Ebooks & more

Today was the last day of teaching my short, J term (January term) Ebook Technology course at St. Kate’s. It’s a course designed to give students a basic introduction to ebooks and ereaders in libraries and it was on Saturdays from 8am-1pm. I know. 8am. On a Saturday. And the students always made it on time. Probably because I brought those awesome pastry rings from Panera.

No, really, it was a fun course full of good students where we talked about all the issues libraries have with ebooks.

If you’re a non-library person, do you realize what libraries are dealing with, specifically when it comes to popular fiction and non-fiction?

Libraries pay way more for ebooks than you do. Sometimes 300%+ more than you do.

Or, if we don’t pay more, after the book is checked out 26 times we no longer own it.

Or, no matter how many times the book is checked out, after one year we no longer own it.

To read more about these publisher restrictions and more, this Forbes article sums is up perfectly – You’ll Need a PhD To Make Sense of the Pricing Schemes Publishers Impose on Libraries.

There are a lot of other issues we went over in my course, like what ebooks look like in school, public and academic libraries, consortial deals, alternatives from libraries, ebook and ereader statistics and future predictions, and more. My students then gave reports on items we could only touch upon, like accessibility issues, DRM, and self-published ebooks, and they did a great job.

With such a short course, everything is just a basic introduction, hopefully giving the students enough background for when they dive into a job or have a discussion about ebooks. One student questioned why this course isn’t semester-long, because there is definitely enough to talk about, many things I could never get to in such a short course, but with the rapidly changing landscape of ebooks a semester-long course would probably be outdated by the end of it.

So Ebook Technology is done (well, I still have to grade) and now I’m moving onto my next endeavor or two.

The first: I’ll be doing a There’s an App for That course in public libraries around the metro. It’s a two-hour course for public library patrons focusing on free apps for business. I’ll be doing this about ten different times in the next few months and I’m really excited to present this information to public library patrons, which is new for me.

The second: I think I may be teaching the Readers’ Advisory Services course at St. Kate’s this summer. I taught this course last year at St. Kate’s and it was so much fun. What book-loving librarian doesn’t like to talk books? I need to start reading a ton of books to figure out my booklist.

I keep saying yes to things because I just love having these experiences. Some days I’m tired; some days I question why I keep saying yes. But overall, I love learning and trying new things and these have been great experiences. Remind me I said that if I complain about being too busy.


Doctor Sleep

Doctor SleepDoctor Sleep is the sequel I never thought I wanted.

I was a teenager, somewhere around fourteen, when I read The Shining. I was on a Dean Koontz teen horror kick and I figured I better try the so-called King of horror. The Shining was way scarier than anything I read by Koontz. The idea of being snowed in and unable to leave an old, haunted, abandoned hotel, the gruesome ghosts, the topiary that moved, the dad turning against the family, all of this scared the crap out of me.

Another scary thing was the son, Danny. Danny was a five-year-old who had secret psychic powers, the shine, that made him very intriguing to the hotel’s ghosts. Through Danny is where we see the brunt of the supernatural beings and this poor little kid has to fight them and then eventually his dad.

Doctor Sleep is all about grown-up Danny, or Dan as he’s known in his thirties, and Dan’s not doing too well. A full-blown alcoholic and one step away from being homeless, Dan seems hopeless until he hits a really low point in a cocaine-induced haze. Scared with what he did, Dan moves to a different part of the country and gets help from some new friends, one of them being a 12-year-old girl, Abra, who has the same psychic powers he does, though hers are much more powerful.

But Doctor Sleep isn’t all about Dan and Abra. There’s also the True Knot, a group of traveling vampire-like gypsies who have been around for centuries feasting on the souls, or the steam, of the shining. When these gypsies set their sights on Abra, Dan once again has to fight.

This was a great sequel, but even with a spooky band of soul-sucking gypsies, Doctor Sleep is not as scary as The Shining. It’s really not scary at all. People expecting as much terror as in The Shining will not find it, but what they will find is a fabulous character-driven thriller, with a splash of the supernatural, that is really emotional and moving at times.

The moving parts come with Dan, both when he’s overcoming his alcoholism and when he’s working in hospice care. Part of Dan’s sobriety is how he channels his shine. Instead of drinking it away, Dan uses it to help comfort the dying. Some of these scenes are incredibly touching and not what I expected with a sequel to The Shining.

When it comes to horror novels, I prefer The Shining to Doctor Sleep, but Doctor Sleep has a leg up on character development and compassion where we can really see where King has grown. Some of the scariest things in life aren’t the supernatural, but are in purely human moments, like death and the way we handle relationships and problems put in our path. This is where Doctor Sleep shines and why I would recommend this book. I liked the True Knot and the clever ways Dan and Abra fight against them, but it’s not why this was so good. This was good because it was an intimate, well-developed look at Dan and who he has become.

This was the sequel I didn’t need but I’m so glad I got.

Originally reviewed at Minnesota Reads.

Girl Power playlist

Spotify is now free!

Well, Spotify was always free, but only on computers. It’s now free on mobile devices, too. No subscription required to use the apps for phones and tablets.

I’ve been making more Spotify playlists because of this, and of course I had to make a Girl Power playlist. Enjoy!

Internet creepers

I love Twitter and I mostly use it to follow librarians, teachers, authors, book people, and news organizations. I don’t use it to follow celebrities, though authors are my celebrities, but you know what I mean about celebrities. I don’t follow Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, or anyone with the name Kardashian.

But I got a little insight into the world of celebrity on Twitter this past week when Soledad O’Brien retweeted me.

Soledad O’Brien isn’t as large of a celebrity on Twitter as those previous people I mentioned, but many people would know who she is by mere mention of her name, so that’s celebrity enough for me.

I tweeted about a very cool program for girls that Soledad O’Brien is bringing to different places around the country, including Minnesota’s St. Kates. O’Brien’s program is called PowHERful Summit and this news release from St. Kates is what I tweeted.

Soledad O’Brien retweeted me. She has over 300,000 followers, and most of her followers who interacted with my tweet favorited it, retweeted it, or replied telling me how inspiring they found Soledad to be.

But there were also some internet creepers that had to chime in, and of course their rants focused on Soledad’s race and gender.

We’ve seen time and time and time again, that when people disagree with women online, they often focus on their gender and harass them.

The tweets sent to Soledad and me were not awful, but the reason they disturb me is that my tweet was simply about an empowering program. An empowering program brought about internet creepers who had to tweet nasty things about females and Soledad’s race? It makes me wonder what bad harassment Soledad gets when her tweets have any sort of opinion in them.

After receiving some nasty tweets, I tweeted:

Soledad also retweeted that and then replied to me and said:

I’m glad she can just brush it off, because I’m sure she gets way worse tweets, but the fact that she says “But that’s twitter!” is so disturbing. She’s not disturbing, but the sentiment is.

It’s one thing to disagree with someone. If the men who replied to us legitimately wanted to tell me why they disagreed with a PowHERful Summit, then that’s completely valid, but the fact that they didn’t even mention the PowHERful Summit but instantly said nasty things about Soledad’s gender and race is insane. It’s ridiculous. It’s pathetic. And, sadly, as Soledad’s response to me shows, it’s all too common.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say in this post, as you can probably tell with the rambling, but I was just disturbed to be let in on celebrity public life for a brief moment to find that there isn’t rational discourse but scared, immature, 13-year-old discourse from adults. I’ve known this for years, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.