Posts Tagged “iphone”
Last week, in an event specified as education-related, Apple announced new software that enables authors to more easily create and publish media-rich digital content. They’re calling the sales app iBooks 2 and the creation app iBooks Author, but they seem to be making a very marked distinction that what has generally become known as an e-book is not what Apple has in mind when it talks about iBooks.
A lot of authors—especially independent authors—and other people in the publishing industry have been writing about the agreement that comes with the software, and complaining about how restrictive and evil it is. I’ve read the agreement in question, and I think that all the discussion around it is based on simple misunderstanding.
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, Barnes & Noble
, iBooks 2
, iBooks Author
, independent publishing
, Kindle Fire
, Nook Tablet
I am halfway to 34, and this coming December 24th will be my 34th Christmas Eve, which is how I measure Christmases. For me, Christmas has never been so much about lists and presents and trees as it has been about making those lists and anticipating those presents underneath that tree. Which means that, for me, the essence of Christmas is the breathless hope of wishing on the brightest star in the sky and believing it might come true. That singular moment of potential.
Christmas Eve occurs before the fire at my parents’ house, surrounded by my mother’s sister and her family, as well as any friends who happen to wassail their ways to our home. It’s full of egg nog and sugar cookies and chances are there’s enough nog it gets blurrier as the evening continues in fits of discarded wrapping paper and torn asunder envelopes, but one thing stands out. One thing always stands out.
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, christmas eve
, john denver
, Johnnie Double Black
, The Muppets
9 Comments »
Tying the knot isn’t the only big change I’m making in my life. But, then, my life has been one enormous change after another for the past five or so years, so I guess it’s not really altogether new.
But man is it exciting.
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, Nexus S
, Samsung vibrant
, t mobile
Crash-course preamble: before Apple announced the iPad, it spoke to many publishers about providing content for its new device, which it hoped could be used as an e-reader. Perhaps hoping that the iPad could somehow do for books what the iPod did for music, many publishers–including the six largest corporate publishers, who include companies like Harper Collins and Penguin–made arrangements to distribute content via the new device at a price point of $14.99, 30% of which Apple retained. This seemed a coup for publishers, and flush with excitement over the deal, Macmillan decided it was going to use its new leveraging power to re-negotiate terms with Amazon and its Kindle, where e-books tended to run $9.99 when published by the big six. Why, Macmillan figured, should it accept $9.99 when it could charge $14.99 (nevermind that $14.99 is, at this point, mythical, given that the iPad right now only exists on Steve Jobs desk. So far as I know, we can’t even pre-order it yet)?
Amazon held firm to its price, and then a couple of old white guys fought like only the knew how, by digging in their heels and refusing to budge. If John Sargent and Macmillan were going to refuse their pricing scheme, Jeff Bezos and Amazon decided, well, they no longer needed to sell Macmillan books. Which included a lot of imprints, like TOR, Forge, ROC, and myriad others.
And readers, who tend not to care so much who publishes their favorite authors so long as they can buy the books, got hurt. Collateral damage.
Writers? Hurt too. Because most authors have no control over those sorts of things. Certainly not over how much their books cost.
The resulting mess and its Twitstorm highlighted the bigger issue, which is digital distribution, pricing, and information. The appropriate cost of an e-book is endlessly debated because the market is still nascent and nothing has yet emerged as the “right” price point. When Apple’s iPod came out, it established price points: 99 cents per song, $9.99 for most albums, with some bargains thrown in.
Apple came late to the e-book party because Steve Jobs didn’t want to admit he was wrong when he declared “Nobody reads anymore” several years ago. Also because, of course, he wanted to get it perfectly right. That’s what Apple tends to aim for (whether the iPad manages the feat is still anyone’s guess. My thought is close, but not yet). Amazon got to set a price–$9.99–that was widely but not universally adopted. I didn’t hear much about publishers grumbling over the price; all I really heard then, mostly, was publishers hoping to be saved by the Kindle.
For my money, I think even $9.99 is too high. I tend to think e-books’ price should fall around the price we’ve always paid for mass market paperbacks: ~$7.99 or so. Over here, Jeff Vandermeer notes why he thinks the mass market paperback analogy doesn’t work, but I’m not convinced by his argument, if only for the fact that he bases his argument on the mass market paperback business model–i.e., that a book needs to sell a lot of hardcover copies to justify the bulk order of paperbacks–which for me doesn’t make sense because why are we talking about printing books?
