Links of Interest (March 5th 2009 Through August 13th 2009)

Friday, August 14th, 2009
Audible.com to sell 2 DRM-FREE titles
It appears Audible.com is going to try releasing Cory Doctorow's next two audiobooks without DRM (a first for Audible.com as far as I know).
Skulpt
"Skulpt is an entirely in-browser implementation of Python."
Modernizr
Modernizr is a Javascript library that allows client side detection of CSS3 and HTML5 browser features. It allows you to write CSS with conditionals through one of my personal favorite bits of CSS magic: classes on the body tag. It also gives you the ability to do the same in our Javascript.
epub-tools
A collection of open source (BSD) tools for generating and managing ePub documents. Adobe's Java based EPUBGen was just added. Tools now exist for conversion to ePub from Word, RTF, DocBook, TEI, and FictionBook.
Doozers Get "Fraggle Rock" Spin-Off
It's animated, and aimed at ages four to seven, but I'll probably check it out with the kids.
The Zelazny Project
"We plan to print a complete collection of Roger Zelazny's short fiction and poetry, in (most likely) six hardcover volumes. We expect to include all published fiction and poetry we can find, however obscurely published, and a number of unpublished works retrieved from Zelazny's archived papers. We also expect to include the shorter early versions of several novels, several novel excerpts that were published independently as short works and a few of Zelazny's articles on topics of interest to him."

End of the Amazon Rush?

Friday, September 26th, 2008
The Amazon rush is dead. I don’t think we’ll see authors getting the same kind of lift from it going forward.

Chris Miller1 shared his thoughts on the Amazon Rush2 , and how they’re getting to be old hat.

I’m glad this discussion is happening, because it’s been on my mind, but I haven’t really taken the time to form any coherent thoughts. Other people have, so be sure to go and read the comments, even if you don’t care to read what I have to say.

I think folks who listen to podiobooks may be approaching a saturation point for this type of thing. Amongst the subset of those folks who are on twitter and follow their favorite podcast authors it’s even more likely. If that’s as far as the message is getting, then I think authors have to beware of fan burnout.

As a consumer who primarily listens to audiobooks, the product that I want has already been delivered to me for free. Now I’m exceptionally appreciative of that fact, which has led me to buy many of these book (which I have no intention of reading in print form) to support the authors. In the perfect world I’d be able to buy the audiobook versions, but so far that’s only been possible for Scott Sigler’s Infected3 .

But really I bought the books for selfish reasons. I want to see these authors succeed because I want them to keep producing content4 . I want to know what happens to Perry Dawsey and Keepsie Branson next. So while I can support these authors by spreading the word, writing reviews, or even just giving them money, I want to support their careers as writers, so they’ll keep writing. While I’m sure the love and adoration of their readers keep some of these folks going, I’m not sure it’s sustainable in the long term.

I have more to say about this, but I never intended to go on this long, so I’m going to let my thoughts roll around a bit more.

  1. Didn’t I just say he was everywhere? And note that his post was spawned by a comment from Kris Johnson. I’ve seen this before. These two may be working together in some capacity []
  2. “Amazon Rush” refers to a concerted effort by an author with an established fan-base to get into the Amazon charts by mobilizing said fan-base into purchasing their latest book all on the same day. []
  3. which is finally available from audible.com, although I was impatient and bought the CD version and converted it. []
  4. And being brutally honest there’s an even more selfish (and perhaps self-delusional) reason: If they can make it, maybe I can too. []

Links of Interest (April 10th 2008 Through April 22nd 2008)

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
Matthew Wayne Selznick Signs Book Deal
Author and Podcaster Matthew Wayne Selznick signed a deal with Swarm Press to re-issue his novel “Brave Men Run” in paperback. Congratulations Matt!
Take notes during phone calls with friends and family
One of those “that should have been obvious” suggestions. I’ve conditioned my brain to filter out most things that aren’t useful to me right now. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested in people’s anecdotes, and schedules, it just means I’m unlikely to remember them without some reminder.
Ajaxian Featured Tutorial: Hacking transparent PNG support into IE6 with IE PNG Fix, CSS and jQuery
Ah, IE6. I’m pretty good at getting it to do what I want, but it’s very existence makes most of the things I have to do harder than they should be. This tutorial deals with one of the harder issues, PNG transparency in positioned background images.
YouTube – Sigler Book Tour (Seattle Q&A) Part2
In the second part of the video Scott covers such diverse topics as Sci-Fi Channel’s lack of foresight and how when it appears he has made a mistake it is actually sabotage by J.C. Hutchins.
Sigler Book Tour (Seattle Q&A) Part1
I’m not lucky enough to live near any of the book stores Scott Sigler was signing at, but luckily Natalie Metzger captured this video of one of the Q & A sessions.

