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    In Other Spaces and Places

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    2011 Reading Challenge

    Fiendishly Bookish has read 3 books toward her goal of 250 books.
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    Sunday
    Nov202011

    The Wild, Wild, West of e-Book Lending is More Akin to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard…

    There’s an old retail term that we used to use when stocking the floor: padding.

    Shipments would roll on in, we’d unpack, hanger, steam, coordinate the outfits, color-block, and pop that handy Sensormatic tag on the apparel. Naturally, the best items (obviously the priciest) would be placed at the front of the store where customers would see them first.

    All the in-between spaces would be filled with “padding” i.e. staple items purchased on the cheap from lower-end labels, mainly solids…no prints, cheap inexpensive fabrics with little or no detailing...this kept the selling floor fat and full while showcasing the best of buyers’ acquisitions to the customer. Was the customer fooled? Sometimes.

    The same could be said about the frontier of e-book lending where variety and new releases are in short supply. Think you’re going to get that New York Times best seller in e-book format on loan at the library, eBook Fling, BookLending.com, or on Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library? Think again.

    At the library, it’s more than likely you’ll be wait-listed behind others who are clamoring for the same book. And that’s only if the book has even been made available for lending by the publisher and author. Popular genres like science-fiction, urban fantasy, and romance to date are poorly represented in e-book lending libraries.

    Choices are either thin or non-existent. Think bargain basement bin or Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Now, that is not to say that there aren’t some choice reads to be found, but you have to dig for them and you might have to get out of your genre zone. A few generous publishers have made their releases readily available to all-but unless you like a lot of erotica, Amish romance, or self-help books, then you might find your selections limited.

    My initial experience with BookLending and eBook Fling was surprising. Both outlets have quite a few authors I recognized. In fact a majority of the books on their sites I actually already own because they were affordably listed on Amazon and I snapped them up right away. But to the newbie cruising for the next Nora Roberts or Clive Cussler, it’s most likely they’ll be disappointed.  Instead, they might find listing after listing of shifter romance and various other erotic thrillers.

    What I hadn’t realized at the time was that the selections being offered at BookLending and E Book Fling were not actually a true representation of reader’s libraries, but a saturation of titles that could only be offered as lendable. And in this case, a few key publishers had allowed their books to be lendable….dictating the trend-which means if you like saucy Samhain romance (like I do), or Loose ID, then you’re going to find a lot of those titles on these sites. I'm sure it works well for Samhain because it provides exposure to their authors, as well as ensuring future readers are hooked.

    It’s just a tad different for Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library.  The big e-tailer has opted to offer up some meaty reads sprinkled sporadically amongst some mediocre offerings and as I understand it…they are paying more to list certain titles to make them available to readers. Their overall library is a bit thin with 5,257 lendable titles*. Even my favorite genres are poorly represented with only 336 Romance titles*, 31 Fantasy titles*, 72 Science-Fiction*, 214 Mystery and Thriller titles*. And this is from the largest online bookstore in the world…which means you might have to dig for a good release and savor it (Amazon will let you only borrow once a month).

    Strangely enough, when I cruised the Romance section for a read, I noticed a large portion of Amazon’s lendable romance section was Amish romance. Did I miss something here? Who is Amazon’s romance audience? It’s certainly not me.

    So what does the lending conundrum all boil down to?

    It means that e-Book lending is generally in its infancy with little selection (unless you are lucky to favor a genre that has been made loanable en masse) and with the rest of the offerings acting as padding (such as a plethora of public domain reads). (I guess I don’t need to mention who holds the keys to the kingdom regarding selection, do I?)

    As a side note, of the 792 books that I owned on my Kindle at the time, I was only able to list about 60 of them on eBook Fling and BookLending. Another 30 or so titles that I own were "lendable" but not listable on either eBook Fling or Booklending due to the fact that that when I purchased the books, the lending rights were intact, but had since been revoked publicly. Strangely enough I can still loan these titles out, but Amazon's products page shows them as not lendable. And because eBook Fling and Booklending depends on the code from Amazon, they are unable to list them. This interesting snafu was uncovered over several emails between Amazon, eBook Fling and I. 

    The rest of my Kindle titles were unable to be lent due to publisher/author permissions. 

    So in essence, variety will not end up changing until publishers work a deal that favors their bottom line, and protects the value of an author’s intellectual property (loaning what can be sold is not in the best interests of the author or publisher). Until then, that new release you want will inevitably have to be bought or be wait-listed at the library. Amazon looks like it’s trying to balance out its offering for loans which is a good start. But at one loan a month? That’s certainly not in the interests of the reader who reads 3-4 novels a week.

