Category Archives: ebooks

I’ve been published!!!

Like, by somebody else. (Inorite?)

So Freya’s Bower (one of the veteran epublishers in the landscape) has this annual anthology called Dreams and Desires, where the proceeds from it go to a charity. This year’s charity is A Window Between Worlds, a non-profit organization that provides art supplies and training for art as a healing tool free of charge to battered women’s shelters across the United States.

Marci Baun, Freya’s Bower’s Perpetrator In Chief, asked me to contribute a story to the anthology, and because it’s a) for a good cause and b) for the #1 cause on my personal list of good causes, I said SURE! The result? Short story “Twenty-Dollar Rag.”

For fans of the Dunham series, the hero in this one is the weird kid from Stay (who wears kilts and sleeps in trees), Vachel Whittaker, all grown up and possibly more normal than the rest of the Dunham men. Lo, there is no religion or politics in it.

Here’s the blurb for Dreams and Desires:

True love, freedom, self-worth, security… Dreams and desires of the ordinary woman, or man. From a thirty-something, single woman who wants a baby to a jeweler who finds love with the least expected man to a widow who wants to finish her degree and find love to a young, futuristic woman who’s still searching for herself to an 18th century saloon girl whose lost hope but still dreams of love to a man who has escaped his abusive lover but has lost himself. This collection of nine stories celebrates the attainment of all one can dream or desire. Which one do you secretly yearn for?

And here’s the blurb for “Twenty-Dollar Rag”:

One night. One man. One dress.

Regina Westlake sees nothing wrong with her clubbing lifestyle until the gorgeous guy cleaning her pool refuses to play her games. When he’s hired to be her arm candy for a formal event, he makes his disdain for her clear by re-dressing her in something far more appropriate than what she had worn to the party.

Shattered, she takes his contempt, his dress, the memory of his kiss—and rebuilds her life from the ground up. She never expects to see him again, but when she does…

Buy the collection, have a few hours of entertainment and help somebody out at the same time. Win-win!

Dreams and Desires ($5.99)

Twenty-Dollar Rag” (12,000 words) ($2.99)


I like real books

I like them on my wall

I like them in my hand

(I like them in the bathroom)

I like them on my H: drive

I like them in the car

I like them in a queue

I like them on my laptop

I like them on a shelf

I like them on my keychain

I like them in a library

I like them in English

I like them in bed

I like them on my netbook

I’d like them on a slate, but they’re too heavy.

 

 

What is a “real” book, anyway?

“Real” book. As if reading words and being entertained and/or instructed isn’t the point of the damn thing.

 

I was wrong.

I got a Kindle.

I know. Go ahead and laugh or faint or whatever. I’ll wait until you’ve got yourself back together again.

Long story told in bullet-point lists:

  • Saw a Sony at Target. The screen looked like a dot matrix printer (aka like crap). I decided eInk was not for me.
  • Amazon pulled some crappy things, which confirmed my opinion of crap.
  • My mother-in-law got a Kindle for Christmas and I fondled it. It didn’t look anything like the Sony at Target.
  • I couldn’t stop thinking about my MIL’s Kindle.
  • I had an increasing need to see what my formatting looked like on the device itself.
  • I couldn’t stop thinking about my MIL’s Kindle.
  • I had an increasing need to see what my formatting looked like on the device itself.
  • Amazon put up their refurbs for $110.

I’ve had it for about a week now. I love it, but I do have some issues and (surprise!) it hasn’t diminished my love for my eBookWise or my BlackBerry. They’re like children: All different, all equally loved for different reasons.

One of my issues with the Kindle is how light and skinny and fragile it is. I know this is supposed to be a plus, but after holding my eBookWise for the last 2-1/2 years, its weight and ergonomic design has spoiled me. The eBookWise feels like a book, only a lot more comfortable.

Anyway, I desperately needed a case for my Kindle to protect it, but geez, people $30? No matter how much I liked my MIL’s case, I figured I could do original-and-cheaper on my own. (Well, hey, that’s how I got into this book publishing business in the first place, my tendency to DIY…everything.)

I’ve made a prototype. I think there are better ways to do this and better designs. I’m going to live with this one for a while and see what I’d change, what other features I might like, a better/more efficient way to build it.

Here’s Prototype Number One (mouse over the pictures to see the commentary):

Selling shovels

You will notice I haven’t been posting much at all, much less my thoughts on ebooks and publishing. Wanna know why? I’m too busy with my burgeoning business to put any thought into a) what’s wrong with publishing (because why do I care?); b) how to go about formatting ebooks (because that changes week to week); and c) wondering if I’m ever going to get my historical swashbuckler researched and written (because I’m a writer, dammit!).

