Archive for Book Expo America
Verdict: 5 Stars
One of the greatest things about attending an event like BookExpo is having CEOs and publishers literally reach into their bags and hand you books that the rest of the world won’t be seeing for another four or five months. That right there is worth one star, and Andrews’ writing earns the rest of them.
Good e-Reader has argued for some time that all of the innovation happening in digital publishing, self-publishing, and with e-reading in general is coming from the romance authors. They’re some of the hardest-working writers out there, and have some of the most dedicated fans. But what really needs to be stated is that many of these authors pioneered the current freedom of crossover genre writing and have broken the molds on what the publishing industry considers an acceptable character arc or story line.
In book one of the brand-new Hidden Legacy series, Burn For Me, Andrews has combined all of the elements that make romance such a sought-after read, while also taking the plot in the directions she chooses. In a world filled with magic that is ruled by both the good and the evil, the different Houses control nearly everything. Nevada Baylor, who possesses only an ordinary level of magic, is hired to bring down a supremely powerful man who’s gone rogue, and must join forces with Mad Rogan to do so. Their feelings for each other eventually grow as the pair works to stop a bloodbath.
Burn For Me is due out this fall.
Two different companies met up with Good e-Reader at this year’s BookExpo with similar goals in mind: help their uses find more time to read and connect with other readers. The platforms, Shebooks and Librify, have very different and unique platforms and processes, but both serve to meet the needs of busy readers. While Shebooks accomplishes this goal through high-quality ebook-shorts written for and by women and are meant to be read in a small time frame, Librify is taking our busy schedules and helping us find time to connect socially around the content.
“We are launching our ebook retail platform and membership service targeting book clubs,” explained Librify co-founder and CEO Joanna Stone Herman in an interview with Good e-REader. “One of the things that excites me about what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to reach a very underserved market of book clubs and women who would like a book club-like experience. I know a lot women for whom book clubs are an important part of their life. People are really trying to find time to read.”
Stone Herman’s timing couldn’t be better. Surveys have shown that most people only read average of six books per year, and only four percent of the population read four or more books per month. Much of this behavior has nothing to do with book pricing or lack of discoverability for new titles–two issues that continue to plague the publishing industry–but have a lot to do with time. Book clubs give people some small measure of accountability, knowing that they need to finish the title to stay on task with the group; book clubs also help readers feel like they’re reading the “right” books and participating in the broader global culture around “in the know” titles.
It’s been said that we’re the Book of the Month club for the 21st century,” explained Stone Herman as she described the actual methods by which people use the membership platform. Book clubs can be actual real-life clubs that gather for periodic meetings but need a source to all purchase the same title, such as through Librify’s recently announced partnership with Target to sell ebooks. However, the service also makes it possible to host virtual book clubs for users who want to chat or meet up online/
“It’s however you want it. It could be the group of women who meet at someone’s house to drink wine and talk about a book, to everyone who went to a certain college and want to form a group online. Target’s picks will allow people to come on together and pick a book.”
Stone Herman spoke about future plans to work out a solid way to actually build virtual book clubs, but currently Librify offers a discussion platform that lets people discuss a book. At the same time, Librify is exploring ways to let the authors jump in and participate in the discussion with a book club’s members, and users have shown great interest in having that connection with the authors whose books they’re reading.
“The full book club experience is about people wanting to read the same book and get together to talk about it, and they want to do that together.”
It’s a widely held belief that kids and e-reading just don’t seem to mesh. Not only have studies shown that kids seem to prefer the experience of print books, but further studies have demonstrated a decrease in reading comprehension when students consume content on tablets.
Before anyone blames the ebook itself, much of this failure of ebooks can be associated with the availability of other forms of entertainment on a tablet. Even for readers disciplined enough to fulfill their reading time requirement before heading over to play Candy Crush, studies have shown that the time spent engaging with the text is seen as more of a chore than an experience. Readers “flip” through the book without ever reaching an immersion level of engagement.
It’s tempting to think, “Who cares? Give the kid a ‘real’ book.”
Unfortunately, digital reading is quickly becoming a vital skill for the current generation of digital natives. The same students who are showing a decrease in reading comprehension through tablet-based content are the same ones who may reach college and find there are no print textbooks to be had.
Rick Riordan, bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, and more, sat down with Good e-Reader at this year’s BookExpo event to talk about his newest project, one that very well may be the bridge that readers need to learn to interact with digital content in an engaging, choice-driven way.
“I think the beauty of the app is that it’s fluid and it’s open-ended. It can have as much content as you want it to have. You can add to it, so it can be a framework for the text of the books, as well as original content, and I think it gives the reader a sense of ownership over the story. They’re provided with choices and the character really becomes theirs instead of just being observers of what’s going on. That’s the way it connects with readers, and I hope it’s more immediate and interactive than you might get from a standard reading situation.”
Riordan obviously played a significant role in not just the content of the app itself, but in the design and the intention of the features themselves. This is a crucial departure for an author who’s used to thinking of simply crafting a story, but instead had to imagine the ways that readers would want to interact with the app.
“It really is interesting to me to think in kind of the second person, which is not my normal mode of creating, but I always have to think of what the reader is thinking and what choices they might enjoy. What was exciting to me was that there’s more of an intimacy between the writer and the reader when I’m writing something for the app as opposed to the novel.”
