Sunday, April 26, 2009

Print 2.0: Can Ebooks Save the New York Times ?

image by Michael Pastore: Moses bringing ebooks to the people

Story Summary:
Print publishing has one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel. Can ebooks — part of the electronic publishing revolution that has often been blamed for print publishing's troubles — be a significant factor in the paper's resurgence? ... A gruntled author, whose upbeat book about ebooks has been ignored by the Times, explains the causes of newspapers’ demise, and then offers 11 solutions for renewal, including a New York Times-owned ebook reading device: the NYeTBook.

Essay by Michael Pastore, author
50 Benefits of Ebooks

Print publishing has one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel.

Magazines are vanishing from the racks like Cheshire cats in Wonderland -- but not even the grin remains. Most book publishers are cutting costs, titles or staff. In the rainforest of Information, every print newspaper in the USA is an endangered species.

The Huffington Post — which calls itself “The Internet Newspaper” — reported in December 2008 that the NY Times Company “said it would try to ease a cash problem by borrowing up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters.” On April 22, 2009, it was reported that the NYT had given six- and seven-figure bonuses to upper management, after a recent 5% salary cut to its 1,300 news staff members, and despite a first quarter 2009 loss of 74 million dollars.

Even my favorite columnist, the unflappable Maureen Dowd, is beginning to flap. In an essay Slouching Toward Oblivion, Dowd writes: "... old-school newspapers seem like aging silent film stars, stricken to find themselves outmoded by technology."

Print newspapers are dying. It’s strange that this situation seemed to strike as unexpectedly as the financial meltdown in October 2008. Could the publishing crises have been foreseen? ... More than 50 years ago, Aldous Huxley, interviewed by a cigarette-smoking Mike Wallace, warned:

“We must not be caught by surprise by advances in technology.”

We were not surprised. We were astounded, flabbergasted, thoroughly unprepared. Never did we dream that the blathering blog would evolve into the omnipotent HuffPo. That news would multiply ten-thousand times faster than you could report. That a world-class team of 1,300 news staff would be less captivating than a mind-numbing network of text messages not exceeding 140 characters in length.

Ebooks Fit In Where ?

Even if the profit from every ebook sold in 2009 were contributed, it would not be enough to save the newspaper, since the entire ebook industry in 2009 will gross approximately 100 million dollars. Ebooks alone can’t save the Times. But ebooks might be one essential element in the Times’s shift from a newspaper industry on its deathbed, to an innovative information industry that is sustainable.
image by Michael Pastore: print publishing accident

What Went Wrong: The Shift from Print to Pixels

Why can’t newspapers make money, repeat advertisers, and retain readers? ... You can’t blame ebooks and electronic publishing, as the Germans are doing, as they raise taxes on ebook sales in an attempt to boost sales for printed works. You can’t blame the Huffington Post, or the blogosphere in general: they’ve got the glitz, but they don’t have anything near your talent and your expertise. And you certainly can’t blame your best friend in the business — Google . Without Google to send us to your stories, you would be lost in cyberspace: unread, unappreciated, unfound.

The problem is medium of print itself: we are no longer a print-centered culture. Print publishing in general has five problems that it make clunky for our age. One: it’s too slow: by the time you’re holding the newspaper about pirates capturing a ship, there have been four story updates that make what you are reading obsolete. Two: printed books and periodicals are expensive, and costs are rising all the time. Three: printed matter eats up trees and energy and other resources: it’s bad for the environment. (For example: one year of Sunday newspapers produced by the New York Times is responsible for the destruction and consumption of almost 4 million trees.) Four: since printed publications cannot be searched with software, the information they contain cannot be organized efficiently. And five: printed information is not interactive. For better and for worse, the key to captivating modern readers in this age of narcissism spins around the word “me”.

