Archive for July, 2012

Review: Doc Savage: The Desert Demons

July 14, 2012

Review: Doc Savage: The Desert Demons

Doc Savage: The Desert Demons (The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage)
by Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray, and credit given to Lester Dent)
published by Altus Press
original publication: 2011
size: 502KB (271 pages)
categories: genre fiction (incorrectly listed as a graphic novel)
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: no
text-to-speech: yes
real page numbers: yes
x-ray: no

Doc Savage is one of my fictional heroes.

I truly believe that I am a better person for having read the 181 original pulp adventures.

Part of why I set myself goals for every day that are designed to improve myself, with the intent of using those improved abilities to help others, is thanks to the Man of Bronze. Okay, it isn’t exercising two hours a day, but averaging a thousand words a day in this blog is a similar discipline…right? 😉

So, I was excited to be able to read new adventures of Doc and his team.

I was also a little trepidatious.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in revisiting an old property. For one thing, part of what we remember about reading a book is based on who we were at the time…and that’s changed.

There is also a tendency to want to make it something more than it was…to go to extremes in some way. You can amp up the special effects, and the world-shaking importance of the situation…but if you don’t maintain the basic relationships, you lose what made the story work in the first place. See the William Hurt Lost in Space or the Roland Emmerich Godzilla…or perhaps, it’s just as good if you don’t. 😉

On the other hand, people can be so careful to try to be true to the original that they aren’t original themselves. You can check off the boxes, but you still have to write a story.

Will Murray clearly knows the Doc Savage universe. He should: he has been the literary agent for the Lester Dent estate (Dent wrote the majority of the original adventures). He has been writing Doc Savage or writing about Doc Savage since the 1970s.

That’s a good thing. Fans will be happy to see the familiar gadgets and characters.

I think he wisely keeps the story set in the 1930s. While I do believe Doc stories set in the modern day could work, it would make it tremendously more difficult. You would have to predict technology in the same way that Dent did, and that’s not easy.

Is this a great book?

No, I wouldn’t say that. Especially in the beginning of the book, it’s a bit stiff. Hands don’t have fingers, they have “digits”. Instead of people, there are “persons”. That may be an attempt to match a period style of speaking, but it felt awkward to me.

Murray seems to enjoy the opportunity to be politically incorrect in a way that’s appropriate for the period. You may find that a bit jarring.

The story is also a lot longer and more complex than the original pulps. There are many characters, and a lot of set pieces. It makes you work a bit harder than perhaps you want in a popcorn book.

There are also times when the characters don’t ring true. Doc replies “Nothing doing” to somebody, which seemed too slangy…and it felt to me like the question would likely have been simply ignored (Doc is famous for not answering questions, even from his own team).

That said, it was also not a bad book. The story hung together, and there were times when I was genuinely wrapped up in what was happening.

Bottom line: if you’re a Doc Savage fan, it’s worth a read (although don’t go into it expecting it to be your favorite Doc adventure). If you aren’t, I think I wouldn’t start with this. Hopefully, the originals will come to the Kindle store (they are not in the public domain). I’d love to see them offer a super-bundle with all 181 adventures for fifty dollars or so, with individual adventures for maybe $2.99 (they could offer some bundles in that, as Bantam did with their reprints).

Before I go, I do want to tell you a bit about Doc, for those of you who don’t know. There is supposedly another movie in the works (George Pal did one starring Ron Ely), but it doesn’t seem too solid yet.

Doc was essentially raised to be a superhuman. As you can imagine, that doesn’t make him a normal person. Arguably, he was warped by his specialized upbringing…but is also vastly superior to the average person, both physically and intellectually.

He and his team (five war buddies from World War I) travel around the world investigating mysteries and helping people. The team members are each very distinct personalities, bound together by their loyalty to Doc.

Doc also is the forerunner of Superman and Batman (and others). Superman is one of the clearest connections, but Doc isn’t an alien or an actual superhuman. However, he was called the “Man of Bronze” (Supes is the “Man of Steel”), he has a Fortress of Solitude, and his name is Clark. Superman couldn’t fly in the beginning, either…that came later. They also both have prominently featured female cousins…Pat appears in The Desert Demons.

