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I love my Kindle, but dang Amazon is making it hard to buy exactly the sort of book I like.

F’rexample, I love me some non-fiction crime and police books. I hate fictional murder mysteries and police procedurals.

You know how you tell the difference between true and fictional crime online? In fiction, the synopsis has adjectives. You know, “irascible police Inspector Slab Hardcheese” or “spunky detective Dick Trouble.” That’s it. That’s the only way. You’d think there’d be a fiction tag or or a subcategory something, but no.

To be fair, that’s been a gripe of mine for years — I belonged to a crime-themed book club for a while that made not the slightest distinction between true and fiction — but Kindle is worse, since only a tiny percent published books are available as e-books.

There seem to be three classes of book available for Kindle: really old (and often pretty lame, outside the classics) for free. Current titles, for the same money as a real book (yeah. Not going there). And a handful of desirable titles for small money that I really have to work to find.

Dear publishers: I can buy a used copy of your out-of-print book from Amazon UK for a penny (the seller makes his money on the shipping and handling and you make nuffink at all), or you can re-publish your back catalogue for $.99 a title and squeeze a little more juice out of that useless pulp. Choose wisely.

In that middle, desirable category — our own Ric Locke has Amazon-published a sci fi title. I read it (I’m mama’s little shit-hot proofreader, me). I promised him a real-live book review with, like, descriptions and shit…but for now, the short version is: I liked it.

And the picture? Why, it’s my new Eco-Nique Natural Hemp Kindle snuggy. I know, I know, but it’s so gosh-darned…snuggy.


Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: June 1, 2011, 10:51 pm

“spunky detective Dick Trouble”

“spunky…” Riigghht…

(After a week of Weinerosis. “when correctly viewed, everything is lewd.”)

Comment from Andrea Harris
Time: June 1, 2011, 11:03 pm

You’re kidding, they don’t separate non-fiction crime books from fiction crime books? :boggle: I don’t get it. The fiction/non-fiction separation is kind of the basic separation of anything printed. I feel like I just woke up from a coma in a new, and worse, century.

PS: I do order things from Amazon, but I tend to search by author or title, and don’t really pay attention to their categories which come to think of it are kind of crappy. I don’t read a lot of mysteries these days, and I’m the opposite of you — I don’t really like non-fictional crime. So I haven’t searched for any of those online. Actually, these days, since I moved to the Shenandoah Valley, I’ve been going to the Green Valley Book Fair for all my book needs, and have a pile I have to get through. Right now I’m reading Jules Verne’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: June 1, 2011, 11:12 pm

What makes you think there is ANY difference between what’s peddled as fiction or non-fiction crime books? Or haven’t you heard of “testilying”?

Comment from Oldcat
Time: June 1, 2011, 11:24 pm

When Amazon was new, its categories seemed accurate, but they’ve been kind of erratic for a while now. These days I look in the top few hundred recommended for me, which seems to be a better fit.

The Kindle categories are pretty bad. I forgot how I found the first collection of a zillion SF books I bought, so I had to start again from scratch. It wasn’t under SF, but “Series” or something.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 1, 2011, 11:48 pm

Oh, I don’t trust the veracity of True Crime accounts, Mark (Joe McGinnis can be a great read, but he’s also the creepy stalker dude who moved in next to Sarah Palin). But they’re a totally different animal in structure and intent from fiction. A completely different experience.

When I first started reading true crime, minny minny years ago, there weren’t TC sections in the bookstore. The books were about evenly divided between the Sociology section and the History section. In fact, I stumbled on the whole genre quite by accident in the library. I think people were pretty ashamed to be reading them.

Now bookstores are much better about it.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 1, 2011, 11:54 pm

The first one I ever read was In His Garden by Leo Damore, whose next book was an early critical take on Chappaquiddick. That pretty much ruined him in Massachusetts for years and years. Howie Carr told a funny/tragic story about Damore hitting him up for a few bucks, ISTR.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: June 1, 2011, 11:55 pm

Um, I have a probably non-workable work-around for the “don’t separate fact from fiction” problem. Find the online catalog for a public library (happy to send you the link to our local one). In the “title” field type in the title of the book you’re not sure about. Then look at the “Call Number” (or similar) field. . .which should either show “fict” for fiction, or a Dewey Decimal number–for non-fiction. (Dunno if the UK uses Dewey–but that’s the beauty of the online catalog, you can use one from a location in the US if necessary.) ‘Course, the problem with it is that it will only help if the library has that book–which pretty much leaves self-publishing by the wayside. But there should be a way to sort that also.

