Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: e-readers

Mark Coker’s Smashwords seems, ostensibly, a rather brilliant idea. It’s sort of the ebook equivalent of Amazon’s Author page; whereas Amazon’s page lists all the work an author has available on Amazon in one spot, Smashwords makes available a single title in myriad different digital formats, including the usual ePub and mobi formats (for pretty much all readers and for Kindle, respectively), as well as PDFs (people still read those?), html (for web viewing, I figure, whether by desktop, laptop, or tablet), Microsoft’s Word (er. For people who want to word process it?), and even text (for people who . . . I give up. You can tell me why people want text files).

I like the idea in theory. My job, as I see it, is to both write the story and make it accessible, and accessibility works on several levels. I want to make the story appeal to readers, but I also want it to be available in any way a reader wants. Even if I can’t imagine why a reader wants a certain story available in a certain way.

Nowadays, there are myriad ways for people to read stories. There are no fewer than four different Android tablets available right now, and that’s only Android. There’s also the iPad and now the new HP tablet running WebOS. In terms of ereaders, we’ve got Kindles and nooks, of course, but also Kobo and Sony’s efforts and several other somewhat generic readers all of which have e-ink displays and most of which display ePub files and etc.

So far as I can tell, Smashwords seeks to solve the actually legitimate problem of making one story available for every platform. Maybe that’s the reason for the txt file?

And it’s not a bad solution, by any means.

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Big publishing news: Barnes & Noble, as a corporate entity, has put itself up for sale. It’s probably not big news to anyone watching the publishing industry in general, lately. B&N’s nook has a more aesthetically pleasing form factor than the Kindle, but its interface–which runs a version of Google’s Android–is clunky at best, its input system awkward, its overall experience lacking.

The only other experience it offers, unfortunately, is coffee, really.

No, seriously, consider a Barnes & Noble. Or a Borders, for that matter. With so many new books published at such an incredible rate, do you really think that’s where they make their coin?

I live in Manhattan, basically. There are a bunch of Barnes & Noble stores. Why do I go to them?

For the bargain-priced hardcovers (which are mostly remainders, and which I’m pretty sure B&N makes no money on), for the free wifi, and for the author events.

Other than that, I’ll find someplace else. If I want to buy a book, I either go to Amazon’s Marketplace or the Strand.

The reason Barnes & Noble is floundering is because the business model of selling books is starting to make less sense as more retailers find new ways of doing it. iTunes is now the nation’s leading retailer for music, purchases from which, by extension, must be digital.

One wonders if we’re on our way there now.

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