Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Publishing Evolution #84: Writer Communities & Author Websites

Writing was once a very solitary experience: the author and a typewriter or computer. If that writer was lucky there was a writers group nearby. Now there’s Writing.com, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), Script Frenzy (April), and many others. The community has connected, sharing their advice. Agents blog, publishers and agencies update their submission guidelines instantly. On top of that, people connect with authors, get feedback on the books, and learn of the authors’ everyday lives. The mystique of the writer is being slowly eaten away. The dream of being published is closer than ever before, but the struggle of success is the same.

Authonomy, a project promoted and supported by HarperCollins, is the American Idol of the publishing world. Present your work, have it read, critiqued, and voted on by others, and perhaps your work will be noticed by the editors of HarperCollins. Is this the wave of the publishing future?


  1. Have you contacted your favorite authors or gone to their websites? Do you like knowing more or less about them? Search for your favorite author; do they have a website or blog? Can you interact with them via web?
  2. Does the idea of a book being published based on popular vote give you more or less faith in the material?
HCPL Staff: Have you completed posts 82, 83 & 84? Don't forget to submit your Registration of Completion.

This module is brought to you by Beth Krippel (ATA)

Image: Flickr CC: typing by candle light: Mr. Stabile

Friday, March 12, 2010

Publishing Evolution #83: Paper to Pixels (or e-ink)

Another mode of self publishing is pure digital: blogs, personal web pages, writing sites. Most of these items never see a bound paper format. This material, like vanity press, skips editors and publishers and goes straight to the reader. Pixel and e-ink formats used by popular reading devices like the Kindle, Nook, and iPad are not limited to the mainstream publishing houses. Authors can have their stories processed directly for these devices.

There are also website projects like iFiction that have an iTunes setup. It allows people to read a portion of a story and decide if they want to pay for the rest. With this business model, the author controls the amount of material made free and the cost for the rest of the material. Readers have more control over what books earn their money.

Speaking of money, recent publishing news examined pricing for digital books. Amazon.com set a price at (highest) $9.99, and in doing so took a loss on many of their offered e-books. However, they also established the Kindle as the e-reader with the least expensive e-books. Publisher MacMillan wanted to control the prices set, and after some interesting digital punches, won out. Now digital books are sold based on prices set by the publisher.


  1. Do you prefer paper or pixels? Is getting the material faster on the computer or is reading in a paper form more important to you? Why?
  2. Does price influence how you get your books or is it availability? Would you pay the same price for a digital book as you would for a paper copy?
  3. Visit iFiction and look at what it offers. Do you like the idea of preview and then pay?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Publishing Evolution #82: Print on Demand

This module on the evolution of publishing will have three posts. Completing all three posts is worth 2 training hours. The module is available through April 30, 2010.

Web 2.0 has made the web a social extravaganza. Its impact on the world has transformed local town heroes into major phenomena through YouTube and Twitter. News travels faster than mainstream TV. And like all the major media industries, publishing has been altered exponentially. Now, any person can blog, write stories, and publish without the requirement of finding an agent or publishing house. The electronic readers have improved and access to their materials increases.

In this module, we will be looking at the changes in publishing, from online to self pub services.

Print on Demand

The stigma of self publishing slowly diminishes (but is not gone). Depending on each authors’ goals, there are several methods to transfer writing from words on a computer into a bound book. When the money to publish is invested by the author, it is called vanity press or self-publishing. With the progress of the Internet, vanity press also incorporates print-on-demand (POD). There’s no stock and no storage, but because printing happens when a book is requested, prices per copy tend to be higher. Yet, with the web technology, now every writer with a dream can be published. Learn more about print on demand from Writer Beware sponsored by Science Fiction Writers of America.

Some companies have been focused on self-publishing for years; the major players come down to Lulu, Xlibris, Author House, iUniverse, and Createspace (Amazon.com). Even Harris County Public Library carries self published materials through iUniverse, Author House, and Xlibris.


  1. Visit each of the websites listed above and see what they offer. Is it higher or the same as traditionally published books? Look at some of their published books. Have you read any of them? Would you?
  2. What do you think of self publishing? As a reader, do you prefer books that have gone through the traditional route and have the confidence of a company’s financial backing, or do you not care how the book got printed, you’re just glad it did?
This module is brought to you by Beth Krippel (ATA)