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Clash Over Copyrights June 14, 2010

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This article in USA Today: (Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane clash over copyrights – USATODAY.com.) covers a copyright dispute between comic book artists who may or may not have “co-created” characters that one of the artists has continued to use.

Copyrights are a tough area of the law, even when situations seem pretty clear, but in comics cases – things are always murky. Interesting piece, and interesting topic.

By the way, I finished Gaiman’s American Gods this weekend, so look for a review later today!  We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, but we’re coming back, and look for guest posts!  If you’re interested in writing something, or have a topic you’d like to see us share, let us know!

First Annual Moby Awards for Book Trailers May 25, 2010

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Last year, we started noticing trailers for new books. Well, as with all media creations (books, movies, even commercials), the book trailer industry now has its own Award!

This year marked the First Annual Moby Awards for Book Trailers. The nominees are listed here, and the winners are here.

Awards were given in separate categories for Big Budget and Low Budget Trailers, and even a category for Trailer Least Likely to Sell a Book! The award, named for the iconic white whale was created by the publisher Melville House in New York, and will consist of a trophy and bragging rights.

Here’s one I liked (not a winner though):

(via NYTimes Book Blog, Papercuts)

Jump or Go Down with the Ship? Abandoning Books is Not for Me May 6, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in reading, Uncategorized.
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I’d like to state that I always finish books I start, even the bad ones- but with 1 observation, 1 exception and 1 caveat to the rule. First, the observation, and this is merely a personal fact about myself: I read slowly. I read lots, I enjoy reading and will read just about anything – I’m just not fast about it.

Borrowed under Creative Commons from kwerfeldein's flickr stream

The reason I point out this observation about myself is to explain the exception to my above-stated rule of always finishing books, which is I rarely finished the books assigned in high school. Part of me wishes I could claim, I was a rebel and no one was going to tell me what to read (a statement I have in fact made) but the truth is I often liked the assigned books; I just didn’t read fast enough to finish the assigned chapters every night. Soon I was giving up on that book and starting the next assigned novel, and just never looked back. Some of them I plan to pick up again someday though.

Which brings me to the caveat: sometimes it takes a really long time for me to finish a book, and I might read another 1, 2, or 12 books in between. Remember my review of Crossworld? It took me something like 5 years to get through that book! There are several books I have started, and will ultimately finish, but for some reason or another they’ve been put on hiatus. One is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A lovely book with such real passion, but I just can’t read more than a few pages at a time. I don’t even know what it is about it that makes me have to put it down, but I just can’t bring myself to get to the end. I wonder if subconsciously I don’t want to know how it ends… (don’t tell me!)

Aside from high school and the books on hiatus, for some reason I am compelled to finish books. Generally, there are very few books I dislike enough to abandon completely, but it does happen once in awhile that a book just doesn’t hook me. But even those I usually try to get through. I just need to know how they end. For what its worth, I’m not suggesting this is a good quality about me – it’s just the way I am.

What about you, readers? How much time do you invest in a book you aren’t enjoying before you give it up? Do you have a set number of pages you always read before deciding to continue? Do you finish every book you start, no matter how terrible?

For more opinions check out this recent bit from NPR or this bit from a Contemporary Literature Blog.

Monday Book Review: Storm Front May 3, 2010

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We haven’t been blogging much lately, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been reading! As of yesterday I was in the middle of 4 different books! I finished one though so I’m down to 3, and have one to review for you today: Storm Front by Jim Butcher.

Storm Front is Book One in The Dresden Files, a series of books about Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, a modern-day wizard. It’s hard to describe what this book is about without making it sound really cheesy… and yet there is nothing cheesy about it. While the main character, Dresden, is indeed a staff-carrying, robe-wearing wizard in contemporary Chicago, he is also a Private Detective and consultant for the local Police Department, called in when crimes occur that are unexplainable by any known laws of nature. The two aspects of this character are so completely intertwined that the novel reads like a hard-boiled detective noir, all the way down to the mysterious dame who comes with her yellow dress and breathy voice, looking for his aid – because only he can help. Then come the fantasy aspects of the story – the toad-like demons spewing acid and melting holes into furniture, love potions, talking skulls (actually this was entertaining, the wizard stores all his data in a spirit that inhabits a skull, like a little google bot you can converse with and ask questions), rapidly-growing poisonous scorpions, all mixed with the typical noir characters: close-mouthed barkeeps, tough nosed mobsters protecting their turf with block-headed thugs, and the just-can’t-shake-her tabloid journalist who will do anything for an outrageous scoop about a wizard.

