Archive for the ‘Recommendations’ Category

What I’ve been reading lately

February 19, 2017

What I’ve been reading lately

Every once in a while, I like to share with you what I’ve been reading.

I guess the main reason for that is that I hope it’s a form of discovery for you…that you might find something to read based on what I’ve mentioned.

It’s also, though, in a way, deeply personal. You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to read, of course…and while there are elements of my life I don’t share with you, I don’t mind sharing what I think. 😉

I’m only going to count books and magazines…not websites and news apps (although I read a lot there, too).

There are two real ways I read: one is sight-reading, which I’ll do at home (for example, in bed before I go to sleep, but other times too) and at work on breaks, and in transit (when other people are driving/piloting). Oh, and I read when I’m waiting for something…in my job, that does happen from time to time. 🙂

The other one is listening to text-to-speech, software which reads a book out loud to me (unless the publisher has blocked text-to-speech access). I end up driving quite a bit, and I listen to my books as I drive: a real luxury and pleasure!

Let’s get the magazines out of the way first.

There are three magazines I read regularly: one of them is a subscription through the Kindle store, one is from Zinio (a third-party magazine subscription service), and one is (gasp!) in paper.

The Kindle store subscription is

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

I’ve been reading and subscribing to that for a very long time. I used to read it in paper, but switched to digital only back in 2011. I read every word…but if I think something is a spoiler, I’ll wait to read the article until I’ve seen/heard/read the work in question. This didn’t used to be true, but I can go back and read back issues if I want. I usually only keep one issue at a time on my device (I read it on a now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″), since they do take a lot of memory.

Fortean Times is another magazine I’ve been reading for many, many years. I’m always impressed with it: there is a lot of writing, and it’s generally very good! When I read EW, there are a lot of ads…it doesn’t take me that long to read an issue. I’ll have several sessions with one issue of Fortean Times (it covers what I refer to as the “weird world”, although there is often crossover with more mainstream analysis). I also read that on my KFHDX, using the Zinio app which I got from the Zinio website. While there are some Fortean Times books in the Kindle store, they don’t carry the magazine or the Zinio app (in the Amazon Appstore). Again, I read every word.

I do like the experience of reading magazines on a tablet: I tend to make the text easier, but that’s simple to do.

You can read some magazines as part of either

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

or

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

although (this month, at least) not Entertainment Weekly.

The third one is People Magazine, which my SO buys at the grocery store and I get afterwards. 🙂

As to books…

At home, I’ve been reading

Freakonomics (at AmazonSmile*)

for the first time. I love that kind of data analysis, and I’ll admit that I had pretty high expectations. Their math certainly seems solid, but weirdly to me, they make these dogmatic statements about people’s motivations…and provide no data to prove the assertions. Their default position seems to be that people are immoral, or at least will behave in immoral ways (cheating, for example). That’s not my intuition or my experience, so I’d like to see the data that proves it. They can prove what appears to be cheating (such as in sumo wrestling), but I can come up with alternative explanations in terms of motivation.

I’m also re-reading the

The Wonderful Stories of Oz (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

although my version is different from that one (it’s “out of print”). I read part of a chapter before I go to sleep…it’s been handy as I’ve been watching Emerald City (which is running on NBC, but I see it on my Fire TV on Hulu). I’ve started comparing (in depth) the original “famous fourteen” Oz books, Emerald City, and the MGM movie with Judy Garland:

I’ve never really been much of a re-reader, but I am enjoying doing this.

I generally read books I already own (but haven’t read yet), books I borrow from KU, or gifts. Well, it was my birthday about a week ago, and I got three books I really wanted to read. 🙂 One was from my Significant Other, and two were from my now adult kid.

They bought them for me from my Amazon Wish List…which is perfect! I have so many books on there, it’s like shopping in a Bufo Bookstore. 🙂 They are all books I’d like to read, so I was excited to get them.

I’ve already finished

LIZARD MAN: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster by Lyle Blackburn (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s a contemporary investigation of a case from the late 1980s which made national headlines at the time…I remember it. I found it to be reasonably well-written, and it did uncover some interesting information. There were a couple of flaws. I’m going to try to let the author know one of them: twice, a movie is referred to as “The Horror of Beach Party” when the actual title is actually “The Horror of Party Beach”. 🙂 That’s obviously a little thing, but if you are presenting contextual information, I do think it should be fact checked.

I did find it worth reading, and may read others by the author.

