Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

July 22, 2014

Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update 5.4.5

Amazon has released a new update for the KPW2:

Update 5.4.5 for Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile* Benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can wait and it will eventually happen on its own (that can be weeks), or you can go to the above link and update manually

It brings three main changes:

  • Sync on Your Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile): honestly, I’m not quite clear what the difference is here. I usually don’t bounce between devices when reading, and since my Significant Other and I may be reading the same book at the same time (so we can talk about it afterwards), we have Whispersync turned off. I’m not clear on what this is doing now that it didn’t do before. One interesting thing, though. I’ve always recommended that people return to Home after a reading session if they may need to sync, and the video on this page recommends the same thing
  • “When viewing a PDF in pan-and-zoom mode, you will now see a small preview window in the margin of the screen”: this one sounds helpful!
  • Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile): for those of us who answer questions on the official Amazon forums, there is a tendency (which can be avoided, with effort) to develop canned responses. One thing has always been about where you find sample in the Cloud. We would say they weren’t stored in the Cloud: I’ve likened it to getting a free sample at Costco…there’s no record of that in your account, either. ;) One reason is that it lessens costs to not do the processing of the transaction and the storage of the sample. Well, now, when you buy a p-book (paperbook), you can often choose to “Start Reading Now”, and you get the sample of the e-book on your Kindle (so you can read while the p-book is on the way). Those samples (and only those samples), are going to be available in the Cloud: Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile)

Video: “When the Words Stop”

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this great video!

When the Words Stop by Epic Reads

I think a lot of you will appreciate it…it’s a humor piece about that deflated feeling you have when you finish a book…when the words stop. Back in the paper days, I remember feeling a great anxiety sometimes when I realized there was only maybe ten percent of the book left to go. With an e-book, I have to say, I find so often that it ends much before the percentage would indicate (because of back matter, or a preview, or something like that), that I can’t really judge it. I’ve had books finish at maybe 66%! This is funny and worth watching, in my opinion.

Gold Box Deal: $100 off Kindle Fire HDX 7″ 4G LTE

This is a today only deal (that’s how GBDs work):

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

It’s $100 of the models with 4G (like a cellphone connection to wireless, instead of just wi-fi…this has both). I tried having 4G on one of my Fire models, and didn’t find it was worth the monthly service plan cost to me. However, I’m in a pretty techie area, and there is a lot of wi-fi around here. For some people, having 4G makes a big difference in convenience, and they are willing to pay for it. It’s also nice for people who aren’t as techie, but want to be connected…no wi-fi required to use it (if you have a signal for 4G at home, you don’t have to enter passwords or anything to connect).

The least expensive configuration of this deal is $229…which makes it the same initial cost as having a wi-fi only version.

Kindle Unlimited mini-roundup

I’m still going to write another big post on Kindle Unlimited soon (following this one)

It’s official! Kindle Unlimited is here with 639,621 titles

including what I think the impact will be on authors (some will benefit…a lot), but I did want to hit a few high points:

  • Audiobooks: I’ve seen interest in the comments on the blog in the audiobook part, and that is something that makes KU stand apart from other subsers (that’s what I call subscription services) .ike Oyster and Scribd). As is, unfortunately, not uncommonly the case with Amazon, people want to do it…but have trouble finding instructions on how to do it. I’ve done it successfully, but it wasn’t as easy as going to “audiobooks” in KU and picking one. What I did was first find an e-book in KU that was set up for “Whispersync for Voice”. You can do that with this link: Kindle Unlimited Whispersync for Voice titles (at AmazonSmile). The e-book has to say that it is “with narration”, otherwise you might pay extra for it. I downloaded the e-book (one that I’ve read before, by the way…I don’t like listening to audiobooks if I haven’t already sightread the book). Once I’d done that, the audiobook was available to my Audible app…including on my Galaxy S4 (which should be, sadly, replaced later this week by my Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile). I’m not sad to be getting the phone: I’m excited for that! I’ve just really liked the S4). So, the counterintuitive part was getting an e-book I wasn’t going to read so I could get the audiobook. After that, it worked fine. One of my readers commented that they couldn’t get the audiobook part to work, even with help from both Kindle and Audible reps…but I still don’t quite know why. Might have been a different phone, or they weren’t following the above sequence
  • How authors get compensated: I will do a big post on authors and KU generally, as I’ve mentioned, but for indie (independent authors) using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, they split part of a pool fund (the same way they get compensated for borrows from Amazon Kindle Owners” Lending Library)…but they don’t get the cut until the borrower has read ten percent of the book. Tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors will have a different deal, and we won’t know the details…the publishers don’t usually release royalty contract terms. I did check, by the way: if someone borrows your book, reads ten percent of it (triggering the royalty), return it, borrows it again, and ten percent of it again, you don’t get a second royalty…in case you were planning to game the system ;)
  • Confusion for people who are both KU members and KOLL eligible: this has been very confusing, engendering many threads on the forums! I’m hoping they make this clearer…and soon. The KOLL has not gone away, and there hasn’t been an indication that it will. The BUTTON to borrow for free, however, has gone away in many cases. What I understand at this point is that, if you’ve already borrowed your KOLL book for the month, the button will convert to a “Read for Free” button, and it will be one of your KU borrows instead (assuming the book is in both programs). If you don’t have KU, clicking the button will take you to some place to sign up. If it actually works that way, that’s not too bad. However, I did see “The Artist” on the forum say that they had not yet borrowed a KOLL book in the month…and clicking “Read for Free” made it the KOLL borrow. That would be bad: what you want to borrow from the KOLL and what you want to read from KU may not be the same. You can have up to ten books out from KU at a time, and when you return one you can get another one. That seems to me like a generous amount for one person (unless, perhaps, you are going on a trip where you won’t have wireless access), but if you have five people on the account (and there is no limit), you may often bump up against that simultaneous ten limit

