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Posts Tagged ‘amazon’

Do you read real books?

September 7, 2011 3 comments

“Ahhhh….”

The arousing smell of  a new book, what I like to call the ‘newness scent’, is one not to be forgotten or taken lightly. The spine is in perfect condition and none of the pages are creased or crumpled. After a week of being carried around, transported to numerous destinations and read cover to cover the small wrinkles begin to christen your new novel. Perhaps like me, you make sure each book is kept in pristine condition and cherish each one; caring for its individual nature.

However this summer has seen the rapid decrease in book sales in the UK. It was reported at the beginning of July 2011 that WH Smith book sales were down by 4%. With the competition of online retailers and e-books, do paperbacks and hardbacks stand a chance?

The internet has made reading accessible, easy and above all, free. The Kindle has assisted the reading revolution and as reported in January 2011; the Kindle books now outsell paperbacks on Amazon. Kindles have their benefits: less weight to carry in your bag compared to a paperback, battery life of two months, enhanced PDF reader, built in dictionary, bookmarks, wireless access to Wikipedia and built in Wi-Fi. At a cost of around one hundred and fifty pounds from Amazon this electronic handheld can be a worthwhile investment.

However a Kindle cannot retain the memories of those found in paperbacks. It does not bear the smell of a book that has lived in different houses nor do the corners show where people have been gripping the book with sheer strength hoping that Peter will find his true love once again. A Kindle however remains cold and sleek and without emotion.

A book is not just a book; it requires a setting. Libraries, open fields and public transport are the main locations for reading. Libraries offer the perfect setting: you have unlimited access to a wide variety of books whilst being in a secure and tranquil setting. On the other hand, taking a stroll in the rural countryside with a flask of tea and biscuits adds a beautiful scenic backdrop to Jane Eyre. And there is nothing better than avoiding the smelly BO man at the back of the bus for the front seat with your paperback.

Remember the phrase: never judge a book by its cover. Well, I think that is one of the benefits of a paperback. You can spend endless hours wandering around your local bookshop examining all of the exciting and artistic front covers. However the Kindle shows you online covers with reviews and ratings, nowhere near as sensual.

Will it be a happy ever after for paperbacks or will the evil Kindle rule the land of novels? Let’s hope not.

 

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The Passage, Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin is a gripping post apocalyptic novel that you have to read this summer. The military believe they can engineer and train a new breed of soldiers whom are indestructible. By testing the virus on twelve inmates on death row, the military try to achieve their dream.

However, the dream turns into a nightmare with the twelve subjects, virals, escaping, killing and destroying the world.

The world before the virus.

Blood sucking vampires (virals), Amy, an FBI agent, a nun, the army, survivors. The array of characters keeps you interested and the characters lives soon cross over as the plot unravels. One of the main character Amy, a young girl of six years old, is the enigma of the novel: she
has telepathic abilities, can communicate with the virals and is actually over one hundred years. You are constantly questioning her being: what is she? What are her powers?

The novel explores a range of emotions: courage, loss, faith and a human’s fight for survival. Cronin beautifully describes the fear felt by the characters when facing the hungry and crazed virals. The scenes are well written with gruesome and gritty details guaranteed to make you squirm!

The novel’s ending does not offer a resolution, however this is deliberate as Cronin is creating a trilogy: The Passage, The Twelve and The City of Mirrors. Visit Amazon to get your hands on this epic novel! The second in the series is out in October 2012, so the wait is nearly over…

Cheap Christmas entertainment

December 28, 2010 6 comments

The Christmas weekend is over. Most people have indulged over and over in the past few days and are probably  frantically writing New Years resolutions already. Left over scraps, biscuits and nibbles still remain. Family visiting in the next few days. So how do you have a cheap fun-filled night suitable for all with little time left to prepare? Simple, horse racing indoors. Neeehh, I hear you say!

Well in fact, the horse racing night is a DVD, suitable for all ages and can be as competitive as you let it be! The  horse racing DVD (race night) is a cost-effective night full of excitement and non-stop entertainment for guests. Each player has a limit of money and can bet a minimum of £25 on each horse. One person is in charge of all of the bets (the book-keeper) and once all bets have been placed guests view the race on the DVD. The footage on the DVD are from real races over the past few years which adds to the realism of the evening. Alongside beverages and food the evening is a guaranteed success.

Amazon also sells other interesting DVD’s for an evenings worth of entertainment. It is an evening for families to socialise and bond whilst also enjoying the thrills of gambling (safely). To make it even more fun, the host of the evening could supply prizes such as money, chocolate or drinks for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. So take a gamble and it may just pay off!

Morality on the internet (revisited)

November 15, 2010 15 comments

I published the article morality on the internet on 11th November 2010. To say I was surprised at the feedback and viewings I received over the days that followed,  is an understatement. I was overwhelmed, (happily), with over three thousand people reading my article in two days. The article proved to be thought-provoking and topical, but also uniting people. This could be due to the fact censorship affects everyone (using the internet) in one way or another.

My blog post was featured on the WordPress home page for a couple of days:

My blog featured on the homepage of WordPress, 11-13 November 2010

I received numerous comments on my article, for and against. Then I paused to stop and think. What is my blogs intention?

