Monday, November 22, 2010

100 Books, Sort Of...

At a loss for a topic (or beleaguered by too many potential topics), I stole this meme from Candy's blog. The idea is, go through the list and bold the ones you've read.

An interesting aside: regarding the psychology of the book mix: in a study where subjects were presented with a list of high-brow (Schindler's List) and low-brow (Mask) movies, high-brow movies made up a very high percentage of their lists. When they were told they'd actually have to WATCH those movies, the high-brow choices were suddenly 13 times less likely to be chosen.

This is why your Netflix queue is full of fine films you keep passing over for Chopper Chicks in Zombietown. And why every 'Top 100' book list is full of books people think they 'should' like...

Without further ado:

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Notes From a Revolution

So I decided, if I'm going to be selling these ebooks, I really should have an ereader.

At the time, the only ereader available in New Zealand was the Kobo. I bought one, and I was delighted.

The Kobo came with 100 books loaded, free-domain classics. More were available through Whitcoulls's website, the Kobo site itself in Canada, or pretty much anywhere else books were sold in .epub or .pdf format.

I made a few quick purchases, loaded that puppy up through the USB cable and I was off and running. The Kobo only has one control-- a soft blue square that lets you toggle directions and middle-click. It's your book-selector, your page-turner, your menu-caller-upper. With the Kobo, your right thumb does it all...

Fast-forward a month, and Amazon's Kindle is available here. Naturally, I ordered one of those too! And just as naturally, I began to compare:

The Kindle boots a little faster than the Kobo, and it lets me turn pages with either hand. Ebooks are easier to find for the Kindle (Amazon seems to have pretty much everything)-- I had to do a bit of hunting to find titles in .epub for the Kobo. On the other hand, the library on the Kobo is easier to navigate, and there's less chance of accidentally turning twenty or thirty pages because you stuck it in your pocket or set a bowl of peanuts down on the button. Overall, I kept the Kindle, though I do still miss the Kobo.

Now, the Revolution:

First thing I noticed was that my ereader was doing to my bookshelf what my iPod did for my CD rack. It only took a couple of days to go from the 'shock of the new' to regarding my books as heavy, clumsy, unwieldy antiques. Only the best-printed pages matched my ebook, and even then the font size simply refused to change. Mostly, my paperbacks and softcovers are brownish paper and grayish print, and even my new James Lee Burke featured paper so thin I could read the back of each page through the one I was looking at.

An ereader is also portable. Wildly, madly, beautifully portable. I can set it on the table or balance it on my knee while I eat, lay it on the counter while I cook, even set it on that shelf at the back of my shower so that I can read while I wash. (Yes, I'm an addict. And these gadgets are the Cadillac of crack-pipes!)

And when I read in bed, one arm out above the covers? Well, no more thumb-and-pinky page spreading, no more laying the book on my chest to turn the pages with my thumb. Just click. Click. Click. Page after page after delightful page...

That's the good. Now, the bad...

DRM: *Fuck* DRM. I want to be diplomatic, but this blog isn't titled 'Moderate Speeds and Caution'. Basically, the idea that I can't read a book and enjoy it enough to pass along to friend strikes me as bullshit.

Think about your favorite authors and how you found them. That second-hand bookstore or garage sale, that battered paperback left with the magazines in a coffee shop, that book a friend passed you after she finished it, telling you how great it was. Those 'pirate' (in the sense the publisher didn't get paid for my reading it) books led me to 'real' purchases. Often several times over, as I passed my favorites on and replaced them, passed them on and replaced them. None of that is possible with copy-protected ebooks, and if you ask me, it's a fine example of publishers stabbing themselves in the eye. An artist's greatest enemy isn't piracy, it's obscurity.

The corporations pushing for DRM say they're protecting the rights of artists, but the fact is they don't mind costing an author a sale as long as it keeps them from losing a dollar. And yeah, there's a very special mindset out there that thinks of second-hand sales as a form of theft. Public libraries must make these folks foam at the mouth.

Formats: As I mentioned earlier, finding .epubs wasn't always the easiest thing. And buying them online was often like pulling teeth. Amazon's got it all over their competition in that regard. Fortunately, there's a free program called Calibre that converts between formats with no trouble. Look into it.

Geography: Now, this is another rant at the asinine behavior of major publishers. (I can almost hear the print deals being taken off the table now) Why is it that I can buy a paperback by, say, Duane Swierczynski from Amazon and they'll mail it right out to my house, but if I try to download THE SAME BOOK they give me a song and dance about how it's only available in North America?

Is the publisher going to get paid? Yes. Will they get paid MORE for the ebook? Yes. Is there any compelling reason for me to wait for an Australasian version of the ebook to come out? No. So why the fuck are they dicking me around? I don't know.

Writers, let me ask you this: How many readers would you not have today if no one could ever lend your books out, or give them to friends when they were finished? And how many sales would have been lost if you had to wait for your publisher to sell foreign rights before an overseas customer could read your book?

There's a revolution underfoot, and the old tyrants are trying to use it as an opportunity to tighten the noose...