Tag Archives: ebooks

Why Book Recommendations Are A Waste of Time (In My Opinion)

It is clear that I’m a huge kindle fan. Not just a kindle fan (even though that is my e-reader of choice), but overall an e-reader fan. Over the course of the last few years I have had issues with finding new books to read. When I ask for recommendations, I become more lost, than if I just picked something at random. So while I can’t solve the problem, I will not give recommendations, or not be offended, if the person doesn’t read it.

Each person has their own taste in reading. For me, it takes me a while to read a book, almost six weeks for an average sized novel. Mainly because I read right before bed, when I get a chance. I also have the problem that I cannot stop in the middle. I refuse to stop a book, unless it is so bad. No book has been “so bad” that I have stopped. Reading your recommendation is a six week endeavor, therefore it is a huge decision for me. For me this is the same for music and movies, however the difference is the duration of time. Four minutes for a song or ninety minutes for a movie is not a huge sacrifice. I will say that I don’t watch that many movies because of the 90 – 120 minutes that will generally be bad (read about the 99%).

There is no pandora for books. There is not 64 different elements to a book that pandora uses to do recommendations. Each person is uniquely different, and wants uniquely different books. With that said, you still need to find recommendations. Best seller lists panders to the cheapest books, and the most feel good genre. As I’m writing this, the top ten books are The Hunger Games trilogy, and the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, with the set of each series also on the list. That great book is rarely found on a top ten list.

Editor’s choices are much better, but you are clueless to whom the editor is. The editor (collectively) chooses a book that the majority of people will like. Remember the majority of readers like cheap and easy fiction that is romance based (look at the top 100 sellers). So while there are good books, usually, it isn’t that great of a recommendation engine. I want to throw the conspiracy theory that payola is involved.

Reviews have the same problem that comments have. People are so polarized when it comes to their feelings that they write very persuasively. Nobody can agree on the merit of a book, and that causes hesitation because it is a financial and time commitment.  How can you read a 4 star book?  What makes the book 4 stars vs 5 stars?  How can you read a book when a few people have said “the ending is terrible?”  Is that an appropriate review?

What one needs to do is find someone who identifies with what you read, and that is HARD. There are social reading apps, and while I subscribe to them, I haven’t used them well. You want to have more friends, but those friends make the “what your friends are reading” feature useless.  My nerdy friends are hugely into Sci-Fi, which I can’t stand.  Those same nerdy friends are the only ones who use internet based recommendation services.

My list for a book is extensive. First off, I do not like fiction. I read mainly to learn something. Fantasy worlds, or a false sense of reality, I rather skip. Conversely, I’ll read history books, which is just the opposite of what I just said. Finally when I say fiction, I’ll take a no- true story that has a real life basis.

Science fiction, I do not want to read. Mainly because it violates the first rule. I bring this genre up specifically because I have other issues with it. Sci-fi is just too long. It also is written in elaborate series. So while I’m stereotyping sci-fi, it brings up the second issue that I rather skip.

Series are great if you want to continue the story. I don’t. Series mean there are more books to read, and you MUST finish it. Obviously if the first book is terrible, you can stop there, but if you enjoy the series, you have two more additional problems: 1) You have to read all the books, and 2) you have to wait for the next book. Ask any Robert Jordan fan, and they will elaborate more on this.

As a math nerd I am constantly questioned on why I do not like science fiction. Well I’ve explained why, and the short answer of it doesn’t appeal to me, gets people upset. It also reduces my recommendation pool because being a geek and liking Sci-fi goes together.

I do not want to read young adult, nor romance.  It just doesn’t appeal to me.  Like I’ve been saying all post, I want to learn something.

Finally, I want to read only Kindle books.  I have already documented that I have to read on an ereader.  I will not read a book that is on paper.  Kindle only books also has the implication that it was written recently.  I know classics have been ported over, but classics are some person (or publishers) reformatting.  I want books that have been published specifically for kindle at the same time all the other editions went out. What I’m trying to say is that I want something recent.  That may sound obnoxious, but that is what I want to read.

If you want to see the hodgepodge of books that I have read, friend me on goodreads

What it Means to You: What is Going on in the World of Ebooks

Everyone knows that I am a huge fan of ebooks, and how critical I am when it gets locked down beyond belief.  The goal of a book is to read it.  There is not much more to a book than lots of words on a page, virtual or not.  I understand that people have to profit from it, and I’m not against making money, but what is profit and what is gouging?

In writing this piece, I came across an old article that I wrote explaining this issue more than a year ago.

Before I start, I think The Verge did a great job explaining the problem.(pops) and the NYTimes does a good job explaining the “Lending Problem.”(pops).  I explain my issues with the “Lending Problem” too (pops).

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Please Sell Me Something…Please

Sales people have one goal.  To sell you something.  In two separate instances today, the sales person have failed to convey a single morsel of knowledge.  In fact, I felt, that the salesperson has given more information by trying to look smart rather than taking a ‘mea culpa’ and say they don’t know.  I figure that sales people sell to the knowledgable consumer, that understands the basics, but needs that last 10% of explanation to sell them.

When I buy something, I know all the pertinent information.  I know all the features.  I know all the controversies.  When I ask a question, I’m not asking because I’m too lazy to look, but rather, I can’t find the answer.  I get that I’m not the normal consumer, but I should not be the only one who is asking this question.

Here are my two stories:

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inThirty – 06 – The New Kindles: Hot or Not?

Beating Apple to the punch with pre-holiday hardware announcements, Amazon revealed its new line of Kindles today. We discuss whether tablets need to have integrated digital content delivery for them to be valuable and close by asking which tablet is currently the best best considering price and features…all before sundown.

inThirty.net is a new podcast hosted by @justinfreid , @harrycmarks , and @chaimtime.  Each week our goal is to bring you the news in under thirty minutes.

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I know a few podcasts are missing.  There is a reason.  Subscribe to get everything.






The Bang Head Against Wall Attempt at Borrowing Ebooks










Ebooks have now surpassed Hardcovers in sales:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/20/technology/20kindle.html

Back in September I had to make a decision on whether I should buy a Kindle, Nook, or Sony.  There were the standard checkbox features, which were consistent across the board, but there were some stand out features.  Kindle had the document management and sending features, Nook had the lend and borrow features (and the nook color just came out), and sony was just expensive.

With all things being equal the lending features became the hot topic.  I wanted that feature, especially when publishers were being greedy and increasing the price of ebooks.

I obviously went for the kindle, mainly because I trusted Amazon more than Sony or Barnes and Nobel.  That isn’t the point, however the lend and borrow features have been gimped beyond its usefulness. Continue reading

Economics of Ebook Prices

A Background story first:

Until July 2010, I never read books.  Something had to be so compelling that I had no choice but to read it.  That isn’t to say that I’m uninformed, but as the 1% goes, I didn’t want to waste my time.  I would read blog sites and news aggregators almost exclusively.  All of a sudden I went on a cruise, and was disconnected from everything except my mothers sony ereader.  I put things I knew I would like, such as Harry Potter books 6 & 7 and Malcolm Gladwell’s writings.  I came back and didn’t want to put the ereader down.  I put my smart phone down and was reading more and more.  I decided I should buy a kindle. Continue reading