Herplit

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-EJ
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Herplit

Post by -EJ » June 3rd, 2013, 5:10 pm

Breck, Why are you closing shop?

herpbooks
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Re: Herplit

Post by herpbooks » June 3rd, 2013, 8:03 pm

Multiple reasons, but the most important is that scientific herpetological literature is just not selling well any more. The internet is largely to blame - ironic since initially the internet allowed me to reach a lot of people. Over the last 18 years and especially the last few years, the move to scan everything as pdfs and make them available through jStor and other sources like that has created a younger generation that prefers pdfs to a personal library. There is also a growing culture of internet publication sharing - regardless of copyright. This is hurting small businesses as well as small scientific societies. As income sources disappear tough choices need to be made. For me Bibliomania has always been more of a hobby than a business. I have rarely taken money out as pay. I have viewed the store more as a service to herpetology than a business. At this point the herpetological community as a whole does not need the service, so it is time to move on. I do have a large inventory that I will list through other sources, so things that I have will still be available, but I will no longer make any effort to buy (or otherwise acquire) new publications.

I have seen the same problems with the SSAR publications. It is becoming more and more difficult to sell books. Once the store is closed I will focus some energy into finding new ways to market SSAR books. Perhaps co-publishing them as ebooks would help? In any case, it is clear times have changed.

Perhaps the most startling thing that is starting to happen is the decreasing numbers of people joining (or renewing) scientific societies. I help with the memberships of 12 different herpetological societies and all have seen some drop in membership, some more than others. At a time when interest in herpetology is at an all time high you would think membership numbers would be universally up. Instead, more and more people are relying on either their institution or internet groups to obtain scientific papers at no personal charge.

On more than one occasion I have had to ask website administrators or individuals to remove copyrighted pdfs from their websites which have open access. Usually, copyrighted material is re-posted for free distribution within days of being published. Conversations with some of the people doing this, makes it clear that they believe all science (and other information) should be free and open access. They don't seem to understand that there are actual costs associated with publishing. Most open access journals require the author to cover these costs (usually $1000 or more per article). So if they continue to force small scientific societies to become open access then these societies will have to start requiring a charge to publish. If you look at the small herpetological societies - many of the papers that are published are written by people who do not have grant money that would cover the cost of publication - and they would not be able to cover the cost themselves.

What would be the result of this? Well these authors (The majority of Herp Review authors as well as African Herp News, Hamadryad, and many others) would not be able to publish their work in a peer review format because of the cost. If that happens, we will see more and more pseudo-journals published by the authors themselves. This will cause a downward spiral in the quality of herpetology. Also the internet is not a safe place to publish - I am not sure what is going on with Contemporary Herpetology (one of the first open access, peer review, online only publications), but I know new species were described in this journal and several other important papers were published in it. However, today the entire journal seems to be gone. Check out their website: http://contemporaryherpetology.org - Imagine all of the individual authors posting their own work. Where will it be in ten years - or when the author dies?

Sorry Ed, I have strayed a lot from your question - mainly because I am not that concerned about Bibliomania closing. I probably should have closed the store a couple of years ago. But I am very concerned about the laissez faire attitude towards scientific societies. Beyond the benefits of being a member of a society, it is most important to be a member of scientific societies as a scientist. These societies are the litmus test for all research, through peer review. Without these societies we don't really have science - at least not science that can be trusted. If you look at the history of science, you will also see the history of scientific societies - they go hand in and and you can't have one without the other.

So to sum it up - I am not so concerned about the future of my bookstore. But in closing the store I see a threat to herpetology as a whole. If you want to help herpetology:

1. Don't share or promote the sharing of copyrighted material over the internet - If someone posted a request for a specific paper, it is fine to help them obtain a copy - even scanning it and sending it directly to them - particularly older publications (and not entire books). For more recent publications, just send them the author's contact information - even if it is just a mailing address. Interlibrary loan still works, use it. And NEVER post copyrighted papers on the internet for anyone to download.

2. Join societies - more than one. There are all sorts of reputable societies - from general to very specific (country, taxonomic group, etc.) - and they all need your support. I don't know of any herpetological societies that have a paid staff or that are "for profit" organizations. It is not like any of them are rolling in money - they could use your support. Without it, I predict that we will start seeing societies disappear.

