Archive for March, 2011

Amanda Hocking signs $2m deal with Macmillan

March 26, 2011

Amanda Hocking signs $2m deal with Macmillan

This is a fascinating article from the New York Times:

A Successful Self-Publishing Author Decides to Try the Traditional Route

I strongly recommend you read it.  It’s a good microcosm of some of the points.  Why would a successful indie decide to go with a traditional publisher (tradpub)?  If you are making more than a million dollars doing it yourself, why change what you are doing?

It’s fascinating partially because the inverse is true: if an author is making good money with a tradpub, why consider indie publishing?

One thing is the fear that you can’t do both…and I think this will be an interesting “test”.

Will Amanda Hocking’s core audience consider this “selling out”?  Do they care that she has been independently publishing, or do they just care about the books?

My intuition is that her indie status has been a plus for some people…but most people found the price more important than Hocking’s publication method.

However, let’s say Macmillan publishes the e-books for $9.99…will they sell at that price, as opposed to the ninety-nine cent and $2.99 price points she has now?

I will point out one thing that amused me:

“Matthew Shear, the publisher of St. Martin’s Press, said that he wanted “pretty badly” to win the auction for Ms. Hocking’s books and that he would be able to introduce her work to a wider audience of readers.”

A wider audience?  The books are already on the USA Today’s bestseller list.  Not their e-book bestseller list…they don’t have separate lists. 

It does give her a chance to become a New York Times bestselling author, though.  I think it’s…interesting…but the NYT does not do rankings for indies. 

Congratulations to Amanda Hocking!  I’ll be watching to see what happens with this move.

For more on Hocking, see this

previous post

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

The art and the artist

March 26, 2011

The art and the artist

I recently reviewed a book, and talked specifically about how the way the book treated certain different groups of people bothered me. 

However, I also talked about the good writing in the book.

A reader reasonably called me on that, and it brings up what to me is one of the classic questions.

I’ve written before about the problem of changing standards over time…about how something that is very offensive now may not have been as offensive when it was first published:

The Chronological Cultural Context Conundrum

This is a bit of a different question though, and I thought it was worthy of a separate post.

Suppose that you knew an author (or other artist) held an attitude that you found abhorrent?  Could you judge the writing fairly?  Should you?

What if an author wrote a really racist book…and other books that weren’t.  Should all of the books be ignored (or even censored)?

It’s a complicated question for me.  I honestly want to judge the art separately from the artist. 

I think, for example, that Frank Sinatra was one of the great singers…his phraseaology, his emotional content, was incredible.

However, I also know that he is at least alleged to have done things I find morally difficult.

Tarzan has been removed from some schools for being racist.  No question, Jane’s nurse in the first book is certainly a stereotype.  Tarzan refers to Tarmangani (people of European descent) and Gomangani (people  of African descent) as two different types.  It’s also been suggested that just the fact that Tarzan is a European who dominates the indigenous population is a racist stereotype.  However, Tarzan does have people of African descent as friends.

Even with the latter element, let’s say Tarzan is racist.  Does that mean no one should read any Edgar Rice Burroughs?  Should one not commend the excitement in the other series?

Let’s say you knew an author was a murderer…would that make you skip the book?

I can see taking that position.  This is a case where it would make a difference for as to whether the book was under copyright or not.  I might not buy a book from an author who behaves in a way I find unacceptable, because I don’t want them to get the money.  For an odd reason, I didn’t watch the movies of a really famous actor while the actor was alive. 

My Significant Other and I have stopped shopping at certain stores, because we disagreed with their policies.  I don’t buy books from companies that block text-to-speech access, because I don’t want to give them money.

However…

I still think the books from those publishers can be quality works of art. 

I’m sorry if I offended anyone by both praising someone’s writing and talking about prejudicial portrayals in that author’s works in the same post.   My goal in doing that is to give you what I liked and didn’t like about the book, and to give you enough information so you can make the decision for yourself.

Should I simply not write about people who either write offensive works or who had…difficult personal lives?

I have to tell you, I’m not sure what books that would leave.  I think it might be hard to find an author never wrote about violence, had characters engage in chauvinistic behavior (or portrayed women as inferior), or who never used racial/ethnic/religious/sexual preference stereotypes.  An ethnicity might be called stubborn, or lazy, or unimaginative, or superstitious, or a host of other negatives.

