9/29/2011

E-book lending to Libraries through Amazon

As of the beginning of October, our library consortium will now be offering e-books (and audiobooks) through the Content Delivery System known as OverDrive. OverDrive has been around for a few years. In Washington, the state library bought an OverDrive subscription for use by all of its libraries.
Here in Idaho, our state library hasn’t yet gotten behind it, and so it’s our comparatively small library consortium that’s buying into it. What we’ll have available for checkout, in contrast to Washington libraries, is miniscule. But it’s a start.
Until last week, OverDrive users who owned most e-readers, except for Amazon’s Kindle, were able to check out e-books on those readers. That’s now changed. If you’ve read about Amazon’s deal with libraries that enables customers to checkout e-books on their Kindle, that’s what the deal is all about.
If you read about it on Amazon, this is what you need to know: Does your library have an OverDrive subscription? Not all e-books are available for checkout, but only those e-books that your library purchased through OverDrive. If your library is a subscriber, and especially if you’re from a huge library system, you are in luck. Larger systems have bigger budgets, and more e-books will be available to you.  
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Though our subscription to OverDrive won’t go live until sometime in October, I was able to get on the testing website and check out a book I'd ordered for the children's collection on my Kindle. (Okay, I don’t own a Kindle, but I’ve downloaded a free Kindle app on all four of my computers.)
One of the steps in checking out an e-book through the OverDrive/Amazon deal is that you are taken out of the OverDrive website, and dropped into Amazon’s, for the actual checkout. That’s where the e-book is downloaded into your Kindle.
While that process is happening (or immediately afterwards, I don’t remember exactly), Amazon—which knows my buying habits exceedingly well—suggested several other e-books that I might be interested in reading.
If your library has bought a copy of the suggested e-book, you’re in luck. If not, my advice is to do what you’ve always done—fill out a request slip and hand it to your friendly collection development librarian. Only, be sure to state that you want it as an e-book instead of in print. We will be happy to oblige, as what we purchase has always had a direct connection to patron demand.
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For the first time in history, last January, the total number of checkouts for adult materials (as opposed to children’s) began to decline in our library district. We attribute the dipping checkout stats to e-book reader purchases having finally reached a tipping point.  
Now with libraries subscribing to OverDrive, and especially with the deal struck with Amazon, I expect checkout stats of print materials to begin to landslide. It’ll be very interesting to watch what happens in the next few years. Currently, my library is very limited in space, due to what’d been an ever-growing materials collection, even if we do weed regularly and relentlessly.
Perhaps with the growing use of e-readers, our space limitations will disappear. Perhaps the long lines of bookshelves will also begin to disappear, and be replaced with open spaces for people to read books on their e-readers.

9/27/2011

Flying Adventure: Whitefish, Montana



A couple of weekends ago, we flew the RV-7 to Whitefish, Montana. In the top picture, the nose of our airplane is looking straight down the grass runway.


Whitefish Lake is on the outskirts of town, and probably 3-4 miles from the airport. If you look closely at the mountain, you will see a bunch of ski runs coming down it. That is Big Mountain Ski Resort. In the summer, you can hike on several hundred miles' worth of trails around the mountain.


In order to get to town from the airport, we pulled our mini-bikes out of the back of the airplane. But there is also a shed at the edge of the airport that is filled with bikes, free for use by pilots. It was a lot of fun to ride our bikes through the quiet little town where the limbs of apple trees, laden with ripe yellow apples, and one of the most wonderful scents known to man, spilled over the sidewalks.

Whitefish is a very small town with a definite Montana, frontier-like quality to it. It reminded me of Bend, Oregon and Sandpoint, Idaho, also resort towns--skiing in the winter, boating in the summer. All three are resplendent with restaurants and boutiques. At least two are the home of local micro-brews. I think the Deschutes Brewery in Bend probably has national distribution by now, making it less local than most micro-brewerys. 

I found this purse in one of the boutiques. It's a Mary Frances. No, I didn't buy the eye candy with the $275.00 price tag, but it was sure fun looking at all the Mary Frances purses and scarves. Wow.  


