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Teach the Books, Touch the Heart

imageDomitille Collardey

FRANZ KAFKA wrote that “a book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.” I once shared this quotation with a class of seventh graders, and it didn’t seem to require any explanation.

We’d just finished John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” When we read the end together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I. “Are you crying?” one girl asked, as she crept out of her chair to get a closer look. “I am,” I told her, “and the funny thing is I’ve read it many times.”

But they understood. When George shoots Lennie, the tragedy is that we realize it was always going to happen. In my 14 years of teaching in a New York City public middle school, I’ve taught kids with incarcerated parents, abusive parents, neglectful parents; kids who are parents themselves; kids who are homeless or who live in crowded apartments in violent neighborhoods; kids who grew up in developing countries. They understand, more than I ever will, the novel’s terrible logic — the giving way of dreams to fate.

For the last seven years, I have worked as a reading enrichment teacher, reading classic works of literature with small groups of students from grades six to eight. I originally proposed this idea to my principal after learning that a former stellar student of mine had transferred out of a selective high school — one that often attracts the literary-minded offspring of Manhattan’s elite — into a less competitive setting. The daughter of immigrants, with a father in jail, she perhaps felt uncomfortable with her new classmates. I thought additional “cultural capital” could help students like her fare better in high school, where they would inevitably encounter, perhaps for the first time, peers who came from homes lined with bookshelves, whose parents had earned not G.E.D.’s but Ph.D.’s.

Along with “Of Mice and Men,” my groups read: “Sounder,” “The Red Pony,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Macbeth.” The students didn’t always read from the expected perspective. Holden Caulfield was a punk, unfairly dismissive of parents who had given him every advantage. About “The Red Pony,” one student said, “it’s about being a dude, it’s about dudeness.” I had never before seen the parallels between Scarface and Macbeth, nor had I heard Lady Macbeth’s soliloquies read as raps, but both made sense; the interpretations were playful, but serious. Once introduced to Steinbeck’s writing, one boy went on to read “The Grapes of Wrath” and told me repeatedly how amazing it was that “all these people hate each other, and they’re all white.” His historical perspective was broadening, his sense of his own country deepening. Year after year, ex-students visited and told me how prepared they had felt in their freshman year as a result of the classes.

And yet I do not know how to measure those results. As student test scores have become the dominant means of evaluating schools, I have been asked to calculate my reading enrichment program’s impact on those scores. I found that some students made gains of over 100 points on the statewide English Language Arts test, while other students in the same group had flat or negative results. In other words, my students’ test scores did not reliably indicate that reading classic literature added value.

Until recently, given the students’ enthusiasm for the reading groups, I was able to play down that data. But last year, for the first time since I can remember, our test scores declined in relation to comparable schools in the city. Because I play a leadership role in the English department, I felt increased pressure to bring this year’s scores up. All the teachers are increasing their number of test-preparation sessions and practice tests, so I have done the same, cutting two of my three classic book groups and replacing them with a test-preparation tutorial program. Only the highest-performing eighth graders were able to keep taking the reading classes.

Since beginning this new program in September, I have answered over 600 multiple-choice questions. In doing so, I encountered exactly one piece of literature: Frost’s “Road Not Taken.” The rest of the reading-comprehension materials included passages from watered-down news articles or biographies, bastardized novels, memos or brochures — passages chosen not for emotional punch but for textual complexity.

I MAY not be able to prove that my literature class makes a difference in my students’ test results, but there is a positive correlation between how much time students spend reading and higher scores. The problem is that low-income students, who begin school with a less-developed vocabulary and are less able to comprehend complex sentences than their more privileged peers, are also less likely to read at home. Many will read only during class time, with a teacher supporting their effort. But those are the same students who are more likely to lose out on literary reading in class in favor of extra test prep. By “using data to inform instruction,” as the Department of Education insists we do, we are sorting lower-achieving students into classes that provide less cultural capital than their already more successful peers receive in their more literary classes and depriving students who viscerally understand the violence and despair in Steinbeck’s novels of the opportunity to read them.

It is ironic, then, that English Language Arts exams are designed for “cultural neutrality.” This is supposed to give students a level playing field on the exams, but what it does is bleed our English classes dry. We are trying to teach students to read increasingly complex texts, but they are complex only on the sentence level — not because the ideas they present are complex, not because they are symbolic, allusive or ambiguous. These are literary qualities, and they are more or less absent from testing materials.

Of course no teacher disputes the necessity of being able to read for information. But if literature has no place in these tests, and if preparation for the tests becomes the sole goal of education, then the reading of literature will go out of fashion in our schools. I don’t have any illusions that adding literary passages to multiple-choice tests would instill a love of reading among students by itself. But it would keep those books on the syllabus, in the classrooms and in the hands of young readers — which is what really matters.

Better yet, we should abandon altogether the multiple-choice tests, which are in vogue not because they are an effective tool for judging teachers or students but because they are an efficient means of producing data. Instead, we should move toward extensive written exams, in which students could grapple with literary passages and books they have read in class, along with assessments of students’ reports and projects from throughout the year. This kind of system would be less objective and probably more time-consuming for administrators, but it would also free teachers from endless test preparation and let students focus on real learning.

We cannot enrich the minds of our students by testing them on texts that purposely ignore their hearts. By doing so, we are withholding from our neediest students any reason to read at all. We are teaching them that words do not dazzle but confound. We may succeed in raising test scores by relying on these methods, but we will fail to teach them that reading can be transformative and that it belongs to them.

By

By CLAIRE NEEDELL HOLLANDER
Published: April 20, 2012

Courtesy: New York Times, Sunday Review

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New Arrivals (as on 10 August 2011)

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Author

Title

Imprint

001  WEI-5

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001.076  PRA-H2

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 Handbook of spotting errors for competitive examinations

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

001.076  PRA-I

 Pratibha Singh, ed.

