Abandoned Wal-Mart now a Library

28 June 2016

From 99percentinvisible:

Big-box stores promise convenience and jobs for suburbs and small towns, but have a mixed reputation with designers and citizens. Many see big boxes as icons of unsustainable sprawl, reinforcing car culture with highway-oriented access and expansive parking lots. These boxy buildings not only take up vast amounts of land but often also require infrastructure around them to be overhauled. Later, when their super-sized occupants leave: a giant empty structure is left in their wake, which can be difficult to reuse unless a similar retailer takes its place.

. . . .

In one Texas town, a vacated Walmart has become the biggest single-story public library in the United States.

. . . .

The open floor area was strategically split into various sections, including public meeting spaces and computer labs, as well as an auditorium, bookstore and cafe. On the ceiling above, the designers left structural and mechanical elements exposed, coating them in white paint. Below, bright carpets, colorful floors and modern details distinguish various occupied zones and transitional areas. New colors and materials have transformed the entry and exterior.

. . . .

Big boxes have been turned into everything from commercial gyms, markets and offices to institutional museums, schools and churches.

Link to the rest at 99percentinvisible

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All the words

28 June 2016

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.

Somerset Maugham

Indie Authors to Finally See their Books on B&N Shelves

28 June 2016

From GoodEreader:

About three years ago, then-VP, Digital Content and GM of Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press division Theresa Horner sat down with GoodEReader at the Frankfurt Book Fair to discuss the state of the company, namely its self-publishing option and its ebook self-publishing platform. She posed the question as to what it would take to effectively compete with Amazon. Our response–which was not at all tongue in cheek–was for the retailer to stop banning indie authors’ books from brick-and-mortar stores. If Nook Press had developed a viable print-on-demand option and then told authors there was even a possibility of seeing their titles in their local bookstore on the condition that they pulled their books from Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program, authors would have jumped at the chance.

Unfortunately, that didn’t come to pass and Theresa Horner is no longer with the company. The concept of opening the doors–and the shelves–to great self-published titles fell by the wayside.

. . . .

Now, the retailer has some (hopefully) exciting news that will come out today. In an earnings call to investors only a matter of days ago, the company outlined several key proposals for the coming year, which included Barnes and Noble table-side service restaurants and a plan to cut losses of the Nook division down to $30M to $40M in the coming year. But tucked in there was a tiny mention of a plan to reshape the Nook Press print-on-demand model, with further details to come out on the 28th.

. . . .

UPDATE: Barnes and Noble just issued a press release on its Nook Press print-on-demand service. As we predicted, it finally puts in motion the possibility of authors seeing their books on stores shelves. Opponents’ concerns over a general drop in quality of books in the stores are unfounded, as all submitted titles will be vetted for approval and have to meet the company’s outlined standards. Authors will also be required to be “eligible Nook Press authors,” meaning their titles must be available as ebooks on BN.com and not included in Amazon’s KDP Select category.

There’s another catch, though: it’s not just about quality, it’s about prior sales. The opportunity is limited to titles “whose eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 1,000 units in the past year.”

Link to the rest at GoodEreader

PG says if BN had done this five or six years ago, the book world might look different today.

Amazon Announces Page Flip– A New Way to Hop, Skim, and Jump through Kindle Books

28 June 2016

From the Amazon Media Room:

Today, Amazon announced Page Flip, a reimagined Kindle navigation experience that makes it easy to explore books while always saving your place. With Page Flip, readers can easily flip back and forth between pages to reference different parts of the book while they read. Page Flip will be delivered as part of a free, over-the-air update starting today to Kindle E-readers, Fire tablets, and the free Kindle app for iOS and Android.

“Page Flip makes it easier than ever to refer back to pictures in a political memoir, flip back and forth between a map and your current page in an epic fantasy series, or find passages you’ve highlighted in an investing guide,” said Chuck Moore, Vice President, Kindle. “With Page Flip, we’ve taken inspiration from how people read print books and improved upon it.”

. . . .

Zoom out to get a bird’s eye view of the book and quickly find what you’re looking for. At a glance, easily recognize specific pages as you jump around. Pictures, charts, your highlights, and the layout of each page are easy to see with Page Flip’s pixel-accurate thumbnails that automatically adjust as you change your font and margin settings.

. . . .

Page Flip automatically saves the page you’re reading in a book, pinning it to the side of your screen for easy navigation. Flip back and forth in a book with confidence, knowing you can instantly jump back to reading with a simple tap of your pinned page.

“As an author, I love knowing that my work is presented with fluid clarity, freeing my readers from the page shuffling that can cloud and spoil the narrative,” said Laura Hillenbrand, best-selling author of Unbroken. “With Page Flip, books become vastly more accessible, navigable, interactive, and enthralling. As a ravenous reader and scholar, I savor the ease with which Page Flip allows me to keep thumbnails of maps and diagrams, my notes and highlighted passages, and bookmarked pages before me as I read, so that all I wish to see is accessible with the tap of a finger and my focus never has to leave the storytelling.”

