Author Archives: Klaava

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Book lover’s dream holiday: running a bookshop in Scotland

2017-11-08

This is one of the most brilliant ideas I have ever heard of: a bookshop in Scotland lets a book lover run the store for a two week period. Then, the next shop manager moves in and does his or her best in the small bookstore. Two-week time slots for managing the Open Book shop have been almost fully reserved until 2020.

Wigtown, SCotland, Open Book, bookshop
The Open Book shop is located in the village of Wigtown in Scotland. The Scotsman reports how the system works. Shop managers, or guests, book their stay via Airbnb, and pay for the privilege of becoming bookstore managers. The guests can stay in the apartment above the store.

The concept was created by an American Jessica Fox who had dreamt about working at a bookshop in Scotland. She moved to Wigtown to work in another bookstore before acquiring the shop that was to become Open Book.

“Wigtown is an amazing, unique place. It has a population of only 900 but it has 16 bookshops and they welcome people from around the world with open arms. I thought, ‘I’m sure I’m not the only crazy American out there who’d love to run a bookshop’ and that’s how The Open Book was born. People book through Airbnb and we’ve been overwhelmed by its success.”

Wigtown, Scotland.
Shop managers do real work in the bookstore: they sell books, set prices for acquired books, organize book readings and other events, and redesign shop windows. Shop managers write a blog that is fascinating to read. For instance, someone has been waiting for two years for her turn in the shop, and now, in the shop, she is busy with customers and books.

A computer with Internet connection lets managers keep up-to-date in the shop, unless they want to go for a bicycle ride to the Scotland countryside.

The concept has been noticed in China and South Korea where companies planning book town concepts have been in contact with Jessica Fox.

The Network of Creative Cities got new members, also cities with strong heritage in literature

2017-11-04

Unesco, a United Nations organization, has an appealing initiative: Creative City. The organization wants to promote cooperation among cities that have introduced sustainable development as a key element into their strategies. In addition, if the city is supporting creative initiatives, it can be nominated into the Unesco Creative Cities Network. Literature is one of the seven creative themes that identify the network members.

city wall painting. photo by brillianthues
The Network covers seven creative fields: crafts and folk arts, media arts, film, design, gastronomy, literature and music. Recently, in October 2017, 64 new cities joined the network of creative cities. The total count is 180 cities in 72 countries.

Unesco has listed seven cities as literature-specific. They are:

Bucheon (Republic of Korea)
Durban (South Africa)
Lillehammer (Norway)
Manchester (United Kingdom)
Milan (Italy)
Québec City (Canada)
Utrecht (Netherlands)

Four out of seven cities are in Europe, but other than that, there are not many similarities between them. Lillehammer and Utrecht are not big cities, whereas the others are more or less large and busy cities.

Edinburgh joined the network of creative cities already earlier with literature as its key art form. The video below shows some literature specific activities and places in Edinburgh, but it also shows how wonderful travel destination the city is.

Unesco defines the creative city concept as follows:

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 116 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.

New cities that recently joined the Creative Cities Network (other than literature-related) are the following:

