Major disruptions in the book publishing business




Ebook readers like Amazon’s Kindle roiled the book publishing business. Big time. Ebooks now outsell printed books. We can carry one device with dozens of books, and it weighs less than any one of them would in print. Major bookstore chains went belly up. But ebooks are hardly the first major disruption in book publishing. The printing press only came along about 700 years ago. It eventually put an end to the scriptoriums that had produced manuscript books for centuries. Printing put books in the hands of more readers than the scriptoriums ever could, but books remained relatively expensive well … Continue reading






Victory for Google Books, larger victory for the public




Have any of your Google searches turned up pages from a book? Google began to experiment with scanning books in 2002 and announced plans to establish a digital library, now known as Google Books, in 2004. The project quickly became mired in controversy as the Authors Guild, some individual authors, and several major publishers sued Google for copyright infringement. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently upheld a 2013 district court ruling on Authors Guild v. Google that Google’s activities constitute fair use under copyright law. The Authors Guild plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. … Continue reading






Writers write about reading, writing, research




Not everyone who reads is doing research. Not everyone who does research in the broadest sense (looking up useful information) writes about it. But everyone who publishes research must read first. Indeed, anyone writes anything must read first. A friend of mine wrote an autobiography, and compiled as much documentation as he could find in order to refresh his memory and insure accuracy. Novelists must not only read other literature voraciously, but if they want respect for their novels, must conduct research to make sure that they describe places, customs, etc. accurately. Whatever else they write about, writers often write … Continue reading






Evolution of words




Our word “blue” comes from an old “Common Romance” word blavus. So? Blavus seems to come from the Latin flavus, which means yellow. Over the years, neither the spelling, nor the pronunciation, nor the meaning of words stays put. “Baroque” comes from a word that refers to a misshaped pearl. Music and art critics of the early and middle 18th century used it to refer to the style of earlier generations that they considered unnatural, overly ornate. In other words, these critics intended “baroque” as a derogatory term. It referred to music, architecture, paintings, etc. that violated “modern” notions of … Continue reading






How the Web changed reading, and how writers must adjust




Reading online is a different experience from reading print. In part because hypertext has made it easy to jump from one place to the other, people’s attention spans have gotten shorter. It almost seems a stretch to call most people’s online behavior “reading” at all. They wander throughout the Internet searching for something in particular. They stop to read only when they find it. Perhaps they want simple facts. Beyond just facts, people look for explanations of unfamiliar topics. They look for reviews of products or movies or books. They look for controversy. [ad name=”Google Adsense links 468×15″] Foraging Whatever … Continue reading