Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Open Thread!!

I found the responses to yesterday's post quite interesting, and before we get to the open thread I wanted to clear up some common misunderstandings about the Sony Reader and the Kindle (Sony and Amazon marketing teams, I accept free e-readers and Kings tickets. Call me.).

Steve Fuller summarizes things best:

"1) The screen is not like reading a computer, it is like reading a piece of paper. You have to trust me on this one.

2) Whenever you buy something, Amazon backs it up on their site, so if you lose your Kindle (or it breaks), you still have all your books.

3) The battery lasts for a LONG time and only takes a couple hours to charge.

4) There are options to highlight, take notes, etc. for those who like to interactively read a book."

I would add: it's not like reading on a PDA, and you can customize the font size. If you don't see well you can re-create the experience of reading a large print book. If you like your type tiny you can make it tiny. And if you like reading in the bathtub you can put it in a ziploc bag. Try doing THAT with a paperback.

I understand that people have perfectly valid and personal reasons for preferring paper books, whether it's cost, DRM, or the smell of paper giving you a tingle, but just wanted to clear up some of those misunderstandings.

Transition.

Open thread!!!

I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to stop by very often, but thought you'd like to get to know each other a little better. So cozy up, make some room on the sofa, and see where the conversation goes.

Possible topics:

- When Are We?
- Who's Jason going to choose?
- Read any good books lately?
- How about that weather, right?






161 comments:

Katie said...

You had me at "you can take notes."

I'm SOLD!

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Why can't they make computer screens like Kindle screens then, if they are so much better? There are millions of us who have to stare at a computer screen all day to do our jobs.

Nathan Bransford said...

wanda-

Because e-ink can't (yet) handle video, and it's still black and white. It's very very good at what it does (namely looking like paper), but somewhat limited still.

Scott said...

Oh no...the teleprompter is broken.

"All hail the order of the hand!"

Chris said...

I'll preface my comment by saying that I just asked my husband today if I could have a Kindle for my birthday. It'll be after the new one comes out.

The price tag is still a kicker for me, though. I'd have to buy sixty books or so before it would seem like it was worth my while. But then, that would not take a long time if I take my past book-buying as any indication, and I wouldn't have the guilt of looking at that stack of half-read books by my nightstand.

My biggest issue of yesterday's thread, however, was that I have previewed some of the e-books out there, and it IS more like looking at a screen than it is like looking at paper. The worst part is when you try to "flip a page" and it takes so long for it to reload. And considering how much memory and bits it takes to refresh a page that looks like paper, I don't think that's going to change any time soon.

MzMannerz said...

Call me stodgy, but sometimes technology depresses me. Books are beautiful. I guess a leather bound volume with gilded paper edges is not very green, I suppose.

Nathan Bransford said...

chris-

The new Sony Reader (and from what I hear the upcoming version of Kindle) vastly speed up the page-loading. There's still a flicker, but it's not as noticeable as with the original Reader and Kindle.

Taylor K. said...

Hey Nathan. Know I haven't popped up here in a while (Feel free to ask "who are you, and why are you stealing my orange soda?"), but I have some news related to something you mentioned in the past. Namely, 3 authors have received book deals because of their work being on authonomy, that website where authors (like me) can upload, and shamelessly promote their work as much as possible (like I just did! HAHA!). I think it's a pretty interesting development, and the speed at which these books will be published (by the summer) is fairly astounding.

Just thought you'd like to know.

eLily said...

I take pride in my library. :)

you're killing it. knock it off.

Anonymous said...

I heard there's a hotel in NY that gives out free kindles to its guests (while they're there), loaded with their book of choice.

What a great idea.

wolf said...

As someone who's going back to school, one huge advantage I see here is if they offered textbooks in e-book form. Not only would it probably be cheaper ($170 for a 200-page book? Really?) but it would be oh-so-much lighter.

Other than that, the only thing that's stopping me is the price.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Still not convinced, Nathan-- It wouldn't survive the kiddies....

(Which is why we have a desktop instead of a laptop and a CRT instead of a flat panel....)

Maybe when they're older-- it would be AWESOME from a space perspective, I'll give you that. (Since noone ever has enough bookshelves...)

However, I also feel some of the browsability would be lost.....

I guess it really depends on your relationship with your books... I mean, you can't pull an ebook off the shelf and say "Why, this is the one we bought on our honeymoon!"

(Yes, we record life with books the way others use knicknacks or photos....)

Scott said...

Sorry about earlier post. Open Thread Day reminded me of that SNL sketch where things went all Lord of the Flies on a daytime talk show after the teleprompter broke.

Anyway, Kindles on the beach: yay or nay? I see sand in working parts, damage to electronics from the heat, screen reading difficulties, water damage, not being able to leave it so you can go grab a slushie; are they somewhat elementproof?

Nathan Bransford said...

scott-

I took it to the beach. You can read it in the sun easier than you can read it in the dark, so there's no difficulty with the screen. I was careful about the sand though, and I don't recommend leaving it unattended.

Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

I would gladly buy an eletronic e-reader for packing reasons. For one thing, I can put 10 books in a little machine, which would be more convenient than packing 10 actual books in my bag, taking up space.

It is also a good tool for hobo punks, squatters, and travelers.

Brian F. said...

Apparently, I'm the only one brave enough to venture a guess on the "When we we?" question.

I think we are at a point in time shortly after Rousseau became shipwrecked. If not now, I think we're going to revisit that era soon.

Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

the only bad thing? It's expensive as hell.

But I think, give it a few more years, it will slowly take over actual books. iPod has now replaced CDs, so I guarantee that Kindles will be big, sooner or later.

Also, it saves a lot of trees.

Colorado Writer said...

I like books...beautiful paper...beautiful covers...beautiful words.

But, if forced, with no other choice, I would read electic words.

The young 'uns will like twitter novels, reading on the net, moving the words on a swipe screen.

Kiersten said...

I can't imagine snuggling up in the rocking chair to read a story to my toddler from...a Kindle. So I suppose picture and board books are safe.

For now.

Also, does the idea of finally getting published and not having tangible proof of it (on your bookshelf, in the bookstore, etc) depress anyone else?

Brian F. said...

Me+proofreading=epic fail

"When are we?"

Lady Glamis said...

Nathan -

I love Kindle's look - just like paper. But it doesn't have a backlight for dark situations. I guess you can just switch on a light, but my question is, do you know if Kindle plans on doing anything about this? Or does the technology not allow for that?

Nathan Bransford said...

lady glamis-

Not sure what Amazon is planning, but the Sony Reader has a built-in nightlight.

Stephen Duncan said...

I've been trying to use my iPhone as an e-reader. I so want the little guy to be good at it. But I'm afraid it is trying to blind me. Which is, you know, kinda rude coming from a phone.

The Stanza program is nice and the page turning, etc., is responsive, but you always feel like you're squinting at a tiny computer screen. And that's mainly because you're squinting at a tiny computer screen.

Anyone else trying to read on their iPod / iPhone?

wolf said...

@ Stephen Duncan: rumor has it that Apple is coming out with an iPod touch with an 8" screen to compete with these other e-readers.

Anonymous said...

I would love to start reading on a Kindle or other reader, but like some of the posters have already mentioned, I worry about the delay when turning the page and having to have a book light. I'm not sure I understand about the light though. If you are simply reading in a room, like your kitchen, is a normal light bright enough or do you need a light attached to the Kindle?

As well, is it difficult to pick up where you left off in a book? What if you go between two books, when you come back, can you easily find your exact page?

I think e-books could certainly be the wave of the future. Do you believe that if a larger percent of books were e-published and not printed, that it could make publishing more cost efficient. There would not be the major returns from bookstores, and the cost of shipping all those unsold books would be eliminated. If it led to more books being published, that would be a good thing.

Martin Willoughby said...

I won't be buying the reader or kindle anytime soon.
- Firstly it's another computer screen that will hurt my eyes,
- Secondly it's too expensive (unless it's sold with two dozen books of your choice included),
- Thirdly I like the smell of books, new and old.

Would I EVER by one? At some point in the future I probably will, but I can't see a reason to purchase one at the moment.

lotusgirl said...

I just have to share my latest good book. I blogged about it last week, but since my readership doesn't cover near the ground of yours and you suggested it, I'm going to push it over here.

If you haven't already, you have got to check out The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It is witty and poignant and smart and vivid. It's been a long time since I have enjoyed a book this much. If you want my whole opinion just go to my blog and scroll down to last Wednesday.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon@9:29:

The reading light rules that apply to paper apply to the Kindle and Sony Reader. If it's too dark, you can't read them (although Sony has a nigthlight). It's best under proper light, best of all in sunlight. Kindle and Sony Reader = paper. The newer devices don't have the page-turn delay of the old ones, and it's practically instantaneous.