Okay, enough of my two cents.

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gbin
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Re: Herplit

Post by gbin » June 4th, 2013, 7:58 am

I suspect - and hope! - that print media will always have a place, but it seems clear it will never again be as prominent as it was in the not-so-distant past. Seems to me you're likely picking a good time to get out bookselling, Breck. I wish you luck during the transition and afterward.

I'd modestly correct what you said, though, about scientific societies. From everything that I can see as a scientist, scientific societies are doing just fine; indeed, I helped found a major new one devoted to wildlife endocrinology only a few years back, and it's displaying remarkable growth in the U.S. and abroad. Others I belong to or am aware of are also doing well, though there is of course an ongoing cycle of diversification and consolidation. If you're talking instead about hobby societies, albeit with a scientific orientation (and often with more than a few scientists among their membership), then I unfortunately agree with you. When newcomers here ask for advice on herping their area, I get the impression that it would never occur to them on their own to check out their local herpetological society, and I'm not sure how seriously they take that idea when I or others offer it, either. Folks more and more prefer to seek community here online, for good and ill.

Gerry

herpbooks
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Re: Herplit

Post by herpbooks » June 4th, 2013, 12:29 pm

Hi Gerry,

I can't speak for any other societies than the ones I have worked with - which include most of the major herpetological societies - and they are all concerned about their membership trends. Sometime I should contact the other taxon specific societies (mammalogy, ornithology) and regional societies (SW Naturalist, NW Naturalist etc.) and see how they are doing. The rumors I have heard suggest they are also concerned. I have talked to the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology and they seem to be holding strong or growing. One of the big Herp societies has seems to be holding steady - if they are loosing their numbers remain within 10% of normal. Some of the others have seen declines in the 30% or more range.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that the new recruits (students) seem to be joining to get a grant, travel funds, meeting discounts - things that require membership. But the next year when they don't need these, they don't renew. When asked they tend to say that they didn't renew because they don't need the journals - their institution has access to them. It is a very short sighted view of society membership.

I would agree with you that the problem is worse for hobbyist and small (local) regional societies. They have suffered much more, but academic societies are struggling.

Breck

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justinm
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Re: Herplit

Post by justinm » June 6th, 2013, 7:15 am

Breck,

It's sad to hear your store is closing. I've bought books from you in the past. I remember first meeting you in Kansas and enjoyed that I could get my hands on books that I normally had to guess about the content of online. Risky purchasing that way. Are you still selling off your stock? Could you email me a listing? Again sorry to hear that you're shuttering the place.

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Jeff
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Re: Herplit

Post by Jeff » June 6th, 2013, 11:08 am

Yesterday I told my wife that I had some very, very, bad news.

'You were fired?"

"No, worse, Breck Bartholomew is shutting down."

herpbooks
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Re: Herplit

Post by herpbooks » June 6th, 2013, 1:53 pm

justinm wrote: Are you still selling off your stock? Could you email me a listing? Again sorry to hear that you're shuttering the place.
There are too many titles to send in an email. You can search my website. Everything is now 30% off. http://www.herplitsales.com.

Jeff, Thanks.

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Herplit

Post by Bryan Hamilton » June 11th, 2013, 8:05 am

I'm very sorry to hear the shop is closing.

Best of luck Breck.

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Carl Brune
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Re: Herplit

Post by Carl Brune » June 14th, 2013, 3:32 pm

Sorry to hear you are closing. I appreciate your sharing of your perspective.

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-EJ
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Re: Herplit

Post by -EJ » June 19th, 2013, 2:46 pm

Actually... desktop publishing has put out some really good books but I do see what Breck is trying to say. What Breck doesn't seem to see is that the hard copy can never be replaced. The younguns will see this as time goes on.

I have programs from my first Mac... Mac read and write... transylvania... I can run them.

A book/paper will always be there... a PDF will also be there... as long as you have a puter and program to open it... see the point.