My feeling is still that it’s best to alert you to what I find offensive, and then let you decide. 

What do you think?  Can you separate the art and the artist?  Should you?  If an author has written offensively once, does that taint everything that author writes?  Does it matter how the stereotype is portrayed?  Should art be judged on its own merit, or should a work be rejected based on the author’s life?  I’m really interested to hear what you think about this one!

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

Woot has the Literati for $49.95 today

March 25, 2011

Woot has the Literati for $49.95 today

The Sharper Image backlit EBR (E-Book Reader) was $39.95 at one point from Bed, Bath, and Beyond as I had reported in this

previous post

Well,

http://www.woot.com

has it today for $49.95.

Woot does one special deal a day, and when it is sold out, it is gone.

One interesting twist on this: Amazon bought Woot a while back.  So, you could say that Amazon is selling a backlit EBR today.  ;)

I haven’t gotten great feedback from people using the Literati, but it is a way to get public library books…

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

“If you don’t have an iPhone…”

March 25, 2011

“If you don’t have an iPhone…”

I have to say, this ad for the iPhone gave me a good chuckle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV2__tmrEbM

It starts out with, “If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have iBooks.”

Well, if you don’t have an iPad either, that’s true.

It goes on to tell me, if I don’t have an iPhone I don’t have the iBookstore, an entire bookstore in my pocket.

True, I have an Android phone…so I don’t have iBooks.  I do, however, have the Kindle store…with hundreds of thousands more books. 

They end with one of those wonderful reflexive advertising statements: “If you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone.”

That’s truth in advertising!  ;)

It is interesting to me that they are using iBooks to make the iPhone seem better than all those Android phones out there.  I wonder how many people out there actually will decide to go with an iPhone because it has iBooks.  True, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a SmartPhone that didn’t have access to the Kindle store…but while there are certainly people very commmitted to Apple products, I don’t think iBooks has a prominent place in the pantheon of Apple products and services.  Essentially, people who have had iPads have always had the Kindle store alternative…and I believe the Kindle store has had as many as ten times more in-copyright books (that has changed recently since Random House went with the Agency Model and joined iBooks).

Anyway, it brought a smile to my face this morning, and you can trust me on that…after all…

“When you are reading this blog, well, you are reading this blog.”

;)

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

Review: The Collected Stories of H. P. Lovecraft: Volume One

March 25, 2011

Review: The Collected Stories of H. P. Lovecraft: Volume One

The Collected Stories of H. P. Lovecraft: Volume One
by H.P. Lovecraft
published by Ignacio Hills Press & E-Pulp Adventures

 “It is an unfortunate fact that the bulk of humanity is too limited in its mental vision to weigh with patience and intelligence those isolated phenomena, seen and felt only by a psychologically sensitive few, which lie outside its common experience. Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate individual physical and mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns as madness the flashes of supersight which penetrate the common veil of obvious empricism.”
–Jervis Dudley
The Tomb
written by H.P. Lovecraft

Many authors cite H.P. Lovecraft as a major influence, and new works are written in his madness-inducing milieu, the Cthulhu Mythos.  I recently saw Marilyn Manson talking about how his life had been changed by a chance encounter with the Necronomicon…a non-existent* book that Lovecraft invented and referenced several times in his works.  I don’t know if Manson was being deliberately deceptive, or just playing along with Lovecraft’s nudge-nudge, wink-wink “believers”.

Now, when you hear that, and if you know Lovecraft is a horror writer, you might feel like he’s not for you.

That might be true.

I do have to say, though, he’s a good writer…it isn’t just a gimmick.  He’s erudite, evocative…and yes, moving.  If he hadn’t been a pulp writer, I think he might get assigned in school.

Here’s an example:

“As his hammer blows began to fall, the horse outside whinnied in a tone which may have been encouraging and may have been mocking. In either case it would have been appropriate; for the unexpected tenacity of the easy-looking brickwork was surely a sardonic commentary on the vanity of mortal hopes, and the source of a task whose performance deserved every possible stimulus.”
–In the Vault
written by H.P. Lovecraft

 This is a large collection, with 48 stories.  You might think it would get repetitive…I didn’t find that.  There is a wide-range of feels from the poetic to more realistic horror.

