Are LT forums becoming irrelevant?

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Are LT forums becoming irrelevant?

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 4, 10:48 am

I belong to a dozen or so forums here on LT. Most have gone dormant or are in danger of doing so. A few, like this one and Library of America, have relatively few posts now, although many of them are helpful or interesting. But only two are really active — Folio Society and Fine Press. Unfortunately, most FS posts now fall into the category of unhelpful chit-chat, while Fine Press has been taken over by a small group who think that most books aren’t worth discussing unless they are printed by letterpress.

I have seen references to the fact that some book discussions are taking place on Facebook, but I am not a member of it or any other social media and don’t wish to be.

Is the problem that people aren’t reading books anymore, or that they are content with their trade editions and paperbacks and e-books? Is fine book collecting going the way of stamp collecting and coin collecting, engaged in by only few diehard seniors like myself?

helmikuu 4, 11:22 am

I find myself reading my books more than LT. EP’s catslog just doesn’t interest me as much as it used to. I liked their mid-to-large series book-a-month product portfolio from years ago a hundred fold more than the DLE-in-6 payments model. The pendulum is swinging back a little in that direction, but unfortunately, in categories that I’ve already saturated.

I still buy the occasional book from EP. For instance, we’re about due for the 2023 Reader’s Choice collection soon, and there’s always 1-3 books that interest me each year. I expect that to generate some decent activity here.

EP doesn’t vary from its core design much, so there’s not a lot for people to discuss materials-wise that hasn’t already been discussed. The same can almost be said for the content, too.

There may be another factor. We’re all getting older and premium built books may be one of those luxuries the younger generation fiscally deprioritized. If I was at my starting age again in building my library, with today’s prices, I’d be buying 5-10x fewer than I did years ago.

helmikuu 4, 10:35 pm

I think the other forms of social media have a large negative effect on participation on forums like this. Video killed the radio star, as it were.

helmikuu 5, 5:29 am

In my case, it's also connected to Easton Press being harder to buy from abroad than other publisher's. They certainly don't make it easy these days. The very high prices are another factor.

helmikuu 5, 9:48 am

>4 SF-72:
Library of America also quit shipping out of the country during the pandemic, and they still haven’t resumed. They said delivery was sometimes taking months by which time they had already issued a refund. They also said that customs forms and regulations and the various tax laws had become so cumbersome that they had to hire an extra employee just to handle them, and it simply wasn’t worth it for so relatively few foreign customers.

I understand that such events have reduced the number of readers for these publishers, but it shouldn’t have reduced LT participation by much as most forum members are American.

By the way, some out-of-country members have reported that they are able to make EP purchases by phone even though the website doesn’t allow it. It may depend on the country.

helmikuu 5, 10:31 am

>1 jroger1:
Facebook and social media groups are maybe easier for some people if they are accessing facebook, etc. all the time anyway. An easy example is Centipede Press groups. The facebook group has 1.7K members and is very, very active. The LT Centipede press forum sometimes completely hibernates for months at a time.
Maybe one of the reasons is how easy it is to share photos on Facebook and much more complicated it is here on LT?

Also, many topics that were new a few years ago have been already discussed on LT forums extensively. Topics that have not been discussed are fewer.
You are asking/raising great questions.
I prefer LT forums to any social media groups and enjoy reading comments and posts by others, though I myself do not contribute much to discussions.
Another question is: as the forums we know become less active, are there other newer forums that are becoming exceedingly active on LT? If yes, then the answer to your original question is, no, LT forums are still not irrelevant. :)

helmikuu 5, 12:54 pm

>5 jroger1:

It used to be possible to order through email, then only by phone, then that was blocked for my country, too. The practical result is that I have to use a forwarding service with much higher shipping fees than Easton Press itself had. And all that was before Covid and before Germany established more and more aggressive limitations on what people can buy and sell from abroad without a huge amount of hassle. It was really an Easton Press thing.

