Archive for April, 2010

Flash! The nook now plays chess and you can read e-books in the store!

April 24, 2010

Flash! The nook now plays chess and you can read whole e-books in the store!

I just got an e-mail on this, and I’ll check it out more…but they show chess on the nook and say you can play both that and Sudoku.

They also said this was coming, but you can now read entire e-books free in any of their 700+ stores on the nook.  I’ll get the details, but what we’d heard before it that would be an hour per book per day.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! I’ll be on Stacey Cochran’s Book Chatter tonight (Friday)

April 23, 2010

Flash! I’ll be on Stacey Cochran’s Book Chatter tonight (Friday)

I’m happy to say I’ll be on author Stacey Cochran’s Book Chatter tonight, Friday April 23, from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM Pacific.  There is a live chat that goes along with that. 

You can attend/participate here:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bookchatter

These things are always a little tentative, but it sounds like an interesting topic with other interesting guests!  Stacey has announced it on his Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/stacey_cochran), so I’ll share…just don’t hold me to it.  :)

We’re supposed to be talking about media (especially the New York Times and the New Yorker) articles about Amazon, and whether they are fair or not.  A representative from Fair.org is supposed to be one of the participants.

I’ll be curious to see if someone is on who thinks that Apple isn’t being favored. 

It will also be archived for viewing afterwards at the same URL

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. 

Oh gosh! I forgot to grow up

April 23, 2010

Oh gosh! I forgot to grow up

Earlier this week, S. Weller, an Amazon Kindle community member, asked an interesting question in

  this thread

“Do you ever read kids’ books?”

My answer is, “of course”!

A lot of what I read would be considered kids’ books by somebody.  The Oz books?  Certainly.  Tarzan stories?  Sure.  Fairy tales?  Check.

I’m not the only one.  Geeks like me have always been proudly unconcerned about what other people thought about the entertainment we enjoyed.  We watch cartoons, read comic books, collect toys. 

Large amounts of science fiction and fantasy have been classified as children’s books…sometimes, for no particular reason I can discern.  It’s as if imagination itself is considered the purview of the young only.  Kids are encouraged to imagine things…adults are told not to be “silly”.

Walter Mitty was a daydreamer…and that’s considered an insult.

Now, the situation has changed somewhat.  This may be due in some part to the almost neotonic condition of some of the New Millenial generation.  However, it may also be economics.  The most successful movies and books may involve elements of fantasy…even though that fantasy might be a dark one.

What causes a book to be defined as a “children’s book”?

Well, the easy answer nowadays is…the publisher.  They typically choose the classifications.  That’s why you’ll see some pretty grown-up things defined as a “childen’s chapter book” at Amazon.  If they think that will help the sales, great…the same book may be in several categories, even apparently contradictory ones for that reason.

Outside of that, it seems like anything with a child as a main character is considered a children’s book…as if adults couldn’t possibly be interested in what a child does and thinks.

Well, I’m going to back off that (don’t you love it when I argue with myself in the blog?) ;)

Stephen King books, and horror books generally, don’t follow that rule.  I don’t think anybody classifies Carrie or The Exorcist as a children’s book.

Edgar Sawtelle?  Not seen as a children’s book…or a horror book.

However, what about Huckleberry Finn?  Is that really a kids’ book?  That’s how it was seen when it was released.

I could say that supposed children’s books from the 19th century are often written at a much higher level than some of the books we see today intended for adults.

Have you actually read Peter Pan?  How about The Water-Babies?  Even Winnie the Pooh…the language is sophisticated, the concepts can be deep.

Compare them to a lot of the books out there: are they really intended for “simpler” minds, which seems to be the implication?

In the Amazon Kindle community thread I mentioned earlier, the term “book snobs” was used.

If you knew somebody read children’s books (or watched SpongeBob SquarePants), would you look down on them?  Should you?

Even more interesting…do we classify books in order to classify their readers?

I have to say, it’s something a lot of people like about EBRs (E-Book Readers).  Other people can’t tell what you are reading.  :)  Sure, that might be because they don’t want you to be able to tell that they are reading something titillating, or politically controversial…but they may also not want you to know that a grown person is reading Nancy Drew, or The Hardy Boys…or The Snarkout Boys, for that matter.   Oh, the latter Daniel Pinkwater book isn’t available…but give it time.

Am I saying we should do away with the classification of books as being children’s books?

Not at all.

It is helpful for those looking for books for kids.

Books already may be classified by grade level or reading level.

Those are good guidelines, although you certainly don’t need to follow them.

It was an interesting problem when my offspring was little.  There quickly came a point where books with ten words a page just weren’t interesting enough: zip, done.

Some chapterbooks were great, but somebody at school provided a Goosebumps book. 

Too scary…way too scary. 

Other books just talked about things that weren’t interesting to, say, a six year old. 

Comprehension of the words wasn’t a big problem…with onboard dictionaries and encyclopedia’s, it will be even less so.

Comprehension of the concepts, though?  That’s another matter entirely.

I wonder…is that how those grade levels are assigned?  Do they just use algorithmical analysis…length of words, syllables, that kind of thing?  Or does somebody actually read them?  Who is it? 

It appears that the main tool used is the Developmental Reading Assessment.  That’s fairly new.  I also found a study on the effectiveness of it:

study

which found that there was significant agreement on the efficacy of the levels.

So, back to the main question…

Are you “childish” if you read kids’ books?

I’d say no.  I’m definitely not a book snob.  I’ll read romances, science fiction, mysteries, mainstream, faith-based, “heretical”, and so on.

There are things I don’t generally don’t like.  I tend not to like books with generally negative tones.  Sorry…I like The Hobbit better than Lord of the Rings.  :)  I can read books with profanity, violence, and sexual situations…but I don’t particularly seek those out.

