EXPLODING THE ‘KINDLE’/E-READER MYTH

Many book lovers, book worms, and avid readers alike are self-confessed ‘luddites’ when it comes to the revolutionary technology of the internet, and eReading tools like Kindle. Sometimes their fear that such things will drive out the conventional book is completely understandable, yet perhaps it is also a little like some 18th century country yokel looking at the first Steam Engine, and seeing there the work of the devil, or the end of the world. Perhaps every generation experiences the end of the world – as they know it. Part of the problem of course is mythification, and one of the ways to deal with that is to do it yourself. If you download the free Mobipocket creator, from the internet, you will very quickly see what an eReader really is. In fact, you have one in front of you right now. MobiPocket though translates the text from say a Word document, once uploaded, and allows you to preview it up on your web browser, on a laptop, PC or mobile, as others would view it too. There you will very quickly see the need for the simplest formating in the original document, if you are to go to eBook, and above all with text that is not ‘Justified’, ie squared to the shape of a page, because eReaders flow the text in to fill the screen size, and Justifying in the original can break text up, or spread it across a page. If you increase and decrease the size of your web browser page then, just by pulling in and out the edges, the text will adapt and you can recreate the size and shape of say a Kindle screen. Other tips include formating text to contain ‘before’ and ‘after’ spacing, at certain points, because the net langauge, html or Xml, will not always recognise spacing. The biggest mistake conventionally published authors make is to hope to simply translate the format of printed books, and that can’t happen because eReaders have different screen sizes. The rule of thumb is KEEP IT CLEAR AND SIMPLE.

Voila – that is all an eReader is too, and with your web browser open in Mobipocket you will have a primitive one in front of you, without spending a cent. EReaders and the Kindle are nothing more than viewing screens, like single, digital pages. Admittedly they can do specific things, like Justify, change font sizes, and bookmark, while the strength of the Kindle is that it is far superior to a web browser, or something like Ipad, in terms of the way it presents text, in front of your eyes. So it goes for maximum readability, light resolution, grey scale etc, to make it the most comfortable reading experience, and of course can store hundreds of books in one place. Kindle’s genius though is that it is led by Amazon, which has already dominated the market in terms of book sales and distribution, and probably seriously damaged conventional publishers into the bargain. That is also what the modern book revolution is about, dominating the market by creating the most succesful ‘platforms’ to publish on. It began with Self Publishing models too, like POD, print an individual book to order, or ‘Publish on Demand’. Though it remains true that is of most benefit to companies like Amazon and Lulu, by generating immediate income, and not to individual authors – although there are exceptions – who quickly find they are swamped by all there is out there. Then the self published authors face the greatest challenge of what publishing is so ruthlessly about nowadays – marketing. From Kindle to Sony Ereader though, to Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and many others, which will drop in and out of the market, they are all just publishing platforms, and in essence no more than handy screens, where you can access the ether cloud of books. No great mystery then, no great fear, and not to be treated with too much Hoo-Ha either. Conventional books meanwhile, now offer, and should see themselves as offering, something entirely different to eBooks, beyond the information or story; design, physical ownership, the love of the page, the delight of bookshops and libraries, a stronger sense of the author. But the eRevolution is unstoppable, with both positives and negatives, and there the key is not how things are being read, but what is being read and enjoyed – Phoenix Ark Press then can only hope to contribute and succeed with what is surely the true key to it all, certainly in terms of fiction: the love of great story!

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