So the other day my colleagues at  the Literary Ventures Fund and I were on a three-way, three-city conference call when one of them mentioned that he took a train ride from NYC to Princeton the day before to attend a meeting.  He said that he spent much of the time on his iPhone reading Twitter thoughts with links from a savvy and opinionated independent publisher we all knew on a variety of topics. Another colleague sighed and said “It used to be that people used train rides to read books.”  


Well, exactly. If you’ve followed this blog you know the train/Twitter/iphone/book collisions go right to the heart of what we discuss and debate and, one hopes, illuminate, all the time.


And as you may know, I don’t have a dog in this fight. On one hand I can argue “What’s wrong with a book?” They are pretty portable. But in the last few months I have spent a lot of time waiting for people who had various appointments or in transit and it would have been useful to have something that could deliver some choices (books, periodicals, work files etc). I tend to dive into books – the traditional kind you hold in your hands -- when I have extended down time but this was waiting room down time, parking lot down time. So I can make a case for using fragmented time in a fragmented way: tootling around electronically. Though I also can make the case for daydreaming or just staring off into space, too.


Somehow I suspect that you knew this was leading to the T-word: Twitter. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Twitterville lately, mostly to see how the publishing, literary, author, reader world interacts on it and with it. Those 140-character-or-fewer blasts can be painful (“I just read the first chapter of so-and-so’s new book and it stinks”); ultra timely (this week’s Amazon ranking implosion, for example); or, among other things, promotional (read this book, read it now, here’s the link). But I salute any delivery system that supports the discussion of books and reading and gives authors another channel for their words and messages. As I write this, emails about another round of layoffs at Publishers Weekly are piling up.


As author/writer/innovation sharpshooter Scott Kirsner says there’s more opportunity than every to get your message out but at the same time there is more communication clutter than ever to machete through. How best to be heard these days as an author or a publisher? Scott’s the right guy to ask because he has just published Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age.  Whether you are an author or any kind of creative person trying to be heard or if you’re looking for an instant and insightful primer on how ideas move these days you’ll want to have a look. Great interviews with authors, artists etc. etc., too. Filled with concrete and useful tips. 
Message Edited by ande on 04-16-2009 05:57 PM
by on ‎04-17-2009 04:29 PM

l'll be perfectly honest, here, ande,  I dislike blogs [except for this purpose of my vent].  They only make statements. Who says what to whom, is a mystery, lost in cyber flipping text real discussions evolve.  Who knows, maybe that's the object, and purpose?!


And I'm lucky if I can get a text message off, without a cramp in a finger fouling up the messy language that falls short of a full sentence...just to say hi to one of my kids, and a hi back comes with a vibration!  The telephone is outmoded, the mailbox is full of useless advertisements, no letters to be had, and to hold a hard plastic piece of what-in-my-hand-is-this?, to read a novel/story...sorry, I live in the dark ages of real paper flippers.  Twittering is for the birds!  


From a two-word-sentences-S**k-kind-of-person!


Kathy S.

