ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

New Tech, New Wants

A Sony WM-FX421 Walkman, for stereo cassettes.

Sony WM-FX421 Walkman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Technology creates our needs faster than it satisfies them. (Kevin Kelly)

My Monday morning muse for your ruminating pleasure is actually not mine at all. It’s a quotation from Kevin Kelly’s 1998  New Rules for the New Economy. No longer new, of course, but if you missed out before you’ll find that it’s still relevant and eerily prescient. And did I mention that the blog version lives on his website? And that it’s free?

According to Kelly, we’re hurtling forward, inventing technologies to satisfy our desires and — in the process —  discovering new desires.

Our wants are compounding exponentially… technology creates ever new opportunities for those desires to find outlets and form. (Kevin Kelly

Although the illustrative example, a $50 Sony Walkman (remember cassette tapes?), seems practically ancient, I can’t help but transpose an iPad or even a Kindle Fire.

When a merchant sells a consumer a new Sony Walkman for $50, he is in fact creating far more demand than he is satisfying–in this case a continuing and potentially unlimited need for tape cassettes and batteries. (Paul Pilzer)

Transposed for the digital age:

When a merchant sells a consumer an iPad, he is in fact creating far more demand than he is satisfying–in this case a continuing and potentially unlimited need for digital products (ebooks, videos, games, apps, etc.), physical accessories (from practical screen protectors and card readers to fashion carrying cases), non-physical accessories (warranty extensions, maintenance contracts, customer support, etc.), software updates/upgrades, and–let’s be totally honest–hardware upgrades because sexy new models with more memory, faster processors, longer lasting batteries and retina displays are the MSG that keeps consumers coming back for more!

With writers, publishers, editors, agents and booksellers wandering the Wild West known as the Post-Gutenberg Paradigm, it’s more evident than ever that technology creates more demand than it satisfies. Increasingly tech-centric publishing and storytelling is catalyzing an avalanche of new non-book formats to satisfy consumer demands. New options are invented daily, and yet we’re only beginning to glimpse the world of storytelling possibilities around the corner. Technology is simultaneously sating and creating new demand, seeding storytelling innovation and inventing new consumer desires… Suppose I’m bullish on storytelling in the digital age?!?!

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

Amazon lending up to 300k e-books per month (image via VatorNews)

Image via VatorNews

When Amazon launched Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, their free e-book lending library back in November it was a concept, a gamble, a challenge.

Amazon unveiled a long-rumored “Netflix-for-books” digital lending library Wednesday. Via yet another enhancement for Amazon Prime, subscribers who also own Kindles can borrow one (and only one) book per month from about 5,000 available titles. (

Less than three months later it’s taken off, and its potential is just beginning to take shape.

According to the company, customers borrowed nearly 300,000 (295,000 to be exact) KDP Select titles in December alone, and KDP Select has helped grow the total library selection. With the $500,000 December fund, KDP authors have earned $1.70 per borrow. In response to strong customer adoption of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Amazon says it has added a $200,000 bonus to the January KDP Select fund, raising the total pool from $500,000 to $700,000 for authors. (TechCrunch)

Who knew libraries would profit indie authors in the digital age? Another encouraging indicator for storytelling buskers… Sure Amazon’s free e-books (like their free videos) are incentives to sell Kindles and Amazon Prime, but the numbers are encouraging at a time when writers are gushing content virtually uncompensated.

Am I gushing? Yes. Am I habitually, unabashedly pollyanna-ish? Yes! But I can’t help getting excited (and optimistic) about what this means for indie authors. I understand that Amazon’s motives are market dominance and an eventual payday, but there’s a fascinating shift afoot, and from the vantage of a latter day storyteller, it opens up exciting new opportunities fellow narrative crafters. KDP Select is starting to look a lot more inviting, right?

Amazon this morning announced that it has set up a $6 million annual fund dedicated to independent authors and publishers. Dubbed KDP Select, the fund aims to let indie authors and publishers “make money in a whole new way”… [When] a KDP author or publisher chooses to make any of their books exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those books are eligible to be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of the KDP Select fund. (TechCrunch)

Of course, not everyone’s happy, and I suspect that it may be a couple of years before we can accurately evaluate the impact this will have on traditional publishers and authors. Plenty of cynics and skeptics are offering doomsday prophecies, but this warning in particular gives me pause, reminding me not to leap before I know how high the tide.

