Guest Post from David Farland

I’m a strong believer that print will survive but I like the idea of it living in harmony with ebooks. As far as I’m concerned ebooks will only thrive if they make use of their format and offer more than their print counterpart.  Below is a guest post from an author who embraces ebooks and provides that additional content to make his new novel shine. I think complimenting the written word with images and sound is a fantastic idea, and the author notes throughout the text made me wish the books I read in university were equipped with this technology.

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David Farland is a New York Times Bestselling, award-winning author with many books to his credit.  Recently he began his own publishing company, and we’ve asked him about how his book, his company, and the future.

David, what inspired you to write the Nightingale series?

I’ve always believed the everyone should have great books—tots, children, adults.  So I’ve written for every age level, but with young adult novels in particular, I hadn’t done much, just a few tie-ins for Star Wars and Mummy movies.  Back in 2002, when I was teaching at BYU, Stephenie Meyer was one of my students.  She came to me with the glimmering ideas for her first novel, and asked what she needed to do to make it the bestselling young adult novel of all time.  So I talked about some ideas of how to handle it, and got to thinking, “You know, Dave, you really should be doing this with your own young adult novels.”  At the time, I was tied up with so many book contracts, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it right away, but the urge kept growing in me.

Beyond that, I had a lot of basic ideas for a story that intrigued me, things like, “What if there was a separate species of humanoid still living on our planet, hiding among us?” and “If we could transfer memories from one person to another, what effect would it have on the world?”  All of those get bound up into the novel.

At what point did you decide to deliver it in enhanced novel format?

I’ve long been interested in future novel technology.  I was hired by IBM to help develop such technology back in 1989, combining text with sound and images.  But over the years I’ve realized that it can go much further than anyone else imagines.  With this book, I saw that the technology was available on the iPad, but it wasn’t until I was done with the second draft that I decided that this book was good enough to help launch the first step in these new technologies.

What features does Nightingale have that make it an enhanced novel?

We combined illustrations and animations with the text, of course, to make it a more visual experience.  To do that, we brought in six top-notch artists.  We kept the animations very minimalistic.  We didn’t want to have a “movie” competing with the text.

To help create the tone, we brought in a composer, James Guymon, head of the American Composer’s Guild, to create a soundtrack.  This was extremely important, since the story is about a boy who wants to become a great guitarist.  He delivered a phenomenal soundtrack that could well have been produced for a movie.  The music clips at the beginning of each chapter really help set a great tone.

Beyond that, we made it so that you can get author’s notes and interviews in the text by hitting hot-keys.

We could have combined it with a videogame or something more interactive, but we really felt that that would pull the reader out of the story too much.

What effect do you feel this will have on who reads it?

 

Right now, most people who read it will be those who have access to an iPad or a Kindle Fire.  But you don’t need one of those to read it—the book is available through a web browser at www.nightingalenovel.com.  In other words, you can read it on your computer.  In fact, we’ve put it in a lot of formats—as a hardcover paper novel, as a regular e-book, as an audio book, and the music is available as a soundtrack. It has an interest from filmmakers in turning it into a movie.  So we want the book to be available for everyone who likes stories, no matter how they like them.

How do the special features improve the reading experience?

Our goal was to make the enhanced novel more aural, visual, and emotional.  Instead of me answering that question, one of our first reviewers put it this way: “I devoured the novel.  It was absolutely incredible! . . . I struggled to explain just how much I enjoyed it in my review. . . . After reading Nightingale, I don’t think I will even be able to go back to reading regular e-books again.  Like it says in my review, reading the enhanced Nightingale felt like an ‘experience.’ It didn’t feel quite like a book or a movie. It initiated all of my senses.  . . . enhanced e-books are actually a real deal.’”

Do you feel this technology is suited for all novels?

That’s a surprisingly complex question.  When Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, she never imagined that her reader might hook up to a computer jack and someday have the novel downloaded to his senses.  She wrote it to be read, in other words.  I think that, obviously, trying to move a story like that into enhanced form doesn’t offer a lot of benefits and might even harm the story.

At the same time, not all readers are the same.  Some readers are more visually stimulated than others.  They prefer to watch movies rather than read.  Others are aural.  They want to hear their stories on audio, or listen around a campfire.  Some learn by manipulating objects, and so they might enjoy playing games set in your story’s universe.

So in order to reach all of those potential readers (many of whom don’t read at all), you have to look for ways to make it easier for them to receive the story.  Sixty percent of the people who could read a book this year won’t.  They don’t ever read books.  They’re “reluctant readers” at best.  So to create a truly monster hit, one that everyone will pick up and love, you almost need to combine technologies.  That’s what I’m doing with East India Press.

Mr. Farland’s new classic series Nightingale tells the story of a young man, Bron, abandoned at birth, and raised in foster care.  He’s kicked out of one home after another for being “strange.”  Finally, at age 16, Bron goes to live with a woman named Olivia who recognizes instantly that he’s special.  He’s what she calls a “Nightingale,” a creature not quite human.

