Local titles enter publishing's next chapter
By Treena Shapiro
Assistant Features Editor
Over the past several months, former Gov. Ben Cayetano has donated about half of the 1,500 books in his personal library to Farrington High School and the Friends of the Library of Hawai'i.
But while his book collection is smaller, Cayetano says he's reading as much as ever. In fact, he's bought 70 new books since he started thinning out his library. The difference is that rather than filling shelves, the new editions are ebooks that all fit on an Amazon Kindle, which is significantly slimmer than, say, just one copy of Cayetano's 568 page autobiography.
It seems fitting, then, that Cayetano's "Ben: A Memoir, from Street Kid to Governor," was selected as Watermark Publishing's first ebook offering, followed immediately by "No Footprints in the Sand: A Memoir of Kalaupapa" by Henry Nalaielua and Sally-Jo Bowman and "The Dream Begins: How Hawai'i Shaped Barack Obama" by Stu Glauberman and Jerry Burris. All three books have just been made available for download from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Cayetano, whose 2009 memoir is currently in its fourth edition, said the digital version could introduce the book to a wider audience.
"The book has not had a lot of publicity outside the state," he said. An ebook edition could generate more interest among serious readers and former residents "who hunger for anything about Hawai'i."
Local publishing houses are finding it difficult to meet the demand for electronic offerings. Mutual Publishing has only one ebook available on Amazon: "Mililani Mauka" by Chris McKinney.
Jane Gillespie, speaking for Mutual Publishing, said the publisher is planning to offer more ebooks this year, and is waiting to see what impact Apple's iPad and the compatible iBooks application will have on digital publishing.
Gillespie knows about apps. Putting on her BeachHouse Publishing hat, she discussed the recent release of BeachHouse's first iPhone or iPod Touch application — an animated and interactive version of the popular board book "Diving for Colors in Hawaii." The electronic version was produced by Bluewater Multimedia, and other ibeachhouse apps are planned.
Bess Press is considering turning "Pidgin to the Max" into an interactive application that allows users to hear the pidgin pronunciations .
People enjoy listening to pidgin works, noted Bamboo Ridge Press editor Eric Chock.
Bamboo Ridge doesn't have ebooks, but it does have video on its Web site and, thanks to the "Aloha Shorts" program on Hawai'i Public Radio, listeners can download podcasts of local actors reading pieces published by Bamboo Ridge.
Reach Treena Shapiro at 525-8014. Read more about Hawai'i's authors and publications at www.HawaiiReaders.com.