E-Publishing and Hardcopy
with David Redd
Dear Don & Crew,
Belated thanks for Bewildering Stories 508: a fine New Year package from many names I look for: Bertil Falk, Danielle L. Parker, Julie Wornan’s glimpse of a deeper night, the extra features on e-era publishing, “consumermas” (an ugly word for an ugly phenomenon), and Carmen Ruggero’s lovely memoir of an Argentinian manger. I really should have Googled those Challenging camels from the moon!
Yes, e-publishing is great for distribution and access, not so great for making much money — but neither was traditional publishing, a lot of the time. And my only caveat is that it’s a game for younger eyes; mine can’t take screens for so long these days.
The Bewildering Stories’ “print this page” currently gives me too small a font size, so for fiction I paste into Word at 12-point — less often than I should, sorry.
I have bought only one PDF book in my life but am not necessarily dead-set against them. It was Dwellers in Silence, N. K. Hemming’s 50s SF stories and plays — not for reading on screen but for cheapness and speed of receipt (“convenience,” as you say). I then printed out the plays not at the intended size — A5? — but at one page per A4. Not economical of time and paper; still quicker than hardcopy by post.
And having pages printed larger than I really want is still much easier to read than having them printed smaller. Also, Hemming’s Matriarchy of Renok was interesting enough to be worth the trouble.
From the above, what I really want is a home printer which will marry Bewildering Stories with the AnthologyBuilder website to give me instant trade-paperbacks of my choices, as easily and inexpensively as your current home printer will print out your 200 glossy holiday snaps. I suspect it won’t happen because the mass market for a combined Kindle-smartphone-tablet will swamp the niche for my home book machine. Oh well. And hmm.
All I’d meant to say, had I remembered to be brief, was that I think “etewaf” is generally a good thing — “Everything That Ever Was, Available Forever,” the Bewildering Stories ethic — and that if you’re surfing a too-vast ocean it is nice to have an island where the natives are friendly.
Thank you all for the island. You’ll have noticed an attached book review – may I offer it as trade goods?
Thanks again for the good work. All the best for 2013.
Always good to hear from you, David, and thank you for the kind words! Your observations about hardcopy are well worth considering.
One of BwS’ top priorities has always been a presentation that makes on-line reading easy. We try to achieve that in a number of ways:
We specify fonts and sizes only in a few special cases. Otherwise readers see the pages according to the preferences in their own web browsers. I use Verdana 14-point, which is probably a lot larger than most readers need.
We have a rule limiting pages to 3,000 words, and the rule is applied quite strictly with only a few rare exceptions, namely excerpts and foreign-language texts.
I apply our “long road” guideline strictly. Readers will not even try to read long, unbroken blocks of text, and if they do, they’re sure to lose their place.
The best thing a “print” button can do is remove the headers and footers in each page. But will the font and size be to the readers’ liking? It’s a lot easier to do like you, David: simply copy-paste the text into a word processor document, select the font and size you like, and print it out. Very little time is lost in the process, and the result is something each reader can format to taste.
I can think of one place where the copy-paste procedure will not work: in Cyrano’s The Other World. The text is not only heavily formatted, it also has many hypertext notes, which can be read only on line. The translation makes best use of the Internet as a medium, but unlike almost all the rest of Bewildering Stories, it’s very difficult to transpose into another medium such as e-books, let alone print. Here is where it will stay, unless and until an adaptation can be found.
Happy New Year, David. Thanks for writing.
Copyright © 2013 by David Redd
and Bewildering Stories