I understand why the publishing industry feels the need to justify its own existence. I’m just not sure it can.
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, harper collins
, John Sargent
, rupert murdoch
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I just caught a tweeted link to this blog by Mitch Joel on publishing and blogging.
Those of you who’ve read my “The Trouble with Blogging post know that this is something I’ve been thinking about. Hell, it’s part of the reason I’m doing an MBA.
Right now, I’m teaching my students about structure and plot using Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone as a demonstration of a Hero’s Journey plot archetype. Reading it, I’m rediscovering just how excellently Rowling hits every plot point and necessary element note for note, from the Call to Adventure to the Crossing of the First Threshold etc. Harry Potter is really an excellent example of someone who becomes a hero; he certainly doesn’t start out that way. Yesterday, while teaching, I was asking my students what makes people heroes. What do we look for as a demonstration of heroism?
One mentioned worthwhile purpose, and intention.
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, dan brown
, dave eggers
, harry potter
, jk rowling
, michael chabon
, robert langdon
, stephen king
, steve jobs
, the dark tower
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Galleycat is the publishing industry news blog over at Mediabistro.com, which is one of the single most valuable resources for writers and people in the creative industry I have ever encountered. A membership in the AvantGuild costs, like, $80 for two years, but it gets you exclusive interviews with agents, editors, and various other industry gurus, as well as access to content regarding both jobs and freelance opportunities. I’ve been a member for a while.
Anyway, Galleycat ran an microinterview/blurb about me this morning. I’d been following their recent coverage of iPhone e-book readers, including Stanza and Feedbooks, and dropped a note to point them the way of my collection. I thought it was a rather nice post.
It’s also worth pointing out that when I note “sales ain’t much,” I generally define “much” as go-jillions of copies. I’d be so bold as to call the actual sales robust, with an additional exciting to further downloads. To wit: so far, Entrekin has raised nearly $700 earmarked for the United Way NYC, which works out to a little bit more than a dollar for every book sold. In about a year and a half, I’m up to nearly fifteen hundred downloads overall, with a little more than a third of those accounted for by the collection itself and new downloads trickling in every day.
Which is, largely, why I called the sales “ain’t much.” Then again, I’ve made about as much so far as I probably would have had I tried to sell the stories to various magazines, journals, and ezines; readers seem to like it; and as I note in that interview, I’m proud of the experiment that is the final product.
One fun thing about it all?
Technically, I think Entrekin may be the bestselling e-book on the iPhone.
Tags: e-book reader
, print on demand
, short stories
, short story collection
1 Comment »
Steve Jobs made plenty of headlines when he said reading is dead and Apple wasn’t going to pursue an e-book reader. Which is fine, because Apple already has an e-book reader. It’s called the iPhone, and the iPod Touch. Here’s the Teleread.org article with the scoop (from July 13, 2007).
That was only one of the photos. Here are the others:
Jobs can make any claims he wants, but stories find their ways.
And this post wouldn’t be complete without the LOLphone joke:
Want your very own copy, to read on your own iPhone (or any electronic device, for that matter)? Because you can get the whole collection here, and it’s totally free.
If you like it, buy a copy for a friend.
Tags: digital publishing
Posted to et cetera, because that’s why I started that particular venture, but worth mentioning here: nearly a year and a half after its release, Cheryl Anne Gardner at POD People reviews Entrekin:
The depth of emotion is certainly there, and there are moments of truly elegant and poetic writing.
Overall, it seems rather mixed as reviews go, somewhere between encouraging and constructively critical, with far more positive than negative. I’m still new to writing and publishing and books, and I know the general position is that one shouldn’t discuss, much less respond, to reviews, so I think I’ll refrain. Overall, while she seemed to have major aesthetic issues with my style, she still seemed to enjoy the read and ultimately rated the collection as a whole a 7 out of 10 (which puts it above average so far as POD People reviews go, if narrowly), and she specifically cites six pieces that she enjoyed.
One thing she’s brought up, both in the reviews and in some correspondence with me, is:
there is always reason to re-evaluate the work. And as we mature as writers, re-evaluation is a necessary evil.