My favorite books probably have somewhat complicated philosophical concepts, sophisticated vocabulary…but could be read by or to kids. 

We had some complications at work.  We set up a lending library for books…people brought them in, borrowed them, and so on.  However, we tried to make it so those books were “safe for work”.  After all, if the company provides you with something that is “inappropriate”, you might have a Human Resources complaint.

Ask people to judge that for themselves, and you may not get what fits your guidelines.  :)

So, what do you think?  Is it “wrong” for adults to read Captain Underpants?  If you were meeting a blind date and that person was reading Tom Swift when you walked up, would you want to turn around and leave?

Feel free to let me know.  :)

Tip of the day: the School Library Journal has a searchable website and lists grade levels in its reviews.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. 

Flash! Denny Chin, Google settlement judge, confirmed to District Court

April 23, 2010

Flash! Denny Chin, Google settlement judge, confirmed to District Court

We knew he was nominated, and there was speculation that he would want to complete the Google settlement question before he changed jobs.

First question: why am I reporting a judge issue in an e-book blog?

I’ve written quite a bit about the Google settlement, and that is a complex issue that will affect what you read, and potentially affect authors even more.

When the presiding judge in a case changes, it can certainly change the decision.  Not that the judge necessarily favored one side, but different judges are more convinced by different types of presentations.  Although it isn’t a surprise, it might change any additional arguments that are made.

So, although you are going to hear him called the “Bernie Madoff” judge, it’s the Google settlement part that ties into e-books.

Wall Street Journal article

Thanks to Andrys Basten of A Kindle World for the heads up on this.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

In honor of Earth Day: Tarzan

April 22, 2010

In honor of Earth Day: Tarzan

“This was life! Ah, how he loved it! Civilization held nothing like this in its narrow and circumscribed sphere, hemmed in by restrictions and conventionalities.”

Tarzan.

To many people, he is a symbol of the Earth, of nature versus civilization.

He has sampled both, and made his choice.

Jungle-raised by accident, it was there he found his home…his destiny.

His childhood was harsh.  He faced prejudice, hatred, danger.  But he was swept into the rhythm of the wild.

Slowly and softly they began tapping upon the resounding surface of the drum as the first faint rays of the ascending moon silvered the encircling
tree tops.
 

As the light in the amphitheater increased the females augmented the frequency and force of their blows until presently a wild, rhythmic din pervaded the great jungle for miles in every direction. Huge, fierce
brutes stopped in their hunting, with up-pricked ears and raised heads, to listen to the dull booming that betokened the Dum-Dum of the apes.”

For the woman he loved, he traveled to civilization…where he again faced prejudice, hatred, and danger.

But it was a different world…one of deception, not of honest brutality. 

Tarzan in the books may not be at all like the Tarzan you know.  He speaks…eloquently, and in many languages…including Ancient Greek.

While he does live in the African jungle, he travels to many places, including London, Sumatra, a lost Atlantean outpost, and inside the Earth itself.

He has encountered dinosaurs, Nazis, Soviets, a remnant of ancient Rome, and knights.

If all you know of the Lord of the Apes is “Me Tarzan, You Jane”, you owe it to yourself to try the books…especially since you can get most of them for free.

To get you started, here is The Lion from The Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1919). 

The Lion

NUMA, THE LION, crouched behind a thorn bush close beside the drinking pool where the river eddied just below the bend. There was a ford there and on either bank a well-worn trail, broadened far out at the river’s brim, where, for countless centuries, the wild things of the jungle and of the plains beyond had come down to drink, the carnivora with bold and fearless majesty, the herbivora timorous, hesitating, fearful.

Numa, the lion, was hungry, he was very hungry, and so he was quite silent now. On his way to the drinking place he had moaned often and roared not a little; but as he neared the spot where he would lie in wait for Bara, the deer, or Horta, the boar, or some other of the many luscious-fleshed creatures who came hither to drink, he was silent. It was a grim, a terrible silence, shot through with yellow-green light of ferocious eyes, punctuated with undulating tremors of sinuous tail.

It was Pacco, the zebra, who came first, and Numa, the lion, could scarce restrain a roar of anger, for of all the plains people, none are more wary than Pacco, the zebra. Behind the black-striped stallion came a herd of thirty or forty of the plump and vicious little horselike beasts. As he neared the river, the leader paused often, cocking his ears and raising his muzzle to sniff the gentle breeze for the tell-tale scent spoor of the dread flesh-eaters.

Numa shifted uneasily, drawing his hind quarters far beneath his tawny body, gathering himself for the sudden charge and the savage assault. His eyes shot hungry fire. His great muscles quivered to the excitement of the moment.

Pacco came a little nearer, halted, snorted, and wheeled. There was a pattering of scurrying hoofs and the herd was gone; but Numa, the lion, moved not. He was familiar with the ways of Pacco, the zebra. He knew that he would return, though many times he might wheel and fly before he summoned the courage to lead his harem and his offspring to the water. There was the chance that Pacco might be frightened off entirely. Numa had seen this happen before, and so he became almost rigid lest he be the one to send them galloping, waterless, back to the plain.

Again and again came Pacco and his family, and again and again did they turn and flee; but each time they came closer to the river, until at last the plump stallion dipped his velvet muzzle daintily into the water. The others, stepping warily, approached their leader. Numa selected a sleek, fat filly and his flaming eyes burned greedily as they feasted upon her, for Numa, the lion, loves scarce anything better than the meat of Pacco, perhaps because Pacco is, of all the grass-eaters, the most difficult to catch.

Slowly the lion rose, and as he rose, a twig snapped beneath one of his great, padded paws. Like a shot from a rifle he charged upon the filly; but the snapped twig had been enough to startle the timorous quarry, so that they were in instant flight simultaneously with Numa’s charge.

