In this NPR story on diversity in publishing, one of the things that leaped out at me was a quote from an editor citing a PEW study that revealed that African-American women “are the largest group of readers in the country.” (Which you’d never know from the lack of diversity in protagonists, cover models, and so on.) Why did publishers have to rely on PEW for that data? Because they have very little research into the habits of individual readers. They’ve never needed it; they’ve always done business with chain sales reps.Stephanie Leary: How publishers could get more of my money (and make me happy to give it).
Dancing with Cannibals is an historical novel available as an ebook. From the Mefi Projects description page: "Never before has there been a novel about the genocide in the Congo Free State written in English by an African writer. Dancing with Cannibals would seem to have been influenced by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (which is also set in the Congo during the Belgian regime) and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, but Dicho Ilunga has not read either of those books. Ilunga’s writing is largely absent a European context. Ilunga describes his literary training as coming from the Zairian writers that he read in school and from two novels by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho who Ilunga says has an African style." [more inside]
The University of Michigan Library, the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries and ProQuest have made public more than 25,000 manually transcribed texts from 1473-1700 — the first 200 years of the printed book. Full text access. Multiple format downloads, including ePUB. Or just download the entire corpus. [more inside]
Many are worried about what [e-book] technology means for books, with big bookshops closing, new devices spreading, novice authors flooding the market and an online behemoth known as Amazon growing ever more powerful. Their anxieties cannot simply be written off as predictable technophobia. The digital transition may well change the way books are written, sold and read more than any development in their history, and that will not be to everyone’s advantage. Veterans and revolutionaries alike may go bust; Gutenberg died almost penniless, having lost control of his press to Fust and other creditors. But to see technology purely as a threat to books risks missing a key point. Books are not just “tree flakes encased in dead cow”, as a scholar once wryly put it. They are a technology in their own right, one developed and used for the refinement and advancement of thought. And this technology is a powerful, long-lived and adaptable one.—From Papyrus to Pixels is a long essay in The Economist about the changing form of books, presented both as a traditional web-scroll, as an e-book and in audio form.
International Read an E-Book Day:
The new holday -- "holiday"? -- is the brainchild of OverDrive, a major e-book distributor. OverDrive is the country's largest provider of e-books to libraries; it handles e-books from 5,000 publishers, including major Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Perseus, Wiley, and Harlequin. If you've ever checked an e-book out from the L.A. Public Library, it was provided by OverDrive. To celebrate International Read an E-book Day, Overdrive will be giving away tablets and e-reading devices at the readanebookday.com website and through social media. Readers are asked to "tell their story of what eBooks mean to them" and use the hashtag #eBookDay to be eligible.via: L.A. Times
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
46 Photography eBooks to download for free. Among the free resources compiled by LS are National Geographic‘s “Ultimate Field Guide to Photography,” Strobist‘s “Lighting 101,” Adorama‘s “Guide to Lighting” and many many more.
Best Selling author Douglas Preston, along with 907 other authors, signed a letter that ran as a double full-page ad in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times, asking Amazon to stop blocking or delaying the sale of books on their site as a tactic to lower the e-book prices that Amazon is charged by the publisher Hachette.* The three month dispute between Hachette and Amazon previously prompted a response by Amazon’s self-published authors and readers, but it took an odd turn Saturday night when Amazon posted this letter on a site called ReadersUnited.com, after sending it as an email to all of its Kindle Direct Publishing authors. In that letter they include Hachette’s CEO’s email, and have asked their KDP authors to write to Hachette’s CEO telling him what they think about cheaper ebooks. [more inside]
There are numerous ways that bands reach out to potential and current fans, and you can add a few more to the list with Noisetrade, Stageit and Concert Window. Noisetrade allows artists and bands to give away music, like a few tracks and covers from Dr. Dog and Saint Rich, to the whole First Album Live from They Might Be Giants, and now e/audio books, too, in trade for an email address and zip code. If you prefer live music, Stageit and Concert Window allow fans to watch unrecorded, streaming shows from bands anywhere in the world, for whatever price fans see fit. [more inside]
Sarah Wendall, of the romance book blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, discovers a disturbing quirk of optical character recognition used to digitize older texts: the word "arms" is converted to "anus". [more inside]
"E-book backup is a physical, tangible, human readable copy of an electronically stored novel. The purchased contents of an e-book reader were easily photocopied and clip-bound to create a shelf-stable backup for the benefit of me, the book consumer." [more inside]
After digitizing over 15,000 books, Routledge has made 6,000 of these e-texts free for viewing during the month of June.
The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
"Douglas County Model" gives libraries new e-book leverage — The public library system in Douglas County, where bedroom suburbs rub shoulders with century-old ranches, might seem an unlikely game-changer in the world of publishing. But the county's innovative e-book lending platform, which aims to flip the dynamic between publishers and libraries, is giving hope to cash-strapped libraries from Alaska to Australia that they'll be able to offer more electronic material to users, for less money. From The Denver Post, 11/21/2013.
