Links Galore

A few more fun links for today:

Links Galore

A few more links to get us through the middle of the week:

In Favor of the E-book

Yesterday I talked about why I like physical books and what advantages they for readers. Most readers I know feel the same–they love books, they love holding books, they love the smell. (Heck, Giles agrees. How can I argue with Giles?)

So what about e-books? So far, I haven’t heard a lot of readers talk about how much better the e-reading experience is. Some people, like Jonathan Franzen, don’t even think an e-book counts as real reading. Do we need to gather the villagers and our pitchforks and run e-books out of town?

I say no. E-books have their place in the book world, too. Here are a few things I like about the e-reading experience:

4182802481_62c616de2a_b1. Your Library in your Suitecase
I avoided e-readers for a while, but then my husband and I were getting married and going on our honeymoon–keeping us away from our home libraries for more than two weeks. A big part of my vacation time includes reading, so it was a choice between bringing eight hard copies or investing in an e-reader. I was able to have a dozen books with me in a convenient little device.

2. Size Doesn’t Matter
Even when I’m not traveling, sometimes it’s not convenient to carry around a giant book. (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.) I’d end up leaving heavier books at home because they wouldn’t fit in my purse or would be too heavy to lug around all day, and it would take me much longer to finish them. On an e-reader, you can carry around Moby-Dick and War and Peace and the entire Harry Potter series in your purse.

3. New Books Without Leaving Your Home
On a snowy, sleety day like today, I’m tempted to crawl under the covers and never leave. Thanks to e-readers, I’d still be able to get new books. As awesome as it is to go to a library or bookstore, it is pretty cool to have a new book while I’d curled up on the couch.

6965382718_f22a157325_b4. No Library Fines
Permissions for e-books and  libraries are still a big issue, but I hope we see an increase in libraries that can offer electronic options. With regular books, you have to run back to the library on your due date or risk being fined. (Or as I like to think of it, you risk a donation to the library, which makes me feel better about myself.) With e-books, you simply lose access to your checked-out book on the due date. Way less hassle for readers.

5. Free Books
No, not just library books–you can download electronic versions of anything in the public domain for free. You want to read Franekstein? Get it now. How about Persuasion? It’s yours forever. When I first got my e-reader, I downloaded a bunch of classic novels. Getting them for free was a great excuse to dive into content I always thought about but never pursued as much as I should have.

6. Cheap Books
Okay, so maybe they’re not free, but there are still a lot of daily deals for e-books. If I see something available for $3 (as opposed to $10), I’m way more likely to download a copy than I would be to search for a hard copy–even a discounted one. I think this helps me take more purchasing risks. If it’s cheap and won’t take up space on my bookshelves, why not spend a couple bucks? And even if it’s not providing the publisher/author with the same amount of royalties, these are probably books I would have waited to get at the library anyway.

4506273004_ebde74350e_b7. Dictionaries at Your Fingertips
I admit–sometimes when I come across a new word in a paper book, I gloss over it and assume I’ll understand from the context. (Sorry, English teachers!) Usually it’s because I don’t have a dictionary with me. My e-reader, on the other hand, came with several dictionaries, so I there’s really no excuse to skip over unrecognizable words.

8. Organization
I always have great ideas about how I’ll organize my bookshelves, and inevitably they fall to disarray. But on my e-reader, I can create categories (like Classics or YA or Non-Fiction) and immediately sort books. That way, I always know where Jane Eyre is. On my bookshelves, it’s probably somewhere on the tall one? Maybe on the one by the kitchen?

So where does that leave us? Is one option better than the other? My opinion is no–they both have benefits and flaws, and they both have their place in my life as a reader. I’m not afraid that e-books will totally kill paper books, and even if they do eventually, that’s a long time coming.

At the end of the day, delivery method doesn’t concern me as much as story. Reading A Tale of Two Cities or Because of Winn-Dixie on an e-reader or as paper books still provides me the same story. As long as publishers keep giving me that, I’ll keep reading.

Are you on one side of the physical book vs. e-book debate? Share your thoughts in the comments!

(image 1: Gene Wilburn)(image 2: smohundro)(image 3: albertizeme)


800px-R_Staines_Malvolio_Shakespeare_Twelfth_NightShakespeare meets social media with these tweet versions of the Bard’s famous works by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Best use of hashtag goes to:

Scoundrel talks Moor into believing his wife’s a slut. Dude, it was only a handkerchief. Did you have to KILL her? #facepalm.

My favorite Shakespeare play is Twelfth Night. My tweet version would have to be:

Shipwrecks lead to cross-dressing and missed love connections. At least we can all make fun of Malvolio.#cakesandale

Share your Shakespearean tweets!

(image: Wikipedia)

Texts for Felicity

Another update from the “Texts From…” series on the Hairpin–Texts From the American Girls. Even though Samantha was my favorite character, Felicity’s my favorite text-er. A sample:

“I must trespass on your kindness one last time
and ask when you will return
as the water you so kindly brought me
ran out several days ago
and I am afraid to venture forth in daylight
and this fetid swamp provides me with no relief

Make sure to click through for the rest of Felicity’s texts as well as some from Samantha and Addy. I want to see follow-ups from the rest of the girls*, too!

*And by the rest of the girls, I mean the ones I remember from childhood. Apparently there are even more now?

Teens #MustacheYouToRead

Depending on how hirsute your friends are, you may or may not know that November is Movember, a pretty fun time for guys to try out some new facial hair (handlebar mustache!).

