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Librarian Blog

About face

Amazon opened its firsts bricks-and-mortar store today in Washington State, and it appers that it is much like every other bookstore on the planet.

There is an exception, and it is of singular importance, I think.

All the books in the inventory at the store are shelved with the cover facing outward. The browsing visitor can see entire cover, not the spine.

Bookstores traditionall do best-sellers with a cover-out shelving scheme and then float a few others here and there in their collections.

The issue is space. If you face books outward, there is limited room for other books. That's why most libraries don't have face-out shelving schemes. We'd have far fewer books if we did.

Obviously, Amazon sees this as a must way to do things. And that means that what they have to offer for sale in that physical space will be very limited. Maybe they don't care because they don't intend to sell a deep and broad collection, just what's current and hot on the market.

At least, that sounds like their strategy.

Lots of sharing

A new report out today says American teens continue to embrace Instagram, but have not completely abandoned FaceBook.

I'm a little surprised since Instagram, which is for photos and videos, is so much like FaceBook in terms of facilitating "sharing." (Boy, am I sick of that term.)

Thirty-three percent of teens say that Instagram is the most important application out there. Only 14 percent say FaceBook is.

FaceBook is probably seen as something for old people.

Way down the list of most important apps is Pinterest, and that, too, is no surprise. Pinterest is a little girlie for guys.

That Instagram is so liked tells me a lot about how many photos are being taken with smartphones.

Is there anything that hasn't been shot?

The rise of the selfie

A new study by researchers in Brazil and South Korea seems to confirm the obvious: Pictures are coming to dominate Internet interactions.

They studied selfies on Instagram, and found that the number of selfies has increased by 900 times from 2012 to 2014. Results are reported on Infodocket by Gary Price, and will be presented at a conference later this year at Stanford University.

Additionally, selfies with faces are much more likely to grab attention than images that don't have faces.

Who's shooting selfies? Kids, of course.

The researchers found that there is little difference in the propensity to shoot selfies in terms of gender or race and even nationality.

I'm guessing the only limiting factor is availability of smartphones.

In general, I think it's safe to say that images other than selfies have likewise grown in number with the advent of the cell phone, but I haven't seen any research on that.

In particular, I invite you to do a search on Google Images for Wimberley Flood. There are hundreds and hundreds of pictures there.

Comments? Really?

Ever since I started this blog a couple of years ago, I have received periodic comments on this or that posting.

At first, there was a clear pattern: Some group of foreign students, barely educated in the use of English, tried to get me to approve their comments. I wondered if this was part of some class assignment. I had no way of knowing. And I still don't.

Then, I started getting comments that wanted me to post them with referrals to oiutside websites. These, I figured, were blatant attempts to drive traffic somewhere else.

Those continue.

And I continue to delete them.

If one of these or something like it makes it through the filtering system, it's my fault. Just don't pay attention to them. I'm trying to be vigilant, but the whole process is a pesky nuisance.

Amazon vs. Wal-Mart

Two stories in today's New York Times give us a good idea of the future of retail in the American marketplace.

One says Amazon is reporting profitability, and its stock is rising.

The other says Wal-Mart is finally trying to figure out how to beat Amazon in the online retail game.

Along with that article is graphic that tracks prices for the same items at Amazon and Wal-Mart. On every item, Amazon comes out ahead.

Wal-Mart has had since 1999, at least, to get ahead of the crowd in the digital space, and it's not done so.

My prediction is that it will not any time soon.

Amazon is not just a retailer. It's an aggregator.

And Amazon has a lot of folks locked in because of Prime and one-click buying. It's just too easy.

Plus, Amazon does not have the baggage Wal-Mart has when it comes to bad treatment of employees. The company's practices are enough to keep me away from the box store in San Marcos. I certainly won't be looking to buy stuff online.

I don't know how Wal-Mart can keep growing quarter over quarter, year over year. Dell decided to stop doing that craziness, and it's able to make rational marketplace decisions. Maybe Wal-Mart could go private, but I wonder if the board/leadership is strong enough to do that.


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