SONY has a “bargains” category that is worth exploring, only I’m not sure they have anyting in Kindle format.

Rich Rostrum: “I could tell you things about Peter Pan/Or the Wizard of Oz. . .”

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 1, 2011, 11:56 pm

Ew, gross! Amazon keeps trying to steer me to holocaust-denying books in the history section.

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 2, 2011, 12:37 am

Do you have a copy of ‘Five go Mad on Mescalin’? 🙂

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 2, 2011, 12:56 am

I don’t think it’s a case of perversity for perversity’s sake, but since I got my Kindle, I’ve been buying more dead tree books.

It’s, in part, due to the nature of what I’m reading at present (biographical/historical, often not in e-form) but it’s also down to price. The magnificent Abe books can sell me a readable s/h copy for three or four pounds (or less). Amazon doesn’t come close. And Gutenberg just bores: too many ‘worthy’ obscurities.

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 2, 2011, 12:58 am


I remember reading a Msc thesis on revising the claims made for the ‘Holocaust’. It was a meticulous work, and thoroughly went through many aspects claimed for the ‘6 million’ in death camps.

The sad fact is, that New Zealand research could only establish that 1.2 million people of ethnic Jewish origin died in the whole of World War Two in Europe. Of those, only 790,000 died as a result of work and labour camps.

The thesis was of course removed from the University in Question – and was publically burnt … after wild screaming and yelling from Jewish groups.

They only trouble is – it was – and is – right. The figure of ‘6 million dead Jews’ was wildly circulated in the mainsteam media before World War Two, and during it. It has to do with a prediction in the Tohra of the formation of the state of Israel, where ‘6 million’ must died before its formation.

It has nothing to do with death camps, nor ethnic extermination. Sure, the Jews were slaughtered – along with everyone else. The only trouble is that their numbers have been grossly over-inflated, and they make up a tiny proportion of the total deaths of World war Two in Europe.

This continual mis-information of ‘holocaust denial’ and 6 million deaths only serves political interests … which you can check yourself – by asking yourself how many Jews were in Europe in 1938?

Comment from Mike C.
Time: June 2, 2011, 1:15 am

Shenandoah Valley? Live there myself!

Comment from Sven in Colorado
Time: June 2, 2011, 1:35 am

Gettin’ ready to piss in Amazon’s Wheaties bowl….Goram Socialists.

Comment from Glen Richards
Time: June 2, 2011, 2:28 am

I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, so just let me say this: what other group of individuals were targeted as relentlessly as the Jews during WWII? I think you are a fool to insist they were “just another group of casualties”.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: June 2, 2011, 2:41 am

Greaaaaat, I come to Stoaty’s and get Holocaust denial. Peachy.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: June 2, 2011, 3:35 am

But I did just buy Ric’s book, downloading to my iPhone as we speak. Even if it sucks (and I don’t think it does, according to the Stoat), it’s a few bucks well-spent sez I.

Comment from Nina
Time: June 2, 2011, 3:51 am

And on page 2 I already like it. Heh heh heh

Comment from David Bain
Time: June 2, 2011, 6:04 am

Re today’s history lesson :

There are three truths – what you remember, what I remember and what actually happened. Then there’s the fact that history is written by the victors.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2011, 10:47 am

That there’s classic holocaust denial. The pure essence. Have you ever been cornered by one of these mooks? It goes something like, “It wasn’t six million, it was only two, and they mostly weren’t gassed, they were starved to death.”

Like that would somehow make it hunky dory that jews were rounded up and put in camps.