The stallion was last, and with a prodigious leap, the lion catapulted through the air to seize him; but the snapping twig had robbed Numa of his dinner, though his mighty talons raked the zebra’s glossy rump, leaving four crimson bars across the beautiful coat.

It was an angry Numa that quitted the river and prowled, fierce, dangerous, and hungry, into the jungle. Far from particular now was his appetite. Even Dango, the hyena, would have seemed a tidbit to that ravenous maw. And in this temper it was that the lion came upon the tribe of Kerchak, the great ape.

One does not look for Numa, the lion, this late in the morning. He should be lying up asleep beside his last night’s kill by now; but Numa had made no kill last night. He was still hunting, hungrier than ever.

The anthropoids were idling about the clearing, the first keen desire of the morning’s hunger having been satisfied. Numa scented them long before he saw them. Ordinarily he would have turned away in search of other game, for even Numa respected the mighty muscles and the sharp fangs of the great bulls of the tribe of Kerchak, but today he kept on steadily toward them, his bristled snout wrinkled into a savage snarl.

Without an instant’s hesitation, Numa charged the moment he reached a point from where the apes were visible to him. There were a dozen or more of the hairy, manlike creatures upon the ground in a little glade. In a tree at one side sat a brown-skinned youth. He saw Numa’s swift charge; he saw the apes turn and flee, huge bulls trampling upon little balus; only a single she held her ground to meet the charge, a young she inspired by new motherhood to the great sacrifice that her balu might escape.

Tarzan leaped from his perch, screaming at the flying bulls beneath and at those who squatted in the safety of surrounding trees. Had the bulls stood their ground, Numa would not have carried through that charge unless goaded by great rage or the gnawing pangs of starvation. Even then he would not have come off unscathed.

If the bulls heard, they were too slow in responding, for Numa had seized the mother ape and dragged her into the jungle before the males had sufficiently collected their wits and their courage to rally in defense of their fellow. Tarzan’s angry voice aroused similar anger in the breasts of the apes. Snarling and barking they followed Numa into the dense labyrinth of foliage wherein he sought to hide himself from them. The ape-man was in the lead, moving rapidly and yet with caution, depending even more upon his ears and nose than upon his eyes for information of the lion’s whereabouts.

The spoor was easy to follow, for the dragged body of the victim left a plain trail, blood-spattered and scentful. Even such dull creatures as you or I might easily have followed it. To Tarzan and the apes of Kerchak it was as obvious as a cement sidewalk.

Tarzan knew that they were nearing the great cat even before he heard an angry growl of warning just ahead. Calling to the apes to follow his example, he swung into a tree and a moment later Numa was surrounded by a ring of growling beasts, well out of reach of his fangs and talons but within plain sight of him. The carnivore crouched with his fore-quarters upon the she-ape. Tarzan could see that the latter was already dead; but something within him made it seem quite necessary to rescue the useless body from the clutches of the enemy and to punish him.

He shrieked taunts and insults at Numa, and tearing dead branches from the tree in which he danced, hurled them at the lion. The apes followed his example. Numa roared out in rage and vexation. He was hungry, but under such conditions he could not feed.

The apes, if they had been left to themselves, would doubtless soon have left the lion to peaceful enjoyment of his feast, for was not the she dead? They could not restore her to life by throwing sticks at Numa, and they might even now be feeding in quiet themselves; but Tarzan was of a different mind. Numa must be punished and driven away. He must be taught that even though he killed a Mangani, he would not be permitted to feed upon his kill. The man-mind looked into the future, while the apes perceived only the immediate present. They would be content to escape today the menace of Numa, while Tarzan saw the necessity, and the means as well, of safeguarding the days to come.

So he urged the great anthropoids on until Numa was showered with missiles that kept his head dodging and his voice pealing forth its savage protest; but still he clung desperately to his kill.

The twigs and branches hurled at Numa, Tarzan soon realized, did not hurt him greatly even when they struck him, and did not injure him at all, so the ape-man looked about for more effective missiles, nor did he have to look long. An out-cropping of decomposed granite not far from Numa suggested ammunition of a much more painful nature. Calling to the apes to watch him, Tarzan slipped to the ground and gathered a handful of small fragments. He knew that when once they had seen him carry out his idea they would be much quicker to follow his lead than to obey his instructions, were he to command them to procure pieces of rock and hurl them at Numa, for Tarzan was not then king of the apes of the tribe of Kerchak. That came in later years. Now he was but a youth, though one who already had wrested for himself a place in the councils of the savage beasts among whom a strange fate had cast him. The sullen bulls of the older generation still hated him as beasts hate those of whom they are suspicious, whose scent characteristic is the scent characteristic of an alien order and, therefore, of an enemy order. The younger bulls, those who had grown up through childhood as his playmates, were as accustomed to Tarzan’s scent as to that of any other member of the tribe. They felt no greater suspicion of him than of any other bull of their acquaintance; yet they did not love him, for they loved none outside the mating season, and the animosities aroused by other bulls during that season lasted well over until the next. They were a morose and peevish band at best, though here and there were those among them in whom germinated the primal seeds of humanity–reversions to type, these, doubtless; reversions to the ancient progenitor who took the first step out of ape-hood toward humanness, when he walked more often upon his hind feet and discovered other things for idle hands to do.

So now Tarzan led where he could not yet command. He had long since discovered the apish propensity for mimicry and learned to make use of it. Having filled his arms with fragments of rotted granite, he clambered again into a tree, and it pleased him to see that the apes had followed his example.

During the brief respite while they were gathering their ammunition, Numa had settled himself to feed; but scarce had he arranged himself and his kill when a sharp piece of rock hurled by the practiced hand of the ape-man struck him upon the cheek. His sudden roar of pain and rage was smothered by a volley from the apes, who had seen Tarzan’s act. Numa shook his massive head and glared upward at his tormentors. For a half hour they pursued him with rocks and broken branches, and though he dragged his kill into densest thickets, yet they always found a way to reach him with their missiles, giving him no opportunity to feed, and driving him on and on.