You don’t get everything (it does say Volume 1, after all).  You don’t get At the Mountain of Madness, which has been in the blogosphere lately with a possible high-profile movie.  However, many other well-known stories are here, including Herbert West, Reanimator (the inspiration for a series of movies); The Lurking Fear; Dagon; and The Doom That Came to Sarnath.

I particularly liked the inclusion of The Unnamable, a meta-tale in which Lovecraft appears to write himself into the story…and make fun of his reputation at the same time:

“Besides, he added, my constant talk about “unnamable” and “unmentionable” things was a very puerile device, quite in keeping with my lowly standing as an author. I was too fond of ending my stories with sights or sounds which paralyzed my heroes’ faculties and left them without courage, words, or associations to tell what they had experienced. We know things, he said, only through our five senses or our intuitions; wherefore it is quite impossible to refer to any object or spectacle which cannot be clearly depicted by the solid definitions of fact or the correct doctrines of theology – preferably those of the Congregationalist, with whatever modifications tradition and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may supply.”

Are there negatives?  Yes.  The stories can be horrifying, although that’s the intent.  A bigger issue for a lot of people is going to be the political incorrectness.  While the “n word” shows up in a number of older books I read, this is more than a casual reference.  It’s not just a name…several groups are treated as inferior.

That’s honestly going to be too high a barrier for a lot of people.  It would be possible to put together a collection that didn’t have those stories, but that’s the problem when you try to do a collector’s edition.

There also isn’t much in the way of background information.  I like that they tell you when and where each story was originally published, but there is no author bio.

The price is right at ninety-nine cents, but I didn’t even pay that.  One of my readers, Allison, generously bought it for me from my wish list.  :)  I absolutely don’t expect anybody else to do that…it was a nice surprise. 

Overall, I’d say I certainly enjoyed reading it (it made some long drives a lot more interesting), although the stereotyping did mar the experience for me.

* There have been editions of the Necronomicon written after Lovecraft, including a 1973 and 1980 version.  It’s possible Manson encountered one of those.

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

Flash! Wireless delivery direct to Kindle 3s of Audible audiobooks now available

March 24, 2011

Flash! Wireless delivery direct to Kindle 3s of Audible audiobooks now available

You’ve always been able to put Audible (owned by Amazon) audiobooks in your Kindle’s Audible folder and listen to them.

However, you had to “sideload” them using your Kindle’s USB cable.

Why? 

Amazon pays for our 3G use, and that’s what you have on the K1, K2, and KDX.

With the Kindle 3, both models have wi-fi…and you (or McDonalds or Starbucks or other open public wi-fi spots) pay for it.

You can now go to

http://www.amazon.com/audible*

and download audiobooks directly to your Kindle 3 via wi-fi.

I found it a little confusing when I got there.  There was a choice to order a book as an Audible Audio Edition for $14.95, or as a Kindle Edition for $9.66 (on the first book I checked).

Why the difference?

The Kindle Edition is not the audiobook (which is typically recorded by an actor or the author)…it’s the e-book.  If you want to get the audiobook for your Kindle, you choose the Audible Audio Edition…and then choose your Kindle to receive it.

This doen’t affect the text-to-speech options.  I could download the e-book, and my Kindle would read it to me…but that’s a very different experience from listening to a recorded version by an actor.  Oh, and my Kindle doesn’t need to get a residual.  ;)

If you join Audible, you’ll get two free audiobooks right now.

Kindle forum announcement thread

* Full disclosure: like many links on this blog, this includes my Amazon Associate code.  That doesn’t affect you negatively, but if you go there and then shop at Amazon, I get credit (depending on what you buy) from Amazon.  I don’t usualy put the “display name” as a URL different than the actual URL, but I wanted you to see what the actual one is as well.

