Saturday, May 26, 2012

Re: [NGC4LIB] cover image and amazon

On 25/05/2012 18:21, Karen Coyle wrote:
<snip>
On 5/25/12 8:38 AM, john g marr wrote:
On Fri, 25 May 2012, Sarah Sherman wrote:
Just wondering how you source cover images for your catalog?
We don't. Since cover images are simply emotionally manipulative advertising, they don't belong in a purely informational library catalog.
I would counter that many of the books themselves are emotionally manipulative and commercial. Hey, even our patrons are manipulative and emotional! Let's eliminate the books, eliminate the patrons, and just stick to the facts. No, to the ones and zeroes. Nothing but ones and zeroes. 010100001011100011...
</snip>
I do believe that John raises a valid point. If in days of the card catalog, the author or publisher of a book had put advertisements and even an order form for the book in with the card, it would never have been allowed; in fact, librarians would have been absolutely appalled. But today, it seems to be OK. In fact, in the report from OCLC, "The Use of Eye-Tracking to Evaluate the Effects of Format..." by Michael Prasse,  http://www.oclc.org/news/publications/whitepapers/WC_ITrack_AReport_23Feb2011.pdf one of the main complaints of the research participants was that it was too difficult to purchase books online, which completely ignores the idea that somebody should be able to get the book for free! This is bizarre, at least today. But I confess that lots of things I see on the web would have made me fall off my chair if I had seen them 20 years ago. The world, and we ourselves, really are changing that fast.

Nevertheless, there is a certain commercial aspect that seems to be creeping in. If you look how Worldcat works, e.g. http://www.worldcat.org/title/aftershock-the-next-economy-and-americas-future/oclc/495781520, there is a little icon that says "Buy it" which gives you some options to buy the book. If you look at the same item in Google Books http://books.google.it/books?id=pzVxn-884JAC, you will see lots of links to various buyers (obviously based on location since I see Italian sites) before you see the link to the Libraries. I wonder how many actually click on "Find in a library" as opposed to a seller. Of course, if the agreement had been accepted and the full-text were available on Google Books, it would be another matter entirely....

Do we just close our eyes to all of this? Should the catalog be a part of such a commercially crass situation when it never would have been before?

I really do not know what I think about this. I don't want to be called a Luddite, but neither do I want to let searchers of the catalog be more exploited than they are already.

Of course, this entire matter becomes exponentially more chaotic when and if we enter the world of "linked data" (heavenly chorus).

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