I’ve started both of the others. I’m usually reading several books at the same time. One of these has a lot of pictures, so it’s not as suitable for text-to-speech in the car. That one is

Bob Burns’ Monster Kid Memories (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s fun, and has wonderful pictures! Burns is a super fan, like Forry Ackerman, who has quite a memorabilia collection.

The other one, which has been my main in-car text-to-speech book recently, is

The Fourth Transformation by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (at AmazonSmile*)

So far, it’s excellent. I had previously read

Age of Context (at AmazonSmile*)

by those authors, and they have a good track record of predicting where tech and industries are going. This one is about the move to Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality, how businesses can anticipate and utilize the tech, and how long it will take. 🙂 I’ve started writing about that topic myself, and I think business people would find it insightful.

I have also recently spent a trip or two listening to one of my “emergency books”,

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Holzer is amusing and urbane…I listened to that between books, and because I was in the mood. 🙂 I’ll be sad when I finish that book.

Well, there you go! If you have questions about those, or want to share something you are reading with me and my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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.

On sale for $3.99 today: Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy

February 15, 2017

On sale for $3.99 today: Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy

 

I did just write about the

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

yesterday, but today’s has one of my favorite authors. 🙂 I knew Gerald Durrell more from books about collecting (live) exotic animals (I used to travel a lot and I read A Zoo in My Luggage and more at that time), and this one is a bit different…but still involves animals and Durrell’s amusing writing (4.6 stars out of 5 with 134 customer reviews at time of writing).

It’s an omnibus of three titles:

  • My Family and Other Animals
  • Birds, Beasts and Relatives
  • The Garden of the Gods

which also form the inspiration for The Durrells in Corfu on Masterpiece Theatre. I don’t usually buy books for myself now…I read books which are gifts, which I already own, or are through

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

If you have Prime, you have

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

which I have as well, but I think those are all part of KU, so that’s still how I think of them (and there are many more in KU than in PR).

However, I justify this one because I got an Amazon gift card for my recent birthday…so it’s still a gift. 😉

This one is also a good one for our “guest bookshelf” on our guest Kindle (for when we have people staying with us).

Remember that you can buy it at the discount and either delay it for delivery for an appropriate gift giving occasion, or print it out to give whenever you want.

Do check the price (it’s $3.99 in the USA Kindle store at time of writing for all three books in one edition…a big savings) before clicking, tapping, or eye-gazing (the last one is in Virtual Reality) that Buy button…this price may not apply in your country, for one thing.

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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.

 

Atlanta vs. Boston: the super books

February 5, 2017

Atlanta vs. Boston: the super books

For the second year, we are taking the cities of the two teams involved in the Superbowl, and looking at them from a literary point of view.

As happened with Carolina last year, we need to acknowledge that one of the teams isn’t tied to a single city…although they did used to be the “Boston Patriots” before they were “New England”. With apologies to the other cities (including Foxborough, where the team plays its home games), we are going to look at Boston as the Patriots’ city. That makes our two cities Boston, Massachusetts and Atlanta, Georgia.

There’s no question that Boston is a literary titan. We’ll be seeing several superstars take the field, and its also a popular setting for fiction. The latter may be true in part because it is so recognizable: all it takes is a character saying that something is “wicked good”, and we know that’s Boston talk.

However, Atlanta does have an MVP (Most Valuable Paperback) which became a movie which may still have the most attendances of all time (well, to date, anyway).

Let’s start out with Boston:

Entering the field first is a pioneer of short stories, mysteries, and more but best-known for tales of the macabre. Poetry, prose, and adaptations from Roger Corman and Vincent Price to John Cusack, it’s Edgar Allan Poe (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

Joining Poe is another poet/prose double-threat with a posthumous Pulitzer Prize: The Bell Jar author Sylvia Plath.

Moving up to the modern day, author Dennis Lehane has been adapted into well-known movies directed by some of Hollywood’s best: Mystic River (Clint Eastwood), Gone, Baby, Gone (Ben Affleck), and Shutter Island (Martin Scorcese).

Not particularly known as a team player, the always self-reliant Ralph Waldo Emerson has taken the field for Boston.

The Fearsome Four will no doubt strike fear into the Atlanta team.

And here comes the first Atlanta author now!

No trace of that fear as the Prince of Pages confidently strides into position…what discipline! It’s the Great

Pat Conroy (at AmazonSmile*)

John Ciardi and Gelett Burgess have joined their Boston teammates…but something is happening at the Southern end of the field. There’s a buzz rising through the crowd. Smoke has come out of the tunnel, but in these weather conditions, it should clear quickly. The crowd is on their feet now! Clearly, this is a beloved author! People are holding up signs…”50x”, “100x”, representing the number of times they’ve read this author’s most famous work. The sun glints off a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. The Boston team straightens their shoulders and some shade their eyes…they are clearing preparing for a challenge.