 IIT MASTER solutions to 25 years IIT-JEE Objective Questions

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

001.076  TAR-G

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 General studies manual 2011 for civil services preliminary examination

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

004.07  WIL-U

 Williams, Brian K; Sawyer, Stacey C

 Using information technology: Practical introduction to computers and communication

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

004.65  PAT-M

 Patra, Prashant Kumar; Dash, Sanjit Kumar

 Mobile computing

 Scitech Publications (India) Pvt. Ltd., Chennai

004.678  LAK-I

 lakshmi Narayana, K; Manikonda Aparna

 Internet and web technology

 Scitech Publications (India) Pvt. Ltd., Chennai

005.13  RAN-F

 Ranichitra, A

 FAQ’s in visual basic

 Scitech Publications, Chennai

020  CBS-O

 CBSE

 Organising school libraies guidelines

 Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi

080  RAT-C

 Ratcliffe, Susan, Ed.

 Concise oxford dictionary of quotations

 Oxford University Press, New  Delhi

158.1  KRI-W

 Krippendorff, Kaihan

 Way of innovation

 Platinum Press, Avon

158.1  MUR-P

 Murphy, Joseph

 Power of your subconscious mind

 Pocket Books Inc., London

158.1  OBR-T

 O’Brien, Terry

 Treasure chest for public speaking

 Rupa & Co, New Delhi

158.3  AND-H2

 Andrews, Sudhir

 How to succeed at interviews

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

158.3  MCL-C2

 Mcleod, John

 Counsellor’s workbook: Developing personal approach

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

303  MAL-G

 Malay Chaudhuri; Arindam Chaudhuri

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310  SPI-S4

 Spiegel, Murray R., and Stephens, Larry J.

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320.55  GAN-G

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 Gandhi Speaks: The Mahatma’s words for children

 Puffin Books, New Delhi

330.951  BHA-O

 Bhaumik T K

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 Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

361  SPI-W

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 Heinemann Library, Oxford

371.26Q  PRA-S

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 Sample papers : Business studies Class 12

 Prakash Books, India Ltd., New Delhi

371.26Q  PRA-S

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 Prakash Books, India Ltd., New Delhi

371.26Q  PRA-S

 Praksah Books

 Sample papers : Maths Class 12

 Prakash Books, India Ltd., New Delhi

371.3  WOR

 CBSE

 Work experience in schools: Guidelines and syllabus

 Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi

420.7  LOU-I

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 IELTS: International english language testing system

 New Age International Publishers (P) Ltd., New Delhi

421  FRE-W

 Freeman, Sarah

 Written communication in English

 Orient Longman Ltd., New Delhi

422  AYT-C

 Ayto, John

 Century of new words

 Oxford University Press, New  Delhi

422  WHI-B

 Whitcut, Janet

 Better wordpower

 Oxford University Press, New  Delhi

425  CHA-O

 Chalker, Sylvia; Weiner, Edmund

 Oxford dictionary English grammar

 Oxford University Press, New Delhi

425  SIN-G

 Sinclair, Christine

 Grammar: Friendly approach

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

500  NCE-L.09

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual science, class 09

 National council of education research and training

500  NCE-L.10

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual science, class 10

 National council of education research and training

510  NCE-L

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual – Mathematics for secondary stages

 NCERT, New Delhi

510  NCE-L

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual – Mathematics for secondary stages

 NCERT, New Delhi

530.072  NCE-L.11

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual physics, class 11

 National council of education research and training

530.072  NCE-L.12

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual physics, class 12

 National council of education research and training

540.72  NCE-L.11

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual chemistry, class 11

 National council of education research and training

540.72  NCE-L.12

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual chemistry, class 12

 National council of education research and training

541.22  PRA-N

 Pradeep, T

 Nano: The essentials understanding nanoscience and nano technology

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

570.724  NCE-L.11

 NCERT

 Laboratory manual biology, class 11

 National council of education research and training

572  RAS-B

 Rastogi S C

 Biochemistry

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

577  DAS-F

 Dash, Madhab Chandra and Dash, Satya Prakash

 Fundamentals of ecology

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

577.5  JOS-E2

 Joseph, Benny

 Environmental studies

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

579  PEL-M5

 Pelczar,Michael J et.al.

 Microbiology

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

616.0252  MOH-F

 Mohun, Janet, Ed.

 First aid manual

 Dorling Kindersley, London

621.4023  SIV-A

 Sivaprakasam S

 Alternative energy sources: Biodiesel

 Scitech Publications (India) Pvt. Ltd., Chennai

657.2  SUR-B4

 Surendra Sundararajan

 Book of financial terms

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

794  ALT-H

 Alter, James

 History of world cup cricket

 Roli Books,Bangalore

808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ALL-T

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

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808.068  ALL-T

 Anita Nair

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ALL-T

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ALL-T

 Alliew, Shane J

 Teryosha

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ALL-T

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ALL-T

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ANI-H

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ANI-M

 Anita

 Monie’s magic quilt

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  APA-D

 Aparna Nambiar

 Diya plays teacher & diya’s birthday gift

 D C Books, Bangalore

808.068  APA-D

 Aparna Nambiar

 Diya leaves town & Diya loses her tooth

 D C Books, Bangalore

808.068  APA-D

 Aparna Nambiar

 Diya’s picture & help! It’s a monster

 D C Books, Bangalore

808.068  APA-D

 Aparna Nambiar

 Diya’s new friend and everyone is a winner

 D C Books, Bangalore

808.068  APA-D

 Aparna Nambiar

 Diya gets angry & the race

 D C Books, Bangalore

808.068  APA-H

 Aparna Nambiar

 Hanuman enters lanka

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  APA-S

 Aparna Nambiar

 Story of jatayu

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ARO-C

 Aromal, T

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ARO-C

 Vinitha

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ARO-K

 Aromal

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ARO-M

 Aromal

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ARO-R

 Aromal T

 Rivers and the sea

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ARO-S

 Aromal T

 Salt merchant and his ass

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ART-H

 Arthy

 Hard Earned money

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ART-M

 Arthy

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ART-P

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 Pollution solution

 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  ARU-M

 Arun

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  JEE-S

 Jeena Ann joseph

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  LIS-N

 Lisha

 Neighbours all and a lesson learnt

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  LIT-J

 Litta

 Jumbo Safari

 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  LIT-T

 Litta

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  LUI-L

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 Little red ridinh hood

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  LUI-L

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 Little mermaid

 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  LUI-L

 Shane

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MIN-C

 Mini John

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MIN-P

 Mini

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MOH-H

 Mohammed Khadeer babu

 Head curry

 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MYL

 DC Books

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MYL

 DC Books

 My little book ofABC

 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MYL

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MYL

 DC Books

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MYL

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MYL

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 My little book of opposites

