Amazon, Goodreads or Blog?

Question for publishers and publicists (and authors):

Are reviews at Goodreads and Amazon as valuable as blog posts?

Let’s say, hypothetically, someone didn’t want to write blog posts anymore. Would publishers send said person books if they posted reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and/or other assorted retail establishments or social media channels?

(if you don’t want to comment publicly you can use the Contact Form)

Thirst by Andrei Gelasimov

Thirst by Andrei Gelasimovme is part of the new imprint from Amazon, AmazonCrossing.  What is AmazonCrossing? Here is how Amazon describes it:

With translations of foreign language books from around the world, AmazonCrossing makes award-winning and bestselling books accessible to many readers for the first time.

Short book, interesting hook and a chance to read something different? Sure, I will give it a shot.  As you might have guessed, Thirst ties into alcohol:

Masterfully translated from the original Russian by award-winning translator Marian Schwartz, Thirst tells the story of 20-year-old Chechen War veteran Kostya. Maimed beyond recognition by a tank explosion, he spends weeks on end locked inside his apartment, his sole companions the vodka bottles spilling from the refrigerator. But soon Kostya’s comfortable if dysfunctional cocoon is torn open when he receives a visit from his army buddies who are mobilized to locate a missing comrade. Through this search for his missing friend, Kostya is able to find himself.

It is a spare and impressionistic story of a veteran trying to makes sense of his life after having his face and body disfigured in the war in Chechnya.   Hunkered down in his apartment with so much vodka it wont fit in his small refrigerator, Kostya occasional rehabs apartments for the Euro-rich – working alone of course. His interaction is limited to his neighbor calling on him to scare her son into going to bed.

When his buddies call on him to assist in their search for another fellow vet, he ends up meeting up with his estranged father and his young family. These interactions shake him out of his depression and allow him to see the wider world rather than just his internal struggles. Continue reading

Thirst by Andrei Gelasimov

Thirst by Andrei Gelasimovme is part of the new imprint from Amazon, AmazonCrossing.  What is AmazonCrossing? Here is how Amazon describes it:

With translations of foreign language books from around the world, AmazonCrossing makes award-winning and bestselling books accessible to many readers for the first time.

Short book, interesting hook and a chance to read something different? Sure, I will give it a shot.  As you might have guessed, Thirst ties into alcohol:

Masterfully translated from the original Russian by award-winning translator Marian Schwartz, Thirst tells the story of 20-year-old Chechen War veteran Kostya. Maimed beyond recognition by a tank explosion, he spends weeks on end locked inside his apartment, his sole companions the vodka bottles spilling from the refrigerator. But soon Kostya’s comfortable if dysfunctional cocoon is torn open when he receives a visit from his army buddies who are mobilized to locate a missing comrade. Through this search for his missing friend, Kostya is able to find himself.

It is a spare and impressionistic story of a veteran trying to makes sense of his life after having his face and body disfigured in the war in Chechnya.   Hunkered down in his apartment with so much vodka it wont fit in his small refrigerator, Kostya occasional rehabs apartments for the Euro-rich – working alone of course. His interaction is limited to his neighbor calling on him to scare her son into going to bed.

When his buddies call on him to assist in their search for another fellow vet, he ends up meeting up with his estranged father and his young family. These interactions shake him out of his depression and allow him to see the wider world rather than just his internal struggles. Continue reading

Barnes and Noble unclear on meaning of "In-Stock"

Wanting a hard copy of  Three And Out by Jason Bacon, I surfed over to BarnesAndNoble.com and saw that it was available at the Easton store. So off I went. When I arrived at the store I was informed that they had the book in-stock but all the copies were on hold. When I asked why the website would tell me copies were available when in fact they were not, I was met with blank stares.

I assume the book is not taken off the in-stock list until it is purchased. This is what the kids today call a “fail.” It leads to the false assumption that a copy is available when it is in fact not.

Guess I will just buy it at Amazon.

