Independent Bookstores Join with Google ebooks

The days of choosing between an ebook and supporting your local independent bookstore are fading into history.  The American Booksellers Association announced that it is joining up with Google ebooks:

ABA member stores with IndieCommerce websites are now selling Google eBooks online. Google launched its ebook program today.  “This partnership with Google is an important chapter in the renaissance we’ve been seeing in independent bookselling,” said ABA President Michael Tucker, co-owner of Books Inc. bookstores in California. “It allows our membership to better compete with corporate retailers on selection, price, and convenience. It levels the playing field.”

Loving those words “levels the playing field.”  (I’ll resist the temptation to talk about the uneven sales tax playing field between Amazon and every other bookstore.)  Google’s ebooks are available on a myriad of devices-computers, smart phones, ereaders of various types-via cloud computing so a reader is not limited to one retailer.  Click here for a list of the independent bookstores offering ebook sales.  I found two of our locals:  diesel and Skylight.

I looked on the Google ebookstore website and found a couple of the books on my list, but as with the Kindle I’m sure the choices will be expanding.  They advertise thousands of books and many of the bestsellers are listed on the opening page, some of which were selling for less than $9.99 and some for more.  All of the books can be accessed via your favorite independent bookstore.

I haven’t used Google ebooks, yet, but if you have, please share your experience.

A Literary Question For The Gift Giving Season

If you give a person a book, what are your expectations about the person reading it?

I have a couple of gift-giving guidelines:  Don’t give me anything from Bed, Bath and Beyond regardless of a stack of 20% off or $5 off coupons.  Never, ever, give me anything alive.  Please don’t give me Chinese themed clothes/items just because Chinese Studies was my husband’s major in college.  My most important gift giving advice-a book is the best gift of all.  I give my family books every year and at least once every Christmas morning, when they unwrap one of them, I ask “what’s the best gift?”  The victim dutifully answers “a book.”  Now that my kids are teenagers, I look away immediately to give them the freedom to roll their eyes.

I already have a list of books I want for Christmas.  As soon as I check it twice to make sure which ones are worthy and which ones are nice, I’ll e-mail it to my husband and my kids.  My husband has survived enough cold Christmases (like the one where he was so excited about the frying pans he gave me that he forgot to give me the coat I had been pining over until the night of the 26th, see the first rule above) to appreciate all the help he can get.  Plus, he and the sales clerk at diesel bookstore become best friends over the phone every December and each book comes beautifully wrapped, by diesel.  My daughter is iffy, she appreciates the help and loves book but has some particular ideas about what I should be wearing, especially now that we can share clothes.

My book list is comprised of books I usually wouldn’t buy for myself.  If there is a book I’d devour in an afternoon or a book I need to read for a discussion or author talk, I’ll buy it.  But there are lots of books I want to have to someday be able to pick up and peruse.  I want to know they’re there for a quiet afternoon or to delve in a topic.  I usually start reading them while we’re still away on Christmas vacation but when I get back home and the list of what has to be read gets longer, these books find cozy locations on my shelves.  They’re not forgotten, in fact they are friends.  Probably 15 years ago at Christmas, my husband gave me When Nietzsche Wept.  I still haven’t read it.  I want to read it, I intend to read it, but haven’t yet.  But every time I see it on the shelves, I feel a warm glow remembering that Christmas morning when he told me how he described me to the bookseller and she suggested he give me this book.

Two years ago, my son gave me four books.  I’ve read one of them.  He asked me over and over when I was going to read the others.  Finally, about August of that year, he said he wouldn’t give me any more books until I read the ones he already gave me.  I reminded him that I read a lot of All Art is Propaganda, a volume of Orwell essays, and that the second volume would be out for Christmas.  He gave me the second volume, Facing Unpleasant Facts, last year at Christmas.  I’ve read much of it.  I know when I mention my list of wanted books, he’ll remind me, by name, of the three I haven’t read yet.

When I give a book it is with the hopes that the recipient will enjoy it.  But, I wonder if part of giving a book is the interchange about it afterward, especially if the giver has read the book and wants to discuss it.  Maybe I should be more diligent about reading books I’m given.  I would love to hear other perspectives.  When you give someone a book (because it is the best gift), do you have expectations about when the recipient should read it?

Recommended Reading for World AIDS Day – 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolan

Statistics can be numbing.  Nolan chose to tell 28 stories about AIDS in Africa because at the time of publication, 2007, an estimated 28 million people suffered from the disease, give or take a few million.  This morning I heard on the news that we’ve known of AIDS (in the Western world) for 30 years and we have about 30 million victims.  It’s hard to know how to respond.  I find I mentally and emotionally shut down in the face of such a crisis, it’s too overwhelming.  28 Stories of AIDS in Africa is an antidote to hopelessness.  Each story is about a real person who suffers from the disease.  In my experience, narrative always helps in understanding.  Nolan gives a face to AIDS in Africa while informing the reader about it.

Winston Zulu’s story speaks directly to the helplessness people feel.  Winston responded to his diagnosis with activism, by living in communities where he was shunned but where the disease was rampant in order to raise awareness.  In Winston’s story, Nolan talks about how many Africans die of TB, a disease many people could recover from with proper testing and medications.

When [Winston] speaks to audiences in Europe or North America, people talk about feeling paralysis in the face of the statistics–the twenty-eight million people in  Africa with an incurable illness.  “Many people just wan to look away because the problem looks so insurmountable.  They think, how can we deal with this?  But if you say, ‘Hey, wait:  the biggest killer of people living with HIV in Africa and many other developing regions is tuberculosis–and if you give them drugs that cost $10, you can save someone’s life, and you can avoid having more orphans’–then people see it differently.”

[If you would like to donate to The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, even a small amount helps the victims and helps fight back a feeling of helplessness.]

Nolan’s stories track the tragedy of AIDS, from families, to villages, to potentially the entire country of Botswana, facing the risk of extinction.  She also shares the lives of people who will not be defeated.  Several countries are touched on, showing the differences in the region but the commonality of the disease.  Siphiwe Hlophe is from Swaziland where until recently she was considered the Continue reading