Saturday, October 22, 2011

My First Electronic Library Book

I've been telling people that the big problem with Kindle--aside from how hard it is to take notes compared to an old dead tree book-- is that you can't share or borrow the overpriced newer (read in -copyright) books. It seems to me that e-books absolutely ought to be the cheapest form of books-- minimal materials, you can't lend it to a friend or resell it, etc. Amazon runs an in-house sharing site where I early on got one good book, the novel about Thomas Cromwell, but it has essentially turned into advertisements for new books for Kindle.

BUT NOW- it has finally happened. It is finally possible to borrow from the library. I had to go in person first to get my card renewed (and I ended up promising to present a program for the library in the spring!) and they were very helpful showing me the website for the regional pool of library e-books, many with waiting lists, but I made the experiment by using "advanced search" and skimming over available books, and found Sarah Waters' newest. I now have it on my Kindle, for two weeks, anyhow, and I'm thrilled. I don't know how this works region to region, but here you get up to 5 books, and there is no extension-- you go back on the waiting list if you didn't finish. Fine, who cares. To borrow a Kindle book, you get sent to Amazon, and I had a little to-do about which email was my sign in, and actually ended up calling and speaking to a human being, but the next phase is beginning to happen....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Pub Panics

Today's New York Times has an article about the panic among conventional publishers over beginning to publish:

In the Amazon business model, there's no advance, and often no agent, although some agents are beginning to participate as publishers. I have to say that my sympathy for the big commercial publishers (not that Amazon isn't or won't be one soon) is very limited. They dropped me unceremoniously 25 years ago-- well, not entirely true, that was Scribner's. My last big publisher was HarperCollins for the Marco kid books, and that was only fifteen years ago-- anyhow, the bottom line is, Conventional publishers dropped me and a lot of my friends-- mid-list and literary writers of high repute and great accomplishment-- and we've been scrambling ever since. I've used small presses, nonprofit presses, university presses, cooperative presses: I've published with all of these, as well as with Scribner's and HarperCollins, and had Sc & HC been more nurturing of me when I was not a best seller for them, I might be less ready to embrace the Great Change going on now with ebooks and self publishing. There are myriad problems including, at the very least, who are the gatekeepers, but also vast opportunities. And for me, a lot of fun too. The opportunities include simply being able to make books available to people who who might want to read them-- miniscule numbers beside what bestseller oriented publishers except, but human beings, readers, communication. I have been having a great time with my various ventures.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How I Spent Satuday...

I didn't make it to Wall Street with the support march that my adjuncts' union made today, but I did dress up for my Saturday errands: I made a sort of poncho out of an ancient linen tablecloth with my message! I got thumbs ups and smiles, one person asked to take my picture, and a guy in the supermarket wanted to talk about the unfairness of the system. Making change? Probably not. Feeling chipper? Yes.