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Re: Herplit

Post by herpbooks » June 26th, 2013, 8:13 pm

I am well aware that hard copies will not go away. I have books that are nearly 400 years old - still very readable with no extra expense since they were printed. I also know that you would be lucky to be able to open an Adobe pdf from versions 3 or earlier (about 1998 or before). Not to mention the expense to upgrade pdfs as technology changes and all of the electricity used to maintain an online pdf library. I would be surprised if pdfs of today will still be used in 30 years. I will also be surprised is the cloud and various pdf libraries don't get attached by some sort of cyber-terrorisim. It seems it would be easy to create a virus to destroy pdfs. No It is not that I think the book is doomed. But tell the undergrad or grad student of today to build a personal library for their research and they will look at you incredulously. Most of what they need is available online (not all, but a lot). They are getting it for free and it is very portable - they can access it on their phone. They have little interest or recognized need to invest in a personal library or to join societies.

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-EJ
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Re: Herplit

Post by -EJ » June 26th, 2013, 8:21 pm

I hope most see what you are saying. you can't replace concrete. The printed word on paper is forever... if you take care of it... digital... has to follow the technology.
herpbooks wrote:I am well aware that hard copies will not go away. I have books that are nearly 400 years old - still very readable with no extra expense since they were printed. I also know that you would be lucky to be able to open an Adobe pdf from versions 3 or earlier (about 1998 or before). Not to mention the expense to upgrade pdfs as technology changes and all of the electricity used to maintain an online pdf library. I would be surprised if pdfs of today will still be used in 30 years. I will also be surprised is the cloud and various pdf libraries don't get attached by some sort of cyber-terrorisim. It seems it would be easy to create a virus to destroy pdfs. No It is not that I think the book is doomed. But tell the undergrad or grad student of today to build a personal library for their research and they will look at you incredulously. Most of what they need is available online (not all, but a lot). They are getting it for free and it is very portable - they can access it on their phone. They have little interest or recognized need to invest in a personal library or to join societies.

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Jeff
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Re: Herplit

Post by Jeff » June 27th, 2013, 6:12 pm

Last week the power was out at our house for 4 hours. We expect that during hurricanes (4 hours times 50), but not on a pleasant spring afternoon. My teenage offspring were frantic. Despite the fact that my house is inundated with books of all sorts, the electronically impaired were unable to operate. On the other hand, my problem was deciding what beer, and what book, would go best together. I settled on a red ale and the 1892 edition of Brehm's Tierleben, the one with the colored plates.

I can confirm that the new trend is pdf vs. paper. I have duplicate sets of 5 herpetological journals, and boxes of duplicate monographs and reprints, yet no-one seems interested in them -- for free !! Last year I was working in a major US University collection, and saw that one of the graduate students had an interlibrary loan of Parker's Monograph of microhylid frogs. There was an available copy of that book at the University library, the building next to the museum, her professor had a personal copy in the next office, and a copy sat on the herpetology lab bookshelf 15 feet from where she sat. I asked why she didn't just use one of the others. She had no answer, I think, because shelves of books had no meaning to her. Literature was obtained by hitting a button on a computer (o.k., not like ordering from Herplit.com).

That is an interesting point regarding pdfs and advancing/malicious technology. I print hard copies of most pdfs that I desire. I have not seen a diminished capacity via technology, but I have seen web links disappear. As Breck noted, changing technology will see a constant need to upgrade pdf reader software, and are certainly susceptible to malicious interference. In a book that I am coauthoring, with 434 pages of snake literature sources, 3 of 4 web sources are now defunct.

Oh, and now I hear that herplit will come to an end.

Where is that bottle opener !!

Jeff

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-EJ
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Re: Herplit

Post by -EJ » June 27th, 2013, 7:05 pm

You hit on two important points...

Digital media is accessable right now... and I love it.

...but when the power goes down...or the technology changes... it's worthless.
Jeff wrote:Last week the power was out at our house for 4 hours. We expect that during hurricanes (4 hours times 50), but not on a pleasant spring afternoon. My teenage offspring were frantic. Despite the fact that my house is inundated with books of all sorts, the electronically impaired were unable to operate. On the other hand, my problem was deciding what beer, and what book, would go best together. I settled on a red ale and the 1892 edition of Brehm's Tierleben, the one with the colored plates.