The Perils of Precocity by Thomas Beller.
18 Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time. "I would rather read again for the first time Anna Karenina, Far Away and Long Ago, Buddenbrooks, Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary, War and Peace, A Sportsman's Sketches, The Brothers Karamazov, Hail and Farewell, Huckleberry Finn, Winesburg, Ohio, La Reine Margot, La Maison Tellier, Le Rouge et le Noire, La Chartreuse de Parme, Dubliners, Yeat's Autobiographies and a few others than have an assured income of a million dollars a year."
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote has found that Apple conspired with publishers to fix the prices of ebooks. Publishers Weekly describes Apple's defeat as "a major blow". Writing before the ruling, Roger Parloff at Fortune Tech delved into Apple's "agency model" for ebook sales and noted that Amazon's business model is "the missing piece... of this jigsaw puzzle". Philip Elmer-Dewitt reviews Judge Cote's findings. (Review the decision and other trial information yourself here.) Michael Clarke at Scholarly Kitchen explains why he considers this a loss for the public.
What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being.[more inside]
"..it is refreshing to see Jason Merkoski, a leader of the team that built Amazon's first Kindle, dispense with the usual techo-utopianism and say, “I think we’ve made a proverbial pact with the devil in digitizing our words.” [more inside]
The Cleveland Memory Project is an archive of photos, postcards, videos, recordings, clippings, ebooks, personal papers, maps and other historical "goodies" about the city. "It's a collaborative endeavor of many local historical societies, public libraries and government agencies who have mounted their own local history." On Flickr. [more inside]
Amazon contemplating the used ebook market. But will they still have used book coffee rings on the pages? [more inside]
Five years ago today Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com released the Amazon Kindle, a move that would revolutionize the publishing industry. While often controversial, most recently for its international tax avoidance schemes, Amazon has been very successful and has made millions for its founder. What has Bezos done with some of his tax-free millions? Well for one, he launched and landed a rocket vertically, and posted the video to YouTube, just yesterday. [more inside]
Outlawed by Amazon DRM: A couple of days ago, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. Leaving her without recourse. [via] [more inside]
Books on the Knob, Pixel of Ink, and iReader Review are three blogs that feature free & bargain ebooks daily. If you want to start simple there's OpenCulture's 375 Free eBooks list but if you don't mind doing some footwork then there's this very comprehensive 614 Places for Free eBooks Online post (with divisions of content by genre) on Gizmo's Freeware. [more inside]
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, a podcast in which writer and game designer Robin D. Laws (Hamlet's Hitpoints, The GUMSHOE system) and game designer and writer Kenneth Hite (Tour De Lovecraft, GURPS Horror) (previously) talk about stuff. Stuffs include: Why vampires are assholes and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, stopping WWI and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Margaret Atwood and the difference between a mystic and an occultist, why no invented setting is as interesting as the real world and Woodrow Wilson, Gencon and sundry RPGs, Neil Armstrong, HP Blavatsky and theosophy, the ebook prcing settlement, what big publishing could learn from RPG publishers, and the many crazy fictional possibilities of Charles Lindbergh and his UFO investigating chums, and Dungeons and Dragons edition wars and Aliester Crowley.
Following much speculation Amazon has refreshed the hardware for it's Kindle range, including the Kindle Paperwhite (featuring a "flattened out fibreoptic display") and an updated version of the sold out Kindle Fire and a new 8.9 Inch Kindle Fire HD. Earlier Kobo announced their new range, including a Kindle Fire like tablet. Between this, speculation that the Surface RT will have an astonishingly low price and rumors of a 7" iPad coming soon (probably to be announced sometime after Apple's September 12th iPhone 5 event) is the window of opportunity for stock Android tablets closing?
Classicly is a curated collection of pre-1923 books in Kindle format, ranging from haughty epics to intellectual fiction, without taking away from the no-brow everyman's novel and even some timeless non-fiction. A great way to sort your way through their impressive inventory is their annotated collections, but there's enough serendipity going around in the main page that you get around to books you even forgot you wanted to read.
"This technology cannot simply substitute for the great libraries of the present. After all, libraries are not just repositories of books. They are communities, sources of expertise, and homes to lovingly compiled collections that amount to far more than the sum of their individual printed parts. Their physical spaces, especially in grand temples of learning like the NYPL, subtly influence the way that reading and writing takes place in them. And yet it is foolish to think that libraries can remain the same with the new technology on the scene. The Bookless Library, by David Bell (print ready version). [more inside]
While reading an e-book copy of War and Peace on his Nook, North Carolina blogger Philip noticed a minor glitch in the text: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern." He ignored it and moved on, but then encountered a similar error shortly thereafter. As it turned out, the word "kindle" had been systematically replaced by "Nook" throughout the whole book. [more inside]
Set on the stage of current book buying and reading habits, where bookbuyers browse local shops then buy online and universities move the books out of their libraries (prev), Tony Sanfilippo (MetaFilter's Toekneesan) imagines book stores of a different sort, part bookstore with new and used books, part lending library, part something more. (via) [more inside]
Hack The Cover "This is an essay for book lovers and designers curious about where the cover has been, where it's going, and what the ethos of covers means for digital book design."