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808.068  MYL

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808.068  MYL

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808.068  MYL

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  MYL

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808.068  MYL

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808.068  MYL

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808.068  MYL

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808.068  MYL

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808.068  MYL

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808.068  RAD-A

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 DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  RAD-A

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 DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  RAD-A

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 DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  RAD-A

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 DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  RAD-A

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 DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  RAD-A

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 DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  RAD-A

 Radha Nair

 Appu goes to work

 DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  SAJ-H

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 Mango, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  SAJ-H

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808.068  SEE-H

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  SEE-H

 Seena

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 Tumbi, DC Books, Bangalore

808.068  SHA-S

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808.068  SHW-A

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808.068  SHW-H

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808.068  SHW-H

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 Bappa Rawal

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808.068  SHW-H

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808.068  SHW-P

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808.068  SWE-H

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808.068  TAN-B

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808.068  TAN-J

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808.068  TAN-J

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808.068  TAN-K

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808.068  TAN-S

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808.068  VIN-K

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808.068  VIN-K

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808.068  VIN-K

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808.068  VIN-U

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808.068  WIL-B

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822  IND-T

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823  BLY-S

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823  BON-O

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823  STI-C

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8H3  ANJ-A

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8H3  MAR-P

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8H3  MRI-

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8H3  NAN-E

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8H3  UDA-M

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909  KUN-P

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920.02  BHA-G

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920.02  JYO-G

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920.02  MOH-G

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920.02  PAR-G

 Paramjit Arora

 Great leaders of the world

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920.02  TOM-G

 Tomas, B J

 Great sports personalities of the world

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921.1  HIT-T

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 Thomas Paine’s rights of man

 Manjulal Publishing House Pvt Ltd, Bhopal

923.1  BHA-G

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923.9  LAT-G

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925  MOH-G

 Mohan, G V K

 Great scientists of the world

 Spider Books, Chennai

927.96  COE-W

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 Winning mind: What it takes to become a true champion

 Headline Book Publishing, London

954  SCH-F

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H  8H1  ASH-M

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H  8H1  NIR-P

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H  8H1.08  SAH-J

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H  8H3  AMA-C

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 Choondivala aur anya kahaniyam (m)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  AMA-C

 Amarendra Kumar

 Chudivalala aur anya kahaniyam (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  AMR-S

 Amrithlal Vegra

 Soundarya ki nadi Narmada (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  ANI-L

 Anita Nair

 Ladies coup (h)

 Penguin Books India Ltd., New Delhi

H  8H3  ARU-S

 Aruna Prakash

 Swapna ghar(h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  ASH-Y

 Ashok Chakradhar

 Yum hi (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  BHA-V

 Bharathi Rai

 Ve din, ye din (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  DOB-V

 Dobhal, Bhagavati Prasad

 Vichar jo kamyab rahe (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  GOU-6

 Gouda, Nilam Saran

 62 ki bathem (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  GUR-K

 Gurucharan Das

 Kahani ek parivar ki (h)

 Penguin Books India Ltd., New Delhi

H  8H3  IRA-D

 Ira Pande

 Diddi (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  JOG-N

 Jogindar Pal

 Nahim rahman babu (H)

 Penguin Books India Ltd., New Delhi

H  8H3  JOG-N

 Jogenthra Pal

 Naheim rahuman babu (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  LAK-S

 Lakshmidhar Malaveey

 Sphatik: Ek (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  LAK-S

 Lakshmidhar Malaveey

 Sphatik: Do (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  MAH-N

 Mahrothra, Deepthi Priya

 Noutaki ki malika gulab bai (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  MAM-D

 MAmtha Kaliya

 Dheyater road ke cowaey (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  MAN-C

 Mani Bhaumika

 Cod neim god (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  MOH-C

 Mohsin Hamid

 Changez ka bayan (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  MOH-M

 Mohammad Alim

 Mere nalom ki gumshuda aavaz (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  MRI-S

 Mridula Halal

 Shyam ke saye (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  NJA-M

 Njanprakash Vivek

 Musafirkhana (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  RAJ-M

 Raji Seth

 Mardha ke desh (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  SAN-A

 Sanjeev

 Aarohan (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  SUD-P

 Sudheesh Pachouri

 Papalu samskrithi (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  SWA-A

 Swayan Prakas

 Aadi sathi ka safarnama (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  UDA-A

 Udaya Prakash

 Areba pareba (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  USH-B

 Usha Priyenvadha

 Banwas (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3  VRI-J

 Vrindavanlal Varma

 Jhansi ki rani Lakshmibai (h)

 Prabhat Prakashan, New Delhi

H  8H3  YAS-Y

 Yashpal

 Yashpal ki 21 kahaniyam (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H3.08  CHO-N

 Choudhari Jiya Imam

 Nousad jara aaftab bana (h)

 Penguin Books India Ltd., New Delhi

H  8H3.09  BHI-A.1

 Bhishma Sahni

 Adhunik Hindi upanyas, Bhag1 (h)

 Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi

H  8H3.09  NAM-A.2

 Namavar Singh

 Adhunik Hindi upanyas, Bhag2 (h)

 Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi

H  8H4  IRA-I

 Ira Trivedi

 Is taj ke heere chubhthe heim (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  KUM-J

 Kumidhini Pathi, Tr.

