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They're still reading

Forecasts about the death of books are pretty much just wrong.
The Association of American Publishers just released data from last year. Sales of books for consumers were up about 1 percent in dollar volume. Overall, though, revenue was down about 3 percent.
Ebook sales were down a lot in children and young adult categories. Growth continued in audiobooks.
Paperback sales were strong.
Here at the library, we see fewer and fewer people who want to learn to download ebooks or audiobooks. Maybe that process has gotten easier or people are more adept at trying those tasks by themselves.
Still, it looks as if the doomsayers are nowhere near right. Yet.

Maybe no bias

I wrote last week about the financial difficiulties faced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one of the great art institutions in the world.
Seems that the Met is having troubles; the Museum of Modern Art, also a great institiution, is having no such problems.
Why would the Met be facing money issues while MoMA is not? Is there some bias in the art world against more traditional art and toward modern or contemporary art, I wondered.
So, I asked my daughter, Julia, who is a professor of art history at the University of California at Berkeley, about this.
She replied over the weekend: The problem is more mismanagement at the Met. That, plus the Met doesn't charge a large fee to enter, which MoMA does.
So, in alignment with Occam's Razor, the simplest answer prevails: No cultural bias in favor of modernism.

Libraries? In Honduras?

I just returned from a six-day trip to Honduras as part of a medical mission sponsored by Central Texas Medical Center of San Marcos.
Twenty of us went to Pene Blanca, a town in the northern part of the country.
Before I went, I thought I might have time to see if there was a public library in Pene Blanca.
I didn't. We were busy day in and day out providing medical care to residents of tiny villages in the highlands far away from Pene Blanca or any other bigger city.
I didn't see any books at all, much less a library.
What I did notice: Even in the villages, a lot of mud houses had satellite dishes.

I'm stumped

My wife and I used to go quite often to New York City, and one of our first stops was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We would sprint up to the floor with the Impressionists and start where we left off on the previous visit.
We never tired of the exhibits, both permanent and temporary, at the Met.
I can remember only one time that we also made it to the Museum of Modern Art. I guess I'm just not a big fan. And I guess that's because I don't own a modern art vocabulary. I don't understand the context.
So, I'm a little stumped by the front-page article in today's New York Times that says that MoMA is far outpacing the Met in funding, audience reach, etc.
The NYT doesn't say why that is the case.
And I wonder. Is mainstream art just passe? What makes modern art more digestible, interesting and fund-worthy?
I honestly don't have a clue.
Do you?


Don Stephenson and I took his pickup to North Austin today and returned with 500 books about the Wimberley-Blanco River flood of May 23, 2015
This second edition has some corrections. But it also has three new stories, including one from Rio Bonito. And, the story by Barnabas Connection has been updated.
The books are still $20, which is a bargain. Books that are 350 pages in length and 8 1/2 x 11 in size sell for $35 and more all day long.
So, come by and get your book.
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