The New York Times is far from perfect. And personally, I’m mad as hell at the Times for ignoring my most recent book. But when I search my steaming soul, I cannot deny the fact that I depend on the New York Times every day. I need its intelligence, its in-depth stories, and its liberal slant that tells the journalistic truth without malice and without fear.
image by Michael Pastore: NYeTBook, the New York Times ebook reading device

10 Ways the New York Times Can Save Itself from Extinction

One of Mahatma Gandhi’s most cherished principles for social action was the Hindu idea: “Any action is better than no action.” Applied to the New York Times crisis, this would be disastrous. The Times needs to act quickly and with intelligent actions. The goal must be to re-invent itself not as a “newspaper company” but as an “information company”.

1. Build the NYeTBook, your very own ebook and edocument reading device.
Hearst Corp. is working on one, what I have called the “Cosmo-Reader.” Apple’s secret project to be announced in June, guided by Steve Jobs, is an iTablet. A cheap reading device ($ 100 or less), with its own operating system, is the next giant thing. If you don’t want to build from scratch, take a look at Readius, a portable reading device whose release has been stalled due to lack of funding.

2. Evolve from a print newspaper to an information company.
This is not a small change, it is an evolutionary leap. O’Reilly Media is an excellent role model.

3. Make and sell ebooks with original in-depth content about current issues.
Digital News Books are now being created by a number of newspapers: the last time I looked, the New York Times was not included in this project. No matter. The NYT can do it all themselves: cut out the pricey middleman, and sell all the content from their own website.

4. Charge one small and flat yearly fee.
I’ll pay you $ 25 per year for unlimited access to the premium content on your website. As a bonus, I get your “ebook discount” option: I can buy any of your ebooks for a buck.

5. Cut salaries and eliminate bonuses of upper management.
We, the people, will not support the New York Times if their payroll is over-stuffed with outrageous salaries and unjustifiable bonuses to upper management.

6. Seek input from your readers.
Ask Pastore’s question for managing human relations: “We have a problem: what can we do to solve it?”

7. Take the bailout, please.
Congress will be meeting in May to discuss what might be done to help the newspaper industry. If they offer you a bailout package, grab it for dear life. Even if it means going non-profit, and becoming the print equivalent of NPR, take the bailout before it gets too late.

8. Network with other periodicals worldwide.
Join with other worldwide newspapers and share resources and profits.

9. Get a cool two-syllable nickname.
Lots of people claim that the Huffington Post is thriving because of their liberal leanings, their contributions from famous persons, their passion and panache. But the most important factor in the Internet newspaper’s success is their cool nickname: HuffPo. New York Times, if you want to talk to the current generation, you will need a cool nickname. (How about: “the NYeT” ?)

10. Focus on Barney Smith, not Smith Barney.
Internet news is clobbering print news because it’s free, it’s interactive, and it’s often about the little guy. After she had 20 million YouTube hits, the New York Times published an article about Susan Boyle. (“After the horse has escaped, the fool shuts the stable.”) Give more space to writing upbeat stories about “the little guy.”

NYeTBook Nation: A Nation of Readers

And there is one thing more, the most important thing. In an essay published posthumously, Henry David Thoreau reminded us to clear our minds:

“We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians we are, and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention. Read not the Times. Read the Eternities.”

Read the Eternities. That meant, for Thoreau, reading and living the wisdom of our great books. The newspapers have often urged us to vote for this man or that woman, to support this cause or that. How often have they reminded us to cherish our nation’s literature? The newspaper profession — and everyone in the publishing industry — must consistently encourage the reading public to read more than the daily newspapers.

America must once again become a nation of readers. If we do not learn to read “the Eternities”, then ultimately we will find nothing at all interesting in the Times.


Michael Pastore is an author of novels and non-fiction, including most recently:
50 Benefits of Ebooks: A Thinking Persons Introduction to the Digital Reading Revolution.

50 Benefits of Ebooks is a celebration of reading, publishing, ebooks and electronic publishing. Ebook newcomers will find all the basics here. And ebook experts can debate and debunk the author’s wild predictions for the rosy and thorny future of ebooks, by reading the essay, “Publishing Ebooks: Ten Tremendous Trends in 2009.” Authors will discover tips, tricks and resources for ebook publishing; and library professionals will enjoy the book’s glossary, index, links to leading-edge ebook sites, and sections about how and why ebooks are good for libraries.

The 320-page paperback edition is pricey, but you can buy the ebook for a buck (in PDF or ePub), here:


The text and images in this essay are all Copyright (c) 2009 by Michael Pastore.
The image of Obama in the NYetBook is creative commons 3.0 license, by the photographer named Bbsrock, from Wikimedia Commons:

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Friday, April 24, 2009

An Interview with Indie Author and Publisher Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn is an author, speaker, consultant and blogger based in Brisbane, Australia. Her most recent books are How to Enjoy Your Job, From Idea to Book, and From Book to Market. Penn’s website and blog The Creative Penn ( is part of the Alltop blogging network, and provides information and inspiration about writing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, and book sales and promotion on the Internet.

The site is filled with useful ideas, links to resources, original articles and reviews, podcasts and videos written and narrated by Ms.Penn.

This interview was conducted by email from April 20-23, 2009.
— Michael Pastore, Epublishers Weekly

1. Let’s start by setting the scene: what’s it like living and writing in Brisbane, Australia? From looking around the web, it seems to me that there is a thriving community of writers and publishers in Australia. And how is writing and publishing in Australia different from doing it in England, where you have also lived?

I am English but left in 2000 to pursue adventures down under. I lived in New Zealand for 7 years and have been in Brisbane, Australia for 2 years now. Brisbane has brilliant weather and is on the coast by the river. It is paradise really, although Melbourne and Sydney have a lot more going on in the literary scene. It is quite different here to being into the writing scene in the UK. I lived in London where I could go to many and varied events with big name authors regularly. There is not so much opportunity here in Australia for that – although there are a number of festivals which are great! If people are interested in some of the writers down here, here is a link to the Top 50 writing blogs in Australia.

2. Your website has an interesting page about your writing history. Can you tell us about that?

I wrote the post in order to show that you don’t have to be a prize winning published author in order to be a writer. I talk about the journals I have written over the years, poetry I had published, the technical writing I have done, compilation books I have been in and finally my self-publishing journey. It is encouragement for people who may feel under-confident about writing, as it proves we all have a lot of skills under our belts. We all write a lot in our lives. It just needs to be taken further to become a book.

3. Your book “How to Enjoy Your Job”, seems to be very timely: I don’t know very many people who actually do enjoy their work. What is the secret to employment enjoyment? ... And how can a person tell if he/she should try to enjoy the job, or leave it?

I wrote “How to Enjoy Your Job” after 11 years as a business consultant working in Europe and Australasia for large management consultancy firms. I worked with many people in IT and finance and just saw so much misery. People are trapped by their own expectations, financial commitments and just not knowing what else to do. There were also a range of self-destructive behaviours that people were using to just get by.

I was one of these people for many years and was determined to change my own life. I wrote the book that I needed the most, because I wanted to enjoy my own job and my life. The book talks about the realities of a miserable working life and the damage it can cause, and then looks at ways to change each of the most common working problems: boredom, stress, other people, feeling trapped, being undervalued, financial issues and the job being a mismatch with your personal values. I then go through the career change process and how to identify what you really want to do. I may re-release it with another title because many people have said it is more a life-change book than just one about jobs. 

The secret to loving your job is to identify what you want and then move towards that over time. Life is too short to be miserable for the majority of your week. I am still going through the process myself as it is not an overnight change. I now work 2 days per week as a consultant and then work on writing, my blog and internet products for writers the rest of the time. Funnily enough, this “global financial crisis” seems to be helping many people reassess. If you tighten your belt and can live on less money, do you need that high stress job?

I needed to write this book to save my own life. Seth Godin has said “the book you write will change your life” and this has been true for me. My husband also changed his career because of proof-reading the book and we are both very happy in our new life. For me, this is reward enough, but it is also for sale on in print and the ebook is available for free on Smashwords here! You can also get a free workbook at

4. This was your first full book: how were you able to make the great leap from just thinking about writing, to actually completing the book?

I am a huge reader and I love books. I love buying books and having bookshelves full of them. I even shipped several thousand to New Zealand from England, and then on to Australia! I probably could have re-bought the entire collection for that money, but I couldn’t bear to lose them! So I have always hero-worshipped authors and set them on a pedestal. I thought I wasn’t good enough to be like that, and so never even tried to write a book.