Comment from some vegetable
Time: June 2, 2011, 11:41 am

I have a Nook (odd man out here but not the oddest or the most out there) rather than a Kindle and I’m not all that impressed with Barnes & Noble’s selection either.
I suddenly got an urge to reread Norman Mailer’s “Tough Guys don’t Dance” and discovered (to my horror) that they don’t have it. Electric reading, bah!

Now I’m stuck reading Keith Richards autobiography (hey, it definitey true crime if you believe in drug laws 🙂 )4

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 2, 2011, 11:54 am

G’Day Glen!

I’m just shit-stirring 🙂

What other group(s)? WELL … Slavs, for one. An excess of 8 million of them died in forced labour concentration camps in Germany alone ….
Then we have the Serbs, Gypsys, the mentally ill or retarded, homosexuals …

And still no one has answered my Question – how many Jews were in Europe in 1938?
And we all very well know that there were multiple claims of ‘6 million dead’ even before World War Two broke out …
Just another group of casualties ….

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 2, 2011, 12:30 pm

Hey David! Are you this Bain?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2011, 1:54 pm

Right, that’s another one: “it wasn’t just Jews, you know!”

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: June 2, 2011, 2:29 pm

As long as I can continue to buy 18-24 month old new or near-new dead-tree books for under $10 on Amazon there’s no way I’m getting a Kindle. If it isn’t worth reading after a year or two, it probably wasn’t worth reading in the first place.

Now, should I happen to buy a tablet computer for surfing the intertubes, I might be convinced to use the kindle app to buy something now and again.

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: June 2, 2011, 3:13 pm

The legacy publishers are scared shitless of electronic books and want them to go away. They attempt to assist this process by not putting their backlist up in electronic form, or charging $15 per book when they do. For a file that costs them bupkis to distribute (they already have most books in file form anyway, and formatting an ebook is so easy even a caveman can do it). There’s going to be a nasty interregnum while the new economic realities percolate to publisher’s hind-brains and they realize they’re getting gnawed on by those pesky little self-publishing mammals. I think it will sort itself out in a year or two.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2011, 3:19 pm

Yes, I think they’ll sort it, bcr. Most of them have a huge back catalogue sitting there earning them nothing.

So far, I’ve been unable to talk myself into paying several pounds for an ebook that I can get for a penny from Amazon Born Again. Also, dangerous I can buy with one click right from my Kindle. Very dangerous.

I drink, you know.

Comment from Whiskey Tangled Ferret
Time: June 2, 2011, 4:38 pm

Is the picture of quietly ex-sanguinated bunny circulating on the interwebs your handiwork Stoaty or “booze made her do it?”

He looks like he just takes a nap.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2011, 6:28 pm

Noooo…I’ve missed this one, somehow.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: June 2, 2011, 6:30 pm

I see once again that the TrollBlocker software I bought was WELL WORTH the price!

Comment from Uncle Monkey
Time: June 2, 2011, 6:38 pm

All I can say is it’s a good thing those damned devices weren’t around in the future 50’s.

Poor Henry would have blown his brains out after he found the public library and there were a bunch of fried kindles laying around. I guess he could still say “it’s not fair!”.

Plus, if you burn them to keep warm they put out toxic fumes.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2011, 6:46 pm

We set fire to the handle of our saucepan this week, by the way. High impact plastic. Somehow, it was over the burner long enough to ignite (which I didn’t think possible).

It put out the most unbelievably dangerous-smelling stink and smoldered — no fooling — for forty-five minutes.

Comment from Mitchell
Time: June 2, 2011, 7:53 pm

I just downloaded a book about 18th century French monitary policies titled “Fiat Money Inflation in France” (freebie of course). It seems that our current economic course was the same one that France went down, and we’re likely to end up in the same place – everyone broke & starving, hyperinflated currency, riots in the streets and piles of headless politicians. Well, maybe not that last part but one can dream right?

Comment from Oldcat
Time: June 2, 2011, 8:58 pm

Uncle Monkey – I that was part of the plot of one of those ‘far future’ stories – I think Twilight by John Campbell. That the future people had all this information in electronic form, then it got to the point that they couldn’t understand them anymore.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: June 2, 2011, 10:06 pm

The fiction/non-fiction separation is kind of the basic separation of anything printed.