Barnes and Noble unclear on meaning of "In-Stock"

Wanting a hard copy of  Three And Out by Jason Bacon, I surfed over to BarnesAndNoble.com and saw that it was available at the Easton store. So off I went. When I arrived at the store I was informed that they had the book in-stock but all the copies were on hold. When I asked why the website would tell me copies were available when in fact they were not, I was met with blank stares.

I assume the book is not taken off the in-stock list until it is purchased. This is what the kids today call a “fail.” It leads to the false assumption that a copy is available when it is in fact not.

Guess I will just buy it at Amazon.

I get it, you hate Amazon & the Kindle. So what?

Let me state right up front that I am biased on this subject.  I own a Kindle (1) and enjoy it. But on the other hand I don’t think I am such a Kindle partisan that I can’t see reasonable criticisms or recognize hype.  There are plenty of both in discussions of the Kindle and ebooks in general.

But I found Nicholson Baker‘s New Yorker essay incredibly tiresome and rather disingenuous.  Baker spends 6,000 words saying what is rather obvious to anyone who has looked into the Kindle: if you read books for their typogrpahy, illustrations or other visual elements – books as physical objects with all that entails – then the Kindle (like most ebook readers) is not for you.  Oh, and lots of books are not available yet.

Clearly, for Baker reading is a very physical and visual activity.  He wants certain things from a book and the Kindle doesn’t give him what he wants.  Fair enough.  I still love a well designed book and certainly find Kindle’s handling of illustrations problematic.

But Baker completely ignores why the vast majority (at least I suspect) of Kindle owners enjoy using it.  Here are a couple of issue the Baker basically misses:

  1. A library on the go.  If you frequently travel and love to read Kindle is a lifesaver.  You can have a library of books while only carrying something the size of a trade paperback.  So many critics seem to miss this very basic point.  Can they not see how handy it is to have a huge selection of books plus magazines and newspapers at your fingertips without lugging them all around with you?  This is not a question of art but one of practicality.
  2. Instant gratification.  Baker mentions this in passing but doesn’t explore it.  It is incredibly convenient to decide you want to read a book and start doing so 60 seconds later.  Why is it so hard to see how awesome this is? Finish the first book in a series and want to start the next?  With Kindle you can do so without even getting up.  It was the Amazon store and the Whispernet that really gave the Kindle the buzz.  Again, not aesthetics but convenience.
  3. Sometimes it is about the words.  The fundamental problem Baker has with the Kindle is that books are clearly more than mere words to him.  He derisively describes Kindle books as “a grouping of words in front of your eyes for your private use with the aid of an electronic display device approved by Amazon.”  Sure, but sometimes that is all I need.  In fiction all I often need is the story.  The way the author creates a world out of words.  I don’t need illustrations or a book cover or a certain typography, font, type of paper, etc.  I just want to read the story.  The same is true of non-fiction.  I just want the information – the argument, or the history, or the descriptions. I have found reading the Kindle a great way to get what I want from certain books without the need for a physical copy to lug around or to take up more space in my house. It is really that simple.

It doesn’t bother me that Baker doesn’t like the Kindle.  And I think he makes a few valid points – even if they are hardly insightful or unique.  What I found rather silly is the verbose and snide way he goes about making these arguments.

Yes, we get it.  Some people hate Amazon.  Yes, the iPhone is superior to every other device. Yes, Kindle is propietary. Yes, the Kindle doesn’t handle graphics very well.  Yes, the Kindle isn’t a work of art.  Yes, yes, yes.  I get it.

My response? So what? That is not why I have one.  I fail to see why it was necessary to pen 6,000 words to rehash this rather tired cultural argument.

I don’t know if the Kindle will revolutionize books but I am happy just to take advantage of the convenience it provides.

Perhaps that is just too mundane for Baker but it works for me.

Amazon problems

UPDATE: seems to be working again.

Is anyone else having problems with Amazon.com today?  The site is very slow to load for me and doesn’t seem to be functioning correctly on searches and with images.