Here at PW, we reported this week on the top selling books of 2019 so far. For many industry-watchers, the big surprise so far is Delia Owens' debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing, the year's biggest selling book so far moving a whopping 907,000 copies. But here's the big surprise for me: in at number 14, selling 243,007 copies, is Scribner's edition of The Mueller Report. For a report no one has supposedly read, a lot of people have apparently bought copies.
Next week, of course, comes the main event: the author is finally going on tour! At long last, Robert Mueller is set to give public testimony to lawmakers, an event that should give the report a critical boost in reader attention. Which makes this a great time to remind librarians that the best edition of The Mueller Report, by far, is the free e-book edition prepared by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).
Unlike other free e-book editions, which were mere reproductions of the poor quality PDF released by the Department of Justice, the DPLA actually created a real e-book edition that renders beautifully on phone and tablets. And, in the weeks since that edition was first released, the DPLA e-book edition has gotten better.
Today, the DPLA announced that it has released an upgraded version of the report, "with improvements including links to more than 750 of the original documents referenced in footnotes and format and tagging enhancements to make the document more accessible to those with text impairments."
To create this enhanced version, DPLA collaborated with the Internet Archive and MuckRock (who provided the links to the footnotes) and joined forces with Bill Kasdorf and Thad McIlroy at Publishing Technology Partners, who had already initiated their own work on a more accessible version of the report. CodeMantra implemented the accessibility improvements, and Digital Divide Data provided production support.
Librarians, be prepared: Let your patrons know before and after Mueller's testimony that this real, high quality, searchable, and readable digital edition of The Mueller Report is available for free. And, it won't expire after two years. Journalists, if you're still linking to the DoJ version of the report in your stories, you are not helping your readers. Why not link to the DPLA version?
And look for some of the backstory on the creation of this outstanding digital edition from Kasdorf and McIlroy in their Digital Perspectives column, out in Monday's edition of Publishers Weekly. They emphasize a critical point I raised in a column published when the report was first issued by the DOJ: "For something so critically important to the body politic, it was unconscionable for the report to be inaccessible to so many citizens," Kasdorf and McIlroy write. "Thanks to the folks pulling together to make this happen, The Mueller Report can now be read by everybody—and for free."
In other library e-book news, hoopla this week announced that it has struck a deal with Kensington Publishing to make the publisher's e-books available in libraries. The deal will make available some 6,500 new and backlist titles. "At Kensington, we are always focused on building every author on our list," said Alex Nicolajsen, Kensington Publishing Director of Social Media & Digital Sales. "This partnership will create excellent opportunities for growth as well as adding an important piece of the market that we know will love the books we publish."
OverDrive, meanwhile announced that digital audio titles delivered via its Libby app will now compatible with Apple's CarPlay.
On the subject of digital audio, PW reports this week that audiobook sales are up a robust 24.5% over last year, according to the most recent survey conducted by the Audio Publishers Association, the seventh straight year of double-digit growth. The announcement makes the recent changes to meter library access to digital audio by Hachette and Simon & Schuster even more surprising. As Sari Feldman wrote in her column last week: "Any objective, reasonable read on the data would suggest that libraries have played a positive role in the growth of the digital audio market, with their collection dollars and in terms of marketing and exposing the format to new consumers."
As first reported by PW, a year after its launch, The Panorama Project, the nascent OverDrive-funded research effort to measure the impact of libraries on book discovery, author brand development, and sales has named Guy LeCharles Gonzalez as its new project leader. Gonzalez takes over for Cliff Guren, Panorama's founding project lead. OverDrive CEO Steve Potash said the change was made after recognizing that Panorama needed a more aggressive advocacy and outreach component, something which required a presence in New York. Guren, a highly respected consultant with a long history in publishing technology, is based in Seattle.
Meanwhile, Sari Feldman's aforementioned PW editorial on the state of digital content in libraries continues to light up social media this week, and we hear that it has also attracted interest on the Hill.
The Record Courier in Ohio offers a rather more polite take on the growth of digital reading in libraries and the recent changes in the library e-book market. One local librarian observed that it seems "like publishers continue to change their minds about the best way to deliver digital content to libraries."
Here's another wrinkle in the library e-book story: Local ABC affiliate WSYR in Onondaga County in Central New York reports that the county's libraries have been hit by a ransomware attack. And the attack disabled the library catalog and its digital reading services, Overdrive, Hoopla, and Freegal. Ransomware attacks seem to be on the rise in libraries. Earlier this month, the Westchester Library System in the suburbs of New York also reported a ransomware attack.
The Little Free Library this week announced M. Greig Metzger II will serve as its next executive director. Metzger was appointed by the national board after a four-month search, and succeeds Little Free Library founder Todd H. Bol, who passed away last October. “Little Free Library looks to grow its support of community leaders as they provide access to books, in all types of neighborhoods, for all ages of readers, here at home and around the globe,” Metzger continues. “I am thrilled to be part of this story.” Metzger joins the Little Free Library as the organization celebrates 10 years of Little Free Libraries.
From the Austin American Statesman, after canceling a Drag Queen Story hour in June, and then disinviting Lumberjanes author Lilah Sturges because she is transexual just hours before her scheduled appearance earlier this month, the city of Leander, Texas, says it will now "consider new policies for renting conference rooms at the library."
Newsweek reports that an Iowa man, Paul Dorr, has lost his bid to have charges against him tossed for burning LGBT-related books he checked out from the local library. "Mr. Dorr isn't being sent the message that he cannot burn books when he disagrees with the contents of those books," the judge wrote. "He is being sent the message that he cannot burn books that do not belong to him."
From The New York Times comes this breathtaking piece on forthcoming sale of Ebony Magazine's archives. "The most significant collection of photographs depicting African-American life in the 20th century is being auctioned. Historians fear the archive could end up hidden away."
Wired has a great piece on FaceApp, the app that shows you what you'll look like when you're old, while enabling a Russian company to absorb all the photos from your device and perform "artificial intelligence black magic on them." Should you be worried about that? "Sure," the article concludes. "But not necessarily more than any other app you let into your photo library. Or any other part of your phone." Thankfully I don't need FaceApp, I just look in the mirror every morning.
And finally, The New Yorker offers its list of the best cookbooks of the century so far. It's a pretty solid list (I see you Dorie Greenspan!) and the author makes garnishes the list with a good point: "The Internet really ought to have killed cookbooks." Of course, it didn't, and in fact cookbooks are flourishing in the digital age. In the middle of this summer heatwave, let this inspire you to treat yourself this weekend with a nice home-cooked meal. I recommend anything from Dorie Greenspan, even if it means turning on the oven in summer.