Category Archives: Writing

Would the world be better off without book reviews and ratings?

Q: What is your ideal kind of online library and book store? 
A: The kind without comments, reviews and ratings. The kind that only gives useful descriptions and context.

Someone asked me recently to describe an ideal app for reading (inside the app: a mix of ebooks, magazines and newspapers), and I found myself describing a very quiet virtual place, full of knowledge and information, without all the white noise. No Comments section. No opinions. No venom.

This led to another question: So you would not allow readers to express their thoughts online? My answer: I want readers to write and express their own original thoughts by publishing their own works (if they so choose), after being inspired or motivated by reading the thoughts of others. But I would like us all to say and write less about other people’s creation, especially since our inherent need (clearly) is to dislike it at least as much as to praise it. It’s become a nasty race. Everything revolves around liking, rating, heart-ing books online. And we must realize it’s hurting more than helping a large number of writers out there.

The value (and the point) of what we create (whether for entertainment or education) is that it will not appeal to every person at every given moment. The writer owes the reader nothing (I’m referring here only to the process of reading). It isn’t the writer’s responsibility to please every reader’s imagination and taste. It is the reader’s responsibility, however, to remain aware of that. Somewhere along the way, it seems, we’ve forgotten to be respectful of each other’s personal journeys of discovery and ways in which we express ourselves (as any writer can attest, this, too, evolves over time). It simply isn’t enough to ‘walk away’ from something we don’t care to read or that we’ve read and disliked. We must leave our mark. We must ‘warn’ others not to like what we didn’t like. Continue reading Would the world be better off without book reviews and ratings?

Coming of Age with Literary Webcomic Superpowers

Emma T. Capps has been recognized for her droll and beautifully colored print and webcomics since she was about junior high age. Now that she’s already published in a variety of kids magazines; earned stripes for being the youngest cartoonist Dark Horse Presents (#25, 2013) had collected their on-again-off-again anthology of new work and creators; and seen her webcomic The Chapel Chronicles into print, she’s continuing to concoct lovely work that is both sly and sweet—as well as a literary bonbon eater’s delight.

Welcome to The League of Fonts. The concept of a realm in which typefaces live, from their birth (creation as fonts) until each might fall into eternal disuse, is teased out with such wit that readers will get absorbed in contemplating the properties of identity bound up in those squiggles on the page and screen we typically (!) treat simply as means to an end rather than—as Capps show us—potential ends in themselves. It’s insightful, a fun view of design, but also a potent moral analog.

A word of warning: you may find yourself not only choosing your own fonts carefully after reading Capps, but also asking them if they’d like some tea.


Sweek, a social platform for reading and writing, launches a writing competition; awards a 16-year-old Swiss girl

If you are in the book/library/publishing business and you haven’t heard of Sweek, it’s time to catch up. The Dutch start-up aims to provide a global—and social—platform for free reading, writing and sharing stories. According to its earlier press releases, its already present in over 75 countries. Sweek describes itself as “an open platform that allows anyone to easily publish stories, books and series and to read online and offline…[and] it minimizes the distance between writer and reader and adds a social component through integration of social media and the follow, like, share and comment options.”

Sweek is available on all relevant platforms (including iOS and Android) and new stories from authors from around the world are uploaded daily. The idea is to give established and aspiring writers a creative outlet where they can share their stories for free, while also being able to promote their work. NSR covered Sweek in the past, mostly recently when it reached its 100,000th user.

To date, Sweek has welcomed over 200,000 users. And since its launch in October 2016, Sweek users have published more than 50,000 stories, resulting in millions of reads and a high level of  social activity.

I have a theory that writing and reading are inseparable. Reading, alone, isn’t enough to transform us or help us internalize knowledge and the experience of being human; in the (not verbatim) words of Einstein, when we only read to learn (vs. when we also create) we run the risk of becoming ‘lazy’ learners). The truth is, we are wired, as humans, to share stories. We literally exist to share stories. Everything we do, at its core, is an attempt to create or share a story. Products/platforms that blend the skill of writing with the skill of reading are helping us to envision new possibilities. Sweek is a good example.—Mirela Roncevic Continue reading Sweek, a social platform for reading and writing, launches a writing competition; awards a 16-year-old Swiss girl

Dutch startup Sweek—a free reading and writing platform—welcomes 100,000th user

From a Sweek press release:

Sweek, a platform for free reading and writing, has welcomed its 100,000th user last week, since the official launch at the Frankfurt Book Fair seven months ago. Meanwhile, readers and writers from over 100 countries are already using Sweek. Both aspiring and top authors have joined Sweek, and traditional publishers are starting to use Sweek as a talent-scouting platform. Continue reading Dutch startup Sweek—a free reading and writing platform—welcomes 100,000th user

Free mobile reading and writing platform for all to use? Yes, please. And thank you, Sweek.


Have you heard of the free mobile reading and writing platform Sweek? I didn’t know anything about it myself until I discovered it at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. As I learned from a recent press release, it is a global platform for free reading, writing and sharing stories already present in over 75 countries. It is available on all relevant platforms (including iOS and Android) and new stories from authors from around the world are uploaded daily. The idea is to give established and aspiring writers a creative outlet where they can share their stories for free, while also being able to promote their work. What a wonderful idea. Very aligned with No Shelf Required’s mission to support projects that unleash the written word for all to enjoy. The future of books and reading is ‘free’ in all shapes and sizes. Projects like this bring us closer to that future.–Ed.