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

Here’s Amazon’s Page Flip Page


How Imaginary Friends Help Kids Grow Up

28 June 2016

From Science of Us:

In a movie stuffed full of emotional moments, perhaps nothing about Inside Out packs more of a feelings punch than Bing Bong. Once the imaginary friend of Riley, the girl whose mind plays host to all the movie’s action, he spends his days deep in the recesses of her memory, mostly forgotten but willfully believing that she’ll call him up again one day.

Bing Bong (spoiler!) eventually disappears completely, in the most heart-wrenching death Pixar could have possibly dreamed up. Until relatively recently, though, the loss of an imaginary friend wouldn’t be considered something worth mourning. As a recent Science Friday article noted, they were once considered a sign of something unhealthy, or even sinister:

Historically, many researchers and parents thought that imaginary companions were harmful or evil, and were a sign of a social deficit, demonic possession, or mental illness. For instance, at the University of Alabama’s Knowledge in Development (KID) Lab, lead psychologist Ansley Gilpin recently heard of a case where a parent thought her daughter might have schizophrenia. It turned out that the child just had an imaginaryfriend.

The stigma, as the anecdote about Gilpin illustrates, is still alive and well, but it’s fading. Over the past several decades, as Science Friday also recently documented in a series of episodes on the subject, researchers have established imaginary friendship as perhaps psychology’s most delightful area of study. And perhaps more importantly, they’ve discovered that having an imaginary companion isn’t abnormal or unusual – and living in an imaginary world might even help kids develop valuable skills for the real one.

In other words, for concerned parents who might want to see it spelled out: An imaginary friend is nothing to worry about. First of all, they’re incredibly common — by some estimates, 65 percent of kids have had an imaginary friend by age 7. And kids know they aren’t real; researchers today believe these made-up companions aren’t an indication of loneliness or a deficit of social skills so much as they are a normal way for kids to exercise their imaginations.

Link to the rest at Science of Us

PG suspects many authors may have had imaginary friends when they were younger.

Amazon grows its education footprint with Amazon Inspire, a free platform for learning materials

28 June 2016

From TechCrunch:

Back in March, we reported how Amazon was poised to up its stakes in the educational publishing market with the launch of a free platform called Inspire for teachers and others to post and share education resources online. Today, the company has confirmed it is doing just that. It has announced Amazon Inspire, an online education resources (OER) platform for teachers to source free learning materials for students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, starting first as a beta in the U.S.

Designed to look and operate much like Amazon’s well-known flagship site — but without the e-commerce back-end — Inspire lets users sort content by relevance, user ratings and popularity, along with several criteria pertaining specifically to the materials at hand (level, skill, etc.).

The content is a mix of “crowdsourced” resources from teachers and other educators — uploaded via an interface that is not unlike Amazon’s self-publishing platform; and primary content posted by third parties like the Folger Shakespeare Library (which is initially adding in 100 plays and related lessons and teaching modules) and the Newseum in Washington, DC.

. . . .

The third-party contributions could be helpful in filling out the platform if educators are slower to contribute, although Rohit Agarwal, who is the GM of Amazon K-12 Education, said so far that has not been the case. “Our early partnerships indicate that educators are more than happy to contribute content,” he told TechCrunch. “Entire districts and states are contributing to Inspire, whether they are creating or curating materials.”

He said the impetus (inspiration, even) for Inspire is the fact that educators are looking for more places to source learning materials, and potentially share some of their own. “There are more than 13,000 school districts in the U.S., and when we’ve talked to them, one thing we heard over and over again is that they have created resources or they have gone out and found that others have created them,” he said, but discovering them can be a fragmented process, “through sites and blogs.”

Link to the rest at TechCrunch

For YouTube Stars, Writing a Book Is Still a Big Deal

28 June 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

How can you tell if somebody’s really big on YouTube? Subscriber count mean something. A book deal might mean even more.

A host of YouTubers have entered the world of old-fashioned physical media by publishing memoirs, fiction and even comic books since 2014. This weekend at VidCon, a convention for the YouTube-famous and those who aspire to be, fans were able to get their hands on a printed extension of their favorite online personalities.

Xandra Long, a 16-year-old from Orange, Calif., found herself unexpectedly drawn to a stand selling books written by YouTube stars. “Dream House,” a fictional thriller byMarzia Bisognin – known as CutiePieMariza on YouTube, where she has nearly 6.5 million subscribers — caught Long’s eye.

“I watch her videos a lot,” said Long, holding the newly purchased hardcover book in her hands. “I don’t really read a lot, but I do like [Bisognin’s] channel, and it’s really cool that I can get a book by her.”

Passing through a convention floor bustling with vendors, businesses and a host of opportunities for selfies, fans perused books published by Simon & Schuster, which has produced many of the YouTubers’ books.