 Jalladh ki dairy (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  LEE-K

 Leela Seth

 Khar aur adalath (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  MAN-E

 Manishankar Ayyar

 Ek dharmanirapeksha rudivadi ki sweekarokthi (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  NAR-B

 Narayana Murthi, N R

 Behthar bharath behthar duniya (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  RAV-B

 Raveendra Jogi, Chethavathi

 Bigandey bachey sabse acchchey (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  SAT-E

 Satheeshadath Pandey

 Ek bhooth aur dho swapnom ka rahatsya (h)

 Yathra Pushthak, New Delhi

H  8H4  SUD-H

 Sudheer Kakkar; Kaidharina Kakkar

 Ham hindusthani: Bharatheeyatha ki vasthavik pahchan (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  SUK-M

 Sukethu Mehtha

 Mahanagar: Bambai ki thalash (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  8H4  VAR-N

 Varma, Shyamaji Gokul

 Naye nibandh (h)

 Vidya Vihar, New Delhi

H  8U3  JOG-N

 Joginder Pal

 Neye dhor ki urdu kahaniyam (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  910  MRI-K

 Mridhula Garga

 Kuch atkaey kuch bhatkaey (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  920  ZIA-N

 Zia Imam, Choudhary

 Noushad: Zhar jo afthab bana (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  921.854  SAN-V

 Sankar

 Vivekanan: Jeevan ke anjane sach (h)

 Penguin Books India Ltd., New Delhi

H  923.254  GUP-A

 Gupta, Subhadra Sen

 Azadi ke mathvale bharath ke swathanthratha senani (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  923.254  GUP-A

 Gupta, Subhadra Sen

 Azadi ke mathvale bharath ke swathanthratha senani (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  928.H  AMR-U

 Uma Trilok

 Amritha-imroz (h)

 Yathra Books, New Delhi

H  954  IFT-J

 Iftikkar Geelani

 Jel me kate voh din (h)

 Penguin Books India Ltd., New Delhi

M  181.4  SUK-T

 Sukumar, Azheekode

 Tatvamasi (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  4M5  RAM-S

 Ramachandran Nair, Panmana

 Suddhamalayalam (m)

 Current Books, Kottayam

M  793.3  SAN-K

 Sanil P Thomas

 Kuttikkalikal (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M0  AKB-A

 Akbar Kakkattil

 Adhyayana yathra (m)

 Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co., Kozhikode

M  8M0  BAL-C

 Balachandran, Chullikkad

 Chidambarasmarana (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M0  ROS-E

 Rosie Thomas

 Evan ente priya c j (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M1  KUR-S

 Kurup, O N V

 Swayamvaram (m)

 D  C Books, Kottayam

M  8M1  KUR-V

 Kurup, O N V

 Veruthe (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M1  N N-S

 N N Kakkad

 Safalamee yathra (m)

 Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co., Kozhikode

M  8M1  VIJ-V

 Vijayalakshmi

 Vijayalakshmiyute kavithakal (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M1.08  KUR-U

 Kurup, O N V

 Ujjayini (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M1.08  SRE-K

 Sreekumar, Kureepuzha

 Kureepuzha sreekumarintey kavithakkal (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M1.08  SUG-A

 Sugathakumari

 Ambalamani (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  ANA-M

 Anand

 Marubhoomikal undakunathu (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  BAL-A

 Balakrishnan, C V

 Ayussinte pusthakam (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  JAM-P

 James, V J

 Purappadinte pusthakam (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  KOV-T

 Kovilam

 Thattakam (m)

 Current Books, Thrissur

M  8M3  MAD-M

 Madhavikkutty

 Manasi (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  MOH-I

 Mohanan, N

 Innalathe mazha (m)

 Current Books, Calicut

M  8M3  MUK-D

 Mukundan, M

 Daivathinte vikrithikal (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  RAM-F

 Ramakrishnan, T D

 Francis ittykkora (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  RAM-J

 Ramanunni, K P

 Jeevithathinte pusthakam (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  RAM-R

 Raman Pillai, C V

 Ramaraja bahadur (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  RAM-Y

 Ramakrishnan, Malayattoor

 Yanthram (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  SAR-A

 Sarah Joseph

 Aalahayude pennmakkal (m)

 Current Books, Calicut

M  8M3  SAR-O

 Sarah Joseph

 Ooru kaval (m)

 Current Books, Thrissur

M  8M3  SHE-P

 Shereef, K; Muraleedharan, K P

 Pranayarithukkal (m)

 Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co., Kozhikode

M  8M3  SRE-O

 Sreedharan, Perumpadavom

 Oru sankeerthanam pole (m)

 Asramam Bhasi, Kollam

M  8M3  SUB-G

 Subhash Chandran

 Ghatikarangal nilaykunna samayam (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  SUK-J

 Sukumaran, M

 Janithakam (m)

 H & C Publishing House, Thrissur

M  8M3  URO-U

 Uroob

 Ummachu (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  VIJ-P

 Vijayan, O V

 Pravachakante vazhi (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  ZAC-Z

 Zachariah

 Zachariyayude kathakal (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3  ZUH-I

 Zuhara, B M

 Iruttu (m)

 Chintha Publishers, TVPM

M  8M3.01  NAR-E

 Narayana Pillai, M P

 Ente priyappetta kathakal (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M3.01  SET-E

 Sethu

 Ente priyapetta kathakal (m)

 H & C Publishing House

M  8M3.01  SHI-S

 Shihabudheen, Poythumkadavu

 Shihabudheentey kathakal (m)

 Poorna Publications, Kozhikode

M  8M3.01  VAS-N

 Vasudevan Nair, M T

 Ninte ormakku (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

M  8M4  VEE-B7

 Veerendrakumar, M P

 Budhante chiri (m)

 Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co., Kozhikode

M  920  SRE-V

 Sreeraman, V K

 Veritta kazchakal (m)

 D C Books, Kottayam

R  001  KRI-A

 Krishna Kumar, S

 Addone super brain essential knowledge for all

 Addone Publishing Group, TVPM

R  001  KRI-B

 Krishna Kumar. S, Ed.

