Category Archives: Books

Ebook pricing

Last week Nathan Bransford wrote about 99 cent ebooks and the tragedy of the commons, where he postulates that although there is downwards pressure on ebook prices, there might be some way in the future to harness price discovery so that popular/good/lucky/whatever authors can make more money.

Recently it’s seemed like the price of fiction is dropping to zero. Aside from one magazine subscription, I almost never pay for short fiction because there’s so much free stuff out there. I could see going that way for books too–and if I’m trying things outside my favorite subgenres, I already do. (Yes, I also use the library.) If I just wanted to read rather than to read a specific book, between author and publisher giveaways I’d never have to buy a book again.

Luckily for the authors I like, I do want to read their specific books. I imagine most of us will pay well over $.99 for a book by an author we value–books aren’t interchangeable objects. The trick would be figuring out a way to charge me $15 for a book I want and $1 for a book I could take or leave, while doing the same for a reader with opposite tastes from mine. Anyone think that’s feasible?

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That Game of Thrones review

The “mainstream media reviewer who doesn’t like or understand genre reviewing a genre thing and not liking it” is–hardly surprising. But like a bunch of others, what got me about the NY Times review was this bit:

While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first.

I actually sent her an email:

Taken literally, I can believe your statement, as that would be rather rude to the rest of the book club. But taken as I assume you meant it, that women don’t read gritty epic fantasy–

Really? You might not know any, but we’re out there.

I read Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth (who you won’t have met yet), Daenerys are all strong female characters. Why would women not want to read about other women (or girls, in Arya’s case), doing amazing things in a harsh world? Isn’t that what literature is about–seeing people struggle against obstacles of all kinds? I would much rather read about Brienne’s loyalty, dedication, and inner strength than about some editorial assistant shopping for shoes.

Never having heard of Lorrie Moore, I looked her up and found this line in Wikipedia: “Moore writes frequently about failing relationships and terminal illness”. That’s exactly why I don’t read much mainstream fiction–I joke that it’s all about rich white people committing adultery and getting cancer. However, I have read enough mainstream fiction that I know my joke isn’t true. It would be nice if the New York Times would find fantasy reviewers who are similarly willing to learn about the genre they’re reviewing and its audience.

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The Shadow Speaker, Nnedi Okorafor

Book 5 for this year: The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor. Enjoyed this quite a bit. Ejii is a very determined and appealing heroine, and the setting–near-future western Africa on an Earth connecting with other worlds–fun to explore.

Future book for this year: I’ve preordered Merrie Haskell’s The Princess Curse, which all of you should read because it’s awesome. Another very determined heroine.

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Books read

2011 is continuing to be the year of reading stuff I don’t normally read. Which balances things out, since 2010 ended with a series of excellent secondary-world mostly traditional fantasies, aka my favorite kind of thing. 

Most recently I’ve finished (and enjoyed):

* Trouble in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon, which she made available for free a while back. Very cute. 

* I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. Fun book.     I read this because her agent keeps mentioning the series. Sometimes people complain that agents shouldn’t waste their time blogging, which makes no sense to me. 

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Books read

Some books I have read recently and not written up:

* One Second After, William R. Forstchen – This is a Message Book. Also a very “patriotic” book. Also rather predictable, though I suppose there’s only so many different things one can do with a post-apocalyptic situation (though I’d like to see people try, or at least avoid the roving bands of cannibals).

That said, it kept me turning pages. Afterwards, I started another book that I didn’t like, and which I set down after a few chapters. One Second After benefited from fast pacing and a very tight plot and writing, every paragraph moving the plot forward. The second book suffered from bouts of purple prose and pointless digressions into, things like the architecture of the Louvre. Maybe that would turn out to be relevant, but I’m not sticking around to find out.

* The Godfather, Mario Puzo – I don’t need to tell you what this is about, right?

* The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
* The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin
* The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson
Three examples of excellent secondary-world fantasy. I’ve been lucky with my selections lately. (Not that “books lots of people are posting about how awesome they are” and “book by someone whose other books I love” is exactly luck.) The next Jemisin book is on my Sony waiting for me to finish library books.

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Local Books

I’ve been on a local-author kick lately.

