Everything is Back on Track!

New books are live. More books are coming.

The Devil Left Him is up on sale on Amazon. I just did the official announcement on Periscope.

That should have showed up on Facebook as well. I explain that the book is available, and go into a little bit about why I wrote it: a literary experiment on the Divine Character Problem. I talk about Luke Skywalker for a minute, and then can’t figure out how to turn the broadcast off, because it’s my second one.


I’m going to publish it on iBooks as well, probably with an alternative title. I’m also doing an Amazon Ad campaign for it, to see how that does. All in all, very exciting. I conceived this and brought it to market in about a year, while working on other projects as well, and holding down a full-time job and taking care of a family. I think I can improve that time, but the future is a tease, always arriving different than expected.

Next up: getting the next issue of Unnamed Journal up. Then publishing Last Tomorrow and Void. I should be getting back on track with The Sword as well.

Why Would Amazon Want a Physical Presence?

Over at Quartz, a suggestion that Amazon, which has been making moves toward having physical stores (at present, “lockers” which function like post office boxes where people can pick things up), should buy Radio Shack, which has been faltering in just the way you would expect.

It sounds exciting, but it’s a bad idea.

The reason Radio Shack is faltering is because it can’t compete with Amazon. Who wants to take the trouble to drive somewhere, ask a harried clerk a question he cannot answer, and then pay retail markup for your item when you can just scan through customer recommendations, select your product, and have it delivered from the comfort of your home anywhere you can connect to the internet?

Why would Amazon want to add a high-cost element that undercuts its own effectiveness? So it can sell a small amount of it’s myriad of products from a small-box location?

While I can appreciate the symbolic value of an Internet company taking over a piece of meatspace, adopting Barnes & Noble’s business model doesn’t sound like the recipe for success.

Why Netflix is Still the King…

Politics is the ultimate entertainment.

Over at The Atlantic, a sober estimation of why TV is outperforming movies as quality entertainment:

Networks love the cable bundle for the same reason that viewers hate it: It’s a relentless (i.e. dependable) transfer of money from households to networks, regardless of what television or how much television we watch. “Basic-cable channels have to broadcast shows that are so good that audiences will go nuts when denied them,” Adam Davidson wrote in the New York Times. “Pay-TV channels, which kick-started this economic model, are compelled to make shows that are even better.” Thus, television has seen a race to the top while Hollywood has experienced an ostensible race to the middle-bottom.

Back to Netflix. The company’s business decision to chase exclusive TV rights was not an act of charity for TV fans; it was a business decision. Netflix has two things going for it: its deep library and its wonderful streaming technology. Keeping the library of quality titles deep is getting very expensive very quickly. And Showtime and HBO can compete with Netflix on streaming tech, even if they’re also tethered to the cable bundle. So, Netflix needs to increase its value in the eyes of the 120 million households who aren’t Netflix subscribers. Following in the footsteps of HBO and Showtime by going after original titles is the smart next step.

I’ve been watching House of Cards, Netflix’ original series starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, and directed by David Fincher. It’s fun, even if not quite as epoch-making as Mad Men or Breaking Bad. A Machiavellian congressman with an unctuous South Carolina accent is a good role for Spacey, and the writing is smart. If Netflix has the money for Oscar-caliber actors and directors, then they have the money to compete with the Premium channels without drastically altering their price point (that $8 a month may creep up, but that’s still nothing compared to HBO on top of basic cable service).

Netflix is no longer the only streaming service out there, but it’s still the best. When I got my Roku XD box, I discovered that I could also stream Amazon Instant videos, some of them free with my Prime Membership. But Amazon’s library of free videos is small compared to Netflix, its browsing display shows you the same titles over and over again, and its streaming just isn’t as reliable. Last month I finally got around to watching Ted. It wasn’t a Prime video, so I had to pay $3.99 to rent it for 48 hours. It skipped and hiccuped in the last third of the film, and kept re-streaming at a lower quality rate, until by the end it looked like I was watching a VHS copy that had been soaked in bleach for a few weeks. I’ve had this happen a few times with Amazon’s streaming. It never happens with Netflix.

HuluPlus, which costs as much as Netflix, has a needlessly complicated navigation system, still doesn’t have distribution deals with CBS and F/X (No HIMYM, Sons of Anarchy, or Archer) and has several titles still Web only (I haven’t seen an episode of Happy Endings in months, as we can only watch it on wifey’s computer upstairs in bed, and I keep falling asleep). Netflix is elegantly simple: the stuff on your Queue, and the other stuff, broken down by genre.

The others, such as Crackle, VuDu, etc., are all so much background noise, me-too services. I imagine everyone’s going to set such a service up eventually, and eventually some of them will be able to compete with Netflix. But everyone who declared it dead when it split it’s DVD and streaming services turned out to be dead wrong. They’ve sucessfully shifted from being  the all-online Blockbuster to being the streaming king, and now they’re about to trade punches with the cable heavyweights. Invest in popcorn.

Setting up a Publishing House

I have ambitions beyond this blog, and one of these is to write (another is to start my own Cramps tribute band). I’ve been trying to write since I was 14, and I’ve always been frustrated at the sheer impossibility of making a living at it. The competition daunts the amateur: even if somebody at some house likes your book, there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see it in a book store; and even if it is, you may never turn a profit on it. You’re surrounded by people who know more than you do and who have control of your work: a lamb amid lions.

The hell with all of that.

So I’m putting together the piece of publishing myself (and possibly anyone else I happen to like). With the advent of the Kindle and Nook, e-publishing has gained a good bit of respectability. Sure, marketing is always going to be a hassle, but that’s true in any case. I’ve got scads of stories to tell, and I’m going to start telling them. If people like them, cool. If not, I’m going to keep going. Sooner or later, someting’s bound to stick.

Check this space for further details.