David Sparks releases Markdown Field Guide

David Sparks over at Macsparky has released another fantastic iPad book. This time it’s Markdown he’s after and the Markdown Field Guide looks like a stellar book on the topic. David co-authored this release with Eddie Smith of Practically Efficient.

I’ve been writing in Markdown for years but I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. I’m eager to have David and Eddie show me the rest. Go and get Markdown from the iBookstore now.

How book stores foster ebook sales

bordersclosedA post by Dennis Johnson for Melville House bemoans the mass closings of Barnes and Noble (B&N) stores across the US. Within the last 30 days or so, Johnson points out, B&N locations in Los AngelesSan FranciscoPhiladelphiaWashington, DCSeattleChicagoDallas (two), Austin, and Manhattan have shut down. Ebook sales likely had a significant role in B&N’s decision to close those locations, which is interesting as brick-and-mortar book stores foster ebook sales.

The practice of “showrooming” — seeing a thing before buying it — affects buying behavior. Specifically, customers are more likely to buy an ebook after seeing its physical counterpart in a store. David Streitfeld noted this behavior for the New York Times in December 2012, in reference to the shutdown of Borders:

“Another, more counterintuitive possibility is that the 2011 demise of Borders, the second-biggest chain, dealt a surprising blow to the e-book industry. Readers could no longer see what they wanted to go home and order. ‘The print industry has been aiding and assisting the e-book industry since the beginning,’ said [Michael Norris, a Simba Information analyst who follows the publishing industry].”

Another survey suggested that 40% of the people who buy books online looked at them in a bookstore first.

Ebooks might become my “old man sticking point.” The appeal of a toting a library on a device the size of a magazine isn’t lost on me, but I’d rather read a paper book any day.

2012 Holiday Gift Guide: Books

I fell in love with reading at 13 when I bought Stephen King’s Thinner with my paper route money. Today I read several books per year, and listen to just as many in audio format. Here are several books that caught my attention this year, including comics, fiction and non-fiction. You’re sure to find something for at least one book lover on your list below.

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New book – Using iMovie ’11

I’m pleased to announce that my new book, co-authored with Michael Grothaus, is now available. Using iMovie ’11 from Pearson Press leads you through the process of creating fantastic movies with Apple’s iMovie. You’ll learn everything from importing video to editing, audio options, using themes even more. You’ll even read about advanced techniques like green screen and picture-in-picture.

More Than A Book

The best part is that Using iMovie ’11 is more than a book. It is highly integrated with online video, audio, and additional bonus content. You can read a step-by-step tutorial and then watch a screencast of the very same process, making it easy to understand and follow along. You’ll also find audio snippets from Mike and me, in which we further discuss topics covered in the book.

Using iMovie ’11 offers best-of-class instruction to the beginning audience and Mike and I are proud of it. If you or someone you know is looking to get into iMovie, here’s a fantastic guide (and reference for the rest of us).

It’s available for KindleNook and iPad now.

My library of Scout Books short stories

I recently purchased a book from Scout Books and fell in love right away. So much so that I bought a subscription to the American Short Stories collection 1. Today I’ve got 10 beautiful, friendly books featuring classic shorts and fantastic illustrations. The collection includes:

  1. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, illustrated by Tom Neely
  2. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrated by Zack Soto
  3. To Build A Fire by Jack London, illustrated by Michael C. Hsiung
  4. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, illustrated by Kate Bingaman-Burt
  5. Eve’s Diary by Mark Twain, illustrated by Meg Hunt
  6. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, illustrated by Aaron Renier
  7. The Jelly Bean by F. Scott Fitzgerald, illustrated by Vanessa Davis
  8. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, illustrated by Gemma Correll
  9. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, illustrated by Bwana Spoons
  10. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, illustrated by François Vigneault

As electronic books and readers become increasingly popular, it’s especially charming to hold such a thoughtfully made, physical book. Someday I hope my kids will inherit a nice library of titles form ‘ol dad, and the Scout Books will be a very nice addition.

  1. Note that Scout Books no longer offers this subscription, but has gathered all of the American Shorts into a nice box set.

A Charlie Brown Christmas for iPad is stellar

Loud Crow Interactive has released A Charlie Brown Christmas for iPad and iPhone ($6.99, universal), and it’s a shining example the power, fun and intimacy of the iPad. This contemporary presentation of Charles Schultz’s 1965 classic includes original audio from the show, gorgeous artwork, rewards and all the charm of pop-up books that I loved in the 70’s. It’s even (optionally) narrated by Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown! There’s nothing to loathe and everything to love about this charming app.

And that’s coming from a person who dislikes children’s books on the iPad.

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Scout Books are beautiful

Last week I ordered a book from Scout Books and today it arrived. Scout Books makes small, pocket-sized notebooks and books that are absolutely charming. They’re approximately the size of a Field Notes Brand notebook (same width but about 1/2 inch shorter) and have between 30 and 36 pages.

A bought An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, ($4.00, free shipping) which contains two short stories by Ambrose Bierce: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and A Horseman In The Sky. It was illustrated by François Vigneault, who did a fantastic job. His bold, single-color images look like woodcuts and feel at home on the small pages. The text is razor-sharp and easy to read. Carrying this thing around in your pocket is just plain fun.

Here’s what’s really cool: you can create your own notebooks and books with Scout Books. Imagine how fun it would be to promote a larger work (give away a free chapter), enhance a family reunion or just about anything else you can think of.

Electronic books are swell but this little thing just feels right to me. I love it and will be ordering more (maybe even a subscription). You’ll find several larger photos after the break.

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Steve Jobs bio release date moved up again

The release date for Walter Isaacson’s biography “Steve Jobs” has been moved again. I received this message from Amazon over the weekend:

“We have received new release date information related to the order you placed on August 25, 2011. The item(s) listed below will actually ship sooner than we originally expected based on the new release date:

Walter Isaacson ‘Steve Jobs’

Previous estimated arrival date: November 28 2011 – November 30 2011

New estimated arrival date: October 27 2011 – October 31 2011”

That’s a change of nearly a month. Originally set for release on March 6, 2012, the date was accelerated to November 21, 2011 last August. I’m looking forward to reading it very much.