In case anybody cares, these are my current random thoughts, none of which rate the time to explore in a full-on blog post (plus, I’ve said it all before):

1) Writers: You’re screwed unless you put out your own stuff and you can market it. The old days are gone. “Getting” published is fine if that’s what you need to validate your soul. If you want better odds on getting to readers and making a little money, do it yourself. But dammit, do it right!

2) Writers: Remember that the people who made money in the gold rush didn’t make it panning for gold, chasing a vein that didn’t exist. The people selling the shovels made all the money. Learn a new skill and sell some shovels. You aren’t going to make a livable income writing for da man. Just don’t make any plans to leave your day job.

3) Book designers: Stop trying to format ebooks on a print paradigm. Ebooks are not print books. They don’t serve the same function. It’s like trying to apply a print paradigm to audiobooks. Stop it. Learn how to format serviceable, good-looking ebooks and forget about Teh Fancy.

4) Editors: Go freelance. Market your name. Make the authors who hire you put your name in the book so you can establish your brand. The curation of books in the future will depend on the editor, not the author, not the publishing house.

5) Indexers: You have a bright and shiny new field to explore. Learn how to index digitally. It’s called anchor tags.

6) Publishers: Get your metadata in gear. Seriously.

7) Publishers: The first publisher to chapter-and-verse its digital textbooks/reference/nonfiction will win the prize. What do I mean? I’ll tell you. Pick up a Bible. Any Bible, any translation, any size, any publisher. Go to John 3:16. That’s what I mean. Develop a system. Patent/trademark it then license it. Make it the standard of any good digital nonfiction book, the way good indexing is. Indexers, see #5.

That is all. I have a mountain of work to get done before I leave for NY next week.

I got your suggestions right here.

The Pareto Principle.

Also known as the 80/20 rule, wherein 80% of sales are generated by 20% of the customers. When applied to the way publishing gambles on blockbusters to subsidize its titles that lose money, it might be more or less 20% of the authors make 80% of the sales.

Publishers look for and sign new authors in a neverending search for the next blockbuster book that will sustain the 20%. Very often a new author will be taken on in favor of renewing a current author’s second or third book if the sales don’t meet expectations (which could mean that it did, in fact, make money, but not enough to satisfy the bean counters).

Last month, I was involved in a rigorous discussion on Dear Author, wherein author Courtney Milan likened publishing’s ability to support this model to pooling risk or, more precisely, flood insurance. I found the flood insurance specificity to be flawed and said why, but really I found the whole “risk pooling” argument flawed, but couldn’t articulate it, so I remained agnostic on the subject for the moment.

Now, after having stewed on it for a while, the better (read: more polite) analogy would be research and development—except without so much the development part.

Recently, president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Jonathan Galassi, wrote an extraordinarily unorganized, incohesive rant op ed piece in the New York Times concerning whose rights are whose once the publishing house has put its resources into a manuscript to make it a salable product. Quite frankly, other than the amusing fact that he (an editor) wrote an essay not worthy of a high school freshman learning the basics of English composition, I don’t give a shit about what he thinks the publishers’ value-added rights are.

It was his exemplar of an author long dead, into whom marketing resources were invested to make him that success, that struck me as disingenuous. And a non sequitur. Or ignernt. Dude. You do realize that very few new authors are given these kinds of resources, right? Publishers throw new authors at the wall to see who sticks. There is no “development” counterpart to “research.”

Given that, I’ve moved on from a publisher’s resource allocation to be “risk pooling,” to “research and development,” to “shotgun approach.”

Hang with me—I know I’m only about the 1,537th person to say this, but I do have a point.

So yesterday on Teleread, Rich Adin from An American Editor opined that the way to save publishing is to kill the paperback. When the usual suspects (me) broke out with the usual reaction (Are you out of your fucking mind?), he shot back with, “Well, do you have any better ideas?”

Never mind I have no interest one way or another whether publishing remains profitable, and it’s not my job to put little slips in the suggestion box that will be ignored, and people (readers) have been screaming their fool heads off about what they want which would keep publishing profitable and publishing’s just not paying attention, I will tell you how to keep publishing profitable:

Do less research.

Put a little more development into your research.

Quit getting caught up in auction fever.

Embrace the e-book and treat it as deferentially as you do your other formats and respect those people willing to pay for it. Court them. Cultivate them. They have money to spend on books. Really.

The point is to make every title profitable, or as close to it as you can get.

But I don’t really think you care.

eBookWise

Want an ebook reader but can’t stomach the prices either for the devices, the data plans, or the ebooks?

Get an eBookWise.

ebookwise-banner

See, we all know the biggest objection to all the other devices on the market: Too expensive for a one-trick pony that you’re not even sure you like the trick anyway.

