Monday, April 30, 2012

Unless you're writing for doctors or nine-year-olds, minimize the disgusting stuff

Would you want to read any more of Rainbow Gliding Hawk and the Last Stand of the Patriarch by Doug Lambeth after encountering the first page of the first chapter?

But I can’t really respond to either of them at the moment, at least until Dirk Fender stops vomiting on my shoes. Thank God they’re rentals.

“It’s not an omen, Allison,” I say distractedly. The vomit warmth reaches through the shiny leather and as my toes begin to sweat, I pray that rental tuxedo shoes are water/puke proof. I wonder if they’re Gore-tex lined? “It’s just puke,” I say, and to punctuate the point Dirk retches his remaining stomach contents onto my feet.

The next gem is from The Wayward Comrade and the Com­missars, by Yurii Karlovich Olesha:

How pleasant my life is. Ta-ra. Ta-ra. My bowels are elastic. Ra-ta-ta. Ta-ra-ree. My juices flow within me. Ra-tee-ta. Doo-da-da. Con­tract, guts, contract. Tram-ba-ba-boom!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Will Cymbalta make me feel better before it kills me?

Cymbalta is an antidepressant made by Lilly. I'm not depressed. I almost never get depressed. One of my docs just prescribed Cymbalta for pain control.

The doc said all medicines have side effects and I should not be concerned about the list of warnings from Lilly:
  • Cymbalta may cause suicidal thought and behavior
  • Cymbalta may cause severe liver problems, sometimes fatal
  • Cymbalta may cause life-threatening skin reactions
  • Cymbalta may cause falls, possibly resulting in serious injuries
  • Cymbalta may worsen diabetes
  • Cymbalta may cause nausea
  • Cymbalta may cause dry mouth
  • Cymbalta may cause sleepiness
  • Cymbalta may cause fatigue
  • Cymbalta may cause constipation
  • Cymbalta may cause dizziness
  • Cymbalta may cause decreased appetite
  • Cymbalta may cause increased sweating
  • Cymbalta may cause increased blood pressure
  • Cymbalta may cause low sodium levels
  • Cymbalta may cause bleeding
  • Cymbalta may worsen glaucoma
  • Cymbalta may cause problems with urine flow
  • Cymbalta may cause headaches
  • Cymbalta may cause weakness
  • Cymbalta may cause confusion
  • Cymbalta may cause problems concentrating
  • Cymbalta may cause memory problems
Reading the list of side effects is definitely depressing. I have not yet had the prescription filled.

More at Wikipedia


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Did Mosquito Marketer Michelle listen to me?

Last year I blogged about a terrible book called Mosquito Marketing for Authors, by Michelle Dunn. There is so much wrong with the book that it's both funny and pathetic. The book earned the dubious honor of being the second-worse self-published book in STINKERS: America's Worst Self-Published Books.

Among its many sins is its title page, or sort-of title page.
(left-click to enlarge)
In a "normal" book, the first page could be a half-title page (a.k.a. "bastard title"), or a title page, or a page of blurbs, or even a blank page. But, Michelle's ugly first page combines elements of a title page AND a copyright page (which is normally the page printed on the back of the title page).

I was initially pleased to see that Michelle's book had an apparently professional editor. The first page says, "Editing by provided by Arlene Stoppe." Even the simple line about the book's editing was not edited properly.

The page has the name of Michelle's publishing company THREE TIMES. Once is enough.

However, the book's ISBN is not provided even once on this page or anywhere in the front matter.

The page shows what should be a Library of Congress Control Number ("LCCN"). Michelle strangely puts "control" in lower case, and the number she shows is not an LCCN, and I have no idea what it is.

The bottom of the page has a disclaimer warning readers not to use the book for legal advice. This is just one of THREE DISCLAIMERS which Michelle provides in the first FIVE PAGES. She repeatedly warns the reader to consult an attorney. I wonder if Michelle operates an attorney referral agency. ONE DISCLAIMER IS ENOUGH. ONE DISCLAIMER IS ENOUGH. ONE DISCLAIMER IS ENOUGH.

Although it's the wrong place, the first page indicates a copyright date of 2010, with the name "Michelle Dunn."

However, if you don't like 2010, just flip the page. You will then see a copyright date of 2009, and here Michelle's name appears with the middle initial "A" and there's a comma before her name. Consistency is not Michelle's strong suit.