The hairless ape-thing with the man scent was worst of all, for he had even the temerity to advance upon the ground to within a few yards of the Lord of the Jungle, that he might with greater accuracy and force hurl the sharp bits of granite and the heavy sticks at him. Time and again did Numa charge–sudden, vicious charges–but the lithe, active tormentor always managed to elude him and with such insolent ease that the lion forgot even his great hunger in the consuming passion of his rage, leaving his meat for considerable spaces of time in vain efforts to catch his enemy.

The apes and Tarzan pursued the great beast to a natural clearing, where Numa evidently determined to make a last stand, taking up his position in the center of the open space, which was far enough from any tree to render him practically immune from the rather erratic throwing of the apes, though Tarzan still found him with most persistent and aggravating frequency.

This, however, did not suit the ape-man, since Numa now suffered an occasional missile with no more than a snarl, while he settled himself to partake of his delayed feast. Tarzan scratched his head, pondering some more effective method of offense, for he had determined to prevent Numa from profiting in any way through his attack upon the tribe. The man-mind reasoned against the future, while the shaggy apes thought only of their present hatred of this ancestral enemy. Tarzan guessed that should Numa find it an easy thing to snatch a meal from the tribe of Kerchak, it would be but a short time before their existence would be one living nightmare of hideous watchfulness and dread. Numa must be taught that the killing of an ape brought immediate punishment and no rewards. It would take but a few lessons to insure the former safety of the tribe. This must be some old lion whose failing strength and agility had forced him to any prey that he could catch; but even a single lion, undisputed, could exterminate the tribe, or at least make its existence so precarious and so terrifying that life would no longer be a pleasant condition.

“Let him hunt among the Gomangani,” thought Tarzan. “He will find them easier prey. I will teach ferocious Numa that he may not hunt the Mangani.”

But how to wrest the body of his victim from the feeding lion was the first question to be solved. At last Tarzan hit upon a plan. To anyone but Tarzan of the Apes it might have seemed rather a risky plan, and perhaps it did even to him; but Tarzan rather liked things that contained a considerable element of danger. At any rate, I rather doubt that you or I would have chosen a similar plan for foiling an angry and a hungry lion.

Tarzan required assistance in the scheme he had hit upon and his assistant must be equally as brave and almost as active as he. The ape-man’s eyes fell upon Taug, the playmate of his childhood, the rival in his first love and now, of all the bulls of the tribe, the only one that might be thought to hold in his savage brain any such feeling toward Tarzan as we describe among ourselves as friendship. At least, Tarzan knew, Taug was courageous, and he was young and agile and wonderfully muscled.

“Taug!” cried the ape-man. The great ape looked up from a dead limb he was attempting to tear from a lightning-blasted tree. “Go close to Numa and worry him,” said Tarzan. “Worry him until he charges. Lead him away from the body of Mamka. Keep him away as long as you can.”

Taug nodded. He was across the clearing from Tarzan. Wresting the limb at last from the tree he dropped to the ground and advanced toward Numa, growling and barking out his insults. The worried lion looked up and rose to his feet. His tail went stiffly erect and Taug turned in flight, for he knew that warming signal of the charge.

From behind the lion, Tarzan ran quickly toward the center of the clearing and the body of Mamka. Numa, all his eyes for Taug, did not see the ape-man. Instead he shot forward after the fleeing bull, who had turned in flight not an instant too soon, since he reached the nearest tree but a yard or two ahead of the pursuing demon. Like a cat the heavy anthropoid scampered up the bole of his sanctuary. Numa’s talons missed him by little more than inches.

For a moment the lion paused beneath the tree, glaring up at the ape and roaring until the earth trembled, then he turned back again toward his kill, and as he did so, his tail shot once more to rigid erectness and he charged back even more ferociously than he had come, for what he saw was the naked man-thing running toward the farther trees with the bloody carcass of his prey across a giant shoulder.

The apes, watching the grim race from the safety of the trees, screamed taunts at Numa and warnings to Tarzan. The high sun, hot and brilliant, fell like a spotlight upon the actors in the little clearing, portraying them in glaring relief to the audience in the leafy shadows of the surrounding trees. The light-brown body of the naked youth, all but hidden by the shaggy carcass of the killed ape, the red blood streaking his smooth hide, his muscles rolling, velvety, beneath. Behind him the black-maned lion, head flattened, tail extended, racing, a jungle thoroughbred, across the sunlit clearing.

Ah, but this was life! With death at his heels, Tarzan thrilled with the joy of such living as this; but would he reach the trees ahead of the rampant death so close behind?

Gunto swung from a limb in a tree before him. Gunto was screaming warnings and advice.

“Catch me!” cried Tarzan, and with his heavy burden leaped straight for the big bull hanging there by his hind feet and one forepaw. And Gunto caught them–the big ape-man and the dead weight of the slain she-ape–caught them with one great, hairy paw and whirled them upward until Tarzan’s fingers closed upon a near-by branch.

Beneath, Numa leaped; but Gunto, heavy and awkward as he may have appeared, was as quick as Manu, the monkey, so that the lion’s talons but barely grazed him, scratching a bloody streak beneath one hairy arm.

Tarzan carried Mamka’s corpse to a high crotch, where even Sheeta, the panther, could not get it. Numa paced angrily back and forth beneath the tree, roaring frightfully. He had been robbed of his kill and his revenge also. He was very savage indeed; but his despoilers were well out of his reach, and after hurling a few taunts and missiles at him they swung away through the trees, fiercely reviling him.