Amazon vs. Print-on-Demand

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Apparently Amazon is making moves to drop any POD books not printed by their own BookSurge service. I’m not sure how long this was brewing, but stories are popping up all over.

I can see how this makes sense, from a certain point of view. Asking Amazon, who is now in the POD business, to sell POD books from LuLu (for example) could be seen as similar to asking Wendy’s to sell you a Whopper.

Unintended Consequences

To me this sends a message to all other book sellers that it’s ok to not consider POD books as real products, and refuse to carry them. I can envision all the major chains having their own in-house POD setups at some point, and they’ll follow suit by refusing to carry anything “not printed here”. This will include those books printed by Amazon’s BookSurge service.

Maybe I’m missing something more obvious, but it really seems that Amazon has set back the legitimacy of a certain class of books based solely on how they were printed and bound. I’m fully aware that there’s a lot of junk out there, because with POD anyone can “publish” their own book, but at the same time there are some wonderful works that perhaps would not be available in print any other way.

As a consumer, books in this situation might as well be mythical creatures. If I like to shop at a big chain, and they tell me “We don’t have a listing for that. We can’t order it,” then that’s it. Anything more requires jumping through hoops, meanwhile there are thousands of other books I can walk home with right now. Online it’s even worse. If a book isn’t up for order at your preferred online book seller it might as well not exist at all. And to many consumers, it won’t.

A Business Opportunity?

I foresee a lot of gloom and doom while this shakes out. There’s a change it will come to nothing in the end. It’s also possible Amazon is hoping to use this to get more favorable agreements out of POD houses before letting them back in. As such I’m just speculating here.

What if things play out like I suggested earlier, with each book seller having their own POD house, and not taking books from other POD houses. Assuming that the different POD services don’t have exclusivity agreements, the best option would be to offer you book through all of them. It’s obvious. Then wherever folks are they can get your book.

Simple, right?

No, not really. Having put together one book for LuLu I know it can take a great deal of time to prep the book to look good when they print and bind it. I’m sure other services have their own pitfalls. The idea of learning them all fills me with dread. Who has time for that?

But what if a someone started up some sort of aggregated POD service, where you get them your manuscript and they go through the process of getting it up on all the POD services for you? Could such a thing work? If you’re a POD author, would you use such a thing?

I’d be interested to hear other folks thoughts, so please comment.

Download Scott Sigler’s “Infected”

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Your first hit is free

On April 1 Scott Sigler‘s thriller novel Infected will be released in hardcover to bookstores. But why wait? Thanks to a special arrangement with Scott and his publisher you can download the entire novel in PDF right now, but only until March 31.

Click here to download the PDF
Infected is the first major print release from Internet phenom Scott Sigler, whose podcast-only audiobooks have drawn an immense cult following, with more than three million individual episodes downloaded. Now Sigler storms the bookstore shelves with this cinematic, relentlessly paced novel that mixes and matches genres, combining horror, technothriller, and suspense in a heady mix that is equal parts Chuck Palahniuk, Michael Crichton, and Stephen King.

Does that sound at all interesting? Go on, give it a try. Just this one time. Download it already, and tell your friends to do the same. There’s no risk here, unless you’re afraid you’ll like it so much you’ll feel compelled to purchase the book. Go on, risk it.

But wait there’s more

Want to learn more about Scott Sigler? You’re in luck. J.C. Hutchins just released the latest episode of his UltraCreatives interview series with Scott as his guest. Yeah, that’s free too. Old One-eye Jack knows how to treat you.

Links of Interest (September 7th 2007 Through September 20th 2007)

Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Lincoln’s $5 bill gets a colorful makeover
I was just thinking, boy I wish this $5 bill had a big purple number on it (of course I was hoping the number was $1,000,000, but you can’t win them all).
The future keepers
Philip K. Dick’s children work to ensure the influential author’s cinematic legacy. I hope it works out because there have been some less than stellar adaptations of some truly amazing stories.
Animal Magnetism: Making O’Reilly Animals
History of the animal designs on O’Reilly’s book covers.
Record Industry Proves Again How Much They?ve Lost The Plot
Say hello to the Ringle!
Floatutorial: Step by step CSS float tutorial
Exceptionally detailed tutorials on floats.