Alba (Italy) – Gastronomy
Almaty (Kazakhstan) – Music
Amarante (Portugal) – Music
Auckland (New Zealand) – Music
Baguio City (Philippines) – Crafts and Folk Art
Barcelos (Portugal) – Crafts and Folk Art
Braga (Portugal) – Media Arts
Brasilia (Brazil) – Design
Bristol (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – Film
Brno (Czechia) – Music
Buenaventura (Colombia) – Gastronomy
Cairo (Egypt) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cape Town (South Africa) – Design
Carrara (Italy) – Crafts and Folk Art
Changsha (China) – Media Arts
Chennai (India) – Music
Chiang Mai (Thailand) – Crafts and Folk Art
Chordeleg (Ecuador) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cochabamba (Bolivia [Plurinational State of]) – Gastronomy
Daegu Metropolitan City (Republic of Korea) – Music
Dubai (United Arab Emirates) – Design
Frutillar (Chile) – Music
Gabrovo (Bulgaria) – Crafts and Folk Art
[City of] Greater Geelong (Australia) – Design
Guadalajara (Mexico) – Media Arts
Hatay Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey) – Gastronomy
Istanbul (Turkey) – Design
João Pessoa (Brazil) – Crafts and Folk Art
Kansas City (United States of America) – Music
Kolding (Denmark) – Design
Kortrijk (Belgium) – Design
Košice (Slovakia) – Media Arts
Kütahya (Turkey) – Crafts and Folk Art
Limoges (France) – Crafts and Folk Art
Łódź (Poland) – Film
Macao Special Administrative Region, China (Associate Member, UNESCO) – Gastronomy
Madaba (Jordan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Mexico City (Mexico) – Design
Morelia (Mexico) – Music
Norrköping (Sweden) – Music
Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) – Crafts and Folk Art
Panama City (Panama) – Gastronomy
Paraty (Brazil) – Gastronomy
Pesaro (Italy) – Music
Porto-Novo (Benin) – Crafts and Folk Art
Praia (Cabo Verde) – Music
Qingdao (China) – Film
San Antonio (United States of America) – Gastronomy
Seattle (United States of America) – Literature
Sheki (Azerbaijan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Sokodé (Togo) – Crafts and Folk Art
Terrassa (Spain) – Film
Tétouan (Morocco) – Crafts and Folk Art
Toronto (Canada) – Media Arts
Tunis (Tunisia) – Crafts and Folk Art
Wuhan (China) – Design
Yamagata City (Japan) – Film

Via Publishing Perspectives.

A book about movies isn’t complete before it shows the action in video segments

2017-10-30

When professional stuntman H-P Virkki decided he is going to write a book about the work of stuntmen, he also decided that it would have to include video clips that show the action. He had to wait for the ebook technology to catch up with his vision, but once Apple had introduced the iBooks Author publishing tool, the long process of creating the book could begin. The exciting result is a available as an ebook Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts.

Tung Bui, stuntman. From book Stunts, Scenes and Safety
For a publisher, H-P Virkki’s vision for a book that comes with video clips is an ambitious one, since plenty of work is required to get all the pieces fit together. The distribution of the book must be managed as well, because delivering an ebook with a large file size and video content is not a trivial thing. Ebooks created with iBooks Author could be delivered via Apple iBooks Store, so there was at least one global distribution channel for the book.

Later, the book was also converted to EPUB and Kindle formats in order to reach wider audiences.

H-P Virkki rehearsing stunts at a course
The second key theme of the book – in addition to the introduction to the work of stuntmen– is educating young movie lovers about the requirements movie business sets for aspiring stuntmen. The book has plenty of valuable tips for anyone who is thinking of squeezing into movies.

Writing a book is one thing, but filming segments that actually show some of the key concepts of a book is a completely different thing. How can a writer create video segments for a book? Since H-P Virkki is a professional in the movie industry, he knew what he had to do in order to capture the film material he wanted for his book.

Here is an article by H-P Virkki where he tells how he created the movie segments for the book Stunts, Scenes and Safety.

H-P Virkki at Stage 32.

More about the book. download ebook: Stunts, Scenes and Safety

How to restore a book damaged by water to its former glory

2017-10-28

For paper books, water is a dangerous element. If a book gets wet, nothing will restore it to the same condition as it was before the damage was done, but it is possible to get quite close. Conservation experts at the Syracuse Library have produced a video that shows how a book can be saved.

saving a wet book by Syracuse Library
The tools required for saving a book should be easily accessible at every home (apart from the book press), except for the fan that is not a common household item in countries located in cool regions. What to do if there is simply no fan in the house?

Here is the book rescue video by Syracuse University Library’s Department of Preservation and Conservation.

The next thing related to books that I am going to buy is a waterproof ereader with a case that can take a few bumps and knocks.

