eBook of the Week: Inanimate Alice

eBook of the Week: Inanimate Alice
This week’s GoodeReader eBook of the Week is for those readers who may not have made up their minds about a which dedicated e-reader is right for them, as this title is available for viewing and reading through a web browser. It also make it perfect for those readers with a tablet and wi-fi access. The best part of this title, though, is it’s only one shining example of how digital reading can be put to use in educational settings, especially for the often forgotten readers that fall in the gaps between the incredible children’s ebooks and the higher education academic e-texts.

Inanimate Alice is an interactive comic series written by Kate Pullinger, Governor General’s Award winning author of ‘The Mistress of Nothing,’ and it has received a lot of attention abroad, including funding from the Australian government for schools to use it. The site is currently also available in French, German, Italian, and Spanish in order to reach those audiences internationally.

“Designed originally as entertainment, ‘Inanimate Alice’ has been adopted by teachers eager to connect with students through media they inherently understand. Created around a high-quality robust text, the content is suitable for the deep-reading and re-reading necessary for academic investigation,” reads the mission statement from its website.

Alice was “born digital” to reach a current generation of readers where they can most often be found…on a screen of some type. She takes readers on a global adventure within the scope of a multimedia experience, all while maintaining a free price point to be an outstanding resource for anyone who works with young or struggling readers.

To check out Inanimate Alice through a browser-enabled device or computer, click HERE and scroll down to the three book covers to select an adventure.

eBook of the Week: Inanimate Alice

eBook Review: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett

eBook Review: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett
Verdict: 5 Stars

With just the right mix of paranormal oddities, romance, and a smidge of explicit fun, Bennett’s series seems to wrap up with this installment, Banishing the Dark. With Arcadia on a hunt for her evil parents and planning for an epic showdown with the momster who created her, the spells are flying and her relationships with those around her are courting danger.

One of the really fun aspects of this entire series has been the fact that–okay, if the witchcraft and all of that were removed–this could be any family with too many skeletons to keep contained in one closet. Cady gets to the bottom of one secret, only to find three more waiting to take its place. The dynamics could be any extended family’s, this one just happens to have the ability to summon energy from the moon to create devilish beings.

It was refreshing to see a romance title that doesn’t have to rely on the pure smut to sell copies. Sure, it’s in there, but it’s a very natural side plot to the story rather than an all out 50 Shades romp a minute. Bennett relies instead on her powers of storytelling and her own writing ability to lure readers in with a roller coaster ride of suspense and intrigue. Couple that with a supernatural cast of characters who shocks and surprises at every turn, and it’s easy to forget that this one’s a romance.

Banishing the Dark will be available on May 27. Four previous titles in the Arcadia Bell series are available now.

eBook Review: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett

The Bullies Win: Authors Abandoning Publishing Over Online Behaviors

The Bullies Win: Authors Abandoning Publishing Over Online Behaviors

An example of the behavior authors like Rice are working to stop.

Good e-Reader has given extensive coverage to a situation plaguing the publishing industry, both from a self-publishing standpoint and a traditional one: author bullying. While information has come out that some authors have engaged in less-than-professional tactics, particularly where book reviews are concerned, the situation has escalated to the point that some well-known authors like Anne Rice have lent their support to calling for a change in how online platforms allow anonymous “trolling” of authors and their works.

News has come out this week of at least two authors who have declared that they will no longer write and publish their works due to the behaviors of a handful of people. Authors Sarah Daltry and Nadine Christian, independently of each other, have announced on their blogs and social media that they will be closing their accounts and removing all of their self-published works, although they will be unable to do anything to remove their contracted titles.

Daltry had this to say on a blog dedicated to her decision :

“I want to start positive. For all of you who have supported my work and been there through this process, thank you. I will be eternally grateful. I wish I could have done more, could have been more, because it means so much to me that you’ve stuck by me. For the characters – especially Jack – thank you for trusting me with your stories. I love you with a part of myself that will always belong to you. I’m so sorry I didn’t do you justice and that you trusted me rather than someone who could have truly given you a voice.”

In Christian’s case, the aggressive behavior was never in the form of book reviews, but rather in personal and anonymous contacts in the form of harassing emails and messages. She spoke with Good e-Reader about the behavior and her decision to discontinue her work as a writer.

“If being in the public eye led to that sort of vicious — and obvious stalking — was it worth continuing? I love to write, but would putting my work out there be worth the heart ache? The reaction I feel deep down every time I open an email from someone I’m not sure of was starting to give me stomach pains.”