As for Library of America: I can understand why they avoided shipping internationally during the pandemic. I had a tracked and very small parcel circle through postal warehouses around San Francisco for a month until someone finally put it on a plane to Japan! No wonder things were delayed or got lost for good under such circumstances. At least it's possible to buy their books from regular online shops here.

helmikuu 5, 12:54 pm

>6 booksforreading:

I hadn't thought of the photos sharing aspect. That is indeed a detriment to LT's usability, and not one that's EP-specific. In Facebook's case, though, the sheer number of people already on Facebook surely dwarfs LT's wildest dreams of a user base, so even the slightest seed of interest there could easily grow into a competing, potentially preferred, forum. I am more than willing to go down with the LT ship, though.

>5 jroger1:
Surely, there is a simpler solution for LoA and international shipping? At some point, couldn't they just walk into the local FedEx shop and slide forward the box and say 'tell me where to sign'? Of course, that would be costly but the die hard fans would likely pay that price. If it takes a new employee to handle all those trips to the local FedEx, wouldn't that suggest some degree of justification? I wonder if they just haven't explored all of their options yet.

Speaking of Centipede...time to go read the Sunday newsletter. I think I saw it come in...

helmikuu 5, 12:56 pm

>6 booksforreading:

I witnessed the same with a non-LT forum which lost a lot of members to Facebook and the like. I prefer the style of communication on forums like this, but as you say, if people are on those social media sites anyway and they are easier to use when it comes to photos, it's not really surprising that a lot of discussions move there.

helmikuu 5, 1:16 pm

>6 booksforreading: “Many topics that were new a few years ago have been already discussed on LT forums extensively. Topics that have not been discussed are fewer.”

This is a really great insight. If new or prospective members scan the previous posts going back 10-15 years, they will very likely learn as much as they need to know about Easton Press except for more recent specific editions.

The rise of larger and more diverse social media is another major factor, and perhaps the photo angle too.

helmikuu 6, 10:12 pm

Yes, but let’s not forget the most important difference between social media and LT. No ads here! I generally avoid all social media, except for Instagram, and I am always annoyed by the advertising on there, particularly when a text discussion or Google search leads to endless numbers of ads for that product.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 12:36 am

Just my two cents.

In addition to everything else noted above, there are also general trends associated with the rise of audiobooks, e-readers, the Marie Kondo "downsizing mentality", and the general decreasing of the average American's buying power due to wage stagflation.

The other thing that I don't think can be overstated is the high level of conditioning younger generations are now getting by the constant use of digital formats. The thought of lugging around a book is just too much. As someone who is at the tail end of gen x, I think I'm just about at the turning point between the generation that is ok with analog formats and the generation that gets withdrawal without their digital formats.

There may be a slight rise in niche/small publishers similar to what has happened recently with the resurgence of vinyl records or craft beer in the US, but I don't think it's nearly rising at the rate those other industries are.

helmikuu 7, 7:47 am

The decline of this group has absolutely nothing to do with book collecting. You would know that if you are in any other book groups on social media.

I also rather have those unhelpful chit-chat on the FS group than a barely alive forum like this one.

helmikuu 7, 8:04 am

I know that a lot of people don't like Facebook or what they think Facebook is if they've never been a member. I use Facebook pretty expansively myself. But it is entirely possible to use Facebook almost exclusively to be part of book groups. In fact, I have a good friend who does just that,

There are a sizable number of book groups there, which you will find to be extremely active. You're welcome to PM me with any questions, and I'd be happy to give you the lay of the land and how things work over there.

helmikuu 7, 2:40 pm

>13 HamburgerHelper: You have a lot of anger and accusations in your post. You might want to get that looked into.

All I was doing was offering my opinions based on what I see as general societal trends and personal experience in my classrooms. I also find it really interesting that you feel the need to state in this "barely alive forum" that you would rather have discussions in other groups.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 8:16 pm

Well, at least some of us are paying attention. This is the longest thread begun in this forum since “Interesting Ebay Find” in August 2018!

helmikuu 7, 6:48 pm

>1 jroger1: My lack of participation is due to the fact that I am retired now on fixed income and can no longer afford the expensive publications and in fact have sold all my DLEs and coveted sets after enjoying them. I still have a lot to read in my leather book library, and may not finish due to my advanced age. So new releases are of little interest. As I look back I regret getting so many books by subscribing to numerous series since many of the books are mediocre or unsatisfying.

helmikuu 7, 8:14 pm

>17 HugoDumas:
My recollection is that your age is not as advanced as my 77, so we both have a lot of reading left to do. Like you, though, I haven't bought many new books lately. I gave away most of my series books long ago but have retained my DLEs and Franklin Library’s Great Books of the Western World set, as well as as several scientific and mathematical books to remind me of my professional specialties.

Your observation that not all the “classics” that we received in the various series are really very good is spot on. Whoever put together our high school reading lists must not have actually read them! Many contemporary books are far better, at least to my taste.

One thing that troubles me greatly is how difficult it has become to get rid of books, even leather ones. Most of my friends aren’t interested, and the charities to which I used to donate them, even the public library here, will no longer accept them since the start of the pandemic. I’m afraid that my heirs might have to deal with them, perhaps in a giant community book-burning ritual.

helmikuu 7, 8:18 pm

>17 HugoDumas:

And that's exactly why we still appreciate your participation here. Your incite and experience is still useful and interesting. So what if you don't have the latest books.

helmikuu 9, 12:16 pm

>18 jroger1: actually it is pretty easy getting rid of them and actually getting most of your investment back or more, and that is through eBay despite its hefty selling fee. I find it to be a satisfying hobby. Though I hear the IRS is about to make it more difficult by requiring a 1099k when you achieve $600 in sales (it used to be $20,000)

helmikuu 9, 12:47 pm

>20 HugoDumas:
Figuring the capital gain on a $600+ sale, though, would require detailed records of their purchase prices, which I have not kept. Most hobbyists haven’t. Anyway, my most valuable books are my 70 or 80 limited editions, and those are the ones I intend to keep. Then it will be my heirs’ estate attorney who will have to deal with the tax issue.

My wonderful wife has indulged my expensive hobby because she has one of her own, but she has little interest in my books, nor do any of my other relatives.

helmikuu 9, 2:36 pm

I wonder if there are relatively few new threads on the EP forum, compared to FS and Fine Press Forum, because of the differing kinds of books these groups discuss. Although not every FS edition is a hit, they truly do vary the look and style of their books, giving members a lot to talk about. Likewise, the Fine Press Forum considers so many different presses, with so many different bindings, printings, and paper, that it is unlikely to run short of material to discuss.

By contrast, EP features less variety from book to book. Please don't misunderstand: I like their basic, reliable, leather-bound books, which look attractive on my bookshelves and offer a solid reading experience. But they're similar enough to each other that I don't have much to say about them. Certainly, there is more variety among the DLEs, but even with these EP often elects to reproduce previous classic editions, sometimes from the 18th and 19th centuries; the bindings are usually lovely, but there is not much to say regarding the originality of the textual layout.

I'm trying not to overstate my case here. Some of their DLE reproductions are amazing. Their edition of the 1913 Medici Society Canterbury Tales is one of my favorite books in my library. Likewise, I own the DLE Beowulf and Metamorphosis by Kafka, which are original, creative takes on classic works of literature. But, this being said, there is a degree of sameness that pervades EP editions, and it's possible that this has a limiting effect on posting about their books.

helmikuu 13, 4:47 am

>22 Eumnestes:

That's a good point.

helmikuu 14, 9:05 am

I think you all have pretty much covered it.

Web sites rise and fall. I joined LT at a time when it was (and perhaps still is) the best place to caatalog oneʻs library. The forums were a bonus, so I created this forum. It was active from the beginning, but trailed off for the reasons you all pondered.

I too fall into the category of choosing not to use social media platforms : Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Tik Tok, and whatever other social media sites are out there. this makes a minority of 1 in my own household, and I believe similarly lonely in the broader world.

Still, the past threads are a treasure of resources for answering questions related to Easton Press collections, so I hope to keep this forum alive if for no other reason.

I find myself only checking in here once a week or so, and I too have been taking accumuated EP books off my shelf to read and spending time there instead. (Current read is Howardʻs End).

This forum may be aging like an old book, but Iʻm not ready to pull the plug on it just yet. Weʻll let it continue to rest and reach out occasionally.

helmikuu 14, 11:45 am

Lest my previous post sounded too negative, I hasten to add that I have been very grateful to this forum for the information and energy it's provided since I started collecting fine books about five years ago. I also do not use social media, and so the advertisement-free venue of LT (and this forum specifically) has been a welcome space.

helmikuu 15, 12:49 am

Social media. Hmmm…

I consider this kind of website (refined newsgroup) to be a second generation social media site. First generation being the old (and less refined) usenet groups. For detailed text exchange, with occasional image data, it’s effective and fairly efficient. Compared to later generations of social media sites, though, this kind of site can’t compete at a technical level when it comes to images, and is even worse for audio and video. In some respects, it’s a wonder that this format of social media has lasted so long. I hope it doesn’t go away, though, because it is still, for me, a far better avenue for discussing books and library stuff. Facebook, Twitter, and the like were not built with this sort of or level of information exchange in mind.

I wonder if the next breakout social media site will be virtual reality based. I know they’re trying (e.g., Metaverse) but note I said ‘breakout’ social media. I would also bet that an upgraded LT (or competitor) newsgroup, Wiki, or text/detail-capable site with better A/V functionality would find greater activity/success.

helmikuu 15, 7:23 am

>26 treereader:

Good points. Some thoughts about this:

Proboards forums are a pretty good mix between being able to write text of any length, but also adding images fairly easily. But they lack the library options, of course, and I think moderation is more complex. Plus there's lots of advertising.

helmikuu 15, 8:06 am

>27 SF-72:

Not being a social media user (on any of the modern platforms), I was unaware of the advertising factor. How annoying!

The library feature is an interesting delineator, too, since LT’s offering was never a driving force in having me join and participate here.

helmikuu 15, 11:43 am

>28 treereader:

It is possible to pay for advert-free forums on Proboards, but I've got the impression that most owners don't. The one private forum I'm in that has used this option is quite pleasant to use.

And yes, I'm only here for the discussions, not to catalogue my library. I'm doing that in the privacy of a computer file.

helmikuu 15, 7:25 pm

>26 treereader: I think this distinction between the different generations of social media is very helpful to the discussion. I am on some of those newer platforms and can say they provide both a different experience but also a different purpose.

Sites like LT are really good at straight facts and answering direct questions with some opinions and discussion thrown in. And they are typically easily searched for past info.

The newest generation of sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. are really focused on entertainment, not facts. Most of the book content on those sites seems to center around reviews of books, shelf tours, and other random nonsense that is almost entirely opinion based. Other than publishers posting new products or tours and such, I try to avoid all the book centered offerings on these sites cause I can form my own opinion about things.

helmikuu 16, 1:46 am

Some of the Facebook groups are run by scalpers to influence pricing and create scarcity via hype and FOMO.

helmikuu 16, 3:47 pm

This forum has been invaluable to me for cataloging my library and becoming aware of other books available on the resale market. I just was not finding the information I needed on other sites such as Good Reads and FB.

helmikuu 17, 6:08 am

It's clearly important to differentiate between the library function and the forums. And within the forums between information/research value and social value. I'm here for the first two, much less so for the latter.