Which is true in some ways, I think, but I wonder about in others. Now that it’s a year and a half later, I’ve considered making more explicit certain reasons for certain choices I’ve made: the cover for one (Gardner hated it, but it’s often one of the first thing reviewers or readers tell me they liked about it), as well as some of the content. And there is a point that, a year and a half later, and now with a Master’s degree under my belt, I think I’ve gained a little more objectivity about my writing–I’m certainly better at it, I know that, which is nice considering all the time, effort, energy, and money I invested in the past few years alone. I’d have to reread the afterword to see if there’s anything new I might say about the work, but I’ve certainly learned a lot through the book that I obviously couldn’t before I put it out there.
One specific choice I’ll note now is that, while I might re-evaluate the work, I won’t, as Cheryl suggests I might, revisit it; Entrekin is not perfect, certainly (there are a few typos, for one), but then again, what is? In the past year, however, I’ve come to look at it as a sort of chronicle of a place I was and experiences I had, nearly a record of sorts, and as such, I’ve come to see it for what it is; a book that closes a period of my life. If I revisit any of the themes that appear in it (I think I probably do, in The Prodigal Hour), I will do so in other stories (and there’s a huge change right there: when I first published my collection, my novel was tentatively titled A Different Tomorrow).
As for talking about a lot of it and discussing the review, I’m not certain. Hemingway I think said: “Fuck ‘em all; let ‘em think you were born knowing how to write.” Then again, one of the reasons I’ve always said I blog is to show the nuts and bolts of things in ways that haven’t been seen before.
What do you think?
Anyway, this was just mainly to note the review and allowed me to note some things I’d wanted to. Like I said, the review’s a bit mixed, but why take someone else’s word for it, anyway? You can still download it as a free digital file readable not just on any computer but even on iPhones and certain other .pdf capable smart phones, so why not make up your own mind about it?
And if you like it, tell a friend. Heck, if you like it, buy a copy for one.
Tags: cheryl anne gardner
, digital download
, pod people
, smart phone
2 Comments »
Getting back into the ole’ blogging swing of things, working out kinks as I go.
I’ve decided I’m going to pretty consistently post a note here when I put anything up over at Imagery. There are another couple pictures over there since last I mentioned it here.
Also, a new blog: et cetera. I’m keeping this one as a news-ish sort of blog; links to news, reviews, interviews, and, basically, et cetera will go over there. Two posts to start with; the first with iPhone pictures, and the second collecting all of the Entrekin reviews to date.
I’m going to be working out further kinks as I go. Expect more in the way of links, a better set up, and probably a redesign of the homepage.
Hope you like what I’m doing with the place. If you have any suggestions, or there’s anything in particular you want to see, let me know, and I’ll see about incorporating them.
Tags: et cetera
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The other day, in “Because I want to,” I mentioned John Scalzi and his Whatever blog. Always cogent and frequently awesome, Scalzi covers all manner of things, plus, he’s won all sorts of awards and even initiated a successful write-in campaign for president of the Science Fiction Writers’ Association (by “successful,” I do not mean he won; rather, I mean that he did not but people still talk about it, and he certainly had a shot at winning. Unlike, say, Ralph Nader).
Today, after I got home from a long day that included a normative grading session and a class full of students fresh out of the linguistics lecture that takes place immediately before my class, I began to skim blogs. The first I check is always Neil Gaiman’s, because he’s been my favorite writer for many years. That he had a novel basically free on the Web for a month was enough to make me mention it straightaway. I didn’t pass go.
After I did pass go, I started to check out the other blogs. Scalzi’s is second in my bookmarks.
When I got to Scalzi’s, I got sad.
The first post I saw had to do with his cat. Or one of them. Scalzi has a few, and talks about them, and sometimes tapes bacon to them.
(that last sentence is fun. And true, on all clauses)
The second mentioned a feature he’s run for a while, called The Big Idea. Basically, he spotlights writers and their newly released books, specifically some big idea or other about it. Scalzi’s spotlight is bright, intense, and probably rather hot. Scalzi’s spotlight is arguably the kind of spotlight people on stage look up at and think, “Okay, I’m done on this side,” mainly because Whatever gets, like, 40,000 hits per day (and again, deservedly so, because, again, it’s frequently awesome).
So when he mentioned that he was looking for authors who weren’t specifically sci-fi/fantasy, I thought, hey, that’s pretty rad. Maybe I should drop Mr. Scalzi a line.
But his first guideline was simple. I’ll quote:
First, authors must not be self-published, or solely electronically published, or published by a publishing house that offers $1 advances and/or can’t get distribution into bookstores. Yes, I know. I suck. But this is the line in the sand. Deal with it.
