Thursday, October 22, 2009

eBooks are the new BLACK!

WOW...and after all this time. Suddenly the whole eBook thing is taking off. See this article from yesterday's ZDNet which talks about the release in November of a Windows version of Kindle from AMAZON. To me the biggest and best news is the Nook from Barnes & Noble. B&N, having purchased the eReader site, has gone headlong into the eReader format, which is the Palm format I have used for the past 8+ years or more. I can't remember. Now B&N has a large eBook section, and you can have your account at B&N become your bookshelf and account for your eReader books. At the eReader site, I have been informed they will maintain separate account info, as they have been doing all along. So options are many. Sony as well has a reader, not too impressive, that I took a look at at Staples. As libraries get into the eBook game, the issues start to pile up. How to circulate? Publisher complaints over book sharing, etc., etc. I hope it will soon be O.K. to share books with friends just as I would a paperback, but I think if publishers could stop us from sharing the paperbacks, they would do that instead of loosening up on the eBook front! Right now, I read books on the Mac, the PC, and the Zire, and don't think any device that is only a book reader should cost more than $99.99. As the field gets competitive perhaps that will happen! I spent the $99 on my second Zire, with the color screen and it does way more than just read my books! So it will take a good price point and real glitz to make me buy a book reading device. So far, I am not impressed. I have seen and handled several Kindles and don't think they are the best the industry can do. I would rather read eReader format on a Netbook if it comes to that - that would be a great device! Small, portable and multi-talented! So far, the state of eBook readers is interesting, but more interesting is the proliferation of versions of eReader for more and more mobile devices.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

eBooks, Louis Tracy and Barnes & Noble...

Now Barnes & Noble enters the eBook arena with the eReader format! I am so very happy to see this happen! The website is sleek and well featured, and the explanation is terrific. I wonder why more people haven't realized that eReader format has been around a long time, and can be read on mobiles of several brands, and on the WinPC and on the Mac. I have been reading them for a lot of years. Options for colors and setup are many, and it all just works smoothly. No need to buy a separate device to read books. Your Bookshelf is also stored for you on the site you choose to use. In addition to their own B&N site, Barnes & Noble own the Fictionwise and the eReader websites as well. Having watched the eBook market and the proliferation of devices coming and going over the last more than ten years, I look forward to seeing even more ebooks out there. The real problem lies in the creeping price increases now that major book sellers and publishers realize the potential. No one wants to pay the full hardcover retail for an eBook no matter the title. I see those prices and wonder who is buying them. Waiting until the mass paperback edition is out usually results in the pricing of an eBook downward to the paperback price or less. Meanwhile, once you have eReader you can get a lot of books free which are in the public domain. I just discovered Louis Tracy recently because of digging for treasure on free ebook sites. Try it, you'll like it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sharon Gless...FABULOUS!!

Photo: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. I hope this photo is all right to post. I love this lady, and really want to honor her acting abilities here. Always one of my favorites, Sharon Gless has exceeded herself in her very touching, funny and wonderful role as Michael's Mom in Burn Notice, one of my all time favorite TV shows. Not only is this show well written and cleverly conceived, the acting is a treat. With a cast of professionally topflight actors, every week is an hour of the quality television which makes owning my TV worthwhile. I don't own TV shows as a rule, but that rule is shattered for Burn Notice! Madeline is my favorite character, and since I well remember Cagney & Lacey I recognize the character! Very crusty, very practical and educated in the school of hard knocks, this feisty lady has given mature women a lively, rich, funny and admirable icon. I mean I could hang out with this lady and we'd get along fine.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health Care Plan...I don't think so...