Batman has special vehicles and a “utility belt”. Doc Savage has special vehicles and a “utility vest”. They’ve both trained themselves to physical superiority, and are extremely knowledgeable. Oh, and they are both rich. 🙂

I could draw connections to others…the X-Men are a team of specialized heroes, and you can’t miss Beast’s similarity to Doc’s Monk. Scooby Doo investigated apparent supernatural happenings. 🙂

Doc has a “no kill” policy (after the first book). Like others of my fictional heroes, he considers himself a failure in important ways. That doesn’t stop him from doing what he can to make himself better and to help others.

That idea that, like Spock and Kwai Chang Caine, others are amazed by him…and he is disappointed in himself…it keeps you humble, and I appreciate that. 🙂

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

Consumer Reports ranks NOOK Simple Touch #1 EBR

July 13, 2012

Consumer Reports ranks NOOK SimpleTouch #1 EBR

Consumer Reports has a reputation for being an unbiased testing company, and I think people are influenced by what they say.

In August 1, 2012 issue, they rank EBRs (E-Book Readers).

You can get that issue for your Kindle Fire, Kindle for iPad, or Kindle for iPhone here:

Consumer Reports

You can buy the individual issue for $3.99…or get a subscription for $2 a month. That comes (like all Kindle store magazines) with a 14-day free trial. You could read this issue, and then go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

and then go to

Subscription Settings

and click or tap

Actions…

and choose

Cancel my subscription.

As to what they said…

The NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight is #1, with a score of 83.

I’ m reasonably sure that Amazon has one of these in the wings, waiting for the right time to announce it…but they need to be careful about waiting too long.

The #2? Also a NOOK (the Simple Touch without the Glowlight).

Interestingly, the Kindle Keyboard outranks the Kindle Touch.

Neither the Touch nor the Keyboard get a “Best Buy” rating…the only Kindle that gets that is the Mindle.

They tested 22 models…but only 14 would they recommend.

I’ll let you read the rest of that…don’t want to take too much away from the list.

By the way, they also list tablets…and in the 7-8 inch, Wi-Fi only category, they have six to recommend…and the Kindle Fire is number 5 (but is a Best Buy). The NOOK tablet is…#6.

If you want to see some local news bantering about this, you can watch this video:

Colorado’s 9News

What do you think? Surprised that the NOOK Simple Touch beats the Kindle Touch? Does Consumer Reports still matter? Is Amazon making a mistake by not getting a front lit reflective screen Kindle out sooner? Is it ethical to get a 14-day free trial if you are sure you aren’t going to subscribe to something? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #94: free comics, GameCircle

July 11, 2012

Round up #94: free comics, GameCircle

Ring around the game app

There is a big announcement in this new

Amazon press release

Amazon is introducing

http://amazon.com/gamecircle

It allows app creators to add a number of new social features. I think Kindle social features may be a big part of the future. It’s a place where Barnes & Noble is in the lead, with their “NOOK Friends”. NOOK Friends is a service where you invite people to join you. When they do, you can see what books they have to lend, for one thing…I’ve seen people ask about that in the Kindle forums.

After looking a bit more at GameCircle, it isn’t clear to me that the user specifies who is in their circle.

That’s what Amazon needs to do, in my opinion. You need to be able to set up groups of friends, for reading, game playing, video, and so on. I love what I call the “bookstream” on the Kindle Fire, which creates a live chat in every book.

The problem is that you see just anybody’s comments…and they may not have the same sensibilities or priorities as your friends.

To really embed people in Amazon’s ecosystem, Amazon could make it so that you hear from your friends first on your Kindle…not necessarily on Facebook or by tweet and so on.

Of course, people who just read might not want alerts when they are reading…what if it only showed up on your RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle) on your homescreen? That might work, especially if it could be opt in.

On your Kindle Fire, you could have chat about games, and compete in the games. You could join fans of a TV series or a type of movie, and chat after watching a Prime video…or during it, I suppose (although viewing is asynchronous, so that wouldn’t work very well…unless Amazon starts doing live TV).

GameCircle doesn’t get us there, I guess, if you don’t pick whose best scores you see.

What it does do that is very significant, though, is back up your game progress and high scores to Amazon’s servers, so you can access them on a different device.

For those of you who aren’t gamers (and I know that this is going to be mostly a Kindle Fire post…but I’ll include something else, and I’ll try to do something different in the next post), you might not realize how important that can be to people. It might have taken you days of “labor” to get to a certain point in a game.