His first guideline, of course, is what made me sad. I’ll be the first to admit it. To a degree, it offended me, and made me grumpy. So I took a nap, defiance in my head, but then realized that sometimes the things that offend us most are the things that strike closest to the truth (I’ll also note part of my first reaction was remembering the old Warner Brothers cartoons with my grandfather, because we all know what you do when you come to a line in the sand is, don’t we? That’s right: you cross it, because it’s a line in the sand. Ain’t like it’s a wall or something. Just step right over).
If you’re reading this, you probably know why it struck close to the truth, because you’ve probably seen my Lulu page; you may have even purchased, from it, my debut collection of fiction, essays, and poetry (and if you have, thank you. You’re awesome. I hope you loved it). Which means two things.
The first is that I am, technically, a self-published author. It’s not a label I prefer, but then, as my buddy once said, “fuckin’ labels’ll get you every time.” I say that because: who thinks in labels? When people ask Neil Gaiman or John Scalzi what they do for a living, I doubt either says “I’m a traditionally published author” or “I’m a commercially published author” or “I’m an author published by a major, conglomerated publishing company based in New York.” I’d wager both men, when asked what they do, would have a simple answer: “I’m a writer.”
No labels, no qualifications, no credentials. Simple.
When asked further, I’m sure they might reveal either who published them (when talking shop) or where someone might buy their books (to a new acquaintance interested), but how the stories and the words get out there is usually dead last among writers’ priorities. The big ones are truth and honesty in storytelling. The big ones are whether our characters are believable and this plot works and this ending is satisfying.
With them I share that in common, mostly. Actually, I must qualify that, because when people ask me what I do, I generally tell them I teach writing at the University of Southern California, where I’m finishing my master’s in writing. But still, I am a writer.
And the other thing that having a book on Lulu, available for sale, which people have bought, means is that I’m a professional writer, to boot. Does writing pay my rent? No, it doesn’t, but then, for how many writers does it, actually? I know of lots of writers (and am friends with several) who’ve published several novels who still haven’t given up their day jobs.
I generally understand the stigma against self-publishing; it is, by and large, an endeavour generally undertaken by amateurs, some of whom write decently but haven’t studied the finer points of actually publishing. Publishing is not just about putting a book in someone’s hands; it’s about carefully editing that book, designing it as a physical product people will read, and understanding subtle points of marketing. Companies like Lulu and PublishAmerica, to whom I think Scalzi is alluding when he mentions the $1 advances, mean just about anyone can publish; that just about anyone can doesn’t mean everyone should, of course, and self-publishing is full of a glut of crappy books.
But here’s the thing: publishing in general is full of a glut of crappy books. Theodore Sturgeon, a noted science fiction author in his own right, once coined the law that “90% of science fiction is crap, but 90% of everything is crap.” Which is probably true, but the inverse would seem to mean that 10% is not crap, and, moreover, that final 10% is subjective to the whims and predilections of the culture at large.
What I ultimately mean is that a lot of people think self-published novels are crap, but I know lots of people who think The DaVinci Code is crap. Rarely does everyone tend to agree on one book’s quality, and even when we manage, as a culture, to, we sometimes overlook flaws. The Great Gatsby is obviously a classic, and is, in fact, one of my favorite novels, but read it and try to figure out the chronology of it.
Scalzi’s feature is called The Big Idea, but I think a big idea is that distribution into bookstores, in the age of iPods/iPhones/Amazon, means very little. A big idea is that readers don’t care how they get their stories, so long as they get them. A big idea is that big news in publishing today is that one of my favorite author’s best novels is available online completely free. A big idea is that Steve Jobs thinks nobody is reading anymore, and so doesn’t really see the viability of an e-book reader, but still, somehow, despite that nobody’s reading and it’s not viable, still my collection became the first e-book on the iPhone just a week after the device came out.
I think a big idea is that in a few days I’m writing a check to the United Way New York City, to fulfill the promise that I’d donate $1 dollar from the sale of every copy, as well as every digital download of “What I saw that Day (September 11th, 2001).”
I think a big idea is that one day writing might be judged not by the means by which it is distributed but rather by the content of its ideas and the quality of its prose. That one day books might be judged not by where their covers appear but rather by what appears between them.
, September 11th
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