When you turn it off or go to a different book, they always go back to the last page you were on. It's incredibly easy. You just turn it on and start reading.

Nathan Bransford said...

martin-

"Firstly it's another computer screen that will hurt my eyes"

I give up.

ICQB said...

Re: the weather.

I'm cold and snow-bound from that nasty storm yesterday.

Snow pics on my blog for those who live in milder climes and want to see what you're missing.

Furious D said...

Here's a what if when it comes to the Kindle.

What if you break your Kindle, you go to Amazon for your backups, but Amazon is out of business.

What do you do then?

Call me a Luddite, but I like having a book that won't break when I drop it, and won't be lost if the store I bought it from goes belly up.

Plus, I judge people by the amount of bookshelves in their home. How can be so self-righteous and judgmental if all their books are on a hard drive!?!

Have you technophiles considered that?

Anonymous said...

Wait until you see what Authonomy has planned next. It will fit in perfectly with the whole ebook scene, and publishing may see a crazy shift because of it.

Stephen Duncan said...

@Wolf

I heard that,too. We'll have to see what that's all about and if it can make a Kindle-esque screen that can double as iTunes movie player.

Right now, the advantage of the Sony and Amazon devices are the lack of eye strain, which you don't get with the iPhone and (obviously) size.

Which begs the question: Does size matter?

Scott said...

"I took it to the beach. You can read it in the sun easier than you can read it in the dark, so there's no difficulty with the screen."

That's good news, actually. Reading a book on the beach is pretty annoying, really. You either go blind, or have to keep switching hands. Oil, I imagine, is a problem, though.

And Keirsten, my answer to your question about finding it depressing having a book published but not being able to have it in a store or on a shelf is "yes, I do"--about the same as self-publishing one, having it on your shelf and in your hands, but realizing no one is reading it. :(

Suzan Harden said...

Good books lately? I just finished Kim Lennox's Night Falls Darkly (a neat twist on the Jack the Ripper legend). Then I started The Audacity of Hope, only to have my husband steal it. After inflicting a guilt trip, I told him to go ahead and read it. In the meantime, I started on Kim Harrison's anthology Hotter than Hell. Next up will be Jim Butcher's Backup. (The temptation of Butcher will be too much for hubby to endure and enable me to steal Audicity back.)

Word Verification: Nefush, n. sound a toilet makes after your kid drops an iPod in and presses the handle

Rick Daley said...

"When you turn it off or go to a different book, they always go back to the last page you were on. It's incredibly easy. You just turn it on and start reading."

The e-readers are going to bankrupt the bookmark industry! Oh, the peril. That job that will be lost.

And speaking of LOST, how about that young Charles Whitmore creeping into the story last night?

I like this season so far, but I have a question: who was the invalid woman Desmond visited? Have we seen her before? I didn't recognize her, she was only on the screen for a moment, but it looked like Desmond did recognize her.

T-Anne said...

Nathan,
I appreciate the fact it won't hurt my eyes, I can read it at the beach or in the tub, in a ziploc or not...my days without this magical wonder are numbered. Are the people over at Amazon aware of what a tour de force of advertising you are? Others may call it the Kindle but it'll always be the Nathan to me ;)

bryngreenwood said...

I *like* the idea of the e-readers. I really do. Here's the thing, though--after I make my annotations and notes on the book, though, can I loan it to a friend? Or vice versa, borrow an annotated "copy" from a friend? Until I can, I'm not sold on it. I live to read the crazy notes my friends make in the margins of the books they read.

I had a full-on creep out when I heard that Penny and Desmond named their kid Charlie. I mean, I get it: Charlie, the rock star. But it's still just a nickname for Charles. *shudder* And yay for getting a glimpse of young Charles...back when he was an Other.

Stephanie said...

It sounds like a great thing. I've been getting most of my books from the library, though. For free. I'm not sure about the price on Kindle downloads. Are they cheaper than a regular book? It would need to be before I'd invest in one. I am, however, all about audio books. I LOVE being able to listen to books on my way back and forth to work and on long trips.

Anonymous said...

Rick, the invalid woman that Desmond visited is the woman from the picture Desmond found in Daniel Faraday's abandoned office. From what the woman's sister said I would say Daniel wooed her, maybe even loved her, but experimented on her and now she's in some crazy time-wrap loop.

Whirlochre said...

I hear Amazon are planning on bringing out an attachment for the Kindle along the lines of those air fresheners you plug into the mains.

Odours currently being tested are paperback (naturally), really old 2nd hand bookshop hardback, and cheese 'n' chives.

Anonymous said...

Authonomy is going to start selling opd out of the slush. They have approached a select group of writers and asked for their confidentiality. I think most people are saying "no", but it is likely inevitable. In the furture you will have to prove yourself withpod or ebook sales before a publisher will touch you.

Anonymous said...

"opd" should read POD

Jarucia said...

Hi all,

I won a Kindle from Amazon last year (otherwise I wouldn't have afforded it), and I have to agree it is an easy, easy read. I actually read more quickly via Kindle than I do via a regular book. I like all the handy stuff like notes, bookmarks, etc. AND btw, those a.re searchable too, so if you've ever written something in and forgot where you wrote it...voila, you can find it.

Downsides for me include: can't throw or burn a bad book I read (but I can hit delete), I can't lend a book to anyone, and the battery cover comes off too often when reading the thing in its holder.

Upsides: Searchable notes, can read word docs (as .rtf)...but can't transfer notes back anywhere :(...can get books instantly, can look stuff up on wiki, AND the crazy cool silver status thingy on the right side...I just don't get it but when I watch it it makes me feel like a cat watching a light on the wall.

Just an FYI, early last year I did a bit of research on e-readers and early development of the e-book phenomenon. Sony and Kindle aren't the only things out there, though they are driving the market.

There also other e-ink devices such as Cybook (big in Europe and supports Mobipocket format), and something called iLiad by a spinoff from Phillips (though Phillips appears to be testing the waters with something called Readius as well).

Oh, and you iPhone or PDA readers, you should know that it's Macmillan Publishing Solutions that corners The Global Reader technology in the states (partnering with some outfit called Bango)...this tech is VERY popular in southeast Asia already.

Ah, so much technology, so little time. Why would we ever leave the good old fashioned book?

Harris said...

Re: The Bachelor

I think she's too quirly to win, but I LOVE Jillian

harris

p.s. i was gonna say "Don't tell my wife" but actually, she LOVES her too.

Onovello said...

Hmmm, maybe it's because age has slowed me down, but the page "turning" on my Kindle doesn't take any longer than it takes to physically turn a book page. At least on mine, the flicker lasts barely more than a second.

One more feature I love: the adjustable print size. This is a huge plus for anyone with vision problems, especially older readers.

Kristy said...

A couple people have posted about the Kindle being good because it saves trees.

I'm not anti-Kindle, but I don't want people to walk around with the wrong idea. Kindles, like most computers and electronics, are TERRIBLE for the environment! MUCH worse than books! The resources that go into making electronics (mining for metals, producing plastics, water pollution) is bad enough, but then you're left with a toxic bomb once the thing's broken. Please don't buy a Kindle because you think it's environmentally-friendly.

Anonymous said...

Bubble bath? Check
Inflatable bath pillow? Check
Smallish (bordering on largish) glass of brandy? Check
Kindle in a baggie? Check - thanks for the tip, Nathan. Ooo, can't wait to get home from work.

J

Ink said...

I'll just second Kristy. We have to be careful what we wish for, fellow tree lovers. Trees can be replanted, paper can be recycled. But Kindle plastic will be choking fishes for the next million years. So, for me, I'd be hesitant about nominating the Kindle for any Eco-Friendly Humanitarian awards. Just saying.

My best, as always,
Bryan

reader said...

I agree with Colorado Writer on this point -- I like book covers!

I need a book cover.

I need it to have colors. And the title in a font that I cannot change. I need the author photo on the back. I need the summary on the book jacket. I need to see them on my bookshelf, spine faced out, and feel good when I pass by and glance at my favorite titles.

Tom Burchfield said...

I agree with Deirdre: books, like many other objects, can play an important part in our lives as are objects of nostalgia and memory.

Keeping all my books on an e-reader would make reading more of an in-the-moment experience, detachable from the rest of my life; the experience of reading becomes disposable, both in the material world and in memory; hence more forgettable.

As micro-business person, I would find e-book fantastically useful (as soon as they start publishing ones I can use); I can also see using them for checking out a new author I might feel skeptical about.

For a more precise example, last Christmas (2007), my wife gave me the newest translation of "War and Peace" (HC, 1st), which I finally started last night:

First off, if she had given "War and Peace" to me in an e-book format, I may well have forgotten I even had it to read.