Tarzan thought much upon the little adventure of that day. He foresaw what might happen should the great carnivora of the jungle turn their serious attention upon the tribe of Kerchak, the great ape, but equally he thought upon the wild scramble of the apes for safety when Numa first charged among them. There is little humor in the jungle that is not grim and awful. The beasts have little or no conception of humor; but the young Englishman saw humor in many things which presented no humorous angle to his associates.

Since earliest childhood he had been a searcher after fun, much to the sorrow of his fellow-apes, and now he saw the humor of the frightened panic of the apes and the baffled rage of Numa even in this grim jungle adventure which had robbed Mamka of life, and jeopardized that of many members of the tribe.

It was but a few weeks later that Sheeta, the panther, made a sudden rush among the tribe and snatched a little balu from a tree where it had been hidden while its mother sought food. Sheeta got away with his small prize unmolested. Tarzan was very wroth. He spoke to the bulls of the ease with which Numa and Sheeta, in a single moon, had slain two members of the tribe.

“They will take us all for food,” he cried. “We hunt as we will through the jungle, paying no heed to approaching enemies. Even Manu, the monkey, does not so. He keeps two or three always watching for enemies. Pacco, the zebra, and Wappi, the antelope, have those about the herd who keep watch while the others feed, while we, the great Mangani, let Numa, and Sabor, and Sheeta come when they will and carry us off to feed their balus.

“Gr-r-rmph,” said Numgo.

“What are we to do?” asked Taug.

“We, too, should have two or three always watching for the approach of Numa, and Sabor, and Sheeta,” replied Tarzan. “No others need we fear, except Histah, the snake, and if we watch for the others we will see Histah if he comes, though gliding ever so silently.”

And so it was that the great apes of the tribe of Kerchak posted sentries thereafter, who watched upon three sides while the tribe hunted, scattered less than had been their wont.

But Tarzan went abroad alone, for Tarzan was a man-thing and sought amusement and adventure and such humor as the grim and terrible jungle offers to those who know it and do not fear it–a weird humor shot with blazing eyes and dappled with the crimson of lifeblood. While others sought only food and love, Tarzan of the Apes sought food and joy.

One day he hovered above the palisaded village of Mbonga, the chief, the jet cannibal of the jungle primeval. He saw, as he had seen many times before, the witch-doctor, Rabba Kega, decked out in the head and hide of Gorgo, the buffalo. It amused Tarzan to see a Gomangani parading as Gorgo; but it suggested nothing in particular to him until he chanced to see stretched against the side of Mbonga’s hut the skin of a lion with the head still on. Then a broad grin widened the handsome face of the savage beast-youth.

Back into the jungle he went until chance, agility, strength, and cunning backed by his marvelous powers of perception, gave him an easy meal. If Tarzan felt that the world owed him a living he also realized that it was for him to collect it, nor was there ever a better collector than this son of an English lord, who knew even less of the ways of his forbears than he did of the forbears themselves, which was nothing.

It was quite dark when Tarzan returned to the village of Mbonga and took his now polished perch in the tree which overhangs the palisade upon one side of the walled enclosure. As there was nothing in particular to feast upon in the village there was little life in the single street, for only an orgy of flesh and native beer could draw out the people of Mbonga. Tonight they sat gossiping about their cooking fires, the older members of the tribe; or, if they were young, paired off in the shadows cast by the palm-thatched huts.

Tarzan dropped lightly into the village, and sneaking stealthily in the concealment of the denser shadows, approached the hut of the chief, Mbonga. Here he found that which he sought. There were warriors all about him; but they did not know that the feared devil-god slunk noiselessly so near them, nor did they see him possess himself of that which he coveted and depart from their village as noiselessly as he had come.

Later that night, as Tarzan curled himself for sleep, he lay for a long time looking up at the burning planets and the twinkling stars and at Goro the moon, and he smiled. He recalled how ludicrous the great bulls had appeared in their mad scramble for safety that day when Numa had charged among them and seized Mamka, and yet he knew them to be fierce and courageous. It was the sudden shock of surprise that always sent them into a panic; but of this Tarzan was not as yet fully aware. That was something he was to learn in the near future.

He fell asleep with a broad grin upon his face.

Manu, the monkey, awoke him in the morning by dropping discarded bean pods upon his upturned face from a branch a short distance above him. Tarzan looked up and smiled. He had been awakened thus before many times. He and Manu were fairly good friends, their friendship operating upon a reciprocal basis. Sometimes Manu would come running early in the morning to awaken Tarzan and tell him that Bara, the deer, was feeding close at hand, or that Horta, the boar, was asleep in a mudhole hard by, and in return Tarzan broke open the shells of the harder nuts and fruits for Manu, or frightened away Histah, the snake, and Sheeta, the panther.

The sun had been up for some time, and the tribe had already wandered off in search of food. Manu indicated the direction they had taken with a wave of his hand and a few piping notes of his squeaky little voice.

“Come, Manu,” said Tarzan, “and you will see that which shall make you dance for joy and squeal your wrinkled little head off. Come, follow Tarzan of the Apes.”

With that he set off in the direction Manu had indicated and above him, chattering, scolding and squealing, skipped Manu, the monkey. Across Tarzan’s shoulders was the thing he had stolen from the village of Mbonga, the chief, the evening before.

The tribe was feeding in the forest beside the clearing where Gunto, and Taug, and Tarzan had so harassed Numa and finally taken away from him the fruit of his kill. Some of them were in the clearing itself. In peace and content they fed, for were there not three sentries, each watching upon a different side of the herd? Tarzan had taught them this, and though he had been away for several days hunting alone, as he often did, or visiting at the cabin by the sea, they had not as yet forgotten his admonitions, and if they continued for a short time longer to post sentries, it would become a habit of their tribal life and thus be perpetuated indefinitely.

