Late Night Library

Dog-Eared and Dispatched: September 29, 2013

Dog-Eared and Dispatched
The results are in for this week’s rundown of the wild world of book culture. Scholastic continues the season of literary giving by selecting Reach Out and Read as the recipient of their enormous book donation. In a fitting vindication of the necessity of such nonprofit organizations, the NEA has revealed the findings of their 2012 Public Participation in the Arts survey, including a 3 percent decrease in literary reading among U.S. adults. Meanwhile, Google moves once step closer to victory in the longstanding copyright lawsuit filed against them by the Authors Guild in 2005. Lastly, tension grows higher as citizens from across the book culture community continue to debate “the Amazon effect.”

Photo courtesy of Reach Out and Read

On Monday, September 23, Scholastic, Inc. donated 1 million books to Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy among low income families by distributing free books to children during pediatric check-ups. “We believe that literacy is the birthright of every child and the pathway to success in school, and it starts by creating a home library from which children can access and choose books that will set them up for a lifetime of independent reading,” Scholastic CEO and Chairman Richard Robinson stated in the company’s  press release. “Scholastic has been a longtime supporter of the work Reach Out and Read does to promote early childhood literacy, and their proven model continues to successfully prescribe reading for all children.” On the cusp of its 25th year, Reach Out and Read was also the recipient of the $150,000 David M. Rubenstein Prize from the Library of Congress this week. To date, the organization has established partnerships with 12,000 medical providers across the United States, delivering more than 6.5 million books annually to children and their families.  [GalleyCat, Reach Out and Read, Scholastic, Library of Congress]

Photo by Jonathan Skillings of CNET

Although the final verdict has yet to be delivered, Google appears poised for victory against the Authors Guild in the now eight-year-old copyright lawsuit. During Monday’s oral arguments, Authors Guild representative and attorney Ned Rosenthal engaged in a strained debate with Judge Denny Chin. Rosenthal’s argument hinged on the commercial advantage that Google’s search engine has gained over its competitors as a result of the company’s Library Scanning Project. In response, Chin noted that this commercial element was not a violation of fair use laws. Laying out the benefits of Google’s enterprise, Chin went on to ask, “Aren’t these transformative uses, and don’t they benefit society?” This back-and-forth argument lasted less than 40 minutes, with a skeptical Chin issuing pointed rebuttals to each of Rosenthal’s contentions. [CNET, Publisher’s Weekly]

Graphic courtesy of the NEA

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released the findings of their 2012 Public Participation in the Arts survey on Thursday, September 26. Among the results, the NEA noted that “more than half of American adults read a work of literature or a book (fiction or nonfiction) not required for work or school.” This relatively good news was dampened slightly by additional data indicating that literary reading (e.g., novels, short stories, poetry, and plays) among adults has dropped to 47 percent, a three percent decrease since 2008. “One of the most important things we can do as the National Endowment for the Arts is to understand how our nation engages with the arts. This iteration of the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts is our most comprehensive look yet at the myriad ways art works for Americans,” stated NEA senior deputy chairman Joan Shigekawa. The NEA currently divides its survey into five categories of arts activities: 1) attending, 2) reading, 3) learning, 4) making and sharing art, and 5) consuming art via electronic media. A more comprehensive report of their latest findings is scheduled for publication in 2014. [National Endowment for the Arts, GalleyCat]

Photo courtesy of Shelf Awareness

Amazon isn’t killing indie booksellers—or so is the word from blogger Nate Hoffelder, a reporter for The Digital Reader. Using  a graphic representation  of  data said to be gathered by the American Booksellers Association (ABA), Hoffelder points out that the ABA has increased its membership by 70 indie bookstores in the past 9 monthsDisbelieving of the notion that Amazon is the enemy of independent bookstores, Hoffelder concludes, “For a company that is out to kill bookstores, Amazon really sucks at it.” Many attendees of the 2013 Publishing Business Conference disagree with Hoffelder’s assertion, however, with a focal discussion point of the three-day conference centering around “The Amazon Effect.” A time for both venting and strategizing, the conference (held September 23-25) highlighted the ways in which booksellers and publishers have been harmed by Amazon’s growth, as well as the advantages independent booksellers still have over the notorious online retailer: community and a personal touch[Book Beast, The Digital Reader, The Nation, ShelfAwareness, Forbes]

Posted on: September 29, 2013 · Dog-Eared & Dispatched, Homepage ·Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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