Friday, November 30, 2007

Kindle Price per circ

Is it worth doing any of the projects mentionied in my previous kindle post? How would we determine it?

On the face of it, doing one or two of these projects would be reasonably expensive. $400 for the reader plus $5 to $10 a book for 50 to 200 titles. That's $650 to $2,400 for a project. In concrete terms, for my library, that's a moderately to very expensive project. Multiples, which would be needed if any project took off, would make even a moderately expensive project very expensive. It should look less expensive to large libraries, who are used to fielding projects that cost more.

How many circs would you get out of a Kindle? Well, we circulate most books for 4 weeks, high demand for 2. So, based on that, you would circulate a kindle 13 to 26 times a year.

But use would be more, perhaps. If the kindle circed for 4 weeks, we could assume that 2 of its 200 titles would be read, minimum. Probably more. A book a week? Some people an read a book a day, so it could be up to 28 items used. So each Kindle would be "used" 26*1 (one book read in two weeks) to 13*28 times (one book read per day for four weeks) or 26-364.

That's a range of $25-$50 per circ (midrange $37.5) or $1.75 to $25 per use, midrange ($13.39).

Well, for instance. Many of my bestsellers will circulate 15 to 35 times in the first year. We pay about 15 dollars after jobber discounts. That's a .43 to $1 per circulation or use, or about .79 midrange. 17 to 32 times less expenseive, per use or circ respectively.

That looks really expensive, too.

And it looks like buying one book is 17 times more effective than buying a Kindle with 50 books. It would probably be a geometric progression, too, each book being 17 times more effective. Which makes sense to me because, let's face it, each book is a user interface. Each Kindle is, too, which creates a bottle neck for fifty titles.

And the $650 is for a Kindle with 50 older titles. Best sellers would double the cost per circ/use.

Could you turn those numbers around at all?
I am in a mood. Don't know what it is. Every year in November we start thinking about our "goals" for next year. We come up with projects that we need to complete. Every year, I keep coming up with projects to help move the library forward and provide the patrons better service

Inevitably, my brain hijacks itself during the process. For some reason, it's especially bad this year. This is the list of 2008 goals that I want to suggest:

1) Finally oversee the cloning of hyper-intelligent monkeys to act as tech support for our internet users and gofers for Rolfe.

2) We need to find a way to liven up book discussion and author readings: how about killer robots?

3) The head of circulation is creating a disaster recovery plan. I have volunteered to write the zombie attack portion. Alternately, I can write the Giant Monster Attack or Alien Invasion portions.

4) Personal goal: Scar half of face with acid. Live in the Western Michigan University steam tunnels. Kidnap graduate student to do chores around the steam tunnels while I compose an opera of transcendent beauty.

Wouldn't I be a pip at your staff meetings?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving was really nice. Ruby cooked, as usual, which makes it especially nice. I made mashed potatoes. Too many. We ate them until Yesterday.

Our guests were my parents and one of my co-workers. Everybody was charming and fun. I wish tryptophan till worked on me the way it did when I was a kid, however. It would have been nice to snooze the evening away.

Poppy wrote her list for Santa Clause the day after. She mailed it with some help from Mumma. She is determined to make a gift for Santa. It's only fair, you see. When I referred to Santa as a guy, Poppy corrected me. "He's a man!" She said, establishing some kind of hierarchy of which I had been previously unaware.

The rest of vacation was uneventful. This week at work has been nice. I am finishing a lot of chores that had been left hanging, and been thinking about the Kindle, as you can tell from my post below.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New law reduces speed of light

Okay, what this lady does, is, she tunes the optical properties of a 0.1-mm lump of atoms called a Bose-Einstein condensate. I could use that as super science dialog in a comic book. It is so cool sounding it makes me vibrate with geek joy just to read about it.

What could this be used for? A gentle accelerator for a very light starship?
New law reduces speed of light

Okay, what this lady does, is, she tunes the optical properties of a 0.1-mm lump of atoms called a Bose-Einstein condensate. I could use that as super science dialog in a comic book. It is so cool sounding it makes me vibrate with geek joy just to read about it.

What could this be used for? A gentle accelerator for a very light starship?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Garments of Light - The Kindle and it's possible role in libraries

I am of the opinion that when a suitable kind of e-reader comes along, it will be adopted by the public at large in a steady and quick fashion. This is sometimes referred to as my "Garments of Light" theory because I suggested that instead of losing books to the electronic format, which is how most people think of it, that more books will be immortalized, clothed in garments of light and remembered forever by humanity.

I think the qualities you need for an e-reader to become succesful are A) a readable interface and B) a good selection of books.

About a year ago, Sony released an e reader that, from all reports, had a readable interface called e-paper. However, ebooks at that time were running as much as a hard bound copy. Selling ebooks for those kind of prices will create a shortage. I don't think many people will pay as much for an ebook as for a hardcopy, for the simple reason that a book printed on electrons can't have the kind of overhead that a book printed on paper does. They look too expensive for what they are.

