Why should people read more books?

Re-posted here from Medium for my own archives. Feel free to ignore. I don’t know how many books I read last year. I probably could find out if I wanted to but I don’t particularly care. It isn’t important. What I _do_ know is that I read a lot of interesting and thought-provoking writing. I watched videos that changed my mind and my approaches to life. I listened to podcasts and other media that taught me new skills and opened up new perspectives.

How is taxing ebooks as print books supposed to work?

Re-posted here from Medium for my own archives. Feel free to ignore. It’s a popular stance among publishers that they and their industry are a gentle sprinkle of special snowflakes and that their software (i.e. ebooks) should be taxed at a lower VAT rate than other software (i.e. websites or any other kind of digital file). They’ve managed to [wrangle several EU member countries to their cause](http://publishingperspectives.com/2015/04/france-germany-italy-poland-call-for-lowering-vat-on-ebooks/): According to the four ministers, to foster innovation and secure the future of Europe’s e-publishing, technology-neutral regulations must be clearly asserted at the European level.

Software as strategy in the ebook world

The other day I storified a bunch of tweets by Alan Cooper on the strategic role of software in business.

Here’s the first half of it. You should go and read the rest.

> > All business activities that used to be strategic are now hygienic. Today, all that is strategic is software. Activities that make money aren't strategic. Activities that affect a company’s ability to make money in the future are strategic. Where is the leverage? That's what is "strategic." Only software provides significant leverage in business today. If your office lacks electricity or wifi, nobody shows up and nothing gets done. But neither electricity nor wifi are strategic. (Alan Cooper – [https://storify.com/fakebaldur/software-and-strategy](https://storify.com/fakebaldur/software-and-strategy)) > >

Ebooks suck for learning

On Twitter earlier I said this here thing:

> > There’s an implicit assumption in publishing commentary that the trajectory of media evolution (books, ebooks, websites, apps) is a known. That the long-term effects, drawbacks, & benefits of each medium will follow a predetermined path towards its manifest destiny. That ebook apps are as good as they'll ever be and will never integrate what research is discovering about learning and memory. That apps will always play the roles they play today. That websites will never reach beyond their current niche, except maybe into apps. > > > > These assumptions are all unsafe. Ebook apps are a young and unformed species. The future of web and app dev is dynamic and changing. > > > > What's more, the publishing industry isn't in charge of this evolution except insofar as it can sabotage ebooks with its misconceptions. > >

So I had to make an ebook cover...

Making ebook covers is a relatively new task for designers and there haven’t exactly been many lengthy discussions on the topic. If there were any lengthy discussions I completely missed them which is entirely unsurprising. (I was probably too busy watching videos on Youtube of dogs running into walls and cats falling off furniture.)

I didn’t think of googling “how to make an ebook cover” until last week and my first advice is don’t buy a book about designing ebook covers if the book in question has an ugly cover. It’s just good sense. Otherwise googling ebook covers is good fun and I highly recommend it.

So long, Readmill, and thanks for all the fish

I wish it had gone differently. I don’t fault Readmill for selling at this point. They did excellent work.

I’ve previously gone on record about my enthusiasm for their platform. (Which reminds me, I need to do a followup to that post, Kindle for iOS has improved dramatically.) Unlike most other firms designing ebook readers, Readmill understood that all of the typographic variables are interconnected. Unlike others, their defaults were beautiful to read.

Microsoft Word is a liability

Word has for many years now been the publishing industry’s de facto editorial and production format. Once you move into the world of digital, Word ceases to become a foundation and instead becomes a pair of cement shoes dragging you underwater. It is the worst possible format for the purpose.

The print design mentality

Screen design isn’t print design and will never be print design, no matter how high the screen’s resolution gets.

Digital design needs to account for a level of changeability and dynamism that print has never had to deal with. The interaction model of print is embodied in the book object and not in the on-page design. The interaction model of digital has to be accounted for in the screen design itself and functionality needs to be specifically designed.

Book contracts

Reminder to aggrieved authors: Nobody holds a gun to your head and forces you to sign a contract. > > -- Don Linn (@DonLinn) [February 12, 2014](https://twitter.com/DonLinn/statuses/433573195476508672)

Normally, whenever Don tweets anything I just nod my head in agreement and move on.

My response to this tweet, however, was more ambivalent because it seems to imply that we shouldn’t be complaining about unfair standard practices in the publishing industry.

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