Thursday, December 29, 2011

Need A Good Read? WBUR's Listeners' Best of 2011

Check out the books Boston readers liked this year:
WBUR's Best Books 2011
"You’ve heard from our experts: now, it’s your turn. Here’s a list of top picks from callers and web site commenters:

On Facebook, Inez Steele suggested “The Cat’s Table,” by Michael Ondaatje, and Darryl Daniel said his favorite this year was Nile Rodgers’ autobiography, “Le Freak.” Dawn Opstad said “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach gave her 'hope in an otherwise disillusioning baseball season.' "
Read more here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Darjeeling: Do you drink when you read?

I'm a complete tea freak and always like to read and drink tea.   Here's some great books to read if you're drinking Darjeeling.

Have you read them? Did you love them?  Here's a link to buy them.

Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy

And from the official Darjeeling site:

How does one prepare a cup of Darjeeling Tea?

Take 1 level teaspoon of pure Darjeeling Tea in each cup. Nothing for the pot. Pour water, immediately after bringing it to a furious boil. Brew it for 3 - 4 minutes.

A perfect cup of Darjeeling is ready.

If Broken / Fanning Grades of tea is used, ½ teaspoon of tea would suffice. In case milk or sugar is to be added then the brewing time has to extend to about 5 minutes.

The quantity of Tea and the brewing time can be altered according to personal preferences.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Great Stuff (per usual) from J.Konrath's Blog

If you don't read Joe Konrath's blog, "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" you must not care about books, ebooks, good writing, humor, insight and any of those kinda things.

It's such a great blog and he's put up his list of resolutions for 2012.

Here's a link and here's a quote:
" ... Formats and gadgets come and go. But the world will always need storytellers." 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Woody Says "There's a Reindeer in my Boot!"

We've had this toy a long time and my son managed to break the talking box inside, but I do remember Christmas Woody being very upset and whining that there was a reindeer in his boot.  As a new mom, I had more important problems to solve, so I pretty much ignored his pleas. I was busy getting my son over colds, cuts, scrapes and other dangers he seemed determined to launch himself into.  This kid was a climber -- early on.

There was no reindeer in HIS boot, but often as not there was an infection in his ear or or a lost blankie or there was the time when he first learned how to out get out of his crib. Now that he's a mountain climber and an instructor at the rock gym, showing others how to belay and climb, I finally get it.  His first ascent should have been a hint where things were headed.

It was a big crib, mattress set at the lowest setting so most kids would not have been able to escape.  We read all the books.  But the books did us no good.   He was tall even then and an adventurer.

He did it early in the morning when we were asleep in the other room, so I'll never know exactly what technique he employed, but we woke up to howling cries as he found him high up on top of his tall dresser next to the crib,  where he'd grabbed a big jar of Vaseline and was spreading it all over the wall and himself.  He was in tears, covered with petroleum jelly, looking very upset, as if someone had done this dirty work TO HIM and then exiled him from the comfort of his crib. You learn early as a parent not to laugh at your kids in peril -- especially self-inflicted scenarios of disaster like this one.

After we got him de-greased and settled back into his bed again, I remember looking at the dark streaks all over the wall, not having a clue how I'd get them off the rented walls.  This was going to be a long haul, but a never a dull one.

Friday, December 23, 2011

eBook Pricing ... a Peculiar Art

My writer friend in the UK, Suw Charmin (think Sue like Suzy) has written a great blog post about how ebook authors price their books.  Here's a sliver.   Check it out on her excellent site, Chocolate and Vodka and go BUY HER EXCELLENT BOOK!

" ... As writers, we would all like to think that our work has inherent value. The blood, sweat and tears that we leaked all over the page should, we tell ourselves, be valued by others as much as it is by us. 
But the price that the public is willing to pay has little to do with any sense of inherent value; it is directed by what price the market will support. When it come to deciding what price we put on our ebooks, it is not sufficient to think about our concept of inherent value."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

ebook secrets ... shhhhh!

Leo Tolstoy, Age 20, 1848
Don't tell anyone I told you, but here are some of the secrets ebook lovers have discovered and do not want to share.  This is why they can't go back to books.

Secret No. 1:  No Glasses Required!

Know what this is?    Aa

You probably don't if you don't read ebooks.

"Aa" is the key on the Kindle that lets you set the font size so no matter where you are you can read WITHOUT putting your glasses on.  (That is, if you are myopic.)  And, let me tell you, once you get used to being able to read without having to go HUNT FOR YOUR GLASSES, it's very hard to get used to reading a real book again, where you can't change the font size instantly.  Like that baby on Youtube who thinks a magazine is an iPad, you'll find yourself whacking the paper book expecting the font to get bigger.

Secret No. 2:  No Lights Required!

If you have a dumb old paper book and you read from daylight into darkness, you have to either get up and turn on the light or go find a little clippy light.  With an ebook, you likely have a built-in light with the cute old Kindle cover, or you have the Kindle Fire or iPad which means the book is "lit" without doing anything.  Sounds like no big deal, but there are many times and places you want to read where turning on a big old light overhead is either very inconvenient or disruptive of others.  Ebook readers love not having to mess with lighting.

Secret No. 3:  Effing Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky 

If you read novels, and most ebook readers do, there is something so WONDERFUL about a quick search to find out who the hell a certain character is, with an unpronounceable  name like this one.  I mean, if you read Tolstoy and don't speak Russian, you are lost in a snowstorm of complicated character names.  Who can remember who the hell Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky is anyway?!  And you BETTER remember who Vronsky is, because he's Anna Karenina's lover and she throws herself under the train for the bastard. Not only does the plain old Kindle let you search the name, finding the first time it appears and other important data, but with the super cool upgrades on the Kindle Fire, it practically gives you all the Spark Notes info on the guy.  You start to feel less like a reader and more like a private eye.  What paper book can do that for you in 5 seconds?!

Secret No. 4:  Have I Got A Deal For You!

If you have a Kindle, you get so many terrific deals on books EVERY DAY, it's almost impossible to imagine going into a bookstore anymore.  I mean, maybe you could go into a bookstore, use one of their big comfy armchairs, open your Kindle and see what great books are on sale today at Amazon, download one in a split second and sit there and read, but that would be very rude behavior.  Can you honestly use a bookstore's chair, with no intention to buy their wares as you sit next to a hardcover book, priced at $19.95 or more and read the SAME BOOK in the e-version which you just bought for $1.00?! Please, be fair.  As the Ebook Wars rage, be polite enough to avert your eyes from the hopeless victims.

These are just a few of the secrets, I refuse to tell the others.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Help Wanted: Leader of Kindle and Print Book Editorial

Amazon posted this job on March 31, 2011.  Tall order.  Just think how much has changed in the world of books (and especially ebooks) since March, then you can imagine how difficult writing a five-year strategy would be! 

