Books

Books
Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Da Dan Brown Code Chapter Twenty Six


This page used to house a chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code', which was serialised on this blog between October 2011 and January 2012, then it was published as 'The Last Simple'.  The story is now available as both an eBook (from all major eBook retailers) and as a paperback from Amazon.  I left it in more or less totality on thDa Dan Brown Code chaptere blog for free until April 2013 as a gesture of goodwill to those who follow my blog and enjoy my writing.  However I have chosen to remove most of it from the blog and make it available only from those pesky eBook retailers (and Amazon for the paperback, of course).

I'm not totally mean,  though, so I've left the ten most visited chapters on the blog still available for reading and, to make it even easier, I've left links to all ten below.  Enjoy the ten selected chapters and please consider visiting the book page on my website (link below)












------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com to find me

Da Dan Brown Code Chapter Twenty Five


This page used to house a chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code', which was serialised on this blog between October 2011 and January 2012, then it was published as 'The Last Simple'.  The story is now available as both an eBook (from all major eBook retailers) and as a paperback from Amazon.  I left it in more or less totality on thDa Dan Brown Code chaptere blog for free until April 2013 as a gesture of goodwill to those who follow my blog and enjoy my writing.  However I have chosen to remove most of it from the blog and make it available only from those pesky eBook retailers (and Amazon for the paperback, of course).

I'm not totally mean,  though, so I've left the ten most visited chapters on the blog still available for reading and, to make it even easier, I've left links to all ten below.  Enjoy the ten selected chapters and please consider visiting the book page on my website (link below)












------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com to find me

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Kindle Daily Deal

Amazon have been running a daily deal for Kindle titles in the US for a little while now, however they've only recently started the offers in the UK.  What they have been offering this week alone has varied from Stella Rimmington's novel Rip Tide: A Liz Carlyle Novel, for £1.29 (now selling for £7.01)

 to The Age of Instability: The Global Financial Crisis and What Comes Next, priced at £0.99 (now selling for £7.19).


 Other books made available this week includes Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures, currently selling for £5.69, but only £0.99 on the day,

as well as novels such as Last Man in Tower, currently £5.10, £0.99 in the daily deal

and Back of Beyond, today £3.99 versus the £0.99 I paid.

Now it's an odds-on certainly that I'd never have paid the full asking price for any of these books.  The only one of these authors I've read previously is Stella Rimmington but there's no way I'd consider paying £7 for an ebook.  I've been pretty vocal on this subject in earlier blogs and I haven't changed my view - ebooks are, by and large, way overpriced.

But of course Amazon are releasing these books in an attempt to get us to look at the other books in the Author series, which are priced much higher.  Resist, I say, but do take a look at the daily deal and take a chance on a book you might not otherwise have considered, as £0.99 isn't that much for a good read.  The way I look at it, if publishers realise that when books are priced at this range they sell way more than when they are sold at inflated prices, then they'll realise that pricing low is the way to go - and you can help drive that process by cannily only electing to buy books correctly priced - try to avoid going over the £2 mark if you can!

And did I mention that my books are all priced at 0.99(GBP, Euro or USD) or less?  Right now Apple is the most expensive place to buy my books due to a quirk of their pricing methods, so unless you want to read them on an iPad using the supplied e-reader app you can obtain them for less than 0.99.  No gimmick, no lead in to higher priced books, just darn goods reads.

Anyway, self promo over, the Kindle Daily Deal (in the UK) can be found at this link:

I can be followed onTwitter - @RayASullivan

email me on raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores

Now on WH Smith!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Vox or Fire?

If you're in the market for an iPad and can afford it, then I guess your search is over.  As far as I can see, there isn't a viable alternative to the iPad on sale at this time if you take into account the functionality of the device and the infrastructure that surrounds it.  I'm certain that this time next year there will be viable alternatives to the iPad, but we're not there yet.

But if the iPad is too expensive for your taste (probable for many), or you want an e-reader device that's a step up from your basic Kindle or Kobo without the cost of an iPad, then there's two devices you need to look closely at - and I admit that right now I'm addressing my US readers specifically as one of these devices isn't available in the UK right now with no forecast of a UK launch on the horizon.  For the benefit of the UK readers, the Kobo Vox is available in WH Smith stores for viewing now - if my local branch is representative of the whole country then they will have added it to the Kobo demonstration stands.