Links of Interest (August 16th 2007 Through August 22nd 2007)

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
Launch: Google Earth Adds Sky
Google Earth adds a “Switch between Sky and Earth” button. The Sky view is made up of over 1 million photographs. Nice!
Sigler v. Hendrix Webscab Smackdown
On September 19th 2007 Terry Bison will moderate a debate between Scott Sigler and Howard Hendrix revolving around releasing works of fiction online for free (you know, webscabs).
That Yawn After Lunch Is Perfectly Normal
Feel sleepy after lunch? Here’s why. I agree with the suggestion of a short nap. Around 2pm on weekends I usually hit a wall, after which I’m not productive. A 10 minute nap is enough to stave that off for me.
Where you fall in poll of U.S. reading habits
Apparently one in four Americans read no books last year. Those who did, read four on average. I wonder if the poll took audiobooks into account.
Warner Bros. Follows the Yellow Brick Road
Warner wants to create a new Oz film. Todd McFarlane is involved. I love the Oz books. I do not have high hopes for this movie.
Sucking it up with the new Roomba
C|NET looks at the new Roomba 500 series from iRobot. We’re pretty happy with our existing Roomba. My kids talk to it sometimes.
The Best Software for Mac OS X
I’m new to Mac OS X, but this looks like an worthwhile list of applications.
Author King ‘mistaken for vandal’
Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal when he started signing books in an Australian book shop. I admit I’ve imagined having books on the shelves and just going in and signing them. Never really thought it through though.

Links of Interest (July 21st 2007 Through August 3rd 2007)

Friday, August 3rd, 2007
Official iPhone Tool
This looks somehow familiar.
Math Book Helps Girls Embrace Their Inner Mathematician
Interview with Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper from “The Wonder Years”) about her new book: Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math and not Break a Nail
Sandbox Designs Competition » The Designs
Gallery of entries for the Sandbox Designs Competition. All entries are the same XHTML styled with CSS.
Fisher-Price recalls 1M toys
If you have any Dora or Sesame Street toys in your home you want to be aware of this. We do. A lot of them. Oddly the online recall only lets you return six items. Not sure exactly what they expect us to do with the rest.
AjaxRain – Ajax/Javascript/Dhtml examples and demos to download
Interesting site. Lacks search. I recommend using the “Tag Cloud” to navigate, but be sure to scroll down after clicking a tag because it looks like nothing happened.
A Series of Unfortunate Events ::: NOW IN PAPERBACK!
Are you made fainthearted by the work of Lemony Snicket? Does the thought of strange new siblings unnerve you? Your answers likely reveal the following brief video to be ill-suited for your personal use.

Links of Interest (July 2nd 2007 Through July 11th 2007)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
LOLTrek
Star Trek + LOLcats. You has want laugh? This be super funny.
How To Write The Great American Novel
Informative instructional film (no, not really, but it’s funny).
uncluttr
Derek Gaw’s wonderful search front end to Amazon.com (currently in alpha).
New Books, late June 2007
Locus Online’s listing of new SF/F/H books for late June 2007
Wikipedia:Lamest edit wars
This may be the best page on all of Wikipedia.
Open standards for social networking
Interesting commentary Marc Canter. from I know I wish all these things out there talked to each other better and/or supported OpenID.
jQuery 1.1.3: 800%+ Faster, still 20KB
The newest version of jQuery is available with 80+ bugfixes, increased performance, expanded selectors, and more.

Links of Interest (June 21st 2007 Through June 29th 2007)

Friday, June 29th, 2007
Pirate keyboard
CORSAIR Ergonomic Keyboard For Pirates
David Allen Company Podcast
David Allen Company podcast
Writer Stalking
Vlog-paparazzia stalk author/podcaster Mathew Wayne Selznick at Balticon.
Locus Online: New Books, mid-June 2007
Locus online’s listing of new SF/F/H books for mid-June 2007
The Dawn of Dilbert
The original batch of Dilbert strips that were submitted to the cartoon syndicates (with reactions).