It’s nice to say you are a green company, but doing it effectively is another story.
With digital printing we don’t have thousands of books sitting in warehouses waiting to be sold – spent resources that may or may not be purchased and read.
We print books only when an order is received.
The majority of our book sales (85%) are electronic as manufacturers of ereaders have opened their walled gardens allowing their books to be read on any device, any platform, anywhere, anytime.
Think printed books will go away? No way. Did movie theaters close when home theater systems became mainstream?
The Association of American Publishers reported that the annual growth rate for eBook sales fell during 2012, to about 34% – a sharp decline from the triple-digit growth of the preceding four years.
But that doesn’t mean ebooks are going away. A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that adults who have read an e-book increased from 16% to 23% in the past year. It also revealed that 89% of regular book readers said that they had read at least one printed book in the last year.
Ebooks are merely another channel, another technology to promote, sell and enjoy books. It compliments printed books. Printed books won’t go away – there will just be fewer printed.
Fewer printed books is not good for the big six publishers, but it won’t bankrupt them – just lower their sales volume and profit margins.
That’s why they won’t fully embrace ebooks and why they charge artificially high prices for their ebooks close to the full price of their printed books.
They want to revive the same high profit margins they enjoyed with print books for so many decades.
But they will never convince their customers or the general public that ebooks cost as much as print books to edit, process and distribute.
Ebooks are a disruptive technology and like all disruptive technologies is condemned, rejected and deemed catastrophic for society by those who stand to lose.
The market will determine the accepted price of ebooks, not the publishers and there is nothing they can do to stop it. The tsunami has already hit land.
If you liked ARGO, you will love The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, a similar story based on true events.
Order your copy at a special publisher’s discount price of $12.99, list is $15.99.
Just click on our Bookstore tab and then click on Fiction.
We decided to reprint this interview with Douglas Roberts about what inspired him to write such a book. The interview was originally published June 19, 2011.
Inspired by true events in the early 1970s, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK captures what it is like to live in a dictatorship with secret police monitoring your every move – an atmosphere of fear that still pervades today in many countries in the Middle East.
What makes Doug’s book so appealing is that what he wrote today about events 40 years ago is still going on today in many parts of the Middle East. And all of these events are carefully woven into a love story that will make you fall in love all over again.
Q. The release of your book coincides rather well with Arab Spring. When did you start writing it?
A. In the summer of 2008. A woman I’d met on line named Erica Murray was interested in Iran so I started writing to her about it. I started doing some very preliminary research into the history and politics of Iran in 1971 in order to refresh my memory of things I had experienced when I was in Iran during that time. The book was completely finished several months before the uprising in Tunisia.
Q. Even though that was 40 years ago, there are many common elements with what is happening across the Arab world.
A. Yes, especially the fear people experience when living under an autocratic regime is something I hope I have captured, and as the book proceeds, the breaking out of that fear. Perhaps it will give people hope. Just like in my book, the methods used by various dictatorial regimes to maintain control seem to be taken from a common playbook: trample a free and independent press, keep the people fooled, use an iron fist to silence dissent, eliminate fair trials, use torture to extract confessions – the list goes on and on.
Q. But when you wrote the book, you weren’t thinking about that.
A. (laughs) True! I don’t have a crystal ball and the Arab Spring was as big a surprise to me as the rest of the world.
Q. Can I ask you about one of the characters in your book? Was there really a Junior?
A. Yes there was. I think Junior made the story possible to write. We really did sell our liquor and cigarette rations to him. I recently learned from a fellow who served in ARMISH/MAAG just before I arrived that Junior mostly dealt with the domestic workers, the Iranian nationals who worked at the bachelor quarters where we lived.
Q. I’d like to ask you about another character, Mihan Jazani. She is a historical figure, the wife of the Bijan Jazani who founded one of Iran’s guerilla movements. It appears that she’s a friend of yours on Facebook.
A. (Blushes) Um, well yes…so it would appear. (laughs) Actually, Mihan Jazani doesn’t like Facebook and never uses it. The Facebook account was set up for Mihan by her granddaughter, Aida. Aida and I exchange messages occasionally.
