Posts tagged “publishing”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Day It All Changed: The BookServer project – BookServer is a framework of tools and activities. It is an open-architectured set of tools that allow for the discoverability, distribution, and delivery of electronic books by retailers, librarians, and aggregators, all in a way that makes for a very easy and satisfying experience for the reader, on whatever device they want.

    The Internet Archive expanded the availability of books to millions of people who never had access before, bringing knowledge to places that had never had it. Who knows what new markets that will create, or more importantly what new minds will contribute to our collective wisdom as a result of that access. In the same motion, Brewster demonstrated a world where free can coexist with the library borrowing model, and with the commercial marketplace. Protecting the interests of both of those important constituencies in this ecosystem. He also portrayed every 'closed system' including our big retail friends and search engine giants, as small potatoes.

  • Stack America: Freedom from Choice + Surprise + Curation – Stack America is the subscription service that brings the best in hard-to-find independent magazines directly to your home or office. Based in New England and created in response to the huge demand for Stack from American subscribers, it exists to offer a targeted selection of independent magazines for anyone subscribing in the USA and beyond. (via DesignObserver)
  • ANONthology – The Anonthology is an experimental project to assess the importance placed on name and reputation over quality of writing. Amongst the writers contained within we have Orange and Genius Prize winners, Booker and Pulitzer Prize nominees. We have one author who’s sold over half a million copies, another who’s written over fifty books. But can you tell which is which? And how does it change the reading experience, not knowing if the author is young or old, male or female?

    (via Springwise)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Book Industry Turns A Page on Talk of the Nation (NPR) – The Kindle, the iPhone and other electronic book readers have changed the way many people read — and left some in the publishing industry desperate for new ways to make money. A new venture from the, will soon upend the traditional publishing model. With Peter Osnos, Founder of Public Affairs Books and Former Vice President at Random House, Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, and ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  • Google to launch online electronic book store – Google plans to launch an online store to deliver electronic books to any device with a web browser, threatening to upset a burgeoning market for dedicated e-readers dominated by Amazon's Kindle. They will be initially offering about half a million e-books in partnership with publishers with whom it already cooperates where they have digital rights. Readers will be able to buy e-books either from Google directly or from other online stores such as or Google will host the e-books and make them searchable.

    "We're not focused on a dedicated e-reader or device of any kind," Tom Turvey, Google's director of strategic partnerships, told journalists at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

  • Barnes & Noble Taps Kindle Designer For Its AthenaNook e-Book Reader – Ammunition supposedly did the original Kindle and is now supposedly doing the Barnes & Noble device. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the Core77 1HDC Reading Ahead results!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Jobs on the Kindle, January 2008 – Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.

    “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

  • Roger Ebert’s Books Do Furnish A Life (plus a ton of amazing comments) – I cannot throw out these books. Some are protected because I have personally turned all their pages and read every word; they're like little shrines to my past hours. Perhaps half were new when they came to my life, but most are used, and I remember where I found every one. The set of Kipling at the Book Nook on Green Street in Champaign. The scandalous The English Governess in a shady book store on the Left Bank in 1965. The Shaw plays from Cranford's on Long Street in Cape Town, where Irving Freeman claimed he had a million books; it may not have been a figure of speech. Like an alcoholic trying to walk past a bar, you should see me trying to walk past a used book store.

    Other books I can't throw away because–well, they're books, and you can't throw away a book, can you? The very sight of Quick and Easy Chinese Cooking by Kenneth H. C. Lo quickens my pulse. Its pages are stained by broth, sherry, soy sauce and chicken fat.

  • Seats Of Gold – A writer's experience in the newly-redefined "luxury" seats at the new Yankee Stadium. Fascinating as Wall Street hyper-greed spills into other industries and illustrates how to kill loyalty dead. Hard to summarize this piece, but it's a great case study and a well-written piece as the author documents their own experience supplemented with a lot of background interviews.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Things I Would Rather Read On Paper – I recently built up a hefty backlog of unread articles, and the prospect of reading them all on a laptop or iPhone screen seemed like more of a chore than a pleasure. I should really get around to actually reading some of these things that I'm saving to Read Later. Something had obviously gone wrong. I had personally curated a series of articles, blog posts and essays that I was genuinely interested in, but somehow the resulting collection felt like a to-do list, yet another inbox on my computer waiting to be un-bolded. What I really wanted was a nicer user interface to these articles. So I copy-and-pasted the text of my unread articles from Instapaper into a PDF, uploaded it to, and ordered a single book.
  • As innovative products are introduced, category boundaries are continually shifting and new categories emerging – Lexar Media, a digital photography start-up founded in 1996, sold memory cards. They used a variety of signals to persuade early adopters, especially professional photographers, to classify the memory cards that store pictures as similar to the silver halide film used in analog cameras.

