Articles tagged "reading"

Innovative Ways to Leverage eBook Technology

Only “print” your book with Lulu? You could be missing out. According to Reuters, one-fifth of American adults read an eBook last year, with the number surely to keep rising over the next few years.

As readers move away from print, the electronic realm can become a lucrative option for self-published authors. The rise in eBooks provides some amazing opportunities, like:

  • Updated editions of non-fiction books
  • Extra chapters
  • The ability to try out releasing a book electronically before committing to print

Lulu.com is #1 in eBooks, but what about our old, beloved friend, print? Well, he’s getting a boost as well. With more readers come more recommendations, and even though e-readers are sweeping the nation, it still doesn’t make up the majority of the market. So more often than not, people who are being recommended books can’t buy the eBook, instead they buy it on good ol’ fashion print.

So where does this leave you, the writer? We live in exciting, changing times for authors. Perhaps you would like to test some new material that your readers aren’t quite familiar with? Then perhaps an eBook is the way to go. Once that takes off, you can print your book so the people who its being recommended to (who don’t have e-readers) can order your print version.

Some might lament — this is surely the death of print, right? Well, not necessarily.

As eBooks continue to gain popularity, writers will find new, creative way to utilize print — trying out new design schemes, or offering some print-only content. The future of publishing is going to be dictated by the self-publishers. A new profit-model will be determined by the adventurous writers who try out new ways to promote and distribute their work. Be it print, digital, or something we haven’t even thought of yet, self-publishers will be the engine of innovation for the industry.

“Butterfly in the sky…”

LeVar Burton, doing what he loves.

So, last night I found the picture below on the often hilarious shirt.woot.com. I was suddenly flooded with memories of my favorite show as a kid: Reading Rainbow. Sadly, I realized that, before last night, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I even thought about this program. Then it dawned on me…the entire reason I like books, love writing, and work at a self-publishing company isn’t because of all the Hemingways, Faulkners, and Emersons – it is because of one man: LeVar Burton.

With his warm, friendly charm, Burton captured childrens’ imaginations each week with fun stories, guest celebrity appearances, and a genuine enthusiasm to inspire kids to read. Without this show, I wouldn’t have discovered greats like Goodnight Moon, Miss Nelson is Missing,The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Where the Wild Things Are. Even more remarkable is Burton’s 20+ year struggle with dyslexia, which he overcame before auditioning for Reading Rainbow.

It took a silly cartoon to remind me, but Burton really is a true inspiration. He diligently piloted the show Reading Rainbow, helping it win a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards. The man is almost single-handedly responsible for helping four generations of kids not only learn to read, but find the fun in it. My favorite episode was when he went to a hat store. Each hat would magically transport him into the pages of a story. I remember endlessly begging my mother to take me to that shop for the better part of my youth.  I think I speak for several hundred-thousand kids when I say:  Thank you Mr. Burton. Thank you for teaching us that yes, “we can do anything.”

Wonderfully enough, Reading Rainbow will be coming back on an iPad® near you soon. According to Fast Company, Burton plans on revitalizing the show as a multimedia app with games, voiceovers, and over 300 books at launch. “But, you don’t have to take my word for it…”


What’s your favorite Reading Rainbow memory? Did it impact you as much as it did so many other young readers? Feel free to share in the comments below. Also be sure to learn about Lulu’s own literacy program:  Lulu for Literacy.

Reading for Sport?

What is it with turning regular every day activities into contests?  The simple joy of eating a hot dog is now a sanctioned event governed by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). Ironing is now an extreme sport as is growing a beard.  Don’t get me wrong … as both a competitive person and a male (age 18 to 35) I can appreciate a ridiculous challenge, and while I am skeptical about challenging people to read, I feel that if you’re going to do so there needs to be rules.

This morning, I came across the following blog post on Flavorwire.com entitled “10 Novels That We Dare You to Finish.”  In the post, “foolhardy readers” are encouraged to go through the list and comment on which titles, if any, were finished with ease.  In a related blog post, GallyCat editor Jason Boog has included links to “free eBook copies of five massive novels.”  Boog who enjoys reading electronic versions of long novels feels this approach “seems like the perfect way to interact with these unwieldy titles.”