I can confirm that the new trend is pdf vs. paper. I have duplicate sets of 5 herpetological journals, and boxes of duplicate monographs and reprints, yet no-one seems interested in them -- for free !! Last year I was working in a major US University collection, and saw that one of the graduate students had an interlibrary loan of Parker's Monograph of microhylid frogs. There was an available copy of that book at the University library, the building next to the museum, her professor had a personal copy in the next office, and a copy sat on the herpetology lab bookshelf 15 feet from where she sat. I asked why she didn't just use one of the others. She had no answer, I think, because shelves of books had no meaning to her. Literature was obtained by hitting a button on a computer (o.k., not like ordering from Herplit.com).

That is an interesting point regarding pdfs and advancing/malicious technology. I print hard copies of most pdfs that I desire. I have not seen a diminished capacity via technology, but I have seen web links disappear. As Breck noted, changing technology will see a constant need to upgrade pdf reader software, and are certainly susceptible to malicious interference. In a book that I am coauthoring, with 434 pages of snake literature sources, 3 of 4 web sources are now defunct.

Oh, and now I hear that herplit will come to an end.

Where is that bottle opener !!

Jeff

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gbin
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Re: Herplit

Post by gbin » July 3rd, 2013, 9:07 am

The real issue is efficiency. My wife and I, both wildlife scientists, have around four full-sized file cabinets of scientific article reprints between us from before the electronic age - and we actually have a fair amount of overlap in our interests that helped us to keep the number of reprints down. We have many more books than that (and in truth continue to acquire them). All that paper takes a lot of room for storage, makes for a hell of a move (as we're now in the midst of), and depending on one's organizational skills and how assiduously one applies them can be rather difficult to sift through to find just what one is looking for when one is looking for it. Electronic publications take virtually no space at all, are searchable and have excellent software programs available for their management.

I love the feel of a book in my hands and the look of one on my shelves, and I love the ease of skimming an article in paper form (though that might just be my age), but hard copy will never be more than a small fraction of our future reading material. The world is still going to need some book publishers and sellers, but not nearly so many of them. I'd hate to be in that line of work today, myself.

Gerry

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-EJ
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Re: Herplit

Post by -EJ » July 3rd, 2013, 9:17 am

You and me both...

For the older books and papers there is nothing like the feel of the history behind the printed litterature.

Again... with the digital material (which I love)... what do you do when the power goes out... oh... I know... read a book.

I love the convenience of the digital format but I don't think it will ever replace the printed word.
gbin wrote:The real issue is efficiency. My wife and I, both wildlife scientists, have around four full-sized file cabinets of scientific article reprints between us from before the electronic age - and we actually have a fair amount of overlap in our interests that helped us to keep the number of reprints down. We have many more books than that (and in truth continue to acquire them). All that paper takes a lot of room for storage, makes for a hell of a move (as we're now in the midst of), and depending on one's organizational skills and how assiduously one applies them can be rather difficult to sift through to find just what one is looking for when one is looking for it. Electronic publications take virtually no space at all, are searchable and have excellent software programs available for their management.

I love the feel of a book in my hands and the look of one on my shelves, and I love the ease of skimming an article in paper form (though that might just be my age), but hard copy will never be more than a small fraction of our future reading material. The world is still going to need some book publishers and sellers, but not nearly so many of them. I'd hate to be in that line of work today, myself.

Gerry

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gbin
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Re: Herplit

Post by gbin » July 3rd, 2013, 9:44 am

-EJ wrote:Again... with the digital material (which I love)... what do you do when the power goes out... oh... I know... read a book.
After lighting a candle to read by, you mean?... ;)

You've got to pull the plug, EJ. I waited a long time to buy my first cell phone, and when I did I bought the smart phone with the biggest screen then available (a Droid X) because I knew I'd be doing a lot of reading on it. Had I known phablets were on their way I might have waited longer still, and I'll definitely be upgrading to one such (maybe a Galaxy Note 2 or more recently released equivalent) before too much longer. No tiny screen for me, thank you! If I have to read on an electronic device then I want more or less the biggest screen I can have while still being able to fit the device in an oversized pocket (such as are fairly common in men's clothing; I feel bad for women, though). And when they come up with a pocket-sized high-definition projector to go along with our pocket-sized computers/communication devices, which will enable us to make images bigger than any pocket-sized screen could accommodate, then that's what I'll want. I'm not sure what we'll be projecting upon, though...