When there was the problem with the update to the Kindle Fire where one of the big answers was to reset it to factory defaults, there were people who absolutely did not want to do that, because they didn’t want to lose their game progress. It was possible to back that up, but not as a standard part of the Kindle Fire software.

Now, if a game developer has made their game part of GameCircle, it will have been backed up to Amazon’s servers, similar to your last past read page for books. If your Kindle Fire is lost/stolen/fails or has to be reset, you can pick up right where you were on a different device.

People are going to like that. 🙂

Public domain comics

I read comic books a lot as a kid, and I don’t really read the current ones. However, I really love forgotten popular culture. Whether that’s 19th Century literature or 1940s comic books, it intrigues me.

You can get free public domain comics from

http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/

When something is in the “public domain”, it is not under copyright protection. That may be because the term of copyright has expired, something wasn’t done properly on the filing or display of the copyright notice (those rules have changed, but that used to be a big thing), or nobody renewed the copyright when they had the chance.

Prior to the nostalgia craze which really came into being in the 1960s (thanks in large part to old movies being shown on TV), people figured that a lot of pop culture was truly ephemeral…it didn’t have lasting value. Who would want to read a comic book that was ten years old? 🙂

The Digital Comic Museum members scan and post public domain comics. The site says it tries to be very careful that the comics are actually in the public domain, and that looks likely from what I’ve seen. You do need to create a free account.

The comics are in CBR (Comic Book Reader) format, and you do need a way to read it. Calibre can convert CBR titles to Kindle-friendly MOBI format, but I haven’t tried that…not sure how well that will work.

I bought a comic book reader app for $2.99:

ComiCat

I’ve tested it out, and do like it. It makes reading the comic book on a Kindle Fire quite acceptable. Somebody with slightly better vision would like it even better, but it definitely works.

That’s not going to get you the contemporary comics, but this is a nice option.

Yes, I’m partially mentioning this because of

Comic-Con 2012

which officially starts tomorrow.

I just want to take a moment to say I was sorry to hear about the fan who was struck by a car and killed outside the con yesterday. My sympathies go out to the fan’s family and friends.

Honestly honest

I had somebody recently say that a post of mine in the Kindle community was “disingenuous”, and I felt really bad about that.

I thought I’d state my feelings about honesty, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt for you to know my position on that. 🙂

I’m not going to lie to you.

Now, I know, that’s what somebody usually says just before they lie to you, but it’s the truth. 🙂

Wait, now that sounds like the famous paradox, “Everything I say is a lie” (which was used in a Star Trek episode).

There is also this famous mind puzzle.

You have two beings: one of them always tells the truth and one of them always lies. You don’t know which one is the liar and which one is the truthteller. You can ask one of them a single question…how can you determine which one of them is which?

I’ll answer that after I tell you a bit more about how I feel.

Lying is wrong.

However, we do need to define lying. For me, you lie when you deliberately tell somebody something that you know isn’t true…usually for your personal gain and their loss.

An unspoken truth, for me, is not a lie.

A carefully worded statement that leads people to think a particular thing isn’t a lie.

A joke or acting is not a lie: the person knows you aren’t actually telling the truth.

I’m a trainer. My job is to change people’s behavior. I know, that’s not how a lot of trainers think about it. For me, there is a very big difference between educating (which I also do) and training.

Educating is just giving people information…they then decide what to do with it.

Training people is getting them to do something specific. That very often involves educating people, but that isn’t all of it. I always say, “You haven’t trained a dog to sit if it just knows what the word means.” 🙂 In other words, you may be able to say, “Sit” and the dog knows what you want, but the dog may not do it. That dog hasn’t been trained to sit.

That, by the way, is not to denigrate students. I don’t consider comparing a human to another species to be by definition an insult. I have considerable admiration for a lot of species.

When you train people, you need to convince them of the value of doing something a particular way. I don’t lie to my students…period. I do say things in a way that may make a particular choice feel positive to them…and I do feel it is positive.

Let me give you an example I’ve used when training trainers.

Let’s say you just learned something yesterday that you are presenting to somebody today. It’s completely possible for somebody to be able to train that well, depending on the complexity, of course.

If the trainer says, “When I was first learning this, I figured out that it was easier to do X,” that’s not a lie.  The wording tends to suggest to the students that it was some time ago. If the same trainer were to say, “When I was first learning this yesterday,” it would make the students insecure. They wouldn’t trust the trainer as much to know the material, and therefore wouldn’t learn it as well.

