Stream of Consciousness: From Luddism to Deer to E-Books—September 30th, 2009

April 26, 2021

The first thing I got involved in this morning was reading a rather dimwitted statement of one man’s feeling that social media are pretty much useless. He had posted on a forum about publishing—himself a small publisher, I gather—sounding as if he rejected social media out of hand without trying his hand at reaching potential book-buyers that way. Perhaps the fact that it was very early morning, I had not taken my morning run, nor even completed morning ablutions, but I simply needed to dash of my own quick, perhaps nitwitted response.

    … [I]s it just human nature to reach a point, an “old-time” comfort level, where anything new seems too odd or … well, too new to embrace? … I agree there are too many marketers of marketing, promising easy success and wealth, but I still suspect there’s a way to mine for paying customers for whatever you product [is]—books, freelance services (in my case).

I did not expect a reply. I was not surprised with one.

After posting my little diatribe I went for my run and—funny how the human mind works, or perhaps just how my mind works—I was immediately caught up in all the usual scenery on my route. I got to this one corner, turned and started down the stretch bounded on one side by a wooded area that comes right up to a home. Among the trees were the gang of eight or nine deer I see every morning if I get out early enough. I began the game of averting my eyes and staying as close to the curb as I could, in hopes of not intruding on the deer and causing them to bolt.

They let me come closer than ever before running off.

In an instant I found myself thinking how the deer, unlike the guy I railed against, had done something pretty new and bold: they had stood their ground and checked me out. Of course, they eventually found the good sense to not trust a human and ran off, but not before impressing me by doing this new thing.

Just as quickly, my mind shifted to—don’t laugh—the thought of how I tend to lament the apparent decline of print publishing. I am not enamored of e-books, Kindle, and other such new age readers. But I realized, during this connect-the-dots-interval from Luddite to deer to e-books, that it is high time I learned how to repurpose print books reading on electronic devices.

After my shower I checked an article I downloaded recently that gives a step-by-step for formatting books for Kindle. The first time I read the article, I followed its instructions for locating and downloading the two free utilities from that one needs for the process. The first is Adobe’s Digital Editions freeware; the second, Calibre, open source e-book conversion software. I had downloaded them both some time ago and they sit on one of my hard drives.

The new addition to my “projects” list is learning to translate a book created in InDesign into an e-book.

I wonder if there will ever be enough demand to make such processing a career choice.

* * *

Well, I guess it’s official … sort of. Ebooks are definitely here to stay. And not just for Kindle’s MOBI format. And I’m regularly getting jobs that include conversion to EPUB—and even to interactive PDFs for screen reading—from InDesign files. I still personally prefer to read actual, physical books. For one thing, I spend more than enough time staring at computer, iPhone, and iPad screens. That’s enough blue light for me, what with the toll it takes on my eyes. But I also find reading words on the printed page a more pleasurable experience. And I still maintain that, for an author, a print book seems more prestigious and a greater accomplishment.

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