Will drive-in movies make a comeback?

Drive-in movie theaters hope to usher in comeback for entertainment sector

I have only childhood memories of the drive-in. Back in the early 1970s, I would occasionally attend with my parents. 

I was very young then, no more than about five years old. I usually fell asleep in the back seat of my dad’s Ford Torino long before the movie concluded. At that age, I was seldom interested in the movies my parents were watching, anyway. Continue reading “Will drive-in movies make a comeback?”

Social media, the face, and vanity, insecurity

This seems like the kind of article that could only come from a Millennial staff writer at CNN, Huffington Post, or Slate. (It came from Hannah Lack, a writer at CNN. I don’t know if she’s a Millennial; but I have my suspicions.):

Why the pressure to change our faces has never been higher

The article is filled with quotes from Jessica Hefland, the author of Face: A Visual Odyssey.

Continue reading “Social media, the face, and vanity, insecurity”

The ETB Online Books Project

Like all of you, in recent weeks I have been more preoccupied than usual with current events. As a result, the content here since mid-March has focused on the daily news.

The name of this site, though, is Edward Trimnell Books. I chose that name for a reason. Commentaries on the news will always have a place here. (I’m rather opinionated, as you may have noticed.) That said, this site isn’t, strictly speaking, a news site.  I primarily write books, many of which you can find on Amazon

This is a business for me. I’m an author, of course; but I’m also a micro-publisher.

Nevertheless, these are tough times for many readers. The COVID-19 shutdown has cut US economic activity by about a third. Unemployment now hovers at an unbelievable 18%. Hopefully the economy will be reopened soon, and the raw numbers will improve. Many people, though, will need time to recover from this unprecedented interruption to normal life.

In light of these highly unusual circumstances, I would like to make all of my books available to readers for free.

This is already the case with most of my existing library, if you’re a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program

I realize, though, that Kindle Unlimited won’t be the right option for some of you. And as much as I love Amazon, people were reading online long before anyone ever heard of a Kindle. 

One of the purposes of a website is to provide free online content. Without something for people to read, a website is nothing more than a glorified online brochure.

That’s what all too many websites are. I’ve always wanted this site to provide more to the reading community—especially in times like these.

I initially explored the idea of making more of my existing catalog available here on the site. The problem, though, is that I can’t make content freely available to you here, as well as in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program. Amazon requires that all Kindle Unlimited titles be exclusive to the Amazon platform (in electronic form). I am bound by the terms of that contract, and I intend to abide by it. 

So I had another idea…

The Edward Trimnell Books Online Books Project

I’ve therefore decided to start making some titles available here on the site exclusively—or in advance of bookstore publication. These will not be serials, technically speaking, but I’ll be posting them a chapter at a time, as I write them. And you’ll be able to read them here for free. 

I have several titles in mind for the first round of online books. These will be a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. The fiction books will span several of the genres that I usually write in (thriller, horror, mystery). I also have some short stories planned.

And for those of you who have enjoyed all the news commentaries over these past few weeks, fear not: At least one of the titles I have in the works concerns politics. But whereas the daily blog posts typically deal with ephemeral headlines, the upcoming book one will dig deeper and involve more theory. 

The plan is to serialize several diverse titles at once, so that at least one of them will be something you’ll be interested in reading. As I say on ETB’s About page , I don’t expect anyone to like everything posted on this site, but everyone should be able to find at least something that they like. That’s one of the advantages of a variety format.

How can you support the Online Books Project?

No, this isn’t a prelude to asking you for money.

Some sites that provide free content immediately turn around and panhandle you at every turn—usually via requests to support them on Patreon. 

I don’t necessarily have a philosophical opposition to Patreon (or similar crowdfunding intermediaries, like Kickstarter). I’ll probably put up a Patreon page eventually, for readers who would like to voluntarily contribute. But if I’m going to make that an upfront requirement, I had might as well just put everything on Amazon first. A Patreon paywall is still a paywall.

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But I still have bills to pay, just like everyone else. Can free content work with paying the bills? In part, yes. 

One of the really cool things about online content is that “free to the reader/viewer” need not mean “unpaid to the creator/publisher”. This principle goes all the way back to the origins of the Internet-as-we-know-it, in the 1990s.

In the beginning, at least, the Online Books Project will be sponsored the old-fashioned way: through the placement of a few unobtrusive ads.

