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Duke University Press puts over 1600 books online
January 29, 2014 | 12:15 pm

Duke University Press has just announced a new online access site for its books and ebooks, http://read.dukeupress.edu/. "Offering more than 1,600 titles and powered by the Folio eBooks solution, the site is the new home for the e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection, available to libraries for purchase," according to the Duke U.P. announcement, but it also offers considerably more. "The new site is open to all users and dramatically enhances the discoverability of Duke University Press’s content," the statement continues. " It provides free access to the introductory chapters of every book in the collection and allows integrated searching and linking...

University of Kentucky does e-book exchange for selfies
August 30, 2013 | 9:02 am

University of KentuckyHere's a lovely idea that I wish more mainstream publishers would copy: The University Press of Kentucky is dishing out free e-books in exchange for selfies of readers holding their UPK print title. "Do you own a print copy of a University Press of Kentucky title and wish you had the ebook too?" states the University Press of Kentucky Ebook Loyalty Program Tumblr page. "Send us a digital photo of you holding the book to receive the electronic edition for free!" You can see some of the results here: And here: For now, only PDF format e-books are available. But all the same, what a...

Meet Waterstones Academy, a college for booksellers
February 25, 2013 | 12:30 pm

Waterstones AcademyThe Bookseller recently published what appears to be a very interesting article about a sort of bookseller's university that Waterstones—the UK-based bookstore chain—plans to open at some point in the near-to-distant future. And I use the term "appears," by the way, because the article in question in available only to subscribers of the website's premium content, of which I am not one. Bummer. The article's abstract, at any rate, claims that Waterstones Academy, as the school will be known, will be an "industry first" in the UK. Students of the nine month-long program, which will be operated in partnership with the...

10 Universities with Amazing Online Collections
December 13, 2012 | 11:00 pm

It's common knowledge that universities often hold amazing pieces in their library collections, from rare books to priceless works of art. Many are available for viewing simply by visiting the university, but many others are not available for public access, or visitors simply don't have the time or resources to visit in person. That's why so many colleges have begun digitizing their collections and putting them online, giving the world access to their amazing resources, and even opening up viewing of fragile or rare pieces that can't be accessed any other way. We've discovered 10 universities with incredible online collections featuring award-winning...

The World’s 20 Most Impressive University Special Collections
October 7, 2012 | 9:08 pm

The 20 Most Impressive University Special Collections  Easily one of the neatest perks of campus life for the particularly inquisitive, studious, or proudly nerdy involves perusing the school’s special collections. Most tend to involve some combination of rare books and manuscripts as well as information about the school itself, local history, and maybe state history. Even smaller collections tend to harbor some amazing gems. But some schools score big time, with archives bursting with veritable treasures and groundbreaking finds. This doesn’t invalidate the inherent worth of the more modest special collections out there, obviously. All the same, though ... some of the university special collections out there can only be...

Short-Form Digital Grows at University Presses
September 19, 2012 | 11:03 am

Back in March, the Digital Digest profiled Princeton Shorts, a new short-form e-book program launched last fall by Princeton University Press. At least two more AAUP presses have launched short e-book programs this spring: Stanford, with Stanford Briefs, and North Carolina, with UNC Press E-Book Shorts. The basic idea of short-form digital is not original to university presses. Anticipating the evolving desires of e-readership, Amazon launched its Kindle Singles format in January 2011, canvassing for medium-length (5,000-30,000) word pieces ("longer than a magazine article, shorter than a book.") Publishers Weekly reports that they are selling just fine, with the top two or three Singles consistently ranking among...

Should Universities Force E-Textbooks on Students?
September 7, 2012 | 10:02 am

By Stephanie Brooks Last month, USA Today reported that a few colleges and universities in the U.S. now require students to purchase e-textbooks instead of traditional textbooks. The USA Today article noted that many of the students attending these colleges are opposed to being obligated to buy e-textbooks. Many of them prefer print textbooks, even though print books tend to be slightly more expensive. Universities that require students to buy e-textbooks usually do so because of financial incentives, both for the school and for the students. Universities work with digital publishers to get the least expensive textbooks for their students and sometimes...

The E-Reader’s Impact on College Kids and Campuses
September 5, 2012 | 10:09 am

By Elena Morgan  The e-reader market has spent more than a decade undergoing a fitful and sporadic development into something of major scope, and this process didn't really start to take off until the end of the first decade of the 2000's. Today, however, e-readers have finally become practical, easy to use, and also finally have access to a major marketplace of digital books which can be downloaded to them. However, the e-reader itself as a distinct piece of technology is slowly disappearing to the simultaneous proliferation of the tablet market. Tablet computers are outfitted with almost all of the same features...

Turning personal electronics into classroom participation devices
July 19, 2012 | 9:15 pm

tophatmonocleIn classrooms, e-books are sort of top-down, one-way communication tools. You buy the book, you read what it says. But what if the same device you use for e-books could also be used to respond to the professor in your classroom? Ki Mae Heussner has an interesting piece at GigaOm on Top Hat Monocle, a company that pitches “clicker” software, compatible with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, to professors to use in their classes, with students paying $20 per semester for a subscription to use the software. Hardware “clicker” devices to let students provide feedback in class have apparently come...

Ryerson U closes 1 of 2 bookstores; feelings are mixed
February 10, 2012 | 9:26 am

That's the take from this Toronto Star article: Mixed feelings about the loss of a bookstore at Ryerson University and the sequestering of its books, by the students... though not by the article's author. "Poor books. Snubbed yet again, this time by a university, an institution of learning." The article describes the closure of one campus bookstore, causing confusion by students who walked into the building to find it being repurposed as classroom and office space.  Some of the books were moved to the other campus bookstore; the remainder were put into a storage room, and some will be returned to the...

Academics announce boycott of journal publisher Elsevier
February 1, 2012 | 11:54 pm

In a related note to my piece the other day on high-priced academic indexes, Ars Technica and Techdirt are reporting on a movement by some academics to boycott Elsevier, an expensive (and big-profit earning) scientific journal publishing company which supported recent restrictive legislation: SOPA and PIPA, which were defeated, and the Research Works Act, which hasn’t been yet. The RWA would prevent “private sector research work” from being forced into an open access model—but the definition of “private sector research work” is loose enough that it could include a lot of federally-funded work too. After prominent British mathematician Tim...

Can costly academic indexes be fixed?
January 27, 2012 | 3:45 pm

jstor_logo_large-249x300I ran across an interesting pair of articles concerning academic journal indexes—a complaint about the journals' expense and inaccessibility by Laura McKenna in The Atlantic, and a rebuttal pointing out a number of errors and misconceptions in McKenna’s article by Nancy Sims of the University of Minnesota Libraries on her blog. At the heart of McKenna’s complaint is the often outlandish pricing for individual articles found on some of these journals, such as JSTOR. She brings up the example of a charge of $38 for a 12-page article. McKenna posts an explanation for this state of affairs that involves...