I spent 22 years thinking about writing a book and I had many false starts because of these feelings. I finally wrote the first book when I discovered two things. Firstly, that non-fiction is a valid genre and I didn’t have to be a fiction writer to be an author. That might seem obvious but I always thought I had to write prize winning fiction!

The second was discovering self-publishing options. I saw that if I couldn’t get a publisher, I could still hold a copy of my own life-changing book in my hands. I did send a traditional query off when the book was finished, received one rejection and then dived straight into self-publishing it. I didn’t want to wait any longer! Now I am addicted to it and have so many ideas for more books!

I now understand that my writing is my opinion, and if it helps someone, then that is brilliant! If it doesn’t, then no worries. My books have already helped people and that validates what I write. I tell new authors this as well – don’t fit into what others want you to be, write what is on your heart.

5. Your next book, From Idea to Book, offers sensible advice about planning and writing. What is that book about?

I wrote the next 2 books together as I wanted to share everything I have learnt with new authors. This book takes people through the actual writing process as well as publishing options. I tackle the psychology of writing as well as tips for getting the words down, goal setting and organising. There are also sections on self-publishing, print-on-demand, ebooks and also traditional publishing queries and submissions. The book is ordered in a Q&A format which makes it very easy to find the answers to the most common questions new authors have. It will be on Amazon soon and is currently available for $1 in ebook format here.

6. I’ve always thought that the most difficult and interesting part of the writing life is the need to develop four separate skill sets: writing, learning, book production,and marketing. The marketing is the most confusing for new writers. And you’ve written a whole book about that, From Book To Market.

Marketing is so important and I have discovered that I LOVE this side of things! I learnt this the hard way because I self-published, ordered copies and then sat looking at them! I didn’t know what to do next.

So I spent a year learning everything about marketing both traditionally and on the internet. I have done all sorts of programs, read a lot of books and then have been trying it all out. My blog documents a lot of these experiments – for example, the press release that got me on Australian National TV with my (self-published) book!

I wrote the book to share everything I have learnt and put into practice myself. I actually won a prize for my own book marketing plan which is also available for free download here. It was 9 months after my publication – but hey, I had to learn sometime!

“From Book to Market” is full of Q&A style chapters on how to sell and promote your book including how to make book trailers for free, build your website and blog and how to use social networking. Once again, you can get it for $1 here (and it will soon be on as a print book)

7. Writing was once considered a solitary profession, with the writer cut off from the world, living in an isolated ivory tower or alone in a cabin in the woods. How are things different in our Internet era?

I am so excited at the moment with what is happening in the creative world of writers! The internet makes it seamless to connect with people all over the world who are interested in the same things as you. I found you via a blog and we connected. I am interviewing brilliant and creative people on my podcasts, all of whom I met online. I physically network in Brisbane a few times per month, but most of my writing buddies are online. We are on Twitter, we blog. It’s such a fantastic, connected world now! If writers ever feel lonely, then come join us on Twitter for some encouragement and support.

8. Your books have two dimensions: information and inspiration. How important is the “inspiration” facet of the writing game?

I am a non-fiction, self-development author so I want to be helpful to people as I have been helped by other writers. My personal goal is to be someone like Jack Canfield who offers fantastic informational content in his coaching and books but also inspires people to achieve their goals. All the practical information in the world is not enough without knowing that others have made it too. They can inspire you! In my blog and also in my writing, I try to encourage people to give things a go and see what happens and I share my experiences when I try something new.

9. There is a term floating around the Internet: "Indie Publishing." What is that all about?

Indie is short for independent and it essentially describes a group of authors and small press publishers who are doing things differently to established, traditional publishing.

It is similar to the music industry that was dominated by big name artists and record labels and new bands struggled to make an impact. Then along came mp3 files, GarageBand software, mySpace and iTunes. Independent bands and labels sprouted up everywhere selling over the internet, liberated from the dominating parties in the industry. The music industry is now dramatically different.

