Tag Archives: fiction

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.

Which book to read before visiting a new country that has different culture than yours?

2017-07-07

Planning a visit to a country where you haven’t been before often starts with research. Many travelers purchase a guidebook, some tourists search the Internet for tips. Usually, people are looking for reliable information to help plan the trip. Fictional books may also help because they can give insight on the culture and customs of a country.

Ambassadors of 22 countries have given their recommendations which books can give cultural tips for visitors. Based on the books ambassadors have chosen and their descriptions, the most peculiar titles are from Bhutan, Finland, Germany and New Zealand.

Here are the ambassadors’ recommended books to read before the first visit to these 22 countries.

    Austria: The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Vienna in 1937.

    Azerbaijan: Ali and Nino, by Kurban Said. Love story set in Baku in 1918 to 1920.
    book cover: portrait of bhutan
    Belgium: War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. A period in Belgium’s history.

    Bhutan: Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. A personal memoir combined with folklore, and even a portrait of the Himalayan kingdom.

    Canada: With Faith and Goodwill: 150 years of Canada-U.S. Friendship, edited by Arthur Milnes. Collection of speeches, photographs and essays.

    Chile: La Casa de Los Espíritus by Isabel Allende. Family mingled with political issues of the 1970s.
    book cover: moomin, mymble, my
    Colombia: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. A classic.

    Denmark: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. Fictional mystery set in Copenhagen.

    Estonia: The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk. Alternative history.

    Finland: The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson. A classic.

    Germany: Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf. 14-year-old boys on a road trip.

    Greece: Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakis. Cretans against the Ottoman Empire in 1889.
    book cover: tschick, germany
    Iceland: Independent People by Halldor Laxness. Sheep farmer’s struggle for independence.

    India: Freedom at Midnight (1975) by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Indian independence process.

    Ireland: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. History and recent events intertwined.

    Jamaica: Selected Poems by Louise Bennet. Insights into the Jamaican culture.

    Malta: In the Name of the Father (And of the Son) by Immanuel Mifsud. World War II from personal perspective.
    book cover: whale rider, new zealand
    New Zealand: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. A story of communication with whales.

    Norway: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. Nordic Noir crime story.

    Slovenia: I Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar. Historical theme set in Ljubljana.

    Sweden: Nordic Ways edited by Debra Cagan. Essays that describe life in the North Europe.

    United Kingdom: Atonement by Ian McEwan. Britain’s history in the 20th century.

The book titles via CN Traveler.

Some notable, popular travel destination countries that have distinct cultures are missing from the book list, for instance, France and the US. I can understand why France’s ambassador probably didn’t suggest a book for the list. Independent of which title it would have been, a national scandal would have emerged from the choice. Perhaps the US ambassador was pondering between Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad and Donald Trump biography A Life Worth Living, but couldn’t decide?

Readers adopted fiction ebooks quicker than non-fiction: Non-fiction ebook market has room to grow

2016-07-18

Book market statistics provided by publishing organizations are often quoted as the only authoritative numbers that reflect what is going on in the book trade. Many industry analysts have disagreed with these “official” numbers for years saying that they only represent a portion of the market: sales of big publishers. Especially, the emergence of digital books has brought a huge number of small publishers and self-publishers whose book sales is not tallied up in the statistics published by, for instance, AAP, Nielsen, or publishers’ associations in Europe.

An analyst who calls himself Data Guy (at Author Earnings) has discovered a way to collect data from ebook sales independent of which organization (or person) has published the title. He has created a system for extracting data from Amazon Kindle Store web pages. Therefore, all the statistics he can provide is from the US. Nonetheless, it is useful reference for ebook authors and publishers across the world because the US is the pioneer and the leading country in ebook business.

In July 2016, Data Guy gave a speech where he presented statistics specifically concerning romance literature ebook market in the US. The included data, however, has many valuable lessons for all authors and ebook publishers. Here are a few highlights from his speech.

author earnings: Slide07 july 2016

Source: Author Earnings.

In the US, non-fiction books has slightly over 50% of the print book market, and fiction slightly under 50%. In many European and Asian countries, non-fiction books have way larger market share from the print market. For instance, in Finland non-fiction print books had 35%, text books 35%, fiction 26%, and ebooks less than 4% market share in 2015.

Now, Author Earnings reports that non-fiction ebooks have only 12% market share in the US ebook market. Fiction dominates the ebook market with 88% share, and roughly half of purchased fiction is romance. Although we haven’t seen the ebook market in Europe segmented by genre, we believe the overall situation is roughly the same: non-fiction ebooks haven’t been adopted as quickly as fiction.

Yet, the potential to introduce something new to new generations of readers is in non-fiction and text books: digital media lets authors and publishers embed more attractive images, animation, photo galleries, interactivity and even moving pictures in books. You can view samples of this in Klaava Travel Guide titles.

author earnings, Slide12, july 2016

Source: Author Earnings

In the US, Amazon really dominates the ebook retail sales with 75% of title purchases going through the Kindle Store. Amazon UK has similar, some claim even stronger position, of the national ebook market, but elsewehere in Europe, other stores compete successfully with Amazon. For instance, in Germany Tolino is a major player in the ebook market. In Scandinavia, Adlibris and Storytel are big digital retailers (there is no Amazon store in Scandinavia yet, but Nordic citizens buy from Amazon.com if they want Kindle products).

It is still early days for digital books. The market developed quickly in English-speaking countries, primarily because of romance and crime titles. Fiction ebooks are replicas of print books. The big technical development is still to happen, and non-fiction and text books will drive the development. For instance, Amazon Page Flip is one of the early signs of things to come. It is a marvellous new feature for browsing non-fiction books.

Top Ten Writing Tips for Nonfiction Authors from a Fiction Author

2015-02-18

Writing is craft that some writers learn in their daily work and others learn by taking courses. You might think that nonfiction and fiction writing require very different skills, but it is surprising how many bestselling authors write both types of books. Some have started writing because they were journalists, others because they had to draft educational material for their classes.

mikael niemi, author, book signing at a book show
Swedish author Mikael Niemi signing books at a book fair.

The author of Hobbits and The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien knows what he is talking about when he offers his advice for writers. Even though he wrote fiction on his spare time at home, he wrote nonfiction for his daily work.

Here is Tolkien’s top 10 writing tips infographics from Essaymama.

tolkien, tips for writers

Tolkien’s top 10 tips:
1. Vanity is useless. Your book is important for you, but be realistic how important it is to the rest of the world.
2. Keep a stiff upper lip. (Find time to write no matter what).
3. Listen to critics. Critics – Yes, Trolls – No.
4. Let your interests drive your writing. [this is very true for nonfiction as well – a book written with both passion and facts communicates with readers]
5. Poetry as a road to prose.
6. Happy accidents. Tolkien carefully planned the books but gave a chance to new ideas as well.
7. Dreams give us inspiration.
8. Real people make great characters.
9. You may be the next best selling author.
10. Books you write may seem trite.