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Archive for January, 2010

The Kindle Killer

When I was five my parents told the three of us they were going to have another baby. They were very careful to explain to my sister, who was then only two, that this did not mean she would be replaced. It did not mean she would be loved any less. It simply meant that there was going to be another person to love and to share with and to play with.

I think more and more that my parents should have had that little talk with the world.

Because everywhere I turn it seems that the lay blogs and tech pages and geeks at my husband’s job are insisting that the iPad (still a dumb name) is going to be the Kindle Killer. The publishing industry seems to be certain that the two devices together are going to be the Killer of Print Publishing.

When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was take two pills. Then I felt around the nightstand for my eyeglasses and put those on. When the world sharpened into focus I saw beside me an iPhone, a Kindle and eight shelves crammed with books. Trade paperbacks, mass market paperbacks, hardcovers.

People in the marketing world like to think that folks will see one product and drop the other in favour of the new. There doesn’t seem to be a realisation that most folks can make room for a new baby while still loving the ones who came before.

It’s odd to find myself cast in the role of Kindle apologist. Less than a year ago I wouldn’t have cared if all the world’s Kindles fell off a high building and were then driven over by a procession of ice cream trucks. But now after nearly ten months of being able to read again on those days when arthritis had made it impossible to hold a book I am as devoted to my Kindle as Hawking is to his wheelchair. It’s that simple.

My husband, who carried my plate downstairs after dinner, pointed out another reason why folks like me aren’t going to give up our Kindles. Apparently the iPod is about a pound and a half. If I can’t carry an empty dinner plate, I don’t see how I can comfortably hold that thing for reading.

Yes, the Kindle does look like something designed in the 80s, as one pundit somewhere has said. But I still listen to 80s music on my iPhone. And last weekend I bought, among other things, a paperback book. So clearly there is room in this old world for all the new.

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I’ve been devouring books lately. I’ll go through these periods where I read very slowly and take a long time to digest a book. Then, without warning, I’ll hit a reading binge and plow through books like a gin through cotton. It can be a very expensive bad habit, especially now that I’ve got the Kindle.

In an effort to tame myself and also to stem the flood of monies flying from my bank account into Amazon’s, I decided to re-read The Stand. This is probably the seventeenth or eighteenth time through for me, but it is the first time in about six years.

More than anything I’m struck by how much the world did change in reality. King wrote the book in the mid-70s and set the book in 1990. The 1990 of his book looks much the same as the 1978 in which the book was written.

And that, weirdly, is giving me a strange sort of hope. Because when I think about Stephen King writing about the end of the world I realise that he got a lot of things right. The way people behave, interact and see the world. But he got a lot of things wrong. He didn’t foresee the proliferation of home computers. The fall of the Soviet Union. In short, he couldn’t see the way time would wrinkle and produce good results that brought hope and peace.

I think that may be very typical. Now that we are mired in another recession, much like the one during which King wrote The Stand, I read a lot of doom and gloom about the future. A lot of panic and woe. Things are changing, and we are coming to the end of the renaissance of nationalism.

We’re moving into a global age that nobody has a paradigm for. It’s scary in a lot of ways. But I can’t help but believe there will be those excellent wrinkles in time that produce good.

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Cape Refuge (Cape Refuge Series, Book 1) Cape Refuge by Terri Blackstock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a fine book for what it was. I was actually kind of surprised, not having had much luck with Christian fiction in general. But this (free on Amazon) wasn’t overpriced, which is the first issue I have with most of the Christian Fiction market. It was also pretty good quality writing. Standard thriller-genre style.

But the third issue I have with Christian fiction is the fact that they can’t wrap up a story in one book. If you want to find out what happens to the characters you have to keep buying book after book. And this one was no different. The first two in the series were free on my Kindle but it seems if I want to know what happens with Brooke and Cade and the rest of them I have to keep ponying up for the Next Book in the Cape Refuge Series.

I don’t like this series THAT much.

View all my reviews >>

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My first reaction was that ‘iPad’ sounds like something I should get in the Feminine Hygiene aisle.

My second reaction was “what do we cut out of the budget to make room for two of these things?”

My third reaction was “Looks like I’m not getting rid of my Kindle any time soon.”

Don’t get me wrong. The iPad bookstore is a thing of beauty. You get what I always dreamed about–the ability to see your books virtually displayed on a shelf, beautiful colour covers and all. You touch and read and have a glorious reading experience.

That will give me a headache after a couple of hours. I know this because at night when my beloved husband is asleep I curl up under the covers with my Kindle for iPhone app. I’ve had a lot of experience reading on a backlit multi-touch glass screen device. And while the colour is beautiful and fun for those times when you browse your virtual shelf like a kid in a bookcandy store it is NOT the easiest thing on 40 year-old reader’s eyes.

If the hit to my eyes wasn’t bad enough, the hit to my wallet will be worse. At $14.99 per title, the store will sell most books at a 50% markup over the Kindle. And as much as I love colour cover art, it simply is NOT worth $5 to me. Not when I buy books at the volume (hah) I currently do.

I am a booklover. Am I a Kindle snob? Perhaps. An e-Ink snob? Definitely. Without question.

