Dog-Eared and Dispatched: December 13, 2015
It’s the end of the year, and you know what that means: an avalanche of best-books-of-the-year lists. Some are critically selected, some are voted on, and some are just lists of the bestsellers from a particular retailer. If you’re looking to try a somewhat different style of reading in 2016, creative e-reading may finally have blended into something that resembles books we know while developing its own path. Ready? Set? Read!
The New York Times has released their annual list of what they consider the best books of 2015. Instead of a unified top ten, they allowed each of three book critics to put forward their ten choices from the last year. Apple also revealed a list from 2015, divided into categories of fiction, nonfiction, and audiobooks, plus a single top fiction and a single top nonfiction choice voted on by employees; otherwise, the “best” list appears to be comprised of bestselling iBooks titles from the year, including books that were not released in 2015. Goodreads ran their annual readers’ choice contest for best books of the year, in each of 20 categories. Barnes & Noble opted to separate their picks into 12 categorized lists with names like “Binge-Reading Page-Turners.” Like Apple, Amazon’s list of best books was actually a list of bestselling books from the year, combining both print and Kindle sales, although theirs appears to be limited to books released in 2015. Google’s list was much like Apple’s, bestselling ebook titles from 2015, many of which were not released in the last year, and was dominated by the books in E.L. James’ Grey series. A number of titles were repeated on the critical and readers’ choice lists—many of them are pictured above—but some of the slightly less well-known selections from the New York Times list include Frog by Mo Yan, H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald, and The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (translated by Ann Goldstein). [New York Times, Adweek, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Amazon]
Is it possible that multimedia, interactive storytelling has caught its stride? This type of storytelling may be gaining more traction, producing content somewhat left of what readers expect from a typical book while still advancing literary culture. In the cases of two that have popped up this week, part of their success seems to come from having a fully integrated print version to accompany and support the less-traditional digital versions. The first is a collaboration through Profile Books and Cognitive; they start with a topic and create video animations to accompany the writing. These videos play as part of the actual content in the ebook version. In the print version, high-quality stills from the video are included. The next is The Pickle Index, a book-and-app novel created by two former McSweeney’s staffers. Available in print, ebook, and on an app, the story is designed to be read slowly, over a period of ten days. A reviewer at the Bookseller says the writing is good, but still not quite up to par outside of the app experience, where the reader cannot read more than one size-specific section per day, which enforces the ideal ten-day reading period. However, these two iterations of interactive reading could still represent an exciting step forward in truly transmedia storytelling. [The Rumpus, The Bookseller]
- A Guardian article reveals that books are getting longer; since 1999, the average number of pages has increased by 20 percent, from 320 pages to 400 pages.
- Regional book retailer Books-A-Million has gone private, and all outstanding shares having been purchased by the owning family; on December 8, its shares were delisted from trading.
- What should authors actually expect to earn? A small publisher compares both traditional and self-publishing methods, while also juxtaposing those who want to write as a career and those who just want to write that one great book.
- Digital Book World offers ten tips on how the little guy can stay competitive with Amazon.
- Do you want to succeed at self-publishing? A successful indie author says you have to take emotion out of the equation and develop your impartial business side.
- Renowned author Margaret Atwood joins the growing list of fiction writers putting out a graphic novel; hers will be Angel Catbird from Dark Horse.
- Most of us have heard of user experience design—a book editor offers tips on applying UX design to reader experience design when writing your book.