ICYMI*

*In case you missed it

Here are a few links that have been languishing in my in-box during my illness:

Stories about monsters and animals have a timeless allure — perhaps because we all get bored with being merely human now and again. Amidst this month’s beastly selection, you’ll find a number of books that examine how such creatures come to be. There’s a cultural history of the Frankenstein phenomenon, a monstrous encyclopedia by Jorge Luis Borges, and an eye-popping biography of the king of Japanese monster-makers. A good creature tale is always waiting to be reinvented, as Toby Barlow shows with his noir-as-pitch debut novel (in verse!) about werewolves in LA. For Leonie Swann, it’s about getting inside an animal’s mind, with her detective yarn about a flock of sheep who investigate their shepherd’s murder. We close with two features: an interview with alternative-animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi and a meditation on the glorious strangeness of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are .

Suggested by the recent publication of Warren Adler’s latest novel, Funny Boys, the theme for the Summer 2008 Warren Adler Short Story Contest is humor. We’re looking for humorous stories in all their varied forms. From satire to farce, from the whimsical to the uproarious, all writers looking to get a laugh (in a good way!) should enter. We are looking for the subtle and the pungent, the black and dark, the sporty, the salty, the waggish, or whatever can spark a knowing smile, a sly chuckle, or a hysterical belly laugh. In other words, anything goes, just as long as it falls into this category, however one stretches its elastic boundaries.

From the get go I knew that the e-book concept would not take off until some large enterprising company would come up with a device that would provide ease of operation, clear type transference, portability, and wide availability of content. I was well aware that there was a hard core of readers to whom the paper book was a sacred and much loved object and would be the final holdouts to “reading on screens.”

It must be said at this juncture that the paper book, especially when wrapped in glorious leather bindings, is my special passion, and I have spent years filling my shelves with sets by authors who have given my life heft, meaning, and delight. As antiques, the value of these books will undoubtedly soar in the future and one day pay my heirs for the profligacy of my early e-book forays.

While I’m not ready to say a final bye bye to the modern paper book in all its guises, I am going to enjoy watching the publishing fallout from the early failure to recognize the e-book surge and observe the wrenching displacement about to be caused in the industry by a horse and buggy mentality that will be both costly and emotionally and financially draining.

Two companies, SONY and Amazon, have entered the fray coming up with devices in which readability is no longer an issue and ease of operation is assured for anyone who has the skill to operate an old fashioned land line phone. Both have solved the basic issue of readability. Each offers clear content transference, ease of turning pages, and a wide variety of content choices, from thrillers, to academic journals, to newspapers and magazines.

The reading part is perfect and in every respect as good or better than a printed paper book. In fact, both devices can offer books that can overcome obstacles of weight and maneuverability. The reading screens are clear, fonts can be upsized to fit one’s optical capability, and there is no loss in the ability to “trance out” in complete concentration. I have read scores of books on both devices and, while I am a partisan to the concept, I am now convinced that the e-book revolution is on the verge of a giant breakout.

In my opinion the descent of printed books will begin to accelerate as each step in the further development of these devices takes place. And they will. The speed of acceptance, I believe, will be astonishing. While the numbers are still far from reaching the tipping point, the acceleration points to a coming avalanche of success.

As they say, read the whole thing.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season – oh, and watching golf too).

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