10 items writers should include in a nonfiction book proposal

2017-10-21

Authors who are planning a nonfiction book can submit a proposal to publishers (or agents) once the book concept is crystal clear in the author’s mind. The manuscript doesn’t have to be ready. The potential of the book is evaluated from the information delivered in the proposal. This applies to nonfiction books only, and here are ten items that publishers and agents typically expect to find in a proposal.

eyeglasses on computer keyboard
These ten items for a nonfiction book proposal were originally outlined by Marisa Corvisiero

1. Title and Word Count

The title doesn’t have to be the final one, since it is often changed by the author or the publisher during the publishing process. Nonfiction books can have a title – subtitle structure which allows explaining quite a lot about the book.

In the era of ebooks, the traditional wisdom for the length of a nonfiction book (85,000 words, or about 300 printed pages) doesn’t apply anymore. For instance, we have published nonfiction ebooks that are about 50 pages, and also books that are about 500 pages.

Assuming that the author is still planning the book, the tentative word count indicates the scope of the manuscript and the amount of work required.

Many publishers also want to get a tentative idea for how many pictures, photos, schemas, tables and other elements besides text the author is planning to include in the book.

2. Tagline

A short, one or two line description about the concept of the book. The purpose is to make the product interesting and attractive.

3. Blurb

A short summary of what the book is about. What the reader will learn and the key points that will be made in the pages.

4. Structure of the Book

How the book will be organized and why. Often, however, it is better to include a comprehensive Table of Contents that shows the structure.

5. Target Market

A description of who should buy the book, who it is written for, and why they need it.

A list of competitive products belongs in this section, with analysis how this book will be different and/or better than books already in the market.

6. Author Bio

Readers will want to know if they can trust the author’s expertise. This is all about credentials.

7. Marketing Plan

Publishers want to know how large audience the author can reach. They will then add their activities to the mix. Any ideas for delivering the message to the world are welcomed by publishers. Authors must be ready to do book marketing as well.

8. Endorsements or Media Coverage

If an author can get endorsements from renowned people for the book, here is the section to mention it. Also possible media contacts, or earlier appearances in media should be listed here.

9. Table of Contents

The more detailed the Table of Contents is, the better picture the publisher gets from the book concept. This is the key element for many publishers when they consider what the book really is about and ponder its positioning in the market. For more information on the details publishers may expect to find in the TOC, read this article.

10. Sample Chapters

A chapter or two of the book should be included in the proposal. Many agents want three to five chapters, but it varies, as well as publishers’ requirements. Submission guidelines should be followed. A sample is important for publishers and agents in order to evaluate the author’s style, voice, and way of presenting the information.

New application for E ink displays used in ereaders: art and architecture

2017-10-18

We are so used to the grayscale E ink displays in our ereaders that we rarely think about how peculiar the technology really is. The information displayed on E ink screens are not composed of light, but physical microcapsules that rotate to create patterns on the screen. The patterns, or information, on the screen remain there until an electric pulse changes the patterns. This is why E ink screens are energy efficient and easily viewable even in direct sunlight.

You probably have seen small E ink displays in stores where product prices or other information is updated in real time. Displays can be tiny price tags or large boards.
San Diego car park with E ink walls
In any case, commercial applications are not the only ones where E ink can be used. In San Diego, California, these displays are used for decorating a concrete car park building.

View the video below that shows how it looks like.

Very thin e-paper tiles have been attached to the outer walls of the car park building. These screens are wirelessly connected to a host computer that tells the screens what to do. Uebercall, the company behind concept, has designed 15 programs used to animate the tiles. The screens are powered by solar cells.

All this means that the animations can be seen during the daytime only when the screens have power and there is daylight for viewing the screens.

I wonder if it would be possible to create an effect that looks like the building was moving as you drive by? It would, of course, freak out the drivers on the highway next to the building, which wouldn’t be safe.

Via VentureBeat.

Mongolia connects to the Asia Super Grid – read the book what it means to nomads

2017-10-16

Mongolia is a large, sparsely inhabited central Asian country where nomads still live in a traditional way on vast plains and foothills of mountains. The mineral rich country has large coal mines for its energy needs. Now, Mongolia has joined the Asia Super Grid electricity network in order to produce clean energy. Will ordinary Mongolians and nomads benefit from it?

