Self-Publishing in the World of E-books

PublishingindustriespicAs e-readers and digitally-based writing has become more and more prevalent, so too has the idea that large-scale publishing houses aren’t needed in order for writers to put out their writing. When more and more people have internet connections – or access to internet connections – then it’s truly the case that the availability of books has become more of an issue to do with whether you have access to the internet, rather than heading out to the book store, book fair or second-hand store in order to find yourself some texts. It follows that writers may not need a publishing house to put out their books, as the physical medium of books is slowly becoming something of the past – and it follows that writers may want to put their own books out, seeing as ‘publishing’ via e-book does not actually require any manufacturing costs or a printing press.

When readers simply need to transfer an e-book to their computer or reading device, all writers need to do is figure out some medium to large-scale distribution method – and this is becoming easier and easier. Many online e-book distribution tools are available for personal or business use by a writer – they don’t even need to rely on others to get their e-book out there, all they need is a little web savvy and some software or applications that will help them meet customer demand for their book. There are plenty of sites that are also more than willing to help people put their books out, and will only take a small fee out of their earnings.

Financially, it can be a much better decision to use self-publishing services when writers put out e-books. Self-publishing means that there is either no middleman or a small cut put out to whoever is helping someone distribute their book – and this doesn’t have to be huge, as more and more writers are choosing this method of distribution and the pool of authors that companies can draw funds from is growing ever-bigger.

It’s simpler for readers to get books, as well – they can simply go right to the authors’ sites and grab the book from there. It’s never been easier for writers to get their books out, as well as consumers to give their favourite writers money for their works. It’s an exciting and new time for publishing. Take a look at your options.

Reading on Mobiles

mobile software book readingIt’s interesting to consider how much people’s reading habits have changed, particularly with the advent of mobile reading devices and mobile computing devices in general. When the very first cellular phones were created, I would wager that very few people would expect anyone to be reading full novels on devices that were not much larger than the brick-phones they were struggling to read the screens of. It’s a certainty that when the first printing presses were invented, it’s very unlikely that anyone expected that the desired way of reading a book would gradually change to taking a look at words on a screen: but that’s exactly what’s happened. More and more people want to read their books on a screen rather than any kind of actual movable print.

It’s easier and easier for people to do this, as well – almost any smartphone or mobile device on the market can download and read many kinds and types of e-books or at the very least use their web browsers to read stories and novels online. It’s an interesting spectacle to see people on trains, trams and buses reading from a phone, right next to people flicking through a book or magazine – and who’s to say they’re not achieving the same thing? It’s still all movable press, to be sure. However, there are many sides to this debate – and many people who don’t believe it’s a debate at all.

Health-wise, there are still no conclusive, well-researched or extensively peer-reviewed studies to show whether digital or book-based reading is better or worse for people’s eyesight. Eye strain is a known effect of staring at monitors for too long, but it’s not known if the same thing is achieved through looking at phone screens – or particular at devices such as the Kindle, which are not backlit and can’t be considered to be the same thing as a LCD or CRT monitor. No matter what you’re using to read – even a book – you’re still staring at a stationary object for a long time.

As technology progresses, mobile reading devices move closer to being similar to a conventional book. There are plenty of layout and reading options with many mobile applications and devices that effectively simulate a book, and even screens and devices that are very close to reading movable type. Soon, it’s going to be very difficult to find the difference between reading a book and using a mobile e-reader.

 

My top 10 must read books

Reading enriches your life. It allows you to meet fascinating characters, travel through exotic countries, witness magic and wizardry and all that without having to leave your house. I have compiled a list of my absolute favourite books, the ones that have changed my life forever, among them are some of my childhood most beloved stories and books I could read over and over again.

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: A book about love and how first impressions can be absolutely wrong. Join the lovely Elizabeth Bennet and the handsome Mr Darcy in their lively courtship.
  2. 1984 by George Orwell: Discover Orwell’s dark vision of the year 1984 and find out why his prophecy is nowadays more accurate and fitting than ever.
  3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinback: A story of friendship between the intelligent George Milton and the gentle giant Lennie Small who underestimates his strength.
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: A classic in American literature, the book that teaches many about issues of race, injustice, bigotry, injustice, but also about love and courage
  5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: The book every adolescent should read. The author depicts alienation and teenage angst in his novel about teenage rebellion Holden Caulfield.
  6. Lord of the flies by William Golding: A provocative work about human nature.
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: The story of creating the ideal society and what is wrong with it.
  8. The Odyssey by Homer: Join Odysseys in his ten journey back to Ithaca.
  9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: A children’s classic about a young boys adventures in the Mississippi valley and his friend Tom Sawyer
  10.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: A captivating story about the four Brooke sisters coming of age while their beloved father is off to war.

