Tag Archives: Mysterious Galaxy

The Shelves are Paved with (The Path of) Daggers

Wheel of Time books on a bookstore's shelf

A few years back, Mysterious Galaxy, a San Diego bookstore specializing in mystery and science fiction, opened a second location in Redondo Beach. They recently decided to close the newer location and focus on the San Diego store and community events (they’re heavily involved in the local book and comics convention circuits), and held a giant sale to clear out inventory.

I have to admit I’m not terribly surprised. As much as I loved the place, the store was never particularly busy when I dropped in. Although to be honest, we’re part of the problem, since we only managed to visit a few times a year. Neither of us has nearly as much time to read as we used to, and we’re splitting our book purchases between print and digital along somewhat arbitrary lines these days. (I did make a point of using their affiliate account at Kobo, though.)

We went to the sale over the weekend, and found it amusing that of all the Wheel of Time novels remaining on the shelf, the only ones left aside from the final installment were The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, and Crossroads of Twilight — a trio of books widely known for killing fans’ interest in the series. (Crossroads, in particular, is referred to jokingly as “Characters Show Up.”) Fortunately it picked up again with New Spring, a flashback novel focusing on a character who had vanished halfway through the series, set years before the first book. The next book in the main series, Knife of Dreams, turned out to be really good, making me wonder if Robert Jordan’s side trip to the past had re-energized and re-inspired him. The fact that the story picked up again so strongly before his death — before he was even diagnosed, IIRC — gave me a lot more confidence in the concluding trilogy finished by Brandon Sanderson. If that next book had been like Crossroads, I probably would have dropped the series right there.

Looking Back at WonderCon 2014

Like I'm Being WatchedThis year at WonderCon (April 18-20) was the year that I missed a lot of things. It’s not at the SDCC level where you have to assume you won’t get to what you want unless you’re really lucky, or deliberately go for the less popular events. Even if you’re at the very end of a long line, or arriving five minutes before, you might still make it into the room. Mostly, I got there late two days out of three, and spent most of Saturday finding things for a three-year-old to do (more about that later).

WonderCon is settling in at Anaheim. The crowds are coming even on Friday, and parking…well, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than the first year, when they sent people out to Anaheim Stadium for overflow, and a lot simpler than San Diego’s collection of dozens of tiny parking lots scattered around downtown. After the first day following signs from lot to lot to lot, I just went straight to the Garden Walk structure for the next two days. It’s a bit of a hike, but not much worse than parking at the far end of the Toy Story lot, and the time you save waiting to get into the lot will probably make up for the extra 5-10 minutes on foot. (But if you leave the con before sunset, make sure you walk out to Katella along the convention center, where there’s shade, and not along Harbor, where there’s a wide street to let the sun reach you and a wall to reflect the heat right at you.) Continue reading

Sun Halo Behind a Plant Frame

Sun Halo Behind a Plant FrameI spotted this great halo yesterday while we were out shopping for plants for a vegetable garden. The bright, colorful upper arc just jumped out, and while I searched for something I could use to block the sun for a photo, I also shaded my son’s eyes with my hand so he could look too.

It was still visible 20 minutes later and a few miles away, when I noticed that the upper arc looked like it split to the left, probably a circular 22° halo with a circumscribed halo around it. That would touch the circle at the top, where it’s brightest, then branch off on tangents to the sides — and it does look like that may be going on even in this shot, on both sides, though I didn’t notice it at the time. Halos like this are caused by reflections in ice crystals, but the ice can be in the upper atmosphere. It was plenty warm down here on the ground, around 80°F.

We did make it out to Mysterious Galaxy for California Bookstore Day (though they only had a few of the exclusives left by the time we arrived — apparently there was a massive rush that morning), but ended up missing Free Comic Book Day. It became clear while we were out running around that J wasn’t going to stand for waiting in line in the heat, and I never quite managed to get back out there myself after the rest of our errands were done. It didn’t really seem that urgent, two weeks after WonderCon (I still need to write that up, but you can check out my convention photos now).

Dealing With Multiple E-Book Stores

App icons for Kobo, Kindle, Play Books and ComiXology

While reading about Amazon’s purchase of GoodReads, I noticed a link to an article about e-book discovery that points out that a lot of people tend to explore multiple e-book stores. As someone who has done that, I’d like to comment on my experience.

Classic Kindle

I didn’t really start reading ebooks until I had a device I could use. I don’t like reading fiction on a desktop or laptop computer, and I don’t like reading it on a tiny phone. A couple of years back, Katie bought a Kindle 2, which is just about perfect for the base use case of reading a book from start to finish (though it’s a pain for much of anything else — I imagine the touch screen on the Paperwhite line is a huge improvement). My first serious eBook reading was on that dedicated device, which is linked to her account.

Tablet: Branching Out

Since I bought a general-purpose tablet last summer, I’ve branched out a bit. I picked up a few books on Google Play because they gave me some store credit when I bought the Nexus 7. At the time, a local independent bookstore that I like, Mysterious Galaxy, had a deal with Google where they could get a cut of what I spent.

I bought other books on the Kindle store, sometimes because of price or special deals, sometimes because of selection. Sometimes I’d even deliberately choose Amazon because the site where I learned about the book had an affiliate link, and I knew I’d be helping to support them. Mostly, I just like the Kindle reader app better.

At the start of the year, Google Play ended their deal with IndieBound. The new choice for independent bookstores seems to be Kobo. I’ve bought a few books from there after linking my account with Mysterious Galaxy, but I still don’t like the reader app much, and the service just seems…well…pushy. I’ve har to turn off a lot of “features” in the app. I don’t want or need recommendations in my status bar, thank you very much. And I sure as heck don’t need “accomplishments” to encourage me to read more. You know what encourages me to read more? Having time to read.

Fractured Library

The result is that between the two of us, we’ve got a small library of eBooks spread across two Kindle accounts, Google Play and Kobo…on two mutually exclusive devices. (And that’s not counting the reference books I’ve bought from O’Reilly and saved to Dropbox.)

OK, so it’s not a huge deal now, but as we buy more eBooks, it’s going to get harder to remember which book is on which account when trying to look something up or reread. We already have to discuss how to buy books that we’re both interested in reading.

I like having multiple sources to choose from. Selection, price, being able to support a third party, these are all things that you don’t necessarily get with a fully-siloed approach. But with the way eBooks are handled right now, it does add barriers to finding things.

I would prefer the way digital music purchases work: I can buy from anywhere, download a DRM-free file, and then put everything in one place. It doesn’t matter whether I bought the music from iTunes, Amazon, directly from the artist, or imported it from a CD. There’s no question of where to go when I want to listen to it. (Well, until they switch to an all-cloud-storage model, anyway. The cynical part of my brain wonders if this is the real goal behind that trend.)

On the plus side, since the libraries are searchable, and three of them are linked to the same device, it’s actually an improvement over the years we were living in a too-small apartment with 90% of our books in storage, and it was a question of finding which box they were in.