Tag Archives: ebook

Spaghetti and Sauna is a survival guide to Europe’s vastly different cultures: Italy and Finland

2016-03-28

Finns are from Neptune and Italians from Mercury – that is what someone moving from Italy to Finland (or vice versa) might think. The differences in culture, behavior and socializing – not to mention weather and food are so great that it can drive a normal, healthy person to believe that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy correctly defined the meaning of life.
sample page from book Spaghetti and Sauna
Fortunately, everyone who is planning to move to Europe – particularly to Finland or Italy – can now read a book that tells everything about the most common pitfalls that a traveler, student or an expatriate may encounter in a new environment.

Irene De Benedictis moved from Rome to Pori, a relatively small town in Finland to study and work. She survived. Even though it didn’t go as smoothly as she would have liked, the best thing is that she wrote a book Spaghetti & Sauna about her culture shock and how she learned to cope with the Scandinavian weather, food, and people.

Spaghetti and Sauna tells an entertaining and educating story that is worth a read for everyone who is interested in the cultures and customs of South and North Europe. If you don’t know what a personal bubble, sauna evening, umbrella ride or onion-style fashion is, you better read the book.

book cover image: Spaghetti and Sauna
More about the book Spaghetti & Sauna – Discovering the Rational Finnish Culture through the Eyes of an Emotional Italian here.

Book lovers rejoice: It is Read an Ebook Week

2016-03-06

In 2016, ebooks are not a novelty they once were, but the original mission of Read an Ebook Week is still valid: to promote reading of electronic books. The champion behind the program is author Rita Toews, who established the week already in 2004. In 2016, the digital reading week is scheduled for March 6th – 12th.
amazon kindle voyage, coffee
Rita Toews talked about the origins of the Read an Ebook Week to Huffington Post:

We were among the first authors to embrace e-books but the general public was very cautious of the new reading technology. It was hard to promote our books or to get anyone to listen when we requested publicity.

It came to me one day that if all authors spoke at the same time we stood a better chance of making an impact on the public. I registered Read an E-Book Week with Chases Calendar of Events so e-authors had “legitimacy” when they sought publicity. It worked. I would approach our library and say “It’s Read an E-Book Week” and the librarian knew from Chases that it was, so I could set up a display. The same when I approached TV and radio stations.

In order to get your reading week started, why not download free ebook samples from Klaava Media catalog right here.

The home page of the ebook week features plenty of special deals for this week.
apple ipad pro, man on a beach

Nordic mixture of unique experiences and culture: The Best of Helsinki

2016-02-27

The capital of Finland, Helsinki, is a traveler-friendly city: there is plenty to see in the city, but it is easy to move around town and traffic rarely causes major problems. Food, drink, and accommodation options are plenty. Helsinki is a mixture of many things: it is centuries old, but modern; it is a western city that used to be part of eastern empire. These influences and traditions have blended into a unique Nordic culture and architecture that visitors can experience in Helsinki. Travel guide The Best of Helsinki: The Sights, Activities, and Local Favorites explains and shows it all.
Helsinki: Klaava Travel Guide, sample page
Travelers who have never visited any Scandinavian country may think there is always snow on the ground and people have to give way to elks and reindeers that roam on city streets. Yes, snow covers the ground in Finland in winter, but summers are beautiful, warm and green. Yes, there are plenty of elks and reindeers (and a number of wolves and bears as well), but they are hiding in the wilderness.

Helsinki (or any region in Finland) has plenty to offer for nature-lovers because large forests, lakes or the sea are never far away. Party-goers enjoy Helsinki’s lively nightlife scene, whereas foodies may enjoy a meal the Lapland, Asian, Italian, Russian or traditional Finnish way.
The Best of Helsinki, Klaava Travel Guide
The Best of Helsinki is a visual travel guidebook that shows you the places to go and helps you navigate to your destination. You can browse the book to get an overall understanding what the city has to offer, and then study details of those places that seem interesting.

Find out more about the book here.

Here are a few sample pages extracted from The Best of Helsinki.
Travel guide: The Best of Helsinki
Helsinki: Klaava Travel Guide, sample page
Helsinki: Klaava Travel Guide, sample page
Helsinki: Klaava Travel Guide, sample page

Black Friday deal on an ebook subscription service

2015-11-27

Ebook subscription services that let you read as much as you have time for a monthly fee are pretty affordable. The market price is around 10 dollars or euros for one month worth of reading. If one of the services decides to give a small Black Friday discount, what’s the big deal? Well, because subscription requires a recurring payment, costs add up. That’s why, the Black Friday deal from 24 Symbols is worth considering.

