Wednesday News: Book-buying bias, YouTube TV, Native American superheroes, and donating books
How to judge a book by its network – A group of researchers from Cornell (representing Sociology, Information Science, and Computer Science) have published an analysis claiming that consumers tend to buy books along partisan lines, even when the books are not overtly political. Moreover, they have allegedly discerned certain patterns among book buyers on the political left and right, although for some reason I have been having trouble pulling up the actual article (error message), so I cannot vouch for anything regarding its content and conclusions. I do wonder, though, how much of this patterned buying is actually driven by the recommendation mechanisms used by online booksellers like Amazon.
Both groups bought science books — more than 400,000 between them. But it was relatively unusual to find books that appealed to both liberals and conservatives. Members of each group — and their good friends — had different ideas about what made a good book. Buyers of “blue books” (the liberals) tended to pick from basic science topics, including physics, astronomy and zoology. “Red” customers preferred books that discussed applied and commercial science, such as medicine, criminology and geophysics. And whereas liberal choices tended to reflect mainstream thinking, “red books” tended to be co-purchased with a narrower subset of science books on the fringes of each subject. – Nature
YouTube TV Goes Live in Google’s Biggest Swipe at Comcast Yet – I am so gullible sometimes. All it took was one scan through this article to change my eye-rolling cynicism to genuine curiosity and interest in a television service that doesn’t cost a near-fortune (Comcast, I’m looking at you here!). At the same time, how many television, cable, satellite, and streaming services do we really need, and at what point will the current identifying differences be meaningless or nonexistent. And how much more beholden to Google do we all want to be? This early review is of the ‘maybe; let’s wait and see’ variety, which is wholly unsurprising.
YOUTUBE TV HAS arrived, and with it the potential to change how television works. Google-owned YouTube’s first foray into true cable-like television takes to the internet equivalent of the airwaves in select cities today: 40-plus channels of entertainment, news and sports for $35 per month, the so-called skinny bundle. So far, the service is still a little wonky. But the possibilities are there to inspire a whole new generation of viewers to actually pay for TV, and advertisers seem eager to give it a shot.
In particular, YouTube believes it can persuade a whole new audience that otherwise never considered paying for TV at all. “There are a lot of ‘cord-nevers’—millennials who never sign on for cable,” says Kelly Merryman, YouTube’s vice-president of content partnerships. “They love TV programming. They just don’t love the distribution.” That means TV, on any device, on demand. (Cable companies may offer similar-seeming options, but so far cable still remains tied to the cable box.) – WIRED
With This Publisher, Native American Superheroes Fly High – A great profile of comic books featuring Native American superheroes, as well as an Indigenous Comic Con, created by Native Realities Press and its founder, Lee Francis. This spring, Francis is re-publishing Jon Proudstar’s Tribal Force, which first came out in 1996 but basically disappeared with its publisher’s closure. Proudstar, an actor and writer, could not get another publisher to take his series on, he says, because the main character was a survivor of sexual abuse. Proudstar knew the issue was important to highlight and would not allow the story to be published without it.
Over the years, various publishers approached him about Tribal Force, but they always had the same question — can you tone that down? Can you not talk about it? “And I was like ‘No! That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.'”
Then Proudstar found Lee Francis and Native Realities Press, which focuses on Native writers, artists, and game designers. Francis, who’s from Laguna Pueblo, N.M., calls himself an “Indiginerd” — and he wasn’t put off by Proudstar’s subject matter. “These are things that we face in our community and we still need superheroes for this stuff,” he says. “We need people that are going to be there to be protect us, that are going to be there to help us out.” – NPR
7 Tips for Donating Old Books Without Being A Jerk – Donating books can often be easier said than done. While people often think that libraries, hospitals, and other organizations are thrilled to get our old paperbacks, that’s not always the case. At the very least, there are guidelines for donating with purpose and consideration – like sorting out the damaged volumes and thinking about the appeal of each book – that can make the process easier for everyone.
When spring rolls around, both places [the author works] are inundated with book donations. Especially now that we’ve all learned the life-saving magic of throwing away a bunch of our bullshit. (Thanks a lot, Marie Kondo. I’ll curse your name as I succumb to the sentient pile of dust mites that comes in with the 150th box of books from someone’s attic).
Donating books is a great thing to do. Most of the time.
The thing is, it can be a big help, it can make your space more calming, but you can also create more work for an organization you set out to help. If you donate books without taking a couple steps first, you can do more harm than good. Which is sort of fun in its own way, and if you wanted to be the Joker, the “let the world burn” person of your local library, I guess this is a relatively good option.
But if you really want to tidy up your life while also benefiting a local organization, here are some steps. – Lit Reactor
There are a couple of packages similar to the one YouTube is introducing, and there are more coming. We got rid of satellite TV a few years ago and have been quite happy without it. Then the Sling TV package appeared, and it was pretty good but not really worth it for us. But Sony introduced Playstation Vue, which offers all the sports I wanted to watch (most notably it has ESPN, TBS/TNT, and NBC Sports) for $35/month.
Still, fragmentation is an increasing fact of life, which means you pay $5-$10 per month each for services like Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, AcornTV, MLB, and others. Our total bill is still considerably lower than it was when we subscribed to DirecTV, but I can imagine someone paying very close to the same price for the two ways of getting TV content. They’ll get their money out of us one way or another.
I dumped Dishtv about three months ago, and definitely do not miss the $90/month bill. It was great to watch sports, but over the winter it just was not worth it. Instead I bought a $30 Roku and pay Netflix $7.99/month and get to watch movies and shows with my Prime account already.
I think if these companies really want to stay competitve, a true a la cart option needs to be introduced. I don’t want 500+ channels.