There are the lesser-known problems (until you encounter them): Kindle (could get your library taken away from you, and what if you really don’t like reading on an eInk device?). Nook (apparently shittastic all the way around—if the device can’t read EPUB, it’s an epic fail, trust me). Sony (I’ve heard various and sundry objections to this, so I’ll let you do the googling).

Then there are the people who are waiting on technology to work itself out before they pop for any device, and some of these people are waiting on the iTablet or MSCourier. They still might like to have an ebook reader, but can’t stomach the cost:limitation ratio of any current devices, so they’ll wait until technology catches up to their needs.

Now, it is true that LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of people read ebooks on their BlackBerry et al and iPhone/iTouch. It’s my opinion most people don’t want a one-trick pony device. They want a multifunction device. Why? Because *I* want a multifunction device and EVERYBODY is like me, right?

But…since I’m a cheap bitch and don’t want to fork over for the dataplan for a smartphone, I have a one-trick pony device, and you know what? I love my one-trick pony device. Mike Cane mocks me for it, but the more devices I see rumored, debuted, trashed, complained about, the more I fall in love with my little workhorse. Worse! He sees ebooks (currently) as little more than tarted-up text files (which is true).

So you know what’s so lovely about my little workhorse? It’s $90. That’s right. Know what you give up for that $90? You have to spend a little time learning A) which formats to buy for it and B) perform a few software gymnastics to get it on the device. I mean, for little more than a tarted-up text file, it’s absolutely the most perfect device ever, especially for the price.

Want a starter ebook reader that is ergonomically divine? Backlit so you can snuggle under the covers in the dark and read while staying all warm and toasty? That you can eat and read at the same time? That has a bunch of the same bells and whistles all the expensive devices do, like highlighting, notetaking, mp3 capability (audiobooks), search, long battery life, and the ability to put your own documents on it.

Get the eBookWise.

Really.

I don’t care how sophisticated it’s not. It’s a dream.

I have no connection to this company other than I love its product. I very rarely get so excited about a product and if I do, I very rarely maintain that excitement because eventually its flaws will make me pissy. I’ve had my eBookWise going on 2 years now and I love it more now than I ever did.

I swear, until such a time as A) the iTablet/MSCourier actually appears and B) ebooks cease to be little more than tarted-up text files, I see absolutely no reason to pop for anything else. I’m not anti early adopter. I’m anti early adopter of very expensive but ultimately deficient products in the very thing they are created to do.

And yes, I still have and love my Asus Eee PC, but um…it kinda sorta got appropriated by Hero, which is perfectly okay.

UPDATE: Mike Cane’s mockery continues.

mc-tweetHe sent me to this picture:

2009-02-0412-09-37-IMG_2610

The eBookWise is the one on the far right. It is a blimp, isn’t it? That is exactly why my hands love me for using it instead of anything else (including print). It’s also why it can stand up on the table, propped against a drinking glass, to enable me to read while I’m eating.

An ebook is not a book.

Print print digital printCan we find a word other than “book” as a descriptive for the digital version of glue-and-paper? The word “book” is way too loaded for those who profess a love of “that new book smell” and their reactionary hatred of digital delivery.

Print books and digital book are two completely different species. They don’t have to compete. They shouldn’t try to compete. Yes, the content is the same. Yes, the delivery system makes all the difference in the reading experience.

Consider the reading evolution:

Handhewn tablet → papyrus scroll → parchment leaves → illuminated manuscripts → Gutenberg Bible → mass market paperback → computer.

None of those are the same epistemologically or anatomically, so why is the progression to reading digitized text on a handheld device difficult to accept?

Just as a tablet is not a scroll, and a scroll is not an illuminated bundle of leaves, and an illuminated bundle of leaves is not a ream of paper saddlestitched and bound in leather. It is an electronic method of getting to text.

An ebook is not supposed to be like a printed book. Expecting it to be invites frustration on everybody’s part, and completely misses the point

Asus re-redux

I haven’t read any more on the Asus since my last post about it. However, it recently paid for itself when I had a computer emergency. For three days that little thing was an absolute workhorse. It was a little slow and klunky, but it did the job and it kept me earning money. I NEVER expected to need it for that.

So for around $250, I have an emergency work computer, an e-book reader on which I can read ANY DAMN FORMAT I WANT, listen to music, surf the net, keep my data, and write.

And I should buy a Kindle/Sony/Nook/JetBook . . . why?

More on the Asus

I haven’t used my eBookWise in a while. I’ve been reading *gasp* paper and on my Asus EeePC in my recliner. So last night I went back to my eBookWise.

It’s cold here (well, for early October, it is). It was toasty warm in my bed. I ducked under the covers and read my eBookWise, holding it in one hand (and the ergonomics on this are prescient).

I could not do that with the Asus.

Just sayin’.