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

Freebie flash! Investigating, Ubiquitous, Computing

March 23, 2011

 Freebie flash! Investigating, Ubiquitous, Computing

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

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives
by Richard Swenson
published by NavPress (a faith-based publisher)

Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity
by R. Glenn Hubbard, Peter Navarro
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Crapshoot Investing
by Jim McTague
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Ubiquitous Computing for Business: Find New Markets, Create Better Businesses and Reach Customers Around The World 24-7-365
by Bo Begole
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

15 Expert Lessons for Retirement Planning
by Steve Weisman, Liz Pulliam Weston, James Walker, Moshe A. Milevsky
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Quiet Reflections of Peace
Quiet Reflections of Hope
by the Baker Publishing Group
Published by Revell (part of Baker, a faith-based publisher)

Leota’s Garden
by Francine Rivers
published by Tyndale House (a faith-based publisher)

Hitler’s Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940
by Henrik O. Lunde
published by Casemate  (a military history publisher)

Bite Me
by Parker Blue
published by Bell Bridge Books (a publisher of “emerging fiction voices” with a Southern focus)

When You Went Away
by Michael Baron
published by The Story Plant (a commercial fiction publisher)

Young Lord of Khadora
Forgotten Legacy
by Richard S. Tuttle
KBS Publishing (publishes the works of Richard S. Tuttle)

Triumph of Grace
by Kay Marshall Strom
published by Abingdon Press (a faith-based publisher)

Aftershock: The Blast That Shook Psycho Platoon (Kindle Single)
by T. Christian Miller, Daniel Zwerdling
published by ProPublica
 (an investigative journalism non-profit)

Erotic romance shorts published by Ellora’s Cave:

After the Ceremony
by Tielle St. Claire

The After Party
by Wynter Daniels

Acquired Taste
by Shayla Kersten

Let’s Get Naked
by LaCroix

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

Flash! Judge rejects Google Settlement

March 23, 2011

Flash! Judge rejects Google Settlement

I’ve written quite a bit about the Google Settlement.

The last time I wrote it about significantly as April 23, 2010, when the judge in the case was confirmed to the District Court.

We’ve basically been waiting since for somebody to rule on the Amended Settlement Agreement.

For a fairly extensive overview, I’d start with this previous post.  For now, I’ll give you a basic rundown.

Google was scanning books in library collections.  They even patented (very clever, in my opinion) technology to do it.  They basically claimed they had the right to do it under Section 107 of Title 17 (US copyright law).  That’s the Fair Use section.

The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers said that Google did not have the right to scan copyrighted books without permission of the rightsholders.

The AG and AAP sued.

In a settlement agreement (which was amended), the three parties worked out a future arrangement that allowed Google to scan books if it could not locate the rightsholder, sell the books, and if somebody eventually showed up and proved they owned the rights, pay them. 

I wasn’t in favor of the settlement.  I don’t think a single company should have the right to print unauthorized editions.  I do understand the value of “orphan book” legislation.  Orphan books are those under copyright protection, but which have no one to speak for them.  I’d be okay with Congressionally-passed orphan law legislation that carefully protected the rights of the authors.  I’d be less okay with it if it was retroactive, but I know it might be.

We’ve been waiting for something like a year for Judge Chin to rule on the fairness of the Amended Settlement Agreement.   Amazon, Microsoft, and individual authors had offered opinions to the court.  The Department of Justice had also expressed concerns about it.

Judge Chin filed his decision today:

http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/cases/show.php?db=special&id=115

The key statement?

“The question presented is whether the ASA is fair, adequate, and reasonable. I conclude that it is not.

While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would simply go too far.”

I essentially agree with that statement, although I know many people will be disappointed.

If the ASA had been approved, it would probably have meant more e-books would be available to us sooner.

We will probably have to wait for some other resolution to the orphan books question before we get those books.

However, I do think it wasn’t fair to authors who didn’t participate in the ASA.  Since it was an opt out situation, it committed people to an agreement in which they hadn’t had a part.

I do think, though, that even people who don’t like this decision will be happy to see that some decision has been released.  This now means that other approaches can be tried. 

For more informaton on the Google settlement, see this category.

What do you think?  Do you agree with Judge Chin?  Do you think Google was trying to exert rights that belonged to authors, or that they were serving the public good?  Feel free to let me know.

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

Flash! The Amazon Android Appstore has arrived

March 22, 2011

Flash! The Amazon Android Appstore has arrived

As rumored, we have the Amazon Appstore this morning!

Amazon Appstore for Android

They are giving away a special version of Angry Birds, tied into the movie Rio.

