Amazon to pay authors per page read

From next month, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library will pay out royalties “based on the number of pages read”.

So if your book is opened on someone’s Kindle and they leave page 1 on there long enough that they could’ve read it, you get cash. It’s not entirely 1 page equals 1 payment: instead, the money comes from a pot that is shared amongst all authors whose work gets included and then gets read. Says Amazon:

Here are some examples of how it would work if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:
The author of a 100 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read halfway through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read – Amazon

It’s that bit about a page not actually being read, there’s no way to know that, but it needs to be open on the Kindle for long enough that it could have been. There’s got to be a way to game that.

Read the full Amazon detail, though be warned it’s (possibly deliberately) the most boring thing you’ll see today.

Becoming Steve Jobs

Nobody’s perfect. But some people are very interesting. I’d have said both of those things to you about Steve Jobs a long time ago but I’d also have added that I wasn’t that fussed. I’m not sure that I am now but if nothing else, that man got stuff done. You can well argue that it was all the people around him, but he got many or most of them and he got them doing the things they got done. He managed them, at the very least, and reportedly inspired them too.

Actual inspiration. It does happen. I have been inspired by people. I had a natter this afternoon that has set me off writing something I Do Not Have Time For So There but I will do.

But I’ve also had just the smallest, tiniest taste of what it is like managing people and I don’t want to go there again. I think I’ll have to, but I also think this time I’ll get to pick the people. Wish me luck.

Becoming Steve Jobs is a biography with a purpose: while it charts the Apple guy’s life, it does so to examine very specifically how he began as this wild child and ended as this venerated industry genius. Not how he got his ideas, so to speak, not what he did with his talents or his time, but how he worked with others and became great at it.

Or at least mostly great. Usually great.

The book is not the hymn of praise to Jobs that you might expect after Apple staff keep talking about it: instead it is very clear about his reprehensible traits.

Some of those you know, especially if you made it through the boring official biog, but there is plenty that is new in this book and I want to cautiously recommend it. If you’re an Apple fan, go get it, you were going to anyway. If you’re not, then go to Amazon and have a look at the Peek Inside stuff, see what you think. There is much to enjoy here and much to learn from, too.

Though I did just say the official biog is boring. If that’s down one end of the scale of biographies, there is one that is at the other end – it’s much better than either the official Jobs biog and it’s better than this new one. Unfortunately, it’s not about Jobs. It’s Leander Kahney’s Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products.

Such a good read.

Make time for reading

I found this on 99U in a piece called How to Make Time for New Hobbies but it boils down to reading and it boils down to that advice coming from a book. There is something meta about a book telling you to read, but I like it. The book is called The Obstacle Is the Way and the author is Ryan Holiday.

Said author says:

Where do you get the time to eat three meals a day? How do you have time to do all that sleeping? How do you manage to spend all those hours with your kids or wife or a girlfriend or boyfriend? You don’t get that time anywhere, do you? You just make it because it’s really important. It’s a non-negotiable part of your life.

…Perhaps the reason you having trouble is you forgot the purpose of reading. It’s not just for fun. Human beings have been recording their knowledge in book form for more than 5,000 years. That means that whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some book somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you.

How to Make More Time for New Hobbies – 99U

That is a direct quote from the book except that I got it indirectly: this is the same passage that 99U cites. Go read what they say about it in the full piece, would you?

How books shape writers in unexpected ways

Quick: who is this?

just finished “Moby-Dick,” which scared me off for a long time due to the hype of its difficulty. I found it to be a beautiful boy’s adventure story and not that difficult to read. Warning: You will learn more about whales than you have ever wished to know. On the other hand, I never wanted it to end. Also, “Love in the Time of Cholera,” by Gabriel García Márquez. It simply touched on so many aspects of human love.

Who is your favorite novelist of all time, and your favorite novelist writing today?

I like the Russians, the Chekhov short stories, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. I never read any of them until the past four years, and found them to be thoroughly psychologically modern. Personal favorites: “The Brothers Karamazov” and, of course, “Anna Karenina.”