    Lexar Media’s product was put in gold packaging similar to Kodak’s film cartridges, given a speed rating to create an analogy to ISO ratings, labeled as “digital film” on the package and in advertising, and placed in the camera section of retail stores.

    Sony promoted a competing categorization, labeling its cards “Memory Stick” and advocating their use for many of the company’s consumer electronics devices, including digital music players, handhelds and digital camcorders. Other companies also adopted this broader memory classification, so Lexar Media’s success in establishing memory cards as analogous to film was short-lived, and the company stopped promoting the cards as digital film.

  • Will Piracy Become a Problem for E-Books? – Until now, few readers have preferred e-books to printed or audible versions, so the public availability of free-for-the-taking copies did not much matter. But e-books won’t stay on the periphery of book publishing much longer. E-book hardware is on the verge of going mainstream. More dedicated e-readers are coming, with ever larger screens. So, too, are computer tablets that can serve as giant e-readers, and hardware that will not be very hard at all: a thin display flexible enough to roll up into a tube.

    With the new devices in hand, will book buyers avert their eyes from the free copies only a few clicks away that have been uploaded without the copyright holder’s permission? Mindful of what happened to the music industry at a similar transitional juncture, book publishers are about to discover whether their industry is different enough to be spared a similarly dismal fate.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Books, Printing, and Self-Publishing » Lone Gunman – In an age of increasing digitization, objects become more valuable. And that value is the reason print media will not die, even if it does shrink. My prediction for print media, therefore, is two-fold: you will see small run, local editions of hardbound books and quick, cheap paperbacks. Couple this with our new attitudes on the democratization of content online and you are going to find quite a number of people self-publishing books. In fact, there are number of folks doing interesting things already:
  • Hybrid Books Add Video and Web Features to Reading – In the age of the iPhone, Kindle and YouTube, the notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment.

    Simon & Schuster is working with a multimedia partner to release four “vooks,” which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read ­ and viewed ­ online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

    Anthony E. Zuiker, creator of the television series “CSI,” released “Level 26: Dark Origins,” a novel ­ published on paper, as an e-book and in an audio version ­ in which readers are invited to log on to a Web site to watch brief videos that flesh out the plot.

    Some publishers say this kind of multimedia hybrid is necessary to lure modern readers who crave something different. But reading experts question whether fiddling with the parameters of books ultimately degrades the act of reading.

  • New York Art Book Fair Bustles at P.S. 1 Arts Center in Queens – If you harbor even a speck of doubt about the continuing viability of hold-in-your-hand-and-turn-the-pages print publications, check out the New York Art Book Fair this weekend. You’ll find thousands of new books — smart, weird, engrossing, beautiful — that will never be Kindle-compatible. They’ll make you feel good.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Richard Eoin Nash, Social Publisher – What “social” means is that there’s going to be more information about books, more scope to interact with the books (your own commenting & annotating and reading others’), more scope to interact with the author, more scope to interact with one another. (This latter item, to get semi-techy for a sec, is something that the broad horizontal book social networks—Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari—do well, though, so we’re likely to focus on using their APIs rather than asking people to build their own bookshelves anew.)

    “Social” is taking the book and making it much easier to have a conversation with the book and its writer, and have conversations around the book and its writer.

  • L-Prize – Lighting Competition – I've written before in frustration about money spent to push the CFL at us instead of spending money solving the product problem. The DOE is sponsoring the L-Prize to create a low-energy bulb. "The competition also includes a rigorous evaluation process for proposed products, designed to detect and address product weaknesses before market introduction, to avoid problems with long-term market acceptance."
  • Princeton tests of Kindles for textbooks doesn’t go well for Kindle – “Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs,” he explained. “All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.”

    “For some people,” she explained, “electronic reading can never replace the functionality and ‘feel’ of reading off paper.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • David Byrne’s Kindle experience – One of Amazon’s selling points is instant gratification. You want a book and you can have it in about a minute.
    Here’s where the rub is. This machine only reads Kindle files and PDFs. And nothing else out there reads Kindle files. It can read other types of files — Word DOCs, MOBI, TXT etc. — but you have to go through Amazon via email, where they’re converted for a small charge, then sent directly to your Kindle. And, you can’t share a book with your friends, even if they too have a Kindle.
    The slightly strange electronic ink system in the Kindle (and in the Sony Reader) has no backlight — so, like a book, you can’t read it in bed at night without a nightlight.
    Do I miss the “physical experience”? I will certainly miss being able to read books from my personal library, but if the title I want to read is all text it doesn’t make much difference to me. The smell will be a bit of nostalgia, as will fading and water damage.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Summer Reading Programs Gain Momentum for Students About to Enter College – Nationwide, hundreds of colleges and universities, large and small, public and private, assign first-year students a book to read over the summer, hoping to create a sense of community and engage students intellectually.