Job Description:  Leader of Kindle and Print Book Editorial is looking for a seasoned executive to lead our Kindle and Print Book Editorial Team responsible for developing the vision for furthering Amazon’s position as a world-class book seller, and leading a team of Editors in the execution of that strategy.  The Director of Editorial is a newly created role responsible for the end-to-end Editorial vision for Books, he or she must have deep experience interviewing high profile authors and celebrities, and reviewing and creating compelling book content across all genres of Books, from fine literature to science fiction.  The Director of Editorial works with customers, publishers, authors and the press to ensure a best-in-class book experience for and its customers.

The key strategic objectives for this role include:
1)      Develop a 5 year vision for’s Editorial voice.  The strategy will incorporate existing Amazon metrics on book sales and customer segments, shifting patterns in customer shopping and online behavior, industry and competitive trends and will ultimately become the road map for how we talk with customers, authors, illustrators, publishers and the media.
2)      This leader will help innovate toward a better book buying experience. He or she will establish a best-in-class content experience, as measured by increased number of customers who purchase, the conversion rates at which existing customers purchase from us, increased customer engagement with us, and increased exposure in the media.
3)      This leader will innovate and develop new models for connecting with customers, helping customers connect with content creators, stimulating customer engagement with Amazon, identifying new and emerging sub-genre’s of books to introduce customers to, and constantly seeking new ways to use metrics and data to increase the likelihood of success.

The Books team interacts with over 100 million customers, 40 million books, across 30,000 publishers at any given time.  As book format options continue to evolve, and book publishing becomes increasingly easier for writers, customers look to Amazon to navigate the myriad Books available and help them find the exact book they are looking for.  The Director of Editorial plays a critical role in connecting customers with books in as seamless manner as possible.  The Director of Editorial is responsible for an Editorial vision that touches millions of customers and billions of revenue per year.
Basic Qualifications
  • Bachelor’s degree is required.
  • 10+ years of relevant book experience.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Existing relationships with the media, top authors, and publishers.
  • Tremendous editorial credibility with readers, content providers, and the media.

Preferred Qualifications
The ideal candidate will have demonstrated experience creating high profile book content, and is considered an influencer by readers, writers, and their peers:
  • Creative, forward thinking leader with proven ability to innovate.
  • Experience using data to drive decisions.
  • Has hired and developed teams of at least 5.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: In Delirium Bloom

I really don’t know much about vampires or those walking dead folks, zombies.  In fact, when people say, you could fill a book with what I know about X … well, you could fill a book with what I DON’T know about these semi-dead dudes.  So the good news is has filled a book with them --  In Delirium Bloom is the perfect short story collection with just enough after-life adverturers to make me happy, as well as entertain those who are blood thirsty for tales of the dead and sortof dead.

If you like history mixed with fantasy, you’ll like South of the Walloomsac which shows you the The Battle of Bennington VT was more than you ever thought it was.  These vampires have been with us for a long time and did their part in the Revolutionary War, don’t you know?   If American History doesn’t do it for you, perhaps you like the American Musical Theatre.   In Sing For Your Life,  the last living guys and dolls manage to sing their way out of a mob of bloodthirsty zombies by turning on the musical numbers and getting the zombies grooving to the beat of Oliver.  Perhaps, young girls toting big guns and using neighborhood zombies for target practice, is more your cup of tea.  If so, you’ll like the story Here and Now.  

Whatever your particular favorite twist is, in the dead men walking genre, this collection of lurid tales will entertain you from dark to dawn.  Just be sure to keep the lights burning bright as you read, or you’ll be hearing many things going bump in the night and find yourself seriously freaking out thanks to this range of freaks.  

Watching My Hair Grow Grey

I know growing old is not very popular with most baby boomers, especially for women, but I'm rather thrilled about it.  First of all, being named after Halley's Comet which arrives every 76 years, I have a game plan, so I need to really focus on getting old, grey and wrinkly fast.

Since the Comet returns in 2062, I plan to go out with it, the way Mark Twain did, so I am looking forward to the living at least to the age of 106.  I am a mere babe at 55.  I'll be 100 in 2056 and a nice desiccated, cranky 106 by 2062.  And what a bitch I'll be by then!   Can't wait.

So along those lines, I decided this year it's time to go totally grey.  I've been growing out my hair -- MY hair -- my REAL hair which has been hidden away by girly girl goldilocks, blonde paint from a bucket, until lately and now ... TA DA ... here's my actual hair appearing front and center!  I have gorgeous wise old lady hair and it's shiny grey in patches, just like my dad's.

It's a great batch of hair and really does give me a quiet nostalgic moment in the mirror to reconnect with family members no longer on this side of the glass.

Seeing the first white stripe in the front of my fringe did remind me of my dad and made me instantly melancholy and rather jump-for-joyish.  Sad to remember he's gone, but happy to be revisited by him.

So in my aim to grow old fast and not particularly gracefully, I've been studying the devious skills old people use to do whatever the hell they please, most of the time.   First, this game they play of pretending to be hard of hearing -- well, I'm hip to that one -- this poor hearing thing is a ruse, a way to disregard what most people say.  I'm practicing the scrunchy faced look of confusion and the quick, "What's that you say, sonny?"  I love ignoring what most people say, but now I have a good excuse.

And then there's the alleged trouble they have with walking and their creaky, crappy bones making it hard to get around. These cute old folks always want to stay in their seats, sip their tea and read their book.  I'm 100% behind that one.  "Honey, fetch me another cuppa," oh yes, love that.

And that business with poor eyesight?  You didn't fall for that one, did you?   Like many seniors, I've already had cataract surgery, and have better than 20/20 eyesight, but still wear the cute old lady peepers to fool everyone.  I can see the serial number on the back of your computer 50 yards away at a crowded Starbucks.  I can be delightfully nosy, reading any private papers on your desk or desktop when waiting in your office to be taken to lunch.  On the street, I am quickly noting your PIN number at the ATM when pretending to wait in line.  I smile sweetly.

And with any luck, soon I'll be armed with their main weapon of choice -- a nice silver-handled cane.  You think it's for walking?! Are you nuts!?   Ever notice how handy it is for whacking some youngster in the shins when they act up.  If that doesn't do the trick, a rap with the silver knob along side of the brow of a young, brash upstart is quick to knock some sense into their heads.   Leaves a nice dent in the hood of a too pushy red roadster too.  Ah, growing old -- this is a sport I am going to excel at.

Picture Credit:  Granny Glasses

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kindle Unkindness: NYT

The New York Times is saying the Kindle Fire is a dud.  I do not agree, but read this and I'll be back later to talk about why they have it all wrong.  Or tell me your thoughts in the comments below.  Remember to tell me if you actually HAVE a Kindle Fire.  And you might want to mention is you have an iPad and if you're comparing it to that device.