But, hope springs eternal, and I was initially hopeful when I saw that Michelle has revised that page.

(left-click to enlarge)
I don't know if Michelle responded to my criticism or had a spontaneous eruption of rectitude, but she did remove the silly superfluous "by" in the line about the editor.

However, all of the other mistakes remain. It would not have been difficult to make the other needed corrections. I have now given up hope for Michelle Dunn.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The British are coming, again

Paul Revere may not have really yelled, "the British are coming" before the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, but the British do want to provide book printing in the USA in 2012.

The British have not always been good for American readers. Despite providing us with lots to read from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Doyle, Fleming, Rowling and others, the damn redcoats also destroyed a lot of our reading material.

The Brits burned a lot of Washington during the War of 1812. They nearly destroyed the White House and the Capitol building, including the books in the first Library of Congress. Ironically, many of the burned books came from London.

Although I doubt that the British army was trying to generate re-orders for British publishers, a British self-publishing company is now trying to take business away from American competitors -- but seems to be poorly prepared to do it.

According to Britain's Evening Telegraph, "Printondemand-Worldwide has recently expanded globally, by adding a partner company in Brazil to firms in North America, Australia and Singapore. "

The company's website displays the American flag and says the company provides production in the USA. However, the contact page provides only an address and phone number in England, and the website uses terms like "bespoke," "high street" and "on the tin."

The Brits can provide a British ISBN, but apparently not an American ISBN, and will send copies of your book to six British libraries as required by British law -- but does not seem able to handle American copyright registrations.

Despite displaying American stars and stripes, at this time, the company seems to be interested only in British customers. If you're an American and really want to do business with the company, have a calculator ready, because all of the prices are in Redcoat currency -- not American greenbacks.


Monday, April 23, 2012

What should you write? What shouldn't you write?

Your new novel may have

 3,000-year-old competition

From my upcoming e-book 499 Important Self-publishing Tips for a Penny Apiece.
1. Nonfiction outsells fiction, and poetry sales are tiny. It’s been said that poets and novelists are interesting to talk to, but nonfiction writers have nicer homes. Fiction and poetry are not necessary to readers. Peo­ple who want to read a novel may be content to borrow a copy from a friend or the library instead of buying it—even if they have to wait a few weeks. Fiction books are entertainment. That means they are options. They are expendable when money is tight; and they have to compete with movies, ball games, video games, music and more.
2. Novels may be read just once or twice. A nonfiction book—particularly an important reference—might be referred to hundreds of times and be a vital part of a personal or business library. 
3. Fiction is usually timeless. We still read the works of Dickens and Homer (above). Your new novel must compete with other books written centuries or even millennia ago. 

4. Nonfiction is usually information or instruction, and may have a lim­ited lifespan before it becomes ob­solete. Readers want the latest information. They may replace your book bought just a year ago with your new version—or a new book from another author. 
5. People will generally pay more money for information than for entertainment. The more important the information is, the more you can charge for it. However, the more people who are likely to be read­ers of your book, the more expensive it will be to reach them.
6. Obviously, if you are a self-publishing writer, you can publish anything you want to. HOWEVER, if you want to make money rather than just fulfill a dream, impress your family or inflate your ego, it’s better to think carefully about what you publish.
7. It’s extremely difficult to sell many copies of self-pub­lished fiction or poetry—or the memoir of a non-famous person—on paper. In order to sell thousands of copies, you’ll have to be either extremely lucky (not likely) or generate a huge amount of “buzz” through viral marketing, public relations and advertising (time-consuming and often expensive), or you’ll have to impress one or more reviewers enough to praise you in the media.
8.  If you are a novelist, poet or memoirist, your e-books can sell for much less money than printed books, and may allow you to build an audience and make money. It’s easier for an unknown author to sell $1.99 e-books than $19.95 p-books (books printed on paper). 
9.  Another reason not to self-publish fiction (unless aimed at a narrow and easy-to-reach audience) is that most fiction is aimed at the mass market. You’ll be competing with big publishing companies with much more experience, much bigger budgets and much better distribution than you have. The world is not waiting for your novel, poetry or memoir to be published. If your book should appeal to “everyone,” can you afford to let everyone know about it? 
10.  It’s much easier to target a market and devise a promotional strategy for nonfiction. If you write a book for owners of small businesses, Little League coaches, obstetricians or pig farmers, it’s much easier to reach them with your marketing. Novels, memoirs and poems depend on push marketing—you have to “push” books on a public that has no need for them. On the other hand, if you write nonfiction about an interesting and important subject or—even better—a how-to book, you can use much simpler pull marketing and have a much greater chance of success. With pull marketing, you take advantage of an existing desire by the public to know more about a subject. Readers will “pull” the books from you.
11. Find a niche! People who want to know more about growing strawberries, raising an autistic child, getting a college scholarship or traveling with a dog will search for that information on Google,, or elsewhere, and there’s a good chance they’ll find your book. (But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll buy it.)
12. Timing is important. The world’s best written, most authoritative book about Sarah Palin probably sold a lot better before she lost the election in 2008. If she runs for office again, the Palin specialists get another chance to sell books.
13. Pick a hot topic, and one that may stay hot, or at least warm, for a few years. Consider combining two hot topics such as “Gay weddings on a tight budget.”