Camel herder, ebook on Mongolia travel

Camel herders in Mongolia

The book Herder’s Boots – Traveling and Working with Nomads for the Future of Mongolia gives an indirect answer to the question. The author, Stephen Parliament, lived and worked in Mongolia for many years both in the capital Ulaanbaatar and in the desolate lands where nomads live. He experienced the bitter coldness of winters and heat of summers with nomads.

Some nomads have moved to cities, some tend to stay in one place with their cattle, some move with seasons. In any case, they live outside the grid and if they want electricity, they have to produce it themselves – which they do, because they also want to watch television and charge their mobile phones.

Mongolia travel book, photo gallery

All possessions of a herder family. Mongolia, Stephen Parliament.

Reuters reports that Mongolia has joined a large power transmission network established six years ago by China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Mongolia’s plan is to build wind power plants and connect them to this Asia Super Grid and export the generated energy.

While this is a great initiative for clean energy and balancing Mongolia’s state budget, it doesn’t bring much to the nomads. Small moveable solar power stations would support nomad lifestyle, but their prices tend to be high.

Read more about Mongolia in the book The Herder’s Boots.

Amazon Kindle Oasis ereader has grown only an inch, but it makes a difference when reading ebooks

2017-10-14

In the very early days of the Kindle ereaders, Amazon marketed a product with a tablet-size screen. It didn’t live for long, although second-hand units are still readily available. Then, Amazon simply decided that six inches is the only proper size for ereaders. Now, the company has changed its mind. The Kindle Oasis with its seven-inch E ink display enters Amazon into competition with ereaders that come with 7.8 and 8–inch screens. As we recently wrote, this screen size has quickly become a new attractive product category in ereaders.
Amazon KIndle Oasis 7-inch is waterproof
In addition to the 7-inch display, other key features of the large-screen Kindle Oasis are:

– The unit is waterproof: read on a beach, in the bath, and it is also more durable for travel.
– Audible audiobooks are compatible with the device.
– VoiceView screen reader can read aloud text on the screen.
– Front light illuminates the screen for reading even in dark.
– Free cloud storage space for all content downloaded from Amazon.
– Wi-fi and/or mobile network connectivity depending on the model.

A couple of things to notice in the Kindle Oasis 7 are that there is no headphone jack, but you have to have Bluetooth headphones, the ereader still doesn’t open EPUB-formatted ebooks, and models with lowest price tags come with ads.

The prices start from 250 USD for the seven-inch Kindle Oasis. The cover must be purchased separately (if you need one). The kindle Oasis 7 base price point is at the same level as competitors’ 7.8 and 8-inch models.
Amazon KIndle Oasis 7-inch model is waterproof
Why 7.8 and 8-inch are becoming so popular that even Amazon decided to make a product that has display larger than six inches? Reading is more comfortable on a larger screen. This is, of course, very personal. For instance, I like to read from a 10-inch screen. More texts fits into a page, pictures look better, and if I enlarge the font, it can still display a fair amount of text. For a balanced view on the pros and cons on the different screen sizes (from 6 to 13 inches) of ereaders, read this article.

Hands-on video of the 7-inch Kindle Oasis by Cnet shows how significant the size difference is to the 6-inch model.

Amazon Oasis 7 key features and specifications

Amazon Kindle Oasis 7-inch ereader
7-inch display technology with E Ink Carta.
300 ppi pixel density, 16-level gray scale.
Built-in light for reading even in dark.
Waterproof (IPX8), tested to withstand immersion in 2 meters of fresh water for 60 minutes.
Audible audiobooks can played on the ereader.
8 GB built-in storage. Holds thousands of books or over 35 Audible audiobooks; 32 GB holds thousands of books or over 160 Audible audiobooks.
Free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
Wi-Fi Connectivity.
Bluetooth. Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from Kindle Oasis to your Bluetooth speakers or headphones. Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP_ support to remotely control playback of Audible audiobooks on Kindle Oasis from compatible Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth speakers requiring PIN codes are not supported.
The VoiceView screen reader, available over Bluetooth audio, enables access to the vast majority of Kindle Oasis features.
Ability to Invert Black and White, adjust font size, font face, line spacing and margins.
Ebook formats: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprocted MOBI, PRC natively; HTML DOC, DOCX, JPEN, GIF, PNG, PMP through conversion; Audible audio format (AAX).
Dimensions 6.3″x 5.6” x 0.13-.33” (159 mm x 141 mm x 3.4-8.3 mm).
Weight 6.8 oz (194g).
Battery life up to six weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless and Bluetooth off and the light setting at 10.

