Barnes & Noble: ‘Give me one reason to stay here’

Dear readers,

We have made progress! Barnes and Noble decided to make themselves relevant and came up with B&N Sync.

According to Paul St John Mackintosh from TeleRead, the program lets people buy certain print books flagged by a special bookmark that gives the customer the option of buying the electronic book version for a mere $4.99. FINALLY!

I’m really excited because as a student, it’s difficult to work with either print or e-book versions of textbooks sometimes. While taking notes on the physical book is always better, it’s hard to find certain things later on. While e-books have the Ctrl+F function, sometimes notes typed into the e-reader are hard to remember when test time comes around.

Now with this new deal, I don’t have to sacrifice notes or “searchability” when I purchase textbooks — I could have both for a reasonable price.

This isn’t a new idea exactly. For instance, Peachpit gave me the option of buying a book/e-book bundle when I wanted “Adobe InDesign CC Classroom in a Book,” but the total price was a staggering $64.79. Individually, the print book is $47.99 and the e-book is $38.39, so I guess it’s a good deal. Either way, I opted for the e-book alone because I’m a college girl on a budget. Had the bundle been cheaper, say $52.98 ($47.99+$4.99), I would have been much more likely to buy it.

Now I should note that the program is still growing. As it stands, “there are over 70 [books] to choose from,” as noted on B&N’s site. I think it might be a while until the books I’m interested in will be included in the revolution.

I walked into Barnes and Noble today hoping to get “Infographics For Dummies” by Justin Beegel MBA. The book was $29.99 in store. There was no print/e-book bundle. There was just an overpriced book.

When I went to get the link of the book I was talking about, I noticed it was $17.92 if you buy it online. What incentive are you giving patrons that visit your brick and mortar stores, B&N? Frankly, I’m extremely insulted that you would attempt to swindle me like that.

With all the cheaper and honest alternatives, why should I buy this book from you, B&N? As Tracey Chapman said, “Give me one reason to stay here.”

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Users look between the lines of Kindle highlighting feature

Remember when I was like “Oh, woe is me! I have a Kindle and Amazon is a bully. Should I quit?” I didn’t, I’m broke and I’m stuck with this e-reader until it dies. So I decided to get to know my lovely little tool a little better and stumbled across a curious article on the Kindle’s highlighting feature.

Alison Flood and I share something: a fascination with seeing what people have highlighted.

I think there’s something magical about discovering how others interact with a book. Where in a print book you can see notes and turned pages, in a Kindle you can see what others have highlighted. Flood notes it could either be an important nugget from the book or it could be a reflection on the people that read it.

Another article made clear that even though Kindle users could highlight whatever text they want, not everything shows, only certain highlights.

According to Amazon’s web site, “every month, Kindle customers highlight millions of book passages that are meaningful to them. [Amazon combines] the highlights of all Kindle customers and identif[ies] the passages with the most highlights. The resulting Popular Highlights help readers to focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people.”

The Kindle only shows text as highlighted if at least three different customers “overlap.”

So if three or more highlighted something in a book, it will be shown.

But with so many people reading so many books, why isn’t the whole thing highlighted? I feel like their formula for calculating which is highlighted is missing because I haven’t found anything clearer, but it’s interesting either way and I wanted to share that there is science behind the madness.

And in case you’re one of those people that hate markings in a book, don’t worry, there’s a feature in Kindle that lets you turn off the whole community highlighting thing so only your notes show.

If you know something more, please feel free to share in the comment section!

Designer channels Frankenstein: Creates Comic Sans typewriter to jar document designers

I’m going to put books on hold and talk about the typeface a second, specifically Comic Sans.

On Sunday, Oct. 19, a fellow member of Self-Publish @ FIU shared an article by Megan Friedman about a Frankenstein’s monster-like invention: a typewriter that writes everything in Comic Sans.

The unnatural creature was invented by Designer Jesse England and he calls it the “Sincerity Machine.” He got an old 1970s Brother Charger 11 typewriter and attached Comic Sans letters onto the strikers.

At first, everything in me screamed “NO, NOT COMIC SANS!” It’s like the typeface you shouldn’t use for 98% of projects. Why would someone completely butcher a prized relic and make a monster destined to be hated and misunderstood by most?

Then I thought about Comic Sans and remembered it was the first typeface of the first document I ever intentionally designed.

It was the beginning of my then-unknown document design career: technology class in West Miami Middle School. We were formally being introduced to Microsoft’s designing capabilities and we had to transform our first words from Times New Roman to Comic Sans.

