Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Why Give Books for the Holidays?

December 13, 2014

comet

Last weekend I spent Saturday afternoon at the public library. Big deal, you say. It’s not like you just spotted a new comet. Lots of people go to the library, every day of the week.

You’re right, of course, but last Saturday, unlike most days with just a smattering of people, there was a crowd, which was a particularly nice thing to see.

orion township library library photo

Along with a lot of other local authors, I helped fill the lobby of the Orion Township Public Library. We were there with our wares, each of us hoping to sell a few printed copies of our individual creations to holiday shoppers.

I got there about noon to set things up and, although the event didn’t officially begin until 1:00 p.m., we didn’t turn aside anyone who showed up early and interested.

I managed to sell eight books in those three hours.

It doesn’t sound like many, I know … until I relate it to the zero books I sold at a local bookstore earlier this year (there weren’t even eight patrons that day). Of course, that other book-signing was during one of the biggest snowstorms we’ve had in decades.

The weather cooperated nicely this time, and the library (at least out where all the authors were) was crowded.

Digital Reading Growing
Nearly everyone who came by asked if my books were available as eBooks, too. They are, of course (but they’re hard to sign).

For me, all the comments I heard about electronic books that day highlighted something I read recently. Children’s e-reading habits continue to grow, with two-thirds of children 13-and-under now reading digital books; and 92 percent of those kids do so at least once a week.

If you do a little of the math, that’s good for authors.

It translates into a potential eBook consumer base of 36 million kids, and nearly half of them already read digitally every day.

Does this mean children are reading less because of e-books?

Not at all. I regard it more as a change in reading habits. They’re just adding new media to the mix, and someday soon (likely before all us old codgers realize it) those kids are going to be adults, with multiple reading venue choices.

They can choose to read print, or they can chose to read on an electronic device. If my own grandchildren are any example, the move to digital reading is well under way.

My granddaughter (the same one for whom I just purchased a printed book) does all of her homework on an iPad … and no, she’s not looking up answers.

Rather than dozens of books, the kids in her school are all required to have an iPad. She reads her textbooks digitally, answers questions online about her homework assignment, then turns it in electronically when it’s done.

It’s certainly different from when I was a kid.

But I don’t think it’s the death of books.

Far from it. I see it as an expansion of reading. There are still plenty of printed books (and people who enjoy them), but the opportunities for reading have grown exponentially in recent years because of digital readers.

As an avid reader myself, and as an author, I think that’s a very good thing.

A Good Turnout
The turnout at the library last week was encouraging. Lots of kids were there, and scads of adults came, too. People were buying books. The art of reading is obviously alive and well.

For authors, this kind of event is all about getting the word out for our books and, I have to admit, selling some books is nice … but personally, I had the most fun talking to patrons and a few of the other authors.

One of the other fine artists present was indeed an artist. Matt Faulkner, the renowned children’s book illustrator was there, delighting children and parents alike with his quick caricatures of the people who stood around his table.

After talking to her about it, I bought the book “The Colored Car” from author Jean Alicia Elster, who sat two chairs down from me on the left. I’m looking forward to reading it.

I also bought the book Dream Girl from author S.J. Lomis who sat beside me. While it wasn’t something I’d pick up for myself, it looks like a fine young adult title to give to my granddaughter … and I love encouraging her to read.

Being at the book signing Saturday didn’t make me a lot of money, and it didn’t make me famous enough for the eleven o’clock news … but it did make me rich.

I know, you’re looking at that and saying … but you just said you didn’t make a lot of money, so how can you turn around and at the end of the same sentence say it made you rich?

Depends on how you define rich, I suppose.

Defining Rich
If you’re all about the money, I didn’t really make any.

If you’re into friends and meaningful acquaintances, I came away with new ones, on which you cannot put a price. While the former is nice, I’ll take the latter any day.

It was like getting my Christmas presents early. People are still reading and, to me, that’s joyous all by itself. It’s the perfect reason to give a book as a gift. It encourages reading, and I think that’s something we should all be doing.

Happy Holidays, Gentle Readers!

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My books have garnered some terrific reviews. I may be biased (of course I am) but I think they would make terrific holiday gifts.

buy now amazon

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If you could’t make it to the Author’s Fair last week, you can at least look at the books I have available using the Amazon link above. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

How Do You Excite Readers?

June 24, 2014

Child With Magic Book

An excellent question.

Regardless of the genre in which you write, the best way to make your stories come alive is to write exciting, clear, descriptive prose and believable dialogue.

If that sounds like work, I suppose you could always try what I described in my last post. Grab a bare live electric wire … and hope you live to tell someone about it. It was definitely exciting.

However, it’s not something I would recommend.

I was fortunate to have only brushed the bare wires, not grab them … which could have created a whole different and, in my view, quite unwelcome outcome.