The Author’s Guild attacked Amazon after the Kindle Lending Library was announced, claiming that the program (in which Amazon actually purchases a copy of the book at cost to itself) “appears to be boldly breaching its contracts with these publishers. This is an exercise of brute economic power.” (HotHardware)

Brute economic power for sure, and risks abound, but at this early way station it looks like at least some authors are profiting.

Rachel Yu, a 16 year-old high school student, earned $6,200 in December from e-books she wrote and published via a related Amazon initiative called KDP Select… her children’s books, including titles such as “The Magical Dragon’s Three Gifts,” were among the most borrowed through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. (MediaFile)

Although this prodigy is still too young to enroll directly in the program, her parents fronted her success, suggesting that the KDP Select must be family-friendly and tolerant of round pegs in square holes. Not necessarily a common description for traditional publishing

Carolyn McCray, a writer of paranormal romance novels, historical thrillers and mysteries, earned $8,250 from the KDP Select fund in December. “KDP Select truly is a career altering program,” said McCray. “I couldn’t be happier with the tools, support and exposure it has given me. To say the trade-off of exclusivity on Amazon for the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library has been a profitable one would be a gross understatement. Participating in KDP Select has quadrupled my royalties.” (TechJournal South)

Amber Scott is a romance writer and earned $7,650 from the KDP Select fund in December. “Enrolling in KDP Select utterly transformed my career,” said Scott. “I’ve experienced not only a surge in royalties but a surge in readership thanks to the increased exposure. I love the chance to earn new readers through the innovation of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. What an exciting time to be an author.” (TechJournal South)

Three inspiring stories don’t define a rule, but the picture is promising. Where from here? I suspect the numbers from January will be exciting too, especially considering how many Kindles allegedly sold in the holiday fervor. Vice President of Kindle Content, Russ Grandinetti, touched on the proven marketing potential of offering free e-books through the Kindle library.

“We knew customers would love having KDP Select titles in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. But we’ve been surprised by how much paid sales of those same titles increased, even relative to the rest of KDP.” (eBookNewser)

Perhaps the digital age will see a return to busking and libraries. I hope so. And our first glimpse of Kindle Owners’ Lending Library invites optimism.

How to Format an EPub

English: A woman cuddling a pile of digital de...

Image via Wikipedia

Ready to turn your damned-good-doggerel into an ebook? Or that collection of your grandmother’s delicious desserts? These “Six eBook Formatting Tools” from eBookNewser will get you started:

  • Calibre: This free tool will let you create an eBook for all of the major eReaders, including Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony eReaders as well as a bunch of others. You can transform news from websites into readable files on eReaders and even make DRM-free eBooks. But note that it does not support Word files.
  • Aspose: Using Aspose.Word plugin, you can convert a Word file into an ePub file. It is a pay service, but you can test drive the application with a free trial.
  • Mobi Pocket: This free tool lets you create an eBook from HTML and Word and image files. Image files –GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP– get automatically optimized for a PDA viewer.
  • Jutoh:This $39 tool lets you make books for Kindle, iBooks and Nook, among other formats. It can ePub, .mobi, .txt and .odt files through its in app text editor. It works in Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • This free tool lets you create your own ePub, Kindle and PDF files from within its software platform.
  • BookGlutton: This free tool lets you turn HTML books into ePub files

Did I miss your favorite ebook creation tool? Please tell me about it, and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

Kindle Library Lending & Marginalia

Holy mackerel! Amazon is closing the marginalia gap that I’ve fretted over and soapboxed/dreamed about. With “Library Lending for Kindle Books” Amazon is partnering with OverDrive to offer the next big leap in digital books: library-ification of ebooks. But hidden in this evolution is the top item on my wish list, ebook marginalia.

“We’re doing a little something extra here,” Marine continued. “Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we’re extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced.” (Kindle Nation Daily)

As Mike Cane opines, “Well, if there was any doubt Amazon has totally vanquished everyone else, there’s no doubt now.” Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) the marginalia is user specific, so the next borrower won’t be able sift through your clever comments. But wouldn’t it be nice/handy if we could give others access to our marginalia? It should be quick, easy and fun to share my marginalia with others!

