Link of the Week: Trajectory and the act of finding new books to read

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Readers are often faced with the dilemma of finding a new book to read. You may have just finished a book you loved so much that you (briefly) wonder if it’s possible to love another book again. Or maybe you just finished another bad book, and you wonder whether it’s a good idea to chance another unknown for fear of continuing the trend. Regardless of what you read, the question of “what book next” is sure to have popped up at some point. What do you do to find new books? Leave it up to the library gods while you wander aisles of books? Ask your friends on social media? Check out the bestseller lists? All of these are great options, but they don’t always yield good results.

There’s a new resource on the horizon that may make new books (that you’ll enjoy) easier to find: Trajectory.

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Publisher’s Weekly  posted an article at the end of January that features this new start-up, which “has developed a proprietary algorithm platform it claims will take book recommendations to a new level of accuracy and utility. After scanning the text of a book, Trajectory claims its technology can deliver better keywords and book recommendations to its clients in the bookselling, library and school markets” (Reid, PW article).

Be sure to check out the website to read more about how Trajectory operates and how they hope to influence the future of book reading.

Link of the Week: Blogging is NOT dead

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The importance of being connected to the world on the Web is undeniable. Creating a presence is no easy task, but it’s worth the effort. Not only do social media and blogs allow you to share articles, images, videos, etc. that you find interesting or discussion-worthy, but they also provide places for you to share what you generate on your own, from ideas, opinions, or solutions. Blogs especially are a platform that allow for engagement that go to depths that Twitter and Tumblr can never reach.

UnknownAt the end of January, Andrew Sullivan, a prolific political blogger, announced on his website that he and his co-bloggers had reached the end of their time blogging at The Dish. Why is this significant? Because Sullivan was one of the first to plunge into the blogosphere. He was able to make a respectable living from his website/blog, but now that he’s decided to let it go, many are saying that the era of blogging has ended. With the existence of sites like Medium, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, it’s easy to see how some might think that the time of individual blogs on WordPress might be winding down.

Yet what I want to draw your attention to is an article written by Ben Thompson over at Stratechery. In it, he outlines the arguments supporting the opinion that blogging is dead and goes on to rebut them, explaining why blogging is still alive and well, and why it is still viable as a business venture. That’s not to say that all blogs can be used to create business; that’s just one way a blog/blogging community can be used. Regardless of how a blog is used, there is no argument about the importance of a blog:

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…when I speak of the “blog” I am referring to a regularly-updated site that is owned-and-operated by an individual (there is, of course, the “group blog,” but it too has a clearly-defined set of authors). And there, in that definition, is the reason why, despite the great unbundling, the blog has not and will not die: it is the only communications tool, in contrast to every other social service, that is owned by the author; to say someone follows a blog is to say someone follows a person (Thompson).

 

Link of the Week: Serial

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Podcasts have only semi-recently been gaining attention in the mainstream. They’ve been around for quite some time, but it seems that it wasn’t until the arrival of entertainment-centered airings that people began to really pay attention to this form of media.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 11.27.41 AMEnter Serial, a “new podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig” (Source).

According to the website, Serial is a weekly podcast that follows a nonfiction story, and in season one, the story was the conviction of Adnan Syed’s murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The season began on October 3rd and ran until December 18, and ended without reaching any major conclusions.

For those who are unfamiliar with the podcast and the subsequent interest in a case that was closed year ago, Ellen Killoran from Forbes explains:

The thing that makes Serial so fascinating is also what makes the project seem absurd, even perverse: We are all waiting anxiously to find out if a man who was found guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend is guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend. And not because new evidence was discovered – but because the cracks in the case got the attention of the right journalist (Source).

20150718-IMG_8488If you missed the first season, all the episodes are available on the Serial website, and, according to the same source, is slotted for a second season!

Link of the Week: Gumroad’s in-road to Big Publishing

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Gumroad is for independent writers, designers, game developers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, and anyone in-between. Simply, if you’re a creator — Gumroad is for you.

It’s a bold claim to make, but with a recent partnership with the battered Hachette, Gumroad seems to be making steps toward visibility.

But what exactly is Gumroad?

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.42.31 AMAs described by Publishers Weekly, Gumroad is a “‘native commerce’ venture, meaning a platform that enables artists of all kinds to send out links with buy buttons embedded in their tweets and Facebook posts” (Source). This venture fully embraces the way people use social media, and the staff at Gumroad has undertaken the challenge of making it work by implementing their strategies into a well-designed, easy-to-use interface.

Already, Gumroad has been used by artists such as Eminem, Kyle T Webster, and charitable donation funds like Hurricane Sandy disaster relief. Fresh, new ideas and content is made available directly from the artist to the customer.

hachette_book_logoHachette has drawn attention to itself again with their new partnership with Gumroad. As reported by Publishers Weekly, Hachette plans to make three books available via tweets that have “buy” buttons imbedded already, ideally making it easy for customers to purchase their content. But will it work? The selection of books is slim, true, so how wide will the appeal be? With titles such as The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, You Are Here by Chris Hadfield, and The Onion’s The Onion Magazine: The Iconic Covers That Transformed an Undeserving World, maybe Hachette can manage to bring in some revenue. It’s a trial run, and the progress of ideas like Gumroad are definitely something to watch.