In the book world, indie authors are self-publishing, creating ebooks, using print-on-demand, podcasting and selling their work over the internet. They are trying all kinds of new ways to be creative, sell and promote online that bypasses the NY and London publishers. Many are disillusioned by traditional publishing and believe the market should decide what books are bought, rather than the publishing houses. It is not necessarily anti-establishment and many indies would still like a book deal. However, it is more a positive way of getting creative work out there, as opposed to being rejected and then giving up.

Interestingly, “Indie” is becoming a badge to be proud of, as it is in the music industry. As the large publishing houses suffer in the recession, these indie authors and small presses can survive and even thrive with cheap and free creative models.

10. Your upcoming project looks very interesting: tell us about Author 2.0.

Author 2.0 is an online course that teaches how to write, publish, sell and promote your books using Web 2.0 technologies. The aim is to help authors build their platform online and either sell themselves through self-publishing or help to attract a publisher by building a following. Now, more than ever, publishers want authors who have fans ready to buy their books, and of course self-publishing means you have to distribute and promote yourself.

The course features 12 modules: Writing in a digital market, Self-publishing and print-on-demand, Website building, Blogging, Ebooks, Social networking, Press releases, Video and book trailers, Podcasting, Traffic tactics, marketing and becoming an Author-Entrepreneur.

Each module is a “How To” practical course featuring a mini ebook, a video, an audio from an expert and a transcript. All of these help the author build an online platform themselves by implementing each module. Most of the tools are free or cheap and the videos show you exactly what to do.

The expert interviews include John Kremer (1001 Ways To Market Your Books), Penny Sansevieri (Red Hot Internet Publicity), Mark Coker (Smashwords), April Hamilton (Indie Author), Yaro Starak (Top blogger Entrepreneurs Journey), Sheila English (COS Productions book trailers), Dan Klass (podcaster extraordinaire), and Chris Knight (CEO, EzineArticles).

All of this is based on my own experiences and I use all the methods I teach in the course myself. I am still learning, but it is such an exciting time that I wanted to bring other authors along for the ride! You don’t have to be very technical either as the online tools are all pretty easy (and I show you how to use them!)

The course will be US $297 and all online so will be available globally. It will be launching in late May 2009 and people can find out more here. There is also a 50% affiliate program. This means that anyone can join up, recommend the course with their own special link and receive $148 back at the end of the month. This affiliate marketing is common in other online markets but is relatively new in the author scene. I will also be looking to work with writing schools as I think their clients would benefit. My aim is to empower and excite a whole new crop of authors using web 2.0 to build their platforms!

11. How can readers contact you, and find out more about your works?

My main site is and there are lots of free articles as well as podcasts and my “How to be an author” free eworkbook. I also use Twitter to send out links to useful publishing, writing and book links daily. You can follow me @thecreativepenn . I’m also on Facebook here.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 23 is World Book and Copyright Day

poster for 2009 world book and copyright day

April 23 is World Book and Copyright Day. The event is sponsored and organized by UNESCO. Each year focuses on different themes:

"For the 2009 edition of the Day, UNESCO suggests to explore the topic of the paramount function of books for the development of quality education, as well as the link between publishing and human rights."

For more information about this day, visit:

World Book and Copyright Day (2009) page at UNESCO

April 23 is also a notable day for lovers of literature and poetry.

Literary births on April 23 include William Shakespeare in 1564 (day not certain); William Caslon in 1693 (English typeface maker); and Vladimir Naboklov (1899).

Literary deaths on April 23 include William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes (both in the year 1616); William Wordsworth; Henry Vaughan and Rupert Brooke. Ian MacMillian, in an article in the Guardian, wryly comments on these many poetic deaths, but inaccurately states that Shakespeare died in 1606. (But MacMillian's article is still worth reading.)

Last week, the Chronicle of Higher Education featured an article that stated The Elements of Style was published in 1919. But the book itself says "1918". And this week the Guardian can't find an editor who knows the year of Shakespeare's death.

Might mistakes in name-brand periodicals be blamed on budget cuts, or the lack of knowledge and concentration that results from too much Twitter tweeting? ... The Twuddite Maureen Dowd writes skeptically about twitterers, in her recent column To Tweet or Not to Tweet. Dowd begins the essay by referring to Alfred Hitchhock's horror movie, "The Birds", and ends by stating:

"I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account."

