Interesting piece by Robert McCrum. Not sure I agree entirely with him, but there’s much to like, and a good recommendation or two as well.
There’s a lot that’s passionate and useful in Schiffrin’s anguished analysis. He is right to identify a healthy market as the key to a vital culture and vigorous democracy. His heart is certainly in the right place, but strangely, for a book entitled Words and Money, he never fully addresses the thorny question of “free”, as articulated by Anderson, James Boyle (The Public Domain) and Lawrence Lessig (Free Culture). I wish he had because this goes to the heart of the crisis faced by print at the moment.
Books, like newspapers, are an essentially middle-class phenomenon whose market is the self-improving professional. As a bourgeois medium, books and their authors depend on the cash nexus. Johnson went straight to the point with: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”
via Google’s publishing free for all undermines our literary tradition | Books | The Observer.
I posted the news part of this over on Irish Publishing News but I thought I add some thoughts about it here, where I’m free to comment.
The News Bit
Apple‘s iBooks program is now available for download for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but only after users update their iPhone & iPod Touch operating systems to the new iOS4.
Irish readers do not yet have access to paid titles in Apple’s iBookstore, the iTunes for books, but they can download free Project Gutenberg ebooks to the iPod or iPhone and can also read the free Winnie The Pooh ebook that comes pre-loaded in Apple’s iBooks.
Read The Rest
The Review Bit
First things first, iBooks on my iPod Touch is terribly slow. Slow to load the bookself, slow to load a book once clicked on and slow to respond to gestures. I’m used to that though, I find pretty much all ereading software on the Touch slow. It’s one of my major issues with ereading.
Once you get over that it has some decent features, the Dictionary, Highlight, Note and Search features for instance are pretty damn good and invoked fairly easily. I like them all and find them useful. I expect much more so with books other than Winne The Pooh.
And it’s there that my biggest problem arises. Right now all I can get is free Project Gutenberg ebooks and the free Winnie The Pooh book provided by Apple. Hopefully when the iPad goes on sale we will actually see some recent or new books for sale. There is no word yet on iPad pricing in Ireland but we can assume that it will be close to the price in France and Germany, €499.
The actual reading experience is not noticeably different to Amazon’s Kindle App, certainly not good enough to make me change unless the selection and price is worth the discomfort. Overall I’d say that iBooks is adequate, no better or worse than pretty much all the other ereading software for the Touch. Maybe that will change once I actually use the iPad itself rather than iBooks on the Touch.
Waiting seems to be the theme of the day!
The wonderful people over at The Book Depository have rolled out a free ebook program. Kieron Smith, Managing Director of The Book Depository, said [in their press release]:
We wanted to give our customers a really wonderful present this Christmas. We’re continually working to increase the number of books that we have available on our website – 2.4 million at present, which is an unparalled number. Ebooks are much talked about at the moment but difficult for people to try, this gives people a chance to experiment, read something new and try ebooks all at no risk and free of charge.
We’ve not launched ebooks for sale as yet, but will do soon, this promotion is a great way for us to start talking to our customers about what they want from the format.
Quite wonderfully in my opinion, the program uses PDF. After all most people who don’t know anything about ebooks, know about PDF and feel confident in downloading them. I think the ebook program is nicely executed. It is smooth, fits into the rest of the site where you would expect it and offers something very interesting to readers.
I’m hoping this also drives print sales for The Book Depository’s Dodo Press. I’ve downloaded these two (1,2) for free, what will you get?
Lots to enjoy here,
L. Lee Lowe is to be admired
And not just because she has talent, but because Lee has embraced the web as an author and is innovating in an effort to reach readers. Lee has been a presence on the the internet since before I started blogging in early 2006 (yes, I’ve not been at it for long, especially when you look at people like this guy). Her website offers readers the chance to read and lsiten to her first novel for free, it’s called Mortal Ghost and available here to buy too!
Lee has just launched a podcast project for her latest novel Corvus:
In an alternate present the minds of teen offenders are uploaded into computers for rehabilitation—a form of virtual wilderness therapy. Zach is a homo cognoscens, one of the new humans who can navigate the Fulgrid. Though still a high school student, he is indentured to the Fulgur Corporation as a counsellor. Laura is a homo sapiens. Their story is part odyssey, part tragedy, part riff on the nature of consciousness.
Having listened to the first chapter (the project is read by welsh actor Ioan Hefin) I can say that firstly, it sounds incredible and secondly the story is intriguing. I heartily recommend listening to it.
I’m heading to Dublin’s new Ikea today, wish me luck!
As per usual Kassia gets it right where other just try (I include myself in the others category)
Why this is news to anyone I really, really do not know: Discounting Can Be Detrimental!
John Scalzi (New Favourite Author – I’ve read the Old Man’s War trilogy in less than a week taking out the delivery times) has a rant of epic and amusing proportions about the SFWA election. Well worth reading for the passion and sense he projects, firmly.