Second, as a book, an object, it has taken a place in the story and memory of our marriage; this makes it infinitely more valuable; it becomes part of our time together. In that case, what use is convenience?

http://www.redroom.com/blog/thomas-burchfield/take-one-inaugural-call-me-morning

Ulysses said...

In all honesty, I'm not sold on the Kindle or the Sony E-Reader.

HOWEVER, if someone would like to give me one, I'd be happy to re-evaluate my opinion...

In all honesty, though, as with any new technology, we can expect to see economies of scale kick in as Kindles and E-Readers and such become more widespread. Pricepoints will drop into that sweet spot where average consumers are willing to shell out, and then uptake will explode.

Until that happens, though, I don't see enough value there to justify the expense.

And Nathan, the screens CAN hurt your eyes. Just try jabbing one into your cornea and you'll see what I mean. (I tell you, I'm not doing that again!)

WordVer: coddetn
Def'n: The material just under the enamel of a fish's teeth.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Also re: books and trees...

Using less paper doesn't really SAVE trees....

The pine they use for paper is GROWN FOR THAT PURPOSE. They plant the trees and harvest them just like any other crop. If we stopped making paper, they'd stop planting trees....

(Coolness factor-- we took a vacation to Maine and stayed near a "Scott Paper plantation"-- While the trees are growing, anyone can hike, fish, ski, camp or snowmobile on their land. The only restrictions? No fires and no damage to the trees...)

It's like the 'We have electric dryers to save trees' signs in bathrooms. Totally bogus. They have electric dryers so they don't have to pay someone to empty the trash... but with increased power costs, the environmental situation is a toss-up.....

Anyway....

Oh wait, since it's open thread day---

In much of the midwest there are MORE trees now than 100 or 150 years ago--- it used to be all clearcut. Now farmers plant trees, because they can sell the nicest ones in 50 years to finance their grandkids college educations!

The paper/wood/tree thing is really so much more complex than most people know!

Anonymous said...

Harris--

Jillian on the Bachelor is way cute and different, but I think Jason thinks of her more as a friend.

My bet is on Naomi or Melissa, maybe? Melissa seems stable and sort of lovely.


Also, concerning Lost --

Yikes, Charles Widmore was an OTHER? Oy. And I'm beginning to like Richard Alpern more and more, it's nice to see someone look the same as everyone else ages or regresses around him. I have to say, though, I am getting confused. In one scene Penny is giving birth to Desmond's baby in a boat and then in the next scene the kid is what -- 3 or 4?

Rick Daley said...

Anon @ 10:14 (I always think of Bible verses when we cite prior posts like this...I'm waiting for someone named John to write something poignant at 3:16)

Thanks for the explanation. I was expecting it to be the blue-eyed girl on the island with him (can't recall her name), but it looked like the woman in the bed had brown eyes.

The "stuck in a time loop" explanation does seem like a credible explanation for her condition.

Dara said...

I think I can say that I've read enough arguments for the Kindle/Sony Reader to last this lifetime :P

Anyway, a good book I've read...well I'm in the middle of reading Anna Godbersen's Luxe series. Though it's marketed for a YA audience, I can't help but lose myself in the writing. It's a great historical fiction series and I'm a sucker for those. Now I have to go out and buy Envy (this is one of the few times I'll actually buy a book before getting it from the library).

Anita said...

Re: Cormac McCarthy. Am trying him out for first time because of Nathan's love. The Road is craaaazy good, very different. Will recommend it to everyone.

Sherry Ficklin said...

I have a question. I'm being looked at by both an agent and an E-book publisher. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on e-books. Would someone be better off to hold out for a 'real' publisher, or do you think it makes a difference?

Laura D said...

I like the newer features of the new Sony reader (adding music, page turns faster, backlight). What more do you need?

Misssy M said...

And here's me just having paid a carpenter £300 to build a whole wall of bookshelves....

Anonymous said...

I'm unfamiliar with how e-readers work when it comes to compensating the author. I'm assuming the downloader has to pay something for the book, but then can he or she send the file off to someone else, who then doesn't have to pay for it? I suppose this is a question about pirating.

Steve Fuller said...

I do want to add this (and I think Nathan would agree):

Paper books aren't going to disappear anytime soon. It's not like Sony and Amazon are going to band together and have a big bonfire. As long as it makes sense for publishers to print paper books (and it still does because not everyone has - or wants - access to e-books yet), they will keep printing them.

You will still be able to hold them, smell them, take bubble baths with them (if only we treated our loved ones this way).

I just want to keep making the point that all of this new technology is good for aspiring authors, and so WE are the people that need to get on the bandwagon and promote this stuff.

Any new technology that makes publishing cheaper means publishers take more chances, which means more of us get published.

Anonymous said...

If an unpublished author sells e-versions of their book on their own website, can it be downloaded on a kindle or sony reader, or do you have to purchase from chainstores only?

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

I can't believe the majority of these comments are about the kindle. Come on! He said we could talk about The Bachelor! :)

I vote for Jillian, but more importantly, how whacked out were the girls the other night? I was cringing throughout much of the episode, particularly when the dental hygenist begged Jason to keep her. But then she took it a step further when she said she was going to go home and french kiss her puppy! Yikes! And what about that Lauren? I really liked her in the beginning, but I was embarrassed to be a teacher the other night while watching her (Lauren is a teacher). She was way too confident with that whole "you must give me a rose" bit and also the part about "you know you want to kiss me." Geesh!

As for books, I just ready the winner of the Printz award: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It was fabulous, and as soon as I finished, I opened to page one again. Beautiful writing, amazing/original story, and authentic characters. I loved it. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, also a Printz honoree, was good too.

As a writer, something I noticed about Jellicoe Road, and this is not me trying to take something away from it because I thought it was the most fascinating book I have read lately, but as an unpublished writer who reads agent blogs and tries to follow their suggestions, I did notice that A) Jellicoe Road begins with a prologue and B) the next section starts with the narrator in a dream. Hmmmm. Again, this was just an observation, and honestly, I loved every bit of that novel, including the prologue and the opening lines. It just surprises me that agents go on and on about prologues and how terrible they are, yet the novel who receives the award for the finest piece of young adult literature in the past year begins this way. This made me think of Miss Snark, who despised prologues, yet she always said "good writing trumps all" and in this case, who cares? Jellicoe was outstanding. Anyone else read it?

Finally, Nathan, I was wondering if you had read the recent article in Time magazine (Feb. 2) about publishing and self-publishing? Any thoughts?

According to the article, the global literacy rate is 82% and climbing. Wahoo! Also, when we think about reading and wondering if people are reading more, it always surprises me that nobody mentions children and education. If you're a parent of a young child or have a child currently in an elementary school, you know that reading is huge right now. More than ever before, doctors and educatiors are advocating reading to children at least twenty minutes a day starting at birth, and schools are pushing reading at all levels. I've seen a huge increase in reading among teens thanks to the boom in the young adult and middle grade markets.

As for Lost, who would ever have thought that Charles Whitmore would end up being the creepiest character on Lost?

Any thoughts on Best Picture? Slumdog Millionaire all the way!

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

US based friends, please take pity on us LOST Europeans - we're (at least) a season behind - preface your posts with *SPOILER ALERT* ;-))

For concerned authors wondering how you could still see your book 'in print' in future - how about asking your agents/ editors / publishers to consider a braille issue?

John Godber, of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: "Even today, 96 per cent of books never become available in formats that people with sight problems can read."

Ian Rankin launched the UK campaign recently, calling for more books to be made available to the visually impaired and preserve the UK's leading Braille press.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:16

We all knew there had to be a catch with Harper/Colins (Authonomy). Sounds like they don't want to take any risk with authors plucked from the slush pile. Pretty clever on their part, but I feel bad for all of the authors that have to leap a bunch of extra hurdles to get published. If it's possible at all that way. I thinks the percentages are lower than if you went straight to a publisher, bypassing authonomy, agents and editors.

Marilyn Peake said...

- Read any good books lately?

Right now, I'm reading the graphic novel, Watchmen, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. It is amazing! The movie’s coming out soon. It’s rated "R" which I figured it would have to be, based on the novel. The novel deals with good and evil on many complex levels, develops astoundingly detailed psychological profiles for the costumed superheros, and has a thread on quantum physics and time that blew me away. I’ve been reading 'till the wee hours of the morning and have difficulty putting the book down. I thought the first 30 pages were somewhat slow. Many new characters were introduced, but then everything starts coming together and the novel takes off, building incredible momentum with every page.

150 said...

Oh my gosh, I have the worst crush on Desmond Hume.

Marilyn Peake said...

Miss Viola Bookworm,

I saw Slumdog Millionaire last week. I'm a huge movie buff, love going to the movies and buy lots of movies on DVD. I've seen many great movies over the years; but, in my opinion, Slumdog Millionaire is so good, it's in a category all its own. The scenes of violence were intense, but the bright ray of hope weaving its way throughout the entire movie was just as intense. I totally understand why that movie's winning major awards.