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Art for Our Sake: From Harry Chapin to Susan Boyle

Mr.Tanner is a song written and performed by Harry Chapin (1942-1981), and can be heard on You Tube performed by Chapin himself, or interpreted by young singers. [See Story Links, below.] The song tells the story of a Mr. Tanner, who owned a cleaning business in the Midwest. Tanner loved to sing, and he sang beautifully. Encouraged by his friends, he travels to New York City for his first performance — spending his entire life savings, but happy to do it for this one big chance.

But after the performance, the critics were not satisfied, and their devastatingly harsh review destroyed Tanner's chance for a professional career. Tanner returned home, and “never sang again.”

But he did sing again &mdash and again. Tanner is a genuine artist, albeit an artist unrecognized. At the end of his working days, while sorting through the clothes, he sings.

Chapin tells us:

"Music was his life, it was not his livelihood,
and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.
He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole."

Although Tanner failed in his career bid, his music transformed his life.

Chapin’s song is a fairy tale; but in real life, there are some working-class people who are getting their chance for more than the alloted 15 megabytes of fame.

Paul Potts was a cell-phone repair man, who sang opera on a British talent show, and then went on to a recording contract that sold millions of songs.

Susan Boyle recently sang on that same British TV show. In spite of her frumpy old-maid-like appearance, she electrified the judges and the audience with a moving rendition of a song from Les Miserables, “I Dreamed a Dream”. One YouTube video of her performance has been viewed more than 25 million times.

Susan will sing again on this show on May 23. The world will be watching.

It is wonderful to see talented people get the recognition they deserve.

tombstone of Harry Capin

At the same time we should keep in mind the lesson of Harry Chapin’s song. We should be creative — sing, dance, play music, draw, write poems, stories, novels and songs — not for the money and the fame. We should be artists for the pure joy it gives to us and to others; for the empathy and self-discipline it teaches us; and for the healing powers of these creative arts.

The British author Herbert Read has written extensively about the connection between art and non-violence. Creativity is not a luxury, it is a deep need in the human spirit. When human energies are not used for creativity and love &mdash or, as Thoreau tells us, when we "lead lives of quiet desperation" &mdash then the frustrated person may erupt by performing acts of of violence against himself or others. Shootings in schools and workplaces could be vastly reduced, and perhaps even eliminated, if creative lives were not the exception, but the norm.

Harry Chapin’s tombstone is inscribed with these words:

Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one’s man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
To this world.

Michael Pastore

Story Links

Harry Chapin sings Mr. Tanner

Mashup of Mr. Taylor

Paul Potts, Opera Singer, on Britains Got Talent

Susan Boyle, Singer, on Britains Got Talent

Susan Boyle, article in the New York Times

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Great Slydini Makes Magic for Dick Cavett

Tony Slydini and Dick Cavett

The Great Slydini — Tony Slydini — is featured here on two videos from the Dick Cavett Show, along with commentary by Cavett on his New York Times blog.

Cavett explains that there are no mirrors, and no tricks with the cameras.

The first video is intact; the second video has some outages, but just stay with it and they clear up and continue (you'll hear the sound but not see the images for short times.)

If Cavett could post these to YouTube, then these could become "viral videos" like nothing else in the history of the Net.

Slydini says: "You can do anything, if you know how."

Watch and be amazed.

The Great Slydini on the Dick Cavett Show, 1977

The Great Slydini on the Dick Cavett Show, 1978

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Books (freeware book cataloging for Macs)

Books is the name of a freeware book cataloging application for Mac computers. It's free, simple to use, and filled with useful features.

You can download Books after visiting the project's home page, here:

Installation takes almost 8 seconds: unzip the downloaded file, and then drag the icon into your Applications folder. (I always take another few seconds to make an alias, and then drag this "shortcut" to my desktop.)

You can immediately begin to add books. I typed in some titles by hand, but there are other options: you can import book information in many ways: from, from the library of Congress, from a .csv file, or from Delcious Library — a shareware book cataloging tool with pinache: whenever you delete a book the book bursts into flames.

