Book’d Out celebrates 4 years!

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Today marks four years since I launched Book’d Out.

In that time I have:

* Published a total of 1, 680 posts

* Of which 1, 254 are book reviews

* Had 324,645 visitors

* From whom I have received 14, 915 comments

* And gained  3, 653 awesome followers

Thank you!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate each and every person who stops by, reads a post, leaves a comment or decides to subscribe to my blog.

Your support has been integral to my daily happiness.

I wish I could reward each and every one of you, alas I can only offer you the chance to win one of four prizes.

The first lucky winner drawn will win

A $25US gift voucher from Gone Reading *

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Gone Reading offers a unique collection of merchandise and gifts for readers, pledging 100% of after-tax profits to reading-related charities. They ship to a number of international destinations and you can choose from a range of delightful products like these:

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Three more lucky winners can each choose either

A gift voucher to the value of $10 from Amazon (US or AU) *

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or

A book to the value of $10AUD from BookDepository.com*

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*where shipping/delivery is available

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To Enter

Please leave a comment on this post and then

CLICK HERE

Entries close September 7th, 2014

Winners will be randomly selected via random.org

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Feel free to download this badge!

Last chance to vote in the People’s Choice Best Designed Book of 2014!

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Bookworld is supporting the 62nd Australian Book Design Awards (ABDA) by inviting fans to vote in the People’s Choice Award for Best Designed Book of the Year on the Bookworld website. The ABDA is the longest running Australian graphics design award, with the aim to support and recognise outstanding Australian book designers.

Winners of the 62nd Australian Book Design Awards are selected by a panel of eight highly regarded judges, including five designers, a bookseller and two professionals from the broader publishing community. The winners will be announced on 22 August 2014 at the ABDA Awards Party held in Melbourne.

Bookworld is proud to host the People’s Choice Award for Best Designed Book of the Year, placing the power in the hands of the public to determine their favourite design out of 65 entries.

To vote, visit the ABDA People’s Choice Award page on Bookworld’s website and choose from a gallery of book designs by August 19th.

The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be announced at the Awards Party.

I’m torn between The End – because it instantly got my attention and made me curious to find out more,  and Girt – because it makes me smile.

Who are you voting for?

A Day at the Random House Penguin National Book Blogger Forum 2014

 

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I was thrilled by the invitation to attend the inaugural Random House Penguin National Book Bloggers Forum held earlier this week at the offices of Random House in Sydney. I was one of around 40 book bloggers to attend the event who made their way from all over Australia.

The day was launched by a warm welcome speech from Director of Marketing & Publicity, Brett Osmond  that showed his passion for publishing. He was especially encouraging of book bloggers, and readers, imploring us to connect with each other and Random House online. “When you connect books with readers magical things will happen.”, he said, and this is what drives him in the face of a changing industry.

Next to speak were Eva and Ellie, two of the Random House digital publicists. Their presentations focused on building a digital media presence with the help of  Google Analytics in particular, and  across social media in general. I learnt I probably don’t take my blog seriously enough, and that there are a myriad of ways to improve and increase my digital reach including studying my stats (which I usually ignore) to learn more about my audience, make better use of keywords and links, directly engage the community with ‘calls to action’ and implementing content planning. These are all things I am going to be looking at in the near future.

Sneh Roy was the first guest author to address us. A food blogger who has met with great success with the  Cook Republic and recently published her first cook book with Random House, Tasty Express, she spoke to us about her experience as a blogger of 10 years, emphasising the importance of finding your voice, having strong content and developing community and relationships.  She also spoilt us with a lovely morning tea which included this tasty Burnt Butter Caramel Slice.

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Photo Courtesy Erin Patel @ezpatel

 

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Morning tea, and lots of chatter, was followed by the publicists of Random House previewing some of the new releases we can expect from Australian authors. These included titles such as David Malouf‘s The Writing Life, Julia Gillard’s autobiography, My Story, A Fatal Tide by debut author Steve Sailah and Hooked: The Secrets of A Sydney Call Girl by by Samantha X. You can also expect Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant, He Who Must be Obeid by Kate McClymont and Linton Besser  and Australia’s Hardest Prison: Inside Long Bay by James Phelps. I am especially looking forward to the release of Eden, which is a sequel to the fabulous Hades by Candice Fox.  are you seeing me

Young adult readers can look forward to the third book in the Chasing the Valley series, Skyfire by Skye Melki-Wegner, Intruder by Christine Bongers and Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth and Felicity from PenguinTeen introduced Masquerade by debut Australian author Kylie Fornasier before showing off Richelle Mead’s latest, Silver Shadows and Afterworlds from Scott Westerfield.