14.  It’s important to investigate the competition before you start publishing. Pick something you know about, which you can contribute something new about, which lots of people care about, and which lots of people have not already written about. If there are other books on the same topic (and there probably are), make sure you have something important to add so your book can be better than the others.
15. Price, value and speed count, too. This $4.99 e-book is available instantly and competes against p-books that cost three and four times as much. This book has color photos and hyperlinks. The p-books don’t.
16. If you go ahead, don’t print lots of copies the first time. For test marketing, print on demand (POD) or an e-book will be much less expensive than a large “offset” print run.
17. If you’ve put information online with websites and blogs that people can read for free, your book will be competing with your own free words. Make your book more complete than what you give away. Modify your online content to plug your book and to point out that the pay-for book is better than the online freebie.
(Bust of Homer from The British Museum, Palin photo from, Gay guys from


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Authors: control your egomania

Left-click to enlarge (if you dare)

Unless you are known for writing, con­ning people out of billions or winning Olympic medals, keep your name and picture a lot smaller than the book’s title. Later on, when you become famous, you can revise the covers of your earlier books.


Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm getting to hate e-books less

Most of the literate world seems to really love e-books. The convenience and (often) the low price are hard to beat. E-book sales are zooming, and taking business away from p-books.

As someone who loves reading, and writing, and publishing, and techie toys, I probably should have been an early adopter of e-books. But I wasn't, for a simple and important reason. I think most e-books look like shit.

E-books take the appearance of the book away from the book's designer and give it to the reader. Readers decide some very basic design aspects such as typeface and type size, page orientation, and even page color and whether one page or two appear on the screen. Photos and illustrations don't necessarily appear where the designer wanted them to be. There are multiple standards for making e-books, sadly reminiscent of the old VHS vs. Betamax videotape war. There is variation among the multiple devices used to read e-books. It's possible that a hundred people could be reading the same book -- but it's not really the same book.

Readers may love their power to customize, but as someone who cares about the way my books look, I don't.

However, although I still dislike the appearance of most e-books, three things have changed my publishing strategy.

  1. MONEY: I make much more each month from the $3.82-$4.99 e-book versions of my Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults) than I do from the more expensive paperback and hardcover editions. As a publisher who wants to make money, and as a writer who wants to be read, I'd be foolish not to respond to what readers want.
  2. AFFORDABILITY: Readers are much more likely to take a chance on a book selling for $1.99 to $9.99 than one selling for $20-$30.
  3. NEW DESIGN FREEDOM: It's possible to put more into an e-book than into a p-book. I'm not yet ready to provide animations or sound effects, but hyperlinks can be very useful, and color photos and illustrations make it easier to make a point, and they make the book simply nicer. Color p-books can be very expensive. Color e-books cost no more than monochrome e-books.
My first eight e-books were e-versions of p-books, but my newest, 499 Important Self-Publishing Tips for a Penny Apiece will be e-only. I'm doing the final editing now, and it should be on sale in a week or two. I'll let you know.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

To err is human, but that doesn't make errors OK

   Big, expensive signs have misspelled words, typos and bad grammar. Most books have them, too. Look closely.

English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) ) wrote “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” I'm far from divine, and I find errors more amusing than forgivable, especially if they are avoidable. Most errors I find could be avoided if people (including me) tried a little bit harder, or had someone to help.

No writer should be her only editor. Even professional editors who write books should hire other editors. It’s not just a matter of errors in spelling or grammar. You may have words in your mind that you think are on the page, but are really not there.

