Monthly Archives: May 2014

Amazon is killing my sex life

31 May 2014

From Salon:

I sat across from him and listened. He was trim, tall, bearded (as they all seem to be), a recent transplant, having only lived in Seattle for a year or so and worked at a start-up, after burning out at Amazon (as they all seem to have). He rode his bike around town; he had good taste in food and wine; and he lived across the street from where we were meeting. He was a software engineer or did something in tech (as they all did). And he was utterly unmemorable.

I don’t think he asked me a single question about myself. Our date—if you call these impromptu Internet meetings, dates—lasted an hour. It felt more like a job interview, but not the way a date is supposed to be a job interview. There was no grilling about where you were from and what your family was like and what you were looking for.

No, I spent a half hour or more listening to him talk about his job. Since I am not in the tech industry, I don’t understand any of it.

. . . .

I hadn’t been out of the house all day, I work from home and I see no people except in a computer monitor, so human company, any kind really, was necessary. The restaurant was about to close and we had to go elsewhere or part ways. Even though I was bored, I wasn’t ready to go home, and I wanted to get a second drink. He offered wine back at his house and I said no. He was good-looking enough, but I wasn’t going to be able to get it up for a boring tech dude. And my city, Seattle, like San Francisco is lousy with them.

As technologist and writer, Jeff Reifman, pointed out in a post titled You’ve Got Male: Amazon’s Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene, Amazon, which is located less than a mile from my house, has had a huge, awful impact on Seattle’s dating scene. He estimated that in the 25–44 age group, Seattle “has 119 single men for every 100 single women, slightly better than San Francisco at 121—but equal if you add in the impact from nearby Bellevue, which is an awful 144.”

. . . .

But Reifman’s post confirmed that as Amazon grows, the number of (boring) men grows too. The gender disparity is bad enough in San Francisco that one company, The Dating Ring, has resorted to flying women into San Fran from other cities.

Hold the Champagne, girls.

You might think an abundance of men is a great thing, but as a wise woman once said, “The odds may be good, but the goods are odd.”

“I’ve lived in Seattle for seven years, single most of them,” Annie Pardo, a 31-year-old freelance event and communications consultant in Seattle, wrote in an email. “The only thing that has changed is the increase in men I’d never want to go out on a date with.”

. . . .

The exact same scenario has been playing out in San Francisco for the last few years. One woman, Violet, a 33-year-old who has lived in the Bay Area for eight years, with one of those in the “belly of the beast,” Palo Alto, experienced many of the same things I and other women did. They had money, but they were boring. They had a lot to say about their job, but their development as a complete human being seemed to be stunted. And they exhibited little to no interest in the other person at the table.

“There were a lot of tech men. I could talk a blue streak about them. I don’t have much positive to say. The biggest thing, the thing that bothered me the most is I felt like my intelligence was greatly devalued,” she wrote. ”I am a smart woman. I have a master’s from Berkeley in philosophy. My brain is very abstract, though, the exact opposite of so many men in tech who have very concrete/literal brains. They interpreted information as intelligence. I constantly felt like I wasn’t seen or valued by them, even though I experienced a lot of them as having a very limited view of the world.”

Link to the rest at Salon and thanks to Chris for the tip.

Biting the Hand

31 May 2014

From the comments regarding Big Publishing:

It doesn’t make sense to me. What will it take before those authors start biting the hand that’s picking their pocket?

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance

30 May 2014

PG often says the best part of The Passive Voice is the comments. Here’s another example from Mia:

Sadly, this little drama is nowhere near complete. On the Kubler-Ross model the traditional publishing industry is just now deeply entrenched in the anger stage (hence all the steaming piles of vitriol being spewed via every single media channel they can force or coerce to do their dirty work, along with an able anger assist by wannabe-famous-author-journalists who think they’re going to hit the publishing jackpot someday and WHY ARE YOU STUPID SELF PUBLISHERS JACKING WITH THE SYSTEM HOW DARE YOU).

Next comes bargaining for survival, which we have only seen the beginning of. Within the confines of this industry, I expect that stage to include some being bought out by corporate sharks and bled dry (already underway in the form of republishing backlists in ebook form and trying to force those very old contract terms to apply to ebook royalties, for example) some large trad pubs going under, some additional merging of companies, etc. How long this stage takes depends on some things that are really out of everyone’s direct control: How fast electronic devices continue to proliferate, how fast those device owners make the full transition to electronic books (hence paper book sales shrinking), and how often these publishers attempt to skirt the law (a la Apple) and land in hot water with the Justice Department and others. More of that will happen before it’s over, I feel sure, particularly because so many in the trad publishing industry are still so damn ANGRY about change that they’re more than willing to break the law to keep their “way of life” going. I feel like giving them all a hug and a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese”. Except I don’t want to hug them, ew gross.

Depression and acceptance will come for the individuals within the trad pub industry when all is over for these companies (in their current incarnations) but the crying.

