Textbook publisher sues librarian for pointing out that their books suck

(via Boing Boing) According to a public survey ranking 34 textbook publishers against each other, Edwin Mellen Press is the worst publisher of philosophy textbooks.  It's possible that may not be strictly enough to demonstrate truthfulness over the libel suit that Mellen has brought against a librarian at McMaster University, who wrote, "The Edwin Mellen Press was a poor publisher with a weak list of low-quality books, scarcely edited, cheaply produced, but at exorbitant prices," but it's not an argument much in their favor.

There are not many college students who are thrilled about the common practice of price gouging on textbooks, something I've written about before, but at least in those cases it's a shakedown over access to information.

Edwin Mellen Press has brought a lawsuit against the librarian for Three Million Dollars. For pointing out that their books aren't very good.  This isn't the first time they've done it, either.

I hope what comes out of this, if it goes to trial, is some new case law severely restricting the ability of textbook publishers to do basically anything.  Like, it would be cool if there were a law requiring that textbooks be sold at maximum a certain percentage over cost, so at least if I'm going to pay eighty bucks for a book, it'll be printed on paper I can't see through.

Former WalMart reborn as massive library

(via Boing Boing) My idea of the perfect town features as a main central location a massive library, with public computers, as many books as the place can handle, and space for people to get together, teach each other, and generally live their lives through an academic window.

It may not be exactly that, but McAllen, Texas has a new library that's certainly big enough.  When the local WalMart moved to a larger location, they took over the warehouse and turned it into a massive public library.

It looks beautiful, and I bet it's a lot more comfortable than my local library.  WalMart has much more consistent motivation than local governments to make people want to stay in their buildings for a long time.

 "In a city like McAllen, with cartel violence across the river (less than 10 miles away from the library), I think it's amazing that the city is devoting resources to a) not only saving a large and conspicuous piece of property from decline and vandalism, but b) diverting those resources into youth and the public trust," [Adriana] Ramirez writes.