Three Books Every Writer and Aspiring Author Should Have in Their Libraries

If you’ve attended one of my seminars on publishing, then you’ve undoubtedly heard me yap about the three essential books every writer and aspiring author should have in their libraries.

If you haven’t attended one of my seminars (which is highly likely as I only average perhaps one or at most two per year), then let me bend your ear now and yap about the three essential books.

Essential Book No. 1 – A Good Dictionary

The foundation of any writer’s library has to be a good dictionary. My recommendation is to acquire one of the foundational dictionaries published by Oxford University Press.  Follow that up with any specialized dictionaries you might need, but remember to make liberal use of the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary (20 volumes, 21,728 pages, not counting supplement updates) that is available at the nearest library.

My dictionary of choice is the Concise Oxford English Dictionary edited by Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, and it is never far from my elbow.

Essential Book No. 2 – A Guide to Typography and Book Composition

Originally published as Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford, the book originated as a compilation of rules and standards for composition and typesetting for internal use at Oxford University Press by Horace Hart, Controller of the Press.

First printed as a single broadsheet page in 1893, the rules were developed continuously until they were first published in book form in 1904. Revised volumes appeared periodically as the work gained wider use culminating in the 39th Edition published in 1983. The 39th Edition was reprinted with corrections four times with the final corrected version printed in 1989.

Two other successor volumes since 1989 have been published which purport to build on the legacy of Hart’s Rules, but my advice is to locate a used copy of the 39th Edition, 4th printing of 1989 and study it carefully, supplementing it with the other volumes published by OUP.

In an age in which every Tom, Dick and Harriet are writing and publishing their own books, the quality of typesetting and of layout and design has understandably nose-dived, principally because writers have not been sufficiently schooled or trained in what constitutes acceptable standards much less good quality. It doesn’t matter if the aim is a printed book, an eBook or both, the principles of great layout and design and of what constitutes excellence in typography remain the same. Writers today are attempting to learn – at the warp speed of the Internet – skill sets that have taken professional designers and typographers years of study and on-the-job training to master. So, if you are going to attempt to typeset your own book, you could do worse than to consult frequently with Hart’s Rules. Even if you aren’t aiming to design and typeset your own book, this volume will make for more fruitful interaction and conversations with professional designers, compositors and typographers.

Essential Book No. 3 – A Book on Style

As the title suggests, this concise volume is focused on presenting the essential elements and principles of what constitutes good writing style in English. From its humble beginning as a handout to freshman English classes at Princeton University, the successive editions of this book has achieved a reputation – and deservedly so – for distilling the very essence of the principles of good writing style and presenting them in an accessible and entertaining form. This book is not so much meant to be read as absorbed. Regardless of how one characterizes one’s own writing style and honestly believes it to be, there is much to be gained from ingraining the lessons of this entertaining book into one’s consciousness. The book provides a sound logical structure upon which to refine and develop one’s own writing style. In short, this is a wonderfully indispensable book.

So, there you have it, my recommendations for three essential books that every writer and aspiring author should have in his or her personal library. No doubt, there are many other books that others would suggest are just as essential, but if you begin with just these three books and end up not adding a single additional book to your library of writing resources, you would still have the core of the knowledge you need to become a successful writer and published author.

All best,

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From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg – Three Practical Examples That The Transition to eBooks Is Really And Truly Underway. Really.

Johannes Gutenberg-Mark ZuckerbergWant evidence that the Gutenberg-to-Zuckerberg transition to eBooks is really and truly reaching its dénouement, at last, finally?

Well seeing is at least half-believing, so let’s take a look at three practical examples of the shift.

  • After 244 years Encyclopaedia Britannica, perhaps the world’s most venerable reference work is going out-of-print in the sense that it no longer will be available in the form of bound books and will only be available as a digital product.[1]
  • IKEA, the world’s leading furniture retailing chain, is redesigning its flagship line of bookshelves to accomodate items other than books.[2]
  • The Library Journal is reporting a drastic rise in the demand for eBooks in major libraries across the United States.[3]

So, there you have it: three practical examples from the real world to illustrate that the shift to eBooks may be entering it’s final, climactic phase.

However, if you’re still not convinced and feel that you need even more evidence, consider the healthy profits from eBook sales enjoyed by Barnes & Noble who had the foresight to develop a proprietry eReader and the shuttered storefronts of the former Borders who didn’t.

In any event, happy reading (however you choose to do it)!

Let's be friends on Facebook. Click this image.

