Neil Gaiman on Ebooks

Neil Gaiman is the award-winning and bestselling author of American GodsAnansi BoysThe Graveyard Book, and the comic series Sandman. He blogs at http://journal.neilgaiman.com.

 

ON DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND EBOOKS

Paper books are really, really useful things. They are wonderful things. I’m still convinced that the paperback book is something that will probably live forever. Because it’s cheap, it’s cheerful, you can drop it in the bath, you can put it in your pocket. It’s driven by sunlight. You can find your place in it in seconds. But there are places where Kindles win.

There are two huge things about the Kindle that are incredibly good and useful. Thing one is that normally technological innovation bumps up against age: there comes a point somewhere in the 40s where people cannot be bothered to keep up. And by the time you get to your 60s, normally you definitely can’t be bothered. It’s not like 60 year olds were going out and buying iPods. On the other hand, all you have to do is be past the age of reading glasses and discover, as you start lamenting the tiny size that paperbacks books are printed in these days and realizing that you’re probably going to have to grit your teeth fairly soon and go and look for those large-print paperbacks, that’s the point where you discover that you can have any book in the world on your Kindle and you can just change the typeface to suit yourself. And that suddenly means that you’re getting one for your grandmother. Advanced tech changes everything.

The thing that actually I’m loving about the current incarnation of Kindle is that you can be reading something using Kindle software on physical platforms other than the actual Kindle. This may not seem that important, but I just proudly finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo, this 1,000-page book, that I bought several copies of over the years. And it’s huge, and it’s heavy, and I would get a chapter into it or whatever and always mean to keep reading it but never quite get around to it because it wouldn’t be wherever I was. The joy of this was, wherever I was, and whatever I had with me electronically, I had The Count of Monte Cristo, and it knew what page I was on. Which means that if I have ten minutes and I have my phone with me, or I’m on a plane: just grab that ten minutes.

I watched the Kindle win on things that were simply too big to go into your jeans pocket. But given the choice between that and a thin paperback that’s jeans-pocket sized, paperback still wins for me.

Source:

http://locusmag.com/2011/01/neil-gaiman-on-ebooks/

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Garmin Speak lets you bring Alexa along in the car

Amazon and Garmin have teamed up to bring the wisdom and subservient attitude of Alexa to a car near you.

The Garmin Speak is an Echo Dot-like device that sits in the dash of your car and brings the full range of Alexa skills into the car. What’s more, the Garmin Speak integrates Alexa services through the car stereo, meaning you can listen to music, audiobooks, news and weather through a full-fledged sound system (comparatively) instead of tiny speaker.

You can also use Garmin’s turn-by-turn navigation by simply saying “Alexa, ask Garmin.”

What’s more, users will be able to place orders on Amazon and control their smart devices at home through the Garmin Speak. So if, for example, you forgot to turn off the lights or lock the door (and you have the smart home accessories capable of doing that for you), you can simply take care of it from the driver’s seat.

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The Garmin Speak will use data from your smartphone, once you download the free Garmin Speak app, through a connection via Bluetooth or AUX cord.

There are plenty of smart assistant services out there for drivers, including CarPlay, Google Android Auto, Alexa herself, and Cortana, some of which are integrated at the OEM level.

Garmin Speak is available now for $150 here.

Source:

Garmin Speak lets you bring Alexa along in the car

Why Some Fans Might Not Like Justice League’s Aquaman, According To Jason Momoa

While we’ve met Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, a lot of the characters who are going to be popping up in Justice League are pretty new. One of these characters is Aquaman, who will play a key role in Justice League before getting his own solo movie in 2018. However, the actor who plays Aquaman, Jason Momoa, recently revealed some information about his character, noting that fans may not be in love with Justice League‘s version of the character. Here’s why:

Aquaman, he’s not even really Aquaman yet. He’s not the King of the Seven Seas. We don’t really get there until my solo movie, at the end. Really, it’s a huge growth for me. It’s a gigantic arc for Arthur Curry. It may be tough for a lot of fans to watch what they’re gonna see, how I portray him. But you gotta wait until we get to the solo movie to really know. Because he’s not King yet.

