Harper Collins and Kindle Unlimited

When you think “Kindle Unlimited”, you probably think “small press and indie publishers”.

That may be about to change.

Harper Collins has recently decided to test the waters in Amazon’s subscription service. The Big Five publisher will enroll several thousand of its backlist titles into Kindle Unlimited in the UK and Australia on an experimental basis.

In and of itself, this doesn’t really mean much. A big publisher like HC owns the rights to thousands of books, after all–some of which barely sell.

The indie publishing community is presently divided about the costs and benefits of Kindle Unlimited. I don’t look for New York publishing houses to embrace KU in a major way anytime soon. If a book is capable of selling, they want to sell it, not enroll in it in Amazon’s per-page payment system.

Not that I’m against the Big Five jumping into KU, mind you. If Harper Collins, Penguin, and the other major publishers were to make Kindle Unlimited a regular part of their strategy, they might be successful in negotiating an end to the exclusivity clause of the program.

Alien (1979)

Tonight I finally got around to watching the original Alien movie. 

I was too young (11) for this film when it came out in 1979, and I never got around to watching it until tonight. Better late than never…the story of my life.

Overall, I found Alien to be a very entertaining sci-fi horror flick. Some of the special effects are a little primitive by 21st-century standards, but hey…1979. Jimmy Carter was president when this movie was made. 40 years ago!

A few quibbles: The film depicts smoking aboard a spaceship, which should have seemed an unlikely scenario even to filmmakers in 1979. The spaceship in the film, Nostromo, is also home to a pet cat. 

The cat does fulfill several functions in the plot. But once again, this unlikely depiction momentarily knocked me out of suspension-of-disbelief mode. As a former cat owner, I’m all too aware of the practical difficulties that would be involved in keeping a cat on a spaceship.

Get ‘Luk Thep’ FREE on Kindle 9/16 & 9/17/2019

A supernatural thriller ripped from the headlines…

If you haven’t read my novella Luk Thep, this is your chance to read it for FREE.

An American woman is terrorized by a Thai ghost. A supernatural thriller ripped from recent headlines.

I wrote this novella in early 2016, after I read this article in The Economist.

I haven’t promoted Luk Thep as aggressively as some other titles, but readers have generally liked it. Check it out on Amazon!

The best H.P. Lovecraft collection?

I own several HP Lovecraft collections, but this one is my favorite: The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre . This volume was published in 1987.

I’ve bought it twice: Once in 1988 (that copy is long since gone); and I bought a replacement copy about two years ago. 

This collection has all the stories that the newcomer to Lovecraft really needs, including “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and “The Dunwich Horror”.

Another feature of this collection is the excellent introductory essay by Robert Bloch.

Autumn skies in Ohio

Over the past week or so, the weather here in Southern Ohio has been growing gradually cooler, after a brutal heatwave throughout most of July and August.

Today we had a delightfully cool, overcast morning.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and the time when I tend to be most productive. (My most sluggish time of the year is the dog days of high summer.)

Let summer end, and let fall begin in earnest.

Only 54 days until Halloween!

‘Speed Racer’, my favorite Japanese import in 1972

I can tell you what I was doing, most afternoons at 3 pm in 1972. (I was four that year.) I was sprawled out in front of my parents’ boxy Zenith television set, tuned in to Cincinnati’s Channel 19, WXIX. 

That was the time and place in which Speed Racer aired.

The Speed Racer franchise began in Japan in the 1960s as a manga comic series. In 1967, a Speed Racer animated cartoon was developed; and this is what found its way to the US market (dubbed into English, of course).

The best way to describe Speed Racer is as follows: The series concerns the adventures of “Speed”, the driver of the technologically advanced Mach 5 racer. 

Like many Japanese manga, Speed Racer takes place in a setting that is the real world, but not quite the real world. There are unrealistic technological menaces (like the “Mammoth Car”); and the series may have had a monster or two. 

I didn’t know back then that Speed Racer was a Japanese import. (I also didn’t know that many years hence, I would learn the Japanese language; but that’s another story.) At the age of four, I may not have even been aware of Japan. 

I just remember being thrilled by the adventures of Speed and the Mach 5. These were fun cartoons, filled with action, and instantly accessible. Speed Racer is the first television series that I ever became a fanatic of; and in 1972, I was a Speed Racer fanatic. 