Q. How were you able to remember so much about what happened then? It was 40 years ago after all.
A. I was assisted in several ways. I had some writings I had done about Iran when I was in journalism school at Kent State in 1972. I had a large number of slides that I’d taken when I was there. Those were crucial in reviving old memories. A huge help was finding a 1977 map of Tehran on the (now defunct) Tehran American School website. I was able to use the exact names of places, even street names. The fellow I’d mentioned earlier who told me about Junior had sent me a copy of the ARMISH/MAAG directory, which was very useful. Finally, talking to people I worked with at that time was extremely important, namely Heidi Eftekhar and Barry Silver, who are characters in the story. I obviously couldn’t remember all events specifically, but I found I could generate them as needed by being very specific in my language. I would take seeds of ideas and extrapolate and grow them into full blown events. For example, a certain lecherous officer really did say to Heidi, “I think you’re a woman who needs a lot of loving.” I took that and ran with it. Last, but also important, the Internet was a valuable tool in researching the historical incidents in the book.
Q. So, where does the novel part come in?
A. Some of the human rights related events are novelized, but they’re very accurate in their portrayal of the times. I’ll leave historians to figure all that out. They will have their work cut out for them because I’ve spent a lot of effort weaving the story line into the history of those days.
Q. How close is your character Doug Roberts to the way you actually are?
A. That’s a really good question. (laughs) I had originally intended that Doug the character would be an extreme version of myself. But after having read my book now over and over, I’ve come to see that what’s extreme are the circumstances he’s in. Doug the character is a lot like I was back then: ok in the smarts department, and a little too cocky sometimes. He’s not very romantic or knowledgeable about women, but does all right in spite of himself. (laughs) There’s an element of male fantasy in the book I suppose. In the story, I have two charming female lunch companions in addition to Fari my Iranian girlfriend/fiancée.
Q. But you really were friends with Heidi Eftekhar your co-worker in the story.
A. I still am. Heidi and I communicate regularly by email and her input on the book was immensely helpful. Miss Farou is the fantasy. She actually didn’t like me all that much. (laughs).
Q. I get the impression you had a lot of fun writing your book.
A. It was pretty trippy for me at times. I would totally submerse myself in it. For example, I had written the scene describing how I spent New Year’s Eve in Iran just a couple of weeks after New Year’s Eve in real life. When someone asked me about how I’d spent my New Years, it shocked me as to how much effort I had to put into pulling up what I’d actually done versus what I’d just written. That was a little scary.
Q. What do you think people will get out of your book?
A. I’m sure everyone will get a little something different, but what I’d like for people to take from it is that, like in the story, life may present you with some extreme circumstances. When that happens, keep a level head and your wits about you. Try to see beyond what appears to be happening on the surface. There will always be some good things happening at any given moment. Try to focus on that. To get through your ordeal it’s a good idea to engage all your friends to help you and your faith if you have that. Most important of all: never give up.
Available in print Feb 2013
Outer Banks Publishing Group
BISAC: Fiction / Espionage
“I was completely surprized…especially to know only now how this quiet person had gone against all odds, exposed himself to so much danger and took the risk to do something that he believed in and acted upon to bring resolve. I must say that with all that he was going through, he did not show it.” – Heidi Efteckhar Silver, a character in the novel, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK.
Doug Roberts exciting novel, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, came into being with the help of his long-time friend and co-worker, Heidi Efteckhar Silver, who helped him remember a lot of the details of his daring escape from Iran forty years ago. Mrs. Silver, one of the major characters in the book, played an integral part in helping Doug smuggle his then fiance and her mother out of Iran when the secret police, SAVAK, would not allow them to leave. SAVAK watched the family closely because they wanted the family to lead them to the husband and father, who was a human rights activist and lawyer who had escaped a decade earlier. Here is Mrs. Silver’s thoughts on The Man Who Fooled SAVAK.
Q. Not many novels use the names of real people but Doug Roberts in his book The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, portrays you as being a friend and co-worker in the Administrative Services office in the U.S. military advisory unit to Iran, ARMISH/MAAG. I find that rather remarkable.
A. Since Doug’s story is based on a real life experience, it’s great that he has used people’s real names in his story. Most things mentioned in his book did happen. Technology, such as Facebook, also played a big role in Doug being able to find some of the people he had worked with in ARMISH/MAAG, such as myself, and hear more stories from them that made his book more authentic and I am glad I was part of it.
