I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Demise of Borders

Photo: Ruthanne Reid
It became a ritual.

Every Friday night during the fall, several of my friends and I would gather at Borders to spend 45 minutes browsing the bookshelves before meeting in the coffee shop to chat. I rarely left without buying a book. I also rarely bought a CD or DVD because I had already made the change to iTunes and Netflix. But I wasn’t convinced about e-readers yet. I still had a romantic view of bundled paper held together by glue.

That was just two short years ago. 

Since then, I’ve purchased two Kindles and have been talking to a publisher about writing a book for them that would go straight to e-readers and then come out on paper and glue. After reading a couple of books on my first Kindle, I realized that books are words that inform and entertain and take us to new worlds. They aren’t paper and glue. Those are just the medium. 

Borders wasn’t convinced of this on any level (books, CDs or DVDs).

In fact, not only weren’t they convinced, but they continued to charge ridiculous prices for old mediums. One of the last times I walked into a Borders, I picked up a copy of the movie SALT to see how much they were charging for the non-Blu-ray DVD. The answer: $28.99! I was stunned to the point of snapping a photo with my cell phone, thinking nobody would believe me:

As of this writing, Amazon.com is offering SALT on Blu-ray for $15.44 and on non-Blu-ray for $12.60.

Rather than adapting, Borders either showed complete contempt for the new ways of delivering entertainment or they were oblivious to them. I’m not sure which is worse. But when the news came down that the chain was planning to liquidate its assets and close its stores by September, I wasn’t surprised. I was a little bummed though. 

Not everybody wants to read e-books. And that’s fine, as long as a retailer offers both choices (please don’t tell me the Kobo e-reader was a choice if you don’t know a single person who owns one), I think there’s a chance they could survive in this economy and publishing environment. But since Borders didn’t, people who like to read paper and glue just lost a huge retailer.

As for meeting in Borders for coffee, well, there are multiple other coffee shop options for my friends and I to hang out in. But losing a book retailer the size of Borders is never good for the industry.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spoiler-Alert Police

This is how I felt when I saw a score I didn't want to see
(Photo: Casey Fleser)
Mary McNamara, a Los Angeles Times television critic, wrote a column recently about spoiler alerts. In it, she says endings are just as important as beginnings and as such are fair game for commentary and opinion without the critic being slapped around by the spoiler-alert police. I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with her throughout the column.

Here's an example:
The Internet has created a new genre of re-cap commentary, in which every episode of a show is parsed for later-that-night consumption and season finales are regularly reviewed while the end credits are still rolling. Twitter is even more insidious — people don't even have to take the time to think of a catchy lead or transitional phrase before they blast off crucial "Can you believe???" information. Meanwhile, the DVR, Netflix and other forms of delayed content delivery gave birth to a generation people who are not about to schedule their lives around some TV show. Not even a Really Important episode that they don't want spoiled. 
The irony is, many of these do-it-yourself programmers are also heavy Internet and Twitter users who don't appreciate having to forgo their high-speed pleasures to preserve the mysteries of their TV dawdling.
I'm one of those people who are not about to schedule my life around a TV show so I use my DVR and Netflix to catch up on programs I want to see, when I want to see them. But I'm also a "heavy Internet and Twitter" user and that definitely creates problems. But I know when to go dark and when not to so I can usually avoid spoilers.

But this past weekend, I watched a NASCAR race at a friend's house and then we engaged in a little one-on-one NCAA 2012 football battle on PS3. The game uses ESPN's brand, complete with the scrolling scoreboard at the bottom – and the scores are real-time. You know what happened next, the video game scrolled the score of one of the sporting events I recorded. I'm not a fan of the scrolling scoreboard on my TV. I'm even less of a fan of it on a video game.

I guess I'm advocating for even more personal control. If I want to hide a scrolling scoreboard, I should be able to. If I want to hide someone I follow on Twitter for a few hours, I should be able to.
Anyway, I understand her point, but I think it's possible, or at least it should be possible, to both determine my own TV watching schedule while also being engaged on social media.

Back to the column …
One critic of my acquaintance (OK, it's me) was recently chided on two occasions for, among many other things, writing about season finales that had aired several days and, in one case, several weeks previously. 

I wouldn't complain about either instance. Several days is ample time. But I really take issue with this statement: 
Or, more recently, over the hectic response to the "Lost" finale? No, they did not. Because the people who cared about the shows watched the shows in real time, and the ones who didn't were too embarrassed to admit it.
Saying a person who cares about a show watches it in real time (implying a person who chooses to record a program and watch it later doesn't really care) is a bizarre statement to make. It implies that I will forgo meeting a friend at a coffee shop on a Monday night because "Men of a Certain Age" is on TV. Is she really saying, "If you really care about 'Men of a Certain Age' you will forget about your real life friends so you can watch a TV show about friendship?" 

And if her statement is true, why would anybody have a DVR box? Why would Netflix carry TV series? Why are TV series even offered on DVD?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Photographing Old Church Buildings

Do you ever drive by old barns or church buildings on road trips and wish you had time to stop and snap a photo or two? Nearly every road trip I take, that thought goes through my mind. But there is always a schedule to keep. In my case, it's often a schedule I predetermined that could be changed if I really wanted to.

A couple of weekends ago, a couple of my friends and I took a trip to Kansas City. Our normal route isn't passable due to flooding, so we had to travel two-lane highways, mostly of the way. On the way down to Kansas City, we passed the church building you see to the right while traveling south on Highway 71 in Iowa.

It looked like something out of a movie. It had an old fashioned chruch bell with an old stone stairway that leads inside. One of my friends pointed out that there was a cable across both doors, maybe indicating that the building was no longer in use. That made me wonder about the building's story. Who started the church? How long ago did they start it? How many pastors preached sermons there? How many lives where changed as the gospel was preached? If the building was no longer in use, why not?

As we zoomed past it, I made a mental note to snap a photo of it when we returned. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera on the tripo so my cell phone camera would have to do. On our way back, I pulled off the road and snapped three photos. Unfortunately, the one I shot of the church sign containing the name of the church turned out too small, so I cannot read it, which sort of adds to the intrigue.

But if I find myself on that stretch of Highway 71 again, you can be sure I'll have my camera and a notebook with me. In fact, I might even stop at a nearby business to see if I can get the full story behind the place.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...