Friday, 20 January 2012

News: John Ling's Blasphemy and Apple's E-Ducation

...Relax, it's not what you think John Ling did.

Congratulations to John, whose latest (e-)book, The Blasphemer, is making waves at Amazon. I've skimmed through it. This pulse-pounding thriller, set in the backdrop of rising Islamic militancy, revolves around the fires stoked by an author and his book - shades of Salman Rushdie, but the main character is said to be based on Taslima Nasrin. Short, bite-sized chapters, nothing complicated and- argh, there's going to be a sequel? ...Does that explain the freebies he'd been giving out?

It seems he now has another dilemma: should he make the book available to Malaysians? Help him decide. But I think he should finish the series before pondering this question. My answer would be "No, not yet."

And he's got some writers guestblogging their writing journeys at his blog. Go read, or if you want to contribute, I suppose you could give him a buzz.

  • While the publishing world trembles at the ongoing Amazon advance, Apple throws its hat into the publishing ring - but only in the education sector.

    Several news outlets reported the planned release of e-textbook publishing apps. This might be followed by strategies to place iPads or some other e-reader into the hands of school and college kids. It looks like an astute move, encouraging students to "shun costly tomes that weigh down backpacks in favor of less-expensive, interactive digital books that can be updated anywhere via the Web." Not to mention the potential profits in the US$10 billion-a-year (claims the Bloomberg report) textbook industry.

    On a slightly-related note is Penguin's Dorling Kindersley's move to offer both digital and printed editions of its titles. Penguin DK publishes children's, travel and reference titles.

    The e-book momentum seem unstoppable, but the Delaware Online says that the new e-textbook industry still has a long way to go before the "digital destruction" of the (paper) textbook industry foreseen by the late Steve Jobs. For one, they're still fairly new. The piece also said that students found Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) and some digital versions the print book "clunky and eye-straining to read". Also: "You can't highlight or underline things in the e-book. I find it more of a hassle," said a student who reportedly prefers "the tangible presence of a thick book on her lap."

    If they're going to sell e-textbooks in a big way, perhaps it's a better idea to inspire students to go and stay in school or college, as opposed to dropping out and pursue their dreams...
  • After decades, Hitler's Mein Kampf is returning to Germany... not the whole book, but excerpts in the accompanying supplement for a company's weekly publication. The German state of Bavaria, which owns copyrights to the book, is considering legal action to prevent that. The decision to publish the excerpts has also divided Jewish groups. One camp has no problem with it, as long as the excerpts "are viewed in context". The other camp, of course, is totally against its return on the printed page.

    "Everyone sees Mein Kampf 'as a sort of diabolical Nazi Bible', the publisher said, "but people haven't read it and therefore haven't seen that it is the poor-quality and confused work of a totally twisted mind."

    Which is why I believe the ban on Mein Kampf is pointless. The only people who'd most likely swallow what Hitler's got are the ones who are already drinking out of the same poisoned well he did. Has any ban stopped the hate?

    And, it seems, ordinary Germans of the time knew what the Third Reich was doing and were talking about it, according to a published World War II diary. Just a little lit titbit.
  • An e-book explosion in India. And Amanda Hocking. Because we can't seem to have enough of either.
  • "We're in Amazon's sights and they're going to kill us. And we helped them do it." At least that's the vibe I got from this article. Well, that kinda happened to Borders, didn't it?
  • How can independent bookstores compete with Amazon? By, from what I understand of this article, not competing with Amazon. And by hosting lots of poetry books and readings. "Poetry, the least profitable and most esoteric of all the genres, can save the bookstore." ...Why do the interesting pieces have elements of bias in them?
  • Online article curator Longreads publishes list of their top ten pieces of 2011 as an e-book. Wow. First, we had blooking, and now, this. Who'd be the first to define what a "Faceblook" would look like?
  • Self-published authors are not really leapfrogging towards publishing houses. With more Amanda Hocking. Honestly, there should be a law against the profligate citation of Hocking's success story to make the case for e-books and self-publishing. Still, can't blame the writers...
  • E-publishing may be cost-effective, quick and cool, but it may be a double-edged sword. Would you trust a book that can be surreptitiously updated whenever?
  • As Dickens's 200th birthday nears, The Independent asks: Where have all the book illustrators gone?
  • Flames fly in the wake of "snarky" comments of some young adult novels. Was this a long time coming?

Okay, that's all I got before I go offline for the holidays. Hope to get back to the reviewing state of mind after my return.

Happy Chinese New Year.


  1. Thank you for the kind words and the guidance, Alan. I appreciate it. =)

  2. No problem, John. All the very best with your books.


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