Q. Did you know why Doug was sent to Administrative Services before leaving Iran?
A. I had absolutely no idea. I must say that Captain Seaman and Del, with whom I worked closely had great respect for Doug and kept his ordeal, which was extremely serious, strictly confidential.
A. I found him to be a pleasant fellow, who was very easy to work and get along with. I was completely surprised when I read “The Man Who Fooled Savak,” especially to know only now how this quiet person had gone against all odds, exposed himself to so much danger and took the risk to do something that he believed in and acted upon to bring resolve. I must say that with all that he was going through, he did not show it. He exercised great care in keeping the situation under wrap. This also speaks of Doug’s strong and determined character which is well played out in the book.
Q. What did you think of the book.
A. I thought the book was amazing. When I was reading the book, events played out in front of my eyes. His description of the culture, food, the Iranian way of life and their hospitality is so authentic that it also took my life for a review during those years in Iran. The amazing thing about this book is that Doug, as an American GI, who was stationed in Iran for a brief period of time witnessed the signs of the revolution which came about only a few years later.
Q. Would you recommend this book to your friends.
A. Absolutely. Especially young adults. My own children, who are now young adults, were very small at the time and knew nothing when we had the Iranian Revolution in 1979. This book is not only intriguing and entertaining, but also has a great historical value. During the 2009 uprising, I found myself explaining to my boys, their friends and even some of my friends how all this had come about. Doug has done a great justice in describing what was going on in Iran during the Shah’s reign which lasted nearly 37 years before he was overthrown during the 1979 Revolution. I think those who read this book today will not only be intrigued by the story, but will also learn about Iran and gain great respect for this ancient country, with rich culture and history whose people are kind, friendly and hospitable, but have suffered much in the hands of politics.
Published June 2011
So you wanna get published, right? So you think only a big house can get you anywhere worth getting, right? So, you think you need an agent first thing, right? I thought all these things and have the credentials to prove that I’ve been on a literary journey: English major, Phi Beta Kappa, teacher, professor, MFA degree, literary journal editor, literary prize winner. But no big house and no agent.
Instead, I did what some may think is crazy. I went with a product development company that dabbled in publishing. But my book got out. And I went to work. I have an active public Facebook page that is linked to my Twitter account, a website always under revision as new stuff happens and I write a blog where I try to post at least once a week.
Today’s post that you are reading would have been this essay. But this site begged for it and it’s theirs. But later you may see this post on my blog. Go check out this: How to buy a dress and end up with a book party.
I don’t tweet about my memoir (Re)Making Love: a sex after sixty story much, though some. I don’t blog about my book much, but some: actually, I blogged the book while I lived it—that’s the first crazy-some-say thing I did before the product development company found me—and that accounts for the banner of a blog that deals not with erotica but with literary thought, interviews and essays on writing and books.
Now you’d think a book with this sordid, unconventional history wouldn’t be doing very well, right? And, indeed, I’m not getting rich. But is that what we artists are really about? Okay, a girl could hope but that’s never been the goal: The work will out.
But get this: The small print in the visual of my book on Amazon says, #7 top rated in the Kindle store for Non-Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Arts &literature, Authors. The week before it was #5 behind The Diary of Anne Frank and Steven King’s On Writing.
And guess what: The book party at Upstairs on 7th (aka: “How to buy a dress and get a book party”) resulted in the promise of another book party by one of the women who came. Then I went to dinner with a banker-friend I know and told him what happened. He called his wife and is planning another book party in another dress shop and he’ll be providing the wine.
Is there a moral? Ain’t no good here at morals. But I will say this: If you put your heart and soul into your book and you’ve edited it like crazy with a cool eye, had others eyeball it and critique it, then find a reputable publisher and work—yes that means you—to sell one book at a time. Because like the memoir I wrote, it’s all personal.
PS: Another piece of good news: A new and much more experienced indie publisher has taken my memoir. Be sure to check out the second edition (more edits and a prologue) now from Outer Banks Publishing Group.
(Re)MAKING LOVE: a sex after sixty story, second edition, is available on Amazon, the Kindle, Barnes & Noble, the Nook, iBook, Sony ereader, the Outer Banks Publishing Group Bookstore and in other electronic formats from Smashwords.com.
