How to Nookd New Friends and Readers


Picture of Napoleon Crossing the Alps on Marengo by Jacques-Louis David. The title, "Kindle and Nook," mimics the book cover for "War and Peace."

One of the great things about being a writer is the open entrée it provides for meeting people. Far more often than not, when you introduce yourself to strangers as a novelist, their faces will light up and they immediately show interest. It’s probably similar to telling a hot girl that you are Brad Pitt’s cousin (not that I would suggest ever doing that). YOU may not be a famous writer, but most folks seem to think it’s a big deal simply because of the association with greatness. Given the amount of work that goes into becoming a published writer, I’m not going to say anything to dispel that notion.

Regardless of why it’s that way, there is no denying that it is great fun. I have no idea how many promotional cards I’ve handed out in various social gatherings, restaurants, and taverns, but the interactions have led to great conversations and a few new friends. Of course, taverns are the best because that’s where the beer is, and I can’t thank the The Bruin in New Bern enough for “hosting” so many of my “promotional events.” Hey, someone needs to carry-on for Hemingway, right? If I’m going to be a manly writer writing about manly things, imbibing in adult beverages is…well…mandatory.

Though it didn’t take place in a tavern, an encounter I had last year while attending Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree on Ocracoke Island led to one of those fascinating conversations I mentioned above. Taking a break from the stress of surf fishing, sailing, and restaurant hopping, my entourage (hahahaha...aka wife and friends) and I stopped by the Village Craftsman to peruse the local wares. During an exchange with the proprietor, Philip Howard, I discovered that he also e-publishes The Ocracoke Island Journal, a blog mainly focused on island events and happenings.

Having established our connection as writers, Philip proceeded to tell a great story about receiving a Nook as a gift. The e-reader, it turns out, was a practical, lightweight alternative to accommodate the heft of Tolstoy’s massive War and Peace he was reading at the time. And here is where his story gets good. (The following account is lifted from his blog version of the story.)

As I was reading, I came across this sentence: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern...." Thinking this was simply a glitch in the software, I ignored the intrusive word and continued reading. Some pages later I encountered the rogue word again. With my third encounter I decided to retrieve my hard cover book and find the original (well, the translated) text.

For the sentence above I discovered this genuine translation: "It was as if a light had been kindled in a carved and painted lantern...."

Part of what makes this a great story is that, after scouring the Internet, Philip discovered that he was the first person to stumble onto this weird alteration, or at least the first person to make mention of it on the Internet. And now, thanks to his blog, “Nookd” has become synonymous with branding excess and shoddy print-to-digital transcribing. While it is not known exactly how such an assault on one of humanity’s most revered novels was perpetrated, Jon Brodkin of ARS Technica offers a plausible theory.

The best explanation, we think, comes from a commenter on (Philip’s) blog, who says "This obviously wasn't done by Barnes & Noble, but by the publisher who submitted the book to Barnes & Noble. They created a Kindle version of this public domain book first, realized they used 'Kindle' somewhere in their submission, and did a quick find-and-replace to change 'Kindle' to 'Nook'—never once thinking it would affect the book's text rather than just whatever they put in the title page."

To all you writer’s out there, these experiences are gold. Stories such as these are small jewel’s you collect along life’s way and store in your memory bank to one day appear in your writing. Though you probably won’t repeat them exactly as they were told, they serve as catalyst to…dare I say…nookd your imagination and take your writing to ever higher levels.

So, if you want to grow as a writer, take my advice. Meet people, listen to their stories, and drink beer. Preferably an IPA.

For more reviews, profiles, and interesting tidbits on writing, check out www.billfurney.com.

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