It’s…

Margaret Mitchell!

Four little words of one syllable each are all that need to be said: “Gone with the Wind”.

This promises to be quite a contest! While there is no denying the Sherman tank which is GwtW, Poe/Emerson/Lehane/Plath inspire an incredible amount of passion for the North. Looking at Mitchell, though, that smirk has one obvious message for the Bostonians…the South doesn’t give a…

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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.

7 reading prompts for 2017, and yet another great KDD (on business books)

January 5, 2017

7 reading prompts for 2017, and yet another great KDD (on business books)

With the super-abundance of access we have to books to read, I would guess that most readers still tend to read the same types of things. That might be romance, or current events, or science fiction, or even the same authors. I have heard of someone who only read two books: Helter Skelter and Gone with the Wind, and just kept alternating them…finish one of them, start the other, finish that one, go back to the first one, and so on.

In the past, I wasn’t a big re-reader…but I have been re-reading the original 14 Oz books (by L. Frank Baum), just before I go to sleep. I’m considering a book tying into Oz, and I really want to see all the connections and detail between events of the books.

Generally, though, I think I’m a pretty eclectic reader. Regular readers know that when I was a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I think one of the best things I did was encourage (not require) my employees to read a book from every section in the store…and I did that myself.

I’d say that’s one of the things which really broadened my horizons…before that, I tended to read science fiction/fantasy and certain types of non-fiction. Now, I’m much more flexible.

“Reading prompts” are suggestions…just a way to maybe help you make a turn when you are used to going straight ahead. Hopefully, you find them inspiring. I’m not going to guarantee that doing this will make you a better person or even a better reader. I do believe that exposure to a wider variety of perspectives is healthy, but it’s entirely up to you. 🙂

Here are 7 reading prompts from me to you for 2017:

1. Read a book by someone with whom you strongly disagree

I never want to see books banned. I want people’s ideas to be out there for the public to read…if you disagree with someone, I think it should be an informed disagreement. I don’t tend to think that reading a book is going to warp you in some way, that you will be irresistibly led down the rabbit hole. Pick someone who you think is really wrong, ideally even offensive. That might be politically, but it could be philosophically or even an idea in science. This can work with their personal lives…separating the art from the artist. I understand that you may not want to give them money…it can certainly be a free book.

2. Read a type of book you haven’t read in the past year

Pick one of these types of books and read one. Maybe it will be a type you have never read, or just one you haven’t read in a while:

  • Short story collection/anthology
  • Non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Graphic novel

3. Read a book by someone who is a complete unknown to you 

Find an author where you don’t recognize the name and have no idea who that person is.

4. Read a book first published 27 years before you were born

If you need help finding something, let me know by commenting on this post.

5. Read a book first published in a country you’ve never visited

Books are affected by the markets for which they are intended, and not just by the culture in which the author was raised (although that can affect it, too).

6. Read a novel in a genre you haven’t read in the past year

Pick one of these genres:

  • Romance
  • Science fiction/fantasy
  • Western
  • War

7. Ask someone surprising to recommend a book to you

Ask someone with whom you don’t usually discuss books to recommend a book for you to read. That could be someone at work, or maybe a friend (or somebody on public transit or at school or at the dog park…). It might take a few times asking, but go with the first recommendation which you haven’t read before. I realize that this one might be a bit scary…they may want you to discuss the book afterwards. 🙂 Let them know it’s a reading prompt, if you want. On the other hand, it’s likely to also encourage the people you ask to read…and that’s a good thing, right?

There are my seven…do you have any reading prompts for me and my readers? Feel free to let us know by commenting on this post.

Amazon has really been outdoing itself with the

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

in 2017!

It’s gone from what used to be four books a day in different (but commonly the same) genres to tens of books, some times themed.

That’s the case today: 47 titles, and I think they intend them all to be tied into books you might read to help yourself at work and in your career.

Again, there are some well-known titles here at great prices! As always, check the price before you click or tap or eye gaze (if you are in Virtual Reality) that Buy button…the prices may not apply where you are. Also, I remind you that you can buy these at the discounted price as a gift, have them sent to yourself, print them out and give the whenever (or, delay the delivery date to a specific gift-giving occasion..Amazon won’t forget, even if you might).

