E-books: A Psychological Effect in all Aspects of Our Life

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Willie Olsen
Nov 10, 2019
Nov 10 at 10:51pm

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E-books: A Psychological Effect in all Aspects of Our Life
E-books have become an essential yet damaging part of our lives. Not
only do they provide countless hours of recreation and entertainment
for people of all ages, but they have also become impactful in our
professional lives as well.

Employment- It is a realistic assumption that most professional fields in
existence have been affected by e-readers. White collar jobs like
doctors keep notes in surgery about the patient and the procedure for
quick access. Lawyers have access to an unlimited amount of past cases
to quote during trial. Bankers and loan officers have instant access to
resources like Kelly Blue Book
(Links to an external site.)
and mortgage rates. Blue Collar job’s
such as HVAC
(Links to an external site.)
(Heating and Air Conditioning) technicians use e-
readers to keep a track of jobs and materials, as well as invoicing.
Landscapers have access to resources like SLP (setting of landscape
plants), which is a state required course for a license. Repair
technicians make utilize e-book type touch screens to navigate very
complex commands, for instance, technicians who repair highly
specialized medical equipment. Even mechanics require the use of e-
readers because companies such as SnapOn
(Links to an external site.)
use a form of e-reader as
their diagnostic computer to ascertain vehicle codes needed for

Many companies have made the switch to a digital version of company
manuals and policy handbooks. They now also offer training through e-
books, making it easier than ever for employees to work on
professional development. In today’s world, employees simply don’t
have the time for training and studying of materials. In an article by
Thomas Madsen
(Links to an external site.)
, a study was sited that showed “employees can only
spare about 1% of their weekly time – on professional development.
That amounts to about 24 minutes a week”. Training through e-books
gives the employees flexibility to allow for training whenever they can.

Education- E-books simplify and enhance the overall learning
experience and has had a positive impact on the quality of education.
E-books make the learning process more interactive and engaging.
Digital learning content is some of the most exciting and potentially
impactful content to date. By utilizing the multi-faceted abilities of the
internet, the student working to earn a degree has more technology at
their disposal than ever before. From researching paper topics to
taking notes in class, e-books can successfully perform a plethora of
tasks which formerly required the student to spend unlimited hours at
the university library and manually taking notes. One of the most
engaging features for students is that e-books give the ease of
highlighting, annotating, and sharing notes with friends, tutors or study

Although e-books seem to have greatly enhanced our lives by making
our education and jobs easier, they have proven to be equally as

Digital Dementia – ‘Dementia’ is a term sadly all too familiar these days,
as instances soar of Alzheimer’s disease and other comparable
conditions all characterized by confusion, disorientation, and impaired
memory—literally a ‘loss of mind.’ However, the notion that an
analogous state might be linked to the screen lifestyle is as
controversial as it is potentially troubling.
“Digital Dementia” is a term coined by neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer
to describe an overuse of digital technology resulting in the breakdown
of cognitive abilities.1 Spitzer proposes that short-term memory
pathways will start to deteriorate from underuse if we overuse
technology. Although, in this blog, we have recently explored
outsourcing your memory to smartphones, these two concepts are
different—the mental disarray within the brain implied by the term
‘dementia’ is far more basic and complete. An under-practiced memory
process is far from being comparable to the wider cognitive
devastation that is dementia. (Susan Greenfield)
Loss of social skills – Children’s social skills may be declining as they have
less time for face-to-face interaction due to their increased use of digital
media, according to a UCLA psychology study. UCLA scientists found
that sixth graders who went five days without even glancing at a
smartphone, television or other digital screen did substantially better
at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school
who continued to spend hours each day looking at their electronic

“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education,
and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a
distinguished professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior
author of the study. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing
the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the
costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen
interaction seems to be reducing social skills.” (Stewart Wolpert)

Social Isolation- What are the repercussions of social isolation in
teens? Research has shown that verbal conversations and face-to-face
communications decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental
health issues. Connecting with others through social media is not as
rewarding. Kids that feel socially isolated already may be more drawn
to social media, while also being more emotionally vulnerable to the
risks. An unbalanced portion of time online may contribute to:

Higher mortality rates. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh
report that kids that feel socially isolated have a higher rate of

Distractions. The frequent interruptions from pings and notifications
keeps teens engaged (or addicted) on social media sites, and distracts
teenagers (and adults) from being fully engaged in the present

Social comparison. Research suggests that using Facebook frequently
can increase the likelihood of unrealistic social comparisons and

Lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, self-esteem. The University of
Glasgow researched the potential influence of nighttime use of
technology on teenage sleep, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. The
study concluded that the nighttime use of social networking increased
the incidences of depression and anxiety.

Failing grades. Sleep disruption contributes to failing grades.

The list continues to grow as science and research reveals more and
more effects of the use of e-books on our psychological states. All of
these negative effects that have been revealed thus far beg the
question – How do we cope with the damaging effects of e-books,
whilst benefitting from the technological advantages?

Content Wars: Rise of the Podcast

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People prefer to receive their daily news in different ways. From radio to television, print to Facebook, news stories fill almost every platform. More and more traditional sources are turning to podcasts, the most recent trend in digital news publishing.

Podcasts: New or Old?

Though David Winer developed the medium, and Adam Curry popularized it, Ben Hammersley coined the actual term “podcast” in 2004. In an article for The GuardianHammersley “rattled off possible names for this booming new medium, the ‘pod‘ of podcast is borrowed from Apple’s ‘iPod‘ digital media player; and the ‘cast‘ portion of podcast is taken from Radio’s ‘broadcast‘ term.” The name and the concept took off.

According to International Podcast Day, a site dedicated to the celebration of podcasts,

“A ‘podcast’ is sort of difficult to explain because there really isn’t anything else like it — but rather, many things that are kind of like it. A good starting point, is to think of a podcast as ‘Internet Radio On-Demand.’ It’s similar in that you can usually listen to it on your computer — but it’s more than that. [However, and not to confuse the issue, podcasting isn’t confined to just audio but can be video as well].”