The two devices are, of course, the Amazon Fire and the Kobo Vox.  Both devices run on versions of Android, providing access to the apps available on that platform.  However it does appear that the Amazon device does limit access to the full range, preventing access to Android marketplace specifically, which is restrictive if true.  Both devices are functional e-readers with capacitance screens (stretchy, in terms non nerds use), provide access to the Internet, are optimised for viewing videos and listening to music.  And both are priced at $200 in the US (I assume local sales tax is added to that - if anyone would like to confirm that, I'd appreciate it - use the comments box at the bottom of the blog to make the information available to all other readers please).  Both are WiFi only, no 3G option is available so you need to be in a wireless zone to access the Internet.

So, which one to buy?  Well, $200 isn't a trivial amount of cash in these financially restricted times.  I always assume a few multi-millionaires follow this blog, naturally, but most readers are likely to be normal people struggling with the spiralling costs we're all experiencing against virtually static wages (for those of us still working).  So the price of these devices, while far from outrageous, are significant.

Aesthetically both devices present a minimalist view.  I note from US web pages that the Kobo comes in a variety of colours other than black - I think I'm correct in saying black is the only option in the UK at the moment - but the Fire really does appear to adhere to Henry Ford's alleged preference for black.  Personally I don't think this is a big deal - I've seen the Vox in the flesh and looked at the Fire on the web and quite like the minimal styling.  Of course this is a personal view and some people like to see lots of physical bells and whistles, but I'm an engineer by background and I see every switch, button and lever as a potential fail point in devices.  Think about it - what fails most, the TV ot the remote control?  I'll give you a clue - pop into Wal-Mart or Asda and look at the replacement remote controls for sale!

Neither device have cameras fitted, which is a shame as they would be perfect for Skype-ing.  That and a microphone have to be must have improvements for the next versions (front mounted camera, please). 

So are they equal?  I've only played with the Vox for a few minutes while it was securely fixed to a mount in store and as I've said, the Fire isn't available over in the UK right now, so I'm hardly in a postion to say which performs better.  Of course, if Amazon would like me to road test a Fire ahead of the UK launch for a review on my blog, and if Kobo would like to loan me a Vox....

My advice to US readers is to go and handle them at your local Best Buy or wherever you can view both together, look at the specs and make your decision.  For me, the apparently restricted access to the Android Apps on the Fire is dissapointing and I think it is highly likely, looking at the technical blurb for the Vox, that Vox owners would be able to download the Android Kindle App - so giving them the best of both worlds.  Of course it's possible that the Fire will permit the Kobo App to be downloaded too - I can't tell from the specs.  So for me, on the basis of what I know right now, I'd favour the Vox.

I can be followed onTwitter - @RayASullivan

email me on raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores

Now on WH Smith!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Da Dan Brown Code Chapter Twenty Four


This page used to house a chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code', which was serialised on this blog between October 2011 and January 2012, then it was published as 'The Last Simple'.  The story is now available as both an eBook (from all major eBook retailers) and as a paperback from Amazon.  I left it in more or less totality on thDa Dan Brown Code chaptere blog for free until April 2013 as a gesture of goodwill to those who follow my blog and enjoy my writing.  However I have chosen to remove most of it from the blog and make it available only from those pesky eBook retailers (and Amazon for the paperback, of course).

I'm not totally mean,  though, so I've left the ten most visited chapters on the blog still available for reading and, to make it even easier, I've left links to all ten below.  Enjoy the ten selected chapters and please consider visiting the book page on my website (link below)












------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com to find me

Saturday, 26 November 2011

WH Smith/Kobo Alliance Steals Lead Over Amazon Fire

In an audatious move, WH Smith, UK distributers of Kobo devices, has launched the Kobo Vox mini tablet on the UK market ahead of any hint of a release by Amazon of its recently released (in the US) Kindle Fire.



