I hate to harsh anyone’s squee, but…

I hate to harsh anyone's squee, but...

The Doctor Who season finale was just as mediocre and disappointing as the rest of the season. I don’t know what the hell everyone else is so happy about, except perhaps Steven Moffet’s lackluster turn as head writer has somehow lowered everyone’s bar and they were happy to see anything resembling a moving bit of drama. Cut for spoilers, unfortunately too late for many… sorry. :(

Continue reading “I hate to harsh anyone’s squee, but…”

My Reaction Upon Viewing The Twilight Eclipse Trailer

My Reaction Upon Viewing The Twilight Eclipse Trailer

So, normally I am an RPatz fan, though not a fangirl. I think the dude is pretty sharp looking, and I love the way he makes fun of Twilight and Stephanie Meyer. But looking at the new trailer, I am sort of appalled at Bella. Perhaps because I have never seen Jacob and Edward standing together on screen, but Edward looks really fucking nasty in this new movie, and even moreso next to shiny, brown-skinned Jacob. I mean, I have have never been struck by that horrendously applied white makeup before and WTF is up with the yellow-ass eyes? How is it that people in Forks or whatever town they are in do not know that the Cullens are vampires? They look like a baker attacked them while they’re recovering from malaria. WTF.

I suppose that this should not make any sense to me because, if it did, then the books would start making sense, and one of y’all would have to kidnap me and stage an intervention or something. Still, I have seen other vampire movies that manage to make them look all sexy while pale and this is not one of them. Why didn’t she choose the brown wolf boy? Maybe Bella is racist! Or… maybe these books (and the makeup crew) just suck.

Anyone care to help me out here?

Magazine / eBook Coding Project Meetup At ReaderCon

Magazine / eBook Coding Project Meetup At ReaderCon

Since a good number of the people who are interested in helping with and hammering out details on the eBook Magazine project I posed about will be at Readercon in a few weeks, I think it would be a good idea to have a meetup there. I know there are several of you interested who won’t be there, so hopefully I can get together with you online to make sure we know about the skill sets, availability, and ideas of everyone who wants to be involved.

For the peeps who’ll be at Readercon, how does meeting during the dinner break (yes, over actual dinner) on Saturday sound?

For the online component of this project, people seem to use Google Sites to good effect for organizing such things. Would anyone be interested in setting up one of those with both public and private areas?

If You Build This, Magazines Will Come

If You Build This, Magazines Will Come

During WisCon I had a brief conversation with Jed Hartman about my continued sadness that more online magazines don’t have an eBook version of their stories so I can easily load them on my eReader and thus read more fiction. He agreed that Things Must Be Done, but there are questions of logistics and reader/audience desires plus the technology to make it all happen. We came to the conclusion that making this work is about more than just creating an eBook version of the magazine, but also delivery and access. There’s a niche here that needs filling, but in order to do that, we’re going to need coders.

I want to propose an open source coding project and gather coders around me to make it happen, but I have no flippin’ idea how to do that. I also want to get some more feedback on this idea and work out the kinks. Luckily, I have a blog, so I totally know how to do that. So here are the questions, issues, problems, and goals I see surrounding all of this.

  1. Relatively easy eBook creation. Though programs like Calibre can create EPUB (and other eBook format) files, Tobias Buckell recently pointed out to me that this is not the optimal solution. He equated it to people using Microsoft Word to create web pages. Yes, the program can do it, but the code it generates is from hell. Not fit for anyone except really clueless newbies. We wouldn’t want that for these eBooks. So a primary aspect is to figure out who or what will generate clean code for EPUB.
  2. How many eBooks? Many online magazines do the monthly or semi-monthly thing, but for those that publish every week, do readers want an eBook for every story, or is one per month good?
  3. Free or Not Free? Many online magazines are free, which is a yay. Should their eBooks be free as well? I am personally in favor of charging a small amount for the files for the convenience of having the eBook format. The fiction will still be free on the website, of course. What are other people’s thoughts on this?
  4. Delivery System. Outfits like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony will deliver magazines to subscribers automatically, but only if you have a device that stays within their ecosystem. Like, if I subscribe to a magazine through B&N but use my Sony Reader to read it, it won’t show up each month on its own, I’d have to download then transfer it. Plus, I imagine that many online magazines would want to sell or make their eBook versions available through independent eBookstores or just from their site. I had an idea that I’d like to be able to embed and deliver eBooks with an RSS feed like you do with podcasts. That way, if you subscribe to the feed, you automatically get the file. It would be nice if this worked with paid eBook files as well. This is where the major coding work comes in. How do you set this kind of thing up? And would you need an accompanying program to then transfer the eBook to your eReader?
  5. Subscriptions or Individual Payments? Going along with the system I described above, will readers want to subscribe up front to many months worth of a magazine or would they be happier just paying per month?

