The Digital Public Library of America has Arrived (Scholarly Kitchen)Morning Links

Debate Continues Over Enhanced, Interactive eBooks
(Good e-Reader)

Span Admits New Copyright Law is Designed to Keep it Off US Naughty List (Techdirt)

Should Indie Authors Reach Out to Bookstores? (GalleyCat)

Kindle Daily Deals: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (and 3 others)



  1. The Esposito piece in effect reflects the thinking of many publishers, and for that reason, I’d urge TeleRead community members to read it. My rebuttal, awaiting moderation on the Scholarly Kitchen site, appears below. Thanks. David

    Joe, the Digital Public Library of America is a fabulous start as a library tool kit and pointer to manuscripts, historical documents, and other valuable source content. Congratulations to Bob Darnton, John Palfrey, Dan Cohen and everyone else behind the DPLA! Still, the DPLA is far, far from a real “public” library and urgently needs to drop the P word, just as a major group of public librarians has requested (

    Via, I could discover only one item, er, pointer, related to Philip Roth, an image. What’s more, Tom Peters, the veteran academic librarian who co-founded LibraryCity with me, has just sent me an email with similar sentiments: “I wonder how Captain Ahab would respond to the fact that the digital edition of Moby Dick served up by the DPLA comes from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.” For more from LibraryCity, see “Promising DPLA debut—but please don’t confuse special-collection items, exhibits and APIs with a full-fledged ‘public library’ demo” (

    In reply to Meg, let’s remember the importance of works in copyright. I love Project Gutenberg, but it is hardly a normal library, just as the current DPLA isn’t. But PG, as a priceless collection of public domain classics for popular use, at least stores its own material. I wish DPLA would care more about the archival side of libraries. I want as much content as possible backed up on both its site and its partners’; redundancy is the friend of preservation.

    Meanwhile, Joe, I truly, truly hope you’ll pay close attention to Brian O’Leary and ponder “The Opportunity in Abundance” ( In a related vein, please see “Toward a Library-Publisher Complex for the digital era: Where the money is for both sides” ( In addition, check out “A national digital library endowment: More details, an FAQ, and an invitation to librarians and others to help shape the proposal” ( The endowment proposal also mentions other revenue streams—we need a variety of business models, including, of course, links from library catalogs to bookstores (an Esposito-friendly idea, no?). The proposal even discusses the possibility of user subscriptions, with checkoffs on tax forms, and tells how a library plan could differentiate itself from commercial services. Like you, I am very emphatically of the “no free lunch” school; I’m realistic. I know we can’t get everything online for free. “Free to user” doesn’t necessarily mean “Free from content provider”; I hardly expect Random House to give away its wares! But we should certainly do the best we can to promote “free” within the inevitable constraints, legal and financial.

    What’s more, I would remind you of societal benefits of the right kind of “free” (with payment to content providers, so the good ones are sustainable). Think of improvements in areas ranging from healthcare to high-tech start-ups, if more people can become better educated, no matter what their circumstances. While respecting intellectual property, we urgently need to do our best to decouple knowledge from the ability to pay for it. If publishers don’t go along, then the library world will rely more than now on new business models that reduce economic opportunities for major houses.

    I’m optimistic that the smarter publishers will be open minded and wake up in time, however; and I hope you’ll reconsider and use your influence to hasten the process. Here’s a chance to do endless good for writers and publishers, considering that the average American household now spends only around $115 a year on reading materials of all kinds (excluding textbooks), according to federal statistics ( to which I point from the call for a Library-Publisher Complex. I want that number to be much higher; and together, librarians and publishers could more effectively lobby to boost the disgracefully low amount spent by way of various business models on content (the content total for public libraries themselves is now just $1.3B or so a year in the U.S). Not through outrageous increases in book prices and others, but through making it easier and more enticing for people to read. The current DPLA falls considerably short of this vision, as I’m confident no small number of its organizers would at least privately acknowledge.

    The DPLA’s site pointing to existing resources is useful, but hardly a solution to these issues in the great tradition of public libraries here and in other countries. The DPLA demo project, alas, despite its brilliant people and many positives, is far short of “public library” if we extrapolate from S. R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science (, and I worry that the final vision wouldn’t be, either. Follow his laws (separate but tightly intertwined public and academic systems would it easier to serve individual readers, in line with his teachings), pay the content providers fairly so they’re sustainable, and the results for both them and society will be most gratifying.

    Let both publishers and librarians think just a little less about pie-slicing and a lot more about growing the pie through measures ranging from those bookstore links to endowment and the national digital library subscription plan. Surely we can do much better than $115 per household per year for reading materials! The status quo is a huge “fail” even by bean-counter standards.

    David Rothman
    Cofounder and Editor-Publisher

    Except from the endowment proposal’s FAQ–a paragraph documenting the need (links not included):

    Who says American schools are the only settings for “savage inequalities”? Mississippi spent just $1.42 per capita on public library books and other content in fiscal year 2010, according a report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, IMLS; and Illinois, the champion, came in at a still-less-than-stunning $7.79. Libraries in my own state, Virginia, birthplace of Thomas Jefferson, far more of a friend of books and libraries than are most of today’s politicians, weighed in at $3.77 per capita. The Old Dominion at least exceeded the minuscule 57 cents in the territory of Guam for that year and the 16 cents in FY 2009. Alas, the newer IMLS report failed to mention Puerto Rico. But the FY 2009 figure from the agency was 35 cents. The per-capita annual spending listed for the U.S. for FY 2010 was $4.22. While inexact, the numbers are close enough. All in all, a paltry $1.257 billion was for content, approximately the $1.3-billion cost of just one terrorist-friendly complex for the Department of Defense. Pathetic.

    Put another way, only 11.7 percent of U.S. public libraries’ $10.77 billion in operating expenditures went for paper books, e-books and other content in FY 2010. Just 12.4 percent of the collection spending was for digital media of all kinds…

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail