Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rare Book Cafe: People drop by with questions

This new platform indelicately called Blab is an interesting experiment. Because it's still in beta, many things are still being developed. Case in point: The text message feature that allows people who are not onscreen in this conversation platform to participate by sending comments to others watching as well as to those onscreen. If you haven't experienced it yet, go to Blab and search for Rare Book Cafe. Mark it on your calendar and plan to join us so you can get the full effect.

If you want to just sample it, there's an embedded version above in this entry. The drawback is that folks who are developing Blab haven't included the comments yet. There's just the video. This one has Miami Beach bookseller Steven Eisenstein, West Palm Beach bookseller Thorne Donnelley and me talking to various visitors, whom you can meet onscreen. However, there were other visitors who chose not to be onscreen. They made comments in the text message feature but since it's not included in the embedded version you can't see it here.

One way you can see the text message comments  in the replay is to log into Blab the navigate to Replays and search for Rare Book Cafe. What you'll find there is the closest thing to the live version, complete with comments. Unfortunately, the comments don't scroll in synch with the audio, so you have to guess what comments went with what conversation onscreen.

If this sounds like a lot of complaining, it isn't meant to. This is a pretty nifty free platform for us to carry on an ongoing conversation about antiquarian books and related materials, and we aim to make use of it every chance we get. We're grateful to the folks at Blab who have created it and continue to improve it.

An interesting thing happened with this, our second official episode of Rare Book Cafe. Some people dropped by unexpectedly with questions about antiquarian books. It was delightful, and interesting. It was just the thing we hoped would happen. Some said they were just randomly poking around Blab and happened our session. We think that's terrific! Our purpose here is to increase the knowledge and awareness of rare books, maps, prints, and related ephemera. We're glad people are interested.

If we impart some information that helps people develop a passion for this subject, that is, in our view, beneficial to the antiquarian book business in general.

So, if you're reading this, you probably have a similar passion (or you've wandered far, far away from our original objective online today). Either way, we hope you'll tune into Rare Book Cafe and we hope you'll tell others. Most of all, we hope you'll join in the conversation. Our next LIVE session is on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

TO GET ON BLAB: It's easy to sign onto Blab. It works best if you have a Twitter account. (In fact, we're not sure, but it might be the only way you can sign in now.) On your up-to-date Firefox browser or your Google Chrome browser, sign into Twitter. Using another tab, go to Blab and sign in using your Twitter account. Blab will bring in your Twitter profile information and you'll be set to go. Search for Rare Book Cafe and you'll find us, in a past session, in a current session (if it's the right time) or in a future session. If you find a future session, subscribe to it and you'll get notices about changes or more sessions. Right now, we're planning to be on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. The  shows will last about an hour.
– T. Allan Smith,
official photographer and Internet guy,
Florida Antiquarian Book Fair 

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