In this age of online anonymity that allows small people to behave this way towards authors, why couldn’t Christian simply change her online name and start over, building a new brand and readership?

“It had run through my mind. Starting over, becoming Joe Bloggs, Jane Doe. But what if it’s me? What if I’ve done something to someone and not realised it? What if it’s my location, personality, even writing style that’s insulted so many? I love to write, even if it’s not published.”

What makes the bullying so disturbing in Christian’s case is that the author herself admits that she’s far from being a bestseller, and simply enjoyed writing and publishing her work and making her fan base happy; she has also stated that she did not engage in any of the behaviors which the so-called Goodreads bullies say justified their relentless attacks against authors, such as responding to negative reviews or blogging about the issue. The targeted behavior, which has lead to multiple harassing and threatening emails sometimes daily, isn’t aimed at someone who is serious competition or even on an international stage. The author herself remains unaware of what brought on this rabid attack.

“Some [of the messages] are about me and where I live, which makes me wonder if that’s the fun for these people. Hassle me about who and where I am, what I do. Most though–eighty-five percent–are about my writing.”

Both Daltry and Christian are in the process of removing their works and closing their blogs and social media accounts.

The Bullies Win: Authors Abandoning Publishing Over Online Behaviors

Simon & Schuster Settles in Price Fixing Lawsuit

Simon & Schuster Settles in Price Fixing Lawsuit
Three of the five publishers named in the class-action lawsuit and the Department of Justice investigation and suit against Apple and Penguin, Macmillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins have already settled out of court with the DoJ, but today the judge on the case took another of those three publishers out of the class-action suit.

Simon & Schuster made a deal following HarperCollins and Hachette’s lead. Agreements have been reached with the attorneys general from the states involved in the suit and Judge Denise Cote took Simon & Schuster out of the proceedings. Those states that originated the legal workings were originally only sixteen, but more states joined in the complaints and soon brought the number to twenty-nine.

The terms of the settlements have not been disclosed and the publishers certainly aren’t talking, but some estimates claim that the alleged price fixing cost the reading consumers approximately $250 million, an amount that the lawsuits are hoping to come close to recovering.

So far, the only holdouts in these proceedings are Apple, Penguin Group, and Macmillan. Those three claim there was no wrongdoing and that the ebook industry’s switch to an agency model for pricing rather than the previously existing wholesale model was purely the result of the evolution of the industry. The plaintiffs, however, argue that there were secret meetings and deals made so that the defendants could edge out Amazon’s 90% share of the ebook market; since the switch to agency pricing, Amazon’s control of the market has dropped to sixty percent.

Simon & Schuster Settles in Price Fixing Lawsuit

Data Conversion Laboratory CEO Mark Gross on Poor Ebook Quality

Data Conversion Laboratory CEO Mark Gross on Poor Ebook Quality
Data Conversion Laboratory issued a press release earlier this week that indicates that reading consumers are speaking out against poorly formatted and error-ridden ebooks, sometimes even those works that have been commercially produced through major publishing houses. In a survey conducted by DCL, over four hundred respondents cited quality as the number one issue of concern in digital reading. GoodEReader spoke with the CEO of Data Conversion Laboratory Mark Gross in an interview today.

“DCL has been around for thirty years. Our business is converting all kinds of documents so they can be used electronically. We have clients who are publishers, as well as the military, government agencies, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies. Over the last three to four years there’s been a movement to go into ebooks, but in the last year it’s become quite interesting to see what’s going out there and what our customers are thinking.”

Gross blamed the wealth of free converting software titles as well as the rush to get ebooks onto the market, even among bestselling titles, for the often poorly formatted ebooks.

“There are a few utilities out there that will convert books for free. A few months ago one of our staffers sat down with a document that contained novel-like text material to try some of them out. Even with the simple document, a lot of formatting errors came through. It’s something we’ve also seen in commercially produced ebooks.”

“There’s been a push in the last year or so to get as many ebooks out as possible and the quality shows. The survey that we did shows people’s attitudes towards this. The overwhelming thing respondents demanded in the survey was quality, even above cost of the ebooks. When a market first develops, the early adopters are willing to forgive things because they’re the techies and they know this is new, but as the market broadens the people who usually read print books aren’t going to stand for this. You’re going through a larger audience of people who aren’t just the early adopters. It’s also not just simple books any more, but also books that are mission critical. The publishers we’re working with produce textbooks and medical books.”

And those technical books are becoming very important to the market. The survey showed a surprising number of people—64% of those who responded—are interested in trade manuals and textbooks that have been digitally published. Non-fiction was included in that response number.

