Pixel Scroll 3/22/17 I Scroll The Pixel Electric

(1) BATTERIES INCLUDED. The BBC reports plans for a short-distance electric passenger plane:

A new start-up says that it intends to offer an electric-powered commercial flight from London to Paris in 10 years.

Its plane, yet to go into development, would carry 150 people on journeys of less than 300 miles.

Wright Electric said by removing the need for jet fuel, the price of travel could drop dramatically.

British low-cost airline Easyjet has expressed its interest in the technology.

“Easyjet has had discussions with Wright Electric and is actively providing an airline operator’s perspective on the development of this exciting technology,” the airline told the BBC.

Chip Hitchcock adds: “Note the caveat of battery tech continuing to improve at its current rate. Reminds of the beginning of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, where the computer says there won’t be famine because matter transformation will be invented in a few years.”

(2) AND THEN I WROTE. In “Using Twine @TwineThreads”, Camestros Felapton gives a demonstration of the interactive story-writing software, amply illustrated by screencaps.

The software doesn’t present you with much: a simple screen with limited menu options. However, this really encourages you to jump straight in, start a story and start typing.

(3) FEWER BOOKS, MORE BOOZE. No, I’m not talking about Raymond Chandler. I’m reporting the observations by Barry Hoffman, publisher of Gauntlet Press, in his March 22 newsletter —

Late last year Barnes & Noble opened a new “superstore” in Eastchester, New York. The store features a full-service restaurant which serves alcohol. And, the store will be 20-25% smaller than its traditional superstores.

Normally, this news would be taken with a yawn (there are other such B&N superstores). But the sad fact is that B&N is responding to Amazon.com by adding a restaurant and cutting the number of books that it will carry. As it is B&N stores in Colorado Springs (where our offices are located) already devote a lot of space to other items besides books. The two stores in Colorado Springs have a Starbucks (a smart idea, in my opinion and it doesn’t take up all that much space), a large display for their Nook device, games, toys and other non-book related items. Since the price of these non-book related items are just as or more expensive than at nearby competitors such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Toys R Us it makes little sense to squeeze out books for them.

The B&N’s here used to sell CDs and DVDs but at a premium price which made no sense since there were competitors selling the same items at a greater discount. It seems that the B&N philosophy is to add these products and now large restaurants to their stores rather than come up with innovative approaches to selling books. To me this doesn’t seem the ideal approach to competing with Amazon.com.

(4) PAY THE WRITER. Lucy A. Snyder aired a grievance about MARCon, the annual Columbus, OH convention, in a public Facebook post.

Several people have asked me if I will be attending MARCon (Multiple Alternate Realities Convention) this year. I will not. As much as I would like to support one of the few remaining local Columbus conventions, I can no longer do so.

Last year, Marcon staff contacted me about leading a couple of writing workshops. We negotiated the same kind of deal as I had arranged for instructors at Context: they would charge for the workshops, and I would get half the fees with a minimum of $50 per workshop.

The convention completely failed to promote the workshops ahead of time, and didn’t even put an information page on their website so that I could promote them myself. They assured me that they would promote the workshops at the door and that I should plan to lead them, so I did my usual preparations.

Unsurprisingly, nobody signed up for my first workshop; I arrived at the expected time and then left when it was clear nobody was coming. They did sell several seats to the second workshop, and so I led that as expected. Aside from my time, my own costs to offer the workshops included $30 in parking garage fees, which I had expected to cover with the $50 for the workshop.

(I had expected a lot *more* than a net of $20, but I adjusted my expectations downward after I realized I wouldn’t be able to adequately promote my sessions. $20 was still better than nothing.)

A few months after the convention was over, I queried the staff who had recruited me to see when payment would be forthcoming, and received no reply.

Later, I forwarded the agreement to the programming email address with an inquiry, which also did not receive a reply.

Most recently, I forwarded the agreement to the convention chairs’ address; it’s been over a week and I haven’t gotten a reply.

So that’s three times I’ve emailed various staff, with zero replies from anyone. Not a “We’re working on it,” or a “The check’s in the mail,” or a “We’re kind of broke and need more time” or even a “Screw you, Snyder, we’re not paying you squat!” Nothing.

I’ve also talked to a Marcon volunteer who spent $120 on convention supplies and was promised reimbursement; so far, the convention has blown off her queries, too.

I would not be surprised to find out that other volunteers who were promised reimbursement of their registration fees have not received them.

The upshot is that Marcon appears to have become the kind of convention that won’t always honor its financial commitments.

There were other problems at last year’s convention that soured me on the experience, but failing to uphold business agreements and refusing to reply to communications is a definite deal breaker for me.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 22, 1931 – William Shatner

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY STARSHIP CAPTAIN

  • Born March 22, 2233 – James Tiberius Kirk.

(7) SCALZI INTERVIEW. The Verge asked the questions and got this answer: “Sci-fi author John Scalzi on the future of publishing: ‘I aspire to be a cockroach’”.

