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  • Free book. Kinda.

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    9780755322817.jpg Increasingly, publishers are wondering just how exactly they are going to cope with electronic books. Here is an example of HarperCollins getting it exactly wrong (via Snowblog):
    If you let people read an electronic copy of your book for free, will that increase or decrease demand for the printed copies you want to sell? The first thought is that, well, giving anything away for free means someone isn't paying for it who might otherwise have done so. But then radio gives songs away for free and that's seen as one of the best ways of boosting sales of paid-for versions of the same thing. But that's music not books. Cory Doctorow gives electronic copies of his books away and he reckons it generates word-of-mouth and so gives an important boost to his printed sales. Neil Gaiman's publisher, Harper Collins, is just trying it out with American Gods. Except that Cory's books are available formatted for your phone, your iPod, your PDA and your whizzy e-book reader.
  • Blogging and the "common reader"

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    After reading Vulpes Libris's recent overview of the current state of play of the war of words between bloggers and journalists/non-blogging commentators -- and being reminded of two emblematic quotes: from Nicola Beauman, "Hurrah for blogs, we say - but only if they are never mistaken for anything but yammering" and from William Skidelsky, "The authority of critics is being undermined by a raucous blogging culture" -- I have to confess that I'm more than rather bemused that the attacks on bloggers, blogs and the blogosphere continues apace. I'm bemused because the attacks are, quite simply, moronic. It is the job of journalists, one would have thought, when they write for or against any particular thing, on this or that subject, at least to mount a coherent argument. What strikes one most forcibly about the flurry of attacks on blogs is that they are entirely incoherent. Further, they almost always betray the journalist as having little or no knowledge of the subject at hand. Lastly -- and one would have thought that journalists and "intellectuals" would have been particularly alive to this -- they show little or no recognition that their communal cri de coeur about the state of reviewing and criticism has a long history. Attacks on blogs are only the most recent incarnation of attacks on "men of letters" by journalists and academics (and attacks by each of these on each of the others). Why incoherent? The search engine Technorati currently tracks "112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media" on the net. The number keeps growing. In the face of 110 million of them, simply by saying "all blogs are X" the person who utters (or writes) that sentence betrays themselves as foolish. Like newspapers, magazines and books, many blogs are poor, many are so idiosyncratic or personal that only a small number of family, friends or insiders will be interested in their contents, and some are extremely good. Beyond this, we need to name names and get specific e.g. (with regards to my own website) ReadySteadyBook is not bad at covering literary fiction, but terrible when it comes to its coverage of crime fiction. True. Guilty as charged. Specificity, it comes to pass, is something that the journalists (in the UK, I'm thinking here) are very bad at. Most, now, know ReadySteadyBook, they know dovegreyreader scribbles, John Self's Asylum and Scott Pack's Me and My Big Mouth, but beyond that they seem woefully ignorant of the rest of even just the UK lit-blogosphere (initially, I point folk to BritLitBlogs to get them started). One rule of thumb might be: don't pay attention to anybody when they are talking about the blogosphere
  • Reading the World

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    The excellent Three Percent blog reminds me about the coming Reading the World initiative. This year the list consists of 25 titles (see below). Not all of these are available just yet, although most are,
  • Bravo Oprah!

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    0385519311.jpg Martyn Daniels brings my attention to a recent successful experiment in freeing up the content of Suze Orman's Women & Money (more on the original story at Amherst Daily News):
    Last week we wrote about the Oprah touch and her 48 hour offer to download Suze Orman's book Women and Money for free. According to reports, more than 1.1 million copies of Orman's book were downloaded in English, and another 19,000 in Spanish... The offer for Women and Money, originally released a year ago by Spiegel & Grau, has not impacted physical sales... Will Richard and Judy now follow? Will an "A" list author now take the plunge and fordge their name in history as the tipping point?
    It would be wonderful to see a well-known British writer
  • E-book or mobile phone?

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    Good stuff (as always) from Martyn Daniels over at Brave New World discussing the iPhone and what it means for e-books and therefore for publishers:
    Apple has raises the internet browser bar and consumers will demand that others follow. So what does this mean to publishers? It is clear that the ergonomic and user acceptable mobile browser is close to mass adoption and that the iPhone is proving the tipping point. This extends the reach of marketing and promotion into new areas and past the jacket model that prevails today. As for content it's almost inevitable that the digital renditions will be online with downloads to mobile devices. It is highly unlikely that the personal library will be on the mobile device and that it will follow the music model and dedicated device will not be for the mass market. So do you really want a sledgehammer reading device to crack this digital ebook nut?
    Nope, you certainly don't need such a sledghammer. But e-reader technology -- indeed, much web technology -- stills needs improving. Web-literate mobile phones need to offer a still better and more affordable browsing experience; laptops need to be yet more portable. E-ink technology will be perfected first on e-books not laptops; great portability, improved user interfaces and faux-codex features will also be developed further on Kindle II and its e-book competitors. And then my guess is that this technology will be folded back into a great mobile device of the future. And given how fast things move these days, that future won't be too far away.
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