While podcasting shares many similarities with traditional radio broadcasting, two media’s differences allow podcasts to pave their own way in the digital media world. Contrary to conventional radio, podcasts offer on-demand content that users can access any place, any time. They also have the advantage of being “narrowcast” based on individual, specified content for an identifiable audience.

The New York Times and Podcasting

The New York Times, a newspaper founded in 1851, is known worldwide for its readership and prestige. With over 150 years in the field of journalism, the Times attributes its continued success to its ability to meet readers in their everyday lives. I cover more of the changes it has undergone in “Changing with the Times.”

With the emergence of podcasts, writers at the Times saw a chance to reach readers in a new and more individualized way. According to Ken Doctor, when the Times released its first podcast in 2006, “only 11 percent of U.S. adults listened to any podcast and only 22 percent had even heard the term.”

The New York Times uses the advantage of the medium’s niche nature to its advantage, and its shows branch into topics that may not have made it to print before. With series varying from book reviews to pop culture, even love and sex, the Times has truly embraced the culture of podcasts.

The Daily,” one of the most popular series in the Times’ repertoire, touts the motto “this is how the news should sound. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week.” Hosted by political journalist Michael Barbaro, “The Daily” began in early 2017 and became a hit within a few short months.

“The Daily” had reached over 100 million downloads by October of the same year. Sam Dolnick, Barbaro’s assistant, says, “we’ve built a flexible enough frame that I think lots and lots of different things can fit inside of it.”

The New Yorker, a fellow New York-based news company, sent its praises to “The Daily” in an article dedicated to the success of the podcast series. New Yorker journalist Rebecca Mead writes that, through “The Daily,” The New York Times “becomes conversational and intimate, instead of inky and cumbersome. It’s a twenty-minute update murmured in your ear by a well-informed, sensitive, funny, modest friend.”

As of 2018, “The Daily” continued to receive over 1.1 million downloads each weekday. Advertisements pay for the episodes, so listeners get access to the show for free, with new podcasts released every weekday.

The New York Times has another major podcast success under its belt: “Caliphate” the company’s series “following Rukmini Callimachi as she reports on the Islamic State and the fall of Mosul.” Its first narrative nonfiction podcast, “Caliphate” takes a look at the War on Terror and asks, “who are we really fighting?” Listeners can find the podcast, along with its transcripts, on the Times’ site.

The Podcast Craze

The Times isn’t the only one impressed with podcasts: Hannah King describes the attraction of podcasting in the Trojan Digital Review. Versatility defines the beauty of podcasts; anyone can make one anywhere. In her article “Have We Hit Peak Podcast?” New York Times journalist Jennifer Miller addresses the idea easy entrance to the medium might be what leads to its ultimate downfall.

“Like the blogs of yore, podcasts — with their combination of sleek high tech and cozy, retro low — are today’s de rigueur medium, seemingly adopted by every entrepreneur, freelancer, self-proclaimed marketing guru and even corporation,” Miller writes. She quotes host Jordan Harbinger of “The Jordan Harbinger Show” saying, “I love podcasting, and the more shows in the mix the better, as long as they’re done by someone who actually cares and isn’t just trying to get a piece of pie.”

Harbinger goes on to say that the world of podcasting needs “a real conversation that will benefit the audience, not the host.” Through this logic, the Times’ position in podcasting culture will not fizzle out anytime soon. The New York Times has a great tradition of journalistic excellence, and through branching out into the realm of podcasting, it once again secured its spot among the most read, and now listened to, news companies in the world.

Traversing the E-book Subscription Frontier

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In a world of subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music, e-book distributors are attempting to explore this new frontier by offering subscription services for e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and more. 

Why Subscribe to Books? 

With the prevalence of streaming services, it makes a lot of sense that electronic book distributors would attempt to get in on the on-demand game in order to better ensure the security of their books. After all, e-book piracy is just as common as movie or music piracy. It isn’t hard to find a digital copy of a book and just put it up on a file-sharing website – or worse, someone may go to the effort to photocopy a physical copy of a book and upload that file.  Even Google cannot escape issues of Fair Use and copyright when it comes to digitally distributing books. 

As a way of stopping piracy, groups looking to distribute books are now offering a subscription to the very books people are stealing. This way, those who would pirate the books out of convenience have ease and accessibility to books that they want, and distributors have a legal subscription model that covers their backs in the copyright issues. 

Top E-book Subscription Contenders 

For readers unsure of what subscription service to use, Make Use Of  mentions six services that are going strong, and Book Riot has a list of 17 options available in 2019. Between these and other articles, two names rise to the top.

Scribd, an organization started in 2009, launched their subscription in 2013 and have had a fair amount of success at their price of $8.99/month. They offer over 500,000 books, as well as plenty of audiobooks, articles, documents, and magazines, at a rate that is lower than much of the competition. They were the quasi-pioneers in this world of e-book subscription services. 

The other popular option is Kindle Unlimited (KU). Amazon’s own service is priced at $9.99/month or $59.99/six-months with frequent “50% off for six months” deals. Like Scribd, Kindle Unlimited also offers audiobooks and magazines.

With both services, you can listen to or read as much diverse content as you could realistically want or hope to consume in a reasonable amount of time. The difference, then, comes down to convenience and exclusive content. 

The price for KU is not particularly competitive unless you snag the 50% off deal, but you can, however, use your Kindle – and, considering Kindle products make up three of 2019’s top five e-readers, Kindle Unlimited already has a large install base of people committed to reading e-books. All those readers have to do is click a button and they’re in the service. It’s quick and easy, and suddenly over 1 million books are available. 