Like the Fire, the Vox is a seven inch touchscreen tablet, built on the Android Gingerbread operating system.  to quote Kobo, it features a 'vivid multimedia screen optimised for reading outdoors.'  It has 8 GB of internal memory, but has a micro SD slot that will take up to 32 GB of removable storage, which will certainly sort out any book storage issues.  However, like the Fire, its also designed to do much more than act as an e-reader (although it is being billed as one).  It can be used to access the internet using its WiFi, play music and video, email and is touted to be a portal for the social networking sites.  Being Android, it has access to the Android marketplace and first impressions from the press releases are that it is less restrictive than the Fire appears to be.

Oh yes, and there's the price.  At £170 (including VAT, you'll be pleased to hear) it is competing directly with the Amazon Fire in terms of price - but more importantly it is available over here now, exactly one month before Christmas Day.  It will appeal to anyone looking for an upmarket e-reader as well as those looking for a cut down iPad.  OK, it's almost certainly not as fully formed as the Apple outing, but then again, the price is a lot less.

As I've said before in earlier blogs - this looks like being an interesting Christmas for e-readers.

Now, changing tack a little.  I hope most of you managed to read the 'deleted' chapter in Da Dan Brown Code - achieved by writing on a white background with a white font.  I do realise that some readers have been reading the blog using smartphones and looking at the blog on my HTC yesterday I realised that the trick of revealing the secret writing by dragging a mouse over the text doesn't work on those devices, so just for you, here's the bomus chapter:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'There must be more to being a lead character than this,' sighed Bradford. 'I've a good mind to complain to my agent,' he said.

'Characters in a book don't have agents,' reminded Lady Bartholomew huffily. 'We have to jerk ourselves about on our own. At least we don't have pay fifteen percent for the privilege of not picking up our own phone.'


'It's alright for you,' interrupted Lucas, 'at least you're in your home country, M Lady.'

'I'm not,' objected Bradford.

‘But you’re from the States, you’re bound to get a job that takes you over there sooner or later,’ replied Lucas. ‘Me, I’m stuck over here in this God forsaken country, with its piss poor beer, crap weather, lousy beaches, frigid women and useless economy. It could be worse; I could be like the whinging Poms back in Oz.’

‘True,’ said Belsen.

‘Are you thinking aloud?’ asked Bradford. Belsen looked around shiftily; he was sure Ryder was still around.

‘Might be,’ he said, cagily, gripping the bars.

‘At last,’ said Lucas, ‘I’ve been looking for the bar all chapter.’

‘Drinkies?’ asked Lady Bartholomew.

‘Don’t mind if I do,’ said Morse. The room looked at the veteran character, then so did the occupants.

‘Do you have permission to be in a parody?’ asked Bradford, feeling the pressure of a real lead. Morse weighed up the situation, then weighed in the lead.

‘Are you ebook people fully metric now, or can I stick to Imperial units?’ he asked.

‘You’ve never been in an ebook?’ asked an incredulous Bradford.

‘Sure I have, in reprint. But first edition....?’ Morse walked around the chapter, pulling at the odd sentence here, tugging a paragraph there. He found an infinitive lying around and bravely attempted to split it. ‘But there seems to be so much more room than I’m used to,’ he added, before his face lit up.

‘Sorry,’ said Lady Bartholomew, putting the lighter back into the props store.

‘I get it,’ announced Morse. ‘It’s a blog, isn’t it? No wonder there’s so much space, you’ve got the whole of the Internet to spread out in. What’s the profit like in blogs?’ he asked. Bradford looked at Lady Bartholomew before they both burst out laughing.

‘LEWIS!’ shouted Morse, storming off out of the chapter, taking the bar with him.

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If you're following the story (and the above will make even less sense than normal) then make sure you log on on Christmas Day when a Da Dan Brown Code Christmas Special will be posted!

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Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One

'Da Dan Brown Code' will be published in early January as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after it is published.

If you've enjoyed this chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code' then check out the earlier chapters in my blog and, if you haven't done so already, why not follow the blog. 'Da Dan Brown Code' is being serialised three times a week on Sundays,Wednesdays and Fridays until the final chapter!


If you know someone who has a warped sense of humour please pass them the link to my blog so that they can enjoy 'Da Dan Brown Code'.