I recently watched a few episodes of Speed Racer on YouTube, for nostalgia’s sake. These cartoons fascinated me at the age of four. And even at the age of 51, they retain for me a certain charm. 

Speed Racer intro, 1967

‘Eleven Miles of Night’: $0.99 through 8/30!

If you haven’t read Eleven Miles of Night, now is the time to read it for only $0.99. 

And remember that this title is FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

The future of Barnes & Noble

Some of you have been asking my opinion regarding new Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt’s plan for the struggling book retailer.

Daunt plans to make B&N stores stripped-down versions of what they currently are. The model here is the airport bookstore on one hand, the local, neighborhood bookstore on the other.

In other words, small bookstores that carry about the same inventory as the book section of the nearest Walmart, Costco, or Kroger.

So why do you even need a bookstore, if Walmart already stocks about the same number of books? 

Daunt is British, and this might be a viable strategy for the British retail market, which is decades behind that of the United States.

It isn’t a winning strategy for the US, where Amazon dominates by virtue of its wide selection, low prices, and economies of scale.

Daunt clearly has no plan to compete with Amazon. He plans to compete with…small neighborhood bookstores that have already gone out of business in most of the U.S.

Forgive me if I’m underwhelmed.

FREE horror: new in Kindle Unlimited

Just in time for late summer reading, I’ve added these horror titles for you to enjoy FREE in Kindle Unlimited:

(Click the links to view them on Amazon.)

Revolutionary Ghosts

The year is 1976, and the Headless Horseman rides again. A dark fantasy horror thriller filled with wayward spirits, historical figures, and a 1970s vibe.

12 Hours of Halloween

Halloween night 1980: The suburbs are haunted, as three young friends endure twelve hours of nonstop supernatural terror. Will they survive the night?

Eleven Miles of Night

Would you risk your life and sanity on the most haunted road in Ohio for a $2000 prize?

Hay Moon and Other Stories: Sixteen modern tales of horror and suspense

16 horrific tales filled with monsters, ghosts, and deadly people. For fans of Stephen King’s short story collections.

Luk Thep: a horror novella

An American executive in exotic Thailand. An evil spirit that follows her home. Supernatural mystery and terror on two continents.

You can read all of the above titles for FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

Not a member of Kindle Unlimited? Check out the FREE trial!

‘Revolutionary Ghosts’ $0.99 sale: update

Thanks to everyone who purchased the book  yesterday.  I’ll leave it at 99 cents throughout today, and reset it to the usual ($3.99) price tomorrow.

Also, a reminder that the book is always free in Kindle Unlimited.

If you are not a member of Kindle Unlimited, check out the free trial.

The return of cassettes

Cassettes Are Back, and It’s Not About the Music

I wouldn’t have expected this one.

I remember cassettes well, of course. (I even owned a few 8-tracks, as they were being phased out, in the very early 1980s.)

There are a lot of things that I miss about the last century, but the hissing, easily tangled audiocassette is not one of them. (That and typewriter correction fluid.)

As the above-linked article states, the big selling point of the cassette was its distinction as the most portable audio format, under the technological constraints we faced in the 1980s. No one loved them for their sound, or their reliability.

FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

For a limited time: a tale of horror, American history, and coming-of-age. 

The year is 1976, and the Headless Horseman rides again!

Steve Wagner is an ordinary Ohio teenager in the year of America’s Bicentennial, 1976. As that summer begins, his thoughts are mostly about girls, finishing high school, and driving his 1968 Pontiac Bonneville.

But this will be no ordinary summer. Steve sees evidence of supernatural activity in the area near his home: mysterious hoof prints and missing persons reports, and unusual, violently inclined men with British accents.

There is a also a hideous woman–the vengeful ghost of a condemned Loyalist spy–who appears in the doorway of Steve’s bedroom. 

Filled with angry spirits, historical figures, and the Headless Horseman of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Revolutionary Ghosts is a terrifying coming-of-age story with a groovy 1970s vibe.

Read it for FREE in Kindle unlimited, or for just $2.99

Don’t have Kindle Unlimited? Try Kindle Unlimited for FREE!