This is what I’ve come up with so far, but please feel free to add anything else you think should be under consideration and please give your thoughts, solutions, etc. to the above. I feel that if this is done right, we may end up with a really cool program or online service that can handle all of these things. But, as I said, I’d want this to be open source and made available to magazines for little or no cost, if possible.

I’d love any suggestions on how to proceed from here.

How to Find/Read Me

When I welcomed new friends and readers last week I forgot to do that thing where I say “here’s where to find me” in case people don’t do the RSS thing. So here it is:

LiveJournal: I’m here as ktempest and the journal there is essentially a mirror of this journal here at fluidartist.com. The only difference between the mirror and an RSS feed is that the entries show up under my own username with my LJ icon. You can’t comment there, which I know is a sadness. But keeping up with two comment threads gave me the vapors. I do friend people back on LJ because I do read the FList there (not as frequently as I used to). If you’d like me to friend you, please introduce yourself.

Dreamwidth: I’m here as ktempest also but that journal is on lockdown. Only people I’ve granted access to can see the majority of my posts there. There’s nothing super secret going on. I just want to use that journal as a place to have the kind of conversations that can only happen when you choose the company selectively. If you subscribe to me there and I don’t subscribe back or grant you access to my locked posts, please do not take it as a sign I don’t like you. However, if you do add me, I would appreciate you introducing yourself as I sometimes don’t match up the person with their LJ/Dreamwidth handle and my brain needs a bit of help. If you want to read the posts from the fluidartist.com journal on Dreamwidth, there’s an RSS feed.

Twitter: I’m tinytempest here. Twitter is full of randomness and I just add to the noise. I do not always follow people who follow me. I’m starting to realize how mean I am!

Facebook: If you search for K Tempest Bradford you should be able to find me. Or just hit the link there. Though Facebook is evil with the privacy stuff I still like it overall because it can act as a hub for almost every social network. Whenever I post here, there’s a notification there. When I review something on Yelp, add a picture to Flickr, etc. My Twitter and Facebook are not mirrored, though. Sometimes I post something to both, but usually it’s one or the other. I friend back most people on Facebook, but I also filter pretty heavily there, too. It’s really, really helpful to me when people include a message with the friend request saying “Hey, this is where/how I met you” or “this is how I know you” or “I’m a friend of your friend” or whatever. Sometimes people just say “hey, I read your story and liked it, want to stay up to date” and that’s just fine, too.

They Say: Children more likely to own a mobile phone than a book. I Say: Good.

They Say: Children more likely to own a mobile phone than a book. I Say: Good.

I’ve seen this Telegraph article linked to at least seven times amongst my geeky, book reading friends, usually with much anger or sadness or both and a lot of fist shaking. The gist is this: studies say that kids who have access to books at home are more likely to stay in school. Also that kids who had their own books are better readers. But many kids don’t have their own books or access to books in the home, but a ton of kids have their own mobile phones.

While the article is full of people going OH NOES! I am like: dude, this is a wonderful opportunity.

It doesn’t say what kind of mobile phones these kids have. Maybe they’re not smart phones, but I’ll bet a lot of them are. I’ll bet a lot of those smart phones are the kind that utilize apps (even WinMo can handle apps, they are just crappy apps). If the phone has apps, there’s an eBook reading app that exists for it.

