Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Future of Books

I am a luddite; and I am proud of it.  I was given new courage last night when my wife, who reads more than me, looked up from her ipad and said: "Maybe I am getting too distracted to read."  I responded with enthusiasm, my wife had a kindle before her ipad: "Maybe we should go and buy some books."  The encroachment of digital technology on the reader's engagement with words, is something to be concerned about.  Of further concern, we might learn from the demise of Borders, is the constant measuring of book sales as a determination of a publisher's success.  Though I know profit is important, pleasure and culture are too.  Have a look at the following from DBW.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Young Americans are still reading

Pew Research finds that there is still a healthy appetite for books, ebooks and libraries among young Americans.  The findings are most encouraging.

Libraries are for learning

Jeff Norton offers an enthusiastic defence of school libraries, calling them a safe haven, away from the bullying of the schoolyard.  Whilst I applaud any defence of libraries, I think that Norton misses the point somewhat.  Libraries are about learning, and schools should embrace them as such.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wot'd you say? Procrastination should be done tomorrow.

Word of the day.  I like this one; not just because I have something to do, and I can't get my head round it.  Procrastination is to defer to tomorrow; crastinus being that which 'belongs to tomorrow'.  Rather good that. Maybe I don't need to do it today after all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Growth for ebooks; decline for paperbacks

Digital World tells us that ebook sales continue to rise, though the rate is slowing.  Paperback sales continue to fall.  I remain optimistically luddite.  Bring me vinyl, paperbacks and a good wine; they all improve with age.  Maybe!

Libraries are the centre of a school's universe; or should be at least

Adam Lancaster writes about his school has used data to target students for library support and to measure impact, a buzz-word in education.  Whilst I admire the ambition, as well as the defence of libraries, the only question is why should we have to.  Education is about learning, and learning is what libraries do best.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rowling is an inspiration

J.K.Rowling, like anyone who grabs the attention of the world, is an inspiration.  I have read the Potter series many times; the books offer a delicious, engaging escape.  My only criticism is that perhaps she might have done better to stick to a formula, recycling the school year without ever taking us to an end.  Having said that  the excitement of her work did an enormous amount for books; I hope her return to kid's lit will do more of the same.  Bring it on.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Social Media Hacking

Mashable offers a worthy account of the risks of social media hacking.  Included among them is the risk of following a link.  I am safe, however.  Honest.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reading Great Literature

Hannah Betts offers a convincing argument fro reading great literature.  Though I suffered after University, not wanting to read books outside the canon and not knowing how else to choose, she has my sympathies.  Great Literature, reading across the centuries, helps to put the present into context.

New Technology - old behaviour

A brief study of today's news finds three sports stars making the news for tweets.  Bring on common sense I say.  The stories concern Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Pietersen and Ashley Cole.  I am tempted to suggest that even the latest bust-up in a celebrity relationship is of greater interest.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Print Books are best

Digital Book World consider the merits of ebooks and print books when it comes to parents and children reading together.  It would see that print books are the winners.  Go luddites.

A Squirrel ate my internet

Andrew Blum talks about the physical internet.  The talk shows both its apparently infinite growth, and the fragility of the internet.

Apps V Books

The Literary Platform evaluates the merits of apps as a teaching tool.  As a plus, the supporters suggest that apps, in this case Timeline World War 2, can combine the benefits of books, television, the web and radio.  My inclination is to imagine that such learning is too frenetic; people need to focus on detail in order to digest and understand it.  The app then becomes a distraction or entertainment.

Young People should read

The National Literacy Trust outline a decline in reading among the young.  They also point out, as if we didn't know, that reading for pleasure is the best way to improve reading skills.

Semantic Priming - using words to give a nudge

Mark Smith tells us that we are given a nudge in many ways throughout our daily lives.  For example, he says that supermarkets place their fruit and veg at the front of the shop in order to encourage us to buy healthy, then compensate for this with junk food.  Of greater interest is the notion of semantic priming.  I love words, and I believe they should be the bedrock of communication.  I am interested then in the study that suggests that using words to describe old age and youth can affect our behaviour accordingly; we take on the attributes of old age and youth, depending on which we are describing.

Good, Sound and Helpful - the purpose of Libraries

The Guardian offers from its archive an article on Libraries, 20th September 1922.  It says that the purpose of Libraries is to distinguish the good, sound, and helpful from what was vulgar, pernicious, and futile.  This task is surely the same one that we face today amid a chaos of internet content.  Guidance should surely be offered to help us select and distinguish.  For the full article click here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why Read an e-reader

Mercy Pilkington suggests some reasons why e-readers are popular.  I find them encouraging.  She says that the market tends to be for romance - quick downloads, fantasy - easy reads, and commuters - easy to carry. Maybe the future has books in it after all.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Nook goes on

Barnes and Noble are not giving up.  They are now due to add Argos, Blackwells and Foyles to their English distributors; John Lewis was first.