When I heard this sad story on NPR radio this morning it moved me so much and reminded me of Doug Roberts novel, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, a suspenseful love story based on true events. This is the kind of repression that still pervades a lot of the Middle East today as it did forty years ago when Mr. Roberts staged the successful escape of his fiancé and her mother from a repressive and threatening Iran.
In January of this year in Pakistan, the governor of Punjab province, Salmaan Taseer, who was an outspoken defender of civil rights, was gunned down for criticizing the hardness of Islamic law. He was merely sticking up for a Christian woman who was accused of blaspheming Islam. Her punishment: death.
His daughter, Shehrbano Taseer, is a journalist in Pakistan, and she talks to Steve Inskeep, host of NRP Radio’s Morning Edition, about her father’s legacy and her own fight against extremism.
Here is part of that interview:
“INSKEEP: And it was not that your father committed this alleged act of blasphemy, but merely spoke up for the rights of someone who was accused of blasphemy and asked for her to be accorded mercy. This is what many clerics described as itself being blasphemous.
Ms. TASEER: Yeah, because my father had criticized the law. He had criticized the misuse of the law.
INSKEEP: Did anyone speak up for your father after his murder?
Ms. TASEER: There were three people who believed that this law was being misused and that this was an unfair allegation of blasphemy. There was my father. There was our federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, and there was Syeda Imam, who is a parliamentarian. And she had tabled a bill in the national assembly trying to water down this law and stop the misuse. And two out of three of these people are now dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, our federal minister for minorities, was gunned down outside his mother’s home two months after my father was shot dead.”
You can read the rest of this moving interview or listen to it on the NPR site. And if you want to read more about a similar story with a much different outcome, download a copy of The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, available on the Kindle, Barnes and Noble NOOK, Apple iBooks and in various ereader formats from Smashwords.
Steve Windwalker reported in the blog Kindle Nation Daily that Amazon is well on the way to preparing to launch the device sometime this summer. Here’s what he wrote about the trade-in program.
“It extended its relatively unknown Buyback program, previously associated mostly with textbooks, movies, and video games, to include a wide range of electronics products including the iPad, the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy, the Motorola Xoom, and all kinds of other devices that might — if you could trade them in for a decent sum — prepare the way for you to buy a Kindle tablet, both in terms of the need to replace functionality and the financial wherewithal to make the purchase.”
They actually want you to own their new Kindle Color version knowing full well that owners of iPads and other color tablet like devices wouldn’t buy the new Kindle after shelling out $500+ for their current iPad or similar device.
It’s another marketing first for Amazon to grab the lion’s share of the spawning tablet market, and I’m sure it won’t be their last.
You can also read Amazon’s press release about the trade-in program on Steve’s post on Kindle Nation Daily.
Congrats to Amanda Hocking for using a traditional publisher to further her writing career. She did the right thing seeking out a traditional publisher and the reason is clear – she wants to be a writer – not a book marketer, editor, designer and distributor.
The caveat here is her content. She has the content that sells – when she writes, it sells. She can afford to give away a large piece of her royalties so she can spend more time writing.
So should every self-published author seek out traditional publishers for their work. Maybe, yes and maybe, no. Some authors like JA Konrath took the reverse course – he went from traditional publishers to self-publishing because he could get a bigger piece of the publishing pie, especially on his traditionally-published books that went out of print. Even luminary Stephen King experimented with self-publishing a few years back.
A new trend is emerging as traditional publishers go digital. Currently, a self-published author could get their work in front of more people as an eBook than a printed book. This is still true, but as more and more traditional publishers go digital, they can offer both – significant eBook exposure as well as print book distribution. They will take a larger piece of the pie, but if your work is selling well, it is worth going with a traditional publisher.
Here’s the Amanda Hocking story from The New York Times.
If any writer proved that modern self-publishing could be a pretty sweet deal, it was Amanda Hocking.
Amanda Hocking, who has self-published nine books.
In the past year Ms. Hocking, a 26-year-old from Minnesota, became an indie heroine in the literary world for publishing nine books that sold a total of more than one million copies, nearly all of them in e-book form, earning almost $2 million for her efforts.
But for Ms. Hocking, self-publishing has had its limits. On Thursday she announced that she had sold a four-book series to St. Martin’s Press, ending a frenzied weeklong auction that involved nearly every major publisher in the business, including Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins.