Bruce Springsteen: By the Book – (no author listed), New York Times (2 November 2014)

Bugger. The link there gives it away. That’s Bruce Springsteen listing and discussing the books that shaped and stay with him. I just think it’s interesting how the books you remember are the ones that define you. Read the full piece. And also take a look at Brain Pickings, which spotted this, and would now be on my all-time website reading list.

Lifehacker picks the best productivity books

Well, sort of. Very often will ask readers what their favourite something or other is and then after a few days will reveal the top five. This time, it seems a bit more open season: go to this thread and nominate a book you like.

So, for instance, you could nominate, oh, The Blank Screen – UK edition or maybe the US edition.

Thank you.

But right now there are some sixty-odd recommendations in there and I truly didn’t know there were sixty-odd productivity books. Take a look through the comments so far and see if there’s anything that takes your fancy.

This is the US edition of Lifehacker so naturally the books are chiefly American but if you can’t order them from Amazon UK, you can still get them from Amazon US and wait a bit.

The best way to learn something

Rig it so that you have to learn it. Arrange it so that you need to learn it. Right now, for instance, it would be handy if I learnt how to code apps in Swift but I don’t have to. Not for weeks. And in a few weeks or a couple of months when the need comes, I will be kicking myself that I didn’t spend some time on it now – but I will be wrong.

Truth be told, I’ve watched a video, I’ve got Apple’s documentation and I’ve skimmed that. I’ve not exactly ignored Swift but still, I don’t know it. But I guarantee that when this project moves on, I will have three to five days in which to do the job and I will do it.

Simply because I need to.

Now, this isn’t the usual writer thing of only being able to work when there is a big, scary deadline. lt’s a genuine way to learn something new: the need to use something in order to achieve a goal is the way that you fix it in your head.

Have a deadline, yes, but also have a very specific itch you need to scratch. When you’re just studying something in general, everything has equal weight and nothing is more important or urgent than anything else. When you specifically need to achieve a particular thing, you are shovelling everything else out of the way. Yes, yes, how do I do this? Fine, fine, what do I need to do right now?

You can see that this determination would get you the answers you need. You would then also think that this would make you an expert in exactly one job, one type of task. That you’d be no further forward in anything else to do with the subject.

But that’s wrong.

Focusing on the particular teaches you the general too.

You’re nodding, you’re willing to believe this, you know it sounds plausible, but you’d like a bit of an example. Okay. Here it is: Scrivener.

I bought Scrivener for my wife Angela Gallagher maybe 18 months ago. I’d played with the trial version, I could see that it would do a thing she needed, and I’d heard all the constant praise this word processor has got. It is so praised and so persuasively praised by people I rate that a few months ago, I bought my own copy.

And proceeded to not use it.

Until last Friday when I had an idea for a non-fiction project that involves writing quite a bit of new material but also compiling a lot of existing stuff. A lot. I mean, this is the book that will collect the best of The Blank Screen’s first 1,000 articles.

I needed a way to grab all the text that I might possibly want to use, then I had to find a way to compile it, re-order it, edit it, join bits together, split some stuff apart. I could’ve done it in Word or Pages but I’d have to hold the whole project in my head and focus on one or two pages at a time. In Scrivener, I could make each article a separate short section and choose to focus on a page or look at the whole picture.

Full disclosure: I worked out the sequence in OmniOutliner. But I did so after adding all the text to Scrivener and naming each bit.

The book works out at 70,000 words and is a big project with a very specific aim and I had a really clear goal. Which means I have just spent a week hammering the bejaysis out of Scrivener. Previously I have recognised its advantages and what type of projects it would be good for, I have liked what I’ve seen and I have very much liked the company name of its maker: Literature and Latte. But now I feel I know Scrivener well and.

Everybody who uses Scrivener tends to have two very strong opinions about it: they love it and they wish to hell that there was an iPad version.

I love it and I wish to hell that there was an iPad version.

Scrivener is available for Windows and Mac and costs £31.99 UK or $44.99 US. You can get it on the Mac App Store and both the Mac and Windows versions are on the official Literature and Latte site where you can also get a very generous trial period.

The worthy and best way to present

What’s it called when a book as one title followed by “Or” and another one? As in Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus? This is The Worthy and Best Way to Present or A Longer Term Review of David Sparks’ Presentation Field Guide.

