Monday, September 12, 2011

Around the Word

Bookflix? The mighty Amazon has struck again in the battle for control over the rapidly growing e-book market. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the online bookstore is preparing to launch a digital library service -- described as "Netflix for books" -- that would allow subscribers to access e-books for a monthly fee.  Amazon is in talks with publishers about the service, "but some publishers are not too happy about the idea," according to Mashable. Will a digital Amazon library be good for publishing? Or will we just see bookstores go the way of Blockbuster?

Looking back, linguistically: We wrote last week about changes in the publishing industry in the ten years since the attacks on September 11. In the Boston Globe yesterday, language columnist Ben Zimmer remembered the attacks from a linguistic perspective, examining the evolution of the term "ground zero." Soon after the attacks, the generic ground zero, meaning the site of a bomb or explosion, became Ground Zero, the site of the fallen World Trade Center. In a testament to the power of language, Mayor Bloomberg has now asked New Yorkers to retire the phrase. Will "ground zero" always be associated with 9/11? 

Happy Hobbit Day: We have never had so many reasons to celebrate since Doubleday posted this story about little-known literary holidays. From Bloomsday, which celebrates the work of James Joyce and is named after the main character in Ulysses, to a week-long celebration in Key West in honor of Ernest Hemingway, to Dictionary Day on October 16, book lovers can celebrate their love for lit throughout the year. Which holiday should you be preparing for next? Hobbit Day, of course, on September 22 -- part of Tolkein Week -- to celebrate everyone's favorite furry-footed protagonists. 

How to be a solo virtuoso: Just as you will find with the self-publishing industry itself, there's a lot of dreck advice online about how to master the indie literary track. One of the better how-to guides we have come across recently is book editor and blogger Meghan Ward's latest post, "10 Steps to Becoming a Self-Publishing Superstar." With the write advice on marketing, formatting and finding a good cover designer, she also provides links to lots of self-publishing resources. Check it out and let us know what you think. 

Travel writing: If you have too many books crowding your shelves (or haven't gone completely digital yet), a new book sharing service can send your paperbacks on a trip around the world. BookCrossing connects you with other bibliophiles who want to borrow your books and then lets you track your book as you send it on its way. GalleyCat has compiled a list of BookCrossing's most-travelled books, which includes travel tomes like A Passage to India and Bill Bryson's Africa. Have you ever shared with BookCrossing?

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