Kindle Fire Allows More Annoying Multitasking With Added ‘X-Ray For TV’ Features

I don’t know about you, but it takes me roughly four to five hours to watch a two-hour movie in my apartment. It’s not because I live in some wormhole in which time is meaningless or anything; rather, I tend to sit in close proximity to my iPhone or laptop whenever watching TV, so that, at the drop of a hat, I can pause anything any go immediately to the internet to find the answers to queries like, "Who is that actress," "Is this guy actually British," and "Did this get an Oscar nomination for anything, because it shouldn’t have." Now it looks like I’d never have to do that, thanks to Amazon and IMDb.

Owners of the Kindle Fire are surely aware of the X-Ray feature when watching a movie on their device: with one tap, users can look up information on IMDb corresponding to the movie they’re watching. I haven’t used the feature myself—I have an old-fashioned Kindle, the kind that only lets you read books (boring!)—but I imagine you can look up all the goofs and the trivia and the soundtrack listings so much easier than, say, watching a movie on your BIG TV and, ugh, having to reach over and PICK UP A LAPTOP, ugh, and TYPING THINGS, ugggggh, what a nightmare. Now, all of the information you ever need is right there. And the big news today: Amazon and IMDb are expanding the X-Ray features to include TV shows

Honestly, I am conflicted about this. Can you imagine how David Lynch, who famously hates the idea of people watching movies on their phones, would feel about you clicking all over Naomi Watts’s face while watching Mulholland Drive to see if she’s done any other girl-on-girl scenes in film? Of course, I’m a big offender—there have been several instances of "NO PHONES!" being shouted before watching movies with friends in my apartment. Wouldn’t it be nice, maybe, to just sit back, relax, and watch a movie without finding other ways to cram our brains with content, content, content? 

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Amazon Wants You To Sell Your E-Books So They Can Take A Cut Of The Profits

If you’re like me, you’ve got piles of eBooks wasting space on your Kindle. 50 Shades Of Grey is not exactly the type of book you read over and over again, you know? Amazon is now making plans to help customers unload their digital content, like eBooks and songs, which they no longer wish to own.

Last month, Amazon obtained a patent to enable digital resale. As the Washington Post explains, the the owner of a piece of digital content sell it from their own data storage, via the cloud, to someone else’s data storage and give Amazon a cut of the profit. The original item would then be deleted from their own data storage. 

But the Post warns that just because the patent has been granted doesn’t mean Amazon will do anything with it; authors, publishers, musicians, and record labels likely won’t be too keen about their wares being resold without them receiving a cut of the profit, too. 

Columnist Lucy Mangan at the UK’s Guardian is sour on the whole idea, grousing:  

… [A] market is created, and authors and publishers are quite possibly cut out of it, in one fell swoop. Thus more money drains out of the book business, content dries up and frustrated readers go mad and start roaming towns, destroying everyone and everything in their paths as they search for the country’s last open library. The walking unread. Zombies aside, the most frightening thing about Amazon’s latest move is that it reminds us that it’s all too late. It is already Amazon’s world and we just live in it. Amazon already pretty much owns the print market.

The situation might not be quite so dour, as Amazon may not necessarily do anything with the patent. But for those of us booklovers (and musiclovers), this news does give us pause about how we make sure the artists we enjoy are adequately compensated for their work.

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The Real Reason Not To Use A Kindle

Book fetishists are a little gross, let’s admit. I can appreciate musty library stink as much at the next reader, but we can stop acting like that’s cause enough to dismiss Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, iPads, Sony Readers, Kodles, iNoods, SonyPads, Kinkos, and PackNobs out of hand. I’d argue that it’s the built-in disposability of books—not their enduring, sentimental charms—that make them essential.

Simply put: you’re afraid to break your Kindle. You’re afraid to even get it wet (you pussy). Books, meanwhile, are designed to be lovingly abused unto their destruction. To be hurled across the room in anger. To be lent to a friend who will take it to a rodeo where it falls in the mud and is trampled by angry bulls. You get sand in them at the beach, soap on them in the bathtub. You mercilessly break the spine to mark your place. Maybe you leave it outside on the porch to finish later. Who cares!

