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Ramblings on Print on Demand Books December 5, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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Being a published author has never been easier. I found a recent column in Wired that describes self-publishing and print on demand books. Wikipedia defines self-publishing when the author of a work publishes it without use of a third party publisher. Popular self-publishing sites include Lulu , Self-Publishing  and Instant Publisher.

In the near future, when we are all published authors, the phrase will morph from ‘Read any good books lately?‘ to ‘Published any good books lately?‘  Print on demand publishing will fill a niche in the long tail. These books will expand the range of topics published and the quality of writing will vary greatly. It was the best of times, it was a dark and stormy night all in the same volume.

Being able to print books on demand will drive publishing in new directions. Will there be a future best-seller that collects commentary via SMS text messages? A limited print quantity of poems solely containing acronyms? A collection of Tweets with a certain hashtag that captures a unique moment in time? Or, a self-published commentary to supplement online videos about dropping mentos into liters of coke? Self-published authors will routinely promote these as part of the future common multi-media experience.

Around the time the term ‘paper-less office’ was introduced during the rise of PC in the office, the movie Ghostbusters came out and one of the characters states that ‘print is dead‘. Both are wrong. In the case with print on demand or self-publishing, the truth is stranger than fiction.

When you publish your book, let me know and I will do the same.

Read any good eBooks lately? July 1, 2010

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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A recent promotion by a well known national bookseller offered ‘5 free eBooks in 5 weeks’. They chose a title and each week, you obtained a voucher to download the book gratis, of course. To obtain the voucher,  you had to show proof of a e-reader on your phone, PDA or laptop. The company didn’t care which e-reader as long as you had one. Going through the process for the 1st title, I dutifully brought my laptop to the store. I was ready to show the own branded reader installed on my machine.

eBook Promotion

They did ask, I happily showed their reader and I obtained the voucher. So far, so good. I then attempted to complete the download process. I was prompted for a ‘verification code’. Code? What do you mean by this code? Did I miss something on the voucher? No, no verification there. A quick call to Customer Service resolved this code business. Turns out ‘verification code’ is way of saying credit card used on the account.

My 1st eBook reading commenced. Content navigation using their reader is OK with options to view in full screen mode, two page view, highlighting in several colors, insert bookmarks and write notes. That last feature is nice – I take notes on books I read to keep the salient point close by for later review. Another viewing features provided is an auto-scroll. That takes some getting used to – not sold on that one yet. There is also a full screen view which I liked best. Switching to that view from the regular two page view was a little confusing as switching view caused the pages to be re-numbered.  Part of the transition to digital format, I guess. I would have expected page numbers to be static, regardless of viewing format. This changed my navigation as I could not simply go to page XX; instead I used the bookmarks.

Each subsequent week during the promotion, the voucher process (no proof required), downloading and verifying was straight forward.  Each download was quick and the eBook includes a personal note with ‘From the library of’ . My eBook library was filling up. I expected a follow-up survey from the bookseller for either Customer Satisfaction or to obtain Voice of the Customer (VOC) type feedback. No invites via email yet (hint, hint). Maybe the goal was to distribute the vouchers. Or, they can monitor traffic views in the eBook library growth among the titles selected. An opportunity to connect and engage with their customers missed.

EBook reading via the laptop took a little getting used to. Minor drawbacks include eye strain on several occasions, pages re-numbered, portability and comfort not the same as with a physical book. Positives include always having access to your notes, taking your library with you, having multiple books open, an auto-scroll to let the content crawl by (also, controls provided to manage scroll rate, size), hotlinks within the book and highlighting in different colors.

As we mature in the digital age, I expect to use eBooks more often going forward.  The eBook experience will improve with use of color, images and hotlinks. I will wait and see what eBook 2.0 looks like. At this time, I prefer the experience with hard copy books. I am more focused, retain more and enjoy turning pages as I read.

I’m looking to build up my eBook library. What  eBooks have you read and would recommend?