Littlest Libraries of the Future

About two years ago, a “Free Bookstore” opened near me. Needless to say, I’ve been there even more often than to my local library. This year there’s a new trend. When my college alumni magazine, “On Wisconsin,” arrived this winter it contained an article titled “It’s a Mailbox…It’s a Bird House…No, Wait, It’s a Library.” The idea is to house free books, not in retail places of business, but in “quirky little buildings on posts”. The Little Free Library movement started when Todd Bol, a school teacher, put up a book box in front of his house in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009. Bol’s Little Free Library looked like a miniature one-room schoolhouse. The magazine article includes photos of Todd Bol and several Little Free Library boxes in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Being in Wisconsin, most are made of sturdy boards and have glass windows to keep the books warm and dry. Wisconsin’s little library boxes feature carvings of cows, of course. Some boxes look like barns. Some bear images of fruit, gardens, wildflowers with birds, Inuit designs, and helpful reminders like “Slow” and “Relax”. Little Free Library boxes also feature clever artwork, such as a open children’s picture book on the roof that begins “Once upon a time”. There’s even an old-time red phone booth with shelves inside mounted on a wood pole. Topping the phone booth in terms of size is what looks like a food truck or mobile highway blllboard on two wheels. It appears to have been built from recycled barn wood. Recycling is a major impetus behind the creation of these libraries. In New Orleans, book lovers are using debris from Hurricane Katrina to build Little Free Libraries. These boxes are way more than a local movement. Imagine my surprise when a former neighbor in my hometown in Pennsylvania sent a photo this week that he took of a Little Free Library near our old high school. There are thousands of little libraries popping up everywhere. What’s the difference between little libraries and free bookstores? Free bookstores Free bookstores, like regular bookstores, operate on a commercial basis. The owner takes donations of books and pulls out ones that are salable. The rest are free to the community during the limited hours (weekends here) the free bookstore is open. Obviously, this business model is pretty marginal. It costs money to hire employees to process and shelve...

How to Make an Ebook Index – 5 Tips

Authors, these are five things you need to know. Why? Because the indexer you hire to make an index for your ebook may not know them. Ebook indexing is a brand new field with few practitioners. Because of the technology involved, ebook indexing is not the same as print book indexing. If you are not familiar with what an ebook index looks like, please see my post on, “How to Use an Ebook Index“. (1) The index should be only one column This is because eReader devices have very small screens. Even the Apple iPad screen page will be small when the user rotates the iPad sideways so that two pages will appear on the screen. A double-column index will not fit on the ebook screen. Your PDF for your ebook, like most print book manuscripts, should have around 250 words on a text page in 12 to 14 point type. While print books can use a smaller-size font for the index in order to fit two or more columns on the page, an ebook index will use the same size font as the text. In addition, see Tip 3 below for what sometimes happens when  eReader formatting creates word breaks for a long line in an index that “wraps” over to the line below. (2) Don’t bother with “continued” headings When a main heading has a lot of subheadings, sometimes the subheadings run over onto the next page. When this happens, indexers will repeat the heading at the top of the new page followed by the word, “continued” in italics. This way the reader will know what topic the run-over subheadings refer to. But here’s the rub — eBooks do not have pages. Nor do ebooks have a standard font-size. Even if your ebook formatter specifies a default font for your index, Kindle will over-ride it. Apple will use your default font, but both Kindle and epub books will allow the reader to change fonts and font-sizes at will. This means that the index you create for your ebook won’t be the same one your book’s readers may be seeing when they use it. You can never be able to know where the list of subheadings will start to flow over onto the next page. (3) Keep headings simple and subheadings concise Because the font-size can be changed at will, and on some devices enlarged so big...

Do I Need a Publisher’s Imprint?

There is no reason that you need to have a publisher’s imprint in order to self-publish. If you are doing the things a publisher usually does, you are the publisher! You only need to list your name on the back (verso) of the title page as the copyright holder for your book. Publishers usually place their names in two places on a print book: at the very bottom of the spine of the book, and on the verso of the title page. Many publishers do not use a name on the spine. They use a tiny logo instead. Some use both a name and an image. On the upper part of the verso of the title page, there will be a block of text that tells who published it, who owns the copyright, and a Notice of Rights that tells others what they must do if they want to copy part of your book. Usually the publisher is listed on a single line like this: Published by Publisher’s Name. Note: The publisher does not usually own copyright – publishers are manufacturers of books not the creators. The same goes for agents – they are not creators either. You should always get the copyright to your own work. Register your book with the US Copyright Office located at the Library of Congress and put the Copyright form (usually Form TX) that you get from the Copyright Office in a safe place with your other legal documents. Most readers won’t even notice if a book has a publisher’s imprint. At the library, the call number label often covers up the publisher’s imprint on the spine. But, if you wish you can create a name, an icon, or logo, and use it for your book. I’d advise finding a name that somehow relates to the topic of your book. Also, include an address, email address, and blog/web site URL, if you have one, so that readers can reach you with questions or find out more about you and/or your topic. Here are three ways a publisher’s imprint may be of use to you: (1) You own a business that is related to what you write about Many professional services people on the web are writing books and/or ebooks to buttress their authority in their field. It’s a great idea to put the business name as the publisher. Does that mean you make...