Digital storytelling must develop the potential for annotation and marginalia that print books permit. And it will be important to devise innovative ways for readers/consumers to share this marginalia. I know this sounds scary, and it poses real challenges (intellectual property rights, etc.), but it is inevitable and good. And it will unleash a viral potential heretofore unfathomable, not to mention the pedagogical implications.

Think, for example, of a teacher who lets students see/use her margin notes, etc. Or imagine the voyeuristic pleasure of observing the notes, doodles and underlining of an admired thinker or writer…

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Is the Best E-Reader No E-Reader?

To e-read or not to e-read, that is the question!

Following up on on his column over at yesterday about Barnes & Noble’s new Nookcolor e-reader, Harry McCracken offers a timely, Christmas-shoppers-take-note alternative to both the Kindle and the Nook.

You could choose to buy no e-reader at all…  both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are rolling out applications that bring their e-book stores to phones and other gadgets…’s app selection is particularly bountiful: It has ones for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Windows, and OS X. Barnes & Noble has ones for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows. They’re not comprehensive recreations… But all the apps are free, and they all work on one or more devices you already own… I do most of my e-reading on other devices. And my single most-used e-reading device is my iPhone, simply because I take it with me nearly everywhere and can dip into any e-book I own in seconds, often while I’m doing something else at the same time… Both companies also have synching technologies that keep track of where you are in a particular tome: I can read a few pages on an iPhone, pick up on my Mac, and then finish a book on an actual Kindle. And I do, frequently.(

Sorry, economy, but Harry’s on to something. Something good. Something smart. Especially for newbies to the digital reading experience. Try it out on hardware you already own. Figure out if you like it. Or still miss books printed on trees. Get your feet wet. Buy nothing. Save your money for nachos. And an airplane ticket to lands exotic. Happy reading…

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Kindle 3: The Book as Bong Hit?

Kindle 3: e-book readers come of age

Have you been debating the best e-reader to buy? Wondering if this is just a bizarre fad or the future or reading? iPad, Nook, Kindle? Here are a few choice samplings from Ars Technica’s review of the Amazon Kindle 3.

During a stint in California, I once wandered into a ramshackle San Diego bookstore and began browsing the back shelves in search of dusty treasures. After some time, the owner—who appeared to be an aging hippie—popped up at my side like an apparition, giving me a terrific start. He talked at me about his store. “I don’t sell books,” he said, leaning uncomfortably close. “I smell books.” To prove his point, he took a volume off the shelf, pulled it to his nostrils, and inhaled deeply, lovingly, bibliophilically—the book as bong hit.

It’s not all good news. The Kindle interface still feels like something that escaped from 1985 and time-traveled into the future. Text-based interface with no mouse or touchscreen? Black-and-white screen? Small delays between issuing commands and seeing their results? Check, check, and check—and if you try to do much with the Kindle beyond straight, front-to-back reading, these limitations will feel… limiting.

All the same words were there, but the experience was strangely sterile. My California booksmeller would have understood. Whatever e-books are and however useful they may be, they aren’t “books.” Instead, we get the content with little to no attention to form and to design. Everything about a book is distilled into odorless words; all else is waste to be thrown away.

Perhaps the reader of the future won’t look like a Kindle, but more like a multifunction tablet (think iPad or even the new Barnes & Noble Nook). In either case, both classes of devices are now good enough, and the content is finally varied enough, that it’s possible to envision the wholesale shift to digital texts. Plenty will be lost—including the smell—but so much will be gained… Book lovers will mourn the change and carp endlessly about typography, design, cover art, and the facing page format, but music and movies have already showed us that people will make the switch to digital convenience even at the expense of quality.

via Ars Technica

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Self-Publish with Borders and Barnes & Noble

The publishing industry’s changing landscape (

Not to be outdone by Amazon, Borders and Barnes & Noble have entered the publishing racket.

Earlier this month Barnes & Noble launched a self-publishing platform called PubIt! that will compete directly with Amazon CreateSpace and indirectly with Apple’s iBookstore.