Short story anthologies: Non-fiction. Even Sci-Fi is still non-fiction.

Poetry: Non-fiction. Including pretty much all of the epic poetry.

Plays: Non-fiction.

Comment from Uncle Monkey
Time: June 2, 2011, 11:38 pm

@ Oldcat

Astounding Stories! As I recall, mankind had also become totally lazy layabouts.


That is something that worries me about keeping all of our knowledge electronically, or even the current trend towards storing everything in “the cloud”. Yeah, so what happens when something happens?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:04 am

That whole cloud thing is t’crazy. I don’t care what the hippies say, the interwebs are vastly too unreliable to be trusted.

And yes, the whole digital storage things scares me rigid, too. I’ve been reading a lot of biographical stuff lately, which relies heavily on letters. Fat chance of reading those in 100 years time when the subject of your book used AOL rather than pen and ink!

The same is true of pictorial material. You can still find family albums of prints that have endured two world wars, tucked away in dusty junk shops.

Transparencies from the 1970s, however, (which we shot because transparencies were ‘better’ – ha!) are now mouldering slices of blotchy gelatin – and don’t even think about researching Great Aunt Amy’s chronicle of her early life and times, shot on her Kodak digital, then dropped onto a floppy disc, which de-magnetised in no time at all.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:07 am

Uncle M:

There are two factors. One is that electronic information is trivially easy to duplicate, so one gets lots and lots of copies of stuff. The Internet (in its current incarnation) has a lot of unintentional redundancy.

On the other hand – much information tends to flow into repositories, we become dependent on the repositories, and then the repository goes away.

There are quite a few data repositories on the net that are basically zombies.

For instance, a chap named David Boothroyd compiled an immense collection of data about British elections. Then a few years ago, he stopped. There have been no updates for several years, and some of the historical compilations were never finished. Someday he’ll stop paying to maintain the Web site, and it will go away.

Or, there will be some huge technical glitch.

Or, the hosting company will go bust or change policies. A lot of useful websites disappeared when AOL pulled its plug. Others went down with Geocities. A lot of Webstuff has been hosted on free services; but it’s never been clear that that the business models which included free services are economically sustainable.

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:07 am

I still prefer paper ….. I’m presently looking for a few Korans on trademe and ebay.

A Koran burning session is in order …

Although perhaps, just perhaps soaking Korans in uranyl acetate, or tungsten … or even shock sensitised perchlorate might just be the answer …

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:13 am

I have two words for you. Fire. Alexandria.


Disasters can and will happen regardless of the storage medium. One of the ADVANTAGES of using digital recording as a storage medium is that you can–if you are willing to take some fairly moderate trouble–make multiple copies stored in geographically distinct places.

And, sure, the software necessary to read a particular image may no longer be widely available. . .but (cringes in anticipation of bombardment by programmers) I’ll bet in most cases it could be recreated to the extent necessary, in the event that a copy of the software itself wasn’t preserved.

The downside, to my mind, is that EVERYTHING is now deemed worthy of preservation–and is in fact preserved. Even out-of-focus shots of Aunt Molly dancing the tango. Those used to be preserved, but only in private albums which had a REALLY good chance of ending up dumpstered/landfilled/decayed. Not any more.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:14 am

Someone else’s turn to be Crazy Uncle Joe

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:33 am

Upstairs, I’ve got a box of letters exchanged by my father’s parents the year before they got married. My dad foisted them on me because — ick! Parental love letters!

Actually, there’s no icky love scenes — they’re quite fascinating. Smalltown America, early 20th C. It includes a bundle of receipts from the grocer, etc.

One day, I have to dig those out and post some of them.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:39 am

Hey, if there’s sumthin’ on the Intrawebs that you finds useful, archive it yourself! That’ll cost you less than a buck for a DVD, which should be good for about 25 years if you take reasonable care of it. And if you DO care about it and DVD readers are about to go out of style, re-archive it on whatever else comes in. Although backwards compatibility DOES seem to be a major factor in acceptance of new storage media. Fer instance, BlueRay writers will still read DVDs and CDs. The CD Recordable came out in 1990, per Wikipedia:

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 3, 2011, 3:41 am

I dooo have kittens over storage media … as haven’t had a hard drive failure in a while.
To that end, I have gone back to 35 mm film, as the negatives last longer.
DVDs are the other issue, but by far the biggst problem is aging on the coatings, and scratching …
There is no easy answer ….

