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December 06, 2010     Post 20
From Smith Corona to Droid

From Smith Corona to Droid-Twinkle Toes leaps into the digital age.

I mostly write about experiences. Rarely do I write about writing. At my level of skill what is there to say about the actual act? There's the sticky 'r' key, and now and then I manage to hit some combination of hidden function keys and crash the program, but this is not exactly newsworthy. When I'm not watching a spider wrap up a fly in my window (how do they do that?!) or thinking about what Sara B the schooner needs in the way of TLC, the words come from somewhere. But it's winter now and boating is on hold so here goes.

My three dollar typewriter of thirty years ago is a distant memory. I went digital around 1990 after I sold a four figure magazine article and used the money to buy a computer. This was pre world wide web, and I mostly messed with desktop publishing. I mailed the first 16 page Lake Ontario Log out in 1993. It was a quarterly “zine” and subscribers paid ten dollars a year. It survived six years and more or less broke even, then went paperless and has since resided in a Cykic Software server. I guess this a blog now.

Desk top publishing also made Whiskey Hill Press and a half dozen books on Lake Ontario sailing and history possible. I'm proud to write that people have purchased over 6000 copies of my various titles. I still like old school books. I relish the feel and the look of a book's artwork and its simplicity-no batteries required. If the mice don't eat it, somebody could read a copy of Ariel's World a hundred years from now. Who knows what format the e reader gadgets will be using then?

However times keep changing. Amazon claims in 2010 to have sold more Kindle books downloads for its ebook reader than hardcovers. I don't own an ebook reader but I know several people who do. With the help of the technical department on the other side of the room I created two ebooks for people to buy online at www.chimneybluff.com a while ago The first such was an 11,000 word booklet on a topic dear to my heart- Budget Boating. Sailing on a Shoestring immediately followed. I sold about forty copies at 3.00 a download. Not exactly best sellers but fun to write.

About the same time I also re-printed a sold out title from 1998 through Lulu.com as a real book . You upload a file to their computer, they print the book and mail it to you for about 20 dollars. By ordering several at a time the cost drops considerably.

This summer we did Our West Side Story, another print on demand, full color photo book on the West Barrier Bar from its origin to the present to sell as a fundraiser for the barrier bar park. It was a joint effort by Pat Cooper with her splendid photos and self. We had so much fun doing the Riddle of the Lake together we wanted to try another project. Last week I put it and two other books in Lulu.com's on line store. Now people can download them to their computers. I'm not sure how many people will want to read a full length book on their computer but hey, it's an experiment. I know I wouldn't even if it is cheaper. I also uploaded “Twinkle Toes and the Riddle of the Lake” to Amazon's Kindle store. Twink and Dusty and Miss Piggy have gone virtual.

Anxious to see what the process had done to them, I turned to the tech department. He doesn't have a Kindle reader, but his clever Droid, a cell phone plus, has an “app” that allows you to read a Kindle book. He logged onto the Amazon store with his Droid and sure enough, the whole gang was there! They had their heads and tails and Ariel and Sara B were still clearly recognizable in the artwork on the teeny tiny Droid screen display. Amazing, I thought.

I am old enough to find this business of reading a book ( and browsing and buying it!) using your phone a little improbable to say the least. After all, I only just managed on line banking this past summer. But there we are. Dragged into the digital age with the help of my spouse and sister in law.
I wonder if there is anyway Kindle books can be purchased as gifts and sent to somebody else's Kindle or cell phone?Probably! I would probably read one on my cell phone if I was sitting at the dentist office waiting for a root canal.

If there are any Log On Line readers with an urge to test drive Riddle of the Lake as a ebook, I sure would be interested in hearing what you think of the “experience”. I'm still finding it all a little unreal. I wonder what Twink would think?

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