"The Kindle Fire, Amazon’s heavily promoted tablet, is less than a blazing success with many of its early users. The most disgruntled are packing the device up and firing it back to the retailer.

A few of their many complaints: there is no external volume control. The off switch is easy to hit by accident. Web pages take a long time to load. There is no privacy on the device; a spouse or child who picks it up will instantly know everything you have been doing. The touch screen is frequently hesitant and sometimes downright balky.

All the individual grievances — recorded on Amazon’s own Web site — received a measure of confirmation last week when Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, denounced the Fire, saying it offered “a disappointingly poor” experience. For users whose fingers are not as slender as toothpicks, he warned, the screen could be particularly frustrating to manipulate."

Elle by Mindthings

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On All Things Magic: Marco Tempest

If you didn't see Marco Tempest at LeWeb11 yesterday, I am just so sorry for you!  He threw a few magical thoughts up on the massive screen behind him, like Goethe's excellent suggestion:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
He showed us how the brain wants to believe in the visual, filling in the blanks at times when it decides it knows what's going on, but it can be fooled. I really can't do his performance justice here, so I'll ask you to find a way to see him live. He's so very good.Check out his Ted Talk here.

Watch some of these great videos and you'll get an idea how he plays gently enough with your brain, then politely returns it where it was sitting lazily protected by your thick cranium, much improved and sparkling with new ideas.

That's the UMBRELLA trick.

That's the PENCIL trick.

Had enough? Pretty great eh? Better check this link.  He is doing a lot more wild stuff than this, but isn't it nice the way he turns our heads around to BELIEVE in the idea that you can do magic tricks with video and online and still TRUST him -- that it's not just some editing trick.  Wish the models they showed in adverts could be trusted not to be photoshopped up.


LOréal at LeWeb11

LOréal is at LeWeb11 -- and I can't wait to hear more about what they are up to.  This great picture of Gwen Stefani is from their French site.

My dad worked in advertising and worked for Charles Revson at Revlon early in his career.  He also worked for Smirinoff Vodka.  He got all the free samples of makeup and vodka he could want -- and of course, my mom wore NO makeup and neither of them drank liquor!  I guess that is just the way it goes sometimes. Or "c'est la vie" as the French say.

Check out Gwen Stefani, the classic blonde, here:

Petzl: Where Innovation, Adventure and Safety Thrive

Before attending LeWeb11 in Paris to talk about start-ups and entrepreneurial passion, I was so lucky to catch up with Chris Blakely, the head of Petzl's training and research centre in Crolles, near Grenoble. For those who know and love Petzl, you likely know Crolles. And, I'm sure you know what incredible innovation takes place there, but for others, please take a look at this video to start with.

In the Petzl entrance lobby, there are many interesting artifacts, photos and facts about the company started by expert caver Fernand Petzl in 1975. You could spend hours there alone, but most our time was spent at the amazing research facility known as V.axess.

At V.axess Chris showed us three full-size mannequins dressed for action and sporting Petzl equipment which demonstrate the three product areas where they focus. The first is the caver, who may descend many hundreds of meters DOWN with a primary objective of exploration. The second is the climber who belays another climber, who would go UP into the mountains or up a rock gym climbing wall with Petzl equipment like the very famous "GRIGRI," invented 20 years ago.

The third mannequin has the most robust equipment, most protective clothing and with two independent systems, would be a representative of their industrial customer -- rescue and safety personnel or other industry workers who need to use harnesses and heavier equipment to do everything from helicopter rescues to industrial maintenance of those large windmills which dot the landscape.

You may notice the rope thickness and weight of the equipment goes from lighter to heavier as you go from caver to climber to industry safety personnel.

Equally exciting was the V.axess test facility. It may look like one big climbing gym to you with one wall full of holds any climber would love to spend the day ascending, but there are many more types of testing and training that take place there.  In fact, some is so leading edge, it's confidential and I can't write about it.

Other areas in the V.axess facility include simulated "burning buildings" where firefighters can practice quick exits using Petzl equipment when all other routes are unavailable. You'll be glad to know that Petzl will not sell that equipment without first getting a commitment from the firefighting team to training.

As Chris spoke with me, I got a better idea of what he and his team work on: innovation of current and classic products, improving something as well known the karabiner or GRIGRI, as well as introducing new solutions driven by their team and current clients' needs.  One of the most important "products" they provide, is training to their distributor network, who then in turn train those who sell Petzl equipment.

Chris gave us some interesting examples of his work day challenges -- finding out how "G force" the ropes and equipment used in helicopter rescue might be subject to, simulating it and ensuring those rescuers can rely on Petzl products in the worst conditions.

He walked us over to the main lobby where the original handmade equipment is on display.  Chris showed us how the original Petzl products were handmade (and many still are) and pointed out the devices created by their founder to manufacture karibiners and other equipment.  We could have spent many more hours learning about this fascinating "start-up" where a young man who loved exploring caves turned his passion into a great company known for innovation, adventure and safety.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld Interview at LeWeb

The funny thing was … I didn’t expect him to have a German accent.  Of course, that’s crazy since he IS German, but he’s so much of a Parisien in his style and work and attitude.  I've heard Karl Lagerfeld in French many times, but didn't hear his accent in that language.  But the interview between Loic and Karl at LeWeb this morning was in English.   I did expect him to speak English well and he does speak it very well.   And very politely.   He was allegedly born in 1933,  but doesn’t like to talk about it.   That means in 1960, he was the same age as Zuckerberg is today.   And he's still fresh, innovative and creative as any young entrepreneur, 50 years later.

Mr. Lagerfeld has a perfectly gorgeous leather case – I think he said it was made by Celine --  for his many devices.  He opens it and there is a white iPad on top.  There’s a second level which he flips open to reveal four iPhones in black and white Karl Lagerfeld brand design.    What else?!  Also he has a bunch of black, white and silvery iPod Shuffles.  Some are shimmering.  He lives in a world of absolutely beautiful things.

I love watching his hands using his iPad and iPhone.  They are in black leather fingerless gloves with silver studs – as if they are two dangerous dogs, needing to be locked up. Chien Mechant!  But the gloves also reverberate with a medieval king’s style, he is a veritable Charlemagne planning a conquest.   How can you not love his clothes, the 1910 high white starched collar, the casual white ponytail?

He explains to Loic, showing off his iPhones, that he has certain friends set up to call certain phones and keeps things organized that way.  Loic ask something about the phones and he scolds him, “Of course I have more than four friends!” He’s a master of understatement.

He shows us how he uses the iPad to sketch and says it makes his drawings look even better than they might be on paper.  It feels a bit “like engraving” for him, he explains.  At first the application is not working, creating a Murphy’s Law moment, but he pushes on, and finally it works and he draws for us.  Earlier he had made a drawing of Steve Jobs and shows everyone.  It’s quite good.   It’s a treat to watch him at work.  It’s so simple, so private in public way, to see him simply draw, to watch him at work as an artist.

