Kindle for Book Editors: I'm doing it wrong

A while back, I smugly tweeted that I was using my Kindle to read early-draft books by friends of mine. (Hi, Curtis! Hi, Piaw!) These weren't detailed mark-up-every-sentence read-throughs. Just gathering initial impressions. You know, general stuff like "This story would be awesome if only it had some Morse code in it. Morse code is my obsession; it should be yours, too. Plz add."

One of these books is now ready for a detailed review. So on my bus rides, I sat down with the Kindle and typed in more detailed notes. E.g., "You should delete this phrase here; it has nothing to do with Morse code and therefore bores me." Today, I stepped back and considered: how far have I made it through the book? Not far. Not far at all. Why so slow? The Kindle is set up for reading books. But. It's not set up for rapid text entry. It feels like I type fast: my fingers fly. But... it's two-fingered typing. And to enter, say, a semicolon, I go to a little menu. And I keep messing up trying to enter quote marks. And I have a surprising amount of trouble with the teeny-tiny little shift keys. And... and and and it adds up.

Maybe I'm just doing it wrong. I was inspired to try it because Curtis mentioned that one of his reviewers used a Kindle—and handed over comments as a Kindle .mbp file. And that worked OK. Then again, maybe that was just going for a high-level reading, not getting into a red-pen rampage.

(This isn't a slam at the Kindle. It's not supposed to be a tool for book editors. I'm not sure anyone has ever designed a tool for that market. Would you want to design a product for people who complain about stuff for a living? Yeah, me neither.)

I guess I'll fall back to using a desktop computer for this, instead of reading on the bus. It's probably just as well. I find enough things to complain about when I'm marking up a manuscript; I'm probably insufferable when I do so while carsick. "I feel nauseous; it's either the bus' poor braking or it's this paragraph. Better delete this paragraph just to be on the safe side. Also: dot dot dot; dash; dot; dash." I'll go back to reading feeds on the bus and keeping my editorial remarks in my head.

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Book Report: Down at the Docks

Back in 1999, I traveled in New England. I told intrepid traveler Tom Manshreck that I was going to visit New Bedford. He said ""Yeah, man--New Bedford used to be a good place to go to--to get shot!" but that it was better now. The book Down at the Docks is about those aspects of New Bedford which made it a good place to get shot.

This book is... it talks about the people of New Bedford. There are a few, uhm, protagonists, locals who the author talks to. The book has slices-of-life from these folks. It also has swaths of city history. These are not nice people. These people are scary. New Bedford used to be a good place to go to to get shot. Murder, you bet. Rape--famous for rape. (And, in one incident, a rally in support of some rapists.) Junkies stealing anything that's not nailed down. Non-junkies stealing plenty, too. Sinking boats for insurance fraud. Setting fire to factories for insurance fraud.

Along the way, some darned good writing about some darned interesting people. Terrible things happen, but you can't look away, the book carries you along. Very recommended, but it helps if you have a strong stomach.

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even Disneyland

Excerpt from the bottom of Matt Haughey's Disneyland travelog

Another highlight of the trip was using the Wishing Stars iPhone app in the park. It's basically a photo and clue-driven scavenger hunt through the park for features and locations. ... Overall, it was a blast and a fun diversion when standing in a line or walking around the same part of the park for the third time that day.

There's something kind of amazing about being able to do something social like a scavenger hunt, but asynchronous through the use of this app. I know a few friends are working on similar types of applications (doing previous real-time social events in a new web-enabled asynchronous way) and I think it's going to become a big trend in application development.

Not enough to make me put up with a visit to Disneyland. But interesting.

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