Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: kindle (page 2 of 2)

Seems like this week is always rather retrospective. Years in review, all that. Lots of sites running “Top Stories of 2010” posts, as though what wouldn’t have been news again last week suddenly is solely by virtue of when it was news. It’s like the East Coast blizzard froze the whole world, which is stuck hoping for thaw to begin tomorrow.

I thought about doing some best-of posts. The decade-best lists are some of the most popular posts on this site. Yesterday, however, I glanced through a list of movies that came out in 2011 and found precisely two I thought were remarkable: How to Train Your Dragon and The Social Network. The former was a surprise; it had a lot of heart and was a lot of fun, and it managed that rare thing of being a movie aimed at a younger audience that appealed across a wider age range without using irreverent humor and other such innuendo-based means. With Shrek, one of the things that increased its appeal was jokes that kids wouldn’t have gotten; it worked on multiple levels; Dragon, on the other hand, stuck mainly consistent in just trying to tell its story, and I think it was a better movie for it.

The Social Network demonstrates that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Panic Room were flukes from a guy who’s been getting better since the beginning, by which I mean that David Fincher had shown signs of improvement over his career and development as a director in years previous by making movies that were consistently better than the ones before. Se7en was fantastic after Alien3. The Game is underrated, and then there’s Fight Club, and then, just when you think that he’s got a style, signature shots, all that, Zodiac, which was the first time he just turned the camera on and followed the story (which isn’t to say his obvious style didn’t serve his other movies). And now The Social Network the rise and continued rise of Zuckerberg and Facebook, which was, on all levels, fantastic.

I read other movies people were raving about, but didn’t much like them when I sat down to check them out. Inception, in particular . . . just didn’t do it for me. Funny: I remember when The Matrix came out, and all the people who claimed not to “get it,” that it just never made sense to them, all that, and then watching Inception . . . my initial thought was “So it’s The Matrix but with dreams and less action?”

That thought never went away. It eventually became more negative, in fact, but one of my resolutions this year is to be more positive. Exciting is not about negativity, after all.

Other things that were exciting:

Continue reading

I haven’t yet mentioned here: Exciting Books is doing well. Like, really well.

Like, bestseller-dom well.

The still-new reality of Amazon and a current literary marketplace is staggering. Used to be, bestsellers were determined by pretty much one place, and one place only: the New York Times. The infamous grey (or is it gray?) lady? The venerated bastion of journalism and culture, the heights to which every author aspired. Theirs always was the list to be on.

I’m not saying this is changing.

However.

Do you go to the paper for your news any more?

I don’t. I can’t remember the last time I even saw an actual newspaper I wasn’t picking up solely to throw away. Though I did download an issue of The Washington Post to my Kindle. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

If I want news–real, right now, happening-outside-my-window news–I come here. Well. Not here. Not to my site. I used to post, sometimes, about news, and mean to start again, but obviously not right here.

No, I come online. I come to dot-coms. CNN and MSNBC. I come, in fact, to Twitter, to see what’s trending.

Right now.

Which is why I think cracking the Amazon bestsellers list may be even more relevant than hitting the grey lady. Especially considering Sparks, a Kindle-only publication.

I don’t know how the NYT ranks its list, nor what figures it bases its tabulation upon. I know that it doesn’t include every sale in America; that’d be impossible.

For a newspaper.

Not for Amazon, though.

When Sparks broke the top 50 on Amazon, it legitimately meant that, right then, Sparks was selling more at a faster rate than other books. It wasn’t select bookstores. It wasn’t a sampling. It wasn’t a pre-tabulated list merely being confirmed.

It was in real time and based on real sales.

***

And speaking of sales:

Did you just get a new Kindle? Do you have an iPhone? An iPad or iPod? Any Android device? How about a PC or Mac?

Most importantly, do you like good books? Or know someone who does?

If so, you can take advantage of the Winter 2010 Exciting Books Fire Sale. Because that’s what you get when you apply sparks to kindle.

For the next few days, while I’m sitting around a fire with my faithful friends who are dear to me gathered near to me once more, Exciting Books is slashing its Kindle prices. Are you looking for stories for your new Kindle? Are you looking for something to read on a long weekend off? Have you had your fill of nog and ham? Ready to kick back, relax, and fall asleep next to the fire with your Kindle in your lap?

