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Findings

Here’s something I think you’ll like. An simple yet elegant social network built around your Kindle captions called Findings: http://findings.com/

Allows you to import your existing Kindle captions as well as capturing new ones automatically as they hit your Kindle highlights page. For those without Kindles, well…umm…well there is the option of highlighting text on webpage…

I still like it.… Read more

Digital Writers’ mini-conference

One of the biggest challenges facing writers in 2011 is choice.

Almost as loud as the voice that asks are we going to write today? are new accompanying (and irritating) voices asking who are we writing for?, what format should we write in?, which word processor?, what genre is this?, how should we publish? and finally: do we have the right font to start with?

This saturation of choice can be debilitating at any stage of writing, as it often feels that it’s no longer as simple as deciding to bunker down and ‘just write’ (as if that were easy to begin with!).

Increasingly, the craft of writing is linked to the business of writing, with new pathways to success and collaboration open to writers able to diversify away from ‘just writing’ and instead acquire skills such as HTML coding, search engine optimisation, video editing and social media. Skills that no writer would have likely ever heard of prior to a few decades ago.

At times this new state seems daunting. The expansion of choice can add a new layer of weighty, and potentially useless, overhead to the more primal task of getting words to the page.

But understanding the landscape, checking your compass (choose the more … Read more

Three months with Kindle – Part 2

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In Part 1 of this review, I looked at the changes the Kindle has made to my book purchasing and selection habits. In Part 2, I'll give more detail into the reading experience compared to a book, and look at where the technology is headed in the future.

Read Part 1 of this review here.

In many ways the Kindle 3 offers an improved reading experience over a print book, but it’s not an end game comparison. There is nothing offered yet that vastly alters the core solitary reading experience humans have honed over the last few thousand years. But things are definitely starting to change.

Outside of the refined title selection and purchasing process, most of Kindle’s reading ‘advantages’ could be seen as sacrifices.

For example, one handed reading is a significant improvement, that’s achievable through the Kindle’s diminished size and weight, and the removal of page turning. By removing an aspect of a book’s tactile nature, Kindle gains its advantage. But if you are a book lover, and you love the tactile feel of books, the coarse edge of the next page curling beneath your thumb, then you will mourn the loss.

Some will see it one way, many will see it another. And in that way perhaps Kindle actually takes us a step back and refocuses attention on the contents of the book, and away from the packaging. What is obvious though, is that few will ever love the Kindle in the same … Read more

Three months with Kindle – Part 1

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It took me 31 years to buy a Kindle. All those years, from infancy to adolescence and part way to adulthood, I’ve known only one way to read a book.

How significant then that after just 3 months with a Kindle, I am re-thinking the past 31 years of reading.

Let me start by apologising for the length of this Kindle review.  Either I am incapable of coalescing my thoughts succinctly, or the issue of book vs Kindle is a just wordy nut worth cracking. I’ll let you decide which. To soften the blow, I have decided to serve the meal in two parts, and I’ll be posting Part 2 of this review tomorrow. Pease come back if you’re still hungry.

To whet your appetite for what’s to come, I’ve collected some of my more rash statements from the review and summarised them below:

  1. I have no doubt that ebooks will replace print as the dominant mode of reading books within five years.
  2. Books will remain in existence as long as bookshelves are being made.
  3. Book loving and reading are independent concepts.
  4. In the spectrum of possibilities for ereading, Kindle hardly rates as a single colour. A pale blue at best.
  5. Cloud based reading is the only viable solution to ending Amazon’s growing monopoly.

That over with, now let me tell you about Kindle.

I mentioned already that ereading will … Read more

Electric Literature

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto Electric Literature, a Brooklyn ‘based’ literary journal with an intriguing approach to distribution and author payment.

Shying away from traditionally expensive hard copy distribution methods, the guys at Electric Literature have embraced a host of digital and print-on-demand options for their shiny short fiction journal. The new options reportedly allow Electric to reduce up-front costs, lower financial risk and ensure that the bulk of each edition’s revenue goes toward fair payment for contributing writers.

To publish the paperback version of Electric Literature, we use print-on-demand; the eBook, Kindle, iPhone, and audio versions are digital. This eliminates our up-front printing bill. Rather than paying $5,000 to one printer, we pay $1,000 to five writers, ensuring that our writers are paid fairly. Our anthology is available anywhere in the world, overruns aren’t pulped, and our back issues are perpetually in print.

The print-on-demand paperback is priced at $10 ($19 for international orders) and each electronic edition at $5. They’ve recently added a rather spiffy iPad app to the mix (available internationally) and while in the past I’ve been pretty vocal with my feelings about reading novels on a back-lit screen, short fiction on the … Read more

granta on kindle

It's one of my goals in life to get published in Granta. Originally founded in 1889, the magazine uncovers the work of new writers and in doing so, has amassed an impressive list of past contributors, including David Eggars, Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name just a few.

Only just recently the magazine completed the ‘restoration’ of its digital archives, which readers can now dip into and access any past issue from 1979 onwards, for the cost of a single edition.

Whilst the magazine’s roots are still firmly set in the print tradition, the Granta team seem eager to explore new formats; the digital archives join Granta’s new iphone app and the release of its last edition (113) on the Kindle ereader.

From the Granta site:

While there will be some who fear the journey from page to screen, the medium is not the message – and in the case of good writing, nothing gets lost in the ether. Pixels do not sully a finely sculpted phrase, they simply illuminate it. The gift of digitization, in fact, is that for the first time ever it is possible to view the entire sweep of Granta’s history in a few clicks.

Of course Granta aren’t releasing all their chips at once. The quickest way to receive the latest edition, Aliens (pictured below), is by purchasing the print edition. Exciting, nonetheless.

Read more

Readings ebooks launches in Australia: a very long review

Monday's launch of the Readings ebook store is an important first step in providing book lovers with improved access to Australian authors in the digital realm.

Whilst market leaders Amazon and Borders will probably always reign supreme in terms of raw volume of listed ebook titles, their selection of lesser known titles – particularly those from Australian publishers – have often been lacking.

In fact, much has already been made of discrepancies between the US and Australian kindle store, and the lengths people have gone to to circumvent the problem.

Over the last few months I’ve been back and forth over the decision to buy an ereader. After recently experiencing the complex process my parents went through to manoeuver around international copyright restriction roadblocks and finally purchase Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections for their two e-reader devices, I decided I could wait a while longer to jump on that wagon.

Buying a book, online or off, has never been anything but pleasurable for me. There are few more satisfying feelings than strolling the isles of a well stocked bookstore or receiving a word heavy package on my doorstep after returning from work.

Personally, I don’t mind paying extra for a tangible product, and for many smaller Australian publishers, there hasn’t exactly been a choice. That is, until now. Read more…

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