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Tag Archives: amazon


Ebook Sales Trend Downward

Due to screen fatigue…at least in the United Kingdom:

“I wouldn’t say that the ebook dream is over but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens,” says Stephen Lotinga, chief exeutive of the Publishers Association, which published its annual yearbook on Thursday.

“There is generally a sense that people are now getting screen tiredness, or fatigue, from so many devices being used, watched or looked at in their week. [Printed] books provide an opportunity to step away from that.”

You can’t Netflix the latest edgy one-hour drama or search for Caitlyn Jenner’s eyebrow waxing routine on a static, printed book. Amazon might do well to keep up with pre-fourth generation Kindles, where it was an actual e-book reader and not an iPad clone.

Pale Blue Scratch Still Available For Free

There’s four hours left to download Pale Blue Scratch for free, over at Amazon. Hooyeah…

Unless I get a lot more downloads today, it peaked on the Amazon charts at #593 for mystery, and #29 for steampunk. Being a no-name, I’ll take it.

amazon_pale_blue_scratch_charts

Giveaway over! It will return soon, though.

The Amazon Wish List Chronicles

Don’t read any further if you dislike techy talk or mild complaining.

I have a large Amazon wish list of 550+ books, and it gets pretty darn difficult when I’m in a real-world book (print rules!) store and need to check if the store has a book on the list. There’s no option to “see all” entries, so I have to schlep through the pagination—it’s up to around 26 pages now—to see if something is on the list. There’s no option to export it and download and too compound the roadblocks, Amazon had disabled their public API for their wish lists some time ago, so I couldn’t even write a script to grab any data. What to do?

I used doitlikejustin’s Amazon Wish Lister to scrape the data. I grabbed the XML and exported it to an Excel document using an online converter, but for some reason each entry on the list had their own sheet on the document, instead of just listing them in rows on the same sheet. I was looking into how to compile them all into one sheet when I realized only half of the entries exported.

Back to square one. I searched around some more and found Andy Langton’s Amazon Wishlist Exporter. It worked well and I could sort it by title, and it had options to export, but I really just wanted the HTML. There was no option to view all except in the print view, so I was able to grab the HTML from that, but with a lot of unnecessary tag attributes and styling, not to mention it was minified. I used zubrag.com’s HTML stripper to clean it up, then Dirty Markup to de-minify for readability.

Another issue, but one easily remedied: I just needed the title and author, and the print page included a lot of extraneous info columns. jQuery to the rescue—just had to hide some of the table cells in each row, and that was that. I have it uploaded to my server space as a plain text HTML

The only issue I really have now is that the HTML file crashes the native editor on my server space, I think because of its size…though it’s not unusually large—remember that I stripped all of the style declarations and attributes. So for now I have to download the file from my server, edit it locally, and re-upload it.

Book Review: The Aeneid

I was going to write a review of The Aeneid for Goodreads, but it would get rejected eventually since it’s not about the book itself but just a few lines about my copy’s previous owners. Reviews are highly patrolled there, more so than on Amazon, so it’s bringing owls to Athens to post this there.

Whole chapters, with perhaps one or two lines excepted, are entirely highlighted. It took some time and concentration for me to not be distracted, not necessarily from the yellow highlighting ink, but from trying to figure out what kind of frame of mind one would have to be in to bother doing something like that.

Kickstarter – Post Game Analysis

The Kickstater campaign for the new book was rather successful. I didn’t know how it would turn out, honestly, but I had expectations that it wouldn’t make it. The bulk of the contributions came from family and friends who wanted to help out, especially the first half of the pledges. Near the end, after it was already fully-funded, did I get a handful of strangers helping out.

I really thought the cards were stacked against me:

1. I am a new writer with almost no blog followers.

2. My first book has poor Amazon and Goodreads ratings. 

3. The new novel is not romance, not erotica, not urban fantasy, not YA, not Christian (enough, probably), and not mystery (enough). It’s probably closer to spec-fic, but I don’t know enough about the genre to be sure. 

4. The protag is not a strong female badass (c’mon), and her teenaged male co-protag is not a brooding sex god in training (c’mon, again). 

5. I’m an average writer most of the time, with brief flashes of insight mixed with brief flashes of dullness. 

6. Dolphins. 

Not throwing a pity party nor fishing for compliments…just stating the facts of the situation. However, ultimately, I have no complaints.

Two Books of Note

Dropping in here for a moment between writing PBS and living a normal work-family life.

Upon a recent visit to amazon.com I saw one of their “recommended books”: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. Despite something of an embarrassing cover featuring a photo of that Nazi treasure hunter from Raiders of the Lost Ark, I stuck it in my wishlist within seconds.

There was another recommendation in the “people who bought this book also bought” section on that book’s page: The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation. After clearing my head at the accuracy of Amazon’s book recommendation logarithm, I wishlisted that book as well.