Suddenly epic forces combine to claim Bron, and rip him away from the only home, family, and girl that he has ever cared about.  Bron must risk his life—and the lives of everyone he knows—in order to uncover the mystery of his birth, and answer the questions, “Who am I?” “What am I?” It’s the kind of fantasy series that will enthrall Young Adults and adults alike.

To buy the novel in any format, or to preview the cool new enhanced novel technology by reading the sample chapters, go to www.nightingalenovel.com.  While you’re there, don’t forget to look up the contests, and find out how you can win $1000.

View the trailer and comment about it below for a chance to win free access to the online version of the novel.

The PDF problem

I’m having a really hard time getting into any of the books I’m reading in PDF format on my Kobo.

ePub is just like reading a real book no matter what size I make the text (I have bad eyes so I like 150% zoom), you just press up and down to adjust the zoom and right and left to turn pages. Simple and not distracting. I love it, I forget I don’t have a physical book, I only focus on the story.

PDFs are making very aware of the medium I’m reading them on.

  • I can have the text way too small and struggle to keep it straight what line I’m on

 

  • OR I attempt to zoom and get this:

 

 When it’s like this I need to click right to see the end of a line then click left to see the beginning of the next line, click down to scroll down the page, do more right and left navigating, and then often accidentally flip the page a bit too early.

This is immensely distracting and frustrating. I can’t stand it! So I go back to reading the really small print, often with big margins wasting space and can’t keep this up long without straining my eyes.

All of the books I’ve purchased have been ePub but most digital ARCs seem to come in PDF. I will never buy PDF unless this issue is resolved, and I will be more hesitant to accept digital ARCS.

 Am I being overly fussy? Does this bother anyone else?

Taking the E-Book Challenge

The Ladybug Reads is hosting an E-Book Challenge. I really want to get familiar with my Kobo and make the most of it so this is a fun challenge for me. I’m going to attempt to reach the “Obsessed” level by reading 20 e-books this year. I am never ever going to give up print and I still collect beautiful print books but I like to experience all different kinds of reading.

Kobo First Impressions

me&kobo
I show off my new Kobo

My favourite Christmas gift of the year = Kobo. I barely put it down all day.

 
What I love so far:
  • it’s light and small enough to carry in my purse, much easier than lugging a pile of books when I know I’ll have lots of time to kill
  • it holds a ton of books, came with 100 already built-in
  • it’s compatible with the library, being able to borrow books is very important to me
  • Being able to zoom in and out easily
  • That it remembers where I left off
  • That it shows the cover art when I put it in sleep
  • the table of contents and being able to skip by chapter
  • built-in dictionary
 
What I wish it had but doesn’t seem to:
  • Way to bookmark, highlight or flag multiple spots in the text, I like to mark where quotes are so I can go back when I write a review or something
  • colour cover art, I love covers
  • a notepad feature, nothing fancy just basic text
  • a personalized home page thingy, where I put in my name and decorate my shelf with my favourites
  • more magazines and comic book serials available for subscriptions
  • Internet access beyond the Kobo store

I know Sony has a lot of these features but it’s pricier and really they are extras I don’t NEED. I love my Kobo so far so don’t be too sad about this list

 How it will change my reading habits:
 
I still plan to read good old-fashioned books on a regular basis. I love the look and feel of hardcovers and the comfortable flipping of pages with paperbacks. I like the smell, the covers, the feel in my hands…..I’m not by any means giving up print!
 
I will use my Kobo when:
  • I travel (which will hopefully be a lot)
  • I read on my lunch break at work, bringing books back and forth is getting tedious and seems silly since I’m in a library full of books.
  • I read in a waiting room, I go to the doctors way too much and I hate lugging a book around when I’m sick and finishing a book in the waiting room the first time then having nothing to do when I get sent to a new waiting room to get tests done.
  • On the bus if I ever live in a place with decent transit again, man I miss Ottawa!
  • occasionally at home, especially if I’m addicted to a particular book I’m reading on it
  • If I’m too lazy to walk to the mall and to impatient to wait until the next workday to borrow a print book

I will still use print:

  • In bed
  • On the couch
  • On the beach
  • In the bathtub on the rare occasion I opt for a bath rather than shower
  • For my favourite books and those whose covers I adore
  • For most graphic novels because colour is key
  • For picture books
 The Kindle conundrum:
Several friends received Kindles for Christmas only to discover uh oh doesn’t work with the library! I know I advised a lot of patrons to check out what devices were compatible with Library To Go or told them about the ones I knew and warned about Kindle. The thing is while the Kindle seems awesome otherwise it is very limited in where you can get your reading material. I don’t like being limited to one source so I’m very happy my bro got me a Kobo!
 
So library users beware, Kindle does not allow you to borrow from us! 
 
Accesorizing my Kobo:
 The booklike cover I got from The Source is classy but cute. It protects my Kobo from the hazards of my purse, backpack, desk ect. It has handy pouches for SD cards and business cards or my library card. They think of everything. Doesn’t have the fancy built-in light my friend’s has, but I’m not rich.
 
 The Skin I bought for the Kobo is whimsical. It features a shelf of old-school books that is inhabited by little elves, trolls and animals. Super cute if I do say so myself.