It remains to be seen whether any of these companies will successfully transform themselves into lean, service oriented businesses providing services (covers, editing, marketing, etc.) for a fee instead of trying to take the bulk of the profit. I doubt it just because I think they’ll ride their current business model into the dust, and new companies will continue to form to provide author services under the new publishing model. (Any number of publishing employees may successfully make the transition though – if you’re a cover or layout artist, you don’t care what publishing or author services model your company’s business uses as long as your check is deposited every other Friday.)

Why do writers write?

30 May 2014

Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.

Thomas Berger

Publishers have ‘ceded power’

30 May 2014

From The Bookseller:

Publishers have made a grave mistake in “ceding power” to internet giants and they must provide technology and content in equal measures to survive in the future.

. . . .

The opening keynote was delivered by technology and culture author Nicholas Carr who said that advent of the e-book thus far was “not a revolution; the business has not been transformed as dramatically as the shift to digital has changed music”. He argued that given there is no generational change in readers, with the average age of an e-book buyer (42) almost equal to that of those who preferred print (41), that e-books simply mark “a shift in [platform] preferences and market segments”.

Yet Carr said the danger was that there was a “fundamental and destructive difference between the culture of the book” and how we process and use content on the computer. He added the mistake of the trade was expediently “ceding power to digital and internet companies whose main interest is to perpetuate the culture of the computer.”

Carr urged publishers to fight the hegemony of the internet giants whose true financial interests are at odds with the book trade. “The dreams for the future of the book of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Larry Page are not dreams of the readers,” he added.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Spurning Suitors, ‘This American Life’ Opts for Self-Distribution

30 May 2014

From The New York Times:

Five suitors came calling, including satellite radio company SiriusXM, but in the end public radio’s “This American Life” decided to go it alone. The popular weekly program is notifying stations on Wednesday that it will distribute the show itself beginning in July when its distribution contract with Public Radio International ends.

. . . .

In a letter sent to stations Wednesday, Ira Glass, the host and executive producer, disclosed that SiriusXM “asked how much money it would take to get us to quit public radio completely, to abandon terrestrial radio the way Howard Stern did, and play exclusively on Sirius-XM. So flattering! But of course, no chance of that happening.”

. . . .

Suitors, he said, also felt the show was undercharging the more than 580 stations that carry it, but Mr. Glass said the price would not change.

After weighing the options, Mr. Glass said, “It seemed like at this point in our show’s development there was nothing a distributor could do for us that we couldn’t do for ourselves.” Self-distribution, he added, will give the show more control over its arrangements and possibly allow it to raise and keep more money from sponsors.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Erik for the tip.

TPV – The Mobile Version

30 May 2014

For those accessing TPV on mobile devices, the plugin that provided a mobile-friendly layout without any problem reports for several months has gone through two recent updates.

It works fine for PG now.

He’s received problem reports for each of the alternate mobile solutions he’s tried over the past few days, so he’s going back to the original – WPtouch Mobile Plugin.

Drop a comment or send an email through the Contact page if you’re experiencing difficulties.

For those who haven’t the slightest idea what PG is talking about, most blog layouts are designed to be viewed on a screen much larger than a smartphone. These large-screen layouts typically show up in tiny type that is very difficult to read on a mobile device.

Mobile plugins are supposed to detect when someone is accessing a blog from a smartphone browser and automatically present the blog content in a layout that is much easier to read on the phone.

Whither the Kindle Killer?

30 May 2014

From Chris Meadows at TeleRead:

Larry Press plaintively wonders why nobody’s come up with a “Kindle Killer” yet. He notes a whole host of ways the Kindle falls short of perfection—lack of voice recognition or full interface capability with a computer, for example—and thinks such a device really should be a “low-hanging fruit” for one of the big device makers.

I’ll tell you why, Larry. The demand isn’t there. Maybe folks like you who like to get the most out of their devices would want such a thing, but the vast majority of the lowest-common-denominator general public—the ones who actually buy the devices in bulk—are happy as hogs in a trough with their Kindles the way they are, or else they wouldn’t be as popular as they are.

I don’t think Amazon gets nearly enough credit for the amazing thing it did with the Kindle. It’s one of those things that looks easy, because it made e-reading easy. But how many of you remember what e-reading used to be like before Amazon came along? You had to piddle around with side-loading stuff onto PDAs or e-ink readers, hooking them up to the computer, using conduit software to pipe the stuff on, and so on and so forth.

. . . .

Amazon came along, built cellular connectivity into its Kindles so you didn’t even have to figure out how to connect them to wi-fi, and made it so you click a button, you get a book. Boom. Dead simple. Anyone can do it. And Amazon was the first to make that possible. Anybody elsecould have done it, if they’d thought of it, but they didn’t think of it. Jeff Bezos did, and the first-mover advantage was enormous.

. . . .

So, no, it’s not DRM that keeps users locked into the Kindle store. It’s a contributing factor, but it’s not the only factor. If all the publishers stopped using DRM tomorrow and set up stores of their own to bypass Amazon, I’ll bet the vast majority of Kindle-owning customers would still buy from Amazon anyway. And if a given publisher dropped Amazon in favor of its own DRM-free store (or for that matter Amazon dropped them), they would complain to the publisher that they’re “not on Kindle” and just wouldn’t buy those e-books.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

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