“The public will punish those ebook publishers buy simply not buying their titles. I’ve seen articles about people returning ebooks because of the errors in formatting, and you see blog comments and reviews on books that mention these mistakes. I’ve heard authors talk about a particular publisher they were using due to very low cost, but the errors made them rethink it. The market will dictate the readers’ demands for error-free reading.”

For indie authors interested in the findings of DCL’s survey and the steps that can be taken to ensure formatting quality, their site offers a webinar on the information and the following press release outlines the suite of tools available to authors and publishers alike. Most of the conversion applications being used today were developed by DCL in the course of its thirty years, although the company still relies on manpower to review its formatted content.

Data Conversion Laboratory CEO Mark Gross on Poor Ebook Quality

What is the Best Horror Story You can Come up with in Two Sentences

What is the Best Horror Story You can Come up with in Two Sentences

There is no denying that people are drawn to the things that they fear watching a horror movie or reading a good book is strangely compelling. According to Glenn Sparks, Ph.D, a professor and associate head of the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University, one reason for the appeal is how you feel after the movie. This is called the excitation transfer process. Sparks’s research found that when people watch frightening films, their heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increases. After the film is over, this physiological arousal lingers. That means that any positive emotions you experience are intensified.

Why are the best horror premises that you have ever heard? If you are in the publishing industry you have often heard countless elevator pitches on the next great horror novel. Authors are always on the lookout for something that inspires them to pen a Kindle Single or a feature length novel. Reditt is riding to the rescue, in an excellent post that entitled “ What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences “. Here are a few of my favorites.

There was a picture in my phone of me sleeping. I live alone.
I couldn’t tell if the noise was a cry of sorrow or cackle of laughter. Then I realized I was the one making the noise.
I always thought my cat had a staring problem, she always seemed fixated on my face. Until one day, when I realized that she was always looking just behind me.
My grandmother told me that it was a gift to see the angel of death in front of people’s houses, to know that he’d be collecting someone there soon. I thought it was a gift too, up until the day I began to see it in front of every house.
I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.”
They celebrated the first successful cryogenic freezing. He had no way of letting them know he was still conscious.
“I can’t sleep” she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in.
My sister says that mommy killed her. Mommy says that I don’t have a sister.

What is the Best Horror Story You can Come up with in Two Sentences

Ebook of the Week: Russell Blake

Ebook of the Week: Russell Blake

This week’s wordpress.com Ebook of the Week author is Russell Blake , whose interview took place from his home on the Pacific coast in Mexico, where he has lived for several years.

“I’ve been writing for several decades, but decided this year to do so via self-publishing, for the broad market,” says Blake. “Up until then I didn’t feel the quality of the work was at a level I could be proud of, and because I’m not really doing it for revenue, it was more important for me to focus on honing my craft than on putting books out. I had ghost written several non-fiction tomes which were well received, so I decided this year, given the new wave of enthusiasm over reading brought about by eReaders, to embark on a course as a self-published author.

“That’s a recurring theme in my thrillers. I like conspiracies that are either genuine, or are so plausible they appear genuine. Fortunately for me, and perhaps unfortunately for the world, there are so many real conspiracies out there I don’t have to do much invention. Usually I have to tame them down somewhat, as otherwise they seem just too far-fetched. I try to write smart, edgy, compelling intrigue/thrillers with a strong intrigue and suspense component, where the characters are three dimensional, have realistic flaws and virtues, and are morally torn, as I believe are most, especially when placed into high stress, dangerous situations. They don’t always do the right thing, and they aren’t superior beings – they’re people. For me, it’s easy to write a protag who’s basically good and strong and does the right thing. It’s just boring as hell to read. So I write what I like to read.”

Blake describes this week’s free title, Kotov Syndrome :

“My latest is a trilogy of Wall Street thrillers: the Zero Sum trilogy. Kotov Syndrome, Focal Point and Checkmate. They’re a serial, and are titled after chess terms, as the plot is very much akin to a civilized chess game between a Wall Street financial marauder and an investor who becomes embroiled in the market predator’s scheme, which quickly turns deadly. It’s topical, especially in light of the current outrage over a market system that’s completely out of control, and which favors criminality and pecuniary interests at the direct expense of the rest of the country.

“I think people have had it with a system that’s systematically ruining the middle class and mortgaging the prosperity of future generations so that a small clique of ultra-rich predators can rob the world blind, aided and abetted by their lobbyist buddies, and the politicians and regulators and media cronies they own lock, stock and barrel.”

To receive your free copy of Book One of the Zero Sum trilogy, Kotov Syndrome, click here .

Ebook of the Week: Russell Blake