I've found that the average number of errors in a professionally-produced 300-page book from a major publisher is six. Self-published books often have a great many more. Some errors are the result of mistyping, but others are the result of misunderstanding or gaps in knowledge.

  • According to Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson in Self-Publishing Simplified ,  "Peter Mark first published the Thesaurus in 1852," strangely ignoring the much more famous Peter Roget who published his Thesaurus in the same year. Actually Mark was the middle name of Peter Mark Roget, so Sampson was two-thirds right. Brent also wrote "forward" instead of "foreword." A publisher should know better.
  • Principles of Self-Publishing: How to Pub­lish and Market A Book or Ebook On a Shoestring Budget by Theresa A. Moore is one of the most-error-ridden books I've ever read. Theresa  says that Lightning Source “is a full service publisher.” Lightning is not a publisher of any kind. It is a printing house that works for publishers. It does NOT provide services such as editing and page formatting, which a self-publishing company provides. Anyone who is advising publishers should know the difference between a printer and a publisher.  Theresa complains that Lightning Source charges an “exhorbitant shipping fee” for a proof. Both her spelling and her assessment are wrong.
  • Go the F*ck to Sleep reached number-one on two Amazon bestseller lists. It was published by Akashic Books. The Dever Post said, "Akashic is one of the most impressive of the newer small presses, in part because of editing and production values that rival and perhaps surpass the big houses. . . ." One poem in the book says: "The lambs have laid down with the sheep." The correct word is LAIN -- not laid!
  • Newsweek once spelled "Newsweek" wrong. Time spelled the name of MAD's Alfred E Neuman as "Newman."
  • Years ago, the New York Daily News reported on a teenage fashion trend: "wearing pumice." In reality, high school kids were not wearing lumps of volcanic rock that are normally used as an abrasive to remove calluses from feet. They were wearing Pumas, a brand of sneakers.
  • Orange County Choppers: The Tale of the Teutuls by Keith & Kent Zimmerman has silly geography errors. It's disturbing that three Teutuls plus two Zimmermans plus fact checkers and editors at Warner Books could let obvious errors get printed. On page 11, Paul Senior talks about his parents charging people to park in their driveway on Cooper Street in Yonkers, to watch horse races in Yonkers Raceway or baseball games in Yankee stadium, which were within "walking distance." While the track is just a few blocks away, the stadium is about 8.5 miles south. The 17 mile round trip is not "walking distance" for most people. I hope he calculates more precisely while building bikes. Twice on page 15, Senior mentions his house in "Muncie", New York. Muncie is in Indiana. The Teutuls lived in MONSEY (which is pronounced like Muncie).
  • In Desperate Networks by Bill Carter, an otherwise excellent book, there is this strange sentence on page 366: "What do expect for this?" What the heck does that mean? There's also sloppy editing a little earlier on page 359, where it says "...Les could get eventually get control of the studio." I'm only an amateur, but I found these flubs. Where are the pros who get paid to find and fix them?
Since I am human, I, too, make silly mistakes (but never stupid mistakes).
  • Errors can hide anywhere, not just in huge signs like up above, but even in parts of a book where nobody looks. I once left out a letter in the name of my city in the logo on the back of a book. I fixed it.
  • Just minutes before I had planned to send another book to the printer, I decided to check my table of contents. I had a feeling that, as I changed the length of some chapters, a page number might have changed. I actually found three wrong pages, and two chapters were missing from the table of contents. I made the necessary repairs, and the book was delayed a week.
  • In one of my books, a chapter that is in the book is not listed in the table of contents. I know from sad experience that the act of fixing one error can cause others, so I decided to live with it -- the only time I knowingly let an error be published. In Greek-Roman mythology Arachne was a skilled human weaver who bragged that she was a better weaver than Minerva. Minerva was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Athena and was goddess of weaving (and of other things, and the inventor of music). Arachne refused to acknowledge that her skill came from Minerva. According to Ovid, the goddess was so envious of the magnificent woman-made tapestry, that she destroyed the tapestry and loom, slashed Arachne's face and turned Arachne into a spider. In biology, "Arachnids" are the group of critters that include spiders. Makers of Persian carpets make obvious errors in their rugs to show that no one is perfect except Allah. Some people believe that the gods might be angry about arrogance of a human effort to produce a work of art without imperfection. Navajos thought evil spirits could escape only through an error in art. There are dozens of chapters which are listed in the book, and so far no reader has complained about the missing one. I hope Allah and Minerva approve.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fake books can look real, and be real useful

These e-books don't exist yet,
but you can see them now.