 

Lunch gave us all a chance to chat over sandwiches and treats. I was so pleased to finally be able to meet face to face with the women I have worked with on the Australian Women Writers challenge for the past three years! I also had a chance to talk with some other lovely people, check out the full list of attendees at Random House or in this twitter list

L-R: Elizabeth (Devoted Eclectic); Michelle (Book to the Future), Me, Paula ( Wordsville) and Yvonne (Stumbling Through the Past)

L-R: Elizabeth (Devoted Eclectic); Michelle (Book to the Future), Me, Paula ( Wordsville) and Yvonne (Stumbling Through the Past)

We were all suitably impressed by the identity of the surprise guest author who joined us after lunch. Judy Nunn, popular Australian actress and author of 12 books, spoke about her work, her writing and graciously fielded questions from an awed audience. I really enjoyed her talk and  to top it off we were given signed copies of her latest book, Elianne, which I am now dying to read.

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Judy was followed by Bruce McCabe with an interesting story about his journey to publication. He self published his book, Skinjob, which by rather circuitous means made it into the hands of a well respected agent and is now being published by Random House in June. I was fascinated by the inspiration for his novel and his belief in himself and his story.

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Following Bruce we heard from Brandon Van Over, the Managing Editor of Random House, with advice for the aspiring writers in the audience. I think I was the only one there not currently writing the next Australian publishing sensation! Brandon particularly addressed the blog to book phenomena and let us know that publishers are reading blogs looking for potential authors.

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Next up was a preview of what we can expect from international authors over the next few months. This included Courting Trouble by Kathy Lette; Time and Time Again by Ben Elton, and both Lee Child and Kathy Reichs will be adding to their series oeuvre. We were treated to a wonderful book trailer for John Cleese‘s memoir and Russell Brand’s The Messiah Complex. Murukami fans can expect Colorless Tsukura Tazaki and his years in pilgrimage, and you can also look forward to  Perfidia by James Ellroy, The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

The YA representatives fangirled over news of Magesterium, a collaboration by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and the movie tie in of If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

 

With the day nearly over, we were given the opportunity to talk amongst ourselves but unsurprisingly the audience mainly wanted to ask questions of the publishers and so it became a Q&A session fielded by Kirsty Notfke, the wonderful Random House publicist and organiser of the Forum, and Felicity V from Penguin Teen. Honestly, the eight hour day flew by in what felt like minutes and everyone was reluctant to leave at the close of the forum, even without the draw of champagne, cake and a generous swag bag!

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The events of the day were eagerly tweeted, facebook’d and instagrammed by all those in attendance. You can check out the #NBBF14 Twitter feed for more details. Everyone felt the forum was a huge success and we are all hoping Random House will host the event again next year. Look out for an announcement in 2015!

I would like to personally extend my thanks to Kirsty and the Random House team for all their hard work, generosity and passion for books, and book bloggers!

You can connect with Random House at their website, blog, Facebook and Twitter

 

Special Announcement: The Penguin Random House National Bloggers Forum 2014

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I am thrilled to finally share a secret I’ve been keeping for weeks!

The inaugural Penguin Random House National Book Bloggers Forum 2014!

Penguin Random House Australia is pleased to announce the inaugural National Book Bloggers Forum – a first-of-its-kind conference being held specifically for book bloggers in Sydney on Tuesday May 20. The free, one-day forum has been developed to foster a closer working relationship with the growing book blogging community.

