18 April 2011

the end of the tunnel...daylight or a train?

hello, dear readers

it's a monday morning and i usually start my monday mornings clicking over to publishers weekly's website. this morning, there was a very thought-provoking article written by rudy shur entitled, "The Light At the End of The Publishing Tunnel? On Finding Fans, Not Formats ."

it recounted a short discussion between rudy (publisher of square one publishers) and his sales director, ken. rudy mentioned the increase in sales of e-books and the decline of sales of traditional books. ken replies, "Format is really not the problem." now, if i were in the room, i would have replied, "why, ken, whatever do you mean?" so let's pretend i was and that i said that.

ken replies something to the effect of, "the question isn't which format the reader will choose . . . but if there will be readers in the first place."

yikes! do not speak it. the article goes on to recount the glorious age of reading, the 50s through the 80s. returning vets, poor people, baby boomers, we all enjoyed reading just for the pleasure of it. but then...

the 90s came and with it . . . the computer. that dang-blasted marvel of innovation and technology. and we (americans) became a nation of the entertained. do we no longer see reading as a form of entertainment? well, newspapers think so (okay, newspaper websites but what do THEY know?) some newspapers have book reviews (IF they have book reviews) in the entertainment section, some in the arts & living section (does that make it high-brow?), and some (one?) (thank you new york times) have their own, standalone book review. and while some newspapers are getting rid of their standalone book reviews (boooooo washington post and los angeles times), the wall street journal is CREATING one! (i don't find many reasons to cheer rupert murdoch but this is one of them! woohoo!)

my original question was going to be...who is to blame for the state of the book? but i don't like the word blame. but then what ARE the questions we should be asking: why aren't we reading for pleasure anymore? who says we aren't? are we not buying what we're reading? are we getting our reading material online so no one can see? are we reading different stuff? does reading anything other than a book count when 'they' say we're not reading anymore?

i will remind you of this article from 2008, published in the Atlantic magazine: "is google making us stupid?" the article asks if reading on the internet has changed the way people read - short and sweet vs. long and in-depth. i didn't finish it - it's reeeeealllly looooooong. (just kidding).

maybe this is contributing to the state of the book. blame google. blame al gore. after all, he created the internet. :-)

amazon just introduced a concept called amazon singles. wired magazine's headline: amazon launches kindle singles, saves long-form journalism. but does that mean that we don't have the attention-span to get through a few hundred pages of a book anymore? 30,000 words and we're mentally exhausted? are you tuckered out already just reading this blog post? oh, no! have you caught it too? the reading malaise? do not go gentle...

never, ever, ever, give up. read into the night. into the early twilight. into the dawn. into infinity, and beyond...

the conclusion: the state of the book is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

happy reading...no matter the format!

recommend: the evolution of bruno littlemore by benhamin hale
avoid: the radleys by matt haig

14 April 2011

enhanced e-books? what's to enhance?

hello, dear readers,

i really thought i wasn't going to have anything else to blog about. i was actually almost, dare i say it, bored, with the topic of e-readers and iPads and iPods and smartphones. they were all basically doing the same thing - bringing electronic versions of books to a screen near you (very near you, as in your pocket or purse).

but today, eureka!! something i have been reading about and ignoring because, frankly, i didn't think it would ever take off. what is this new "new" thing i'm talking about? okay, you better sit down...ENHANCED e-books.

now when you think of enhanced, no, nevermind, i don't want to know what you think when you think of enhanced. unless you're thinking e-books.

ron charles' did a witty segment on enhanced e-books on his thvbr on the washington post's website (thanx to the blog entymology of a bookworm).

then there's the vook. it's a video. it's a book. it's a vook (clever, i know). there are almost over 180 vooks in the iTunes store. most are non-fiction/instructional type products.

since i'm more of a recreational fiction reader, i put the concept to the side. but then today comes word of an e-book that will allow you to 'tweet' real time. you know, use your twitter account while you're reading. the book is titled, "here on earth: a natural history of the planet," by tim flannery. on amazon, the hardcover book is $16.25, the kindle edition is $9.99. but wait, there's more...

the media bistro blog galley cat published an entry entitled, "how to use twitter hashtags inside your ebook." this article mentions that the enhanced ebook edition of "here on earth" goes on sale today in the iTunes store, priced at $11.99.

according to galleycat, this enhanced edition "allows readers to take notes, copy text, and join Twitter conversations without ever leaving the digital text."

WOW! isn't this what we've been waiting for? or is it?

my first thought was . . . can't the publisher leave me alone, i already bought the goshdarned book. but then i thought about something really cool...book groups!! from your local neighborhood book groups to international book groups (even the international space station could take part), lots of groups could take part in an ongoing, dynamic, real-time conversation about . . . a book! doesn't that sound exciting?

i'm not sure... but i think it does.

my second thought, which has come a day later is . . . ta-daaaah...textbooks! or class materials. classrooms could be totally interactive 24/7. if that's what you want. professors could hilite passages and request comment. a whole new immersive technology that gets participation . . . LIVE! no going back and trying to remember what you thought at the moment you read that passage. how many times have i thought to myself . . . what did i think about chapter 2 now that i'm on chapter 27? okay, but i still think this has actual real-world application that might actually be useful.

happy reading . . . and tweeting . . . no matter the format!

07 April 2011

fight club . . . the literary kind

dear readers,

i know, but i had to, had to, HAD TO, post this really quick blog post.

narrator: Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells "stop!", goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.

now why, pray tell, would i be talking about fight club? because apparently, conflict isn't just in the ring (basement, fight club) but in . . . the book club!

book club?? yes! take a look at this article from the san jose mercury news. it's the age old story of the haves and the havenots (or wantnots). what's a bookclub to do when some members have those newfangled kindles and ithingies and the others have just plain old books? book swaps will be endangered? conversation stifled. woe, woe, woe.

sometimes i think americans just like a good ole' fight.

happy reading . . . no matter the format (unless you're in a book club).

note: i think i'll start throwing in book recommendations too. why not - it's my blog.

recommend: life by keith richards (it's not all about the stones)
avoid: mr chartwell by rebecca hunt

05 April 2011

library disruption

dear readers

well, helloooooooooooo (in my best julia child or mrs. doubtfire voice).

if you will recall, dear reader, in my last post, i was bemoaning the fact that there wasn't anything new on the horizon to talk about.

well, guess what? that's still the case (haha - gotcha). but i did find this little entry worth a mini-blog entry.

it's about disruption. no, not volcanic (besides, that's eruption). but disruption as in some outside influence upsetting the apple cart, changing the status quo, rocking the boat.

business insider (one of my FAVE websites) posted an article originally posted on quora, titled "craigslist has been disrupted, it's just not obvious yet". the basic gist of the article is that craigslist has a LOT of competitors, but these competitors just haven't been able to take hold of their marketshare . . . yet! checkout a few competitors: clist rideshare/use pickuppal, clist arts&crafts/use etsy, clist tickets/use stubhub!

i know, i know, get to the point. well, one of our savvy compadres over at "a digital outrigger" created a chart to show how academic LIBRARIES can be/are being disrupted. take a gander at this (scroll down): for example, alternatives to using the library's catalog could be worldcat, google books, library thing or netflix. need a journal? how about citeseer, doaj, or scitopia. if citations are your cuppatea, there's zotera and endnote. but what about chatting with a librarian, you say? what about yahoo answers, ask.com, or answers.com?

is this disruption (as in i won't use the library website, i'll go straight to these sources) or are we comparing apples and oranges? are these supplemental web resources that students will use in addition to their library catalog. or in lieu of? (insert ominous background music here)

just something to think about.

happy reading . . . no matter the format.