Yes, yes, yes. The Americans have it all, nevermind us bottom feeders once known as the Glorioussus Conquistador’ Speciexus Europedales Grandes (just made that up, but for you history buffs out there I will have you know that once, a long-long-looong time ago, Europe was actually not that bad at inventing and thinking – now, innovation is left to the US and education to Asia, oh well).
So what is it this time? Google eBooks is what it is this time! Google has launched their very own cloud-based online e-bookstore and what is the message I get when tiptoeing my way through the digital candy store?
“The latest Google eBooks are not available for sale in your location, yet… Google is working with publishers around the world to let you buy the latest ebooks from top authors. In the meantime, you can still browse millions of free and public domain Google eBooks and read them effortlessly across your devices.”
Damn it to blitzing high waters and a splash of disturbing x-rated words!!
I want to see what’s going on, I want to get on the ebook tidal wave. I too have needs!! And I need to be updated on the services and possibilities that are out there so that I can critically, and with a diversified background, form an opinion. And I cannot do that when my whole project is being sidetracked by stupid, ancient geographical barriers and short-sighted prioritising. Yes, I am aware of the immense judicial process that goes before a project of this sorts, and yes, I know that e-books has proven to be an immense market in the US, but can we please get on the bus here!?! Is it impossible to start something of this sort up in Europe? Or am I just looking in all the wrong places? In the US there are strong pushes towards a new market: Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble etc. have all seen to it that they are in the right place, and they are pushing their agenda strong.
The difference and the exciting part with google is compatibility: the readers today are often locked to their respective bookstores, making it hard to be as flexible as one is used to, and really is a pain in the but. But Google promises to transgress all that, yey! (the excitement is fleeting, because, as previously stated, I cannot make a really and truly informed decision when I cannot be part of the fun!)
In my opinion the process of breaking e-books out in the European market (at least from where I am standing) just seems too slow. It is commendable of the few who are trying to push e-books and who really make an effort of getting the word out. But there is just one problem: they are too few. And maybe the recession has got a lot of businesses second-guessing their aggressive marketing when it comes to breaking out into full blown e-book alert. But there is a market, yes! I am the market! And I live in Europe. It’s logic and it’s simple. So get more to going with the innovation and the thinking Europe!
I am now on day 3 A.B. (After Book fair), and up until today I haven’t had the strength to do anything other than bike home from work, eat and go straight to bed. Yeah, yeah, I know; ‘Stop your whining!’ And I will… after this post. Le reason: I have been totally consumed by this years book fair event in Copenhagen, BogForum 2010, as part of my internship. It has been hard, and my feet are pretty much revenging themselves times 10, but it was also tons of fun. Last year I went there as a ‘reporter’ and book magazine distributor, so I had ample time to browse around the stands and look at books, readings by authors and people. But this year I was pretty much at one with stand 96, for all but forty five minutes on the last day at the last hour of the book fair (and I still managed to blow of some cool hard cash on must-have books bought at the speed of light – no fuzz, just do!).
I have met every person and type under the sun and talked to people who are passionate about books and publishing. And best of all: I got to be a part of the book fair in a wholly different fashion than last year, which was incredibly rewarding. Firstly, I got to be in charge of e-reader/e-book communications, which basically meant that I was the go-to-person if people had further questions regarding our offer to make e-books, and how the readers function and such. And secondly, I really noticed a progression in accumulated knowledge and ease with the whole question of self-publishing, business procedures and customer relations, which in return kicked up my confidence meter a notch or two. I got to meet a lot of the people who publish their own books, who all do it for different reasons. I don’t know really how to explain it all in words, I am just left now these past days with a buzz. Immensely tired, but with an unmistakable buzz.
So for lack of words (since I spent my quota for the year on those three days), I will just do the lazy-woman’s version and let the pictures do the talking.
I have just spent the last six hours (I am not exaggerating) cataloguing my bookshelf. Why? Because I was browsing around on my phone and I found an isbn scanner that promised a true literate’s wet dream: the chance of a quick scan-add and voila, bookshelf details are digitalized. Only it was not really that simple. It never is…
Initially I was thinking of easing in on the whole thing, you know, scan a couple of books, see how it goes, and then forget about it until tomorrow. It started off at an even pace – pointing the phone towards a barcode led to a ding (very reassuring), and hey presto all the information I could ever want about author, title, publisher, even a little picture of my book. This made me incredibly excited, which led me to haul an entire row of books out of my bookshelf, and then there was no turning back. Only by the 10th book something went wrong – I scanned and scanned, but nothing happened! Luckily, those clever app-developers had a backup for when this occurs – manual registration. The problem is not when you have one or two books that need this special treatment, but rather when it adds up to about 30 percent of the collection. This is a – pardon my French – shit load of manual labour in an age of ‘less is more’-attitude in all aspects of life. (UPDATE: Just read an article on app-funtionality that sums up my points and grievances quite well. See here.) My back is sore, my hands are crooked and I am pretty sure there were no flickering black spots on my wallpaper previously today.
But now I have a nice list on my phone so I will never be stumped when someone asks me if I own this or that book or if someone wants to give me a book present and doesn’t know if I already own it – this, I am told, is very common according to the app-developers, so it is paramount that one catalogues ones’ books. Now I come prepared for whatever book-situation might occur.