I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony, WH Smith, Kobo and many other good ebookstores

Friday, 25 November 2011

Da Dan Brown Code Chapter Twenty Three


This page used to house a chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code', which was serialised on this blog between October 2011 and January 2012, then it was published as 'The Last Simple'.  The story is now available as both an eBook (from all major eBook retailers) and as a paperback from Amazon.  I left it in more or less totality on thDa Dan Brown Code chaptere blog for free until April 2013 as a gesture of goodwill to those who follow my blog and enjoy my writing.  However I have chosen to remove most of it from the blog and make it available only from those pesky eBook retailers (and Amazon for the paperback, of course).

I'm not totally mean,  though, so I've left the ten most visited chapters on the blog still available for reading and, to make it even easier, I've left links to all ten below.  Enjoy the ten selected chapters and please consider visiting the book page on my website (link below)












------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com to find me

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Da Dan Brown Code - Deleted Chapters

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers.  For all of you out there, here is a bonus Da Dan Brown Code posting which is more than it looks.

First Deleted Chapter




You've got the right idea.  Look lower!














Second Deleted Chapter

'There must be more to being a lead character than this,' sighed Bradford. 'I've a good mind to complain to my agent,' he said.

'Characters in a book don't have agents,' reminded Lady Bartholomew huffily. 'We have to jerk ourselves about on our own. At least we don't have pay fifteen percent for the privilege of not picking up our own phone.'

'It's alright for you,' interrupted Lucas, 'at least you're in your home country, M Lady.'

'I'm not,' objected Bradford.

‘But you’re from the States, you’re bound to get a job that takes you over there sooner or later,’ replied Lucas.  ‘Me, I’m stuck over here in this God forsaken country, with its piss poor beer, crap weather, lousy beaches, frigid women and useless economy. It could be worse; I could be like the whinging Poms back in Oz.’

‘True,’ said Belsen.

‘Are you thinking aloud?’ asked Bradford.  Belsen looked around shiftily; he was sure Ryder was still around.

‘Might be,’ he said, cagily, gripping the bars.

‘At last,’ said Lucas, ‘I’ve been looking for the bar all chapter.’

‘Drinkies?’ asked Lady Bartholomew.

‘Don’t mind if I do,’ said Morse.  The room looked at the veteran character, then so did the occupants.

‘Do you have permission to be in a parody?’ asked Bradford, feeling the pressure of a real lead.  Morse weighed up the situation, then weighed in the lead.

‘Are you ebook people fully metric now, or can I stick to Imperial units?’ he asked.

‘You’ve never been in an ebook?’ asked an incredulous Bradford.

‘Sure I have, in reprint.  But first edition....?’ Morse walked around the chapter, pulling at the odd sentence here, tugging a paragraph there.  He found an infinitive lying around and bravely attempted to split it.  ‘But there seems to be so much more room than I’m used to,’ he added, before his face lit up.

‘Sorry,’ said Lady Bartholomew, putting the lighter back into the props store.

‘I get it,’ announced Morse.  ‘It’s a blog, isn’t it?  No wonder there’s so much space, you’ve got the whole of the Internet to spread out in.  What’s the profit like in blogs?’  he asked.  Bradford looked at Lady Bartholomew before they both burst out laughing.

‘LEWIS!’ shouted Morse, storming off out of the chapter, taking the bar with him.

Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One

'Da Dan Brown Code' will be published in early January as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after it is published.

If you've enjoyed these deleted  chapters of 'Da Dan Brown Code' then check out the earlier chapters in my blog and, if you haven't done so already, why not follow the blog.

What do you mean there's nothing here to read; look again - and be creative with that mouse!

'Da Dan Brown Code' is being serialised three times weekly on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays until it ends!

If you know someone who has a warped sense of humour please pass them the link to my blog so that they can enjoy 'Da Dan Brown Code'.

I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan

Visit my books on Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores.

Now on WH Smith!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Da Dan Brown Code - Chapter Twenty Two


This page used to house a chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code', which was serialised on this blog between October 2011 and January 2012, then it was published as 'The Last Simple'.  The story is now available as both an eBook (from all major eBook retailers) and as a paperback from Amazon.  I left it in more or less totality on thDa Dan Brown Code chaptere blog for free until April 2013 as a gesture of goodwill to those who follow my blog and enjoy my writing.  However I have chosen to remove most of it from the blog and make it available only from those pesky eBook retailers (and Amazon for the paperback, of course).

