I try to keep up with the publishing news, and these days the news is e-books. But it's so hard to stay on top of it all. Every day brings a glut of stories about new e-readers, enhanced e-books, e-book software, e-book pricing, e-book scheduling, e-book stores--egads, I can't digest it all! There's only so much e-book news one can consume before it starts to act like an e-metic.
Frankly, the sheer volume of coverage makes my eyes glaze over. E-book this and e-reader that--it gets tedious. Sure, these things are causing fierce debate and seismic upheaval as they explode the traditional publishing model, transform an entire industry, alter forever the way we consume media, and possibly even lead to the extinction of the book as we know it. But how do you make that interesting?
I've come up with a trick to keep myself from nodding off: Any time I come across the words "e-book" and "e-reader," I substitute a different word in my mind. Any word that has an isolated letter tacked onto the front of it will do, though ideally it will be hyphenated. (I know there isn't universal agreement on this point, but I spell "e-book" and "e-reader" with a hyphen. For one thing, it aids in pronunciation. How often have you come across "ereader" and pronounced it "er-ee-ad-er" before catching yourself? Me too. Another, more compelling reason I use a hyphen is, Grammar Girl says I should.)
Let me illustrate how this substitution concept works. A recent Associated Press story about e-books featured this quote from Sonny Mehta of Knopf:
"This is one of our most exciting e-book initiatives to date and is certain to usher in a new generation of . . . e-book adopters."
By applying my substitution trick, the line is transformed:
"This is one of our most exciting G-string initiatives to date and is certain to usher in a new generation of . . . G-string adopters."
Be honest: Which version of that story would you rather read? I mean, a new generation of G-string adopters? The future's looking brighter already.
To give you a better idea of how this plays out, here is a typical exchange that might take place between a Traditional Book Reader and an E-Book Enthusiast. Using my substitution method throughout, I have replaced the dull monotonous repetition of "e-book" and "e-reader" with far more exciting and evocative words.
TRADITIONAL BOOK READER: Hey, is that one of those T-bones I've heard about? How many U-turns can you store on there?
E-BOOK ENTHUSIAST: This particular f-stop has about 1,500 K rations on it, with room for more.
TBR: Wow! That must be one big-ass J-Lo.
EBE: It sure is! You should think about getting an I-Hop of your own.
TBR: Not me--I'm never going to get a C-section. Why would I ever need a U-boat with 1,500 Q-Tips on it?
EBE: It's so convenient! If you travel a lot, you can just load it up with A-bombs and carry it right on the plane.
TBR: They let you do that?
EBE: Sure! Then, instead of watching some B-movie like G-Force you just turn on your A-Team and read an x-ray. You can even listen to music on your C-SPAN.
TBR: You mean I could listen to a-ha on my a-ha?
EBE: Un-huh. And some enhanced b-rolls even have video on them.
TBR: Wow, that's awesome! How complicated is it to download U-Hauls to your P. Diddy?
EBE: It's all wireless. Just select any T-Rex you want and it's sent directly to your A-hole!
TBR: OK, I'm sold! I'm gonna go pick up a B-girl for myself. Or maybe I'll just take your K-Fed...
EBE: Hey, hands off my G-spot! There's still a few more Y-chromosomes I want to add to my L-tryptophan...
You get the idea. In a future post I'll explain the substitution trick I've used to wade through all those recent stories about Amazon buy buttons. For now, let's just say that "belly button" is only the beginning.