You can add book covers by simply dragging an image onto the Books interface.

Once you have some books listed, the fun begins. Now you can create "smart lists" for sorting your books, similar to the tagging system used in For example, you can create a smart list for books you want to read next; or for books by a certain author; or for books written in the Greek language; or for books loaned to your Aunt Fanny, and so on.

Books has many other features: export your book list; create your own custom fields; keep track of books loaned; link to reviews of the book, and much more.

Now that ebooks are getting more and more popular, you'll need a way to catalog your ebooks. Books can do it admirably. From the Books main screen, I made a separate list for my ebooks. Then I tagged each ebook with useful tags of my choice, for example: ebook file format, genre, source (where I acquired the ebook) and location.

For the ePub ebooks that I keep on Bookworm, I make a note in Books to help me to remember that fact. My PDFs are stored in a file called "My Ebooks 2009". Books lets you add a file link to every listing: so my PDF ebooks (and text and HTML ebooks) can be opened and viewed in two easy clicks. Books uses Apple's default PDF viewer, Preview, which is my favorite way to read PDFs on the Mac.

I haven't yet tested Books when thousands of books are entered, but I have a feeling that it can handle large libraries. (I will report back here with an update).

The Books development team will cheerfully accept your donations, here: You might also want to donate time and skills, either developing software or translating into other languages.

is a great answer to the problem of organizing your book collection, not only because it is specifically designed for book cataloging, but also because it gives you all the power and flexibility of a database application, with none of the cost, and only a fraction of the learning curve.

Michael Pastore
50 Benefits of Ebooks

(Thanks to Teleread for alerting us to this great freeware.)

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

50 Benefits of Ebooks is Now in Paperback

Important Note:
A new edition of this ebook — updated and expanded — is now available. For the latest editions, visit the book's companion blog:

Do not buy the paperback!
Buy the ebook at 1/20th of the price!

50 Benefits of Ebooks
A Thinking Persons’s Introduction to the Digital Reading Revolution
Edition 2009
by Michael Pastore
Paperback, pocket-sized 4.25" x 6.88"
320 pages
ISBN: 978-0927379-17-5
Published by Zorba Press, April 2009
$ 20

50 Benefits of Ebooks is a lively introduction to the brave new worlds of ebooks and electronic publishing. In 21 chapters, the book explores five essential aspects of ebook reading, writing and publishing:

A. Benefits of Ebooks and Paper Books
B. Reading Ebooks
C. Ebooks for Authors and Publishers
D. The Value of Reading; and
E. The Education of An Ebooklover (resources)

Ebook newcomers will find all the basics here. And ebook experts can debate and debunk the author’s wild predictions for the rosy and thorny future of ebooks, by reading the essay, “Publishing Ebooks: Ten Tremendous Trends in 20009.” Authors will discover tips, tricks and resources for ebook publishing; and library professionals will enjoy the book’s glossary, index, links to leading-edge ebook sites, and sections about how and why ebooks are good for libraries.

The paperback edition of this book is pocket-sized, 320 pages, about 40,000 words — and sells for $20. The ebook editions (in formats ePub and PDF) contain all the same content as the paperback — except the paper. The ebook editions are 1/20th of the paperback price, and sell for one dollar.

Pastore writes that he loves paper books, and hopes that they are never replaced by their electronic progeny. Nevertheless, every day, ebooks are growing in use, in sales, and in significance. After years of sputtering, the digital reading revolution has at last arrived.

50 Benefits of Ebooks is your friendly guide.

To buy the book, or for more information, and additional updates and resources, visit the book’s companion website:

Members of the media can read the news release, here:
New Paperback and 1-Dollar Ebook Explores the Joy of Reading Ebooks

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ethical Markets by Hazel Henderson

book cover: Ethical Markets by Hazel Henderson

Green is the color of the new economy. To understand what all this greening is about, you can read Hazel Henderson's book, Ethical Markets.