In the spirit of Black Friday, 24 Symbols has lowered the price for its monthly book subscription to 6.99 Euros. It is the lowest monthly subscription price we have seen so far. What do you have to do to get the deal? Go here: www.24symbols.com/subscriptions

24 Symbols has a selection of 300 000 books for you to read read if you sign up. Reading applications for mobile devices are available as well. It is possible to give a subscription to someone else as a gift, too. The Black Friday price doesn’t apply then.

24 symbols ebook subscription service

Book publishers believe ebooks will dominate book sales in 5 years

2015-10-31

British book industry newspaper The Bookseller has published the results of its annual Digital Census survey. The survey asks publishers (also outside Great Britain) to assess the major trends that are affecting the business of book publishing. The results for year 2015 indicate that publishers have accepted the fact that digital books are the future.

bookseller digital census 2015

Source: The Bookseller


21% of book publishers believe ebooks will make up more than half of their book revenues by 2020. In other words, in five years one-fifth of book industry depends their businesses on digital products.

38% of publishers expect ebooks to be so significant part of their sales that they would be in trouble without digital products. These enterprises anticipate ebooks will bring 21-50% of sales by 2020. Altogether, 59% of publishers believe that their businesses will rely on digital products in five years.

bookseller digital census 2015

Source: The Bookseller digital census 2015


If we look at the situation today, where the publishers are regarding their ebook sales, next five years will mean a massive transformation for the publishing business. 59% of publisher get less than 20% of their sales from digital books today.

Somewhat surprisingly, publishers expect ebook subscription services to be the most important channel to reach customers by 2020. 37% of publishers regard subscription services as a key business model for the future of book.

bookseller digital census 2015

Source: The Bookseller


The Bookseller Digital Census 2015 also unveiled five strong trends that are shaping book business in the near future.
1. Smartphones become more common ebook reading devices than tablets or dedicated e-readers.
2. Sales of digital books is still growing, but at a slower rate (we believe this concerns markets like US and UK, because in markets like Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands ebook sales are still in their early stages).
3. Self-publishing is slightly losing its appeal (amount of work, costs, marketing, poor sales the primary reasons).
4. Ebook pricing, amount of author royalties and copy-protection of products divides the opinions of publishing professionals.
5. Half of publishing professionals fear that they are not ready for the next big thing in the digital revolution (whatever it happens to be).

More details at The Bookseller.

Here is how an author assessed the pros and cons of working with a publisher

2015-10-21

H-P Virkki is a stuntman and stunt coordinator who has written a book Stunts, Scenes and Safety about the skills needed for creating action scenes for movies and home videos. The ebook includes not only plenty of tips for aspiring stunt actors, but also actual video footage on planning and performing stunts on a set.

Stunts, Scenes and Safety was published in April 2015. Recently, H-P Virkki realized that people tended to ask the same questions about his book. We asked the author what the most common question was and what his answer was.

hp virkki at a skate park

H-P Virkki


The most common question is: How did you find a publisher? Since it’s an ebook, would it have been possible to publish it without help?

H-P Virkki: “Yes, it is possible to self-publish an ebook, and hire an editing service to help with the manuscript. For me, it was clear that I wanted to work with a professional publisher.”

“In the beginning, I tried out Apple iBooks Author in order to see whether a multimedia book would really be plausible, and to see how illustrations, text and comics would interact. When I realized it worked all right, I focused on the content and trusted that when the time comes, I’ll find a good partner. Only after the manuscript and video segments were ready, I really started to look for a publisher. After I was convinced that I didn’t want a combination of a printed book and a DVD, I decided not to approach many traditional publishers, but rather look for a digital specialist.”

“Finding a publisher wasn’t actually very hard because for over two years, I had kept a close look on ebook experts who were active in the field. Klaava Media was an obvious number one from the very beginning – not least because they published articles about movies, music and other entertainment in the company blog.”

“The publisher quickly understood my vision, and we started working together almost immediately. I think the main reason was that the publisher found the multimedia aspect of the project visionary, and the movie theme was also down his alley. I just remember that we were both pretty excited because we felt we were doing something new.”