Scott said...

Nathan:

I live in the Detroit area, so I can sum up the weather in a few words that might be spoken by Nelson DeMille's Detective John Corey: "It blows chunks."

I mean really, will it ever end? Hey, if overcast, snowy and 20 degrees is your idea of fun, come on down!

Diana said...

Do Kindle book files last? What if (God forbid) Amazon goes under - will the books in your Kindle still be there?

Linda Howard wrote a book about a woman from the future, who found herself in our present day in Tennessee. She told the hero that she had spent a great deal of studying our culture, but that there was a big hole right after DVDs and CDs were invented, because they degraded and didn't survive the test of time. I guess I secretly fear that Kindle books will end up being like a bunch of bad web page links: "404 Page Not Found."

I feel a lot of energy sitting in my office, being surrounded by the colorful covers of my books. I'd hate to think that 50 years from now, they wouldn't exist.

PurpleClover said...

Honestly, you sold me at zip lock baggie in the bath tub.

What about waterproof? By the time they come out with a waterproof one (since I'm always running out of zip lock bags) I will probably be able to finally afford one (I'm a student -hello!)

wonderer said...

Good books: I just finished listening to this year's Newbery Medal award-winner, The Graveyard Book. Neil Gaiman has posted, on his blog, videos of the readings he did during the book tour. The entire book is up there, and getting to not only listen to but also watch him read was fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Miss Viola Bookworm--

Jellicoe road is in my TBR pile. The author is Australian and the book was published originally in Oz before it came here -- i'm unsure, maybe their standards (dreams in the beginning and prologues being no-no's) are different than U.S. standards? Just a thought.

Annie said...

"you can take notes."

Oh my god, I NEVER take notes when I'm reading a book. Am I a bad writer?

I fear I am, suddenly.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "Also, does the idea of finally getting published and not having tangible proof of it (on your bookshelf, in the bookstore, etc) depress anyone else?"

No, because your novel can have all kinds of spin-off merchandising (depending on the type of book you've written). Think Jurassic Park Lunch Boxes.

Ulysses said...

People, we're missing the obvious and most important question:

Can we watch the Bachelor on a Kindle?

When the answer to that is a "yes," we shall enter a new age of peace and enlightenment.

WordVer: dially
Def'n: The confusion one feels when confronted by a rotary phone or a television with knobs.

other lisa said...

You say you want bacon? An explosion of Bacon Explosions!

Anonymous said...

"When you turn it off or go to a different book, they always go back to the last page you were on. It's incredibly easy. You just turn it on and start reading."

Nathan, your blog has really been changing my mind. A year ago, I would have said I'd never read e-books and wouldn't want a Kindle. I've been thinking about it more and more, and now I truly believe I will eventually give up most of my paper books. The convenience of it sounds wonderful.

Bane of Anubis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marilyn Peake said...

other lisa,

Wow, that article had everything: bacon, blogging, Twitter...

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

Anon @ 12:30-

I hope you enjoy Jellicoe Road. As for that prologue, it is absolutely perfect, as is the epilogue at the end. If you read the novel, you'll see the importance. I loved it, and again, I just thought to myself, as I often do when I read something and see an example of what we are told not to do..."good writing trumps all." In some cases, I think it is clear that good storytelling must trump all too, and honestly, when we're reading a really compelling story, do we sit around and count the adverbs? No. I'm not an agent though. I just write and teach, so I'm clearly not the expert. This was just an observation. Personally, I enjoy prologues, especially if it is a good one. Water for Elephants is another great novel with a prologue that I thought served the novel well. And again, there is nothing bad I could say about Jellicoe Road or the author. I look forward to reading the rest of her work and am happy that she will get more recognition with the Printz award.

Marilyn,
I agree with you about Slumdog Millionaire. I haven't felt such emotion or passion about a movie in years. Hands down, for me, it's the best picture of the year by far. Loved it. :)

Cam said...

Good books? Well, I read a book that was excellent for its compelling, fast-paced story if not a bit lacking in other areas. Nevertheless, I learned three things from reading "Twilight" in 6hours: #1- I used to date a vampire; #2- I'm still mortal (no nibbling of the neck took place); and #3- YA needs to be fast-paced and compelling (like Twilight), but better written and edited. Good, FUN read, though.

other lisa said...

@ Marilyn: hmm, I should tweet that, now that you mention it...

Just_Me said...

Hate the weather. I'm so tired of being cold!

Jason? Bourne? Whoa re we talking about?

I still don't want a kindle, books dry off. But kids kill electronics.

This weeks reading is mostly non-fiction. I suppose the best book of the week was "Like Sound Through Water" about a family coping with a child' APD problems.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I know I'll end up getting a Kindle or Sony Reader eventually. I just like to wait a few generations. Reading on a screen doesn't bother me at all.

I love Lost this season. I've been a faithful devotee since the beginning, and there was only one time I wavered. (The beginning of season 3. I wanted to see someone OTHER than Jack, Kate, and Sawyer.) I love the time travel elements, have grown to love Ben, am looking forward to seeing the smoke monster again, and can't wait until Desmond meets up with Mrs. Hawking again (who I think we're all about 99% sure is Faraday's mother).

Read lots of good books lately, and have a whole shelf full to go! I read ON CHESIL BEACH last weekend, and I'm working my way through George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Also, don't think I've ever mentioned it, but I read SPIN last year after you recommended it on your blog and it blew my mind away.

Word verification: 'canib'. Short for cannibal? i.e. the one thing we haven't seen on Lost yet.

Marilyn Peake said...

other lisa,

I'm thinking about mentioning the Bacon Explosion with a link in my newsletter next week. Thanks for providing the link. Kind of cool how quickly news of the concoction spread across the Internet. Got me to wondering if the Bacon Explosion might be a comfort food recipe in hard times. Of course, too much of it might not be a good thing. I loved this part of the article:

Nick Pummell, a barbecue hobbyist in Las Vegas, learned of the recipe from Mr. Chronister’s Twittering. He made his first Explosion on Christmas Day, when he and a group of friends also had a more traditional turkey. "This was kind of the dessert part," he said. "You need to call 911 after you are done. It was awesome."

Kate said...

It makes sense that a bunch of wordy people are discussing e-readers on this blog, but I think we are some what missing the bigger picture. 10 years ago a few music lovers were buying MP3 players but the standard listener still used CD's. Now Apple Stores have replaced CD stores in every mall in America, and every preteen on earth is constantly plugged into their ipod.

I have never used the kiddle or sony reader and am not desperate to run out an buy one. But I fully accept the reality that in 10 years I will probably be doing most of my reading on them, and Borders and Barns & Nobel will have both either gone out of business or transformed into on-line ebook distributors trying to compete with amazon.

Hand written letters died a long time ago, and newspapers and magazines are already becoming obsolete as more and more people get their news online. As children grow up becoming more and more accustomed to always reading and writing on electronics, the ereader will seem so logical that books likely slip into the realm of hand written cards from grandma.

But I hope there will always be a place for the physical book. Several people have talked about owning 100 year old books and the timeless value literature.

A family friend of mine recently passed away and ended up willing more than 20,000 books to my family. Many of these books were more than 100 years old and were extremely valuable. There were also a lot of cheep paper backs that we sold off for 25 cents a piece.

I understand that very few people have personal libraries that fill 3story houses, but regardless of the size of ones library most people value their books. I love being able to pull a book off the shelf and lend it to a friend. There is something uniquely personal about sharing literature with another person. Maybe as ebook technology improves new methods of collecting classic electronic texts will develop with it. Or maybe books stores will survive as novelty shops and people will purchase physical copies of the truly great books and reserve their ereaders for frivolous memoirs by "C" list celebrities.

other lisa said...

@ Marilyn, I'd actually "stumbled upon" the original recipe somehow and posted it to a bacon-mad friend's blog (you should have heard her when she discovered a bacon-flavored chocolate). I had no idea it had become a Net sensation...

Re: the Bachelor.

Oh. Mah. Gawd. Words fail. I can't ever remember the contestants' names but a lot of their behavior is pretty astounding. The stalker girl who wanted to go home and French-kiss her puppy was definitely a highlight. If you could call it that.

Fitz#11 said...

but seriously, Nathan, why are you pimping these so badly?

Scott said...

Interesting points, Kate, but I'm sure you've heard of the vinyl revival? :)

CD's are cold, breaky things, that helped foster disposable music in my opinion. Not having to buy them was a blessing. But books? Books are handsome, holdable things that often get better with age.

As I do the math here, I get this:

Kindle = perfect for some things.
Books = perfect for the other things. May the two long live peacefully entwined.