What is going on with the Congress? How can a plan that penalizes individuals for having no insurance solve anything? And how can a plan that penalizes businesses for not covering their employees solve the heath care costs issues? So many businesses cannot afford to cover their employees, and people who cannot afford insurance sure cannot afford to have fines levied upon them for not having it! What the heck is going on anyway? Until we get health care out of the grip of insurance companies, we will have soaring costs as well as the cost of caring for uninsured. People say they don't want the government involved or "telling doctors how to treat patients" but right now that is what insurance companies have been doing for decades! Your medications, your surgeries, your elder care - all predicated on what the market will float for you. Until the government has a plan and it is administered as a single payer plan, we won't have any settlement of these issues. One idea would be to hire Blue Cross/Blue Shield to administer that plan across the nation. I have the feeling we won't get anything better, and it looks like all the plans I see going through Congress now would just make the whole ball of wax a lot worse! I wanted Obama to win the White House, but I had a bad feeling about winning the minds of America. Any plan that includes fines and penalties for people who don't have insurance now is just plain CRAZY.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

USPS Post Office closings?

The USPS wants to close many post offices around the country because "...[the post offices] are not intended to operate as monuments to a bygone era of postal customer interaction." (from Linn's Weekly Stamp News with a masthead of July 27, 2009. Well, now - as a postal customer, I was hoping that interaction wasn't relegated to a bygone era, and I was even hoping that service and customer oriented USPS services might come back! That bygone era was one in which service was better and the intricacies of the postal system were understood by all. Now you're lucky if the poor postal clerk can keep track of the various fees, regulations and postal rules when you have the temerity to mail something that isn't a regular envelope! So, if this were to mean the closure of many small town post offices, one might ask these questions: where are people going to get packages mailed, and purchase their postal needs? O.K., so I can buy stamps off the Internet, but here's a news bulletin - many people don't have the Internet! WOW. I know. Before this goes into effect, our legislators should certainly look into these plans. The Post Office would like to initiate these closures as soon as this October!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

After finishing Brazzaville Beach I have been power reading through some Dorothy Gilman novels I have piled up. Light reading, but she writes excellently. Tightrope Walker, about a young woman who buys an antique store and finds a note left by a desperate woman, and of course has to embark on a journey to solve the mystery of the woman and the note, was pretty fast reading. Dorothy's best books are the Mrs. Pollifax series, and the very best is her book Caravan which goes beyond the genre she normally stays within and develops into a fascinating cultural story of the Arabian peninsula and North Africa. I have a couple more of her books yet to read, but have picked up this copy of a Marion Chesney book and intend to read a few more of hers as well. This is a bonanza light reading summer!Of course Marion Chesney is M.C. Beaton, under which pseudonym she writes the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth novels. It's all about keeping my Alan Furst books and my William Boyd books to a slower pace while they gather their strength to write more! I also have Gentlemen of the Road to read, by the incomparable Michael Chabon, and his non-fiction work, Maps and Legends. Powell's Books, Portland, Oregon, has this to say.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Finished Brazzaville Beach. I should have listened to The New York Times reviewer. Next time I have to pay more attention. This book is not up to Boyd's usual standards, and is in fact a colossal waste of reading time and effort. Although I appreciated the good writing, the plots and the delivery were flat and I found I didn't really care about the characters. Michael Chabon has talked about contemporary literature that is about not much and hasn't a beginning or an end, and this outing typifies that thesis. Just a chunk of a pretty depressing life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

William Boyd...

Taking a break from Amelia, I am plunging into yet another novel by William Boyd. This time it's Brazzaville Beach. Having just started it, and regardless of the negative comments in the New York Times review, there's no feedback yet, but knowing William, there is hope for another absorbing book.

Meanwhile, in the ebook arena, I am reading Running From the Deity in the Flinx of the Commonwealth series by Alan Dean Foster. One of the most lyrical and fun of that series, after a couple of hum-drum entries. It's almost a comedic farce, and a lot of fun. Running from the Deity is what really happens when an advanced civilization clashes with a world which hasn't space flight or real knowledge of galactic flight...probably a more real picture than Star Trek would give us!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Amelia, Elizabeth, Margaret and Archie...