Book Riot points out that Amazon does not have an unlimited deal with every publisher that they have on the main website: thus while it has more books in general, it doesn’t stand out in its list of best sellers. You’ll still find yourself paying for some more recent and popular books. Furthermore, Amazon only offers 61 magazines. That’s enough to keep anyone busy, but a quick glance through the cheaper service, Scribd, and its selection shows significantly more magazines than that (in addition to individually searchable articles and documents). Ultimately, it’s clear that Scribd can fill more specific magazine niches. 

Niche Services 

For readers looking for something other than e-books, some more audience-specific services do exist. Marvel Unlimited allows unparalleled access to over 25,000 Marvel comics anywhere you want for only $9.99/Month, and Amazon has a service called ComiXology that has 20,000 “comics and manga from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, and other publishers.”  ComiXology Unlimited is free to subscribers for the first 30 days, but is then $5.99/month. Unlimited offers exclusive members discounts and unlimited reading anywhere.

Epic! has unlimited access to 35,000 books, videos, and quizzes aimed at children 12 years of age and younger. Due to the increasingly expanding nature of digital publishing, readers have a lot of unique options for subscription services. 

Is an E-book Subscription Worthwhile? 

Subscription reading services are cool on the surface, but you may be wondering if it’s really worth it. Subscription services for movies or TV shows makes sense: we can pay $109.99 for all of Breaking Bad by itself. Or, we can watch the whole thing on Netflix in a few months, watch a two-hour movie every night of the month, and the occasional documentary while only paying $12.99/month.  

Not to mention, new Blu-Ray discs of movies can cost anywhere from $5.00 to $30.00 on Amazon. As such, watching two new movies on Netflix, or three to four older movies, could make the cost of the service for the month in the span of a couple days. And Hulu (with ads) is cheaper than Netflix, making it easier to make up the cost if you so desire. 

For e-book subscriptions, a reader can order the entire hardback Harry Potter series for $122.99 from Walmart, or they can read the entire series on Kindle Unlimited for $9.99 a month. 

So, what kind of reading do you need to do to make up the cost of a subscription e-book service? Apparently, $3.99 is the sweet spot for selling e-books. So, a service that costs $8.99-$9.99 means you’re going to have to read at least two, maybe three e-books to validate the cost.  

When Kindle Unlimited launched, most titles were only worth $0.99 to $4.99. Sure, it has gotten better as time goes on, but most book services will run into this same issue. You would have to read about five to ten books to make that cost back, and many of them are probably books you haven’t heard of. And books can be long — significantly longer than movies and TV shows.  

If you look at the length of audiobooks, it’s not entirely uncommon to have an audiobook listening time of more than 24 hours total for the same price as a Blu Ray disc. Some books are significantly longer, like Stephen King’s It, which has a listening time of almost 45 hours. You’re getting a lot of time out of that book, certainly, but that’s just one book. It may be better for certain readers to just buy that one book than to subscribe to a service where they will only read it once. 

You have to be an incredibly voracious reader to get an appropriate amount of value out of a subscription reading service. Basically, if you read two books a month, then it may be more cost effective to buy them outright. 

Also, the unlimited e-book subscription services are still figuring some details out regarding royalties. Written Word Media mentions some interesting things about Kindle Unlimited, for example. While it used to be that someone adding the book to their library by buying it was enough to get the author paid, now people have to physically enter and read the book for the author to see a cent of payment. Not to mention, Scribd has changed their plan from unlimited downloads, to limited, to unlimited a few times, causing distrust with its subscriber base. 

While the niche services seem like a good idea as well, their contracts don’t seem to include a free range of books – rather, they offer discounts to members for comics and figurines. This lack of contract clarity can be confusing for new subscribers.

The world of subscription e-book services is a real frontier’s frontier. It adds the debate about the viability of subscription services to the already fluid world of digital publishing. The royalty model, in addition to the low average price of books in the services, indicates that e-book subscription services may not be worth it for the average reader or the author. However, the world of subscription e-book services, like any digitally published form of entertainment, is constantly evolving, growing, failing, and triumphing anew. It’s up to individual readers like us to decide when to move out west. 

Creative Writing in Video Games

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I first started experimenting with creative writing by inviting a few friends over for a creative writing  session.  The results of our writings led me to believe our method of writing can be capitalized on by video games. Furthermore, the video game medium has many more creative writing applications that encourage writing and may make the writing process more fun for those not particularly driven to write.

What my friends and I did was to have someone come up with a writing prompt. Then, we all took about 10 minutes to write on whatever the person’s idea was. Finally, we arranged everyone’s work together and read our disparate writings as one continuous story. We would come up with transition phrases between our individual pieces to make things flow, or we started with an idea that allowed the pieces to maintain relative cohesion with one another.

Hilarity ensued as our works coincided in the worst ways possible. Video games can cultivate and allow for similar group creative writing processes. The game, Storium, entails a narrator creating an overarching story and guiding players through the scenes. However, players also contribute to the writing and direction of the story.

The tutorial of Storium showcases how the narrator writes out a scene, and the players are then forced to respond. Each player’s character has specific traits and abilities that guide the writing. For example, in the tutorial you are ambushed by wolves. The other players all perform badly due to their character flaws, but your character finds a solution to the situation due to their quick thinking and survival experience. Since you caused a good outcome to occur, you get to write what happens next while also getting to include a positive benefit for your team. Furthermore, each other player’s responses were entirely written out by the players themselves as the situation progressed. The narrator then responds to the player’s decision making and continues to guide the story along.

Storium is an excellent example of how video games can operate as a platform for creative writing that brings people together in a fun and collaborative writing experience. Once the story is done, you and your friends have a complete story made from scratch.

The video game, NieR: AutomataTM developed by Square Enix, PlatinumGames Inc., also provides an example of how games can encourage and provide a space for creative writing. In NieR: AutomataTM you play as an android, and whenever you die your identity can live on by placing you into a different body; however, your dead body is still on the Earth. Upon death, the game allows you to leave a message on your corpse by stringing together a few catalogued words and phrases into an intelligible message.

