Month: February 2010

Some books I have been reading

A Study in Scarlet,The Sign of the Four,The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes:I wasn’t very much interested in reading any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, apart from the Hound of the Baskervilles, which I read on a whim maybe a year ago and found underwhelming. That story’s constant suggestions that the answers laid in the realm of the supernatural were more irritating than anything, but then I saw the new Guy Ritchie adaptation, which did quite the same thing to entertaining effect, and decided to give the detective another go (imagining him to be Robert Downey Jr. all the while). A Study in Scarlet is really a prequel to the stories, and a great idea for a first novel – to treat one’s protagonist as an established force, a genius in the imaginary present, and then head backwards in time to tell a story from his earlier days as an earnest student of his craft. The Sign of the Four, I’d advise you to skip. It’s not bad at all, but Sherlock Holmes really belongs in …

Looking forward to Heligoland

The last time I was excited about a Massive Attack album, it was 1998. The album was Mezzanine, which I vividly remember for its fluorescent orange disc, set against a black and white digipak case with what looked like close-up photography of a dung beetle. It was a good album, but also a departure from their established sound. By the time 100th Window came out five years later, I’d moved on. Heligoland is their new album, and I’m interested in it mostly for nostalgic reasons. What struck me today was how, in the past, I would have known it was on the way for weeks ahead of the release date because interviews and articles would have been in all the magazines. And I would have known the day it was out because record stores in town like Tower and HMV had huge displays and posters up everywhere for big new releases. Granted, music was more of an obsession for me back then. I spent almost every dollar I had on CDs, and I spent hours each week …

Two points relevant to my last post about ebook and iTunes pricing

1) Lifehacker recently ran a poll on how much people were willing to pay for an ebook, and only 5% agreed to go over $10. Most were happy to pay between $5 and $10. 2) Warner Bros. has revealed on their earnings call that sales growth for certain music tracks on iTunes slowed after prices were raised. What seems like common sense is apparently a mystery to music executives.

Why the $14.99 Ebook is a Tragedy for Reading

Edit: Inserted an extra paragraph before the last one, 20 minutes after hitting Publish. Sorry about that.— I couldn’t believe my girlfriend was oblivious to the huge row between Amazon and the publishing houses of Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Hachette. Until I remembered that, unlike me, she has a real job, and that the whole thing only blew up one week ago. “The iPad was announced only last week? No way, it feels like two weeks at least!” I said, not realizing that the constant reading of similar news stories can cause a retardation of time (amongst other things). If you haven’t caught up on Amazon’s ebook troubles, this post by John Scalzi will serve as an excellent primer. Short summary: Amazon used to sell ebooks at a near-standard price of $9.99, reportedly at a loss on what they paid the publishers, to help sell more Kindles.Monkey wrench: Apple’s iPad bookstore will reportedly let publishers set their own prices, which will be $14.99 for most new books.Result: Publishers have started to push Amazon to raise its …

The New Apple

There’s a phrase that tends to pop up in conversations about the latest divisive move from Cupertino: “the new Apple”. There’s always a new Apple that threatens the way things have been, or turns its back on a loyal segment; doing something other than what we, presumably desirable, tech-savvy customers want for our money. Lately, it’s been the iPad and its being in bed with the iPhone OS when we’d already arranged for a marriage to Mac OSX. It’s a computer for grandparents that will have severe implications for their grandchildren’s ability to grow up into the kind of curious, tinkering hackers who poke their noses where they don’t belong and thereby discover new and better ways to write software and build hardware and renew the flattened spirit of progress, thus we are destroying the circle itself!, the naysayers charge, gasping for air. With the iPhone model, software developers leave Apple a cut of every sale on the sides of their plates, while suffering the indignity of letting the publisher have final veto rights. Tinkering …