It’s important to have a realistic "3D" picture of a book before it exists -- for publicity, seeking orders, and evaluating titles and cover designs with more impact than a flat printout or monitor viewing can provide. A picture of a printed book can also help to sell e-books.

If you have a flat cover image, it can magically become a realistic picture of a book at

You can choose from a huge selection of book types, and even CD-ROMs, loose-leaf
notebooks, iPads and multimedia packages. Some pictures are freebies. Some other styles have to be paid for with an inexpensive membership ($9 per month, or $90 per year).
If you like a style that's not a freebie but don't want to pay for a membership, you can pay a one time download fee of $3.95 for that cover.

The tech support folks respond fast and have the right answers. Help is also available from users in the online forum.

The service is extremely easy to use, and an image takes less than a minute to render and download. New devices (Nook Color, Kindle Fire, MacBook Air) are added often, and there are format variations (back of book, stacks of books, books lying down and standing up, iPads and iPhones horizontal and vertical). You can also "make" non-books like DVDs and DVD packages, and you have various editing options including cropping, re-sizing and choosing background colors..

The company even offers a membership card format. I'm not sure how useful it is, but I had to try it. 

I was able to create the image of a video showing my faces. It's not particularly useful, but it might stimulate some thought.

I had "photographs"of these books long before they were was printed. (The book on the left doesn't exist yet. The book on the right is for sale.)

My publishing company could not function without My eCover Maker. Try it.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hey, new words from the street

Although I don't always approve, I am nevertheless fascinated at how language changes.
  • I am horrified when people -- not just airheads, but even Mrs. Obama -- use "was like" as a synonym for "said."
  • I feel like screaming when the President says "gunna."
  • I'm particularly pissed off about the substitution of "HEY" for "hello." It seemed to make a rapid transition from playgrounds to CSI Las Vegas and then to the rest of the world. When I was a child, If I used that word, my proper mother would scold me with, "Hay is for horses--not for people!"
However, I have come to accept the "misplaced only," as in "I only eat fruits and vegetables" and I no longer scream when "most" modifies "unique."

I seldom mourn the passing of unused words like "affuage" or "egrote," and I welcome new ones like "staycation" and "vlog."

One new word is the unplanned child of and eBay. "Showrooming" is the process of researching and examining a product in a physical store (such as the suffering Best Buy) and then ordering it  from a competitor online. Best Buy may be hurrying its own demise by selling the smart phones that people use to order televisions and cameras elsewhere.

I am particularly fascinated by the transition of the word "street."

It started as a noun, and has worked as an adjective ("street clothes") and a sort-of-adverb ("he talks street"), and now functions as at least two kinds of verb:

When there's not enough evidence to hold a suspect, the precinct lieutenant or captain may tell the detectives, "We'll have to street him," meaning release him so he can go out on the street.

In retailing, the "street price" is a typical selling price for an item "on the street" -- usually lower than the suggested retail price. A sales manager might say, "The list price for our new KZR-202L is 799.95, but it will probably street for $699."

In video games, music and movies, the "street date" is the date when a new release is allowed to be sold "on the street." The sales manager might say, "The street date for the 3D Blu-Ray is May 10."


Monday, April 16, 2012

Publishing's important P-words

Book publicity is one of several related and sometimes confusing or nearly synonymous “p” terms.

Someone does promotion (which often includes public relations) to achieve publicity.

Publicity is lots of people knowing about your book and hopefully buying copies and/or urging others to buy.

Promotion is all of the efforts intended to achieve publicity. Although publicity is the end result of promotion, many people call themselves book publicists and relatively few call themselves book promoters. (Publicists used to be called "press agents"). A publicist or promoter can guarantee to provide promotion, or public relations, but cannot guarantee that you or your book will achieve publicity. 

Despite its name, public relations is not directly concerned with relations with the public. Media are intermediaries. Writers hope to attract the attention of media people by sending out press releases, or by contacting journalists, editors, bloggers, talk show hosts, TV producers and movie makers.

Promotion includes more than public relations. It may include public appearances, publicity stunts and platform building.