So don’t buy this nonsense about the book as a pristine, holy artifact that must be protected from the onslaught of digital tablets. Because aside from the scrolls in the Vatican Library, there’s usually at least a thousand copies too many of any given book out there. Go ahead, destroy a few. Knowck yourself out. There’s more where that came from. They still punch a hole in the Farmer’s Almanac so you can hang it in your outhouse and rip out pages for toilet paper, you know.     

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Linkage: Alec Baldwin Still Harboring Mayoral Ambition, Noah ’40’ Shebib Talks MS

Looks like Alec Baldwin is still considering a life in politics. The 30 Rock actor suggested in an interview with Bloomberg that a New York City mayoral run is "something that [he] wold love to do," allowing that he is on contract with NBC through at least 2013. "I would still like to consider doing that because I want to," he said. "I do a lot of this kind of work now and I wonder what would it be like if I had a staff and budget to do it. That would be interesting." Sure would. [Bloomberg]

For the first time in 35 years — and although David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia and Dennis Johnson’s Train Dreams were all considered — the Pulitzer Prize board has failed to select a winner for the fiction award. The prize committee says that "there were multiple factors involved" and that they "don’t discuss in detail why a prize is given or not given." The aforementioned books’ publishers say that they are "disappointed" because, of course, "the Pulitzer makes sales."  [BBC]

There are a lot of wonderful and free and cheap books available for download to your Kindle if you know where to look, and The Hairpin has made a handy guide of their favorites so you can skip straight to the reading part. [TheHairpin]

Wise-cracking profile writers and aspirational fan-fic scripters, James Franco is onto you and your self-serving ways. "To me," he says, "it feels like they’re pretending to be critical of this public persona that’s called James Franco but they’re also using it to serve themselves…it seems like you’re being kind of critical, but in fact, they’re just trying to tap into whatever that was." [THR]

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down with Drake’s producer and partner in crime Noah "40" Shebib to talk about his multiple sclerosis and his quest to be what his mother calls "a person with MS who fulfills his dreams." "These are things that I enjoy, I like these challenges," he says. "They maybe get a little bit more difficult because of my disease, but as long as I am on my feet, I will continue to run." [OnSmash]

Like Northside earlier, San Fransisco’s Outside Lands festival got a lineup today and it includes everyone from Stevie Wonder and Skrillex to Neil Young and Papa. Ticket information and the full billing are available on Outside Lands’s website. [Stereogum]

The Ramones will have you know from their very first pitch that they are "not a glitter group, they don’t play boogie music and they don’t play blues," but that their every song is "a potential hit single." [Flavorwire]

Amazon Hastens the Death of Print With Kindle Textbook Rentals

The death of print? Still happening. Last Monday,, which was once a twee (if monolithic) online bookstore, launched the Kindle Textbook Rental program, an innovative e-book program that permits students to rent textbooks at a discounted price, customize their rental period, and permanently archive their notes. But can digital textbooks really compare to the musty tradition of fiendishly heavy hard-copy textbooks? They’re about to give it the old college try.

With tens of thousands of textbooks to choose from, anyone renting from Kindle Textbook can choose the length of the rental period (anywhere from 30 to 360 days). After the rental period is over, students can check out the next batch, or, if they flunked the course (or just love Organic Chemistry so much), purchase it or rent it all over again. Rented textbooks can be read on all Kindle devices, Macs, and PCs, plus smart phones and tablets with Kindle apps. Kindle textbooks are never out of print, since they’re not printed. And they’re sold at up to 80% off the original list price of the dead-tree version. For the college kids who sell Adderall their souls to pay for textbooks, this is certainly welcome news.

One big advantage of Amazon’s new program is its Whispersync technology, which lets Kindle readers take notes as they read. In addition to being able to highlight specific passages and jot down observations in the margins, Whispersync allows readers to hang on to all their notes, even after rental expires. Convenient? Very.

Perhaps best of all, students can escape the big end-of-semester money massacres known as the textbook buyback program. Every student can tell you about waiting hopefully in line with a big stack of returnable textbooks, only to leave with a crinkled twenty and the bitter realization that they just got felt up by the system.

The benefits of renting digital books are obvious. Save money, reduce waste, and avoid getting scoliosis from lugging around three five-pound textbooks. For the many students who still believe in the beauty of the printed page, actual textbooks are still available – for now, anyway. After all, some folks still enjoy doodling in class. So fear not, Gutenberg; your efforts are appreciated by the analog among us. For the rest, E-Ink will do just fine.