You need Sparks. Every Kindle does.

You also need Entrekin and Meets Girl.

So for the next week, for the low-low price of just 99 cents, you can experience Exciting Books. You can read fiction that inspires and thrills. You can read the sort of book that isn’t just going to stay with you but is going to make you want to approach a friend and say, “Hey, you know, I read these cool stories the other day.”

Exciting Books has a mission, and that’s it: to be the stories you want to share.

So this holiday season, fill your Kindle with Sparks and Exciting Books. Share Sparks and Exciting Books with those same friends who are dear to you, whether they are gathered near or not. Because Amazon and Kindle have a great, new function: you can gift a book to your friends. Just use the one-click.

Here’s Sparks.

Here’s Meets Girl.

Here’s Entrekin.

Christmas at the Sawyers

Comin’ on Christmas, people decorating their trees. I printed out my newly finished manuscript I had dedicated to Veronica and jammed it into the backpack I wore across midtown Manhattan as I made my way to Port Authority to catch a Greyhound home. One of those slate-grey, nondescript buses down the Jersey Turnpike blur the spindly trees along the side of the highway, all the way back to my hometown by way of connections and cars, at which point I called Veronica to ask if we could meet up, because I had a serious surprise for her. I guess she could hear in my voice how eager I was to see her, and perhaps even that I had specific reasons for being so eager. She told me she didn’t have much free time, but I could attend Christmas Eve mass with her family.

Perhaps that’s the most you need to know about Veronica: not that she is beautiful, though she is; nor what she studied; nor what she’s accomplished since college; nor any other thing, because perhaps nothing will tell you so much as that Veronica Sawyer is the kind of girl for whom you attend Christmas Eve Mass at midnight. It’s the crowded mass, full of not just the fervent but also all the people who go to church solely on Christmas and Easter. I can’t tell you I was among the faithful; by then, I’d swung closer to agnostic, which was a major step in my own spiritual evolution—finally accepting that I didn’t know all the answers was slightly out of character for me. I had grown up attending Catholic schools but had transferred out on the first day of my junior year, after which I’d swung hard enough the other way that other people might call it over-compensating, filling my days and studies with classes about cold, hard, rational science and the kind of philosophical discussions that excluded God in favor of morals and “quality.”

But Veronica told me I could meet her at the mass and then return, with her, to her family’s house, where she and Tom would be up until the wee hours, wrapping presents over hot chocolate and Christmas tree cookies. I wrapped the manuscript folder I’d bought in my mother’s leftover wrapping paper and set it on the front seat of my car as I drove to the church and then, afterward, her house.

Continue reading

Over at Amazon, Meets Girl gets its first-ever review. Five stars. “Catcher in the Rye meets Macbeth.” “Smart, unpretentious, and funny.”

I’m thrilled that the first review of my first novel came from a reader who gave it five stars. Hell of a way to begin one’s career as a novelist. Really, also, kind of appropriate given Meets Girl‘s themes.

Amazon.com: Meets Girl eBook: Will Entrekin: Kindle Store.

The night I attended Galleycat’s Book Pitch Party, I stopped into Barnes & Noble Union Square, hoping to check out the nook color they’d recently announced. I had already purchased the newest Kindle, but I think part of being a writer in the new digital age includes a working knowledge of the platforms on which content is available. In other words, it’s important to know the medium on which you’re delivering a message, as the one can inherently affect the position and reception of the other.

Now, I declaim: I love my Kindle. I seriously haven’t loved a gadget this hard since I first jailbroke and unlocked my first iPhone. I think there might have been something about the tinkering with it, the feeling of empowerment, that really made the phone feel like mine in ways others haven’t. I’m using a Samsung Vibrant now, and I love it, but with some reservations (Dear Samsung: Get Gingerbread on it, hey?). In fact, my purchasing the Vibrant was what ultimately led me to getting a Kindle; the Vibrant comes with Amazon’s app preinstalled, and I’d had it on my iPhone, but hadn’t fully used it.

But I found myself working shite hours and riding the PATH train at 4am for a new gig, and so I did more reading on the Kindle app. And when Amazon announced its newest generation, I bought one sight unseen.

