"…to customers, Amazon would like to be a monopoly (i.e. the only store in town). To suppliers, Amazon would like to be a monopsony (i.e. the only customer in town). Their goal is to profit via arbitrage, and if they can achieve those twin goals they will own everybody’s nuts — the authors, the customers, everyone.”
If you’ve not yet heard, Amazon has pulled all of publisher Macmillan’s books from its online store in retaliation for MacMillan’s request to raise the prices for its e-books to $15, above the $10 ceiling Amazon considers reasonable.
Well, Amazon pulling MacMillan’s e-books seems obvious for the situation, but they’ve also pulled the physical books from the site as well. This seems like churlishness.
The $10 limit that Amazon likes on e-books is plainly a price incentive to sell Kindles.
I frankly don’t imagine this happening in any other week than the one in which Apple unveiled the iPad. This is the first sound of Kindle’s death knell, at least in the form it presently takes.
I am only marginally interested in an e-book reader, because I’m a nerd like that - but I will always go for physical paper books where possible.
I will never buy a Kindle, because I have the odd idea that I should own what I buy and Amazon’s DRM kinda flies against that in all sorts of ways.
Amazon, like Google, are making all sorts of decisions recently that -while part of the fascinating restructuring going on in the 21st century - are causing a lot of resentment, especially among the people that they should be allied with.
Apple may well - way before Amazon even think of it - soon be offering customisable deals for publishers on the iPad. Not only publishing houses, but also self-publishing and rights-free content. Because people like a good deal, not the only deal in town.
Hour of Slack #1241 - Live Jan. 24, 2010 - The Greatest Buzz Possible
This episode was broadcast live from WCSB, Cleveland, on Jan. 24, 2010, the 26th anniversary of the first assassination of J. R. “Bob” Dobbs — an event which is never acknowledged during the show, out of respect. A slew of Lemur cuts and some Local Color presage a mottered-up mess in the WCSB studio with Rev. Stang, Princess Wei, and the unusually powerful buzz of Lonesome Cowboy Dave. Everything important is covered, thoroughly. Less significant matters are merely touched upon, or skirted. Complete impunity is exercised across the board, and The Conspiracy is baldly exposed. DON’T TELL ANYBODY.
“Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”—J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye.
"The ban on small-breasted women in adult publications has been made by the Australian Classification Board allegedly on the grounds that such images could be construed as child pornography…"
I really don’t like large breasts. Just not a fan. Presumably, in Australia, that would be some sort of perversion. Whereas enjoying pneumatically endowed sideshow oddities will be seen and healthy and wholesome.
You’d think that a country whose biggest entertainment export was Kylie would have better sense.
Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two), by Joe Abercrombie
Abercrombie is an excellent writer - his prose is lean and descriptive, and his method of altering the style according to which character’s viewpoint is being expressed is inspired - but this book has exactly the same problems that plagued the first volume in this series.
It’s difficult to criticise a novel that is written so well, and which features fully developed - and developing - characters, but Abercrombie’s plot structure needs serious editorial attention. While it’s traditional to leave the endings of novels that are part of a series on some sort of twist and/or cliffhanger - and while I fully appreciate pushing against this, and other, literary traditions - both of these First Law instalments simply stop. It’s a particular problem with this second volume, as its respective storylines fail to achieve any resolution.
One plot thread, featuring a group of characters on a quest, ends in failure. Not a “we-fought-our-best-but-lost failure”, but one in which they get to the end of the quest and find the object of their trials isn’t there to be won. That’s a bit cheap, as far as reader satisfaction goes.
Another plot takes place during a siege, set up as a strategically important part of the overall story. These sections fail because we don’t get any point of view descriptions of the multiple battles, but simply ruminations of the commanding characters commenting on them after the fact. This particular plot thread limps to a miserable end when the main character sneaks away from the siege and is later informed blithely that the besieged castle has fallen.
It’s only in the chapters following a war campaign that the book really achieves any momentum, interest and satisfaction. These segments are head and shoulders above the rest of the book, even though - ironically - they feature perhaps the least interesting and well-drawn characters.
It’s also worth mentioning that these criticisms come from my reading each First Law book pretty much one after the other - I can’t imagine how frustrating and unsatisfying they must have been to people reading each volume in instalments, with months to wait for the truncated storytelling to resume. Although, as there’s no concession to finishing each book with any incentive to carry on, perhaps many readers simply didn’t bother.
"By analyzing data from 168 different social insect species including ants, termites, bees and wasps, the authors found that the lifespan, growth rates and rates of reproduction of whole colonies when considered as superorganisms were nearly indistinguishable from individual organisms."
Comics Alliance has a five-page preview of Spider-Man: Fever by writer/artist Brendan McCarthy. I buy so few comics these days - and very, very few ‘mainstream’ comics - that it takes something special to get me excited. I’m very excited about this.
Hour of Slack #1240 - Avatar Meets Puzzling Evidence
About half of this episode is yanked from the womb of KPFA-Berkeley, The Puzzling Evidence Show, of January 8, 2010. Puzzling and his guests Dr. Hal, Dr. Philo Drummond, Rev. Phineas Narco, Justin Credible and Empress Zoey drag the show across battlefields and through jungles, ever striving to reach “Bob.” Or escape him. The movie “Avatar” is discussed. The other half of the show involves music, collages, and music/collages by Rural War Room, Mark Hosler, LeMur, The Psycho Skeletons, Local Color, frequent caller Bernard, Rev. Wilhelm Stahlhelm, and Rev. Outa Spaceman.
"It seemed as though every other girl was… different. Or, perhaps, she was the one who was different."
Comic Alliance’s hilarious deconstruction/review of the new Stephenie Meyer bio-comic. Looks like an easy target (Meyer has done nothing bar write the books and get married, and the comic art is abysmal), but anything that dents the Twilight juggernaut is good enough for me.
Okay - well, I have a Pencil Through The Cornea meeting that week, but that’s… no, that’s okay, that’s earlier in the week. And I can reschedule my Whacking My Testicles In A Car Door evening to the Thursday, so that just leaves the Pouring Boiling Gum Into The Inner Ear seminar which will… oh, really? Katie Melua does a Pouring Boiling Gum Into The Inner Ear seminar during her concert? That’s handy. I bet that goes down a storm.
"To help those families, we’re offering free calling to Haiti through Google Voice for the next two weeks. To place a call using Google Voice, use the Click2Call button on the website, the Google Voice mobile app, or dial your own Google Voice number and press 2 to place an outbound call."
Doesn’t quite negate the Google Books Settlement debacle, but fair play all the same.
"You decided to deal with the devil, as it were, and have presented your arguments for doing so. I wish I could accept them. I can’t. There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle."
"…MA15+ film Saw - which depicts a bloody, severed foot on its cover - can still be freely displayed, while 2005 hit Fight Club - which features a photograph of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton - can’t be."