“I really should say a bit more about the benefits of having a professional publisher. It is tremendously helpful to work with a person who has practical solutions and helpful suggestions whenever you are unsure of which way to go. It is also important that someone whose area of expertise is outside your own field keeps asking questions about your own industry. Many things that are obvious to you and your filmmaker buddies are complete gibberish to a normal, balanced reader.”

“In a multimedia book, there is so much to do. You have to design the layout for each book format, take into account all different reading devices, and get the text, drawings, cartoons, links and video clips to work together. I think I was lucky to have a balancing teammate in the project.”


H-P Virkki performs an Aikido excercise at a skate park.

H-P Virkki’s book Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts available now.
download ebook: stunts, scenes and safety

In addition to information on sights and food, this travel guide to Pattaya, Thailand explains local customs

2015-09-21

Travelers who are unfamiliar with Asian cultures and customs tend to experience many surprises on their first trip to any Asian country. The land of smiles, Thailand, has many customs that travelers may misinterpret if they are new to the Thai culture. Once tourists understand a few basic things about Thailand and its people, a week on a beach, nights at bars, dinners at seafood restaurants and trips to nearby sights are more convenient and communication with locals is smoother.
pattaya travel guide chapter 6
That is exactly what the objective of the book The Best of Pattaya, Thailand and the Essentials of Thai Culture, published in Klaava Travel Guide series was. The guidebook interprets for travelers, for instance, what the Thai smile really means in many situations and why it is important to know the protocol of wai (the polite Thai greeting).

The travel guidebook shows the sights of Pattaya, as well as the food, the shopping, the hotels and restaurants in photo galleries and video clips. Tips for surviving in the traffic, hiring a motorbike, finding a room, playing a round of pool or viewing a Thai boxing match, among others are included as well.

View a video that shows select sections from the Pattaya travel guide:

More about the book The Best of Pattaya, Thailand and the Essentials of Thai Culture download travel guide to Pattaya, Thailand

pattaya beach from travel guidebook

H-P Virkki, what people want to ask from a stuntman who has written a book?

2015-09-19

Stunt coordinator, stuntman H-P Virkki wrote his first book in 2001, but had to wait until books had developed into a new medium that allowed featuring other elements as still images and text in the product. The result of his vision Stunts, Scenes and Safety was published as a multimedia ebook in 2015.
BMX cyclist falls down

View the video where H-P Virkki reveals what is the most common question people ask him and other things that explain the choices he made for the book.

H-P Virkki’s profile on Stage 32 and his IMDB page feature plenty of information about movies where he has performed.

Stunts, Scenes and Safety – book cover image

Favorite photos from a travel guide to Pattaya, Thailand

2015-07-17

Writing a book is one thing, but taking all the photographs for the same book is completely different kind of process. When Klaava Media started out the book series Klaava Travel Guide, we decided it would have to be a concept for a visual guide. Information about a destination must be supported by photographs and videos, or even better: visual information is supported by textual information.
travel guide ebook: Pattaya, Thailand, Asia
Lately, we have been working with Erkki Leppänen, the author and photographer of the travel guide The Best of Pattaya, Thailand and the Essentials of Thai Culture. In some book projects, the author or the photographer selects the images that will be published in the book, in other projects, the publisher (a graphic designer) picks up the most suitable photos.

If the objective is to have about 150 photos in the guidebook, how many frames the photographer provides to the book layout process? Based on this and earlier projects, the rough estimate is that there is usually 10 times more photographs than gets picked up to the final book. Naturally, if the photographer or the author has previous experience on producing images for a travel guide, the number of photos delivered to the publisher can be the same as the number of actually published photos. Still, the photographer has probably taken 10 times more photos on location.
download travel guide ebook: Pattaya, Thailand
Video is a different medium, because clips can be cut, pasted and mixed in order to create a lively short film from multiple clips.

In any case, here are a few favorite photographs published in the travel guide The Best of Pattaya, Thailand and the Essentials of Thai Culture.

visitor guide to pattaya, Thai culture

tourist guide book: pattaya, sights

Travel guide book to Pattaya, food and drink

Klaava Travel Guide: Pattaya, Thailand, hotels

travel guidebook: pattaya, beach

ebook travel guide: pattaya, sunset

A Book about Movie Stunts Wouldn’t Be Perfect without Video Scenes That Show the Action

2015-05-08

Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts is an ebook you can read on your smartphone, tablet or PC. It was written with young audiences in mind. The mission was to create a book which inspires readers to be active, stretch their limits and to create something new. The book is packed with tips, photos and videos for learning to shoot action scenes.