These are just some of my personal favourites, but there is a whole world of characters to meet, stories to be read and adventures to be had. So do not deprive yourself and go out there in search for your very own personal top ten books of all time. And remember every book you read, short, long, funny, tragic, romantic or crude it will enrich your life in one way or another. But don’t just take my word for it go out there and find out for yourself.

Agatha Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage

The_Murder_at_the_VicarageDo you love a good crime mystery as much as I do? If so you should consider allowing the lovely Miss Marple to enter your world. Agatha Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage is when Miss Jane Marple appears for the first time in a full novel.

Agatha Christie is known worldwide as the ‘Queen of Crime” and is the world’s best-selling mystery writer. Her work is so popular that it ranks third in the world’s most widely published books, just behind Shakespeare and the Bible. Christie was born on the 15 of September 1890 in Devon England as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller. She died in January 1976 in Oxfordshire England. Married twice she kept her first husband’s last name and was made a Dame in 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Murder at the Vicarage takes us to the pretty little town St Mary Mead. One of the most hated personas in this quiet town is the Colonel Protheroe, even the vicar admits that killing would be doing the world a favour. It is only but a day later that the Colonel is found in dead in the vicarage, right inside the vicar’s study. And one of the mst unlikely people, the cute old lady called Miss Jane Marple is the one to solve the mystery as to who committed the murder. Jane Marple, despite her naïve appearance always expects the worst in everyone and it turns out she is quite right. Her blue eyes bear testimony to her intelligence and she isn’t as innocent as she seems. When faced with a murder mystery, such as the sudden death of Colonel Protheroe, it is she who unveils the cause of his passing.

Miss Marple draws upon her intimate and extensive knowledge of village life and great knowledge of characters when investigating this mysterious case. When the young painter Lawrence Redding hands himself over to the police, everyone is fooled thinking he must be guilty, if he willingly confesses to having committed the crime. Only dear old Miss Marple knows better than that and treats the news of his confession with caution, knowing something isn’t quite right. After investigating all her clues and carefully rethinking the past events she is able to solve the crime, while the police is still tapping in the dark.

If you like to try yourself at solving the case of the murdered Colonel, pick up a copy of The Murder at the Vicarage and let’s see if you can guess who done it.

The latest craze, book adaptations in TV series

We have all heard of and seen famous books being made into movies. Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Help, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Great Gatsby and so on and so on, the list is endless. But what about books that are being turned into TV shows? There are a few of those out there, such as Sherlock, based on the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, the hero of several books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Pride and Prejudice is yet another example of a book, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, being turned into a TV series. Some of the more recent ones are Call the Midwife, based on Jennifer Worth’s The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times and Game of Thrones, based on the series of books, A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin.

Let’s take a closer look at those two.

Call the Midwife is a great example of how book adaptations in TV can do the story more justice than a film could. Films are usually restricted to a running time of 2 or maximum 3 hours, but a TV show can have any number of episodes and run for any number of seasons (just think about the 27 seasons of the Bold and the Beautiful and they are still going strong). Jennifer Worth’s book describes her time as a nurse in London’s East End during the 1950ies. She depicts the stories of various mothers and their sometimes dramatic deliveries chapter by chapter and the TV show does the same, episode by episode. By having turned it into a series, rather than one single movie, creator Heidi Thomas can tell Jennifer Lee’s story as accurately as possible.

Another TV series adaptation I would like to take a closer look at is Game of Thrones. Having already mentioned that books being turned into TV shows allow for a more literal adaptation of the written work, what I would like to draw your attention to now is the following amazing fact, George R. R. Martin writes the script of one episode per season himself. So the creator of the book allows us a close look at what he himself envisioned when writing his story. That is truly a great opportunity for everyone out there watching to truly participate in the author’s vision. We can see what events he himself found important for the development of the story, better understand his characters motives and personalities, all in all George R. R. Martin is granting us entry into his own personal visualisation of the story, or at least parts of it.

Book adaptions in film

booksmoviesOne thing I was always certain of, is that a book is always better than its movie adaption. Just to clarify a film adaption describes the transfer of a book or other written work to film, whether in whole or just parts of it. My biggest problem with movie adaptations is that often, if not all the time, skip certain parts of the book and I just end up feeling that they are lacking something, even though the story might still be coherent, it’s just not the same.