helmikuu 24, 8:04 am

Welcome dprendergast

helmikuu 24, 11:15 am

I haven't commented here in a few years but I still come back here every couple months to check out the latest threads. Many of my original posts were questions that any new collector would have, so I just haven't needed to post as much since then.

maaliskuu 1, 9:11 pm

After 40 years of book collecting and more than 10 years as an active LT member in several forums, I find that I no longer learn much from LT nor do I contribute much to it. I do still buy books occasionally, though, but not nearly as many as formerly. My reading and collecting interest began with Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World, and then broadened to Franklin Library. Since Franklin went belly up sometime around 1990, I have diversified across many publishers, and today find the following to be my favorites:

- Easton Press, primarily for their limited editions, especially their signed-by-the-illustrator series.

-Library of America, my go-to publisher for most American literature. Most of their books are unavailable in finer editions.

- Honorable mention goes to the New York Review of Books paperback series, most of which are not available in any other form. They publish a lot of foreign literature never before translated into English, as well as English-language literature that is long out of print.

All three of these publishers have LT forums that show little activity today, and I explained in >1 jroger1: why I no longer find the Folio Society and the Fine Press forums helpful. I still check in now and then on all these forums, in the hope that some of them, especially this one, might revitalize.

maaliskuu 1, 9:49 pm

>18 jroger1:

"Whoever put together our high school reading lists must not have actually read them! Many contemporary books are far better, at least to my taste."


A few examples?

maaliskuu 1, 10:18 pm

>37 proximity1:
All right, some. :)

I have loved and/or admired most classics I’ve read, but I was bored to tears with the 140-page instruction manual in “War and Peace” about wolf hunting in 19th century Russia. And one Jane Austen novel about a family of husband-hunting girls would have been sufficient.

You have to understand that I read mostly nonfiction and am easily bored by novels that don’t have a lot of action or suspense.

maaliskuu 1, 10:51 pm

>37 proximity1:, >38 jroger1:

I blame the ridiculous expectations and teaching process of the middle and high school english classes. The pace they'd try to keep and the sheer volume of content they'd want us to read was only realistic to the already-diagnosed bookworms in the class. Everyone else either lied about their reading progress and cheated on their assignments and exams, or like me, simply didn't bother trying. My grades suffered for it, too. It didn't matter if we were asked to read classics - it was the process that tainted reading for a lot of us. It took me until halfway through college to pick up an interest in reading again.

maaliskuu 1, 11:00 pm

>39 treereader: “It took me until halfway through college to pick up an interest in reading again.”

I shelved books in my university’s library to pick up some extra cash. It was there that I became fascinated with books, especially Britannica’s set of Great Books, and vowed that I would own it one day.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 11:33 pm

>38 jroger1: , >39 treereader: , >40 jroger1:

No harsh judgement from me, fellows. I, too, read more non-fiction than anything else. It's just that when I have found good fiction--whether "new" or ancient, it's been such a joy to read it. Not even college study blunted my taste or range of interest for reading. But I have read far more since leaving formal studies than I ever had time to read while at university.

But it's also true that too many college courses throw far too much material at students and expect them to assimilate it effectively-- that was my experience 40+ years ago--back when people still actually routinely read important books. When I graduated from college, my personal gift to myself was the purchase of the brand new hardcover biography by Robert Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.

Had I had the money, the living space and the stability of residence (rather than moving too often from place to place) I'd have bought the Great Books o TWW a long time ago.

I've never read Tolstoy's War & Peace and probably won't get to it; nor have I ever read a Jane Austen novel and I have no intention of doing so.

I love fine books in fine editions and wish I could afford them--whether they're of the EP / FS kind or other.

Books and reading (of a sort) are prized at this website; but, beyond it, with few exceptions, ours is no longer a culture of print or even of reading. I deplore that and, if I were going to live to see it, I'd fear for the future.

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