How Do You Find a Good Book to Read in the eBook Age?

Some folk lament the fact that physical bookstores, with their collections of paper and glue, are vanishing. Heck, my city has only one bookstore. I relate. I love wandering the aisles of the bookstores, just picking something up and giving it a page through. But I’ll tell you a secret. Often, the books I pick up and then buy from a bookstore are not the ones I really love. I’ve been disappointed more than once.

What I do relish in bookstores are the recommendations by the employees. These people have read and loved these books and want you to read them too. Ignore the tables with the covers all facing up. The book placement there is often paid for by the publisher.

Alfred Hitchcock enjoying Tom Prideaux’s Love or Nothing: The Life and Times of Ellen Terry.

You can get that same sort of recommendation in the digital age. Often, I look up a book I’ve already read and loved on Amazon. Then I see what else the site recommends. Or I ask my reading friends (on Facebook or Twitter). The best part, I can download a sample of the ebook and read enough to get hooked (or bored).

The final resource for book hunters is book blogs. Check out these three blogs to help find your next read.

SPA Middle School Blog: This site shows recommendations from actual seventh and eight graders. Awesome to know I have similar tastes.

Young Adult Books Central Blog: This place is massive. It reviews books as well as tracks reader reviews. You can sort books in many ways with plenty to choose from.

We Need Reads Blog: A great review blog by a pair of avid readers. Their review of Speak says it all.

Tim Kane

Staring at the Progress Bar

I used to make my living as a computer graphic designer. I was pretty good at it. I designed ads for Winston Tires (not around anymore) and designed the box for TurboTax (that’s still with us). What I hated about the process was the computer. Being totally reliant on technology to get the work done is frustrating. Mostly, it was the progress bar.

You know how it goes. Here’s the situation right now. I’ve decided to update and add a few videos to my iPad. So I hook everything up through iTunes and then the bane of my existence appears. The progress bar. It inches forward, sucking the life from me.

I should walk away, but I can’t. It’s hypnotic. I stare at it, watching the percentage creep forward. I can literally stand there for hours. It’s so pointless. Finally, head upstairs and take a shower because I needed to go out soon. That broke the trance. Once I was away from the progress bar, I could actually progress with my life.

Writing doesn’t have quite as much of that. First off, the file sizes are so small, there’s only a glimpse of a progress bar. Also, I can print out pages or switch to long hand and still be productive. Take that technology.

If you’re stuck with something that is technology dependent, I feel for you. No one likes the progress bar. The best advice I can give you is make sure your other outlets (creative or otherwise) don’t rely on batteries, updates, or Internet.

Tim Kane

Costumes at the San Diego Comic Con

Part of the fun of Comic Con is all the folks dressed up. I snapped plenty of pictures, but not all of them came out in focus. Here are the non-blurry photos.

On my way to baggage check, I ran into Batgirl.

Always great costumes around the Marvel booth. Here we have Nick Fury and Black Widow.

Man. That’s some paint job. But the effect is cosmic. Great Silver Surfer.

This guy had a fantastic Iron Man suit. He even cut his chin hairs to match Robert Downey Jr.

Tremendous steampunk maiden.

Everyone loves a werewolf. They do. It’s scientific fact.

At least it’s air conditioned in the convention center.

Tim Kane

San Diego Comic Con Shopping Spree

Even though I live in the same city as the San Diego Comic Con, I still treat it as a vacation. Thus, vacation spending. I give myself a budget and then spend every penny of it. Here are some stand out items (and where to find them) on the Exhibition Floor.

The first booth I plopped cash down was “Fuzzy Balls Apparel”. Yes, clever name. They were responsible for the hand sewn apple and the “eye” flower (which is actually a hair clip). You can find them at booth 4839. Another of my favorite booths is Conduct Happiness (booth 4832), home of the Pea, as in “pea in the pool” or the “pea pea dance.” I picked up another hair clip for my daughter here. The stuffed Frankenstein was from The Bijou Collectibles (booth C-01). I can’t recall where I picked up the stuffed kitty.

I’m always a sucker for steampunk and no one does it better than Weta (booth 3513B). I picked up yet another fabulous book from Dr. Grordbort. This year, it was Triumph, Unnecessarily Violent Tales of Science Adventure for the Simple and Unfortunate – written and illustrated by Greg Broadmore. I grabbed the last Berry Ninja apron (for kids). I can’t recall the booth, but I do know it was right next to Fuzzy Balls Apparel. Finally, the small book you see is “Wonderland Alphabet” giving each letter an Alice in Wonderland twist. This was from Archaia Entertainment (booth 2635). I just read this book to my daughter. It really goes deep into both Alice Books (Wonderland and Looking Glass).

I’m love T-shirts, but I detest the standard black or white fair. Snap T-shirts (I can’t locate the booth number, but it was near artist’s alley). This guy hand screens the shirts himself. Hard to see in this picture, but the shirt is a burgundy color. The book is called “So Good for Little Bunny” by Brandi Milne. This was from a combo booth with Griz Grimley and other artists (this might be booth 501). Finally the Frankenstein is a “Kooky Kans” from Mixo (booth 4633).

Enjoy the comic con and remember, there are ATMs in the lobby.

Tim Kane

Must Sees at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con

I swept through the San Diego Comic Con like a child in a candy store. So many twinkly and shiny things. As I stumbled around (and into a few fanboys with poster tubes) I snapped pics of my two favorite areas.

Batmobiles
Warner Bros broke out the Batmobile vault and wheeled them all down. Yes, all the Dark Knight’s rides dating all the way back to the Adam West years. Ogle and enjoy.

Adam West’s ride from 1955. It’s a Lincoln Futura featured in the 1960s TV series.

Redesigned batmobile for Val Kimer in Batman Forever, 1995.

Clooney’s batmobile actually had a top speed of 350 mph and a rocket burner.

Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins featured the “Tumbler” batmobile.

Frankenweenie
That wasn’t all. The folks at Disney were touting Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie everywhere. I grabbed my hall pass and peeked through the stop motion museum. Astounding on so many levels.

Frankenweenie himself, looking cute and a bit despondent. In the back, you can make out the skeleton used to move the figure.

The classroom, complete with Victor, Edgar (as Igor) and the teacher.

Victor’s attic where he jolts Frankenweenie to life.

Outside the official convention was a tent sponsored by Frankenweenie. Inside, I found this… a graveyard with carnivorous plants, gravestones, and mist.

If you’re still in the convention, check these out. If not, then view and drool. I know I did.

Tim Kane