• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

To ‘e’ or Not to ‘e’ … by Kim Falconer

Those hoping for insights into recreational drug use, sorry to disappoint. The ‘e’ in the title is for ‘electronic,’ specifically the electronic delivery of books. It’s a hot topic, all across the board—publishers, authors, editors, agents, booksellers and readers are in this boat together and how it’s going to rock is anybody’s guess.

The growing popularity of eBooks is viewed in mixed light. Not everyone is jumping up and down, but I am! What a fabulous opportunity for so many reasons! First up, the eBook is instant. With the right eReader, books, magazines and blogs can be accessed in seconds, any time of the day or night. And, as our Captain said the other day, eBooks will never go out of print! (Think about that!) Also many classical titles are available to the public free of charge on websites like gutenberg.org. From Dickens to Poe to Wilde to Shelley, a literary world is at our fingertips. eReaders—the devices used to view eBooks—can store thousands of novels and textbooks, are easy to carry anywhere, light on the eyes and perfect for commutes, study and holidays. For the sight impaired, eReaders are a boon with ‘text to speak’ functionality.

A small sample of the devices available to read e-books

Another exciting aspect of electronic delivery is the Hypertext link. eBooks can have endnotes or glossary links formatted right into the text and they can also be presented with nonlinear links where readers choose the direction they want the narrative to take. In essence hypertext provides an opportunity for readers to ‘recreate’ the work as the relationship between the author, the reader, the text and the physical form of the book evolves. Another bonus is eBooks don’t require trees, and remember, the technology for eDelivery is in its infancy. It’s going to get better and better!

Yet with all these benefits, there are still unknowns. For example, which eReader is best and will it work with all formats? How will eBook sales affect the physical book market? Mark Davis, director of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Melbourne, says E-books, if anything, should help rather than hinder sales of traditional books, as well as become a phenomenon in their own right. But what about availability? The World Wide Web is just that—worldwide, yet most publishing contracts are restricted to certain countries. Issues of illegal downloading are in question and publishers and eTailer business models (see Macmillan vs. Amazon.com) are not yet in alignment. With less than 3% of Australians buying eBooks, the eBook wave is just a ripple but if I know the internet, a tsunami could be on its way in 2010.

Are you into ‘e’? Bi-liberphilic? (love both physical and eBooks) Do you have an eReader? Which kind? Authors, are you excited about seeing your books ePublished? Editors, do you like working electronically? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Spell of Rosette is on Amazon Kindle with the rest of the Quantum Enchantment series soon to follow.

Kim Falconer is the author of the Quantum Enchantment trilogy, which starts with The Spell of Rosette. The other two books in the trilogy are Arrows of Time and Strange Attractors, which is out this month!

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44 Responses

  1. I’m with you Kim- ‘e’ is for ‘exciting.’ I think it’s going to be great for readers and authors alike. We haven’t even begun to see what’s coming yet: taken together with the internet, we’re seeing a defining moment in culture, something like the invention of the print-press. Who knew we’d get Dickens a few centuries after the Gutenberg bible came out? …Though I will always love traditional books for the smell and feel of them, the sheer pleasure of turning pages. I guess I qualify as one of those bi-thingies. 😉

  2. Yep, here’s to bilibraphilia!(Or maybe electraLibraPhilia) Me too. I love the sensuality of physical books but here we are online, communicating across the Pacific, chatting about the past, present and future. What a wonderful world!

    It is defining, this brink of electronic delivery, and although eBooks have their boundaries, just like the internet (open only to those privileged with a computer and a phone line) it is changing the way we acquire and process information and ultimately the way we think. ‘They’ thought that new technologies like the radio and TV would hamper literacy and interest in books but now more people in the world are reading than ever before.

    Onwards and upwards, I say!

    Glad you dropped by with your thoughts! 🙂

  3. I don’t have any problems with ebooks, but I’m not that interested in them. For one thing, reading off a screen isn’t much fun, and for another, printed books have a beauty that electric text never will.
    I published electronically back when I was a fanficcer. From now on it’s paper pages for me, baby!

    And no, I am not going to tell you where to find my old fanfiction. 😛

  4. Oh come on, Katie . . . Pretty please?

    At least tell us what you fanficced! 🙂

    I can understand you love of physical books. I feel that too, but for me, when I immerse in a story, the book, the pages, the chair, the cat, room, house, earth, all disappear. Books are portals. Whether eReaders or traditional, they lead to another realm.

