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Tops in Boston -- why?

Just for a little while I was scratching my head over the list of the top 10 most-borrowed titles at the Boston Public Library for 2014.

At No. 1: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. And at No. 2: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Nos. 8, 9 and 10 are Catching Fire, Mockingjay and The Hunger Games, all by Suzanne Collins.

So, what's going on here, I wondered.

I conferred with young-adult librarian Kristina Minor, and we noodled it out: Five of the top 10 came out as movies this year. The other five didn't, but they were long-time best-sellers. No. 3 was The Goldfinch, No. 4 The Cuckoo's Calling, No. 5 Inferno, No. 6 Fifty Shades of Grey and No. 7 And the Mountains Echoed.

If Frozen had come out as a book, it would be in the list, I'm guessing.

So, does the movie drive people to the book? Or does the book drive people to the movie?

I have no idea, although I sure have seen some movies that I would never have understood without having read the book first (Hunt for Red October comes immediately to mind).

 

The top books

Amazon released its list of best-selling books for 2014 today.

The top-selling book overall was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. The top-selling kids/teen book was The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.

In addition to those, Amazon said the most wished for book of the year was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. And the most gifted book was Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinne.

We ran some numbers for the books most checked out during 2014 from the Wimberley library, and found that No. 1 was Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods, followed by Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins, The Finisher by Baldacci and Moving Target by J.A. Jance.

The top-circulating junior fiction book was Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not So Glam TV Star. The top-circulating picture book was Frozen.

By the way, that last one was no surprise at all. The Frozen franchise is crazy.

Impressive new tech

Imagine being able to hear T.S. Eliot read his poetry.

Or being able to access speeches long since lost because they were preserved on wax cylinders.

Thanks to a new technological approach by the Northeast Document Conservation Center, all those old recordings can be restored digitally and without damaging the originals, many of which are probably already beyond repair and certainly beyond use with anything else available today.

National Public Radio reported on the Eliot poetry file that's been preserved with other audio files at Harvard recently.

That's just way cool, I think. I'd love to hear some of the accents of long-silent orators, just to see how rhetorical or reading or talking styles have changed over time.

 

Must-see TV?

Darn.

I live the life of a librarian, but you'd think I'd come out of my shell long enough to know that a major movie channel has produced an entire series based on what I and my colleagues here do for a living.

Somehow I missed "The Librarian," the TNT show that aired last Sunday in prime time.

TNT's website says the show "centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from the secret, magical reality hidden all around."

Under the library?

Secret reality?

In the advertisement I saw for the series there IS an old guy in a suit, wearing a bow tie, and there's another Anglo guy wielding an automatic rifle who ... well, if you hold your mouth just right and squint ... DOES look a lot like me with spiky hair!

Who knew!

Disappearing

Top editors and perhaps others are leaving the New Republic magazine, according to The New York Times.

They're leaving in a dispute with the magazine's owner over the future of the publilcation.

The owner wants more attention to be paid to digital, and he wants to cut the number of issues published each year. The editors don't.

Thus continues the story of how old media are struggling in today's new-media-controlled landscape.

The New Republic is slowly committing suicide by cutting the number of publishing dates. I read the number as 10 times a year, which is just not enough times to keep up with the pace of events and to stay at the forefront of anyone's mind.

And if the publisher thinks that by cutting to 10 he will push people to some online version, he's just wrong about that. It's very difficult to produce quality content for two masters, print and digital. And it's very expensive. You can't cut resources and make it happen.

Yet that's what a lot of publishers want to do.

If the New Republic publisher has deep pockets, and he apparently does as one of the founders of FaceBook, he can afford to lose money for a long, long time. That doesn't mean he's smart to do so, though.