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Monday News: BAM’s POD experiment, fandoms and empathy, Hugo hosting controversy, and 1950′s marriage tips

Monday News: BAM’s POD experiment, fandoms and empathy, Hugo hosting controversy,...

BAM Espresso Pilot A Success, So Far – Books-A-Million has been conducting a 90-day experiment with the Espresso Ebook Machine, a print-on-demand technology installed in stores in Maine (one of its top-earning stores) and Alabama (its flagship location). The company claims that use is still on the increase, and according to the employees who assist customers with the machines, family history and genealogy are among the most popular projects. Apparently a handwritten copy of Alice in Wonderland (in Carroll’s script) was among the public domain works printed. Apparently BAM will keep these two machines installed for a year before expanding, although if they get more publisher involvement, that timeline could be expedited.

Certain titles are available through partnerships with Google, Lightning Source, HarperCollins, and Hachette, while select content comes from publishers like Random House, W.W. Norton, and Simon & Schuster. Gallagher said she talks with publishers “every day” about making more content available on the EBMs. “We do wish we were doing more volume [on the machines] in copyright situations with books that are available through standard publishers,” she said. “But they haven’t gotten on the bandwagon yet, and the lion’s share of the business is really from the self-publishing community.” –Publishers Weekly

On Fandom, Parasocial Relationships, and What We Don’t Know – Although this post by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is commentary on another post — Sarah Rees Brennan’s exploration of the way female fan fiction writers can be perceived when they write original fiction  – it’s a pretty interesting argument about whether participation in fantoms, in particular, may create a false belief that one may be able to “read” people in real life the same way one reads fictional characters and situations. I’m very, very, very, very, very, very, very wary of ‘influence’ arguments, but I do think community norms can influence behavior, so I think it’s important to talk about those norms and how individuals are situated relative to them.

Reading Sarah’s post made me wonder if those of us who engage with fiction frequently and passionately and, yes, through fandom, writing stories and daydreaming about characters and diagnosing their motivations—I wonder if that level of engagement could potentially have very real cognitive effects on us, beyond what has already been studied. On the one hand, that kind of engagement might actually make us better at understanding people. But at the same time, I think it quite possibly increases our perceptions of how good we are at doing that, beyond what is actually possible. Regular engagement with fiction—particularly active engagement through fandom—might fool us into thinking, even more than people who are less engaged with fiction, that we really, truly know what other people are thinking or intending and who they are deep down. –

WorldCon 2014 announces Jonathan Ross to host Hugo Awards, controversy follows, Ross withdraws – In the midst of all of SFF conflict over sexism, diversity, and inclusion, LonCon announced that the Hugo Awards ceremony, which will be held in London at WorldCon 2014, would be hosted by British comedian and talk show host Jonathan Ross. Ross has a reputation for offensive and divisive comedy, even though he has also advocated for greater diversity within the BBC. However, Ross quickly stepped down once the widespread online uproar over his selection began.

For the purposes of hosting the Hugo Awards, I can understand why LonCon decided it’d be a good idea to employ Ross (though it should be noted that he is not being paid). Ross is a huge, bona fide celebrity. It’d raise the profile of the Hugos and Worldcon in the UK more than almost anything else would, and would ensure wider newspaper and television coverage. Ross is certainly one of us, as his personal, extensive collection of vintage toys, games and comics should attest. But he’s also a divisive comedian, one whose humour seems to rely too much on belittling others, often on the grounds of gender or sexuality; almost certainly not from some deep-seated prejudice, but more a lazy reliance on obvious sources of humor. –The Wertzone

7 Tips for Keeping Your Man (from the 1950s) – We all need a good laugh on Monday, right? So here you go. A collection of marriage advice from the mid 20th century (you just can’t make this stuff up) – written by men, natch. Why seven tips? For luck, maybe. Including tip # 4, titled, DON’T BE A SEXUAL VAMPIRE OR A FRIGID FRANNY:

Just as the vampire sucks the blood of its victims in their sleep while they are alive, so does the woman vampire suck the life and exhaust the vitality of her male partner—or “victim.”

It is to be borne in mind that it is particularly older girls—girls between thirty and fifty—who are apt to be unreasonable in their demands when they get married; but no age is exempt; sexual vampires may be found among girls of twenty as well as among women of sixty and over. –Mental Floss

Friday News: Social media identity theft on the rise; bundling taking off; and eBay luring Amazon rivals

Friday News: Social media identity theft on the rise; bundling taking...

Image via Big Stock Photo

The article goes on to detail how this was a hacking contest and Gary Darnell was actually engaged in a live demonstration of his ability to obtain “make and version numbers of the computer’s operating system, Web browser and antivirus software” as well as other pertinent company information.

This is a fascinating story about social media identity theft (and dovetails well with the first article)  but it touches on the concept of fair play. There was a Wall Street survey taken and the vast majority of bankers agreed that they had to do underhanded and possibly shady things to get ahead. In the self publishing world, we see these sorts of actions all the time as some engage in free riding at best and sneaky, underhanded behavior at worst. In this case, people are buying twitter followers by the thousands. What’s the point of doing something ethically? I wish the way it worked was that ethical behavior was rewarded at a higher level than unethical behavior.

 I’ve never understood bundling but it’s obviously popular with others.

Advancements in inkjet technology sounds funny to me but I hope that they can apply those advancements to black and white printing so as to bring down the cost of long form print books as well.

This is a fun list of classic authors’ favorite books culled from news articles and anecdotes. Unsure of how accurate it is.

 Interestingly eBay does not collect sales tax per state and it has been Amazon’s position on tax that they would accept taxable consequences when the internet retailing landscape was even. Wonder if a B&N sale through eBay is taxable?