The handy-dandy all-purpose digital reader

Some time back ago, I said I wanted an Asus EeePC to read digital books because it was kind of an all-purpose device. As time went on, I decided maybe I’d rather have an iPhone or a BlackBerry, but then I found out about their mandatory data plans and I’m a cheap bitch, so no thanks. I wanted something reasonably portable that I could 1) read digital books on in any format I wanted; 2) listen to music; 3) keep my personal data on (now that I have this awesome personal information management standalone app); and 4) to basically be able to haul my brain around with me. I don’t like talking on the phone, so I would rather not have one at all, but must. I want to keep the phone separate from my other tasks.

Anyhoo, money’s been a little too tight for frills, but then our old (you don’t want to know HOW old) desktops (all three) started nickel’n’diming us to death, so we bit the bullet. I have been given an assignment to return and report the specs and my digital reading experience.

The assignment:

On the Asus, install:

1) Adobe Reader
2) Adobe AIR
3) Adobe Digital Editions (requires AIR, hence 2)
4) Microsoft Reader
5) MobiPocket Desktop
6) Sony eBook Library
7) FBReader

Then BLOG wtf it’s like to use them on that Atom CPU. (You DO have ATOM, right, not Celeron?)

ADDITIONAL: Try a GOOGLE BOOKS PDF!!

Here are the specs:

Asus EeePC 901 (black, if you care)
Intel Atom
CPU N270
1.6 GHz
1.99 GB RAM
Windows XP Home
2-1/2 pounds (about the weight of Atlas Shrugged, I believe)
~5 hours battery life (>2 hours better than my Dell laptop)

Here’s a gallery with examples of Adobe Reader, ADE, Microsoft Reader, MobiPocket, and FBReader. I have no reason to care about Sony Reader, but will do later, and I haven’t done a Google Books PDF yet.

So, for the reading part. Thus far, I’ve just been on MobiPocket, reading Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder, in my recliner. For regular reading, it’s a bit heavy, but if you find your “sweet spot” where you can press the arrow with your thumb and still be comfortable holding it, you get used to it. Naturally, the back light is sweet in the dark.

The only real annoyance I have (besides the weight) so far is how long it takes to turn it on and off. It’s not like my eBookWise, where it’s one button and on, it turns itself off after 15 minutes (or whatever you set). The Asus acts like a computer because, well, it is.

More later after I’ve had a little more time with it.

LDS publishers, again, eBooks. Please!

I went over to Cedar Fort’s blog to look at stuff. Right off the bat, there are two books I wanted to read (okay, so maybe Shannon Hale didn’t traumatize me as much as I thought).

Altared Plans by Rebecca Cornish Talley

and

Deadly Treasure by Jillayne Clements (look at that gorgeous cover!)

Not in digital formats? (Not even Kindle.)

No sale.

Sorry.

Question: Do you LDS publishers realize how many members read their scriptures on their PDAs, SmartPhones, and iPhones? No? The Church gets it. Why don’t you? Maybe you need to venture forth east of the safety of the Rocky Mountains and attend a few wards to find out.

You have no idea how many sales you’re missing out on.

You lost two just with me.

At least, at the very least, get them into Kindle.

I’m cheeky

In case nobody’s noticed, my Perfect Bookstore post has garnered a wee bit of attention here and there around the interwebz, thanks to @RonHogan who linked me in GalleyCat and then Teleread picked me up.

ronhogantweet

I’ve been to very few of the pingbacks, but of the ones I have, quite a few of them described the post as cheeky*. I like that. I like that they recognized that instead of presenting it like I was completely serious and the plan/design was complete. I have lots of ideas about a whole lot of things. Most of them are half-assed.

*My vision of “cheeky” is Mary Poppins standing in front of her mirror and lightly chastising her reflection for one-upping her (at 3:00).

So, um, for non-regular visitors to the blog, I’m pretty cheeky about everything.

August reading list

Saturday night was the “Oscars” for romance, which is called RITA (no idea what that stands for, if anything). I saw something interesting in the results that made me form a hypothesis, and I want to test my hypothesis, so I’ll be reading the following books in August, which are the nominees for the “Novel with Strong Romantic Elements” category:

Last Dance At Jitterbug Lounge by Pamela Morsi
The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
The Paper Marriage by Susan Kay Law
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner (must ILL this one)
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Tribute by Nora Roberts
Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris

Aside: I was going to buy all these in ebook, but I had put the first three in my basket at BooksOnBoard and they were all just too damned expensive. So helloooooo Mid-Continent Public Library. I’ll read paper for free before I’ll plunk down $13+ for an ebook. Bite me, publishers. This is how you encourage pirates to steal your authors’ work and take money away from them. Please note deliberate sentence construction.

Also, I am on schedule (actually ahead of) for my July reading list.