One thing that was quite funny (and I don’t even have THAT big a bookshelf that this should happen) was that I had forgot several of the books I, apparently, own. Makes me wonder why on earth I go to the library at all, I am surely well stocked for the autumn-winter season. Now I just need to quit my internship and I can go full-time into hibernation, just me, my books and I. And a cup of tea or two. And some chocolate. The occasional food-run is not to be dismissed. Of course, the seasonal Christmas lunches can’t be missed.
Ah, sod it, the point is, now I have an excellent track of what books I have and which one’s I am missing (ahem!). For someone with a goldfish memory this is quite relevant. Aaaand, I can send myself, and others, an e-mail containing the list of my books. And if I meet someone that happens to have the same app, we can swap book information, how cool is that…
I don’t know if this is a thing I am going to keep and build on or if, in 5-10 years, I will look back and think “shish, what a dweeb” (no comments on that, thank you, not quite there yet!)
By that time I will probably have chucked all my physical books and moved on to la digitalismus – the e-book! I need some good arguments – the ones where I am saving rain forests and reducing CO2 emissions are very good ones, and I probably should make the change yesteryear, only… I’m sorry, but the readers are just so uneventful and rigid. It’s a toughie. Luckily lots of progress is going on in this field, and I am sure that this is something that has caught on forcefully enough to take at least a good chunk out of the book market. But more on that in another post.
Anywhoo, the result of my cataloguing? 229 is the magic number for now – this does not include the ones scattered strategically around the apartment (aka, not on the shelf) or the ones I have borrowed out (so much for the remembrance of books lost).
So if you were thinking about giving me a book and saying to yourself, “nah, she probably has that one already”, I might not! Give me a call, a mail, take me aside, let me hook you up with my awesome list. And I promise, I will catalogue that one too. And the next one. And the one after that. I might just stop if I ever reach this stage.
As of yesterday I have completed my first year of MA in Comparative Literature! And luckily the semester ended on a high, so I am mighty pleased 🙂
I woke up at 5.20 am yesterday, and could have ripped my pillow to pieces because I wasn’t scheduled to give my presentation until 1.30 pm!! So I had to figure out a way of using up seven useless hours without succumbing to my compulsory need for changing the presentation, adding to it or chucking it in the bin. I was actually kind of proud of my study, but there is always the nagging little voice, “what if I just tweak this, or focus on that… did I explain this well enough or did I get it wrong???”
FINALLY the hour had come (well, as always with a ten minute delay), and I walk in the room where months of studying, reading, writing, thinking and theorizing will either pay off or swish out of my head. In my case the former won over the latter and I walked out of there with a rush I so love when it comes to studying and exams. It is a unique feeling – sometimes a bit anticlimactic, but when you get it right, you get it right!!
So I had a celebratory beer with my boyfriend, and got a bit tipsy as the combo between no breakfast and the adrenaline that had buzzed in my body for nearly 12 hours straight collided with the alcohol. 🙂
So, today is the first day of my summer vacation, and in honor of the buzz I am still on (something like DiCaprio’s ‘I’m the king of the world’ exclamation – complete with the absolutely ridiculous, and toe-cringing, woohoo) I will be embarking on a long list of postponed books, that for too long have yearned for my attention, yes babies momma’s comin’ 😀
I think I shall start with Karen Blixen’s ‘Seven Gothic Tales’, and then work my way through the books, at the rate and manner befitted of their station.
Oh, and I finished Frankenstein on the e-reader two days ago. I don’t really know what to say. I think the modern jaded consciousness will never be as shocked or thrilled as Mary Shelley’s contemporary readers would have been. It is a good read considering the philosophy behind it, but the style of language is too rigid and stilted for me to get behind the text and lose myself in the misery. ‘American Psycho’ on the other hand, now there is a different story!
Plus, I will not be investing in an e-reader of the sorts I tried out, sticking to my books for now. But I really want to try another e-reader, because I am sure that there is good in these things, if only for the sake of the trees…
I couldn’t keep my fingers out of the cookie jar, or rather the e-reader bag, after the post yesterday. I figured I had earned myself a treat since I, unwillingly and with no quarter, found myself locked inside my apartment for over a week writing papers and reading all there is to know about modern Chinese literature from a historical p.o.v. So I turned the reader on and selected ‘Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus’ as my test-dummy. It is 576 pages long in this reader, and I managed to read about 75 pages before I fell asleep; glasses incessantly poking the corner of my eye, and with animal instinct firmly gripping the reader.
The experience I have had with an e-reader has so far been a bit ‘bleh’. Conservative as I am, I don’t associate the joy of reading with button-pushing, hard steel (or cheap plastic) covers and blinking screens imitating a page turn. And so many buttons to press. Oddly it seems more fast-paced to read a book on an e-reader than it is when reading the paper version. It is if the connotations of bigger (or smaller, since that now is a plus), faster and better associated with electronics these days translates onto my reading habits, whereas with the physical books I go through a whole other motion when reading. I guess it is a sensory thing, and all I have to do is redirect my synapses. I mean, I used to hate Parmesan cheese, but now I love it. How hard can it be to love an electronic device that, if you use logic instead of sentimentality, could save tons of forest from being cut down, just because I have to settle my fix of literary cravings? I should applaud the progress and efficiency.
I will say this in defense of the e-reader: usually when I fall asleep with a book in my hand I crease the cover, lose orientation regarding what page I am on, and I have even torn a page out due to disrespect of gravitational laws. But yesternight there was no such fret. When I woke up this morning, I was on the exact page I fell asleep at and there was no harm done to the cover.
Have you read a book or paper on an e-reader? What did you think?