Category Archives: eBooks

Books on Fire

So guess what? I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I know, who didn’t, right? (Just kidding, I’m sure a lot of people didn’t.) The immediate benefits I’ve seen from this little bad boy is my ability to read my current read, Infinite Jest, anywhere. That includes on the bus, with my piles of scarves and gloves and hats (yes, multiple hats). Trust me, I’m a big fan of physical books, the weight, the smell, the physicalness of them. I’m no stranger to the romance of pages crispy from a coffee accident, of the sweet anticipation that builds as the stack of pages in your right hand wanes and the stack in your left hand waxes. But romance aside, there is not always a big cozy chair with a piping hot cup of coffee and a free afternoon available to me. And for those times, I can still save face with my book group by saying, yeah, I’ve finally caught up to our page count.

I’ve also been struggling recently with the ever-growing stack of unread New Yorkers on my bookshelf, and I think subscribing to magazines on the Fire will help with that guilt. I renewed my subscription to Poets & Writers on the Kindle, which means I won’t have to worry about ensuring I get my money’s worth when I move apartments this fall. I don’t have anything to say on the specs of the thing, but I will say that for someone with some pretty strong ties to books, I’m pretty satisfied. Don’t worry, I have a sweater that proves I love books.

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Come on baby, light my fire.

I haven’t yet jumped onto the eReader bandwagon. It’s not because I want to defend physical books to the death. Nor do I subscribe to some conspiracy theory about how, once physical books are replaced by digital books, our history of knowledge will be unpluggable. (Did that make sense? It’s a scary thought, and one someone should write a book about — Margaret Atwood busy these days? — and one I don’t care to flesh out in my mind.) The real reason is that I don’t have the money — not only for the physical eReader, but for all of the digital goodies thereafter. I’m a library rat, and I think strong partnerships between publishers and libraries is necessary to equalize the digital consumer market (and usher it into public right rather than commodity). Until I can easily borrow a book from my local library and load it onto my (affordable) eReader, I don’t see myself making the investment.

Enter the Kindle Fire, Continue reading

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Who’s Afraid of HarperCollins?

By Melanie Yarbrough

It’s true, I haven’t been the biggest supporter of e-books since the whole revolution began. I understand the benefits: Going green, lower upfront costs for fledgling publishing companies, fewer wasted resources, fewer copies returned to publishing companies, fewer copies destroyed and wasted once returned, unique opportunities for unknown and hardworking writers. The list is long and convincing.

I am also a romantic when it comes to books, a steadfast supporter of the hard copy, of the scribbled notes in the margin, of the cursive notes in the front flap of how the book was acquired. I love bookstores and libraries: The aesthetic, the smell, the possibilities of discovery. When I know what I want, I am grateful for digital catalogs, Google searches, and library networks online. When I’m in a writing rut, and all I want is to be inspired by someone doing what I want to do with my life, I want to go into the basement of the Cambridge Public Library and not surface until I have a stack of books to leverage my way out of creative purgatory.
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Why Google and Amazon Don’t Change a Thing

By Shane Solar-Doherty

In the early 90s, Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores were popping up everywhere. I was young, so I don’t really know what it was like to see that happening. But there must have been a lot of people who said to their friends at dinner parties and such, There’s no way you’ll ever catch me step foot in one of those stores. And they stayed loyal to the owner of the bookstore down the street who had character and a unique business model. Occasionally they would travel away from home and, for lack of other options, they’d go into a chain store and perhaps purchase a book to read on the flight back home, promising over and over to themselves that for every book purchased at a chain store, they’d purchase ten at their local indie. And they would follow through on that. Not a mile away from where they lived there would be a Barnes & Noble or a Borders, where the selection was bigger and the prices a little cheaper, but they would not stray. It became second nature, and they passed it on.

Readers like the ones I’m describing understand this one simple concept: no matter where you buy the book from, the content within the book will not change; your purchase, however, will have an impact on the business that you’re buying it from and the people who run the business.

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What’s Good, E-Books?

Over at the Two Dollar Radio blog, EIC Eric Obenauf has noted an e-book positive:

Something I do like about e-books is that people in other countries have easier access to read our books. People can order our books electronically through vendors by entering a random U.S. address. Even if we assign sales restrictions to only U.S. and Canada, for e-books that doesn’t mean squat because the vendors can’t enforce these restrictions. But I enjoy getting emails from someone in Turkey saying that they’re reading our books.

I thought this would be a good opportunity for all of us to get a little dirty and say one good thing about e-books, e-readers, e-mags, etc. I’ll continue the trend.

I like that people can read the newspaper on their e-reader. On a crowded subway, this leaves a little more elbow room for everyone.


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Book Meets App

Stephen Elliott (who I get the feeling you’ll be hearing a lot about on here) wrote on The Rumpus yesterday about why he created an app for his book, The Adderall Diaries. The app includes sixty pages of book tour diaries, a video interview, and a news and events feed. Also included is an interactive discussion board, which Elliott claims is the most important feature of the app. I couldn’t agree more with him.

I haven’t made the switch from paper to screen yet, nor do I think I ever will make a full transition. But what Elliott is doing is absolutely revolutionary, and I’m sure that the concept will at the very least pique the interest of those who stand adamantly by the physical page. More authors should begin adopting Elliott’s model, or they risk losing out on the opportunity to independently engage a growing and very influential screen-reading audience.

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