Mainly because I’d already seen the others and knew they weren’t what I was looking for.

What I was looking for: a digital reader.

The iPad is not a digital reader. It’s a tablet-form computer. It runs software, and that software is versatile enough it runs other software. It has apps, little programs that performs different functions like . . . well, mainly launching birds at targets, streaming music over a data connection, and display various media. There are apps for everything.

Some of those apps happen to display books. The main thing that demonstrates, in fact, that iPad is not really a digital reader is that it has not only the iBookstore, but also both nook and Kindle apps.

(This is extraordinarily important.)

Continue reading

From Simon’s copy:

A sleepless traveler; a blues player who ain’t got soul. A lovelorn young man; a rising son. In the four short stories of Sparks, writers Will Entrekin and Simon Smithson bring you these characters and their journeys, over and through the streets and cities of the USA. Sparks contains a quartet of literary tales; of chasing dark dreams and falling sick with love, of trying to keep a house together and hoping just to get back

Introducing Sparks! The collection of four pieces of short fiction from Simon Smithson and Will Entrekin, published by Exciting Books, available for six weeks only, on Amazon.com. It’s a collection of stories about travel and loneliness, music and blues, love and alcohol, and family and frustration. And I guarantee that it will fix anything you’ve ever been sad about, ever, although that’s by no means guaranteed.

***

You’ve read what we’ve said about paradigms shifting, the changing of publishing and distribution. We haven’t mentioned the fetishizing of dead wood bound in cloth. We haven’t talked much (lately) about how bassackwards the business model of most corporate publishers is. I’ve stopped talking about Sarahs and vampires.

Because this is bigger. This is better.

This is Sparks. This is six weeks, four stories, two authors, aiming at 1,111,111 ebooks.

Simon’s a great writer (and I hope he’d say the same of me). His two stories are terrific, redolent as they are of air travel and gin. He’s the sort of writer who doesn’t tell you a story so much as allow you entrance into a new experience, and that is such a rare and bold talent to have.

So Sparks.

It’s here, for your purchasing pleasure. For a buck. So buy one for yourself and buy one for any of your friends.

Because it’s on Kindle. Which is on everything. You don’t need a Kindle. Do you have an iPhone, or an iPod, or an iPad? You can get the Kindle app from iTunes. It’s in the Android Marketplace for your Android Device. It’s on Blackberry. It’s on PC and Mac.

And like any scout worth his salt knows, the one thing kindle needs is sparks.

That’s how you start the fire, after all.

We hope you like it, and we hope you’ll share it.

And Hell, why not attend our Facebook event while you’re at it?

Please, allow me to introduce myself. I hope you guess my name.

If you don’t, it’s Simon Smithson. I’m a co-writer of Mr. Entrekin’s from The Nervous Breakdown.com, the online literary magazine that features authors from around the world. It’s a cool thing.

Will and I met on Myspace, originally, years back. We were part of a writing and editing group called Writers Who Don’t Suck, which, suffice to say, was a fairly ironic name. It was a busy hive of emo kids who wrote bad poetry about being tormented, misunderstood, and just waiting for the vampire who would see the real them, middle-aged sales reps who wrote bad fiction about assassins and snipers (so many assassins and snipers. You have no idea. If the assassin was a woman, it was a given that at some point she would survey her own breasts critically in the mirror), and twenty-somethings with a badly-disguised grudge against an ex or current (and soon-to-be-ex) boyfriend, girlfriend, or lover (and, on one memorable occasion, all three).

There was also, as a saving grace, a core group of writers who cared about literary merit, good editorial practice, and getting better at their craft. They were easy to pick, and Will was one of them. We tended to stick together, and one of the discussions we usually had was about the changing face of the business, and how the very existence of WWDS was something that would have been impossible in earlier times. This whole electronic world was undiscovered country, and the opportunities it yielded for networking, co-authorship, and writing groups were new and exciting.

Fast forward to 2010, and we’ve moved far beyond that. The Kindle and the iPad are grappling for a killer chokehold in the field of e-publishing, people are (once again, as they do every time anything happens in the world ever) predicting the death of the book, and the publishing industry, if reports are to be believed, is staffed entirely by a Keystone Kops-esque cabal of panicky idiots who are running shrieking through the halls of their golden palaces, terrified that Amazon is hiding in the closet and scrambling to steal all the computers before they go out of business forever.

