Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large
ISSN 1534-0937
Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media


Selection from Cites & Insights 10, Number 11: November 2010


Bibs & Blather

Three Times Ten

This is the first of three issues that could each be considered 10th Anniversary issues for Cites & Insights—depending on your definitions:

     This issue completes a decade of publishing C&I. The first issue, which appeared before Volume 1 Issue 1, was dated December 2000; thus, November 2010 completes a decade.

     The next issue will complete the 10th volume.

     Assuming there is a January 2011 issue, it’s the first issue after the completion of ten volumes. We celebrate anniversaries and birthdays the first day after the completion of X number of years, and from what I’ve seen most magazines also celebrate significant anniversaries that way.

For the first of three celebratory issues, I’m going to do…nothing special. The same will, I believe, be true for the others. I did too much reprinting of older material after the (misnumbered) Centenary Issue and in the 50th issue. Instead, this is a typically atypical issue—a hodgepodge.

Readership Update

I looked at readership in May 2009, and maybe this is a good time to look at it again. I update a spreadsheet with recent figures (from Urchin analysis of server logs at citesandinsights.info) every three or six months; these figures run through September 30, 2010, and exclude readership before December 2002.

I count two things: PDF downloads and HTML pageviews for articles only. Those two things yield one figure for issues and two for articles—that is, specific article pageviews and the sum of article pageviews and issue downloads.

In the first nine months of 2010 there have been 63,329 PDF downloads, for a total of 593,028 since December 2002, and 154,668 HTML article pageviews, for a total of 833,890 since December 2002.

Most Widely-Read Issues

As was true in May 2009, there are two “hot” issues—ones downloaded more than 10,000 times in PDF form. Volume 6 Issue 2, Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0,” is now up to 28,634 PDF downloads (that’s more than 7,000 more than in May 2009!), not including all the HTML pageviews. Volume 3 Issue 9, Coping with CIPA: A Censorware Special, is up to 14,942 PDF downloads.

Five issues have more than 8,000 PDF downloads each (there were none of these in May 2009); three show 7,000-7,999 downloads; 15 show 6,000-6,999; 14 have been downloaded 5,000 to 5,999 times; and 30 run 4,000 to 4,999 downloads. That’s 69 of the 144 issues and indexes published through September 30, 2010.

Issues gain readership over time. Eleven PDFs—two of them annual indexes—have, so far, been downloaded fewer than 1,000 times each, and all nine of the issues are from Volume 10. (Four of the nine are already over my “700 or more readers” bar, not including article pageviews.) Another 21 (including one index) have at least 1,000 but fewer than 2,000 PDF downloads—a combination of issues from Volume 9, one from Volume 10, a few from Volume 8 and some issues from Volumes 1 and 2, where early readership wasn’t counted.

Most Widely-Read Articles

The easiest and probably best way to calculate article readership is to add HTML pageviews to PDF downloads for the issue—but that assumes that people downloading the issue read the article.

On that basis, and noting that there aren’t any HTML versions for Volumes 1-3, the highest (of course) readership is the single article in Volume 6 Issue 2, with 48,219 total to date. Remarkably (to me at least!), there are two others with more than 20,000 combined readership: “Investigating the Biblioblogosphere” (22,658) and “Looking at Liblogs: The Great Middle” (21,812). Twenty-nine more articles have combined readership in excess of 10,000; 32 have 9,000 to 9,999 readers and 35 show readership between 8,000 and 9,999; 49 are between 7,000 and 7,999; and 92 more 5,000-6,999—a total of 238 articles, out of the 370 tracked, with more than 5,000 readership.

Last time around, I included tables showing all articles over 8,000 (32 in all) and between 7,000 and 7,999 (34 more). Equivalent tables would now total 145 lines, so I’ll only list articles with more than 10,000 readers.

