iBooks Offering ASL Support


Bilingual books have existed for a long time. Bilingual ebooks have also shown a presence in online stores. Adding American Sign Language (ASL) editions to ebooks? That’s a proposition that has been hard to accomplish although possible under current EPUB standards.

The reason is that video and text must coexist on the virtual page. That’s hard to do with ebooks, and impossible in conventional books. With the iPad and iBooks Author, that challenge has now become possible.

Recently, author Adam Stone published his first ASL/English bilingual ebook. Called Pointy Three, it tells the story of a fork that’s missing one of its prongs but not, as the description points out, its spirit. The fork journeys through the land of Dinnertime, having adventures and looking for a place where he belongs.

The book’s possibly unique ASL/English approach offers something new and special. Stone explains that children who use both languages, or who are learning ASL, benefit from this bilingual approach. On his blog, he writes, “[It] is not simply an English story translated into ASL; it is a story created with both languages in mind, swirling around the creative consciousness.”

It’s getting to be insanely great. 


An Insightful Summation on the State of Self-Publishing

Terrific article by Cristian:

A lot of self-publishers publish their books, create a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page they don’t even bother to update. Some might even go as far as to go on Shelfari, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and other similar websites. And I find that the vast majority of them are just doing all this because they’re read about it.

It’s like following a recipe word for word, never bothering to add one more pinch of salt – they’re unwilling to experiment, to stop and analyze if what they’re doing is helping their sales or not.

Self-publishing is all about trial and error. It’s not fixed. It lends itself to improvisation, constantly evolving. Most writers blog and tweet mechanically – some even go as far as to write about themselves in the third person, like they’re the Dalai Lama or something. The vast majority of self-publishers are using the same techniques, marketing their books by tweeting six times a day bits of reviews and mentioning the 67 five star reviews they have on Amazon. CristianMihai »

Improvisation would be nice. Another thing authors need to remember is why they want to write and distribute their books in the first place. And another thing is they need to give a swift kick in the head to their egos. Otherwise, the little self-publishers are just asking for self-defeat.

How Steve Jobs got the Name NeXT for His Second Company from Bill Gates

This is the cover of the book 'Insanely Simple'I’ve been reading Insanely Simple by Ken Segall these last few weeks. This book is about Apple’s business practice of simplicity, how Steve Jobs’ led using simplicity, and how others can emulate the true qualities of simplicity in their own business practices.

Ken Segall is a knowledgable man. He worked for Chiat/Day, the marketing firm responsible for many of Apple’s most successful ad campaigns; ads like the ‘1984’ Macintosh commercial, and the ‘Think Different’ ad campaign that ran from 1998 on to drive much of Apple’s growth.

Ken Segall's portraitKen worked closely with Steve, knew him rather well, and experienced the behind the scenes stories that many Apple fans would love to know about. Thankfully, Insanely Simple has more to it than colorful anecdotes about Steve and Apple’s distant past, but this one story I enjoyed and thought I’d share it with you to give you a taste of Insanely Simple.

This is the story of how Jobs’ chose the name for his second company, NeXT, which Apple absorbed in the late nineties:

The story of how he got that name has actually never been told. One of Steve’s oldest friends and business associates was Tom Suiter, a San Francisco-area designer. When Steve was starting his new company, he called Tom to tell him he’d come up with a name for it. He would call it “Two”—because it was his second company. Tom wasn’t impressed. “But then everybody’s going to ask what happened to the first company,” he said. To which Steve replied, “Well, that’s why I’m calling you. Can you think of anything better?”

The NeXT company logoShortly afterward, Tom attended a speech by Bill Gates in Seattle. He was struck by the number of times Gates used the word “next” as he described new technologies being developed by Microsoft. That word kept echoing in his head. The more he thought about it, the more right it seemed. A few days later Tom called Steve and said, “I think I have the name for your company. It’s ‘Next.’” There was a long pause while Steve soaked it in. And then came the enthusiastic “I love it!”