“When I was first learning this” isn’t a lie. It is stated in a way that gives a certain impression.

Disingenuous to me suggested that I was deliberately lying, and I had a possibly undeserved emotional reaction to that.

So, I’m not going to lie to you. 🙂 I may state things in a way to get you to think and feel the way I’d prefer, though.

Okay, back to that question with the truthteller and the liar.

The question is “If I were to ask the other being if you were the liar, what would they say?”

The liar knows the truthteller would give the true answer and say yes…but is going to lie about it and say “No”.

The truthteller knows that the liar is going to lie…and will say “Yes”.

There’s a good one to try on your friends. 🙂

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

Bookstores that won’t carry books

July 10, 2012

Bookstores that won’t carry books

What is the raison d’etre for bookstores?

It’s to sell books, right?

If a bookstore refuses to sell books, that seems self-destructive.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Harold Delk, directed me to this:

Publishers Weekly article

The Judith Rosen piece quotes several owners, managers, and other executives of brick-and-mortar bookstores explaining why they won’t carry books published by New Harvest.

Those are paperbooks published by Amazon imprints, and distributed by venerable (founded in 1880) publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

I have to say, there is some of the most upside down and backwards reasoning I’ve seen…at least, that’s the way it appears to me.

Let me address first the basic principle of not selling books. Absolutely, bookstores have the right to choose their merchandise (I’m a former bookstore manager). You don’t want to carry a book because it won’t sell? Perfectly reasonable. You don’t want to carry a book because you think it will offend your customers? Makes sense.

You don’t want to carry a book because you want to hurt the publisher? That’s just bizarre.

Who does it help and hurt?

The Customers

In the short run, this clearly hurts the customer. They can’t buy a book from you that they want. In the longer run, you might think you are helping them, by changing somebody’s else’s business practice…but the customer is likely to just buy the book somewhere else (like Amazon). If the customer doesn’t hear of the book, yes, that could hurt the publisher’s sales, which could encourage that company to change some practice, I guess.

The Store

Again, clearly a short term negative impact. The store loses sales. Perhaps more importantly, they could lose customers. You shop in a local store because you like their service (and maybe selection, although the internet beats that). It’s not good service to not have the book the customer wants. One thing that makes you return to a bookstore: you got a book there you loved. Fewer books, fewer chances for that to happen. Think you can explain it to the customer? “Yes, I know it has great reviews, but Amazon has business practices that we don’t like, so we aren’t going to carry it.” Customer’s response: “Who does carry it?” or “What practices?” Store: “They are selling books for lower prices than we can match.” Customer: “Um, okay…” Harold says that he won’t shop at any store that refuses to carry books like that…I would guess he won’t be the only one. Of course, many customers will have no idea about what is happening.

The Authors

They get hurt. Fewer sales, fewer royalties. Less discovery, fewer future sales. That even gets mentioned in the article.

The Publisher

They probably lose some sales, but this also weakens the power of the brick-and-mortar stores to influence the market in the future.

Other Publishers

They potentially win, but if this leads to fewer people shopping in brick and mortars, it means the tradpubs (traditional publishers) have to compete online…with Amazon.

Seriously, this is a lose/lose/lose/lose/lose. Of course, there are times it makes sense to hurt yourself. You see a little kid in the street, about to get hit by a car. You run out there and throw the kid to safety, getting hit and breaking your leg. That’s worth it. I can applaud the bookstore magnates for taking a moral stand. I just honestly think it’s hard to justify from a business standpoint.

Take this short quote excerpt from Vivien Jennings of Fairway Books in Kansas:

“Even if I’m super busy,” says Jennings, “I explain to [CreateSpace authors] about the sales tax thing and the DoJ.”

Let’s go through those two, and how I would explain them.

Amazon favors having a national sales tax policy. They want all internet retailers to be compelled to collect sales tax. Amazon’s Paul Misener has testified before Congress in favor of equal collection legislation.

What they don’t want is states making up their own (and very different) rules about who has to collect sales tax.

Amazon’s stand (and efforts to make it become reality) would likely benefit brick-and-mortar bookstores, because all (well, at least one that met a sales minimum, most likely) internet and mail order places would collect sales tax the same way those neighborhood stores do.