In an attempt to do for indie writers what InstantAction has done for indie game developers,… the world’s largest bookseller is hoping to expand its importance in the digital realm by giving wannabe authors the ability to upload and sell their material through B&N’s website and eBookstore… the real kicker here is this won’t be limited to the Nook; pretty much any e-reader, tablet or PC will be able to tap in and make purchases, so the potential audience is quite large. (engadget)

Of course, Kindle too ensured that their electronic books are universally accessible by developing apps that work across devices and platforms, but B&N’s open publishing model is smart. Sure, Nook has been a bit of a sleeper next to the Kindle, and B&N doesn’t want to limit the potential market (or perception) by being number two in the reader market. Or number three when the iPad is thrown into the mix? Whatever the logic guiding this policy, it’s welcome and overdue. Limiting media to Kindle or iPad, though lucrative in the short run, is a major turnoff for the consumer. It’s like saying, “Here, buy our glossy print book, but you can only read it at home. Not at work. Not on vacation. Not on the bus. At home!” Okay, so it’s not exactly like that, but it is perceived as unnecessarily restrictive. And if B&N can manage to open up the electronic publishing industry, I’m confident that consumers (and authors) will respond.

Okay, enough prattling and jab-jab-jabberwocky… What’s the bottom line?

[PubIt!] is essentially designed to give independent writers a venue for hawking their masterpieces, with PubIt! converting files to ePUB for use on a wide range of e-readers… Published titles will be available for sale within 24 to 72 hours after upload on the B&N eBookstore, and the company’s pretty proud of its “no hidden fees” policy… PubIt! ebooks will also be lendable for a fortnight… (engadget)

Inevitable, but no less exciting, Borders has announced that they want a piece of the indie action too. Their self-publishing platform, Borders Get Published, appears to be a joint venture with BookBrewer (the blog-to-ebook folks) and is scheduled to launch on Monday.

Using the service, authors can publish and sell eBooks through the Borders eBook store, as well as other partner eBook retailers… Authors can sell works of any length and chose [sic] the price within a price range set by the retailer. Authors can add content by typing in the platform, by copying and pasting it into an online form, or content can be fed from an existing website or blog. The content will be saved as an ePub file.

There are two tiers of pricing for those looking to get published –$89.99 and $199.99. Under the basic package, BookBrewer will assign the book an ISBN and make it available to major eBook stores at a price set by the writer. Royalties will be based on sales and will vary with each retailer. The higher priced package comes with a full version of the ePub file, that authors can share with friends, family and press and submit to other eBook stores. (

Exciting times. Unless you’re in the traditional publishing industry, I would think. It’s a little surreal that the new publishing map is being hashed up by retail/distribution power players while traditional publishers sit idly by worrying, griping, soap boxing and nay saying. I have to believe that earth shattering innovations are in the offing from the Big Six, right? I mean, these are smart, powerful companies. They won’t just sit back and watch as the new guys gobble up their lunch, dinner and cocktails! Or will they?

While print book sales continue to decline, e-book sales are up 192.9% this year to date, according to figures gathered from 14 publishers by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). E-books now make up 9% of all trade sales in the U.S.; last year, they made up a mere 3.3%. E-book sales have reined in $263 million thus far in 2010, and $39 million in August alone — a 172.4% increase over last year’s sales numbers. Meanwhile, sales of paperback and hardcover books continue to decline across the board… ( Mashable )

The publishing industry is shifting so rapidly that it’s still difficult to anticipate what tomorrow will look like. I suspect that a decade from now we’ll have an entirely new understanding of media creation, publication, distribution and curatorship. And I hope that it will be a more open, less top-down model. Just as there’s reason to worry that a shift will not necessarily amount to progress, there’s ample reason for optimism. I’m sticking with Pollyanna!


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Thus Spoke Seth Godin

In the still buzzing world of “Seth Godin versus print publishing” much has been said in favor and against Godin’s announcement that he will no longer publish books traditionally. I’ve been fascinated with the debate. I’m an unabashed neophyte in the world of agents, editors, publishers and book retail, and I profess to know little as a still-hopeful in the world of publishing. But I’m a fan of Godin’s ideas, energy and quasi oracular vision, and I’ve been fascinated with digital storytelling in its diverse and perennially morphing potential for a decade.

