Tag Archives: Amazon.com

How Do You Find Books to Read?

AKIE BERMISS: I’ll happily admit that I’m an Amazon Prime member. I buy ebooks and real books and other random things too. Its a convenient membership to have if you are consumer of such products. But my relationship to books and reading goes much further back than Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. I was buying books on my own in elementary school. My family viewed a Saturday spent book-buying as a day-off well spent. I read socially (emailing articles and blog posts to people, as part of book clubs, or by trading books with friends) and I read anti-socially (see me in a bar or restaurant, table for 1, and a book). As such, I take my book-finding seriously and since I don’t take any old person’s recommendation without doing due diligence, why should I let some algorithm or program set my path for me?

NAVA BRAHE: As someone who wrestles with algorithms on a daily basis (envision a Stephen Colbertesque shouting of, “DAMN YOU, GOOGLE!!”) the last thing I want to do is use them to find books. It’s my understanding of their use that lead to me to allow my Amazon Prime membership to lapse. That and the fact that I now live in Canada and refuse to pay the exorbitant shipping costs. Continue reading

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Self-Publishing: Financial Winner?

Look, I can appreciate the author’s point in the abstract. To often, midlist books are buried, rather than publicized, by even the biggest publishers. And with the other big advantage a publisher once had- access to nationwide bookstores- disappearing faster than Borders can say “25-50% off, everything must go!”, the temptation is to go it alone.

CHRIS PUMMER: Striking out on his own right now though, forsaking the editing and marketing tools a publisher can afford him, seems like a rash decision. Especially with the comfort of an advance already in pocket and the chances of hitting a hidden jackpot remote. Continue reading

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Creating Art

STEPHON JOHNSON: It’s a beautiful thing to create art. It’s even better if you’re getting paid for it. You know…with money.

JILLIAN LOVEJOY LOWERY: I write for a living. I can sometimes even manage to choke out the words, “I’m a writer,” when folks ask me what I do. It’s a lie, but it’s a lie I’ve been trained to tell. After all, I’ve spent the past decade as a public relations professional. I’m a sell-out, but I’m one with her best foot planted firmly forward.

EMILY SAIDEL: Even as a child, I was the crafty sort. I like beads, and jewelry making, and activities with pipe cleaners. But there was no one activity that I was passionate about, that I loved, or missed when I wasn’t doing it. As I got older, I joined the DIY bandwagon and learned to crochet and knit. I’ve always considered these artistic outputs, even as middlebrow culture tended to classify them with the craft category of arts and crafts. Ancient Greek supports me in grouping them together rather than separating them with the term techne. Through techne the artist shapes the world, whether through painting, pottery or cobbling.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: The thunderbolt hit me when I decided that, as a ‘creative’ person, I should have a ‘creative’ job. “Huh,” I thought. “Maybe I should go into marketing. That’s a creative job. That might be good for someone like me.”
Then I thought, “What IS marketing, after all? When you get right down to it, isn’t it just trying to make people want to buy things?”
Then I thought, “What in the hell is creative about that? Why did I think that was a creative job?”

AKIE BERMISS: Creating art has got to be one of the all time most difficult things to write about. All too often, one either comes off pedantic, impersonal, and haughty or unintelligible, scatter-brained, and impassioned. Before I descend into incoherence, I hope (this time!) that I am able to write something that at least begins to get the ball rolling in this wild arena of art-making.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Just a point I think worth considering: while creativity that is channeled through another person’s impetus may or may not be art, I do think it is inherent in art itself to create it for another, not merely yourself. In other words, commissioned work gets a bad rap. Continue reading

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Bookstores: Independent, Used and Massive Chains

AKIE BERMISS: I love me some books. No I really do. When I walk into a bookstore, I expect to come back out significantly poorer than when I walked in. If there’s any one thing that I’m easily distracted by — its probably books. And, unlike many people, I’ll never enjoy buying them online. I don’t feel satisfaction when a graphic of a book goes into my “shopping-cart” and then a week later a box shows up in my mail. No joy.

I need to go to the store. I need to see them in their element. I need to pick them out. And I need to take them home with me.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Like Akie, I do acknowledge a love for the Big Box Bookstores. But to cast aside the many other ways to acquire books- yes, I share his obsession with all things bibliorific- is an astonishing limitation I simply do not share.

ZOË RICE: While I was away at college, Barnes & Noble opened its first Brooklyn store, four blocks from my parents’ house. Park Slope, Brooklyn, was decidedly not a chain store neighborhood–the Starbucks wouldn’t come until later, and no, I still haven’t recovered–and here was a massive store, two levels, popping up right in my backyard. We had independent stores: Community Bookstore (still living), Booklink (no longer with us) and Booklink II (the first to go). Park Slope was known for being quite literary, with loads of editors and artistic types. B&N would not do. But then I visited it. And I realized Park Slope needed a Barnes & Noble. Continue reading

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Netflix/Amazon/iTunes Suggests…

STEVE MURPHY: Websites have been trying to recommend things to me for years based on my prior activity, but they’ve never really been any good at it. Finally, Netflix and iTunes are stepping up their game. Finally, some recommendation engines that actually help me find things I’m going to enjoy… and warn me off those I won’t.

AKIE BERMISS: Read your science fiction, people. If there’s nothing else we’ve learned from various sci-fi doomsday scenarios, we should certainly know that you should never trust the machines. Machines are out to get you. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday — those machines are going to take you down, man! And so, while I love gadgets and devices and artificial intelligences, I have a healthy cynicism for computer-to-humanity relations. And so I don’t trust any computer or program or algorithm to tell me what I like or may like or won’t like. I have good friends that’ve known me for years and still couldn’t really guess what I like or don’t like. Continue reading

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In Briefs: Amazon.Murder

“An executive at Amazon.com testified Thursday that a man accused in the shooting death of a Ramsey pharmaceutical expert had bought books on how to build silencers.” NorthJersey.com, October 9, 2009

Congratulations! Your order of “Workbench Silencers” qualifies

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Amazon’s Kindle Mistakes

STEVE MURPHY: Amazon had a terrific idea with the Kindle: make books as portable as music. Make a single device to buy, store and read all the books you could ever want to own. A hand-held paradise for those who like to both read and travel at the same time. But… they’re doing it wrong. They’ve taken this great idea and, with the help of publishers, tarnished it so badly it will not be easy to clean.

HOWARD MEGDAL: The Kindle does replicate the reading experience, if not build upon it. The portability of a device that allows me to feel sucked into a given work is a tremendous development. Furthermore, getting newspapers and magazines delivered straight to my Kindle has been a fantastic experience. Reading the New York Times by the pool, or Newsweek while I work out, has never been such a low-maintenance experience. Continue reading

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