Thursday Threads: Consumer E-book Commitment, University Press Shorts, Improv Everwhere

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Two serious threads this week and one fun one. The first serious story is a look at the attitudes of e-book consumers from the Book Industry Study Group, including a finding that almost half of all e-book consumers would wait for an electronic edition up to three months after the print edition has been released. The second serious story is about a university press starting to sell excerpts from backlist titles as a way to capitalize on existing content. And finally, the fun story is a 12 minute TED talk from the founder of the Improv Everywhere project.

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Ongoing BISG Study Reveals E-Book Buyers Deepening Commitment to Digital Formats

E-book sales can be expected to continue growing as readers show increased loyalty to and satisfaction with the digital format, according to Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG) closely watched Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey. Results of the final installment in Volume Two of the survey show that nearly 50% of print book consumer who have also acquired an e-book in the past 18 months would wait up to three months for the e-version of a book from a favorite author, rather than immediately read it in print. A year ago, only 38% said they would wait this long.

Mark Nelson over at The CITE (a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education) points to this press release from the Book Industry Study Group about an ongoing survey on e-book adoption attitudes. The results of the survey are available for purchase, with the press release and Mark’s post providing tantalizing on what it contains. The announcements of the sharp uptake in interest of ebooks in libraries echoes this data. As you might recall, this interest jumped after the holiday season last year with analysts speculating it was because of the number of e-reader devices given as gifts. Amazon’s recent announcements of new devices is likely to spur the same thing to happen again this holiday season. Our are libraries and service providers ready for another jump in ebook interest in January?

Princeton University Press Enters Digital Market with Princeton Shorts

The Chronicle reports that Princeton University Press will test the digital market with its Princeton Shorts.  Using its back list it will take excerpts and package them as e-books.  Running from 20 to 100 pages in length it will have a price range between 99 cents to $4.99 and unlike Kindle Singles, Princeton Shorts will not introduce new content instead it will take selections and place new titles on them, according to the story. Douglas Armato, director of the University of Minnesota Press, called it “good, savvy publishing on Princeton’s part.” In an e-mail, he said he was “interested to hear what happens—particularly if the market for the ‘shorts’ turns out to be more classroom than general trade.”

Another post from Mark Nelson in The CITE points to an article behind the Chronicle of Higher Education paywall about the new Princeton Shorts effort from the Princeton University Press. There are a few more details in the blog post from the Press and in a Los Angeles Times article. For libraries, I think the interesting question comes whether these “Shorts” attempt to enter into library purchase plans as new items. Libraries should really not be paying for the same content twice, and if the Shorts are truly unedited excerpts from existing books then hopefully they won’t count as “new” items.

Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity

Charlie Todd causes bizarre, hilarious, and unexpected public scenes: Seventy synchronized dancers in storefront windows, “ghostbusters” running through the New York Public Library, and the annual no-pants subway ride. At TEDxBloomington he shows how his group, Improv Everywhere, uses these scenes to bring people together.

- Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity, Video on TED.com from TEDxBloomington

This one is just for fun. Charlie is the founder of Improv Everywhere. With the tagline “We Cause Scenes”, Improv Everywhere describes itself as “a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents.” It first came to my attention with the Who You Gonna Call? prank in the New York Public Library reminiscent of the opening scenes of the first Ghostbusters movie. The other videos of Improv Everywhere are just as funny.

(This post was updated on 13-Jun-2014.)