Even non-smart phones have the ability to read some eBooks. And given that mobile makers are looking for ways to make non-smart phones more interactive, engaging, and enticing by asking developers to get on making apps for them, too, if your phone doesn’t have the ability to read eBooks, it will soon.

While it’s true that most apps can’t read eBooks with DRM, that should not be a barrier. Let the books be DRM-free or, if you really, truly care, develop some apps that can read ACS4 encoded files and release it to the world.

You say 80% of kids have a mobile but you want them to own books? Then sell them books for their mobiles. You want to run a program to give free books to kids so they’ll read? Budget money for both paper books and eBooks. You want kids to read more? Then you reach them where their interests clearly lie instead of trying to drag them back into the habits of an old and curmudgeonly generation. This isn’t hard.

In other words: stop your whining and do something. Or hush up.

On Diets (Of Multiple Types)

I spend too much money on food. This isn’t hard, living in New York City. But still, lately I’ve been a bit out of control.

Last year I signed up on Mint.com, a site that helps keep track of expenses and budgets and such. It sends me alerts if something funky happens on my account, if I exceed the budget I’ve set for myself for certain types of purchases, and other similar situations. The other day I got an email from Mint telling me that last month I spent over $300 at restaurants when I usually spend around $96.

I knew I’d spent more eating out last month due to a slew of different issues, but I didn’t realize I’d gone that much over my normal budget. This would explain why there was very little added to my savings account. Arg.

Cut for long rambling about food and budgets

5 Links Make Up for Radio Silence

I know you all think I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth. Maybe what I need to do is promise a post a day with interesting links. That would at least be something.

  1. Today at Tor.com you can see the latest installment of Tech News For Nerds, a weekly thing I’m doing over that way. This one is all about cell phones and wireless technologies. Netbook fans should take special note of the smartbook section.
  2. My dear friend John Klima is raising money for a new genre magazine showcasing underrepresented cultures. Go vote for his idea and help him win $25K to get started. (Yes, you need money to start a magazine, people. And John is good at it.) It’s a great way to stick it to Norman Spinrad.
  3. Did you know that I’m in an ultra-cool non-fic anthology called Chicks Dig Time Lords? I so am. It’s such an amazing book and filled with all kinds of smart writers and fans and actors and Doctor Who goodness. Women talking about their fan experience across time (and space) and being very smart about what they love and don’t love about the show and fandom. I, of course, wrote a controversial essay on Martha Jones. I know Paul Cornell has the book, I just hope he doesn’t hate me for what I said about Human Nature. Go buy Chicks Dig Time Lords right now and then go listen to the podcast of Hour of the Wolf featuring several contributors and read about our shenanigans the night before.
  4. Speaking of books, remember the list of eReaders I said people should be on the lookout for? Several of them now have full reviews, including the Alex eReader, which is my favorite. If anyone asked me right now which eReader they should buy, I would say the Alex without hesitation. The list of other eReaders is on Tor.com as well.
  5. This weekend I watched the BBC miniseries Lost in Austen and have the following things to say about it: (a) When did it become okay to present fanfic as legitimate television? (b) Does the BBC have only 20 actors? Because I have seen a third of this cast on every show I’ve watched. (c) After the clusterfuck that was Hex, Jemima Rooper and Christina Cole shouldn’t be allowed on screen together again nor should they be allowed psuedo-lesbian encounters because they wouldn’t give them to us on that horrendous show. (d) Jemima is awfully hot. (e) Judging from the 700+ comments for this movie on Netflix, I’d have to say that it’s successful insofaras it’s made people feel strongly that it’s the best thing ever or a piece of crap. (f) Where can I get a job writing badfic for money?

Now back to my regularly scheduled seclusion.

Addendum to eBook Post: Other eBook Stores

Addendum to eBook Post: Other eBook Stores

John Sclazi has an excellent post about supporting the authors affected by this whole Macmillan/Amazon war by buying their books, then he goes on to list many fine places one can purchase said books both online and in real life.