He explains he has hundreds of iPads ... did I get that right?  Yes, he uses them like journals for different projects, each dedicated to a different creative project.

This is when Loic asks to roll the video – the famous Apple commercial called Think Different.  At the end, Loic is excited to hear what Karl Lagerfeld has to say about it.  Instead of gushing, Karl jumps in with what seems wrong with it.  “There are no Frenchmen in it!”  as if this were an obvious design flaw.

Talking about ebooks, he says “I love paper” and talks about how ebooks are one more way to enjoy books, not replacements for real books, but an addition, as there was once only radio and then TV came along.  It did not stop radio. It was just one more new medium to be embraced.

Loic pushes him about being part of social media, joining things like Facebook or Twitter.  I happen to know he’s been on Twitter awhile and was very cool in adopting it a few years ago.  He is not particularly overwhelmed about such networks and says bluntly. “It’s not about being overly connected, it’s about being WELL connected.”

His demeanor is humble, artistic, funny, blunt.  He says outrageously funny things from a place of complete, “oh please!” honesty.   He makes us all look like liars, he has no need to dodge the honest truth, which most people sugarcoat.

He talks about how he sketches and draws every morning, that you find good ideas by keeping a hand in, making things.  Doing the physical work of drawing helps him find new ideas.  "You get good ideas by making things, not from machines."

Loic asks him about his “brand” – how he controls his brand.  He looks at him sheepishly, “I’m not a brand, I’m just me.”  He goes on, “I don’t like promotion, I don’t promote myself, I just AM myself.”

This is like Steve Jobs or any of the other folks in the Think Different video denying they are a brand.  Picasso “just being” Picasso was a world-changing phenomenon, (equally Karl) and of course he knows that and shows us that the boldest way to exist is to JUST BE YOURSELF.   All true innovators have faced that fact.  They figure out sooner or later that they are here on Earth to be uniquely themselves, which in the beginning of your life can make you very difficult to deal with.  Many people will dislike you, but there’s only one person you are here to be.  Be yourself.

He is an artist,  that is plainly obvious from the way he has no lack of courage about trying new things.   He mentions part of that is throwing away 95% of work he does.  He is the boldest innovator in the room.

I understand as we age, how easy it is to just ignore many of the new technologies in favor of the ones you know, learned years ago, which work fine for you.   Oh no, this is not Karl’s way.  He’s as cool as my teenager trying new things, finding new ways to work, collaborating with young people.    I suspect he has a skateboard hidden away in his room for early morning romps.

Getting old is mostly no fun, but Karl seems anything but old and is all about fun.  Gravity, seems an evil force that would have you slow down as you age, making every step and muscle sag, as it tries to yank you back into the ground, ashes to ashes, but Karl has his artistic curiosity, like a kid, to resist the common pull of gravity and fly high above the crowd, like one of the break dancers who soar through the air at the opening of the conference.

Champs Elysées Christmas Decorations

The very gracious Renault invited the bloggers to a bash on the Champs Elysées last night.  This is a noisy (mute it) street clip to show you all the lighting and lovely decorating you can see in Paris at this time of year.  I took it on the way to the party and that alone was enough to have me sighing and muttering, "Merci beaucoup, Renault!"

Check it out.  And here's their link to R-Link which is a voice-controlled, touch and remote control tablet in our car. Their cars are leaders in technology and green innovation.  They may have a blue logo and brand (and even had a BLUE Santa there last night) -- but they are VERY GREEN!

Renault Blue Christmas and Blue Santa

Here at LeWeb11, there was a very fun party last night at Renault on the Champs Elysee.  I wore my fur hat and Blue Santa wore his too.  This is me with Santa next to his new Renault. Wish I had one for Christmas and an apartment in Paris would also be nice too Santa!

The Champs Elysee was so full of lights and decorations and everything lovely, it was stunning.  If you've never had a chance to see it, put it in your so-called bucket list.  It's amazing.

The folks at Renault were so much fun.  Here's our Chief of Bloggers Steph Booth in a zippy new Renault.  We will all need BIG Christmas trees if Santa delivers the new Renaults on Christmas morning (or Christmas Eve here in Europe.)

They are doing the coolest thing called R-Link which is a voice-controlled, touch and remote control tablet in our car.

I made sure to ask Santa in French what he wanted for Christmas.  Another amazing LeWeb moment happened as he quietly said, rather seriously in French how he was hoping for more " ... calm and peace in the world.  I do wish people would just learn to get along with one another and make this a better world."  I love that guy!

It Happened in a Taxicab In Paris

It all happened so fast.  Yes, I had a menage à trois of sorts in a taxi here in Paris.  That is, I had a meeting of the minds with two other bloggers about the obvious fact that taking some TIME to think about what we see here at LeWeb and writing something that is thoughtful might be the best use of our time.

We confessed our sins -- more and more conference bloggers including ourselves, sometimes rush to slap something up on the Web and add very little in terms of THOUGHT.

We shared a truly intimate 15 minute cab ride, all in agreement that our new way to blog should be:  watch, think, provide context and publish slowly.   Oh là là!

Picture Credit:  Wikipedia, Jules et Jim

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Morning / Grenoble

I love slowly inching up on Paris by starting my trip in a town far away from the center of action.  Grenoble is a wonderful town – essentially, the Silicon Valley of France, although it makes me think of Brad Feld and Boulder, CO more than anything in California.   It’s situated at the foothills of the Alps with breathtaking views of the mountains all around it.   It’s a great town to visit, especially if you like to ski or mountain climb.  Also it’s very near Italy and of course, being in the Alps, near Switzerland.  If you are staying on after the LeWeb Conference, take the TGV from Gare de Lyon to Grenoble (directly or via Lyon) which is only about 2 ½ hours.  You might want to rent a car and drive into the Alps, although this is not for the faint of heart as the roads are … how shall I put it … very exciting!

This morning I’m excited to visit Petzl (, the leaders in mountain and rescue equipment to learn more about their R&D lab, in a suburb of Grenoble called Crolles.  If you think VC’s have a stomach for risk – wait til you see what the folks at Petzl consider risk.  I hope you don’t have a fear of heights!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dimanche au musée / Sunday at the Museum

I spent Sunday afternoon in a museum and was reminded of what wonderful museums you can find in Europe, even in towns which are not the big ones like Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, or Rome.  I’ve visited world-class museums in all those cities, but as I wandered the excellent Musée de Grenoble I was pretty impressed with their building and collection.   The first thing that struck me in the spacious, sun-filled, three-story high main hall was how soaring AND quiet it was.  Museums may be one of the last quiet, solitary places to find a peaceful tourist experience, which I love.

