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Other posts by David Rothman

Ouch! Text to speech is also AWOL from this year’s Amazon Paperwhite
September 3, 2013 | 4:18 pm

Amazon PaperwhiteDrat! The newest Kindle Paperwhite E Ink reader from Amazon is still missing text to speech—among the features Jeff Bezos touted when he unveiled the second Kindle in 2009. Doubt me? Just look at the Paperwhite users guide and see what’s AWOL. Click here for a better view, with a list of not-overlooked improvements in the newer Paperwhite model. It’s to start shipping Sept. 30. Like the first Paperwhite, the basic version will sell for $119 and up, and supposedly the newer PWs will offer “higher contrast” between text and background. I found last year’s Paperwhites to be still somewhat lacking in contrast despite a noticeable improvement over earlier models. On...

The DPLA and the risks of gentrifying America’s public libraries
August 29, 2013 | 9:26 pm

DPLAJim Duncan, now executive director of the Colorado Librarian Consortium, offered some needed candor about the Digital Public Library of America for NPR reporter Laura Sydell’s August 19 segment on the DPLA. The reaction from certain NPR commenters online? Nasty bashing of Duncan and other public librarians. One listener, for example, accused public librarians of "hopping on board the ‘library patrons only read trash and would rather make this a rec center’ train.” Now back to reality. Duncan himself used to be an academic librarian, and he hopes that the DPLA will succeed hugely and offer a wealth of cultural and historical riches, in line with his...

E-Books and the Miami-Dade Library Crisis: One way to help thwart the misers
August 28, 2013 | 1:19 pm

libraryAll of Miami-Dade’s library branches will remain open, apparently, despite Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's earlier talk about closing 22 branches in the Miami-Dade system. But 169 librarians will lose their jobs, and hours will shrink under his newer plan if this foolishness becomes reality. The public uproar against Gimenez’s stinginesss goes on. Please join more than 5,000 library fans in "liking" the Save the Miami-Dade Public Libraries page on Facebook, no matter where you live. Might greater reliance on e-books and other digital content end the crisis instantly? Of course not. Even now, it isn’t as if the Miami-Dade system has ignored all the possibilities. Still, according to...

Free ePub Book Shows Potential of Local Librarians as Content-Providers (Video)
August 16, 2013 | 3:28 pm

librariansWhale Bombings, Pearl Harbor and Other Stories Enliven Q&A with Now-Dead Airman * * * Some unlucky whales died in certain stretches of the Pacific because inexperienced U.S. airmen mistook the long shapes in the water for Japanese submarines. More than a few offbeat recollections of this kind liven up an extended interview with the late Attilio F. Caporiccio, a B-17 crewman before and during World War II. The Q&A is now a free ePub book licensed under Creative Commons; just click on the link to download it. "Cappy" also recalled seeing the faces of Japanese pilots attacking Hickam Field—next to the Pearl Harbor naval base—because...

Smart Move: The Graham’s spin-off of The Washington Post
August 6, 2013 | 9:30 am

The Washington PostJack Shafer, the Reuters columnist, wrote last year that Graham family should spin off the Washington Post newspaper from the company of the same name. As the buyer he suggested Michael Bloomberg. “Not so crazy an idea,” I said on the Solomon Scandals site and in the Georgetown Dish. Now the spin-off will become a reality, except that the billionaire is instead Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon (photo), who is buying the Post personally rather than for his company. The Grahams will keep some publications. But not the flagship paper itself. The price of $250 million might have seemed shockingly low once, but not today, when the Post isn’t...

New version of Voice Dream—first-rate program for reading e-books aloud
August 2, 2013 | 7:25 pm

Voice DreamA new incarnation of the Voice Dream text-to-speech program—for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch—hit the Apple app store recently. My original Voice Dream review is here. Price is $9.99, still worth every penny. Winston Chen, the app's developer, has made good on his promise to offer a paging option, so that you don’t have to scroll, Web-browser fashion, if you’re reading an e-book by sight. The downside of the beta version was that if you made annotations, Voice Dream lapsed back into its scrolling made. As far as I can tell—and maybe I’m wrong—that bug is gone from the current version, 2.8.2. Now I’m hoping...