Nathan Bransford said...

Fitz#11-

Just relaying my experiences. I love me some e-readers. I don't have a motive.

Dorinda Ohnstad said...

What's interesting is that the conversation about e-readers is focused on the reader's end of the topic. As writers we should be welcoming e-readers. They mean easier access to the reading public (I can direct market my work in downloadable form without a publisher) and increased sales and continued royalties.

With the advent of the internet the rise in sales of used books has meant the decline in sales of new books and continued royalties to published authors. Why buy a new book from Borders when you can buy a used copy for a buck on-line (plus shipping and handling of course). If the primary publishing market becomes e-reader-based there will be digital protections that will eliminate the "after market" business. In addition, e-readers will also lesson the impact of the hand-me-down books. You know the paperbacks that we pass on to our friends when we're done with it. Instead, now when we read a good book and tell our friends, we either have to loan them our e-reader (which means we can't also be reading at the same time) or they are forced to purchase a download for themselves. So, whether we like the feel of books in our hands (I certainly do and have my library I love) or look forward to technology changing our reading experience, we should still see the rise in popularity of the e-reader as a positive advancement for authors.

Mira said...

In terms of Kate's predictions, I have to agree with her. I think she's dead on target with what she says.

I would add that another factor is the advantage to the publisher.

The cost of producing an e-book must be less than pennies compared to the cost of producing a paper book.

It would be so much easier for companies to test, market and distribute e-books than to test market and distribute paper books.
Not to mention storage space and delivery trucks that aren't needed with e-books.

And the issue of book returns would disappear, minimizing losses.

There will probably always be a market for paper books, but I predict that it will become a specialty item.

It's always hard to gain a new technology because you can miss the old one - I miss records, and cassette tapes. And the shuffle of the economy is hard - jobs become obsolete, etc.

But......CDs are kind of cool. And sure, the people who put horse shoes on horses lost their jobs when the car took over, but then they became, um, automotive specialists, which pays better, so it all works out. Right?

Interesting discussion.

Lupina said...

Here's my question about e-readers; What will authors have to sign at readings? I make a significant part of my income hand-selling books at library talks and conferences, and do lots of bookstore signings. Will I have to start selling downloads instead? Sign the backs of people's Kindles?

Besides, I'm almost one third of the way through entering my book collection on librarything.

Anon, I think you are spot on about the Lost girl and the time loop. My fave moment was Locke's bemused double-take when the young soldier dude said he was Whitmore.

As for weather, I prefer to remain in denial and just sit here under my full-spectrum lamp and take pics of my dog wearing sunglasses.

Lupina said...

PS I just finished reading Terry Pratchett's Time Thief in his Disc World series and am seriously in love with the man's writing. I am also devastated that he has early Alzheimer's.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Having seen Inkheart yesterday, I just can't imagine characters coming to life out of a Kindle. I can't imagine anyone who has only read books ona Kindle ever coming up with that storyline.

I'm old and not gonna change, not gonna, not gonna...

Unless someone buys me one. :)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

re: weather 5 more inches at Winter Park, Colorado yesterday (over 30 inches in a week). My snowboard is getting twitchy for Saturday.

Alexa said...

Okay I'm sold on the kindle!

I just finished Graceling which was wonderful. I've read lots of people disliked the end but I thought it fitted who the characters were.

Also agreeing on the awesomeness of slumdog millionaire. Another great but over looked film is happy go lucky.

Anonymous said...

Deirdre Mundy: Thanks for your 11:03 post! I was going to make all those points, but you took care of it. :-)

Bane of Anubis said...

I'm with Slumdog, too - if for nothing else than the ending credits Bollywood style dance sequence - that was the shizite :)

Eva Ulian said...

I asked someone who had mentioned a kindle what it was, as I live in Italy and we're about 5 years behind- I had no idea. As she didn't answer, probably thought I was taking her for a ride, I looked it up in Wikipedia where there actually was a picture. So you see Nathan, I'm glad you've brought up the subject. If ever these kindles come to Italy, and want to buy one, I shall be highly informed.

Dawn said...

Good books? I'm reading Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger and I love it! It's hilarious and clever and romantic and fun. I also read a series of online books called The Shadow of the Templar by M. Chandler. There are four books in the series and I can honestly say the last books I enjoyed this much were Harry Potter. I highly recommend them.

Sarah Jensen said...

Okay, well that does put a different spin on things for me with ebooks. I might consider it now.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "And sure, the people who put horse shoes on horses lost their jobs when the car took over, but then they became, um, automotive specialists, which pays better, so it all works out."
______________________

Well, actually, in the early auto factories (pre-UAW), turnover rate was 370%:

"In 1913, the rates of absenteeism and labor turnover, or quit rate, were staggering. Daily absenteeism averaged 10 percent per day, which meant that around 1,300-1,400 extra workers needed to be hired to keep the integrated production system in operation. With a yearly labor turnover rate of 370 percent, Ford managers had to hire 52,000 workers to maintain Highland Park ’s existing workforce."

http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/
Labor/L_Overview/L_Overview.htm
__________________

Which is why Ford introduced the $5/day. And then you had the Great Depression...

E-readers aren't automobiles, but - it's a bumpy ride whenever you transition from one technology to another (books are a technology in and of themselves of course).

I think there's also a book out arguing that improvements in technology (that is, higher and higher 'high tech') permanently reduce the number of jobs available for us decidedly low-tech workers, i.e., humans rather than machines.

I'm not anti-technology at all - just pro things like, oh, "regulatory frameworks" and the like...for the human side of things...I can only quote one of my sister-in-laws, who when she was unemployed (briefly) said: "it's like you're not even a person."

Scary times.

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Watched the new Underworld and thought it was one of the best from the three.

Now, are you going to surprise one of us with a Kindle, Nathan? GRIN

We were disappointed and leary when 8Tracks were replaced by tapes and then CDs, when DVDs came on at a snail's pace until more discovered the sharper picture.

Handheld devices will slowly replace print books in the maybe far future(and hopefully not near because I do love print books) to reserve our trees and protect our planet. Gloomy?

Hey, technology comes pretty fast and adapting is part of the game.

Jim Lamb said...

I wonder if the scribes of the 12th or 13th century endured a similar argument. Scrolls and parchment vs. a bound book. Those bindings certainly were a bitch at first.

I love my Sony Reader, though I was slow to acclimate to its size. I am a hardcover addict and the reader is somewhat smaller. I live on a computer at work during the day and again nearly every night with my writing. The Sony reader is nothing like a computer screen of any type. It truly is an electronic book.

We all need to retire the old quill at some point.

MzMannerz said...

Since this is open mic day, and The Washington Post is my newspaper, I am subject veering to note that the Post has decided to stop publishing its standalone book section.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/28/AR2009012802208.html?sub=AR

:(

Verification word, so appropriate: axing

Melissa said...

Furious D wrote:
"Call me a Luddite, but I like having a book that won't break when I drop it, and won't be lost if the store I bought it from goes belly up."

Now I haven't swung over to the Kindle side yet, but "real" books aren't exactly impervious.

I've lost textbooks I couldn't afford to move. I've lost books to dogs and children. I've lost books when I wrecked the car I was moving in -- lost everything in it (but was fortunate to have only minor injuries myself). I've lost books to weather damage in a storage unit. I've lost books to flood here in the Pacific NW. I've had to sell books because I didn't have space for them in my new digs. I've lost books that were loaned out and never returned. I've lost books that fell apart from overuse!

The idea that the Kindle books are in a format that could someday become obselete does bother me... but I'm not going to pretend that just because I have a "real" book I won't have to replace it in the future for some reason.

Amber Lynn Argyle said...

Don't forget--libraries are free, and they have a lot bigger book budget. Plus, I don't have to store them. ;)

Shannon said...

Brian-
I liked "When we we." Much better. Being a potty training mom it spoke volumes to me! Haha

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

Jason will totally choose A) the southern widow or B) the bubbly brunette who looks exactly like Dianna.

Fitz#11 said...

I hear you.

pimping e-readers ain't easy.

Nathan Bransford said...

Fitz#1-

Mo e-ink mo problems.

Dara said...

Ok, so am I like the only one who never heard of the movie Slumdog Millionaire until it was nominated for best picture?? :P

Seriously, I still have no clue what it's about--I've never seen any previews for it.

Most of the movies this year that have been nominated I never heard of before.

Maybe I spend too much time reading and in my own little world :P That and paying over $10 per person to go to a movie is ridiculous, so I don't go to the theaters often unless it's a movie that really intrigues me.

Stace said...

I don't live in America so I don't think I'm able to easily buy a Kindle but apparently the Nintendo DS makes a pretty good ebook reader if you just download some software.

Haven't tried it myself yet, but if you happen to have one of those lying around, and you like reading ebooks, I'd give that a shot.

