Monthly Archives: December 2013

The last bookstore

30 December 2013

From The Washington Post:

‘Good morning, how can I help you?”

“I’m looking for a book.”

“Great. What book?”

“I think it’s about a bird. It might be called ‘The Canary.’ ”

“There’s ‘The Canary Handbook.’ It’s not in stock, but I could order it for you.”

“No, that’s not it. Maybe it wasn’t a canary. I know: It was about something that flies. It could have been a parrot.”

“Sure, lots of parrot books out there. There was the one about Alex, the African grey parrot. It’s the true story of . . . ”

“No, this is more of a made-up story. It’s for my granddaughter.”

“Sounds like you want to try the children’s department, right down those stairs.”

“How can I help you?”

“I’m looking for a book.”

“Would you happen to have the title?”

“It’s a long shot, but I was in my car about a month ago and heard an author on the radio. Sounded really interesting.”

“Fiction? Nonfiction?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Anything about it you can remember?”

“It was raining.”

“About the book, please.”

“I think it was about a president.”

“That’s very helpful! A biography of a president?”


“Kennedy? We just had the 50th anniversary of his assassination. ”

“It could’ve been Kennedy, maybe.”

. . . .

“Hi, there, it’s me again! The children’s department sent me back. They said to tell you that next time you should ask how old someone’s granddaughter is before sending her downstairs.”

“Is that what they said? Well you can tell them . . . ”

“I wasn’t planning to go back down. I called my granddaughter and she wasn’t home, but her roommate said it might not have been birds. Maybe it was butterflies. It was definitely something that flies.”

“Oh, butterflies! I’ll bet you want the new Barbara Kingsolver book — here. Go sit in that chair in the corner and read it for a while.”

“It’s not for me.”

. . . .

“Oh, hi, how did you make out with the Kennedy books?”

“I’m thinking it might have been Lincoln.”

“Sure, easy to confuse. Here, let me show you a few recent titles: There’s ‘Lincoln in the World,’ ‘Rise to Greatness’ . . . ”

Link to the rest at The Washington Post and thanks to Jessica for the tip.

Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’

30 December 2013

From The Independent:

Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

. . . .

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

Link to the rest at The Independent and thanks to Meryl for the tip..

Half of Britons now using a tablet

30 December 2013

From The Telegraph:

The Christmas leap in tablet computer sales means that half of Britons are now using them, following a flood of cheap devices on to the market.

Between 12m and 13m tablets have been sold in the UK this year, an increase of more than 50pc on 2012, according to research from Deloitte. This means that by the end of January, 50pc of Britons will own or have access to a tablet, up from 36pc in the summer.

In under four years, since the release of Apple’s iPad in 2010, the tablet has become one of Britain’s must-have products, and many retailers have counted on strong demand for them to improve sales during the lucrative Christmas period.

Deloitte said the tablet’s growth had been driven by the value end of the market, which had made the touch-screen devices available as children’s gifts and for those unwilling to pay for more expensive models.

. . . .

“Tablets have gained popularity with extraordinary speed, and manufacturers will have to work hard to stay on top of the evolution of the market,” Mr Lee said.

“There appear to be more users and use cases for tablets than many had imagined. Getting the balance of form, function and price right will likely be a moving target during 2014, especially at the lower end of the market,” he added.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

Amazon says more than half of Christmas shoppers went mobile this year

30 December 2013


According to Amazon, more than half of this year’s Christmas shoppers placed their orders using a smartphone or tablet.

Amazon has revealed that during the 2013 holiday season – the busiest ever for the online retailer – more than half of Christmas shoppers placed their orders using mobile devices.

Traffic peaked on Cyber Monday – the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend in the US – when over 36.8 million items were ordered worldwide, or 426 per second, the company announced on Thursday (26 December).

Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, customers ordered more than five toys per second from smartphones or tablets.

Link to the rest at

Konrath’s Publishing Predictions 2014

30 December 2013

From Joe Konrath:

I’ve been looking to the future, wondering what is going to happen next, and I’ve got a few equally wild ideas.

1. The end of Barnes & Noble as we know it. In 2014, paper book sales will no longer be significant enough to sustain the nation’s largest bookstore chain. There may be bankruptcy and restructuring and the selling of assets (like the Nook), but ultimately it will result in many stores closing, and possibly the demise of the brand.

