Wednesday, 15 February 2012

News: Dickens 200th, E-Book Apps, And The Amazon Boycott

Last Tuesday (7 February) marked the 200th birthday of Charles John Huffam Dickens, author of such works as A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist and founder of the literary magazine All the Year Round. I'd say more, but I haven't read or am familiar with his life or writings. Maybe it's the language, or the length of some of his works.

Bring in the e-book apps. Last week CNet featured another e-book publishing app: Booktango, plus some self-publishing tips. And the Booktrack soundtrack app for books "works", app-arently. The way things are going for e-books, we'll be watching movies on smartphones.

Red Staple Inc, meanwhile, has announced the release its browser-based, Red Staple Enhanced ePub Authoring Tools. And French firm Aquafadas is offering tools to help comic creators self-publish digitally.

Also: There's this book, A Lifespan of a Fact, which is said to be about the task of fact-checker for a novel in progress. The excerpt, however, does the book little help: it looks like part of an exchange between a beleaguered fact-checker trying to do his job and an author who changes facts to better suit his "art". It does looked hammed up, doesn't it? Despite the apparently less-than-glowing reviews of the book, I'm still curious about it.

Some time ago, Barnes & Noble announced that they won't be selling books published by Amazon, in protest of the latter's allegedly aggressive tactics to monopolise the book publishing sector. That number rose to three with Canadian outfit Indigo and US company Books-A-Million following suit. Then the American Booksellers Association for-profit division IndieCommerce hopped into the anti-Amazon bandwagon.

In the short-term, this tactic may help highlight Amazon's bold moves and open it up to some scrutiny, but I'm not sure what it would do to these companies in the long run as Amazon cranks out more and more popular titles.

  • Running on empty: US indie publishing house Grateful Steps in Asheville, Colorado. Working without pay? In the US? That's dedication.
  • Edinburgh book festival chief Nick Barley wants authors, not celebrities.
  • Writer Adam Mars-Jones's take on Michael Cunningham's By Nightfall wins The Omnivore's inaugural hatchet job award. The prize is given to the 'writer of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review' of the past year 'not to punish bad writing, but to reward good and brave and funny and learned reviewing'", says the Guardian report.
  • Tamil audio books, it seems, are making a comeback in India.
  • Another self-publishing success story: Kerry Wilkinson sells over 250,000 copies on Kindle, beating Lee Child, Stieg Larsson and James Patterson.
  • The future of academic publishing: accessible, borderless, connected. Sounds like the Internet.
  • What's missing from children's books of late? A study suggests that kids' books these days are being set in nature less and less. Imagine that. And imagine this:

    "Junior, stop changing your iPhones so often. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know."

    "Trees? What are they?"

    Shudder. Elsewhere, more and more parents are reading less and less fairy tales to their kids. Why? "Too scary," it seems. Look at the top ten list. Of course "Jack and the Beanstalk" is "unrealistic". It's. A. Fairy. Tale. Make-believe.

    If only they knew just how Grimm some fairy tales used to be. Guess they don't make kids like they used to.

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