This blog is (worth) one unit in my university degree (second year) out of a total of six units. The project (assignment) is to create a website displaying my work, opinions and ability to communicate in a socially (internet) dominated world. So in my blog world, did I want comments from other people containing expletives? Anger towards myself (the author) of my piece of writing? Censorship. This sudden arousal of thoughts made me stop in my tracks. From this personal thought and experience meant I could empathise with both sides of the ‘Morality on the internet’ discussion.

To provide more depth and breadth on how other blog users dealt with commenting upon articles I went to the well-known and trusted website of the BBC. The House Rules for blogs on the BBC offer guidance to readers on what they can write in response to an article.

Digressing slightly from the previous paragraph, I found it interesting to remember and note the ‘old’ censorship news over the last few years, Google use- banned in China back in 2002, and you may remember the lecturer banning students from using Google and Wikipedia, 2008. One of several reasons for these actions being taken could be the freedom and exposure these websites offered to people. Students could be reading facts that were potentially incorrect or ill-informed and using these in their studies. China, a larger scale example than the latter, but sharing the same goal, trying to gain control (through censorship).

So where does this leave me to conclude? Well in fact it doesn’t. Having experienced ‘a mild form of censorship’ since posting my original article, I think it is important to recognise perhaps websites need to initially set guidelines and a visible statement of what they offer so that users clearly know what they are getting and these are set in stone. As websites may, as proved above, be restricted to certain users in the future. Censorship should be recognisable on an internet website and users should be given access to this knowledge. Then users will know how the website is constructed and how it will respond and fulfil a users demand. For example, how a website would react to a search for “anything.

It may be considered a contradiction that I have created my own house rules for my blog but this has led me to draw points to help form a conclusion from my previous article. Censorship offers control, and perhaps in certain situations control is needed. However, users should be fully aware if their content has been restricted or reduced. If I had not seen the Google censorship article, potentially, as a (passive) user searching for suicide I would have overlooked the first result of the search, the help line. I would have been none the wiser about the censorship.

Therefore if censorship is to be appreciated and in some ways, understood, amongst the public, it has to be defined and explained fully when, why and where it is happening or otherwise users can feel cheated, disappointed and lose trust in a society or organisation. This can also give users more choice. A user can decide whether they want to be in a controlled environment or not. It opens the possibility to a clearer distinction and less friction being caused.

Up until this point I have not had the chance to experience or appreciate censorship, however, since, being exposed to the choice on whether to approve comments upon my page, I had the power of censoring. So should we be knowledgable of when censorship occurs? Will this help? Will we ever truly know all?

House rules for Rebecca’s World

House rules are to ensure my blog is respected and enjoyed by all users.

I reserve the right to deny comments to my articles or blog that:

  • Contain swear words or other loaded language that could or is likely to cause offence
  • Are considered abusive, sexist, sexually explicit, homophobic or racist
  • Are not concerning or relating to the article or blog (off-topic)
  • Are containing direct and personal contact details
  • Are breaking the law or condoning unlawful behaviour

Please offer your opinions to my follow-up article as I would be extremely grateful. How does your blog operate?

Morality on the internet

November 11, 2010 55 comments

Technology journalist Rory Cellan-Jones discussed today how ‘Google‘ and ‘Amazon‘ the giants of the web, are changing. Originally they were created as platforms for users to explore and retrieve any (desired) information. However, ‘morality’ and ‘public’ good is shaping the way these websites work.

Google, has been in the spotlight after steering away from the “it’s not our responsibility” approach to search engine results. Google has announced today that people who search for terms associated or relating to suicide will see a message with contact details for the Samaritans. This link is highly visible for users and can help people who may feel suicidal and need help. This action has also been taken in the US and has resulted in an increase (9%) of calls to the National Suicide Prevention Line.

Google previously insisted that there were only two ways of appearing in its search results:

  • Morally blind choices made by its algorithms
  • Sponsored links and advertisements paid for by those who bid for search terms.

The last reason appears to be for the public good.  This is a change in Google’s approach to morality and the internet.

The world-wide website, Amazon.com has also been discussed. Last night, a post on Twitter revealed a book, currently being sold on the website, apparently promoted pedophilia. Twitter posts conveyed people’s outrage and fury towards such a highly regarded website allowing this publication to be sold. The book appears to have been registered through Amazon’s self-publishing programme, limits are based on what the retailer deems offensive but no detailed guidance explains what ‘is offensive’. The book has now been removed by Amazon.

After reading this article about morality and censorship it is apparent why people feel outraged (especially in the Amazon incident) about the lack of censorship. However, the idea of the world-wide web (www) is predominantly a global world in which participants (users) can browse freely, post and visit any given website address. With large companies on the web, such as Amazon and Google, changing their dynamics, could this cause further disputes? Censorship is an ongoing discussion which requires answers. Who is able to determine the guidelines and boundaries to ensure safer searching on these sites? Surely, changes made (and to be made) affect our personal freedom,  free speech and thought?

It’s given me an idea for my own blog. Perhaps I should add a (help) link to mine, after all I have subjected users to read and endure my work, opinions and views (hopefully balanced). Any suggestions would be appreciated…

See the full article

See my follow up response to this blog post

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