B.J. Novak: Children’s Literary and Publishing Hero

For those who do not recognize the name B.J. Novak, you might know the character he played, Ryan Howard (the temp) on the American version of television show “The Office”. I heard about how he decided to write a children’s book and it was completed late last year. I am a fan of “The Office” and know what an incredible writer and editor he was for the show, so I was really curious as to what his book was about. The book is called, The Book With No Pictures, written of course by himself, B.J. Novak.

I found this to be such a strange change of writing mediums for Mr. Novak. To be perfectly honest, I was unsure how well it would do because of how this type of book isn’t what kids are used to reading. The book is 48 pages long and there are, obviously, no pictures. This book is also in printed form, while there are e-book copies, and has been on the New York Times bestselling list for 20 weeks (oddly enough, the book is under the Children’s Picture Books category). Unfortunately, I was unable to find out the difference in print and e-book sales.

Despite the fact that e-books and interactive books available on electronic devices, this book has been popular with children, and adults(it’s such a fun read) alike with nothing but words to engage them. Although it is more comedic if you read the book with a silly voice. Perhaps we should stop and think about what kids really want and need out of a book. We might find that there can be a happy medium for both print and e-books.

Be sure to check out the wonderful wordsmith, B.J. Novak reading his book to a young audience here, courtesy of Penguin Kids Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cREyQJO9EPs




The Future Has Arrived?

Without sounding overly redundant, (completely my fault as I should have posted about this sooner) what new ways are children able to access books? The future has most certainly arrived as children, even as young as two years of age, have played with some sort of tablet or mobile device. These e-readers, tablets, and smart-phones have capabilities that surpassed my imagination and continue to be perfected every single year. Children today are able to access all sorts of electronic devices in which they can, thankfully, read and/or be read to. Many of the e-books out there have now become interactive and children can be completely engaged with the story.

Not only have handheld devices become interactive, so has the content on the computers. Computers have always been a way for children to read up to date material for educational purposes but also for fun. There are many websites devoted to engaging kids in educational games and conversations, but through videos too. I know for a French class I took, we were required to read Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and while we were encouraged to buy the hard copy, our teacher recommended going to Youtube and listening to the book in French while reading along. There is now even a website for the book that has games and contests to keep kids excited and active within the books fan community.

I always think we should continue to progress with the amazing technological developments, but where does it become destructive and overwhelming? I am unsure how much more we can stimulate the youth with all these different avenues of learning. I think it eventually be too much. So, has the future arrived? Or has the future yet to come?



Getting too pushy…

Is it just me, or whenever I look at my phone I have a bunch of push notifications — half of which I don’t really care about. It kind of seems like they are taking over. I sign up for my favourite sports teams notifications, and ESPN thinks it is a good idea to send me a push notification for everything. I like the notifications for when my teams play, win, lose, tie, trade a player, and other general news about the team. But sometimes I look down and there are notifications that have nothing to do with my teams. Say results and highlights to an MMA fight. No ESPN, I don’t want to watch Anderson Silva snap his leg in half, that is gross. If I wanted to watch that, I would sign up for it.

It is not just ESPN though, everybody is doing it too. Especially shops and news sources. I used to have notifications set up for Breaking News reports on some of the major networks, but I have recently deleted them because they have gotten really excessive. I would turn on my phone and see:

BREAKING NEWS: ISIS Beheads Japanese Citizen

BREAKING NEWS: Patriots Win Super Bowl

BREAKING NEWS: Man Saves Kitten From Tree in Viral Video

I believe that major publication sites are taking advantage of us allowing them to send push notifications. I am not the only one who thinks this though. The developers over at Swrve also dislike the bombardment of push notifications. Marketing platform Swrve has come out with a  new program that helps filter the notifications. It hopes to change the field of push notifications by starting with the shopping applications.

With Swrve, marketers at stores won’t be sending you push notifications everyday of those sales. You will still receive your news in other places should you choose, but now it won’t be a daily occurrence. For example, they have a new program where they use your phones GPS to see when you enter a shopping mall or come close to a store. You won’t get a push message from that Macys unless you walk in to a mall with one. Then, instead of receiving these promotions everyday at home, you will receive the days promotions.

I think that this is a good start, but I believe that the field of publication is rapidly shifting their delivery systems towards this form of notification to get more viewership.

To read more on Swrve:


The different ways a blog is made to deliver the message.

One the last week and finishing up my paper after a freak accident with my computer, I thought I almost lost it all 2,600 words, I did more research and found this really cool video I thought I would share with it with the rest of the class. This Video really helps show the way blogs are deliver and video on the Internet. You can always edit and find more information about blogs but this Video rally shows you and tell you a lot about the world of Blogging. You might not want to use pages and you might want posts for your blog.

Interactive Children’s Book Apps

As print publications decline in favor of e-books and digital delivery methods, a new market for interactive children’s books has developed. Growing up, I played with Disney storybooks enhanced with sound effect buttons, much like this one:

Image found on ebay

I loved these books, which prompted me at certain points in the story to press the “seagull sound” button or play a musical excerpt from the movie. It always made me feel like I was part of the story.

Now, publishers are recognizing the advantage of interactivity in a new digital format: popular children’s books are essentially converted into an app format, and enriched with new interactive details. Young readers can make things happen on their tablet screen, bringing the  book to life at the touch of a finger. While such reading exercises can in fact help a child’s mental development, parents are sometimes leery of such apps. Sure, it quiets their kid down and grows their skill set at the same time, but these apps can come with a hefty price tag. The article specifically points out “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr Seuss, which costs $8 in print format and $3.99 as an interactive mobile application.

