Wednesday, December 29, 2010

E-book Pricing

I received a Kindle for my birthday in October, 2010, so I can't claim any real knowledge of how e-books are priced, except from what I have observed in about ten weeks.

I have watched the prices of top sellers coming from the "traditional" publishers, i.e. the big houses that reside in New York, and the new releases appear to be $14.99, $12.99 for an e-book. Often that is not much less than the Amazon discounted price for the paperback version.

I subscribe to a couple of blogs that publish daily lists of e-books that can be purchased for less than $5, and often for less or even for free. (My favorite is Sometimes the low price is temporary, sometimes a pre-order. I got Jackie Collins' "A Santangelo Story" as a pre-order for free. Often the bargains come from independent publishers, or direct from published authors with a back-catalog of unpublished work. In recent weeks I have seen some price wars among the big publishers. You might find some $5 bargains in e-books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

According to Amazon's Russ Pham, Amazon has tried to set a standard of $9.99 or lower, but this "infuriated a number of established publishers, who feared that digital sales would undercut the lucrative hardcover market."

This reminds me a lot of the pricing for digital photo prints ten years ago when we first started using digital cameras. If you wanted prints from Kodak or Wolf Camera they charged enough to recoup the cost of the film you didn't buy. But then after online photo processors like Shutterfly and Snapfish got into the mix, prices dropped significantly. Now Kodakgallery charges 10 cents per print if you wait for a holiday special.

Just as with digital photos, where we snap hundreds more photos...I used to take one roll of 35MM photos on a week's vacation, now I'm likely to take 300 photos. I don't print them all, but I probably print 100. It seems to me that publishers can make a whole lot more from e-books than from printed. No paper cost, no printing cost, no warehousing, no shipping cost. Since October, I have spent $100 on 35 e-books; 23 of them were $5 or less.

I never make predictions, but I do believe that by June, 2011, we will see a big change in the pricing of e-books. And publishers will see a bigger profit than any previous year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Getting to Happy

Getting to HappyGetting to Happy by Terry McMillan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read Getting to Happy because it's our Book Club selection for January. I suppose we chose it because we wanted to see if it would be another "watershed moment" for women to talk about. Ms. McMillan starts in her Author's Note with a reminder that the movie Waiting to Exhale was not the same as the book. My initial feeling was that maybe I should go back and reread that book from 15 years ago. I still have it on my shelf...pocketbook edition with really small font. My Kindle has me spoiled with my choice of font size, so that book went back on the shelf.

I don't remember the details of Waiting to Exhale, book or movie. I read the book, and I saw the movie with two girlfriends, and I remember the occasion. We shrugged and went out for pizza afterward. I bought the soundtrack, and still play it from time to time. Good music by a variety of great artists. I remember the scenes from the movie where the songs were played...Mary J. Blige singing, "I should have left your ass a long time ago," and Patti LaBelle singing "My Love, Sweet Love." The music made a bigger impression on me than the screenplay.

All that to say that I'm not a great fan of Terry McMillan. This "sequel" to Waiting to Exhale was equally ho-hum. I got the feeling she just threw it together since her personal life has been keeping her in the tabloid news.

The four parallel stories of the same four women from "Exhale" would have been an easy read if not for the whiplash effect of changing tense and person. Most chapters are first person, present tense. "I'm driving my car to the casino." And sometimes she doesn't identify who is talking for several paragraphs, and only by way context with characters. OK, Sparrow is here, so it's Robin speaking. Then some chapters are third person past tense. "Gloria was in the backyard pulling weeds." There may be a reason for doing this, but it was lost on me.

I was glad when it was over. The ending fell flat for me. The four women drifted through three-quarters of the book until they decided to pull it together..."Let's meditate."

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Christmas Vest

Did I have a Christmas vest?
One with a big tree on the back?
I'm pretty sure I bought one,
Or did I forget it on the rack?

I remember looking through those sweaters
But I thought them way too much.
I thought a vest would better suit me,
better fit my style and such.

I searched through all the closets,
Couldn't find it anywhere.
Even asked my dear Tinker,
And all he did was stare.

Yes, I remember when you wore one.
It seemed pretty nice to me.
The one with all the decorations,
And on the back, a Christmas tree.

I know I get forgetful
Even absent-minded sometimes.
And I was thnking maybe I never bought it
Even if it fits the rhymes.

Well I searched again last evening
High up on the closet shelf
And like it heard me calling
That thing fell down by itself.

So I'll wear my Christmas weskit
With the big tree on the back,
And wonder how it did inspire
My couplet-worthy knack.

©2010 by Sarah Gordon Weathersby

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How do you prepare for your own death?

Crossing OceansCrossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's a sad coincidence that I finished reading this book the same day that Elizabeth Edwards died. The heroine of this book had less time than Mrs Edwards to prepare. She had been diagnosed with cancer, and given less than a year to live. Jenny Lucas returned home to the father she had not spoken to in almost six years, and to the ex-boyfriend who didn't know he had fathered a little girl now five years old.

I bought this book because blogged that the Kindle download was free for a short time. I looked a few days later and the price had returned to $9.59. I tend not to have a great deal of commitment for a book I get for free. If I put out my good money I will almost always hang in there to the bitter end. I almost gave up on Crossing Oceans before the third chapter. Jenny Lucas had already laid out her future, but she remained a bratty child with a chip on her shoulder. I didn't know if I cared enough about Jenny to see how she would end.

But as the other players in her life were introduced I found people that I could care about, especially that little girl Isabella. It became a real tearjerker.

The most intriguing part of the story, the part that offended some readers who wrote reviews on Amazon, was the "Christian" element. I put that in quotes because depending on how you are raised in your faith, we who call ourselves Christians can have very different views of the hereafter. While my view is very different from Jenny's expectation of death, I could see that it gave her a great deal of peace to "know" what to expect. Reading her story gave me a sense of peace, only because Jenny found peace. Jenny prepared Isabella through trial and error until she could die in peace.

I never would have found this book if not for DailyCheapreads. I give it four stars.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I pay attention to what other people are reading. When my husband and I travel I take note of people reading in airports, on the pool deck on cruise ships, around the pool in Vegas. The last couple of years, Stieg Larsson's books have been everywhere. But I had the impression that those books were dark, violent, mysteries. I swore off James Patterson for that kind of mystery.

But then I saw a piece on CBS Sunday Morning show, and I got intrigued by the author's life and death. Stieg Larsson churned out several novels as a hobby before he died of a heart attack at age 50. He never saw his works published and become international bestsellers.

When my daughter started reading them, I told her how I expected them to be violent. She had the same feeling about James Patterson, but she said "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" just had the one rape scene that was kind of the motivation for the rest of the story. By then I had my Kindle, and the Kindle version cost only $5.21. (I don't know how some Kindle books get deep discounts and some are stuck at a price higher than the paperback version, but that's another discussion.)

So I bought it, and I was hooked. The characters drew me in, with their separate stories that converged as I expected. I was most intrigued by Lisbeth Salander, the misfit, antisocial savant who hacks her way via the internet to helping solve the mystery. Then I read somewhere that the Swedish tile for this book is "Men who Hate Women," but it was too late to turn back; I was hooked.

Larsson's style is so fast paced, I sometimes wondered if my eyes could fly across the page fast enough to keep up. The ending is dark and disturbing, but I'm so caught up in the characters that I have to go on the next book of what the publisher is calling The Millenium Series. Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander continue solving mysteries in the next one. I give this one four stars.

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