 Big book of talent

 Addone, Thiruvananthapuram

R  001.076  MUH-H3

 Muhamed Muneer, et al.

 How to prepare for the CAT

 TATA McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. Ltd., New Delhi

R  030  ARV-D

 Arvidssen, Roland, Ed.; Hilden, Katri, Ed.

 Dateline: A day-by-day guide to people, places, and events

 Gordon Cheers, Australia

R  030  BAI-K

 Baines, Francesca, Ed.

 Know it all

 Dorling Kindersley, New Delhi

R  030  BRY-R

 Bryson, Bill

 Really short history of nearly everything

 Corgi Books, Britain

R  030  LEV-B

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Brtannica Illustrated Science Library: Fish and amphibians

 Encyclopaedia Britanica Inc., London

R  030  LEV-E

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Brtannica Illustrated Science Library: Energy and movement

 Encyclopaedia Britanica Inc., London

R  030  LEV-H

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Human body II

 Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago

R  030  LEV-H

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Human body I

 Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago

R  030  LEV-M

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Mammals

 Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago

R  030  LEV-P

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Brtannica Illustrated Science Library:Plant, algae,and fungi

 Encyclopaedia Britanica Inc., London

R  030  LEV-R

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Reptiles and dinosaurs

 Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago

R  030  LEV-S

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Space exploration

 Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago

R  030  LEV-T

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Technology

 Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago

R  030  LEV-U

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Brtannica Illustrated Science Library: Universe

 Encyclopaedia Britanica Inc., London

R  030  LEV-V

 Levy, Michael, Ed.

 Volcanoes and earthquakes

 Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., Chicago

R  306.0954  SUR-T

 Surendra Sahai

 Temples of south India

 Prakash Books, India Ltd., New Delhi

R  422.03  SPE-O

 Speake, Jennifer, Ed.

 Oxford dictionary of proverbs

 Oxford University Press, Delhi

R  423  EDM-O

 Edmonds, David, Ed.

 Oxford reverse dictionary

 Oxford University Press, New  Delhi

R  423  SOA-P

 Soanes, Catherine

 Paperback oxford English dictionary

 Oxford University Press, New  Delhi

R  423.1  BAB-S

 Baby Thomas, et al.

 Sentence dictionary

 Addone Publishing Group, Trivandrum

R  423.1  CHA-A

 Chandran, V V S, et al.

 Addone children’s international five star dictionary

 Addone Publishing Group, TVPM

R  423.1  OXF

 

 Oxford dictionary of synonyms and antonyms

 Oxford University Press, New  Delhi

R  500  STE-D

 Steer, Mark, et al

 Defining moments in science

 Cassell & Co., London

R  500.2  PRI-B

 Priya Mohan K, et al.

 Book of formulae: Formulae and definitions

 Addone Publishing Group, Trivandrum

R  500.5  STO-S

 Stott, Carole, et al.

 Space: From earth to the edge of the universe

 Dorling Kindersley, New Delhi

R  510.03  SUD-A

 Sudheesh Chandran, V S

 Addone mathematics rank scorer: Mathematics encyclopaedia with all kinds of formulae and tables

 Addone Publishing Group, TVPM

R  820.3  BIR-O7

 Birch, Dinah, Ed.

 Oxford companion to English literature

 Oxford University Press, Oxford

R  825  EMM-5

 emma Beare

 501 must-know speeches

 Bounty Books, London

R  909  PEM-M

 Pemberton, John

 Myths and legends from cherokee dances to voodoo trances

 Canary Presss, East Sussex

R  M302.23  BAR-I

 Baran, Stanley J

 Introducation to mass communication: Media literacy and culture

 TATA McGraw-Hill Education Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

R 572.03  NAG-D2

 Nagini, S

 Dictionary of biochemistry, biotechnology and bioinformatics

 Scitech Publications, Chennai

T  300  NCE-S.10.1

 NCERT

 Social science, Part1: Textbook in history for class10

 National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi

T  320  NCE-D.10.2

 NCERT

 Social Science, Democratic politics II: Textbook in Political Science for class X

 National Council of Educational Research & Training, New Delhi

T  420.7  NCE-M.02.2

 NCERT

 Marigold, Book2: Textbook in English for class02

 National Council of Educational Research & Training, New Delhi

T  420.7  NCE-M.04.4

 NCERT

 Marigold, Book4: Textbook in English for class IV

 National Council of Educational Research & Training, New Delhi

T  600  PAN-S.08

 Pant, K M, et al.

 Science and technology: Textbook for class VIII

 National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;1

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;2

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;3

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;4

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;5

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;6

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;7

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;8

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I0;9

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class X

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

T 420.7  CBS-I09

 CBSE

 Interact in English: Literature Reader – A textbook for English Course (Communicative) Class09

 Central Borad of Secondary Education, New Delhi

Filed under: New Book Alert, ,

Booking to the Future

Paper or electronic? Futurists have been pushing one option for years—but do we have to choose?

It’s no secret that librarians like books. For decades, those pages sandwiched between rectangles of cardboard have been the primary reason librarians sought and secured employment. As methods of communication and information sharing evolve, however, books have begun to transform, sparking a debate not only among book publishers and readers but librarians as well.

In response to a hot-button issue in the library profession nationwide, the Library Research Service (LRS), a unit of the Colorado State Library, conducted a survey to check current library professionals’ predictions for the future of the paper book. It’s probably no surprise that respondents thought the trend would be toward electronic formats. But for a variety of reasons, paper books refuse to die a quiet death.