I realized upon reading this that, in my last post, I hadn’t mentioned some good places to buy eBooks that aren’t attached to specific readers and are also worth looking in to if you’re an author or other publishing entity. I don’t know about all of them, so if you know of some I missed, please let me know in the comments.

The American Bookseller’s Association has made it easy for independent booksellers to create an eBook store through their IndieCommerce initiative. Hundreds of stores have taken advantage of it, and I believe Powell’s books is one of them. They definitely have an eBook store. You can find eBooks on IndieBound as well. If you have a favorite bookstore and they have a website, it’s worth checking it to see if they offer eBooks. WebScription.net is Baen’s eBookstore, though they sell non-Baen’s books there.

Like I said, if you know of any others, please let us know in the comments.

eBooks, eReaders, and why you need to keep up with the tech

eBooks, eReaders, and why you need to keep up with the tech

I would normally post something like this on my tech blog, but I feel like this is more of a writer issue than a tech issue, though tech is a big part of why I’m writing this post. I’ve been pondering this for a long time — and a few inklings have come out in past posts — but the recent resurgence of AmazonFail and the reactions to it made me think it was a good time to share my thoughts on this.

As many of you know, I work for a technology magazine and part of my job is to keep up on news about gadgets and another part is actually reviewing them. Because I have interest in books and am a fiction writer besides, I ended up as the go-to person for eReaders. Last month I covered eReaders at the Consumer Electronics Show and got to see several devices that will be on the market in the next few weeks and months. I must say, there are a LOT of eReaders out there, folks.

To go along with these eReaders, many companies are also setting up online bookstores, kind of like Sony did back in the day. However, there are some differences in the way things are now. First, almost every device coming to market will have the ability to read EPUB books. EPUB is becoming the standard eBook format (spearheaded by Sony), thus the books you want should be readable on the Nook or the iRiver Story or the Alex eReader regardless of where you buy them. In theory.

The logistics of this are a bit gray right now — for instance, it’s not clear if you can buy a book from Sony then load it on the Nook, or buy a book from Barnes & Noble then load it on the Alex. I chalk this up to the general messiness in the eBook area at the moment. Eventually these issues are going to have to be sorted out. In the meantime, a lot of the smaller eReader vendors/eBook sellers are touting that the titles you buy from them can be read on any device, though they’d be happy to sell you their own.

Contrast this with Amazon, whose eBook format is proprietary and therefore can only be read by Kindles and Kindle apps for smartphones and computers. If a Kindle owner decides they like the Nook better, they can say goodbye to their eBook collection. To be fair to Amazon (I know, I know, but bear with me) this was status quo for a long time in the eBook world. Sony only recently started selling EPUB books — before they had their own format for their own readers. And the EPUB as universal format is a fairly new movement. So naturally newer eReaders are poised to take advantage of it.

Regardless of what Amazon is doing, the rest of the industry, including Apple, is going with EPUB and building their own online eBookstores to sell them. Will all of these individual stores survive? Most likely not, especially if the devices they’re attached to don’t do well. It also depends on what the DRM situation is with books bought from bigger players like B&N. But I’m sure eventually some eBook selling entity will arise from all of this and become the default store multiple devices attach themselves to. iBook might be that store, or something scrappier will come along.

So, why is all of this important to you, the folks reading this who are likely to be writers and/or book industry professionals? It’s important because a big part of the future of eBooks isn’t being shaped by publishers and booksellers wrangling with each other over percentages, it’s going to be driven by the devices consumers choose to consume the books.

While I do not agree that the iPad will CHANGE EVERYTHING ZOMG and that it will destroy all stupid eReaders[1], there are plenty of devices and technologies on the horizon that could change the landscape drastically within the next year or two. I’m talking way cooler than the iPad (and much more useful). Here’s a really brief overview:

Footnotes

  1. The reasons for this are many, but it boils down to this: eInk screens were invented for a reason. And no matter how much some people think it won’t be a big deal to read a book on an LCD screen because they spend all day in front of one, I bet they change their tune the first time they attempt reading full screen black text on a white background and nothing else.[]