    While there are no reliable statistics on summer reading programs, a recent survey of more than 100 programs by a student researcher at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., found that most had started in the last four years, although a few go back decades.

    The range of books colleges use is enormous, covering fiction and nonfiction. Classics are largely absent, with most of the works chosen falling closer to Oprah than academic.

    Still, a certain canon of summer reading is emerging: books that are readable, short, engaging, cheap. Often, it helps if the book is a best seller dealing with some aspect of diversity, some multicultural encounter — and if the author will come to speak on campus.

  • Canada Reads — CBC Radio – Canada Reads celebrates five Canadian books for three months online, on the air and at public events. It all leads up to a week-long show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. In this annual title fight, five celebrity panelists defend their favourite work of Canadian fiction. One by one, books are voted off the list, until one panelist triumphs with the book for Canada to read this year.
  • Beyond the Book – Beyond the Book: Mass Reading Events and Contemporary Cultures of Reading in the UK, USA and Canada is a 3-year interdisciplinary research project.

    Our main objectives are to determine why and how people come together to share reading through a comparative study of selected mass reading events.

    The mass reading event is a new, proliferating literary phenomenon. Events typically focus on a work of literary fiction and employ the mass media as a means of promoting participation in the themed activities and discussions that take place around the selected book. Beyond the Book uses research methodologies drawn from both the humanities and social sciences to investigate whether mass reading events attract new readers and marginalized communities. We also wish to determine whether this contemporary version of shared reading fosters new reading practices and even whether it is capable of initiating social change.

  • "ONE BOOK" READING PROMOTION PROJECTS (Center for the Book: Library of Congress) – "One Book" projects (community-wide reading programs), initiated by the Washington Center for the Book in 1998, are being introduced across the U.S.A. and around the world. Here's lengthy list of authors, communities, and dates.
  • The Big Read – The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

    The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from American and world literature. This initiative supports innovative reading programs in selected communities, providing engaging educational resources for discussing outstanding literature and conducting expansive outreach and publicity campaigns, and a Web site offering comprehensive information about the authors and their works.

  • Literary Reading in Dramatic Decline, According to National Endowment for the Arts Survey – (July 8, 2004) Literary reading is in dramatic decline with fewer than half of American adults now reading literature, according to a National Endowment for the Arts survey released today. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America reports drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline – 28 percent – occurring in the youngest age groups. The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers. The rate of decline is increasing and, according to the survey, has nearly tripled in the last decade.
  • 15 Books That Have Stuck With You (yet another of those Facebook etc. "memes" that are more like chain letters than memes) – Pick 15 books that will always stick with you. Don't take more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose.
  • My pictures from Belgium 2009 (345 of 'em!) – Here's the whole set on Flickr. I'll continue to blog highlights from the trip.
  • Google book project far from settled – As the deadline draws near for authors and publishers to opt out of a proposed legal settlement allowing Google Inc. to forge ahead with plans to scan millions of books, more opponents of the landmark deal are stepping forward, and the local literary world is growing more perplexed.

    "Smart people, major players that are sophisticated in the ways of publishing, are still at loggerheads," said Ted Weinstein, a San Francisco literary agent. He said they're not just arguing whether the deal is good or bad, "but still expressing disagreement about what exactly it will do. That's a problem."

5 year of Portigal @ Core

Last week’s IDSA conference was personally significant as it marked five years since a random chat in the IDSA02 gallery turned into a productive relationship with the fine folks at Core77.

I wrote up my thoughts on that conference, and then a piece about Meary, a quintessentially Japanese product that is stickers to turn ordinary objects into faces. Kawaii, anyone?

Since then, I’ve blogged extensively over there, continued to write articles, done some fun podcasts, and even presented at Core77’s top-shelf Design 2.0 event.

This wide-ranging and rewarding collaboration reached a new plateau last week, after the Core77 ICSID/IDSA party, where I assumed the role of official designated driver.

Here’s to the next five years!

Dead Men Tell Tales

The New York Times looks at Ludlum and other dead authors who continue to (sorta) release books. This isn’t new; in recent years we’ve seen post-Frank Herbert Dune and other Asimov/Robots books. John Gardner and others have been writing James Bond books for a while now. But as media continues to talk about “brands” and (ugh) “franchises” then I guess this is what we’re in for. It’s easier to sell (and buy) something that is already known that break through with something new. Movies into games. Games into movies. Sequels. Prequels. Remakes. The book people may just be getting started.

