Ebooks and the publishing business

Amazon introduced the Kindle e-reader less than five years ago. It’s one of those devices that seemed like an enormous gamble, took off like wild fire, and now feels like it has always existed. And of course, not everyone is happy to allow Amazon to profit so much firm its revolutionary device. Amazon didn’t invent the ebook or the e-reader. Some large publishing houses, including Wiley, HarperCollins, and Random House already offered ebooks for sale. The public had pretty much ignored earlier devices for reading them, however. Ebooks seemed like an idea consumers didn’t much want. Successful ebook readers The … Continue reading

Libraries and adult literacy

America has a problem with adult literacy. Too many adults read so poorly they can barely function. American libraries, therefore, are working to contribute new and innovative continuing education to boost adult literacy. Consider the following statistics: 5-6 year olds have a vocabulary of 2,500 to 5,000 words. Disadvantaged students in the first grade have approximately half the vocabulary of advantaged students. The educational outlook for 25-40% of American children is imperiled because of their inability to read well enough, easily enough, or quickly enough. Over a span of 15 years, more than 10 million American students reached 12th grade … Continue reading

Why and how to search for books with ISBN

[ad name=”Google Adsense 728×90″] ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, provides a unique identifier for books and similar products published anywhere in the world. If a publisher issues a book in both soft cover and hard cover, each will have its own ISBN. So would any large print edition, electronic version, etc. But the publisher does not assign the numbers. ISBN is an international standard, and there are more than 160 ISBN Agencies that have exclusive responsibility to assign ISBNs in a particular country or geographic area. Why does it matter for anyone who is not somehow in the book … Continue reading

Three Dubious Rules of English Usage for Writers to Ignore

I generally admire William Safire’s views on language and the way he uses “fumblerules” to illustrate his points, but occasionally disagree with him. He considers that split infinitives, prepositions at the end of a sentence, and conjunctions to start a sentence always represent poor usage. I’m offering three counter-rules: Be willing to split an infinitive if necessary to really communicate. Prepositions are good to end a sentence with. And you can start one with a conjunction. Scholars and authors of the seventeenth century, John Dryden for instance, found the Anglo-Saxon background of English somehow uncouth and tried to remake formal … Continue reading