Five for Friday

eBookIt’s Friday. Time for five links worth checking out this weekend.

Welcome to the funhouse.

At E-Reads, Agent Richard Curtis states, “Digital technology has given writers the key to the funhouse, and few have been able to resist the allure of all those glittering tools empowering them to steal fire from Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Random House.”

But does having the power to publish one’s own book mean it’s worth using?

Citing the experiences of Cory Doctorow, Seth Godin, and J. A. Konrath, Curtis suggests that most authors’ time would be better spent writing.

Not so fast, responds J. A. Konrath. He writes, “I can’t think of a single, compelling reason to allow publishers to keep 52.5% of eBook royalties and give authors just 17.5%–especially when any writer can make 70% by uploading to Kindle themselves.”

A lively debate appears in the comment sections at both sites.

Who’s reading the reader?

Rob Horning in The New Inquiry says publishers will not only use data collected from eReaders to track your buying habits, they’ll use it to track your reading habits. Did you skip to the end of the book? They’ll know. Did you give up on page 28? They’ll know. Did you click on a link to look at the jacket your favorite character is wearing? Product placement in fiction may not be far away. With such tracking, publishers and marketers will be able to steer readers towards products that they’re more likely to purchase. The result?

Horning suggests the death of spontaneity: “…publishers will be able to draw from trends in this rich data for its editorial decision making, exploiting connections this information reveals among various demographics in the reading public, calibrating their lists to actual reader behavior with more precision that dumb sales data once allowed. Such rapid responsiveness can trigger a feedback loop that precludes the possibility of spontaneous, unexpected desires, fashioning a smoothly functioning market sealed off from vital disruptions. Readers will be sealed in the tombs of their revealed preferences. To capture the feeling of discovery and possibility again, they will have to look somewhere other than books.”

Free eReader with every box of Captain Crunch.

How long will it be before eReaders are disposable? What about an eReader that you cut out of the back of a cereal box?

Popular Science looks at flexible ePaper under development at the University of Cincinnati. It can’t come soon enough if you attend readings by your favorite authors, and yet, come autograph time you have to sit back and watch, while you cradle your Kindle.

Make mine a double.

So where will all the books go? Grab your eReader and head to your nearest watering hole. Styleture takes a look at the marriage of books and bars. As the article points out, “alcohol and the written word have a close correlation and long history; among the famous writers who were heavy drinkers include Hunter S. Thompson, Tennessee Williams, Charles Bukowski, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway.”

Photographs capture the ambience of several LA establishments.

Is this a celebration of the book or an Irish wake we’re attending?

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