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That’s show biz: The value propositions of bookstores and movies
April 12, 2014 | 5:35 am

Sometimes when I’m trawling through the news, I run across unrelated posts that form an interesting juxtaposition. Here’s one concerning the very similar way that technological change has affected two entirely different industries. First, Dan Meadows (not a close relation as far as I know) has an interesting pair of posts relating to bookstores, publishers, and their respective value propositions. In the first one, he talks about bookstores and publishers in general. The services these institutions offer hasn’t changed—bookstores still have about the same number of books, publishers still offer the same services—but because people suddenly have even better...

Early Stephen King novels to be re-issued as special editions
April 8, 2014 | 3:25 pm

carrieSix of the early books by Stephen King are being re-issued as deluxe editions. The novels - Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand and Pet Sematary – were released between 1974 and 1983 through Doubleday. The re-issued books will go through Cemetery Dance Publications with over-sized editions on heavy paper, according to The New York Times. The books will also have new artwork for the dust jackets with new introductions by King. According to the report, the 40th anniversary edition of Carrie will include an essay by Tabitha King, six paintings by Tomislav Tikulin, and a reproduction of the telegram Doubleday...

Publishers go off deep end, pay consultant to tell them what they want to hear
April 3, 2014 | 1:24 pm

Diogenes-statue-Sinop-enhancedSo, let me get this straight. Frank Luby, a consultant speaking at Digital Book World, says that e-books are more convenient than printed books, and therefore, they should cost more. Is this some kind of a joke? Apparently not; it was posted April 2, and people elsewhere seem to be taking it seriously. This is so wrong I hardly even know where to begin. It’s true that I can see how publishers would want to hear what this guy has to say. Basically, he’s telling them only what they already believe themselves. And it’s a belief they...

Have we forgotten the value of a book?
March 26, 2014 | 12:24 pm

value of a bookWhen we look at buying a book, it seems many are caught up in the price – thinking: ‘Can I get this cheaper online? How much is Amazon selling it? Why can’t I get this ebook free?’ The value of books has taken a dive over the last couple of years. We have become obsessed with trying to read as much as possible by spending the least amount of money. Yet, we don’t take into account the value of what we are getting out of a book. A good book offers about four hours of entertainment. A great book will present even...

Dealing with the Coming Onslaught of Used Media
March 21, 2014 | 12:25 pm

used mediaIn the past few years, I have been growing ever more digital in my media habits. First, the paper books started getting replaced. Then I stopped buying TV show boxed sets and started watching them on Netflix. Now I am moving the last of my DVD workouts onto my hard drive for easy iPad streaming, and am starting to actively look for download-only stuff for my new buys. But it seems I am not the only one moving in this direction, and during my recent March Break Spring Cleaning, I started to realize that this glut of used media is not...

If Amazon drives competitors out of business, will it raise its prices?
March 13, 2014 | 11:53 am

One oft-expressed fear many hold about Amazon is that if it manages to drive other companies out of business with its “predatory” loss leader pricing on new e-books, it will then raise its prices, drop its royalties, insist on lower wholesale prices from publishers, and stick it to consumers, authors, and publishers all at once. But is this really likely to happen? According to Tim Worstall, a Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, basic economics says no. The thing about Amazon is that absolutely nothing prevents new competitors from entering the market, now or in the...

The vitriol of Twitter: How social media torpedoed Jonathan Ross hosting the Hugos
March 4, 2014 | 1:12 pm

Twitter as kid with red crayonHere’s an interesting article from The Nation about problems the feminist movement is having in discussions on Twitter. The fundamental problem is “intersectionality”: people in the feminist movement are other things besides “just” female—they’re rich or poor, they’re white or minority, and so on—and people at one end of a spectrum find things to be angry at the people on the other end about, even though they ostensibly share a common cause. And this anger is compounded by the Twitter discussion medium, whose short bite-sized chunks can lead to a spectacularly toxic environment. I don’t really have anything to...

Appointment of British comedian Jonathan Ross as Hugo Awards emcee triggers brief spat
March 1, 2014 | 11:21 pm

Jonathan-RossToday saw another blowup in a series of memorable events in recent history pertaining to sexism and science fiction. And the SFWA wasn’t even involved this time! The organizers of LonCon3, the London SF convention playing host to Worldcon and hence the Hugo Awards this year, announced today that British TV personality Jonathan Ross had agreed to emcee the Hugos. This immediately sent a shockwave through the community, because Ross has a history of raunchy and sexist humor on the air. A number of prominent SF writers and personalities declared their dismay, including Seanan McGuire, who tweeted: ...

FAA failure to keep up with commercial drone use could prevent innovation
February 25, 2014 | 5:59 pm

drone delivery At the risk of droning on, it seems like there has been a lot of news involving drones lately. We covered Amazon’s announcement of package delivery (someday) via drones, and some responses to it. Clearly, drone services could fill the middle range between snail-mail delivery and electronic downloading: a physical good that reaches you quickly. And that is not even considering the other potential uses, such as aerial photography. But that is in the nebulous future. What about now? Well, the problem with drone use right now is that commercial drone use is technically illegal—the...

Morning Roundup: Children and touchscreens, Amazon good for literature, Konrath on Patterson, and more
February 24, 2014 | 9:21 am

Researchers Find Children Play with Touchscreens More than Traditional Toys (Teachers with Apps) Researchers find children play with touchscreens more than traditional toys - The following claim was made in Mail Online in the Science and Technology section. -- Why Amazon is Good for Literature (Electric Gutenberg) Maybe some of the people who are making money in this new ecosystem centered around a love of writing and books and art, are the people who are being replaced by robots doing the Amazon warehouse work that wasn't nearly as much fun.  That's what I...

Veronica Mars movie will release simultaneously to theaters and on-line
February 21, 2014 | 7:41 pm

Veronica Mars The Veronica Mars Kickstarted movie is set to make its big-screen debut on 270 screens across the United States next month—and when it does, it will be available for on-line digital purchase and rental at the same time. This is unprecedented for a movie from one of Hollywood’s six major studios; most such films are heavily windowed with no rental or purchase possible until the movie has passed out of first-run and second-run theaters. This is made possible in part by the movie’s low-budget nature; the movie was mostly funded by a Kickstarter that raised $5.7...

Authors Supporting Our Troops: Book drive for soldiers
February 11, 2014 | 2:35 pm

Imagine having to share one Harry Potter book with 12 of your closest friends – and it was the only book you could read for weeks or even months. Any of the Harry Potter books are fun to read, but after the third consecutive reading you probably no longer need the book to recount the lines. That’s the situation a number of American soldiers face overseas. Armand Rosamila is trying to change that with the Authors Supporting Our Troops book drive. Rosamila has heard stories of the lack of books soldiers have overseas. So, he is collecting signed books from authors and publishers...