I'm not totally mean,  though, so I've left the ten most visited chapters on the blog still available for reading and, to make it even easier, I've left links to all ten below.  Enjoy the ten selected chapters and please consider visiting the book page on my website (link below)












------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com to find me

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Why Amazon have an Exchange Rate of $1 = £1


Having spent twenty four years in the military (Royal Air Force) I’m quite aware of the most quoted oxymoron in use – military intelligence. Like many an oxymoron, it has a grain of ironic truth that covers a huge injustice, but it makes us smile and nobody really gets offended.
Over the last month or so I’ve grumbled about the apparently ludicrous exchange rate that companies such as Amazon appear to use, where suddenly there’s a one to one correlation between the price an item is sold for in the US (in dollars) and the price for the same item in the UK (in GBP). Given that often the said item has made pretty much the same length of journey, from China, it does appear to be a tad unequal.
However, it’s a while since I’ve travelled in the US so I frequently forget that we’re not comparing apples with apples here, even if we are discussing the iPad! I recall on my last but one visit, to Chicago with my wife, I had to advise on several occasions that she wasn’t to get too excited in the stores by the prices as sales tax was still to be added. And that’s a critical difference to Europe where our version of the State sales tax is not only added on the shelf, but actually has to be by law. For those of you from the US, if you visit the UK or another EU country, if the cash in your wallet is greater than or equal to the price in front of you, then you have all you need.
So, here’s a potted run through our tax system, from a purely British perspective, coupled with a belated if half hearted apology to the likes of Amazon for my unkind comments in earlier blogs (I still think the Mickey is being taken, but not as much as I may have indicated in previous blogs).
The main tax applied to goods in the UK is named VAT – Value Added Tax. Now if that doesn’t beat Military Intelligence as an oxymoron, I don’t know what could! It works like this:
Someone sells raw materials in the UK to someone else in the UK. The raw material has a cost applied to it that includes its value, any cost expended in handling and storing it and, of course, an element of profit. Let’s say for argument’s sake the raw material after all those bits costs £1. At this point VAT is applied to the raw material at 20%. Now not all materials and products attract this rate of tax, but the majority do. So the purchaser of the raw material pays £1.20 for the goods.
The purchaser does something to the raw material (let’s keep this really simple and assume no other material is introduced here), so they turn the raw material into something saleable, adding another pound to the cost. They sell this product to a distributor for £2 plus 20% tax and claim the 20 pence they paid to the Government back (in reality, nothing gets paid or claimed back in many cases – it’s a liability to pay that ceases when transferred). The distributor stores the product and eventually sells it on, now for £3, with the purchaser paying 60 pence tax, and the distributer claiming the 40 pence back. Eventually the product is sold to the consumer, say for £4 plus the VAT of 80 pence and, as in general the consumer can’t claim that tax back, that is what the treasury gets.
Why so complicated – well it ensures the Government gets its tax no matter where in the process the raw material gets to. If the distributer decides to not sell on the goods (or has bought goods nobody wants) then he still has a liability to the Government to pay the tax owed.
So when I complain about Amazon converting $200 devices into a retail price of £200 I guess I have to consider that the $200 is missing whatever the tax rate is for you guys in the USA right now. If we assume that $200 = £128 (tourist rate, I might add), then add 20% for VAT it comes to £154. So, yes, I’ve been a little unfair in previous blogs about the exchange rate, but not brutally so.
As a final element to the UK tax saga, there’s a couple of wrinkles I haven’t mentioned. First, as I noted above, not all items are rated at 20% - books, magazines and newspapers for example, are rated at 0% as that would be a tax on literacy, I guess. Unless they are e-books, e-magazines or e-newspapers, then it’s good old 20% VAT. But for the truly useful items in life, petrol, diesel and whisky for example, as well as VAT we have duty applied before the VAT (it’s always applied last, so we pay VAT on the duty tax as well as on the product), which is why we end up paying so flipping much for stuff over here (and it takes diesel to get the whisky to the stores, so that feeds in to the price). It’s a wonder we can afford to destroy our livers!)