Meg said...

Weather - it's finally warming up here again after the little bit of an ice storm we got. (I'm in Texas, I grew up in New England. So while it was very bad weather for the area, it was a tiny storm for me.)

Kindle - my sister has one. I almost stole it. I don't think I'll be willing to shell out the cash for one any time soon. If I ever do buy one, I can tell you I'll still buy books. I still buy CDs even though I have an iPod and buy things off iTunes. It's nice to have the actual thing.

Marilyn Peake said...

Has anyone here seen the Andromeda series? I love how the characters read their books on floppy e-reader type devices on the starship.

Hope Clark said...

A Kindle is VERY tempting, but for the same cost, I got a Dell Inspiron 910, about 6x9 inches in size. Just as portable, reacts faster and holds as many or more books. AND I can use it to access the web and write on it while traveling. Had to go with the practical since couldn't have both.

Hope Clark
FundsforWriters.com

Marilyn Peake said...

Dara,

Here's a website with music, videos, and lots of information about Slumdog Millionaire.

Anonymous said...

Actually I have a Kindle that I love. I commute into NYC daily and I travel with my Kindle. I think it is an amazing creation!!

sarahjane said...

If you liked Jellicoe Road, try Melina Marchetta's other books, particularly Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

I was puzzled by the wonder if Australian standards for writing might be different, like um we're OK with prologues but it isn't so elsewhere? I woulda thought we all like good writing, however, wherever, rather than sticking to DaRules, whatever they is.

Slumdog Millionaire: terrific film. The main character is on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and is getting every question right. Suspicion arises, as he is a chai wallah (tea boy) and from the slums (slumdog). The flashbacks to his childhood and youth, as he answers each question, reveal why he knows the answers he does. Is that how a film should be structured? Dunno. But it works.

Nathan, here's a question from Australasia about something that bugs me like crazy: why is it that the work of so many American authors is unavailable on downloadable audio outside North America? I subbed to Audible.com, and find over and over that the book I'd love to buy (thus giving the author and publisher money) is 'not available in my geographic area'. Surely it's in the interests of authors and publishers to make works available? These are existing audiobooks, but their sale is limited. Older titles (eg. Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried) and newer (eg. Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife). Downloadable audio avoids often-pricey postage on CDs, and zips straight into my iPod for happy listening. But a lot of US authors are missing out on my money, as for some reason their contracts restrict sales in this area. Audible.com has no answer for me but 'it's a contract situation'. I'd really appreciate a literary agent explanation.

I won't mention ereaders as I commented on the previous post. Thanks.

Newbee said...

Open thread huh?...Nice. I'm guessing that most people here are writers who are putting together projects and or books. But, I wonder what other talents you have or would like to broaden yourself into? Nathan this question is for you as well...

Anonymous said...

1. Built-in obsolescence. The tech companies have a horrible track record, when it comes to this. While it's just real kind of them to back up my purchases for me, I'm envisioning it as another doohicky I've got to replace every couple of years, and that impacts the cost-benefit analysis.

2. What if it happens to break after I'm dead and rotting? Will the company really replace all those books for my heirs and assigns? Because I do happen to consider libraries (whether just a handful of paperbacks or an oak-panelled room of first additions) to be a part of familial wealth. What mom, and dad, and grandma and all the ancestors read matters. Will the kindle company promptly mail them to my local library? Will they "loan" that book on dental hygiene for dummies to my friend Wanda?"

3. I also think they're marketing it to the wrong end of the equation. The people who benefit the most from it are the publishers, and the authors, who would increase profit margins significantly. (What percentage of the cost of a book is actually the paper it's written on?) They also maintain far more control over the electronic format than they would over paper (through nasty, proprietary software, and other forms of debauchery.)

So... if I were going to start an e-reader revolution, here's how I'd do it.

1.) I would stop telling people this is good for them. It's not.

2.) I would pare the whole damn thing down to black and white print and nothing else. The production costs on the thing have to be pretty low, and they could certainly be pushed lower.

3.) I would hand it out as a lagniappe to high-volume readers. Yeah. Absolutely free. Mail in your box-tops sort of thing. This would benefit all of the publishers, but specifically text-book publishers, whose goods are sold and re-sold.

4.) Sell deluxe editions of the thing to the luxury tech crowd, if I must. Bells and whistles sold separately.

The business model should more closely resemble that of printers, i.e. the company makes the money off the ink cartridges (or the e-books) not off the machine, itself.

Anonymous said...

One thing that bothers me about Kindles etc - we will lose that moment of connection we have with people when we see them reading a book that we ourselves have loved or are reading. I've had a million conversations about great books, characters, stories etc off the back of spying someone reading a familiar tome. Also there is a real joy to handing someone a physical paper book and saying, "you should read this". The recipient sees the length of the book, can read the back, can sample the pages, and can take it home and read it on the toilet with no fear. If books go purely electronic, we'll lose something intrinsic and wonderful about having physical novels - the chance to connect with another human being just by catching a glimpse of what they're reading. After all, the back of a Kindle always looks like the back of a Kindle, right?

Bonnie said...

Good book I just finished: Ahab's Wife, by Sara Jeter Naslund. Excellent, excellent book. Naslund's prose flows like poetry and her insight into the characters is amazing. Lots of wonderful historical detail. Not what I would call realistic, but then for all its realism Moby-Dick isn't realistic, either. So I guess that fits.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

When Are We

Going to look back to the period of time we are now looking ahead to, without looking forward to it at all, and speaking of general circumstances rather than personal circumstances, which may be quite wonderful?

What's on the other side of these events variously described as "meltdown" "implosion" and "collapse?" Can't we just go there...today. Right now. I'm ready. Let's go!

The other day my dad bought an enormous birthday cake for my mother - absurdly so - there just weren't that many people to eat that much cake. Pink icing, pink and orange sugar flowers - wow, my mom is still alive! It's hard to believe! I'd like to bronze that cake and keep it forever! It wasn't a birthday cake, it was a still-alive cake!

And it seems like only when you are very young and healthy you take and give the advice of: Live each day like it's your last. Then when you get to the age (or circumstance) when your last day is a real possibility on any given day, the catchphrase is: Live like you're going to live forever. Plan and anticipate the future as much as you can, because that keeps pulling you into the future, it keep you alive.

Well, the (work)day begins. I'm sorta pretending it isn't, but that's the truth of the matter.

Ita said...

What have I read recently... "Mine All Mine" by Adam Davies. Kind of urban fantasy meets humorous mystery. Compassionate, frightening, compelling and fun. It was so good I stayed up 'til two am to finish it, even though I'm sick, and meant to go to sleep at eleven, and knew the baby would wake me before eight. I just couldn't stop reading...

The reason I bought "Mine All Mine"? I read a suggestion recently (here?) that aspiring authors should support their colleagues by buying a debut book occasionally. (Ok this wasn't actually Davies' first book but it's the principle of the thing.)

Since it's open thread day I have a couple of questions for anyone out there who's listening.

1) I live in Ireland. Do you know of any good Irish or UK literary blogs?

2) Further to supporting my fellow wordsmiths, I'd love to buy a book each month from a totally unheard-of debut author who might struggle to sell a thousand copies. However, I'm having trouble sourcing very new authors who aren't on a big publisher's publicity A-list.
If the book is all over the review sections it doesn't need my help, so it's not what I'm looking for. Is anyone aware of listing sites or promo sites for this info? I'm particularly interested in new authors from Ireland and the UK.

Finally, I have something to confess: I have never seen Lost.

Stacey said...

Sadly I missed this conversation yesterday, so I doubt many people will read what I have to say, but I think they are all very valid points that I hope SOMEONE notices!

Well my friend's boss got them all Kindles for Christmas and here are the complaints:

1) He thinks e-books are too expensive and only downloads free books that are public domain.

2) The screen is easier to read than a computer screen, but it leaves a ghost line of the text and starts to look dirty along the text lines.

3) Sometimes it does not save his highlighting correctly (he was an English Lit Major in college, and so is very interractive with his books...in fact I have a hard time letting him borrow my stuff because it comes back with erased pencil marks)

4) The design is hard to hold it without accidentally hitting the turn page button.

5) the screen is too small and you have to "turn" the page too often

6) It takes some time to load the next page because of the screen technology.

All of those in my mind are a good reasons why I don't ever need one. If I traveled for my job a lot it might be worth it so I don't have to carry so many books around with me, but I don't. I'm a house mom, so give me the real thing!

EnviroReader said...

I would LOVE to have an e-reader, but it's too expensive.

