Publishing

Kindle Automatic Book Update Feature

kindle_iconI just noticed something interesting in the Manage Your Kindle section of the Amazon Store:

Automatic Book Update
Opt in for automatic book updates to receive new versions of your books when we have confirmed that improvements were made. In order to retain your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading locations, ensure that all your Kindle devices and reading apps have the “Annotation Back Up” setting turned on.

This new feature (or feature that is new to me) would then automatically grab the latest updated copy of any book you have bought through the Kindle store. It’s an optional feature that is turned off by default. Still, you might be wondering why it is off by default when it seems like an amazing and useful feature.

First and foremost, some folks don’t like the idea that their precious books could be changing without their knowledge. So it’s best to let people opt into the feature. Secondly, and most important to me, is that any notes, highlights, or bookmarks I’ve made to the book can’t carry over to the updated copy when it downloads. It’s an understandable limitation of the technology. If the books were updating on their own, that novel you spent hours annotating for your thesis, or even this months Group Read could suddenly see all of your hard work literally disappear overnight.
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The Problem with Star Rating Scales on Book Review Sites

Are star ratings arbitrary?

I think they are.  I have a feeling that many folks have their own idea of what the star rating scale represents when they assign a score to a book.  I think they do this regardless of the metric values of the review service they’re using and I think it’s because of two things.  First, the review services don’t agree on the rating scale.  Second, those services/sites don’t make the values of that star rating scale immediately obvious.

For example, here’s the scale from Amazon.com:
1 star: I hate it
2 stars: I don’t like it
3 stars: It’s OK
4 stars: I like it
5 stars: I love it

But here’s the scale from GoodReads.com:
1 star: didn’t like it
2 stars: it was OK
3 stars: liked it
4 stars: really liked it
5 stars: it was amazing

These are vastly different scoring systems!

What do I do when I score a book? I don’t even pay attention to each sites established scale because it requires more consideration than I want to give. Plus, I believe that a significant portion of the people scoring the books are doing it without regard for the sites supposedly accepted and established scale. I think it’s arbitrary.
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What Did We Learn in 2012?

Looking at the site logs this morning I found a spike in traffic from last night.  Digging into the logs I found that The Guardian, a popular online publication in the UK did a story titled “Lessons the tech world learned in 2012.”  The story covers some of the big ouch moments that made headlines in 2012.  But it was lesson #8 that brought the spike in traffic to Maclive.net.

Lesson #8 was titled “If you want privacy keep off the net. Or at least encrypt your stuff.”  Needless to say, the finger was pointed at former CIA Director David Petraeus.  There was a lesson to be learned there.  But when the Guardian made note of the complexities of encrypting ones email, they linked to our post.  That’s where the surge originated.
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An Author’s Interaction with Fans at the Holidays

The holidays are here again and Christmas cards are being traded.  Among the cards that have arrived this year was on from the best selling author, Joseph Finder.  As in years past, Joe sends out cards to those who subscribe to his newsletter.  I think this is an example of an author going above and beyond to make a special connection with his reading audience.  Certainly any author worth his salt has a mailing list that can be used to alert fans to the release of a new book or the schedule of an upcoming book signing.  But how many authors take the time (or go to the expense) of sending out holiday cards?  Talk about going the extra mile!

A special note in this years card described how Joe had the good fortune of taking part in Operation Thriller, now in its third year.  Operation Thriller III was a USO tour of the Middle East with best selling authors including Kathleen Antrim, Michael Connelly, Brad Meltzer, Andy Harp, and Joseph Finder.  Read more about the tour here.
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ThillerCast Episode #61: The Challenges of Writing a Series

The latest episode of ThillerCast (Episode #61) features a discussion centering on the challenges of writing an ongoing series of novels.  For all of the fun the books might be for the reader, that running story arc presents some significant challenges for the author.  Particularly when the writer is working on other content between books.  David and Alan discuss how difficult it can be to pick up a previous project and continue a year later.  Aspiring writers in particular will want to consider their comments and suggested workarounds.

The episode also features  an interview with Chuck Wendig, novelist, screenwriter, and game designer.  Chuck had written books such as Blackbirds, Hunter: The Vigil, Double Dead, and Mockingbird.

Subscribe to ThrillerCast via iTunes, or download episode #61 directly.

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Maclive.net Moves to WordPress CMS

jobs_bio-iconThis is the first official live post on the WordPress CMS.  The previous posts have all been migrated over from the last web site.  In this post I want to take a look at some of the features of WordPress and kick the tires on some of the basic configuration changes such as basic Twitter support that I will be adding to the default template.

In just getting started here, I just made a massive mistake.  I used the undo function of the browser, Google Chrome in this case, to correct a mistake I made in my writing.  It undid my writing alright.  It got rid of a ton of my content and there is not redo option to get it back.  All of my text is gone with no means of restoring.  With that in mind, it would still be best to do the writing in a dedicated text editor and then past the content into this page for posting.  But looking closer, it wold be wise to keep in mind that Apple+Z is the undo command in the browser.  The GUI text editor in the WordPress authoring area actually has its own undo function.  Had I used that, it is likely that I could have used the companion Redo option to retrieve the work that was lost.  Still, this is a sticky area as Apple+Z based undo is a shortcut that most of us use without thinking.  In just about every single other application it would have function exactly how I had anticipated.  I guess I live and learn!
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Quality Time with the Amazon Kindle

Amazon.com jumpstarted the stagnated ebook market with the release of the Kindle.  Though at a glance the device comes off as a simple e-reader, it boasts a feature set that make the device as powerful as it is comfortable to read.  A built in QWERTY keyboard makes it easy to annotate text, highlight passages, and leave notes beyond what would have normally fit in the magian of a conventional book.  All without doing physical damage to the book in the process.

I really wanted to take my time with the Kindle before putting together a review.  To that end, I have spent that last 5 months reading.  In that time I have completed 21 Kindle based novels and 4 hard cover versions.  More than enough time, I believe, to evaluate the content consumption device.
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Publish Yourself at Lulu.com

Back in my days of working pre-press, Print on Demand was a big concern in the industry.  It threatened to shake up the way the entire industry operated.  And, while new technologies promised such ease of use, they seldom lived up to their ultimate goal.

Lulu.com is an on demand print publishing service that finally offers the type of service that was promised back in the mid 90′s.  Do you have a book that you want published, but no one is willing to sign you?  Why not publish it yourself with Lulu?

Lulu makes it simple.  You submit your book and they print it, on demand, every time someone places an order.  There is no minimum order and no upfront investment.  If your book never sells, then it costs you nothing.  Lulu lets you set the price of your book.  Simply specify your own markup on top of what Lulu charges to print it, and you are all set.  Lulu will even make your book available in the Lulu online store.

But what about getting Amazon or Barnes & Noble to offer your book?  You want your book in the online stores that readers most frequent, don’t you?  Not a problem.  Lulu works with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others to get your work offered through their online stores.  This is an extra charge ($34.95), but it covers the ISBN fee for your book and gets it listed in the Books in Print database.  If you chose not to pay for the Basic Distribution Service, you can still sell your book though Lulu’s online store.

Once your book is published on Lulu.com, each time an order is placed, the book is printed and shipped by Lulu.  All you do is collect the royalties.  For better or worse, Lulu makes it easy for anyone to self publish!


Steve

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