I did some quick searches on the latter book and came upon this article. I have no commentary on it—just presenting a section here for the intellectually curious.

The main question in the controversy is this: Is Christianity a force that supports or opposes the efforts of the right to defend the European-American way of life? Christians on the right argue that their religious commitments are central to Western civilization, while pagans and secularists on the right (especially in Europe) argue, with Spengler, that Christianity undermines the West by pushing a universalism that rejects race, class, family, and even nation.

Mr. Russell, who holds a doctorate in historical theology from Fordham University and teaches at Saint Peter’s College, does not quite answer the question, but his immensely learned and closely reasoned book does suggest an answer. His thesis is that early Christianity flourished in the decadent, deracinated, and alienated world of late antiquity precisely because it was able to appeal to various oppressed or dissatisfied sectors of the population—slaves, urbanized proletarians, women, intellectuals, frustrated aristocrats, and the odd idealist repelled by the pathological materialism, brutality, and banality of the age.

But when Christian missionaries tried to appeal to the Germanic invaders by invoking the universalism, pacifism, and egalitarianism that had attracted the alienated inhabitants of the empire, they failed. That was because the Germans practiced a folk religion that reflected ethnic homogeneity, social hierarchy, military glory and heroism, and “standards of ethical conduct … derived from a sociobiological drive for group survival through ingroup altruism.” Germanic religion and society were “world-accepting,” while Hellenic Christianity was “world-rejecting,” reflecting the influence of Oriental religions and ethics. By “Germans,” it should be noted, Mr. Russell does not mean modern residents of Germany but rather “the Gothic, Frankish, Saxon, Burgundian, Alamannic, Suevic, and Vandal peoples, but also… the Viking peoples of Scandinavia and the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Britain.” With the exception of the Celts and the Slavs, “Germans” thus means almost the same thing as “European” itself.

Given the contradictions between the Christian ethics and world-view and those of the Indo-European culture of the Germanic peoples, the only tactic Christians could use was one of appearing to adopt Germanic values and claiming that Christian values were really compatible with them. The bulk of Mr. Russell’s scholarship shows how this process of accommodation took place in the course of about four centuries. The saints and Christ Himself were depicted as Germanic warrior heroes; both festivals and locations sacred in ancient Germanic cults were quietly taken over by the Christians as their own; and words and concepts with religious meanings and connotations were subtly redefined in terms of the new religion. Yet the final result was not that the Germans were converted to the Christianity they had originally encountered, but rather that that form of Christianity was “Germanized,” coming to adopt many of the same Indo-European folk values that the old pagan religion had celebrated.

Bored in the Breakroom Print Paperback Is Out

You can buy it on Amazon.

Here’s a list of things you can do with the paperback that you can’t do with the electronic version:

  1. Read 17 more stories
  2. Hold it
  3. Throw it
  4. Hide it from your babysitter
  5. Hide it from any babysitter
  6. Steal it*
  7. Steal it from Kevin Bacon**
  8. Bite it
  9. Do nothing with it
  10. Read it***

* This requires you to buy it first, since no one you know will have it.
** This requires you to buy the book for Kevin Bacon first.
*** This can be done with the e-book version as well.

Read These 50 Books Before You Write Your First Fiction Novel

Stacked.

Stacked.

Most of these recommendations come with the territory of “living in a society flush with books.” They are a given, yet I want to assume that, if you want to write a fiction novel, you are out-of-this-world stupid and in need of guidance.

The links are to free copies online where available, otherwise it’s an Amazon link. E-books in reality are inferior to print because, as I’ve said before, they will disappear after the dolphin apocalypse. But for now they are fine.

Your favorite novel isn’t on here because it sucks, but make sure you scroll down to the end of the list before airing a complaint.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
The Grapes of Wrath
My Antonia
Winesburg, Ohio
Les Misérables
The House of the Seven Gables
American Gods
The Iliad
The Red Badge of Courage
The Pilgrim’s Progress
The Moviegoer
Lord of the Flies
Beowulf
The Sound and the Fury
Love in the Time of Cholera
Watchmen
The Secret Garden
The Prose Edda
Dune
Catch-22
Great Expectations
Crash: A Novel
The Velveteen Rabbit
The Divine Comedy
Pride and Prejudice
Pale Fire
The Satanic Verses
The Canterbury Tales
The Heart of Darkness
Moby Dick
On the Road
The Scarlet Letter
1984
Ulysses
A Tale of Two Cities
Fahrenheit 451
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Time Machine
Don Quixote
Crime and Punishment
Paradise Lost
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit
The Great Divorce
Babbit
A Christmas Carol
Siddartha
The Bhagavad-Gita
To Kill A Mockingbird
Far From the Madding Crowd
Jude the Obscure

As a mandatory bonus, read these non-fiction books. They will give you a sliver-sized sampling of what and how people throughout history have thought, and knowing how people think is a good idea if you’re going to write about them.
The Bible
The Summa Theologica
Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau
Apology, Crito, and Phaedo of Socrates
The Qu’ran

You’ve all of read those like I told you, and you’ve written your first novel. The bad news is that you’ll have to throw that first manuscript away because it will be nigh unreadable. The good news is that you’ll never write something so horrible again.

