Round up #314: Discovery Zone, A Truth Worth Tellin’

Round up #314: Discovery Zone, A Truth Worth Tellin’

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

This is how Kindle Unlimited should work

I read a good book recently.

Now, that shouldn’t be a rare thing.🙂 I often say I’ve never read a bad book, and I do believe that. I think I’ve gotten something good out of every book I’ve read…although there have been parts of books I haven’t liked and certainly, there have been some with massive flaws.

That doesn’t mean I’m uncritically accepting, or think that all books are equal.😉

It was refreshing to read a novel that I felt had a strong voice, good plotting, and wasn’t gimmicky.

That book was

A Truth Worth Tellin’ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Toni Teepell

This isn’t a case where I know the author at all, or had even heard of the book.

What happened was that my Significant Other wanted a new book to read (especially on the treadmill).

We are happy members of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon’s subser (subscription service). People pay $9.99 a month (although there have been discounts for longer subscriptions) for an “all you can read” service. You can have up to ten books out at a time, and multiple people on the account can be reading a book at the same time.

We like to do that.🙂

If we both read the same book, we can then talk about it later…it’s a social thing.

I looked for a book, and I started by looking for Southern fiction. That’s something my SO particularly likes…both more serious, like Pat Conroy, and funny, like Fannie Flagg.

I think I searched for “Southern fiction” in Kindle Unlimited, then limited it to Contemporary Fiction, and then sorted by average customer review.

I skipped what appeared to be romance (I read that sometimes, but it’s not my SO’s preference)…the publishers pick the classifications, by the way.

Then, the cover of A Truth Worth Tellin’ caught my eye…and it currently has 18 customer reviews, all 5-star.

I don’t want to build this up too much,😉 but that was a good rating…so we tried it.

It is, in a sense, a bit old-fashioned. By that I just mean that it isn’t saying, “Hey, look at how I’m disrupting the traditional novel by adding graphic sex, non-linear storytelling, and characters you hate!”😉 I’d say it could have been written in the 1950s…not in a bad way.🙂

It was interesting: I didn’t even look at the price of it until I started writing this post. It’s $4.99.

I’m hoping that some of you read it and enjoy it…both for your benefit and for the author’s.

When people criticize KU, they tend to bring up the alleged lack of well-known novels (although there are actually a lot of famous books, they don’t tend to be current bestsellers). A Truth Worth Telllin’ (a first novel) exemplifies the argument for KU as discovery for lesser known novels.

And of course, if you borrow it, read a bit of it, and don’t share my opinion, you can just move on to another book…

Why Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an argument for permanent copyright

More than five years ago, I published what may be my most controversial post:

Should copyright be permanent?

In it, I explored the idea of making copyright permanent in exchange for greater Fair Use provisions.

In other words, an author and the author’s estate would continue to control the commercial use of a creation (which might, of course, include having licensed it to a publisher) in perpetuity, but the work could be used for educational and research purposes generally without compensation.

That’s the simplified version.

There are reasonable arguments on both sides.

One thing I hear from people is that a work staying in copyright deprives society of a common culture…that te world (or, at least the USA) should own works like Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland.

Well, I have to point out: is Star Wars any less of our shared culture than Romeo and Juliet?

Do people know “May the Force be with you” less than they know “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

Do they talk about Star Wars less than they do about Shakespeare? Are fewer kids named after Star Wars characters and actors than Romeo & Juliet ones? Well, okay, there are a lot of Romeos out there…but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many Lukes and Leias born in early 1978.😉 There also aren’t that many Mercutios…

You might guess it’s because Star Wars is more contemporary…but, based on the original copyright terms in the USA, it would have been in  the public domain by now (the original term was 14 years, renewable once for a total of 28, if the author was still alive…not as probable then as it is now).

Three quick tips

  • On a touchscreen device, “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on something for about a second) for more options
  • Menus often look like three horizontal lines on top of each other
  • To get help, you can go to http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

Help other readers find books

Just a reminder about

ILMK Readers’ Recommendations: book discovery zone

There will be many people new to KU in the next couple of weeks, especially since you can

Gift Subscriptions to Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can help them out by going to the Book Discovery Zone and “voting” in the polls to endorse books, and by narratively suggesting books I can add.

