IRS.gov: government websites you should know

irs.gov. government websites you should knowNothing, they say, is inevitable except death and taxes. Tax season is upon us.

Preparing federal taxes can be complicated. So this installment of my series on government websites you should know is devoted to irs.gov, a helpful source of official information. It is well organized and easy to use––unlike the tax code.

Besides English, the site is available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese.   Continue reading

How Amazon has disrupted the book industry

Book store shelf. amazon book industry

Bookstore shelf

Just over ten years ago, in November 2007, Amazon unleashed the Kindle. It has disrupted the book industry––publishers, authors, and readers––more than anything since the paperback.

On Amazon’s own site, anyway, sales of ebooks surpassed print books in April 2011, less than four years after the Kindle’s debut.

Five years ago, some people were wondering if printed books could survive the onslaught of ebooks. Since then, demand for printed books has been rising. Ebooks won’t go away, but neither will print.

The Kindle Store now has close to 6 million ebook titles and accounts for more than 80% of all ebooks sold in the US. And Amazon has had more impact on the book business than just the Kindle. Continue reading

How to make your writing more powerful with sentence variety

cartoon of writer. sentence variety

cartoon of writer. sentence varietyIf you write something, don’t you want someone to read it? And wouldn’t you prefer that your reader enjoy what you write?

One way to make your writing more interesting and more powerful is to consider the different varieties of sentence structure.

And not use any one structure too much. Continue reading

Public library funding cuts and decline in library usage

Library patrons. declining library usage
Library patrons. declining library usage

Library patrons

It’s easy to find articles that describe a decline in library usage. Recent years have also seen public library funding cuts. What is the relationship?

Not long ago, a newspaper columnist advocated shutting down libraries. After all, he claimed, no one goes there anymore.

If he had made the suggestion in his column, no one would have noticed. Newspaper readership has taken a much bigger hit. Instead, he used Twitter. And librarians and library lovers quickly made him retract.

Actually, the decline in library usage results from public library funding cuts. Unfortunately, the people who control the purse strings haven’t taken sufficient notice. It’s not so much that libraries have to educate the public about their programs as that the public has to educate elected officials. It seems to be happening. Continue reading

Fun, oddball words about lovers of words and books

man surrounded by books. words about lovers of books

Lexicomaniac?

Quockerwodger.

There. Now that I’ve scared off everyone who doesn’t have fun with wacky words, we can share some unusual words about word lovers and book lovers.

Two words describe lovers of words:

logophile and lexophile

The logophile is likely to read and reread favorite passages of a novel over and over just for the sheer love of the words in it. A lexophile especially loves anagrams, palindromes, puns, and other word play.

“Lexis” and “logos” are closely related Greek words that can mean “word,” among other things. They both form other, less well-known compounds. Continue reading