Blogging on the Run

Patricia Bowmer maintains an active and engaging blog featuring almost essay length posts. The posts are contemplative and blend humour and observations on life and running with some well-chosen images. They are very much in keeping with her book Akilina, which she also promotes on the blog and an earlier memoir, In Pursuit of Joy. So the blog functions in at least three ways — to promote Patricia's books, to provide her existing readers and potential readers with additional content and maintain an ongoing link with them, and as a motivational tool to continue writing and thinking about issues important to her. An excellent model for authors wanting to build their own community and 'brand'.



All the Books in the World

If the resources of your local library just aren't enough, would ten thousand libraries do? WorldCat allows you to conduct meta searches of the "collections and services of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide". This amounts to a total of more than 1.5 billion searchable items. Perfect for finding obscure items in specialist libraries, or conducting in-depth research from remote locations.

Small Demons

Each great book is a kind of universe, but it does not exist in isolation -- books influence other books via their authors. Small Demons explores the books, places and people mentioned in books and exposes the endless web of influence and inspiration that permeates literature. Click on Moby Dick for example, and the site shows you works referenced in the book, books that reference it, people mentioned in the book, including mythical figures, and also artworks, places and so forth. As the sites creators continue to populate it with literary information, the web of associations will no doubt grow richer. An intriguing use of the Internet that adds to rather from detracting from the literary experience.

Joe Queenan defends the printed book

American writer and humorist Joe Queenan explains why he thinks paper books "are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery system". Indeed, the idea of reading a single, relatively coherent piece of work that is not hyperlinked and studded with distractions and animations, and which the reader actually owns rather than rents, is rather attractive. No compatibility issues, can be read by anyone, can be loaned, sold or given away, and takes up space in an actual physical location, and will wait patiently to be read, or re-read. The growth of ebook publishing has slowed somewhat in recent months, so those of us with a lingering passion for paper can still hope 'real' books will survive as a viable business model and an inspiration to people for whom speed and 'convenience' are not everything.

Book Launches Can Be Effective

Rosie Abbot, author of Scent of Belonging reports that the recent launch of her book went extremely well.

'The Scent of Belonging' launch at Collins in Bairnsdale last night was a huge success. An audience of about 50 on a cold week night in the country is a great attendance. I spoke for about 30 minutes, followed by terrific book sales and signings that pleased Di Johnston, Manager of Collins Booksellers. Feedback has been rolling in. An extract from the latest email:

"Your sermon to the multitudes last night was inspiring. For someone “out of their comfort zone” you did a helluva job! You were interesting, warm, and your straightforward style and honesty did you proud. I think the sustained applause at the end of your talk was the proof of the pud. Congratulations!"

An earlier launch, held in my home town of Paynesville in July, attracted similar numbers and I am now receiving very positive feedback from readers. 

The book is currently being reviewed by CAE Melbourne Book Groups for consideration in their catalogue; I have some book club 'meet the author, discuss the book' events lined up in November, and am currently arranging another launch at Collins Booksellers in Traralgon, Central Gippsland.

Collins Booksellers in Bairnsdale have devoted a full window display to the promotion of 'The Scent of Belonging' which will be pride of place for two weeks (photos attached). Let's hope sales skyrocket!

 If an author knows their market, has good local support and gets the word out, a launch can be a real financial and emotional boost.

Chip Kidd Talks About Books

TED Talks tend to be equal parts inspiration and irritation. Inspiration for presenting talented scientists and creatives at the peak of their game, and irritation at a sometimes messianic and overblown tone. Chip Kidd is one of the most celebrated book designers in the USA, but his recent TED talk shed very little light on his design process, influences and interaction with authors. His stage mannerisms tended to distract from rather than accentuate his message. Nonetheless, he does have a particular talent for finding iconic images that seem to capture the essence of a book.

Give Your PDFs some Fizz

Soda PDF is a free PDF reader (in a crowded field) that renders a PDF as if it was a 3D magazine. One turns pages by 'pulling' the page across in a realistic simulation of an actual page turn.  While emulating a print publication in such a literal way might seem retrograde, there is something satisying about the reading experience, and it is an aesthetically pleasing way to preview design work (particularly files destined for print). The effect renders very quickly and smoothly, and can be turned off if you want to go back to old fashioned flat viewing.

Archive of Everything

The interface is pretty ugly, but the ambition is grand and noble: "universal access to all knowledge". The Internet Archive describes itself as a 'library of the Internet". It stores/caches permanently billions of pages and millions of websites, plus audio and visual files. To do that, it needs serious storage capacity (we're talking petabytes). The Internet is such an evanescent, fizzing medium, continually addicted to the new and happy to forget the old almost instantly, that an organisation dedicated to preserving that tumult seems very valuable.

The Wayback Machine (a part of the site), for searching websites cached over the past decade or more, is exceptionally easy to use and functional. Likewise, the Open Library, featuring millions of digitised books, is incredibly interesting and well designed. Hopefully the programmers who put it together will work on making the entire site more accessible to lay users.