Is that what Jennings explains?

As to the DoJ (Department of Justice) thing…

There has been a real effort to spin this into an anti-Amazon case, when it is the opposite.

Does Jennings say, “Amazon was discounting e-books to customers, even though they were paying the same amount to publishers, and authors were therefore getting the same amount. Apple colluded, according to the Department of Justice, with five of the six largest US publishers to raise the prices that customers were paying…and to eliminate price competition, by making the e-books the same price regardless of what outlet was selling them.”

That’s what is happening.

I’m not saying that the DoJ couldn’t go after Amazon for anything…the e-tailer does have a “most favored nation” requirement in their contracts with independent publishers using their Kindle Direct Publishing , saying that the publisher can’t sell the e-book cheaper somewhere else. That one concerns me.

However, the current DoJ action says that Apple and the publishers were the bad guys and hurt consumers. Some of the publishers, without admitting wrongdoing, have already agreed to settle.

Maybe Jennings is explaining that, I don’t know. It doesn’t sound like it, though.

Here’s the hard part for me in this.

I think running a bookstore is a noble pursuit. Many bookstore owners/managers really want to help people find great things to read. I’ve spent many a wonderful time in bookstores.

These complaints, though, mostly sound like they are about money.

Clearly, if the goal was to help connect readers with books, you wouldn’t do it by keeping books out of the hands of readers.

Are bookstore owners/managers/CEOs upset because Amazon is doing that  better?

Sure, that makes sense. You want to make a profit, you want to stay in business.

It just doesn’t sound like the goal here is the enrichment of the reading community.

After you’ve read the article, I’d love to hear what you think. I’d be more than happy to discuss these points with any of those bookstore folks. Book people, as I’ve mentioned before, tend to be empathetic. While there are certainly passionate discussions around books (nowadays, you can find those online, in the “bookstream” inside a book on a Kindle Fire, and so on…and yes, probably in some bookstores), I think readers tend to be able to look at things logically and from many viewpoints.

What do you think?

If you have more to say to me and my readers, feel free to make a comment on this post.

Thanks again to Harold for the heads-up on this!

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

Round up #93: E-book predictions, Kindle phone

July 9, 2012

Round up #93: E-book predictions, Kindle phone

I’ve heard of a shoe phone, but…

Along with wild and contradictory predictions about upcoming EBRs (E-Book Readers) and tablets from Amazon, speculation about Amazon producing a SmartPhone is starting to heat up.

Everybody is calling it a Kindle SmartPhone, that I see, and since we are stuck with them calling their tablet (the Kindle Fire) a Kindle, I guess they  might call all of their hardware a Kindle (“Hey, did you see the new Kindle Can Opener?’).

I don’t know that there will be one released this year…there is still a lot going on without that. One of the things I’d be considering is the possible convergence of the tablet and the SmartPhone. The SmartPhone is too small to replace a lot of the functions of a tablet. A tablet, though, could do everything a  SmartPhone does…except fit in your pocket (unless we get something that can change shape, eventually, which is possible).

Will enough people decide that just carrying a tablet is enough, if it makes phone calls? Will it seem like too much to pay for two dataplans, even if the tablet is clunkier to carry?

Amazon is very forward looking…could SmartPhones be an evolutionary dead end in the next three to five years? Is that enough of a window of opportunity?

You may think it’s a silly idea to think that people might not feel like they need SmartPhones in a few years…they laughed at Apple when they stopped putting in floppy disc drives, too. 🙂

This

Forbes article

has some fascinating speculation…not about the hardware, but about how Amazon might turn the current model on its head.

Where do most people figure they get their cellphones?

From the carrier, right? You go to the AT&T store, or wherever, and see if you can trade in your phone for another one yet.

Carriers subsidize the phone…they are going to make a whole more money out of you very quickly than the phone costs them.

The article suggests that Amazon could sell the phone itself…without customers going through a carrier. I don’t want to take much away from it…I recommend you read Ewan Spence’s piece.

Forbes: “Five More E-Book Predictions: Making E-Book Predictions Is Hard”

Sticking with Forbes, I saw this article in my Flipboard: Your Social News Magazine app (which I’ve now decided I like, but only when connected to the wireless):

Forbes article

I first have to commend Jeremy Greenfield for owning up to earlier success (and lack thereof) in predicting events in the e-book world. I always give an accounting myself (here’s one for my 2011 predictions), and I appreciate it when others do that.