Obama speech and PTA-Amazon alliance validate LibraryCity’s K-12 priorities
June 19, 2013 | 3:30 pm

PTA-AmazonK-12 led my list of priorities in the 1990s for a well-stocked national digital library system blended in with local schools and libraries. Along the way, I suggested that Washington nudge Silicon Valley to come up with affordable iPad-style devices with high-resolution color screens and multimedia capabilities. Originally called TeleRead, this vision has evolved since my 1992 Computerworld article, but a major constant has remained, among others—the need to make it affordable, easy, and enticing for K-12 students and their parents to read books. That must have been on Al Gore’s mind, too, when he called for the digitization of the Library of Congress. Now let’s...

On Jillian the Tiger Cub and the Power of the American Ego
May 22, 2013 | 2:15 pm

Never underestimate the power and glory of the American ego. Granted, it can show its bizarre sides—for example, in the antics and hairdo of Donald Trump. And yet I see the good, too. We have the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the rest, not “Library Donors Anonymous.” At least some might bristle at this quest for publicity and immortality, as opposed to pure altruism. But let’s remember that despite all the government-and-corporate-enforced conformity around us, we are still in many ways a nation of individualists. Didn’t Walt Whitman title a poem "Song of Myself," notwithstanding such lines as...

E-Book Usability News: Adjustable line spacing now available on the Kindle Fire HD 8.9”
May 14, 2013 | 11:30 am

Kindle Fire HDLibraryCity knocked Amazon for not letting users of the Kindle Fire HDs adjust their line spacing. But guess what I noticed just now within the font-related submenu of my Kindle HD 8.9” model running version 8.3.1 firmware? Alas, on my several files tested, I still couldn’t narrow the spaces sufficiently on the HD even though the Kindle app for Android, as in previous versions for my Nexus 10, pulled off this trick just fine. Apologies if the HD improvement is old news, but Amazon pushes out updates automatically, and this is the first time I myself became aware of the line-spacing change. May Amazon...

Review: Voice Dream Reader e-reading app
May 13, 2013 | 11:49 am

Voice DreamNote: An update of this post on LibraryCity.org focuses on education-related issues of read-aloud apps. A Catch-22 dogs those of us who most often read e-books visually but also want to hear them when we’re exercising or driving. The usual e-bookware doesn’t always come with or work with text to speech capabilities. Even if it does, we can’t control the aural part as closely as we’d prefer. I myself like the Moon+ Reader Pro Android app, and I’m in love with the added-on “Amy” voice, a British-accented delight from another developer, Ivona, now an arm of Amazon. But I can’t revisit already-viewed text quickly enough while I’m hearing audio by...

Amazon’s Number One Book City, Alexandria, Va., May Cut Library Hours
April 27, 2013 | 9:47 am

AlexandriaAttention library advocates in Alexandria, Va.: Talking points for the local budget debate are here. Leaving us in the dark about the source of this tidbit, a Washington Post headline in the Style section blog says: “Alexandria, Virginia: the most well-read city in America.” Similar words show up elsewhere in the media about my hometown, the oft-paradoxical Washington suburb of some 146,000 where a bronze Confederate soldier stands in the middle of Washington Street despite an African-American mayor and a generally progressive city council. Alas, however, our number one ranking isn’t based on actual books and other items read per capita. Rather our spot at the top reflects what the Post accurately mentions in the...

Promising DPLA debut—but please don’t confuse special-collection items, exhibits and APIs with a full-fledged ‘public library’ demo
April 19, 2013 | 10:00 am

DPLAA caveat first. The Digital Public Library of America is evolving. What’s more, I’m a booster of the organization and of the people behind it, including the new executive director, Dan Cohen, who so decently reacted after the Boston Marathon bombings. But for now, the academic-and-hacker mindset is prevailing at the DPLA over the traditional public library one, judging from the demo’s worthy but rather limited debut yesterday. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. But then, why insist on the P word in the organization’s name? Also, the K-12 appeal so far is not quite as great as I’d hoped despite some...