Discoverability and Paid Reviews

Digital self-publishing has many benefits I am sure, though I am not completely certain what they are.  I like books.  Among the disadvantages of self-publishing, with the needed discoverability, is the trend of paid reviews, paying to have something written about your book.  This is an issue.  How do we discover what is good?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Author ego to save publishers

Rob Eagar has fun with the author ego, including his own.  There is also a serious point.  Can writers and writing survive without publishers and publishing?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Developments in e-books

The luddite in me might be forced to concede after all.  The Nook has found a distributor in the UK; and confident figures being boasted by Harper Collins and Amazon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wot'd you say? A pedant is a teacher.

Word of the day.  I like this one, the notion of a teacher being precise and building learning by working on the basics.  Of course, the term has acquired some negative connotations over the years.  What I didn't know until this morning was that a pedagogue was a slave, or attendant who accompanied a child to school.

E-books on demand in Canadian Libraries

The statistics speak for themselves.  Have a look.  Having said that it's been years since I borrowed a book from a library; I like to own mine.

Oxford Dictionary update

Chris Taylor discusses some of the new words in the Oxford Dictionary online.  I like words; and I think it is important to play with them.  Some of the inclusions do not convince me, however.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Political Role of Social Media

An interesting discussion of the limitations of social media, considered in the light of the Presidential Elections in the US.  The point surely, like specialist TV channels, is that such media choice does not encourage you to learn something new; it rather serves to confirm what you already know.  The question then is how can we get people to challenge the views that they already hold; such learning, evolving or changing opinions, seems essential to me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More signs from the Business World that e-books are on the increase. It's not all plain sailing though.

Digital Book World reports on the rise of entrants into the e-book market.  Read here.  My preference for books on shelves remains, however; they are substantial and lasting.  I take some luddite hope then from the fact that it is not all plain sailing for e-books.  Publishers are still finding their feet.

Barnes and Noble: E-books to watch, or not

Barnes and Noble are looking to break into the UK market.  They come with significant financial backing; but their competitors are already ahead of them.  For more read Jeremy Greenfield.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wot'd you say? Lady comes from 'bread-maker'

Word of the day.  I owe this to a friend.  What I like is the contrast with the more idle version of lady, as in a titled Lady, or ladies at lunch and ladies of leisure.  To be precise Lady comes from anglo-saxon, a combination of two words.  The first part 'la' is from hlaf or loaf; the second part 'dy' is from dige or make.  Hence a lady is a bread-maker.

Multi-platform fiction - making the most of social media

This is an interesting account of a performance that began as a Facebook fiction.  Well worth a read, though the possibilities of such work might be limited.  Have a look.

Literary Festival Dates

A list of Literary Festival Dates in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  For more information follow this link.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Erotic Scenes to Order

I find this article most encouraging.  It reminds me that the one thing a formula can't produce is an authentic, original voice.  The content, if you are interested, is a website that produces erotic scenes to order, deriving its purpose from Fifty Shades of Grey.  Have a look.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

India book-fair suggests e-book dominance

I am not a great fan, though my wife, an avid reader, loves e-books.  The focus in India on e-books suggests that they are indeed gaining ground.  Click here.

Wot'd you say? Myth means Word

Word of the day.  I have known this for years, one of those things that are read, judged profound and then filed among interesting, little known facts.  The relevance, however, struck me again as I composed my own myth, a story.  Words can unveil or create the truth, what is believed.  What is believed, mythology, arises through either process.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reading for Pleasure

The National Literacy Trust offers useful advice on using football to encourage reading.  Click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wot'd you say? Porsche means Pig

Word of the day: There are different explanations on offer for the name Porsche.  As a ex-Latin student, one who never paid much attention, I fancied it would mean beautiful, or something like that - offering is also given as an origin.  It would seem, however, that it is a variation of Portia, from Porcus, meaning Pig.  Have a look.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The future is digital, if you have discoverability

An encouraging, yet realistic discussion of the pros and cons of digital publishing.  The author has more freedom, a greater percentage of the profits, and the very difficult task of getting noticed.  For more click here.

Literature from a teacher's perspective. Inspiring.

An inspiring story for any lover of literature - wanting to show children the effects of great literature.  For more, click here.