Sunday, March 20, 2005

Da Vinci Code, Long Tail and Book Discussions

Today was one of those days that for everything that I see so many linkages from what I read (blogs and websites) -- hey, kinda like what goes on in the Da Vinci Code!

1) Da Vinci Code...
Morning, I came across Idle Days and posted my comments to the blog post regarding Dan Brown's book.

2) ... to Long Tail...
Then a couple of hyperlinks later, I came across Chris Anderson's The Long Tail article. This was the second time I read the article but it gave me new insights. By Anderson's definition, Dan Brown's books certainly has a long tail. After Da Vinci Code hit the shelves (or should I say, after the controversy hit the news), all his earlier books were snapped up from the public libraries. It's the same as any other hot title/ author, like Harry Potter and Murakami.

3) ... to Book Discussions
Much later in the day, it occurred to me that book discussions are alive and well in the Blogosphere -- just that nobody really sets up dedicated blogs to discuss about books. That's really a cool thing, and it's a sign of times. The traditional Book Club (where members meet regularly to discuss about a book) is getting harder to sustain.

So in comes the Blogs, but the difference being that a blogger doesn't blog on books alone. There is no "book club" per se -- only "book discussions". If they read a book and talk about it and others join the conversation, then you have a book discussion.

A search in Technorati for "singapore da vinci code" reveals 454 posts (20 Mar 05, 10.30pm). There were 99 hits using the same search term in Blog SearchEngine. Some posts could just contain a brief mention of the title while some could be protracted discussions about the book.

It occured to me that this was a new way to find these book discussions (not book clubs). And that's where libarians (public libraries) could go out and join the conversations.

Forget about inviting readers to specially make time to join bookclubs in libraries. Librarians should make time and go join the conversations and book discussions in the Blogosphere.


  1. "Forget about inviting readers to specially make time to join bookclubs in libraries. Librarians should make time and go join the conversations and book discussions in the Blogosphere."

    good thoughts. but how many librarians are going to do that, given that you can't put it down on your annual appraisal and all?

  2. Actually bookclubs are just formal gatherings to talk about a particular book read. I'm not 100% conviced it helps to promote reading becoz people who join are already into books. If there's any obvious benefit, it probably helps the participants to expand their reading horizon by promoting genres which they might otherwise not read.

    Book discussions are very much alive even out of the blogosphere. You mean to tell me you don't talk about books you have read amongst friends/family? I will be very surprised to know that librarians are not already visiting book-related blogospheres and having lively discussions. I'm very technically unsavvy, and by the time I am blogging, I'm sure the usually technically savvy librarian counterparts are already doing the same thing. But I have a strong feeling nobody wants to come outright and tell their company they are doing it.


    (BTW, I blog mostly about books too, but my entries are usually not about how well/how badly an author writes, but how the story stirs up certain memories/thoughts/experience in me. Sometimes, it's hard to dissect a book on why each person thinks it's good, a lot of times it's just about how it stirred your soul in a certain way)

  3. Anonymous2:27 pm

    I personally like it's book collection, review site all in one and blog friendly too.

  4. Yes, I think if the librarians are blogging about books, then they should be rewarded too. Also I think it shouldn't be hard to have another page (on libarary's site) that consolidates reviews from bookswelike and allconsuming.

  5. It'll be a real sad day if librarians go into the Blogosphere only if their annual assessment depend on it.

    Anyway, I think librarians won't have a choice BUT to go into the Blogosphere. Just a matter of time.

    As for putting it in the annual appraisal, well the better librarians (in my opinion) are the ones who are passionate about promoting reading and would do it anyway, annual assessment not withstanding. But that being said, recognition & reward would be necessary. There are already ways to do that. Just to share with you -- every NLB staff has what we call "Core Values" in our assessment, i.e. how have we demonstrated those qualities as expected as Core Values. There are a few of those Core Values that could fit in nicely.

    Also, engaging the community via blogs (or whatever relevant platforms) is also part of our current expected results, which would then be incorporated into our Key Results Area (it's like a kind of "Management & Assessment by objectives and expected results" approach).

  6. Anonymous1:44 am

    (1) Personally, I believe the odds are stacked against a Utopia in which librarians can meaningfully engage large groups of blog-based readers without appearing intrusive (even if NLB does eventually have a blog-based peer review area).

    I'd imagine it to be taking a seat with a group of students while doing roving duties, and asking them - in the midst of their discussion or quiet reading - "Well... I also read that book too, and I think it's full of wonderful ideas.... so why not read THESE other books?".

    I'd imagine a range of reactions, ranging from wide-eyed stares, to giggles, or even looks of anger. Why? Because I would have intruded into their little world, the burden of my office as a figure of authority notwithstanding. In business terms, I would have been guilty of intrusive/interruption marketing (think of salesman who knock on your door during dinner time and trying to sell you stuff).

    (2) A second issue would be this: To what extent would NLB encourage its staff to use blogs as a means of outreach? What about the metrics? If we use existing indicators like page views, no. of comments or no. of postings per year, NLB staff would be blogging for the wrong reasons, as you have pointed out earlier. But without tangible or measurable outcomes, I am not sure if NLB would sanction this as a 'CCA'. It has to be for its own sake. And personally, I would think that the saddest thing for any webmaster or blogger is that only a handful of passers-by actually read your postings, and found them meaningful. It would be like carving a nice epitah on a tombstone and hoping that future generations of kin and friends (+ vandals + gravesweepers) who pop by actually take time to look at it.

    Anyway, I wonder if you have seen this before? not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there, I do not sleep.

    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glint on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.

    When you wake in the morning hush,
    I am the swift, uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circling flight.
    I am the soft starlight at night.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    (Do not stand at my grave and cry.
    I am not there, I did not die!
    Mary Frye (1932)


  7. Damien, you've given me much food for thought, which resulted in this post - Discussing Dan's Da Vinci Code: Librarians joining conversations. Thanks!


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