All posts by Brad Salt

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The Netflix of eBooks Expands its Operations

Oyster Books, a subscription based ebook service dubbed the Netflix of eBooks that opened its virtual doors over a year ago, is expanding into the retail market and offering its customers the chance to purchase books alongside its rental facilities.

Its faces an uphill battle to fight the behemoth that is Amazon and its Kindle operations. Amazon sells more digital books than it does physical books, and Kindle sales at one point last year topped over one million per week.

Oyster does however boast that it offers over one million books, including a wide array of bestsellers and award winning novels for just $9.95 a month, including this years hottest selling digital book The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and last years biggest selling book on the Amazon digital marketplace The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

Oyster Books offer a wide range of great books for a relatively small price, especially if you are anything like me and read a dozen books a month. $10 is a great price for an amazing service with apps available on all the major digital reading devices, iPhones, Androids, Nooks, and even on the Kindle Fire.

6 books that will get you arrested

6 Books that will get you Arrested

6 books that will get you arrested

Banned Books Week celebrations are being held all around the country this week in celebration of the freedom of people to be able to read whatever they want, whenever they want.

Sadly not everyone in the world is allowed such freedoms. So lets take a look at some examples of books that will get you arrested simply for owning them.

The Bible: The country of Maldives arrested and deported a teacher from India in 2011 for a bible and a rosary found in his house after it was raided. He was accused of preaching Christianity in the Islamic country which forbids those very actions.

Bibles are also illegal to own in North Korea, so if you are planning a trip to sunny Pyongyang, perhaps it would be best to leave your Bible at home, lest you end up in one of their notorious Prison Camps where people are locked up for such crimes as not having a picture of Kim Il-Sung on display in their houses, and not being sad enough at appropriate times.

Dianetics, by L. Ron Hubbard: Another religious text that will land you in hot water, Dianetics has been classified by Russian Authorities as a banned extremist literature.  So next time Tom Cruise is in Moscow, he runs the risk of being thrown in jail if he hands out copies of his religious text to his fans.

Anarchist Cookbook: The Anarchist Cookbook was released all the way back in 1971, but the impact of the book lasts to this very day. In 2007 a 17 year old British boy was arrested for possession of owning a copy of the book which he used to research smoke bombs and fireworks.

arrested for lost girlsLost Girls, by Alan Moore: Alan Moore’s famous Graphic Novel puts together the characters of Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan’s Wendy. While this sounds like a great premise for a children book, it gets a little ‘interesting ‘ from here on in. The 3 meet by chance at a mountain resort in Austria and, as any famous children’s characters are want to do when they meet each other, they proceed to share with each other stories of their erotic adventures.

While it is long out of print, most stores in the United States and Canada flat out refuse to stock it for fear of being charged for selling obscene pornography. The UK goes one step further in describing it as potential child pornography, as some of the character exploits occurred when they were under the age of 18.

On a slightly different note:

arrested for twilightTwilight: A Woman was arrested in New Mexico for not returning her copy of Twilight and two Twilight DVD’s to her local library on time. Police came to her home and arrested her in front of her five children over the $35.98 worth of overdue fines.

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James: A UK man was arrested for spraying his girlfriend with hot sauce when she wouldn’t stop reading her copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, which as many of you may know started out as a Twilight Fan fiction. This just goes to further demonstrate the real and present danger of anything and everything to do with Twilight.

compare book prices old books

The Benefits of Book Shopping Online

compare book prices old books

Shopping online for books is by far and away the best way to the discerning consumer to purchase their books. The ability to be able to quickly compare book prices, to shop around multiple stores to find the best price, and to be able to choose from a massive range of books in any genre or any category be it fiction and non-fiction or textbook is changing the way people all around the world buy and consume.

Obviously comparing book prices quickly and easily is something that we think is a major advantage to the online world book purchasing, but there are many other advantages as well just simply the ability to find the cheapest prices. The ability to be able to purchase an e-book and have it be instantly delivered is something that even the most diehard hardcover and paper book lover must admit is simply wonderful. Instant access to the entire library of your favourite authors and genres is not something that can be easily sniffed at or dismissed, nor can the ability to be able to carry around hundreds and even thousands of books in your pocket on your e-reader or phone.

This time you will save by shopping for all your books online is also something to take into consideration. How many of us have spent hour upon hour going from bookstore to bookstore all around city looking for a certain book in particular. And while the physical ambulance of your local new and used bookstores is something that can never really be matched shopping for books online, the ability to be able to view several bookstores entire inventory at a Glance saves you hours of precious time that can be spent reading.

