Monday, October 27, 2008

Ebooks in the Key of O!

Three Cheers for Oprah!

I got an interesting email newsletter from Kelly Bliss, who usually writes about plus-sized fitness, self-esteem, etc. She just couldn't restrain herself from talking about this new device she had just seen Oprah Winfrey enthusiastically demonstrate. The idea of storing hundreds of books in a small reader really excited Kelly, and rightly so. But I find it telling that, like most people, she had never heard of ebooks or ebook readers, or if she had the concept hadn't registered enough for her to remember it. Now she wants one.

The Oprah endorsement cannot be overestimated.



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Unfolding an ebook

The July 6, New York Times profiles an device with flexible e-pages:

[T]he Readius, designed mainly for reading books, magazines, newspapers and mail, is the size of a standard cellphone. Flip it open, though, and a screen tucked within the housing opens to a 5-inch diagonal display. The screen looks just like a liquid crystal display, but can bend so flexibly that it can wrap around a finger.
New York Times, July 6, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Jaki Offers E-Book Sex and 12 Vegetarian Mysteries

Dear Friends,

My brand new, romantic-disaster-comedy novel, What's Sex Got To Do With It, has been published as an ebook by and it's available on their website and in every e-format (including Kindle) at: Fictionwise
A print-on-demand paperback will eventually be issued but for those who must read it now and must read it on paper, the site offers a version that you print out.


And as icing on the e-cake, all twelve of my Kate Jasper mystery novels have been reissued as ebooks by (These twelve novels will also be available as POD trade paperbacks in the near future.)

I'm zinging a happy electron zong. For more details, come visit me at my website,


Friday, May 9, 2008

E-book Reader Matrix

Scroll down this Wikipedia entry to see a handy dandy chart (complete with pictures, prices and company reliability) of all the available E-book Readers.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Jaki's What's Sex Got To Do With It Now Available

The long awaited new Jaqueline Girdner book, What's Sex Got To Do With It is now available from SynergEbooks. Jaki has finally committed E-book Fiction and where better to announce it than here? Can we call it Sex for short? Why not?

I was one of the lucky few to read the manuscript of Sex before publication. It's a romantic comedy disaster novel and I can testify that it is the funny and touching story of a couples counselor who has found the man of her dreams and is about to announce their engagement when all hell breaks's a fast-moving fun read. Here's where you click to find out more and buy a copy: SynergEbooks

Congratulations, Jaki!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

An Edible E-Book

This is a form of e-book we hadn't thought of.


TeamSugar user Lilpeapod strikes again with this totally awesome Kindle cake that she "whipped up" this past weekend.

"I've been jonesing for a Kindle for weeks now, and since I can't get the real thing just yet, I thought I would make a Kindle cake to show my love." says Lilpeapod.

Okay, so you can't turn the page, but you can't eat your Kindle and read it too.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Review of Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy

Whitethorn Woods reminds me of O. Henry...with a double twist. Set in and about the Irish town of Rossmore, the center of the story is St. Ann's Well, "a holy shrine of dubious origin," where petitioners come to ask for a great many things, including success in marriage, children, miracle cures, faithfulness, love, and more. The book begins in the third person, then shifts seamlessly to a series of coupled vignettes in which one person tells a story and then a second person tells more of the story. The second person is not always the person the reader expects. And each version ends with a twist. The amazing thing about Whitethorn Woods is the scope of issues Binchy manages to speak of through her characters, covering birth to death and everything in between. The human condition is dissected compassionately, often humorously, and always observantly. Binchy's "heroes" are unlikely: an aging woman on a singles tour; a simple-minded man whose simplicity may be more related to kindness than lack of intelligence; a deaf girl whose "hearing" of the heart is acute. And Binchy's "villains" are just as unlikely: a country doctor; a young woman in love; an infertile woman who comes to St. Ann's Well to ask for a child. Only Maeve Binchy can present even the villains so clearly that I found myself in sympathy with them. I was only sorry when the stories came to an end. But how can I object? Maeve Binchy has said it all in every voice possible in Whitethorn Woods.


Whitethorn Woods (2007)is available in six ebook formats including the Sony Reader and Amazon's Kindle. Ebook formats and seller links are shown at this Random House link
The sites that sell it are listed below.
Sony Connect
eBooks About Everything

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Judging an E-Book by Its Cover

A book by any other name (for instance, an "e-book") might not smell as sweet, but it might be a joy to read.