If you are playing while connected to the internet, then other players online can find and utilize your corpse for loot; furthermore, they also get to read your message which can be quite poetic. For example, one possible death message is: “A vengeful girl was distracted by a flower on a tower smiled upon by angels.” Sometimes, the meanings have absolutely no context, but nonetheless encourage creative thought and poetic writing.

NieR: AutomataTM’s death messages exemplify how video games can operate as a forum, platform, or medium through which players can publish their creative writing online. Furthermore, the creative writing experience of Storium and NieR: AutomataTM always entails a community participating in the creation of your writing or interacting with it in a fun and unique way.

Perhaps the most fun writing experiences I had in video games were through MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games); in particular, World of Warcraft developed by Blizzard Entertainment and Mabinogi developed by NEXON Korea Corps. My experiences in World of Warcraft can hardly be considered writing, but the fun of playing on a role-playing server with a guild full of people resulted in some of the most fantastic and fun to play through stories I have participated in. Games like World of Warcraft that allow players a lot of creative freedom can cultivate a lot of interesting creative writing stories that are fun to play through. 

Mabinogi affords players the experience of being able to compose and play music through the video game. I didn’t understand how to utilize this feature to create my own works, but I could copy-paste other people’s compositions from other websites into my in-game scroll and then play music on whatever instrument my character could get their hands on. Oftentimes, I would end up having a group of fellow players with all our various instruments showing off anime soundtracks we had recreated in the video game. I was always impressed when someone had created their own music.

Experiences like the ones offered in Mabinogi allow players to literally play through the creative writing process, and then share their creations with other people in group sessions where everyone’s avatar gathers, reads, and recites. Oftentimes, MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) games can function as forums for the avatars to meet in and discuss their writing among themselves.

My first experience with creative writing in a video game was not from within a game that allowed me to share my work with other players though. I remember playing my Pokémon Sapphire Version – developed by Game Freak – on my Game Boy Advance SP and being prompted to write a short statement by a news crew. After giving them a statement, I could then interact with a T.V. in game where a reporter would regurgitate my lines back at me like I was a celebrity. The ability to modify a game through creative writing was amazing.

I believe that video games that incorporate creative writing in interesting ways can inspire, cultivate, and allow players to even publish their creative works online. Furthermore, video games are a prime medium through which community writing can be experienced. I have not seen many video games that incorporate creative writing by the player’s in-game, but when I do, they’re a blast!  There’s nothing like looting an android corpse and being rewarded with a hilarious quote written by a fellow player.

Sell Yourself First

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Self-publishing digital content can grow to be an incredibly lucrative business. Although individuals might feel like it is easier to publish their work, rather than dealing with big businesses and the possibility of rejection letters, that means the work falls on the writer’s shoulders.

But the work of self-publishing does not have to be daunting. With proper preparation, publishing the individual’s work can be incredibly rewarding. Self-publishers have to consider everything that any company would when marketing a book or any other content.

Authors who make content that might not be picked up by larger publishers can find an income from self-publishing and marketing themselves and their writing. The author can find an alternate route, through digital publishing, that is not readily available to print publishers.

Effective self-publishers should begin marketing their content before the content is even complete. At this point, they are marketing themselves, and perhaps some previous writing they have done. For those without previous writing, they are marketing themselves as an author.

 YouTube has become one of the tools of marketing. A community of “BookTubers” exists on YouTube that discusses books with their fans, and some are currently working on projects.

Popular “BookTuber” Savannah Brown, with roughly half a million subscribers, recently posted a video about how her self-published book of poetry sold 20,000 copies. For the past five years, on and off, she has been able to posts poetry videos. Then for two years, she has been posting various snippets of the writing process and has accumulated a following that would go on to purchase her books. Although she did not digitally publish, she self-published to Amazon through their print on demand service (copies of her book are printed only when they are bought).

The service she uses for print on demand is Kindle Direct Publishing, which allows anyone to publish their book with Amazon freely. Writers can “earn up to 70% royalty on Kindle eBook and 60% on paperback sales.”

Brown talks openly about pricing, especially regarding her first attempt to publish her book of poetry with a small publishing company that she worked directly with, and it adds up to roughly $1,000. However, through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the fees are minimal until they take a 30% royalty fee.

However, there are plenty of platforms to self-publish on. Brown talks about building an audience so that new writers are not throwing a book into the void of these platforms.

She expresses how she had garnered a following through YouTube long before she ever published her first book. She states how people can develop a following on Instagram. With social media, a single author can reach millions of people and is the most effective way to build an audience when self-publishing.

Building an audience is slow-going, even with an interesting novel idea. In some cases, it requires that the author goes viral in some meaningful way so that an influx of people go to their social media.

Digital publishing expert David Gaughran talks about:”

a completely different approach to marketing is emerging, based on a constant drip approach, heavy on email marketing, big on lead-gen ads, adopting a ‘micro-targeting’ approach to finding readers.

Email marketing allows authors to develop a loyal audience. Emails go directly to the audience, rather than posting exclusively on social media and hoping they will come across it. Blogging can be another effective way of garnering an audience, especially because your readers already enjoy reading lengthy posts. Typically, bloggers will have a pop-up on their website, inviting people to sign up for their email subscription.

Perhaps the most important part of social media marketing is engaging with your audience. Depending on the author and the genre, they will have to create an audience that is most likely to be drawn to their writing. For young adult novelists, their audience might be found more on Instagram or Snapchat. Something more niche, like magical realism, might find an audience in blogging and advertising on all social media, including Facebook pages.

Advertising is another important step in marketing. Advertisements cost per day, and the cost increases based on how long it will run and how many users the ad will reach — all of the marketing for a novel starts with the individual advertising themselves and their social media. Facebook or Instagram are payable platforms to broadcast a post or photograph to the rest of its users.