. . . .

4. Indie bookstores will need to start selling self-pubbed books, or perish. Paper isn’t going away anytime soon. But there won’t be enough of a legacy supply that will keep the necessary number of diverse titles on shelves to make indie stores a worthwhile destination for shoppers. If indie bookstores deal directly with self-pubbed authors, and print their own copies to sell in their stores, they can build inventory and cut out the share normally taken by publishers.

. . . .

5. Visibility will become harder. As more ebooks get published, and virtual shelf space expands, it is going to become harder to find eyeballs. Ebooks aren’t a competition–readers buy what they want to, without limits, even if TBR piles become impossible to ever finish within a lifetime. So someone who buys my ebook will also buy yours; there is no either/or. But only if the reader is aware of both.

The future will be about actively cultivating a readership. So far we’ve been lucky. With KDP Select and BookBub, authors have been able to get visible without reconnecting with longtime readers. There have always been enough new readers to sustain sales. But I believe maintaining a fanbase is going to become increasingly more important.

That means having an up-to-date website, making it easy to sign up for your newsletter, staying active in social media, and regenerating your brand with new titles and continued promotions.

My prediction: self-pubbed authors who don’t focus on their current, core readership will see sales diminish.

. . . .

7. Big 5 mergers and layoffs and bankruptcies. As the publishing cartel loses its quasi-monopoly on paper distribution, there will be no way to support its infrastructure. Manhattan rent, in-house employees with benefits, length of time to publish, and the temptation for authors to avoid legacy and self-pub, will bring down the industry. There is too much waste, their share of the pie is getting smaller, and when B&N disappears there will be no way to recover.

Link to the rest at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and thanks to Ant for the tip.

StorySkeleton, An Index-Card Story Mapping App

30 December 2013

From Cult of Mac:

StorySkeleton is an amazing app that’s been around for a little while, but a recent update to add iPad support has made it even better. At heart, it’s a kind of index-card-based note and outlining app for writers (screen, fiction and non-fiction) to help structure and plan stories. But the design is fantastic, making it easier to use than most other alternatives.

Oh, and it exports directly to native Scrivener files.

. . . .

The app arranges your notes (scenes, I guess) as index cards, and you can reorder them by drag and drop or by using a special rearranging mode (this mode was designed for the iPhone version and isn’t really needed on the iPad).

You can color-code your cards, assign a “type” and a “plot point” to the header of each card (these are both customizable), and you can group the cards into stacks (and stacks within stacks if you like).

Link to the rest at Cult of Mac and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

German Transmedia: Storytelling to Stimulate Several Senses

29 December 2013

From Publishing Perspectives:

Despite a firm distrust of term “enhanced ebook,” the buzz around transmedia storytelling has by no means died down. In fact, in the 10 years since media studies scholar Henry Jenkins helped popularize the term with his article “Transmedia Storytelling,” numerous examples of transmedia storytelling can be found in more and more disciplines. Jenkins’ initial definition characterized transmedia storytelling as storytelling in which “each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.”

In the German publishing landscape, transmedia storytelling has been utilized to bring stories to life and enable reader involvement well beyond the book itself. Transmedia campaigns which combine media such as blogs, social media platforms, photos and videos to introduce readers to a book’s backstory are developed by creative digital and marketing agencies in cooperation with publishers and authors.

. . . .

One of their most recent collaborations is Deathbook, a serial thriller in 10 installments. Deathbook is more than a book — it’s a multimedia world that manifests itself throughout social media, on blogs and via QR codes, in which a horror story is brewing that threatens to spill over into real life. The concept is the brainchild of the German Rowohlt Verlag, a large publisher of trade fiction and nonfiction which belongs to the Holtzbrinck Group. Earlier this year, the publishing house enlisted thriller author Andreas Winkelmann to writeDeathbook, a digital serial novel about a string of inexplainable deaths related to the internet and a “network of death.” However, readers don’t have to wait for the first serial to be released to enter the story. On the “Posten und Sterben” (“post and die” ) blog, readers can delve into the story via the ramblings of a frightened blogger trying to warn the online community away from an evil force on the Internet.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Eric for the tip.

I don’t care

29 December 2013

I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.

Roald Dahl

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