In an era like this… two guys like Will and I can really clean up.

Which is why it’s my pleasure to introduce Sparks, the debut collection of stories by Messrs. Entrekin and Smithson from Exciting Books. Four pieces of short fiction, two apiece, available only on the Amazon Kindle platform, for six weeks only, from December 15, 2010, until January 26, 2011. It’s got a sale price of .99 cents. I think the stories are good, and if I were you and I had a Kindle, I’d pick up a copy.

Oh, and also, we’re going to be doing our damndest to sell 1,111,111 copies.

Why? Because we can.

The game has, officially, changed. Johannes Gutenburg never saw days like this coming; if he did, I would have asked him to write a foreword. These days, the role of the publisher is more dispensable than ever before. Authors can – and do – distribute their work directly to the reading public, because the delivery system has been put in place by Amazon, by iTunes, by this wonderful thing called the Internet. No one’s really sure which way is up at this point, but I believe there will always be a market for good fiction.

I’m also really curious to see if we can.

Our gameplan is this: the first day, we’re hoping to sell one copy. That’s it, that’s all, just one. The first week, ten. The second week, a hundred, and the third week, a thousand.

You can see where we’re going with this.

The stories are diverse in scope; music and travel and love and family are all themes, as is fate and choice and humanity. I’m proud of mine, as I hope Will is of his. What’s next is to see if we’ re right about the market – in this day and age where electronic dissemination has changed how we absorb music, news, TV, and gaming, what’s the next move for literature? Sparks is designed for the Kindle; the pieces are short fiction. Sparks is available only on the Kindle, and nowhere else. It’s the product of two guys who want to see what they can do in a world of exciting new opportunities, and we hope you’ll join us for the ride.

Some great entries to the Meets Girl contest. Also, some private comments from people who would have entered but didn’t want to share their stories of unrequited love, whatever the reason.

Because it takes some guts to do it. Takes some guts to put yourself and your story out there like that, for all the world to see.

I might know a little something about that.

In the spirit of the moment, I decided that everyone who entered gets a signed copy of Meets Girl, as well as an exclusive Deviant Moon tarot card. Just one, from a deck that’s been used. A deck I’ve used myself, in fact.

The copies are ordered.

In fact, more than those copies are ordered.

Want one?

Continue reading

I think I forgot to mention, here, I posted a new essay over at The Nervous Breakdown. In which I fawn hyperbolically over the new Kindle. In an era of totally undeserved hype (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Franzen), the Kindle is a magical device. I’ve been using it for about two weeks now.

First book: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, which was a little like Harry Potter Goes to College, and started crazily strong, but then flopped in the final act, sadly. Disappointing, ultimately.

I like reading on it, and after a couple of weeks, I’m very glad I chose it over the iPad. It wasn’t merely a financial consideration. I just already have a laptop and a phone, and I wasn’t sure what I’d be using the iPad for. I need a keyboard to write (and I know I can get a bluetooth attachment, but that’s beside the point). Still, I understand why the iPad is overtaking the netbook category, mostly.

In terms of a dedicated digital reader, however, so far, the Kindle has been excellent. I like that it’s dedicated, too, like a book or a novel; when I’m reading a book, I’m reading the story. Not clicking around, not opening apps, not tweeting and Facebooking.

In the spirit of making Meets Girl available on it, I’ve been doing the necessary formatting and lay-out. It’s not difficult; Kindle mainly uses html. I’ll explain more about it at some point, when I’m done experimenting and learning it.

I think you’ll agree it looks fairly good already, though:

I should note that first image is not actually the Kindle file; it’s a PDF. Which the Kindle can display, natively. In terms of lay-out, though, the pagination and formatting both leave much to be desired.

Today, I woke up to an email from Barnes & Noble. Pubit, a program they had announced several months ago with the intention of going live over the summer, was finally implemented today. I’ve already signed up for an account and can start uploading files.

