ISSN 1534-0937

Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media

Bibs & Blather

Three Times Ten

This is the first of three issues that could each be considered
10^{th} 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 50^{th} issue. Instead, this is a typically atypical issue—a
hodgepodge.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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*.

*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.

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.)

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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