amazon


Dropping a bunch of book prices (if you’re not in the US or Europe)

The lowest I can price my books on Amazon is 99 cents. In the UK and Eurozone, because of VAT, they price match to 0.99 (pounds or Euros). In other shops- India, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Canada- it matches the local currency. But, in all those places, I could price them lower. So, I just went through my catalogue and lowered the prices of my cheapest books. The following are now available at bargain prices, if you’re in the right place-

Sounds of Soldiers

Tiger

GOD Hunt

So Much To Answer For

Chosen Ones/Source

Kettled

Britain Looks To The Future

Britain Turns To Crime

Alternative Facts


Amazon has brought Kindle Unlimited to the UK

The most common description of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service is probably “Netflix for ebooks”. You pay a monthly subscription (£7.99), and can download to read as many eligible titles as you want. Prime offered a limited version of this as part of its benefits, but Unlimited- as the name suggests- opens it right up.

You can’t get every Kindle title through Unlimited. The major publisher’s lists may not be fully available, as they continue various disputes with Amazon. Indie publishers, such as yours truly, have to opt books into a service called Select, and make them exclusive to Amazon, for them to be eligible for KU. Which is why there are only two of my books available on it at the moment, and they’re Garth Owen ones. Some, but not all, of my future releases will be exclusive to the big river, so that list will fill up with time.

If you’re a voracious reader and, unlike me, you don’t live next door to a charity shop with a well stocked 20p books table, then Kindle Unlimited could be a neat value-for-money way to get your fix.


Christmas gift ideas from Spinneyhead

Not long to go until Christmas, so, if you’re unsure about what to get your friends and family, may I suggest a couple of online shops.

Buy my handmade, art and vintage stuff from Zibbet, or get 3D printed models from Shapeways. All cool stuff, some of it using the most modern of methods, some old school.

And don’t forget, if you have a Kindle you can buy my books from Amazon (and Garth Owen’s as well).


The Kindle Fire is now available in the UK

The Kindle Fire HD might be a smaller iPad alternative, at least as far as content goes. On top of ebooks, it also handles full colour content, audio and video and has a touch screen. You can tie it to your Lovefilm account and, unlike Apple, Amazon appear to treat their customers as grown ups when it comes to how they watch their content.

I’ll have a tablet eventually. I don’t know if it will be a Kindle Fire, but it’s on the list. It’s also a potential platform for the content I create, so I’m going to keep an eye on the specs.


My books for the Kindle are now available in India 1

Amazon have announced that they’re starting selling Kindle books in India. Their press release says that you can find all the Indian Kindle releases at www.amazon.com/kindlestoreindia, but I seem to get redirected to a page at amazon.com with nothing to suggest it’s their Indian subdivision.

India’s a huge market. It would be interesting to see what sorts of books do well there.


Amazon’s MP3 album offer

Until January 7th Amazon are offering 50 MP3 albums for £5 each. Not quite as good as the day earlier this year when someone must have miskeyed some values and a load of albums were available for 29p each, but not bad.

There’s some crap in there, obviously, but there’s also stuff like Lungs by Florence and the Machine, La Roux, My Way by Ian Brown and Hands by Little Boots, all of which I shall purchase after Christmas.


So I’m a Dummy

Ordered today, because Monday’s 3d building session came to a grinding halt when Blender refused to import .obj files properly and I didn’t know enough about the interface to fix the resulting mess. Maybe if I work exclusively in Blender I can smoothe my workflow significantly.


Gomez – A New Tide

I will buy a new album by Gomez without hearing any of the songs on it. So far, only Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline has come close to being a disappointment.

So I just got A New Tide and I’m loving their lush sounds again. The sun’s even come out for them.

They’re playing Manchester Academy on the 30th. I’d rush out and buy tickets. If I hadn’t already got some for Jim Bob doing an acoustic set in The Lass O’ Gowrie on the same night. If I wasn’t listening to such good music I’d be annoyed about that.


The sound of summer 2008

Drinking in the morning sun
Blinking in the morning sun
Shaking off the heavy one
Heavy like a loaded gun

What made me behave that way?
Using words I never say
I can only think it must be love
Oh, anyway, it’s looking like a beautiful day

Someone tell me how I feel
It’s silly wrong but vivid right
Oh, kiss me like the final meal
Yeah, kiss me like we die tonight

Cause holy cow, I love your eyes
And only now I see the light
Yeah, lying with me half-awake
Oh, anyway, it’s looking like a beautiful day

When my face is chamois-creased
If you think I’ll wink, I did
Laugh politely at repeats
Yeah, kiss me when my lips are thin

Cause holy cow, I love your eyes
And only now I see you like
Yeah, lying with me half-awake
Stumbling over what to say
Well, anyway, it’s looking like a beautiful day

So throw those curtains wide!
One day like this a year’d see me right!

One Day Like This – Elbow

Or, as I just have, you can get the album as MP3s from Amazon. The MP3 download store is well stocked, as you’d expect from Amazon, and I’ll be going back regularly I reckon.