Henderson's websites have more excellent resources:

Ethical Markets


Ethical Markets TV

— Michael Pastore

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Project Guterotica: Is PG Still PG ?

image of nude, based on CC License 2 image by Tatiana Sapatiero

On his deathbed at age 94, George Bernard Shaw iced his place in history, with the "immortal" last words: "I knew if I hung around long enough, something like this was bound to happen."

The same thing might be said about Project Gutenberg (PG), a repository for free literature in the public domain, the venerable grandfather of the free ebook movement. This morning, on PG's list of newly added works, some books appeared that might be classified as that 19th-Century Viagra known as "Victorian erotica".

We have no objections, and we have one suggestion: Is it possible for Project Gutenberg to label this material as "Adult Content" ?

Diligent journalists as we are, we did manage to download some of these offerings, written by "Anonymous". One is titled Forbidden Fruit: Luscious and exciting story; and More forbidden fruit, or Master Percy's progress in and beyond the domestic circle. Two other titles that sounded suspiciously salacious are Laura Middleton; Her Brother and her Lover; and The Power of Mesmerism: A Highly Erotic Narrative of Voluptuous Facts and Fancies.

Put the kids to bed before downloading any one of these.

Project Gutenberg: let's get those "Adult Content" labels up, and keep them up.

I thought that with 50 I had discovered every possible benefit of ebooks, but for the 2010 edition, this could be one more.

Michael Pastore
50 Benefits of Ebooks

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Monday, April 06, 2009

MacHeist Bundle: The Last Day

Macheist Bundle 2009

The MacHeist Bundle is a collection of Mac software applications offered — for a limited time only — for a very low price.

It's a great deal for Mac users, and today is the last day of this zany sale.

Ten percent of your purchase goes to charities.

I bought my "bundle" about a week ago, and already I've been using some of the applications: Acorn, a graphics editor (list price: $ 49); Picturesque, for enhancing images (list price: $ 39); Kinemac, for creating 3D animations (list price: $ 299); WireTap Studio, for audio recording (list price: $ 69), and Times, an RSS reader (list price, $ 30). All these — and 8 more applications — were snagged for the insanely low price of $ 39.

There is some drama in this event: if a goal is attained ($ 500,000 for charity), then the final two applications will "unlock" — meaning, they will be made available to the MacHeist buyers.

Take a look at the MacHeist page, and if one of these featured applications is something you can use, then don't hesitate to buy. It sounds too good to be true, but it is true: you get the full versions of these products, with no gimmicks and no strings attached. Payment options include major credit cards and PayPal.

update on Macheist Bundle 2009

At 10:45 am, EST, Macheist achieved its goal of $ 500,000 for charity. Congratulations to the MacHeist staff! Everybody wins: charities get half a million dollars; customers get a great deal; and software developers get more than 50,000 new customers. And other businesses might want to look at the MacHeist model for innovative ideas to promote their work.

The goal has been met, but the sale continues through today. (Do check the time zones; MacHeist time is not EST).

MacHeist Bundle, 2009

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Can Ebooks Save the New York Times ?

This is a preview of a full essay that is now published on our blog on April 26, 2009.
Here is the full essay: Print 2.0: Can Ebooks Save the New York Times ?

Can ebooks — part of the electronic publishing revolution that has often been blamed for print publishing's troubles — be a major factor in the paper's resurgence?

Story Summary:
A gruntled author, whose upbeat book about ebooks has been ignored by the Times, explains the causes of the newspapers’ demise, and then offers 12 solutions for renewal, including a New York Times-owned ebook reading device: the NYeTBook.

First sentence:
“Print publishing has one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel.”

Some of the facts in this story are taken from the book and ebook:

50 Benefits of Ebooks.
Ebook newcomers will find all the basics here. And ebook experts can debate and debunk the author’s wild predictions for the rosy and thorny future of ebooks, by reading the essay, “Publishing Ebooks: Ten Tremendous Trends in 2009.” Authors will discover tips, tricks and resources for ebook publishing; and library professionals will enjoy the book’s glossary, index, links to leading-edge ebook sites, and sections about how and why ebooks are good for libraries.

For more information, and to buy the ebook for a buck (in PDF or ePub), go here:

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