Ebook download: Stunts, Scenes and Safety

When I started writing, I set myself three key objectives: interaction with readers, contact with movie making process and real stunts (instead of computer animations).

Interaction with readers

I wanted to create the book in interaction with its main audience – younger generations where the stuntmen of the future are already growing. Social media is no substitute for live interaction.

All the projects and examples in the book are tested and proven in real life situations at a gym or on a filming location. I wanted the content of the book to be influenced by those people who I was writing to. I also wanted to get immediate, unfiltered feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

All kinds of things can go wrong in a project like this. I wanted to be sure that everything in the book is tested and also works in practice.

View the book trailer:

Close contact with movie making process

For me, it was very important to be as much as possible behind the camera or in front of a camera during the writing process. It is pretty easy to come up with fancy ideas, but there is no substitute for the first-hand experience. It was also the main reason why I didn’t explain the process using old stunt movie clips as examples.

To be able to work in film productions was a bit of a challenge because it’s not always easy to get on a pro movie set in Finland. In the end, it worked out pretty well and I got to work as a stuntman, coordinator and even had couple of lines to act.

Physical stunts are important

I wanted to emphasize basic physical stunts in the book. I chose stunts that I found relatively safe for the future stuntmen to start with.

The same basic principles also apply to tougher and sometimes more dangerous stunts. After all, adventure-style physical activities, like playing “cops and robbers”, climbing trees, running, chasing, and being creative with parkour or skating tricks come naturally to kids. Adding a camera to the experience can be fun, even artistic dimension.

Of course, in an adventure game or movie, you have to have some kind of a battle element. I chose the king of combat scenes: sword fight.

The emphasis was on attentional concentration and having a good time on each filming location. I wanted to minimize violence, accidents and injuries, even though they are often present in stunt scenes of big budget movies.

To find the right mood for writing, I watched Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin pretty often. The energy of those guys probably had an influence on me as well.

The book is not oriented towards grand spectacles, or filled with CGI (Computer Generated Images) – it’s pretty “old school”. I believe it offers a good balance to today’s fast-paced life.

Read how the video segments were created for the book.

Written by H-P Virkki. Check out his profile on Stage 32.
Ebook download: Stunts, Scenes and Safety

Sample pages:

stunts, scenes and safety book on ipad

stunts-ipad5-sshot

How Video Segments Were Created for a Book about Movie Stunts

2015-04-28

During the long process of writing the manuscript and directing the video scenes for the book Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts, author H-P Virkki continued working as a stuntman and stunt coordinator. Sometimes, his work in movie business and book writing project were a perfect match. Now, when the hard work of writing is behind him, H-P Virkki shares how two videos included in the book were created.
Graffiti in London Ontario Canada

A graffiti on a street in London, Ontario. This one was published in the book.

Your Move Program

An interesting project came up when I was traveling in Canada. In 2012, a campaign called Your Move intended to inspire Finnish teenagers and younger kids to find the joy of physical exercise. Tung, who plays the leading role in the videos of my book, was actively involved and visible in the project.

A few lucky coincident events happened. An aikido demonstration had been scheduled for the main event of the Your Move campaign, and my old friend Mari Wiklund asked me to consider writing and directing a short promo clip to represent aikido in the event. It was a perfect project for my purposes. I spent a month or so toying with ideas for the clip.

Later, at Aikido Bridge seminar in San Diego in the U.S., I got valuable advice from aikido master Christian Tissier on how to approach kids. His advice changed my mind on what should be shown on the promo video. We ended up leaving out all the knife scenes and baseball bats from the book as well (sorry, Mari).

We filmed the promo clip on a very tight schedule when I had returned to Helsinki.
We had fun during filming, and some of the material also ended up in the section “Whirling Around” in my book. I think the joy of movement can be felt in the short making-of video (watch it) and in the aikido promo clip (view the video). Being on a filming set really relieved my writing anxiety, and the experience was pure flow that I wanted my readers to feel in their own projects.