I decided to go back in time from Andy Warhol to the Greeks and Romans, an interesting timeline.  Beautiful women, whether depicted in bold bright silk screen 1960’s psychedelic colors or, the classic icy cool white marble of the Greeks, rule the day.   In between 1960 and 6 B.C., they had some lovely Renoir, Monet, Fantin-LaTour and other well-known French and European masters.

I had forgotten how noisy Renoir’s brush strokes were – you can hear the canvas glow with the fun of the bal musette and cafes of the 1880’s – and the intense quiet of Monet’s watery blue ponds and lily pads.

As the museum was in Grenoble, there was a wonderful roomful of landscape paintings of the Alps, which were clearly views painted after the artist had climbed high into the mountains.  Perhaps he was carried by a burrow or donkey, but whatever he did, it’s amazing to see the mountains so beautifully depicted in a time that was pre-photography, and his efforts to go there and paint, create a legacy for us, a record of the unspoiled beauty of those earlier days.

Thanks to my son, the climber, I am often dragged along on hikes where I get to see equally beautiful scenes and you can’t imagine how stunning it is to see the mountains up close after earning the right, by walking every step of the way up to the summit.  We didn’t climb last weekend when visiting Mount Washington in New Hampshire, but I have climbed up Tuckerman’s Ravine before, as well as stayed at the simple, lovely hut known as Lakes of the Clouds, close to the top of Washington, one of many huts which dot the range of the Presidentials.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I Haven't Written about the Kindle Fire Yet!

Go ahead and guess why I haven't written about MY new Kindle Fire yet ... maybe because I can't stop using it and watching movies on it and sucking down episodes of TV shows from it and reading books on it and all that.

The hardest thing to write about is what it FEELS like.  It's a great size and the rubber back and sides are not icy cold or slippery or sharp, like the iPad.  I've been thinking that maybe in a warm climate like California, the iPad doesn't feel so COLD.  Maybe in a crappy weather town like Seattle, they know everything about getting in bed and getting cozy with a book and a good cup of tea or coffee.  So all tech considerations aside, I love the way the Kindle Fire feels.

I'll be back with more soon.  Back to the Fire place I go ...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kindle Fire Reviews

I'll post some of the new Kindle Fire reviews soon today.  Glad to see so many thoughtful ones like this one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amazon Infographic from Frugal Dad

Amazing Amazon facts and one in particular you don't want to miss: "With 50,000 daily pre-orders, Kindle Fire is set to double the launch of the iPad." Thanks for the info from

Amazon Infographic

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tis The Season Almost

Tis the season almost and the day after Thanksgiving is the best day in the world to stay home and visit your computer instead of the mall!

Shop Amazon's Toys - Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals Week

Friday, November 18, 2011

LeWeb Official Bloggers

Wow! I'm so excited to be part of the official bloggers for LeWeb. It's great that there are so many from places OTHER than the U.S.A. In fact, out of about 80 (just counted them very quickly) there are only 5 Americans.

Looking forward to being in Paris and sharing great ideas with other bloggers worldwide. See you all at the Renault party Tuesday, December 6! Can't wait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Awards Tonight

Craig Fehrman writes in The New York Times about the National Book Awards which take place tonight:

On Nov. 16, literary types will put on their evening wear, gather in a Manhattan ballroom and clap politely for the presentation of this year’s National Book Awards. It’s the publishing industry’s biggest awards ceremony — and its best excuse to party — but it remains a subdued affair. Last year’s jolt of celebrity came from a jeans-wearing Patti Smith, whose “Just Kids” won the nonfiction award. Far more typical was the fiction prize, which went to the little-known “Lord of Misrule,” by Jaimy Gordon. It would have been a shocking choice if the National Book Awards weren’t known for this sort of thing. They’re awards for insiders. Founders Interview: Chris Howard and Fernando Albertorio

I think you'll like hearing all about -- a community for writers, editors, proofreaders, graphics and design professionals.

Heaven, I'm in Heaven ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Len Edgerly's Kindle Fire Review

That guy is always ahead of me. Check out Len's great review of the Kindle Fire. I do hope you're a subscriber to his great podcast -- The Kindle Chronicles.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unusual Perfumes: His Bestseller is Called "In The Library"

A radical "perfumier" or perfume maker named Christopher Brosius has made a fascinating palette of perfumes of everyday, non-floral smells.  He runs the shop CB: I Hate Perfume, with the link here.

One of his bestsellers smells like BOOKS!  His perfume called "In The Library" seems to be very popular. Christopher describes it as, "First Edition, Russian and Moroccan Leather, Binding Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish."

So maybe there's more to that concept of readers like me, sticking their nose into a book and rarely coming up for air.

From the names of his many creations, I have to say, I love the sound of these three scents:  Wet Pavement, At The Beach 1966, and In The Summer Kitchen and can't wait to experience their smells.

Friday, November 11, 2011

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

From ebook to exquisite

Check out these amazing volumes from Juniper Books.  They do very custom designed books, just about the most hardcore hardcovers you will ever see.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Yes, I Bought an Expensive Hardcover Paper Book on

It's true, the rumor is out there and it's true, I bought an expensive hardcover PAPER book on Amazon the other day.  Why?  Well, it's new, it's a great book ... and duh, as a Kindle lover and a recipient of a million great deals on ebooks on a regular basis thanks to Amazon, it's the least I could do. (And of course, it's not available on Kindle yet.)

See that's the thing, Amazon throws so many sweet deals your way as a Kindle owner or Prime member, you're fine with throwing some money for real books, or porch furniture, or some new software or hardware or a hundred other things their way.  Beyond that, you KNOW they deliver and you love it when they do.

I called my biz here BoOkBoX for a reason -- one reason is how much fun it is to get a BOX from Amazon delivered to your door and open it and find wonderful stuff inside. Another reason is, I think of a book as a little box of letters, all lined up in the way the writer decided they should be. A little Alphabetic Army of Letters waiting for the general to review the troops.

I wish they would make a little e-box as nice as their brown cardboard boxes, with some extra e-offers and stuff thrown in.  I'd love to have a little digital graphic of the cardboard box suddenly appear on my desktop, that I could open by clicking on it.  Please, Mr. Bezos, can't you gift-wrap my digital books too?

So a little box icon appears on my desktop and I click on it and it has a bunch of cool stuff (and a few free Kindle Samples and maybe a Kindle Single, I can say yes or no to with a clickable box)?  Real artists ship and you guys are real artists, when it comes to shipping!

*Picture Credit on the box:  Thanks Connor is Awesome

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Women's Leadership Forum: Get A Co-Founder

There were so many good speakers and excellent panels last week at the  Women's Leadership Forum which took place at the Microsoft NERD Center, you knew you were missing things in other rooms, so I can't wait to read all the coverage of the other discussions. 

There was a session for Entrepreneurs which featured a number of great brand new and some more seasoned entrepreneurs.  In particular, I really appreciated the advice of some of the women who suggested getting a co-founder.  It's perfectly "duh" advice on one level, but you have to hear it to go ... "Of course!"   

