Thursday, March 19, 2009

Discoveries and discussions

Okay, I've got internet, but not wireless or phone. Stuck in text-only land until a friend comes by to figure out my network issues on Saturday. Sigh.

In the meantime, some stuff.

I love the Brookline Blogsmith's reference to Bambi: we are all "twitterpated" now. I've been tweeting (ugh, finally a word more embarassing than "blog") incessantly as @booknerdnyc and @mcnallyjackson, and learning a lot about books, book news, and what folks had for breakfast. My new favorite Twitter use: at last night's event at McNally Jackson, John Wray discussed his ongoing Twitter novel (@John_Wray). He allows as how he doesn't think it's the "wave of the future", but he likes the challenge of making something happen in every 140 character installment, as well as serving a larger narrative.

Seventy-one years ago (that's before Twitter), writers already valued "talks, rum, argument, politics and laughter", and a quiet place to write in the park. I wrote about the bench commemorating Richard Wright's sojourn in Fort Greene Park on the the New York Times Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Local Blog.

Speaking of Fort Greene, turns out local publishing mover/shaker Emily Takoudes has started a Fort Greene publishing group on Facebook. I'll definitely be checking in for their take on all things literary in FG/CH.

Looking forward, I was very impressed wit the ABA White Paper "Opportunities in the Digital Arena for Independent Bookstores: An Action Plan for the American Booksellers Association", authored by Len Vlahos. It might have been easy to miss in there, but the encouraging news is that 1) we're getting close to a standard file format for e-books, and 2) the ABA e-commerce websites are capable of selling them. I posted about this on the ABA forums, as follows:

"I'm proud of our trade association (and Len especially) for thinking about this issues so proactively. I'm very happy to learn that the e-commerce solution is "more than capable of supporting the sale of digital content in any form we deem desirable", and that the book industry is moving closer to adopting a standard format for e-book files across various platforms.

Yet even when we're fully e-book capable, the question we'll have to answer is "why would a consumer buy e-books through an indie bookstore." Kindle book sales are proprietary and therefore lost to us, so we'll be focusing on the other platforms -- iPhone, Blackberry, etc. We will need to work hard to market our curatorial function as a motivation for buying digital files through indies -- i.e., you'll come to our site for staff picks, recommendations, promotions, tie-ins, etc., and you'll buy the book digitally while you're there.

This is where the campaigns to raise awareness of IndieBound linking and buying are going to serve us well in the years ahead. We have a unique opportunity to educate people about their options when buying online/digitally, just as we have done about their choices in shopping at their local bookstore. Transferring the new awareness of the value of localism to the virtual/digital realm will be a good trick, since there's no "there" there.

But if anyone can do it, it's indie booksellers and the ABA. Thanks, Len, for bringing us to this point in our awareness and capabilities, and for pointing our eyes forward."

I want to write about e-books and indies more extensively (as others have done) but I'm off to a meeting now. Would love to hear your thoughts on the discussion, and hope to think/talk/write more when I'm back in the land of the networked.