by on ‎04-17-2009 11:20 PM
I just signed up for twitter a few days ago, and while I think it's ok I probably won't spend a horrible amount of time on it.  When I do check it will always be from the computer not my cell.  I actually just canceled my cell service and got a land line instead because I'm sick of texting, getting calls when I'm in a store that could have waited until I got home, and a myriad of other reasons.  I will never trade in books for a kindle.  Not unless they can get a kindle to smell and feel like a real book.  I still prefer CDs and DVDs over downloads.  I buy the paper newspaper not the online version.  I don't have facebook or myspace and never will (knock on wood).   The Barnes and Noble book clubs is the only online community I belong too.  No other chatting, gaming, or connecting with people I will never meet.  All of this and I'm only 32.  I almost feel our lives our getting to electronic, too impersonal.  I don't know if this all makes me a fuddy duddy, but there you go.
by Choisya on ‎04-19-2009 04:08 AM
I have been thinking about Blogs this morning because for the past week our media has been reporting on 'Smeargate' - the outcome of the revelations of a political blogger, Guido Fawkes, who hacked into a Downing Street staffer's emails which gossiped about leading members of the Opposition.  I then looked up the online FreeDictionary definition of BLOG because, never having participated in this modern phenonema, I was not even sure what a Blog was.  The primary definition is given as Web Log but IMO the secondary one seemed more appropriate: Big Load of Gossip!  I also thought about a recent Guardian article called 'Merchants of Bile' which noted how much abuse was circulating on internet blogs and I decided this was not a phenonema I wished to be part of. 
However, I thought again and wondered if some Blogs will become the equivalent of Samuel Pepys' Diaries  or Jane Austen's letters?   Should I therefore pay more heed to them?  Then I listened to a radio broadcast which read out some extracts from Blogs, which included intellectual gems like 'Put the wheelie bin out this morning.' and 'What shall I have for lunch?' So I began to worry about the work of future social historians who might have to sift through the plethora of blogjunk on the internet to find something useful for their forthcoming tomes.  Already there is a dearth of diaries and letters because people are no longer penning their thoughts on paper and are deleting their emails. So are rambling, inconsequential Blogs going be an important literary source for future historians? At least when people had to physically write their thoughts down they were (perhaps) less likely to scribble rubbish because of the time and effort it took and were even likely to worry about the paper it might waste when paper was expensive.  How will future researcher's find their equivalent of diaries and letters, what search engines and filters will they use?  Will they search Unabashedly Bookish looking for gems on modern authors and light upon a ghoulish entry on Sylvia Plath's son before finding Monty's excellent review of Forever Wars?  Will what Ryan and Kathy write about Wordsmithonia become as important as the contribution of B&N authors?  And will sitting before a computer screen to do your research ever be as pleasant as sitting in the Reading Room of the British Library?
My breakfast mull over Blogs brought me to the conclusion that as there are likely to be far more 'Put the wheelie bin out this morning' entries than Monty reviews, I will not clutter my mind by reading Blogs and that if I am reincarnated (perish the thought!) I will not become a social historian! 
by debbook on ‎04-19-2009 10:45 AM

I'm mostly in agreement with you guys, except fot the Kindle part ( It really is great Ryan and I still buy paperbooks)

My favorite thing about twitter is changing the picture of my puppy and from that learning how to crop photos. I despise facebook and myspace. People that I am friends with and see on a daily basis, will forget to tell me things because they updated on their facebook and assume I already know. And recently I noticed that an old friend of mine was on Facebook. We used to be great friends through school, college, after college. we talked less once her second kid came along, but we'd email. Then that dwindled and I only hear from her with the family photo christmas card. Yet she's on facebook looking to reconnect!! I was so mad.

I hate texting, it takes me forever so I don't do it. One great thing about technology is caller ID and avoiding phone calls from computer generated voices.

Ironically because of facebook and my friends being busy staying in touch with non-friends, I end up being closer to my online friends here at B&N. I am really glad that I have you guys!!

by debbook on ‎04-19-2009 10:47 AM
And C, thanks for reminding me, I have to take the "wheelie bin" out tomorrow,lol!
by on ‎04-19-2009 11:14 AM



I am right there with you

by on ‎04-22-2009 08:30 AM

Well, I am glad to see there are still regular people out there.  LOL!  I too do avoid the cell phone texting.  It is so much easier and faster to talk. (for me anyway). 


I have been using the twitter a little lately, part of me says I should be familiar with what is available out there and take advantage of it.  But mostly it is for info on books and to keep in touch with only a few people.  I still like to have the person to person interaction.  The computer talking just can't replace that, yet here I am doing it.  I do enjoy my friends I have around me in person and I have come to enjoy the friends I have made because of the twitter and internet.


It is so true, that friend I have in person have also become internet friends.  It seems to be the way to stay in touch anymore.?

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