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July 12, 2010


Barbara Fister

Good to see you back at the blog, Jim - and it's great that Kenyon (like my college) values books enough to have an independent bookstore (though yours has a much larger mystery section!)

Libraries are going through the same kind of issues - are academic libraries merely purchasing agents for electronic information that they don't own or curate? If so, what is a library? If not - uh, what is a library these days? I hope you and my buddies in the library at Kenyon get some time to meet and talk about books and community and the future. I think you - and they - would enjoy it.

Jim Huang

It's good to hear from you, Barbara. Thanks for visiting my blog. I have indeed talked with smart and thoughtful folks at the Kenyon library. Yes, I agree that libraries are not immune from these issues, and need to ask the same kinds of fundamental questions that everyone who touches books must ask these days. It's a challenge, and it's exhilarating too.

One thing I find really interesting during this trip for Sisters in Crime: I don't think I've ever heard the word "curate" so often, which in the internet context is really interesting given that I usually think of this word in the library/museum context. I'm not sure what this means, but we will at least be doing more reporting on what we're hearing in the final report from this trip, which will be available to Sisters in Crime members.

Peg Tapek

Hi Jim! Been thinking of you this week as I finished another Teddy Bear book from John J. Lamb. You recommended this series to me Jim, long ago. I grudgingly began reading, wondering how teddy bears could possibly figure into murder mysteries. What a glowing surprise! Lamb is certainly the master of detail and truth in the modern American detective genre. Thanks again.

I do hope that you and Jennie get settled in your new home soon, and she finds employment in Ohio. Also wishing for you to be refreshed in the collegiate atmostphere; it sounds as though Kenyon is a fine place for personal growth. Best wishes, and will email you again soon! Peggy

Joyce Haibe

Jim, glad you are back at the blog and once again, you have some very thought-provoking comments. I don't know what will come of the electronic readers but I love the feel of a book in my hand. I don't want to worry about keeping it charged, protecting it from breakage and all that comes with computer-like equipment. I want to be able to put a book in my purse and pull it out at opportune times and not wait for it to power up and find my place. I don't want to worry about sitting on it if I have left it laying on the couch and it's now slid down between the cushions. I'm computer savvy and wouldn't give up either of my laptops or my desktop but I don't want to read my books on them. I just hope that publishing can find a common ground between the two.


Hi Jim

great to hear from you again. I'm hoping to drop by soon and say Hi in person. I agree with Joyce, I want a book that I can read, use and abuse to my heart's content. Last time I counted there were close to 4K books in my house. But even I am looking at an e-reader for travelling. what I want to know from the book industry is how they think the 1st book will be sold. I picked up a freebie Charles Todd and Bouchercon and have bought the rest of their back list since. I grab a new author because the title or the graphics appeal or because it is recommended by someone like Jim and then by the rest. I don't see this happening online. As a sewer I see the same thing in the fabric industry. I'll buy on like for a specific reason or in desperation, but I don't buy for fun on line.
Take care Jim and good luck

Bonnie Gray

Sure enjoyed rereading your blogs and reading the new one. Booked to Die is one of my favorites. Still miss the Mystery Company and the many delightful hours when I just browsed around. Of course, I almost always found one or two books I couldn't live without. Right now I am reading the newest Alexander McCall Smith book. Always a pleasure. I talked with Idamae today and she had your book of mystery collections with her. We refer to it when suggesting books to read at the library's mystery discussion group. I hope things work out well for you and Jennie gets over there soon. Good luck and know that you and the Mystery Company are truly missed.

Jim Huang

Nice to hear from Bonnie, Robin-Elizabeth, Peggy and Joyce! Thanks for reading, and leaving comments.

This week, I heard from Google about its vision for texts anywhere, any way you want to access them -- including paper. Hope that reassures you, Joyce. Google is looking for ways for you to read wherever you are, on your computer at home, on your reader when you're on the go, on your smartphone when you're standing on line at the post office -- all with Google syncing your bookmark so you don't have to find your place each time you access on a different device. I joked that they'll really have succeeded when they can move the bookmark in your paper copy too. Given what I saw of Google, I wouldn't necessarily put this past them.

Since returning from my travels, I've been thinking a lot about Robin-Elizabeth's point, about how we find new writers to try. We heard from Amazon about the value of reviews as "curatorial landmarks" -- cool terminology. But the point is that we do need landmarks to guide us to books we'll enjoy.

It'll be interesting to see where all these current take us -- and where we can direct those currents.


"Really hard to understand since only one of them was a recent pub. But, since I draw the line at the $9.99 that Amazon promised, I ordered none of them."

And thereby did that new author out of a dab of royalties. That's a shame.

John Scalzi, new president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, had some (unofficial, personal) remarks about pricing e-books here: http://tinyurl.com/ybvac3d during the Amazon/MacMillan hoorah early this year.

Jim Huang

Thanks for the link, Dick. We heard a lot during our travels about the issues that Scalzi discusses, on both sides. It's all too easy to forget that these battles have real consequences. In referring to authors who lost sales during one of these skirmishes, one vendor talked about "collateral damage." It's a shame that we're even thinking in these terms.

Joanna Campbell Slan

It was a joy to see you, my friend. I hope to visit again. Kenyon is a gem, isn't it? I had a great time. It was super to chat with your daughter, and I saw a woman who was once my neighbor in Vincennes. How could my visit have been any better?

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