The conference, coinciding with the opening day of the Sydney Writers Festival, will feature surprise guest authors, insights from publishers and sessions on blog promotion, as well as an open forum in the afternoon for bloggers to discuss whatever they see fit. This conference is a fantastic opportunity for bloggers to hear from publishing insiders as well as learn some best-practice tips on blogging. Winner of the 2013 Best Australian Blog Competition and Random House Australia author Sneh Roy is just one of the day’s guest speakers. The full program for the forum will be announced in coming weeks.

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I’ll be there and I hope you will join me. It promises to be a fabulous opportunity for all Australian book bloggers.

I’ll be sharing more information as it becomes available and you can find more details at  http://www.randomhouse.com.au/bloggers-forum/

Bloggers not able to attend the conference can keep up with the conversation on Twitter by using the #NBBF14 hashtag or following @RandomHouseAU.

Win with Bookworld Pop-Ups!

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We have a bookshelf in the Bookworld office that gets a lot of attention. Mostly because all the latest and greatest books end up there way before they’re released to the public, but I don’t think the rainbow sorting harms things!

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One day we started talking about how cool it would be to take this bookshelf outside of Bookworld,were people least expected it, and see what would happen.

And so we did. We created pop-up bookshelves in bus shelters in Sydney and Melbourne, filled them full of books, hid some cameras so we could keep an eye on things, and then let the passerby’s help themselves. You can take a look at what happened in the video.

The response we received was overwhelming and we were amazed at how many people spent the time to browse the shelves (many even missing their buses!), recommend books to each other and just take the time out of their busy lives to enjoy books again.

We also got inundated with requests for us to bring the pop-up bookshelves to other areas. Which got us thinking. What if we took the pop-up shelves to some places that could really benefit from some free books.

So we’re rolling the bookshelves back out (yes we’re nuts) but this time we’re asking Australia to tell us where we should go. For the next few weeks we will be taking nominations of any school, community group, town or area that could do with a truckload of free books delivered.

So whether it’s your kid’s school that could really do with a library top up, or your local town that doesn’t have access to books, or even just your local group get-together that really love reading we want to hear about it.

If we can remind a few people of the joy that can be had when you’re head down in a brilliant book then we’ll be very happy.

You can nominate for your area today at http://www.bookworld.com.au/popups.

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Hello Neighbour!

 

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Drop by Momentum Moonlight today where I am being featured in their brand new Hello Neighbour spotlight!

Momentum Moonlight, a subdividison of PanMacmillan Australia, is a digital sub-imprint designed for romance titles only. They are specialising in romance and will be focusing on building a community of romance fans online.

Click the image to see the feature and learn more about this brand new imprint!

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Challenges for 2014

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The Goodreads Reading Challenge 2014

This year my goal will be to read 252 books   – just one more than last year.

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The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014

In it’s third year, the aim of The Eclectic Reader 2014 Challenge is to push you outside your comfort zone by reading up to 12 books during the year from 12 different categories.

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The 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge

I set my own goal for this challenge and this year, like last year, it is to read and review 50 books written by Australian women.

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Aussie Author Challenge 2014

I chose the level:

 

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– Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 4 of those authors are female, at least 4 of those authors are male, and at least 4 of those authors are new to you;
– At least 6 fiction and at least 2 non-fiction, and at least 3 titles first published in 2013 or 2014.

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around-the-world-2014Around the World in 12 Books Challenge

I chose the level:

Level 4: The Seasoned Traveller

- The Seasoned Traveller doesn’t do anything by half-measures: they go the whole hog and the more obscure the better!
– Read 12 books over the course of the year, each set in a DIFFERENT country
– Books selected should include ones set in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia+New Zealand, North America and South America. The Middle East is a bonus.

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How are you challenging yourself in 2014?