Yesterday, Amazon released the Kindle, which is a reader. It looks like it uses the same e-paper technology. In addition, they are selling best sellers or 11 bucks, and other titles for even less. They have 88,000 titles. From casual browsing, it looks like I've read a lot of the stuff that I'd be interested in. I'm sure that won't be the case a year from now.

To be fair, I haven't seen a kindle. I don't know if it's any good as a device. I hope to rectify that, but we'll see. A lot of people will tell you why the Kindle sucks, reasons ranging from Digital Rights Management to "it doesn't feel like a book."

What I'm interested in is brainstorming ways to use it in a library. So I've been talking to some of my co-workers, and this is what we've come up with.

First of all, I'll begin my saying that I wouldn't buy a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns just to circulate on an e-book. Paying $10 to put a best seller on a $400 reader makes it a $410 hardcover. No thanks, I'll just buy another copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns, in hardcover, for $15.

The purest joy of owning a Kindle would be in carrying 200 of your favorite or most anticipated books around with you all the time. So, like iPods, I don't see a great deal of utility in circulating one title on one for four weeks.

The Kindle will in no way serve my patrons needs to get a copy of a book into their hands quicker, unless e-copies of out of print titles become negligibly cheap through some kind of micropayment screen. The Kindle is not a collection development tool.

That said, after a few minutes of thinking about it, one of my staff and I had three ideas.

The most obvious is that However, it could be a very useful to vacationers. Wouldn't it be great to circulate the entire list of best sellers for two weeks?

My staff suggested that you could cirulate whole collections to senior living centers, and they could be passed around. The Kinle would need to have a large print setting for this to be the case, however.

I also thought that if you had a large number of titles in various lanuages, each could serve as a portable world languages collection. My community has small but highly educated populations who speak Hindi, Chinese, and of course we have some Spanish. I am at a loss as to how to build collections for such diverse but small communities.

How about putting two hundred inexpensive books in Hindi on one reader, 200 in Chinese on another, and 200 in Spanish on two? We circ them for one or two months. If there is no reserve, we can circ them for another one or two months?

The teen librarians suggested they would be great for classes.

So the Kindle, in library terms, could be a distribution device. It is good for many people with limited or localized demand. Let me throw out some other ideas:

You could sponsor a Kindle with a collection of books on it for a local retirement community, as sort of a mini electric branch.

Rural libraries could circulate several titles at once to patrons who didn't get to them very often.

You could keep your whole reference collection on one to half a dozen, depending on the size of your library. For that to be really functional, there would have to be some function for taking snippets of reference books and making them portable to other devices.

They would be great for barbershop, doctor, or other waiting rooms.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This is my weekly post about life in general. This will be a two week post: I am about to post everything of substance for this week as well, being so close to the end. I'll do a post-Thanksgiving post next week. Like you want to hear about overeating and shopping.

Last week Ruby took Poppy roller skating for the very first time, and Poppy exhibited her usual fighting spirit. Ruby says she got into the rink and fell right on her butt. When Ruby asked her if she wanted help, Poppy howled "I can do it!"

She then proceeded to get up and do it. Then complain about how much her butt hurt for two days. She got huge joy out of having a legitimate reason to say butt.

I heard all this second hand, being a huge non-fan of anything being between my feet and the ground except the floor.

My week has been boring, except for the fact that I was practicing to be a STAR!

Every once a while in my professional life, it seem that I get roped into getting on stage and making an ass of myself. Because librarians are "advocates for the community."

This year, it was the great grown up spelling bee. The spelling is only part of it. The spellers bring along a "cheering squad" and they perform quite elaborate set pieces. I'm sure there will be pictures up soon.

This year, at least I was an ass in style. We had a "Village People" theme. I was the biker. We satirized "YMCA" and "In the Navy" to cheers. And won! Most original something or other. My Glam Fu is strong! Or at least I didn't hold my more daring team members back.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Start a new habit

Lets see if I can get in the habit of weekly updates.

Last week was Halloween, of course. And the end of the month. And staff development day. And working one evening. So it was a chock full week.

Halloween is a very important holiday around here. We are "high orthodox Halloween" types. Jack O' Lanterns, pumpkin seeds. Whole nine yards. The friends of our library throws the staff a pizza party on Halloween, and it's always fun to just hand around and chat.

Poppy was a lion for Halloween. She was so excited about trick or treating that I got excited, too. I dressed in some of my Rennie garb. I went to work and told everybody that I was "the guy from Fleetwood Mac." Nobody at the library really gets Rennie. Frankly, I'm not sure I do. But I felt pretty!

I stayed home and handed out candy. Poppy was very excited after coming back. Her pumpkin was full to bursting with candy. Ruby says the Awww factor was so debilitating that some people just kept shoveling her candy as Poppy stood bewilderedly on their porch.

The weekend was national D and D day. I played a game at Fanfare. Then I hung out at the park with Poppy and Ruby. I started teaching Poppy how to play the Pokemon card game. She loves the cards, but she doesn't really understand the rules yet. But we'll see. She always surprises me.