You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for February, 2011.

Patient Zero on TV

February 13th, 2011

One of my favorite zombie novels of the last few years has been Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry.  It’s packed with action, has lots of zombies (of the bio-terrorist sort), and is well-plotted.  According to Maberry’s Facebook page, it’s been optioned for television.

One of the reasons I like the book so much is that it’s psychologically thoughtful (complex would be going to far).  One key secondary character is a practicing psychologist, and the hero has experienced serious trauma that he’s in treatment for.  This is portrayed seriously, and without shame, which strikes me as important in such a macho book.

It’s also politically ambiguous.  The hero says some middle-of-the road things about the president, and the world’s problems are portrayed as above politics.  This makes it easier to ignore some of the less savory aspects of the book, where various individual rights (to person, property, privacy, etc.) are thoughtlessly violated.

So I’m worried about the TV version of the book.  It would be very easy to make this a zombie version of 24.  I was relieved to find that the pilot was written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach who’s been involved with Lost, Charmed (the TV show), Medium and Jake 2.0.  Those are reassuringly non-crazy shows, at least in the political sense.  Boomtown is more troubling — I found that show to be deeply misogynistic. None of these shows are action-packed though.

In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this!

e-Book Lending

February 7th, 2011
Books in Bemowo Library.

Image via Wikipedia

One nice thing about a physical book is that when you are done with it, you can pass it on.  You can donate it to a library, give or loan it to a friend, sell it at a used book store, or leave it in your hotel to be read by another guest. But until recently, you could not do that with an e-Book.

So I was very interested when Amazon announced the new lending feature for Kindle books.  You can loan a Kindle book one time to one person for 14 days.  Not all books are lending-enabled.  Publishers make that decision on a case-by-case basis.  While the book is on loan, you cannot access it, and once you’ve loaned it out, you can never loan it again.  This is the same lending arrangement the Nook has.  It’s the most restrictive, user-unfriendly lending arrangement I can imagine creating.  It seems like the very, very least Amazon could do, and still claim they allow lending.

I get that.  They are in the book selling business, after all, not the library business.  Still, I wish I could subscribe to an online circulating library — like physical libraries before they became public.  Pay a fee, borrow as many books as you want.

In any case, I recently tried out Kindle’s lending feature via Books For My Kindle (where I loaned a book) and Kindle Lending Club (where I have both loaned and borrowed severalbooks). I like Books for My Kindle a bit better because it has nicer search features, an alert feature, and a rudimentary message system. But Kindle Lending Club seems more robust and has a larger user base, so I suspect I will use it more.

The biggest problem with borrowing a book is that you have to read it in 14 days. Reading a book in two weeks isn’t a problem for me — I read fast. But I’m not very organized about what I read. It’s not unusual for me to get a new book and lose interest in it within a few hours, before I’ve even started to read it. So it takes a bit of self-discipline for me to get the book read during the loan period.

By leaving the wireless (WiFi or 3G) turned off on your Kindle, you can thwart the loan restrictions a bit.  If you keep it off when you loan a book out, you can keep a copy on your Kindle for yourself.  And similarly, if you keep it off at the end of your loan period, you can keep a book after the loan period ends.  But as soon as you turn wireless on, Amazon will update your device and remove the book from your device.  I’ve only tried this on the borrower’s side, and then only for 2 days, but it did work.