Some of these ads will be for my books on Amazon. If you really like what you read here for free, consider purchasing a book of mine that isn’t part of the Online Books Project. You may also want to purchase an edited, proofread version of a book that appears online first. But that’s totally up to you.

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The Online Books Project will also be sponsored (sparingly) by banner ads and affiliate links to third-party products. I don’t fundamentally have any difficulty with the idea of supporting free content with third-party ads. That’s what newspapers, magazines, and television have done since time immemorial. 

Online ads have (not without some justification) gotten a bad rap in recent years. That’s because some sites have totally overdone the concept.

The online versions of The Independent and USA Today come to mind here. These sites are littered with dropdown full-screen ads, autoplay video ads, and many more extremely intrusive forms of advertising. 

Edward Trimnell Books is old-school all the way. Just like I hate social media (why would anyone want to bother with Snapchat or TikTok?), I’m also allergic to newfangled forms of online advertising. I keep the ads here low-key, like they were up till about 2003. 

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Those are my basic ideas about the Online Books Project.

I’ll be posting new content and new chapters daily, more or less, so check back often!

Amazon slashes affiliate commissions

And Amazon Associates learn to love Amazon a little less

This bombshell hit online publishers this week, both large and small:

Amazon Cuts Commission Rates for Advertising Affiliates

….Commission rates for several affiliate product categories are getting reduced significantly. For example rates for furniture and home improvement products have been cut to 3% from 8% while grocery product commission rates fell to 1% from 5%. The commission on ads for headphones, beauty products, musical instruments, and business and industrial supplies got reduced to 3% from 6%.

The commission reductions are a significant blow to some Amazon affiliates who rely on commissions as a main portion of their income. Websites like BuzzFeed publish buy lists that drive readers to Amazon products in return for a cut of those sales.

Amazon is one of the oldest affiliate programs on the Internet. I don’t know exactly when it launched, but Amazon Associates certainly dates back to the turn of this century. Continue reading “Amazon slashes affiliate commissions”

Mike DeWine and Amy Acton as ‘Laverne & Shirley’

Northeast Ohio animator creates hilarious ‘Laverne & Shirley’ theme song for Mike DeWine’s coronavirus briefings

To be clear, there is nothing humorous about the pandemic, or the considerable human suffering that has resulted from it.

Nevertheless, we can find the light side in some of the pandemic’s peripheral aspects.

These would certainly include the foolish hoarding of toilet paper.

And, of course, the daily press conferences with public officials who previously had negligible footprints outside their immediate polities. How many Americans outside of the New York/New England area gave Andrew Cuomo much serious thought two months ago? Continue reading “Mike DeWine and Amy Acton as ‘Laverne & Shirley’”

Malware on CNN.com

This morning I checked the day’s headlines on the CNN homepage, as is often my wont. I saw a story that interested me, and clicked on the article’s hyperlink.

The article page was a legitimate page on CNN’s website. But the page was loaded down with autoplay videos and obtrusive ads.

Almost immediately, a “Flash player” piece of malware began downloading onto my MacBook Air. I closed the browser immediately.

For the record: I don’t believe that CNN—or any major news outlet—is deliberately distributing malware. They are, however, so filled with ads from various ad brokers and networks, that invariably a bad apple or two slips through.

Some news sites are now almost completely filled with ads. (Local news sites seem to be the most grievous offenders in this regard.)

I’m not opposed to ad-supported online content. Since the beginning, ads have been the tool that have enabled most of the content on the Internet to be free. Without online advertising, the Internet would become a pay-as-you-go space. The only free content would be content from the government and public agencies, or cleverly disguised infomercials.

But online ads are not what they used to be. Online advertising started out as banner ads above and below, and to the right and the left of content. People who complained about that (and there are always people complaining) usually did so on ideological grounds. They didn’t like the idea that someone was making money from their online content.

Things have changed. Nowadays, many sites are more ads than content. And we’ve all uttered a few choice curse words at those full-screen drop-down ads that won’t go away.

Particularly odious are the autoplay video ads. I’ve noticed an annoying tendency toward autoplay videos of all kinds on news sites in recent years, and these videos invariably are preceded by ads.

I’m not here to encourage anyone to visit online gambling dens or Russian porn sites. But if you were avoiding such websites for fear of malware, well….you might be taking just as big a risk when you visit CNN.com.

Apple and the slowing iPhone

I love my iMac, my MacBook Air, and my iPhone, but I have a firm rule with all of these devices:

One operating system (OS) per device.