The author of Old Man’s War and The Collapsing Empire lays out his plan for his 10-year book contract, and the future of science fiction publishing….

With concerns about publishers dying off, it’s intriguing that Tor is making this long-term commitment.

I think there’s a number of things going on there. I do think it was signaling. It is Tor and Macmillan saying: “We’re going to stay in business, and we’re going to do a good job of it.” This is part of an overall thing going on with Tor. Tor recently reorganized; brought in Devi Pillai [from rival publisher Hachette]; moved Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who’s my editor, from senior editor to associate publisher; brought in some new editors and some other new folks; and Macmillan basically gave it a huge vote of confidence.

It’s been fun and fashionable to talk about the death of publishing, and certainly publishing has had “exciting times,” I think that’s the euphemism we want to use, over the last decade. But the people who are in it do feel optimistic that not only are they going to be around for the next 10 years, but that they are going to do what they have always done, which is to bring exciting stories and people into the market, to keep people engaged in the genre, and to be a presence….

Did you just describe yourself as a cockroach?

I am a cockroach. I aspire to be a cockroach. But in all honesty, what that means is that as a writer, you have to recognize that nothing lasts and things change, that there’s no one time in the history of publishing where everything was one way, and then all of a sudden there was change. It’s always changing. So we will definitely try new things to see if they work. And if they don’t, you don’t do them again, or you wait for the market to come around to them again, whatever. I’m totally open to that…

(8) BOOK HEAVEN. Real Simple lists the best bookstore in every state.

When you think of a great local bookstore, you probably single it out for its conscientious curation, enthralling events, and splendid staff. But what makes a bookstore go from great to one of the best in America? We partnered with Yelp to explore the best independent bookstores our country has to offer. There are no chains on this list. Using an algorithm that looks at the number of reviews and star rating for each business, Yelp singled out the top bookseller in each state.

In California, it’s Century Books in Pasadena.

(9) SAD PUPPY SADNESS. On Twitter, SF/F author Matthew W. Rossi thought Declan Finn was telling him that it’s not that big a deal he’s going blind. Apparently that’s not what Finn meant:

(10) INSIDE THE SHELL. Ghost in the Shell (2017) – “Creating The Shell” Featurette.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, rcade, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]


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247 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/22/17 I Scroll The Pixel Electric

  1. Darren Garrison: Is this the first time File770 has been referenced on Io9?

    Once before they linked to my article about the awards mishap involving Gene Wolfe and how it led him to write several more stories in “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories” sequence.

  2. Yes, Techgrrl1972 was criticising Puppy website accessibility.

    Although both websites may be puppy adjacent, I was speaking of poor web design in general. I just don’t understand how anyone can think gray type on a dark background makes any sense at all. Unless their eyes work in different wavelengths than the average human being.

  3. @steve davidson–

    8: Well, if they’re as accurate with every other state as they were with New Hampshire, the stores are probably worth checking out, but they aren’t “the best”.

    Gibsons in Concord NH takes that honor.

    Yes. Gibson’s. Loved them when I was close enough to visit regularly.

  4. @Glyer
    airboy: Rev. Bob’s claim of poor editing is a rational opinion based on how he sees the facts. His adjusted headline is also reasonable based on getting a phone call.
    That kind of skeeze may fly at Vox Popoli — not here. A word to the wise.”

    Well, word to the wise to you. I’m trying to help Rev. Bob. I provided easy means of redress.

    If you did as I did and read his post without the time context, it is not straight forward situation. If you think that a honest attempt to help the guy, with minimal trouble to himself is “skeeze” I wonder what reality you inhabit.

    @Aaron – I read widely in the marketing field all of the time. It is part of my job. You can look up your own citations since this is so elementary it is textbook material for undergrads.

    @Mark – I do not encourage people to defame individuals or companies without cause.

    And to all of you – I am so, so sorry that I tried to help Rev. Bob. I’m sorry that I tried to provide useful suggestions in something that I have testified on in court and written expert reports. I’m sorry that I suggested the Do Not Call complaint process from the FTC, although I’ve written extensively in the area. I’m sorry I suggested the State Attorney General – even though I’ve turned in several fraud complaints that were acted upon and also helped out my students and friends with similar advice.

    As a group, you tend to jump to conclusions about someone who is not in your exact clique on a regular basis. Perhaps you should not try to impugn the motives of everyone who does not agree with you 100% of the time?

    Do the 770 people assume as a group that everyone who does not live and breathe Hugo BS all of the time is always an enemy? It seems to be the way you act.

    What is wrong with you people?

  5. The first several times I visited Powell’s–back in the ’80s possibly?–one of the wonders was stumbling across second-hand books on obscure topics that I hadn’t previously known existed. The sort you get when someone unloads their entire library (or that of a deceased relative) onto a a used bookstore. In recent times, there’s been a lot less of that delightful serendipity. The used selection has seemed a lot more…well, boring, to be honest. More like what you’d find a your average Half-Price Books full of remainders and a much smaller selection of oddball titles.