Platform is a major buzzword in current publishing. It’s not the same as a political party’s platform. Think of it as a metaphor for a structure that will boost you up and make you visible to potential readers, sources of publicity and bookstore buyers. Components in your platform include websites, blogs, business connections, social media, radio and TV appearances, quotes in media, online men­tions, speeches, articles, friends, neighbors, etc. Your first book is part of your platform and should help sell your later books.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I'm 66 today and I'm glad.

Today is my birthday. I made it to age 66. It's not a major accomplishment like winning a Nobel or Pulitzer. Lots of people have done it -- but lots of people have not.  I'm glad I did. Life is still good, or at least good enough.

I figure I have about 22 more birthdays to go. That's a sobering thought.

There are people alive now who did not have electric lights in their homes when they were kids, but now have iPads. I was one of the first kids in daBronx to have a television, and my current house is filled with the latest electronics. A flying car was at the New York Auto Show last week. I doubt that I'll ever own one, but I lived to see one. I wonder what I won't live long enough to see -- other than world peace, of course. Will I miss something important?

Today is not one of those milestone birthdays, like 10, 13, 18, 21, 35, 60 or 65. But, like Number One, it's one of the few ages that correspond to a famous American highway.

There was even a TV show named after the famous Route 66. People sang, "Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six." Even the Stones sang it. The Beatles sang, "When I'm 64." Been there. Done that.
66 is two thirds of 666 -- the mark of the beast, the sign of the devil. That probably means more to Rick Santorum than it does to me.

There is one really good thing about being 66. If I can hang on for about 32 more days, and if the Department of the Treasury can also survive, I'll start receiving Social Security payments. That's even better than being old enough to run for president.

I feel like I've been in a casino, putting coins in a slot machine for 50 years, and finally, next month, KA-CHING, KA-CHING, KA-CHING!

Thanks to everyone who remembered my birthday. Please forgive me if I don't remember yours. I'm getting old.


Friday, April 13, 2012

B&N introduces a Nook that glows in the dark

A glowing Nook is no iPad,
 but it's better than a flashlight under the blanket.
When I was a young kid, I loved to read, but I had an early bedtime. Simple technology resolved the conflict: I read under my blanket with a flashlight.

When I was about 10 years old, I employed more advanced technology to outsmart my parents. There was a closet near my bed, and in the closet was a light activated by a pull chain. I tied a string to the chain, and tied a tennis ball to the other end of the string. I could read with the closet light and when I heard my folks approaching to perform a nocturnal inspection, I yanked the cord to turn off the light, threw the ball and string into the closet, hid the book under the blanket and shut my eyes. The old people never caught it on.

Later on, while sleeping alone, a lamp on the night table easily solved the problem. While sleeping with others who did not want to be disturbed, an "Itty Bitty Book Light" was a good solution.

Two years ago I bought an iPad, which combined reading material AND a light, and made wife and me happy.

Barnes & Noble sells books, Itty Bitty Book Lights, and the Nook e-book reader. The company recently conducted a study which revealed (SHOCK!) that two thirds of Americans read in bed and that 50% would read more if reading did not disturb their partner.

With an understandable desire to increase reading, B&N instructed the Nook wizards to make a Nook that works in the dark. The result of the wizardry is a device with a tongue-numbing name: NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™. It's apparently the "World’s First and Only E Ink®Reader That Lets You Read in the Dark." The $139 price is forty bucks more than the unilluminated model. Forty bucks is much more money than the price of flashlight, but the new Nook is certainly more convenient. It's also much less expensive than an iPad (with many more functions). It is also less expensive than the $169 Nook Color and $199 Nook Tablet -- which do work in the dark but don't use E Ink.

With a soft, adjustable glow, GlowLight gives bedtime readers just the right amount of light for reading -- without disturbing a sleepy bedmate. Unlike my iPad, the new Nook works fine in the bright sun. B&N says it's "Like having two Readers in one."

What I will call the "Glow Nook" to save space is also the lightest Nook, with a long-lasting battery for over one month of reading on a single charge with the light on and over two months with it off. A Glow Nook can hold more than 1,000 books, and it has expandable memory.

You can order a Glow Noo"  at and in Barnes & Noble stores. Glow Nooks should be in stores starting in early May, in time for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduations.

It’s easy to navigate, shop and read with just the touch of a finger on the Glow Nook's 6-inch touchscreen. Touch to turn pages, look up words, highlight passages, read your way by adjusting the type size and style and more. You can shop B&N's huge digital bookstore with more than 2.5 million books, magazines and newspapers and enjoy helpful recommendations from book experts, personalized based on favorite authors, as well as those from friends, and borrow digital books from public libraries.

