Archive for the ‘The Great eBook Debate’ Category

In July 2012, Isobelle Carmody hosted an online forum called The Great eBook Debate.

It featured a collection of essays from luminaries of all aspects of the book world; authors, journalists, educators at all levels, overseas and indigenous authors and editors, large and independent publishers, illustrators and poets, commenting on the state of the publishing world and the effect the eVolution of books into digital formats has had on their lives, plus what this might pose for the future of reading.

This important and educational debate was a part of Isobelle’s Greylands eBook Launch, and since that event is over, the eVolution Debate is being republished online here, in Isobelle’s blog, including all public comments made during the debate, for all to read (or re-read) and enjoy.

Greylands, by Isobelle Carmody

 The Greylands eBook is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and 
The reprinted Ford St Publishing version of Greylands can be bought from the Ford St website.

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The Last Word

I have always wanted to have the last word only I am not the sort of person who comes up with it on the spur of the moment. For me, to write is to think so the last word usually occurs to me well after the conversation is over. But because the eVolution debate happened online and I have some control it, being one of the creators, I have been able to give myself time to reflect and reread essays and comments, and finally to hone what I want to say.

I would like to begin by digressing.

There is a form of book not yet mentioned in these debates, called samizdat, and I feel that it might be mentioned aptly in this last post, because of what it is and what it signifies about writers and books and readers.

For those who do not know, samizdat was originally a Russian neologism meaning, literally, self-published. It does not mean self-published in the sense that we mostly use and understand it, as a process undertaken by a person unable or unwilling to go the traditional route to publication, via a publisher, who print their own book and makes it available by whatever means they can, also known as vanity publishing. The slur implied by the latter expression is unfair because while much that is self-published is indulgent and badly edited at best, unedited at worst, self publishing has also been a back door in for many great and competent writers … continue reading


Parchments, Paper and Palimpsests

The word ‘palimpsest’ is not usually found in an eleven-year’s vocabulary, even a word-loving kid, as I was. I learnt it only because my family were living in England My mother had, with the idea of keeping her children occupied and also engaged with the history around us, got us brass-rubbing. Armed with heelball from the cobbler’s and Macklin’s Memorial Brasses, we descended upon the medieval churches of Britain. “St Giles,” I would say from the front seat of the car, Macklin in hand, “has a chrysom, an eccles, and a palimpsest. And it’s only 12 miles off our route.”

Translation? Chrysom is a baby who died in the month after it was baptised. Eccles is a cleric, ecclesiastic (I much preferred medieval ladies, with their elaborate headgear and long dresses). Palimpsest comes from the Green palimp, to re-use, recycle. The flat brass of the memorial has been turned over, and another memorial incised on the undorned reverse.

The term also applies to book history. For reasons of biblioclasm or mere thrift, the text of a book has been partially erased, with another text written on top of it. A modern example might be considered to be A Humument, justified by art. The practice is ancient, dating from when books were painstakingly inked onto parchment, prepared blank leather. It lasts longer than paper, but can be scraped clean, recycled, the original erased.

In my teens, I held an actual palimpsest book in my hand, the size of my palm. A … continue reading


Drawing Dragons

In P3 (as grade 3 is known in Northern Ireland) my teacher began reading Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows the books I’ve illustrated that it left an indelible impression on me. But what might be a surprise is that I wasn’t interested in drawing before then. Apart from a Dalek (perhaps the hardest thing to draw badly after-all it is just an upside down bin with a toilet plunger sticking out) I hadn’t drawn anything. But Tolkien’s description of the dragon Smaug created something in my imagination I hadn’t experienced before- certainly the special effects in movies in the seventies couldn’t create anything so powerful (a man in a dinosaur suite destroying houses made of shoe boxes wasn’t fooling any eight year old.) I had to record what I saw in my imagination. And in my imagination my eight-year-old bad drawing was a super realistic image of the greatest dragon ever!

So I began drawing dragons. And my quest to draw the perfect dragon continues to this day, as does my love of reading. I haven’t strayed too far from Tolkien (revisiting LOTR seven times) and graduating to the more ‘gritty’ George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, (threatening to give up in book three for his crimes against his protagonists but unable to abandon the addiction.)

I don’t really know how the experience of reading a story would be any different if you unrolled a scroll or … continue reading