Coming soon to the Spinneyhead library and music collection

I cracked and ordered a batch of books and cds-

Ida Maria – Fortress Around My Heart. On the strength of “I Like You So Much More When You’re Naked”, a song which is close to the most fun you can have with or without your clothes on.

Camper Van Beethoven – Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart. Because I listened to my tape of this album on the way back from Edinburgh last time, driving along the A702 and remembering Cumbrian roads, finding the album in a Woolworths’ bargain bin and having to turn around and go back because the other passenger wanted his own copy by the end of the tape. When I finally make my movie, “Life is Grand” is going to be the end theme.

Making Comics – Scott McCloud. Because I’m making comics, albeit slower than I’d like. And I’m almost halfway through the first graphic novel, so I should probably have picked this up sooner.

I’ve got Reinventing Comics somewhere, which turned me on to the idea of doing a webcomic so many years ago, and I really should read Understanding Comics as well. Most of my understanding of comic book pacing and panel composition has been picked up from reading comics, I’m hoping this book will provide some pointers to where I can improve my work.

Watching the Watchmen. Yes, I’ve fallen for a piece of Watchmen merchandising. Dave Gibbons, unlike writer Alan Moore, is loving the adaptation of his graphic novel and is more than willing to revisit the subject and give us a book full of background, sketches and anecdotes. It’s like the special features bit on a dvd. And it’s considerably cheaper than Absolute Watchmen.

And on pre-order-

Erotic Comics: A Graphic history volume 2. Because I’m creating an erotic graphic novel it seems like a good idea to have a look at the genre’s history. Volume 1 of this set was a breezy trip from cave art to the seventies, telling me some stuff I didn’t know and giving me a fair amount of stuff to folow up on.

Best Erotic Comics 2009. And I should study what others are doing in teh same field. I’ve got Best Erotic Comics 2008, which has a good eclectic mix of material.


Get in the car and drive

Casa Spinneyhead loves driving games. I’ve been meaning to write a group review of them for a while, so here goes.

We haven’t tried the most recent version of Gran Turismo, because we don’t have a PS3, but have played most of the others between us. There’s not a lot to be said about Gran Turismo that hasn’t been said elsewhere. It is the daddy of racing games, but it appeals more to the perfectionist than others in the genre.

GT3‘s cheat of choice was to build the most powerful car possible and use the extra horses to compensate for poor driving. With GT4 we discovered B mode, where you play as the team manager, sitting on the pit wall working out strategies and telling your driver how aggressive to be. Unlike professional drivers, they actually pay attention to you.

For beautiful graphics, realistic cars and handling and masses of tuning options, Gran Turismo is your best bet. The lack of damage, given the way we drive, is a bonus as well.

Project Gotham Racing 2 offers no tuning options, and it does have damage and less realistic handling. Which makes it much more fun, naturally. The aim is to collect Kudos, rather than credits, to progress. You don’t just get points for winning races. They’re awarded for drifts, air and other factors of style. Which suits us fine, because we have a hard time keeping our cars going in a straight line. Night time races, with damage taking out your headlights, are a special kind of challenge. Project Gotham 3 is available for the Xbox 360, but we don’t have one of those either.

Need For Speed: Carbon places great emphasis on drifting as well. There are events dedicated to it and it plays an important role in the pursuit races as a way to block the other drivers. We haven’t progressed very far on the career game, which takes you from neophyte drifter to, I guess, King of the sideways drivers. Customising your car is, of course, an important element in the game, allowing you to build the tuner of your dreams.

Body building is a big part of Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition. Our in house competition is to see how tacky our cars can be. This is our current favourite driver, to the extent that we’ve started all over again.

Rockstar aren’t famed for their socially responsible games. Whilst you can’t run anyone over the way Grand Theft Auto lets you, there’s a lot of scope for property damage. Win money racing through three cities (the Remix adds Tokyo and new cars) and modify your car for speed and style along the way. Routes are peppered with destructible architecture and jumps. Hitting a ramp at full boost can see you spending a long, long time in the air. The household’s favourite ride is the Chrysler 300C. It’s no coincidence that we started seeing so many on Manchester’s roads right after we started playing it.

The Burnout series was addictive from the start, but it wasn’t until number three that it really came through on its promise of being able to take out other racers using buildings and traffic. This makes the racing as addictive as the crashing sections, which were the highlight of the previous versions. Sadly, Burnout: Revenge screwed up a lot of features and is much less playable. There’s no tuning or purchasing of cars in these games, just make your choice based upon weight and speed and get out there and cause carnage.

We tried a Formula One game, but it just didn’t work for us. Another spin off of a real racing series- Colin McRae Rally 2005– was far better. How much better we can’t say, because the game really does take account of damage and we’re far too fond of interacting with the scenery to keep our cars intact. Damage, in multi stage rallies, can only be partially fixed by allocating time to different jobs. If we could learn to stay on the road, this could become an addiction.

There are a few also rans in the search for the perfect driving game. Forza Motorsport didn’t impress. Forza 2 might be an improvement but, again, we don’t have a 360. Ford Racing was poor, its unique- and only- selling point being the ability to drive Henry’s products. NASCAR was even worse. Midtown Madness is fun, but not as much as so many of those listed above. Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit seems slow and low quality compared to later versions.