Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Secret of Writing An Action Movie in Book Form

29 September 2015

From io9:

Screw movies. A great novel can be just as exciting and thrilling as a big-budget Hollywood tentpole. A novel can contain massive, insane action, that movie-makers could never even afford to bring to life. But how do you create an action movie on the page? We talked to 10 of our favorite authors, and here’s what they told us.

“I grew up in the 80s as big blockbusters started to become a thing, so I do think some of those concepts influence me in terms of how I approach action,” says Tobias Buckell, author of Arctic Rising. “There’s certainly some inner kid that is trying to translate those feelings I got when I saw big, epic action on a screen to a sort of driven narrative when I’m doing big set pieces in books.” At the same time, he notes that he grew up without a television, on a boat with “limited access to power in a sort of watery off-the-grid Kevin Costner Waterworld experience,” and didn’t really discover tentpole movies until he turned nine.

“ All my books start in my head as films or documentaries that I then have to adapt for a novel. If I can’t see it, I can’t write it,” says Karen Traviss, author of Going Grey. “In every scene, I’m walking the point of view character through a three-dimensional landscape and interacting with it through the characters’ eyes, seeing what they see and thinking what they think. Even my scene and chapter transitions are often pretty much the ones I learned making documentaries and features, almost to the point of dissolves and fades.”

Link to the rest at i09 and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

A Facelift for Shakespeare

29 September 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will announce next week that it has commissioned translations of all 39 of the Bard’s plays into modern English, with the idea of having them ready to perform in three years. Yes, translations—because Shakespeare’s English is so far removed from the English of 2015 that it often interferes with our own comprehension.

Most educated people are uncomfortable admitting that Shakespeare’s language often feels more medicinal than enlightening. We have been told since childhood that Shakespeare’s words are “elevated” and that our job is to reach up to them, or that his language is “poetic,” or that it takes British actors to get his meaning across.

But none of these rationalizations holds up. Much of Shakespeare goes over our heads because, even though we recognize the words, their meaning often has changed significantly over the past four centuries.

In “Hamlet,” when Polonius famously advises Laertes to “neither a borrower nor a lender be,” much of what he says before that point reaches our modern ears in a fragmentary state at best. In the lines, “These few precepts in thy memory / Look thou character,” look means “make sure that,” and character is a verb, meaning “to write.” Polonius is telling Laertes, in short, “Note these things well.”

He goes on to say: “Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment,” which seems to mean that you should let other people criticize you but refrain from judging them—strange advice. But by “take censure” Shakespeare meant “evaluate,” so that Polonius is really saying “assess” other men but don’t jump to conclusions about them.

We can piece these meanings together, of course, by reading the play and consulting stacks of footnotes. But Shakespeare didn’t intend for us to do that. He wrote plays for performance. We’re supposed to be able to hear and understand what’s spoken on the stage, in real time.

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

PG hopes they retain really good translators. Poets, too.

More trees!

28 September 2015

An Adobe commercial from 2013 that one commentator has compared to the current state of publishing.

Solving the Amazon Puzzle

28 September 2015

From Bloomberg Business:

Which company is a better investment, Google or Conventional wisdom suggests Google, which turns huge profits, enjoys better gross margins, and has a far lower price-to-earnings ratio. Yet Amazon’s stock has returned 62.6 percent in the past year, compared with 9.6 percent for Google.

That’s a phenomenon Steve Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University, and Ryan Guttridge, a fellow there, have named the “Amazon Puzzle,” and one they say they’ve figured out. The key is hidden in asset turns, or how effective companies are at getting revenue out of their investments. Asset turnover is defined as sales divided by total assets; the higher the number, the better. “Google is just abysmal, and Amazon is really good,” says Guttridge, who once worked for legendary stock picker Bill Miller at Legg Mason in Baltimore.

. . . .

Guttridge and Hanke credit Amazon’s cash flow–focused CEO, Jeff Bezos. Bezos has a salary of just $81,840 a year, though he gets a further $1.6 million to cover his personal security. Beyond that, he receives nothing atop the return on the 18 percent of Amazon that he owns. It’s the same stock shareholders own. He makes money only if the stock goes up and must keep shareholders happy or be held accountable.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg Business

Ever dreamed of spending the night in a bookstore? Junkudo offering the chance to do just that!