Generally, I’d say Greenfield is well informed. I don’t want to give away too much about the predictions. I’ll mention that he cites a July 27th date for a possible settlement in the Department of Justice’s Agency Model suit…and he thinks public library lending of e-books will increase. I’ll let you read the justifications and the other predictions.

I’m still thinking that at some point, publishers may do “needs tested” e-book lending, and basically drop public library lending. They seem unconvinced with Overdrive’s arguments that doing public library lending increases sales. That’s not a prediction on my part, just speculation. 😉

Independent bookstores

Independent Booksellers Week just ended in the UK, and I have been hearing a lot of interesting stories about brick and mortars recently.

I’m a former bookstore manager, so this does particularly interest me. The fate of bookstores definitely has a dependent relationship on e-books, so I think it’s worth discussing here.

In my area, Kepler’s Books has been a classic bookstore for decades. It’s in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco. I used to go there…and I remember being there when there was a live raven (I think it was a customer’s).

They are doing some very innovative things to reinvent the bookstore for the future.

They are splitting into two legal entities: a for-profit to do events, and another non-profit community-supported bookstore.

The non-profit part reminds me of my story, A Trip to the Bookstore.

If we accept the postulate that local bookstores, as a whole, will not be able to survive continuing their current business model, the question becomes: what can they do?

I’m not sure that community support, in terms of actual donations and taxes (like a museum) is going to be the way to go. I just can’t see that sort of support, unless it’s a tourist attraction…and one that makes money.

I think that the event part is different…that could work.

Of course, another part of the strategy is worth noting:

You can buy books through http://www.keplers.com/. 😉

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

100 Kindle books for $3.99 or less each: July 2012

July 8, 2012

100 Kindle books for $3.99 or less each: July 2012

Amazon does the Kindle Daily Deal, which discounts (usually) one book a day…often to ninety-nine cents.

They’ve also been doing 100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less each month.

Those prices only apply to the USA, and one weird thing is that some of the books seem to sell out at that price sometimes (or become available for some other reason).

It’s also interesting…about 41% of the books in the USA Kindle store are $3.99 or less (600,996 of 1,462,201). Still, these are on sale, and that’s worth something. :)

I’m going to list some of the ones that caught my eye…I’m not necessarily recommending them, but I do think they are interesting.

The ones I list also don’t block text-to-speech access…but I think blocking it is becoming rarer.

A Scattered Life
by Karen McQuestion

This book was originally self-published, then picked up by AmazonEncore. The reviews have been very good, and here is your chance to get it for $1.99.

A Cabinet of Wonders
by Renee Dodd

Looks like this one is normally $9.99. It’s a story about what used to be called a “freak show”…but apparently done in a sympathetic way.

The Year of Eating Dangerously (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law)
by K. Bennett

I haven’t read any of this series, but the reviews are intriguing…

Born on the Fourth of July
by Ron Kovic

Bestselling non-fiction, made into an Oliver Stone movie with Tom Cruise.

The First Assassin
by John J. Miller

This is about John Wilkes Booth…and I think Brutus might quibble with the title. 😉

Bullet for a Star: A Toby Peters Mystery (Book One)
by Stuart M. Kaminsky

Garbage Pail Kids
by Art Spiegelman

An art book about a classic ephemeral product…the “Garbage Pail Kids” stickers taht were popular in the 1980s. I downloaded a sample to my Fire, and when I zoom an image, it looks great. There’s also quite a bit of text, at least in the beginning. Could be a good gift if you know someone who was into them. You don’t have to tell them you got it for $3.99 instead of $19.95. 😉

Emily Windsnap and the Siren’s Secret
by Liz Kessler

Well-reviewed children’s fantasy…and this is the first in the series.

Fun Inc.: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century
by Tom Chatfield

P.S. I Hate It Here: Kids’ Letters from Camp
by Diane Falanga

We Are All Weird
by Seth Godin

Non-fiction…and they classify it as business. Godin’s a well-known writer, and I can’t argue with the title. 🙂

Veggie Burgers Every Which Way: Fresh, Flavorful and Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian Burgers-Plus Toppings, Sides, Buns and More
by Lukas Volger

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

Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac updated: version 1.10.1

July 6, 2012

Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac updated: version 1.10.1

New versions of the free reader apps for Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac have been released:

Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac Version 1.10.1

I’m looking for the big changes (unless these are just bug fixes), but I wanted to let you know right away. 🙂

Update: I’ve heard that this doesn’t really add new features, just performance enhancements.

