New book from Natasha McNeely, plus more!

A Glimpse of The Dark is a collection of short stories with a dark fantasy theme by our resident Ancient Egypt aficionado, Natasha McNeely (check the Favourite Reads sidebar for her blog!). You can purchase her new e-book through the following link.

Click here for A Glimpse of The Dark

Katy-Rose Hötker also sees one of her flash fiction pieces in print, now available in the Daily Flash 2012: 366 Days of Flash Fiction (Leap Year Edition) collection.



Congratulations, Amazon

The newest Kindle iteration has come just in time. I was already considering an e-reader for my birthday this November, but hadn’t quite been convinced of what I wanted. The announcement of a smaller, simpler Kindle has sealed the deal for me. It’s cheaper, and doesn’t have unnecessary bells and whistles that I really don’t want on a device used for reading books.

My primary purpose for ever wanting an e-reader has been to carry a selection of texts with me in a lightweight and ultra-portable device. The opportunity to download all those free books is just a delight for me, because while I love real books and always will, I usually can’t justify buying many of them with my budget. There’s an entire library worth of old books that are now free to acquire, and I will finally get a chance to read, or re-read the “classics”.

I find it a real chore to read novel-length works on my computer screens, and indeed, I still haven’t finished reading a small handful of e-books I’ve already bought/downloaded because it’s just uncomfortable and inconvenient. I want to be able to read in bed, or at the park, or in the car.

Of course, I doubt I’ll ever use an e-reader as my primary reading source. Books have too many things that you can’t recreate electronically. They feel good, and have textured pages. They smell of paper and ink and other books. There’s the sound of turning the page, and the satisfying faint clomp of closing the book when you’ve finished a great story. The cover art, and browsing the spines, and the small details like publisher logos…

One thing I definitely won’t mind is a lack of dust covers! I always take them off my hardcover books when reading, since I tend to tear them otherwise. But I really do hope my eventual experience with the newest Kindle exceeds my expectations. Even if I resent the idea that my books can run out of battery. 😉


Goodbye physical bookstore, we loved you

Everyone already knows that certain big-name bookstores are closing down. What a sad state of affairs. This post was originally in response to the beautiful Julia Munroe Martin of wordsxo, but the reply got so long, I figured I’d just turn it into tonight’s rant! You can see her entry, then read on. Borders: It’s Personal

Part of the problem is, big chain bookstores have so much extra to factor into costs at the get-go. Rent/property tax, utilities for the big store front, employees both on the floor and out of sight. But the nasty part is the profit margin they are expected to turn, because that becomes mark-up for the consumer to bear.

In this day and age, we know what kind of money is going back to the writer, and their agent, and the editor at the publishing house. The publishing execs make their profit (for themselves and the stockholders). Then there’s the workers at the print factory, the binders, the general production costs. We know that half the work at a publishing house is done by unpaid interns. We know that the bosses are looking at that profit margin, no matter which company it’s going through. At every stop, someone is adding that little extra, but once you reach an actual store, their “little extra” heads upwards in ways that are no longer fair to the average consumer.

Who can afford new books from big chains anymore? I’m not going to buy e-books exclusively when I finally get an e-reader (I will always want a physical copy), but the cost is a very real factor. If the writer, the person whose creation you’re reading, is finally able to get a better cut of the cake, that’s a good direction for us to be stepping.

But electronic media is by nature very non-capitalist; a computer file is infinitely reproducible at negligible cost, so what are we really paying for? There is the stipend to the writer, as a thanks for their creative work, and to cover the costs they incurred while writing and editing and hiring an artist to make some very nice cover art. Then even by buying through online stores, we pay to keep that store online (staff, bandwidth, their office overheads). But they don’t need a big, expensive store front, with high-exposure to a main road. They don’t need nice carpets or a flashy sign out front. They can sit in their respectably comfortable offices and still provide us with the same end product, for less cost to us.

If we were able to drag our society away from the superficial appearance-driven stores that cost so much to run, would they remain viable businesses? Or would the top-tiers of each company still drive the cost outside of a profitable range at all? An e-book ultimately isn’t a superior product to an actual paper print, though it has considerable advantages (and don’t get me started on the paper industry, we will be here all night). I think the physical book, and indeed the physical bookstore will persist beyond this electronic age, but they need to grow and adapt.