Category Archives: Ebooks

Donigan Merritt goes e-bookin' – buy it

Noted author Donigan Merritt has made his 1982 debut, One Easy Piece, available as a Kindle book.

Here is what Donigan has to say about it:

One Easy Piece was my first published novel; it came out in late 1982, before I had finished work for the MFA degree from Iowa, which I received in December of that year. It has been out of print for just less than forever, although in its day it sold very well. It’s been a while, but one word sticks out as common among the newspaper reviews of its day: harrowing. Yes, I think it is harrowing reading.

One Easy Piece was originally titled “The Devil You Know,” which is the novel’s epigram — few of the original titles of my books have made it all the way to publication. The basic idea, or theme, of this novel came from a program aired on “60 Minutes” back then about wife abuse and a look into the lives of women hiding out in a “safe house.” What most intrigued me about the story was how many of the women were forgiving of their abusers, how many had returned to the man, or would return. My wondering about this eventually lead to the story of this novel. Conversations with three women who had been abused by husbands or boyfriends constituted the bits of pieces that created the characters here.

One Easy Piece costs less than a Starbucks latte and has traveled almost three decades to reach you.  Go pick it up.

Donigan also plans on releasing it in iPad and Nook format soon.

Donigan Merritt goes e-bookin’ – buy it

Noted author Donigan Merritt has made his 1982 debut, One Easy Piece, available as a Kindle book.

Here is what Donigan has to say about it:

One Easy Piece was my first published novel; it came out in late 1982, before I had finished work for the MFA degree from Iowa, which I received in December of that year. It has been out of print for just less than forever, although in its day it sold very well. It’s been a while, but one word sticks out as common among the newspaper reviews of its day: harrowing. Yes, I think it is harrowing reading.

One Easy Piece was originally titled “The Devil You Know,” which is the novel’s epigram — few of the original titles of my books have made it all the way to publication. The basic idea, or theme, of this novel came from a program aired on “60 Minutes” back then about wife abuse and a look into the lives of women hiding out in a “safe house.” What most intrigued me about the story was how many of the women were forgiving of their abusers, how many had returned to the man, or would return. My wondering about this eventually lead to the story of this novel. Conversations with three women who had been abused by husbands or boyfriends constituted the bits of pieces that created the characters here.

One Easy Piece costs less than a Starbucks latte and has traveled almost three decades to reach you.  Go pick it up.

Donigan also plans on releasing it in iPad and Nook format soon.

Paper vs. plastic

I was eating some yogurt while reading a book.  And I wondered: why is it that we put food, meant to be stored for only a few weeks at most, in a plastic container that will last at least 100,000 years, whereas we put words, transmitters of all our culture, on thin strips of pulped wood that will last a few decades at best?

A homely enough question.

The answer?

.

Philip Roth says the novel is screwed

Daily Beast Editor Tina Brown asked esteemed author Philip Roth, in this Vimeo video, about the future of the novel.

Basically, Roth says, the novel is screwed.  Not even the Kindle can save the novel, because it has to compete against all those screens: first the movie screen, then the TV screen, and now the computer screen.  Now all three of those are out there, and the book just doesn’t measure up.

Roth predicts that in 25 years the novel will have a “cultic” following, perhaps slightly larger than the group of people who now read Latin poetry.  What do you think?  Is he right?  Or will the novel carry on as it has these last centuries?

Grumpy old man

Grumpy old man

It does occur to me that as recently as a century or two ago, the reading public for a novel was perhaps at what Roth might call a cultic level.  Then came the Golden Age of Reading, from perhaps the late 1800s through, say, the 1930s.  Now novel-reading is in an inevitable decline, soon to return to being the pastime of a small group of hobbyists?

But perhaps Roth is speaking only of the literary novel, which already could be said to have largely a cultic following, big prizes and splashy headlines aside.  People line up for Dan Brown’s pulp, but how many will read Roth’s latest offering, The Humbling? And he is among the biggest names among contemporary literary novelists, if a grumpy one.  What hope, then, for those as-yet unknown writers?

Have a look at the video, and then have your say in the comments.

Birdfeeders and other things you can't make out of e-books

book birdfeeder“Look at those beautiful examples of what can be done from a paper book. It’s just amazing… but on the other hand it’s good, that e-books are intangible. You can’t do things like that to them. As a writer I would love my book to be part of a heritage, not a birdhouse.” – Piotr Kowalczyk, author of Password Incorrect.

I’d not thought of e-books this way, but the man is right on.