Once an author has developed a loyal audience self-publishing a book does not seem nearly as daunting. If Properly done, the audience will enjoy the author and the work they have previously read and more than willing to buy the book.

Many of these steps can be repeated and continued to grow a larger following and sell more books after you have already published your book. With curating a following on social media comes more opportunities for cash flow, more eyes on the individual and their work. The possibilities are endless, and, with self-publishing, they are all in your hands.

Used E-books for Sale

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When customers buy traditional print books, they expect to be able to use the book however they please. When that customer buys a book they can sell, trade, or give it away because they own the product. E-books are different in this aspect, though. When a customer buys an e-book, they do not own the product. Rather, they own the licensing to use the book, and the licensing agreement usually states that customers cannot sell or trade the e-book.

Amazon’s licensing agreement states,

Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense, or otherwise assign any rights to the Kindle Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove or modify any proprietary notices or labels on the Kindle Content. In addition, you may not attempt to bypass, modify, defeat, or otherwise circumvent any digital rights management system or other content protection or features used as part of the Service.

The rules outlined in this agreement might confuse some users or make them feel unsettled about their purchase. However, some changes may arise in the world of e-books, soon. A few years ago, rumors that Amazon and Apple were looking to change their licensing agreements began to circulate. These changes would allow e-book “owners” to resell their used e-books.

While Amazon and Apple have both applied for patents concerning e-book resale, it has been about three years since there have been any advancements surrounding the issue. This time gap could mean that Amazon has completely done away with the idea, or that this new feature could be right around the corner. This article aims to deep dive into what this theoretical change would mean for e-book readers and publishers.

How Would It Work?

What makes reselling traditional print easy is its simple nature. The seller resells the book to a buyer and when the buyer gives the seller money in return for the book, the seller then no longer owns the book. If the resale of e-books becomes possible, the reselling process will be slightly different because buyers do not actually own the e-books.

The resale of e-books would require an e-book owner to sell the license to use the book to another reader. Selling the license to the material means they then give up their rights to use the e-book. This transfer of rights is made possible through digital rights management, or DRM.

In my previous article Is DRM For You?, (Links to an external site.) “Digital rights management controls not only when the customer can use the product, but also how the product is used.” Once the seller resells their e-book, they will no longer be able to view the book because of DRM.

Possible Issues

To put it simply, e-books are essentially one unified code that creates pages readers can view on electronic devices. Since there is not a new code for each copy of a particular book, reselling e-books would mean that there needs to be something that identifies each specific book. For example, every print book has an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). According to the International ISBN Agency, “An ISBN is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.”

If it is made possible for readers to resell their e-books, there must be something created to identify each specific e-book. If this identification doesn’t exist, keeping up with e-book piracy will be a much more difficult, if not impossible, task.

When a reader resells a physical book, there are a few factors that affect the price at which it will be sold. For example, the publishing year of a book and its current condition can determine its value. Since e-books are digital, the condition of the book will never be an issue. David Pogue (Links to an external site.) of The New York Times writes,

Turns out material degradation isn’t just a fond side effect of book resales. It’s essential. It’s what ensures that the resale price matches the diminishing value of the product. If every copy is perfect, the whole thing breaks down. With unlimited e-book sales, every book’s price would eventually drop to a penny.

With the patents proposed by Amazon and Apple, publishers may be able to set a limit to the amount of times one copy of an e-book can be resold in order to help prevent this “one-penny problem (Links to an external site.).” According to Pogue,

Both proposals suggest that publishers could also limit the number of times a digital item can be resold: ‘A threshold may limit how many times a used digital object may be permissibly moved to another personalized data store, how many downloads (if any) may occur before transfer is restricted, etc.,’ says Amazon’s patent. ‘These thresholds help to maintain scarcity of digital objects in the marketplace.’

It is also possible that companies like Amazon and Apple would seek to take a percentage of the money made from the reselling of an e-book, which is similar to how Amazon takes a percentage of a textbook sold on their Amazon Textbook section.

This raises concerns with authors and publishers because they do not make a profit when their physical books are resold, so what then gives these companies the right to make money from digital resales? The control these companies currently have over e-book buyers and the control they could have with a new e-book resale patent could potentially be dangerous for the e-book community.

The idea of reselling digital property is a new frontier and, while rumors of possible e-book resales have died down in recent years, users cannot help but wonder what companies such as Amazon and Apple have in store for the future of buying and selling e-books.

It’s Time to Write

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Graduate school can be a major stressor to students looking to apply. Between trying to pick the perfect university to sacrifice your time and money to and making sure you’re qualified to do so, the application process can be overwhelming. Students can add that little extra splash of uniqueness to their graduate applications by creating a well-developed resume that offers interesting, published materials. Such an addition is beneficial to both the student’s application and their personal sanity. 

Why being published early matters 

Being “published” seems like an impossible step for graduated students. It’s overwhelming even after you spend years honing your writing skills. When we think publication, our brains seem to automatically lean towards “traditional publishing” or “when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties (Links to an external site.) from the sales” (Writer’s Digest Shop (Links to an external site.)). 

While having an entire novel on your resume isn’t necessary for college applications, having published a couple articles can elevate your application. As Academical (Links to an external site.) states: 

Publishing papers at the undergrad level is in many ways a bonus, a way of showing that you were able to squeeze out one more accomplishment in addition to your solid grades and extracurriculars. Having published can, however, tilt the balance in your favor when committees have to choose between two equally deserving candidates. 

Academical goes on to include a few other things that can boost your resume such as working in a job in your industry, working a job in general, or volunteering with an organization that interests you. 

For students who are looking to add published works to their resumes, TopTier Admissions (Links to an external site.) provides a relevant list of tips: 

  • “Check out your competition and see how others do it” by visiting undergraduate research conferences at nearby universities. 
  • “Review the types of journals that typically accept submissions from undergraduates or working professionals pre-grad school.” Bernard Becker Medical Library (Links to an external site.) provides a list of websites that are great tools for finding the perfect journal for your paper. 
  • “Google ‘Call for Submissions’ and then type a keyword that links to your preferred field.” 
  • “Peruse UPenn’s massive list of conferences (Links to an external site.) seeking abstract submissions for presentations (a great place to start) AND journals seeking paper submissions, AND books seeking chapter submissions.” 