Tolino makes Epos, an 7.8-inch ereader available to ebook patrons in Europe

2017-10-12

Recently, we wrote about a new ereader product category – devices with 8-inch display size – that was turning into a mainstream thing. As it happens, Tolino, a major ereader brand in central European markets has introduced a product that comes with a 7.8 inch E ink display. The highlights of the Tolino Epos ereader are large and sharp screen, waterproof unit, front light (for reading in dark), possibility to categorize ebooks into collections and a built-in translator for a few languages.
Tolino Epos ereader in hand
Tolino Epos has all the features that one may expect from a high-end large screen ereader: high-resolution touch screen, wireless ebook shopping, front light for reading in poor light, and many features that allow readers to adjust the actual reading experience.

The product’s list price is 230 Euros which is competitive when compared to similar, other brand products, such as the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Oasis, or the 7.8 inch Kobo Aura One.

Tolino products are available in central European countries, but you can find out the availability of the product in your country at Tolino’s web page.

News about the product via Heise Online.

Tolino Epos key features and specifications

Tolino Epos ebook collections

7.8 inch E Ink Carta display. Capacitive touch screen.
Display resolution 1872 × 1404 pixels (300 ppi). 19.81 centimeters screen diagonal.
Integrated front light with automatic and manual adjustment of color temperature of the display light.
Processor: 1000 MHz Freescale i.MX6
RAM 512 MB
Storage (internal) 8 GB where 6 GB is available for ebooks. Additional storage space included at Tolino Cloud 5 GB.
Wi-Fi: WLAN (802.11 b/g/n).
Micro-USB port.
Ebook formats: EPUB, PDF, TXT, Adobe DRM and ebooks from public libraries (e. g. Onleihe Germany).
Waterproof (by HZO).
Dimensions 140 × 209 × 8.2 mm
Weight 260 g
Li-polymer battery, 1200 mAh.
Battery capacity up to 4 weeks.

Tolino Epos ebook shopping
Reading features:

Adjustable font size
Create own fonts
Create and manage highlights
Add annotations and create notes
Categorize ebooks in collections
Built-in dictionary
Language translation function
Reading in portrait or landscape format
Table of contents
Bookmarks
Full-text search inside ebooks
PDF to text function

Oolipo brings interactive ebooks to smartphones

2017-10-04

Oolipo is an ebook reading application for mobile devices that comes with a dedicated content creation tool. Authors can embed interactive elements into their ebooks, as well as audio and video. Once the new Oolipo ebook is ready to be published, it is delivered via Oolipo bookstore to readers who can view the book on their smartphones and tablets. This is not the first time when interactive ebooks get a dedicated system. What does Oolipo mean for ebooks?

oolipo interactive ebook reading app
Oolipo describes its mission as follows:

“We believe that reading today means watching images, gifs, and videos, listening to audio, sharing and chatting with friends, interacting with characters. That’s why we created an interactive multimedia format for mobile and tools that enable you to create new stories with them.”

Let’s study Oolipo’s proposal for rich multimedia ebooks from two perspectives: A) fiction and B) nonfiction.

A) Fiction. At the moment, all sample ebooks at Oolipo web site are fiction. The general description of Oolipo also focuses on storytelling as the primary focus for the application. If you download a sample ebook to your phone, you will find pages with text, pages with sound effects, pages with animation, and perhaps with a question which direction you want the story to take.

Oolipo is in sensitive zone here. When someone is reading a fictional book, he or she sees the book’s world her own way. Another reader may see it differently. Audio and video elements that are intended to complement the reading experience actually change the world the reader sees in her mind.