Back in the shadow of Y2K I lead a workshop in Paris for teachers called Storytelling in the Digital Age that explored the merits of (and methods for) embracing new narrative media in the classroom. That workshop evolved into a semester-long elective for high school students at the American School of Paris, exploring the roots and evolution of storytelling while developing a methodology for digital narrative craft. Remember, those were heady days when Dana Atchley was at the peak of his all too short life.

It’s stunning how much has changed since then. Staggering. And not a little scary (ie: “One Dark Side of Publishing Changes“) either… But it’s also thrilling and exhilarating! And inevitable. Though not everyone agrees on this last point. In evidence, consider this poignant request from the sage, book loving Gail Hyatt:

It’s true that things are changing drastically in the world of words and ideas. Nobody knows this better than you. You’re a big reason. The possibilities are being realized faster than we can absorb them. However, in my opinion, the end of traditional publishing has not yet come. Not at all. It has a most crucial and vital part to play in feeding our souls and our minds and challenging us to change our lives. I see this fleshed out in my own home. Mike’s chair is the perfect example. Propped in the seat is his laptop, waiting to be awakened for the day. The iPad is perched on the side table next to THE DIP and the highlighter, and the is Kindle peaking up from his briefcase on the floor waiting to be compared to the newest Kindle which will arrive sometime today. I want to encourage to rethink this “quitting.” You say one has to know when to quit and when to stick. Don’t quit that which is obviously sticking. You and your works have a place in our lives that will never be unstuck and we’re very grateful for that. I think your best work is yet to come … and that’s saying A LOT! Maybe not right now. Maybe it needs to ferment for several years. Who knows? All I hope is that, when it does come, you don’t quit and you give it to us in every form possible—especially traditional publishing. Please reconsider. (The Treasure Hunt, by Gail Hyatt)

And while Gail Hyatt is begging Seth Godin not to quit, many others are excoriating and chastising him for his decision. Fortunately, there are also some level heads approaching Godin’s announcement with a more metered, more academic interest. For instance, Mitch Joel shares the feedback from his literary agent, James Levine, regarding four critical considerations for other writers considering emulating Seth Godin:

  • Fan base. Must be fanatic, very large, and inclined to read the author’s works in digital format. This won’t work right out the gate for authors whose main following is in print.
  • Marketing savvy and support. Aside from being very smart about marketing, the author needs to have the staff in place to execute, execute, execute, daily, daily, daily. Many authors will underestimate how expensive and time consuming this is.
  • Long term money goals. The author needs to be able/willing to forego the short-term guarantee from a publisher [known as “the advance”] and bet on long term sales direct from consumers (the per unit revenue to the author is much bigger when the author acts as the publisher).
  • Platforms. It’s important to realize that this approach will make the most sense for authors who make most of their money by speaking/consulting to business audiences. In this sense, books are a form of advertising for the more lucrative services provided by these authors. (“You Are Not Seth Godin“)

Joel adds two further essentials: a top flight editor and a team of performance driven sales reps. Starting to sound like going the Seth Godin way involves launching your own publishing company? To some degree, yes! Joel goes on to remind us that Godin’s ability to make this brave decision nevertheless relies on more than these parts. Godin tirelessly invested “decades of doing tons of things… that all had him in direct connection with the people who will buy his books from him, talk about it to their peers and evangelize his always-brilliant thinking.” In short,Godin has a world class platform. Do you?

What Seth, The Wall Street Journal, the book publishing industry and the literary agents aren’t telling you is that you can – in fact – be just like Seth Godin. These Digital Marketing channels are here for you (and they’re free – if you don’t count the time you need to put into them). In text, images, audio and video you too can publish how you think to the world… instantly. You too can share with others, build relationships and get your ideas to spread. You do not have to rely solely on mass media to help spread the word. And, you’ll know in short order, if your idea has traction… and you’ll be able to track how that idea spreads and connects.