“I think the audience wants something physical, that they can hold in their hands and for me, writing a book is an opportunity to reach a different audience than on YouTube, and possibly, some of my fans that might have outgrown my videos,” said Shane Dawson, a YouTube star with 7 million subscribers. He has also written two books: “I Hate Myselfie” and the soon-to-be-released “It Gets Worse.”

“We’re all looking to broaden our horizons,” Dawson said. “This is just an extension of who we are online.”

. . . .

Ariele Fredman, assistant director of publicity at Atria Books, said these books cater to a different audience than memoirs written by celebrities who found their fame through more traditional routes.

“They’re not going to seek out a memoir by Tina Fey, necessarily, to learn more about who they want to be or how they see themselves reflected in society,” Fredman said.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Where would we be without New York publishing as the curator of our culture?

The YouTube author trend should provide lots of work for ghost writers while it lasts.

Book Length, Cliffhangers, and the Economics of Paper Publishing

27 June 2016

From M.C.A. Hogarth:

This issue comes up often enough that I think having a permanent post about it would be good. Here it is then: “Why does Jaguar write so many cliffhangers! It’s annoying!”

I feel your pain, my readers. I, too, dislike cliffhangers. (Actually, I hate them.) But as Business Manager Jaguar implies, this is an economic issue, not an artistic one… or rather, a place where art and practical reality collide, and art loses.

Physical books have a presence. We know this because when we rhapsodize about them, it’s what we talk about: their weight, their heft, their smell, the sight of them, the sound of the pages whispering as we ruffle them. But in particular, I want to talk about weight, because this is a primary point of interaction between the reader and the material. The weight of a book will influence how long you want to hold the book, how comfortable you are while reading it, and the ability of the book—the physical object—to disappear and the story to seem to form in your head without aid. If the book is too large or too heavy, you will get dragged out of the story when your wrists or arms start complaining. Likewise, if the book is too small, eyestrain will pull you away.

. . . .

Here, then, is the takeaway: If you write big stories, stories that take hundreds of pages to unravel, you will quickly run into the problem that they don’t fit into a comfortable-sized print book.

What do you do, then?

Some publishers handle this by decreasing the font size and the whitespace of the layout. You can squeeze a lot of text into a “four-hundred page” book if you mess with those variables. For a while, in fact, this is what I did in order to make my books more handy. But I had one reader tell me one day, “I really wish you would make the font bigger on your print books. I find them hard to read.”

. . . .

So here’s the rock and the hard place: my choice is to fit an entire story into a single package and have it be impossible to read and uncomfortable to hold, or to break up a story into bits that might not have satisfactory endings. If you’ve read commercial series fiction, you know the choice that publishers have historically made: they chop the books up. (Lord of the Rings is a famous example.) Despite hating cliffhangers with a passion, I too found myself making the same choice, and consoling myself that at least I wrote fast enough that my readers wouldn’t have to wait long for the conclusion of the story.

But wait! you say. E-books aren’t affected by length at all! Why don’t you break up the story into pieces for the print books, but have the e-book sold as a single story?

Would that I could! But unfortunately, when you post books for sale, they’re linked to their various editions. This is not just a computer/sales/data issue, but a reader issue. Say you’re a reader who read the (enormous uncut) e-book version of The Godkin Saga, a story that was cut into two volumes, Flight of the Godkin Griffin and The Godson’s Triumph. You enjoyed that book and want the print book because you’d like to see the illustrations on paper. You go to Amazon and there’s no print edition linked to the e-book edition that you bought. Confused, you search for ‘godkin hogarth’ and discover there are two other books with different names (Flight of the Godkin Griffin and The Godson’s Triumph) with print editions but no e-book editions. Are these sequels? If you buy Flight, does that include everything you remember from The Godkin Saga? Or do you need Triumph as well? You try buying one of them, receive it, and are extremely irritated to discover that it’s not the entire book. Now you feel Extremely Cheated.

Link to the rest at M.C.A. Hogarth

Here’s a link to M.C.A. Hogarth’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Hopeless novels

27 June 2016

In general…there’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.

Anne Lamott

AAP: Ebooks Decline, Audio Grows and Publishers’ Sales Drop

27 June 2016

From Digital Book World:

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) released its new newest numbers this morning, which compare January 2016 to January 2015.

Ebook sales took a big hit, according to the AAP’s numbers, dropping 24.9 percent to $99.9 million. Hardcover books didn’t do much better, falling 18.7 percent to $151.3 million.

. . . .

Publishers’ book sales for January 2016 were $991.7 million, down 6.7 percent from $1.06 billion in January 2015.

. . . .

Trade (consumer) books sales were $488.0 million in January 2016, down 13.7 percent from $565.4 million in January 2015. This includes childrens/YA books, adult books and religious books.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to William for the tip.

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