 

From what Jason Momoa had to say to Comic Book Movie, if you are a fan of Aquaman once he is King of the Seven Seas and has more of a grip on his destiny, you may not be a fan of the character in Justice League, or even at the beginning of the Aquaman movie. While we didn’t officially know that Aquaman would become the King of the Seven Seas at the end of his solo movie, it makes total sense. Justice League has already looked like a sort of coming-into-his-own story for Arthur Curry, and since Aquaman will be set after the events in Justice League, the next step in his story should be moving forward with the character. Plus, we previously learned that Orm, Aquaman’s half-brother, might be ruling over Atlantis during the beginning of Aquaman. It wouldn’t be the first example of Aquaman being a little different than his comics counterpart.

 

Image result for Aquaman, Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa also said that his character will be going through a pretty big journey through his next two movies. When Justice League kicks off, Aquaman really won’t be Aquaman, at all. He also noted,

He doesn’t believe in himself, he doesn’t know what to do with the powers he has. He’s going through tons of loss. He hates Atlanteans. The fact that people are calling him ‘Aquaman’ right now — he couldn’t give two shits about anything Atlantean. So he’s really not quite there yet…

A lot of heroic origin stories feature characters who haven’t quite figured out who they are and what abilities they have, yet. Regardless, what seems to be different about Arthur Curry is his rejection of things that are right in front of him, like his knowledge of Atlanteans and his abilities. In a lot of ways, Justice League should be a movie about getting a team together, but it seems as if Arthur Curry, at least, will have a whole lot of other things going on.

 

You can find out exactly what that means when Justice League hits theaters on November 17. You can already pre-order tickets for the upcoming DC movie. Aquaman is hitting theaters on on December 21, 2018. Before that movie hits, you can take a look at what we know about Aquaman.

Source:

https://www.cinemablend.com/news/1714380/why-some-fans-might-not-like-justice-leagues-aquaman-according-to-jason-momoa

Chinese Traders Continue Investments in Bitcoin With a Huge Premium

Despite the Chinese government’s crackdown on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency exchanges, local traders have invested in Bitcoin with a huge premium during its recent rally.

As Cryptocoinsnews previously reported, the Bitcoin price achieved a new all-time high at $5,920 last week, moving closer to the $6,000 region. Analysts including billionaire hedge fund investor Mike Novogratz predicted the Bitcoin price to surge even further in the mid-term, as an increasing number of institutional investors engage in cryptocurrency and Bitcoin trading.

When the price of Bitcoin was rapidly approaching the $6,000 mark and broke through $5,800, local investors and traders in China rushed to invest in Bitcoin, regardless of the imposition of a nationwide ban on cryptocurrency exchanges that requires leading Bitcoin exchanges such as OKCoin and Huobi to halt their services by the end of October.

On October 13, Bitcoin trades in the Chinese market facilitated by OKCoin and Huobi were processed at over $6,013, as the demand for Bitcoin from local investors began to surge. While leading Bitcoin markets such as Japan, the US, and South Korea processed trades at around $5,800, Chinese investors were purchasing Bitcoin with premiums in the range of $200 to $300.

Reasons For the High Premium

Until late 2016, the South Korean Bitcoin market demonstrated a massive premium in contrast to major markets like the US, because of its limited liquidity. At the time, the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market was dominated by Korbit and Coinone, and Bithumb, currently the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, were yet to evolve into a major platform in the South Korean market.

Consequently, South Korean investors traded Bitcoin at a rate that was around 5 to 10 percent higher than the global average price.

In June, South Korean fintech company BitHolla CEO Alireza Beikverdi explained:

“Unlike China, which has massive mining operations taking advantage of an accidental government subsidy in the form of overinvestment in underused infrastructure and cheap energy, there is no mining activity to speak of. Therefore, Bitcoin and Ethereum must be imported from abroad, driving up the domestic premium in Korea.”