    🙂

    • Not a chance.

      • Oh come on. If you show me yours . . .

      • Wait, YOU were a fanficcer? Huh. I couldn’t have picked that.

        All I’ll tell you about my own fanfics is that they were for something I don’t like and don’t want to be associated with.

        What about you, then?

      • Okay, if you don’t like it then of course no more prying!

        Me, I never thought of it as fanfic at the time but . . .

        I wrote reams and reams of post Grey Haven Hobbit lore, prehistorical Elvin mythologies and a thesis on the origins of dragons on Middle Earth…. I also wrote a recipe book on Hobbit delicacies and staples, all in Elvish script. Yes, I learned the language but could only write it, not speak it…. Liv did that so well!

        I loved the old man and his world so much. 🙂

      • Kim, you wrote recipes in *Elvish*? I am flabbergasted. I hand my lotr fan hat to you. You totally beat me out of the water. 🙂

      • Mary, I was in my 20’s, single and living alone in the Santa Cruz Mountains….what else to learn but Elvish!!!

        Love that hat, Ta!

      • GEEK ALERT! Teehee.

        When I was a kid, I wrote Robin Jarvis fanfiction without knowing it since at the time I didn’t know what “fanfic” meant and there was no such thing as the Internet. Thank goodness. I hate to think what had happened if it had…

      • Kim, I feel another post coming on from you – on cookery ^ ^

      • Only if I can use that ‘Cooking with Pooh’ image 🙂

      • Done! 🙂

  5. I’m really, really hopeful that my books are going to be released electronically as well as in print and that the two will pretty much coincide because I’m with you – I see ebooks as an adjunct to paper books and not replacing them. Sure, some people are going to go solely to ebooks, but assuming we’re still getting royalties it won’t matter too much to us authors. A lot of people may well try things out electronically and then get the paper version (I know I think that way). Others will be paper until the day they die. It’s great that we’re going to be able to have our work available regardless of how a person likes to read.

    I’m not that concerned about piracy. The evidence seems to suggest that the people who steal the books wouldn’t have bought them anyway, so you’re not really losing anything. And if they love it, and decide to go out and by the physical copy, then it’s a win, right?

    I don’t have an ereader yet, but I’m planning on getting one. There are circumstances in which holding a paper book is just too difficult eg on the exercise bike. On the other hand, I’ll never get rid of paper, cause I do loves me a good book.

    • Hi Nicole,

      I am with you on ‘ebooks as an adjunct to paper’. To me this move towards electronic delivery isn’t ‘away’ from physical books. It’s not so much either/or but And/and. I think it means more people will be reading, not less.

      Also with your on piracy. The loss through illegal downloading is hypothetical. We can’t assume they would have bought the book! In the very big picture, even piracy means more people are reading and to me that’s a good thing.

      Literacy, the art of storytelling and all those in the book industry from author to publisher, bookstore owner to reader stand to gain from the ‘ebook’ movement. All aboard!

      Thanks for dropping by, Nicole–say, don’t you have a new trilogy coming out soon? Did I read that right?

      :)Kim

      PS Which ereader are you thinking of buying?

      • It’ll be interesting to see the results – we’re getting a lot of feedback from early adopters of e-readers that they have switched completely to e-books and expect all titles to be available as such.
        For me, I don’t think I’ll ever say goodbye to paperbacks or hardbacks – some are such beauties – and there are some gorgeous embossed editions of Jane Austen, for example, that I should love to have. Plus, I can’t see myself giving away any of my old beloved favourites – where the physical book itself forms a part of ME – my ancient and coverless copy of the Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, for example, that belonged to my sister and then to me.
        That being said, I am very fond of my sony reader for what it offers – an easy to carry library of titles – and of course the ability to read documents on the run with ease – all those manuscripts :).

      • Not sure what ereader I want to buy – I’m kinda a little against the Kindle after the great Amazon/Macmillan kerfuffle, but then I want the best reader for the best books. Definitely not the iPad – it’s too big.

        Why yes, I do have a trilogy coming out – The Dream of Asarlai. Book one, The Secret Ones, is out in July. All though this very fabulous publishing company HarperVoyager 🙂 Thanks for mentioning it.

      • Nat, I have a copy of Pride and Prejudice that is leather bound, gold leaf and illustrated by Helen Sewell–42 drawing first included in 1940. When I read this book, I feel I am reading one of the original copies….the way it looked when it first came out in 1813. This is the kind of books Jane would have read and it leaves me in awe when I think about it.