    My gut attributes it to the tendency of the online secondhand market to skim off the more rare and desirable items. I certainly take advantage of that ability. I’ve picked up a startling number of secondhand academic press books at delightfully low prices that way, but at the cost of necessarily supporting Amazon (who has basically cornered the online secondhand market). And it doesn’t carry the same serendipity. No more stumbling across something delicious that you didn’t know existed.

    To be fair, it’s also possible that my current ability to buy expensive university press books new has jaded me for the secondhand experience.

  6. @World Weary: Century Books isn’t even the best bookstore in Pasadena.

    I agree. There are probably a dozen different bookstores in Greater LA and the Bay Area that are better than Century. This list is bogus. But “Real Simple” is, well… Bougie? Yuppie? Rich hipster? GOOP-y? Form over function?

    And isn’t “best per state” kind of like the problem we get into with the Electoral College? Easy to be the “best” in Rhode Island or Wyoming; harder in California or New York. Let’s see per capita. 🙂 And what of Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and such, to continue the EC metaphor? I imagine there might be a swell bookstore or two in DC that the VA/MD/tourist crowd could visit, and perhaps funky little cool shops in PR and Guam with local interest books.

    io9 was great when Annalee and Charlie Jane were running it, but after that… eh. Although the comments in that article are pretty good, and the GIF usage is perfect.

    @Meredith: I did put a series with dragons down in that category in my Hugo nominations!

    And thanks for that “stairs/ramp” quote. I’ll have to watch that TED Talk. I thought that was going for the “missing stair” metaphor, but it didn’t, but it could! “No amount of smiling at a missing stair has ever turned him into a decent person.”

    @Nicholas: I’m only sorry I was out of the loop for so long that I didn’t realize till 48 hours before the end. But you fixed it expeditiously and graciously, and I thank you. I’m sure if you’d missed anyone else, you’d have heard about it by now, in caps lock.

    And note again that someone still knows how to apologize correctly, yet Mr. Whyte presumably maintains his Y chromosome.

    @Steve Wright: It’d be creepy yet amusing if Finn WAS your mother. Out there writing bad SF and idjit Tweets while you weren’t looking.

  7. @Wanted in Alpha Centauri
    I worked at a mall Barnes & Noble for a few months a couple of years ago. My experience pretty well confirmed that the corporate office believed that heavy readers weren’t a big enough market for them to focus on, or that the margin on books was too low to rely on, or both.

    I hate to say this, but everything I know about the book market indicates that B&N corporate management is right in their assumption.

    It’s part of what I mentioned upthread – if the customer can select from an online catalog and have the item delivered, why go to a retail outlet? Most brick and mortar retail stores are facing that question, because in general, the customer has no reason to go to an actual store.

    I mentioned the B&N mall location I visited which had two stories. With the exception of some current YA hardcover bestsellers, actual books were all upstairs. Prime selling space on the ground floor was dedicated to the cafe, cards, gifts, games, comics, magazines, calendars… stuff that sold. If they only offered books they wouldn’t exist now.

    Books are fungible commodities. It’s the same book, regardless of where you get it. Amazon can offer better pricing and convenience. Surviving bookstores must offer other reasons than books to actually go to the store.
    ______
    Dennis

  8. @World Weary:

    I notified Amazon very soon after receiving the call. Considering that the caller claimed to be with Castalia House (distributed on Amazon) and represented himself as having received my contact information from Amazon (a blatant falsehood) as a result of a purchase (which I did not make), it seemed to me that Amazon would want to be made aware of the incident.

    If I’d known at the time that Beale had given the caller his approval, I would have included that nugget as well. As it stands, I added a comment under my review with that info, as well as replying to Amazon Customer Service’s “how’d we do?” email with the update and a link to the page.

    The Amazon agent I spoke with sounded properly appalled by the incident, and I made it plain to her that I did not hold her or Amazon responsible for an instant. (I’ve worked in customer service; I know how important it is to distinguish between frustration at the situation and anger at the person helping you.) I know Amazon doesn’t pass along such customer-specific detail to ebook sellers even when a purchase takes place, but the fact that someone CLAIMED they had goes to… is it defamation when it involves a business rather than a person? Definitely not good, potentially actionable, and since Amazon’s got all the power in the relationship with VD/CH, as well as an army of lawyers around the globe, they may as well be the ones to look into it further.

  9. airboy: If your phone number is in the US Registry, you can file a Do Not Call complaint. This is a very quick and easy thing to do from the FTC website.

    You really have no idea what you are talking about. The Do Not Call Registry only applies to telemarketing, and a complaint is only potentially effective if the caller is a reputable company. Disreputable companies ignore the Do Not Call Registry all the time. Unless you know the actual company who is calling you (and they’re not going to tell you), you can’t file a complaint.

    The Do Not Call Registry also does not apply to harassers who call you up and threaten to doxx you, and filing an FTC complaint about some internet rando will accomplish absolutely nothing.

    On the other hand, a police report and an Amazon abuse report are indeed the correct response to this sort of sociopathic behavior.