Wow! There is a lot happening (Fire Phone for hardware, KU for services), but what do you think? Have you ever feared reaching the end of a book? I know people who don’t want to buy a book unless there are more books in a series, just to try and stave off the eventual “separation”.  Do you find 4G worth it for a Fire? Are you weighing keeping Audible versus going with KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2014

July 21, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2014

This is one in a series of posts which I write about once a year. I do this primarily to give my readers some ideas they might use to get more out of their devices. I also think it’s interesting to go back and look at the previous ones, to see how much things have changed…and it’s always a lot.

I usually wake up between about 3:00 and 3:30 AM. That’s hours before I need to go to work, but I get a lot of things done (including writing) during that time.

I know what time it is because I have my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

set up next to the bed as a clock. I use the built-in clock app, set in nightstand mode. There is no problem at all in reading that in the dark, although it would be quite dim (it’s lit in red) in a normally lit room…there are other clock options for other situations. The battery will have gone down about 40% since I went to bed.

It’s in the

Origami case (at AmazonSmile)

from Amazon, in a configuration that makes it stand up. I did think that case was expensive (it’s $39.99 right now…$10 less than I paid for it in October of last year), but I have to say, it’s held up very well and I do use its features.

I pick it up facing me, so it won’t bother my Significant Other (it wouldn’t anyway, but I’m just being cautious) and head for the bathroom.

The two dogs we have now (both new since last year) don’t get up when I do that: they can be incredibly active for an hour or so at a time…but they also sleep better than most humans. ;)

I have a Cloud Collection with my morning apps. I’ll prop the Fire on the towel bar, and start with the

ABC7 News San Francisco (at AmazonSmile)

That’s the free app from my local station. I check that first in case there is anything that’s going to mess up traffic, but it is quite well designed. For one thing, I can flip articles from there into my

free Flipboard magazines

and e-mail articles easily to people if I want.

Oh, I should mention: before I start using the apps, I turn the wireless back on (I leave it off at night), increase the brightness from the lowest possible setting to about 25%, and turn off the orientation lock (I don’t like the clock flipping around while I’m carrying the Fire to the bathroom). I do all that by swiping down from the top.

After that, and while I’m doing some other morning tasks, it’s on to the

CNN Breaking US & World News (at AmazonSmile)

app. Again, I can flip and e-mail from there. I typically read the following sections:

  • Home
  • Featured
  • World
  • Entertainment
  • Tech
  • Health

I won’t finish all that before I head for the kitchen, dogs thumping on to the floor and “shaking it out” (I hear the dog tags jingle) to follow me. Well, we don’t go to the kitchen first: we all go outside for a bit. I start my morning exercise there. I do about 45 minutes, twice a day…as the baseline. I track that with the free

Review: MyFitnessPal

app. Over the course of more than a year, I’ve lost more than forty pounds. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, and eating wasn’t really the issue for me: it was doing regular exercise. This app has kept me on track with that, entering my food and my activity.

We come back in and I feed the dogs. I eat a small bag of almonds myself (Trader Joe’s sells these “handful” size bags), then back to finish the exercise. I set the Fire up on the entertainment unit and keep reading while I work out. That’s not always convenient: I can only really change the pages between reps or sets (I’m doing my own brand of calisthenics, really…I walk with a cane, so I need to come up with things that will work and still burn the calories).