Resolving the Bedtime Reading Debate

For as long as there have been beds, and books, there’s been a common clash between couples at bedtime: Lights on, to read? Or off, to sleep? “The Barnes & Noble Nook Bedtime Reading Debate,” a survey conducted March 1-5, 2012, polled 1,358 adult readers across the country about their reading habits, and shed new light on this age-old challenge.

•Bed Heads: Approximately two-thirds (64 percent) of people polled read in bed, and nearly a quarter read in bed between five and seven days a week. ◦People who own Readers are among the most likely to read in bed (72 percent) and are more likely to read in bed on a weekly basis than tablet owners (61 percent vs. 54 percent).

•The Gender Divide: While reading in bed is a top pick for both genders, there’s a distinct divide when it comes to second place: women are likelier than men to read outdoors (40 percent vs. 25 percent), and men more frequently read in the bathroom (41 percent vs. 26 percent for women).

 •The Light/Dark Debate: 77 percent of survey respondents say they or their partner requires light for their bedtime reading, although nearly 90 percent say their ideal sleep environment is completely dark. ◦Men are far more likely than women to report their significant other disrupts their sleep by using a light to read in bed.

•Keeping Peace: 50 percent of respondents say either they or their partner would read more in bed if it didn’t affect the other person’s sleep.

 •Sleepus Interruptus: A partner using a light to read in bed was deemed most disruptive by respondents – even more than a frisky partner’s “midnight moves.” ◦31 percent of respondents noted that a partner’s use of a light to read in bed interfered with their sleep or prevented them from falling asleep, while 20 percent noted that romantic overtures did the same.

•Perturbed Partners: Nearly half (42 percent) of survey respondents have gone to sleep annoyed because their significant other was reading with a light on.

 •Night Flight, Not Fight: 42 percent of people surveyed say they or their partner has physically relocated to another room to read to not disturb the partner who wanted to sleep, as most also agreed this was the best way to “keep the peace.” ◦The “lights-on” breach of bediquette leads many to throw in the towel when it comes to sleep with flipping on the TV, leaving the room to read or staying up to read themselves the most frequent alternatives.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's dangerous to trust a sepll-checker, or not use one

While the spell-checking function in word processing software will usually — but not always — spot an improperly spelled word, it won’t spot a wrong word that’s spelled correctly.

In the surprise bestseller, Go the F*ck to Sleep, Adam Mansbach wrote, “The lambs have laid down with the sheep.”
• “Laid” is spelled correctly, but the correct word is “lain.”

In The Successful Writer’s Handbook, Patricia L. Fry wrote, “One writer I know had a cubical constructed in her garage to use as an office.”
• “Cubical” is spelled correctly, but the correct word is “cubicle.”

In Best in Self-Publishing & Print-on-demand, David Rising  wrote, “for all participates.”
• “Participates” is not a spelling error; it’s the wrong word. “Participants” was the right word, but the spell-checking robot didn’t realize it.

In Release Your Writing, Helen Gallagher wrote, “They work is not cheap . . . .” 
• “They” is spelled correctly. Unfortunately, the correct word is “Their.”

In an early version of a book, I typed “The photographer will be thrilled to have a subject who does not vomit on her, or require funny faces to illicit a smile.”
• “Illicit is a properly spelled but incorrect word. The correct word is “elicit.” Editor Sheila M. Clark caught the error.

While you can’t rely 100% on the spell-checker that is built into word-processing software, you should use it.

In Principles of Self Publishing, Theresa A. Moore wrote about an alleged “exhorbitant shipping fee” The fee was actually reasonable, but the spelling is not. There is no “h” in “exorbitant.”

A spell checker would have caught the error.

Theresa wrote, “I don't use the spell checker. I use a dictionary.  Oxford American. The standard spelling I learned had an ‘h.’”

She probably was taught properly, but confused “exorbitant” with “exhort.” She also misspelled “propaganda.”

Ironically, Theresa says, “a misspelled word can stand out like a red flag in a cornfield” and “It is vitally important for you to have a clear grasp of spelling . . . .” She’s right about that.

It’s good to have a dictionary, but unless you’re unsure about a word, you won’t check it. A spell-checker, while imperfect, is on duty even when you have no doubt.

(Graphic image from Thanks.)