From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg – Three Practical Examples That The Transition to eBooks Is Really And Truly Underway. Really.

Johannes Gutenberg-Mark ZuckerbergWant evidence that the Gutenberg-to-Zuckerberg transition to eBooks is really and truly reaching its dénouement, at last, finally?

Well seeing is at least half-believing, so let’s take a look at three practical examples of the shift.

  • After 244 years Encyclopaedia Britannica, perhaps the world’s most venerable reference work is going out-of-print in the sense that it no longer will be available in the form of bound books and will only be available as a digital product.[1]
  • IKEA, the world’s leading furniture retailing chain, is redesigning its flagship line of bookshelves to accomodate items other than books.[2]
  • The Library Journal is reporting a drastic rise in the demand for eBooks in major libraries across the United States.[3]

So, there you have it: three practical examples from the real world to illustrate that the shift to eBooks may be entering it’s final, climactic phase.

However, if you’re still not convinced and feel that you need even more evidence, consider the healthy profits from eBook sales enjoyed by Barnes & Noble who had the foresight to develop a proprietry eReader and the shuttered storefronts of the former Borders who didn’t.

In any event, happy reading (however you choose to do it)!

Let's be friends on Facebook. Click this image.

From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg – Three Practical Examples That The Transition to eBooks Is Really And Truly Underway. Really.

Johannes Gutenberg-Mark ZuckerbergWant evidence that the Gutenberg-to-Zuckerberg transition to eBooks is really and truly reaching its dénouement, at last, finally?

Well seeing is at least half-believing, so let’s take a look at three practical examples of the shift.

  • After 244 years Encyclopaedia Britannica, perhaps the world’s most venerable reference work is going out-of-print in the sense that it no longer will be available in the form of bound books and will only be available as a digital product.[1]
  • IKEA, the world’s leading furniture retailing chain, is redesigning its flagship line of bookshelves to accomodate items other than books.[2]
  • The Library Journal is reporting a drastic rise in the demand for eBooks in major libraries across the United States.[3]

So, there you have it: three practical examples from the real world to illustrate that the shift to eBooks may be entering it’s final, climactic phase.

However, if you’re still not convinced and feel that you need even more evidence, consider the healthy profits from eBook sales enjoyed by Barnes & Noble who had the foresight to develop a proprietry eReader and the shuttered storefronts of the former Borders who didn’t.

In any event, happy reading (however you choose to do it)!

Let's be friends on Facebook. Click this image.

Three Books Every Writer and Aspiring Author Should Have in Their Libraries

If you’ve attended one of my seminars on publishing, then you’ve undoubtedly heard me yap about the three essential books every writer and aspiring author should have in their libraries.

If you haven’t attended one of my seminars (which is highly likely as I only average perhaps one or at most two per year), then let me bend your ear now and yap about the three essential books.

Essential Book No. 1 – A Good Dictionary

The foundation of any writer’s library has to be a good dictionary. My recommendation is to acquire one of the foundational dictionaries published by Oxford University Press.  Follow that up with any specialized dictionaries you might need, but remember to make liberal use of the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary (20 volumes, 21,728 pages, not counting supplement updates) that is available at the nearest library.

My dictionary of choice is the Concise Oxford English Dictionary edited by Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, and it is never far from my elbow.

Essential Book No. 2 – A Guide to Typography and Book Composition

Originally published as Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford, the book originated as a compilation of rules and standards for composition and typesetting for internal use at Oxford University Press by Horace Hart, Controller of the Press.

First printed as a single broadsheet page in 1893, the rules were developed continuously until they were first published in book form in 1904. Revised volumes appeared periodically as the work gained wider use culminating in the 39th Edition published in 1983. The 39th Edition was reprinted with corrections four times with the final corrected version printed in 1989.

Two other successor volumes since 1989 have been published which purport to build on the legacy of Hart’s Rules, but my advice is to locate a used copy of the 39th Edition, 4th printing of 1989 and study it carefully, supplementing it with the other volumes published by OUP.

In an age in which every Tom, Dick and Harriet are writing and publishing their own books, the quality of typesetting and of layout and design has understandably nose-dived, principally because writers have not been sufficiently schooled or trained in what constitutes acceptable standards much less good quality. It doesn’t matter if the aim is a printed book, an eBook or both, the principles of great layout and design and of what constitutes excellence in typography remain the same. Writers today are attempting to learn – at the warp speed of the Internet – skill sets that have taken professional designers and typographers years of study and on-the-job training to master. So, if you are going to attempt to typeset your own book, you could do worse than to consult frequently with Hart’s Rules. Even if you aren’t aiming to design and typeset your own book, this volume will make for more fruitful interaction and conversations with professional designers, compositors and typographers.