Unlike stand-alone apps that first began to appear with widespread tablet penetration, this app is meant to be more of an overall reader experience, as opposed to simply being a deeper look at one particular book or series. Users will make selections and decisions in different scenarios that will help shape the app for them.
“It’s a work in progress, and we don’t know. We’re sort of pushing the frontier here, and I’m not sure what we’ll find or what direction it will go in. But at the same time, that’s the great thing about it, we can push it in any direction that seems to make sense. As the readers interact with the app, the app changes. It’s not set in stone.”
Now that school is out for most of the country, there’s a honeymoon period of sorts in which many kids don’t have to get up early and can watch as much TV as humanly possible. But somewhere along the way, parents look at their kids–whose bodies seem to have actually fused to the couch–and want them to spend a little time engaged in something else.
Summer reading programs offer incentives to readers, like the ones offered each year by Scholastic and Barnes and Noble. These programs offer live and virtual participation, as well as encourage print and digital reading for a wide variety of age groups and reading levels. Local libraries are often involved in either one of those two events, or in staging their own similar programs.
At this year’s BookExpo event, two companies were featuring their children’s ebook subscription services. FarFaria and Stories Alive both offer a platform for tablet-based content with engaging and purposeful bones features. In both cases, the enhancements to the text are not simply “bells and whistles” for the sake of piling on the technology. Both platforms offer read-aloud narration at different lower levels, along with text highlighting to bring the focus to the words. The stories also include the ability to download the content, including audio, for offline reading.
“We have a new interface called Stories Alive. We have 170 books, and we add one a week,” explained Umesh Shukla of Auryn. “This keeps the same notion of how to get the kids into the story, plus extras to make them keep reading.”
The functionality of the titles include little details for readers, such as the small calendar on the kitchen wall within the book Crazy Hair Day changes each time the reader opens it to reflect that real day and date; a blank page within the story is designed for the reader to draw a picture, and when they turn the page, their drawings are on the bulletin board at the back of the classroom. These easter eggs within each story are all designed with the purposeful intention of helping the reader engage with the content.
Incorporated games and features also give the kids reasons to keep turning the pages, but a built-in functionality prevents kids from simply flipping through the pages to get to the fun add-ons by requiring them to interact for a certain amount of time on each page before it changes.One of the exciting new functions of children’s app books from companies like these is the ability that lets parents purchase a title for a family tablet, while still establishing multiple readers of the book. That means different members of the household can find these features or unlock games without “spoiling” the rest of the book.
With so many demands on time and rigid scheduling, it can be difficult to find time for reading. As studies have shown, the average US consumer reads less than six books per year. But one company has worked to make accessibility to convenient reading more widespread, thanks to ebooks.
Shebooks is a short-form ebook service that offers stand-alone sales and subscription reading of their select titles. Their books are in the range of about fifty pages, covering non-fiction, long-form journalism, essay, literary fiction, and much more; serialization is also a concept that’s in the works. With a target audience of busy women who have to read in sprints as their schedules allow, Shebooks meets a need for content that can be enjoyed within a shorter time frame.
“We’re a new digital publishing company dreamed up by a journalist and a magazine editor who got tired of watching the space for quality women’s writing in publications shrink and shrink and shrink. We decided to do something about it. We’ve pulled together an amazing team of experienced talent and started publishing great short e-books by women, for women. You can buy any book individually or get a Shebooks subscription to our growing library of titles.”
As if launching the company wasn’t enough of a task, the leadership at Shebooks has launched a crowdfunded campaign to further works by women writers. Through a Kickstarter campaign to fund its Equal Writes initiative, the company plans to launch an ambitious program that will allow it to release two new titles a week. The campaign, which kicked off on May 27th, is already more than halfway to its goal of $50,000.
For more information on the campaign or to lend support, visit HERE.
Technology and art are blending in two exciting new contests, hosted by Booktrack with sponsorship from Wattpad, Writer’s Digest, and Indaba Music. Booktrack, a music overlay platform that engages readers by allowing creators to add ambiance-style music of their choosing over the text so that music plays as they read, is holding two contests around Hugh Howey’s work, Half Way Home.
The first is a contest for fan fiction writers, who will craft their own original take on the structure, characters, setting, or more, before adding their own immersive soundtrack to accompany the work. Sponsored by Wattpad and Writer’s Digest, the winner will receive $5,000 and editorial feedback on the submission by Hugh Howey.
The second concurrent contest is a soundtrack competition which invites participants to use the Booktrack Studio platform to build their own soundtracks to accompany one chapter of Howey’s work. The winner of that competition will win $5,000 and the chance to create the full sound track to accompany Howey’s novel The Hurricane.
In order to get a feel for the competition, all users are invited to enjoy part one of Howey’s work Sand for free to experience an immersive music-based reading opportunity. For details on both competitions and to enter, visit Booktrack.com/HughHowey.
Booktrack has already encouraged a strong user base, particularly in classrooms where teachers can craft their own isolated bookshelves for their students to use; moreover, their students can also create their own soundtracks to accompany their writings, leading to cross-curricular teaching units which combine English, music, history, and other subjects. Studies have already shown that reading comprehension and engagement with the text increased dramatically when students were allowed to use Booktrack, and opportunities for special education students are already in place.