I think it was a discussion between the brilliant Katie Rae of Tech Stars and fabulous Pam Reeve of The Commonwealth Institute.  They gave the best simple advice about how to pitch, how to hire and how having a co-founder makes it easier for VC's to get a sense of who you are and who they are investing in.  Ladies, a little redundancy please, both in your servers AND in having a partner to help run your business.  

The Radical Change: How Ebooks Bring Our Brains Closer Together

I read a great piece in The New York Times about Reid Hoffman's role as a Valley Godfather of sorts and his spot-on intuition about the fact that all-things-internety are beginning to take a big leap.

I feel it too, from my perspective as an "ebook evolutionary scholar" of sorts, on the eve of this Amazon Kindle Launch, that we are about to witness an amazing uptick in sharing our experiences of what it is to be human. Just as when blogging began and the decision of WHO can publish and WHAT we should write about or read, was wrenched out of the hands of conventional publishers, so it goes with the amazing speed ebooks are being written, read and spread.

For a living, breathing, human writer to write and epublish 10 fresh little ebooks packed with cool ideas, in the same time it used to take their legacy publishers to perhaps publish 2 of their books on paper is stunning. It means, just as the Net has always done, our brains are suddenly much closer in time and space. It means any given writer will publish more, read more, learn more, teach the world more. And that means a lot.

I've been reading George Orwell's 1984 (written in '48, get it 48/84) and had forgotten he died a year after finishing it at the young age of 46. What if we had even one more book by Orwell or perhaps 5?! I know faster publishing doesn't go hand in hand with speedier writing, or that fast writing makes for better literature. Hardly, but friction-free fast publishing, with more direct revenue going to the writer's pocket (net 60 days in Amazon's epublishing model) gives a writer bread and cheese money sooner and more free time to write another book.

All this is great for writers, but is greater still for society and readers worldwide. It will have earth-changing ramifications. Why should it be more revolutionary than blogging? Well, a book or ebook is still the best way to engage a group of people in deep focus on a particular subject at a particular time. You're not convinced? Wait, watch, see.

Sadly, the last place ebooks and digital data will go (and it should have been the first) is education. Thick heavy textbooks, often called "doorstoppers" may end up being only that, used solely to prop open doors of classrooms as students stream in and out of e-schools with their light portable multi-function tablets, filled with the ideas of others and ready to host these newest humans' most insightful thoughts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

So Does Music Glue The World Back Together?

David Guetta and Usher think so. Last video Guetta did was all about how he stopped the sun from rising, so we could dance all night. This one glues the world together. #GlobalGlue

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kindle Tablet: Firing Up A Retail Engine

[Editor's Note: Now with more news about Amazon offering thousands of ebooks for free to new Kindle Fire users, I'm republishing this piece I wrote in 9/27/11 about how Amazon is taking the gloves off in the Tablet Wars.]

Everyone's excited about Amazon's launch of the Kindle Tablet tomorrow in New York, allegedly to be called the Kindle Fire. It will be an Android-based tablet -- another nudge in the ribs to Apple's iPad and a slight cozying-up to Google. There are all these variables that may help or hinder it from succeeding -- price, apps, hardware considerations, competitors -- but I think there is one big differentiator that makes the other factors unimportant.

I need to go back -- not too far back, but back to the day I got my iPad 2 last spring and the literal moment I started it up and registered it and learned how to use it.

I remember starting up other brand new computers -- both Windows and Apple -- over the years and the basic first steps always had you launching the operating system and connecting with a website. With Windows, you went through a bunch of Microsoft set-up screens and registered with a bunch of pages. With MacBook, off to you went.

With the iPad, you started with the iTunes site.

I remember thinking, "Wait, isn't iTunes a place to buy music?" What kind of new computer is this? And it all became obvious suddenly -- this is a platform for retailing. The iPad like no other computing device I'd owned before, was a platform for buying content.

And Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? The fairest retailer -- the most amazing retailer -- the leading edge retailer -- I do think the answer is Amazon.

So if you think the Kindle Fire is going to make it or break it because of Android or email or apps or all these other considerations, I think you are not looking in the right place. Look at that first set-up screen for the iPad -- and that means iTunes -- it's a store and as great a store as it is and as excellent a bunch of tools as Apple makes (and I love my iPad2 and my MacBook Pro) having Amazon as your retailing competition is seriously challenging.

Apple fan boys and girls feel free to disagree but on Wednesday, in New York, Amazon will be launching an ominous retail engine that just happens to be called the Kindle Fire. And it will be a retail engine that makes it easy as pie to buy a lot more than just music or books. And not to be overlooked, it will be very friendly to a massive audience of users who currently don't own an iPad or a Nook or any type of tablet, but love shopping on Amazon and have for years.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia, Amazon (picture of Jeff Bezos)

My esteemed board of advisors

Alphabetical Listing: Laura Fitton, Guy Kawasaki, Unicorn (don't know him actually, he just jumped into the picture when I wasn't watching)

Writers: Ikea Helps You Make Your Bed And Lie In It!

You have to love this Ikea Duvet set. Perfect for those alphabetic types. You know what they say, always get it in writing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cloud Nine: Kindle Fire

Amazon's little video on what Kindle Fire will do. Kinda makes you feel like you're on Cloud Nine, eh?

Amazon Offers Free Ebook Borrowing for Prime Members

Did you read the homepage announcement by Jeff Bezos over at Amazon this morning. It's getting very cool to be an Amazon Prime Member with all the content you can eat heading your way. As I wrote here last month about the new Kindle Fire being the ultimate retail platform, it's all coming true. Hat Tip to Dave Winer for the Twitter update on this.

Dear Customers,

Today we're announcing a new benefit for Kindle owners with an Amazon Prime membership: the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Kindle owners can now choose from thousands of books to borrow for free, including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers — as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. No other e-reader or ebook store offers such a service.

The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library features a wide array of popular titles, including Water for Elephants, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, and Fast Food Nation – plus award-winning novels such as The Finkler Question, motivational books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, biographies and memoirs including Kitchen Confidential, and Pulitzer Prize-winning books like Guns, Germs, and Steel.