This iBook was released on 21 July and I started reading it immediately. I remember saying on the launch day that:

This book was released sometime overnight, I got it around 8am, I’m maybe a third of the way through the text – I’ve not looked at the many videos yet – and I have a complaint.

He’s so persuasive about preparing your presentation before you ever go near Keynote or PowerPoint that I resent the bejaysis out of him. I have one presentation to give tonight and three tomorrow. I wanted a quick fix! I wanted a magic sauce!

David Sparks’ Presentation book now out – William Gallagher, The Blank Screen (21 July 2014)

In the end, I actually gave five over those two days, 21 and 22 July. It’s complicated. But it was also true what I said about how good it made me feel that I was already doing some things Sparks recommends: that’s how persuasive and convincing he is, I read this book and feel that he’s right. Therefore whatever I do that is the same is also right, therefore I am right, therefore I feel good.

And then there’s the stuff he recommends that I don’t do. It was quite hard doing those five presentations with the book’s advice about planning in my head. The book’s very specific advice about how using Keynote is actually the last step, or at least toward the last step, as you should know what you’re going to say through planning and thinking first. The fact that I thought I had three and it became five rather tells you that I didn’t plan or, in my defence, couldn’t plan ahead.

I have not given a single presentation since then. But I have some coming up and I am using Sparks’ advice from this book. That may be the best review I can give it except that I think this leaves you only with the idea that the book is useful. It doesn’t tell you that it’s also fun.

Those five presentations went well but they were hard and they were part of a bigger project I enjoyed yet I’d got at the last moment. Even so, even with trying to plan in the gaps during the first day and then learning I really had to rework everything overnight, I was still going back to this book to read it at points because I was enjoying it.

Actually, as I write this to you, I still haven’t watched the videos or listened to the audio interviews. The book works without them but I’m expecting to find that they’re a good watch and listen too.

The therefore hugely recommended Presentations: a MacSparky Field Guide by David Sparks is available now in the iBooks Store for £5.99 UK, $9.99 US.

Go somewhere boring to write

I’ve had recommendations via friends-of-the-site before, I’m having a recommendation from wife-of-the-blog.

That sounds dreadful. That sounds like a 21st Century version of phrases like “her indoors”. My wife’s name is Angela Gallagher. You and I are having a recommendation from Angela which is this piece she got from traveller Chris Guillebeau:

Don’t go to paradise to get something done. Go to Bali, or any place like Bali, for lots of reasons. (I went there for a birthday by myself.)

But if you want to find a place to write, don’t go to an interesting place. Go somewhere where you can withdraw from the world, fully free of engagement. Go somewhere where there’s nothing to do.

If You Want to Write a Book, Go to a Boring Place – Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity (7 July 2014)

Do read more but don’t just read more: delve on in to his The Art of Non-Conformity, and when you’re fully engrossed, remember to thank Angela. I can pass messages on.

Now, don’t skip this too quickly…

Apple has released its iOS Human Interface Guidelines as a free iBook. And the thing of it is that even if you don’t like Apple, even if you’re looking at me like that because you can’t conceive of being interested in interfaces, the book is a good read. I think everything is interesting, except football, and behind anything is a lot of thought. Read this to see what lies behind the apps we use every day.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 07.49.47From iOS Human Interface Guidelines, free on the iBooks Store


That’s a page recommending that an app just gets on with it. No fancy startup screen, just wallop straight in there.

Startup screens, sometimes called splash screens, are where a company’s logo or the app’s name are displayed at the start. Lots of people hate these and argue that they’d rather get on with using the software but the splash is often there because it takes time for certain apps to load and the alternative is that you have nothing to look at. The alternative is that you wouldn’t be sure it had even started. So they can be necessary. But Apple is really keen on you making apps that load quickly enough that you don’t need them.

I read the old Mac Human Interface Guidelines in paperback a lot of years ago and I’ve never designed a Mac app. It’s still like getting a peek at a philosophy of craft. I don’t believe there’s a Microsoft or an Android equivalent book but I’d read it if there were. Mind you, Microsoft has done something similar in blogs and I did read those until they suddenly took a daft turn into being demonstrably ridiculous. That’s where I read about a redesign of Microsoft Word and its last blog post showed a final screenshot and you could see what huge flaws remained.