Category Archives: E-Books

Free eBook Focuses on Political Attack Ads

I haven’t read this one yet, but I hear good things. John G. Greer’s In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns is a FREE ebook until the end of October. The publisher, The University of Chicago Press have made it free until then. So you have just a few days.

Greer_AttachAdsIn Defense of Negativity came out in 2006 and I remember it because Greer takes an opposing view from my own: he thinks negative political campaigns are good for our country and the political system. I’ve skimmed through the book and saw some points that seemed valid, but I’m going to have to wait until I read it to really say.

I can’t argue with Greer’s notion that there are major problems within the U.S. political system. He just seems to think that we give way too much weight to negative political campaigns and that they’re not the problem at all. In fact, working through ads spanning from 1960-2004, he thinks they have contributed more to the political landscape than they have detracted.

If you’re curious too, click through to get the free download. Should be a good one to discuss over beer with friends sometime.

I have no affiliation with The University of Chicago Press Books, but if you like smart non-fiction books, their free monthly offerings were pretty good this year. You may want to sign up for 2015 through their e-mailing list. It’s free. They also have a really robust catalog of interesting books that is worth checking out.

Two eReader Apps You Should Check Out

Here are two iOS ereader apps that I think you should try. Both Readmill and Marvin read ePub files and offer features that iBooks is nowhere close to rolling out.


This app has quickly become my favorite app to read in. The design of Readmill is fantastic and they have pioneered many of the highlighting-type features that kindle and iBooks have adopted.

readmill ereader appsWhat really makes Readmill great is the community and sharing aspects. Basically, (if you turn on the features) it turns any book you’re reading into a book club. You don’t necessarily “follow people” (though you can), but while in a book other people’s highlights and comments pop up, just as if they were scribbled in the margins of a paper book. In Readmill you can reply to their marginalia or highlights and then others can respond to you, etc. You’ll have a full blown discussion before you know it… all centered on this shared experience of that very book you are reading. Of course, you can also ‘@’ people not reading the book to help promote the book or spur interest/discussions among your friends, but the idea of a group of people gathering around the shared reading of a book is fantastic. I really like the notion of discovering people to follow based on their ideas and observations alone.

readmill ereader appsI have always read business books in paper. I need to scribble and make notes in non-fiction books. But I recently gave Readmill a go for a business book and can honestly say I was better for it. I stumbled on a few people, in the Readmill community, who had read it before me and made some fantastic connections inside that book. These were ideas that  I may never have come up with on my own. It was a cool experience.



Marvin is a fun app to read in as well, but for totally different reasons. You do have amazing controls over the color, brightness, etc. and the design is solid. Plus, they have some nifty features to help folks with dyslexia or near-blindness. Marvin also allows one-click downloads from free eBook sites, Dropbox, Readmill, ODPS, and Calibre integration.

marvin ereaderBut my favorite feature of Marvin is the Deep View. Once you click ‘OK’ the Marvin app will quickly read your whole book in about a minute. It will then offer you a list of every name in the book with external links and how the names appear to be related in the book. It will also offer you a summary of the book (free Cliffs Notes!) if you’d like one. It will also compile a list of articles about that book, article about the author, and other internet content related to the book. It’s like setting your own private wiki-pedia for the book you happen to be reading.

marvin appOnce you integrate that with IMDB, etc. it gets to be very very fun. I’ve found I enjoy reading older books in this app as I’m always amazed at how many author “from the days of yore” knew each other, hung out together, berated each other, or mentioned each other in their books and reviews.

For every Brat Pack in Hollywood, there were at least 10 groups of authors paying attention to each other.


While neither Readmill or Marvin have direct access to a robust bookstore like iBooks or kindle, these two ereader apps are worth the extra two clicks to getting an ePub side loaded to read. Check them out. I’d love to know what you think.

National Science Fiction Day

Today is officially the unofficially official National Science Fiction Day. So happy NSFD! I got this info from both Wikipedia and Slate… is it possible to get any more legit than that?

The day was chosen due to it being Isaac Asimov‘s birthday. Which is a pretty good reason. Asimov has written one book for every star in the sky it seems. And his Foundation Trilogy is one that sparked my reading interests many many many years ago.

different engines coverIf you are interested in the history of Science Fiction I do not think you can do much better than Brake’s and Hook’s Different Engines. This book may feel a bit dry at times, but it’s simply because it ranks well in the researched/scholarly category and you are learning stuff. But the book is fascinating and worth your time.

They convincingly trace the birth of Science Fiction to Johannes Kepler’s Somnium, which he was working on in 1593, but was published posthumously in 1634. Their sense of what is and isn’t Science Fiction is a good one and offers wonderful insights for any fan of the genre.

As a gift for National Science Fiction Day this year I’m offering you a link. A very sci-fi bookish/reading link. Click here to go to Project Gutenberg and download a free ebook version of Lyn Venable’s Time Enough at Last. This is the short story that inspired the classic Twilight Zone episode of the same name.

Henry Bemis

You remember it don’t you? The one where bibliophile Henry Bemis survives a nuclear bomb and stumbles upon a public library and finally has enough time to read! With no one around to bother him! But then… so sad.

Anyway, enjoy the quick read by Venable and then go watch that episode of the Twilight Zone. It’s fun, but his wife is really mean.

Happy National Science Fiction Day!

An eBook Frustration

The digital publishing world is one of the most schizophrenic marketplaces. Now, let me qualify that by saying: I work for a publisher. I help make print and digital books. I know the challenges and the limitations. That being said….

I just bought an iBooks ebook thinking: “I can read this immediately and on any of my devices, because Mavericks put iBooks right on my desktop. I’m living in the future!” But what was the first thing that greeted me upon opening my new eBook…

iBooks iOS pop up - This book was designed for iBooks on iOS.

Ugh! Are you serious!? My suped-up laptop can’t do whatever it is this book was designed to do? This stinks. Ebooks have now grown into such a multi-headed enhanced hydra that they can no longer consistently deliver on what is one of the biggest perks of an eBook… instant access on multiple devices.

But too be honest all of my frustration (and this blog post) could have been avoided if the publisher had simply stated something along the lines of “best for iOS-only reading” in the product description or marketing copy or email promotion… anywhere.

So publishers… please… please… PLEASE… use your own books and see where your frustration lies. Chances are your “ugh!” will be the same one your readers will utter. So think of them and work harder on the book or take the time to be up front with your readers. They will all appreciate you more for it.