Here are some of the titles:

  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  • Never Split the difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss with Tahl Raz
  • The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown
  • Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
  • The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, MD
  • Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness With by Chade-Meng Tan
  • The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud
  • The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman
  • How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg
  • Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else by Jon Gordon
  • The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick M. Lencioni
  • Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works by Adam Lashinsky

That’s only a partial listing…if you’d suggest one of the others in the sale, feel free. If this did alert you to a bargain you get, I’d appreciate you letting me know. It helps me tell what helps people in the blog, and it helps your fellow ILMK readers.

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle 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.

Pulp!

November 27, 2016

Pulp!

In modern times, there is a tendency to think of reading as a great equalizer, of crossing all socioeconomic strata. People of lesser means can go to public libraries, or borrow books at school. We don’t think of reading as the property of the elite, but as a way for anyone to learn and to experience things beyond their own personal daily lives.

That certainly wasn’t always the case.

Until Gutenberg, books couldn’t be mass produced easily.

Still, it was centuries before widespread literacy and cheap production led to the rise of the “penny bloods” in the 1830s, later called “penny dreadfuls” in the 1860s.

British Library reference page

Those were followed by “dime novels” in the USA.

Wikipedia article

1896 saw a major change, with Argosy becoming what is widely recognized as the first of the “pulp magazines”.

The pulps were called that because they were printed on cheap paper (paper is made in part by “pulping” wood). That’s something that should be clearly understood: pulps were unashamedly cheap. Early pulps had no illustrations. The pages had ragged edges and the magazines would fall apart after (hopefully) a reading or two.

Authors were paid very little. Still, they were paid, and some would later become famous (Robert Heinlein, Erle Stanley Gardner, Upton Sinclair…). Many of them would turn out prodigious amounts of fiction under different names…not to fool the publishers, but sometimes in collaboration with them. A publisher wanted to appear to have a variety of authors of short stories in the same issue…not be seen as a one-author publisher.

Certainly, short story collections were very common…but it is important to note that there were also a lot of full-length stories (sometimes serialized across several issues, sometimes whole in one).

That’s important to note: the pulps are literature. They are about words and ideas, feelings and thoughts. There is a tendency to tie them together with comic books, but they are really two very different things. Comic books (and this is not a criticism of their worth or significance) are pictures with words. Pulps may have a few illustrations, but not more than you would see in many books. It’s writing.

That’s not to say that it always deathless prose. Doc Savage, one of the leading pulps (and soon to be a major motion picture starring the surging Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, People’s Sexiest Man Alive and one of the leads in Disney’s Moana), is one of my fictional heroes (I would not be the person I am today without being inspired by Doc to try to improve myself to help others). Still, with writing something like a novel a month most months for years, Lester Dent (writing under the “house name” of Kenneth Robeson…and when Dent didn’t write the adventures, the author generally wrote outlines for them), there were some repetitive descriptions. We Doc fans enjoy that…reading of Doc’s eyes being like “stirred pools of fleck gold” or muscles being like bundled piano wire. While themes might repeat, though, plots didn’t…each Doc adventure has its own value.

Many pulps (but notably not Doc Savage) are now in the public domain (no longer under copyright protection). Like all literature published in the USA prior to 1923, early pulps are. When copyright renewal was required, many pulps were not renewed…either the companies weren’t still around, or it didn’t seem worth it to pay the fee.

That means you can get many of them as legally free e-editions, or read them online.

One source I recommend is

The Pulp Magazines Project

It was created by Patrick Scott Belk, an Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown in Pennsylvania.

You can read the roughly 320 issues online on a tablet, phone, or computer, or download them as PDFs, which would mean you could read them on many Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers).

In addition to the magazines themselves, there are some context articles, biographies, a cover gallery, and more.

The only thing I’d say that might be confusing is that a magazine’s home page lists the number of issues…that’s the number of total issues published, not the number that they have on the site (which is typically much lower). That’s a minor point, though, and it does have historical importance.

Before I make a few suggestions, I just want to mention that it was a different time, with different cultural standards. There may certainly be character descriptions and plot elements which modern audiences could find offensive (see The Chronological Cultural Context Conundrum). Some of these may also be pretty scary or perhaps a bit racy.

I think you’ll find these interesting, sort of like time traveling…speaking of which, I will eventually be linking appropriate ones from The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project.

The need for a site like The Pulp Magazines Project, especially for something which was once so popular, points out a different cultural attitude. There was once something called “ephemera”, which was only expected to be valuable for a very short time. They weren’t expected to have lasting value…here today, gone tomorrow. Now, everything could possibly last forever. 🙂 I find it likely that if copyright still had to be renewed, the percentage of people/organizations doing it would be much higher. Even shows that are fifty years old or more are being remade, and original works are being watched/read/heard.

