Thursday, May 01, 2003
Custom Paperback Editions of Classic Novels Starring YOU!
"Now also available in a 'happy ending' edition! Didn't like that Romeo and Juliet die at the end? Choose the Happy Ending Version a new scene is added with a twist — the lovers live happily ever after! A short scene is added after Act V Scene III. It turns out the apothecary's poison didn't work and Romeo survives, and Juliet's stabbing of herself merely made her pass out. The problem with public domain is that the integrity of the original is lost once it's Disneyfied." [MetaFilter]
Promoting Online Resources
"In a new issue of the xrefer newsletter, Peter Bolger, a Reference and Information Manager in the U.K., offers a few suggestions for promoting online databases and services. Btw, I love what the New York Public Library says on their electronic resources page, 'Search the Branch Libraries' e-resources for great information you won't find on Google.' How's that for short and to the point. It goes on to list many types of material including full-text magazine and journal articles, biographies, and reliable encyclopedias. Actually, another large challenge remains, getting potential users to go to library web site and click on the e-resources page." [The ResourceShelf]
Emphasis above is mine, along with a hearty "me, too!"
I'm glad April is over because it wasn't such a great month for me. Among other things, I was depressed to see my community's voters reject the Library's fourth referendum request to fund a desperately needed expansion. I know about bad economies and the "no more taxes ever" mindset, but this time it was just $20 per year, and they lost by the same margin. Sometimes you just want to shake people until they wake up.
Anyway, I wrote a letter to the local papers, and thankfully they ran it. Here it is for posterity, mostly to make me feel better.
"Nothing makes someone more unlikable than their unawareness of what makes them unlikable. That's the main reason why people don't like Los Angeles. It's not surprising, then, that Hollywood's answer to the advent of DVD burners and Internet piracy is a clueless public service announcement in which Ben Affleck, Lucy Liu, and 'Titanic' director James Cameron ask you not to steal from them. Next they'll produce a PSA about how small trailers can cause claustrophobia.
In May, Affleck's 1-minute-12-second plea will unspool on movie screens nationwide; it'll be the Will Rogers Institute can-rattle of our time. But this appeal is for the fair treatment of movie stars, not the compassionate support of sick kids -- or sick horses, or sick kids who ride horses....
But Affleck's point, on second viewing, wasn't that he's Benny from the Block and in need of scratch. It's that the less well-paid are in jeopardy if piracy blunts studios' profits. 'The movie you're about to see is the work of hundreds of people,' says Affleck in the PSA. 'Not just the stars you see on screen,' but writers, cameramen, costumers, and countless others. Apparently, there is a world in which the proletariat includes the guy who penned 'Point Break....'
Also, I can't figure out why they would show this PSA to people who've just paid full price for admission, instead of shoving it at the front end of a DVD, where actual criminals might see it, since the only people Internet pirates truly put out of business are the in-theater camcorder crooks.
When I asked Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti whether the director of the highest-grossing movie of all time was the ideal spokesperson against petty theft, he tap-danced. 'I found the most convincing part to be the working stiffs,' said Valenti of the PSA, 'the guys who have a modest home and kids who go to public schools. They make $75,000 to $100,000 a year. That's not much to live on. I don't have to tell you that,' he said, vastly overestimating the U.S. poverty level and what I get paid for this column. I vowed right then not only to pirate a movie but also to find a way to use the Internet to steal directly from Jack Valenti's home....
I'll still rent DVDs and see movies in theaters. But I'll download them too. And after watching that PSA, I'm especially going to steal Affleck flicks. As soon as he makes one worth stealing." [Entertainment Weekly, available to subscribers only]
"Bookfinder has added an interesting new service: a report on the most requested out of print books, based on searches submitted to them between July and December 2002. Will publishers take note?" [MetaFilter]
Let's make it Madonna day (our only one) and note that the most-requested out-of-print title in the Arts and Music section is M's book Sex. These lists make a great argument for the Internet Bookmobile and the public domain. Imagine if even libraries didn't have them and they were essentially gone forever.
Well, not Madonna's book, but you get my drift.
Madonna Materializes Another No. 1
"By debuting in the top spot, American Life gives Madonna her second studio album in a row to hit number one for a grand tally of five peak performers. First hitting the top spot with 1984's Like a Virgin, the 44-year-old mother of two continued her chart dominance over her next two albums before going a full 11 years without making it past number two.... For the week ended April 27, American Life scored a top spot replay by selling nearly 241,000 copies, according to SoundScan data.
Of course, Madonna helped propel American Life with a slew of media headlines. She recently made news by duping song-swappers with bogus, curse-filled MP3s disguised as new album tracks, and then she made news again when a hacker turned the tables by posting real MP3s of the songs on her own site....
Elsewhere on the charts, 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' sold nearly 142,000 copies, actually climbing three spots to knock himself out of the number two spot. Sporting two titles in the Top 10, the rapper's CD/DVD release New Breed dropped from two to ten, selling just 75,000 copies....
With sales down across the board, a few Top 10 albums were able to inch higher despite posting lower sales. Cher's Very Best of Cher jumped five to number five, Norah Jones' Come Away With Me up two to six, and Evanescence's Fallen reentered the top 10 at seven on a five-spot jump." [E! Online]
So Madonna's album debuted at #1 despite the pirated copies on file sharing networks, including her bogus ones, and the free ones available on her site courtesy of a hacker. In addition, the Top 10 downloads as listed by Big Champagne include songs by Evanescence, 50 Cent, (two songs!) and Norah Jones. It seems like the RIAA should pay attention to these facts, rather than restricting Iraq's copyright laws or donating to the college funds for their lawyers' kids.
However, I do have to admit that I bought two physical CDs last weekend. I think it's been about a year since I bought my last one, but the music industry didn't drive these purchases in any way. The first was the soundtrack to the movie Bend It Like Beckham. It's the first time in recent memory that I've heard music in a film that I immediately went out and purchased afterwards.
The second CD is by an artist I've heard on one of the channels at Live365. She's not even listed in MusicNow, I don't believe any radio station is playing her music, and she's not on any of the video music channels. I would have preferred digital downloads instead since all I did was rip the CDs for my Archos, but I couldn't find legal copies online and it's still too inconvenient to try and find all of the downloads illegally.
So, two sales due more to external media sources outside of the major music industry complex. It looks like Harry Shearer was right.