But the coolest Movember project I’ve seen is by the Glendale Public Library Teen Services. They’re sharing pictures of readers posing with creative “mustaches” and books they recommend–ie, books they #MustacheYouToRead–on Twitter and Facebook. And you can join them:

“We’d love to see #MustacheYouToRead trend, so if you have any books you’d like to recommend, tweet them to us (or post them here) and let’s let the world know about all the awesome books teens are reading!”

Remember, you don’t need real facial hair to join in. Cut out a paper mustache or even use your finger. Share your recommended reads with the hashtag #MustacheYouToRead. Dumbledore is already on it.

I’m on a Reblogging Spree

From Hank Green, a musical video about how great/crazy Tumblr is:

So…I still want to say it “gif” with a hard g. As in “reblog.”

At the January SCBWI conference, lots of people asked what Tumblr was and if they needed to be on there for their writerly platform. I don’t think you need to use any social media platform you don’t feel comfortable using, but I will argue that Tumblr is filled with Doctor Who and kittens and coffee and pretty pictures–aka, it’s a good time.

Feel free to scope out my Tumblr too!

Cell Phones, Blogs, and Writing YA

When I was in high school, cell phones were pretty new. We emailed and IMed, but we didn’ tweet or reblog things. Sometimes I’m really glad that Facebook didn’t exist when I was a teen.

For better or for worse, technology and social media are a huge part of teens’ lives today. So if you’re writing contemporary YA or  MG, you need to deal with these issues at least a little–how does your main character keep in touch with friends? Does he have to pay for his own cell account? Does she have a vlog?

If you’re wondering how your main character might actually use social media and gadgets, check out this study on how teens view their digital lives. There’s even a neat infographic with some summary. One point I found interesting is that almost half of teens would prefer to talk to their friends in person. It’s not like everyone is hiding at their computers. They want interaction, but texting and Facebooking can also help teens keep in touch when they’re not together.

It’s not like you have to make you main character attached to his cell phone, but it’s good to recognize and these things have some kind of impact on teens lives.


But Don’t Take My (iPad’s) Word for It!

Reading Rainbow is back and now it’s digital, via a new iPad app. From this interview with LeVar Burton, Mark Wolfe, and Sangita Patel about the project:

PATEL: Oh, mobile? Okay. Well I think the reason that publishers were excited about Reading Rainbow is one, trusted brand, more importantly discovery. I think for publishers, even though you can go in the bookstore, when a child goes in a bookstore they are able to have an experience that they can’t really have anywhere on the Internet, or on devices now, because discovery of a book in the App Store is virtually impossible. There are so many out there —

WOLFE: Unless you know the title, right?

PATEL: Unless you know the title of the book. So what publishers found very interesting is, they said, “We do not have a discovery platform there, with curation”, and so LeVar, LeVar’s brand, the Reading Rainbow brand, was a perfect fit for them.

It’s funny–I never thought of Reading Rainbow as a curation project, but that makes a lot of sense. When my mom was a new mother, she didn’t know a lot about children’s books. So along with recommendations from our local librarians, things like Reading Rainhow were a great way for her to find us new books. And having an app means that children and parents can be introduced to new books at any given time of day.


WOLFE: …we were talking yesterday, the day before that stories, you know, start on cave paintings, then they wind up as heiroglyphics, and then they are written on papyrus, and eventually on sheep vellum, then trees, now here you go [points to iPad]. The device — the delivery of the device doesn’t make stories. It can help augment them in a certain way, but a good story’s a good story no matter whether it’s on papyrus, or electronic.

Amen to good stories. And just so you have it in your head for the rest of the day:

(image: Wikipedia)

What You Can and Can’t Get From Blogging

There’s a lot of pressure now for writers to have an active social media life. You need to blog, tweet, pin, reblog, and “like” things. It’s necessary for your career as a writer, people say. You need to have an online presence.

Okay, maybe that’s true. You don’t want people to Google you and come up with nothing. You want people to be able to find information on your writing, maybe how to contact you, etc. But what does that mean for how much work you should be doing on your social media platform?

Roni Loren has a great post up about if blogging is worth the time/effort and what you can expect to get out of it. In very short, blogging generally won’t make you sell a gazillion books, but it’s a wonderful way to connect with other writers and/or readers who already like your work. One part I liked in particular:

“Having a blog just to have one is worse than not having one at all. If you’re not somewhat focused in your content and you aren’t giving the reader a takeaway, no one is going to stick around except your mom and a handful of others who are writing about Random Randomness…Do it because you enjoy connecting with people, don’t do it because you think it’s going to vault you up the bestseller list.”

Blogging is work. It requires upkeep and, even if you’re not blogging every day, you want to set up some kind of schedule for yourself. I hate seeing people’s blogs that only list a post every couple of months. And maybe part of that problem is not knowing who you’re trying to reach. Writing for a void can be disheartening.

If this isn’t your first time at my blog, you’re probably aware that I blog a lot. (If this is your first time, here, howdy!) Mostly it’s because I find things online that I like to share. It’s way easier than emailing each person I think might be interested in whatever I’ve found, and it has the potential to connect me with other people who like the same kind of things. I rarely post about my life because I don’t think that would be as interesting. It would end up feeling more like a chore.

So even if you need to have some kind of blog, don’t think that it has to be any one way. Find what works for you, and remember to keep it fun. If it’s not fun, it’s just something else to stress about that won’t necessarily get people to like your fiction. Blogging is its own thing, and can be really fun. Just don’t think of it as a make or break for your career.

(image: JISC)