Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday is market day

Jason Epstein on Google et al.

When Publishers Lunch mentioned the name Jason Epstein, it took me a moment to place him. But he is, of course, the far-sighted author of the best book about publishing in the 21st century, Book Business (2001). If you haven't yet read it, do so immediately; it's quite short.

Epstein has been recruited by the New York Times to review a few books about Google, the long tail, and so forth. It turns out that Epstein is a supporter of the Google plan to digitise, if possible, the whole of human knowledge, as contained in books; and so am I.

The Google project raises, he says 'the theoretical possibility that every book ever printed in whatever language may indeed be accessed wherever Internet connections exist.' And if that doesn't thrill you, you're in the wrong blog.

Epstein describes the Google ambitions as heroic, and indeed they are. Not only heroic, but noble. If ever implemented, the Google project would offer at least some hope that future leaders of the world might one day be people who have at least some clue as to how to do the job. Having access to the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of the entire world ought to help, at least in principle.

As for how the texts would be read, Epstein is absolutely clear that they will seldom be read online. Instead, he argues (as he did five years ago in Book Business) that the digital file will be printed out in traditional book form, at a shop in your local high street or even village, by a machine not much larger than an ATM.

Prototypes of such machines are, he tells us, already offered in three sites by a company in which he has an interest. One of them, based in Egypt, will soon be printing books in Arabic.

A different kind of fake

The New York Times also reports on an elaborate spoof, fake, call it what you will, which takes the form of an alleged history of the funerary violin.

This book, written by Rohan Kriwaczek, is said to be published in the UK by Duckworth on 28 September 2006, and is allegedly due for publication by the Overlook Press, in the US, in January. However, I can't find it on the Overlook web site (you may have better luck), and says that the book is unavailable. So maybe Overlook have changed their minds.

Most peculiar. An example of English eccentricity, perhaps. Just what you'd expect from a chap called Kriwaczek. Thanks to Susan Higginbotham (a proper English name) for the link.


If you really can't find any other way to publish your stuff, Booksie will do it for you. Upload your writing to an eager audience. It says. And there are a couple of associated sites: The Next Big Writer and The Writers Site.

Independent Publisher

Anyone who publishes their own novel or non-fiction book is, I suppose, an independent publisher, or small press; and those engaged in such enterprises might find some useful info on the Independent Publisher web site.

Top feature on the site at present is an excerpt from a book by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow, who have been around for some time and in my estimation usually know what they're talking about. But there's plenty more.

Mainstream fact-checking

If you are trying to keep abreast of the O'Beirne saga, take a look at the comments on yesterday's post. Walter Ellis offers a particularly interesting case study.

Tonto runs courses

If you live in the UK, and especially if you live in the north-east, you may like to know that the Tonto Press has some places left on the week-long creative-writing course starting on 23 October. No, I don't get a percentage if you sign up. Dammit.


Andrew O'Hara said...

The Google project is exciting indeed. "...access to millions of titles while enabling libraries themselves to serve millions of users without adding a foot of shelf space" is an added perspective (for me).

I think you stretch a bit, however, in your hope that future leaders might take advantage of the knowledge pool. Not when we have presidents who say nook-yoo-lar.

The Overlook Press said...

Overlook Press will be releasing Rohan's book. Stay tuned to for further details.

Be well.

Jim Behrle

ivan said...

Eptstein and Google:

I am indeed thrilled.

I have been trying for some years to retrieve old Sunday Observer coluns by Russell Baker for my own cannibalistic purposes...I mean, is there a better, more entertaining columnist than Russell Baker?
But I am simply too dumb to access properly.
Will be nice when Google Suggest comes in.
Just click onto Russell Baker and you will have it all.