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It’s a thing of beauty for two reasons: First it has a simplistic, chic design with little in the way of branding. Second, we finally might see some serious competition for the iPad. To quote one blog “The Kindle Fire is stuck between e-ink minimalism and gleaming iPad decadence.” In other words, it’s both simple and flashy.
It has a dual-core processor, 512 MB of RAM and a 7-inch, 16-million colour display which lends some of its technology from Anroid devices. Sorry, what? It’s fast enough, has a fancy colour screen and uses technology which people already like.
It is also simple to use. You logon to see a simplistic book shelf and you can easily organise all of your content from there, be it newspapers, magazines, books, music, videos, documents or apps.
The Fire is not just about reading, while page turning is slick and downloads are seamless let’s not forget that as a tablet you can access a mixture of the content you love.
Two words: page freeze. If you buy a reading device you want to be able to read on it. Early reviews are pointing out that the Fire occasionally ‘lags’ when you’re navigating from one page to another.
It’s not an iPad. Many reviews keep banging on about how it’s not as powerful as an iPad. It’s worthwhile reminding ourselves that is in not, in fact, an iPad and if you want more of a powerful toy then the Fire is not for you.
You don’t get a built in camera or microphone and the battery life isn’t amazing.
Do I still want one?
Without doubt, only I’ll be waiting a while yet here in the UK.
Drew First, founder of Manhattern based indepedant e-publisher Electric Type, invites people on his VYou video blog to ask him about ‘digital books, new media, publishing 2.0’ or ‘personal hygenie.’ I posted the question: “What is the added value of a digital book, both for publisher and consumer?” in a two minute video response he tackles the subject.
He manages to fit in: gaining an instant worldwide audience, enjoying lower barriers to entry and the possibility to profit entirely from you own work as the key values for the self-published author. He also touches on the reader experience and digital as being a new way to create a version of a book closer to that imagined by the author.
From their office in New York the Electic Type team “create, write, and design better digital books.” But here is what they’re really getting right: engaging with a wider audience.
Catch Your Death, the duo’s second novel, has taken the top spot for four weeks and sold 42,000 digital copies in June alone. Since bookselling giant Amazon removed the tag on their novel in the Kindle store, which read: (for fans of Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson), agent Sam Copeland of Rogers, Coleridge and White has secured the pair a six-figure deal with trade publisher Harper Collins.
Kate Bradley, Comminsioning Editor at HarperFiction, secured World Rights for four books from Louise and Mark. Bradley said, “They have done a fantastic job of publishing their own books in the digital space and I’m thrilled that we are going to take them to the next level, both in terms of their ebook profile and in the physical market.”
Harper Fiction have moved quickly to snap up the internet sensations, who had until their Amazon successs been overlooked by traditional publishers. HarperCollins, creators of online author community and slush pile filter Authonomy.com, are savvy with using the internet to find and harness talent.
As Simon Waldman in his digital observation Creative Disruption writes, “Why anticipate the public’s reaction to a work when you can measure it?”
The first book Catch Your Death will be published as a physical edition in early Spring 2012, while the ebook editions will continue to sell online.
On my way home yesterday I noticed that infamous street artist and bestselling author Banksy has struck again.
The piece, in Kentish Town, is a reference to Tox, a graffiti tagger familiar with any London commuter. Tox, 26 year old Daniel Hampton, was recently found guilty of seven counts of criminal damage for his tags on the capitals trains and buses.
Prosecutor Hugo Lodge said, “He is no Banksy. He doesn’t have the artistic skills so he has to get his tag up as much as possible.”
Banksy, who has sold over 411,000* copies of his illustrated Wall and Peace since publication, cleverly incorporates Tox in his new work. As Tox suffers the long arm of the law, owners of the property where Banksy sprayed his new work have protected it with a perspex cover.
Perhaps Tox should have sought infamy and a publishing contract before heading out in the night to paint the town red, yellow, and blue?
*Data from Nielson Bookscan. Sales to the value of £5,405,300.
Self-published authors Louise Voss and Mark Edward’s have achieved digital-publishing success, gaining top download rankings for their co-written eBooks Catch Your Death and Killing Cupid in Amazon’s Kindle store.
