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Interviews

Can eBooks Save Long Form Journalism?

dgrann.jpgIn an GalleyCat interview this morning, one New Yorker staff writer refused to “sugarcoat” the declining state of long form journalism. However, he placed hope in online outlets and digital tools for carrying the art into the 21st Century.

Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was David Grann, a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and the author of and The Lost City of Z. Grann discussed his newest book, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, and shared tips for aspiring long-form journalists–explaining how he ended up at one of America’s greatest magazines after years of work.

Press play on the embedded player below to listen.

What do you think? How can digital books help long form journalists preserve their literary legacy? Here’s an excerpt from the interview: “It was a very circuitous path. It was not very linear–I floundered about for many years. I had many different careers early on. I knew I wanted to be a writer. But, like so many people, I didn’t know how to be one–other than just do it. I didn’t know what form it would take.”

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Digital Book World Roundtable Takes on eBook Math Today

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The recent New York Times article on the Math of Publishing has inspired a ton on online discussion about what books–both print and electronic–are actually worth. Digital Book World, the ongoing community that grew out of the DBW conference, is sponsoring a live Webcast today to debate the issue.

Moderated by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez of DBW, the roundtable features Pablo Defendini, Producer/Showrunner, Tor.com; Kate Rados, Dir. of Digital Initiatives, Chelsea Green; Jane Litte, co-founder, Dear Author; Heather McCormack, Book Review Editor, Library Journal; and Brett Sandusky, Digital Marketing Mgr, Kaplan.

The Roundtable will be Webcast live today at 1pm. Click here to register. It will also be available as a podcast here.

Book Jackets, Words Per Line, and Other Book vs. eBook Issues

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On Tuesday, Publishers Weekly held the second panel discussion in its series on the transition from print books to eBooks. The discussion was focused on how various elements of traditional print books have equivalents in eBooks. Panelists included Matteo Bologna, founder and creative director of Mucca Design, a company that works on book jackets; Charles Nix, president of the Type Director’s Club; and Andy Hughes, vice president of production and Design at Knopf Doubleday.

Bologna made the point that it’s odd that book jacket images for eBooks mimic the shape of print book jackets, especially given that today’s kids won’t remember tradition book in the same way their parents do, just as those kids don’t even know what CDs are. Nix discussed optimal character count for reading comprehension, which he said was equivalent to 50-65 characters per line (10-11 words). eReaders tend to display more like 43 characters; he suggested that eReaders could promote easier reading by letting the right margin on the screen be ragged rather than justified.

Check out PW’s writeup (linked above) for more on the panel. It’s helpful that PW has decided to focus a series of discussions on the particular relationships and differences between print and digital books, and how the same skills and skilled professionals can apply their expertise to the digital field.

The Future of Book Reportage Postponed Again

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Something out there wants this panel not to happen. Once again, The Future of Book Reportage panel has been postponed due to weather. We’ll let you know when it’s rescheduled.

So, someday, join Laura Miller (Slate, the New York Times, Sara Nelson (O, the Oprah magazine), Michael Miller (Time Out New York), Jason Boog (Mediabistro’s GalleyCat) and this blogger as we discuss where book coverage is heading in the digital age.

In the meantime, enjoy the snow.

Paul Theroux Speaks Out on eBooks

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On this morning’s episode of Morning Media Menu, Jason Boog’s guest was novelist and nonfiction writer Paul Theroux, author most recently of A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta.

On the show (which you can listen to using the player to the right), they discussed Theroux’s new book as well as his thoughts and anxieties on eBooks. Theroux is excited about the technological possibilities of eBooks, but worries about the copyright implications, a topic ever on the book world’s collective mind, especially with today’s news that Judge Denny Chin won’t make his decision about the Google settlement at today’s hearing.

Here’s an excerpt from Theroux’s comments on today’s show: “I think it’s a very, very strange thing. I can’t say it’s good or bad. The big danger is copyright infringement. Stealing books and sharing books without paying for them. What could happen to the publishing industry is what happened to the music industry. It was destroyed. Absolutely destroyed. People don’t buy cd’s anymore, they share [MP3s], they swap them, and they steal them. That could happen with books. The upside is that … my [Atlantic piece] is a 17,000 word story. You could open the New Yorker and you won’t find a 17,000 word story. That’s a big, it’s more than twice as long as the longest story … The technological part is great, but the legal part, the copyright part, I don’t know what will happen.”

Author photo courtesy of Yingyong Un-anongrak.

eBookNewser on Morning Media Menu

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This morning, this blogger was the guest on MediaBistro’s Morning Media Menu, hosted by GalleyCat‘s Jason Boog and today’s guest host, Amanda Ernst of FishbowlNY.

We talked, of course, about the Apple tablet, both in terms of how it will affect book publishing, but also what periodical publishers are hoping for from the still-rumored device that Apple BETTER announce today. Tune in.

Listen to eBookNewser on NPR

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As promised, this blogger was indeed on this morning’s NPR Morning Edition talking about the Apple tablet. Here’s a transcription of the piece, with the audio.

NPR correspondent Lynn Neary wanted to get a sense of what the publishing industry is hoping for from Apple’s tablet (which better be announced today, or we’re all going to pull our hair out). Here’s what, um, one contributor to the piece said:

“The hope is that Apple will do with e-books what it did with iTunes, which is make this very sexy and seamless and easy to use,” says Craig Teicher, the editor of the blog eBookNewser.

The same guy will also be on MediaBistro’s Morning Media Menu today, also talking about the tablet. And there’ll be much more to come on that front as the day unfolds before us, like an endless Apple tablet, stretching toward the horizon.

eBookNewser on Morning Media Menu

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This very blogger was the guest of Jason Boog and Matt Van Hoven on MediaBistro’s Morning Media Menu blog radio show this morning.

We talked, of course, about the Apple tablet, as well as this morning’s news that Amazon will offer an 70% royalty rate to users to its Digital Publishishing Platform for Kindle.

We also had a good time discussing the annoucement from The New York Times that that paper will being charging for online content in 2011–readers will get to read a certain amount for free then will have to pay a flat fee for unlimited monthly access.

Have a listen.

The Apple Tablet as Inkblot: Guy LeCharles Gonzalez on Morning Media Menu

MediaBistro Publishing editor Jason Boog‘s guest this morning on <a href="Morning Media Menu was Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, guygonzales23.jpg, audience development director at F+W Media and one of the coordinators of the upcoming conference, Digital Book World.

They discussed the tablet everyone is dying to hear about next week, as well as the conference and the state of eBooks in the publishing world.

Gonzalez was more skeptical than most about the tablet. Here’s a bit of what he said: “The image [Apple] used on the press invitation, it’s kind of a colorful Rorschach blot. I think that’s appropriate because over the last five years this tablet has been rumored. Three years ago turned out was the iPhone–but everybody thought that announcement was the Tablet. There certainly is a lot of information out there that implies it is the tablet.”

Tune in to the full show for more.

CES: Freescale’s Tablet

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Freescale, the superconductor manufacturer whose chips are inside many eReaders, including the Kindle, will be showing off its reference design for a $200 tablet computer with a 7″ touch screen that combines the attributes of a smartphone and a notebook at CES this week. eBookNewser had a conversation this morning with Freescale’s marketing director, Glen Burchers, about this tablet design and its impact on eReading.

Burchers told eBookNewser that, according to Freescale’s data, derived in part from the company’s role supplying chips for many eReaders, sales of eReaders exceeded reports: “actual sales were in excess of what people think they were. Speculation was about 3 million unit of sales.,”said Burchers, who said his company believes it was over 25% more than that.

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