Skipping the Flip(board)

Ooh, this was tough for me!

I skipped my morning

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

read this morning, although I will do it later today.

Why?

To avoid Star Wars spoilers.🙂

My favorite thing in entertainment is to be surprised, and it can be hard to do. For that reason, I really don’t like spoilers, myself…and I also think they are…well, when done intentionally, I would consider them morally wrong.

Let me be clear: I don’t mean when you accidentally reveal a twist in a story, or when you do it without thinking about it.

I mean when people do it intentionally.

I read an article recently where the writer recalled standing outside of a movie in the Star Wars franchise, shouting the twist at people before they entered the theatre.

To me, it’s a form of intellectual bullying. That’s not to minimize traditional bullying. I think, though, it comes from similar impulses. You are using your superior power (knowledge, in this case), to take something away from someone else.

I love discussing movies (and books), but only when everybody present wants to do that.

I also think there is no statute of limitations on spoilers.

I believe that a nine-year old reading The Wizard of Oz in 2015 has the right to the same experience of the book as a nine-year old reading it in 1900 had.

I’ve been very pleased to see that mainstream media, and much of social media, has recognized the value of avoiding spoilers with regards to SW: TFA.

However, Flipboard (at least the way I have it configured) contains many non-traditional sources, and I’m guessing there will be spoilers in it this morning.

We are seeing the movie at 11:25 this morning…so I’ll read Flipboard after we’ve seen it.😉

Jeff Bezos is one of Barbara Walters Most Fascinating People of 2015

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) has had an interesting year: space news, an attack on the Amazon work culture, and an explicitly political comment.

Here is an

ABC video

of Barbara Walters’ “Most Fascinating People of 2015” segment with Bezos.

What do you think? How did Jeff Bezos do on Barbara Walters? What will happen to Amazon after Jeff?  Should people make references to plot twists openly (for example, jokes about maybe the Wizard of Oz in relationship to public figures), or should there be spoiler alerts? Have you discovered any books or authors through KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

8 Responses to “Round up #314: Discovery Zone, A Truth Worth Tellin’”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    We come at the topic of spoilers from opposite reading styles. You like to be surprised by the endings. I enjoy the book more if I already know how it ends.

    Shakespeare gives away the whole plot of Romeo and Juliet in the sonnet the chorus reads before the play ever gets started, but 400 years later and audiences still enjoy it. Perhaps suspense wasn’t as important as a plot device as it is now.

    What about cultural literacy? There are just certain books, plays, poems, quotes that are common to our society. There are some characters that are archetypes.

    When we make allusion to “The Gift of the Magi,” or”The Ransom of Red Chief,” we assume folks understand because those are stories that most of us have in common. If we utter the words, “There’s no place like home” while clicking our heels together, or describe somebody as being a “Walter Mitty” or “Scrooge,” we expect the other person to know what we’re talking about.

    Would you have nobody ever allude to any literary work on the off chance that there’s somebody in the room who hasn’t heard of it before?

    I’ve found that kids tend to be way less upset about spoilers than adults. Kids are notorious for difficulty with delayed gratification, so they can get really impatient about waiting to find out what happens next. That’s why they shake those brightly wrapped packages and try to figure out how to lift the tape and check under the paper without leaving evidence of incursion.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Yep, we’re different that way!🙂

      It’s a good point about Romeo and Juliet. Interestingly, the same thing can be said for the Columbo TV series, where we typically saw the crime first, and then watched how Detective Columbo figured it out.

      In both of those cases, the intent is for the audience to know something before the rest of the story unfolds. That feels different to me than spoilers, where what happens is that you take away someone’s ability to experience the work as intended.

      An allusion is different from a blatant statement…and believe me, I’ve seen people very specifically spoiling without allusions. The only person I ever blocked on the Kindle forum flat out spoiled a movie twist, and just in a one liner: “X is a y!”