One more thing: we may see a resurgence of interest in pulps when the Dwayne Johnson/Shane Black version of Doc Savage releases. I’m really hoping that they release the original Doc Savage adventures (there are 181 of them) as legal Kindle books. I would pay $100 for a bundle of all of them…hint, hint. 😉

Enjoy!

Don’t forget, we are still in a huge period of sales, and that will continue through tomorrow (Cyber Monday) and beyond. Keep your eye on these three Amazon pages:

Amazon Black Friday deals (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s the one with frequently changing deals which may sell out and which may only last for a limited time.

If you have an Alexa-enabled device, check these deals:

http://www.amazon.com/alexadeals (at AmazonSmile*)

Then, starting Monday:

Amazon Cyber Monday deals (at AmazonSmile*)

Reportedly, Amazon is having a great sales weekend, volume-wise…and I expect it to continue! Especially look at the deals on Amazon devices!

Do you have any pulps you’d recommend? Seen any Black Friday weekend/Cyber Monday deals you’d suggest? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

 

“the best selling SCI-FI BOOKS of All Time”: are they in the Kindle store?

March 16, 2016

“the best selling SCI-FI BOOKS of All Time”: are they in the Kindle store?

One of the things EBOOK FRIENDLY does well is infographics.

The one in this post:

http://ebookfriendly.com/the-best-selling-sci-fi-books-of-all-time-infographic/

is no exception: it’s visually interesting and has intriguing textual information. Well, I don’t know that they really back up the claim that these are the “best selling” books in this category…and there are a lot of people who won’t agree that The Lord of the Rings is sci-fi (Forry Ackerman’s term for “science fiction”…at the time, intended to riff off “hi-fi” ((high fidelity sound)), just as “Wi-Fi” is today).

Let’s leave that aside for the moment. I think most geeks would recognize the significance of the books on this list, and I will likely add them all to The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project eventually (or perhaps collaborators will…I’m looking forward to having other people working on TMCGTT).

I was curious…how many of these are available in the USA Kindle store?

That used to be a big issue, certainly when the Kindle store opened back in late 2007 with fewer than 100,000 titles. Now, with more than four million titles, and a commitment to the market by all of the big publishers, Amazon is closer to their original vision of “every book ever published”…although still a long way away.

I’m going to take them in the same order they are in the infographic, although that doesn’t appear to be in order (ascending or descending) of most sales.

Stranger in a Strange Land (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Robert A. Heinlein
originally published in 1961
4.1 stars out of 5 | 1,286 customer reviews
$8.99 at time of writing

Triplanetary (The Lensman Series Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)) NOTE: the infographic counts the whole Lensman series as one thing…the information in this listing is just for the first book, but other books are available
by E.E. “Doc” Smith
originally published in 1948
5 stars | 2 customer reviews
$0.99 at time of writing
Note: books 3,4,5, and 6 are available through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

2001: A Space Odyssey (at AmazonSmile*)
by Arthur C. Clarke
originally published in 1968 (although an expansion of a story published in 1948)
4.6 stars | 680 reviews
$7.99 at time of writing

Fahrenheit 451 (not linked because the publisher blocks text-to-speech access)**
by Ray Bradbury
originally published in 1953
4.2 stars | 2,898 reviews
$11.99 at time of writing
Note that Bradbury was a hold-out on allowing e-book versions for some time, famously saying that e-books “…smelled like burned fuel”

Foundation (not linked because the publisher blocks text-to-speech access)** | NOTE: the infographic counts the whole Foundation series as one thing…the information in this listing is just for the first book, but other books are available. NOTE: for some reason, the infographic lists both the Foundation series and the Foundation trilogy…I’m only going to list it once
by Isaac Asimov
first story originally published in 1942, first published in book form in 1951 (as a collection, not an expansion as was the case with 2001)
4.3 stars | 1,747 reviews
$7.99 at time of writing

Those are the details on the first five listed. Here are the others, and if they are available:

  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (yes, and in KU)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (yes)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (yes)
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson (yes)
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (yes)
  • Gateway by Frederik  Pohl (no)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (yes)
  • 1984 by George Orwell  (yes)
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (yes)
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A.  Heinlein (no)
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (no)
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (yes)
  • The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (yes)
  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (yes)
  • The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (yes)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (yes)
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under  the Sea (yes)
  • Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (yes)
  • Lord of the Rings  by J.R.R. Tolkien (yes)

I wanted to call out one more on the list out separately, because it happens to be one of the

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Childhood’s End (at AmazonSmile*) by Arthur C. Clarke

for $1.99

Oh, and it’s available through Kindle Unlimited, too! 🙂

So, what stands out to me here?