Essential Book No. 3 – A Book on Style

As the title suggests, this concise volume is focused on presenting the essential elements and principles of what constitutes good writing style in English. From its humble beginning as a handout to freshman English classes at Princeton University, the successive editions of this book has achieved a reputation – and deservedly so – for distilling the very essence of the principles of good writing style and presenting them in an accessible and entertaining form. This book is not so much meant to be read as absorbed. Regardless of how one characterizes one’s own writing style and honestly believes it to be, there is much to be gained from ingraining the lessons of this entertaining book into one’s consciousness. The book provides a sound logical structure upon which to refine and develop one’s own writing style. In short, this is a wonderfully indispensable book.

So, there you have it, my recommendations for three essential books that every writer and aspiring author should have in his or her personal library. No doubt, there are many other books that others would suggest are just as essential, but if you begin with just these three books and end up not adding a single additional book to your library of writing resources, you would still have the core of the knowledge you need to become a successful writer and published author.

All best,

HVWAG *February* 2012 Coffee Get-Together in Ballston Spa (near Saratoga Springs), NY – Note change in venue!

Join us in Ballston Spa (near Saratoga Springs), NY on Sunday, February 12, 2012


Note change in venue!

# # #

WHAT – HUDSON VALLEY WRITERS AND AUTHORS GROUP *February* 2012 Coffee Get-Together

WHEN – Sunday , February 12, 2012, 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.

WHEREThe Publik House Restaurant & Pub, 2727 U.S. 9, Ballston Spa (near Saratoga Springs), New York – For directions, click The Publik House Restaurant & Pub.

RSVP – Visit the HVWAG Event Listing on Facebook and register your attendance or you can visit the event page at the DYSTENIUM Online Community and register there. Your choice!

Join us for a lively discussion about books and book publishing, including eBooks. Hope to see you there!

All best,

The Arts Can Be A Vital Component Of Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada’s Healing Process by Dianne Tchir, Guest Blogger

The Arts Can Be A Vital Component Of Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada’s Healing Process

by Dianne Tchir, Guest Blogger

Many debates have surfaced over the years about the importance of the Arts to the Education Curricula and society as a whole. Nurturing our children to develop their creative gifts is the responsibility of the greater society, and not just the domain of the dedicated professionals in the Education System.

Never before was this made more apparent than in May 2011 when our small community of Slave Lake (in Northern Alberta, Canada) was struck by a horrendous firestorm on a scale never seen before in Canada. Forcing the evacuation of 7,000 inhabitants from their homes, the firestorm engulfed homes and destroyed infrastructure, and striking perhaps a mortal blow to the will and viability of the community to recover and to realize all that it can become. That is just the physical damage. Many individuals still suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the disaster and will likely continue to suffer for many years.

In the past, the Arts represented by its writers, artists, photographers, dramatic and theatre actors, woodcarvers, musicians, quilters and others struggled to become an integral part of Slave Lake and the greater region. The collective voice that was struggling to be heard in the wilderness even then now cries out. In the words of Abraham Maslow:

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.” 
 

All of these gifts lie within each of us, even residents of a community that has suffered unspeakable loss and trauma. Now it is more important than ever to include the Arts in our community, as part of the necessary basis for facilitating the healing process.

Interaction with the Arts can change people and create connections that otherwise may never have taken place. The Arts both encourages and fosters interaction, are non-threatening, very therapeutic and absolutely essential to the health of a community. Based on respect and inclusion, the Arts transcends barriers, representing a valuable communication tool enabling people of all ages, races and abilities to work together.

Let the tragic events of May 2011 in Slave Lake represent a clarion call to action. It is time to open community doors everywhere to the Arts and  join in the creative process to strengthen our communities.

Dianne Tchir
Author, Poet, Teacher and Hatha Chair Yoga Instructor
Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada 

Dianne Tchir is the author of The Rhythmic Cycle: Exploring Life’s Pulsations Through Poetry (New York: Limited Editions Press, 2011) and the forthcoming Northern Phoenix: Resurrecting Hope Through Poetry (New York: Limited Editions Press, 2012).

Let our writer and author friends in Slave Lake know you’re thinking of them. Visit the Northern Alberta Writers and Authors Group (NAWAG) on Facebook and select the “Like” button.