Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Digital Book World

Should an E-Book Merely Copy a Print Book in Style and Function?

It seems certain folks in this day-and-age love innovation for the sake of innovation.

That kind of motivation usually indicates that deep and effective change is beyond the efforts of those who are “innovating”…

It could also mean that the “innovators” are bored silly…

Take e-books.

I do a lot of scanning of news and other sites looking for material I can report on here; and, one of the trendy fads for the last few years is to encourage changes in how e-books function and how they’re constructed (there have also been actual “new and improved” versions of ebooks produced).

Most of the articles didn’t make the cut for what I consider “worthwhile”; yet, the senior editor at Digital Book World, Daniel Berkowitz, gave me a reason to introduce the idea of e-book “innovation” in his article, Do We Really Need to Innovate the Reading Experience?

As usual, I’ll excerpt enough of the article to give a hint of what you’ll experience if you take the link :-)

Daniel introduces the topic:

“I hear a lot of talk about how ebooks didn’t innovate enough, or how ebooks are unsatisfactory—that they’re stuck in this ‘print-under-glass’ model that offers nothing new to the reading experience.”

Daniel challenges that:

“…for those of us who grew up on print books and for whom ebooks and audiobooks are viable alternatives, what is it in our reading experiences that we are so sorely lacking?”

He elaborates:

“…what is so wrong with the print-under-glass model of ebooks? What else were we expecting? To my eyes, an ebook on my Kindle looks a lot like a print book in my hands. And that’s exactly how I want it to be.”

Are you pretty much like Daniel?

Are you, rather, a person who wants all the innovation possible?

I encourage you to not only take the link to Daniel’s article and read the complete version; I encourage you to read the fascinating comments folks have left after that article………
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#E-Books Inside The Digital Book World

So much business these days is built on lies and broken promises.

But they package it as Branding and Influence.

We’re led to believe (if we’re unthinking folk) that dealing with a top brand that has market influence is the best thing we can do.

The fact that our world is splitting some seams and losing its stuffing through climate change and economic peril (to mention only two of the major crises underway) is primarily due to “top brands” that have major “market influence”.

I scan a ton of news to find material for this blog and, some days, finding information of solid worth is severely hampered by a flood of nearly meaningless drivel

There’s an organization called Digital Book World that says some strange things about itself:

“…Digital Book World has evolved into a year-round platform offering educational and networking resources for consumer publishing professionals and their partners — including agents, booksellers and technology vendors — online and in person.”

That seems straightforward and yet, why do they call themselves a “platform” rather than an organization or company?

And, rather than addressing the needs of “book publishers” which one might think would follow from their name (Digital Book World), they say they’re helping “consumer publishing professionals”, which lets them focus less on authors who write books and deal more proactively with “content producers” who create maybe not books perhaps “content containers”?

So, these folks just had their 7th Digital Book World Conference + Expo.

And, Publishing Perspectives just published an article entitledAfter DBW: ‘Perhaps We Don’t Know Anything’. (“DBW” being the Digital Book World Conference + Expo…)

A few excerpts:

“…one of the recurring ideas of this year’s event was a series of cautious admissions that perhaps we don’t know anything.”

Publishers Marketplace’s Michael Cader said:

“Our industry is full of anomalies…”

New York University Prof. Scott Galloway said:

“These four companies (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google) have effectively seceded from the US.”

Annenberg Innovation Lab Director Jonathan Taplin said:

“The result of this industrial hegemony is that platform, and not content, is becoming king.”

So have we come from “books” to “content” to “platform”—from “objects of value” to “aggregations of data” to “an empty stage”?

I’m sure there were a few presenters at the conference who made sense; but then, that’s just a bit of sense in a stew of nonsense

If you’re wondering how folks who think this way make money, it’s pretty much the same way astronomers hold on to their jobs of “studying” proposed fantasies instead of the actual universe—they’re capitalizing on a financial climate that is no-holds-barred: do-whatever-you-can-get-away-with. And, wrap it in addictive packaging with elusive promises

So, where are e-books in the digital book world?

