Monday, July 25, 2011

Around the Word

Facebook for book-buyers: Part of the joy of browsing a brick-and-mortar bookstore is the opportunity to ask a knowledgeable sales clerk or stranger for a recommendation. And part of the joy of online book buying is being able to purchase the newest John Grisham without leaving your house. But what if you could combine the experiences with a social feature built in to the online book store? You could chat with customers browsing for similar titles, or ask questions of employees. Publishing executive and blogger Joe Wikert imagines the possibilities of this retail mash-up -- the social online bookstore -- and it sounds like a pretty neat idea to us. Would you go social when shopping for books?

Signed, sealed, e-livered: The book signing ain't what it used to be. A new service called Kindlegraph allows you to score a personally signed e-book, without ever being in the same room as the author. The way it works: sign into Twitter, find the book on Kindlegraph, and then your request is forwarded to the author, who signs a digital copy and sends it back to you. Though we sort of thought the whole point of going to a book signing was to meet your favorite author, this idea does have some cool potential as a marketing tool for writers. For example, TechCrunch writer Paul Carr offered to pen personalized haikus on Kindlegraph for buyers of his book. What do you think? Is the digital John Hancock the book signing of the future? 

A grammar lesson for the dash-happy: The em dash-en dash debate has been around as long as word nerds have taken to the Internet to talk about it. You may recall a few months ago we highlighted  the case against the em dash made by Slate writer Noreen Malone. Now Baltimore Sun grammar guru  John E. McIntyre has weighed in on the dispute in a recent column, clarifying the difference between dashes and hyphens, and cautioning against using the dash too liberally. Which side of the dash controversy do you fall on?

Ladies and gentlemen, start your kvetching: All writers have pet peeve mistakes that really drive them crazy, like passive voice, use of cliches or misused homophones. Now you have an opportunity to have your grievances heard and counted. Ragan is conducting a poll via LinkedIn about which writing wrongs make them want to hurl their laptops against the wall most. You can cast your vote here.  

Vital videos: Our friend David Murray at Vital Speech is seeking nominations for the Strategic Video Awards, sponsored by VSOTD's corporate parent, McMurry. The awards will honor the most persuasive corporate videos in a variety of categories, from training to sales to leadership communication. The contest aims to reward "not the style of your video, but the substance of your communication," so if your company has a video with something to say, make sure to enter before the October 14 deadline.

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