There’s this idea (where it started, who knows) that there are comedies for different groups of people. With Bridesmaids, we had a comedy for women. With everything that is Tyler Perry, we have comedies for African Americans. We nerds dominate the internet with webcomics such as xkcd and web comedies such as The Guild. Are any of these niche comedies funny to peoples outside of their intended audience, or are those comedies simply not funny to other people? And who’s the audience for all those seemingly more generic comedies?
You know that moment when you’re wondering what to do for a Web Crush and you suddenly have an idea, but assume it’s already taken because it’s such a perfectly awesome idea and then realize that it is not taken? It’s a wonderful moment you guys.
So this week’s Web Crush is xkcd, an online webcomic by Randall Munroe that focuses on a variety of topics; many of them cover science, the internet, and personal relationships. Ususally the comic updates update on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Everyone is a stick figure and there aren’t any reoccurring characters, so you don’t have to start from a beginning or anything like that. You can just go to the website and enjoy, which is what I really like about it. I never remember to check it so I can just scroll through comics whenever.
So rather than me ranting about how awesome it is, I’m just going to tell you to go to xkcd.com!
With one week down and one to go, let’s look at the Humble eBook Bundle. This is the first Humble Bundle featuring e-books, and it got off to a strong start a week ago before slowing considerably. At this point it’s done over $465,000 in sales, which is a nice lump sum around $50,000 for all of the authors and nonprofits involved if split evenly. That’s nothing to sneeze at. At least, that’s what one of the men who organized it hopes. He hopes to show publishers and retailers that it is possible to make money on e-books without high prices and restrictive DRM. If things worked that way, maybe more authors would get paid for their work.
For those unfamiliar with the Humble Bundle, here’s the deal. There are five books, each book is written by a different author, and they are for sale. They cost however much money you want to pay for them. Seriously, whether you think they are collectively worth fifty dollars or fifty cents, they will take your money and you will get your stuff. The books you get will be in e-book format. They will be downloadable a limitless number of times, in several formats, and all without any security measures to control what you do with them. They work on Kindle, Nook, iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux easily. Your purchase price, by default, is split between the authors, several nonprofits, and the Humble Bundle website. The nonprofits available are: Child’s Play, which brings electronic entertainment to sick children; EFF, which seeks to protect our privacy and rights on the internet; and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, just a bunch of obviously kick-ass people.
Honestly, from the amount I’ve gotten into each of them, these books do each look pretty good. Oh, I forgot to mention that you get a bonus if you pay at or above the average price. Those bonuses are Old Man’s War, a science fiction novel by John Scalzi, and Signal to Noise, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. So, that’s pretty awesome, and of course the average price seems to keep rising as more and more people make sure they get their bonus material.
You should really check it out, and pick up some books for the price you actually value them for. They’ll be yours forever. True, e-books may lack much of the romance of printed books, but this is about more than that. This is about more authors being able to get their work published fairly, and more people being able to access it fully, quickly, and affordably. That would lead to more good books for you to buy and enjoy in paper-form. I’m going to go back to reading, now.
Update: Five more e-books have just been added to the bundle. They are all compilations of popular webcomics. There are two Penny Arcade books, two Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal books, and one xkcd book.
Because I am nothing if not chock full of ideas, I have decided to start a new series of posts (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten my cosplay series—that’ll be updated soon too.) Anyway, the title of this series comes from this xkcd comic:
The impulse to make fun of people who don’t know everything about everything is particularly and depressingly strong in geekdom. You’re made fun of at an anime convention if you don’t get someone’s Portal reference, even though they’re unrelated fandoms. You are appalled when someone you considered a friend doesn’t get your Monty Python joke. Most nerds have probably found themselves on both sides of this problem at one time or another.
I’ve spent most of my life as an out-and-proud geek secretly terrified of being called out for not knowing something about a show, movie, or book that ‘everyone’ is supposed to have seen, and as a result have acquired a staggering amount of suface-level information about dozens of fan-things so that I can cover my tail and look appropriately knowledgable no matter the subject. I can, for example, list off a probably impressive amount of Batfamily backstory for someone who’s never read a Batman comic; laugh at Game of Thrones comics and macros online having never read a Song of Ice and Fire book, etc. etc.
But recently I’ve realized that that’s no way to go through life. It’s pretentious to assume every human being who claims nerd-dom knows what a Sepiroth or a Jayne is, and people who are that way push away other nerd hopefuls by saying ‘you’re not good enough, you don’t have geek cred if you haven’t seen X’. So now I’m not ashamed to say my nerd education is far from complete, and, as I investigate new and different things that I’m supposed to have known about already, I’d like to share my thoughts about them with you.
No one has enough time to know everything about everything. Most of the shows, books, movies, etc. that I plan to discuss in this series have been famous for ages—I just hadn’t, for whatever reason, watched them yet. Maybe you haven’t either. And in that case, I look forward to making you one of that day’s lucky 10,000.