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overdue library books

How Overdue are your Library books?

 

overdue library books university professor at the Queen’s University of Belfast has escaped a fine of more than £8,500 after finding that he had still in his possession a book that he borrowed from a library 47 years ago.

Emeritus Prof John Foster from the university’s Institute of Irish studies recently found in his possession a book by Victorian poet Arthur Hugh Clough, after returning to Vancouver to clean out the locker he used when he had worked at the University of British Columbia a span of years. Upon discovery of the book in his locker the open it up to find the due date stamp reading 11th of October 1966, whereupon presumably his pants darkened in a most unprofessorally like manner.

The university said that it was more than happy simply to be getting the book back so it would not be charging the Prof to fork out the £8,577.50 overdue fine.

While this is seemingly an extraordinarily long time for a book to be overdue, this doesn’t come close to the record unsurprisingly in the convict colony of Australia. A School of arts library lent out a first edition Insectivorous Plants by Charles Darwin in 1889, only to have it returned mildly late in 2011, a full 122 years late. Again, in a show of literary lovers companionship the late fee was indeed waved.

read a book online

Apple Ordered to Rework all ebook Contracts

read a book onlineFinally some good news for e-book consumers, a judge handed down an order to Apple to modify its current contracts with its publishers in a move to prevent price-fixing of e-book and all electronic materials. The judge has appointed an external monitor to review all of Apple’s anti-trust internal policy’s and training.
Apple spokesperson maintained that Apple never conspired to fix the prices of e-book. The company spokesperson was quoted as saying “The iBookstore gave customers more choice and injected much needed innovation and competition into the market. Apple will pursue an appeal of the injunction.”
The judge had sat on two previous hearings on the matter and has repeatedly expressed to her dismay with the technology giants conduct. US district Judge Denise Cote said that she thought that the company was actively colluding with publishers to raise book prices and keep them at an artificially high price. She told the lawyers that she found that Apple had “demonstrated a blatant and aggressive disregard”for the law, and that she hoped that her findings would help Apple to show remorse at the very least in the face of future litigation.
Apple maintained that its entrance into the digital book market could only increase the potential customer base for digital and e-book’s, and that it was in fact doing consumers favour by removing Amazons complete and utter dominance and monopoly of the market.
Even in the face of Apple’s complete and utter reluctance to admit any wrongdoing on their part the judge demanded that rules be set to prevent the existing cooperation between the book publishers and Apple that mate hurt future marketplace rivals and competitors in the future. Apple is now no longer allowed to enter any agreements with the publishers that it has colluded with that may restrict Apple’s ability to lower the retail price will discounts on the books.
An independent auditor has been appointed to monitor apples anti-trust policies and procedures for a period of two years.
One can only hope that Apple learns from this case and actively tries to better its harmful consumer policies, rather than try to find more legal loopholes which seem to be the company’s bread-and-butter.

textbook price inflation

College Textbook Price Inflation 102% since 2001

textbook price inflation

 

For those of us who feel like the price of College Textbooks only ever goes in one direction, Bloomberg.com have posted a chart showing that the price of college textbooks has more than doubled since 2001, while the price of other books has gone down.

The above chart shows that textbook prices rose an astronomical 102% since December 2001, while fictional and other recreational types of books fell 1.5%, during which time the consumer price index, which measures the price of all goods and services rose 32%.

While textbooks for university and college classes remain among the most time consuming to  create from start to finish, it does raise the question of how certain publishers manage to justify rises of this magnitude. Especially considering the fact that advances in technology have opened up new mediums and therefore new sources of revenue as well as cheaper publishing options.

Hopefully, sites like this one can open up more avenues to keep education cheap and make it more accessible that it is currently becoming.

dont take rented textbooks across state lines

Amazon says don’t take your Rented Textbooks Across State Lines.

dont take rented textbooks across state linesMore and more students are saving money on their college textbooks by renting them out for the semester rather than buying them outright, but many college students may not realise that if they are renting their textbooks from Amazon then they face heavy fines if they take their rented textbooks over state lines.