We were playing with words, not even logo ideas or anything. I remember feeling so accomplished and fancy looking at the fat curves of the font. I knew at that moment that I wanted to keep playing with words. Which brought me to forgive and accept England’s world-shattering idea.

It made me realize what he said was true, it’s a noob’s typeface. I guess I was repelled by it because I don’t want to be a beginner in document design anymore.

After expressing myself on Facebook to friends about it, a teacher friend of mine told me “Comic Sans is one of the only fonts that come standard with computers that is easier for people with dyslexia (and other disorders) to read.” She added that she uses it a lot for her classes “since certain letters (like the letter A) come the way the students learn to write it.”

The site Comic Sans Criminal has great visuals that backs up her claims and shows improper and proper uses of Comic Sans.

At the end of the day, I get the whole “sincerity” bit about it and that Comic Sans shouldn’t be completely underrated because it has its place. For that, I appreciate the wake up call, England. Just be careful how you use it folks, “Weird Al” Yankovic was onto something too (1:15-1:37).

If Amazon is no good for self-publishing erotica writers, where should they go?

Photo Kindle 3 thoughts courtesy of Zhao !

Kindle 3 thoughts/ Zhao !

 

After reading “Lost in the Amazon: Are digital booksellers suppressing self-published erotica?” by Kate Larking in Bitch Magazine’s Fall 2014 issue, I don’t know if I want to keep buying Kindle Books from Amazon.

In case you haven’t read it, Larking reveals an invisible adult-only-type label that is attached to books when Indie authors are honest and label their books as erotica. Larking said that the label is also placed on books whose covers Amazon deems explicit or inappropriate. When the label is attached to a book, it effectively hides the book and a consumer would only be able to find the book if they search for the author or title specifically. This sharply decreases sales for the writers and has led to other problems.

The writers that want to work with Amazon write in a way to avoid getting labeled as adult-content only, tweaking the stories to meet vague guidelines, but Amazon sometimes still gives them the label. Other writers try using the romance genre as a loophole. This is problematic because it could expose a reader to content they weren’t interested in (e.g. a “hardcore” sex scene, when the usual lingo in romances is more “softcore” and vague.) It’s problematic if writers are including love scenes into their erotica when it might be nonsensical to do so, like in a BDSM story. It ruins the novel for the writer and the reader.

Other writers are moving to greener pastures, a place where they don’t have to mislabel their work to sell it.

As the owner of a Kindle, I don’t know what to do. Do I stay with the e-book dictatorship or move to another e-book market? Is the future e-book market in a Kobo? What would you suggest?

Americans haven’t ditched print books for e-books

I was ecstatic because I got to visit the famous Green Apple Books & Music store. It was actually featured in Publishers Weekly as the PW Bookstore of the Year in March. Needless to say I fangirled.

I was ecstatic because I got to visit the famous Green Apple Books & Music store. It was actually featured in Publishers Weekly as the PW Bookstore of the Year in March. Needless to say I fangirled.

Since visiting San Francisco last month and seeing bookstores that care for both patrons and wares, I’ve rediscovered my love for print books. In honor of the craft, I’ve been using electronic books, audiobooks and  print books. However, what are the preferences of other college-aged readers such as myself?

The question was prompted after I saw Teleread’s eye-catching infographic, “Keeping It Real.” The graphic illustrates “top reasons for choosing a real life, lo-fi, analogue, hardcopy book” over an e-book. Some reasons include the ability to feel it, handle it, share it or sell it. Some people even turn to print books so they can pose them. (“Pose them?” See book porn here and here.) However, the infographic results are based on a poll given to 1,000 “FatBrainers.”

According to Paul St. John Mackintosh, FatBrain is a “[United Kingdom] new-era second-hand book trading platform,” which means the results reflect a select UK audience, but what about general readers in the United States of America?

In a project titled “A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013,” Kathryn Zickuhr and Lee Rainie interviewed 1,005 Americans ages 18 and older, in both English and Spanish, and found that U.S. readers have not abandoned print books for e-books.

In general, the vast majority that consume e-books and audiobooks also read print books, although only 9% said they consumed books in all three formats. From the adults interviewed, “only 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.”

Zickuhr and Rainie found in general that 69% of American adults read at least one print book that year and 28% read at least one e-book that year. The rate for readers between ages 18 and 29 were higher, with 73% reading at least one print book that year and 37% reading at least one e-book that year. You can check the reading snapshot chart for more details on other age groups. In short, while e-books are gaining momentum, people have not abandoned print books.

What about you, dear reader? What is your preference? What influences your choice?