Let’s just take a look at one of the most popular books to film adaptions in recent years, Harry Potter:

I have read all seven Harry Potter books and was truly captivated, with every page I read. Words such as muggle, quidditch, auror, dementor and many others like them truly enhanced my reading experience and aided greatly in getting into a magical mood. Now what better medium allows you to visualise magic, wizardry and mythical beings better than film? Well, let’s take a look at the movies, the first two were rather faithful to the books, mostly due to the shorter lengths of the books in comparison to the other ones. The third one, I have to admit is one of my favourite, director Alfonso Cuarón is truly one of the great and has created a visually stunning movie with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He did leave out a lot of plot, such as quite a few of the quidditch games and Harry’s patronus charm training. Still the movie turned out to be one of the best and highest rated of the Harry Potter Series. Even though it omitted a lot of parts it is still a great movie, and has changed my opinion on elision.

To finish off, allow me to mention one interesting experiment, in 1924 the Austrian film director attempted a literal adaptation of Frank Norris’ novel McTeague. The film was called Greed and had a running time of 9 and a half hours. The studio urged the director to cut it down, so he did, to four hours, still quite a marathon length for a movie. Without telling the director the studio executives then proceeded to cut it even further to two hours. Now you can imagine what the result looked like, it was a very incoherent movie and is the reason why nearly all following film adaptations have since used elision as a common practice.

In the end I do still think that the movie adaptation can never be as good as the book itself, but there are a few examples out there that get pretty close.

Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life

athomeHave you ever wondered why out of all the hundreds of available spices out there it is salt and pepper that we find on every table? What makes these two so special, why not cardamom or cumin? Speaking of mysteries of our private lives, why do forks come with four tines? What exactly happens in a drawing room? These types of questions are exactly what motivated Bill Bryson to write yet another best seller, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.

The author himself was born in 1951 in America, Des Moines, Iowa to be precise, as William McGuire Bryson. He is best known for writing amusing, informative and absolutely hilarious travel books. His body of work includes books on language, biographies, history and science, most notably A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson’s style is unique, always humorous and absolutely captivating. He resides in England with his wife and children enjoying country life on a small island.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life is a book about the history of anything, anything concerning our private lives. People have been doing basically the same things for centuries, kings, rulers and peasants alike, we all go about our business, eat, sleep and procreate and trying to be as comfortable as possible while doing so. Who knew that everyday life can be so interesting? For example, in our day and age we take hot food for granted, if your soup got cold while you were chatting on your mobile phone, all you need to do is pop it into the microwave and heat it up for a few minutes and voila, hot soup. For aristocrats in the earlier centuries hot foods where not a given thing, the distance from the kitchen to the dining room used to be so long, everything could get cold by the time it arrives. Lobsters and oysters used to be available in such abundance, that some houses would add clauses in cooks’ contracts that those delicious crustaceans, we hold so dearly these days, were to be served only once a week, not more, just because people were quite frankly bored of them. These and many other absolutely fascinating facts is what Bill Bryson writes about so wittingly in his book At Home: A Short History of Private Life, so get out there and get yourself a copy.

Next up, One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson’s latest creation about history in the United States and how everything changed, stay tuned.

Are our language skills deteriorating?

languagesIt is a worldwide phenomenon, people read less books, but more nonsense. With the rise of the internet, smart phones and tablets we are constantly reading something, but that something isn’t always great, spelled properly or grammatically correct. Children and teenagers in particular seem to have poorer language skills than their previous generation.

Of course there is the argument that school education isn’t what it used to be and doesn’t provide children with the skills they really need. Blaming educational institutions won’t do any good and doesn’t even accurately depict the problem, because adults seem to be having the same language issues as adolescents. The root of the issue is the fact that we read less books or quality papers. Blogs, forums and social media sites do not aid us in developing proper language skills and what we learn in school needs to be reinforced, by reading written works that actually have been proofread and edited.

Of course it is true that languages evolve and need to adapt to current times, but are languages really developing in the right direction? In a world where abbreviations are omnipresent and people start saying LOL instead of actually laughing out loud, can we really speak of evolution, or is it more deterioration? It is probably a bit of both, as already mentioned languages need to evolve and have done so ever since. There are many critics out there ranting about improper use of English, especially nouns becoming verbs seems to upset a lot of people, but just as Stephen Fry put it ones, if you do not like nouns becoming verbs, then reading Shakespeare is something you should avoid. For one of the greatest writers of all times made a doing-word out of nouns all the time, with every chance he got. In Shakespeare world motions were tabled, and meetings were chaired. So while proper language education and developing your skills are important, pedantry about the correct use of language should not be, for whatever may seem wrong to you know, could become normality.