Overall, not badly written, pretty entertaining even if predictable, and a great mash-up of genres. I wouldn’t recommend the story to anyone who doesn’t appreciate a good supernatural yarn, since there is nothing realistic about these. However, despite the other-worldly setting and circumstances, the formula boils down to a tightly-knit private detective story that has you wondering if the wizard can figure out the puzzle before he’s condemned for the crimes.

P.S. The series has also been serialized in graphic novels, and on television as a series for SyFy (Season One available now on hulu).

Burritos for Posterity April 15, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in InformationIssues, Uncategorized.
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That headline would make a good band name or maybe a charitable organization. It’s only tangentially related to this post, but too fun to change. Onward.

Here’s some scary news: The Library of Congress is archiving ALL public Tweets. Yikes!

I’d advise Tweeters to heed the warning of the article linked above:

So if you don’t want history to remember that burrito you had for dinner last night (and its aftermath), tweet carefully—now it’s for posterity.

UPDATE: Here is the Twitter Blog post about the LOC archiving project. Not too much more detail (nor answers to any of the questions in the comments) but there is an additional announcement of another new Twitter feature. “Google Replay” will allow users to search for old tweets on topics from the past and view them as if being tweeted in real time. They include charts showing the volume of tweets on a topic at any time… reminiscent of a conversation we have had in the past about viewing peaks in internet searches or newspaper website visits in the aftermath of major events.

The Music Industry and Online Piracy: Infographic April 15, 2010

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Oddee.com, one of my favorite list-loving sites (but rarely safe for work), has produced this interesting and well-organized infographic on the changing state of music and how it has affected the music industry. This graphic is definitely worth mulling over. Click on the picture for a large (and complete) view of the infographic.

From Oddee.com

Libraries are Survivors April 12, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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There’s a great article up over on the History Magazine website about the history of Libraries. The headline is Survivor: The History of the Library, and for good reason as ancient libraries and the knowledge they contain were frequently the targets of ancient narrow-minded tyrants:

Whether private or public, the library has been founded, built, destroyed and rebuilt. The library, often championed, has been a survivor throughout its long history and serves as a testament to the thirst for knowledge.

Ephesus, Library of Celcius in Turkey (courtesy of David Spender's Flickr stream)

Now, on the cusp of so many budgetary cutbacks, I have to wonder if we are on the verge of once again destroying our libraries? At least this article provides some hope that despite the current state of affairs, libraries will rise again. Thoughts?

Work Distraction Alert: McSweeney’s Lists April 8, 2010

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If you haven’t run into McSweeney’s Internet Tendency or are unaware of the print journal McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (the offshoots of McSweeney’s Publishing House started by author and all-around awesome guy David Eggers), then you are missing out on an important development in the literary world. But that is neither here nor there. What I am here to post about is an awesome time-waster presented courtesy of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency – Lists! Some are good, some are not so good…so I have weeded out a number of my favorites that you might want to check out:

1. STD Medication or Character from The Neverending Story?

2. My Personal Netflix Recommendation Categories

3. Reasons You Might Die of Consumption in a 19th-Century Novel, in Order From Least Likely to Most Likely

4. Roman Bumper Stickers

5. Thoughts I’ve Had While Watching Intervention That Could Possibly be Red Flags

6. All I Really Need to Know I Learned From My Spam Box

7. Phrases I’d Rather Not Be Used at My Funeral

8. Titles of Songs I Could Credibly Write If I Became a Rap Star

9. Less-Threatening Islamist Groups

10. Things That Are Just Barely Thicker Than Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows

And many many many many more!

Attn NYers: Empire State Book Festival This Weekend April 8, 2010

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This weekend the New York Library Association is holding the first ever Empire State Book Festival at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York. The event is free and will host nearly a hundred writers, dozens of workshops, and opportunities to meet authors and have books autographed. The weather is supposed to be great and I hope this will be made an annual event. If you haven’t been to the beautiful Empire State Plaza this is a great opportunity to make the trip. It is certainly going to be well worth it. For the full listing of events as well as a list of the attending authors, click here.

That's the State Library where we used to work!

In Other iPad News (briefly): Get Thee to a Library! April 7, 2010

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Just stumbled across this New York Times “Op-Chart” entitled, “How Green is My iPad?,” comparing the environmental impact of e-readers with actual books. It’s interesting enough to browse but what I really wanted to post was the article’s pithy last line which states, “All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.”

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