Amazons textbook rental service contains fine print that allows them to bill your credit card for the full price of the book if they suspect that you have crossed over state lines. The terms and conditions of the Amazon textbook rental subsidiary contain a condition that the rented textbook must not be taken out of the state from which it was originally rented. As stated on their Textbook Rental Terms and Conditions page:

You may not move the textbook out of the state to which it was originally shipped. If you wish to move the textbook out of that state, you must first purchase the textbook. You can purchase the textbook by going to Your Textbook Rentals to view your rental library. Select the textbook you wish to purchase and then proceed through the checkout process. You may also contact us to purchase the textbook. When you purchase the textbook, we will charge you the buyout price of the textbook, and the textbook will be yours to keep.

If Amazon suspect that a student has violated these rules and taken a trip with their rented textbook, they will use their discretion and charge the remaining amount of money from the textbooks original price to the assigned credit card.

Why?

It is thought that this is an attempt by the company to fight certain state governments sales taxes. If the book is being rented to a person who is located in a state where Amazon is not officially doing business, then an argument could be made by the state that they actually are doing business in the state and as such must pay the states sales tax.

Whatever the reason, if you are renting your textbooks this semester be careful taking your textbook across state lines, even if you are just going back home for a weekend study session, it could end up costing you a whole lot more than you may have bargained for.

alice in wonderland

5 Books you Wont Believe were Banned

Alice in Wonderland (1865)

alice in wonderland

Everyone knows the story of the girl who fell down the rabbit hole, but I wonder how many people know why the book was banned in a province in China.

In the book was banned in the Hunan Province in 1931 because it the audacity to have acting at the same level of intelligence as human beings. The regions censor General was of the opinion that allowing animals not only to speak, but to wear hats was an insult to humans everywhere. He feared that the book would have the disastrous result of leading children to treat humans and animals similarly.

 

Green Eggs and Ham (1960)

green eggs and ham

Who would have thought that a book containing just 50 different words [1] could be so controversial?

The 4th best-selling English children’s book of all time was banned in the People’s Republic of China because, and this is good, because of its portrayal of Marxism. Not only was the author so clever as to hide his insidious message of a socio-political view of socio-economic analysis based on a materialist understanding of historical progress and an analysis of class-relations within humanity and their application in a critique of the growth of capitalism, but to do it all with less than 50 words. Brilliant

The censors did eventually lift the ban almost 30 years later in 1991 after the offensive author known simply as Dr Seuss passed away.

 

Diary of Anne Frank (1947)

Diary of Anne Frank

This one is by far the most disgusting on this list, as the diary of a 13 year old Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis for two years only to be caught and die in a concentration camp was banned in Lebanon for “Portraying  Jews, Israel or Zionism favourably”, and remains banned to this day.

Other stories on the list because of this reason include “Schindlers List” and “Sophie’s Choice”[2]

 

The Da Vinci Code (2003)

the da vinci code

This book remains banned in Lebanon after the Catholic leaders in the country deemed it to be offensive to Christianity due to the inaccuracies that were rife throughout the book. Apparently this work of fiction was slanderous enough for a spokesman for the Vatican itself to speak out against the book, slamming its multitude of historical and cultural errors and demanding Christians everywhere boycott the book and the movie. After seeing the movie, I feel this is perhaps the one time I should have listened to the advice of the church.

 

Catcher in the Rye (1951)

 the catcher in the rye

J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was banned in various places around the world including Australia, because it main character Holden Caulfield displayed all the characteristics that authorities hated, he drank, he smoke, and worst of all, he blasphemed!

At this time in Australia, the name of banned books were not released to the public, the books were simply seized on entry to the country.

One day, the kind Ambassador from the United States, as a good will gesture, proudly presented copies of the book to a number Australian diplomats and politicians as an example of the fine literature that was coming out of his country [3].

When this small snafu became public, there was a fair amount of public outrage, and eventually led to an overhaul of the entire censorship system in Australia, as well as the quiet unbanning of the book.