  10. While I usually stick to offers that apply to UK citizens, Tor.com is currently giving away free copies of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson to residents of the USA and Canada. (I feel like it would be weird if I called mine Meredith Moments, happy wriggles at other people doing them aside. Self-aggrandising? Still, don’t take it as disapproval of the term. I have been doing all the happy wriggling over it.)

    I hate being wrong, at least once I’ve got really annoyed at someone, so I have quite thoroughly put my foot in it at one time or another. I can’t think of an occasion where I didn’t eventually apologise even if not as swiftly as I ought to have done. Sometimes those apologies were through gritted teeth, admittedly. Mind you, I don’t generally tweet insults about random strangers on the internet for not living up to my standards of emotional resilience.

    @Doris V. Sunderland

    Always good when people don’t manage to read the relevant username.

    @Rev. Bob

    Urgh. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. What a creepy response to a review.

    @lurkertype

    Yes moar votes for dragons \o/

    Stella Young was great – I hope you enjoy the talk.

  11. Speaking of Colorado and bookstores, someone mentioned The Wizard’s Chest still being in Cherry creek. Actually it isn’t – it’s moved to Broadway and 5th, where it’s been able to expand considerably. It’s my five year old daughter’s favorite store, pretty much.

    I’ll probably go check out the bookstore listed in that article for Colorado, but it doesn’t look like it’s better than the Tattered Cover from the description. I remain pretty fond of the Colfax location, although if we include used bookstores I might be more fond of Black & Read, which also contains games, music, and other weirdness.

  12. Disreputable companies ignore the Do Not Call Registry all the time.

    Increasingly so since about last Labor Day. I’ve gotten to know the sound of boiler-room background noise, and also the particular kind of “clunk” their phone systems make when they transfer your line to one of their “representatives”. Also there’s one script they uses that’s a longish silence followed by perky female voice saying “Oh – sorry – I was just having a little trouble with my husband”. The third or fourth time you hear it – no, it’s not legit.
    (I checked and I’m still on the DNC list.)

  13. @Techgirl1972

    I just don’t understand how anyone can think gray type on a dark background makes any sense at all. Unless their eyes work in different wavelengths than the average human being.

    My astigmatism hates that sort of shit. With my glasses I correct to a bit better than 20:20 but low contrast still makes my head hurt. Blackgate is a bad offender here as well, had to use the Stylish style for that one.

  14. DMcCunney on March 23, 2017 at 2:11 pm said:
    There’s a surprising amount of stuff, including books, where I want to see it personally before making a decision. I’m unlikely to buy reference-type books without looking at them: I prefer hard-copy for them, and screenshots don’t tell me what I want to know. (My idea of reference books includes cookbooks and knitting books as well as dictionaries.)
    I’d buy e-books from local stores if I could.

  15. @PJ: I haven’t gotten that script, but we’ve been getting a lot more calls lately. We’re on DNC every year, but we still get more and more. The pause after you say hello and then the background noise is a dead giveaway.

    I don’t know who had my cheapo cell phone number before, but they evidently had Spanish as a first language; both individuals and spammers either get ignored or I yell NO HABLA ESPANOL. I did listen to one automated message just for yucks and from what I could tell (I do habla a little), it was a script I’d heard before, translated. I don’t have voicemail enabled (I use the cell very little, maybe a dozen people know the number, and they mostly text me) so… off it goes to limbo.

    Basically we don’t answer the landline unless we recognize the number. We’ll pick up if it’s someone we know calling from an unknown phone. If it’s not urgent, talk to the old-skool answering machine.

    You CAN buy ebooks from local stores. Some independent booksellers have a deal with Kobo where if you buy the gadget from them, a cut of everything you order then goes to that store. Or that was so a couple years ago anyway.

    @Rev. Bob: It’s still business hours at Amazon HQ for a few more — you ought to call and add the info about the blog comment. You’re just telling facts and helping them with their service, after all (Get a cached/saved link in case Teddy’s deleted it; he does like to try to make things un-happen).

  16. If I’d known at the time that Beale had given the caller his approval, I would have included that nugget as well. As it stands, I added a comment under my review with that info, as well as replying to Amazon Customer Service’s “how’d we do?” email with the update and a link to the page.

    No, Bob, the only defamation here is your false claim that I ever gave anyone approval to call you or anyone else. That is absolutely untrue. While Castalia House does have excellent and timely customer support, as many of our readers will testify, we do all of it through email. I have never, in the entire history of Castalia House, ever given permission to anyone to call anyone else for any reason.

    So, I am asking both you and Mike Glyer to retract that false and libelous claim, and I am asking you to remove it from Amazon. You also might want to rethink the wisdom of publicly expressing the wish that Castalia House suffer financial harm while simultaneously making false statements intended to accomplish precisely that.

    The fact that your violations of Amazon’s Community Guidelines inspired a troll to call you at home and offer customer support certainly amuses me, but I do not believe Amazon is in the business of policing what one may, or may not, find amusing. Perhaps you have confused them with Twitter.

    I also note that your review is in blatant violation of the Community Guidelines, as you discuss the seller, and not the product.

    Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers should be about the product. Feedback about the seller, your shipment experience, or packaging can be shared at http://www.amazon.com/feedback or http://www.amazon.com/packaging.

    Anyhow, we are no more responsible for Customer Reviewers like you publicly painting targets on your chest and getting trolled as a result than Tor is responsible for your fake Customer Reviews of our books.

    That being said, I would be remiss if I did not thank you all for helping us to sell considerably more copies of a book by a first-time author than we ever expected. Castalia House appreciates your enthusiastic cooperation with our marketing plan.

  17. Vox Day: That being said, I would be remiss if I did not thank you all for helping us to sell considerably more copies of a book by a first-time author than we ever expected. Castalia House appreciates your enthusiastic cooperation with our marketing plan.

    I don’t think we’re unaware of that. Nevertheless, there are some parts of your marketing plan people feel the need to protect themselves against.

  18. 8) The only one of the stores featured that I’ve ever visited is Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky, which is indeed excellent or was last time I was there.

    Internationally, I have a lot of love for Hodges Figgis in Dublin, Blackwells’ flagship store in Oxford and Donner Boeken in Rotterdam, which also has the bonus of being located in a building which seems to have been designed by timelords. Bültmann & Gerriets in Oldenburg is a great German indie bookstore and the only place in Germany where they always have John Scalzi’s books in the English language section. And though it’s a chain store, the Thalia bookstore in the Europa Passage shopping mall in Hamburg is great.

    Foyle’s in London is definitely worth a visit (plus, Gully Foyle was named after the store). Back when I was a student, shelving was a mess – the fiction was shelved by publisher, which made it difficult to find anything. Plus, I had the tendency to get sick inside the old location. However, Foyle’s has improved its shelving practices, while maintaining its huge selection, since it changed owners. And the new location a few metres from the old is much better.

    Late lamented bookstores include Dillon’s flagship store in London (taken over by Waterstone’s), the original Storm books in Bremen, where I bought a lot of English language SFF mass market paperbacks as a kid in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Wohlthat’sche Buchhandlung in Bremen and Oldenburg, which had a fabulous selection of art and coffee table books at reduced prices, and the excellent genre store Murder One, also in London.

  19. Nevertheless, there are some parts of your marketing plan people feel the need to protect themselves against.

    What, exactly, does anything we do have to do with any of you? You aren’t John Scalzi’s crashing career. You aren’t Tor Books. Why do you think you are targeted or involved in any way?

    It astonishes me that so many of you can’t seem to grasp that the more you interfere with us, and the more you try to stop us, the more we will utilize those efforts to our benefit. And the more you lie and spin and rationalize, the easier it is for us to do that.

  20. @airboy

    Speaking of making assumptions about people, you seem to have assumed the Filers 770 are a hive-mind.

    As far as this conversation goes, a swift apology for giving the wrong impression (“I apologise – I didn’t intend to give the impression that I was blaming Rev. Bob for what happened”) usually works just fine to get things back on track. Try that next time.

  21. @VD: “No, Bob, the only defamation here is your false claim that I ever gave anyone approval to call you or anyone else. That is absolutely untrue.”

    You should reread your own words on the matter, then:

    UPDATE: Strange. One of our dedicated, albeit self-appointed, customer service representatives called a dissatisfied customer this morning. He seemed very upset to be receiving such excellent customer service, claimed he was not a customer, and insisted that he had neither purchased nor read the book despite having posted a Customer Review. Sadly, he hung up before the helpful service representative could ascertain the precise nature of his dissatisfaction with our product.

    It seems he was not happy about being recorded for quality control, particularly when he was informed that he was living in a one-party consent state in which his permission was not required.

    That substantiates every detail that I posted on the subject; you confirmed the truth of my account freely and of your own accord. The only error, such as it is, is the implication that I had not looked at the text at all. That is untrue, and my review is quite clear on the matter.

    It also looks a helluva lot like you approved of the call once you found out about it… and I never claimed you gave approval in advance. Granted, it wouldn’t be hard to interpret the above passage as you giving your blessing on future such calls, so you might want to make a statement doing so if you want to prevent any future “self-appointed representatives” from claiming they represent your company while harassing people,

    The smart move would’ve been for you to claim no knowledge of the call and condemn the would-be doxxer’s actions. That would’ve kept your hands clean. Unfortunately, your ego wouldn’t let you do that, so you embraced and (post facto) endorsed the call – which is exactly what I said.

    Point to the untruth, if you can find one. I have no reason to lie, as the truth is sufficiently damning, and therefore I will not be retracting anything.

  22. Oh look, it’s the lesser-spotted VD, spouting his usual spurious legal theories and assorted unsupported assertions. The only time he’ll be seen in a US court is in handcuffs.

    “John Scalzi’s crashing career?” Hmm. Cetacean please.

    I’m sorry the object of you unrequited man-crush is too busy off on tour to engage with you anymore, so you have to resort to more and more extreme temper tantrums to try to gain attention for your sad so-called parody.

  23. @P J Evans:
    There’s a surprising amount of stuff, including books, where I want to see it personally before making a decision. I’m unlikely to buy reference-type books without looking at them: I prefer hard-copy for them, and screenshots don’t tell me what I want to know. (My idea of reference books includes cookbooks and knitting books as well as dictionaries.)

    Certainly. But there aren’t enough folks like you to support an outlet that only sells books.

    I’ve been watching the travails in publishing and bookselling for decades.

    The publisher’s problem was “too many books chasing too few readers.” Everyone knew too many titles were being published, but no one wanted to be the first to trim their lines. I recall hearing of editors saying “I have four SF titles to publish in month X, but only have three ready to go. Which is the least bad entry in the slush pile I can make number four?” Publishing only three wasn’t an option. Readers discovered new books by browsing in stores, the stores had finite shelf space to display titles, and if the editor only published three titles that month, she’d lose the display space and not get it back.

    So there would be periodic waves of retrenchment as one house finally bit the bullet and trimmed lines, the rest followed suit, authors got dropped from contract, and editors became redundant. The end result so far is what we currently see, and waves of consolidation and merger have resulted in the current “Big 5” traditional publishers.

    Booksellers faced the problem of “too many outlets chasing too few readers.” As mentioned, books are fungible commodities, it’s the same book regardless of where you buy it, and price is a selector in the decision. Independant bookstores were under pressure from the chains like B&N who could offer lower pricing, the chains were under pressure from warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club, and everybody was under pressure from Amazon. Chains like Borders no longer exist, and the independent bookstore has been an endangered species for some time. An example of the problem was an article in the New York Times a while back about an independent bookstore that was closing its doors. An author who had done signings there and liked them did a closing day signing as a farewell. A couple of women presented books to sign, and freely admitted they’d bought them from a chain outlet in the area because they could get them cheaper there. People like them were the reason why the independent had to shut down. It couldn’t match the chain’s pricing.

    I’d buy e-books from local stores if I could.

    The B&N superstore near me had (and still has, AFAIK) a section selling the B&N dedicated eBook reader. But the question that arises is “Once the customer is reading eBooks by preference, and can go online from the reader, and select, purchase, and download new titles, why should they come to the store? (The answer is, they probably won’t.)

    It’s not just about price, it’s about convenience. And it’s why bookstore have things like cafes, to offer the option of getting together with other people as a reason to come to the store. If all you want is the book, you mostly can order on line and have delivered. You’re an exception to the rule. So am I. But we aren’t enough to keep stores in business.
    ______
    Dennis

  24. @VD: “What, exactly, does anything we do have to do with any of you? You aren’t John Scalzi’s crashing career. You aren’t Tor Books. Why do you think you are targeted or involved in any way?”

    When my phone rings with a complete stranger taking me to task for a review I’ve written, I tend to think I’ve been “targeted or involved” in some way.

  25. Talking of retracting things:
    I’ve just been to Amazon to remind myself of Rev. Bob’s conversation with his troll, and I find that everything except Bob’s comments has been replaced by “comment deleted by author”.

  26. rcade on March 23, 2017 at 7:07 am said:

    I miss Grognardia. I don’t know if Malizewski is writing anywhere these days, but there may not be a more talented writer to cover RPGs.

    I don’t know about other writing, but Maliszewski is a regular on the Hall of Blue Illumination, a podcast about Tekumel/Empire of the Petal Throne (www.tekumelpodcast.com) and has also done about half a dozen issues of the Excellent Travelling Volume, a print-only Tekumel fanzine.

  27. That substantiates every detail that I posted on the subject; you confirmed the truth of my account freely and of your own accord. The only error, such as it is, is the implication that I had not looked at the text at all. That is untrue, and my review is quite clear on the matter.

    You’re absolutely wrong again. And your review is quite clearly in violation of the guidelines.

    You said: “If I’d known at the time that Beale had given the caller his approval”

    I never gave him my approval or my permission, either before or after the call. I still think it was funny, of course. I still think you’re a lying jackass, of course. And I think it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if the channers decided to focus on you whenever they get bored with Shia Le-whatever his name is.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that I was not involved or responsible for someone who is not connected to me or to Castalia House trolling a troll who writes fake Customer Reviews on Amazon. The fact that you pretended to be a Customer and someone else pretended to be Customer Support strikes me as both amusing and fitting.

    Nor does it change the fact that in the very unlikely event there are negative consequences causing material harm to Castalia House that result from your actions, you will be potentially be personally liable for libel as well as tortious interference. I had nothing to do with it, just as I had nothing to do with the “rape book” that Greg Hullender falsely claimed Castalia House published.

    Do you people really not understand that there are tens of thousands of people who seriously hate all of you as much as you hate them? If you come after me, or Castalia, or the authors they love, they will come after you in precisely the same way you guys are coming after me on behalf of Scalzi and Tor Books. This isn’t rocket science, and I’m no more responsible for them than Scalzi and Tor are for you.

    I tend to think I’ve been “targeted or involved” in some way.

    Not by me and not by Castalia House. What do we care about you? If I was going to tell people to harass someone, it would be PNH. I don’t even care about Scalzi in his own right, let alone a petty SJW like you.

  28. What, exactly, does anything we do have to do with any of you? You aren’t John Scalzi’s crashing career. You aren’t Tor Books.

    It is always funny to see Beale’s delusions on full display.

  29. Peter J: I’ve just been to Amazon to remind myself of Rev. Bob’s conversation with his troll, and I find that everything except Bob’s comments has been replaced by “comment deleted by author”.

    No, they’re still there; they’ve been overscripted with:
    [Customers don’t think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway.]

  30. VD –

    I never gave him my approval or my permission, either before or after the call.

    Also VD

    I certainly appreciate the efforts of the public to help Castalia continue to provide such excellent customer service…

    One of our dedicated, albeit self-appointed, customer service representatives called a dissatisfied customer this morning.

    lol

  31. Re: bookshops

    Foyle’s in London also used to contain Silver Moon Bookshop after it had to abandon its own premises because of rising rent prices. They had a focus on feminist books, and they had some excellent and unusual stock. Sadly, eventually they closed entirely. A 187 year old theatre bookshop, Samuel French’s, is closing its doors in April. London’s brutal rent is killing London’s more unique charms.

    My current town has a decent secondhand bookshop, although I haven’t been able to visit them in a long time because the quantity of books in a smallish building doesn’t leave much room for wheelchairs, even ignoring the steps and pillars randomly scattered around the ground floor (although in a spiritual sense random steps and pillars are a very good thing for a secondhand bookshop to have).

  32. @Matt Y: VD referred to this caller as “dedicated”, and “appreciate[s his] efforts”, but he didn’t actually use the words “I approve”. Therefore, VD does not approve of this call. Aristotle!

  33. @VD: “You’re absolutely wrong again. And your review is quite clearly in violation of the guidelines.”

    That’s a laugh. My review consists of the reason for my decision not to buy the book (poor editing), backed up with the specific example that got me to NOPE out. That’s completely within Amazon’s Terms.

    I later updated the review to include the information that I had received a harassing phone call from someone claiming to be with the book’s publisher, Castalia House. You say – now – that he wasn’t, but that’s after you posted an amazingly accurate summary of the call on your blog, describing it as “excellent customer service.” That’s you demonstrating obvious approval of the call, whether you knew about it in advance or not. In either case, that’s something future reviewers should know might happen to them, so I feel justified in leaving that section of the review in place.

    Furthermore, keep in mind that when I contacted Amazon on the subject, I gave them the link to my review. I’m not hiding anything. I’m stating facts and substantiating them with evidence – some of which you yourself have provided, and thanks ever so much for doing so. That takes my report to Amazon out of the realm of “unsubstantiated claim” to “verified by the publisher’s personal blog.” The fact that the call happened, as well as the substance of the conversation, are not in dispute. That’s extremely helpful! For me, anyway.

    I never gave him my approval or my permission, either before or after the call.

    You praised the person who called me as providing “excellent customer service.” That’s approval, bub.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that I was not involved or responsible for someone who is not connected to me or to Castalia House trolling a troll who writes fake Customer Reviews on Amazon.

    My, so much to unpack!

    “Not involved or responsible” and “not connected” – This would’ve been believable had you not embraced the guy as “[o]ne of our dedicated, albeit self-appointed, customer service representatives”. You claimed him as a CH representative on your own blog. That’s a far cry from “not involved or responsible.” As we say down south, “y’all done screwed yerself there, hoss.”

    “trolling a troll” – So the same exchange you praised as “excellent customer service” also qualifies as “trolling”? I’m sure Amazon will be interested in hearing that. Should I send them a link to your comment so they can see it?

    Calling me “a troll who writes fake Customer Reviews on Amazon.” By all means, please point to one “fake” word in my review. Go right ahead. (Hint: There are none. I even took care to note that the caller self-identified as a CH rep, reporting the statement rather than venturing an opinion on whether he was being truthful. But then, you’ve claimed him as one of your reps, which would appear to substantiate his claim…)

    I’ve reviewed several things on Amazon. Some of them are even books by people you know. My review of one of John Ringo’s books was deemed helpful by 44 out of 45 people, which I think is a pretty good indication that I’m not a troll. Most of my reviews have been on Goodreads lately, as I can do that while tracking my reading progress, but I still post the occasional review on Amazon. Especially when all that’s involved is opening the preview, finding it so poorly edited that it’s not worth my time, and writing a sentence or two to say so.

    you will be potentially be personally liable for libel as well as tortious interference

    I have told the truth at every turn, and you’ve verified the most explosive bits. Good luck with that libel claim!

    Do you people really not understand that there are tens of thousands of people who seriously hate all of you as much as you hate them?

    535 is now “tens of thousands”? What is this, New Math?

    (Wait, that’s an old reference now. “What is this, Common Core?” Is that the correctly updated version?)

    you guys are coming after me on behalf of Scalzi and Tor Books.

    Oh, dear. Have you been lining your headgear with aluminum foil instead of tinfoil again?

    What do we care about you?

    You tell me. I sure as hell didn’t start this.

  34. there are tens of thousands of people

    Oh, so you’ve succeeded in cloning your 535 Dead Elk now?

    John Scalzi’s crashing career

    HAHAHAHAHA

    In other news, my pre-ordered copy of The Collapsing Empire just arrived.

    I don’t even care about Scalzi in his own right

    I think this qualifies for Politico’s 4-star “pants on fire.” If this was true, The Cataract Calgon Constipated Corroidal Empire would not exist.

  35. John Scalzi’s crashing career

    Perhaps this is one of those affirmations thingamies, where if someone says it often enough it’s supposed to start happening.

  36. Do you people really not understand that there are tens of thousands of people

    FTFY

  37. It must be so sad to be Ted Beale.

    “No! I’m brilliant! You all know it! Admit it! Admit it! I don’t even care about John Scalzi!”

    Man.

  38. Oh, so you’ve succeeded in cloning your 535 Dead Elk now?

    It’s that he just now has figured out that claiming the allegiance of 535 people isn’t actually something that impresses anyone, so he’s inventing numbers in a vain effort to seem important. The trouble is, the fact that he’s a little pissant is pretty much common knowledge at this point, so he’s just making himself look even sillier than normal.

  39. It must be so sad to be Ted Beale.

    It’s weird Beale can’t let go of Scalzi. He’s picked another battle he can’t win. Even during this wet fart of publicity enjoyed by Corroding Empire, the book’s around 600 in Kindle sales and Scalzi’s book is around 200.

    Scalzi’s visiting 22 cities in six weeks to promote his novel. His book will be everywhere science fiction is sold. Beale won’t beat that.

    When he frames his bwa-ha-ha supervillainy as a fight against Scalzi, it’s like the Washington Generals taking the court against the Harlem Globetrotters. The Generals lost 2,495 games in a row.

  40. For our lawyerly contingent: given Mr. Beale’s earlier favorable comments would something like agency by estoppel come into play?

  41. Rev. Bob, maybe screencap that excerpt you proofread, before Teddy copyedits it (if he can figure out how to do that) and then claims there was never anything wrong with it.

    *crunches more popcorn, in horrified fascination*

  42. I don’t understand what Ted is crowing about. His cheap shitty ebook sold at one venue is being outsold by Scalzi’s even though it’s twice the price, and then there are the actual physical book sales from Amazon, and Scalzi’s book is being sold in bookstores, he has a tour going on…

    Not only that but the only metric Ted is interested in is how much he’s selling from the US Amazon storefront. in the UK and Canada he’s *also* faring much worse in the rankings.

    Not only that but switching editions (eg from Kindle to Hardback) has *another* set of rankings for Scalzi’s novel. So not only has Scalzi been outpacing him in the one forum Ted can actually compete* in, Scalzi is even having his sales and rankings split between formats, it looks like.

    *Using “compete” very loosely, here.

  43. @Michael J, Martinez: Heh, I forgot I’d seen your name here (methinks). 🙂 I’m happy to see MJ-12: Shadows has a release date, yay!

    @Meredith: I watched the Stella Young talk last night, but forgot to comment here. It was interesting and amusing, and it made me think – what I hope for from TED and TEDx Talks. Thanks for linking to it!

    @airboy, et al.: The Do Not Call Registry won’t help much with a company based overseas, anyway (aside from @JJ’s point re. disreputable companies ignoring it).

    If I had a nickel for every time I said “put me on your do not call list” despite being in the Registry, hoo-boy.

    @P J Evans: I’m sorry, what the heck is that thing about “trouble with my husband”?! What on earth is that a call for?! I mean, if it’s not unprintable.

    @rochrist, et al.: I believe it’s Scalzi’s Collapsing Career. 😛 😉

    @Rev. Bob: You have all my sympathies for the phone and now blog-comment harrassment.

  44. @Kendall, it’s not “trouble with my husband”, it’s “trouble with my head-set”. It’s a robo-call trying to pretend that it’s a live person, and disguising the switching time (from when the robocall detects your voice saying “hello”) by the recording pretending to be a human being having minor technical issues… before the recording goes into full-blown enthusastic sales mode. I’ve never stayed on the call long enough to find out what it’s selling. (I’m on both the national and state “do not call” lists; that doesn’t stop this particular robocall.)

    Word to the wise; if you suspect a sales call or robocall, never ever use the words “yes” or “ok” or “sure” or any other form of verbal assent, no matter what innocuous question you’re asked. I’m told (and have no particular reason to doubt) that some unscrupulous vendors will take the recording of you saying “yes” and splice it in as an agreement to buy. And, honestly, even if nobody’s doing it yet, I expect someone will do it soon.

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