More to that, the strict capital controls and financial regulations imposed by the South Korean government which heavily restricts the outflow of capital from within the country to overseas markets contributed as a factor to the demonstrate premiums in the South Korean Bitcoin market.

Since then, the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market has grown significantly. The South Korean Bitcoin market is the third largest in the world by trading volume, while its Ethereum market is the largest market internationally, with over 32 percent in market share.

Source:

https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/why-traders-in-china-have-invested-in-bitcoin-with-a-huge-premium/

The Martian: how the audiobook hit rocketed to film glory

In 2011, after a long search for an agent, Andy Weir gave up on big publishing. He had a small and dedicated following as a longtime writer and webcomics artist. So he just posted a book he’d been writing, called The Martian, to his personal website. His readers wanted to be able to read it on their e-readers, so then he added it to Amazon.

The next thing he knew, the thing was climbing the charts. And now, his book is the basis of an Oscar-nominated film with Matt Damon. Weir, in short, is living the dream of many self-published authors.

He acknowledges that his path was unusual, of course. “Everything went backwards from the normal way books get made,” Weir told the Guardian. “I didn’t think anyone would be interested in giving me a print deal. Obviously I misjudged that. Heh.”

In fact, one of the strangest items in the Martian origin story is who first approached Weir for a proper deal. It wasn’t print publishers or film producers. It was a small Canadian audiobook company called Podium Publishing. Run by a pair of friends, James Tonn and Greg Lawrence, the company produces what it calls “award-winning quality” audiobooks “for indie-minded” authors.

Tonn and Lawrence had once hoped to run a music label together, but the advent of Napster and iTunes quashed that dream. They were both attracted to artists who wanted to work outside of the mainstream channels to success – and they wanted to run something that served that community.

When, as an audio engineer, Lawrence began working in audiobooks, the fit seemed natural. “Audiobooks were an auxiliary business,” Lawrence told the Guardian.

 

“They were tacked on to the end of a publishing deal. Publishers would really only do an audiobook if [the print book] was so big that they were looking for ways to make money.” Lawrence and Tonn thought they could change that, by working with the sort of writer who was interested in publishing their audiobook independently.

Image result for The Martian

Lawrence was the one who actually found Weir’s book, on Amazon. He is a big science fiction fan and says he was attracted to the story, of course, but also simply felt that the way the book was written helped its audiobook prospects. The book is structured such that the narrator, Mark Watney, is recording logs of his time on Mars. “That’s a dream for audio,” Lawrence said on the phone.

The company initially bought both print and audio rights, although they promised Weir they’d return the print rights if he got a deal with a big publisher. (They kept that promise.) They enlisted RC Bray, a popular audiobook narrator, to record it. It was the first fiction project they chose. The product became a top-seller on Audible, and promptly began winning industry awards, including a 2015 Audie. While no one releases audiobook sales figures, some measure of the audiobook’s popularity might be gauged by the fact that it now enjoys over 100,000 reviews on Amazon. “A great book,” reads one. “Out of hundreds of books in my library this is one of the best.”

Part of The Martian’s success as an audiobook is undoubtedly timing. Originally conceived as a narrow industry serving the blind, the audiobook business has exploded in the past few years. In 2015, the Audio Producers Association reported that more than 25,000 audiobooks were published in 2014, compared with about 6,700 in 2010. Podium itself plans to double its production of audiobooks – it has done about 200 so far – within the next year.

Some of the increased interest is undoubtedly about the ease of buying and listening to audiobooks in the age of easily accessible digital audio. But, like podcast producers, audiobook producers also trace some of the success of their products to the way they can be listened to while engaged in some other activity – like cleaning the house, or knitting, or driving home from work. “It’s not so much what you’re doing, but that you’re trying to work reading into your life, whatever you’re doing,” Tonn said.

It remains to be seen whether “independent” audiobooks can follow The Martian’s path. Self-publishing has been a dubious challenge to traditional publishers, at best. And although the Amazon book sales rankings often see self-published books cracking the bestseller lists, audiobooks from the self-published don’t usually seem to crack the Audible Top 10.