But Tarzan, who knew them better than they knew themselves, was confident that they had ceased to place the watchers about them the moment that he had left them, and now he planned not only to have a little fun at their expense but to teach them a lesson in preparedness, which, by the way, is even a more vital issue in the jungle than in civilized places. That you and I exist today must be due to the preparedness of some shaggy anthropoid of the Oligocene. Of course the apes of Kerchak were always prepared, after their own way–Tarzan had merely suggested a new and additional safeguard.

Gunto was posted today to the north of the clearing. He squatted in the fork of a tree from where he might view the jungle for quite a distance about him. It was he who first discovered the enemy. A rustling in the undergrowth attracted his attention, and a moment later he had a partial view of a shaggy mane and tawny yellow back. Just a glimpse it was through the matted foliage beneath him; but it brought from Gunto’s leathern lungs a shrill “Kreeg-ah!” which is the ape for beware, or danger.

Instantly the tribe took up the cry until “Kreeg-ahs!” rang through the jungle about the clearing as apes swung quickly to places of safety among the lower branches of the trees and the great bulls hastened in the direction of Gunto.

And then into the clearing strode Numa, the lion–majestic and mighty, and from a deep chest issued the moan and the cough and the rumbling roar that set stiff hairs to bristling from shaggy craniums down the length of mighty spines.

Inside the clearing, Numa paused and on the instant there fell upon him from the trees near by a shower of broken rock and dead limbs torn from age-old trees. A dozen times he was hit, and then the apes ran down and gathered other rocks, pelting him unmercifully.

Numa turned to flee, but his way was barred by a fusilade of sharp-cornered missiles, and then, upon the edge of the clearing, great Taug met him with a huge fragment of rock as large as a man’s head, and down went the Lord of the Jungle beneath the stunning blow.

With shrieks and roars and loud barkings the great apes of the tribe of Kerchak rushed upon the fallen lion. Sticks and stones and yellow fangs menaced the still form. In another moment, before he could regain consciousness, Numa would be battered and torn until only a bloody mass of broken bones and matted hair remained of what had once been the most dreaded of jungle creatures.

But even as the sticks and stones were raised above him and the great fangs bared to tear him, there descended like a plummet from the trees above a diminutive figure with long, white whiskers and a wrinkled face. Square upon the body of Numa it alighted and there it danced and screamed and shrieked out its challenge against the bulls of Kerchak.

For an instant they paused, paralyzed by the wonder of the thing. It was Manu, the monkey, Manu, the little coward, and here he was daring the ferocity of the great Mangani, hopping about upon the carcass of Numa, the lion, and crying out that they must not strike it again.

And when the bulls paused, Manu reached down and seized a tawny ear. With all his little might he tugged upon the heavy head until slowly it turned back, revealing the tousled, black head and clean-cut profile of Tarzan of the Apes.

Some of the older apes were for finishing what they had commenced; but Taug, sullen, mighty Taug, sprang quickly to the ape-man’s side and straddling the unconscious form warned back those who would have struck his childhood playmate. And Teeka, his mate, came too, taking her place with bared fangs at Taug’s side. Others followed their example, until at last Tarzan was surrounded by a ring of hairy champions who would permit no enemy to approach him.

It was a surprised and chastened Tarzan who opened his eyes to consciousness a few minutes later. He looked about him at the surrounding apes and slowly there returned to him a realization of what had occurred.

Gradually a broad grin illuminated his features. His bruises were many and they hurt; but the good that had come from his adventure was worth all that it had cost. He had learned, for instance, that the apes of Kerchak had heeded his teaching, and he had learned that he had good friends among the sullen beasts whom he had thought without sentiment. He had discovered that Manu, the monkey–even little, cowardly Manu–had risked his life in his defense.

It made Tarzan very glad to know these things; but at the other lesson he had been taught he reddened. He had always been a joker, the only joker in the grim and terrible company; but now as he lay there half dead from his hurts, he almost swore a solemn oath forever to forego practical joking–almost; but not quite.

You can get Tarzan books for any of the major EBRs (E-Book Readers)

here

from FeedBooks.com.

Check the rights information…not all of the books are public domain in all countries.  If you are in the US and they are published before 1923, you are fine.

This is the publication order of the main books:

Tarzan of the Apes
The Return of Tarzan
The Beasts of Tarzan
The Son of Tarzan
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
Jungle Tales of Tarzan
Tarzan the Untamed
Tarzan the Terrible
Tarzan and the Golden Lion
Tarzan and the Ant Men
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Tarzan and the Lost Empire
Tarzan at the Earth’s Core
Tarzan the Invincible
Tarzan Triumphant
Tarzan and the City of Gold
Tarzan and the Lion Man
Tarzan and the Leopard Men
Tarzan’s Quest
Tarzan and the Forbidden City
Tarzan the Magnificent
Tarzan and the Foreign Legion
Tarzan and the Madman
Tarzan and the Castaways

Tip of the day: Broken Kindles can be sent to Amazon for recycling.  Information is on this page.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Freebie flash! Rooms and Regina

April 21, 2010

Freebie flash! Rooms and Regina

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and they come from companies that are not (to my knowledge) blocking text-to-speech. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

Rooms
By James L. Rubart
Published by B&H  (a faith-based publisher)

Micah Taylor, a young successful businessperson, receives a strange letter that tells him there is a house awaiting him in Oregon…a really, really creepy house, based on the cover.  ;)  This appears to be Rubart’s first book.

Regina in the Sun 
Children of the Goddess #1
By R. G. Alexander
Published by Samhain  (a fiction publisher with an emphasis on romance and genre works)

Vampire romance…I must say, I do like Samhain’s warnings on some of the books.  In this case, it says in part:

“…a plethora of vampire nookie”

  (|) (|)   

W

;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Amazon fighting NC’s request for customer info

April 21, 2010

Flash! Amazon fighting NC’s request for customer info

First, I’m happy to say this has nothing to do with the agency model.  :)

Second, I’m unhappy to say that it is part of a growing movement to redefine Amazon as having a physical presence in a state if it has “Associates” there.