    With regard to Amazon, I’ve only borrowed one book so far from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, and it was a stinker. Looks like I’ll have to choose better next month…or wait until the selection gets better. As a consumer, I was not “fooled” by any means. With regard to Booklending and eBookFling, I have not borrowed from either, only lent. The main reason is that my own Kindle selection surpasses what they are offering for loan.

    In these lean times, readers are looking for a deal…looking for a good read to devour in the next few hours…or days. Their time and selections are important. People want value for their money, and if the book is free, they want value for their time.

    Going forward and seeing what ebook lending sites offer, I’m going to take a pass for now, and will continue to dictate my own choices…with my wallet.

    ~Miz Fiendishly
    *as of 11/20/11

    Sunday
    Mar272011

    Taking a Breather from the Hamster-Wheel-of-Doom!

     

    Phew! Wait a moment while I step off the hamster-wheel-of-doom in my black patent stilettos (arms cartwheeling, spindly heels teetering). I have news on the home front, happy news. Scary Disney-like variety news…

    I waited until posting it because well…it has finally sunk in and I was waiting (procrastinating is more like it) until additional tasty bites of my life could be snacked upon.

    In February, BFF got the fantastic news that she was officially in remission (thank you Dr. Lentz…yes…you are a ROCKSTAR!)

    Six months of crappy chemo, the scary BIG nausea pill she had to take, our hearts clenching at every set-back, and whammo, it’s been zapped like Raid on a cockroach. 

    I am expelling a deep breath.

    But I can’t help but feel like a deflated balloon all in the same instance. A melting relief and a tidal wave of feelings escaping me. BFF is feeling it as well. 

    This past weekend, we were like well…what’s next? When is it going to end? Has it ended?

    And it got to me to thinking…what was of the utmost priority for Miss Shorn Head

    Hair care and lots of it.

    As soon as BFF was all in the clear, her focus was fixed on one of two long-term goals: growing back her lovely locks. Secondly, losing all the flub she gained from the “eat-all-you-want-while-you-are-on-chemo-diet.”

    Then she started with the texting.  First I started getting “My hair is growing in blond. See the fuzz?”

    And this would be accompanied by a picture where she was pointing out a few strands, and I had to squint to see the fuzz. (squinting) Then more mobile pictures started to come in…every other day…because every millimetre of fuzz had to be documented.

    Two weeks ago, I got a text from her stating, “I dyed my hair!”

     HUH?! What hair? 

    My zany BFF had put that Just for Men stuff on her fuzz just to see how much hair growth was actually happening. I had to see it to believe it. I read her text at work and just giggled shaking my head. .

    But I have to say that I actually got used to the shorn head.

    Sometimes it’s like it wasn’t even there, and other times, that bald pate set me on edge, a boom colliding straight into my denial. Those times looking at her became synonymous with “My friend is sick. I could lose her.” Those emotions and thoughts would skitter off into my stomach and then I not wanting to face the reality of the situation…would just end up tucking it away.

    Most of the time, it’s just her face that I see.  Looking at her, this person who has been like a sister to me since I was fourteen, who has a great personality and tons of verve to boot is just irrepressible. No amount of shorn hair is going to detract from that. And the true testament to this was how many times that I had to bite my tongue from mentioning new hair colors I had discovered and hair products. (I am a hair-care products whore and I cannot deny it)

    I would stop myself and then realize belatedly, “Crap…she’s not going to care about that new flat iron spray I discovered.” Why? Cos she's got NO hair!

    All her insecurities about the head her lack of hair, and her trusty bandanna have been an appendage for us for the past six months.  For her it was like the elephant in the room, the one we rarely talked about.

    And for me…well it was a symbol that she was really sick. We tried to joke it off, and I would call her baldy, all the while ignoring the darker currents that swirled under the surface of our conversation. Dangerous currents that we didn’t want to acknowledge.

    Last night I got glamour shots of her in big 80s glasses and red lips solarized, her new “I’m back” profile picture. I laughed my ass off. I love it.

    And I am ecstatic, filled to the brim happy that she is celebrating. Coming back to life and if it is just focusing on her hair…well who the crap cares? My friend is back and sporting a nice V-worthy Natalie Portman do, and it’s the best news in the world.

