Book Notes January 2007

First, thanks to those who have been concerned about our winter travels. Ann spent the night at her workplace and will be driving the now slushy but visible roads home, having worked in the pharmacy 18 of the past 24 hours. She’ll be a lot of good company when she gets home, fer shure.

Second, thanks to Chris O’Donnell, long-time Fragments friend, who has been the first to pen a little review of the book on the page. Much appreciated.

And in the Amazonian domain, not without some forboding, I’ve given them permission to scan the book and make some of it available to readers: up to 2% to print and 20% to read. And this latter number bothers me some as it is the lowest possible setting for how much to make available to read for free. That seems like a lot, but it is that amount or more given as choices.

And along the same slippery slope, I’ve made the book accessible (eventually when the process completes) to Google Print, as well as offered it as an ebook. This will let it reach other continents where the printed version would be entirely too expensive.

Google is going to scan it sooner or later, it seems, and there is a 30 day quit clause in the contract if it seems the priviledge of reading on line for free is being abused. Still, it felt a little risky doing this, and I hope my uneasiness is allayed by future success stories. Stay tuned.

And regarding the “next book” that I’ve been mumbling about here the past month or so: I’ll show you tomorrow something I wrote in a rare focused hour last week–a kind of possible preface with a photo. But since then, I’m wandering a bit from that “coffee table–full page pix” model, thinking perhaps to have more and smaller photos, some with word wrap not unlike the blog page.

This would allow me to use more of the smaller jpegs (since I didn’t start shooting RAW until about a year ago). I could also aggregate several shots on a page–in a kind of montage–about fall foliage; about closeups of nature; about the dog–all with some explanatory, descriptive or more lyrical prose as the compositions demand.

The thought would be, as I posted this morning, to give the reader-viewer of the book a deep sense of this place through time through my eyes and voice. And with this approach, it could include the quirky, the humorous and the more abstract and abstruse elements of creative life than an “arts book” approach. Just an idea.

Sorry. Ruminating out loud again. But after all, that is no small part for me to the purpose of this permanent record of my thoughts, plans and fantasies. I just let folks peek over my shoulder in all this. You don’t have to look. But I’d enjoy the company.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. fred- i tried to leave a review on amazon, but it wouldn’t let me b/c i had never ordered a book from there. but i did post one at the barnes and noble site.

  2. I like the “montage” idea — small and large photos, and more of them. It’s a harder task, in a way — trying to keep the book from looking cluttered, but your images work well off of each other (again, probably a tribute to the fact that they’ve all been dug up from, like you say, the same whole…)

  3. I always prefer to be able to “look inside” a book at Amazon prior to buying it, and will even hesitate to buy a book if I cannot. I am sure that giving people a sneak peek of your book online will only help your sales in the long run. Good luck!

  4. Hi, Fred!
    Have you played with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature? It lets you see the front and back blurb, TOC, Index, and a few consecutive pages. The “Surprise Me” feature gives you pages at random, much the way I browse a book in a bookstore. I couldn’t use it on a dialup connection, but with broadband access it really helps me decide if I’m interested in a book.

    I’ve read reports by authors who have made their entire books available on line for free, and found that it stimulated their book sales. Independent musicians have reported similar results.

    I say, “Good for you!” for letting people browse a bit and make an informed decision. I’m reluctant to buy a book in a poke.