St. Martin’s, part of Macmillan, paid more than $2 million for the world English rights to the “Watersong” series, Ms. Hocking’s latest books in the young-adult paranormal genre. >more
We just received this newsletter from a new site called kindlelendingclub.com launched by Amazon last December.
If you have a Kindle or any of the Kindle reading apps (Kindle for PC, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for Blackberry, etc.) you can go to the site, sign up and borrow any Kindle book that has lending enabled.
The book will then be loaned to you for 14 days and then automatically transferred back to the original owner.
What we found interesting is the lending trends reported by the site in the following newsletter and the 25 most wanted books.
In light of the demographics (females between 35 and 55) we would have thought romance novels would be the leading lending genre. However, here’s what they reported.
The 25 Most Wanted
Literary fiction, the paranormal, sci fi, crime fiction, thrillers and even a memoir about a comedian’s one-night stands; it seems like KindleLendingClub.com readers (who tend to be female and between 35 and 55 years of age) are borrowing anything but traditional romance in the lead up to Valentine’s Day 2011.
While Amanda Hocking’s vampire and paranormal romances for young adults remain perennially popular, only two of the top 25 most requested books are traditional romance novels: A Season to be Sinful, by Jo Goodman, and Terry Spear’s An Accidental Highland Hero.
(Another interesting trend we saw last week as well? Eight of the 25 titles fall under the umbrella of young adult fiction.)
KindleLendingClub.com Most Wanted – Week of January 30, 2011:
1. The Hangman’s Daughter, by Oliver Pötzsch
2. Water for Elephants: A Novel, by Sara Gruen
3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
4. Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1), by Amanda Hocking
5. Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich
6. Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins
7. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins
8. Heart of the Matter, by Emily Giffin
9. My Horizontal Life, by Chelsea Handler
10. My Blood Approves, by Amanda Hocking
11. The Lover’s Dictionary: A Novel, by David Levithan
12. Freedom: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club), by Jonathan Franzen
13. The Templar Concordat, by Terrence O’Brien
14. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
15. We Interrupt This Date, by L.C. Evans
16. A Season To Be Sinful, by Jo Goodman
17. Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich
18. Favorite, by Karen McQuestion
19. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, by Kevin Malarkey
20. Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3), by Amanda Hocking
21. Ender in Exile, by Orson Scott Card
22. Crossing Oceans, by Gina Holmes
23. Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
24. Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah
25. The Accidental Highland Hero, by Terry Spear
As more and more authors turn to self-publishing, a new trend is emerging that may benefit publishers as well as authors.
According to an article in The Star-Telegram online written by Alex Pham of The Los Angeles Times,
“Joe Konrath can’t wait for his books to go out of print.
When that happens, the 40-year-old crime novelist plans to reclaim the copyrights from his publisher, Hyperion Books, and self-publish them on Amazon.com, Apple’s iBooks and other online outlets. That way he’ll be able to collect 70 percent of the sale price, compared with the 6 to 18 percent he receives from Hyperion.
As for future novels, Konrath plans to self-publish all of them in digital form without having to leave his house in Schaumburg, Ill.
‘I doubt I’ll ever have another traditional print deal,’ said the author of Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary and other titles. ‘I can earn more money on my own.'”
Mr. Pham goes on to write, “It’s difficult to gauge just how many authors are dumping their publishing houses to self-publish online, though for now, the overall share remains small. But hardly a month goes by without a well-known writer taking the leap or declaring an intention to do so.”
However, Mr. Konrath is one of the exceptions to successful self-publishing because his fan base was primarily created by the marketing and distribution efforts of traditional publishing houses.
Does that mean an author needs to be published by a traditional publishing house to be successful later in self-publishing?
Not at all.
As an aspiring or first-book author who is relatively unknown, you need to market your work to where people seek, read, recommend and review books – in social media: Facebook, Twitter, NING, Linkedin, Foursquare, Goodreads, and all the other social networking sites out there.
There is only one problem. By the time you learn how to effectively market your work on all the social media, you may be in an old-age home especially if you are not so computer savvy. Besides, when would you have time to write another book?
Most authors just want to write. They don’t want to wear six or seven hats and be the marketing guru, the sales superstar or the promotional genius.