 

Sources
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Eggs_and_Ham#Lexicon
[2]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124113399848475095.html
[3] http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/array-of-banned-books-shows-australia-on-a-more-innocent-page-20130125-2dc3y.html#ixzz2MjmrH3M7

5 Books you won’t believe were Banned.

compare book prices old books

Supporting Your Local Book Shops

compare book prices old booksAs we look back on the recently finished independent booksellers week and all the press that it gathered, we have to look at ourselves as an online book and textbook retail and ask ourselves are we damaging local bookshops. Personally I have some very mixed feelings about this. I used to be an owner of a small bookshop that dealt mostly in second hand books, and I was, as most people are very proud of my little store. But over the last 10 years with the meteoric rise of the Internet, I found it harder and harder to keep my little shop afloat in a world that seems more than eager to move online and away from the local bookstore.

As much as I want to, I don’t blame people for not shopping locally, as even I have moved on to this wonderful World Wide Web where I can get all my literary needs for about half the price of what I would pay at a local bookstore. Even the major retailers are moving the majority of their business online, as the simple cost of maintaining a brick and mortar store becomes harder and harder to keep up with. When my store was on the verge of shutting down I raved and ranted at the major retailers, at Amazon and just that anyone who would stand still for long enough, I was angry but I didn’t know who to be angry at.

It seems perverse from me, someone who works for a website that sells books solely over the Internet, to try and tell people that they should be supporting their local bookstore’s, undo. Scratch that, it is perverse and entirely hypocritical, but I’m going to do it anyway and here’s why. People have been decrying that the end of books is nigh on the age of the digital media is already here, but let’s be honest who doesn’t prefer the feel of a good honest book in their hands over holding a tablet or ereader. My eyes still gets sore after only an hour or two squinting at my iPad or Kindle. There is no real substitute physical book.

Compare Book Prices

So while books are here to stay to just a little bit longer, so too should your local bookstore. But bookstores in your local area need to realise that they simply can’t compete with the prices of books online and need to act accordingly. Local bookstore’s need to play to their strengths, let people come in sit down somewhere and read a chapter or two, offered them a free drink of tea or coffee and employ reasonable intelligence staff that no when people want help and when people just want to be left alone.

One of the best ideas that I’ve ever seen is from the one remaining second hand bookstore in my area. They offer a box of free lollipops that sit next to a box of free children’s books, and while the books are necessarily in the best condition, the kids don’t care they have a lolly and something to read.

There is no online substitute for a real honest to goodness community fall of knowledgeable welcoming people.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, born on the 16th of October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland, is only second to Shakespeare as the most oft quoted author in the English speaking world. His razor sharp wit combined with his majestically elegant prose to tell us some of the greatest stories of all time.

He was a voracious playwright, but to many his greatest work outside of plays is undoubtedly his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is the story of a young man who sells his soul away for the promise of eternal youth and perpetual beauty. Told with Wilde’s fantastic wit and magical prose, the book caused a national outrage when it was first published in 1890, for the hedonism and  decadence contained in the novel as well as its supposed homosexual overtones, even though the 1890 version was censored heavily before it was ever printed.

Sadly, this grand book spurred many members of the public to attack Wilde and his  “homosexual agenda”, leading to the arrest of Mr Wilde and his good friend and supposed lover Alfred Taylor in 1895 for Sodomy and Gross Indecency. Wilde was sentenced to 2 years hard labour. During his time in jail performing hard labour, he passed out and ruptured his ear drum upon the chapel floor, an injury that is said to have lead directly to his contracting cerebral meningitis and subsequent death a few years later.

When Oscar Wilde died in Paris in 1900, he died completely destitute and penniless.

When you compare books written today to Mr Wilde’s writing you will find that his writing stands up remarkably well, a good hundred years after they were written, which cannot be said for all of the work to come out of that time.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Any modern assessment of the man is sure to mention his great charm and incredible wit, but he was so much more than a clever man with a flair for writing. He created some of the most memorable and colorful characters in modern literary history. His willingness to play and venture into the worlds of the heretofore unknown have rightfully earned him a place in the history books as one of the greatest authors, not only of his time, but of all time.

Whilst his writing can seem somewhat impenetrable and obtuse, with a little persistence many modern readers find that with a bit of help, the efforts required to fall in love with the man are more than worth the time invested.

He was probably the first man to be tried and sentenced by an angry public, spurred on by a media with an agenda. The public fury whipped up against him mighty pall to what seems so regular today, but his sexual proclivities made him a pariah, and in histories eyes, perhaps a venerable one.