Boog does raise an interesting point in that downloading a free version of something like War and Peace may certainly be more convenient than borrowing it from the local library or finding a cheap copy of the title at a used book store.  But if one is being challenged (or in the case of Flavorwire  … “dared”) to read these titles, then I would argue that downloading the “e” version is cheating.

If you are going to challenge someone to read titles that “also function as doorstops,” then I feel you should only read the print-versions.  It wouldn’t be the same experience otherwise.  The most cumbersome book I own is Carl Jung’s The Red Book (Liber Novus).   The book is a whopping 15 by 12 inches and almost 10 pounds.  When I read it, my wife thinks I look like a Benedictine Monk studying some ancient text.  The content of Jung’s book is fascinating, and I can’t imagine one having the same experience with an eBook-version of it (I don’t even know if an electronic version exists to be honest).  Moreover, what little remains of the book’s original simulacrum would be further diminished, I feel, when converted and displayed in electronic form.

For most readers, the simple joy of reading is motivation enough to tackle titles like War and Peace or The Red Book.  But if you’re going to challenge people who would not normally read “long, long books,” then I would force these folks to stick to print-versions only.  I feel you should have to lug them around with you in all their unwieldy glory.  In doing so, it will make for a richer experience.  At the very least, when the challenge is over, you’ll still have a physical version of the book.  Like a trophy on a bookshelf from some sporting challenge, it will stand as proof of your prior conquest.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

How To Get Your Book Into Libraries

A question that keeps popping up around the Lulu community is “How do I get my book(s) into a library?” Libraries can provide a great way to reach new readers that, otherwise, may not find out about your books. There are a lot of perks to getting your work into the library system. You don’t really have to worry about maintaining inventory or making a huge sales pitch because libraries are in it to share knowledge and help educate people. Many libraries even highlight local authors or will host regular book events like fundraisers that accept donated books. That doesn’t mean that some of the same marketing rules don’t apply when approaching a library however. And there are a lot of misconceptions about the best ways to go about getting a library’s attention.

Quality – Give Them Something to Work With:

A quickly diminishing stereotype of self-published books is that they are of poor quality. Lulu works to erase all of the preconceptions about self-published titles and helps authors create quality products that can sit on a shelf next to any best-seller. As long as an author takes his or her time to create a professional book that is formatted and edited well, then there is no reason a Lulu book can’t make it into a library.

It is important to note that some libraries do prefer certain bindings and can be reluctant to stock others like comb bound and saddle stitched (stapled) books. If you’re thinking about pursuing library distribution, it might be a good idea to call ahead to see what their requirements for submittal are.

Banned Books Week

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read!

Every year hundreds of books are threatened with removal from schools and libraries across the country. Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom has recorded more than 11,000 book challenges, including 460 in 2009.

Even though most of these challenges are made with the best of intentions (protecting people or children from difficult ideas), banning books prevents the freedom to choose and express opinions. Challenged books range from Mother Goose stories and the Harry Potter series to classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The ALA’s annual Banned Books Week is going on this Sept. 25 – Oct. 2. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. Since its inception in 1982, Banned Books Week has served as a reminder that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to or view.

What We’re Reading

It started off simple enough. I sent a company-wide email to my fellow Lulus asking two very simple questions.

I just finished reading a screenplay written by a friend of mine and was looking for some suggestions from my friendly Lulus as to what I should read next. Having worked here for four years, I should have known what to expect. CHAOS. There’s two things about us Lulus that you have to understand, we love books and we’re very opinionated. I made a rookie mistake, and I admit that. I received so many replies to my email that I’ve decided to take each Wednesday in August to highlight just a select few of the books that my fellow Lulus are currently reading.

Suggested Easter Reading

Today is the Spring Equinox which means Easter is right around the corner! Here in North Carolina, despite the drought that has plagued us for months, the recent rain has provided enough sustenance for flowers to bloom, grass to grow and trees to show new life again.Simon, A Special Bunny Indeed. On my way into work today, I saw six brown bunnies and wondered if white bunnies lived in the wild. This made me think of a charming Lulu book called Simon, A Special Bunny Indeed. In this story you meet a very shy bunny that stays inside because he is ashamed of his peach-fuzz coat. One night Simon ventures outside for the most harrowing experience of his life! RW Rafko wrote this book for his grandchild Mac. It is a perfect read for the Easter season.