Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Kindle Checkout System In the Works

amazonWhen Amazon first created the Kindle, it was meant to be used for reading e-books. Then it became a tablet. Now it might become a cash register.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon — the creator of the Kindle — is working with brick-and-mortar stores and retailers to create a checkout system that uses Kindle tablets. If it’s a go, stores would use the new system as early as this summer. More and more retailers are using handheld devices for checkouts, such as food trucks, Apple, and even Nordstrom.

Amazon officials say retailers would receive Kindle tablets and credit card readers, or receive services from Amazon, such as data analysis.

The plan is still in the works. Nothing is officially set in stone. For now, Amazon is looking to start at small stores, since larger chains generally already use  complex, expensive checkout systems.

The real benefit of checking out with a Kindle would be how fast and easy it is to do. But it’s clear than an underlying benefit for Amazon is all the exposure the company itself would get; plus it’s a pretty sneaky way of bringing the Kindle — available online only —  into stores.

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E-Reading on the Rise, Print Not Dead Yet

booksJust because more and more people are reading e-books doesn’t mean they’ve stopped reading physical books. That’s according to the latest post-holiday study done by the Pew Research Center.

According to Publishers Weekly, most people who read e-books read print books as well. Only 4% of readers consider themselves to be “e-book only.” The study also found that people are reading more in general. American adults are averaging about 5 books per year, a slight increase from the study done at the end of 2012.

The study found that about half of Americans now own either a tablet or e-reader. This is a likely explanation for why there are also more people reading across multiple formats — like print, digital and audio, as Andrew Albanese explains.

  •         87% of e-book readers also read a print book in the past 12 months, and 29% listened to an audiobook.

  •         84% of audiobook listeners also read a print book in the past year, and 56% also read an e-book.

  •         A majority of print readers read only in that format, although 35% of print book readers also read an e-book and 17% listened to an audiobook.

  •         Overall, about half (52%) of readers only read a print book, while just 4% said they only read an e-book, and just 2% only listened to an audiobook. Some 9% of readers said they read books in all three formats.

As an avid reader, I certainly read across all platforms. I read physical books, Nook books, and listen to audiobooks. I have some friends who prefer reading through the Kindle app on their phone, others who use their tablets. Reading books takes all different forms these days. But hey — at least we’re reading.

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James Frey Signs Off on Book-Movie Deal

If you’re familiar with the name James Frey, it’s probably not for a good reason. After all, he is the author who, years ago, wrote the bestselling memoir A Million Little Pieces, which turned out to be a fabricated story. But it seems like he’s on his way to making a comeback, sort of.

According to Los Angeles Times, James Frey recently sold a new young adult book, entitled Endgame, to HarperCollins and also sold the rights to 20th Century Fox for movie deal, possibly worth $2 million to $2.5 million. Allegedly, he will be writing the screenplay for the movie as well.

Since the memoir scandal of 2003, Frey founded his own company and has been writing young adult fiction.

But according to Deadline, the plot of Endgame sounds all too familiar:

“In a world similar to Earth, there are 12 bloodlines, or races. Each bloodline has a champion between the ages of 13 and 17 who is trained as a warrior and is always ready to do battle. When they turn 18, the teen warrior behind them gets promoted. This has been the case for hundreds of years, but no one remembers why — they’re always ready for some sort of battle to take place, but it never does. But the tradition continues. And then one day they’re called to fight, and all the bloodlines but the winners will be exterminated. They’re fighting to be the last race.”

Hunger Games much?

Obviously the news comes as a shock to many. After all, the one thing he’s known for is fabricating what was alleged to be a memoir and now he comes out with a fiction novel that seems extremely similar to another hugely popular young adult novel? Hmm.

How successful do you think the Endgame book/movie will be?

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More Library Hours in California

Not too long ago, it seemed more and more libraries were reducing hours or closing altogether. But thanks to Governor Jerry Brown, that is changing — at least in California.

According to Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Central Library and seven others have restored Sunday hours. In 2010, a $22 million budget cut forced all branches of the Los Angeles Library system to cut Sunday and Monday hours and eliminate 328 full-time positions.