        Physical books do form a part of us. Thank you for the reminder.

      • Nicole, The Dream of Asarlia sounds very intriguing! Looking forward to hearing more about it!

        I gave my sister a Kindle DX for her birthday last week (they say one gives what one would like to receive!)and am waiting to hear how she finds it! I’ll let you know 🙂

      • Okay, weirdness factor 10.

        This is the third attempt to post about my leather bound, gold leaf, illustrated by Helen Sewell’s 1940 prints copy of Pride and Prejudice. Nat, I so agree with the beauty of such physical books. When I hold this I feel I’m reading an original 1816 edition. This is like the books Jane read. It’s so inspiring!

        Fingers crossed this post goes up! 🙂 I’ve taken out the hypertext link to Helen…

        Mercury is ‘void of course’ and stranger things have been known to happen!

  6. I adore the concept of e-books – no more dead trees, loads of books on one little itty bitty gadget (did I mention I love my gadgets?), almost instantaneous purchase of books (potentially…) and the capacity to set font size, screen format, etc to suit. And with the right settings, I can read in bed when insomnia strikes, and not keep my hubby awake. What’s not to like??

    BUT…. and it’s a large one…. I am waiting to see how the business models settle in. I mentioned this example on another discussion, so Kim you’ve already seen it, but I’m not a fan of Amazon’s current model.

    Australian author Graham Storrs recently launched his debut novel, TimeSplash, which was published as an e-book ONLY (very appropriate for a new sf novel, BTW!). His publisher was Lyrical Press, a New York e-publisher. Buyers have the choice of purchasing from Lyrical Press or Amazon. But unlike the choice between buying a hard copy book from, say, Collins or Dymocks, the choice for the buyer has many layers of complexity.

    The Lyrical Press purchase: for all buyers, USD 5.50. The buyer receives a zip file with seven different formats, so regardless of your device, you are guaranteed to be able to read it.

    The Amazon purchase: for US buyers, USD 4.60; for non-US buyers, USD 6.40 (all non-US buyers pay a “penalty” of USD 2.00 for buying every single book from Amazon). The file is only readable on a Kindle or a device with Kindle (eg an iPhone with the free Kindle app downloaded), so if you have Kindle on your iPhone and someone gives you a Sony e-reader, you can’t read it.

    But here’s the kicker for me, as a reader who wants to ensure writers make a decent living. If I’d bought from Amazon, their insistence on keeping 65% of the purchase price means that Graham would have received one-quarter the royalty that he got when I purchased from Lyrical Press. And yes, I bought from Lyrical Press!

    All this means that until e-publishing settles in, buying a book has the potential to be fraught with decisions that readers never had to make before. Will all readers know these complexities? It’s unlikely. Will readers in the US choose the cheaper Amazon option? Possibly.

    So, I’m excited for the day we will have, when e-publishing get big enough that commercial stranglehold will no longer be an option for the players. Remember the format wars of VHS and Betamax? That eventually settled. This will too, and then we’ll have a thriving, viable world where authors and readers are both happy!

    • Good points, Janette and I agree–it’s complicated.

      I am also reminded of the VHS and Betamax struggle, and here there are even more options, more players! Author royalties are also an unknown but I have a feeling that will be self-regulating. If authors aren’t making a living writing or licensing their eBooks, they may not be so keen to write/license them.

      It’s early days, and like you said, it will settle down to a thriving viable experience for readers, writers, publishers and vendors all in good time. Even agents may come to appreciate the world of ‘e’!

      Thanks for dropping by. Your voice is always appreciated!
      🙂

  7. Hi Kim,

    I had an eReader in the 1990’s. Waaaaaay ahead of its time. Obsolete now. Your post has “reKindled” my desire to have one.

    In a very detached way, I too am eager to see how the eWars over book publishing will go. Again back in the early 90’s I was involved in hypertext as literature in academics. We pushed it pretty far, but what we found was that people wanted the linear progression. No matter how many alternative pathways in a story, there was a lot of looping back to parts already read. Perhaps for hypertext to really work, better technology and collaborative writing will make it happen.

    eBooks will I’m sure break the stranglehold the big store chains have on the market–like iTunes is breaking the music publishers hold. Creativity is never stifled for long.