While it’s not necessary to publish your work to get into your college of choice, it can be a major booster to committees looking over applications. So, how does one actually get published? 

Literary Magazines 

Literary magazines, which commonly publish short fiction or poetry, are a great place for creative writers to start sending their works. Each magazine has a unique voice and viewpoint. Some publish online only while others offer print and online publications, so it’s important to look into a magazine before submitting a work. 

Reedsy (Links to an external site.) offers readers a list of the 100+ best literary magazines of 2019, listing both the magazines name, submission fee, publication frequency, and submission guidelines. 

For example, n+1 (Links to an external site.) is a “print & online magazine” that publishes new fiction, essays, criticism, and translations. The submission fee is $0 and students looking to submit have three chances a year to be published in the magazine. According to the publication’s general statement: 

Our editorial mission is to encourage writers, new and established, to take themselves as seriously as possible — to write with as much energy and daring as possible, and to connect their own deepest concerns with the broader social and political environment; that is, to write, while it happens, a history of the present day. We welcome submissions from all writers. 

If n+1 isn’t the magazine for you, Reedsy has compiled 102 other literary magazines. Options include magazines that publish “works that highlight cracks in society’s masonry” like frak\ture, to the Tampa Review that publishes “current art and writing from Florida and the world.” 

Non-Literary Magazine/Website Publishing 

The Write Life’s list of “19 Websites and Magazines That Want to Publish Your Personal Essays (Links to an external site.)” helps students looking to publish more non-fiction or non-literary works. 

Some of the websites and magazines showcased are the following: 

  • The Boston Globe, whose Connections section “seeks 650-word first-person essays on relationships of any kind.” Submissions should be sent to magazine@globe.com “with ‘query’ in the subject line.” 
  • ExtraCrispy, which offers writers interested in “breakfast, brunch, or the culture of mornings” the opportunity to send their works to submissions@extracrispy.com
  • Kveller is a “Jewish parenting site” which publishes articles such as B.J. Epstein’s piece “How I’m Trying to Teach Charity to My Toddler (Links to an external site.).” Those looking to submit should send “a brief bio, contact information, and your complete original blog post” to submissions@kveller.com “with ‘submission’ somewhere in the subject line.” 
  • Skirt Magazine, a publication that is “all about women – their work, their play, families, creativity, style, health and wealth, bodies and souls” says to “email your pitch, a resume, links to published works to submissions@skirt.com.” 
  • The Penny Hoarder, a “personal-finance website welcomes submissions that discuss ways to make or save money,” offers payment for articles between 700 and 900 words. For those looking to submit, the publication’s guidelines are simple and easy to follow. 


For students who have been working on a novel or other large body of work, self-publication is a viable option. While traditional publication relies on a publisher and a contract, self-publication has a variety of different publishing models (Links to an external site.) that range from “print-on-demand” publishing (where writers “use your own money to produce books one at a time through a company”) to “self-publishing” (where “you pay to produce, market, distribute and warehouse the book”). 

Self-publishing creates a lot of work for the writer as the expenses (and at times the marketing and distribution) rely almost entirely on the writer. However, it also allows for more control over the published work and the ability to keep all the rights and profit. For an example of a student-written, self-published piece, read Hero by Slay James (Links to an external site.)

Aspiring writers and grad-school applicants have no reason not to take the chance to expand your resume with published works. So, take a seat, pick a topic, and start writing. 

Google AMP for Digital Publishers

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Slow mobile pages are incredibly unappealing for users. The desire to produce a better mobile experience prompted digital publishers to use Google AMP. The use of this also encouraged user traffic to their sites. According to “What Publishers Need to Know about Google AMP” by Ellen Harvey, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is “an open source initiative with the goal of speeding up the mobile web”. Google AMP allows users to rapidly get the content they want. For digital publishers, keeping track of how Google AMP affects “their SEO, ad earnings, and user experiences” can determine their future success.

Since its launch in February of 2016, Google AMP has transformed how search engines and other publishing websites function on the mobile web. In recent years, smartphones and tablets are the go-to devices for viewing content. Rather than have a separate app for users to download, Google opted to create a more “quick user-friendly way“.

Functions of Google AMP

The sole purpose of Google AMP is to make accessing mobile web pages faster. A web page that has implemented AMP will have all the basic information a user would need. Carlos Alonso, writer of “Google AMP for Publishers: What You Need to Know”, explains the AMP process:

  • AMP HTML is a subset of HTML. It reduces the number of elements you can use while adding some new ones.
  • AMP JS is a Javascript framework focused on handling and loading resources. No other Javascript libraries are allowed in AMP.
  • AMP Content Delivery Network is an optional element that you can use to deliver your content even faster thanks to its cache.
  • CSS is also limited to certain elements.

Essentially, there is a trade-off “between flexibility and speed” when it comes to elaborate design on the mobile web page. Google AMP provides the bare-bone functions for users to view their content.

Revenue Gain

Digital publishers aim to increase revenue by using Google AMP. In “Google AMP and the Publishing Industry: What Happens Next?”, Lydia Gilbertson explains:

“Digital Publishing has been struggling to find a way to better monetize its industry since it became more common for its users to be found online than reading a magazine….Facebook and Google digital advertising account for 77 percent of the total growth in ad spend in 2015 and the gap is only growing. In response, many digital publishers have begun placing a heavy emphasis on their native advertising efforts.”

Digital publishers need platforms such as Google for their content to be seen, and in turn the platforms need users to continue regular interaction with them. Consequently, Google AMP has attempted to create a mutual partnership “to make it even more appealing for publishing sites to focus their energy on making content available on their platforms.”

