Amazon Mystery: Pricing of Books

From The Los Angeles Times article Amazon Mystery: Pricing of Books, Amazon appears to be experimenting with dynamic pricing:

Imagine this: You go to a bookstore, browse, choose a couple of volumes. But you don’t want to carry the books around. So you ask the clerk to hold the tomes until Saturday, when you’ll come back to buy them.

When you return, the bookseller hands you the items but advises you that he’s raised the prices. “I knew you were hot to buy them,” the clerk says, “so I figured I could make a few extra bucks.”

That’s what it feels like online bookseller Inc. has been doing to me.

Filed under: Books

Top 10 SF Signal Posts for December 2006

Go, go Google Analytics!

Here are The Top 10 SF Signal Posts for December 2006:

  1. REVIEW: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips
  2. How do bookstores survive?
  3. REVIEW: Blindsight by Peter Watts
  4. When Authors Don’t Attack
  5. Who Killed Science Fiction?
  6. Is a Star Trek “Re-Imagining” Overdue?
  7. Alastair Reynolds and Future History
  8. When Authors Attack II
  9. See Battlestar Galactica on the Big Screen…For Free!
  10. Quick Thoughts on Doctor Who, Season 2 Finale

Looking at the top overall hits in December, which includes posts published earlier, we get these stats:

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SF Tidbits for 1/2/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: The Sky People by S.M. Stirling

REVIEW SUMMARY:Well-written alternative history novel with a story that comes up a bit short.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The worlds of Mars and Venus turn out to be exactly as the classic sci-fi writers of the 50′s thought they would be – populated with sentient life. After establishing a base on Venus, American colonist Marc Vitrac goes on a rescue mission for a downed SovietBloc space ship only to be caught up in a squabble with the natives for the very reason for Venus’ existence.


PROS: Solid prose, well-done military / action sequences

CONS: Characters are largely one-dimensional, story isn’t very compelling

BOTTOM LINE: If you love Stirling you’ll probably like this one – otherwise, I’d give it a pass and read one of his better works such as Islands in the Sea of Time.

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SF Tidbits for 1/1/07

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2006: A Year in Review

Continuing my annual tradition, this is a year-end wrap-up for my personal sf/fantasy/horror experiences for 2006. These are not necessarily things that first appeared this year – some of the books I read are reprints or older copies – they are just the things that I read (or watched) this year.


To sum up, the Best of 2006 (works that received at least a 4.5 out of 5 rating) are:

Maybe worth noting: only 3 of these titles first appeared in 2006 and only two of those are fiction. (River of Gods was released in the U.K. in 2004 before it was released in the U.S. in 2006.) Also, Scalzi and Effinger were on last year’s list for the corresponding prequels.


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Filed under: BooksMoviesTV

[Note: I am shamelessly stealing from my 2004 Short-Story-A-Day Reading Project summary for the format of this post. So there.]

For those who haven’t been beaten over the head with it, last year I resolved to repeat my 2004 resolution and read a short story each day of 2006. Then I proceeded to use the same, convoluted method for assigning weights to stories of different lengths (short story vs. a longer novelette vs. a still-longer novella). This allowed me to take a breather and fit in some novels. The goal, then, was to amass 365 reading points in 2006.

Before I anal-retentively list the short story stats, I though I would comment on my experiences with this experiment this year. With stats.

Comparing the number of books read this year and in previous years:

  • 2006: 48 books read (15 anthologies/collections read; included Short-Story-A-Day Reading Project and 229 stories)
  • 2005: 54 books read (9 anthologies/collections read)
  • 2004: 48 books read (15 anthologies/collections read; included Short-Story-A-Day Reading Project and 221 stories)

I know a measly three data points is not statistically accurate, but I cannot help but notice (while completely ignoring different book lengths, etc.) that when I included a Short-Story-A-Day Reading Project, the total number of books I read was less but the number of anthologies and collections I read increased. Why does reading anthologies mean less books read overall? I think it’s because I tend to stop reading for the night between stories. In the case of novels, stopping points are more granular so I can push forward more if I’m in the mood. Logic dictates that if I want to read more books – and I think I do…not really sure why – then I should drop this reading project. Food for thought, I suppose.

I’ll still be reading anthologies, of course. I just won’t be tracking it like I do for the project. Why? Because despite the lower number of books, I still found lots to like about this reading project. I was once again exposed to many authors whose work I never read. While that does not in any way help my book buying obsession (“Oh, look! I’ve heard of them!” Cha-ching!), it has broadened my literary horizons. I can’t say that my tastes have changed but I can say that I’ve enjoyed many different writing styles.

Overall, it was just plain fun!

And now on with the stats…

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Filed under: Books

FINAL UPDATE: My 2006 New Year’s Resolution

This is the December 2006 update of my New Year’s Resolution to (almost) read a short story a day.


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Filed under: Books

Tube Bits For 08/01/2007

  • Comic-Con 2007 sure has a lot of TV news for being a Comic convention. Case in point: The first new Futurama DVD will be released on November 27th. Three more films to follow, and after that Comedy Central will begin airing episodes chopped from the films. Let’s hope they still have ‘it’.
  • BuzzSugar has even more hints about the upcoming season of Heroes. Some we’ve seen before, some not. Mild spoilage possible.
  • Blog Critics has a review of the new Babylon 5: The Lost Tales DVD. As future releases will depend on how well this one sells, you know what to do!
  • And finally, Forever Geek discusses the Top 10 Worst Sci Fi TV Shows, ever, with bonus videos. I have to say, those are some really bad shows. Luckily, I never watched most of them.