This is the best way to get all the kinks out. Now read these 50 books, then go write your real first novel.

The Poetic Edda
The Chronicles of Narnia
Thus Spake Zarathustra
Howards End
Naked Lunch
All Quiet on the Western Front
Absalom, Absalom!
A Prayer for Owen Meany
The Great Gatsby
Slaughterhouse-Five
The Pickwick Papers
Rabbit, Run
Doctor Zhivago
The Stranger
The Invisible Man
Flowers for Algernon
The Dark Knight Returns
H.P. Lovecraft The Complete Collection
Frankenstein
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Count of Monte Cristo
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Idiot
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Metamorphosis
Native Son
The Stand
Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Old Man and the Sea
Gulliver’s Travels
Robinson Crusoe
Stranger in a Strange Land
Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales
Wuthering Heights
Little Women
Anthem
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Brave New World
The Republic
The Odyssey
War of the Worlds
Flatland
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Trial
Lolita
The Lord of the Rings
The Man Who Was Thursday

Photo by Bravo_Zulu_.

Amazon’s New Book Cover Maker Might Invoke My Gag Reflex

Via mine own two eye-orbs and then Tobias Buckell here, Amazon hopes to make all those unedited conspiracy theory e-books look a little more credible.

More info here, but here’s a screenshot from that post:
amazon_book_cover_designer_i_stole_this

Eh. It’s a step forward from what amateur writer-cum-designer people can come up with, but nothing beats what professional designers can do, especially those that focus on book art and layout.

In my mind, I’m comparing this to a theoretical CD cover designer, which I have not come across but I’m sure exists somewhere, languishing from disuse now that digital media and Google images are normalized. Any band who is worth their weight in weird haircuts would not use a template for a CD cover.

My Top 10 Amazon Affiliate Links to Albums Released This Year

10. toe. – The Future Is Now EP
I like to refer to them as a less grumpy Don Caballero, but they’re good (and different) enough to have their own identity. Best quote about this album, from Amazon reviewer Tyler:

I don’t know what the hell the drummer is doing with that snare, but it sounds like benny greb had a baby with the greek god of rhythm.

09. Meshuggah – Koloss
Their previous, obZen, was a whopper, so it was going to be hard to follow that up with something as good. But I think they did it. I’ve never heard a band able to encomplicate (my word) a simple riff like these guys.

08. mouse on the keys – Machinic Phylum
This is only three songs but it’s a drummer and two piano players. They seem to pack a lot into a few minutes so the brevity works as an asset. Another snare-happy drummer.

07. Torche – Harmonicraft
I’ve never been into any sludge/doom, but I can like some material from a safe distance. Torche breaks the mold a little bit by infusing putting some sugar into their weed, which is my way of saying they mix pop with stoner rock.

06. August Burns Red – Sleddin’ Hill: A Holiday Album
You actually can make a instru-metal album of Christmas songs. You can. And it even has its reflective moments in between the bombast. Just think of Gary Hoey and Mannheim Steamroller’s respective tour buses crashing into each other and you have an idea.

05. Search the City – 2012 demos
I like few things more than a power pop band with a singer who can sing instead of whine in key. STC came back from hiatus with a new singer that sounded suspiciously like their older one. He sounds excellent on record but anything can happen in the studio. So can he do it live? Yes.

04. Demon Hunter – True Defiance
Beard!

03. Further Seems Forever – Penny Black
So they reform with their original vocalist, Chris Carrabba, and put out their best album since their first one, with Chris Carrabba. Ta-da!

02. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
I’m sort of late to the game with Converge, which is a shame since I saw them live a bunch of times when I lived in New England. I just didn’t quite “get it”. Maybe listening to and finally “getting” Melt-Banana—a band that is somehow very similar if you’re familiar with them—a year or so ago helped things, but the fact that this album is arguably one of their best doesn’t hurt, either.

01. Flyleaf – New Horizons
This is vocalist Lacey’s swan song album, which is kind of a shame because she’s just hitting the stride nicely. The related consequence of this is that, if you’re all dudes in a band with an attractive female lead with a distinctive, powerful voice, you’re all going to be playing collective second fiddle, forever. Such will be the case with their new singer, but the member shift might spotlight their songwriting more, come next release.

Special mention goes to Uverworld’s The One (no Amazon link!), Anberlin’s Vital, and Death’s Vivus!, all of which may place somewhere on this list but I’m too lazy to figure it all out.