Category Archives: Buying Stuff

Kobo working to support indie bookstores

This is a novel idea (pun intended): IndieBound: Independent Bookstores selling Kobo ereaders and ebooks

The idea is that if you create a Kobo account using a referral link from an independent bookstore then the selected bookstore will get a cut of the price of the eBooks you buy for your Kobo eReader (or Kobo eReading apps). I really like the idea of being able to buy eBooks “from” a local bookstore, and I would be all about buying all my eBooks from Kobo if I could support one of my local Chicago bookstores. But (there’s always a but, right?) since I’m such an early adopter*, I already have a Kobo account and it looks like there’s no way to link an existing account to a bookstore…

I’ll just have to hope that some people without Kobo accounts find this post and create an account with a referral from their local store (or any store for that matter).

On a technical note – and I hate when other people say how they think that something should be easy – it really does seem like it should be easy to link my account with a book store’s referral code. I can’t help but wonder what design decision was made that prevents them from adding a page somewhere on the Kobo site or a text field on the profile page that would allow existing users to add a referral code to their profile.

* How’s that for a humblebrag?

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I am a typical Amazon customer

This was on my Amazon home page today:

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This has been the top of my Music Wishlist for close to a month now (you’d know that as well as I if the WordPress template didn’t cut off the “added” dates):

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So (without a lot of statistical analysis), I am an 88% typical Amazon customer. Or maybe, I’m in the 88th Percentile of typical Amazon customers. Or maybe, I fit Amazon’s data model to 88% accuracy.

Reading Between the Battle Lines

Acquired via BookMooch: a trio of books about Halo including The Fall of Reach, The Flood, and First Strike.

Tell Me A Fable

I was trying to read the triology before the arrival of Halo 3, but only made it a little over a third of the way there (i.e., a little bit into the second book). I’m now nearing the end of the second book, but I got Halo 3 a week ago, and am over half way though the campaign. The second book is basically a recounting of the campaign from the first Halo game with some side stories about the marines and Covenant thrown in. I use the words thrown in, but really, these side stories add a lot of depth to the story of the game. And speaking of depth, the first book tells the (nearly) entire backstory of the Master Chief (aka the big green guy); something that probably would have made a very boring game, but which works very well as a novel.

Speaking of boring games, though: In playing Halo 3, I have been made aware once more of what a poor job the games do of telling the story. The main characters in Halo 3 – the Master Chief and the Arbiter – are actually very deep (the latter actually more so than the former), but the campaign still feels like just another run through a bunch of levels, shooting/grenading/smacking everything in your way. That’s not to imply it lacks the fun factor that makes for a good game, but since I’d read the first book before playing any of Halo 3, I was really hoping that the power of the 360 would allow the story to be told in much more depth and with a greater level of emotion than the first Halo. The second Halo game did a somewhat decent job of weaving the story in, and actually making the game more than just a shooting gallery.

Unfortunately, Halo 3 feels like like a step backwards from Halo 2 with respect to the realization and illustration of the storyline. The levels are more varied and incorporate the use of strategy better than the previous two games (though Halo 2 did a good job of trying to make you think strategically), but the game so far hasn’t told the story of the Master Chief or the Arbiter (or Cortana or Gravemind) nearly as well as I’d hoped. And with only three and a half levels left, I’m worried (and relatively sure) it’s going to stay that way. I mean, Darth Revan reveals himself only halfway through KOTOR (warning: following the link may spoil that game if you haven’t played it).

Playing By The Book

What the book(s) did well in addition to expanding the story from the game was teach me how to play the game. No joke. Reading the descriptions of how Master Chief deals with the Covenant and the Flood in the book made me realize that each part of the game(s) is set up to try to get you to deal with a situation in a certain way. Of course, you don’t have to, but by recognizing strategic points in missions, I feel like my experience with Halo 3 has been enriched. I did notice this in some sections in the earlier games, but I’m not exactly Mr. Final Boss Owner, so I tended to just brute force my through a lot of parts in the first two Halo games, but in the third one, I feel like I’m playing with a lot more finesse and actually playing the game the way the designers intended it. And I know it’s not because of the improved storytelling (see above if you skipped over that part). And I know it’s not because of the improved graphics.

… The graphics are improved, and it does make the game better. That’s kind of a given and an expectation. But when the grunt’s methane tanks sputter and hiss when you hit them (something they didn’t do in the previous games), I notice the improvement because I read the books and know that they breathe methane and have those canisters strapped to their backs to survive.

In Rainbows

At times it has certainly seemed that Radiohead was trying to destroy their own career just to see if they’d survive. Those times generally occur just prior to the release of a new album.

In Rainbows is Radiohead’s 7th studio album.

From Wikipedia:

While the discbox, which includes the MP3 download, is priced at £40 [approximately $82 USD], the price of download by itself is left up to the buyer. Upon purchase, the buyer is prompted to type their desired price, plus a credit card transaction fee of 45 pence [about $0.91 USD] if purchased for more than £0.00. For free purchases, no credit card is necessary and no additional fee is charged.

Radiohead - It’s Up to You

This seems like a project that an MBA intern came up with while working for Radiohead this summer. When a band goes Platinum or Gold for 10 years straight, you’ll certainly be collecting a lot of data when they go to order the new album. I’d certainly rather have that data in the hands of the band than in their record companies. Although the numbers will have to be released to the public if any thumbing of noses is to occur.

And also, I wonder how much the discbox is subsidizing the free downloads that will be given away?