Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Review Parachute Music Festival

I'm a secular kind of guy so it was my family who got me along to this Christian music festival. My opinions of what I saw:
This was a young band let loose for their half-hour in the "Debut" tent. They had supporters running around beforehand holding up advertising posters so I though "good on you" for that effort and braved the journey through the heat to take a look. This was high energy loud enthusiastic rock. I'm guessing here but maybe "Thrash Metal" is the common description in that culture. The madly leaping-about lead singer looked-like a testosterone-fuelled young Tom Cruise but he was upstaged by the even more energetic girl drummer breaking into a stereotypical male role, well done! I could make out very little of the lyrics but they seemed to belong to a comic horror movie and the whole act had a kind of cheeky parody flavour to it, something like "Spinal Tap". This with their enthusiastic sense of fun set "Twink" apart and above the mass of similar bands performing here. "Twink" had what looked like a large crowd of supporters moving, dancing and clapping on cue in front of the stage. This was confirmed by the MC at the end of the set who remarked on so many supporters coming from the small town of Warkworth (ie a long way!). Deep thought - "Split Enz" emerged from Te Awamutu so maybe there is something about NZ small towns and maybe "Twink" is the new "Split Enz"?

This is the house band for a megachurch in Sydney, Australia, and IMHO they did a steretypical performance in that style, lacking in distinctive or original touches. This is easy-listening pop reminding me of Barry Manilow. Out on the edge of a big crowd, I had a Monty Python moment like the sermon scene from "The Life of Brian" where the crowd fringes are struggling to hear what Brian is saying - "blessed are the cheesemakers?". Hillsong sounded to me like this:
Eat baked beans,
Eat baked beans,
For a larger brain,
For a larger brain,
You will mistake me for a shoe

Monday, January 21, 2008

More useful things with cellphones

Ancient as I am, I am making cellphone progress. Mine (see pic) is a "smartphone" which I picked up secondhand in an online auction. Motorola MPX220 which is an early example of running Microsoft Windows Compact Edition on a cellphone. It has room for improvement as a phone - I need to run outside to get a clear conversation where others around me can talk just fine on their cellphones. But as a text device and pocket computer it delivers some nice surprises.
I was talking about "Askar" the book with one of our test readers, when I thought of using the MPX220 as a voice recorder. This worked very well and gave me all the interview details that I could never have recorded just taking notes.
I also find that the program for web access, "Pocket Internet Explorer", can be pointed at HTML files on the plug-in memory card and do a remarkably good job of using the phone as an e-book reader - (see pic below - note "Askar as E-Book" is not available to the public yet). Last night, Bronwyn and I were away from home and we got into debating "Askar" paragraph wording, as one does. We were able to call up the paragraphs in question and decide that they did not need further editing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Book Publishing and First Reviews

An interesting discussion "Tactless Reviewers" has started on Lulu. I thought author Sylvia Semel, writing about her experience with BEING A TWIN, made a good point about how a community of authors should handle initial peer reviews.
I have responded saying that the first few public reviews for the web page of a new self-published book need to be positive else readership and therefore discussion can be severely damaged. If the reviewer feels negative about the book then IMO a private message to the author is the best way to handle that. I know there is a controversy about authors and their friends stacking online review pages with patsy reviews. I suggest the best way for authors and publishers to handle this is to start the page off with reviews from test readers but with statements like this: "Publisher-posted review from John Doe, one of our test readers."

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Askar" gets publishing industry interest - EBook goes off-line

Our E-Book new media publishing experiment goes off-line until further notice because of conventional publishing possibilities opening up for "Askar". We are guessing that Traditional Publishers would not like an E-Book "on the loose" without heavy security locks so we are taking a wait and see approach.
The Physical Paperback book continues to be published and available at:

Monday, January 7, 2008

DIY Bookbinding update

We printed the first copies of the "Askar" book ourselves. The hardest part was diy bookbinding. Following advice found elsewhere on the Internet gave us books that held together OK, but were very flexible at the spine so that the spine artwork was quickly creased and worn by normal handling. But by experiment 15 we have a method that is meeting the challenge of our rather large 464 page epic.
IN BRIEF - Start with contact glue then cover that with cloth-based gaffer tape.
IN DETAIL - Conventional paperback binding is a complex hot glue critical temperature mass production process that is quite impossible to emulate for cottage industry one-offs. My answer is lateral thinking for the niche unpredictable small demand situation - I have after a lot of trials come up with a cloth-tape spine with contact glue. The result is very flexible rather than having the conventional gutter stiffness and some find it a better lie-flat reading experience. Most people who have inspected examples of both have preferred this version. The minority report was concern that the flexible spine would not last but examples have gone through our test reader program with no problems. Hey it's gaffer tape - my film-making influence shows!

We start by using a cotton bud to paint contact glue eg ADOS F2, PASCO on the spine edge of the block of paper including the covers which are separately cut front and back covers to match the paper size. Let that dry then paint another layer. Then cut a piece of gaffer tape and place that sticky side out in a jig (wooden frame) so that it will align with the book block when we stick it on the spine and wrap it about 10mm over the spine edge of the covers.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

CEV is the sensible copyright Bible

When writing my essay "Ideas and Themes Behind Askar", I needed to quote from "The Bible". Checking out the copyright notices on Bibles I found them surprisingly demanding. The Bible itself is more than 50 years old but publishers claim copyright on their translations. The worst example I saw was the "New International Version"(NIV) which allows even small amounts of quoting only on condition of a LARGE statement at the BEGINNING of any essay or article. IMHO NIV's statement infringes the critical review provision of the copyright law of most countries. This is part of a wider issue. It is quite OK and fair for publishers to say "ALL RIGHTS RESERVED". In my new role as a publisher I do that myself. But the wording that follows on many title pages seems to be an exercise in wishful (or paranoid) thinking that tries to invent diy copyright law that simply does not exist. Electronic versions seem to have more of this disease than printed books. My reaction to the NIV statement was to reject the NIV and search for a Bible with a sensible copyright statement compatible with the APA Referencing standard for quotes where we add brief pointers to a list of sources at the END of the article.

And the winner is .. (ta da!)

Congratulations to the American Bible Society for their Contemporary English Version(CEV).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

ASKAR as an e-Book

After much discussion and research reading, we plan to publish Bronwyn's fantasy epic ASKAR as an e-Book priced at US$5.00. We are going for a "human relations" approach to copyright issues including writing our own copyright statement . We have decided that our e-Books will NOT have any digital restrictions like license keys. We believe that the most important format issue is to make it as user-friendly as possible for the customers. The package is a zip file containing 4 e-books, that is the content in 4 different file formats. 2 of these are print-friendly pdfs, one for US Letter paper and one for UK A4 paper. One is html format, we expect this will be the most user-friendly for screen reading on most devices. One is .prc format, this is the "MobiPocket" format for the "Amazon Kindle" e-Reader and other small devices like pocket computers.

EDIT (11 Jan 2008) - e-Book on hold - see post above