A Quick Note to Universal Home Entertainment

Dear Universal Home Entertainment:

You know, when your Blu-Ray discs take several minutes to load (because apparently you’re downloading trailers from the Internet, which I don’t want to watch) only to open up to a menu screen that doesn’t actually work, so that I have to start the disc halfway through the film and then track back to the opening using the “skip” button, you really aren’t making a compelling argument for me to buy a Blu-Ray disc from you ever again.

Beyond this, I’m generally not one for overbearing government regulation in entertainment, but if someone were to introduce legislation requiring home entertainment companies to have a “just play the damn movie” button at the start of every DVD, Blu-Ray or any other future movie-playing technology, I would call my Senators and representative every fifteen minutes until they voted “yes” on that bill.

That is all.


Because People Ask: Book Acquisition Details

A quick FAQ about all the books I get:

How many books a week do you get sent?

Recently, between 10 and 25 a week.

Why do you get books at all?

Because of the Big Idea feature here, and also because of the “Just Arrived” entries, and also because the site has 40,000+ readers daily and most of them are interested in books, so publicists and publishers think it’s worth the time and effort and postage to send me their stuff. I don’t mind. I like books.

What kind of books do you get?

Mostly science fiction and fantasy (which is no surprise, really), but increasingly I’m also getting, other genres of fiction (YA, romance, lit fic) and some non-fiction as well. I’m happy to get a wide range because, you know. My reading habits are diverse.

Do you read everything you get?

No, and the reason why should be obvious by noting the volume of material I get sent. I don’t have time to read every single thing plus do my own writing. I would say I read one or two books a week fully and flip through a few more casually, usually the Big Idea-featured books that I haven’t already read. I wouldn’t mind being able to read more, but I think people would get annoyed at me, because then my own output would drop to zero.

What do you do with the books you get?

I keep some, and others I give away, either to friends or (after an appropriate amount of time, when it won’t have an impact on initial sales) to the local library, which often uses them for fundraising sales.

Do you sell books or ARCs on eBay or elsewhere?

No. I don’t need the money and I don’t think publishers really want me to sell them anyway.

Why don’t you give away the books you get to your loyal readers?

Because experience teaches me I am terrible at fulfillment on contests; nowadays I do giveaways here only if someone else is responsible for getting the book to a reader (I except the occasional charity auction I do from that, since I’m weirdly more motivated to mail things if money goes to a good cause).

If I come to your house, will you give me books?

No, I’ll set the dog on you and/or use you for archery practice.

Heh. You’re joking, right?

Yeah, not really. Random visits to the house = not cool.

I’m a publisher/publicist/editor/author. Can I send you a book too?

Sure. My publicity guidelines are here.

Just Arrived

Just Arrived, 3/8/10

Hey, did you know people send me books? In today:

* The Midnight Mayor, by Kate Griffin (Orbit): They say that if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, England shall fall! So guess what’s happening in this book? If you said “the ravens just signed a new lease on the Tower,” boy, are you ever not paying attention. This is the sequel to Griffin’s A Madness of Angels, and it’s out today.

* The Folding Knife, by K.J. Parker (Orbit): The ruler of country on the verge of empire discovers a choice he made in his past may come to haunt him. Out now.

* Changes, by Jim Butcher (Roc): Another Harry Dresden novel? You bet. This time Harry takes on the Forces of Evil™ to save his kid. And you say, kid? There’s a kid now? Surprise! Don’t worry, Harry’s surprised too. And for anything more than that,you’ll have to wait for April 6, which is when it comes out. I know, I know. Be strong, people.

* Admit One: A Life in Film, by Emmett James (Fizzypop): Being the memoir of journeyman actor James, refracted through the prism of films he’s loved and admired. Out now.

* Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime, by Mizuki Nomura (Yen Press): A book-loving student (who is actually a book-consuming demon) has her appetite whetted when another student comes looking for advice writing love notes. Translated out of Japanese, which for some reason does not surprise me at all. Out in July.

* The Mage in Black, by Jaye Wells (Orbit): The latest installment of the urban fantasy series featuring Sabina Kane. This time she heads for New York City, and you know how New York is. Out April 1.

* The Gaslight Dogs, by Karen Lowachee (Orbit):  A young woman from the frozen north and a soldier of an empire on the edge of war are called upon to use their talents, supernatural and otherwise, to decide the fate of nations. This looks a bit like Inuit Steampunk, and I’m all for that. April 1.

* Shut Up and Kiss Me, by Christie Craig (Love Spell): Man, if I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me, I’d be… well. Needing a dollar. Anyway, in this one a photojournalist takes the wrong picture at the wrong time and then has to entrust her life to a sexy lawman. Man, if I had a dollar for every time that happened to me… don’t worry, I’ll stop now. Out in June.


Monday Morning Housekeepery

A couple of minor things before I run off and do real work:

* Went 5 for 6 on the Oscar major categories last night, missing only Best Picture, but since I thought The Hurt Locker should win that category anyway, I can’t complain overly about that (I suspected Avatar was off the winner screen when the editing prize went to Hurt Locker, actually). As my friend Anne was over, I actually watched the Oscar ceremony all the way through for the first time since I had to do it as part of a job (a state of affairs which takes the fun out of it), and I thought it moved along just fine, although as always it just went on too damn long. But then I feel that way about the Super Bowl, too. I may be fundamentally unAmerican.

* Thanks to everyone who took my little poll over the weekend; I’ve always had a suspicion that the people who read the blog had overlap but were different from the group of people who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, so it’s interesting to have some initial anecdotal evidence of that being that the case. If you haven’t participated in the poll but would like to do so, please feel free to.

* This will be my final reminder to all and sundry that if you’re going to nominate for the Hugos, you have until this Friday to do so. This is also my final reminder that if you’re a Hugo nominator and are interested in an electronic evaluation copy of The God Engines, here’s how to get that. But regardless of my work, if you can nominate, do so. 2009 was an excellent year for science fiction and fantasy and you have a lot of great novel, stories and other work to choose from.

Now I have to write a column, catch up on e-mail and, hey, who knows, maybe write some fiction. Catch you all a little later in the day.

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