Editing Research front cover

So long, it has been good to know you

Last week, as I began cleaning out the drawers of the office I’ve worked in for about 15 of my 18 years at ITI, the refrain of a Woody Guthrie song got stuck in my head.

No, not that most famous of all Guthrie tunes (audio link) but rather a song about Woody being chased off by a “dusty old dust storm” that’s a’gettin’ his home.

You can listen to So Long It’s Been Good to Know You on YouTube now, if you like, or come back to it later. Either way, it’s a classic worth hearing.

American folk singer Woody Guthrie (1912 - 1967) smokes a cigarette as he plays his guitar, which features a handwritten sticker that reads, 'This Machine Kills Fascists,' New York, New York, 1943. Two men in tuxedos stand in the background and listen. (Photo by Eric Schaal/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

American folk singer Woody Guthrie. (Photo by Eric Schaal/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

But what, you may ask, is this dust storm that’s come up behind me to push me down the road? Well, I’d suggest it’s largely silicon dust that’s blowing, because years ago, before the internet infiltrated our lives, people read and purchased a lot of books. Times and reading habits have changed.

There’s no denying there are still millions of book lovers out there — as a reader of this column you likely count yourself among them — along with countless folk who rely on the long form for educational and professional reasons. And it would be unfair to blame the book crisis on the internet alone. The entertainment choices we have today are staggering, and as addicting as they are time consuming. Gaming and television along with social networking have usurped much of the human attention span that was once invested in books.

Copyright © Punch Limited

Any way you look at it, there has been a sea change and the book publishing business is struggling. Some say it’s on life support. A lot of talented and hard working publishing professionals have lost their jobs in recent years due to declining book sales and I’m just the latest to join their ranks.

I can’t and won’t complain about being downsized because I’ve seen it coming for years and my boss has bent over backwards to accommodate me. There’s a lot to be thankful for. Prior to 18 memorable years here, I worked just as many years for assorted publishing firms, including my own startup. I’ve collaborated with hundreds of gifted authors and colleagues, worked in diverse genres and formats, published award-winning fiction and nonfiction, and acquired and developed at least one New York Times bestseller that became an Emmy-winning tv series.


Of course there’s uncertainty about what the future may hold, but I’m looking forward to the next challenge. It is likely to be entrepreneurial in nature. (Becoming a member of AIIP — a marvelous association comprised of and supporting entrepreneurs — is going to be a big help.) About the only thing I feel sure of is that I will continue to help writers tell their stories.

It’s in me blood.

So this is my final ITI blog post and I want to use it to say goodbye. Before I do, I want to share with you some of the terrific titles we’ve been working on as the clock ticked down to Zero Hour. It’s been an honor to have worked with the authors and editors behind these books, and I can honestly say that every one of them was a pleasure to work with.

My 2016 “Swan Song” titles include:

Public-KnowledgeDigital Photo MagicPublic Knowledge: Access and Benefits, edited by the late Mimi Drake (a wonderful person to work with and to know) and Don Hawkins

Digital Photo Magic: Easy Image Retouching and Restoration for Librarians, Archivists, and Teachers, by Ernest Perez

Inside Content Marketing

Inside Content Marketing

Inside Content Marketing: EContent Magazine’s Guide to Roles, Tools, and Strategies for Thriving in the Age of Brand Journalism, by Theresa Cramer

The Accidental Taxonomist, Second Edition

The Accidental Taxonomist, Second Edition

The Accidental Taxonomist, 2nd Ed., by Heather Hedden

Ten Characteristics of Quality Indexes

Ten Characteristics of Quality Indexes

Ten Characteristics of Quality Indexes: Confessions of an Award-winning Indexer, by Margie Towery

Online Teaching in K-12

Online Teaching in K-12

Online Teaching in K-12: Models, Methods, and Best Practices for Teachers and Administrators, edited by Sarah Bryans-Bongey (that’s my kid sister!) and Kevin Graziano

Indexing Tactics & Tidbits

Indexing Tactics & Tidbits

Indexing Tactics & Tidbits: An A to Z Guide, by Janet Perlman

Deep Text

Deep Text

Deep Text: Using Text Analytics to Conquer Information Overload, Get Real Value from Social Media, and Add Big(ger) Text to Big Data, by Tom Reamy

The Future Scholar

The Future Scholar

The Future Scholar: Researching and Teaching the Frameworks for Writing and Information Literacy, edited by Randall McClure & Jim Purdy (third in a terrific series from ASIS&T – webpage to follow)

Editing Research front coverEditing Research: The Author Editing Approach to Providing Effective Support to Writers of Research Papers, by Valerie Matarese (sorry there’s no webpage yet)

Watch for these books, take care, and I’ll see you when the dust settles.