In 2011, Monday hours were restored, and now Sunday hours are back. People were critical when the system initially cut Sunday hours because Sunday is one of the library’s busiest days of the week.  And there’s even more good news for  libraries in California — Gov. Brown proposed $3.3 million for library funding in this year’s budget. The money will be put toward connecting public libraries to the state broadband network.

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‘X Files’ Actress Gillian Anderson to Pen Sci-Fi Book Series

GAAfter nine years starring in one of the most successful sci-fi television series of all time, it’s fitting that The X Files actress Gillian Anderson would continue to pursue work in the world of science fiction.

According to Entertainment Weekly, that’s exactly what the actress is doing. Anderson has signed on to co-write a sci-fi book series with writer Jeff Rovin. The series is called the EarthEnd Saga. The first book, entitled A Vision of Fire, is set to be published in October by Simon & Schuster’s new science fiction imprint, Simon451. The new imprint will be geared toward science fiction and “speculative fiction.”

Anderson says she’s developed a mind for sci-fi after all those years of acting it out on the small screen. She says she wants to write science fiction novels that involve a strong female character.

But don’t think Gillian Anderson is giving up on acting yet. Her new NBC series Crisis debuts in March. She also stars in a series called The Fall and will appear in a few episodes of NBC’s Hannibal this season.

More information about the new Simon451 imprint is expected to come out at New York Comic-Con in October.

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Review: Tick to the Tock

Recap: Picture this: you’re 22-years-old and you learn you only have a few months left to live. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you see? These are the questions Dante King must answer. After suffering from headaches for months, he sees his doctor only to learn he has a rare, inoperable brain tumor. As it would happen to anyone, the news comes as a complete shock. But at such a young age, Dante is overwhelmed by the decisions he has to make. Ultimately, he decides it’s not worth fighting the tumor. Doctor appointment after appointment after appointment make it clear that his chances of survival are minimal.

So he decides to live life to the fullest — taking a trip around the world, visiting the places he’s never seen but has always wanted to. Neglecting to ask his friends to join him doesn’t keep them from coming, and suddenly he and his three closest friends — Wil, Ethan, and girlfriend Danii — are seeing the world together. But for Dante, this is not just a journey to foreign cities; it’s a journey to come to peace with what’s happening to him.

Analysis: This is one of the rare novels that’s not read to find out how the story ends. We know from the onset that it will result in Dante succumbing to his deadly tumor. This is a story worth reading for the journey, both external and internal. As someone in her mid-twenties, I couldn’t help but ask myself what would I do if this happened to me? Though rare, Dante’s health issue is one that could happen to anyone. The realness of this plot is chilling and just as dreadful for the reader as it is for Dante.

Author Matthew Turner does a great job using his words to paint pictures of the cities Dante visits. Dante watching the sunrise in the desert. The warm Christmas in Australia. His breathtaking skydiving jump. But along the way, there’s a lot of dialogue between Dante and his girlfriend and close friends. None of them knows how to deal with the situation. Turner uses these conversations to show how each character is feeling. The dialogue certainly helps to move the book along. The novel would drag if it solely consisted of descriptions of cities and thoughts. That said, there are times where it feels like everyone is overly sentimental, constantly talking about their feelings. But placing myself in any of the characters’ positions, I found myself thinking, wouldn’t I do the same?

MVP: Dante’s friends — Wil, Ethan, and Danii. It’s hard to do what any of these characters did. To leave their lives and travel with their sick friend for months is a serious undertaking, especially when it also means caring for their friend. But to do it at such a young age is commendable and shows a lot of maturity.

Get TICK to the TOCK in paperback for $8.97.

Or on the Kindle for just $3.99.

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Carl Bernstein to Publish Memoir

bernsteinForget Bridgegate! Famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein is currently working on a memoir.

According to The New York Times, Carl Bernstein signed a deal with publisher Henry Holt & Company to write a memoir about his early years as a cub reporter in Washington.

That’s right — his years as a cub reporter. He opted to steer clear of writing about his days at The Washington Post, where he worked with Bob Woodward to break and cover the Watergate scandal. Instead, he’ll write about his time at The Washington Star, D.C.’s afternoon newspaper, which is no longer published.

He started at The Star as a copyboy, then worked his way up through the ranks. In a statement, Bernstein said he learned a lot about journalism, the world, and life in the five years he spent at the paper. The memoir, entitled The Washington Star, is expected to be released in 2016.