Here’s that basic issue:

A state can compel an internet retailer to collect sales tax at the time of purchase if said retailer has a “physical presence” in the state.  That means a building, or, more significantly to this instance, a “sales force”. 

For mor information, see this previous post.

We’ve seen in a few states the attempt to compel Amazon to collect sales taxes at the time of sale because they have “Associates” in those states.  Associates are part of a free program that allows you to post “referrer links” on a website, and get money if people buy from those links.  I use them in this blog, as I’ve stated before, even though I make very little money from it, typically.  Some bloggers make a lot, by the way.  I’m just not tending to recommend hardware and such, and we don’t get any money for Kindle books.

If the state makes that declaration, and it holds up in court, Amazon can be compelled to collect the tax (if you would have had to pay tax in your state in a brick-and-mortar store…for example, I live in California, and they don’t tax e-books delivered electronically, so I don’t have to worry about it).

Collecting tax is cumbersome and expensive, and I’m sure Amazon would rather not do it if they can avoid it.

Note that it doesn’t mean the state wouldn’t get the sales tax.  If your internet retailer doesn’t collect it from you, you are typically supposed to report it on your annual tax form (I reported this year).  The state hypothetically gets it in either case, but it’s who has to have the expense of collecting it.  Lots of people don’t report it on their state taxes as well, and although they could prosecute you for it, that’s also expensive. 

Well, according to this

AP article

the North Carolina situation has taken a strange twist.

When a state passes a law like that, Amazon can avoid collecting the sales tax by cutting off the Associate program in that state…they did that in Colorado, for example.  Yes, that means Amazon gives up that “word of mouse”, as I call it, and those poor Associates lose the income.

In 2009, the state legislature of NC passed a law that would compel Amazon to collect the tax based on those Affiliates.

Amazon ducked, by canceling the program.

Case closed, right?

Nope.

NC wants to collect the sales taxes for Affiliate sales made before the law went into effect…back to 2003.

In order to do that, they are asking Amazon to give them the names and addresses and amounts of sales for all those transactions. 

Yes: the state of North Carolina wants Amazon to give them your name and address so they can come after you.

Amazon is fighting this.

They say it would violate privacy policies.

Amazon filed suit with the U.S. District court to have the request ruled as unconstitutional.

Now, I’m not going to try to argue that this is altruistic and noble on Amazon’s part…customers wouldn’t like it if they gave up that info.  But honestly, I do think their privacy being maintained is what most customers would prefer.

I suppose if it was decided that not paying those sales/use taxes on your annual taxes was a crime (and it may very well be), and this was an investigation of a crime, and they had a warrant…Amazon would be compelled to obey.

I don’t know enough about the relevant law in North Carolina, though.  Is there a statute of limitations on not paying taxes?  Is the “remedy too broad”…can they get that information on people if they have no reason to suspect that they didn’t pay the taxes?

Brave new world, indeed…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Blockade Billy by Stephen King in the Kindle store

April 20, 2010

Flash! Blockade Billy by Stephen King in the Kindle store

Amazon is announcing in this

Press Release

that Blockade Billy, a baseball novella by Stephen King, is now available in the Kindle store.

Why is that worth a press release?

The book (again, it’s shorter than a typical novel…not to mention shorter than a typical Stephen King) has only been available in a limited manner.  The publisher (Cemetary Dance) even specifically says,

“Our editions will NOT be available in stores or sold to the big online retailers like Amazon.”

Okay, so clearly this can’t be one of their editions.

Melissa Kirmayer, Amazon’s Director of Kindle Content, says it is,

“…a great example of the publishing freedom Kindle allows writers…”

The product page says it is published by Storyville.  The term “Storyville” is more associated with New Orleans (it’s the name of a famous “red light” district) than with King’s native Maine.  My intuition is that whoever is behind the publication of this title didn’t know about the New Orleans connection, but I could be wrong.  ;)

The only other publication I find in the Kindle store from “Storyville”? UR, King’s Kindle exclusive that really contributed to the device’s success.

So, a collectible edition (with a special baseball card) in limited edition hardback…and a Kindle edition.  Those are kind of opposites…you can’t get your Kindle edition signed, they don’t decay, and they aren’t limited.  Interesting!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Chasing the long tail

April 20, 2010

Chasing the long tail

“Every book ever written in any language.”

I haven’t noticed Amazon saying that much lately, but that used to be one of the goals for the Kindle store.

So, how are they doing?  :)

There are so many barriers to achieving this goal…enough that I’d have to say it isn’t a goal, it’s a vision.  For example, right now, Amazon doesn’t even have the latest e-books from Penguin in the Kindle store.  That’s due to a disagreement (or more accurately, probably, a lack of agreement).  Those books will likely come back.  But they highlight an important point: Amazon can’t force rightsholders to put books in the store.  They encourage them, but they can’t force them.

What about books that have been written but never published?  Those would be hard to get!

What about the books that were lost in the burning of the library at Alexandria?

Quite simply, with the world the way it is now, I think this vision will remain unfulfilled.

I kidded about this about a year ago:

“BEZOS DISCUSSES “EVERY BOOK EVER WRITTEN” STRATEGY 

Jeff Bezos addressed a group of users who were disappointed that Amazon had not yet digitized “every book ever written” as has been the stated goal. According to attendees at the private conference, Bezos said the online retailer has a two-pronged approach.

“First, we have to stop any more books from being written. It’s clear that we are unable to make any real progress while authors continue to write. We’re looking into an incentive program, and have discovered that keeping them busy on our forums can significantly slow their output.

