfect book is right in front of us when we explore the stacks. Carrie asks Brian if he has a librarian fetish. His answer is the same as mine, “who doesn’t?”

Mary Ann RiversAbout Mary Ann RiversMary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son.

To learn more about Mary Ann, visit her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

~~~~~~TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Mary Ann is giving away a NetGalley review copy of The Story Guy to ten lucky winners! To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

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On the Booklovers’ Shelves: Objects In Photo More Numerous Than They Appear

220px-Rear-view-mirror-captionWe’ve probably all seen the safety warning on the passenger side mirrors  of  cars. Wikipedia says it’s not just a US phenomenon, that other countries do this too. You know the phrase, “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”.

Sometimes it’s not real until after you’ve backed into the car behind you, usually while parallel parking. C’est la vie.

However, I’m here about books. And bookshelves. And the objects in this photo are more numerous than they appear. We moved from the Atlanta suburbs to Seattle in December. In spite of my current preference for ebooks, it hasn’t always been so.

hall shelvesNot to mention, I’ve been collecting books for decades. Every conceivably available wall in our apartment has a six-foot tall bookshelf “decorating” it. This picture isn’t of a room. It’s the hallway. We (my husband is just as much of a collector as I am) have over 2,000 books. And we just moved them across the country. Again.

We haven’t even got them back in order yet. We will. Eventually.

But I’ve noticed a strange, and possibly even frightening thing. It has to do with where I work.

I’ve probably mentioned this a few (dozen) times. I’m a librarian. Even when I don’t work in an actual library, I’m still a librarian. But not all of the libraries I’ve worked in have had the kind of collections that interest me as a reader. For example, university libraries don’t buy a lot of romance or fantasy. It’s just not what they do. It’s not even what they are supposed to do. But that’s a story for another day.

fiction stacksRight now, I work in a big public library. The place I work in has a lot, make that lots and lots and lots, of just the kind of thing that I read. (It’s probably the equivalent of trying to diet and working at a bakery)

So if I see something interesting and discover it’s book 3 in a series, instead of “just saying no”, or even having second thoughts about whether I want to buy book 1 and book 2, what do I do? I look to see if my library has it. They usually do. Instead of saying “no”, I not only say “hell, yes”, but I say “hell, yes” to all three books! My TBR stack is growing exponentially. And it wasn’t exactly under a whole lot of restraint before.

I’d say I was looking for the local chapter of Biblioholics Anonymous, but that would mean I want to quit. And I don’t.

Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Have you ever read a Banned Book? I bet you have. You might have even read a banned book to your child! Because it’s not all about sex. Violence gets challenged. Speaking truth to power gets challenged. And so do historical truths that make people uncomfortable.

And yes, sex makes a lot of people very uncomfortable!

This week, September 30-October 6, is Banned Books Week in the U.S. It celebrates the Freedom to Read what we want, when we want, and, I think, however we want, whether that’s print, audiobook, or ebook. Something that’s going to become increasingly important in the future.

It’s fitting that one of the most frequently challenged books of all time is 1984 by George Orwell. Lest we forget, 1984 is the book that brought us the very concept of “Big Brother”.

It’s easy to talk about the books that get banned or challenged. And I heartily recommend that you take a look at those lists over at the official Banned Books Week site and at the American Library Association site. The range of titles and subjects will astonish you.

Everything bothers somebody.

The whole point of Banned Books Week, and its clarion call to Celebrate the Freedom to Read, is that if I don’t want to read something, that shouldn’t stop you from being able to read it, and if you don’t want to read something, you  shouldn’t be able to stop me from reading it.

Comic books and manga are particularly challenged.  That’s why the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is one of the supporters of Banned Books Week. Heck, that’s why there IS a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in the first place!

The other supporters are the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Association of College Stores, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, the PEN American Center and Project Censored.

What can you do to celebrate the Freedom to Read? See if there’s a Banned Books Week event going on in your community this week. Many bookstores and libraries are sponsoring “Read Outs” – continuous readings of banned books. If you’re a blogger, write a blog post about Banned Books Week. Everyone can participate in the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out on YouTube.

If you’re still wondering which banned book you might have read to your child, or had read to you as a child, it’s Maurice Sendak’s marvelous Where the Wild Things Are. And it is truly wild to think that someone might deprive a child the joy of that book through censorship.

Celebrate the Freedom to Read, read a banned book.