I’d originally planned to make Meets Girl a Kindle exclusive (given that Kindle is cross-platform and available, as an app, on pretty much anything), but then I started wondering why I wanted to limit choices. The whole point is to make the story available to anyone and everyone who wants it, including all the people who are getting a nook anytime soon.

So it will be. It may be a little while longer getting to the nook, but I’ll have it there, too.

“Once upon a time, I fell in love with a girl who didn’t love me in return.”

New York City, circa 2006. A young man lucking into any temp job he can while following his dream to be a writer. A dream girl and a bad case of unrequited love (is there any other kind?).

If the story ended there, it wouldn’t be extraordinary. It would be just another tale from the big, bad, glorious city; just another romance that never was; just another friendship that never got the chance to be anything more.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Continue reading

Yesterday, I talked about how I thought a bookstore like Barnes & Noble might survive. How the retail model seems busted to some extent.

I fear my solutions to the problem seemed vague. I thought I’d fix that.

I think we need to remember that books are not stories, and vice versa. That reading is as much about the experience as the object being sold, and as such, retail publishing must change to meet new needs of the market.

The market needs a few things, based on what is changing. The biggest change is the proliferation of digital in an almost completely analog environment, but that provides both challenges and opportunities.

As I see it, what the market really needs is simple:

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

First, a big thanks to anyone who filled out a survey. It helped me out a great deal, both in terms of my class and in terms of my plans.

Second, if you haven’t by now watched the teaser video for Meets Girl in the previous post, go ahead and do so now.

I tweeted a picture of the cover, and then posted this video. A lot of questions came up, most of which boiled down to “All right, it’s pretty, and I’m excited, now how do I get the damned thing, Will? You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

The answer is simple:

Continue reading

When I took that USC Business of the Business course, our final project was a business plan. It included all the sections necessary for reasons of profession and information: executive summary, financials, market survey et al..

I’m not going to pretend I can make that interesting.

It was the first business plan I ever conceived, and I tried hard but had difficulty with the course overall, which translated to difficulty with the final project. I knew how to query; I got requests for partials and polite rejections all the time. I’m reasonably good at pitching when I’m not so nervous my heart flutters. When it came time to name competition, I had trouble; I’m a writer, and don’t tend to think in terms of competition. Are Meyer and Brown competition? Part of me hopes so, because I’m about a thousand times better than either, but sometimes the market seems not to care about quality.

That’s a digression.

Part of what was hard for me was thinking of my writing so specifically as a product. Comparing my books to others. For me, it doesn’t; I write them because nobody else did and I wanted to read them.

That’s not what a business plan wants to hear.

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

Big publishing industry news this week: Oprah endorsed Amazon’s Kindle reading device, having “fallen in love with it.”

Which is not unusual; I’ve heard very little criticism concerning the Kindle. People may not rave over it like they raved about the iPod when it first came out, but the Kindle seems, for many intents and purposes, rad. Awesome. Exciting.

Which makes one wonder: if it’s so awesome and exciting, shouldn’t Entrekin be available for it?

Why yes, yes it should be:

Ain’t it purdy? You can click that link to find its shiny new Amazon page.

The timing couldn’t be better, nor, I think, any less coincidental. I’ve been working on the Kindle version since back in August. Not that it took that long, but I mentioned I was going to be changing things up toward the end of October.

I still go back and forth on Lulu. The reason I put Entrekin on the Kindle was that the digital downloads have been so extraordinarily successful, with more than a thousand across the various stories. I like that Lulu allows me to offer the DRM-free .pdfs, not to mention that it also allows for the tangible book for anyone who wants a souvenir. I had a bad experience in Lulu’s community, but then again I’ve realized that if I simply decide to use Lulu solely as the printing press I’d always meant it to be, it does still serve my purposes pretty well, its forums, policies, and customer service notwithstanding (more on those three later, and elsewhere).

So no, I’m not done yet. I’m still curious about a lot of aspects of publishing and the ways it’s changing, so it looks like Entrekin will still be around for a bit. As always, you can get it here.

Thanks to everyone who’s made it such a success so far, and remember to keep telling your friends about it.

Especially if, you know, your friends own Kindles.

(because, really, here, so far, I’m at a loss; where and how does one market to Kindle owners?)

Newer posts