Whether it is fair to readers to publish the Ludlum books posthumously – in the form of spruced-up old manuscripts or new novels written by others – is not a serious concern to the estate or to Grand Central Publishing, the former Warner Books, where the rights to all new novels moved from St. Martin’s Press.

“I don’t think anyone objects as long as you maintain the quality of the book,” Mr. Morrison said. “The Sherlock Holmes novels have been a business since ‘The Seven-Percent Solution,’ and some have been better than others. It’s the characters that interest people.”

Solicitation Chutzpah

About a year ago, an editor at New Design Magazine pursued me aggressively to write an article for them, based on what they’d seen on this blog and elsewhere on the web. We batted around some ideas and I agreed to do it. They weren’t going to pay me, which sucks, but is somewhat par-for-the-course in our content-bloated world.

It got awkward when they did agree to pay an author I referred them to (a colleague of mine), and further awkward when my piece (created under a serious publication deadline) didn’t appear. Indeed, trying to find out what was happening with my piece was difficult; they just stopped returning my messages once they had their free article. As far as I know, they never ran it, but they never communicated any final decision back to me, either.

Perhaps this serves me right for not insisting on payment, and for not having any sort of formal agreement. But if they are going to use karmic currency, they better get their account back in balance. I’m obviously never going to write for them again.

So it was astonishing to see a solicitation in my email today, inviting me to purchase print advertising in their magazine. Now I should give them money? “The cost for each full page would be ¬£950, but new design will go fifty:50 with you on this rate. You pay just ¬£475.”

Shyeah, right.

Snakes in a Tube, 2001

This is how they display snakes in the “natural history” museum at Big Basin campground. And this is my 3000th picture posted to flickr. About as exciting, I guess, as seeing the numbers on your odometer roll over, but worth sharing here so we can stop for a moment and consider how the extent of the publishing we are able to do with blogs, flickr, podcasting, and so on. That’s a lot of content to share, 3000 pictures. I’m sure some amateur photographers (especially in the days of film) could never create that many images. But this isn’t even about creation – it’s the amount of photos I’ve been able to post in a public medium.
And flickr tells you how many times they’ve been seen. Some pictures end up being very popular. Perhaps a few have never been looked at (although I’d guess it’s very very few; most seem to have been viewed a few times; the older ones, even the less popular ones, have a surprising number of views). Being a publisher, who can create and present content for others to view is a whole other experience. Flickr has given me some structure, even motivation, for being involved in photography. I have some need to act on my pictures, even if that is to simply upload ’em and title ’em, and that structure has (for me) increased my enjoyment.

[Ironic, perhaps, that this photo wasn’t actually taken by me, but is still “my” photo.]

Update: 3,000th picture, not so much

Spin story

I bitched about Spin magazine and questioned the notion of relaunch vs. loyalty vs. targeting in a previous post, only to read in Wired (in a piece by Chris Anderson excerpted from the just-released The Long Tail”) that “money-losing Spin magazine was just, well, spun off for a fire-sale sum.” Wikipedia sez

[Under the direction of new editor-in-chief Andy Pemberton] The [May 2006] issue’s format took a dramatic turn to many readers’ disgust. The new style has been compared to celebrity gossip magazines such as Us Weekly, even going as far as to have a cover story and picture on Kevin Federline. Prior to the issue’s release, much of the staff quit or were fired.


As of June 26, 2006, Andy Pemberton resigned from Spin as editor-in-chief amid much criticism of his handling of the magazine.


Vibe’s recent sale of the magazine for only $5 million, given the fact that VIBE paid over $45 million for the publication in 1997.

I left my last issue at the post office, didn’t even take it home to flip through. I didn’t even open the magazine before discarding it. Sad, really.

Meanwhile, Chuck Klosterman has created a big stir in the blogosphere with his Esquire article about the lack of criticism in the gaming scene.

My photos are news photos?

GTA must halt Michigan garbage shipments by 2010 is a news story that uses one of my flickr photos, with permission. They’ve got some nifty interface going; I received an email on flickr asking if they could use my picture; all I had to do was click on a URL and indicate yes or no on a web form. If yes, the photo gets published, and credit is given to me. It’d be nice if credit would linkback to either flickr or some other page, rather than NowPublic.Com (who runs the site), but whatever. I think it’s a neat way to do it – make it easy for people to say yes, make it easy for publishers to get photos for use in stories.


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