Basically what they are offering is six classic titles with blank covers allowing you to draw, paste or even to build your own cover with beads. From the post:
The covers are art-quality paper, and from internal Penguin efforts we know that they hold ink, paint, pencil and glue (see the first efforts here). Each one comes shrink-wrapped so the paper doesn’t get dirty, and I hope people might give them as gifts.
Now doesn’t that sound cool to you? It sure does to me. They have set up an online gallery here and they already have some of their own samples posted.
The titles are:
Meditations: Marcus Aurelius
Crime and Punishment: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Magic Tales: The Brothers Grimm
The Waves: Virginia Woolf
The Picture of Dorian Gray: Oscar Wilde
Emma: Jane Austen
A really innovative and impressive move by Penguin.
Google have twoposts this morning talking up their improvements to Google Book Search.
From the Official Google Blog:
You really do have to hand it to them, they have vastly improved the readability of the online books, even offering a double page spread and a new non-reloading view which looks much better than their previous efforts. Overall the functionality at the reading stage is better and smoother and feel like the service should have to begin with!
I suspect that this is an important move for those more mobile in their reading than I however. The whole interface appears ready made for an internet enabled mobile electronic reading device. Now that is on my part total speculation but go look at this example and see what I mean.
Basically it is as if Google have reworked this product and released a version that works like we expected it would work when we h=first heard the concept. It equals anything out there right now for viewing e-books, even the flashy new Adobe Digital Editions I mentioned previously.
It seems to me that the recent news that the company was focussing on features instead of products (read this LA Times piece for more on that) seems to be great news for some of their heretofore rather ignored tools. For all the controversy that Book Search has generatedit has never been the most reader friendly.
Of course it might also have something to do with this.
But who am I to suggest that Google fears the oncoming competition?
The Wiley acquisition of Blackwells (of which more here) seems to have generated a huge body of interest amongst searchers on the web. My page-views yesterday doubled and the bulk of those views were of the tiny post I had noting the acquisition. Richard Charkin speculates a little and explains more in his blog today.
At first I was puzzled but on consideration it reminded me of a similar scenario with a post I wrote on Ottakars several months ago. It has proven to be an enormous success and has drawn massive search traffic (massive at least in my terms) to the site.
Is it something to do with English Bookstores & Publishing firms? Are they considered more established? Or are English book buyers and writers more attached to their bookish institutions?
I for one do not know but I remain intrigued by the massive interest these topics generate and would welcome any views!
As An Aside:
It is often so hard to know where traffic comes from on the web and thus almost impossible to determine who you are actually reaching (If you doubt me search for traffic stats or page view statistics on the web and see the masses of companies offering services. Why so many if nobody needs or wants them?). There are some very interesting blogs on these topics like Datamining which I heartily recommend visiting from time to time.
Working towards a Happy Christmas (first mention this year, at least here)
So the question arises of what the options for distribution are for any given author and I thought it would really help to go over everything there is methodically both traditional, less traditional and new.
~A Full Service Publishing House: Okay so this is the old school, old flavour, way of getting published. You submit your manuscript and it emerges from the slush pile, [or not]catches the eye of an editor and they offer you a deal. Lately this route has been closing and it has become more regular (especially in Fiction) to have an agent make the deal happen. The agent champions the manuscript and negotiates the deal and also acts a pre-selector or initial filter for the publisher.
You will not be asked to pay for publication and you will be paid a royalty (and more than likely an advance). The publisher will do their best to market the book but in all likelihood as a first time author much of the support will be your doing and you will need to be good at it to build momentum (unless you are a celebrity, preferably a chef). of course they do solve the distribution issues [most of the time].
~ Vanity Publisher: A good vanity publisher will always let you know where you stand. You are paying them to publish your book, it is that simple. They will not pretend to be a publisher with a sales channel, they will not pretend to have an outlet that will build sales and recognition just you pay money and you get books, it is not a bad deal, it is necessary sometimes and is a route to market for some people who really know what they are planning and how to get there. They may offer some associated services, like distribution and order fulfilment but it should cost more and also be up to you to find buyers.
I think to be fair to the changing field of Self-Publishing that it needs a clean post of its own. I will set that up and hopefully run it before the end of the week.