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Howdy Folks,

Well the baseball playoffs have come and gone. Shirl and our son Matt were of course thrilled that their beloved Cardinals were playing for the National League pennant against the SF Giants. Matt and his mom attended the third game. It was supposed to start at 3 p.m. Shirl did not get home until midnight. Seems that in the 7th inning the skies opened up and there was a three and a half hour rain delay. There sat Shirl and Matt in their official Cardinal sweat shirts and official Cardinals jackets and official scuba gear with their official Cardinals spear guns in a steady downpour in 55 degree temperatures! Staring at an empty and submerging baseball diamond! They had the time of their lives, although sadly, the Giants surged past them to win game seven for the NL Pennant a few days later.

As for me, I stayed home that night, dry and warm. I would not sit in a cold rain for three and a half hours to watch two naked Hooter Girls mud-wrestle. I would not sit in a cold rain for three and a half hours for a chance to mud-wrestle two naked Hooter Girls. But as I said, Matt and Shirl were happy. As for me, I couldn’t pin two naked Hooter Girls. Sad to say, I am getting so feeble that I couldn’t even pin one naked Hooter Girl, and sadder to say that if I could, I am getting so absent-minded that I would forget why I wanted to in the first place.

No, I remained dry but not happy. I was busy cleaning up what I have come to think of as Nook Nincompoopery--a colossal screw up that has drained Shirl of hundreds of dollars in sales, cost hundreds of dollars to fix, gained her a rotten rep among some readers, and tortured both of us with needless days of work. Here is a belated Halloween horror story of malevolent technology run amuck, a digital Dracula. Last August, Shirl began to get email through the website that warned her that her book texts on Nook devices had gone crazy. The books read like chimps had been writing them. She called her professional formatter and he said that the books in question read just fine on his Nook. Still, the emails kept coming, some getting a bit hostile. We asked the formatter to check again. Nope, he ran his formatted copies through two format-check programs and both said the books were just fine. Still the complaints continued and (although most were nice) Shirl began to feel like Dr. Frankenstein when the villagers came marching up the hill with pitchforks and torches. We emailed the Nook Help Desk, asking for advice. No response to four frantic emails.

Then it dawned on me--a guy as technologically challenged as Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster. Was the formatter running the texts from his own files through his format-check machines? Could something be corrupting the texts on the Nooks? I was right! That is exactly what he had been doing. Considering a possible source for the problem, the formatter said, “Barnes & Noble updated some Nook software in June. That may have messed things up for you.”

Shirl and I rushed down to the local B&N and bought a Nook. The tech at the store set it up for us and uploaded it with a couple of the books readers had complained about. THEY WERE PERFECT! The model we had bought was the simple black and white basic. I had another inspiration. I asked the guy to upload the same books on the more sophisticated Nook Color and Nook Tablet. THE BOOKS WERE SO GARBLED IT LOOKED LIKE CHIMPS HAD WRITTEN THEM! The store tech, the formatter, and I concluded that Nook’s June updates were intended only for the more sophisticated Colors and Tablets. Somehow all twenty-two of Shirl’s books on those fancier devices had been corrupted. Igor had probably been the chief software engineer for Nook.

The formatter quickly figured out how the June “update” had messed up Shirl’s books and for several hundred dollars fixed all of them. Then while Shirl was visiting her friend Carol Reynard in Michigan, our computer buddy Ross and I spent several days substituting the corrected texts for the corrupted ones. But the complaints continued. Barnes & Noble had not implemented the changes we made! More frantic emails to the Nook “Help” Desk. No response. In despair, I asked our formatter, “What can we do?” He suggested that we take all the books off sale on Nook, wait a day, and then upload every complete submission...all...over...again.

As soon as Shirl returned from Michigan, we set to work. After several days of near-death experiences while confined in the small office where the Internet computer lives (I almost killed the Redhead/she almost killed me), we had all twenty-two titles back on sale. As in any stock horror flick, the Monster was vanquished, everything was fixed. NOT SO FAST.

By this time, irate readers had peppered Shirl’s virtual bookshelf with 1-star “reviews.” Some read, “Don’t buy any of this writer’s books. You can’t read them.” Others cursed B&N for not refunding their money. This started yet another spate of unanswered emails to the Nook “Help” Desk pointing out that the new uncorrupted texts had been substituted for the ones they screwed up. No answer. Until I sent an email pointing out that not only were Shirl’s sales being decimated by these “reviews” but that B&N was being accused of selling badly flawed products. That brought an immediate response. All of the 1-star “reviews” (that were actually consumer complaints) were taken down. However, Shirl’s sales at Nook have dropped by over 60% and god knows when they will recover.

So, if you ever say one of the Redhead’s books (at $2.99) is over-priced, bite your tongue. BUT LISTEN UP. ALL OF SHIRL HENKE’S BOOKS ON NOOK ARE CLEAN!

I’d have had an easier time mud-wrestling the Hooter Girls...or the Monster.


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