With all that said, reading books, all types of books, novels, non-fiction, detective stories and so on should be something we all do on a regular basis, not just for the sake of our language skills, but because books allow us to travel to faraway lands and partake in unbelievable adventures. So put down your phone and pick up a book.

 

Are we witnessing the death of the written word?

paper-bookHave you noticed it too, all those book stores closing down? You can pass a closing down sale at seemingly every corner, every day there seems to be a new one popping up. Is that the downfall of the written work? Is Gutenberg’s legacy worth nothing?

Well there is certainly a shift in power, but speaking of the death of books is taking it too far. Times are changing and the digital revolution is upon us. Let me ask you a question, when did you last buy a roll of film for your camera? When did you last have your pictures developed, the old way, by dropping off your film roll and picking up your pictures an hour or a day later? When did you last glue photos into a picture book? My guess is, it was a while ago. What about the VHS, such a blast from the past, or audio cassettes, there are people living today that have never seen or held either of those. If we can store movies, photos and music electronically, why not do the same with books and is it really such a bad thing?

It seems that lately the community of the passionate readers all over the world has been divided into two fronts, the e-book enthusiast and the paper book lovers. Now those two parties hardly see eye to eye and do not agree in the slightest with each other. For a long time I myself have been a paper lover, but have finally come to my senses and jumped ship. So, please allow me to tell you a bit about why eBooks and eBook readers are awesome and have the potential to save written works and our environment.

One of the most obvious benefits of eBooks is that they eliminate the need to cut trees. Paper production is largely responsible for deforestation, so let’s all applaud the eBook for its paperless form. Another very important aspect of storing books digitally is the fact that they can be preserved for, well basically forever. Maybe you and I will lose one or two eBooks or PDF files, but institutions like libraries certainly will not, not anymore. Books grow old, they fade, can burn, brake, or be eaten by your dog, but a file can go on being a file for as long as there is electricity. So here they are the two main arguments for welcoming eBooks. It turns out we are not witnesses to the death of the written world, but witnesses to its transformation

eBooks versus paper books

Do you love reading? Well so do I. There is nothing more exciting than opening up a new book, smelling the pages and losing oneself in the new adventures awaiting me. A few days ago I was presented with a dilemma though, I was gifted an eBook reader and am not sure what to make of it.

Just a few seconds after unwrapping the device a range of contradicting feelings started stirring inside me. Thoughts such as, how can I read a book without having to turn its pages, are eBook readers bad for my eyes, which is cheaper, the paper book or the eBook; popped up, so I decided to investigate the matter further.

So far my research has included browsing for information and others opinions online and actually trying out my eBook. I decided to gather all my findings in a pro and con list to see who winning the race, the electronic or the paper version.

eBooks

Pro:

No trees need to be cut down for me to be able to indulge in my excessive reading habits.

I can carry an entire library worth on my eBook reader, it takes everything from workbooks, novels, cookbooks, self-help books and many more – one of my personal favourite features of the eBook.

I can change the font size easily to suit my eye sight.

There is no more frantic searching for quotes and passages I liked in books, now I can easily mark them easily and go back to access them any time I want.

eBooks can be quickly downloaded and cost a lot less than classic paper books.

Cons:

They are battery operated and nothing is more annoying than finding yourself on a train, keen to pull out your book and read it, just to find it has run out of charge.

eBooks are not free of bugs and can freeze up just like your computer or laptop do.

Spilling your coffee on your eBook can break the entire thing and all your books, notes and saved passages might be lost forever

Paper Books

Pro:

Books don’t need power to work, you just open them and start reading.

Packaging and covers can make paper books into works of art.

Second hand books have a mystical aura and remind us of how one single book can enrich the lives of so many people.

Cons

Bookstores all over the country are closing down and paper books are becoming more and more expensive.

They can be heavy if you need to transport a lot of them, at Uni or for school for example.

Storing them can take up a lot of space.

They are flammable and can be destroyed in large numbers at once, just think of the famous burning of the library of Alexandria.

Paper cuts, we all know this terrible pain

I guess my little list speaks for itself and I have to say, I never thought of myself as an eBook enthusiast, but it turns out I can be. I haven’t stopped buying paper books, but the truth is, I have grown to love my eBook! You can too, just give it a try.