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

Round up #92: Europe rejects ACTA, Gideon’s Kindle

July 6, 2012

Round up #92: Europe rejects ACTA, Gideon’s Kindle

UK hotel replacing paper Bibles with Kindles

For more than a century, the Gideons International has been placing Bibles in hotel rooms for guests, supposedly literally tens of millions in 2011.

There have been many pop culture references to “Gideon’s Bible” (Gideon appears in the Bible, but I’ve never been quite sure if we should refer to this as “Gideon’s Bible” or the “Gideons’ Bible”, but I almost always see the former), from the Beatles Rocky Raccoon to Mission:Impossible.

Now, the Hotel Indigo (part of the International Hotel Group, which includes Hilton) in Newcastle is replacing paper Bibles in hotel rooms with Kindles:

press release

This is certainly not the first hotel to have Kindles available. That goes back to at least the Algonquin Hotel in New York in 2008:

HotelChatter.com article

Hotels.com gave Kindles away last year:

Hotels.com will give you a Kindle

However, this feels different, and is getting a lot of buzz.

The press release specifically says that they are replacing Gideon’s Bible with a Kindle . The Kindle will have the Bible pre-loaded, and they point out that you can download other religious texts.

In fact, you’ll apparently be able to download any books from the Kindle store…but ones that you “purchase” will be charged to your hotel room. You also only have them for the length of the stay, and the books aren’t left for the next guest…they get a clean Kindle (except for the Bible).

CNN article

I guess paying the equivalent of $10 for an e-book you only have during your hotel stay is no different from paying for a video to watch while you are there.

This seems a bit complex to me. You can see which Kindle got which book. You go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

click or tap on

Pending Deliveries

then click or tap on

View Recent Successful Deliveries.

I guess they could name each Kindle for each of the 148 rooms. They would just have to check those recent deliveries when you were going to leave, and add it to your bill.

However, if the hotel only has one account, they’d typically be limited to six Kindles having a book at the same time. This part is a bit confusing to me: how do they keep the Kindle from seeing the archives (so you could read a book someone else bought), and still let you buy the books? They are reportedly going to use the Kindle Touch, Wi-Fi only. That doesn’t have the “parental controls” of the Kindle Fire or of the Mindle (the $79/$109 model in the USA…that’s just what I call it).

You could do it pretty effectively with the Mindle, since you can turn off access to the Archived Items, but leave access to the Kindle Store open.

Hm…I wonder if CNN is wrong about the model, or if the hotel somehow already knows about parental controls coming to the Touch (which seems inevitable). If you have them in place, the Kindle also can’t be deregistered or set to factory defaults.

My guess is that the CNN report has it incorrect, although I don’t know.

Next model(s) speculation

This has been heating up again…lots of speculation, and we’ve started to see the posts in the Kindle forum that already think a new model has been announced.

Nobody seems  to really get it right ahead of time. I just guess, myself. 🙂 People pay attention to

BGR has a very good handle on the rumors, but it is worth noting that they were talking about a 10.1 Amazon tablet back in mid 2011. They could just have been very ahead of the curve, though. 🙂

The other two report on supply chain information, which one would think would be more reliable. How could you hide that your factory is working on a new tablet very easily?

They haven’t always gotten it right either, though.

I’d say that the dates that seem most likely to me around new hardware from Amazon are July 31st for an announcement, and shipping in early August.

Just a guess, though!

I think we are very likely to see one or more frontlit models, a price drop on the current Kindle Fire, and a more sophisticated same size Kindle Fire. Will we see a bigger tablet? I think we will this year. People question Amazon going head-to-head with Apple on that, but I think there is room for that. Apple may also release an “iPad mini” type model, which makes the head-to-head unavoidable.

A larger tablet might be held a few months for the holiday season. I don’t feel very solid on that…would it lose the holiday buzz if they announced it at the end of July and shipped the bigger one in, say, October? Would that hurt sales of the smaller screen? My intuition is that it wouldn’t hurt…that people don’t buy a small screen instead of a big screen, although they may have bought a Fire instead of an iPad.

