Amazon.com announced yesterday that they are now selling significantly more electronic books than they are hard-cover books. The following article states they sold one hundred eighty E-books for every hundred hardcover books they sold and shipped last month. http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/company-news/e-book-sales-surpass-hardcovers-at-amazon/19560258/?flv=1
On the same day, a popular ex-Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins, chastised Amazon when he saw his on E-book on Kindle. If a markup language existed for poetry, he wouldn't have been so disappointed but he was:
He was unpleasantly surprised.
"I found that even in a very small font that if the original line is beyond a certain length, they will take the extra word and have it flush left on the screen, so that instead of a three-line stanza you actually have a four-line stanza. And that screws everything up," said Collins, a former U.S. poet laureate whose "Ballistics" came out in February.
When he adjusted the size to large print, his work was changed beyond recognition, a single line turning into three, "which is quite distressing," he added.
Poetry, the most precise and precious of literary forms, is also so far the least adaptable to the growing e-book market. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/19/BUN21EFS7H.DTL#ixzz0uAqsxY00
This impinges on one of the few things I know something about: text markup languages. If there were tags for beginning of line, end of line, beginning of stanza and end of stanza, and some others, then the text could flow automatically and adjust for font size. That’s the beauty of Generalized Markup Languages, which would work well anywhere, even on Apple's Ipad. But the existing "html" markup is centered around pieces of prose—headings and sentences (Markup cogniscenti say 'the period is the implied markup for end of sentence'), paragraphs, and various lists. So, as Billy Collins correctly states, poetry doesn’t work at all well with electronic publishing. On the other hand, it appears to be a “simple matter of programming;” all Amazon, or Apple, Adobe, IBM, or HP, has to do is bring the right people together, lead them with courage, and the problem will go away.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers