According to Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively, e-books are for "bloodless nerds". Considering her somewhat advanced 78 years, one might assume that this was simply a reaction to new technology, but Lively owns an iPad (although she "wouldn't dream of reading a book on it" unless she was traveling or in hospital) and, for what it's worth, thirteen of her books are available as ebooks, including Moon Tiger (which won the Booker Prize in 1987).
To be fair, although the "bloodless nerd" soundbite is being quoted far and wide today, her full comment was, "It seems to me that anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd." Do you think she has a point? If a person's entire literary collection was contained within an electronic device, might their experience with reading be a tad soulless? Or does the written word rise above the confines of the media containing it?
NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu is upset that passages on his Kindle ebook reader are, all of a sudden, turning up pre-highlighted:
"I'm reading a new book I downloaded on my Kindle and I noticed an underlined passage. It is surely a mistake, I think. This is a new book. I don't know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books.... And then I discovered that the horror doesn't stop with the unwelcomed presence of another reader who's defaced my new book. But it deepens with something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station..." (listen to the full 3 minute broadcast, read the transcript)
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I just came across this early interview with J.K. Rowling (probably from late 1998 or early 1999). She's sitting in the now famous Edinburgh House cafe in Edinburgh where she wrote the early Harry Potter books. She looks, frankly, exhausted, but hugely excited to have sold 30,000 copies of her first two books - especially as her agent told her, "there's not much money in children's books." She goes on to say that she's always wanted to write but "my realistic side had not allowed me to dream about half of what has happened to me," - this in reference to her agent selling the first two Harry Potter books to eight countries so, as she says with huge excitement, "it will be translated in France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy and Finland ... I love the idea of saying I'm big in Finland!"
Today, Google has finally opened its much talked about online bookstore with over 3 million titles available for free plus hundreds of thousands available for purchase.
Here's hoping that the Google eBookstore will somewhat level the playing field for indie bookstores. In fact, many independent bookstores are already signed up with Google's eBookstore, and early indications are that they're not wasting anytime getting up and running!
In a move that seems destined to put consumer and corporate noses out of joint WOWIO Inc, a provider of digital media content and eBooks (wowio.com) announced on Friday that they have received a Notice of Allowance from the US Patent and Trademark Office for a broad patent application, filed in 2006, covering a variety of methods for delivering ads in eBooks, including contextual ads based on the personal information or demographic criteria of the reader. A Notice of Allowance effectively means that the patent has been approved, and will be issued once the required fee has been paid.