Litlets

March 7, 2011

HarperCollins vs Libraries: 2 quick links

Filed under: books,e-books — crcb @ 12:04 am
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As you may know, HarperCollins is instituting a loan cap on libraries for e-book titles: 26 checkouts, and they have to “buy” a “new copy.” Libraries are not thrilled by this, nor are library users (who, I imagine. form a large segment of the publisher’s customer base).

Martin Taylor gives HarperCollins kudos, saying “librarians must change old thinking.” This is ironic, since it’s HarperCollins who insists that librarians pretend ebooks are physical books. First they had to play “we only have one copy,” and now they must make believe that copy is wearing out. Who’s refusing to recognize reality here?

For a radically different take, see Justin Hoenke’s post on Tame the Web. His proposal (though he modestly points out he’s not the first) is to transform libraries into resource centers for communities to create their own content.

Both authors want libraries to change. Justin’s proposal is more in touch with the new facts of digital content. I’m with Justin, count me in.

 

January 12, 2011

LotRIoT: Librivox

Filed under: books,e-books,Links,LotRIoT — crcb @ 10:00 pm
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Link of the Random Interval of Time (LotRIoT): librivox.org.

LibriVox is the go-to site for free, public-domain audio books (and shorter works). I’ve been listening to a selection of poetry on my daily commute: Blake, Dickinson, Shakespeare and others.

The readers are volunteers, and my gratitude to them is tremendous, but they vary in competence. Some read mechanically; some in sing-song; some melodramatically; and some with the right amount of expression, but with odd choices in emphasis and phrasing. (I have a theory about this last group: I believe they are good prose readers, who give too much semantic weight to line endings when it comes to verse.) Not a few, however, get it just right. What’s more, many of the offerings on LibriVox — especially the shorter ones — are provided in multiple versions with different readers, so you can choose the one you like best. (I suggest someone with a cockney accent, when possible, for Blake’s poems.)

LibriVox provides audio files in mp3 and ogg vorbis formats, and links to text versions of the works. The site can be hard to browse, just because of the sheer number of files in their catalog. Since all offerings are public domain (as are the performances), new works are scarce. With the wealth of classics at your earbuds, though, that’s hardly a problem worth whining about.

 

November 7, 2010

Book Review: Brewing Fine Fiction

Filed under: books,e-books,Fiction,reading,Reviews,What I'm Reading — crcb @ 10:18 pm
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Brewing Fine Fiction: Advice for Writers from the Authors at Book View Cafe (http://bookviewcafe.com/)
edited by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff and Pati Nagle

Brewing Fine Fiction is a collection of fiction-writing articles by many authors. I read the ebook version, but it is also available as a printed book. (Disclaimer: I received this book for free through LibraryThing. Reviewing the book, whether positively or negatively, makes it more likely that I will receive other books in the future. I am receiving no other compensation for this review.)

The articles in BFF are primarily about genre fiction, mostly of the fantastic variety (fantasy and science fiction), but most would be just as relevant to mainstream fiction. Authors ranges from the famous (Ursula K. Le Guin) to the less well known, at least to me (Chris Dolley). The book is arranged into five categories: The Basics, Craft, Research, Marketing Your Work and The Writer’s Life.

I find little to take issue with in this collection. The distinction between The Basics and Craft escapes me; I can see any article in either section being put in the other. A couple of pieces made me wonder whether the editors were padding the book out to a contractually determined page count. For instance, “How to Escape from the Slushpile,” by Madeleine E. Robins, has the virtue of brevity (about 500 words), but makes only two points: follow standard submission and formatting procedures, and write a good book. Any writer who finds this helpful isn’t ready for most of the other articles gathered in BFF.

But the bulk of the articles are far better than this, and any fiction writer would find much in here to like and use. Standouts for me include Sherwood Smith’s “Sweating the Little Stuff” and Judith Tarr’s “The Alien in the Pasture: A Brief Disquisition on Horses for Writers.” The latter should be required reading for any writer of swords-and-sorcery fantasy, or westerns. (I’ve been guilty of treating horses as grass-fueled motorcycles in some of my attempts at fiction.)

One of the nice little features of this book is the use of literary quotations between articles, for reinforcement or counterpoint.

Overall, Brewing Fine Fiction is a worthwhile addition to any fiction writer’s reference collection. I know there are some articles I’ll be going back to multiple times.

July 29, 2010

Random link: E-books article drinking game, from Bookavore

Filed under: books,e-books,Links,reading — crcb @ 1:18 am
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Haven’t seen this one done before. I suppose it takes a nerdy, yet boozy, audience to appreciate:

http://bookavore.tumblr.com/post/871178080/e-books-article-drinking-game

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