That being said, if you want to save trees, don't buy anything made of wood without knowing where that wood came from. A lot of wood is illegally harvested in ways that really eff up the environment, and the cutting of trees in places like Brazil is a huge contributor to global warming. So buy carefully from producers who use only sustainable wood, or better yet, buy used or antique furniture.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 extreme readers in my house, and when we are done with a book we pass it on to my sister and her kids and my mom. Can you do that with an e-book? It would mean having to buy three of those things just for my house. Can you access the books you purchase from other machines? And can they be read outside in the sunlight? I cannot see my computer screen outside, and that is under my covered porch.

wickerman said...

I think the whole e-book bit is less likely to be the future than many people would like to think. Sure book freaks will love them and salivate at the idea of 200 of books all contained in this neat little device where they can call it up and re-read it at their leisure.

But what about MOST people. A third of people say they never or rarely read books. Ok, they weren't buying physical books to begin with. But what about the 'average' reader who might buy a handful of books a year - let's say 5-8. Let's also assume they are buying paperback.

If the e-book were even half the price of a paper back they might save an average of 4 dollars per book. At a $300 price tag, you kindle is going to pay you back at roughly 80 books. If you read 6.5 books per year (that's like having 1.5 kids for those keeping score) that means the kindle pays for itself in about 12+ years. Not a great return for someone who reads a few books a year.

People want to call it the ipod of the book word. It isn't. People put 400 songs on their ipod, hit shuffle, and make their own concert out of it. It's part of the draw of a mobile music device. Are you going to hit shuffle on a n e-reader and read random pages from 20 books? I hope not. In fact, how nay times do you re-read a book? Probably not too often and since you have an e-copy, how are you going to give it to your mom or sell it at a yard sale. You aren't. You are going to pay for it once and never use it again (mostly).

Mp3 players were popular because folks took their cd collection and transferred it to a portable format. Where is the equivalence with a book? Easy to travel with you say? I don;t know about you, but when I am on a roll I rarely read more than a book or 2 per week. I would like to say I read more, but I like to work and sleep too. So how long a trip are you going on that you have to thank your lucky stars for an e-reader so you can bring all 78 books you were going to read while you were gone?

I think people like Nathan because of the nature of his work might be a bit biased (no offense!) about the real usefulness of this. The casual reader frankly doesn't need it.

Nathan Bransford said...

wickerman-

I don't think physical books are going to appear. However, the next fives years is going to see an explosion of devices. They're going to be cheaper, they're going to be multifunctional, they're going to be ubiquitous.

People are sentimental about paper books. I get that. But sentimentality has a way of going out the window when a superior product comes along. Most people have thrown out their beloved record collections, their beloved cassette collections and now their beloved CD collections.

E-books are simply a superior product to books. Right now the cost of e-readers is prohibitive to a lot of people, there are DRM issues and others, but down the line paper books won't be able to beat the portability, convenience, and price of e-books. Will people still pay more to read paper books out of nostalgia? I kind of doubt it.

It may take a device that people already own rather than a dedicated e-reader to really spark the change, and again, I'm not saying books are going to entirely disappear. But change is coming.

Anonymous said...

wickerman--

That was an extremely helpful post. I love the point you raised with it not at all being like an ipod for the simple fact that you can listen to a favorite (three minute) song every day and not get sick of it. Comparably, even my five all time favorite novels I only re-read maybe once couple of YEARS. So, I personally, would have no need to carry them with me.

If I had a spare 300 bucks, would it be cool to own a Kindle? Sure, but I couldn't afford the book I wanted last week for 25 so I don't think it's going to be happening anytime soon. I'd rather buy a better printer or other "writerly" things that might help advance my career.

Perhaps, as Nathan said, when the prices get lower.

wickerman said...

I can agree with the idea that is something that was part i-pod(ish) part e-book reader came along that was convenient, portable and cheap(er) that more people might flock to it. I also agree that once $$ become the issue people are not going to cling to their paperback just because they are 'old-school'.

I DO think however that people are going to wait for something much more innovative than we now have before they switch en mass. Perhaps 5 years is the time table.

If so, archive this thread and be sure to make fun of me in 2014!!!

:)

Mira said...

WandaBOntheShelves,

I didn't mean to be insensitive when I made a flippant comment about the number of people who may lose jobs if we switch from paper to e-books.

It was meant to be a sort of satiric nod of acknowledgement that technicological changes impact and can make entire professions obsolete.

At least it would be if I knew what a satiric nod of acknowlegement was. :-)

On the other hand, e-books are great, great, great news for authors. I believe they will change the power balance of the entire industry.

People could potentially self-publish e-books much more easily, and market them themselves. It will be very interesting to keep an eye on the battle over software rights.

The role of the publisher and the agent could change dramatically.

It should be very interesting. I'm looking forward to it.

Anne said...

This conversation reminds me of when VHS tapes first came out on the market and the prices were exorbitant.

BTW if I'm the last post I win the free Kindle, right?

Ink said...

Does this whole conversation not make anyone else think about Fahrenheit 451? I mean, come on, a Kindle... kindling? All those poor and glorious paper books! So sad...

Of course, if everyone goes Kindle tomorrow, the 50,000 books in my shop will suddenly all become collector's items. I'll be rich! Every cloud has a...

My best, as always,
Bryan Russell

Ink said...

And sorry, Anne, no Kindle for you. :)

Carolyn said...

@StephanDuncan: I use Stanza on my iPhone and quite like it. I've read several books on it. What stops me from loading even more books onto is is the price of the books. Prices for new books are criminal.

Cindy Jacks said...

As an e-book author, I just wanted to drop by and thank Nathan for yesterday's discussion. There's hope for the e-book overlords after all, LOL! Viva la Kindle!

Mark C said...

Nathan: how is biz for you personally? You know: are you guys buying as many books? Are you seeing more or less good projects?

Harris said...

Forgot already if I wrote, but I am hoping for Jillian on The Bachelor, though I fear she may be too quirky.

btw - Is it me, or are the women kinda "eh" this season?

I'm REALLY curious what ahppens when Deeanna reappears.

harris

Jolie said...

"And if you like reading in the bathtub you can put it in a ziploc bag."
OH MY GOD I WANT A KINDLE SO BAD. ;_;

For the Bachelor, I'm currently betting on Melissa. Hey, I was right Deanna and Jesse, and about Matt and Shane, though I didn't make those predictions until later in their respective seasons. Too early to tell for Jason!
(wow, I actually sound like I care about this ...)

Other shows I'm truly glad to see back on the air: Lost and The L Word. I miss Weeds. And Grey's Anatomy is outdoing itself on WTF-ness, but I have way too big a crush on Sandra Oh to stop watching now.

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

I would love for some teachers to get on here and comment about the Kindle.

Just this morning, as I sat in a classroom and read The Napping House by Audrey Wood to a room full of second graders, I thought, "there is no way this experience can be replaced with a Kindle or some better form of technology."

I think Nathan has a good point that people have embraced other forms of technology in the past. Yes, it's true that we once listened to music on 8 tracks, then cassette tapes, then CDs, and now an entire generation is listening to music only via iPods. However, listening to music is listening to music. It isn't visual, and reading is a visual thing.

Yes, we have an entire generation of kids who are used to technology, but when it comes to their instruction in schools, when it comes down to it, teachers are using books, and not just at the elementary level where they use picture books. Then use them at the middle and high school levels and teach kids to highlight and use post-its to mark passages and take notes. Yes, you can apparently do this with a Kindle, but still, as a classroom teacher, it isn't the same, and in this economy, it isn't feasible for schools to purchase Kindles for entire classrooms any time soon.

It's just a thought that nobody on here as addressed, and frankly, I find it surprising. I do think that Kindles will become more popular, and I think many of us will be using both books and other forms of technology to read, but the bottom line is, children are taught to read, research, and study with books. I don't see them going out of the classroom, so I think that influence is going to remain and impact kids more than we are acknowledging it will.

Marilyn Peake said...

Miss Viola Bookworm,

I know teenagers who absolutely love the Kindle. They grew up with technology, love computers and game systems, read lots of books and took to the Kindle immediately. Not only do they buy books for the Kindle, they've also purchased magazine subscriptions that download into their Kindle.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Hi Mira,

Re: "I didn't mean to be insensitive..."

I know you weren't...being a Michigander, I'm just hypersensitive - I don't even want to read the hometown paper online because who KNOWS what dreadful news there will be!

Also...the whole subject of auto industry, i.e., "gathering the ashes of the fossil fuel era" is in my novel, so my brain just circles back to that incredible astounding 370% turnover rate at Ford back in the early 1900s.

Back to my own silly "production typing" job (medical transcription) - everything old is new again I guess.

Wanda

Mira said...

Ink -

This is just me, but I would think that there is always going to be a place for a 'bookstore.' I LOVE going to bookstores, browsing, sitting and reading, drinking tea. You can't replace that with on-line downloading.


But you might keep an eye on the trends, and ways that a brick and mortar places can incorporate e-books, etc.