Obtaining revenue is both a pro and con of Google AMP, due to several factors enabling or hindering it. The flexibility of Google AMP allows ads to be placed on mobile web pages to encourage users to click on them. Alonso states:

“AMP supports a wide range of ad formats and technologies, and more than 150 ad networks support integration with AMP pages. AMP also supports paywalls and provides an accessible framework to regulate access to content for subscribers, metered users and anonymous users.”

However, technical limitations on the number of ads on a page can cause a deficit. A few ways to combat this drawback is to place ads on both AMP and non-AMP pages, ads themselves can be AMP pages, and completely avoiding heavy ads can lead to a better experience.

Pros of Google AMP

First and foremost, the speed of a mobile web page encourages users to continue interacting with a publisher’s website. Faster loading pages show the necessary content that will keep users interested. Due to the key content loading first, users are less likely to “bounce.”

According to Alonso, “There is a direct correlation between implementing AMP and an increase in organic traffic.” By users clicking onto publishers’ sites, the overall user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) is enhanced. The increase in online traffic can be attributed to the fact that Google supports publishers who also support them.

Similarly, Google rankings push publishers to implement AMP to gain more visibility. Of course, Google will encourage its own designs; therefore, publishers who support Google AMP will be placed at the top of “rich results in Google and mobile search.”

Cons of Google AMP

Despite the innovative technicalities of Google AMP, drawbacks were likely to arise. The basic formatting of the AMP page removes the original version of the page. AMP is essentially a plugin that does not fall under the publisher’s website. The AMP plugin will affect the SEO based on the “different cache and different notation on the website“.

Likewise, there will be considerable variation between the display on the desktop and on the mobile version. Users may see the content as completely different. Having content suited for Google AMP is necessary and having bad content can cost publishers the users of their sites. Basically, Google directly affects the mobile sites. Incorrectly implementing Google AMP or experimenting with the Google algorithm may cause problems because AMP is still relatively new.

Google AMP will favor publishers’ sites that directly correspond with their platform or are more established. New digital publishers will be overlooked and will not have their content seen. Similarly, designs on custom sites are not being placed on the site. Gilberston states:

“Many publishers are finding that parts of their brand are being lost within the platform. Some of the functionality, such as the inability to add a “read full story” buttons, which are often used to keep mobile users on a page, is another common complaint among publishers.”

Google AMP is an innovative platform that still has a few kinks to sort out. As the program continues to evolve, publishers will be able to have more liberty to do as they please.

Google AMP provides a unique experience for both users and digital publishers. Converting content, in the correct manner, will guarantee positive results in the digital publishing market. Although pros and cons exist, the publisher must decide whether Google AMP is worth delving into.

The Rise of #GirlPower

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Women all around the world are demanding that their voices be heard and they continue overcoming obstacles and hardships due to their femininity. Digital publishing is opening doors to allow women a platform to express themselves and the issues they face.

Oprah Winfrey tweeted: “We are enough. We matter. We are NOT invisible. Girls around the world are having their say. This is the moment to listen — # GirlDeclaration.”

Feminism, as a movement, is a fight for equal rights. The campaign challenges the traditional assumptions of social roles for men and women. Through feminism, women feel empowered to have their voices be heard. The movement intends to demolish the hierarchy and create equality for everyone.

Today, feminism is a movement that defines, establishes, and desires to achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.

Feminism has gained an abundance of attention and revenue due to digital publishing. Feminists choose to publish online because it allows them to reach more readers than ever before. Through digital publishing, women can create and control their craft.

The platform allows women to take a stand on issues and topics that often are overlooked or unknown to other individuals. Digital publishing gives feminists a new platform to use their freedom of speech to empower and motivate women all around the world.

At one point in time, feminist bookstores were mainly where female-made publications were obtained. Female writers have always dealt with the issue of being muted, oversimplified or objectified. Today women writers have numerous more opportunities than they have ever had in the past.

According to Simone Wolff:

This Times article about indie authors who started for kindle and now run their own publishing houses — all of which, incidentally, are women — claims that only 30% of readers engage only with print publications. The rise of the eBook and the internet’s facilitation of the woman-centric literary community has even created new forms of book distribution and literary community-building.

E-books and Kobo have become an essential aspect of keeping feminist books relevant and flourishing.

E-books give female writers a more significant opportunity for past, present, and future publishers to project their books. Simone Wolff explains, Emily Books is perhaps the first of its kind, a chimera-like entity that combines eBook store, book club, subscription, and publishing house, all to a decidedly-feminist end.”

Emily Books explores and praises the famous works of past and present female writers. According to the “How Digital Publishing Has Changed Feminist Writing”:

Emily Books is, essentially, an online feminist bookstore. It even hosts a book club of sorts, in its subscription service, which comes with access to a community forum. But unlike the websites of pre-existing feminist bookstores, which are strictly for commerce and tend to have a GeoCities feel, Emily is an exercise in feminist taste-making.

Emily Books is providing an innovative service necessary for the innovative ideas of the evolving feminist.

Women & Children First partnering with Kobo, a Canadian company that sells e-books and other digital paraphernalia, is the reason the company exists today. Kobo digitally stores many feminist texts; thus, Women & Children First becomes one of the go-to bookstore websites for searches dealing with feminism and queer or gender studies.

Women were once second-class citizens, and the effects of stereotypes and gender roles still exist. Because of the continuing effects, feminist books are more obtainable digitally through e-books, Kobo, and other electronic devices. According to The Rising Feminist Magazines You Need to Start Reading:

We are fortunate to have this category growing on our platform–especially with these incredibly talented women creating content that inspires and brings awareness to important issues like women’s empowerment. It is through that access that we can ensure awareness and manifest change.

Female writers have been able to build powerhouses due to their digital platform. Today, many female powerhouses exist, such as writers like J.K Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Joyce Carol Oates, and Margaret Atwood. Women all over the world are finding it easier to be heard every day through digital publishing.