It’s ironic that a speech by Bill Gates was actually the spark for the naming of NeXT. Even more amazing, neither Steve nor Bill were ever aware of it. (And whoever would have thought that Gates would, however indirectly, be responsible for such a burst of Simplicity.)

If you enjoyed this story, there are many more where it came from. The book has thought-provoking insights into Apple’s business practices, and some of Steve’s most intellectually stimulating business stories.

Content is Still King—Even with E-book Readers

Say what you want about e-books. Most people I know are still taking a lot of time to adjust to the thought of reading a book that isn’t on paper.

But the Kindle, Nook, and iPad/iPhone are here to stay. Many of the pioneers of ‘geekery’ are pleasantly satisfied with the tech-read experience. I’m among the satisfied readers with more than six e-books I’ve read now from cover-to-cover in various apps and using e-ink displays as well as iDevices.

The trick to a good e-reading experience isn’t so much in the app as it is in the content. As far as reading books are concerned, the content is especially king. No one wants to pay for a lousy book, as so many books in print and digital are.

For example, I spoke with an acquaintance who is in highschool. He explained that he’s been given a reading assignment, and with iBooks he download the e-pub version of this big book for convenience.

Regrettably, the introduction section of the book in his assignment is more than 200 pages long. The book in and of itself is a snooze. This alone killed his enthusiasm for e-readers. Since it is such a chore just to read his book assignment, it’s dulled any desire he had for the iPad’s e-reader wizardry.

On the other hand, I’ve read several popular fictional works, and a few superb non-fictional business related books. Since I got to pick, I chose books that I knew would interest me that came highly recommended. My e-reading experience—especially with iBooks, which works oh-so elegantly on the iPad—has been some of my favorite experiences with tech in my life.

The burden of a good read with any book is found in the content. Don’t put the blame on an app if you don’t have a positive experience.

Starting and Closing – by John Smoltz

There aren’t many occasions to read a good book about the Atl. Braves. Here is your chance to pickup a good one about one of the best Braves—one of the best pitchers, for that matter—from the last two decades. »

I grew up watching Smoltz, and even had the occasion to meet him a few times. He is a great guy, great ball player, and I admire what he has done in his career.

Apple Showcases Books Created With iBooks Author App

Every week on Thursday, Apple updates its various homepages across the iTunes Store, App Store, Mac App Store, and iBookstore to showcase new featured content and sections. This week, Apple has chosen to feature books “Made with iBooks Author” on the iBookstore’s homepage. »

iBooks is really showing up Kindles. Seriously. Google, Amazon… they have nothing on what Apple has to offer in the way of these technologically advanced releases for the next generation of readers.

And I imagine the selection and features will even improve in iBooks’ case. We have not seen the last of Apple’s plans for literature. They will leave the other booksellers in the dust.

Review of iPad eBook Reader Apps: The Kindle, Nook, & iBooks

An example of eReading a book with the iPad from Apple's guided tour video

There are a popular few iPad apps that we hear about. There are tens of thousands of apps in the iTunes’ app store. There are an overwhelming number that get overlooked, including eBook apps. We hear about the apps like the Kindle, Nook, and iBooks when it comes to heavy-duty reading, but have you heard about Kobo, Stanza, or uBooks xl? Most likely, if you have, you don’t know anyone that uses them anyways.

The eBook apps are abundant, really. Go search for them yourself. There are many on iTunes now. The reason that we have a top two or three favorite apps in this important category is because they truly deserve the attention. As of yet, the likes of Kobo have not impressed the early adopters (no offense, Borders—I tried it out, too). They are feature-less or feature-few. They simply are not as capable as the popular eBook apps. In this case, popular opinion has good insight into the matter.

With that introduction, I’ll give you my take of the top three popular ones: Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBooks, and B&N’s Nook. Continue reading