I can be followed onTwitter - @RayASullivan

email me on raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores

Now on WH Smith!

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Cost of Technology - iPad to Kindle

A British newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, recently paid a technology engineering company to dissect an iPhone 4S to see what was in it and, perhaps more importantly, what it cost in components.  In the UK, outside of a contract, a 4S will cost you just under £500 (just under $800 - but that price could be a result of the strange currency conversion we see in the UK which assumes anything coming from the US has an exchange rate of 1$ = £1).  Anyway the resulting dismantlement of the iPhone concluded that the parts and assembly costs about £113 (less than $180), which implies a massive mark up for Apple.

The irony is that the iPad, although also very expensive, is so much more than an oversized iPhone, yet retails for about the same amount.  Sure, there's no mobile phone included (yet - I think it will in the near future), but some of the more expensive elements of the iPhone include the capacitance touch screen.  Presumably the iPad screen is a lot more expensive, perhaps offsetting the lack of a phone circuit and antenna.

So presumably Apple are making a lot of money from the iPad, and you could argue that this is supply and demand in action.  However the one thing that should keep the price of any device down is competition, which basically works in one of two ways.  First, devices that are the equivelant of the iPad  should make consumers consider either device, splitting the consumer spend and forcing Apple and the competitor to try to compete, usually on price.  However there isn't anything on the market right now that does compete directly with the iPad, thanks to Apple's holistic approach to the whole environment - you don't just buy an iPad, you get the iCloud, seamless integration with other Apple products and iTunes.  Amazon are looking at challenging the iCloud but aren't there yet.

The other way to take on the iPad would be purely on price - OK, market an inferior product but cut the cost of ownership.  But take a look at the Samsung Galaxy, for example, and you find it costs pretty much ball park the same as an equivelant iPad.  It's probably a superb device, it may even be technically superior, but it doesn't have the whole environment thing in place, so in my mind, it should undercut Apple by at least 20% to compensate. But it doesn't, so an opportunity to leverage market forces is lost.

Of course the Amazon Kindle Fire is tackling the genre on price, pitching at $200 a pop (£127 in a sane conversion, probably £200 when it hits the UK) with Amazon's cloud being assembled as we speak.  It's not an iPad direct challnge, as discussed in previous blogs; smaller screen, slower performance, tiddly memory in comparison.  If Amazon can address the main issues yet keep the price down, it may steal Apple's thunder.  If they deliver the rumoured ten  inch Kindle Fire and keep the price reasonable, then Apple should be worried.

But the assembly cost of an iPhone, as determined by the Mail on Sunday's experiment, makes me wonder about the real cost of other devices such as e-readers.  The e-ink technology must be a cost driver, however the unit costs must be driving that downwards.  From my perspective, most of the technology deployed in e-readers isn't challenging.  I suspect that the better e-readers, the Kindles, Sonys and Kobos, don't cost a whole lot to manufacture and I note that the basic Kindle is now $79 (about £50) in the US and I understand that is $10 less than a week ago.  My guess is that there is still a significant margin for dropping the price of these devices, and unlike iPads, they do represent real alternatives to each other.

I know I've said it before, but I can't help feeling the some of this margin is going to be offered up to consumers on the run up to Christmas.  If you're in the market for an e-reader, wherever in the world you live, keep a keen eye out for discounting - I expect the first week in December to see the gloves come off.  However, if you're in the market for an iPad and can't put it off until the New Year, you probably need to look at ordering it now as I suspect Apple will start running out soon.

I can be followed onTwitter - @RayASullivan

email me on raysullivan.novels@yahoo.com

Visit my books on
Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony and many other good ebookstores

Now on WH Smith!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Da Dan Brown Code - Chapter Twenty One

Chapter Twenty One

‘I presume you’re Chief Inspector Daniels,’ sighed Bradford sitting down, sneaking a look at his watch, a rare Swiss timepiece with miniature cuckoo.  He smacked the cuckoo back in as the half hour struck, but missed the whirling goat-herd and his wife.

‘Never heard of him,’ said the buffoon, ignoring the whining sound of the timepiece while sitting down carefully opposite Bradford and Lady Bartholomew, fumbling inside his pocket.

