Sunday, March 10, 2013

eBook Review: The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI by Charles A. Coulombe

Verdict: 4 Stars

As the world watches to see where the position of leader of the Catholic church is headed and who will be tapped to fill the role, to those on the outside of the issue there may be some confusion about the election of a new Pope and the status of the previous one. After Pope Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down to health concerns, rumors began swirling about his true motivations, the pending leadership of the Church in his absence, and the way history will remember this one-time conscripted Hitler Youth member.

Coulombe’s title, The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI (Diversion Books), may only be a digital short that contains less than 25,000 words, but the well-known author of titles the chronicle the Catholic church packs an astounding amount of history and cardinal regulation into that brief title. While at times the book seems to veer off course into issues facing the Church that have no bearing on the outgoing Pope, the simple fact that it is a work of long-form journalism lends itself to this level of historical data. An almost-distracting number of hyperlinks embedded constantly throughout the text may make the work unappealing to some, but could also provide constant valuable clarification to readers who are not already familiar with the workings of the papacy.

It is important to state that ebooks such as Couloumbe’s aren’t intended to become timeless works of non-fiction, but are rather almost rushed through to digital publication in order to reach readers in a timely way. One of the benefits to the format of the digital short or e-novella is that ability to bring even more in-depth information to readers as the events in the text continue to rage.

The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI is available now from Diversion Books and Kobo.

eBook Review: The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI by Charles A. Coulombe is a post from: E-Reader News

Authors Warned Away from eBook-Only Imprints

A number of blogs and news sites posted uncharacteristically wary responses to this week’s announcements coming out in the world of self-publishing and ebook-only imprints. On the first front, a press release stated that self-publishing solutions provider Lulu has teamed up with vanity press Author Solutions (ASI) to promote high-priced packages to would-be authors; at the same time, several outspoken critics of the recent acquisitions or launches of some ebook-only imprints from well-known traditional publishers have brought to light some of the concerns facing authors who sign publishing deals for ebooks.

An article by Mick Rooney from The Independent Publishing Magazine explained some of the concern for naive authors who sign with the oft-criticized Author Solutions, namely that the company is actually facing litigation for accusations surrounding some of its recent practices. Those practices include allegations that authors’ royalties were not paid out, advertised packages were not as promised, and more. Several writers expressed concern that the ordinarily well-received site Lulu would align itself with the company.

At the same time, an in-depth article for Forbes by Suw Charman-Anderson explained some of the issues surrounding the rise in ebook-only publishing imprints–many of which are owned by Big Six publishers and operate as a way to bring books to market without the investment risk in print editions–and the things authors need to be aware of before signing a contract.

When digital-first or ebook-only imprints were first conceived of, they were criticized for changing the long-held dynamic of a traditional publishing deal. Most under attack was the lack of an advance against sales, a factor that reliable imprints like Harlequin’s Carina Press can afford to operate under by offering authors an unheard of high royalty percentage. Where royalties are concerned, critics argue that the imprints are not actually offering authors standard royalties.

In the case of Hydra, a science fiction ebook-only imprint owned by Random House, the theory is that authors will not receive royalties, but will instead receive payment on what is closer to a profit-sharing system of the net profits. There is also the matter of signing the rights away for the term of the copyright, as well as terms which include charging the authors for the initial setup costs associated with publishing the ebook.

While the publishing industry has evolved more in the last handful of years than ever before, it’s easy to get swept up and believe that this is just where the business is heading. It is important to remember that the publishers have a stake in ensuring the most profitable outcome for their catalogs, but that doesn’t always mean it will be profitable for the authors.

Authors Warned Away from eBook-Only Imprints is a post from: E-Reader News

SxSW: Marvel Announces Weekly Infinite Comics, Free #1s

Marvel SxSw

Marvel Comics had some big announcements at its panel Sunday at South by Southwest. The list starts with weekly digital Infinite Comics, featuring four 13-issue story arcs over the course of the next year; the release of 700 free first issues for a short time; Project Gamma, technology that will enhance comics with sound; online videos about the company, including documentaries on their history; and the previously announced Marvel Unlimited iOS app.

Let’s start with the freebies. Between now and March 12, Marvel is offering 700 issue #1′s for free via comiXology. That’s the good news; the bad news is that the flood of traffic immediately after the announcement apparently crashed the site. Hopefully they will fix the problem quickly so everyone can get their free comics before the deadline.

The Infinite Comics are something Marvel introduced last year at SxSW. These are comics specifically made for digital media (I reviewed one just last week) that eschew the traditional page turns. Instead, a swipe may bring in new word balloons, a new panel, or a change in focus. (Marvel has a demo video on their site.) Up until now, they have been one-offs tied in to print storylines, but now Marvel plans four 13-issue story arcs, starting with Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted, which will debut on July 9th. Marvel CEO Axel Alonso told CBR,

What we’re trying to do is deliver a comic book that first counts for the long term fan and they’ll understand how it’s woven into the continuity, and secondarily is exciting to the new or lapsed reader. We want to make sure we use all the bells and whistles and props available on this new canvass to excite people… At the end of the day, you’re left with a very cinematic comics experience. There’s a sense of motion that the new technology allows for that makes for a completely different experience, but the reader still controls the pace of that experience.

The fact that there’s a Wolverine movie in the works is, of course, no coincidence at all. On the Marvel site, Alonso remarks that the writers of the monthly comics will also be working on the Infinite Comics, because they are all part of the same continuity. Marvel is keeping mum for now on the other three story arcs.

Project Gamma will provide audio enhancements to Marvel comics in the form of a soundtrack or other audio cues and will only be available for select comics; in the CBR interview, Alonso allows that he was skeptical at first but added, “Who out there hasn’t had that moment when you’ve been reading a comic book with your iPod on or the radio on, and you found that the music has changed your reading experience?” He called it an “adaptive experience” that will vary depending not only on the story but also the reader’s pace and other factors. There’s a video showing how it works on the Marvel site.

Finally, Marvel plans a series of in-house videos, to be hosted by Blair Butler (Attack of the Show) that will take a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s history.

SxSW: Marvel Announces Weekly Infinite Comics, Free #1s is a post from: E-Reader News

5 ways to find free Wi-Fi wherever you go

KOMANDO ON FOX:5 ways to find free Wi-Fi wherever you go