It depends on which kind of e-book you’re after

The content producers standing on compelling platforms will sell you run-of-the-mill genre stories.

Independent authors will sell you books that may be of lasting worth.

But then, my last two statements are generalizations

The scary thing to me is that those generalizations seem to be rapidly transforming into accurate perceptions………
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“Books In Browsers” ~ Where Is Digital Publishing Headed?

It’s easy to think that digital publishing is moving swiftly away from the Internet browser—Apps on phones, E-books on phones and tablets, and dedicated E-readers… Books In Browsers

Yet, last month, the New York Public Library and the Frankfurt Book Fair sponsored the 5th Annual Books In Browsers Summit, “…for the new generation of internet publishing companies, focusing on developers and designers who are building and launching tools for online storytelling, expression, and art.”

The BiB’s official media partner, Publishing Perspectives, had this in a recent article:

“…improvisation and creation requires people to have a certain level of proficiency with the tools they are using. Composing requires ‘an abstracted mentality’, …and ‘if digital fiction is going to be a widespread art form…we have to be able to play with it.’ Instead of building tools for authors to write…we should be building tools that allow authors to build their own tools.”

Now that’s some heady stuff!

“…tools that allow authors to build their own tools…”

A recent article in Digital Book World said:

“Unlike operating system-specific apps that require discovering and downloading said app, the web is available to readers on just about every digital device—all they need is a URL. And every tablet, phone and desktop comes equipped with a web browser—almost all of which are more powerful than even the most sophisticated e-reader.”

They went on to give reasons to reconsider the Web as a publishing platform:

  • Ubiquitous access
  • SEO optimization
  • Better design control
  • Analytics and user acquisition

And, one last bit from that DBW article:

“…publishers and readers will in most cases both be better served by ebook content managed in a content management system (CMS).”

One such CMS is Creatavist.

You upload your work to Creatavist and they generate output in these formats:

Web, Apps, Kindle, Epub, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks…

You can also invite readers into Creatavist to check out your unpublished work and give editors the ability to make changes…

They have the following Plans:

FREE — Create and publish One Story (500 MB storage) – Publish to a Creatavist App & unlimited e-book outputs

STANDARD — Best for individuals and small teams – $10/mo. – 5 GB storage – 3-user account -Publish to a Creatavist App – unlimited e-book outputs – Password Protection – Request an invite to sell your stories

PRO — Ideal for publishers and organizations – $250/mo. – 1 TB storage – Unlimited User Accounts – Launch Your Own App – unlimited e-book outputs – Password Protection – Sell your stories via web and app – Sell subscriptions

And, if you really want to get inside the heads of the folks who are working to create tools that let authors create their own tools, watch this series of videos from the Books In Browsers Summit:

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Founder of Book Recommendation Service “Slams” Self-Publishing

Simple post today… 

Book Recommendations

Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian ~

Let’s start with the idea that most readers don’t mind having books recommended to them.

Also, it seems many recommendations come from friends.

However, Aaron Stanton, founder of The Book Genome Project, feels there are certain books that live in some subterranean world that one should avoid.

I’ll let him speak for himself (quotes from an article on Digital Book World):

“The relative ease that independent authors can publish content directly to a digital store has created a tremendous swell in content with no editorial oversight. The vast majority of these titles have almost no reliable meta-data about what’s in them. It is a large, invisible ocean of content that most people are not really aware of.”

Sounds somewhat reasonable, eh?

Well, what he’s describing is what he calls a “DarkNet” and he’s talking over-generalizing about Self-Published books:

“On the internet, the Darknet is a collection of underground or largely unindexed websites that you have to know exist in order to find. A lot of questionable content has grown around these Darknet communities — if you’re familiar with the Silk Road that was recently taken down by the authorities, you’re at least partly familiar with the Darknet.”

To be fair to the man, he’s talking about “incest, rape, and underage erotica”.