Comment from mojo
Time: June 3, 2011, 4:37 am

Exactamundo, m’dear. If I was a publishing house, I’d be pumping the old galleys through OCR as fast as they’d go. Give the author a taste, so what? It’s all gravy.

Comment from David Bain
Time: June 3, 2011, 5:59 am

Further to Oceania’s question, I am not that David Bain; nor am I Spartacus.

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 3, 2011, 6:55 am

Frank Driben perhaps?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 3, 2011, 10:29 am

I understand the advantages of digital, I just don’t like offering hostages to fortune.

Recently, a Philips video disc was unearthed at a school, here in the UK. It had been buried in a ‘time capsule’.

Leaving aside the fact that opening a time capsule that quickly shows definite symptoms of ADHD, the school had trouble finding a reader.

Somewhere, I have a Philips video cassette – that’s completely different, long defunct, system to VHS or Betamax. There probably is someone out there with a machine still working, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Yes, material can be re-archived and of course, I do this (much to the amusement of Her Stoatliness, who seems to regard my backup routines as the scrabblings of a paranoid loon). But not everyone does. My junk qualifies under Cant Hark’s ‘better off lost’ category, I’m sure, but that’s the thing: you can never know who, or what, will matter in 100 year’s time.

Yes, paper is fragile, but just because you can read a CD from 10 years ago, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to in 100 years (and you won’t – the susbtrates on the disc will have rotted). Bet a penny to a pound I cant retrieve my first computerised financial accounts – on an old audio cassette where they were wiped onto the tape by a portable recorder from a Sinclair ZX81 by a software programme not seen for 30 years.

I’ve still got the paper versions. And in the nearest town, they still have them from 500 years ago.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: June 3, 2011, 12:06 pm

For UB:
Yeah, it won’t work for Time Capsules. But if you think something is worth archiving, is it NOT worth touching at least once every 10 years? Something sitting around longer than that without being accessed is QUITE LIKELY to be lost forever by the first person who decides to do some housecleaning.

Comment from Oceania
Time: June 4, 2011, 8:08 am

I remember years ago attempting data stoarage with holographic media … but alas … we then moved onto polysilicon alloys, after screwing around with everything that we could find … lots of nasty xtal growth stuff … but always, the entropy would increase with time … so optically storing information is not the way to go either … and its assuming that people in the future will know what to do with crystal storage …

Perhaps data storage peaked with Egyptian historic techniques – a steel chisel and a granite block …

Comment from David Bain
Time: June 4, 2011, 12:07 pm

The typo put me off and I had to google it. Luckily Googletown is full of the same typo.

No, not him either, and don’t call me Shirley.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: June 4, 2011, 1:31 pm

There seem to be three objections to data storage techniques identified here: “it can be lost/destroyed,” “the medium doesn’t last,” and “noone can read it when it is recovered.” Data stored useing steel chisel and granite block can, and has, suffered all three fates. Even granite weathers–or is broken up by future generations to build houses, or falls into crevasses in earthquakes, or into the ocean when shorelines erode. And–in the case of Egyptian records, it was only the happenstance of the discover of the Rosetta stone that allowed the texts to be deciphered when found. Nothing is entirely safe. Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse. Redundancy, and updating, are the best insurance against loss. On the other hand, seriously–there is stuff not worth preserving. Agreed, Stoaty & Uncle B, today’s ephemera can be valuable to future scholars, but if every bit of ephemera is preserved, how on earth would they organize it for study?

Comment from some vegetable
Time: June 4, 2011, 2:42 pm

Monks doing transcription are the last answer for preserving knowledge. Hasn’t anyone else here read “A canticle for Liebowitz”?

Comment from some vegetable
Time: June 4, 2011, 3:01 pm

By the way I’m fascinated with the Amanda Knox Merideth Kercher murder case. Now there’s some true crime mystery for ya!

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