Almost all of them are available in the Kindle store. Why would any of them not be? Before about 2005, e-book rights were not commonly negotiated when licensing publishing rights. That means that a publisher would have to go back to the author (or the author’s estate) to negotiate afresh. Each of the three books would likely have a market, but negotiations can be complicated. When I add books to TMCGTT, I link to the search for them in Worldcat (which searches public libraries, so people can see if they can get them there).

A few of the books are available in Kindle Unlimited, meaning that members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service) can read them at no additional cost.

I was  disappointed to see that in some cases, the publishers had blocked text-to-speech access. I find it particularly ironic with Fahrenheit 451…it does make a book less accessible, at least in a convenient manner.

I think  some people will be surprised by the prices…we’ve had discussions here before about whether an older book should be priced lower than a current book.

Overall, whether these are actually the bestselling books or not (by the way, the weird capitalization is the way that EBOOK FRIENDLY did it), I think it’s a good list with some great books on it.

What do you think? Is this a good list? Are there books you are still waiting to be Kindleized? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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.

 

 

Public domain makes strange bookfellows

February 24, 2016

Public domain makes strange bookfellows**

Copyright matters.

It affects what you read, and it affects what people write.

We’ve had a lot of discussions (with my readers commenting on my posts, and me responding) in this blog about copyright. I’ve explored the idea of permanent copyright, and have really appreciated the thoughtful and respectful arguments against that idea, and in some cases for even shortening current copyright terms.

In this post, I want to look at an effect of having copyright terms at all…published works which later fall into the public domain, and are then used by other authors in new works.

Under current US copyright law (and as stated in the Constitution), copyright is for a limited time. How long that time is has gotten longer over time since the original fourteen years (renewable once) to the current Life+70 years (in most circumstances).

After that, the work is owned by the public…it is in the public domain. From that point, anybody can publish and sell the book…and authors can use the characters and settings of that book however they want.

This can lead to some great and imaginative combinations…as well as some bizarre and arguably less successful ones.

At it’s best, for me, the new work pays respect to the older work, but brings something fresh and exciting, and often fun.

I also like it when someone brings together two (or more) disparate characters and/or settings.

Before I list a few examples, I want to define it a bit more.

Parody is something different. In the USA (but not everywhere in the world), you can use in-copyright characters without permission, providing that you are doing it as a form of criticism of the original work. Mad magazine, Saturday Night Live, Marlon Wayons, even porn parodies, are legal if they are commenting on the original.

Rightsholders may also do “crossovers”. L. Frank Baum, who to me was pioneering in so many ways, did crossovers…less popular characters from other books/series would appear in the super popular Oz books (arguably, to help boost their profiles…Baum tried to stop writing the Oz books, but those were what the readers wanted). A deal can even be worked out between different rightsholders: in 1976, Superman and Spider-Man “fought” each other in a comic book…despite being owned by two very different and competitive companies (DC and Marvel, respectively).

Fan fiction (“fanfic”) is prose of a different color. 😉 It typically takes in-copyright characters and writes new stories not for profit. It can be a bit of a gray area, but some rightsholders openly support it within certain parameters (J.K. Rowling, for one)

Okay, let’s talk about a few of these works which used public domain elements in new commercial works:

Silverlock (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by John Myers Myers
4.2 stars out of 5 | 92 customer reviews

First published in 1949, Silverlock brings together all sorts of characters, both historical figures and fictional. It’s considered somewhat of a classic in its own right. Serious readers can treat it as almost a puzzle, trying to recognize all of the references. 🙂 Everybody can have fun with Robin Hood and Don Quixote, among many others. This one is available through

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

or you can purchase it for $2.88 at the time of writing. Note that there is more than one version of Silverlock in the USA Kindle store (but differentiated by additional material, from what I’ve seen).

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most adapted characters of all time, and certainly, the public domain status of most of the original works has made for some odd adventures for Sherlock. I loved

An East Wind Coming (at AmazonSmile*)
by Arthur Byron Cover
4.0 stars | 2 customer reviews

I am very excited to see that this work is not only newly Kindleized (with text-to-speech access) but also part of Kindle Unlimited!

Like Silverlock, it brings together a wide variety of characters…which arguably include (sort of) Sherlock Holmes pursuing a possible Jack the Ripper. This is all complicated by being set in the future where humans can assume the identities (and abilities) of fictional characters…a type of super-powered cosplay. 😉 It comes after Autumn Angels (at AmazonSmile*) (also KU, and been available for more than a year), although that one is a bit different (featuring a character, for example, who is clearly Ham Brooks, one of Doc Savage’s in-copyright associates…without explicitly being Ham). You don’t need to read them in order.