    ~Miz Fiendishly (I've included a picture of us at Runyon Canyon two weeks ago. She is on the mend and so am I)


    Saturday
    Feb262011

    February 26, 2011 True Blood Booksigning at Barnes & Noble

    It was a good luck Saturday! Got a chance to get over to B & N in my neighborhood to the True Blood booksigning for Charlaine Harris' graphic novel "All Together Now" and got a chance to see Rutina Wesley, Deborah Ann Woll and Sam Trammell. They were very gracious and very nice and it was a treat to meet them as well as chat with other fans. And it looks as if the evil storm that was going to pelt down on L.A. has moved on. We got to keep the sun! And hey...I got a cool signed graphic novel and a bottle of True Blood Now I'm on over to the Rainbow with friends tonight.

    ~Ciao! Miz Fiendishly

     

    Saturday
    Feb052011

    Comic-Con FAIL...and failing some fans spectacularly...

    What an absolutely ridiculous experience.

    Two hours refreshing over and over again, hundreds of times, I hit that refresh button, numerous times that I actually got to the ticketing page and then when I was kicked off as I tried to make payment. Why have confidence in a system that doesn't work?

    Does anyone care? Most likely not. All I wanted was to go with my BFF who has had a rough time of it lately. Our past Comic-Con experiences were hilarious, fun, wanted to repeat it for a sense of normalcy. Wanted her to forget the cancer, just have fun, without that black cloud over our heads for once.

    Okay, enough of complaining, poop happens. Ya just gotta buck up and move on.

    Gonna go out in the beautiful sun and enjoy the rest of my day

    ~Miz Fiendishly

    This is us at SDCC in 2003. When we could actually get a ticket!


    Wednesday
    Feb022011

    And So the Other Shoe Drops...

    As I sit here blubbering in my Ben & Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie, I think back to yesterday’s post about facing fears head-on, staring down the boogeyman or spectre, defeating the boggart in the closet…but today I am a bit more cautious.

    Today is a raw, gaping hole that has to be faced down, gulped down. And I have to allow the bitter tears to cleanse the pain away. 

    The horrible news that got today was that my beloved and very cranky pain-in-the-ass feline Roxy Le Kat is in third stage renal failure.  To say I am devastated is an understatement.

    If there is such a thing as a animal/human bond, then I had found it with Roxy. She was…is… force of nature and our relationship was identified by battles…humorous cat/human conflicts that were compiled of forced retreats and wins. Usually by her. She would plant a sword in the sand and bark her demands like a ginger haired Napoleon hepped up on cat nip. She even has her own Facebook page.

    Over the course of our nine years we had two major food wars that lasted days. I, desperate to get her to eat, would truck all over San Francisco trying to find food for her that was healthy. I would hit Jeremy’s for raw food: rejected. Or try Paul Newman’s cat food: rejected. Wellness: rejected. Spots Stew: rejected.  She wanted her crack cocaine: Friskies or Meow Mix and wasn’t going to give quarter. I eventually broke down and gave her what she wanted. Roxy Le Kat=2, Me=0 What it took me years to learn was that she would fight tooth and nail for what she wanted.

    After the food wars, there were others, over territory, which would result in toe biting or nudging. Or the simple quite times when she would sleep on the guest pillow on my double bed right next to me, like another human being, settling in for the night. I would tuck the duvet around her and she would be off like a light. If I had nightmares, she would wake me up.  Mornings, I would find her kissing my forehead…or if she wanted to play….biting it. When I came home from work she would run down the loft stairs to greet me at the door. She always knew when I was upset, would hop on my chest and cross her front paws like a prim Victorian miss, her wise eyes trying to impart some cosmic wisdom.

    Out of all the things I pushed away in my life, including her, she eventually broke down every wall…every rampart. She changed my life for the better. By giving her free reign, the freedom to be who she wanted to be without restraint, taught me that the most precious things in life are freely given. I was rewarded ten-fold. I discovered love could not be controlled, constrained or worked upon. It exists as freely as the wind blowing and it is in each and every one of us. It flowers everywhere.

    With that love I am going to have to recognize the decision looming in the very near future. I will have to think of her first, her quality of life, and face down the pain to do the right thing for her.

     I keep on thinking of what my BFF Tamara said one day when we were hanging out and she was  roughhousing with Rox.

    She looked over to me and in that classic eyebrow raise of hers said, “Dude! Roxy rules this roost.”

    I smiled back, “Yep. She does”.

    What am I going to do without her?

    ~Miz Fiendishly