In December 2009, LRS posted an eight-question survey titled “The Future of the Book” on the homepage of its website and sent the link to multiple state, regional, and national library-related discussion lists. Survey questions asked respondents whether they owned an e-reader; whether or when they thought paper books would disappear; what format they currently used and expected to use in 10 years to read fiction, nonfiction, and textbooks; and what they predicted libraries would circulate in 10 years. Respondents were offered 2–5 answer options to these questions.

Over the course of a month, 1,326 respondents, representing all 50 states and 24 countries, completed the survey. A third of respondents worked in public libraries, a quarter in academic, and almost one out of five in school libraries. More than seven out of 10 survey respondents left comments to an open-ended question about their thoughts on the future of the book.

LRS staff evaluated the comments—ranging in tone from philosophical to passionate to practical—and collectively identified the six most frequently mentioned factors in the paper-versus-electronic-format debate: the existence of multiple formats, technological advantages, emotional/aesthetic appeal, content, cost, and time/generational change. After coding each comment according to which topics it addressed, LRS staff were able to analyze how the comments related to other survey responses.

Looking into the crystal ball

Overall, almost two out of three (63%) respondents claimed that paper books would never disappear, and half that number (33%) predicted their demise in from 21 to 100 or more years (see Chart 1). The remaining 4% anticipated that paper books would vanish within the next two decades. These numbers shifted when the 16% of respondents who reported owning an e-reader were singled out: E-reader owners were nearly three times as likely as non-owners to predict that paper books would disappear by 2030.

Despite the overwhelming conviction that paper books would not become extinct in the immediate future, the question remains as to what extent libraries will circulate them in, say, 10 years. Of the entire survey group, 43% of respondents predicted that libraries would circulate about the same amount of physical and electronic materials, and slightly fewer (39%) anticipated more electronic than physical. Less than half that percentage (16%) thought physical materials would continue to be more common. The prediction that libraries would increasingly favor electronic resources did not extend to a sentiment that libraries were growing irrelevant or would become completely virtual; less than 1% of survey respondents thought libraries would not exist or would circulate only electronic materials in 10 years.

Survey respondents’ predictions of their personal format choices also revealed a substantial drift toward electronic. In 10 years, the number of respondents who read fiction, nonfiction, and textbooks electronically could escalate from three to six times their current percentages, while paper use would decrease accordingly.

  Although these increases may appear drastic, use of electronic formats is starting from a point that leaves almost nowhere to go but up. Respondents’ current use of electronic formats was still relatively low–just 5% for fiction, compared with the 88% who opted for paper–and the majority expected paper to continue to be their preferred format for fiction and nonfiction. The most drastic changes were anticipated in the textbook business, with estimates that electronic use would increase from 10% to 59%, cutting use of paper textbooks to less than half–just 40%–by 2020 (see Charts 3 and 4).

Two sides of the same coin

Despite the apparent consensus that much textbook use would migrate to electronic formats, survey respondents’ comments revealed contradictory opinions about this inevitability. Some respondents argued that electronic formats could be much more affordable and convenient for students, while others identified e-books’ subpar note-taking capabilities and the lack of color for scientific charts as reasons that paper remains a better option for academics.

This type of back-and-forth debate was no less animated for other types of reading. Format preference for fiction inspired ardent remarks from respondents, many of whom touted the emotional or aesthetic appeal of reading a paper book. As some put it, curling up in front of a fire with a cup of cocoa and an electronic machine just didn’t sound as cozy as feeling the textured paper and smelling the faint musty odor of a favorite old paperback. One respondent remarked, “Who wants to read their kid a bedtime story using a Kindle?”

Interestingly, survey respondents used similar points to argue both sides of an issue. For example, fans of both paper and electronic books claimed that their preferred format was more desirable because it was conveniently portable. Each format offers specific technological advantages to recommend it, but six in 10 survey respondents who commented on the subject found more to like about paper books’ durability, freedom from battery or electric power, and ease on the eyes. Only one in four had such positive things to say about e-books’ convenience or various enhancements (see Chart 5).

In addition to technological advantages, survey respondents cited lower cost as a benefit for both e-books and paper books. Here again, paper books seemed to win the argument: Two out of three comments said paper books were cheaper, while one in four argued that e-books were more cost effective. Furthermore, one in 10 of the respondents who commented on cost or technological advantages did not specify whether e-books or paper books held the upper hand.

More survey respondents agreed with the idea that multiple formats would coexist in the future, that it’s not an either-or debate. Nearly half of survey comments (46%) referenced previous format changes or identified potential for increased accessibility through alternative formats. “If a book interests people it will be published and ‘read,’ regardless of format, and regardless of whether ‘reading’ actually means reading, viewing, listening, or participating, or all four,” one respondent said.

Similarly, many survey respondents saw electronic books as simply one more way to make information available. In fact, one in five comments (18%) emphasized content over format, articulating one of two beliefs, best expressed in respondents’ own words: “Content, not containers! It’s not about the book–it’s about what’s inside of it” and “Different formats work for different audiences and purposes.”

Several survey respondents noted that children’s literature and art books would be the last, if ever, to migrate to electronic formats because of the superior quality and aesthetic appearance of print illustrations. Many comments conveyed the thought that electronic formats were most conducive to presenting news and informational reading–shorter texts, perhaps–while pleasure reading also would remain largely in print. That said, a number of survey respondents claimed the opposite, that some informational material, especially in academic categories, might be better absorbed and assimilated by reading paper books and that “throwaway” fiction or quick pleasure reads could be more compatible with transient electronic formats.

In addition to those influences on format choice, one in 10 comments expressed the thought that only time would tell. As younger, digital-oriented generations age, their preference for electronic gadgets may lead to a greater shift away from paper at the same time improvements to the technology become more frequent.