In the end, you are not Seth Godin, but you can be. (“You Are Not Seth Godin“)

In Seth Godin’s words, “The business race is on to have the relationship with the reader.” According to Mark Coker (CEO of Smashwords) “the distribution advantage of having new titles in bricks-and-mortar bookstores will have to be weighed against the potential financial advantage of retaining ownership of a new book and distributing it as an e-book or on a print-on-demand basis.” Makes sense, right?

But others argue that this misses the point. Joel J. Miller argues that Godin has misunderstood “what traditional publishing is about. We sell books to people who love them, to people who crave them, who love bookstores, who love reading…” True. And you sell books to lots of other people who don’t love them but need them, rely upon them, etc. And you may be missing an opportunity to sell books to lots of people who simply haven’t considered buying them because they don’t love them, don’t need them, don’t rely upon them, etc. Right? Wrong, says Miller.

Godin’s basic misapprehension is that people don’t like books. There are billions of dollars exchanged every year that say differently. If you’re a reader, your own habits probably say differently. Mine do.

The second misapprehension is that books are a clunky way to deliver and spread ideas… For people who love them, there are few things more elegant or efficient than books…

A third misapprehension is not Godin’s fault. It’s our own. Godin’s personal business model is perhaps set up for him to succeed with this independent adventure. Good for him. Most authors, however, are not set up to go it alone. Likewise, most publishers are not set up to translate many of Godin’s ideas into their models. As authors and publishers, we should spend more time trying to please our customers than trying to justify ourselves to, or square our practices with, Seth Godin. (“What Godin gets wrong“)

I think this last issue is probably true. At least until the new digital publishing industry matures and begins to offer plug and play solutions to many of the challenges an indie author would encounter. And true too that most traditional publishers aren’t equipped to learn/adopt much from Godin.

But the first two “misapprehensions” strike me as somewhat naive. Sure, some people like and will continue to buy books, and many of those book buyers do indeed consider print books to be elegant and efficient. I am one of those book buyers. I love books. I will always love books. But that’s not the point.

I also love wine, and I am particularly fond of the ritual of opening a good bottle of wine. Cutting the foil is like breaking the wax seal on a letter or document, bold and permanent and assertive yet beautiful and not a little poignant. Once the foil or leading is trimmed away tidily, there’s no greater satisfaction that removing the cork from an aged but well maintained bottled of wine, each twist of the corkscrew adding to the anticipation…

It’s easy to romance wine corks. It’s easy to romance books. And with luck and sufficient numbers of passionate book and wine consumers, we’ll be able to enjoy both for a long time into the future. But screw caps, with all of their oenological, environmental and economic logic are making rapid inroads, and the likelihood of screwcaps gradually eclipsing corks is increasing with every vendange. The point isn’t that some of us prefer corks, but that the industry is changing because there’s greater oenological, environmental and economic value in screwing than corking! Does that mean that corking is dead? Probably not. But it’s likely to become exceptional, less widely available, and more expensive. Miller seems to miss this inevitability.

Literature is like running. It’s not for everyone, but for people who love it stopping after four blocks fails to satisfy. There are miles to go. It’s immersive. It’s also time consuming, but real readers are like real runners; you settle into a good pace and time evaporates. People whose primary reading is Facebook and street signs might not get that. Fine. Selling books to them is a waste of time and effort. Thank God that’s not the task before publishers. (“What Godin gets wrong“)

Whether or not literature and running are similar is a dabble for another day, but it’s clear to me that Miller’s off target. The shifting of the publishing industry from print to digital isn’t about those who love books, love running or love corks in their wine bottles. And if his oversimplified notion that the digital alternative to elegantly bound tomes is blog posts and Facebook, then it’s no wonder he’s confused and concerned. We’re at the dawn of digital publishing. The user-friendly innovations that will propel digital content into the next century aren’t even dreamed up yet. NookKindleVook, etc. are mere prototypes for the next generation of content conveyances. But they are already considerably more evolved and useful as digital publishing platforms than blogs and Facebook!

Clinging to an industry which has largely grown obsolete is lamentable, but failing to recognize the inevitability of the shift and failing to recognize the enormous potential represented by the shift is indeed naive. Let’s be frank and honest; the publishing industry not only resisted change, it kept its head in the sand for far too long. This change isn’t happening overnight. It isn’t an unanticipated fluke. It’s been a gradual evolution, the slowly building wave that only recently has started to crest!

