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Monday, April 30, 2012

Catching up: links.

I went to Penguicon over the weekend. Had fun. Went to a lot of panels, missed some I hoped to attend.

But cons are like that. You see someone, you get distracted, you know how it is. :)

And because I was looking at before con, I got to mention Jo Walton's first style of book series to several people who quite liked it. :D

Some links I've been looking at today:

Stephen King, bless him, has said something I've been thinking lately [a lot] about Marie Antoinette (Stephen King: Tax Me...)

Amazon was deleting ebooks before Neal Stephenson's Reamde

This last comment at Writer Beware sums up my thoughts on the DOJ versus publishers & Apple case:

"A couple of take-aways for me. The individual with finite financial resources is not equipped to take the company with less finite resources to court. It is so sad and discouraging to see it come to this."

Previous link found through the importance of reversion clauses in book contracts.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Converting to ebook.

Lots of people have talked about making a book, book publishing, and making ebooks.  I like to reread some of my favorites on this:  Tobias Buckell, Charlie Stross, Cat Valente... I'm missing Kris Rusch here.

Let's talk about what happens to those old books, the back list.  Made way back in the day when computers weren't so common.  Yeah, those books. 

First, to create computer files, a small press might have Kinko's chop the spine off a paperback edition.  Then the loose pages get scanned. 

Second, someone goes through the file and fixes as many really egregious errors as possible.  Things they know the scanner screws up.  Like words the scanner didn't understand. 

A lot of what slips past then gets fixed during proofreading.

Back in 1989, when I worked for a research consortium, the scanner had two languages and whenever it got confused, it liked Greek best.  So I'd have to go through and fix every triangle starting a sentence and make it into a capital A.  (But I'd keep the Greek inside formulas.)  And so on.

After the book is scanned, then it goes to a proofreader.  She's going to compare the files to the original manuscript. 

I know because I've done this often. I watch for letters run together, or dropped off, for altered words and punctuation...

You might not think proofreading is important.  It is very important.  Say you loved Dune.  Every ebook version of Dune will want proofreading.  Because that book was definitely not written on a computer. 

Every time ANY book has to be converted into a file, it has got to be proofread.  Remember, spellcheckers don't notice altered words -- how could they? -- as long as it's a real word.

This is also why even though you might have books in print, those titles don't immediately become ebooks.  Ebook conversion isn't a magic process.  It takes time. [Read Toby's link at the top for details.]

Charlie sums it up:
"There is no topic in the publishing industry this decade that is the source of as many misconceptions, superstitions, lies, plausible untruths, and idiocies as ebooks."

Postscript:  I don't understand readers who think "it's not physical" means it must be cheaper.  They pay for cellphones and cable.  They can look at their devices that provide these services, but they pay for those services as if the Thing-in-hand equals the Service. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cons 2013-2014

I'm thinking of doing Readercon in 2013...  I'd rather travel to that. England is, alas, not practical. Even though WFC 2013 definitely appeals to me.

And 2014 gives the two choices of London's Worldcon or Phoenix's NASFiC.

Given that I haven't yet attended my first Worldcon, Chicon 7, you might think I'm thinking too far ahead.

I don't.  You see, I tend to plan out these things.  That way I know what monies and resources [and time] I'll need.

Of course, back when I used to attend Pennsic War, I'd plan ahead for that too. 

This is, I am given to understand, the sign of a control freak. But an editor friend pointed out to me that some obsessiveness is a good thing in editors...

Not streamlined.

Wow... Google's mad dash to make everything "more streamlined" seems to be  a rush towards ugly.  I'm not sure what made them think that cold starkness was streamlined.

Depressing, though.  I had other things I was thinking about -- but having Blogger change along with Gmail [what an unsurprise!] is exceedingly depressing.

It does make me see why folks get into Wordpress.  Maybe they can make the interface less repellent.  I don't know.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some Easter eggs.

I really was doing research for work when I found this Firefly website. I can't remember what keyword I was using to somehow pull up -- wait, it must have been gridlines.

I do remember how I got this map of Earth, however. It's so cool. The sunlight's moving.

(Here's the xkcd about Cadbury eggs... :) I wasn't looking that up for work, though. I wonder if Randall cooks with Kinder eggs, it'd have some potential for worse things than Cadbury.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Warped, no foolin'.

Today it took me about 4 tries to open a Word file successfully. That is becoming standard with this file. It is very tiresome. I don't know if Classic Menu doesn't work well with docx files, or what. That's my guess, but... I don't think so. I think it's something peculiar about this file. :/

But I could swear I had a docx file in February, or maybe January, and this didn't happen then.

I wish this were a joke -- lots of good ones today. Alas, this... isn't. I'll snag some of the good jokes I saw off Twitter later. Off to dig back into That File.

The way I know there's a problem with the docx file? Whenever I open it every day, the right margin grows from normal -- quarter of the screen -- to enormous. Every Comment goes off into the far distance, stretching abnormally.

That's the first two or three times I open it. Every time. Without fail.

Doesn't matter what way I open it, either. Going through the file tree, from the Windows button, from the pinned recent files...

You know, it'd be nice to blame this on Cthulhu. I'm just sayin'.

I hope you're having a Happy Facepalm Sunday. :)