The E-Book Wars: Amazon Versus the Rest. Publishers, distributors, booksellers, and authors weigh in on Amazon's ever-increasing presence and influence in the electronic publishing world. The author also takes a stab at forecasting the future for the major players in the e-book industry.
Barnes and Noble is spinning off Nook into a subsidiary business after a $300M deal with Microsoft which gives the Redmond company a 17% stake, bringing an end to a patent dispute between the two companies and sending shares skyrocketing. Commentary from John Scalzi and Tobias Buckell. Meanwhile the Kindle Fire, Amazon's competitor to the Nook tablet, has grabbed over 50% of the Android tablet market.
Ten gorgeous buildings made out of books. More views of some of them: Scanner — Book igloo — Tower of Babel — Cadiff/Miller — Argument (with other book structures). Want to build your own? Order books by the yard from various outlets, some quite pricy, others more affordable: BookDecor, Half Price Books Outlet.
Tor/Forge, the Science Fiction and Fantasy subsidiary of Macmillan, has announced that it is going DRM free on all of its ebooks. Mefi's own Charles Stross shares a presentation he recently made to executives at Macmillan that may have partially influenced this decision. Stross had previously predicted that publishers would need to go DRM free to prevent Amazon from gaining too much power in the ebook market.
The U.S. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers, alleging a conspiracy to rig the pricing of e-books. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins have agreed to settle, though Macmillan, Penguin and Apple continue to contest the charges. Some background from WIRED: Bigger Than Agency, Bigger Than E-Books: The Case Against Apple and Publishers
Paypal is coming down hard on online erotica retailers. The service has sent demands to such ebook self-publishing sites as Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks and Bookstrand, demanding that they remove all titles containing bestiality, rape-for-titillation, and incest- including the popular 'pseudo-incest' category of stepparent or stepsibling sex. [more inside]
Jonathon Franzen doesn't just hate ebooks - he thinks they are having a detrimental effect on the world. [more inside]
Hugh Howey was a self-published novelist of no real success. Until WOOL, that is - a 15,000 word "little throwaway story" he uploaded to Amazon's Kindle Marketplace one day and promptly forget about. The story he didn't blog, didn't tweet, and didn't even sell on his site hit #2 on the Kindle SciFi Bestseller list and "changed the course of e-books." [more inside]
Despite the popularity of long-arc, serialized TV shows, no one really wants to read serialized fiction, apparently. That's not stopped anyone from trying, though, like say Stephen King with The Green Mile and The Plant, semi-successful efforts from a mega-successful author. That was before the current rise of the ebook, though, and a few authors (also here and here and here) are betting technology will turn serialized novels into the next big thing, that we're in "the perfect environment for a resurgence."
"Skyrim is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to Skyrim. [...] Lately, one of my favorite parts of Skyrim are the in-game books. At any time, you can pull a book off the shelf, and get a nice fresh slice of lore to go along with your hearty adventures. I’ve even gone so far as to break into houses in the middle of the night just to read their books." — So says the blogger who decided to extract all 1000+ pages of text contained in the books of Skyrim and format them for EPUB and Kindle. (Skyrim previously)
Books seen in new ways: the Book Drum World Map (popular books mapped to their locations, and more). The Infinite Helical Bookcase. CodexCloud (store, search and share your eBooks online). Also: galleries and blogs of unique bookshelves, Bookshelf Porn and BookPorn. [more inside]
Kindle Lending Library is now live. (discussed previously). The good news is there are lots of titles and no due dates. The bad news is that there is a one-per-month limit. Oh, and you have to be an Amazon Prime! member. Not everyone is thrilled.
Byliner and The Atavist might be heralding a change in how and how much longform article authors are paid.
Borders is liquidating as soon as this Friday, closing all 399 stores, ending 40 years of business, and 11,000 jobs. Brought down by e-books and Amazon. Scenes From A Borders Liquidation Sale. Map of (soon to be vacant) Borders stores.
Most of us know and love Dailylit. But, if you want to have more current book snippets emailed to you every day, you can upload your own ebooks to Dripread. [more inside]
Free PDFs of The History of Cartography, vol. 1 and 2, from University of Chicago Press.
Launching today is Byliner, both a portal to the best narrative nonfiction from around the web, and a publishing platform for original works. Some additional background here.
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