Friday, February 12, 2010

Complete New Yorker (DVD)

Complete New Yorker (DVD).
(Also from Amazon (even cheaper).)

Being European, I'm not really familiar with The New Yorker. It seems to have a very vague definition, it's not clear what it's about. But it may be good.

In any case, it's an interesting comment on pricing: I've seen 80-page ebooks sold for $49. And here you can get fifty years of publishing, 4,000 issues, on eight DVDs, for twenty dollars!! Holy crap. A whole summer's reading (at least) for twenny bucks, dang.
(If it were me, I'd have priced this at $49, but that's another matter.)

(It's even Mac compatible. You can't say that about the Doonesbury DVD which came with a collection years ago. I wrote about it to Trudeau, and he said he's lost the battle about that with the publisher, despite him having eight Macs in the house and being the author.)

I imagine it's only pure scans of the pages, as graphic files (JPG for example), not converted to actual text PDFs, because that's a very big job. And so I hope the resolution of the images is high enough for them to be easily readable.
(You can get the collection on a hard drive too, a good idea, although it's much more expensive at $179.)

Oh, has anybody tried this? Do you know if it will work if you copy it to disk (it may not, due to copyright protection)? My MacBook Air would be the logical way to read this, but it does not have an internal DVD drive.

Update: typically, it seems copyright fears once again cripple a good product. An Amazon reader writes: "I've been a New Yorker fan for a while (I usually read my parents' old copies when they're done) so I thought it would be interesting to own the set for myself. I understand that the Complete New Yorker is available on an external hard drive, and this might be a good option, but I purchased the 8 DVD package, and found it to be pretty hopeless in its design and execution. For starters, the DVDs do not use a standard reader (like Adobe, say) and come with one of their own. The installation process is unwieldy and ridiculous, and the reader itself is riddled with bugs (I haven't yet been able to access any of the content). In addition to this, under the terms and conditions, the user must agree to a spyware-like program, giving permission for web browsing information to be logged, and personal information sold on to third parties. The Complete New Yorker is a good idea, for sure, but this set is pathetic."

I can believe it. Every time I have acquired something with a proprietary reader/viewer app, it has always stunk on ice. It's very difficult, it seems, to make good software like that.
While it has positive reviews for the content, many complain about the software:
"Others have complained about the search feature, which honestly I might have done without for my purposes. But that I am unable even to read the magazine in a lot of cases because of inept software development is a huge disappointment.
And let's not forget that the program uses spyware to collect personal information and share it with third parties.
Wow. What a terrible product. I implore you not to buy."

What a pity!
Anyway, I'm now finding evidence that the original price was much higher. Perhaps the twenty dollars is a special dumping price because it got all those bad reviews? Or even that they are preparing a new and hopefully better edition? (I'm sure it's too much to ask for that it will be simple PDF pages or such. Oh, the fears about copyright.)


dave nielsen said...

It's cool how you can get so many of these magazines now in this format where it would cost you many thousands of dollars to buy them all normally, not to mention acres of storage space. I don't have The New Yoker yet but have in past bought Rolling Stone, MAD Magazine, and the Archie Bronze Age series. (Archie is one of my guilty pleasures.) I don't actually want the real issues anyway, even if I had the money and storage space for the real ones, as the idea of having to keep them in good condition would drive me nuts. I wouldn't own, for example, the Honus Wagner card or Action Comics #1 even if I had the dough.

Ray said...

I've always thought of The New Yorker as being for pretentious big city folks and aspiring social climbers with high opinions of themselves. It's not aimed at the vast majority of us semi-literate unwashed masses, that's for sure!
So Good Luck with all that...

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"It's not aimed at the vast majority of us semi-literate unwashed masses"

How so? Is it hard to read?

Michael Burton said...

The New Yorker is a great magazine.

It's famous for the cartoons, but the articles are the real treasure here. With only the rarest of exceptions, the articles are not illustrated; you have to read. Articles are often very long: a number of books were originally magazine articles in the New Yorker, including John Hersey's Hiroshima, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Henry S.F. Cooper's 13, the Flight That Failed, and all the books of the great John McPhee.

