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Suing e-book reviewers and being a public jerk: Two bad ideas in one
April 19, 2014 | 3:10 pm

withoutruleoflawA friend pointed out to me a slightly older blog post that is rather interesting. In fact, it’s interesting not just for the article, but for the comments. It’s kind of a gift that keeps on giving. The blog post, by writer Greg Strandberg, quotes (and screencaps) a post by self-publishing writer Joe Nobody on KBoards, a semi-private forum for people who self-publish through Amazon. Nobody is a highly-successful pseudonymous self-publishing author, who Strandberg estimates has made over a million dollars from his e-book sales. Nobody writes in the post-apocalyptic SF genre, in the footsteps of mens-adventure writers like...

Maine library declines Rick Hautala archive, citing resources
April 18, 2014 | 6:05 pm

You'd think that birthing American horror's favorite son would give a U.S. state a broad institutional commitment to supporting the horror genre and honoring its local exponents. Well, apparently not. Because a library in Maine has declined the bequest of the archive of local horror writer Rick Hautala, citing lack of resources to properly support and maintain it. As reported in the Portland Press Herald, Stephen King's home town journal, Hautala's widow is upset that his gift of his archive has been turned down by the Walker Memorial Library in Westbrook, Maine. "Holly Newstein-Hautala offered Rick’s archives—manuscripts, letters, etc.—to the Walker Memorial...

R.I.P. Gabriel García Márquez: You’ll believe in magic … realism
April 18, 2014 | 4:04 pm

The internet has been alive with tributes to Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), the Colombian Nobel Prize-winning master of magic realism who has just died in Mexico aged 87. The 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature citation cited him as "a rare storyteller, richly endowed with a material from imagination and experience which seems inexhaustible ... who combines the copious, almost overwhelming narrative talent with the mastery of the conscious, disciplined and widely read artist of language." Magic realism, with its imaginative heightening of experience through the fusion of history and fantasy, erudition and caprice, surrealism and reportage, is often credited to Jorge...

How do we know our eBooks aren’t being altered?
April 18, 2014 | 2:32 pm

ebookI read a very interesting post this week at GoodeReader, which asked this question: how do we know our eBooks aren't being altered? When I first read the headline, I thought this would be about post-publication correction, which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing. I don't want my books to be re-written whole cloth after they have been bought and read, but I welcome revisions which involve correcting typos or improving poor formatting. But our friends at GoodeReader are asking about something else. From the article: In a recent thread at the e-reading website MobileRead one user explained their reasons of...

Filter, read, learn: the puzzle of reading print vs screen
April 18, 2014 | 12:35 pm

reading print vs screenI have read almost a dozen articles in the past few days that attempt to puzzle out the new hot question: do our brains process screen text differently from paper text? Does reading too much online somehow 'ruin' our brains for long-form reading? I'll state at the outset that from everything I've read on this, science does not have a definitive verdict on reading print vs screen, so I can't answer these questions. What I can do is apply my own decently well-educated common sense filter to some of the things I'm reading and come to my own conclusion. Firstly, this one...

The limits of “Hack the library”: Don’t aim for too much more with too much less—and try harder for more
April 18, 2014 | 10:25 am

Hack the LibraryLess than 12 percent of U.S. public library spending goes for books and other items. Doubt the need for “hacking the library” through ingenious tech upgrades and reinvention of processes, missions and plenty else? I don’t. Nor do the organizers of the 29th Computers in Libraries conference named after the magazine. Much to their credit, this Information Today event borrowed from the Harvard Library Innovation Lab and made “Hack the library” the theme at a gathering of well over 1,000 library professionals at the Washington Hilton. A keynoter, the ever-stimulating David Weinberger, lab co-director, told them April 7: “Libraries are getting squeezed a...

Morning Roundup: iPad Mini refurbs available. Is Amazon KDP MFN legal?
April 18, 2014 | 9:00 am

iPad Mini refurbsiPad Mini Refurbs Now Available from Apple – Including Retina (The Digital Reader) Want to buy an iPad Mini but found them just too expensive? I have some good news for you. You can now pick up Apple’s iPad Mini Retina for about 16% off. That’s not a great discount, no, but it is about as good as you will get from Apple. *** Is the Kindle Direct Program MFN Legal? (Go To Hellman) If you sell an ebook through the Kindle Direct program, Amazon doesn't want you to offer it for less somewhere else. It's easy to understand why; if you're a consumer, you hate to pay...

Republic Wireless offers affordable hybrid VOIP/cell smartphone service
April 18, 2014 | 3:06 am

20140418_003539_HDRI’d previously mentioned switching to an Android smartphone with Virgin Mobile, and enjoying it as far as it went. However, lately my Virgin Mobile phone went belly-up. I’d already promised myself that when I got my new full-time job I would be switching to Republic Wireless, so this was a good opportunity. I’ve only had my new Motorola Moto X for a day or so, but I’m already pretty pleased with the phone and the service so far. If you’ve never heard of Republic Wireless, it’s a small no-contract smartphone startup based on a clever idea. If you’re like...

Latest UK moral panic warns: Stop infants taking the tablets
April 17, 2014 | 2:25 pm

panic.jpegiPads and tablets now appear set to join ebooks, the Internet, television, bicycles, and other agents of moral decay as hate figures in the latest press-stoked moral panic in the UK. As reported in the UK Daily Telegraph, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has issued research claiming that tablet addiction has left a generation of manually challenged British children. The Daily Telegraph cites an ATL conference speaker who warns of "increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like." The ATL will also apparently...

UK Shadow Culture Minister plays Robin Hood against Lincolnshire library cuts
April 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

Helen Goodman, UK Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, has joined Minnie Driver and others in the campaign in Lincolnshire against closure of two thirds of the county's libraries. As reported in the Lincolnshire Echo, she condemned the plans of Conservative-led Lincolnshire County Council as "disgraceful." Dressed in Lincoln green, or something like, Helen Goodman reportedly declared that "Local libraries are central to our societies, offering a safe place for all ... They are investments in our future through the communities they nurture and skills they foster." A full video of her appearance is available here. Helen Goodman came at the...

Lonely Planet e-book travel guides now on Scribd
April 17, 2014 | 10:25 am

lonely planetThe popular Lonely Planet travel guide e-books have headed to Scribd. The e-book subscription service let customers know about the newest addition through email. When I think of e-book subscriptions, I tend to imagine a digital library with thousands of titles ready for me to read. I think more along the lines of fiction titles and perhaps memoirs and biographies. But the addition of a Lonely Planet makes it seem as though e-book subscriptions can also be used as a reference tool for the price of $8.99 a month. Having guides such as Lonely Planet at your fingertips seems useful especially for travelers. Scribd...

Morning Roundup: Bloggers are media, Goodreads launches “Add Amazon Books” feature and more
April 17, 2014 | 9:00 am

bloggers are mediaNew Competition Highlights Indie Books (Indie Reader) The Pulitzer prize winning British newspaper, The Guardian, is co-sponsoring a new competition exclusively for indies. *** Goodreads Launches Add Amazon Books Feature (Digital Book World) You can now add books you’ve purchased on Amazon – both print and Kindle books – to your Goodreads shelves. This will be available in the next few weeks to members in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. *** Court Declares That Yes, Bloggers Are Media (Techdirt) While it seems crazy that this kind of issue is still being debated in 2014, it's good to see a court make such a clear statement on the...