The music industry offered possibly the best case study and the most abundant lessons. If the Big Six had studied the music industry over the last decade and adapted the most successful lessons, they’d be surfing the wave now instead of paddling like mad! But the music industry is only one example. Reflect back on the transition from traditional film photography to digital photography. Remember the detractors, the naysayers, the purists, the film lovers, the darkroom junkies, the overconfident executives who scoffed at the need to reinvent cameras, developing and photography. And note too that evolution from film to digital photography is responsible for the virtual ubiquity of cameras today. Every gadget imaginable includes a camera, and the proliferation of photo sharing, archiving and publishing gadgets demonstrate that this evolution had the effect of democratizing photography. It also opened up massive markets that had been overlooked or unfathomable prior to inexpensive digital cameras.

I suspect this example is particularly relevant to the transition in the publishing industry today. Some people love books and bookstores. Agreed. But look at how many do not. Look at how many never even consider books. And recognize that like digital photography which has proliferated beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, the transition to digital publishing will similarly transform the production and spread of information. And though we’re not all Seth Godins, not by a long shot, this brave new world of digital publishing will make it possible for you, me, anyone with ambition, intelligence and hard work to develop a platform and build an audience who appreciate, justify and contribute to our literary creations.

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Jeff Bezos Doesn’t Want You to Know 5 Kindle Pitfalls

This is a good counterpoint to the flood of Amazon-awed Kindle points that I and many others have been sharing in recent months. I don’t know how accurate these claims are, but I admit that I’ve shied away from buying a Kindle so far because my “test drives” have left me wanting further improvements before I take the leap. These five claims are worth exploring:

  1. You read slower on a Kindle.
  2. You almost certainly read stupider on a Kindle.
  3. The Kindle flunked out of Princeton.
  4. Amazon can play Big Brother with your books.
  5. Governments can play Big Brother with your books.

(“Five Things Jeff Bezos Doesn’t Want You to Know”,Regulator Bookshop)

There are interesting articles and test results cited to substantiate these claims, but I wonder about your experience with Kindle. Do you read slower with a Kindle? Less inteligently? Are you worried about Amazon of the Fed snooping (and potentially censoring) your reading list?

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Dress up Your Ebook for The Kindle Ball

Let me put your ebook here.
Manuscript to Kindle ebook conversion services
(photo credit: 52 Novels)

Some names have a way of popping up no matter where you turn. Once upon a time, it was Dixie Cup. Xerox. Ford. CBS. That evolved into Apple, Sony, Toyota and MTV. And later into eBay, Amazon, Prius and the Huffington Post. Today it’s Facebook, Twitter, Tesla and… 52 Novels. Fifty two what? Novels.

Okay, maybe Rob Siders’ ebook ebook design and creation company still isn’t quite as ubiquitous as Twitter or Twitter, but among authors and publishers — or at least among authors self-publishing (or considering self-publishing) their writing — 52 Novels is creeping into blog posts the way Facebook originally did. Almost like a well kept secret. An insiders’ resource. He’s been at it for a decade, mashing up writers’ manuscripts into digital books. And his ebooks are at least as sexy and professional as the print tomes rolling off the old school presses. Sometimes, more so.

Thinking about adding your book to the Amazon KindleStore but don’t know how to start? Frustrated with converting your Microsoft Word file or PDF to a Kindle-friendly format by yourself?

I can help.

My name is Rob Siders and I’ve been designing and creating ebooks for the better part of a decade. I can save you time and hassle by getting your source document to play nice with Amazon’s Kindle format.

Less time plus less hassle equals more time for you to focus on marketing and selling your ebook.

Reasonable rates. Thorough work. Satisfied when you’re satisfied. (52 Novels Kindle Services)

Intrigued? I am. Time to learn more… And to learn who’s offering similar services for Apple’s iBookstore, etc. I don’t just mean SmashwordsFastPencil and which offer conversion/design platforms. I mean individuals who can custom tailor a solution to your book and have enough experience in the publishing world to design a market-worthy ebook. I mean folks like Rob Siders over at 52 NovelsWho do you recommend for ebook production and design?

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