      I love allusions and specific references amongst a group of people with shared past experience, so I wouldn’t say “nobody ever”.🙂 Analogizing, say, The Gift of the Magi, can definitely simplify explaining a situation…but for me, that wouldn’t be worth ruining the reading experience for people who are more like me than you.

      I would also argue again that a work under copyright can be just as fully a part of cultural literacy. A reference to Star Wars is no less likely to be understood now than if it was in the public domain, I believe. Also, since the idea that I’ve explored includes a much bigger Fair Use for educational purposes, it would mean that schools with less means would be as able to teach works under copyright protection as schools of more means. That would, I think, increase a shared culture…and across economic strata.

      Kids do have less impulse control typically, yes. Many of them learn to better appreciate delayed gratification as they mature. See, for example, the “Marshmallow Experiment”:

      http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4622

      That page also has links to some related articles.

      I make all kinds of references to geeky things with my Significant Other…many of which will not be understood.🙂 However, my SO also will never want to experience that content, so nothing is being spoiled…

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I purchased the book, “The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control” about a year ago. I read the first few chapters and then wandered off. I tend to do that with non-fiction books.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Hm…I think I’m actually more likely to stay engaged with a less well written non-fiction book than with a less well written novel…but as you know, I alway eventually finish either one.🙂

  2. Man in the Middle Says:

    Sorry, but I opposed this idea when you first suggested it, and still do. The original purpose of copyright law, like patent law, was to ensure the creator of something new and valuable benefited from their creation, rather than having all the profit from it stolen by imitators. (To get a sense of this, consider all the $1-3 versions of public domain books offered in the Kindle store, each varying by only the tiniest amount.)

    However, that benefit was intended to be limited to the original creator and their immediate dependents, with benefits beyond a fixed reasonable future date going to all of society (public domain.)

    The longer that future date is extended, the more likely it is to increase income inequality within society, with benefits going to people and non-persons (corporations) who did nothing whatsoever to deserve the benefits they nonetheless demand. (A good example of this is the Disney Corporation still trying to keep even the earliest Mickey Mouse comics out of the public domain, decades after the death of Walt Disney.)

    Unless you like the idea of a permanent upper class based on inherited wealth rather than one based on good ideas and hard work, this is a problem.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      No need to apologize…I like there being a diversity of opinion. That’s what I like best about science (not that public policy is science): you invite other people to try to knock down your hypothesis to make it stronger through testing.

      I’m confused by your first point: how does it fight income inequality for those many versions to be available…most of which are unlikely to be purchased unless they are perceived to add value? If that public domain book was still under copyright, it would have more value…unless those $1 editions are making more money than it would have otherwise…and that includes, for example, if the rights to make it into a movie or TV series were sold.

      This situation might be changing with new distribution methods, but how may people do you think have risen from poverty because of in-copyright works versus public domain works? How many actors? How many screenwriters? How many janitors who work at rightsholders’ businesses?

      That may sound like “trickle down” initially, but it has to do with the value of the work…not the rich having “noblesse oblige” for the poor.

      I’m not convinced that the original intent of copyright in the USA had much to do with immediate dependents. The first term was 14 years, renewable once to 28 years if the copyright holder was still alive. Life expectancy was shorter, although that stat is complicated by the higher infant mortality rate, as I recall. Perhaps by the time offspring were at least 14 years old, they were considered able to provide for themselves? Perhaps…

      I think an argument in favor of limited copyright is made stronger if you simply eliminate dependents from the considerations. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to argue that if you can directly support your children, you should be able to support your grandchildren: that’s what happens anyway, otherwise (you give it to your adult children who feed their children with it).

      Another possible model would be the 100% death tax, which has been proposed before (I think George McGovern wanted it on amounts over half a million dollars, but don’t hold me to that). In that model, when someone dies, the state gets their property. The state then uses that money for social good…schools, perhaps medical care, and care for orphans (which might include the previous owner’s children at that point). That theory could be applied to copyrights which would otherwise be inheritable.

      I’d be curious to hear more from you about this hypothesis: “The longer that future date is extended, the more likely it is to increase income inequality within society…”

      Income inequality is different from wealth distribution, but I took a quick look: is there a correlation between higher income inequality and longer copyright terms?