There have been other version of Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper (which makes sense, given their similar timeframes), but I was curious, so I searched for  “Sherlock Holmes in space” and  got

The Adventure of the Skittering Shadow: Sherlock Holmes in Space (Nerio Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Sam Gamble
5.0 stars | 1 customer review

Several authors (even well-known ones, including Fred Saberhagen and Loren D. Estleman) have pitted the Consulting Detective against the Immortal Count…Dracula.

Dracula is another character whose versions are legion, from more than one comic book superhero version to Blacula in the movies.

The Land of Oz (I mentioned Baum earlier) has seen not only visitors from Baum’s other books (oh, and Santa Claus came to Ozma’s birthday party once…but Baum also wrote a Santa Claus book), but probably hundreds of other interactions since it fell into the public domain.

I thought a particularly interesting take, although unfortunately not available in the Kindle store, was Philip José Farmer’s A Barnstormer in Oz. The original books had Oz interacting with the rest of the world (although in a limited manner…and it becomes concerning enough that they use magic to cut themselves off, which fails at being an absolute separation. This book (as Farmer would do in other works) asked what would happen if Oz actually existed.

There are many other examples. Tarzan is (mostly) in the public domain…and encounters Frankenstein (also in the public domain) in Owen Leonard’s Frankenstein Meets the Ape-Man: Tarzan (at AmazonSmile*)…KU or $0.99. I’ve read Doc Savage in an adventure on King Kong’s Skull Island

Of course, there was

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (at AmazonSmile*) by Seth Grahame Smith ($10.99, not KU)

which has a movie adaptation in the theatres right now (not breaking any box office records, though).

Is all of this an argument in favor of public domain?

I’d say yes.

I recognize the value of PD, both in making books available for free, and in making legal these sorts of innovative storytelling.

I think there is considerable room for improvement in copyright, and am thinking about different possibilities…

What do you think? Do you have a favorite book with public domain characters or settings in a new work you would recommend? What’s the weirdest crossover/mash-up/adaptation you’ve read? I left off so many (I hear some of you shouting out A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen written by Alan Moore)! Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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 is take on Charles Dudley Warner’s famous line, “Politics makes strange bedfellows”…while Shakespeare used the phrase “…strange bedfellows” in the Tempest

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.

 

Amazon’s 4th quarter financials: wow, these are good!

January 29, 2016

Amazon’s 4th quarter financials: wow, these are good!

Blue Origin isn’t Jeff Bezos’ only company blasting through the stratosphere! 😉

Amazon has their fourth quarter 2015 (covering the holiday season)

press release

out, and you can download slides and listen to today’s conference call about it here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5215069

To listen to the Webex, you’ll need to do a free registration, including a company. You can just put “independent” for the company, if you want.

There are so many positives overall, as well as on the consumer side!

I’ll quote this one for the overall:

“Net income was $596 million, or $1.25 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $241 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, in 2014.”

As to other stats…well, if you want to read some good news, check the press release. 😉

Just some of the consumer side points:

  • Fire TV remains the #1 best-selling streaming media player in the U.S [that means more than Apple TV, more than Chromecast]
  • The $50 Fire tablet has been the #1 best-selling, most gifted, and most wished-for product across all items available on Amazon.comsince its introduction 19 weeks ago
  • In 2015, worldwide paid Prime memberships increased 51% — 47% in the U.S. and even faster outside the U.S.
  • In the fourth quarter, Prime Music streaming hours more than tripled in the U.S. compared with fourth quarter 2014

Not mentioned? Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and e-books.

I’m not worried about that, though. We have to admit it’s a small part of Amazon’s business (even if it did launch their now mighty devices portion).

During the Q&A portion, people asked about AWS (Amazon Web Service) growth slowing (they explained that pretty well, I thought), and how shipping has gotten a bit more expensive for Amazon…but generally, I think the investors who asked questions on the call sounded reasonably pleased.

Greatly increased profits, greatly increased sales, market dominance…so, naturally, the stock dropped after the news. 🙂

No, seriously…it is down:

Financial Times article by Leslie Hook

However, that was after it went up today:

chart at Money.CNN

Investors were disappointed because, while it was great, it wasn’t as great as they expected.

It feels a little bit like a C student coming home with straight As and the parents saying, “You couldn’t have gotten A+s? Go to your room!” 😉

As a consumer, I’m happy with what I see. Low cost devices worked for Amazon…that’s where I think they should be.