I will be getting an iPad; Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise. It is simply too beautiful to avoid. But will it become my primary e-Reader device? I just don’t see that happening.

UPDATE: Interesting discussion over at Tiny Cat Pants about how this device war will affect the publishing business.

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Along for the Ride Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read Sarah Dessen’s books because I know exactly what to expect. A unique and uniquely disenfranchised girl is forced to open up and find love thanks to a cast of motley characters in a cozy and offbeat location.

Yes, her books are very similar to one another. The fact that she’s an excellent writer who can make those similarities pale in comparison to the people and the situation those people are in is actually very artful.

View all my reviews >>

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Angel Lane

Angel Lane Angel Lane by Sheila Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second Sheila Roberts book I’ve read, and the second I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a book in the way that toasted cheese and tomato soup is a meal. Simple, delicious, comforting.

View all my reviews >>

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Take Two

I had a post mostly thought out and partly written about the trials of womanhood. Then I realised that it added nothing substantial to the ongoing world conversation. Having your period isn’t always fun. There. I just re-wrote the entire post in one sentence. God bless the ability to edit.

I have a love-hate relationship with editing. There is a part of me who grew up with a grammar teacher and an attorney. That part of me is very exacting and precise when it comes to words. That part of me yells at the television when a character says that two entities have a “mutually symbiotic relationship” or some other sloppily-written line.

Then there’s the part of me who is just wanting to express herself and doesn’t think it’s a big deal to colour outside the lines. That part of me is generally frustrated by the editor inside my head. Because I will have to stop my train of thought mid story to double-check whether my character is going to lay or lie down. (That’s one of the grammar things that always throws me, what with ‘lay’ also being a past-tense for lie.)

I was raised to not believe in astrology but I was born in May and the May sign is the Gemini. So there are times when I wonder if there isn’t a germ of truth to the business about me being two people in one. Two people who are always getting in each other’s way. Warring siblings of mess and order stuck inside one person.

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Alms Before Men

It’s that time again.

Time for me to get a little bit miffed at all the self-congratulatory smuggishness coming from certain circles. I wrote a week and a half ago about how irritated I was with Pat Robertson’s semi-senile ravings about how God called down wrath upon Haiti and those poor people were wallowing in their just desserts.

Well, with every major tragedy there is always a flip side to the Robertson Raving. And that flipside is the Celebrity Help Me Help Them Self-Celebration. It always drives me just as nuts as Robertson’s craziness, but I always feel more alone. Because while Robertson has everyone point and laugh and say “look at the silly old man/stupid Christian”, the various Glamourshots crowd gets the warm love of general acclaim. I can’t turn around in my web browser today without reading praise for Clooney, praise for other celebrities and praise for the generous people who gave to Clooney’s telethon.

Now I know non-Christians are not bound by the same command from Jesus I am. It doesn’t matter if they do their works of righteousness publicly to be admired by others, because I don’t think they were necessarily expecting to receive a reward from the Heavenly Father later. But it still always rings creepily false to me when I see someone send out a press release for how awesome their telethon was and how much it raised. Especially when they are also a contender for an Acadamy Award and want to get their name out there in front of the voters.

Yes, I’m cynical. But 30 years of watching self-congratulation will do that to a person.

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Dear Tami Hoag

A bloody murder and photos of a crime scene are GRISLY.

The big bear from Alaska is GRIZZLY.

Learn it, know it.

Because right now it seems that there are a lot of crime scene photos in your latest book showing bears committing serial rape and sex murder. And that makes my head all swimmy with pain.

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It’s Blogging For Choice Day.

That means I’m going to do my usual For Choice entry.

The one that says that we have fewer and fewer choices across the board these days. As government continues to encroach upon individual liberties our choices have dwindled.

Many times the government makes a law designed to protect us from the worst in ourselves. The best-known example of such a law is the Volstead Act, commonly known as Prohibition. But I firmly believe in being responsible for your own self. That means being allowed to make your own choices, no matter how stupid they may be.

If you want to drink yourself to death, that is your problem. And the problem of your immediate family. The government shouldn’t be given the role of minding adults’ behaviour.

If you want to drive without wearing a seatbelt. Ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Own a lot of guns. It should be your choice.

The three ‘r’s of adulthood are Responsibility, Risk and Reward. You have responsibilities to yourself and your loved ones. You should be allowed to take whatever risks you like and you should also be willing to accept whatever reward comes out of those risks. It may be thousands of dollars from a good investment. It may be a broken skull from riding without a helmet. Those are your choices. Or they used to be, before well-meaning outsiders got involved.

As to the matter of abortion itself I am on thornier ground. Because I go back and forth between the right of women to make their own choices and the duty of the state to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I’m not quite sure how the State should handle the matter.

How I choose to handle the question of abortion as an individual and a Christian is different. I choose to try to understand the complexities of a woman’s life that would bring her to the circumstance where this choice is in front of her. I choose to offer her comfort in a trying time, to show her love and provide her with options that may make her choice easier. I choose to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when dealing with any person in crisis–no matter what the crisis is. It could be how to resolve the question of an unwanted pregnancy. Or how to resolve the question of crippling debt.

Pain is around us all the time and takes many forms. As a Christian I choose to treat individuals with the love Christ shows me.

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