‘But the duty sergeant sent you, right?’ asked Bradford.  The buffoon shrugged.

‘I don’t deal with duty sergeants and wouldn’t know who was on tonight if I did.  Anyway, why would I be interested in someone working nearly two hundred miles away?’ Bradford and Lady Bartholomew exchanged looks, which resulted in Bradford being struck.  He took his dirty look back sheepishly.  The buffoon flipped open his wallet to reveal his warrant card.

‘Detective Constable Ryder,’ he announced.  Lady Bartholomew didn’t look at his proffered card but instead stared directly at him.

‘Have you come to find my father?’ she asked.

‘Is he called Bradford?’ asked the buffoon.  Lady Bartholomew looked shocked.

‘Certainly not.  He’s a Lord of the realm, not some American low-life scumbag.’

‘Shame.  Because my arrest warrant is for some guy called Bradford.  I hadn’t realised he was an American scumbag, what with the Yorkshire surname.’  He turned to Bradford.  ‘You sound American, do you know this scumbag Bradford?’ he asked.  Bradford marvelled at how the buffoonery was preserved from adventure to adventure and how quickly his name became tarnished every time.  He also wondered if the absence of a comma after the second ‘scumbag’ was intended or an illiterate oversight.  He decided the buffoon really didn’t know who he was talking to.

‘No, I know most people in Illinois, Arkansas and Texas.  Don’t think I’ve heard of anyone from there called Bradford before,’ lied Bradford.  He felt his face glow red as he realised he knew two people in Texas called Bradford – his Mom and Pop.  Damn, why did I have to mention Texas? He thought.

Because you’re an idiot, replied Belsen, smirking quietly.  Anyway, I thought you said you were from Kentucky.

No, I said my bed cover smell reminded me of Kentucky, you just assumed

‘Whoa, stop right there,’ shouted Ryder, holding his hand up.  Bradford briefly considered making a run for it while the DC was gripping his own arm.  ‘I must advise you that anything you say or think may be used in evidence against you.’

‘Think?’ asked Bradford, incredulously.

‘Labour party’s last present to the police before losing the last election – making criminal thoughts punishable by up to ten years imprisonment.  It’s not been tested in court yet.’

‘Because it’s difficult to prove?’ asked Belsen, feeling justifiably worried.

‘No.  Because the Labour Government never actually cared what anyone thought, and the Coalition appears to be much of the same opinion,’ replied Ryder.  The group nodded together.

‘Why do you want Bradford?’ asked Bradford.

‘Don’t you mean “Scumbag Bradford”?’ asked Ryder, suspiciously.  Bradford shrugged, tried to look nonchalant.

‘Sure.  Scumbag Bradford.  Why’d you wanna speak to him?’

‘He’s wanted for attempted murder,’ replied Ryder calmly.  A palpable silence fell over the cafĂ© such that you could hear a pin drop.  Belsen searched his body for a pin to test the theory.

‘Murder?  That’s ridiculous,’ exclaimed Bradford, glancing at the warrant card still lying on the table.  ‘Blackpool Pleasure Beach Constabulary?’ he asked.  Ryder flipped the wallet closed and inserted it back in his coat pocket.

‘Psychic Crimes Unit,’ he said casually.

‘Oh shit,’ said Belsen, dropping the pin.  Lady Bartholomew threw a mean look that glanced him, then glanced meanly at Bradford while actually meaning to glance at Ryder.  Ryder shook his head, confused, joined by the reader.

‘Psychic Crimes Unit, there’s no such thing,’ she said.  Ryder heaved a heavy sigh.

‘There is in Blackpool.  We’ve got mediums, palmists, mind-readers, weathermen, every paranormal form of prediction possible.’

‘And statistically not all of them can be frauds,’ suggested Bradford.

‘Right.  Apart from the weathermen.  Tonight a guy called Lucas Brightwater made a formal complaint about a scumbag called Bradford.’

‘Never heard of him,’ said Bradford.

‘So you said.’

‘I meant Brightwater,’ answered Bradford feeling a trap, unfortunately from the inside.

‘Sure, like you never heard of your own Mom and Pop,’ replied Ryder.  He leaned forward, ‘look, Brightwater’s under a paranormal death threat and he says you’ve arranged to have him written out of the story completely.  Like you Americans say, I can do the sum…’

‘Math,’ growled Bradford.