Using an Amazon service that allows writers to turn their manuscripts into digital books, the pair made their books available for purchase on Kindle devices and Kindle apps. After four days in the Top 100, Catch Your Death went to number one in both the Amazon Kindle and Amazon Fiction charts, where it has remained for two weeks, achieving the slot without being represented by a publishing house. What’s interesting is how they achieved this.
Louise said: “It was a collaborative process. Mark and I wrote the books some time ago but updated them to put on Amazon; his sister-in-law designed the digital covers, and we worked very hard to publicise them ourselves.”
To promote the book and help it rocket up the bestseller list, Louise and Mark used an innovative marketing trick currently causing ripples in the world of self-publishing. The pair listed the full title of the ebook on Amazon as Catch Your Death (for fans of Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson). This cross-promotional technique – comparing one author to another – is used widely by trade publishers when launching new authors.
In a digital environment, this keyword technique, known as search optimisation, had a dazzling effect. So dazzling that Amazon decided to remove the ‘subtitle’, thus blocking self-publishers hoping to use the same ploy. This marks a sea-change in how self-publishers will be able to promote their work in future. Louise said: “After four days the subtitle was removed. Cross-promotion is used by book publishers every day, but despite Amazon’s move we are still doing very well.”
The weekend began at the NAWE conference in a comfortable Cheltenham hotel (thanks to Liverpool John Moores University). I was talking at the conference with Alicia Stubbersfield (poet and Lecturer) and James Shaw (ex student, rapper and young offenders officer) about a module taught at LJMU called ‘The Writer At Work.’
This module brings writers from across a broad range of disciplines to come in and talk to students about how they (as writers) make their ca$h. The novelist Niall Griffiths always goes down a storm, but other writers might be writing for screen, running workshop groups or working as publishers.
The students are then asked to ‘start a project’. The idea is that they use the skills they have as creative writers to plan, and then create something. From poetry nights, plays performed in swimming pools, to starting up monthly magazines – some of these projects come to life. The success of this module at the university (and the feel from the talk we gave) comes down to the fact that Creative Writing Graduates are an entrepreneurial bunch.
After talking to charming lectures from institutions all over the UK and even from as far as Australia I was left with the feeling that there is hope yet! All of the academics were armed with stories of how ‘involved’ their students get with arts programs and projects. Creative Writing students are engaging in further development not by taking the usual ‘work placement’ route other students do, but rather by using their own strengths and passions to put things out into the community. This is at the heart of the Module taught at LJMU.
As doors are closing and the bar is raised because of over qualified candidates taking jobs which they would not have sniffed at in the past, I do see a thick grey hopelessness around my graduate friends. Yet it’s the most entrepreneurial of them, the risk takers and the thinkers that are quickly on the way to the careers which they’re after.
I finish my degree in Creative Writing and I turn to the world and say ‘I’m here! Employ Me!’. The world takes me in for a second, my lack of height, the brown of my eyes, and then says ‘Oh sorry, that’s really not enough.’
My point here in Another Graduate is not to rant about the fact that life for graduates is such a hopeless struggle. I’m not going to obsess that the job market is cowering in a corner somewhere and barks every time we (graduates) try to go anywhere near it. Nor am I going to lay down the feeling of horror and sadden which I feel every time I have to go and serve another bottle of Pinot Noir to a condescending city banker over conversations that take the shape of ‘too many people simply have degrees these days, price them out I say.’
Here I’ll simply recount my efforts to educate and negotiate myself into the career of my choosing. I’ll log the work placements which I’ll freely give my time to, in the hope of toting-up some golden experience. I might even consider how I packed my life into a few boxes and moved it from Liverpool to London to seek my (job finding) fortune. I’ll talk about the Masters I’m taking to try an make myself ‘a more attractive candidate’ and convey myself in that dull language which only recruitment speaks in.
Over the next year, as I blog there can be only two outcomes: I will find the job I’m after, or I shall continue to be one of the many graduates working in versions of Pizza Hut all over the world, dreaming of a better way of life.