Saturday January 30, 2010
Since today is Hate Amazon Day—thanks to the company’s decision to yank Macmillan’s titles from the Kindle store over a pricing dispute—I thought it might be a good time to revise my guide to downloading my e-books—plus thousands of others—on various platforms.
Last time, I covered the process for the iPhone, which has changed. But let’s start with the Kindle.
It is relatively easy to download both my free e-books, 2006’s Single and 2009’s Cassingle, directly to your Kindle via Feedbooks, although it does require the use of the web browser, which Amazon hides as “Experimental” since it competes with their business model. My brother-in-law didn’t even know his Kindle had a web browser when I downloaded my books to his Kindle for him over the holidays. That’s a speed bump, to be sure, but Hate Amazon Day 2010 might be just what consumers need to hunt down the browser and free themselves (if only a little) from Bezos et. al.
The path to opening the browser is Home > Menu > Experimental > Basic Web. (Here are Amazon’s instructions.) Once there, type http://www.feedbooks.mobi into the browser’s address bar. On that page, type “Hanas” into the search box and voila, my two books show up second and third on the list, right after Hans Christian Andersen, whose work mine in no way resembles. And, if you insist, you can browse the thousands of other free books—both classic and original—available via Feedbooks, which Amazon will be powerless to yank from the web. You can also download a dedicated Kindle guide from that page, which will make Feedbooks’ catalog even more readily accessible.
Now for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The path to my (and other) books is basically the same as it was the last time I detailed it. Download Stanza (uh oh, an Amazon product; more on this in a second.) Hit the “Get Books” tab, navigate to “Feedbooks - Free Content,” open the search bar (with the little magnifying glass), search for “Hanas,” and there I am again, right under Hans.
But is Stanza an option on Hate Amazon Day? A good question. At least for now, Stanza is open to a DRM-free EPUB provider like Feedbooks, so I’m going to let it slide. For that reason and because I’m a shameless opportunist. Alternatively, if you’re running an Android phone, you can search for me in the Aldiko catalog, which includes Feedbooks. Or you could download the .pdf and print the damn thing out. That would show ‘em.
Tuesday January 12, 2010
Having covered the advertising industry during a time of enormous change, the change now happening in the publishing industry sometimes appears to me like a slow-motion car crash. I feel like I know what’s going to happen. (I could be wrong, of course, but we’ll see.) The book world’s delayed discovery of platform agnosticism is just one example. Here’s another.
Six or seven years ago, it became fashionable in advertising to say that “media is the new creative.” What this meant was that how a message is delivered had become such a part of the story (and the business problem) that it no longer made sense to separate the two. In, say, 1985 talking about them separately had made perfect sense, just as it had made sense to talk about art and copy separately in 1955. As late as 2000, the creative was the creative and the media was the media. It made sense for someone to hand you a reel with five commercials on it and ask if it was a good campaign. All the info you needed to answer was on the reel. By 2005, however, this had become increasingly difficult. To really understand campaigns—to even appreciate them—you had to know their media story. The classic example is BMW Films, a series of shorts by big-name directors that were distributed via the web in 2002. Famously, the campaign was denied a Media Lion at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes because all the media jurors thought it was a creative idea. Three years later, the festival introduced a whole new category, the Titanium Lions, to honor these sorts of cross-platform campaigns. The first honoree? BMW Films.
Meanwhile, media becoming the new creative led to all sorts of upheaval. Ted Sann, seeming creative-director-for-life at TV-centric warhorse BBDO, was replaced by David Lubars, the guy whose agency came up with BMW Films. Old line creative types grumbled that “creative is still the new creative” while traditional media companies complained that even though media was supposedly the new creative, they weren’t winning any damn awards because they kept shoveling ads into magazines and onto TV while really interesting modes of delivery were being cooked up in, you guessed it, creative departments. But the long and the short if it is that in 2000, I covered ad campaigns by just showing people “the work,” as they say, but by 2005, the work had to be put into its media context for anyone to be able to judge if it was innovative or interesting. Where did the work appear? How was it discovered? How did users interact with it? It was like advertising went from 2D to 3D overnight.
I believe some percentage of narrative literature is about to go 3D as well. (I say some percentage, because I agree with Richard Nash that immersive reading will stick around.) What does this mean? It means that there will be innovation in ways to deliver and tell stories—not just in the way these stories are written—and that this will be an annoyance to some and an opportunity for others. Media will become the new narrative. Old line publishing types will grumble that “writing is the old and new narrative” even as they are bypassed by insurgents who see that how a story is delivered is as much a part of storytelling as writing. There will be a strong urge to dismiss all non-traditional delivery systems as gimmicks that somehow distract from the “pure” story—even by the innovators themselves. Electric Literature’s Andy Hunter wrote of the Moody Twitter experiment, “We regret that less attention was paid to the content of Rick’s story than its mode of delivery—although that may have been inevitable.” But he can’t mean that. Or he shouldn’t mean it. This is just, I suspect, transitional insecurity. Misplaced apologia. In five years—or less—book awards will have categories for innovations like this, and one day media might be accepted as being as essential to story as plot, character, and point of view.