Yeah, I know the batteries of these devices are a limiting factor. That's why, no kidding, I am always looking for companies who appear to be making headway on developing new battery technologies so I can invest in them. I'm convinced that huge profits loom just over the horizon for whoever solves the current limitations on these technologies (though in truth they've been making at least incremental improvements all along).

Gerry

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-EJ
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Re: Herplit

Post by -EJ » July 3rd, 2013, 9:54 am

I still use a dumbphone... and only for work.

I do love the technology... but I'm going to hold on for as long as I can.

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gbin
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Re: Herplit

Post by gbin » July 3rd, 2013, 11:04 am

I bought my wife her first cell phone when I bought mine. She insisted on one that can't do anything but make and receive calls (neither of us text as we think it's a particularly annoying and dangerous habit; we won't make or receive calls while driving, either) - and now whenever we're together she relies heavily on me to use mine for all the things hers won't do. Diabolically clever, she is! :lol:

Gerry

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Herplit

Post by Brian Hubbs » September 11th, 2013, 12:38 pm

This is late, and may not be seen...but I'm sorry to hear about you shutting down Breck. I have noticed a slow down in herpers and academics buying books too. This fact forced me to write 2 cheaper field guides designed for the general public-A Guide to the Rattlesnakes and Other Venomous Serpents of the United States($19.95-a revised and expanded version of the Rattler Guide) and my newest book, Harmless Snakes of the West ($19.95-The first 200 have already sold out and I won't have more until late Oct- :) ). I have found a new niche with tourists and other non-herpers. It's amazing. The venomous book is my best seller and most go wholesale to gift shops, gun stores, national parks, mini-markets, etc. My larger titles still sell, but not fast enough to be a significant portion of my income. It's too bad that the lack of herper readership has forced me to produce pablum instead of detailed natural history.

As for memberships in organizations...I'll just say that the recession has not helped, and the last order form I received for Herp Review was so complex and large that the point of renewal was lost somewhere in the process. A renewal form should be short and to the point, not a magazine in itself. :roll:

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-EJ
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Re: Herplit

Post by -EJ » September 11th, 2013, 12:49 pm

True collectors like the touch and feel of the printed material (even your material, Brian). I suspec it is going to bite many in the ass who think digital is the way to go.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Herplit

Post by Brian Hubbs » September 11th, 2013, 12:51 pm

50 years from now we will see a lot more blind people from all that digital reading...or cases of brain cancer...of course, this could be nature's way of keeping the population in check down the road...

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Jeff
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Re: Herplit

Post by Jeff » September 12th, 2013, 5:38 pm

True collectors like the touch and feel of the printed material (even your material, Brian).
Here are my Abalos through Cei books, aside from those I have at my office. Brian's shelf o' books is out of picture to the right. Sunlight or kerosene lantern and I'm literate.

Image

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Jeff
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Re: Herplit

Post by Jeff » September 12th, 2013, 5:39 pm

Image

herpbooks
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Re: Herplit

Post by herpbooks » September 18th, 2013, 5:04 am

Brian Hubbs wrote:As for memberships in organizations...I'll just say that the recession has not helped, and the last order form I received for Herp Review was so complex and large that the point of renewal was lost somewhere in the process. A renewal form should be short and to the point, not a magazine in itself. :roll:
Hi Brian,

Thanks for the comments. I do have to note that the renewal form that looks like a magazine is really quite simple. SSAR has a two page spread with a checkbox next to Herp Review. There are 11 other societies with pages and check boxes for their subscriptions. Finally the last page is the place to put your payment information and address (once for all 12 societies). Keep in mind this is only if you don't want to renew online - which is simply logging in and then clicking renew next to your current subscription. I have to disagree that the form is complex.

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