I’m very excited to see what happens, but it’s all pretty speculative at this point.

Europe rejects ACTA

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act (ACTA) gets reported as a movie/TV story

The Hollywood Reporter article

but it’s much more far-reaching than that.

The treaty itself is complicated:

ACTA

but let’s look at the basic idea and what that might mean for e-books.

The issue is that copyright laws, and especially the enforcement of them, varies wildly from country to country. There are international agreements now (including the Berne Convention), but it’s still a hodgepodge.

On the one side, you have the rightsholders, who want somebody to do something about piracy. They have a lot of money and power, and really push for more enforcement. ACTA mentions imprisonment (not just fines) for criminal violators.

On the other side, you have internet users…there are a lot of them, and many of them have the concept that the internet equals freedom. They don’t want to see restrictions put on the internet.

It’s a classic conundrum for politicians: the powerful versus the plentiful.

I think something has to happen eventually, but ACTA has some tough sledding ahead.

Added story: reading John Landis

I meant to include this one. 🙂 A relative got me

Monsters in the Movies

by the director John Landis. While the above link goes to a Kindle edition, I have the hardback. This is one of those lavishly illustrated DK books…I’d say it is big and thick enough to provide adequate protection if I am ever attacked by elven archers. 😉

I thought I’d give it a read on the bed (it’s big to hold sitting in a chair), and that’s where the paper versus Kindle experience was dramatic.

First, I laid down on the bed with it…and realized I’d need a lot more light. I’ve been reading mostly on my Fire, and that isn’t an issue. With a book this big, my little nightstand light wasn’t enough…it creates its own shadows. I turned on a room light.

I laid down again.

Then, I realized I might need my dollar store reading glasses…which were in another room. So, I went and got those.

I read a couple of pages, and then started to think, “Where can I put this near the bed when I’m done?” I have a library in the house with some shelves that are set to be tall enough, but next to the bed? It blocks the clock!

I’m thankful to have the book. I met John Landis and Rick Baker way back when Schlock was being released (at some little convention somewhere). I remember Rick Baker’s card said, “Rick Baker, Monster Maker”).

The book itself…it’s mostly pictures from movies, a bit of writing, and some interviews. I’ll warn you that it has pictures that are NSFW (Not Safe For Work), including some nudity (and gore). Landis himself uses the “f word” in the interviews. There are some spoilers (but an apparent attempt to avoid them in other cases).

It’s a beautiful book, and I can see an argument for wanting to have a hardback sitting on your shelf. If you want to actually read it, that might be different… 😉

What do you think? Will there be an international copyright agreement that affects e-books? Would you think it was cool to have a Kindle provided in your hotel room? Will people mind if Fifty Shades of Grey shows up on their Significant Other’s hotel bill? 😉 Is hardware still the big story it was? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

AmazonLocal $3 coupon for Amazon MP3s

July 5, 2012

AmazonLocal $3 coupon for Amazon MP3s

Just a quick heads-up, because this may run out.

AmazonLocal has a deal right now where you can get a $3 coupon for Amazon MP3s…without buying anything else.

https://local.amazon.com/national

These deals do run out (in addition to expiring): they may have limited quantities.

This would apply to every Kindle except the Mindle (the $79/$109 model in the USA), and to other devices as well.

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

Books That Shaped America

July 5, 2012

Books That Shaped America

Thanks to my reader, Clint Bradford, who sent me a heads-up to this in a private e-mail.

The Library of Congress (LOC) has a list of “Books That Shaped America”:

http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2012/12-123.html

It’s an interesting set. Naturally, I think most people reading will notice omissions, question some inclusions…and be introduced to some titles that are new to them.

I also know that there are people who will want to read the entire set. 🙂

Clint “hinted” that I could make a list with links to the books in the Kindle store, and I’m going to do that. Some of these books will be free public domain titles, and available from other sources as well.

I do often get my free PD titles from Amazon, because I like their back-up of my notes and highlights, and syncing between devices.

Note that not all of these books are free: check the price before ordering.

The books are in alphabetical title order…and I do think that the phrase “shaped America” is interesting. They aren’t saying these are the best books, just ones that influenced our culture.

You can sort the books by author or year here:

http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/

If the book was only available in the Kindle store as audiobook (that’s a recorded performance…no text), I marked it as unavailable.

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


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