    • Your post has “reKindled” my desire to have one. Okay, as you know from Twitter, that line just cracked me up!

      And, that has been my experience with hypertext as well–post modern academia is all over it as the new author/reader relationship but many people like their stories mono-directional linear.

      One of the wonderful things about writing for speculative fiction readers is they are perhaps more willing than most to try new things.

      The next year or so will tell a lot about the future of the ebook in Australia and world wide.

      In the words of the great Zen master, ‘we’ll see’.

      Thanks for contributing!
      🙂

  8. Great post as always, Kim! As an editor, reader, media-junkie and gadget-lover, I am very excited to see where the eBook revolution takes us. I’m also really curious to know what it means (if anything) for me as an editor, especially as a freelancer – are there new skills I need to learn? In a way I hope so – I’d love to be right there when it all happens, but of course, not being in-house, it’s hard to know. At the moment all these discussions and changes are sort of “inside” the industry.

    I don’t yet own an eReader, but I plan to get my hands on one and when I do, like others have said, it will be something I use in addition to “proper” paper books; not an “either or” scenario. I can’t imagine a house without walls lined with bookcases – to me that spells “home” – and I wouldn’t ever want that to become a curiosity. (Like, say the useless dated encyclopaedias I can’t quite bring myself to throw away.)
    But eReaders offer practicality – I’d love to be able to take all the books I want with me on trips, or even on the bus or train. And I am sure there are other situations we just haven’t thought of yet. The implications for schools and university study is incredible.

    I am keen to see how eInk works – although I spend hours on my computer, I don’t enjoy reading on-screen – physically or emotionally. The iPad wouldn’t be an ideal eReader for me, for instance, with that backlighting.

    And I am also excited to see what ELSE eBooks will offer that we haven’t thought of yet. Everyone is caught up thinking of eBooks as just digital replicas of paper books, but there’s scope to add so much more and perhaps when we explore those options the pricing arguments will die down. (This is something HC’s Digital Editor has LOTS of thoughts on so I should leave it to her to say more… Nat???)

    • Hello BothersomeWords! Good to see you here. 🙂

      I’m also curious as to where this will lead editors–another thing the HC Digital Editor (our Captain for those who didn’t know!) may answer.

      I wouldn’t dream of living in a house without walls of bookshelves either. They are part of the ‘spell’ that makes house = home! I just realised that this whole digital vs. physical book contrast is woven into my stories–the library at Luka’s estate being one of the last collections of physical books on Earth . . .

      Good point on the ‘what ELSE’ eBooks will offer. I’m sure the technology will only get better and our ways of thinking about delivery will change. I think hypertext links will come into play. For example what if an eBook was linked by sequential chapters AND by character threads? The reader could choose to follow one character’s story(for books with multiple points of view like mine!)and then another, or read chapter by chapter.

      I very much like the idea of linking words–like Trickster or Synchronicity–to an illustrated glossary! What a multidimensional reading experience the electronic novel would become!

      This has me very excited!

      I too am keen to hear from Nat. Where is our very busy Captain?

      🙂

      • I love the ideas – the potential – about where we can go from here … and I see all sorts of good things in the future – the ‘making of’ that Janette mentions, but also the connections between literature – the possibility of an author reading their work to the reader – or of a parent programming their voice to read a bedtime story to their child, of students being able to watch video footage within their ‘textbooks’ … or watching news casts while reading a book of history – I am a big fan of the link through if there is a way to use separate windows/sections to do this, so it doesn’t interfere with linear storylines. And I love Kim’s idea of following one character within multi-character book.
        Or an author programming a playlist of songs they listened to while writing a book – the ones that inspird the book for example – Stacia Kane has created three playlists for her Downside Ghosts trilogy – but wouldn’t it be great if getting to a certain part of the e-book triggered off the music … setting the scene! Likewise, when e-reading technology improves I hope, hope, hope, we can do some wild and wonderful things with imagery and illustration – I’d should love to take a virtual tour of some art galleries while learning about the Italian masters 🙂 seeing the paintings in situ …
        I think for fiction – the atmosphere within which we read can be greatly changed – and with non-fiction that our interaction with the information can be greatly enhanced …
        What I do think is important is that word – enhance. I think it’s essential that all these changes are not bells and whistles but actually increase the value (I don’t mean price) of the content for the reader – helping them to better understand the text or become absorbed in it more easily. So I think we need to think about the best ways to do that!