      I eyeballed it, using this Wikipedia page and the World Bank stats:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

      These are the top ten with the highest income inequality (highest to lowest), with their copyright terms:

      Top 10 most unequal

      Seychelles: Life+50 years
      South Africa: Life+50 years
      Comoros: Berne (Life+50, but longer is okay)
      Namibia: Life+50
      Botswana: Berne
      Haiti: Berne
      Angola: Life+50
      Honduras: Life+75
      Central African Republic:
      Zambia: Life+50

      Top 10 least unequal (lowest to highest, where data is available)

      Sweden: Life+70
      Norway: Life+70
      Austria: Life+70
      Slovakia: Life+70
      Czech Republic: Life+70
      Austria: Life+70
      Ukraine: Life+70
      Belarus: Life+50
      Finland: Life+70
      Afghanistan: Life+50

      Obviously, there are a lot of other factors, and this is a small sample…but this data suggests that countries with longer copyright terms have lower income inequality…

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    This talk of spoilers has me thinking about the literary device of suspense. It seems to have gained in popularity as a way to keep readers or viewers from wandering away, as I mentioned that I tend to do with nonfiction books. Back when there were only three networks, seasons consisted of 30 some episodes, and commercial breaks were shorter, and remote controls were a luxury, writers didn’t have to worry as much about their audience wandering away and not coming back. Now we have seasons consisting of 10-22 episodes, hundreds of channels, 5 minute commercial breaks, DVR, streaming, and more remote controls than hands to hold them. In order to make sure we don’t forget to come back after that 5 minute commercial break we have bigger moments of suspense right before we learn how the side effects of the newest wonder drug. Who shot JR led us to the season ending cliffhanger. Now that we’ve entered the winter break, we have mid season cliffhangers.

    Now that trilogies and series have become more popular in literature, we have the book ending cliffhanger to make sure we put the next book on pre-order!

    Even though I frequently read the end of the book first, I don’t like spoilers and I try not to spoil new and current books, movies or TV shows. I just think if you’re an adult and you haven’t read or seen The Wizard of Oz by now, chances are you aren’t going to upset if somebody tells you that “definite article used, especially before a noun with a specifying or particularizing effect |a member of the species homo sapiens or all members of this species collectively | at or toward the end of | definite article used, especially before a noun with a specifying or particularizing effect | hanging piece of fabric used to shut out the light from a window, adorn a room, increase privacy” is a humbug.

    I’m a big fan of Downton Abby, and since it airs in England earlier that in the US, it’s hard to avoid the spoilers. It’s really annoying when entertainment sites put the spoiler in the headline or link so that even if you don’t read the article, you know what’s going to happen. I was really disappointed that the producer of Big Bang Theory let the Amy/Sheldon cat out of the bag for their winter break episode. I would have preferred to be surprised on that one.

    Yes, on occasion I like to be surprised by an ending. Somehow, even though I didn’t see The Sixth Sense until it came to Netflix on DVD, I managed not to have heard how it ended. I would still have watched and enjoyed if I’d known the ending, but I liked being surprised that time. And of course, since the author’s process is as interesting to me as the story itself, I immediately watched it again to see what clues I missed and what sort of misdirects the author provided to allowed me to be surprised.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I like how you used the definitions here! I think that was probably effective.🙂

      As to British TV, I was at a science fiction convention once, and a British actor expressed bafflement at the fact that here in the USA, we would have commercials before the final credits. They wondered why anybody would stick around for the credits that way.

      Of course, it’s possible that Americans are simply less likely than Brits to get off the settee.😉

      The Sixth Sense is a good example of one where I’d guessed quite early…but at least on that one, I wasn’t sure.🙂

      We are also now seeing a new form of TV storytelling, thanks to binge watching, where they expect people to watch all ten or so episodes (compared to, say, the original Star Trek, which had 79 episodes, depending on how you count them, in three seasons) in a row. Those don’t seem to go for suspense…I don’t think they care as much when you start that episode.

      I have to say, back in the Silver Age of comics, it was generally agreed that most people hated “To be continued…”😉

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