Secondly, we found out that the number of books that already exist is staggering. So, we plan to develop time travel, and go back to prevent the books from being written in the first place. We’ve been told that we can effectively delay the written word by hundreds of years if we introduce television during the Cro-Magnon period. While the technical challenges seem daunting, I’m confident that the issues can be resolved…”

:)

So, let’s cut this down a bit.  We’ll even leave books that are out of print of it for a moment.

Are Kindle titles getting into the store faster than new paperbook titles are being published?  If not, it’s impossible for them to catch up, right?

The obvious answer is no.  Books are published all over the world, and it will be a long time before those are simultaneously published in e-book form…and put in the Kindle store.

Although there are worldwide statistics, let’s narrow this down even more to make it easier.

When will Amazon have as many e-book titles in the Kindle store as they have printed books at Amazon.com?

What’s the situation now?

That’s a little quirky when you look at Amazon.  If I search for books generally, I get 28,036,078 results.  That seems fine.

However, when they break it down by format, it doesn’t make sense.

Printed Books (18,870,400)
HTML (1,215,834)
Audiobooks (378,417)
Kindle Books (192,324)
PDF (191,883)
Calendars (61,471)

Huh?  Kindle books are only 192, 324? 

All those formats added together only come up to 20,910,329…does that mean there are 7,125,749 books that don’t have a format at all?  That seems odd.

First, let’s cut this down to just books they list as new.

That’s weird, too:

Any Condition
Used (12,522,341)
New (8,977,589)
Collectible (893,021)

Well, we’ll go with new any way.  That cuts it down to 9,149,096 when I actually run it.

Now we get 7,171,181 printed books, and 201,861 Kindle books. 

That Kindle book number is still interesting.  Does that mean almost 300,000 titles in the Kindle store aren’t books?  Does that mean they are short stories?  Maybe…but in the Kindle store, we don’t get that selection choice.  Might be nice, though.  :)

Okay, let’s compare the numbers we have.

The Kindle books are about 3% of the printed books.

There are 4,386 printed books listed as coming soon.

There are 1,570 Kindle books listed as coming soon.

Hmmm…that means that the Kindle store is falling further behind, not catching up.

Maybe the “coming soon” period is uneven?

One thing is that Kindle books tend to just show up a lot more often than paperbooks (p-books).  P-books need a lot more lead time, and it helps the publisher and the retailer to know what demand is like.  That helps them figure out how many to print or order.  With e-books, since there can be an effectively endless supply, you don’t have to judge how many you are going to need.

Let’s look, then, at the most recent complete month.

When I search for new printed books in March 2010, I get 209,690. 

When I search for new Kindle books in March 2010, I get 26,151.

That looks worse!

Hmmm…maybe the speed of books being added to the Kindle store is accelerating in comparison to paperbooks?

In February 2010, 29,997 Kindle books were added.

In February 2010, 316,007 printed books were added.

Hey, that helps!  The printed books in March were 66% of the ones in February, and the Kindle books in March were 87% of the ones in February.

Whew!

That’s not much of a sample…back one more month, so I can build a trend.  :)

  Printed   Kindle  
Mar-10 209690 66% 26151 87%
Feb-10 316007 78% 29997 166%
Jan-10 407565   18095  

Hm.  Since the trend is downward, that’s not going to work very well.

So, we’ll cheat.  :)  We’ll say the average increase for printed books month to month is 72%.  The average increase for Kindle books is 126%.

Using that calculation, the Kindle books would equal the paperbooks…a bit more than 14 months from now. 

April, May, June…that would make it by July, 2011.

Wow, that’s a house of cards!  ;)

So, that’s the ridiculous statistical method.  Seat of the pants…I’m going to say five and a half years. 

That’s titles in the Kindle store versus new printed books in the Amazon store…for the US.

That requires considerable growth in the e-book market and probably some slowing for p-books.

Oh, well…now we apply the most reliable method of prognostication…we wait and see what happens.  ;)

Tip of the day: if you have to restart your Kindle, try Home-Menu-Settings-Menu-Restart.  That’s the best way to do it…if your Kindle is responding.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Paulo Coelho makes books available in French and Spanish worldwide

April 19, 2010

Flash! Paulo Coelho makes books available in French and Spanish worldwide

This

News Release

from Amazon about the release of some of Paolo Coelho’s books in French and Spanish worldwide through the Kindle store has some fascinating implications.

First, Coelho is the all-time bestselling Portuguese-language author, according to the release.  Coelho’s most famous book, The Alchemist, is one of the most cosmopolitan of all-time.

Why would Coelho even have control of whether or not the books are in the Kindle store?  Wouldn’t that often be up to a publisher?

Yes, but a translation is considered a “derivative work”.  That earns it a new and separate copyright.  If you translate a book that is in the public domain, your translation is not.  When Coelho sold the rights for, say, the English translation of The Alchemist, that doesn’t automatically mean that he also sold the rights for the French and Spanish versions.

HarperCollins has the English version of The Zahir in the Kindle store, but “Gold Coelho” has the French and Spanish versions.  The HarperCollins version? $10.99.  The Gold Coelho versions? $8.00.

HarperCollins is one of the agency model publishers…

Second, the idea that it is “worldwide” is also important. 

They are making clear that this is available in 100 countries.  I’ve been saying that we’ll see worldwide rights more commonly, and this is an example.  Again, Coelho probably retained the rights to translations of these works…and rather than selling them piecemeal for different jurisdictions, my guess is that these are effectively independently published with worldwide rights being granted under Amazon’s Digital Text Platform agreement.

That’s a good sign, in my opinion.  Independently published books by well-known authors provide significant competition to agency model books.

Paolo Coelho books in the Kindle store

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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