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Electric Literature

posted November 6, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in uncategorized

electric 3

If you’re worried about the fate of the literary magazine in this hectic new era of apps and tweets, you might find solace in Electric Literature, a bold new bimonthly with a plan to capture and convert a broad and highly mobile readership to literary fiction. Founded by Andy Hunter, 38, and Scott Lindenbaum, 26, who met in the Brooklyn College MFA program, the magazine is available on every possible platform, including paper (printed on demand), Kindle, iPhone, and audiobook. Although many literary publications have begun to offer electronic delivery in some form or another, Electric Literature may be the first to blanket the whole field.

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When Publishing Is More Than Publishing

posted October 30, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books publishing

Publication Studio Makes A Book from Mike Merrill on Vimeo.

I was reading the local newspaper this morning and came across an interesting article about a print-on-demand publisher called Publication Studio. Their publishing model is unique in that Publication Studio aims not just to print and bind books but to create a community interested in the books. The publisher thus sponsors get-togethers to discuss publishing trends, books, what have you.

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These Books Are Totally Glitchin’

posted October 2, 2009

Posted by Anne Healey in book design

This is an interesting idea for print-on-demand book covers and looks cool, too.  Design student Michael Kosmicki created this series of covers as an entry in the 2009 D&AD Student Awards competition.  They’re based on the concept of intentionally producing a visual glitch using “a logarithm that translates the title and section into a distinct graphic pattern.”  (Thanks to the Book Cover Archive for pointing out these beauties!)




The assignment was: “Use typography to create a series cover design for Faber Film’s range of books that reflects Faber and Faber’s long history of typographic excellence.”  They also wanted entrants to design specifically for POD (print on demand) by creating a single template that could be used to generate an infinite number of cover designs.  This is a clever solution to that problem!  Plus: pretty!

Michael’s design wasn’t chosen (here are the winners)—it was probably deemed too conceptual for the assignment.

If you’re intrigued by these images, you might be interested in this new book that’s all about art made from glitches (like the image below): Glitch: Designing Imperfection.



Keeping up with the E-Joneses

posted September 16, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books books independent publishing

Village Books
Image by brewbooks via Flickr

Every day it seems another independent bookseller goes out of business. You can blame the economy,, the Internet, or maybe your neighbor, but the facts remain—stores are closing, and people aren’t buying as many books as they used to.

Some booksellers, however, are putting up a fight. Village Books, an independent bookseller in Bellingham, Washington, has embraced technology and plans to offer customers high-tech options in addition to traditional paper books. The store has partnered with Symtio to provide audiobooks and ebooks. Customers will purchase a book in the form of a product card at the store; the card then allows them to download the book wherever they have an Internet connection.

Village Books will also be home to an Espresso Book Machine. The EBM is a print-on-demand book-making machine. Not only can customers purchase, print, and bind out-of-print books but they can also create self-published books. Village Books is banking on the belief that there will be demand for out-of-print local books. There are only a handful of EBMs in retail stores across the nation.

Next Up: The Textbook Revolution

posted August 13, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in textbook publishing


As the digital revolution sweeps through trade publishing, many students and teachers are clamoring for an end to the current textbook publishing paradigm.

Textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation since the mid-1980s, according to a 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Today’s college student can expect to pay well over $100 for a chemistry, calculus, or economics textbook. As such, course materials account for about 40 percent of the total cost of attending community college. Exorbitant prices have led to rampant textbook piracy, which publishers attempt to combat by releasing a new edition of any given title every three years. New editions render the old ones useless and severely limit the option to buy cheaper, used textbooks.

In response to what many believe is an antiquated, inefficient, and unfair publishing model, the call for “open source” or “open content” digital textbooks is growing louder. (See Make Textbooks Affordable, a student-led coalition whose petition for open textbooks has gathered more than 2,000 signatures from college faculty nationwide.)

David Wiley, former Director of the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning, is widely credited with coining the phrase “open content” in the late 1990s. In essence, “open content” is free and open to modification (Wikipedia as case in point).

Wiley is now “Chief Openness Officer” at Flat World Knowledge, a start-up company that is pioneering the world’s first commercial model for open source textbooks. Founded by two veterans of traditional textbook publishing, Flat World is offering its expert-written, peer-reviewed textbooks online for free. Teachers can mix and match chapters, substitute their own examples, and customize the content in other ways. Flat World also provides social learning opportunities by enabling students to chat live with each other, form study groups, and take and share digital notes.

So where does the revenue come from? (Hint: it’s not from advertising.) Flat World anticipates that some students will simply use the free textbooks and pay nothing, but it’s also betting that many will pay for affordable convenience options, such as black-and-white softcover copies of the text for $29 (color for $59), audio books and book chapters, self-print pdf chapters ($1.99 each), study guides, and digital flash cards.

The Flat World vision is radical, but it also appears to make sense, if the company’s ability to raise $8 million in venture capital (as of March) is any indicator. In the current economic climate, I’m guessing that a lot of students, their families, and teachers are rooting for Flat World’s wild success.

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