Amelia Peabody Emerson and company are marching bravely into WWI in the last book I read in the Emerson series; He Shall Thunder In the Sky. This book is one of the best in the series I am sure. By the time you get to it, you know the family so well, and you know how you want thing to go! The vicissitudes in between are written so skillfully. I have to wonder how Elizabeth Peters keeps it up! Both her skills and her enthusiasm for the family Emerson and Egyptology! I do understand that the lady is an archaeologist, and a good one, so I can feel the same thrill for the subject. I would have been an anthropologist had I read the biography of Margaret Mead in time, but it came to me in my late thirties, and was the inspiration for my going back to college for that BA in Cultural Studies. Ahhh, the memories. To get back on-topic, read Amelia Peabody and you won't regret it!

Lately I have begun to listen to audio books streaming from Librivox. If you haven't already done so, check this out. I don't want anything too somber to listen to while working, so I have listened to a bit of good old Wodehouse, by Jove, and let me tell you he doesn't lose the humor in the passage of the years. Written in 1921 or 1922 and out of copyright, those old stories I heard last week were still riotously funny. Even without Bertie and Jeeves, the early stories are a hoot, and so cleverly done. I mean to say, objet d'art means, to Archie, French for "junk"! That is hysterical. The term had been delivered in the most pretentious possible way, and Archie summed it all up. Oh, that is The Indiscretions of Archie.

Librivox is a volunteer organization. People actually read these books out loud for recording, and you and I benefit from their work. Pretty dedicated bunch, and I really appreciate what they do.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Dortmunder and Thank you Donald Westlake...

This is Pear Pie, by the way (I didn't make it, my favorite daughter did)...but that's not what I want to talk about. Donald Westlake died just a few months ago, and that was very sad. We don't expect our favorite authors to leave us, somehow, and lately it seems as if a lot of my favorites in the entertainment industry, and in the world of books are passing on. John Dortmunder lived inside Donald Westlake, and sadly, he died as well. I will miss Dortmunder. Something about that pensive, intelligent yet nefarious character appeals to me at a basic fundamental level. Tonight I got good news. There is a 14th Dortmunder book due out in April. Get Real. Thank you Donald Westlake for leaving us with a special gift of laughter once again. I shouldn't wonder if you are just now entertaining angels.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bernie Rhodenbarr Quote...

"How'd you break the addiction?"

"I didn't," I said. "I just substituted another addiction for it. I found something even more addictive than running."


"Not running," I said. "It's got to be the most addictive thing ever. Believe me, a few days of not running and I was hooked."

--Lawrence Block, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams]

As referred to in a post just awhile back, this is me. That's my addiction. I love that quote. Just about fell out of my chair when I read it. It's my current eReader selection. Bernie is an interesting character. He grows on you after a book or two.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

An Uncommon Read...

While browsing the books in a local benefit shop, I came across the small book, The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. I almost put it back, but then I thought: "For a dollar, who cares? I'll try it!" And what an inspired thought that was. This is a treasure, a once in a year find, a delight and a privilege to read. Truly comic, yet touching, it concerns the Queen of England, and a fanciful tale of what her fall into the pit of reading might entail. Buy it, borrow it, read it and enjoy. I drew out the last few pages over several days because I didn't want it to end.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter with Amelia Peabody...

Thank you Elizabeth Peters. Again, I appreciate the sun of Egypt in the background of the droll adventures of Amelia and her crew. Having read my way through a few more Peabody books, and looking forward to a few more before the dawn of Spring and the return of civilized weather, I am more than glad to reflect on the wonderful that is books. What would I have done all these years if I didn't read? There are people who don't read. Perfectly intelligent people who will tell you they don't read. To me it is incomprehensible. Rather like the feeling they must get when I tell a person of what I call the "gym-species" that I don't run, or climb, or bench press, or hike, or ski, or swim, or really - hardly move around at all! They cannot imagine life without the frenetic movement which they so love, and I cannot imagine life without the escape into thought.