However, the way he argues could be misunderstood:

“Do I really think that the combined categories of self-published Erotic, Incest, and Bestiality compete in scale with Computer or Literature books? I certainly think it’s possible

He then gives three caveats that add up to proving absolutely nothing

Then he finishes with a sales pitch for The Book Genome Project:

“In terms of accuracy, our tools for identifying erotic content has a better than 99% catch rate, and a less than 1% false positive rate. The same is true with bestiality.”

So, if you’re walking down the street, and someone hands you a book, don’t you dare look inside it—have it checked by an expert before you’re polluted.

My God, there are plenty of places to find reviews, descriptions, and opinions about books

Like one’s friends


This post was brought to you by Alex’s rant machine ( which only works about once a year :-)

By the way, the title of the article all those quotes are in is The Literary Darknet of Independent Publishing—great way to misrepresent the best thing that’s ever happened for books, eh?


BONUS MATERIAL (former posts about book recommendations)

10 Places to Seek and Offer Book Recommendations

How Do Readers Discover Books?

A Free Personal Librarian?
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You Wouldn’t Be Trying To Mislead Me, Would You?

The #Danger of Being a #Critic People have been trying to mislead me for at least 60 years—how about you?

Way back between my Saturday cartoons the ads promised me a lot more fun than any cereal could ever hope to provide

A bit later, the ads in the back of the comic books lured me into begging money from my parents for an Ant Farm—thin clear-plastic box with sand in it, separate cardboard tube with the ants, and a message that the ants were asleep and would wake when I put them in the sand—I waited for a few days—they were indeed dead

Luckily, the first girl I was sweet on warned me that every girl did Not want chocolates

There were thousands more attacks on my credulity; then, in my forties, I began to find certain things that stayed true no matter what I thought.

So, there’s this survey claiming to show the preferences of writers for either traditional or self-publishing.

The Los Angeles Times article about the survey begins with:

“Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing. Go figure.”

That happens to be a statement that’s misleading to the max—how did they find out what all writers prefer?

Then, they attempt to cover the misleading pontification with misdirection:

“More than 9,000 authors responded to questions about the publishing industry in a report to be issued next week. Of the writers surveyed, 57.8% said they’d rather go the traditional route with their next book than try self-publishing.

“These aren’t just old-fashioned authors. That percentage includes writers who have been both self-published and traditionally published. What’s more, the survey was conducted by Writers Digest and Digital Book World — which certainly captures people interested in digital publishing.”

9,000 authors is probably enough to show some kind of trend, right?

But wait… what kind of authors are these 9,000 souls?

An article about the survey in Digital Book World says:

“The survey sample is a non-scientific sample, since it is voluntary rather than a random sample. The authors, most of whom responded after receiving a notification from Writer’s Digest about the survey, may not be representative of the population of authors.”

They also say:

“The majority of respondents to the survey were aspiring authors who had not yet published a manuscript

That last statement should make any person who’s been severely misled in their lives consider that all the other numbers and pseudo-scientific pronouncements about the survey are rubbish.

Something rather surprising about the author of the article in Digital Book World is that they’re “…Professor of Sociology at Queens College – CUNY…” where they direct “…the MA Program in Data Analytics and Applied Social Research.”

Perhaps they got paid really well for lending their credentials to such sloppy surveying

I truly hope writers aren’t taken in by attempts like this.

I can’t avoid quoting one more statement that goes even further into the realm of fantasy surveys:

“The greatest preference for traditionally publishing was reported by traditionally published authors (87.2%) followed by not-yet-published authors (76.8%).”

Are they hoping that big percentages will prove that “Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing.”, in spite of the fact that those who’ve already been accepted by legacy publishers and those who’ve never been published might just not be the folks who can be relied on to help decide what most writers want??

There are a few true statements in that article but the effect is somewhat like those commercials between the cartoons—Yep, this is Really cereal!!!

So, if you happen to be the kind of person who lets their opinion be swayed by names like the Los Angeles Times, Writer’s Digest, and Digital Book World, you can also be misled by Forbes

Finally, if you happen to find out what most writers prefer, would you let me know?
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