This is where publishers can get their own surf board and ride the same wave as Mr. Konrath. But some are just standing up on their boards, others are knelling and most don’t even see the social media wave.
Publishers can offer social networking services, electronic distribution and all the perks of traditional publishing to authors in digital and electronic form. This is a wave that is coming whether publishers like it or not so the best strategy is to make sure to have a surf board and to look out over the horizon. This publisher is certainly standing on his surf board poised to ride the next giant wave.
I am not surprised that Google will launch it’s own electronic book venture called Google Editions. After all, why were they scanning every book ever published into digital form?
The Wall Street Journal and numerous other major publications, blogs and websites reported that Google is now nearing the launch of its massive new ebook venture and they hope to launch this year.
Instead of building another boat to navigate the ebook waters, they are diving into the water and going with the flow. Google says its books will not be tied to one particular device like a Kindle or iPad, but their books will be accessible from any device with an Internet connection.
Google is not running against the current trying to sell their own reading device with its own ebook store. Instead, they are the current ready to sell books to any device, in any format as long as those devices have a connection to the Internet.
And they won’t have just one web site where you have to go to buy their books, they will have unlimited websites paying commissions to anyone who directs traffic to a Google Editions book using the same model as their Google ads.
And some observers think they may have a competitive advantage over the other Titans in the electronic book publishing market.
It will be interesting to see which Titan comes out on top: Amazon, Apple or Google.
Take a look at the video for more – Rex Crum talks with Amir Efrati of the Wall Street Journal about what Google’s entry means for the online book market.
by Manisha on November 12, 2010
Market research firm Forrester has estimated e-book sales to touch the 1 billion mark by end 2010 in US and to triple by 2015!
Although only 7% of the 4000 people surveyed by Forrester actually read e-books these few are probably the most important ones reading 41% of their books in the digital form and buying books by the heaps.
In what might be viewed as a pat on the back for Kindle, it has surfaced as the most popular e-reader (32%), followed by Apple iPhone, Sony e-reader and Dell notebook and finishing a close second to the ubiquitous laptop in the Forrester findings.
Doing 66% of their reading in the digital form, Kindle users have emerged as the most avid e-book patriots and as if on a cue Kindle has already announced the flipping of its revenue sharing agreement with its publishers which we covered right here for you.
The findings could be a wake-up call for the tentative publisher yet to decide on whether to go digital with his next publication-the writing seems clear on the wall though-and before paperback becomes old hat it’s time to cash in on the promising prospect of e-books as unveiled by Forrester.
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In an unprecedented move, the Wiley Literary Agency struck a deal with Amazon to publish 20 classic titles as ebooks on the Kindle. According to reports, this is the first time a literary agency moved into the publishing business.
Will this be a trend as agencies struggle to survive in the dwindling print market? It might be. An agency would sign on an author, retain electronic publishing rights and then sell print rights to traditional publishers.
Agency revenues would increase considerably for ebooks, especially with the current structure where agencies only receive 15% of the author’s royalties.
However, the big question is will traditional publishers go along with this scenario or refuse to publish an author unless they retain electronic rights?
Will this be beneficial to authors?
Read Stephen Windwalker’s column for more information on this emerging development.
Read the report from The New York Times.
Now that Borders has entered the ebook revolution, we will also see lower ebook prices and market pressure to lower the cost of ebook readers.
From The Wall Street Journal – July 8, 2010
By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG
Intent on catching up in the fast-evolving e-book arena, retailer Borders Group Inc. is launching an e-bookstore with titles provided by Kobo Inc., the Canadian e-book retailer in which it has an investment stake.
The nation’s second-largest bookstore chain in sales, Borders, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., acquired the stake in December and said Kobo would provide e-books for sale on Borders.com.
For consumers, the entrance of Borders into the e-book marketplace may mean lower prices on some titles. More>
It was only a matter of time. Did you think Amazon would sit back and let Apple steal its thunder from the Kindle? I predict based on the following New York Times blog post, that we will see an iPad-like device from Amazon by the end of this year or early next year. What do you think?
From The New York Times blog, Bits, May 17, 2010, 3:42 pm
By NICK BILTON
Since Apple announced its plans for the iPad, Amazon has shared few details about how it would respond to the competition for its Kindle. But over the last few weeks, it has offered some more clues.