We’re adding the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library to Prime membership at no extra cost — Amazon Prime remains just $79 a year, which gives you free two-day shipping on millions of products, plus unlimited instant streaming of almost 13,000 movies and TV shows.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PaidContent: WSJ and BookScan Reporting to Include Ebooks

The dirty little secret of ebooks -- including them on bestseller lists -- is being told. Until recently, hardcover publishers did not want the bestseller list all mixed up with ebooks, because often as not ebooks were outselling many paper books and being on the list gave them more attention than some paper publishers preferred. Laura Hazard Owen at reports on ebook rankings which will be part of the Nielsen BookScan reporting in the WSJ.
With e-books now making up about 20 percent of sales for many big publishers, it’s essential for bestseller lists to include them in order to give an accurate picture of what is selling. The Wall Street Journal will start running e-book bestseller lists starting this weekend, following a move by the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) earlier this year and USA Today in 2009. But there is something unique about the WSJ‘s e-book lists: They are powered by Nielsen BookScan, which has not publicly tracked e-book sales until now.
In July she addressed the ebook / bestseller list issue here in a piece called Hitting Online Bestseller Lists is Key for Ebooks' Success.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halley & The Innocats! Join us at 12:00 EST for #Innochat Today

HOW TO JOIN: Thursday at 11:45 EST (try it out early, we start at 12:00 EST) Go to It's web only. You simply login to Twitter go to the Tweetchat site and share your Twitter login which links your account to the app. Add the #innochat hashtag at the top and you're good to go.

Someone funny -- actually @TeteSagelyn (aka Teresa Valdez Klein) tweeted that I'll be hosting Innochat today at 12:00 noon EST on Twitter -- all true -- and she called me Halley & The Innocats! Love it, now I star in a rock band! I wish.

Here's what I really do -- I'm the founder of Halley Tucker's BoOkBoX -- right here where I tell you news and what's cool about the evolution of ebooks. I'm the author of a short new ebook called, "Does This Start-up Make Me Look Fat?" about women starting businesses. Here's the link to Amazon to buy my book (it's only $2.99).

Here are some more links we'll probably discuss today at the #Innochat.

My book: Amazon: Does This Start-up Make Me Look Fat?

Business Week by Scott Shane piece on women and small business:
We Must Change Girls' Perception of Business

Small Business Administration data/census stats about who's starting small businesses (piece mentioned in Business Week article.)

Change This: The Art of Female Alpha Blogging
By Halley Suitt

Change This: The Six Rules Women Must Break in Order to Succeed
By Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt.

Piece on Mothers vs. Single Women wage gap.

Book: The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden

BIG THANKS: to our hosts the incredible Gwen Ishmael and the illustrious Drew Marshall! And of course to Renee Hopkins, Inno DJ the Master

Monday, October 24, 2011

Steve Jobs Book Arrives Instantly!

Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs was on pre-order and it suddenly appeared after dinner last night.

Got the book sent directly to my Kindle last night around 9:00 pm, a bit earlier than the promised publishing date of today. It was fun to have it just populate my Kindle without having to blink.

Plowing through the book. It's nicely written and is frank about Jobs' difficult personality. If you knew anyone who worked for him, you heard he could be ... challenging.

Back to my book!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everything you ever wanted to know about Zines, don't be afraid to ask

Good piece in the Sunday New York Times Business section about Zines (short form of "fanzine" -- a short, often handmade limited-run magazine in tribute to a very narrow subject or particular person) by Jenna Wortham called Raised on the Web, But Liking a Little Ink this morning.

This supports my personal ebook and epublishing theory that most publishing will be very digital, very ubiquitous, very fast, but another side of the business will be customized, handmade, unique, slow, one-of-a-kind publishing.

As the fountain pen was a mainstream, must-have item you could buy cheaply anywhere in 1900 and now is more likely an expensive, rare objet d'art, serving less as a writing instrument and more as a collectible -- so goes the book, in my opinion.

A quote from the piece:
For Barbara Frankie Ryan, 19, a graphic design student in London who recently curated an exhibition of zines at a boutique there called Tatty Devine, the Internet and handcrafted publications exist in tandem. She runs a popular fashion blog and also makes a series of zines — although she said she wasn’t even aware of the rich history of zine culture when she started creating them in her bedroom at the age of 15.

Instead, she was looking for an outlet for her drawings and innermost musings on popular culture and romantic crushes. And she wanted to be able to experiment. While Web sites come and go, in another sense the Web is eternal: tidbits can be searched and found when you least want them to be. That can be inhibiting.

“I’m becoming more aware how permanent and accessible things are online,” she said.

Ms. Ryan also said zines have an air of exclusivity: they are like other artifacts that were never intended for mass consumption or distribution, like a scarf knitted by a friend, a sketch or a cassette tape filled with handpicked songs.

“I like the idea that I’ve only made 40 copies, and only 40 people will see it,” she said. “It’s really easy to reveal a lot about yourself, and so this is a way of getting control back, and I find that quite comforting.”

They also talk about the work of Malaka Gharib who's food zine, The Runcible Spoon, is pictured here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

You're Just My Type!

I was writing about printing presses yesterday, so it was fun to learn about a traveling printing press today from a post on Facebook.

If you can read backwards you'll see it says "You're just my type" on the type tray.

Check out this cool piece from Esty about the Type Truck! The Type Truck is visiting Brooklyn today!

These days, travel is all about packing light. If you can’t fit it into a carry-on bag, then chances are you don’t really need it, right?

Not so if you’re Kyle Durrie, proprietor of Power and Light Press and driver of a refurbished 1982 Chevy step van, dubbed the Type Truck. Since June of this year, when Kyle set off from her Portland, Oregon home, she’s traversed the country, visiting cities and towns large and small, sharing her love of letterpress printing.

The idea to take her art on the road emerged during the summer of 2010, when she toured with her boyfriend and his band.

More here on Esty.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Room (and a Printing Press) of One's Own

I've been reading about Virginia Woolf's life and how she and her husband decided they needed to self-publish. In 1917, that meant buying a printing press. (Too bad she missed the e-book revolution by a hundred years or so.)

Check out this great site at Yale University called The Modernism Lab and this fascinating piece by Jessica Svedsen about Virginia and Leonard Woolf starting Hogarth Press. Their reasons for starting the press will sound all too familiar to ebook writers.
Leonard recalled that one of the major reasons for beginning the Hogarth Press was to publish small books that would otherwise have little chance of being printed by established publishing companies—small volumes that “the commercial publisher would not look at” (Woolf, Leonard 234).  The majority of Hogarth authors were a part of the Woolf’s Bloomsbury circle—Clive Bell, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Roger Fry, Katherine Mansfield, Vita Sackville-West—and they were allowed to escape from the unpleasant pressures of editors and publishers.
Of course the notion now that “the commercial publisher would not look at” writers like T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Katherine Mansfield, or Virginia Woolf sounds completely crazy. But escaping the pressures of the editors and publishers in 1917 sounds more than reasonable, even to the present day.

Virginia Woolf being 1) a woman writer and 2) a highly experimental writer, meant she had two strikes against her from the start in terms of getting a publisher and her husband Leonard understood this. Thank goodness they decided to start Hogarth Press. It meant we know Virginia Woolf's work, just the way she wanted to present it.

Photo Credit: The painting is "Portrait of Virginia Woolf" by George Charles Beresford via Wikipedia

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finally, those heavy textbooks are going "e"

This is very good news for students. No more dragging heavy textbooks around. But why isn't the US leading this?

