Monthly Archives: February 2008

Interesting Nebula Observation

Locus Online’s version of the final Nebula ballot is now posted (and integrated into the SF Awards index, at least insofar as the Nominee Indexes are concerned), and I couldn’t help but noticing a significant fact: that, despite the rolling 2-year eligibility rule for Nebula nominations, almost all of this year’s final ballot consists of books and stories published last year, 2007, with only a very few leftovers from 2006. I checked, and the proportion of recent to leftover eligibles has never been higher than on this year’s ballot.

Don’t know that that means anything…; certainly the disconnect between nominees and the favorites of the various Locus Recommended Reading List is just as wide. I’m not *quite* as cynical as CNB about the Nebula nominating process (see February’s editorial), but the facts, er, the nominations, speak for themselves.

Awards Index update, for now

I’ve gone ahead and updated the majority of the awards index, leaving aside for now a few foreign language awards and others, but having reviewed steps toward what I hope will be more frequent updates in the future. I know I said that last year but… this time fur sure.

I’ve also tweaked the page widths and font sizes, though probably not that anyone will notice.

2007 Summaries

It occurred to me a week or so ago that I should be able to analyze and summarize all the weekly bestseller rankings that I’ve been compiling for the website, to get some kind of cumulative rankings of overall bestsellers for the entire year. Of course, needless to say, actual total sales of books are not available (except perhaps via the subscription service BookScan, to which I don’t subscribe); I had only rankings on the various bestseller lists to analyze, which of course indicate only *relative* sales, in each week, and might easily be misleading as indications of actual sales, especially since lists from some sources separate by format (hardcover, paperback, mass market paperback, trade paperback) and genre (fiction, nonfiction, children’s), while others don’t… and some sources, like the New York Times, contrive to avoid listing some specific YA titles altogether, e.g. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; NYT has a ‘series books’ lists for such titles instead.

Anyway–what I found after several iterations of tweaking mapping functions of rankings to scores, to weight rankings on different kinds of lists into some sort of consistent, comparable system, is that subtle adjustments didn’t matter very much. The overall rankings of bestsellers could just as easily be based on total number of mentions on the various bestseller lists, regardless of how each mention ranked overall. At least for the top 10 or so in each category…

The tally of books on ‘best of the year’ lists was easier, and more interesting, partly because some titles get attention from very different audiences. The unstated observation on that page is that certain titles, though popular on those *other* lists, are not included on Locus Magazine’s own recommended reading list. Which titles those are, is left an exercise for the reader.

Meanwhile, online votes in the Locus Poll and Survey are flowing in — over 200 now — and I’ve already done a tabulation of the ballots up to yesterday morning. Certain trends are apparent; it will be interesting to see if they prevail.

Catching Up; HP service

So I actually took a day’s vacation off work today to catch up on some overdue listings pages on the website, including the Classics Reprint page, which hadn’t been updated for a while partly because the pace of new books that fit that category has been sadly slow for several months now.

The past week has been busy anyway, what with formatting the Locus recommended reading list, and setting up the online Locus Poll & Survey ballot — which will go live in a few days, probably, after various parties have finished vetting the drop-down choices in those categories — magazine, publisher, editor, artist — not determined by the recommended reading list itself. We try to include all plausible candidates, but always manage to miss a few, if email response is any indication.

Meanwhile, I’m intending to revive a compilation of *other* best-of-year lists, from newspaper and non-Locus Sf sites, as I did regularly up until a couple three years ago. I’ve already ‘blinked’ a number of these — lists from Amazon, SF Site, Entertainment Weekly, etc. — but now intend to compile them, see which books are mentioned most often. Not to undercut the Locus Rec Reading list, of course; only to supplement it. That should be done in another day or two.

Also meanwhile, I’m happy to report that Hewlett Packard has been very responsive to the hardware problems with my laptop, as I mentioned a few posts ago. I reported the problem via their website, they sent a shipping box (an empty box, delivered via FedEx), I packed up the laptop in the box and left it at a FedEx drop-off site a week ago Saturday. On Wednesday there was a FedEx tag on my front door about a delivery requiring in-person signature. It wasn’t until Saturday again that I managed to take delivery at a FedEx facility over by the Van Nuys airport… They replaced and ‘upgraded’ (though I’m not sure what they meant by that) the entire screen and hinges — and also, alas, reinitialized the hard drive to factory delivery conditions, wiping out the few settings I’d left, having already deleted all my personal data and uninstalling all my software. It’s like having a completely new laptop, except for the visible wear on the keyboard from 10 months of prior use…