First up was Robyn Bachar’s Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors, which I posted the lovely cover of a while back. Fun read, with, as it says on the web page, “gratuitous violence against vampires”. Since I hate vampires, this was most excellent. Also, fairies that managed to not be annoying in either the cutesy or the too-serious mysterious way. Hooray!

Then, Chandra Ryan’s Ink in the Blood, which is not the sort of thing I usually read. But I sped through and enjoyed it. I would have liked more depth and background in the world, but it’s novella length so there’s not a lot of room for extras. I’m looking forward to reading her Dragonborne, which is much more my style.

Up next are two books by Jaleigh Johnson: Unbroken Chain, which just came out this month, and Mistshore. Both are standalone Forgotten Realms novels. I find it hard to believe that I’ve never read a Forgotten Realms book, but there are so many that I never knew where to start when staring at the overwhelming shelves.

I’m saving those two for after I finish the epic fantasy I’m currently reading. They will be only the 4th and 5th paper books I’ve read this year (and the first three were borrowed). The epic fantasy is my 8th ebook for the year. Huh.

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Ebook reader comments

Several months ago, shortly after I’d bought an ebook reader, someone asked for advice on them, and I sent my thoughts. Since then I’ve reposted that email a few times. Next time, I’ll just send this link.

The short version: I have a Sony and love it, mostly. Great battery life, and I can take notes, but the screen is dim and I can’t print the notes. I also read on my iPod Touch, but right now I don’t have a way to put books I’ve bought from the Sony store onto the iPod.

The long version: Continue reading

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The Flying Eyes, by J. Hunter Holly

One of my coworkers has a calendar of old book covers. I believe it was March when The Flying Eyes got the spot. It was rather…eye catching, so we looked it up. The back cover description finishes with “And then [the eyes] issued their terrible ultimatum: Explode a series of atom bombs to supply them with radiation or they would turn the world’s population into mindless robots! It gave the world two harrowing choices – self-destruction via fallout from bombs or annihilation via the sinister Flying Eyes.”

So you know we had to read it.

J. (Joan) Hunter Holly‘s book is pretty much what you’d expect from the cover, except the female character plays a smaller role. It’s pretty good if all you’re looking for is plot. Plus there’s physics. Not to spoil anything, but the world doesn’t end, and the solution to the two harrowing choices was rather more clever than, say, giving the Eyes’ spaceship a computer virus.

And totally unrelated: Today was release day for local author Robyn Bachar’s Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors. Isn’t this a gorgeous cover?

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Busted Flush, edited by George R. R. Martin

I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers group ages ago. I’m not a huge superhero fan, but I enjoyed the book. The lack (more or less) of secret identities plus the way the aces worked with various government organizations made it seem more realistic to me.

It’s a mosaic novel, with nine authors writing chapters from the point of view of various characters. Several of the reviewers on LibraryThing said they found it hard to follow (it’s also the 19th book in the Wild Cards series); I had no trouble keeping all the characters straight even though I haven’t ready any of the previous books.

The good and the bad thing about such a structure is that you don’t stay with any given author/character for long. That’s good because I got bogged down in the second “chapter,” which is the first of three by Caroline Spector, but once I got through it the book didn’t go back to that character for quite a while. It’s bad because I could have read a whole novel centered on the character Melinda Snodgrass was writing (Noel). (I’m sure, like in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, other readers have completely opposite preferences from me.) Other intriguing storylines belong to Walton Simons and Ian Tregillis (Niobe and Drake) and Victor Milan (Tom and Dolores).

The only major problem was towards the end, when there were some too-abrupt character transformations and plot resolutions. It felt a bit like the authors had been writing happily along and suddenly realized they had almost reached their maximum wordcount.

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A Song in Stone, by Walter H. Hunt

I got a free ARC of this book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers group by promising to review it.

It’s an entertaining enough read that I had no problem finishing it quickly. Although there were aspects of the book that bugged me (sympathizing with Crusaders, and the main character being so self-centered), I was interested to see what would happen when Ian, the main character, made it back to the present day after he got tossed back to the year 1307.

(Minor spoilers from this point on, though not much more than you’d get from the book jacket.)
Continue reading

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