Readersforum's Blog

October 31, 2012

The last word in humour and honesty from Daily Telegraph readers

SIR – My husband’s pithy summary of today’s Daily Telegraph was: “Bosoms; Downton Abbey; and the next thing that’s going to kill me.” Above, Shirely MacLaine as Martha Levinson, Cora Crawley’s mother in Downton Abbey

An annual treat is the compilation of unpublished Daily Telegraph readers’ letters.

By Iain Hollingshead

Last Christmas, when we published I Rest My Case…, the third in the bestselling series of unpublished letters to the editor, some people expressed their concerns about the seeming finality of the book’s title. Could an eventful year in which London burned, the Middle East revolted, Prince William wed, bin Laden died, Nick Clegg cried and Silvio Berlusconi bunga bunga-ed be our readers’ last hurrah?

Fie! Our wonderful correspondents, choleric, trenchant, wise, witty, waggish, and often downright outrageous, are made of sterner stuff. We’ve been fortunate in that this year has been no less eventful than last. You might have noticed the Olympics. It has also been the year of Abu Qatada and Andy Murray, hosepipe bans and droughts, Dave and Boris, pasties and jerry cans.

Great events alone do not, of course, make for great correspondence. Only Daily Telegraph letter-writers are capable of merging the weighty, the whimsical and the quotidian to such hilarious advantage. The water companies impose a hosepipe ban; a reader wonders if he can irrigate his lawn by staging a domestic riot and drawing fire from the police’s water cannon. The chief executive of RBS rejects his enormous bonus; a reader writes to say that he doesn’t mind him keeping it, as long as he spends £1,000 replacing his “disgracefully cheapo” pair of hunting boots.

If you look for stereotypes, you will find them. One correspondent admits that, if there were a political party for the Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, she would be one of the first to join. Recurring themes emerge year on year, whether complaints about Murray’s facial hair (Robert Jay QC is a new entry in this category), the proliferation of retired colonels on the letters page, the crossword, the Americanisation of the English language, the BBC, the EU, wind farms or sinking sartorial standards. All are delivered with customary aplomb, not to mention a deliciously, devilishly erudite turn of phrase.

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June 27, 2011

Rowling develops landmark for digital publishing

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 1:27 pm
By Olivia Solon, Daily Telegraph

The vast majority of books that have migrated to the digital world as ebooks have simply replicated the printed page. Some of them may have search and note-taking functionalities, but most e-books are very much the web 1.0 equivalent of the literary world.

Pottermore.com, while not perfect, represents a significant landmark for digital publishing. J.K. Rowling has not just hauled out her manuscript and plonked it onto a website with a bit of frilly window-dressing from a digital agency. Instead, she has laboured for a year in close collaboration with creative developers TH_NK to curate an experience that really takes advantages of the unique properties of the web.

Not only has she written 18,000 additional words which help build on characters, places and objects for the site, but she has also helped develop a great series of interactive web experiences and gaming elements.

Pottermore lets the user choose a magic username and join Hogwarts in the virtual world just as Harry does in the books. Interactive features include a digital ‘Sorting Hat’ -which allocates Hogwarts’ students to a house and a ‘Wand Chooser’ -a tool that selects the appropriate wand for a user based on a series of questions.

Let’s not forget the social networking element either -creating a web platform through which avid Potter devotees can connect is inspired. Fans already congregate through popular Harry Potter forums such as Mugglenet. So by building her own forum Rowling gains some control over her fan base. This means that she will be able to harvest all of the demographic information, contact details and other data that would have formerly been owned by the publisher or retailer. She could use this data to directly communicate and promote any new initiatives to a self-selecting audience and even potentially take on more sponsors or affiliates to promote selected partner content to the network.

While these might look like small steps to games designers and veteran web publishers, these are giant leaps for the book publishing industry. It marks a clear commitment by the biggest selling author of the last decade to embrace digital and create a truly native experience.

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