Here’s more from the press release:

Frankfurt Book Fair

Sweek has been launched on all three platforms – iOS, Android and web – with full reading and writing functionality at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2016. During consumer days, hundreds of readers and writers downloaded the app and were introduced to the #sweekgalaxy competition for short stories. Until November 15th, writers can upload their short story of less than 2,000 words on Sweek using #sweekgalaxy to win a Samsung Galaxy S7. Veronika Kartovenko, cofounder and business development manager at Sweek: ‘Of course, we also talked with a lot of publishers during the book fair to discuss incorporating mobile publishing into their strategy. We definitely expect more top authors to join Sweek in the upcoming months.’

Reading and writing become social and mobile

Sweek serves a broad audience of readers and writers, but the ‘Smartphone generation’ is joining Sweek on a larger scale. ‘These people still read a lot, but in a different way, with the social component playing a crucial role in the reading experience, especially for the youngsters. Interestingly, even more ‘traditional’ readers start reading more on their smartphones, something which has been confirmed again and again by recent research,’ says Peter Paul van Bekkum, CEO of Mybestseller and Sweek. ‘Our most active markets, Turkey and Latin America, support this idea of changing reading behavior, as we see users being very smartphone focused, starting their own Facebook groups about Sweek, and caring a lot about the community and interaction.’ Readers can follow and like stories, and share them via different social media channels. Veronika Kartovenko: ‘Sweek creates a link between the author and the reader. Compared to the current situation, in which reading is a solitary activity and the author doesn’t know who his readers are, this changes the nature of reading and writing.

Reaching the Netflix generation

Authors are currently using Sweek to publish all types of content, in all genres and languages. ‘Sweek is there for – amongst others – short stories, blog posts, books and serialized writing,’ states Sabine van der Plas, co-founder and marketing manager at Sweek. ‘We currently see a lot of short stories on the platform, but also some traditional, chapter driven books, which users upload in one go. We’re curious to see how serialized and ‘never-ending stories’ will evolve. We believe that they can build up the interest of readers, who are by now used to shorter, cliffhanger based content, and have the potential to gain a massive amount of followers.’

Marketing tool for authors

The smartphone generation barely visits the bookstore anymore, while the publishing industry is still using mainly traditional marketing techniques to promote books. Recent changes in reading behavior ask for changes in publishers’ strategy, if they want to remain profitable. Currently, very few authors have a strong presence on social media, which we believe directly threatens their future sales. Sabine van der Plas: ‘Sweek is the ideal marketing tool for top authors and traditional publishers. By sharing exciting content – for free – on Sweek, authors reconnect with their readers, create a loyal fanbase, including digital natives, and reach a new audience. The author can immediately reach those followers when a new traditionally published books is released, thereby increasing book sales.’

About Sweek

Sweek is a mobile platform which allows anyone to read, write and share stories. All over the world. In an instant. For free. On Sweek you can find stories of both upcoming writers and established top authors, in all genres, to be read online and offline. Readers can follow, like and share stories, and readers and writers are directly connected. Sweek is free for all users, and is available in 12 languages for Android, iOS and web users.

About Mybestseller

Mybestseller gives any author the opportunity to easily publish their book (print and e-book) and sell it via all relevant sales channels, such as Amazon, but also directly via social media using BookLink. Next to operating its own brands as and, Mybestseller offers third parties a full service white label solution. This way, any publisher, bookseller or content party can immediately integrate self-publishing in their strategy, for instance and Mybestseller is active in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Turkey.

Placing a hold — Emotional adventures in the ebook catalog

books-1614218_1920NSR is pleased to present the second in a series of stories written by Yoav Lorch, Founder and CEO of Total Boox,  on the irrationality of the ebook ‘situation’ in libraries.  His first story, Book Snatching — Clearly the most violent act in the history of reading, was published on NSR three weeks ago. It is about the absurdity of ebooks disappearing from devices; this one is about the absurdity of needing to place holds in digital environments.

Librarians and publishers alike need to be reminded of such absurdities. In a world beset with analytical articles from trade journals, it’s quite refreshing to consider such absurdities through fictional narratives. As Neil Gaiman (long-time supporter of libraries) wisely put it: “Life is always going to be stranger than fiction, because fiction has to be convincing, and life doesn’t.” Continue reading Placing a hold — Emotional adventures in the ebook catalog

Book Snatching — Clearly the most violent act in the history of reading

book-436507_1920A little over two years ago, shortly after Total Boox entered the library market, NSR published a story written by Total Boox CEO and Founder, Yoav Lorch, on the absurdity of ebooks disappearing from devices. Sue Polanka (founder of NSR) wrote in her introduction to the story that it was a “clever tale showing us the sad state of ebook borrowing in libraries.”

Since the picture hasn’t changed much, and the absurdity of ebook content disappearing from devices still reigns in 2016, I’ve asked Mr. Lorch for permission to publish the story again. Enjoy.—Ed.

Continue reading Book Snatching — Clearly the most violent act in the history of reading