My brush with electrical stupidity didn’t mean the big nasty that electrocution could be … it just threw me to the ground and caused me to make a complete tear of the rotator cuff ligaments in my left shoulder.

The orthopedic surgeon figures with a couple hours of surgery, six weeks of immobility and months of rehabilitation, I’ll be something (hopefully) approaching normal again.

Given my history of normal, that could scare some people.

I’ve been through a similar scenario once before and remember the weeks of discomfort it meant. I’m not looking forward to it. The good news is I recovered … and I can now tell when the weather is going to change by the ache in my arm.

I also once broke the elbow in the same arm, trying … and failing … to prove I could still play football with seventeen-year-olds. I can’t, but at my age that’s not a bad thing. Is it?

I figure with this latest injury I’ll at least now have the weather-change info in stereo.

Unfortunately, it also means my writing and typing process is considerably slowed. I’ll be forced to type with only my right hand. I know for many this isn’t a problem. I’ve seen some of you type, and you’re only using a couple of fingers anyway.

But for me it’s a real problem. I wanted to get the third book of my Reichold Street trilogy published before the end of the year. Certainly by the first quarter of 2015.

And I do know how to type, so this slows me down considerably. I’ve already thought about recording my thoughts and transcribing them later but, while this is a good way to review my work, I find it cumbersome to begin that way.

Perhaps I should use this time to do some of the things I’ve been meaning to do … like go to book-signings, visit reading groups, talk to classrooms and generally get out and hobnob with some of the folks I’d like to reach with my books?

Perhaps I could do a reading for some of them and talk about how I come up with ideas?

Without both arms to gesture with as I talk, I’ll effectively be whispering … but, perhaps, they’ll pay more attention that way.

What do you think?

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You can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Is Reading in Decline?

September 5, 2012


The Next Generation Reader

While parts of the publishing industry are in crisis, Americans are reading more … at least according to the National Endowment for the Arts’ study, “Reading on the Rise.”

In stark contrast to the downward reading trend some say has characterized the past two decades, that NEA study found the first recorded rise in American reading in 26 years. Great news, certainly.

With Amazon, Nook, Sony, i-Pad and others battling to sell you an ebook reader, reading does not seem to not be in the perilous straits some naysayers might want you to believe.

Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information (think ISBN numbers), released its 2010 annual report on U.S. book publishing, it projected traditional U.S. print output to increase to 316,480 titles.

It is the non-traditional sector, however, that continues its explosive growth, increasing to an amazing 2,776,260 titles … many created by presses catering to self-publishers, such as me.

When I first got my Kindle it was at a time I had always stated I was determined never to replace a printed book with an electronic version. I’d always found pleasure in the look and feel of a book. I still do.

I’m finding, however, that purchasing and reading electronic books is just so … well … convenient. When traveling I always carried three or four books, or more, along with magazines. I might have taken more (I’m a voracious reader) but it was quite a burden.

Now, when I travel, I have all my reading in one small, simple place. On my Kindle. So has this electronic revolution led to the demise of reading? Probably not. Certainly not in my case.

Hopefully, it will encourage people for generations to come to read the good novels already out there, and the great ones yet to be published. What e-Book readers may do is change the industry that has developed around publishing books in print.

I know a lot of people who would prefer to have a paper book in their hands rather than a machine. For a long time, I was one of them.

However, with the ability to buy books on the go and store hundreds of them on an eBook reader rather than a huge bookshelf in your house, there are a lot of positives for people to take from eBook technology and this attitude is becoming less frequent.

Some people will undoubtedly be sad to see the little bookshop they’ve visited all their life disappear, because the demand for ink-on-paper is no longer there. I’ll be one of them. In this sense the e-Book reader is leading to a demise in traditional publishing, but it’s important to remember … people are still reading!

The e-Book reader has both positive and negative effects on the industry surrounding publication, but I have no doubt it will encourage people to continue reading for many years to come.

At the same time, it may knock apart the industry that produces, promotes and sells printed books. So they scream about the demise of books and the decline of reading.

Every generation rewrites an epitaph for the book; all that changes is the culprit. In the late 1700s, French visionary Louis-Sébastien Mercier predicted that by 2440, the sprawling bookstacks of the Royal Library would be condensed into a single volume.

History proved him right in everything but his timing. The future lay not in expanding information, but in compacting it; scaling it somewhere between an iPod and an iPad.

Over two billion people now have Internet access. So the idea of putting ink on paper may well be an antiquated notion. Quaint, from a previous era, like the horse and buggy.

Still, there is something comforting about the physical experience of bookstores. The serendipity of picking up something you never thought about, just because it was on a display, is irreplaceable.

Or, perhaps what I will certainly miss most dearly, should it come to pass, is the ability to just sit and look at the other human beings around you. And, best of all, have an occasional chance conversation with one … in real time, not on the Internet, but face-to-face.

 


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