B) Nonfiction The natural application for multimedia ebooks is nonfiction and textbooks. They benefit greatly from elements like animation, audio and video. Also interactive elements like questions and answers can be very helpful to readers who are trying to learn and understand something that is new to them.

An obvious example of a remarkable tool for creating and reading rich multimedia ebooks are works created in Apple iBooks Author. It shows how interactive and multimedia elements really have a role in the future of books. Travel guidebooks, for instance, can show more about a destination with rich media elements.

oolipo bookshelf, interactive ebook library on a smartphone

Creating interactive fiction books inevitably brings the role of book closer to games and movies. It is not a bad thing – on the contrary, something new may be invented. The author has many tough choices to make if he or she wants to create a fictional book in Oolipo.

If you want to create an Oolipo ebook, you can apply principles of visual storytelling familiar from movies or illustrated narratives, use audio and voice for atmosphere, and interactive elements. The elements can be images, gifs, videos, sounds and audio files, text, animations, links to websites (or other episodes), and chat messages.

Here is a video that shows how to create stories for Oolipo:

Some day, someone will get this right – maybe it is Oolipo, maybe someone else. It is fascinating to see if we still call it a book or something else.

Learning from rejections – book cover designers share their stories

2017-09-28

Designing good book covers is difficult. It is creative work that requires that the designer is able to capture the essence of a book in an image that pleases everyone, especially the publisher’s marketing department, and is attractive from a reader’s point of view. 12 book cover designers have shared their stories on their works that were killed before they were published.

If you examine covers of different genres of books, you instantly notice how the genre defines many factors for the cover. Romance covers tend to have a man and a woman in, crime novels often have dark covers, text books show an item from the contents of the book, and nonfiction books have something about the overall theme of the book.

The most difficult book covers to design are for a genre that is so broad that it is hard to define: literary books.

3 book covers, same book3 cover designs for the same book. Left: the original book cover in France. Center: rejected cover. Right: published cover design.

Creative Review has managed to get stories from 12 cover designers on their works that were rejected. Many stories have a lesson that the designer learnt from the setback.

One of the stories and the key takeaway of the project is told by Thy Bui who was the first designer to try and create the cover for a book: “This cover was scrapped, as were a few more attempts. The final cover was designed by Sophie Burdess. So the lessons learnt? That there is almost always a hiccup somewhere along the process – accept this. And, there is no right or wrong design for a book cover. Our role as designers is to explore the options.”

Designing a cover for an ebook is the same thing as for a print book. A collection of ebook cover designs from multiple designers can be viewed, for instance, at the book cover design awards page. Each cover has a brief review. These books are very genre-specific, making judging their covers easier than, for instance, literary book covers.

Here is the largest bookstore in the world: Tehran Book Garden

2017-09-22

Amazon may claim the title of the largest bookstore in the world, but the largest bricks-and-mortar store where you can walk in and touch the actual products is called the Book Garden. It is located in Tehran, Iran, and was opened in July 2017.
Tehran Book Garden bookstore
The vast bookstore is only one of the sections of the spacious 65,000 square meter (about 700,000 square feet) building. All and all, it is more like a cultural center than a bookstore alone. The center features movie theaters, science halls, classrooms, a restaurant, and a prayer room. A park on the roof is reserved for reading outdoors.

The building has enough floor space indoors for fourteen football fields, and over 10,000 square meter rooftop park.
World's largest bookstore in Tehran, Iran: Book Garden
Iran has been in the news for its efforts to censor the written word, but the bookstore has a large selection of English titles as well. More than 30,000 titles are available for children alone.

View a film by Iran PressTV that shows the different sections of the large building. The architect tells about the spacious design.

The Guinness World Records regards the Barnes & Noble along Fifth Avenue in New York City the biggest bookstore on earth (before the Book Garden was opened). Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue has more than 19 km /12 miles of shelves.

Book Garden’s architecture:
Tehran Book Garden building, Iran

Tehran Book Garden architecture from air