What do you think? I have some financial savvy readers…fill me in on insights I’m missing. 🙂 Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus recommendation:

Autumn Angels (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by Arthur Byron Cover

This isn’t for everyone, but if you are a geek, you may really like this Nebula nominated novel. There are so many allusions to characters (in addition to fascinating original ones). Regular readers know I’m a big Doc Savage fan, and “The Lawyer” here is based on Ham Brooks. This is one of those unspoilable books…it’s not about the plot. 🙂 I’m mentioning now because it is available through

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

Amazon’ subser (subscription service). If the concept of wildly disparate geeky characters being together in the same novel sounds intriguing to you, give it a shot. 🙂

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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.

Book related 2016 Oscar noms (and two you can watch with Amazon Prime)

January 14, 2016

Book related 2016 Oscar noms (and two you can watch with Amazon Prime)

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning: I cover those pretty extensively in The Measured Circle, another blog of mine:

2016 Oscar noms

However, I did think it was worth noting book-related nominations here…you might want to read them, and yes, movie adaptations effect which books are available to us. While most authors can’t count on an adaptation, it’s clearly part of the appeal to publishers…can the rights be sold for a movie, TV show, videogame, and so on?

Before I do that, I wanted to mention something I thought was cool. 🙂

I could actually watch two of the Oscar-nominated movies right away as part of

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

I could do it on my (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX, or really, any of the Fire tablets (or my now discontinued Fire Phone).

I’d be more likely to watch them on our

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

or our

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

We use one of each. 🙂

The two movies are:

Ex Machina (at AmazonSmile*)

which was nominated for Special Effects and Original Screenplay (note: this one is NSFW…Not Safe For Work, with nudity and violence)

and

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (at AmazonSmile*)

which was nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling.

Only one of those was based on a book…we’ll get there next. 🙂

Again, you can watch those at no additional cost as part of your Amazon Prime memberships. Other nominees are available on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go (for no additional cost streaming).

Okay…books credited as being the basis (at least in part) for 2016 Oscar-nominated movies:

Best Picture nominees:

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge (at AmazonSmile*) by Michael Punke
Room (at AmazonSmile*) by Emma Donoghue (who also wrote the screen adaptation)
Brooklyn (at AmazonSmile*) by Colm Tóibín
The Martian (at AmazonSmile*) by Andy Weir (originally published in novel form as a Kindle indie)
The Big Short (The Big Short (at AmazonSmile*) by Michael Lewis

Lead Actor nominees:

TRUMBO (at AmazonSmile*) by Bruce Cook
The Revenant (see above)
The Martian (see above)
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (not linked due to text-to-speech being blocked**)
The Danish Girl (at AmazonSmile*) by David Ebershoff

Lead Actress nominees:

Carol (at AmazonSmile*) by Patricia Highsmith
Room (see above)
Brooklyn (see above)
45 Years (In Another Country: Selected Stories) (at AmazonSmile*) by David Constantine

Supporting Actor nominees:

The Revenant (see above)
The Big Short (see above)

Supporting Actress nominees:

The Danish Girl (see above)
Steve Jobs (see above)
Carol (see above)

Directing nominees:

The Revenant (see above)
The Big Short (see above)
Room (see above)

Adapted Screenplay nominees (all listed above):

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Animated Feature nominees:

When Marnie Was There (at AmazonSmile*) by Joan G. Robinson

Cinematography nominees:

Carol (see above)
The Revenant (see above)

Editing nominees:

The Big Short (see above)
The Revenant (see above)

Production Design nominees (all listed above):

The Martian
The Revenant
The Danish Girl

Costume nominees (all listed above):

The Revenant
Carol
The Danish Girl

Score nominees:

Carol (see above)

Song nominees:

Spectre (based on characters by Ian Fleming)
Fifty Shades of Grey (at AmazonSmile*) by E L James

Sound Mixing nominees:

The Revenant (see above)
The Martian (see above)

Sound Editing nominees:

The Revenant (see above)
The Martian (see above)

Visual Effects nominees:

The Revenant (see above)
The Martian (see above)

I thought I’d mention that the last Hunger Games movie was shut out, which did surprise me a bit. 🙂 I thought it was likely for Makeup and Hairstyling at least.

I was also pleased that only one out of these books had text-to-speech access blocked.** That was nice! I recently wrote to another author to inform them about TTS being blocked on a book which I might otherwise have read. That didn’t work last time, but I feel better doing it. 🙂

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle/Fire with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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.

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

December 19, 2015

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.

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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.


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