28 September 2015

From RocketNews24:

A little over a year ago, someone in Japan tweeted that they would “love to live in Junkudo”, one of the country’s largest book store chains. Little did they know that someone at that very company would not only see the tweet, but decide to make that pipe dream a reality, inviting a small band of book lovers in Tokyo to spend the night in the giant bookstore with sleeping bags, giving them entirely free rein to pick up any book or magazine they pleased.

This year, the company is bringing the “Try Living in Junkudo” project to an even bigger three-story shop in Osaka—and on Halloween, no less!

By applying via their website, you could be one of the 10 lucky people (five pairs) to spend the night inside the Sennichimae Junkudo store in Osaka. From 10:00pm on 31 October until 8:30am on 1 November, you’ll be able to cram in as much reading of the store’s 3,000 square meters (32,000 square feet) of books as you can—the only things that are off limits being the books and magazines that are sealed in plastic.

. . . .

It will cost absolutely nothing to spend the night, but you will be expected to buy at least three books or magazines. Also this is considered a “monitor tour” which is a Japanese term that means you get a heck of a deal, but only in exchange for evaluating the hotel, restaurant, or in this case bookstore you’re visiting by filling out a questionnaire afterwards. Still, that’s a small price to pay to have an entire bookstore at your disposal!

Link to the rest at RocketNews24

From Books to Ebooks and Back: The Future of Literary Consumption Is Unwritten

28 September 2015

From Flavorwire:

News from the Association of American Publishers that digital sales have dropped by ten percent in the first five months of 2015 has prompted big publishing to build and expand warehouse space for print books. But it isn’t just the precipitous decline in sales that is driving publishing back to the arms of print. Increasingly, readers — including young readers — prefer a mix of digital and print books, with a tendency to favor the latter.

It remains to be seen whether the renegotiation of contracts with Amazon, who has cornered around 65 percent of the ebook market, was what led to the decline. Publishers fought and won the ability to raise ebook prices, sometimes charging as much for digital copies as hardcover print versions.

On the other hand, we won’t likely know until next year whether publishing has achieved a healthier balance between print and digital, one that leads perhaps to improved overall sales.

Either way, the resurgence of print was never a given — few announced its impending arrival. Quite the contrary, a surfeit of doomsayers saw in the arrival of ebooks and ebook readers — the sales of which dropped by eight million last year — the end of print or at least the demise of given literary forms, like the novel.

“This is the question,” novelist Will Self wrote in the Guardian last year, “if you accept that by then the vast majority of text will be read in digital form on devices linked to the web, do you also believe that those readers will voluntarily choose to disable that connectivity? If your answer to this is no, then the death of the novel is sealed out of your own mouth.”

. . . .

“There is nothing capable of destroying literary needs,” Neuman said last weekend at the Brooklyn Book Festival. “When I need to have a slow, joyful experience, I prefer a printed book. When I’m just reading the text partially to search for things, I use ebooks.”

He added: “I don’t see why we should choose. We will have both forever. This old device called the printed book has lasted a few crises already.”

. . . .

“When you read a printed book, it’s easier to stay on the same page for a long period of time. When you read a digital book, you want to move from page to page. And with poetry you need to see the form — you need to see more than you can see on digital pages.”

. . . .

“We believe more than ever that the phone will be the primary reading device globally over the next decade,” Oyster wrote in a statement on its website. “Looking forward, we feel this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for ebooks.”

. . . .

“Devices are not dangerous for literature,” Krasznahorkai said. “People can be dangerous for literature. People, for example, who do not read.”

Link to the rest at Flavorwire

BookBub Has Launched New Mystery Lists!

28 September 2015

From BookBub:

We regularly launch new categories at BookBub for many different reasons. Recently, we’ve been seeing an increasing demand to divide our main Mysteries list into more targeted sub-categories. After thorough testing, we’re excited to launch three new categories for Featured Deals: Crime Fiction, Cozy Mysteries,and Historical Mysteries. Introducing more targeted lists will create further opportunities for authors and publishers to have their books selected from a variety of subgenres, and will ensure our partners are reaching the readers who are truly interested in their content.

. . . .

Books in our Crime Fiction category are propelled by a central crime and the process of solving that crime. This category can house police procedurals, hardboiled mysteries, detective fiction, and everything in between. This is a fairly broad category — books that used to run in our general Mysteries category that aren’t Cozies or Historicals will now run in Crime Fiction — and depending on performance we may continue to sub-divide the category in the future.

. . . .

Usually starring amateur sleuths, Cozy Mysteries are meant to be fun, light-hearted reads — the central crime or murder isn’t too dark or violent. The stories are filled with quirky, lovable characters, and plots often center around hobbies or activities like cooking, animal-rearing, and knitting.