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

Marilyn,

You must have misunderstood my post, or maybe I just wasn't clear. I am an English teacher, and I have no problem with the Kindle. I might even be so inclined to purchase one at some point, and I'm sure many of my colleagues will as well.

A kindle makes sense to me for personal use. In a classroom, it could work as well, but I certainly don't think it will replace books in a classroom for too many reasons to list here.

Really, I was trying to make the point that books aren't going to become obsolete simply because there is a new piece of technology around that can be quite convenient. It's an issue that keeps popping up, and I simply was trying to make the point that children are taught to read with books, and in the classroom, books are what is used. Technology is certainly prevalent in classrooms, and I would never discourage the use of it now and never have in my twelve years of teaching. I was just trying to bring up this point because it is never mentioned, and certainly for adults, again, a Kindle makes sense for personal use. I was merely making the point that I don't think there is going to be a generation of readers who only grow up with a technological device for reading because in a classroom, books will always accompany any technology that is used.

Mira said...

Wanda -

Actually, I think I was being a bit insensitive, but I didn't mean to be. So, sorry.

Sounds like an interesting novel that you're writing. That was a dynamic time in our history. Good luck with writing!

Nathan Bransford said...

miss viola-

You sure e-readers wouldn't have a place in schools? Maybe not the current generation of devices, but when you consider the amount of money that schools spend on textbooks, reading books, lockers, etc., I wonder if the economics might actually be better for e-readers.

I'm not an educator, but if I were a teacher I would love love love that e-readers would allow me to have access to an unlimited range of books rather than working with whatever books the school has already purchased. And if I were a student I would sure love not having to lug around textbooks.

Seems like there's a world of possibility here too.

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

Nathan,

I do see a place for e-readers in schools, and I think it is inevitable that they will crop up. I don't think there will be a time where books will not be used though, at least not in elementary schools. At the upper levels, I definitely see how they could be more useful.

One problem here is money. I'm lucky to work in a district that has resources and money, so we do well with technology. We have computer labs out the wazoo and laptop carts for each department. It's really amazing to see kids working, even at the early elementary grade levels, online with a laptop in their classrooms.

That said, there are many schools that don't even have air conditioning. There are schools that can't afford materials (ie. construction paper, markers, glue) for their students. My school has amazing technological resources and teachers and administrators who are educated and passionate about making our students twentieth century learners who need to be able to thrive and compete in a global sense. Again though, not everyone has these resources available, and it is really sad when you know the statistics and see the money schools have available. Right now is a particularly bad time for everyone, including schools who are having to cut teachers just to make ends meet. So in the very near future, do I see e-readers making their way into classrooms? Absolutely, but I think they will be a resource, not a replacement.

Aside from money, there's the aspect of how children to learn to read. Philosophies of education vary, but I think most educators would agree that much exposure to the written word is the first essential component. The process begins with pictures though, and babies "read" with picture books. The process begins early, with the simple idea that a child knows how to turn the pages properly and make the connection that the images/story/words go from the left to the right. Again, this is going much deeper than I'm sure anyone intended here, but it comes to mind each time I read or hear about this issue: will e-readers replace books?

I admit to loving books and collect them, but I have nothing against e-readers, and yes, I suspect I will own one, possibly even soon. My experiences as a teacher of children from grades 6-12 and now as a teacher of elementary children learning to read for the first time do make me feel inclined to say that no, e-readers will never replace traditional books completely. Again though, this comes from my experiences teaching children to read, and I don't see that an e-reader can adequately serve a young child learning to read on its own. A valuable resource? Sure, but babies and toddlers can't chew on a kindle, can they?

This has turned into a big teacher tangent when I didn't mean for it to. :) I should have just said from the beginning: I think e-readers are great but don't think they will replace books completely. And like you said, Nathan, change is coming. That doesn't have to mean it will wipe something out completely.

And one other thing (sorry): in the high school classroom, textbook adoption typically happens every five-six years. For an English/Language Arts classroom, teachers go through a process where they select novels that will be taught at each grade level, and these selections have to meet district and state standards. These novels are the selections for that textbook adoption period, and they have to go through an approval process that involves parents and administration. A kindle would not provide a possibility for teachers to just randomly select titles that we want to use (I wish!), but it could possibly be cost-effective. Again though, these novels go home with students, so schools would be responsible for providing e-readers for each student. It's an interesting idea though, particularly at the upper levels where so many novels and books are used. Classroom sets might be more likely. Unfortunately though, many decisions in education come down to money, so even though we as educators have the best intentions and ultimately always want to do what is best for kids, we often lost out on things because the funds aren't there. This scenario, at least in the immediate future, could prove to be problematic because of money more than anything else.

Marilyn Peake said...

Miss Viola Bookworm,

I agree with you. I don't think electronic reading devices will ever replace all paperback and hardcover books. Computer and video games haven't replaced board games, especially for younger children. In fact, popular board games like Monopoly now publish lots of themed variations of their original game.

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

Marilyn,

You're right. I hadn't even thought of board games. After all these years, we're still playing Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, and Checkers, even with all the various video game technology that is available.

Again, the difference between games and books vs. music is that music isn't visual. You can listen to music, whether it is on an 8 track tape or an iPod, and the music will still be the same. Sure, the quality may be better, but a song is still a song. A game or a book...to me, that is different. That is not saying there isn't a place for e-readers and that they won't be wildly popular, but I still don't think books in the traditional form will ever become obsolete because of it.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned either: we're talking about this so easily here because we live in a country where such things are accessible, but obviously this isn't true for every country in this world. Books, whether they be hand-me-downs, gifts, school textbooks, or library rentals, are more accessible to those in countries where expensive technological devices aren't the norm.

sarahjane said...

Nathan, at 9.55 on 29 January I included a question about international rights to audio books (specifically audio downloads as opposed to CDs). If you are able to address that issue sometime, with your agently (agentish?) expertise, it would be great to know an answer. Thanks.

Nathan Bransford said...

sarahjane-

It all depends on what territories were granted in the contract with the audio publisher. Since a lot of deals are for North American rights, that means you wouldn't be able to access the audio if you live in Australia. If it were a world rights deal or if it were, say, a British Commonwealth deal that included Australia, then you would be able to access it.

Anonymous said...

Don't be so green. My family operates a timber farm and harvests sections of trees on a rotating basis every 8-12 years and plant replacements along the way. Talk about a self sustaining process. So, please use paper, lotss of paper.

Anonymous said...

Where does one try out one of these gizmos?

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

I am reminded of...menstrual product manufacturers.

Re: "Unfortunately though, many decisions in education come down to money, so even though we as educators have the best intentions and ultimately always want to do what is best for kids, we often lost out on things because the funds aren't there."
_______________________

Large companies provide free samples and "educational" materials for girls because women generally do not switch products ever - so if they get a customer when she is 13, 14, 15 years old - they probably have a customer forever.

I think with an e-reader in the classroom, when the competition heats up, companies will GLADLY supply free e-readers in classrooms because they may be creating a lifelong customer - also when parents who have no intention of ever buying an e-reader, have their kids bringing them home from school, they may change their mind - i.e., the kids' experience with e-readers will sell them to the parents. So again you are building brand loyalty.

I am interested in seeing how this shakes out in the coming years - I imagine parents' groups springing up - we want our kids reading real BOOKS, not godless e-readers, end of civilization as we know it, etc...

I do think the disposing of e-readers (or any electronics) is a genuine issue that needs to be addressed - it is a horrendous situation that poor people in other countries are blithely handling our (American's) old electronics without proper protections in place.

A scenario I wouldn't mind seeing is a company providing e-readers in classrooms...along with a "teaching module" or whatever they are called, on electronic waste disposal...and said company is building state-of-the-art electronic recycling facilities in poor countries all over the world! Lifting people out of poverty and protecting the environment at the same time!

Get on it Gates!

Wanderer said...

I SOOOOOO want a Sony Reader it's not even funny. I'm sending 'buy me a sony reader' vibes to my friends and family since I have a b-day coming up :) I currently read on my blackberry and while it gets the job done I want the Sony experience....hehehe

Kindle - not as zexy as the Sony but if someone happened to gift one to me, a happy reader indeed will be me ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone's mentioned this Nathan, I've only skimmed the comments, but:

Look at what is happening to the music industry, now that portable electronic music is the main format.

if e-readers ever really catch on, isn't there a very real risk that the entire book publishing industry goes bust overnight? The copy-ability and portability of books is just so ridiculously easy. What role will the publishers have that can't and won't be filled for free by internet communities? How will anyone get paid? It's not like authors and publishers can fall back on massive concert and merchandising revenues!

In any case, for a whole bunch of reasons I believe I will always prefer paper books, despite their many downsides, no mater how far e-reader technology advances.

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