Birdfeeders and other things you can’t make out of e-books

book birdfeeder“Look at those beautiful examples of what can be done from a paper book. It’s just amazing… but on the other hand it’s good, that e-books are intangible. You can’t do things like that to them. As a writer I would love my book to be part of a heritage, not a birdhouse.” – Piotr Kowalczyk, author of Password Incorrect.

I’d not thought of e-books this way, but the man is right on.

Snark is not enough: Green Apple Books takes on the Kindle

Planning an overnight layover in San Francisco a few years back, I asked a friend from the Bay Area what the best used bookstore in town was.

Without hesitation, he said, “Green Apple Books.”

Green Apple logSo I went there.  It’s just what you’d expect: the slightly standoffish clerks, the vast selection of Buddhist-themed tomes, the glowing Sherman Alexie recommendations.

I surrendered to that wonderful vertigo every avid reader experiences when there are too many good books to count, not enough time, and not enough money.  I walked out exhilarated with two bulging bags of used paperbacks.

So I was intrigued to see that Green Apple is mounting an anti-Kindle campaign via YouTube.

Their point, evidently, is that a Kindle will get you nowhere in a used bookstore.  Fair enough, and amusingly presented.  (Irony #1: Green Apple using electronic technology to refute the value of e-books.  Irony #2  the Kindle transforming hipster Left Coasters into the fuddy-duddy conservatives of the book world.)

Of course, Green Apple doesn’t mention that the Kindle and other e-readers have the potential to make places such as Green Apple obsolete, the recent brouhaha surrounding Amazon’s 1984-like silent zapping of 1984 notwithstanding.

E-readers have all kinds of issues to work out before that ever happens, needless to say.  But traditional bookstores can’t just void their existence with dollops of meta-snarkasm.  I, for one, hope that Green Apple and others like it find a way to adapt and survive.  But they’re going to have to do it in a world of e-readers.  I don’t know that trading on their hipster appeal is going to be enough to keep them afloat.

The videos here are Parts One and Two a planned series of ten. Stayed tuned to Green Apple’s YouTube channel and their blog for updates.

(Note: this post also appeared at TeleRead.)

Reading Dickens’ Little Dorrit 4 ways

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, academic, entrepreneur, and author Ann Kirschner asks, “Do I love books or do I love reading?”—in light of the ever-expanding publishing universe.

For me and probably most readers, it’s an easy question to answer: reading. I don’t much care how my reading comes as long as it’s written well. Kirschner wasn’t sure. So she decided to conduct an experiment, reading Dickens’ masterwork Little Dorrit four ways: paperback, audiobook, Kindle, and iPhone. LIttle Dorrit

Little Dorrit was an accidental choice, but I could hardly have done better. Its length, multiple story lines, 19th-century allusions, and teeming cast of characters helped me to test the functionality of different formats. Beyond the artifice of my reading experiment, though, please don’t think that technology compromised my ability to appreciate this beloved novel, written in 1857 at the height of Dickens’s power and popularity. Just the opposite.

She starts with the requisite warmed-over nostalgia for paperbacks: “How dare we think that anything could replace it? Impossible to imagine that any of these newfangled devices could last nearly 40 years. The perfume of old paper filled the air.” I would have clicked onwards had she gone no further. But instead she ventured on to audiobooks.

Audiobooks are wonderful in all the situations she describes, walking, driving, sitting in the dentist’s chair. But I can’t imagine how many hours this 1000-page plus books would consume listened to in its entirety. And audiobooks practically require you multitask. The painfully slow pace of spoken stories becomes apparent if you’re not, say, cooking; you don’t pull up an easy chair next to the fireplace and curl up with your MP3 player.

Doesn’t mince words

Which leaves the Kindle and iPhone. Kirschner doesn’t mince words:

I’ve been dreading this, but let me get my prediction out now: The iPhone is a Kindle killer. I abandoned the Kindle edition of Little Dorrit almost as soon as I read one chapter on my iPhone. Kindle, shmindle. It does almost nothing that an iPhone can’t do better — and most important, the iPhone is always with me. Woody Allen had it right: Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.

Now I don’t have an iPhone, so I can’t really comment. But insofar as she goes, I imagine she’s right. However. I think of the easy chair in the fireplace’s vicinity. At the risk of reveal a Luddite streak, I just can’t see curling up with a … glowing phone.

Why I prefer the Kindle over the iPhone for curling up with a book

Whereas I happily sink into reading oblivion via my Kindle at every opportunity. However, I bet if I actually had an i-something, I probably could do the same. And as Kirschner points out:

Middle-aged readers think that the dimension of the screen is critical. It’s not: The members of the generation that grew up playing Game Boys and telling time on their cellphones will have absolutely no problem reading from a small screen. Let us pray that they will. Right now, they aren’t buying Kindles — and they aren’t reading books.