It’s the end of the year as we know it…

Looking back at 2013

Total Books Read: 292 (approx 96583 pages)

Total DNF: 6

Fiction: 275

Non:Fiction: 17

Female Authors: 239

Male Authors: 53

Total number of reviews posted: 284

Challenge Results:

* Goodreads Challenge: 292/251

* Eclectic Reader Challenge 2013: 12/12

* Aussie Author Challenge: 12/12

* Australian Women Writers Challenge:  117/50

Total number of posts at Book’d Out: 401

Total number of  Book’d Out visits for 2013: 112,811

Total number of Book’d Out followers as of 31/12/13: 3,304

Most viewed post: Eclectic Reader Challenge 2013

Most viewed review for 2013: Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

Wishing you and yours a

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Review: Shopping at the Sony Reader™ Store

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I had always assumed that the Sony Reader™ Store was exclusively linked to the Sony brand readers, much like Kindle is to Amazon, so I was surprised when  a publicist approached me wondering if I would be interested in shopping at their store and sharing my thoughts about it. Who knew that Sony also offers Apple and Android apps plus PC/MAC software as their ebooks are provided in DRM E-Pub format? I sure didn’t and I was eager to explore another option for e-book purchases.

With a twenty dollar voucher kindly provided by Sony I headed for the Australian Sony Reader™ Store and was greeted by a visually attractive  homepage, with a category list and book covers sorted under headings such as New and Noteworthy, Popular Biographies and Australian Books.  Though not necessary, before I started browsing I created an account, a simple process requiring an email address and password, opting in for the newsletter and briefly perusing the boring legal stuff.

Back on the home page I picked the New and Noteworthy category and started scrolling, the featured categories include a list of about thirty books. Clicking on the book cover bought up an individual page for the book with publication details, the blurb and the option to Buy or Add To My Wishlist. I browsed from the categories on the homepage quite happily for a while and after scrolling to the end of the page discovered more to browse including “Books Under $6.99″,  “First Books in a Series” and “Free E-books” (mostly comprised of novellas and short stories)

Browsing the general categories like Crime, Mystery and Thrillers is daunting though. You can sort the category by Relevance, Date and Price but browsing such a general field can be a time consuming process.  While you can search for books by author, title or keyword, there is no easy way to browse amongst sub genres if , for example, you were just interested in browsing thrillers. I also found it tedious that I couldn’t jump ahead in browsing the larger category any more than one page at a time because of the current restrictive navigation options. These are issues I believe Sony really needs to reexamine.

Prices seem competitive for the Australian market and I even spotted some bargains – though there was no easy way to actually find them. I didn’t hesitate when I stumbled across a copy of Tony Cavanaugh’s Promise, the first book in his Darien Richards series, that included a bonus of the second book, Dead Girl Sing, in full. Two for the price of one at $11.99! I dithered for a while before choosing  The Donor by Helen Fitzgerald as my second book ($8.99). It was another book that had been on my wishlist for ages.

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I spent a little more than the value of the voucher I had been provided with and I was a somewhat disappointed to discover credit cards are the only accepted payment option. I personally prefer to use Paypal for online transactions. There is the option of purchasing a gift voucher but it seems only through a physical store, in this case Myer.

After my purchase was complete, I grabbed my iPad and downloaded the Sony Reader app from the Apple store. Once I had signed in my library was visible but I had an issue with accessing them. Though the app accepted my Adobe ID details without any issues I kept running into an associated error when I tried to actually open the files. I have sent an email to Sony customer service but they are only available Mon-Fri so I wont have a reply until after the weekend. I’ll have to update you.

Overall my experience shopping for ebooks at the Sony Reader Store was a little mixed, though I am likely to visit again for a browse, assuming the app issue is cleared up.

In Summary:

Pros

* Visually attractive and clean site *Competitive pricing *Simple browsing options for popular/new release titles *Access for non-Sony devices *Able to Wishlist items

Cons

*Search options need refining *Credit card only payment method *Possible issues with IOS app

Have you visited the Sony Reader Store? What do you think of it?

* UPDATE Jan 2014: My issue with the Sony App on my iPad has still not been resolved though the customer service rep has maintained good communication in their attempts to identify the problem. It is definitely an issue with the app and to bypass it I have downloaded the ADE files to my PC (via Adobe Digital Editions) and transferred them into a third party app (Bluefire Reader) to access them. Not a huge issue but a small inconvenience*

Want to know what I can’t live without?

 

Today I am being featured by Chrystal over at Snowdrop Dreams Books!

 

 

This weekly feature at Snowdrop Dreams  of Books asks authors and bloggers to share what five books and what five other items they would want with them if they were ever stuck on a  deserted island and why they chose them.

Drop by and see what I couldn’t live without!

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