Oh no! Spam has made it to the Kindle! Content farms, which some people hate and think are scams and others see as a new and successful business model (think Associated Content and DemandMedia), are packaging articles in the form of multiple, “original” ebooks, selling a few copies of many ebooks for a tidy profit. I’m not sure which content farms exactly are doing this, but according to Laura Miller on Salon.com, these cheap, spammy ebooks are turning people off from buying more ebooks. I think this just shows even more how important publishers still are. If you buy an ebook from a publisher, you know you’re getting a decent quality product, and you should be able to read reviews about it before purchasing.
Bookstores are exploring new ways to make money lost to the online bookstores. Some of them now sell tickets to author events or make book purchases mandatory in order to go to an author reading or book signing. As someone in publishing, I think this is a good experiment and hope that it works out so that independent bookstores can stay in business. But as someone who likes to spend time in bookstores, I’m sad that it’s come to this. Bookstores should consider other options as well. Many successful indie bookstores are still in business because they’ve become more than a bookstore. Like many companies, these bookstores have expanded and become a community. The bookstore in Hoboken, for example, has events every night for kids, families, writers, even guitarists. It’s more than a store: it’s a center, a gathering place. Maybe that’s the direction other bookstores need to go.
The Polyglot Project is a cool new site that helps readers learn a new language. They promise that you can read literature in its original language, and if you don’t know a word, you can double-click it and the translation will appear momentarily. Sounds like a great way to brush up on your high school Spanish. Or French. Or German. You get the idea.
Lastly, here’s a sign that the publishing industry is evolving. There is a new literature map that allows you to type the name of any author and then see how closely other authors align with him or her. That way you can check out other authors with similar styles, and hopefully read more. It reminds me a little of the genre map on BookCountry–a website where people can upload their work and receive feedback.