Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Author's Take on E-Books

We’ve been talking ebooks recently here on Straight From Hel. I think we mostly agree that ebooks are here to stay. We seem a bit divided as to whether reading ebooks on your cellphone is the wave of the future, though.

Author Pat Browning gives us her take on the subject:

My first look at Google Books blew my wig off. There are thousands of books displayed -- l,053 alone in the Fiction/Mystery and Detective/General category. You can search by title or author. When I searched by "Pat Browning", my book cover came up. I clicked on it and got a full-size cover, plus a summary and the first 49 pages of the book. There were links to Amazon, etc. for more info and purchase.

Google has stiff competition from Amazon, which just unveiled its new Kindle version. Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive, is quoted in the New York Times as saying: "Our vision is every book ever printed, in any language, all available (for download) in less than 60 seconds." The same article reports that "Google has scanned some seven million books, many of them out of print," and Google claims that some of its books will soon be available on mobile devices like the iPhone.

The article, plus an audio clip of an interview with Jeff Bezos, is in the Personal Tech section of the New York Times at:

Meanwhile, there's a dark horse in this race. Plastic Logic, a start up focused on newspapers, magazines and business papers, will introduce an e-reader almost the size of a print newspaper. It's busy lining up content partrners for a 2010 launch. See an arrticle and photo at the Crave blog on

MobiPocket is a French e-book company that Amazon bought in 2005. It produces Mobipocket Reader software, a universal reader for PDAs. The software package is free and consists of various publishing and reading tools for PDA, Smartphones, cellular phones and e-book devices (Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Java ME, BlackBerry, Psion, Kindle and iLiad).

An alpha release of the java-based version of the mobipocket reader was made available for cellphones in June, and it has 65,000 titles for dowloading. Now if I can find time to download the free Mobipocket reader.

Right now there's so much going on, so many changes, in the world of books and publishing that I don't know how anyone can keep up and still find time to promote. But taking advantage of free advertising on Internet sites like Google Books and MobiPocket is one way to go.

Thank you, Pat!

Pat is the author of Absinthe of Malice, a Penny Mackenzie Mystery (Krill Press 2008). Also, zip over to her blog and read her post about the tornadoes hitting Oklahoma yesterday. She recounts her day of sirens going off and repeated trips to her safe closet. Plus, look at the picture of hail outside her place. I have never seen hail that huge!


  1. Pat shared a great deal of info on this subject here - thanks for the post, Helen.

  2. She did! Thank you for stopping by Marvin.

  3. Thank-you Pat! I've heard the term "mobipocket" before, but never knew what it was. Now I do. Thanks a bunch.

  4. Pat does seem to be on top of everything, doesn't she?

  5. Marvin, Charlotte, Ginger:

    Thanks! Publishing didn't change for hundreds of years, and all of a sudden changes are coming so fast it's hard to keep up. But it's a fascinating development.

    I just read today that Authors Guild is all over Amazon about a feature in the new Kindle.

    And the beat goes on ...

    Pat Browning

  6. The librarian panelists at Love is Murder seemed to want to wait until a unified format is reached for ebooks. They weren't too happy with the variety.

    Morgan Mandel

  7. That would really help, wouldn't it, Morgan. I wonder if it'll happen. We can't even get Windows and Apple to work together.

  8. I hear you, Pat. Sometimes you feel like you could get whiplash.

  9. Hi Helen. Thanks for posting this and for mentioning Mobipocket. I love their format. It's the most versatile of all the different formats. It also only takes a few seconds to down load their free software. Granted, I am a tad biased since my book is available from Mobipocket.

    Joan De La Haye


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