Future is still fuzzy

At the merest prompt, a discussion of the future of the book sends librarians and avid readers into zealous debate, with one group defending paper, a second advocating for electronic formats, and yet another scratching their heads in undecided confusion. Contributing to the chaotic conversation are reports trumpeted by companies such as Amazon, which announced this summer that Kindle e-book sales had surpassed those of hardcover books. While neither hardcover nor electronic book sales can hold a candle to paperbacks, electronic books are clearly emerging as a significant market share in the publishing industry. E-reading devices are becoming more affordable–at the time of this writing, the latest rendition of the Kindle, with free 3G wireless, was going for $189–and new devices such as the iPad offer free applications that bring together previously incompatible e-book formats (and in color, too!). These developments, which occurred after LRS conducted this survey at the end of 2009, have already addressed some of the respondents’ concerns about e-books; even so–or perhaps as a result–it is still difficult to judge how electronic books and reading devices will change in the coming year, let alone the next decade.

If nothing else, the 71% of survey respondents who left additional comments indicated that the book’s future is indeed a topic of fervent concern. An important point to note, however, is that 86% of survey respondents reported working in a library. Compared with casual patrons and users, most librarians are likely to have more ardent feelings about the traditional book or book formats in general. Yet no matter what librarians think, it is library users who will guide the future demand for format options in books and libraries. Perhaps this demographic should be surveyed next, to try to get a clearer view of their expectations.

One thing the survey does make clear is that many factors influence format choice for any type of book. Cost, technology, emotional/aesthetic appeal, content, and even the passage of time all will play a role in whether, when, and how the traditional paper book will change. “The book in some form will always be around,” one survey respondent sagely remarked. “We just may not recognize the form our grandkids or great-grandkids call a ‘book.’”

JAMIE E. HELGREN, an MLIS student at the University of Denver, is a research fellow at the Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library.

Courtesy: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org

Filed under: Article of the Week, ,

5 Ways That Paper Books Are Better Than eBooks

By Richard MacManus

Note: this isn’t an ‘either/or’ argument, my main point in these posts is that each format (paper / electronic) has its strengths and weaknesses. Having said that, it may not be too far into the future when we begin to think of this as an either/or proposition. Remember that the future of paper newspapers is now seriously in question, so it may not be long before the same happens to paper books.

1. Feel

Paper books just feel good in your hands – even the best designed eReader is a cold, lifeless steely contraption by comparison. Paper books are also seen as "more personal," which was a comment that a number of people made on the previous post. You can become attached to a copy of your favorite novel, or a well thumbed book of poetry. I own a worn copy of the novel ‘Catch-22,’ which I have read a number of times since my University days – and no eBook could ever replace the memories it evokes whenever I pick that book up.

How can eBooks match this in the future? They may never do, but perhaps we will find that the features I listed in my previous post assume greater nostalgic significance instead: highlighted text, notes that you made back in your University days, and the ability to search and find all of this very easily.

You know it's a good bookstore when...

2. Packaging

I bought a poetry book for Kindle on iPad last week, but it turned out that the eBook was missing half of the image of an obscure painting that adorned the front and back covers of the paper edition. The eBook just had the front cover art, not the back cover art. This is one small example of how paper books can have a more beautiful package than eBooks.

Best cover in my LibraryWe could similarly point to book binding and typeface, both often carefully selected by publishing companies for their paper editions. It can make a big difference to one’s reading experience.

If eBooks are to challenge this feature, it will need to be with something unique and native to the electronic format. For inspiration, we can look to what Arcade Fire did with the electronic release of its latest album. As a way to try and match the album art and booklet available on CD, Arcade Fire came up with an artistic package it called "synchronised artwork." This enabled listeners to access imagery, lyrics and links on their iPod or iPhone while listening to the album. Some might say that it still isn’t as good as a CD package, but this is the challenge for electronic mediums – to come up with alternatives that offer something equally compelling, perhaps even more so.

Skip Knox summed it up well in a comment: "We need a new generation of authors and publishers who will create new art forms around the technology. We’re still at the point analogous to the early years of movies, when all they could think to do was essentially film a stage play."

3. Sharing

I noted in the last post that receiving marked up books from a friend is something that can’t be duplicated by eBooks – yet. Also, you can’t lend a copy of an eBook to someone else. DRM (Digital Rights Management) or incompatible eBook formats prevent that.

1984...meet DRMHowever, I have to think that both of those features – personal notes and sharing eBooks – will get figured out by eReader manufacturers sooner or later. There is no technological reason it can’t be done, it’s more a matter of navigating the always murky DRM waters and people getting used to new kinds of ‘reading’ functionality. Just as we DM people on Twitter or send email, sending messages or notes to another person via an eBook is a feature that would be useful and eventually well used.

4. Keeping

On the topics of DRM and eBook formats, not only is this an issue for sharing – but for your own future accessibility of books. As Adrian Lafond eloquently noted, "If I "buy" an e-book, read it, put it in storage, and try to re-read it in 10 years (since I "own" it) it’s anybody’s guess whether there will exist a platform or device on which that will be possible for that particular e-book format and DRM scheme."

Gwyn Headley added, a little cynically, that eBooks are great for books "you know you will never want to read again."

To be frank, I think the same risks apply to paper books too. I have misplaced favorite books over the years or lent them to people and not had them returned. However, eBook and eReader manufacturers certainly need to address this issue before consumers are truly comfortable buying them over paper books.

5. Second-hand books

Booktree & Biography CornerA few people noted that eBooks are still too expensive and that you can’t get cheap second-hand copies. Or for that matter, expensive first edition copies.

Similar to previous points, eBooks won’t necessarily be able to match this ‘feature’ of paper books. However, the price of eBooks will likely drop over time and become more flexible. Indeed, I picked up a copy of the full works of Emerson and Thoreau this week for a few dollars – cheaper (and much lighter) than I could’ve gotten anywhere else for a paper copy. We’ll see more of this type of pricing as the eBook market ramps up.