Lab 126, the division of Amazon responsible for building the Kindle, has been on a hiring binge, with dozens of new job listings on its Web site. Some are positions for testing and readying new products. And this suggests that the company might be preparing a new device. More >>
We hear it all the time. The electronic book readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s eReader are going to be the downfall of printed books. If you believe that you may have been one of the folks in Columbus’ day who believed the world was flat. Don’t worry. It won’t happen at least for a very long time.
The eReaders are just another distribution channel for books. If anything, eReaders are going to allow more people to access more content than ever before. We hear it from Kindle owners all the time that their Kindles are maxed out – they cannot fit anymore books on these devices. Luckily for them Amazon allows users to store books online on their Kindle account. They just have to switch them out from the account to the Kindle. And people with mobile devices like phones and PDAs are only limited by the amount of memory in those devices.
Well, for all those people out there who don’t like change, book eReaders and other mobile reading devices like the iPhone, iTouch, Blackberry, Palm Pilot and the entire family of Windows Mobile software devices are here to stay. Whether you passively ignore these devices or actively denounce them, the eReader trend is coming at you like a steam roller and there is nothing you can do. Go with the flow or be flattened.
A case in point is Amazon’s launch of the European version of the Kindle (See the story on Bloomberg.com). Before the launch, Europeans had to settle for the American Kindle version and could only download books after they downloaded them to their PCs. Now they can download books wirelessly directly to the Kindle in more than 100 countries all over Europe. Now Europeans like us Americans only have to think of a book and in less than 60 seconds they will have the entire book ready to read on their Kindles.
And according to TIME online, “2009 is a breakout year for e-readers,” says Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research. “But we’re still in the early stages.”
More than 17 Kindle-competitors are already on the market or expected to hit the market by 2010, according to TIME. The major players include Apple and Microsoft, Asustek, a Taiwanese company, Samsung, LG, IREX, Interead and Fujitsu with a full color e-ink display.
Cool technology. Disruptive technology. Revolutionary technology. The voices are clear.
So what does it all mean for our rich literary legacy? Will our literary future simply morph into something unrecognizable? Will it vanish completely? Maybe. Young people are writing novels on cell phones in Japan. Several authors have attempted to write and serialize novels on Twitter. Hundreds of books were first written on blogs and then turned into full length books in print.
Most young people don’t read books; older people read books. Females read more books than males. A whole new language has been created for texting that uses mostly acronyms and makes understanding shorthand a cake walk.
Again allay your fears.
Clive Thompson, a writer for Wired Magazine, reported in the September 2009 article, “Clive Thompson on the New Literacy,” that a college professor found just the opposite – that young people are much more prolific than their parents and grandparents.
“Andrea Lunsford isn’t so sure. Lunsford is a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University, where she has organized a mammoth project called the Stanford Study of Writing to scrutinize college students’ prose. From 2001 to 2006, she collected 14,672 student writing samples—everything from in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions. Her conclusions are stirring.
“I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization,” she says. For Lunsford, technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.
The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That’s because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.
It’s almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn’t a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they’d leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.”
She’s right about technology “pushing our literacy in bold new directions” – everything written is shorter, faster, more efficient. Books are shorter; chapters are shorter to reflect everyone’s busier, faster lifestyle and the writing is concise and targeted written to get to the point quickly and efficiently.
Even Daniel Menaker, the former Executive Editor-in-Chief of Random House and fiction editor of The New Yorker laments about the Internet in his article, “Radactor Agonisties” in the Barnes and Noble Review.
“(Speaking of shortness, the attention-distraction of the Internet and the intrusion of work into everyday life, by means of electronic devices, appear to me to have worked, maybe on a subliminal level, to reduce the length of the average trade hardcover book.)”
Does that mean we will never see great classics like Charles Dicken’s, A Christmas Carol or Great Expectations? On the contrary. Writers are the bellwethers of our time, and their writings will reflect our lifestyles, our cultures, and our pace of living. Besides, when was the last time a friend proclaimed, “I just finished, War and Peace, and now I can start David Copperfield.”
While books may be shorter, there will always be classics some already written, some to be written, whether they are traveling at light speed as zeros and ones over the airwaves or inked permanently onto the printed page.