‘Whatever, it doesn’t take a genius to make one plus one equal two.’

‘Is that true?’ asked Lady Bartholomew.  Even Belsen looked incredulous.

‘One plus one, Ma’am?’ he asked.

‘No. The genius bit.  I understand it wasn’t until volume two of the Principia Mathmatica that Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead managed to prove that sum was actually correct.  Are you saying that neither of them was a genius?  Or were they actually just a bit thick?’ Bradford felt he knew what was causing the percussion sounds when she moved her head.

‘Look, I don’t know anything about this Brightwater guy and yes, I did suggest he’d be written out but only to give the usual buffoon of a policeman the opportunity to arrive before chapter twenty was out,’ Bradford blurted, acutely aware that Ryder was looking intently at him, ‘but that problem has passed now,’ he said, tailing off.  Lady Bartholomew studied her nails and Belsen started to stick the pin hard into his flesh to distract himself.  Ryder leaned forward again.

‘Because?’ Bradford knew he’d fallen into another trap, one he couldn’t see a way out of.  As he opened his mouth a shadow fell over him, picked itself up and dusted itself down.  He looked up to see the stumbling form of Chief Inspector Daniels.

‘Sorry I’m late, some idiot slammed a chapter shut in my face.’

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Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One

'Da Dan Brown Code' will be published in early January as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after it is published.

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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Kindle Fire - Arguments For and Against

As I reported the other day, the Kindle Fire looks like underwhelming the consumer market.  I've read several reviews since the blog post which all confirm that the limitations imposed, presumably to keep costs down, are serious issues.  One correspondent on Twitter ran a series of tweets that started off as excited messages when the device turned up earlier than expected and started working better than initial expectations, then the tweets deteriorated as the limitations became apparent.

But lets be honest here - we're talking $200 for a media device that doubles as an e-reader (or is it an e-reader that doubles as a media device?), so perhaps I was being a tad unkind in my evaluation earlier in the week.  Reading through the later reviews it appears that the Engadget tech nerds weren't off trend though.  I expressed a concern that the reviewers, exposed to cutting edge technology on a daily basis, might have had raised expectations compared to real people - yes I know they're real people too, with real families and so on, but their view on the tech world is bound to be distorted.  However consumers unwrapping their Kindle Fires have confirmed the concerns about the low storage limit (8GB), the minimalist controls (one button) and the slower performance (compared to iPad).

There are alternative views, take a look at this Steve Rosenbaum article in Huff Post.  Steve's view is that the iPad and the Fire can co-exist happily in the same household.  He's also extremely tolerant of the shortcomings based on a belief, which is reasonable in some respects, that some issues will be ironed out quickly, others will slip into version 2.  My main objection to his views are that the pre-order consumers, one million of them, are almost certainly not all wanting to be guinea pigs for Amazon - they probably expected to receive the finished article.  His main contention is that the Fire is targetting a slightly different segment of the consumer market, one which actually didn't exist until its launch.

You see, although there have been tablets other than the iPad for some time, and at least one - the Nook - has occupied a similar apparent position to the Fire, none have the media content and backing that Amazon can provide.  It's fair to say that Amazon is probably the only company out there that can currently take Apple on at this point in time as far as media content is concerned, although there are strong rumblings that Google want to cut a slice of that market, so watch this space.

So although there are other mini tablets about to launch, significantly the new Nook and the Kobo Vox, neither are likely to have access to the media that Amazon have.  However, they might just produce good tablets that perform like the cut down iPad I suspect most of the 1 million pre-orders expected.  My view is that if they do appear to be a better fit for the consumer perception then they will give the Fire a run for its money. There's also a strong rumour that Amazon are planning a 10 inch version of the Fire - now that may be a game-changer if it is coupled with improvements to identified issues with the current version of the Fire.

I don't think the contest for the holiday tablet purchase is over - far from it - and my guess is that Apple are not sweating over the competition from the Amazon Fire - probably the basic Kindle and the likes of the Kobo Touch are more likely to eat into the Apple sales than the Fire will - but I feel a really interesting six weeks is in front of us.

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Now on WH Smith!