In summary, there are pros and cons for both paper books and eBooks. The eBook market is ripe for innovation and breakthroughs in how we read, so eBooks will only improve over the coming years.

In the final analysis though, the real value of any book – whether read via paper or electronically – is in the words.

 

Courtesy: http://www.readwriteweb.com

Filed under: Reading Tips, , ,

Are ebooks the future?

image

 

by

Pradeep Sebastian

Courtesy: The Hindu

Now that Kindle and other digital reading devices are hitting the mainstream, how will virtual words impact the reader and the experience of reading?

Waiting for a poetry reading to begin, Critic A can’t help eavesdropping on a conversation in progress: someone in the room can’t remember a line from a Wallace Stevens poem, and her neighbour ‘Kindles’ the quote, and in a few seconds supplies the line. All present are duly impressed except Critic A, who wonders if the Kindle has become to literature what Wikipedia is to information: “a one-stop outlet, a speedy and irresistibly efficient leveler of context”. That is, the poet Wallace Stevens had been taken out of his historical flesh and blood literary context, and his poetry turned into a piece of information.

Critic B, noting A’s dismay, observes that Blackberrying or Kindling Stevens instantly doesn’t deprive him of his historical and literary context — only forgetting him can do that. And if young people, say his 14-year-old son, can ‘call up’ a poem on his Blackberry in a matter of seconds, then a difficult poet like Wallace Stevens, always in danger of not being read enough, will actually find new readers. “Such liberation of access”, notes Critic B, “can only enrich and deepen the historical imagination — extending its nourishment to new audiences”.

It’s here now

It was perhaps several months ago that I chanced on this exchange — one resisting the Kindle, the other defending it — and thought to myself: why should we agonise over something that we don’t have in India — namely, the Kindle. But now that Amazon’s international version of this e-reading device is actually here (some Rs. 17,500 later), does it mean digital reading is finally becoming mainstream? I asked two prominent Indian publishers what they made of the eBook, and found them prepared and geared up for the revolution.

Thomas Abraham, Hachette India’s managing director is convinced (partly by how easily and frequently he uses an eReader now) that eBook conversion will happen faster than was supposed in India, but will remain a niche interest with the current device format. “The day real convergence occurs — when your phone, mp3 player and eReader are one device — is when you’ll see real mass usage. Hachette is a big believer in the future of the digital medium, both for content as well as distribution platforms. It has therefore set up a central group Digital division which will manage its whole eBook strategy.”

HarperCollins worldwide has for some years now been exploring ways to work closely with digital publishing partners including Amazon. HarperCollins India hopes to learn from their experience to create and partner similar initiatives in India. Its publisher and chief editor, V.K. Karthika is emphatic that “there is no getting away from the fact that digital publishing is the future of the written word. It could mean rethinking processes from scratch, including typesetting and design, not to mention sales and marketing. And of course, as an editor I may have to reinvent my role to adapt to the new technology.”

Neelini Sarkar, editorial assistant at HarperCollins added, “I think being part of traditional book publishing means that we tend to be somewhat skeptical of new-fangled reading formats and insist that e-books just don’t ‘feel’ the same. But they are certainly a convenience, some years down the line a necessity, and at the end of the day e-reading will probably make book-publishing a simpler process.” Listening to them, I realised what they were getting at would probably be echoed by most other publishers, and that it was time for even the fetishistic bibliophile, namely me, to recognise that the printed book and the digital book must co-exist.

But as a longtime reader of the printed book, I can tell you exactly what I’ll miss from an eBook: a particular memory of reading a book, that specific copy, in a certain way; when you return to re-read a book, the act of reading from the same wel- thumbedcopy. Of lending that edition to a friend. The smell of old ink-and not just a generic book smell but the familiar smell of thatcopy. Writing in the margins, bookmarking and shelving it. As a reader who has cared for books in their physical beauty — fine editions, memorable dust jackets, and lovely typefaces — I cannot help but feel that it will not be easy to replace the sensual ritual of feeling paper as you turn a page.

Inertia

However, the digital book industry is racing to reassure us: CaféScribe, a French on-line publisher, hopes to satisfy the traditional reader by providing customers a sticker that “will give off a fusty, bookish smell when it is attached to their computers”, Amazon Kindle’s screen uses e-paper so you won’t miss white-cream paper, and the Tablet PC has the dimensions and shape of a book. From a long use of the printed book in our lives we know its aesthetics. In time, I feel that the eBook will acquire its own history, aesthetics and culture.

Robert Darnton, book historian and author of the recently published The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future describes at least one way the e-book enhances reading. “An ‘e-book’ unlike a printed codex, can contain many layers arranged in the shape of a pyramid, Readers can download the text and skim through the topmost layer…if they come upon something that especially interests them, they can click down a layer to a supplementary essay or appendix. They can continue deeper through the book, through bodies of documents, bibliography, historiography, iconography, background music…”

But Darnton also points out that there’s nothing still wrong with Movable Type — it has just lost a little to Code in speed and practicality. (Amazon’s most recent ad for Kindle is ‘In the time it takes to read this article, an entire book would have been downloaded’). Once — and for a very long time — the printed book was the fastest and most practical thing (compact, portable, no batteries required) having edged out manuscripts. Darnton believes that learning will ‘remain within the Gutenberg galaxy — though the galaxy will expand, thanks to a new source of energy, the electronic book, which will act as a supplement to, not a substitute for, Gutenberg’s great machine.’

Lingering confusion

I realised my initial skepticism — the skepticism of most traditional bibliophiles — comes from an old but lingering confusion that eBooks equal the decline of reading. We forget that reading itself is in no danger — the freedom experienced in reading is too addictive for that whether on page or screen. Besides, reading makes all forms its own. Consider: the form of the book is always morphing — from vellum manuscripts to wood pulp to pixels, from movable type to the printing press to code, and what remains constant is the experience of reading itself.

Filed under: Article of the Week, , , ,

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