What makes a book lovable? Some insist a book is defined by its sensory qualities: the texture of its pages; the smell of its binding; the colors of its cover. These people would argue that a book is like a good meal, that presentation is all-important. The red of bell pepper and the green of cilantro against an oversized white plate complement the entrée. For them, that makes the meal delicious!

But does it? What is on that plate anyway?

Beauty is as beauty does. At least that's what my mother told me. And I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a book beautiful. Is it presentation, or content, or both? Given a badly written book presented on a beautiful reading instrument, or a book whose prose soared served on a clunky reading device, which would you choose? Of course, your answer depends on personal judgment. And I've offered a lot of room for judgment here. For some, the e-book format is more aesthetically pleasing than the paper version. (Yes, really!) And for others, the prose that might soar for me, plunges into heavy yawns for them.

So what really does matter? C.S. Lewis said, "We read to know we are not alone." When I read something I really love, I transcend the physicality of the device I happen to be reading and join the author's sensory world. I don't smell the binding of the book, I smell the coffee the author skillfully brings to aromatic life. I feel the heat of the fictional sun on my skin, not the texture of the page. I see that well-described green of the African veldt, not the cover of the book. And I know I'm not alone. I'm with the author.

I'd bet some of the original bards objected heartily, maybe even musically, to written books. And there had to be people who found typeset works distasteful compared to the carefully hand-inscribed manuscripts.

As for me, I'll read anything that tells a good story, even a stone tablet.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Rescuing History

Danish History was almost lost in the early 1500s.

This is the story of two rescuers. One man was Knute, a resistance fighter in Denmark during the World II. The other man was Christian Pederson, a Danish clergyman in the 1500s, who rescued an endangered medieval manuscript that contained history available nowhere else, and managed to get it printed for posterity,

The World War II hero, Knute, helped smuggle Danish Jews out of Nazi-occupied Denmark to Sweden. When I met him forty years later, Knute had just retired as a printer and he was living on a waterway with a rowboat tied up at the dock behind his house. He explained that he wanted a history written of "the real Hamlet" also known as Amleth of Juteland (pronounced “yute-land”). It bothered Knute that the most famous Dane in history was this melancholy guy, lounging around feeling sorry for himself in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.

The story of Amleth was one of many legendary tales told in The Danish History, the primary source of Danish lore, written in the twelfth century by Saxo Grammaticus. Unlike Shakespeare's Hamlet, Amleth was never undecided, although he did pretend to be mentally incompetent to mask his true intentions of revenging his father's death and taking over the throne. Hamlet sources.

But Amleth's story and all the others in The Danish History were nearly lost to us. Like all medieval books, Saxo's History was copied by hand by monks. Each manuscript was incredibly valuable and increasingly rare. About 300 years after Saxo's death, when Gutenberg's moveable type press became available to print books in large numbers, it was almost impossible to find a copy of the History.

Christian Pederson, the Canon of Lund, made repeated efforts to get a copy to take to Paris, an early publishing center, but it seemed hopeless "I twice sent a messenger … to buy a faithful copy at any cost, and bring it back to me," Pederson wrote. At that point it may have seemed that the work was lost forever.

Pedersen personally searched all over Denmark. "I visited and turned over all the libraries, but still could not pull out a Saxo, even covered with beetles, bookworms, mould, and dust. So stubbornly had all the owners locked it away." Those who might have a copy were not about to risk lending it for fear of losing the irreplaceable book.

At last, the Archbishop of Lund managed to find a copy, which King Christian the Second allowed to be taken to Paris on condition of its being wrought "by an instructed and skilled graver (printer)."

The first edition came out in 1511. After that it became distributed widely and was translated out of the original Latin into many languages including the 1905 English translation I read.

Flash forward to the 20th century, I wrote a book proposal about Saxo, how his History was almost lost and how Amleth of Juteland became Shakespeare's Hamlet, but Knute decided not to use what I had written. It was still a valuable lesson for me about rescue. Human life is fragile, and sometimes heroes like Knute will stand up to save lives when murderous evil threatens. Knute also wanted to rescue the reputation of Amleth/Hamlet as a legendary Dane. While, back in the 1500s, Christian Pederson rescued the very book itself.

Books can be extinguished, just as human lives can, the light they shed can be lost forever. As technology changes, books need to be rescued again and again. The ebook English translation of Saxo's The Danish History is now available online at the Gutenberg Project and also at Danish History for future generations to enjoy.