History

Go Read This | Local publishers find new life by digitizing out-of-print, hard-to-find titles

Interesting piece throughout. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the way it illuminates just how much easier digital makes publishing, for everyone. Interesting too that the bookstore is seeing opportunities upstream from book-selling, driving its own revenues, something there has been too little discussion of in recent years among bookstores. If Amazon is doing a good ob of gathering exclusive ebook content through KDP, there’s many reasons to believe that bookstores are even better positioned to capture this kind of exclusivity at a local level, to act as publishers for that material and to profit from it too:

The Imai Shoten bookstore chain, based in the western prefecture of Shimane, published the electronic edition of “Shutei Kunchu Meigetsuki” (Revised Version of Annotated Meigetsuki) in October. Meigetsuki is the diary of famed “waka” poet Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241).

The bookstore chain released the first edition of the annotated diary in the form of a printed book in eight volumes in 2002, selling 200 copies and winning high praise. The company had also been working to publish a revised edition of the title, but could not do so because estimated benefits were not worth the required costs.

“It would be impossible to release the revised work without digitizing it,” says Yasuhiko Tago, chairman of the bookstore firm. “I believe that we will be able to turn the introduction of e-books into a great opportunity for the publishing world.”

via Local publishers find new life by digitizing out-of-print, hard-to-find titles – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun.

Making Things Happen: The Irish Story’s Apps

It’s been an incredibly busy few months for me in lots of ways. But I’ve also managed to get a few things shipped as Seth Godin might put it. So I thought I’d write a few posts about them.

One of the things I’ve managed to get done is submitting all five of The Irish Story‘s first set of ebooks into the iTunes App store. Some of them (Rebellion, Famine and Easter Rising) are already live and available. The final two (Civil War and Independence) will go live soon.

Since I finished at Mercier Press and decided to create The Irish Story, Apps and ebooks were always my focus, the ebooks were the easier part to create, the Apps took a little longer so I’m very glad we are there with them now.

It has been a great experience, which I mostly put down to the talent and commitment of our wonderful co-publisher, Mike Hyman at Collca. I first came across Collca in late October when I found the wonderful History in An Hour Series, which I discovered Collca co-published.

That find sparked an e-mail, a phone call and a contract agreement within a fortnight and now a five app publishing schedule in the space of six weeks. Things can truly move rapidly in the digital publishing space can’t they?

I’ve written before that I don’t believe that Apps are the future and that ebooks are a distraction. Oddly enough I don’t see the fact that I publish ebooks and apps as a contradiction of those writings. Rather I believe a publisher should be ensuring that all their material gets out on the market in as many ways as possible.

So rather than one edition or one format, books should appear online, as ebooks, apps, printed editions or whatever else they can reasonable be packaged as. Brian O’Leary who writes cogently and well about issues in publishing calls this agile content widely deployed.

I like to think that The Irish Story Apps are just one example of that!

Some App Love: Osprey’s Military History Quiz

I downloaded the free version of Osprey’s The Military History Quiz App last week and I just wanted to give it a quick word of praise*.

Simply put, it’s excellent. It combines some excellent design with great questions and a very clever in-App purchase set of options.

First the design which is smooth and consistent and looks good throughout the app. It has a sufficiently martial theme to keep the military-history nerd in me happy.

The questions are tough enough, even in the free section, to challenge both the novice and the knowledgeable history buff. As they progress though they sure do get harder!

And it’s that progression that makes the in-App buying options so smart. For only €0.79 you can upgrade the levels to reach 1 Star General status. After that it’s €2.39 a level OR you can choose to pay €5.99 for every level in one go (the levels go to 4 Star General) including the first one.

I have to admit, the App punctured many of my illusions about my knowledge base when it comes to military history, but I guess that’s a small downside when you learn so much along the way!

It’s a fine piece of work, it works smoothly and I hope it generates huge sales for Osprey who have a real can-do, will-do, try-anything spirit that’s hard not to admire in the modern publishing environment.

I’m sure they are working on the Sci-Fi & Fantasy version of the quiz too (Osprey also owns Angry Robot, a relatively new Sci-Fi & Fantasy imprint).

Eoin

*It’s probably fair to note that I know one or two of the folks that work at Osprey well enough to have a chat at the odd Book Fair or over Twitter, but I’ve never worked for the company. I’ve written about them before a few times though.

Go Read This | Christopher Moore’s History News: HIstory of Technology

Smart AND simple!

But some of us write and read on computer screens. For that, it still makes sense to have text lines that are not too long for comprehension and to have screens that can show us quite a few lines of text at once. That is, our ideal screen would be something more like the shape of an 8×11 sheet of paper, taller than it is wide.

via Christopher Moore’s History News: HIstory of Technology.

Quick Link | Tall tales from history: Are historians best placed to write historical fiction? – Features, Books – The Independent

Really love this line, but it’s a pretty good article all told!

The trick is to minimize those liberties, and to make sure that when you’re writing about historical figures you “stay true to the spirit of that person”. This was the advice given to me by the late and great George Macdonald Fraser, author of the Flashman novels, whom I interviewed shortly before his death in 2008.

He claimed to have broken this rule only twice – with Otto von Bismarck, the architect of German unification, and Nicholas Ignatieff, a Russian adventurer and spy – and felt justified in doing so because the former “was a swine” and the latter “a pretty hard man” if not an arch-villain. A made-up protagonist, of course, gives the author the greatest licence, but even he or she must not stretch credulity too far.

via Tall tales from history: Are historians best placed to write historical fiction? – Features, Books – The Independent.

The Election of Jack Murphy in 1957 | The Irish Story

Interesting and scarily relevant article about an unemployed TD in 1957 Ireland.

In the Dáil / Hunger strike
Murphy had difficulty trying to get answers to even the most basic questions in the Dáil. He could not even get an answer to how much unemployment relief money was being spent in Dublin.[32]

In May Murphy and two other members of the UPC, Tommy Kavanagh and Jimmy Byrne, began a hunger strike to highlight unemployment and to protest against the removal of food subsidies in the budget.[33]

The hunger strike lasted four days and each evening thousands of protestors gathered on the corners of Abbey Street and O’Connell Street.[34] Resolutions of support came in from trade union branches all over the country and there were demands for a one day strike.

via The Election of Jack Murphy in 1957 | The Irish Story.