These apps, while they may seem plentiful, are much less common than traditional print books or e-books. Developers, having seen the low profits generally garnered from an expensive-to-develop book application, aren’t interested in taking a risk. There are a few companies that are willing to give it a shot, thereby giving young readers even more learning options.


Freelancing in food writing

Food is becoming increasingly popular in American society, you can go to Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, etc. and search #foodporn and come up with pictures to last for days. You can search the internet and come up with millions of blogs dedicated to food and only food. Food can be written about in many ways, recipes (cookbooks), articles in a newspaper or magazine, food travel writing, critiques, etc. But freelancing, especially for a magazine or newspaper is the optimal job for getting a foot into the door and beginning to network.

Getting a freelancing job in the food writing business is not extremely hard to do. You need a strong and unique piece to set you apart from other writers submitting their writing and you need to fit the establishments needs. Fortunately for writers there are many different options to choose from in the case of what you will be writing and for who. There are many sites online offering freelancing jobs and some even pointing you in the direction of who needs what.



Satellite Radio: The Future of Radio?

Radio used to be at the forefront of news but over the past few decades, it has lost its popularity. Television, newspapers and magazines had taken over and less and less people started to listen to the radio.

The invention of iPods and other MP3 players also distracted the masses away from radio but is radio now making a comeback? Satellite radio has introduced a new type of radio. Providers like XM and Sirius offer thousands of channels that include music, news and talk shows and have millions of subscribers.

One of the most popular radio talk shows is the Howard Stern show. What makes satellite radio different, is that their is no filter. Stern talks about hundreds of different topics and has guests on his show almost everyday.

With technological advancements from the original radio, satellite radio allows the audience to listen to all the radio stations, anywhere in the world. Listening is also more clear and audible for listeners, instead of hearing that blurry noise when you lose connection.

This platform has offered journalists and reporters to share their news and stories onto the radio and satellite radio does not look like it will be failing anytime in the near future. Many popular news companies have a channel on satellite radio, such as CNN, HLN, CSNBC, BBC, Bloomberg and many more.

With the fall of newspapers and magazines, journalists are coming up with new ways to report the news. Many people are saying that journalism is not needed anymore and is becoming extinct but that is not true at all.

Journalists are quickly adapting to these changes and doing a great job finding new ways to report the news.




The New Snapchat Feature: Discover

Snapchat is a very popular app, used by millions of people around the world. This app allows friends to share photos and videos with each other but after they view these photos or videos, they disappear forever.

Snapchat recently added a new feature called “Discover.” On Snapchat’s website, the define Discover as “Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams. It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first. This is not social media.”

Recently, journalists have been using this new feature to interview politicians and other people. Is this the new platform for reporting? Personally, I think this is a wonderful new update to the journalism world. It allows millions of people to watch our interviews.

CNN has its own feature in Discover. Everyday they post new updates on these apps, giving the latest breaking news to the world. These news clips only last ten seconds but at least this is giving journalists a larger opportunity for reporting.


Print is alive?

It is hard to think that print ads are still alive in today’s technological age, because anything can be put onto the internet. With tumblr, facebook, instagram, twitter, Youtube, etc. always looking to have their ad space bought and it is possible to do so with a few strokes of a keyboard and a click of a mouse. Why try and publish in print? Won’t it be obsolete in a few years anyways? While the prevalence of print is dwindling in comparison to the rise of the technological age, it is easy to think so but there are some aspects of ads in print that cannot and will never be replaced by digital media.





Forbes created a short list that outlines aspects of print that outweigh aspects of digital media. The first and foremost aspect of print that outweighs digital media is it is a physical thing, it can be around for ages but anything online can disappear almost instantly if need be. Forbes claims print publications are more engaging and reference a study that shows “people read digital screen text 20% – 30% slower than printed paper.” So even though everyone is publishing online, print is still a viable option.



Delivery in Journalism: Live Blogging


One of the most important changes in Journalism is the Social Media Revolution. While many people view the Digital Era as the kiss of death, I see it as the beginning of a new era in journalism. With the change in technology, it has never been easier to share the news with people all around the globe. It has never been easier to communicate and interact with others than in the era we are now. I think we can all thank social media and the internet for that.

Twitter, Snapchat’s “Discover”, Facebook, and Vlogging have completely revolutionized journalism as we know it. Yes, our attentions spans are short. Yes, we want to read about topics we choose, but we also want breaking news as soon as it happens. We don’t have the patience to wait for a newspaper, or even a digital paper. There has been a new trend called, “Live Blogging.”

“On fast-moving stories, live blogs give the ability to post significant developments quickly – more quickly than editing and re-editing a news article.” (The Guardian 2011)

“You are more or less providing readers with raw material rather than telling them a story. You also tend to get swept up in the rush of events, and don’t have nearly as much time as you’d like to think about what’s happening and make connections, or write any sort of news analysis.”
-Robert Mackey, the New York Times

I believe Live Blogs are best noted on Twitter. During large or important events, news sources “live tweet” with trending topics to keep the audience aware of what is going on in the world. I think this is a new delivery system that we will have to watch out for. My concern here is newspapers and news articles seem to be wrapped up in advertising dollars; however, platforms like Snapchat and Twitter have remained ad-less. I wonder if this shift in technology will change that.