Filed under: Tube BitsTV

POLL RESULTS: Buying a Book From a Vending Machine

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Would you buy a book fom a vending machine?


(74 total votes)

A few comments this week:

“What!? Half the fun is holding the book and reading the cover. Even smelling the pages. Sure, you can’t do this online, either. However, at least you can get a feel for the book through reviews and chapter reads.” – Richard Novak

“I am a book collector. I’s have to be sure the books were of good quality that would not fall apart before I’d make the purchase.” – Kristen

“I am a book freak so when I buy a book I want no creases, or bent covers. I can read a book 10 times and not break the binding!!! So I must carefully inspect the books I buy…” – Bryan

“So far 16 people have said no. I’m afraid I don’t appreciate their position. I’d assume that the vending machine itself is the only variable: that there’s a book inside that I want to read, and that the price is one I’d pay. So… why would I say no?” – Mervius

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on the Best movie of 2006!

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SF Tidbits for 12/31/06

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW SUMMARY: A must-read for anyone who is a fan of “A Boy and His Dog” and a should-read for anyone else.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Graphic novel of three Ellison adaptations (plus Ellison’s original short stories) in which Vic and his telepathic dog named Blood travel a post-apocalyptic landscape in search of food and sex.


PROS: Excellent stories; graphic adaptations faithful to original material; high production value.

CONS: Visual adaptations appear before the source material.

BOTTOM LINE: A fine addition to the library of any sf fan.

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Author Paul Levinson is asking for your picks to the best recent “first” science fiction novels – authors’ first written novels, that is. Click over to his Squidoo Lens to participate.

In the meantime, here are Levinson’s picks (ported from his Amazon List):

  1. Dusk Before the Dawn by Larry Ketchersid
  2. The Silk Code (Phil D’Amato series) by Paul Levinson [A suspicious inclusion, eh? :)]
  3. Red Moon by David S. Michaels
  4. Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future by Robert I. Katz
  5. Counting Heads by David Marusek
  6. Dykstra’s War by Jeffery D. Kooistra
  7. Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon series) by Wen Spencer

Filed under: Books

REVIEW: Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker

REVIEW SUMMARY: The cover blurb caused me to expect something more.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Two mathematicians devise a way to predict the future and hop to parallel worlds in hopes of wooing the same girl and depose a tyrannical president.


PROS: Cool premise; clear language allows Inner Geek to enjoy advanced math concepts.

CONS: The promise of alternate-realities doesn’t come to fruition until the second half of the book and even then it’s downplayed in favor of political satire; Surfer-Dude dialogue can become annoying.

BOTTOM LINE: A mediocre reading experience.

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Gallery of 2006 Book Covers

I still love science fiction/fantasy/horror artwork. Mark Kelly at Locus Online has put together this year’s gallery of genre book and magazine covers that made their first appearance in 2006. The 2006 Cover Art Gallery currently shows 493 book and magazine covers sorted by the artist’s last name. Similar galleries exist for 2005 and 2004.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 12/30/06

Filed under: Tidbits

Catch Up On Heroes

Have you heard the hype but haven’t been able to check Heroes out yet? Perhaps you want to, but you can’t because they are on mid-season break and you hate the thought of braving the torrent networks. Well, you are in luck! NBC has made all 11 episodes online for free! Normally NBC posts one episode at a time, but for right now, you can catch up on all the episodes, in one convenient place, and with no waiting. Major props to NBC for doing this (here’s to hoping that ABC will do this for the un-aired episodes of Daybreak (they killed Taye, you bastards!)).

In another interesting move, NBC has teamed up with Netflix to release a ‘Season To Date’ DVD, available to rent on January 9th. This is interesting, but if you can watch all the episodes online, what’s the point?

Hat tip to Hacking Netflix for the link.

Filed under: Heroes

It’s hard to find a reliable Time Lord these days…

The Sun is reporting that the second actor to play Doctor Who in the new series, David Tennant, will be following in the footsteps of the former Doctor and will be leaving the show. Apparently Tennant has been bombarded with film offers after appearing in the last Harry Potter movie and will be leaving Doctor Who in the middle of season 3 of the new series.

[via Geek Monthly]

UPDATE: As mentioned by commenters, the BBC is denying this.

Filed under: Doctor Who

James Patrick Kelly has been converting his past Asimov’s Science Fiction “On the Net” columns to podcasts. He has recently posted an audio version of his Bring On The Digital Hugos! column from March 2005.

Why is this so special? Thanks for asking! This is the column in which SF Signal (the blog recommended by 4 out of 5 undead, time-traveling Nazi zombies) was nominated for a proposed digital Hugo award. This was hot on the heels of Kelly’s inclusion of SF Signal in the list of top 40 blogs. Not that we like to toot our own horn or anything. (Toot-toot!)

Bonus! The podcast version of Bring On The Digital Hugos! is dedicated to SF Signal. A special shout-out goes to yours truly in particular for Janes Patrik Kellee’s past misspelling of my name. Jim, to make it easy for the “entire Free Reads research staff”, the correct spelling of my name can be found on our About Us page. :)

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SF Tidbits for 12/28/06

Filed under: Tidbits

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