For lunch, we ate at the Piggyback Barbeque, home of Pig's Ass Porter. And no, neither my husband nor I had a brew, although we are huge fans of micro-brews. He will absolutely not break the 8-hour rule about drinking and flying.

It was a delightful Saturday. The day's only imperfection was that working so hard to ride my bike up over a steep overpass, and than sailing down afterwards, I fell off as I was crossing an intersection (embarrassing) and scraped my knee. I wasn't able to wash the blood off until a couple of hours later, after we'd flown home. Just to play it safe, I got a tetanus shot--and boy, do those babies hurt.

9/26/2011

SCBWI-Spokane: Conference

Good friends Kim (L) and Jenn (R) with Holiday House editor Pam Glauber
So I’m coming out of my self-imposed Social Media lockdown to crow about a great conference that deserves to get some press. For the past 10 or so years, there’s been a SCBWI chapter in the Spokane, WA area, which is the nearest SCBWI chapter from where I live, and about 60 miles away.
I think it was Verla Kay who started the ball rolling, all those years ago. She’d just moved into the area, up from California. Each year, SCBWI-Spokane puts on an annual, one-day conference, in addition to a couple of smaller events.  On Saturday, for the first time in ten years, I attended their conference, which definitely turned out to be worth my time.
For one thing, it was small, probably around 60 people, which meant I was able to have conversations with most of the attendees. Most memorable, apart from my conversations with the speakers, were the conversations with the movers and shakers of SCBWI-Spokane. (Most notably: Mary Cronk Farrell, Claire Rudolph Murphy, Rachel Hamby, Kelly Milner Halls, and Debbie Fredericks.) I also met a fellow librarian from Walla Walla (go-librarians!). And, surprise of surprises, I discovered that six of the attendees were from my area, in addition to my close friend Laurie Schneider, who’d signed up but was unable to attend.
That makes a total of 11 people who I now know in my immediate area, that are interested in writing for children. It’s possible that our local critique group just might be getting bigger!
New friend Betsy (L) with agent Kerry Sparks of Levine-Greenberg
Friday evening, conference helpers were invited to attend an appetizer/desert event at Claire Rudolph Murphy’s house. That loosely-structured event was where I was met a good number of people.
Lovely Margy Swensen, who I’d never met before, has several spare bedrooms in her house, which she offered to conference-helpers who didn’t want to have to shell out $ for a motel room. I’d been in contact with hospitality chairperson, Rachel Hamby, and mentioned that I was planning to pass on the dinner reception because I didn’t want to get home from Spokane at 10:00 pm on Friday night, and have to turn around and get up again at 5:30 am on Saturday, to be at the convention by 7:30 am. So … we all from my area now know of Margy and her gracious offer, come convention time next year.  
The conference itself began at 8:00 am on Saturday morning and ran until around 4:30 pm. Presenters included one agent, one published author, and one editor.
The agent was Kerry Sparks from Levine Greenburg. She is young and energetic, upbeat—delightful. She was on my list of agents to query even before I met her. Since meeting her, she’s risen significantly on the list.
The editor was Pam Glauber of Holiday House, which is a small house and one of the few that still accepts unsolicited submissions. She is also young and energetic, upbeat and delightful. I’ve always liked the selection of books Holiday House puts out, and so I was thrilled to meet her.
The author was YA author Marsha Qualey, from Wisconsin. For some reason, I’d always thought she was from Canada, but no. She, along with Claire Rudolph Murphy, are both instructors for the low residency MFA in Children’s Writing program affiliated with Hamline University.  
All talks were excellent, but it doesn’t stop there! In November, SCBWI-Spokane will be hosting Greg Pincus, Social Media guru, who will fly up from his home in Beverly Hills to talk to us about all things Social Media. I’ve met him before, and he’s very approachable.  
Then next spring, SCBWI-Spokane will be hosting an all-day workshop with Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein.
Fun events to look forward to! Many thanks to SCBWI-Spokane for their dedication to children's literature, and to providing local events.
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