So while online book shopping will always be cheaper, and of the search for your most sought-after books will never be quicker there is one factor that you always have to take into consideration when buying physical books online, and that is the delivery time. Someone book pricing comparison agents take the prices from book stores all around the world including in countries sometimes on the other side of the earth, and in doing so may not take into consideration the amount of time that it will take to physically deliver the book from their door to yours. If you are a student for example you have to be particularly careful when shopping to textbooks online, as some students have told horror stories of buying incredibly cheap textbooks only to have them not turn up until the end of the semester.

Library of Paris

Free Textbooks? Yes Please!

Library of ParisCollege education has never been more expensive so when a company comes along with the aim of changing the status quo and providing free textbooks to students all around the country than people are bound to sit up and take notice. That’s just what non-profit Openstax College is promising to do. Openstax has one goal to provide low-cost textbooks to as many students as possible.

Openstax offers free textbooks to students whose faculties allow their courses to participate in. These textbooks are developed and peer reviewed by the very educators who will be using them and thusly are guaranteed to meet the scope and requirements of the course. Since 2012 they have been producing open source textbooks under creative Commons licence and have helped over one half million students around the country, and have an aim to help a further 40,000 students save around $3.7 million on textbooks this year alone.

The College accepts content in any form and follows the traditional path of peer reviewing content, but follows the very non-traditional path of licensing the books under the creative Commons licence so that teachers and lecturers can redistribute these materials to their students for free.

Free digital textbooks with no expiration date that are be accepted in more and more universities around the country, this is a great initiative and one that we should all get behind as education should be cheaper not more expensive.

Should we be boycotting Enders Game

Should We Be Boycotting Orson Scott Cards ‘Enders Game’?

Should we be boycotting Enders Game

Science Fiction Author Orson Scott Card has long come under fire for his opposition to marriage equality and his vigorous, violent opposition to homosexuality. This years release of the film adaptation of Card’s most famous book Enders Game, has come at a time when the call for social and marriage equality has never been more in the publics eye, and as a result, those who find the authors religious and social beliefs abhorrent have been louder than ever in their calling for a boycott of the movie Ender’s Game.

Orson Scott Card, for those who don’t know is, among other things, a Mormon, a pretty darn good Science Fiction Author and a very passionate opposer of homosexuals and their right to marry. So passionate that he actually advocated a violent revolution of the government in order to prevent gay marriage.

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn. Source.

But then maybe this is simply because as he sees it, homosexuality is a merely a result of trauma:

many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse. Source.

Now Mr Card is a man of his word and puts his money right where his mouth is. in 2009 he was made a member of the board of directors of the National Organisation for Marriage, or NOM. The deliciously acronymed NOM is a group that actively campaigns against same-sex marriage. A quote from their website tell us what they imagine will happen if same-sex couples are allowed to marry:

Based on what has already happened elsewhere, we predict that people of faith will face lawsuits, lose contracts, be denied employment and be forced to stop providing goods and services. Charities will be forced to close.

Thats right, same-sex marriage will close your charities.

But with the impending cinematic release of Enders Game, Orson Scott Card has realised that his anti-homosexual stance has the potential to hit him right where it hurts the most. His bank balance. As a result he has resigned from his position at NOM and he has “softened” his position thusly:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Ignoring the fact that these issues did in fact exist well before 1984, now that the Supreme Court has voted in their favour, supporters of same-sex marriage are expected to show the tolerance that was never afforded them, to those people who simply disagree with them. Somehow Orson Scott Card equates giving his money and throwing his support behind a group that actively works to stop all American citizens receiving equal rights to be a mere difference of opinion.

No, Orson, it doesn’t work like that, your intolerance does not itself demand tolerance.

I can not put it more eloquently than this:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. […] We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. Karl Popper 1945.

So, should we all unanimously boycott this movie because of the authors hateful opinions?

No, of course not.

History is full of bigoted, morally disgusting people who nonetheless created great and beautiful things.

This list could go on forever, and were we to run to the libraries and cull all the works from authors who held racist or bigoted views there would be no books left from before this century.

We all need to take a step back and remember that it is entirely possible to learn something, even to find beauty in works from people whose morality or personal beliefs sickens us to our stomach.

So will I be watching Enders Game?

No, I will be boycotting it.

Orson Scott Card was not having a mere “Disagreement” with the LGBT community as he suggests, he was actively fighting against it. He gave money and sat on the directors board of an organization that actively opposed same-sex marriage. It is not an unimaginable leap from reality to envision profits made from the Ender’s Game movie ending up supporting a hate group that is active and functioning today, be it NOM or any other anti-homosexual organization Orson Scott Card sends financial support to now or in the future.

I can in no good conscience support that, any more than I could support a movie funded by the Taliban.