Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Life's tough for bookstores

The New York Times has a fascinating article by David Streitfeld about how the Internet is killing off traditional bookstores and hurting book publishers. It's not so much sales of new books by Amazon that's hurting so much as the ability of readers to buy used books very cheaply. There's little incentive to buy a book new unless you're an "early adopter" who has to have it right away when it's published.

Streitfeld emphasizes the sale of used books on the Internet, but my wife and I most often obtain our used books from trading sites such as PaperbackSwap.com and BookMooch. I still have to buy books when I want something that's brand new, such as the expensive new Dilbert hardcover I got for Christmas, or something from a hard-to-find cult author such as Robert Anton Wilson, but for most books the book-swapping sites work just fine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Listening on the cheap

I seem to have acquired a new hobby -- buying very cheap MP3 players.

A couple of months ago, my current favorite electronics outlet, Ollie's Bargain Outlet, had a sale on remaindered MP3 players and I picked up a half-gig Coby MP3 player for $10. It also has an FM tuner, it has a screen giving information on the track, it can record....it has everything you need.

Evidently I 0verpaid, though, because some weeks later I noticed that Ollie's was selling MP3 players for $5. The package included cord allowing the user to connect it to a radio or stereo. One bummer: Only 256 MB of space, although if you can find one, you can add half-gig SD card. In any event, if you get tired of the 3 albums it can hold, you can change it out quickly -- like all of the other cheapo players these days, you plug it into your computer and it's recognized as another drive.

My wife's nephew left his iPod on a bus a few weeks ago and it was stolen. My $1o player works fine, and if it's stolen, well, it's not the end of the world. The important this is the music. The bulk of my MP3 collection is backed up, online at ADrive and on backup CDs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

For the Jane Austen fan, i.e. any literate reader

"Pride and Prejudice" is one of my favorite novels. You've read the book, you've seen the movies, what's left? Why, the Facebook edition. (Via Supergee and Jo Walton's blog.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Paul isn't dead, man

Over at my newspaper blog, I bring up some surprising news: 66-year-old Paul McCartney has released a good album.
Two bloggers for the price of one!

Favorite blog post in the last couple of days: Duke prof Michael Munger explains what's wrong with bailing out bad home mortgages. Second favorite: the other blogger at Kids Prefer Cheese, University of Oklahoma Prof Kevin Blaine Greer, asks, "They can't really want Al Franken in the Senate can they? Isn't that eerily close to Caligula making his horse a Senator?" Don't forget to read the comments about the post.

Nice to see a good blog from someone at my alma mater.