Feminist presses allow women to empower themselves, whether they are in the workplace, at home, or in their everyday lives. Their publications provide the ability to connect with their readers on a deeper level. Digital publishing brings together voices that speak on educational, health, and social justice issues for women all around the world.

Digital publishing has been one platform that feminists have been able to adapt to their needs. Today many female powerhouses exist, such as writers like Joyce Carol Oates and Margaret Atwood. Through Digital publishing, feminist books, essays, magazines, and articles are easily obtainable electronically. Feminism has made a profound mark with the help of digital publishing and they are here to stay.

Interactive E-Books: Where Did They Come From, and Where Are They Going

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Interactive e-books are taking the digital world by storm. However, while recent developments in electronic texts are exciting, the revolutionizing of book interaction is not new. Publish Drive explains,

Even if we don’t count coloring books, pop-ups and all kinds of hands-on books for kids, traditional printed books that allow the readers to interact or change the story some way or another have been around for a while now.

Interactive e-books are mimicking innovations made in interactive print publishing while also creating new features unique to the digital medium.

The new features of e-books increase audience engagement by including media that the reader can play with. Publish Drive continues, “Interactive ebooks come in two major forms: apps and enhanced ebooks.” Essentially the e-books are made for browsing through an app on the web, on a mobile device, or on a desktop, and the app supports the media.

The other option involves creating an ePub file that internally supports all the different media. “Books made this way are called enhanced ebooks, and offer a significant level of customizability. This includes easy to enlarge pictures, embedded video and audio, and excellent accessibility.”

Features of Enhanced E-books

Authors have a vast array of features they can choose to utilize in their interactive e-books. Videos, animations, and voice-overs are popular inclusions. For visual aids, companies like Pearson use interactive diagrams with pop-up labels and definitions, changing infographics, responsive maps, calculators, and other activities that promote visual learning and engagement.

The most salient features though, include supported activities that can usually be found in print books as well. Features such as quizzes, word searches, comprehension activities, and checklists that e-books can generate and check. No more looking up the answers in a guide or waiting for class reviews; the books can do it all on their own.  

Two main factors limit the types and volume of additional media that the author can put in their e-books: copyright restrictions and file size restrictions. If copyright prevents the inclusion of videos and other media, then try embedding them. If they block embedding, then link.

Amazon charges a “delivery fee” for some sales based on the size of the e-book, so authors working with them should be aware of that. As Kotobee says, “Otherwise, the main concern with a large file size is happy readers.” Audiences will tolerate large file, i.e. time consuming, downloads for important texts like academic textbooks much more than pleasure texts like novels.

Examples of Enhanced E-books

The interactive e-books on the market typically fall into three categories: academic texts, adult texts, and children’s books.

According to Iltifat Husain, MD, the most interactive textbook on the market is Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology. The book features pop-up definitions, interactive label diagrams, surgery videos, and extensive annotation capabilities. Pearson’s Biology and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Modern Chemistry also rank pretty high for number of downloads but lack elegance, says Alex Reinhart.

The adult-oriented interactive e-books fit several different genres; novels like The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins and Do or Die by Clark Kokich do well on the market. The most promising entertainment genre though appears to be cookbooks. For example, Look&Cook is an interactive cookbook that includes the usual step-by-step instructions along with voiceover instructions, built-in timers for recipe steps, video tutorials, and emailed shopping lists.

Children’s books typically feature animations and background music like the ones in Two Worlds, One Child’s Heart by Vered Kaminsky and Sparklify the Earth by Sandra Rose Gunn, which Publish Drive’s blog promotes.

Platforms for the Creation and Distribution of Interactive E-Books

Not all interactive e-books have to be coded by hand though. Kotobee offers a platform specifically geared to enhanced text creation through widgets. Flip PDF does the same thing and enables PDF-usable for the initial upload. Apple’s iBook Author, Aquafadas, PubCoder, Atavist, Calibre, and Sigil all offer the same capabilities. Most platforms that facilitate e-book creation will enable enhanced e-books. Platforms for distribution are a different story, though.

Two things determine access to interactive e-books: the device and the distributor. For example, Amazon supports enhanced texts, but their Kindles do not. Kobo tablets support enhanced texts, but leave their apps and other devices lacking. Google Play Books does not support interactive e-books, but Apple iBooks does. Consequently, authors and publishers bear the responsibility of knowing what platform the audience will use.

Success for Interactive Iterations of E-Books

Interactive texts continue to climb the ranks for B2B publishers, students, and casual readers. Map Systems India explains that for students an enhanced e-book “helps them to participate in the learning process, increasing their activities on the platform. For instance, you need not explain them the procedure of completing a task.”

Kitaboo published an article that details all the ways interactive texts surpass regular e-books such as being easier to update and revise. Furthermore, interactive texts provide: more accessibility to readers who may struggle to read a standard e-book; the ability to “link content to additional resources;” and, “Content creators/publishers/institutes/enterprises can set up an assessment for post learning evaluation and even need analysis.”

Kitaboo also claims,

Through the functionalities of interactive eBooks, creators can embed multimedia which makes the content contextually relevant and easier to relate with. Integrating technologies give students an opportunity to learn by viewing 3D models. This adds a layer of information over reality to enhance the learning experience.

Implications for the Industry

Enhanced e-books appear to be here to stay. Snap App says, “This sustained popularity means static ebooks are only going to become more saturated, and readers more numb to them.” Only recently have companies begun to understand how important their digital content is. Reinhart complained about the sloppiness of the e-books publishers are putting out when he stated:

It seems that textbook publishers are only willing to invest effort in multimedia, animations, and interactivity for big intro books—books which will sell tens of thousands of copies to bored students who will generally avoid reading them.

Consequently, good interactive e-books may be far and few between for now, but the ones coming in the future should be truly revolutionary.