Articles with more than 10,000 apparent readership

ID

Views

Title

v6i2a

48,219

Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”

v5i10b

22,658

Perspective: Investigating the Biblioblogosphere

v6i10a

21,182

Perspective: Looking at Liblogs: The Great Middle

v7i2c

15,810

Perspective: Conference Speaking: I Have a Little List

v5i13a

15,345

Perspective: Life Trumps Blogging

v5i5a

13,040

Bibs & Blather

v5i10d

12,786

(C)2 Perspective: Orphan Works

v7i1b

12,714

Perspective: Book Searching: OCA/GBS Update

v6i4a

12,332

Perspective: Folksonomy and Dichotomy

v4i12a

12,277

Perspective: Wikipedia and Worth

v6i10b

11,642

Bibs & Blather

v6i4d

11,553

PC Progress, October 2005-February 2006

v4i12c

11,241

Offtopic Perspective: The Rest of the DoubleDoubles

v4i3c

11,237

PC Progress, July 2003-January 2004

v4i12b

11,149

Copyright Currents

v4i12d

10,956

Interesting & Peculiar Products

v4i12e

10,884

Copyright Perspective: IICA: Inducing to Infringe

v6i4e

10,812

Offtopic Perspective: 50-Movie All Stars Collection 1

v4i12f

10,708

Trends & Quick Takes

v6i12d

10,579

Open Access Perspective, Part II: Pioneer OA Journals: Preliminary Additions from DOAJ

v6i4b

10,544

The Library Stuff

v6i3a

10,428

Followup Perspective: Beyond Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”

v6i9a

10,387

Bibs & Blather

v6i6a

10,385

Perspective: Discovering Books

v5i14a

10,376

Perspective: OCA and GLP 1: Ebooks, Etext, Libraries and the Commons

v6i1e

10,312

(C)2 Perspective: Will Fair Use Survive?

v6i12a

10,265

Open Access Perspective Part I: Pioneer Journals: The Arc of Enthusiasm, Five Years Later

v6i3e

10,241

(C)2 Perspective: What NC Means to Me

v6i4c

10,209

(C)1: Term & Extent

v7i1d

10,149

Finding a Balance: Patrons and the Library

v6i1c

10,086

Interesting & Peculiar Products

v7i9a

10,047

Perspective: On the Literature

It’s interesting to look at article pageviews independent of issue downloads but I’m not sure it’s meaningful.

Just for fun, I did an “exceptions list” this time around—looking at those cases where separate article pageviews actually exceed issue downloads. There are 42 such cases, including nine where the difference is more than 1,000, and two of those are fairly recent: The full-issue article “Library Access to Scholarship” from November 2009 (6,150 total, of which 3,751 are article pageviews) and, from February 2009, “Making it Work: Shiny Toys or Useful Tools?” (4,259 total, of which 2,737 are article pageviews). The biggest imbalance? “Conference Speaking: I Have a Little List,” from with 11,657 pageviews and 4,153 issue downloads. (Second through fourth: All blogging-related.)

No conclusions. I find the numbers for “Library Access to Scholarship” interesting, as it was the final installment of that section, and hope it means thousands of library people will buy the ALA Editions Special Report Open Access: What You Need to Know Now when it emerges in 2011.

What about the Blog Studies?

What follows is taken from an October 6, 2010 post at Walt at Random—and by the time you read this I will have already started work on The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010. No, I haven’t decided my course of action just yet. Comments welcome to waltcrawford at gmail dot com.

Background

I’ve been gathering data for an “as complete as possible” overview of English-language liblogs (blogs by library people or about libraries, that aren’t official blogs) since early summer; several previous posts have referred to that process and asked for help in some cases.

A Hobby/Obsession

None of the blogging books I’ve self-published has sold enough copies or received enough attention to be considered anything but failures. Consider:

     Public Library Blogs–80 copies sold.

     Academic Library Blogs—45 copies sold.

In these two cases, while I did an easy followup after one year and might do another easy followup after three years, I’ve given up on the projects. They just don’t interest me enough to keep working on them if nobody much cares about the results and I continue to have the impression that only cheerleading is welcome in this area.

     The Liblog Landscape–65 copies sold to date, most recently one copy in June 2010.

     But Still They Blog–17 (seventeen) copies sold to date, most recently two copies in June 2010.

I think BSTB is the better of the two books. I’d had the suggestion that some people with blogs in one of the books might want to see where they stood, but couldn’t/wouldn’t cough up $35 (print) or $25 (PDF). Maybe I could offer individual profiles for some nominal sum?

I’ve tested that. I lowered the price of the two books to $10 PDF—no shipping and handling, and since they’re 6×9 pages they should look great on a Kindle DX or iPad or whatever ereader you have with a decent-size screen. I lowered the print price to $20 (which yields the same return to me for each book as $10 PDF, within a few cents).

Total additional sales so far of either book to any bloggers or anybody else: Zero.