But Lawrence sees a real future for such writers. Podium doesn’t contract with large publishers to produce audiobooks; it will remain strictly indie for now. They say they work best with authors like Weir. “He had to have his hopes and his dreams dashed against the rocks,” Lawrence said. “He spent a lot of time trying to get an agent, and he just couldn’t do that. That experience made him think differently about writing, and about getting his work out to people.”

As for Weir, when asked if he was surprised by the way things turned out, he said he was. “Yes I was. But it worked out really well. The audiobook proceeds have been far more than I ever anticipated.”

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/27/the-martian-audiobook-hit-rocketed-oscars-glory

George Lucas

George Walton Lucas Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American filmmaker and entrepreneur.

Lucas is best known as the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as the founder of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. He was the chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm, before selling it to The Walt Disney Company in 2012.

Upon graduating from the University of Southern California in 1967, Lucas co-founded American Zoetrope with fellow filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Lucas wrote and directed THX 1138 (1971), based on his earlier student short Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which was a critical success but a financial failure. His next work as a writer-director was the film, American Graffiti (1973), inspired by his teen years in early 1960s Modesto, California, and produced through the newly founded Lucasfilm. The film was critically and commercially successful, and received five Academy Awardnominations including Best Picture.

Lucas’s next film, an epic space opera titled Star Wars (1977), went through a troubled production process; however, it was a surprise hit, becoming the highest-grossing film at the time, as well as a winner of six Academy Awards and a cultural phenomenon. Following the first Star Wars film, Lucas produced and co-wrote the following installments in the trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Along with Steven Spielberg, Lucas co-created and wrote the Indiana Jones films Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Temple of Doom (1984), and The Last Crusade (1989). Lucas also produced and wrote a variety of films through Lucasfilm in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1997, Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy as part of a Special Edition, where he made several alterations to the films; home media releases with further changes were released in 2004 and 2011. Lucas also returned to directing with the Star Wars prequel trilogy, consisting of The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005). He later collaborated on the story for the Indiana Jones sequel Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and served as the story writer and executive producer for the war film, Red Tails (2012).

Five of Lucas’s seven features are among the 100 highest-grossing movies at the North American box office, adjusted for ticket-price inflation.

Lucas is one of the American film industry’s most financially successful filmmakers, and has been personally nominated for four Academy Awards. Lucas is considered a significant figure in the New Hollywood era.

  • Kaminski, Michael (2008). The Secret History of Star Wars. Legacy Books Press;. ISBN 978-0978465230.
  • Rinzler, J.W. (2007). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film. LucasBooks. ISBN 978-0345494764.

Further reading

Facebook is testing a CV feature to take on LinkedIn

It looks like Facebook is considering barging in on LinkedIn’s turf.

Facebook is currently trialling a CV feature, according to screenshots posted on social media — a move that would put it in direct competition with professional social network LinkedIn.

Matt Navarra, director of social media for The Next Web, has shared screenshots of the resume feature sent to him by web developer Jane Manchun Wong, who saw it appear on her Facebook profile.

The feature lets users list their professional experience and education, as well as their contact details, an image, and other information — just like Microsoft-owned LinkedIn does.

Of course, it’s already possible for people to list their job history and education on Facebook. But do you really want prospective employers to see your private Facebook profile? Instead, the new feature appears to combine all the relevant information into a single, professional-looking package — away from personal photos, status updates, and other Facebook posts people might not wish to share with recruiters and the wider world.

It’s not clear how many people currently have access to the resume feature, or what Facebook’s ultimate intentions are here. The social network often tests features on a small number of users before rolling them out more widely (or not), and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for more information.

But just the fact that Facebook is experimenting with this is further evidence of how the Californian firm is increasingly trying to transcend its roots as a simple social network and move into the professional sector. In 2016, it launches Facebook At Work — now called Workplace — a modified version of Facebook designed for teams in the office to use.

Source:

http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-tests-cv-resume-feature-linkedin-2017-10

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