. . . .

Historical Mysteries are mysteries that take place in the past — usually at least 50 years ago.

. . . .

Mysteries and Thrillers can overlap, but Thrillers aren’t “whodunits” — readers are often aware of exactly who the antagonists are from early on. Thrillers are set at a fast pace and can involve espionage, terrorism, the justice system, or psychological tension that keeps readers guessing.

. . . .

Supernatural Suspense features suspenseful, mystery-driven plots with paranormal, magical, or supernatural elements. For example, psychic detectives are a successful trope in this category.

Link to the rest at BookBub and thanks to Lisa for the tip.

eBook Sales “Slip” Following a Pattern Set by Digital Magazines, Newspapers

28 September 2015

From The Digital Reader:

Are we reading too much into the recent reports that eBook sales are declining? Were factors at play that spurred past growth, like low pricing, that are not a factor today?

The media is catching up to something readers here have known for a while: digital media sales are slumping, caused by a number of things, but slumping, nonetheless. In July, the Association of American Publishers stats for Q1 of this year showed trade eBook sales down 7.5 percent, with print sales up a tick, though essentially flat (hardbound down, paperback up). Their latest stats show eBook sales through June down 10 percent.

Those who have an interest in promoting print over digital seemed to rejoice.  But as anyone who bet against the web should know, believing digital publishing is somehow a fad will be a bad bet.

. . . .

First, it has always been the case that readers have preferred print, at least in comparison to the kinds of digital products they have been presented to date. The earliest studies, conducted by companies heavily invested in digital, showed that the number one preferred platform for books and other published materials was print. There is good reason for this: print is portable, convenient, and easy to read.

Studies also revealed that while readers hated those Flash flipbooks, they were open to reading on tablets and smartphones, and this is where we have seen growth the past few years.

Second, a lot of digital publishing efforts today are embarrassingly bad. Whether we are talking about ePub books or replica edition newspapers and magazines, many publishers look at digital as just another distribution channel for print, not as an original publishing platform. One simply can’t compare a high quality printed book or magazine to a poorly converted digital product.

Third, just as print books and magazines took a major hit when Borders and other distribution channels shutdown, so too has digital been hit by Apple’s failure to maintain the Newsstand or promote the iBooks Store. Google, meanwhile, has not stepped up to replace Apple as the leading sales outlet (ahead of Amazon for newspapers and magazines, but far behind in eBooks). (Though with the acqui-hire of some of the Oyster team, this may be changing.)

. . . .

Additionally, print remains a marginally profitable business. Many newspapers and magazines continue to struggle to turn a profit, while US book publishers have to live in fear that yet another of the big retailers may go out of business (or at least severely shrink).

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Writing and Publishing a Book with Free Software

28 September 2015

Link to the rest at

How to get ahead in self-publishing

27 September 2015

From author Mackenzie Brown via The Irish Times:

As a child growing up in Liverpool, I was lucky enough to have been introduced to books by my mother, who is an avid reader. Since then, I have developed a deep love of literature and, from as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a rather fertile imagination.

Writing was almost second nature to me, but I started to learn my trade writing short stories in secret and – although I would describe them as embryonic – I have to admit, when I read them now they’re pretty awful.

. . . .

I encountered numerous obstacles in my attempt to break into the world of traditional publishing and quickly discovered it was very much a closed shop. Unless a writer is extremely lucky or is already a well-known name (or a celebrity with a ghost-writer) it is extremely difficult to make it.

Feeling like I was banging my head against a brick wall, I decided to dip my toes into the world of desktop self-publishing, which enabled me to share my books in both paperback and e-book format with readers all over the world.

. . . .

 The entire e-publishing process was completely new to me and, I must admit, I had a lot to learn. I worked hard, researching how to format the book myself, and decided to enlist a proof-reader and editor to help with the text.

. . . .

My latest release is a factual work and a bit of a departure for me, but the subject of Annie’s War is one that is close to my heart. It follows the early lives of my maternal grandparents and is set in Liverpool between 1914 and 1945. The story of Annie and Angus is one I always wanted to tell after hearing tales about their lives around the dinner table, or at family gatherings, when I was a boy.

Because it is a true story, I was forced to spend years poring over dusty microfiche machines in libraries, researching my family tree before I could hope to bring the subject to life, in what became a labour of love – but now that it’s published, it at least keeps the family happy.

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

Here’s a link to Mackenzie Brown’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

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