I don’t worry about this. I think there will be plenty of readers in the future. Just not ones very much like the ones we’ve got today. They won’t feel any compunction about curling up with their i-device anywhere. Which is great. It’s the words, the style, the story that matters. Not the format it appears in. Which is a point Kirschner offers a sly insight on: “My personal theory is that Amazon cares less about our choice of screen than our choice of store. Amazon wants Kindle to be a verb, not a noun, as in “I Kindled that book,” which could mean that I read it on a smartphone, computer, or dedicated electronic-book device.”

English Language will survive

I suspect she’s right. Which would be perfectly fine with me. The English language seems to be surviving the Facebook-enabled verbing of “friend”, so I bet it could take a “Kindling”. As long as Dickensian journeys keep on starting with “Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun. …”, I don’t think it much matters how they get there.

Note: This post originally appeared at TeleRead.

Reading Dickens' Little Dorrit 4 ways

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, academic, entrepreneur, and author Ann Kirschner asks, “Do I love books or do I love reading?”—in light of the ever-expanding publishing universe.

For me and probably most readers, it’s an easy question to answer: reading. I don’t much care how my reading comes as long as it’s written well. Kirschner wasn’t sure. So she decided to conduct an experiment, reading Dickens’ masterwork Little Dorrit four ways: paperback, audiobook, Kindle, and iPhone. LIttle Dorrit

Little Dorrit was an accidental choice, but I could hardly have done better. Its length, multiple story lines, 19th-century allusions, and teeming cast of characters helped me to test the functionality of different formats. Beyond the artifice of my reading experiment, though, please don’t think that technology compromised my ability to appreciate this beloved novel, written in 1857 at the height of Dickens’s power and popularity. Just the opposite.

She starts with the requisite warmed-over nostalgia for paperbacks: “How dare we think that anything could replace it? Impossible to imagine that any of these newfangled devices could last nearly 40 years. The perfume of old paper filled the air.” I would have clicked onwards had she gone no further. But instead she ventured on to audiobooks.

Audiobooks are wonderful in all the situations she describes, walking, driving, sitting in the dentist’s chair. But I can’t imagine how many hours this 1000-page plus books would consume listened to in its entirety. And audiobooks practically require you multitask. The painfully slow pace of spoken stories becomes apparent if you’re not, say, cooking; you don’t pull up an easy chair next to the fireplace and curl up with your MP3 player.

Doesn’t mince words

Which leaves the Kindle and iPhone. Kirschner doesn’t mince words:

I’ve been dreading this, but let me get my prediction out now: The iPhone is a Kindle killer. I abandoned the Kindle edition of Little Dorrit almost as soon as I read one chapter on my iPhone. Kindle, shmindle. It does almost nothing that an iPhone can’t do better — and most important, the iPhone is always with me. Woody Allen had it right: Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.

Now I don’t have an iPhone, so I can’t really comment. But insofar as she goes, I imagine she’s right. However. I think of the easy chair in the fireplace’s vicinity. At the risk of reveal a Luddite streak, I just can’t see curling up with a … glowing phone.

Why I prefer the Kindle over the iPhone for curling up with a book

Whereas I happily sink into reading oblivion via my Kindle at every opportunity. However, I bet if I actually had an i-something, I probably could do the same. And as Kirschner points out:

Middle-aged readers think that the dimension of the screen is critical. It’s not: The members of the generation that grew up playing Game Boys and telling time on their cellphones will have absolutely no problem reading from a small screen. Let us pray that they will. Right now, they aren’t buying Kindles — and they aren’t reading books.

I don’t worry about this. I think there will be plenty of readers in the future. Just not ones very much like the ones we’ve got today. They won’t feel any compunction about curling up with their i-device anywhere. Which is great. It’s the words, the style, the story that matters. Not the format it appears in. Which is a point Kirschner offers a sly insight on: “My personal theory is that Amazon cares less about our choice of screen than our choice of store. Amazon wants Kindle to be a verb, not a noun, as in “I Kindled that book,” which could mean that I read it on a smartphone, computer, or dedicated electronic-book device.”

English Language will survive

I suspect she’s right. Which would be perfectly fine with me. The English language seems to be surviving the Facebook-enabled verbing of “friend”, so I bet it could take a “Kindling”. As long as Dickensian journeys keep on starting with “Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun. …”, I don’t think it much matters how they get there.

Note: This post originally appeared at TeleRead.