And yet…I couldn’t just let this one go, curse a little, and abandon the field. So, at this point, I have to admit that carrying on this “universe of liblogs over time” study is a hobby or obsession; any fiscal rewards (or, hah, speaking engagements) are unlikely and secondary.

People Will Read If It’s Completely Free

Now consider another set of figures:

     Public Library Blogs: 2,244 (or 1,111) to September 30, 2010–and 2,902 (or 1,010) for a brief update.

     Academic Library Blogs: 2,186 (or 1,053) to September 30, 2010–and 3,178 (or 1,286) for a brief update.

     The Liblog Landscape: 1,424 to September 30, 2010.

     But Still They Blog: 813 through October 11, 2010—less than two months so far.

Those are the numbers for the partial versions of the books that appeared in Cites & Insights. (For the first two, the larger number adds HTML pageviews for the article to PDF downloads for the issue; the number in parentheses is HTML pageviews. The third and fourth are PDF-only full-issue articles.)

I’ve reached about 28 times as many readers for public library blogs, 48 times as many for academic library blogs, roughly 22 times as many (so far) for the first liblog study and, even after only seven weeks, 47 times as many readers for But Still They Blog.

It Probably Works Better as a Book

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010 has a lot more data than the earlier projects. That data needs to be turned into summaries, graphs, and lots of descriptive commentary. The graphs–particularly correlation scattergraphs–work better in a 6×9 book (where I use a 26pica wide body, 4 1/3 if you don’t get picas) than in one column of a 2-column 8.5×11 ejournal (where I use a 20pica body or 3 1/3). I had to omit columns from some tables and make type in other tables uncomfortably small to fit them in three-quarters of the width.

And, let’s face it, even without the individual blog profiles that make up more than half of each previous book, this is going to be fairly long. The concise C&I version of But Still They Blog is a 60-page issue. I’d expect the new one to be even larger, given an additional year of data, more than twice as many blogs and a couple of new and interesting metrics.

Possibilities

I see three possibilities. I’d be interested in feedback or possibilities I haven’t thought of (don’t bother with “scrap it, nobody cares”—if I was that sensible I would have scrapped it before I began).

     The Insane Approach: Do it the same way I’ve done it before, as a 6×9 book priced reasonably, with some excerpts published in C&I—and, maybe, publishing a truncated version in C&I if when the book doesn’t do very well. (Why insane? Surely you know the definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”)

     The Populist Approach: Do the project as a series of C&I articles (probably PDF-only, given the graphs) over as many issues as it requires. Maybe try to put together a summary that could be sold as an article in one of the “big trade journals” (LJ, AL, CIL) for a three-figure sum. Lots of readership, either very little or no revenue (barring sponsorship, which is still up in the air).

     A Blended Approach? Do the project as a series of C&I articles that become a book, with the book planned as a limited edition. In that case, the “PDF versions” of individual articles might be 6×9 pages for easier reading on ereaders and better graph reproductions.

Either the second or third approach probably means using ten to twenty pages of each issue over four to eight months for this particular project. That might be good; it might not.

Reactions? Comments? Anybody out there ready to provide overall sponsorship for this project? Anybody out there who forgot to buy a cheap copy of one of the two current books? (There’s still time–and note that none of these alternatives includes individual blog profiles.)

To Make Things More Complicated

Let’s throw in three other factors, things I’m certainly thinking about:

If I continue the study in 2011, it would represent a half-decade investigation, which has some interesting possibilities.

There’s another interesting five-year anniversary coming up in early 2011–five years after the publication of by far the most widely-read C&I ever. I’m thinking about a major update and a possible five-year book edition; that may turn out to be a really stupid idea.

I have a collection of columns that most of you haven’t read, the “disContent” columns from EContent Magazine, all of them now updated to match the published versions and with Update epilogues for each column. The whole collection includes a number of columns that I’d just as soon forget, cases that make it clear that I’m no better as a prophet than anyone else in the field–but it might be interesting to include all the columns in a strictly limited (and possibly hardback) “signed edition” book. The portion of the columns that I regard as still timely and still things I’m happy to have out there is going to find use somehow—possibly republished in future C&Is (if it keeps going long enough–there are either 37 columns and 43,000 words or 47 columns and 56,000 words in that category) or as a much smaller book.

I’d welcome comments on those factors as well.

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 10, Number 11, Whole # 134, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and published by Walt Crawford.

Comments should be sent to waltcrawford@gmail.com. Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large is copyright © 2010 by Walt Crawford: Some rights reserved.

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