Archive for Publishing Innovations

Would you read a novel composed on a cell phone?

I heard about this a couple of weeks ago; it seems to have started in Japan, and may be gaining some ground. Check out this article (Literary Devices) on the CBC Arts & Entertainment site:

these innovative and ambitious works were written entirely on cellphone keypads and published, sentence by sentence, on mobile-social publishing sites like Maho i-Land (Magic Island). As on Twitter, Japanese readers can choose particular authors to “follow,” and then get the bite-size story updates as the writer uploads them. Eventually, the novel is complete, but the demand keeps growing, as readers tell other readers.

Isn’t that interesting? And I thought Seth Harwood had gotten his novel out there in an interesting way.

Reading through the article, I’m kind of not surprised to hear about some of the themes in the novels, which can sometimes be quite violent. It’s the same thing you find in anime and manga. But I bet you find this kind of novel-writing starting to spread in exactly the same way those two mediums did. The Japanese do the innovating, and the rest of us do the adopting.

The article asks, “Could something like Twitter host Canada’s next great literary trend?” To which my answer would be, “Of course.” I’ve already seen a Religious Studies professor trying to educate his Twitter followers with summaries of each great religion in 140 characters. And we’ve already got Penguin planning that Twitterature book, with the classics of literature done in tweets. So yes, I think we’ll see English novels composed on Twitter or cellphone too.

Actually, um. If  I can find the time, in the midst of my current writing and editing swamp, I’ve actually been planning to tweet one of my own novels on Twitter. That is, I’ll tweet summaries, and then post the chapters online. But it was already written a few years ago. I don’t know if I’ll compose an entire novel on Twitter.


Virtual reunification of Codex Sinaiticus

This is very cool, for those who love history and ancient books. The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world’s oldest copies of the Bible, if not the oldest. It’s a Greek manuscript which is, unfortunately, kept in four different locations. (Those are The British Library, Leipzig University Library, St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, and the National Library of Russia in St. Petersberg.)

But the British Library has created this exhibit that will allow people to see the entire thing, thanks to the wonders of modern digital technology. The exhibit is called From Parchment to Pixel: The Virtual Reunification of Codex Sinaiticus, and it will be running from July 6 to September 7, 2009.

A bit of the summary:

On display are a number of collection items and media-rich interactive representations of the Codex and other relevant artefacts and events, such as historical news footage, blown up details of Codex Sinaiticus pages, and digital reconstructions of the textual development of certain pages.

I really really really wish I could see it! And I was starting to wonder if it would end up online sometime, when I discovered the Codex Sinaiticus project website. So yes, I suspect it will all be up there soon. (Must we pay to see it?? I hope not.)

But also, on the first Monday & Tuesday of the exhibit (July 6 & 7), there’s going to be a Codex Sinaiticus Conference, that will feature scholars and experts who are there “to further a more comprehensive inter-disciplinary understanding of the text, history, and material quality of Codex Sinaiticus, the fourth century Greek Bible – arguably one of the world’s most important manuscripts.”

To say I’m green with jealousy and dying to go to the conference and to see the exhibit is a monstrous understatement. (I shouldn’t complain: after all, we’ve got a marvelous Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit and many lectures over the next few months right here in Toronto, from the Royal Ontario Museum. But the thing that keeps me from even dreaming about seeing the British Library exhibit also keeps me from most of the Dead Sea Scrolls stuff here: lack of income. Darnit.)

Anyway, I’m thrilled at the digital reunification of this historic manuscript, and I can’t wait to see it, at least, on the website. Lucky Brits, who get to see the whole thing on-site!

The People’s Book Prize

I just heard about something starting in the U.K. that could be a great thing, and I hope it catches on in North America.

The People’s Book Prize website is going to launch on June 1, 2009, but there’s already some information there. This is going to be a prize which doesn’t have a select panel voting about it, but which the public will vote on instead.

From what I can see, there will still be a panel that selects what books will be in the running, but once they’re on the list, the people vote.

Tatiana Wilson (Managing Director of Delancey Press) explains her rationale for creating this prize:

I first came up with the idea when thinking of how to address the state of publishing as it is now in Britain. It is difficult for new talent to get published, or for existing authors to be noticed — because independent publishers cannot get enough exposure. Also, libraries across the country are facing closure – this is an opportunity for them to be brought back into the public eye, to attract more members and to encourage their communities to enter into the wonderful world of reading.

It sounds like it could be a good idea. Or an exercise in ballot-box stuffing, heh. I suppose there are some safeguards against that when the book list itself will be previously selected.

Free classics and another e-reading platform

The classics! For free!

I just heard about another e-book platform that even works with the Kindle as well as the Sony Reader, iPhone & iPod Touch, and so on.

It’s Feedbooks, a site based in France, which provides the ability to download thousands of classics — for free — in a universal e-reading format. And you can subscribe to many newspapers through them as well. I haven’t looked around the site in detail yet, but what I saw looks very good.

And classics! For free! I don’t have any of these e-readers, and even I want to get some of these.

Feedbooks has an official blog as well, and the founder is on Twitter as Hadrien.

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