Does My Book Need PCIP?

Today, we have a guest poster, Pat McCurdy-Crescimanno, MLS, Manager, Business Development / Project Manager, Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication (PCIP) at The Donohue Group Inc. in Windsor, Connecticut. Pat will discuss why you may want to get a prepublication library catalog record, PCIP, for your book before you publish it. About Pat McCurdy-Crescimanno I have been a professional librarian for more than 20 years, and have worked in libraries for even longer. My background includes reference, cataloging and management positions in public, academic, and special (non-profit) libraries, as well as free-lance work as a translator (my undergraduate degree is in Russian). For the past several years I have been Manager of Business Development for The Donohue Group, Inc., a library contract services company that specializes in cataloging and project management for libraries. One of DGI’s specialties is PCIP, or Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication. We work with hundreds of small and independent press clients and self-publishing authors to provide PCIP for their new titles. (1) What are Library Cataloging, CIP and PCIP? Cataloging is descriptive information about a book, using a set vocabulary, formatted according to national standards and created by a trained cataloger. When a book has CIP or PCIP, a cataloging block is usually found on the back of the title page. CIP (Cataloging In Publication) is a cataloging block created by the Library of Congress. The CIP Program was established to enhance the services of publishers and librarians by providing bibliographic descriptions of published materials in a timely fashion. PCIP (Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication) is a cataloging block created by a trained cataloger at the request of a publisher. CIP and PCIP are created using the same set of rules. The only difference is the agency which creates the cataloging. [NOTE: “A Catalog Record for My Book?” may hold the answer if you wonder why your book needs a catalog record to sell it to libraries. NKH] (2) Who is PCIP for? PCIP (Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication) is an option for all publishers who have not requested, or do not qualify for, CIP (Cataloging-in-Publication) from the Library of Congress. This includes self-publishing authors. NKH: How do self-publishers get PCIP – do they have to have a publisher? Anyone who intends to publish and distribute a book to libraries can apply for PCIP. A PCIP text block in your book ensures that a library of any size has access to a professionally-prepared catalog record that can...

How Librarians Use ISBNs and Barcodes

If you are new to ISBNs and barcodes, you may want to read my previous post, “Why Your Book Needs an ISBN“. You can easily see one good reason your book could need an ISBN. The EAN-13 barcode will be found on the back cover of a bound book. Your back cover may also have an additional five numbers that tell the currency and recommended retail price for the book. Bookstores use a barcode that includes the ISBN at the cash register to scan the book titles people buy from them. Do libraries check out books with ISBNs? Do libraries use a book’s ISBN (as a EAN-13 barcode) to scan and check out books? Contrary to what seems logical, the answer is no. Even though most libraries now scan items for checkout, an EAN-13 barcode is not useful for checking out books to library patrons. The reason for using a different kind of bar code for checking out a copy of a title to a patron is very simple. Although both an ISBN and an EAN-13 barcode identify a particular book title, libraries need to track, not just a particular title, but rather a particular copy of that title. Libraries are concerned with tracking one bound volume, CD, DVD, or a “virtual” download copy of a title. The EAN-13 barcode used by bookstores is too general; it tracks all copies of a book title, not just one copy. Traditionally to barcode a specific copy of a title to be checked out to a patron, library circulation departments have used two systems; one called Codabar the other called Code 39.  Codabar is a 14-digit barcode system. Code 39 can have fewer than 14 characters. The first number of a library barcode indicates whether that barcode has been attached to a particular patron’s library card or to a copy of a book title. The next four numbers (or the next two numbers for Code 39) indicate a particular library that issues the library card or owns the title. If the barcoded item is a title, the rest of the numbers identify that particular title. Otherwise they indicate the patron who holds that library card. The last number of the library barcode may be a check digit that’s used for quality control. Some libraries also use temporary “dummy barcodes” to get a whole batch of books onto the public shelf so they...

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