      • Natalie, that is so beautifully put–an atmosphere created to enhance the reading experience. I love the idea of a playlist–can’t wait to hear Stacia’s! These ideas are the very things that excite me so much about were MMB (multimedia books…just made that up) can go.

        For education and entertainment, immersion in other worlds, we’ve only just begun to brainstorm the possibilities!:)

    • Amen to the “what else” comment, BW! I sometimes feel the digital publishing conversation has become bogged down in the important questions of who makes money, and how – meanwhile there are some extraordinary opportunities awaiting authors and readers once those aspects settle down.

      Remember how exciting it was, after all those years of movies on VHS, to get a DVD with commentary, documentary reference material, alternative endings, making-of, bloopers, interviews…

      We’ve seen how creative authors are with their interactive web presence (I now get 100% of my astrology courtesy of Kim’s weekly Gaelean updates!). Imagine that creative force channelled into the book itself.

      I’m shivering with anticipation 😀

      • OMG Janette! All those deleted chapters, author notes, making of sagas, links to audio, web pages and commentary/blogs could all be hypertexted into the documents…

        There are so many ways to ‘loosen our grip’ on how we think this can work and open up to unlimited possibilities!

        Like Neo said, ‘Okay . . .Free my mind!’

      • Further to Nat’s comment… we’ve already got some brilliant cartographers and artists… imagine making some of the maps in FSF books 3D, something you could actually travel through. And hyperlink to within the story so that you really do follow the character on the journey…

      • Ooo! I like the interactive map idea.

      • I think the sky’s the limit on what an e-reader could be made capable of.

        I’m currently reading Dan Brown (don’t hit me – this is by way of research!) and realised I would love a link to google earth when the story moves location. It seems every book I read has some “extra” bit I imagine would add so much texture and richness to my experience. We’ve never thought of this with books before only because it hasn’t been possible.

        JRR Tolkein managed appendices (which I LOVE BTW) and took us beyond the immediate story, and that’s a wonderful option.

        But beyond the “added extras” I’m really interested in how e-books open the door to a conversation between author, readers, characters, publisher…..

        Hoo boy, now my head’s reeling. Don’t you think this is going to be so much FUN????

        😀

      • And concept art!!!!

    • Janette, I thought that myself (re google earth) when I read Steve Berry’s The Alexandria Link. It would have been great to be situated as the story covered many historical sites and places I’d never been (or in some cases heard of).

      Appendices YES!

      And yay to conversations between author, readers, characters, publisher, AND editor!! 🙂

  9. Not to mention being able to annotate books and share your notes and thoughts about specific parts!

  10. There’s no question that ebooks will become mainstream. Looks like epub is starting to become an industry standard everywhere except Amazon, which still uses .mobi for Kindle.

    My books sell really well in Kindle and other ebook formats. More than the print versions! I read on my iPhone, but the convergence of device and format is the point at which ebooks will take off. We’re nearly there. When you can buy ebooks from anywhere for whatever type of reader you have, we’ll be under way.

    And I love real books too. They’re not going anywhere any time soon.

    • Hi Alan, good to see you here! I love how many authors have weighed in on this topic.

      We are on the same page with eBooks. 🙂

      Natalie, Voyager’s digital editor, tells me Kindle converts from epub to their format (Did I get that right, Nat?)Do they charge for that added step?

      No, physical books are not going anywhere any time soon. I agree 🙂

      • You did get that right 🙂 and they don’t charge as far as I know – it’s how they make it a proprietry format for them (ie unable to be shared beyond kindle-application devices of one account holder etc).

  11. Just a thought on the ereaders – there was that episode of Amazon being able to connect to all their Kindles to extract copies of 1984 and Animal Farm after copyright issues surfaced. I am very uncomfortable with the idea that after I have purchased a product, that the seller can still interact with it without my knowledge.

    • Hi Ross,

      That move made more than a few people nervous. Is it me or is there a synchronicity with the said title, 1984, and the action?

      It’s not a whole lot different than one’s car being recalled save I don’t think they would come into your garage and tow it away.

      Apparently Amazon Kindle isn’t going to do this anymore. The question is ‘isn’t or can’t’? Does Whispernet still go both ways?

      From a NY Times story by By BRAD STONE
      Published: July 17, 2009

      .. .’An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” he said.

      Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances,” Mr. Herdener said.’

      Interesting.

      Thanks for bringing this up, Ross, and for weighing in.

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