Well, that was disappointing!  I tried installing it on my Samsung Captivate with AT&T, and it looked like it installed, but I got a message saying:

“Install blocked

For security, your phone is set to block installation of applications not sourced in Android Market.”

I’ll have to see if there is a legitmate way around that…my Significant Other loves Angry Birds! 

The Angry Birds Rio is only free until midnight Pacific time tonight.

The store has a lot of categories, including free Amazon Apps, including Audible and Kindle.  They don’t have an app for their video on demand, which is interesting.

There are 625 apps under the Books & Comics category.  Those include Dr. Seuss books, manga, and more.  There are 41 free apps in this category.

Hey, they have top 100 free and paid lists, just like the Kindle store!  That’s nice…

That’s interesting!  There are free and paid versions of some programs, like some of the Angry Birds titles…the free one of the basic AB is advertising supported…that’s the one I’ve had on my phone for a while.

You can “test drive” some apps on your computer…sort of like a free sample in the Kindle store.

Ah, I found the important part for me:

“If you have an AT&T phone or tablet, you currently can’t install the Amazon Appstore or purchase apps from it. AT&T is working to allow customers to install the Amazon Appstore and purchase apps from it. To sign up to be notified by AT&T when you are able to install the Amazon Appstore on AT&T phones and tablets, visit the AT&T website.”

Here’s the page where you can sign up to be notified when AT&T has finalized its arrangements.  This is an AT&T page…it should be more directly effective than clicking the “Tell the publisher” link on a Kindle store book.  ;)

The feedback e-mail address to Amazon is

amazon-appstore-help@amazon.com

There are special gift cards:

Amazon Appstore gift cards

This is also an important paragraph:

1. Amazon Appstore downloads are only available to customers located in the United States and only work on Android mobile and internet tablet devices. To redeem a gift card for Amazon Appstore downloads, you must have opened an Amazon account and must accept the Terms of Use for the Amazon Appstore service.”

They are also going to do a free app of the day, which would be one for which you would normally pay.

Do you have an Android app you’d like to see in the Amazon Appstore?  Start here:

https://developer.amazon.com/welcome.html

It’s funny, and this is just to give you my feeling on it, but I really want access to this!  I’m not app crazy…I don’t have a lot of the on my phone.   For whatever reason, though, I’m feeling like it would be fun, exciting, and reasonably priced.   Maybe you can get most of it already through the Android Marketplace…but it makes a big difference to me that this is the familiar Amazon interface.  I know how to browse the store, how to find things.  We’ll have Amazon style reviews and ratings.  Being able to shop on my computer rather than my phone is a big plus.

Well, check it out, and feel free to tell me what you think.  I’ll let you know when I get access on my phone.

Oh, and no Amazon Android tablet yet…  :)

No press release on the appstore yet, either…I’ll add a link when there is one.

Update: here’s that

press release

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

Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble over the NOOK

March 22, 2011

Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble over the NOOK

Microsoft has patents on the way most people experience the web, and they say that Google’s Android has violated those patents.

According to them, the way they prefer to deal with companies that use Android is to have those companies pay them for the use of the patent…to pay them a licensing fee.

Last year, HTC did that for their SmartPhones…and Amazon did it for the Kindle (according to Microsoft).

Barnes & Noble has not done that.

Microsoft says they’ve been talking to the for a year, and they haven’t been able to reach such an agreement.

Microsoft also says:

“Together with the patents already asserted in the course of our litigation against Motorola, today’s actions bring to 25 the total number of Microsoft patents in litigation for infringement by Android smartphones, tablets and other devices. Microsoft is not a company that pursues litigation lightly. In fact, this is only our seventh proactive patent infringement suit in our 36-year history. But we simply cannot ignore infringement of this scope and scale.”

What is this going to mean? 

Well, the first part of that question is whether or not Microsoft would win.  My guess is they would.  :)  They probably wouldn’t start these suits, which are expensive, if they didn’t think they’d win. 

If B&N switched to the licensing program, would Microsoft drop the suit?  Maybe…although they might want to sweeten things a bit, including paying for Microsoft’s legal costs.

I don’t think this crushes the NOOK (this affects both the NOOK and the NOOKColor)…but it doesn’t help…

Microsoft blog entry

Microsoft press release

PCMag article

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


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