This isn’t really so radical, when you think about it. Prior to automated updates (circa 2010), this was the way that most people functioned by default. If you bought a PC with Windows 95, you didn’t upgrade it to Windows 98 or Windows 2000. You waited until you bought a new machine, and then you got Windows 98 or Windows 2000.

And so on.

I first ran into problems with automated updates in 2010, when updates from Microsoft crashed my perfectly good Gateway computer running Windows XP (still the best operating system that Microsoft ever developed). That was the point at which I became a Mac convert.

But I noticed something about my Mac devices: Whenever I upgraded to a new Mac OS (which Apple pushes relentlessly, especially on the iPhone), I noticed a significant drop in performance.

Apparently, I’m not the only one:

Apple will pay up to $500 million to settle lawsuit over slowing down older iPhones

I miss the days when changing your operating system was a user-initiated event, versus something that tech companies try to compel on users via the Internet.

Apple constantly pushes new versions of the iOS to my iPhone. And I constantly delete them, uninstalled.

Get it right the first time, Apple….and that goes for the other tech companies, as well.

‘American Dirt’ and another kowtow to the Internet mob

Yet another example of cancel culture in action. The book tour of Jeanine Cummins, author of the novel American Dirt, has been cancelled after the backlash of an Internet social justice mob.

What’s the issue? Apparently a woman who is not of Mexican heritage is not allowed to write a novel about Mexican migrants. 

Or so the mob declares. 

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Update: 124 relatively unknown authors have signed an open letter to Oprah Winfrey, asking Oprah to abet the book-burning project.

I’m not familiar with the majority of the authors. Quite a few of them, though, seem to be authors of competing books (also about the Mexican migrant experience) that have not achieved similar commercial success.

A hint of the green-eyed monster, perhaps?

Make of that what you will.

The new blog format for 2020

Some things will be changing here at Edward Trimnell Books in 2020. Other things will remain the same.

What will stay the same?

The fiction. I primarily write fiction, and I’ll continue to post novel excerpts and short stories here.

I may even serialize a complete novel here before the end of 2020.

What will change?

The blog. No—I don’t intend to stop blogging. You will, however, notice changes in the length, tone, and style of the blog posts in 2020.

We will still discuss current events. That said, there will be no effort here in 2020 to follow the daily news on a headline-by-headline basis.

This site isn’t Huffington Post. Nor is it Breitbart, Daily Kos, or Instapundit. Those are all group blogs. I’m one person, and this is a personal website.

What you’ll get here instead in 2020 will be a deeper perspective. That will, though, necessarily mean narrowing the focus, and letting some headlines go by.

A semi-autobiographical orientation

Many of this year’s essays will be semi-autobiographical.

No, this doesn’t mean that I’ll be telling you what I had for breakfast each morning (oatmeal and a protein shake today, just in case you do want to know.) But I’ll be adding more of a personal spin to the blog this year.

Some of you will like that—others may not.

Time and perspective

As I begin 2020, I am fifty-one years old.

Granted, that’s much younger than many people who remain in the public eye. Former President Jimmy Carter, at the age of 95, could easily be my grandfather, after all. President Trump, age 73, was born the same year as both my parents.

On the other hand, though, I’m old enough to be the father of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, age 30. (Not that I’d want to be, I should note, but I’m old enough). If you’re old enough to be the parent of a sitting congressperson, well, you’re no longer a kid, are you?

A half-century on the planet has taught me a lot of lessons.

Chief among these is the need for humility, and the corresponding pitfalls of taking oneself too seriously. When we are young, we see the world, and ourselves, in very black-and-white, absolutist terms. As we get older, we are forced to accept that real life—and real people—involve many shades of gray.

Sometimes we are tested and we come through. Sometimes we are tested and we come up short. I have made my share of mistakes. At least some of this year’s essays will detail how I screwed up—and how I would do things differently, if I had my life to live over again.

In many cases, it might be too late for me to change my circumstances. But it might not be too late for you. If that happens to be true, then it really will have been worthwhile for me to talk about myself.

I have also changed my mind on occasion, when the available evidence has changed. Politicians often say that their opinions have “evolved”—which usually means that their opinions on a particular issue have shifted to the left.

Well, not always. Sometimes my opinions have “evolved” to the left—but just as often they’ve “evolved” to the right. I’ll probably find time to delve into some of those about-faces, or subtle shifts of perspective, too.

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Anyway, that’s a little bit about the new blog format for the New Year. Welcome to 2020. I hope it’s a happy, healthy, and productive 366 days for you.