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Review: Inferno

Recap: Yet another thriller following symbologist Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol), yet another adventure in history and European traveling. But unlike the books that came before it, in Inferno, Robert Langdon wakes up in Florence, Italy with no understanding of why he’s there, no recollection of how he got there. He is suffering from amnesia. But a woman with a gun, the murder of a doctor within the hospital where he’s recovering, and a chase force the famous Harvard professor to figure out quickly.

With clues referencing the classic piece of literature Dante’s Inferno, Langdon travels through three European cities to uncover a specific location, while also trying to recover his memory of the last two days. Along the way, he learns that the enemy-at-large and maniacal genius, Bertrand Zobrist, has created a plague and plans to release it within the next 24 hours. Now Langdon must locate the spot where Zobrist will release it. Concerned about world overpopulation, Zobrist believes killing off much of the population with this plague would allow the rest of the world’s people to live forever, rather than becoming extinct.

But without his memory, and with some of his friends dead, Langdon doesn’t know who to trust, how to solve this puzzle or if he’s going to be able to do it in time.

Analysis: In Inferno, author Dan Brown does what he does best — brings an age-old story into modern times and somehow twists it into a matter of life and death. I don’t know how, but I fall for it every time. In this case, the tale is Dante’s Inferno. But Brown’s overall story goes deeper. Brown’s Inferno adds the real-life issue of world overpopulation, forcing us to think about our own world problems. It made me wonder if Bertrand Zobrist, as crazy as he is, was right to invent something, anything that would solve the problem that currently looms over us. 

Brown also adds the layer of Robert Langdon’s memory loss. Langdon is used to solving puzzles with his symbology degree and experience. But here, he must also solve the puzzle of why he’s in Italy and how he got there. His brain must work doubly as hard in what seems like the least amount of time possible to stop the plague from getting out.

The only real issue with the novel is that at the end, after solving one puzzle, the other unanswered questions are not solved by Langdon and his companions. They are simply answered by the enemy, who gives up information when a guilty conscience strikes — a seemingly lazy use of deus ex machina.

MVP: Robert Langdon. Ultimately, he saves the day. As always. Yes, he has help. Yes, he’s given information to fill in some of the blanks. But without his intellect and knowledge of history, literature, and symbols, his team wouldn’t be able to accomplish the task at hand.

Ger Inferno in hardcover for $15.38.

Or on your Kindle for just $6.49.

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Unpublished J.D. Salinger Stories Leaked

J.D. Salinger died about four years ago, but just like Tupac and Michael Jackson, lots of his work is getting traction posthumously.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the author best known for his classic novel Catcher in the Rye had a number of short stories leaked not too long ago. Salinger’s stories, “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” “Paula,” and “Birthday Boy” were traced to an eBay auction that ended in September. The previously unpublished stories were sold for a mere 67 pounds ($110).

Before the leak, “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” was only available at Princeton University. The other stories were available at University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center.

Through an agreement with Princeton University, “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” was not meant to be published until 2060, 50 years after J.D. Salinger’s death. The story was originally published in Harper’s Bazaar and is thought to be a sort of prequel to the beloved Catcher in the Rye.

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Lawyer Fined for Leaking that Pseudonymous Author was J.K. Rowling

rowlingIf the man who leaked information about J.K. Rowling being the true author of this year’s crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling thought he was in the clear, he thought wrong.

According to The Chicago Tribune, lawyer Chris Gossage has been fined 1000 pounds ($1650) and has received a warning for revealing that bestselling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was the true author of The Cuckoo’s Calling. The novel was released under the pseudonym Robert Gailbraith.

Gossage is a partner in the firm Russells Solicitors, which represented Rowling. He apparently leaked the information to his wife’s best friend. She then tweeted it out, causing international book shock and making The Cuckoo’s Calling a fast bestseller.

After it happened, Rowling was publicly upset, telling the press that she had enjoyed releasing the book under a pseudonym and not having hype surround her. The book had received positive reviews, but initially hadn’t sold well.

In addition to the fine and warning, Gossage’s firm paid Rowling’s legal costs after she sued them. They also made a donation to the charity of Rowling’s choice, the Soldiers’ Charity.

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