Liking Libraries

The past weekend Wall Street Journal ran a profile of Soleio Cuervo.  Mr. Cuervo is a product designer for Facebook, and part of the team that developed the thumbs-up Like button.  Facebook is my neighbor (although, alas, they are moving to a new headquarters soon) and my neighborhood also has a charming public library, which is part of Mr. Cuervo’s story.

The Man Who Got Us to ‘Like’ Everything

by Geoffrey A. Fowler

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, August 13-14, 2011, p. C11

. . .

His favorite quiet spot to work is the public library in Palo Alto, Calif., near Facebook headquarters. . . . “. . . I find having a little solitude makes me more productive, and the public library is good for that.”

. . .

Volunteers Log Off As Wikipedia Ages

“As rules for editing the online encyclopedia proliferate, volunteers have been departing Wikipedia faster than new ones have been joining,” according to a front-page story in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Volunteers Log Off As Wikipedia Ages,” by Julia Angwin and Geoffrey A. Fowler.

Buyer’s E-Morse: ‘Owning’ Digital Books

From today’s Wall Street Journal:

The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, July 23, 2009, p. A11


Buyer’s E-Morse: ‘Owning’ Digital Books

Purchasing Electronic Tomes Online Gives Readers Fewer Legal Rights to Share and Resell Than Hard-Copy Customers Enjoy

By Geoffrey A. Fowler

. . .

Sharing e-books puts libraries in a particular pickle. The Seattle Public Library has purchased 30,000 e-books and digital-audio books for its patrons to borrow. But those e-books don’t reside anywhere at the library. Instead, it has a continuing license to them provided by a company. In exchange for maintenance fees and a full purchase price for each e-book, Overdrive Inc. runs lending systems for Seattle and 9,000 other libraries.

When a patron wants to check out an e-book, Overdrive allows them to download a copy with software that causes the file to become unreadable after a due date — after which another patron can check out that “copy.”

. . .

But there are strings attached: Overdrive’s books can be read on computer screens and on Sony’s Reader device, yet aren’t compatible with Amazon’s Kindle — . . .
And should Overdrive ever go out of business — or should something happen to its centralized collection — the Seattle library’s huge e-book collection could theoretically disappear . . .

E-books in the news

The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, July 21, 2009, p. B1, Barnes & Noble Challenges Amazon’s Kindle, by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Geoffrey A. Fowler.

“The biggest news here is the multi-channel integration of [Barnes& Noble’s] physical store and e-book store via the iPhone ,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. “It makes use of B&N’s biggest asset: the brick-and-mortar store.”

. . .

Mountain View, Calif.-based Plastic Logic is targeting its e-book reader for the business audience, . . .


The New York Times, Tuesday, July 21, 2009, p. B1, “Barnes & Noble Plans An Extensive E-Bookstore,” by Motoko Rich.

. . . Barnes & Noble said that it would offer more than 700,000 books that could be read on a wide range of devices, including Apple’s iPhone, the BlackBerry and various . . .  computers. . . .

More than 500,000 of the books now offered electronically on can be downloaded free, through an agreement with Google to provide electronic versions of public domain books that Google has scanned from university libraries. Sony announced a similar deal in March to offer the public domain books on its Reader device.

News Publishers and the iPhone

I was speaking at a law school panel discussion a couple of months ago.  The session was being recorded, and the technician was using wireless microphones.  He was picking up interference during sound checks and asked the six or seven law students who were on the panel if they had iPhones, and if they could turn them off if so.  It seemed to me  that  just about every student, and certainly a majority, reached into his or her pocket and pulled out an iPhone.

What made me think of this incident is a Technology story in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal, “Publishers Nurture Rivals to Kindle,” by Shira Ovide and Geoffrey A. Fowler.  The article talks about a number of efforts by different publishers teaming up with companies such as FirstPaper LLC ., Plastic Logic Ltd., and E Ink Corp.

What especially caught my eye was this paragraph:

Some publishers also are focusing their portable-reading efforts on devices people already use. The new iPhone applications store rolling out this summer will support subscription prices, spurring the Financial Times, Time Inc. and other publishers to tinker with ways to offer subscriptions on the iPhone. Last week, Amazon bought a small startup that makes free e-book reading application Stanza for the iPhone.

I think that they might really be on to something.