Category Archives: Listology

Embrace the E-Reader

Sales for e-books now make up about a quarter of the book market. That’s huge. The market share is increasing and it shows no sign of slowing down as time progresses. E-readers, quite clearly, are becoming an important part of the future of the “book” as we know it. While I enjoy my Kindle and all that it entails, a large group of people remain on the fence or are staunchly opposed to the advance of the digital text.

In an effort to bridge the digital divide, I have made a list!

Reasons to Embrace the E-Reader

  • No more trips to the store. Do you want a book? Turn on your device and download it. Simple! As much as I love a good bookstore, I love the convenience of instant gratification more.“Aha!” you say, thrilled with the discovery of the blog author’s fatal flaw, “you are nothing more than a product of the digital age — you are a seeker of instant gratification! Instant coffee. Instant meal. Instant movie. Instant life! How can you forsake the traditional bookstore and its steadfast business owners and employees for a cold piece of machinery?”

    Look, I get it. Change is hard… and, in this case, it is particularly hard on the classic bookstores around the country. Progress, however, inevitably causes casualties along its path into the future. What is the point of a bookstore if a better alternative exists? Although it is a classically romantic notion to read a physical book, the physicality of the book does not make the reading of “the book” a worthwhile enterprise — it is the content of and the act found within the action that makes it worthwhile. In the end, the physical copy of any book is only a thing.

  • It is fiercely convenient. Most dedicated e-readers now weigh less than a mass market paperback. That’s nice. They’re small, sturdy, and they can even fit inside a large pocket if need be (and I constantly find the need). I have over three hundred books currently loaded onto my Kindle, my PC, as well as on my cell phone. It feels very liberating to carry my entire digital library around with me wherever I go. If I need to look up a quote or if I simply decide to read something else (you know the feeling), then I have that capability. I don’t have to dig through shelves or shelves to find just the right fit.
  • It is easier to read than a real book. Bear with me here. I currently use a Kindle Paperwhite for my e-books needs. It has a backlit screen that glows (based on whatever intensity the user desires) through the e-ink display. This innovation renders the need for a glaring booklight completely nonexistent. That’s not an insignificant change.The ability to turn a page with one hand also increases the usability of the e-reader over a physical book. If I am reading a “real” book in a chilly environment, for example, I quickly find one or more hand becoming quite cold! A one-handed book reading experience is the better experience. (Yes, I know … #firstworldproblem … No shame.)

    Adjustable font size on the fly? Changeable typefaces? Custom highlights for notable passages that can be shared or stored? Sign me up.

  • E-Books have become an amazing platform for aspiring authors as well as for authors who wish to divorce themselves from the classic publishing market. Case Study: Hugh Howey (Author of Wool)

    Howey first began the series in 2011, initially writing Wool as a stand-alone short story. He published the work through Amazon’sKindle Direct Publishing system, choosing to do so due to the freedom of self-publishing. After the series grew in popularity, he began to write more entries for it. Howey began soliciting international rights in 2012; Brazil has been one win. Film rights to the series were sold to 20th Century Fox, with Lionsgate also expressing interest.

    Howey recently signed a print-only deal for in the neighborhood of a half million dollars with Simon and Schuster to distribute Wool to book retailers across the US and Canada. Unusually, Howey retains full rights to continue distributing Wool online himself

    Howey’s rise to fame came as a direct result of the shifting authorship paradigm that has been created through the introduction of e-books into the mass market. Now, if you were to traipse over to the Kindle Store to check out the cheapest books to download, you would see countless pieces of fiction and non-fiction from independent authors looking to make a mark in the literary world through their own means.

    No matter your opinion of the rise of the e-book, it has to be acknowledged that it has been a positive experience for new authors struggling to break into the caustic publishing world.

In the end, I know that I’ll never really convince those who are staunch traditionalists to switch to an e-reader. They are a divisive device (Har!). All I wish is that they are viewed with, at the least, a fair amount of criticism. If you wish to hold onto the physical realm of the book, feel free to do so! Do not, however, castigate the digital version unfairly in your quest to maintain the status quo. A book, in the end, is primarily experiential.

If people are reading, does it really matter how the content is engaged?

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Top Five: Glee Adaptations (Yeah, You Read That Correctly)

Glee is a brilliant, deeply flawed show.

Where else can you find such an ardent celebration of music on television? It isn’t incredibly manufactured (a la American Idol, etc), but is, instead, painfully earnest. The remarkable honesty of the show is its greatest strength and its greatest flaw. While the music benefits from a heaping spoonful of the titular “glee,” the narrative of the show suffers for it.

Glee likes to develop episodes around various messages that the creators feel the audience needs to see. These messages have ranged from teenage pregnancy to suicide to school shootings, and almost all of them have been awkwardly melodramatic (though I felt that the school shooting episode was done pretty well).

All of that said, though, I will admit myself to be a big fan of the show. Good music is good music! So — let your cynicism drop aside and enjoy the following song adaptations. (Note: The following are in no particular order of importance. They’re just a general top five.)

  • “Poker Face”

It’s no secret that Lea Michele is the best singer on the show. She’s one of the few on Glee to have had a successful musical career before she was ever cast, for example. What I like about this particular cover is its complete dressing-down of the original Gaga version. The slower, more deliberate nature of the cover makes the lyrics more relevant than in the original version, in my opinion. It is the combination of her voice with the likes of Idina Menzel, however, that gives “Poker Face” a spot on this list. 

  • “Teenage Dream”

Darren Criss as Blaine is quite the popular fellow online. If you were to frequent Tumblr, for example, you would find countless posts about Criss extolling virtues of looks and charm. It’s true — he’s an attractive fellow. What should never be forgotten, though, is the level of this guy’s talent. Dude can sing.

I like this cover for a similar reason that I liked “Poker Face” … it’s a deconstructed version of a pop hit that uses the speed to accentuate what the song is actually about, allowing the meaning to come to light past the usual pop-infused distraction.

  • “On My Own”

Unless I am mistaken, this was the first full song ever shown on Glee. Way back from Season 1, Episode 1, “On My Own” features the innocent Lea Michelle singing her soul in order to get accepted to the glee club. The song represents what the show would end up representing: a fearless display of honest singing.

And, for the record, I would have much preferred Lea Michelle singing this in the recent rendition of Les Miserables over the casting choice that they made. Pah.

  • “The Scientist”

Fully embracing a common TV trope, the members of the glee club sing a slow, emotional song at the end of an episode over melancholy visuals. Who hasn’t seen an episode of a TV drama that featured a sad song over slow-motion visuals? They’ve all done it. Glee, of course, is different because it is the members of the show’s cast who are singing the song.

“The Scientist” is featured during on the series’ strongest episodes, featuring a destruction of almost every romantic relationship in the show. Sure — it is dramatic and cheesy. It is also sung to perfection.

  • “Faithfully”

Glee became famous because of Journey. Although “Don’t Stop Believing” was very well done in the pilot episode, “Faithfully” is my personal favorite Journey cover.

It features the two leads of the show. It is over produced. It has a bombastic choir singing during the end. It is done in front of a live crowd. It is the perfect Glee song.

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