JBs Last Day at ITI 5.13.16


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Author Michael Gruenberg at Computers in Libraries 2016

CIL 2016 is over and I’m finally getting around to posting some video interviews with some of our authors. Here is Mike Gruenberg, author of Buying and Selling Information and why it’s important to learn how to negotiate with vendors. Special thanks to Marydee Ojala for helping with the interview.


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JWB restored

Planning to Retouch, Repair or Manipulate Digital Images?

Ernest Perez has a terrific new book out that describes the best of easy-to-use, free, and inexpensive apps for retouching, restoring, and manipulating digital images. Perez’s goal in writing Digital Photo Magic was to save time and money for librarians, teachers, archivists, and others who find they have some image clean-up or “repair” ahead of them en route to creating digital collections, exhibits, or publications.

Early feedback suggests he has succeeded, and then some.

Digital Photo Magic

Perez–a former library director at the Houston Chronicle and Chicago Sun-Times and a frequent contributor to the library literature–begins with a useful overview of the current situation as regards digital photo resources and retouching technologies. He goes on to explain why librarians, archivists, museum curators, and educators care about such matters–or should.

The longtime news librarian and passionate amateur photographer speaks to the challenges faced by organizations that operate on tight budgets and with limited human resources, yet still need to do credible (often public-facing) work with digital images. He offers a primer on “Digital Image Details” in Chapter 2–available as a sneak peek here.

Perez’s confident and enthusiastic approach makes you want to dive right in and start using his “digital photo magic” (DPM) system right away. There are hundreds of remarkable free and low-cost tools out there and, in most cases, little or no previous experience is needed to use them effectively. Perez points you to his favorites and lets you know what they do best.

JWB restored

Not author Ernest Perez, but John Wilkes Booth as restored using DPM. (The book reveals the step-by-step process.)

What I think of as the heart of the book are the dozens of step-by-step tutorials and before-and-after shots (many from the author’s personal collection of family snapshots, along with numerous historic images). But Perez doesn’t stop there as he makes what some might consider “grunt work” fun and easy.

I think I know what Ernest Perez is doing right now: he’s at his computer, tinkering with some online program he just learned about, mastering new techniques for restoring old photos, retouching friends’ social headshots, removing entire objects (and people) from landscape scenes, and adding dramatic graphic touches to free his inner artist. Already a digital photo magician, he wants you to be one, too–that’s why he wrote the book, and it’s why he’s going to keep things fresh on the DPM website.

Digital Photo Magic is widely available as an ebook, including direct from the ITI ebookstore, but I must admit I love the way it turned out in print. Hey, your humble editor put some time in on this one–I’m dying to know what you think!



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She never forgot it was ours

There’s a mind-boggling amount of publicly funded information out there — much of it useful, and most of it collected, organized, and made available by our government and its corps of dedicated information professionals. Yet most people don’t even stop to think about it, let Public-Knowledgealone take advantage.

An opportunity to work with the late Miriam “Mimi” Drake and her co-editor Don Hawkins on Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits brought the topic home. This is a timely and useful new book that, among other things, reminds us that all this information is ours. I could say more about the book but I’d rather use this space to talk about Mimi. She was a special person who disarmed me, memorably, with kindness, curiosity, and laughter the first time we met.

Within days of receiving the worst news a person can get, Mimi called to calmly explain the situation and express her determination that the book would be published with or without her. Her commitment and vision was an inspiration to me and Don Hawkins, to whom we (smartly) turned in our hour of need. Public Knowledge reflects Mimi’s lifelong passion for connecting people with information and I feel honored to have helped get it done.

It’s a shame Mimi did not live to see the book published, but I’m grateful we have it to remember her by. She was the best.

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