Friday Reads: Enhanced Scholarly E-Books and an E-Ink Coffee Mug

Why do so many scholars hate e-books? Maybe they’ll understand the technology when it serves them coffee.

I subscribe to a scholarly listserv on the history of the book to keep up with the latest in book technology. Recently, a debate started about the long-term viability of e-books and whether or not digital books work for academic readers, who often need to reference pre-digital, scanned, and print-archived materials.

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Review: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age by David Mikics

Discussed in this review: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age by David Mikics. Harvard University Press, 2013, 336 pages. Buy at Harvard UP and Amazon.

We buy ‘em fast, but then we should read ‘em slow. The first part of that statement is a reflection of living in the age of Amazon. The second part is the advice of the English professor, David Mikics. Like many professors, Mikics tells us we have a problem: we are losing the capacity to read attentively and grapple with ideas in texts. He then devises rules – 14 of them – to address the problem.

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E-Book Returns and the Problem With the Subscription Model

Kindle Paperwhite

As Amazon cracks down on serial e-book returners, maybe it’s time to re-think the e-book sales model.

Lately, two recent trends are taking place in e-book publishing. First, several articles in the past few months indicate that e-book returns have grown among readers. Some readers are abusing Amazon’s generous Kindle book return policy in order to get their money back after purchasing a book. Continue reading →

Current and Future States of the Publishing Industry, Part 3: Multimedia Interactivity with Books

Electronic Literature

What is lost and gained as books become more interactive, like video games? Andrew Doty speculates on where books are headed in part three of his series “Current and Future States of the Publishing Industry.”

“Most intriguing, to me, is the possible link between the decline in dedicated e-readers (as multitasking tablets take over) and the softening of ebook sales. Are tablets less conducive to book buying and reading than e-readers were?”

Nicholas Carr  Continue reading →

Friday Reads: A Sprint Beyond the Book Roundup

With Sprint Beyond The Book taking place right now, Twitter lit up with tweets about the future of reading this week.

In particular, I participated in a couple of conversations about a recent article in Slate by Ed Finn and Joey Eschrich, titled “The Word E-Book Should Be Replaced With CodeX”. Finn and Eschrich argue the word e-book doesn’t do the concept justice. They propose the word codeX to replace it (yes, capital-X). Here’s their justification:

We’re hurtling toward a future in which reading means making decisions, watching videos, writing back, and getting lost in vast virtual spaces. Book system is too stodgy (as are reading system, platform, and service) and doesn’t even get rid of the word book. We gleefully entertained and discarded many bad ideas like graphies. Some of us liked plat, a shortening of platform that sounds like something out of a Golden Age science fiction story, but the more we said it, the more it sounded like a comic book sound effect for something gross.

Rather than grope forward, we decided to look back. With some trepidation, we would like to nominate codex, a word with a rich history that most of us don’t know anything about. Codex, derived from the Latin caudex (meaning “trunk of a tree”) even happens to contain the English word code, which will be central to the future of reading in a variety of ways. The things we’ll be reading in the future will not only involve a lot of programming; they’ll also require readers to decode complex, multilayered experiences and encode their own ideas as contributions in a variety of creative ways. Since standard printed books are technically codices, we propose (with significantly more trepidation) to distinguish our variant with one of those annoying midword capitals: codeX, to remind us that these new things involve experience, experimentation, expostulation … you know, all those X things.

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Current and Future States of the Publishing Industry, Part 2: Advertising, Promoting, & Marketing a Book

Book Marketing

[This is part 2 of Andrew Doty’s series on the future states of the publishing industry. This time, Andrew focuses on book promotion.]

“. . . with over 60 thousand titles published each year, it’s a basic fact that if your book doesn’t achieve ‘Gone Girl’ status within a month or so, then it’s simply gone.”

Jennifer Miller

Social Media’s Impact on Book Marketing

Naturally, change occurs in an ever-expanding web of causalities: As technology has recreated the ways books are conceptualized and realized, it has also led to a similarly diverse spectrum of marketing and publicity approaches. Traditional book printing meant traditional book marketing. Now, as more books are being published in more formats than ever, the author, publisher, and marketer can all get involved in the promotion process in new ways.

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If Libraries are Dead, Then What Will Come of Books?

Death of the Library

With so many digital subscription options available, some tech writers are claiming the end of the library. But without libraries, we’re doomed.

This weekend, MG Siegler at Techcrunch claimed we’re seeing the end of libraries. Siegler bases this on reporting from Art Brodsky of Wired, who claims e-book price inflation is affecting library digital subscription services. Library patrons want more e-book choices, but libraries can’t afford to purchase e-books at the inflated prices. Effectively, libraries are leaching money by purchasing fewer e-books at higher prices to keep patrons happy (“The Abomination of Ebooks”).

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Friday Reads: Articles on the State of Digital Publishing

A Friday reads dedicated to what is happening right now in publishing.

This week, we published some articles on the state of publishing and reading, including Hope Leman’s analysis of the newspaper industry and Andrew Doty’s thorough look at the state of digital publishing. I also weighed in on what works and what doesn’t work in social media.

Because of this focus, I thought a Friday reads that explores what others are saying about the future of reading and publishing was in order.

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