I also came across a very important contact: Pekka Sipilä He shot and edited the aikido promo clip, and I asked him to participate in my book project as well. Without his professional and always helpful attitude, the process of creating videos for the book would have got stuck in multiple occasions.

rehearsing stunts at a course

Camp Fire workshop was a real life opportunity to see if my ideas really worked – they did!

Whirling around the Camp Fire

The shooting of the video “Whirling Around” was my most profound test and also a point of contact to the main audience. My old aikido buddy Kustaa Ylitalo was one of the main organizers of a large kids’ summer camp called “Leiritulet” (Camp Fire). Kustaa asked me to join the camp for an afternoon session in order to teach stuntwork. I had only one condition: I wanted bring a camera crew with me and another stunt instructor, Tung.

I had already sketched the main ideas for my book, and was excited to see if participants found them interesting.

My teaching approach is pretty much the same – be it a professional actor, an aikido student or in this case, about 20-30 kids. First, I pick out an outcome which is realizable and whose success can be assessed as concretely as possible. Of course, everything we do has to be safe. Then, I have a variety of exercises which I can tweak as the situation evolves. I always want to take everyone’s learning style into account and teach as individually as possible. To be able to do so, I spend quite some time before the session to get to know the students. I also want them to know me.

The day before the camp started, I arrived at Vierumäki to acquaint myself with the group, and their way of dealing with new tasks. I decided to focus on the role of the camera in my teaching, and also I wanted to give everyone a real stunt experience. We were the very last session of a three day long course, and I knew the kids would be a little bit tired. Being last is challenging also because you really want to leave everyone with a good feeling.

So, I chose to be more of a stunt coordinator than a sports coach. I wanted to share my concentration and offer my knowledge and support in a way that would help them if they ever went to a professional filming set. Everything I did with them was “real”. They were immersed in the stuntwork and there was no need for patronizing talk. In my mind, we were on a set and they were just like real stunt performers. My responsibility was to ensure safety (physical and mental) and our common goal was to record good shots. How did it go? When you watch “Whirling Around” video included in my book, I think you get a glimpse of the atmosphere.

Written by H-P Virkki. View his profile on Stage 32.

Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts

Is This the Future of Ereaders?

2015-02-20

The sales of ereaders specifically designed for reading ebooks has gradually been declining during the last year. Likely explanations are that most heavy readers already have an ereader and others use tablets for reading ebooks. In any case, Sony has introduced a product that may show us one of the ways we will read in the future: smartglasses.
sony smarteyeglasses and control unit
Smartglasses is like any other product that gets the prefix smart. When you add computing power into a watch, it becomes a smartwatch, or you add computing power into a mobile phone, it becomes a smartphone. That’s what is happening with eyeglasses as well. Google introduced their unsuccessful eyeglass frames a couple of years ago, but few people found them useful. Sony SmartEyeglass Developer Edition is a huge step into the right direction in the emerging world of smart-everything.

The Developer Edition means that the product is still under development, but Sony wants software developers to study it and create clever applications that make use of the new possibilities provided by smartglasses. My proposal: someone please write an ereading app for the Sony SmartEyeglass.

Having text displayed into the eyeglassses would be the perfect way to read wherever you want: you don’t have hold anything in your hand (hands-free reading), you don’t have to carry any extra devices with you (books are stored on your smartphone), you don’t have to worry about having enough light (the text is displayed on the SmartEyeglasses screen), and you can flip pages by pushing a button in the control unit.
sony smarteye glasses, navigation app
Sony has envisioned a few applications for the SmartEyeglasses: sports results and statistics on the go, assembly instructions of a machine (hands-free), and street navigation. Street navigation displayed on your eyeglasses could be an instant hit for millions of people. View the video below for a demo.
sony smarteyeglasses hands-free reading app
Sony is selling the Developer Edition of the SmartEyeglass for GBP 620 in the UK, so we will have to wait if this particular product model ever becomes a mainstream product (if not, one of its successors will). The real computing power in Sony SmartEyeglass is on your smartphone. All data, like ebooks and apps are stored on the smartphone. The phone and the SmartEyeglass are connected via Bluetooth, so that the eyeglasses function as a Bluetooth headset as well. The small control unit for the SmartEyeglass is connected to the device with a cable which may not please everyone.

Success, however, requires sleek, chic, user-friendly and street-credible smartglasses. Sony is not there yet, but SmartEyeglasses is a very promising concept, and way ahead of all other similar products.

Here is Sony’s promovideo: