POD sleaze

Dec. 27th, 2015 06:16 pm
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
A different version of print-on-demand publication sleaze: Ronald Cohn and Jesse Russel are listed as authors of more than 200,000 books in the Amazon and Indigo catalogues.  What these "books" actually consist of is print-on-demand trade paperbacks of Wikipedia articles.  You order a book, they print off the W'pedia article and bind it, and it only costs around C$25.  But many of the catalogue entries don't include things like the number of pages, which in most cases will be very small, and none of them actually say in the listing that they're derived from W'pedia.  If you look at one of the covers, carefully, you can see an emblem which reads: "High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles!"  The covers are auto-generated from the article titles, and even that process is sloppy -- they don't "sanitize" the text for HTML, so you get burps like the cover of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, missing the ampersand.

This is probably all legal, per Wikipedia's terms of use.  Wikipedia even makes it easy to generate a book from an article; they've got a system set up to do the printing, binding, and shipping... at a much lower cost than what these bozos are charging.  But it's grossly unfair to the buyer to sell such "books" to people without making it clear what they're getting.

Most print-on-demand books cannot be returned after purchase.  In most cases, that's a fair limitation.  When the product is as misleading as this... well, I don't know if the no-returns policy applies to these books, but I'd be surprised if it didn't.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Gimli: 'I don't wish to meet that old man at unawares without an argument ready to hand, that's all.  Let's go!'

Does that look wrong?  Or more precisely, sound wrong?

I enjoyed the audio book version of The Fellowship of the Ring quite a lot.  Reader Rob Inglis has a reasonable range of voices -- nowhere near Luke Daniels, who reads Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, but that's a very high bar.  So I expected to like his reading of The Two Towers.

But I keep getting thrown out of the story.  He keeps altering the text, including the dialogue, by using contractions.  Frequently.

By some lights I'm something of a purist with regard to Tolkien, no question.  I was lukewarm on Jackson's version of FotR, disliked TTT, and have seen only a few minutes of his RotK -- which was enough to confirm my decision to give it a miss.  I've seen most of the first Hobbit movie, at home for free while I was working on something, so it wasn't completely lost time.  That convinced me that Jackson has no sense with regard to sacrificing plot in favour of ludicrous action sequences.  I saw a few bits of the second Hobbit movie a couple of days ago, and that was enough; I was shrieking in laughter at the fight sequence with the Dwarves barrelling down the river, and the melting of the "gold" in Moria.  I don't know what that stuff was, but it wasn't gold.  Negligible specific heat and heat of fusion; low melting point.

But this audio book's problem is subtler... "just" contractions.  But Tolkien was very careful about character voice.  Some characters speak casually, some always formally, and some change their style of speech depending on circumstance.  To chuck that out is wrong; it significantly affects the characterization.  For Gimli to say "That's all.  Let's go!" just knots up my neck and shoulder muscles.  It's fingernails-on-blackboard stuff, full-on "uncanny valley", who-are-you-and-where-is-the-real-Gimli material.

bunsen_h: (Default)
Three Children And IT

This is a book "mash-up" that's very dependent on your knowing a couple of children's books. If you don't get it, it's probably not worth the trouble of an explanation, but the "parents" are L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time and Nesbit's Five Children And It.  It's a bit surprising to me how many people think that E. Nesbit's book really was titled Three Children And It, per a Google search.  Four ... was also somewhat popular.

This took much longer to put together than I expected, mostly because of difficulty matching the font for the authors' names.  The font identifiers at www.linotype.com and www.identifont.com came up with entirely wrong suggestions, based on a series of questions about the font's properties; with Adobe's, I couldn't even figure out how to mark the "categories" for a couple of words on the cover of a book.  The identifier at www.myfonts.com took an uploaded image and quickly gave me a couple of possibilities that were pretty much bang-on — I still had to tweak the proportions a bit but it was enough to work with.  I don't have access to the font (Century Expanded Italic) on any of the computers here, but for such a small bit of text, copy/pasting from images of a font sampler didn't take much work.
bunsen_h: (Default)
I'm about half way through John Scalzi's Redshirts (one of my recurring filk themes!) and it has just occurred to me that
Spoilers ahoy! )
bunsen_h: (Default)
I've recently been reminded about a book that I remember reading several times, borrowed from the library, when I was young: The Big Joke Game by Scott Corbett.  Now I'd like to read it again, and the Ottawa library doesn't have it and it's long out of print; used copies are quite expensive.  Do any of you happen to have a copy of it?


Mar. 11th, 2011 05:06 pm
bunsen_h: (Default)
"In a media-saturated age, you can really start to resent the amount of information you absorb, despite your steadfast disinterest, about certain utterly unworthy subjects.  It's like the data equivalent of secondary smoke inhalation."

-- Christopher Brookmyre, Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks


Dec. 16th, 2010 09:04 am
bunsen_h: (Default)
I'm about 3/5 of the way through [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire 's novel Feed.  It's very engaging; possibly too much so for me right now: it's aggravating my insomnia by crossing over with too many of my random thoughts, rather like the two viruses that started the whole mess in the story.

It occurs to me that George and Shaun don't date at all because they're genre-savvy.  By not ever having sex, they hope to make it to the end of the book.

Spoiler, ROT13ed: Trbetr unf whfg orra "xvqanccrq ol gur PQP".  Vg fgevxrf zr gung gur PQP ner cynhfvoyl gur ivyynva bs gur fgbel: vg'f nyy nobhg cbjre naq xrrcvat crbcyr nsenvq.
bunsen_h: (Default)
I've been meaning to mention these for a while; I think that a number of my friends will enjoy them.

Charles Stross has written a number of stories and novels about a guy named Bob Howard.  Bob works for the Laundry, a top-secret agency of the British government.  Its mandate is to prevent the incursion of tentacular/demonic monstrosities from other dimensions.  Part of the premise is that applying certain computational algorithms, and/or certain hardware configurations, changes the nature of space such as to attract the attention of Things and to make it possible for them to cross over into our space; Bob is a computational demonologist.  The stories lean towards some level of computer/math geekery.

It's sort of Len Deighton / James Bond spy thriller crossed with Lovecraft, with a side of Dilbert — the gibbering deranged creatures that Bob has to deal with include his agency's accounting and human-resources departments.

The first novel is The Atrocity Archives, the second is The Jennifer Morgue.  Several short stories are in various places, and a couple more novels are in the publishing pipeline.


Oct. 9th, 2009 04:09 pm
bunsen_h: (Default)
Jo Walton's excellent alternate-history novels Farthing and Ha'Penny have been remaindered by the Chapters chain -- hardcovers for $6.  A number of the local stores have them in stock in the "Bargains" areas; you can check availability on-line.  (The third novel in the so-called "Small Change" trilogy, Half a Crown, has been out for just over a year in hardcover, and will probably be available in paperback soon.)

Later addition, per [livejournal.com profile] papersky 's comment: "There are no present plans for a paperback Half a Crown, at least not before this time next year."

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