Here's a piece from the BBC by Gary Eason about the initiative in South Korea to digitalize the classroom in four years.

South Korea, one of the world's highest-rated education systems, aims to consolidate its position by digitising its entire curriculum.

By 2015, it wants to be able to deliver all its curriculum materials in a digital form through computers. The information that would once have been in paper textbooks will be delivered on screen.

South Korea's Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Ju-Ho Lee, said that his department was preparing a promotion strategy for "Smart Education", focusing on customised learning and teaching.

The project, launched during the summer, will involve wireless networks in all schools to allow students to learn "whenever and wherever", as well as an education information system that can run in a variety of devices including PCs, laptops, tablets and internet-connected TVs.

Here's the link for more: BBC: Digital textbooks open a new chapter
By Gary Eason

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

USA Today Does A Lot of Book Blogging

USA Today does a lot of coverage of books and now they've added a Romance Novel blog, Happy Ever After to their other book blog, Book Buzz.

If you're a Romance reader or writer, do check it out. Here's the link to Happy Ever After.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nicki Minaj says: "Books First, Music Second!"

I love Nicki Minaj telling these great little girl rappers, "Books first, music second" about staying in school being most important. Go #Minaj girl go!

What we do here at BoOkBoX

We're just starting up, but we will be a great place to follow all the news in the world of ebooks, Kindles, Nooks, and catch up on all the many ways the publishing industry is going digital. Just like you go to TechCrunch for tech news, you can go to bOoKBoX for ebook news.

Like my new logo? Susy Pilgrim Waters designed it for me as we talked about how digital publishing is going crazy -- a veritable revolution -- and even the letters are scrambled and don't know whether they are up or down, upper or lower case. See the big ABC's behind the words "bOoKBoX" -- it's a big lower-case "a" in green, a baby "b" thats falling over backwards in puce, and a "c" that fell down on its back in dead grass green and looks like a staple. Even the ABC's are all mixed up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

pRoOfrEaDinK mAtTeRs!

Yes, proofreading matters, and don't think for a minute we don't all make mistakes. But here's the inside dirt -- I ran a Proofreading Dept in my last position -- never do it yourself. After a while you are just plain BLIND to errors. Always get a "fresh reader" to review it the last time.

Authonomy is the cool social media ebook community run by HarperCollins. They just put this up on their blog.

We're taking a one-week break from One to Watch to make an important announcment. Last month we announced that Scott Pack, Publisher at The Friday Project, had been appointed the new head of

Find the typo? Scott Pack will not be happy!

Do check out the site, it's cool. It's just

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are ebooks just a new "get rich quick" scheme?

My ebook poster boy, Barry Eisler, is here to help me answer the question people are always asking me lately, are ebooks just a new "get rich quick" scheme? BTW, I don't know Eisler personally, but I've read his books and they are great. He deserves every e-dime he makes. Has he gotten rich quick on ebooks? We'll talk about that after defining some terms.

Let's talk about the words "rich" and "quick" -- but not in that order.

Quick -- well, yes in a way, a writer can write a book and get it in front of a reader more quickly than before thanks to ebooks and Amazon. The long time it took to get an agent, get the agent to send your book out to publishers, get a publisher interested, get a contract signed, get an advance, get the book produced (many steps here) and get the book in bookstores -- all that is gone, so the process is decidedly faster now.

But to go back, anyone who thinks it's easy and quick to write a book has NOT written a book. And anyone who has any sense knows there is nothing quick about writing a good book well -- yes, read those words over for effect (or is it affect?) -- WRITING A GOOD BOOK WELL. (It's effect. I checked.) So let me say it's still going to take TIME (and it should) to write a good book well and after all that, it is quicker to connect with readers thanks to ebooks.

Rich -- Many good writers know that if you chose to be an author (or the universe choses for you, making you one of us word people who can't stop writing anyway) you soon learn that you will write no matter what -- no matter if you make a lot of money, a little money or no money at all. Mostly most writers make NO MONEY at all. So "rich" is a relative term.

Let's say ebooks finally let many GOOD WRITERS make SOME MONEY from writing. Ebooks let some very good writers who want to do the HARD WORK of writing a book well and the harder work of promoting their book, actually MAKE A LIVING as a writer, without having to waste time with legacy publishers. And making a living as a writer is a big thing for writers -- it would make most writers feel pretty RICH. We're not talking "Wall Street rich" here.

But people who don't write, just don't understand how "rich" writers already are. Even writers who have never made a dime with their writing are lucky bastards. Writers are rich in narrative, wealthy in words, loaded in language, pockets filled with filthy lucre, like jetsetters on the Cote d'Azur swimming along in the bright blue ocean of amazing words in their own language and others, and rich in friends who share their love of writing and reading and most importantly, richly endowed in esteemed colleagues, all the wonderful writers who have gone before them and all the writers who are living and writing as their contemporaries.

So is it a "get rich quick" scheme? If we can define "rich" as "actually make a living as a writer and maybe even hitting it big" and if we define "quick" as "faster than it used to be to get your books in front of readers" I'd say it's a "actually make a living and get paid sooner" scheme.

Now, about Mr. Eisler. He's one of these ebook heroes who can "Just Say No" to the drug of legacy publishing deals. In fact, he turned down a big paper book deal from a big paper book publisher, saying like Bartleby, "I'd prefer not to." Read this for more.

But is Eisler a "get rich quick" kinda guy? You tell me. His books are well written. I know that takes time -- a lot of time and hard work. Did you watch the video here -- he's showing the pile of books he reads for research even before he starts writing. So much for "quick" -- forget about it.

His first series of thrillers have a clearly defined intriguing character, an ex-CIA guy named John Rain. Eisler WAS in the CIA -- you want to spend time doing that so you might write books as well as he does? I don't.

I don't know the details but I'm sure he spent years trying to get published -- everyone does, even really wonderful (now famous) authors. Nothing quick about it.

And as for "rich" -- I have to assume he had many lean years before his books hit and so feel free to do the math -- average in whatever money he might be making now (I hope it's really big for all his hard work ) with YEARS of making no money.

Again, I don't know about Eisler's personal wealth, but let's play with the numbers of an author who's making "a million dollars!" If you have made $250,000 every year for the last four years (= $1M) you might be called a millionaire, but if you made roughly $0 for 21 years before that ... are you a millionaire? You're barely earning a janitor's wages -- since you averaged $40K a year. (And it's really less since I didn't account for taxes.)

So I'm here to tell you the big news. Ebooks are exciting! Ebooks are amazing! Ebooks are wonderful! And writing is hard work! Sorry, had to tell the truth.

Yes, no big news that writing is still hard work, but thanks to ebooks, writers can finally make a living writing ebooks which reach readers relatively quickly.