Tag Archives: kindle

On Borrowing and Buying e-Books

More on the trend towards the digitisation of books and what that means for culture, politics and society… this time, from George Orwell.

Given a good pitch and the right amount of capital, any educated person ought to be able to make a small secure living out of a bookshop…. Also it is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman.

Orwell did not forsee the rise of the Amazon behemoth!  Nevertheless, his 1936 essay ‘Bookshop Memories’ is still relevant today (indeed, one might argue that Orwell’s nack for remaining relevant is the source of his greatness).  Our current appeals to tactility-as-a-virtue are there, alongside concerns that the public generally has a taste for low-brow thriillers and romances, rather than classics from the canon.

Elsewhere, he mentions the fact that bookshops were also lending libraries.  In this, I wonder if there is a parallel with Amazon?  Since the early days of the Kindle, we have known that books one ‘buys’ for the machine are actually just licenced.  Three years ago, Amazon remotely deleted all copies of Nineteen Eighty-Four from Kindle devices, a manoever that was at once horrifying and hilarious.  Last month, a Norwegian woman was declared a persona non grata by the company, and all her purchases were deleted from her device without warning. Continue reading

pussyriot-banner

Two e-Books

Last week, I published two e-Books for English PEN.

The first is Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot, edited by Mark Burnhope, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer. This is a fantastic piece of literary campaigning for three prisoners of conscience. The government of Vladimir Putin, in collaboration with the Russian Orthodox church, have sought to censor the satire and criticism directed at them by the punk art collective Pussy Riot, by convicting three of them on a charge of ‘hooliganism’.

There is little English PEN or I can do to help with the legal battle. But what we can do is ensure that the feminist poetry and the dissident message is not suppressed. Catechism amplifies what Putin sought to silence.

Download the eBook or buy a printed copy now! You can even make a donation if you feel so inclined.

The other project is PEN Atlas: 10 Literary Dispatches from Around the World. It has been published to coincide with the international translation day conference taking place today in London. It is a re-packaging off some of the best content from our PEN Atlas online project.

Download the e-book now!

In creating these publications, I applied some of the lessons learned during the course of my Insignificant Woman project. I also advanced my knowledge a bit too.

I had been using the EPUB conversion cool within Lulu.com to create my e-book files. This tool is simple and easy to use (you just upload a Word Document) but is somewhat limited. For example, when you want to place two headings adjacent to each other in the text, it creates unnecessary page breaks. However, by good fortune I happened across the Sigil tool on the Google Project Hosting repository. It is not an entry-level program, but it is perfect for someone like me, who has basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. I used it to tweak an existing EPUB file for Catechism, but then used Sigil to create the PEN Atlas file entirely from scratch. Later, I used Calibre to convert and EPUB file into a Kindle ready eBook.

'Crossroads' Published! Buy Now for the Kindle


I am delighted to announce that Crossroads has today been published, and is available to purchase for the Kindle in the Amazon store.

Crossroads, you will recall, is a short anthology of new short stories, including a contribution from myself, entitled ‘(0,0)’. The plot involves a chance encounter, a missed opportunity, and some maths.

The other stories are ‘Prignitz Was An Innocent’ by Christian Fox, a dark, dark retelling of the Pied Piper færy tale; ‘Georgia’ by Jenni Hill, about a demon having a frustrating time at work (which made me smile); and ‘The Golds’ by Ian Whates, a tight fable about music and sacrifice. The noir cover illustration of Robert Johnson is by Vincent Sammy. ‘Tis an impressive group and I’m proud to make my literary debut on those (electronic) pages.

The publishers are Jurassic London, who are making a habit of publishing fantastic collections of genre fiction. Their recent Stories of the Smoke collection was timed to co-incide with the Dickens bicentenary and included a royalty donation to English PEN (which is how I came to meet them). Crossroads is actually a companion volume to the limited edition Lost Souls, a collection of ‘lost’ stories from writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Benjamin Disraeli, John Galsworthy and Amelia Edwards.

Buy Buy Buy! And/or: Come to the launch event tonight.

Crossroads cover

Crossroads (cover) by Vincent Sammy