The New Yorker brought us James Thurber, too. I don't know whether all his stuff was first published there, but I feel confident saying most of it was.

The Complete New Yorker collection has scans of the pages, but there is a database which can be searched to find articles by author, title, or keyword. Text is not selectable. The scans are mostly very good, but I've encountered a few (ads, actually) that seem very poorly scanned. I haven't yet seen any articles that aren't readable.

This set is designed to be used from the DVDs. You search the database on your hard drive, but when you try to open an article, it prompts you for the DVD. However, a Google search showed me how to copy all the files to my drive and modify the database to find them on the HD. Note: the total set is more than 60 GB; it took quite a while just to copy everything to the drive.

The files are not PDFs, but encrypted DejaVu files. (The same format is used for DVD collections of Playboy magazine and Rolling Stone.)

I have Little Snitch running on my Mac, and so far I haven't seen any evidence of the program acting as spyware. (It does appear to check for an updated version of the application each time it's launched.)

I heartily recommend this collection, even though I acknowledge it's not perfect.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

So, Michael, you say it runs well on your Mac?
(There is a question if the poor app is mainly on Windows.)

DjVu sounds very clever.
"It compresses the bitmap of each unique shape separately, and then encodes the locations where each shape appears on the page. Thus, instead of compressing a letter "e" in a given font multiple times, it compresses the letter "e" once (as a compressed bit image) and then records every place on the page it occurs."

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Oh: and the thing will run from your hard disk without a DVD in the drive?

Michael Burton said...

Yes, works well on the Mac (though it's not a particularly Mac-like program... the interface is sorta generic, like some Java applications) and after making the database mods, everything runs from my hard drive -- no need for a DVD in the drive.

Anonymous said...

Ray always seems to have a huge chip on his shoulder. Either that or he's making a (very bag) joke.

Anonymous said...

very bad

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Mmmm, I don't like to even the littlest programming, and the original article says it's "not for the faint of heart" to modify it, so I think I'll stay out.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I may buy it, and just use my Macbook Pro instead. No prob. It has a larger screen anyway.

emptyspaces said...

Ray hits the nail on the head. It's not that it's hard to understand, or even hard to read...but pretentious Americans love to point out that they read it so they can prove they're smarter than you. I have no idea why. It's kind of like downtown New Yorkers who scoff at going uptown. It's madness.

"The New Yorker? Yes...the New Yorker." That's the famous slogan the magazine uses.

But all that aside, it's a good publication, and it'll read like a time capsule.

Anonymous said...

Ray's and Emptyspaces' comments brought to mind a post from a favorite blog about pretentious reading. In all fairness this blog might be better named 'What American White People Like'.
Be forewarned, if you enjoy satire, especially at the expense of white Americans, this may be a drain on your time.

The full archive is here:

The Complete New Yorker may be worth the price, if for nothing else but Malcolm Gladwell's articles.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, Gladwell's TNY articles are available here and the price is right.

emptyspaces said...

Steve's right - that "Stuff White People Like" blog is spot-on hilarious. The guy even got a book deal out of it.

And I'm with you on Gladwell, too, he's great.

dave nielsen said...

I got Stuff White People Like passed on to me, and it's a good thing because I'd feel like a real chump if I'd paid for it. It's really only a certain type of white person anyway - like the author: middle class, with a liberal arts degree, scrawny, geeky, pretentious. Mostly the book
tries too hard. It has the odd funny moment but there aren't too many of them.

There is nothing wrong with reading the New Yorker as long as you actually do read it and don't just leave it on your coffee table to impress people. The ones who do that also usually pretend to like writers like Proust and Tolstoy. If you really do, great, and don't hide it just because you're afraid a certain type of people will accuse you of being a pretentious douche.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I bought a very used copy of Proust's time thingie, and I leave it on the coffee table. When people ask me what's my favorite part, I say "the robots" and fake the rest.

dave nielsen said...

I wonder if they do a Bluffer's guide for Proust? I saw this chick on the subway reading one once about James Bond. :)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

That's funny. I bet she had a new boyfriend.