Letters | May 20, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - May 20, 2011


Book misconceptions


Mr. Harrington's recent letter regarding the Mitchell Park Library is full of misconceptions and errors.

First, according to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales did increase 164.4 percent for year 2010 over 2009 from $166.9 million to $441.3 million. But 164.4 percent of little is still little. Hardcover book sales (not including K-16 textbooks) increased a modest 3.6 percent during the same period from $11.3 billion to $11.7 billion. Twenty five times the dollar volume of digital books. So e-book sales were only 3.6 percent of printed book sales last year. But even adult paperback sales for 2010 were $1.38 billion and adult hardcover sales slammed e-books at $1.58 billion; that's three to one. Higher education books sales for 2010 were $4.6 billion while K-12 were $3.6 billion; once again, many times e-book sales. Sadly and probably largely because of the iPad, only sales of children's books declined in 2010, but only by 5.7 percent to $694.3 million, still outselling all e-books almost two to one.

As for digital vs. print, try entering key word "climate" in worldcat.org. One gets 182,360 sources vetted by librarians. Of those, 75,000 are books while only 9,500 are e-books. There are 12,000 masters or PhD dissertations and of 65,000 articles, only 2,000 are downloadable and only 337 are e-journal articles. Two other points — the average school computer in the U.S. has 5.7 users, and Internet service fees for an iPad are much more than 200 a year.

So the facts indicate that print on paper books and journals will remain 20 to 30 times the volume of digital products for quite some time into the foreseeable future.

Michael M. Moore

Layne Court

Palo Alto

More on e-books


Alice Schaffer Smith (Letters, May 6) says the "Kindle approach is elitist," and claims many benefits for print books:

They can be "savored, opened at random, read and reread." Ditto e-books.

"Libraries lead to browsing ... nearby shelves." Many more titles can be found browsing online than on shelves.

"The cost of library books is shared by the community." True regardless of format.

She also says, "... libraries provide a resource to all at a minimal cost." The library bond will cost taxpayers about $150 million (including interest) just for the buildings. Much of the space is for meeting rooms, not books.

Consider that cost (plus staff and maintenance) in light of Millbrae's book-lending kiosk at the BART station. Anyone with a library card can access one of 500 print books.

There was a time when print books were costly and elitist. There was a time when we had to go to a theater to watch movies. While I hope e-books never replace print, the world is moving to electronic media and our libraries need to catch up.

Pat Marriott

Oakhurst Avenue

Los Altos

Compost facts


Palo Alto voters signed petitions for the Palo Alto Green Energy and Compost Initiative because they believe the city should convert its waste streams into valuable products instead of exporting them to Gilroy.

However, Enid Pearson's "Rebuttal to Hays" letter of May 6 distorted facts in a way that is typical of opponents.

She states that the 10 acres to be undedicated by the initiative are the equivalent of "eight football fields." That ignores the fact that Byxbee Park would still contain 127 acres, the equivalent of 100 football fields. The park would hardly be destroyed.

She states that anaerobic digestion (AD) would cost the city "from $97 million to $167 million." However, the consultant acknowledged that critical factors that would save the city money were overlooked in the draft but will be included in the final feasibility study.

She claims the study will cost the city $1.6 million in lost tipping fees.

In fact, while the council temporarily suspended commercial acceptance of waste, there was no connection with the study.

She ignored the fact that exporting food and yard waste and continuing to incinerate biosolids would generate as much as 26,194 tons of greenhouse gases, more than twice as much as AD.

Finally, she falsely claimed that the undedicated land "can be used for any purpose the council determines," when in fact the Initiative would limit it to the exclusive purpose of converting waste, and also permit rededication if not so used in 10 years.

Walter Hays

Parkside Drive

Palo Alto

Calderon bad choice


I am a concerned member of the Bay Area community who is writing to express my deepest disappointment in the selection of Felipe Calderon for the 2011 Stanford commencement speech.

I read President Hennessey's quote about Calderon in the announcement of selection and am appalled that a man in his position could be so ignorant or care so little about actual people in favor of corrupt financial interests. There have been more than 40,000 killed in Calderon's supposed "drug war," which is not actually fighting anything other than for interests that are certainly not those of the Mexican people but only of all those who benefit from war.

The people of Mexico are speaking out against Calderon's war. They are marching all over the country, and he is willfully not listening. Hennessey claims his life has been devoted to improving society, but I know that the situation for Mexico's people is not improved by his presidency. This is without even considering the high likelihood of electoral fraud or the frightening attempts he has made to privatize Mexico's greatest resources, taking them away from the people and selling them to the highest bidder.

In short, I am saddened by Stanford's choice and hope that it will reevaluate the decision to disrespect all those who have died as a result of Calderon's war and all of their families by bestowing this honor on someone so undeserving.

Kate Agena

S. 33rd Street

San Jose