I’ll run out of CNN before I run out of exercise, usually, so it’s on to my morning

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

read. Again, this is a free app. I highly recommend it: you can customize what you see, and it very much fills the void of having a morning newspaper. I flip articles from into my magazines also.

Somewhere in here, I finish the exercise, and make and eat breakfast…still reading Flipboard usually.

I also have CNN on the TV…with the sound muted during some of this. There are exercises where I just can’t read my Fire…so at least I can read a news crawl. ;)

After Flipboard, it’s on to the

WordPress (at AmazonSmile)

app. That’s where I’m going to approve your comments.

I honestly like to have seen the news myself first, before I get comments on it. That gives me a better perspective, and often makes it easy for me to make a valuable reply. I love it when a reader gives me a heads-up for something which I haven’t seen yet!

I’m not quite writing replies, yet, unless something urgent arises. If that happens, or if big enough news was revealed in the free apps, I’ll go to…a desktop. Yep, an actual desktop computer. While the built-in dictation app on the Fire works remarkably well (easily translating my spoken words into text), it’s faster for me to type on a full-sized keyboard.

Next is the Maxthon browser. I’m pretty sure I got that from Amazon originally, but it isn’t currently available for the KFHDX. It is my favorite browser, and the one I also usually use on the desktop (I’m using it right now). I believe you can get it at 1Mobile for the Fire. I like the privacy mode, and I like how it syncs my favorites easily between devices. I also have Chrome, Dolphin, and Silk available to me on my Fire, but don’t use them much.

I hit some favorites in Maxthon:

  • I go Amazon and get the free app of the day (almost every time)
  • I check the Kindle Daily Deals
  • I check BoxOfficeMojo
  • I check my Flipboard magazines reader counts (I now have thousands of readers for them)
  • I may check IMDb.com news, but one negative for that is that I can’t flip from there into my magazines…for that reason, I may wait until I’m on Chrome on the desktop…and that’s the main reason I use Chrome, is for the Flipboard extension

One more morning stop: the built-in e-mail app on my Fire, where I check my incoming e-mail. Again, I won’t tend to respond there, but it’s a great place to read the mail.

Now, let me point out: I’ve been reading the Fire for over an hour at this point…and it’s all been free items.

Then, it’s usually on to the desktop to write. I may have the Fire open alongside that, but usually not. At this point, it’s charging. It doesn’t take it very long to charge to 100%…I don’t think it’s an hour. I use the

Pwr+® 6.5 Ft AC Adapter 2.1A Rapid Charger (at AmazonSmile)

I like it a lot! I broke one (not the device’s fault…the Fire slipped off the arm of the couch and slid between the arm and the cushion: that, not unreasonably, bent the jack) and replaced it.

If I have more time to read before I leave, it may be sight-reading a book (some times borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, or now, from Kindle Unlimited). I may also read Fortean Times using the Zinio app, which you get from the Zinio site. I pay for that, and I may have paid for the book I’m reading (or I’m reading it because of Prime or Kindle Unlimited…that’s no additional cost, but there has been a cost). I also do read books I’ve gotten for free. Oh, and I also read

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Magazine (at AmazonSmile)

I’m not averse to paying for content…it is nice that a lot what I like is available for free to me. :)

Heading off to work (and my commute varies, since I go to different places…it can be an hour), it’s text-to-speech in the car, so more book time. :) My adult kid did get me an Audible subscription recently…I used my first credit to get a Pimsleur beginning Japanese course. I’ve listened to that in the car (using the Audible app), but it’s much more likely to be TTS.

I have my Fire with me all the time at work. I can sometimes get by with that rather than with my laptop: I work in cramped spaces sometimes, and it’s a relief.

I use

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile)

sometimes (which I got as a Free App of the Day) to do viewing and light-editing of Microsoft Office files), and I use

ColorNote Notepad Notes (at AmazonSmile)

(yet another free app) to make quick notes, often using the dictation feature again (speech-to-text).

I have Evernote, but I’ve never gotten into it, for some reason.

Mainly, though, I’m reading at breaks and at lunch. :) I am not normally connected to wireless, so I use my phone to approve comments and check things. Starting later this week, that should be my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

I’m excited for that!

When I get home, I turn airplane mode back off, and it’s back to e-mail, checking the web, and reading.

It’s probably worth noting that I use the

Safeway (at AmazonSmile)

We do seem to save a lot of money with it (it’s free)…and it lets us know what savings it has on things we have bought before. That’s very convenient!

As a nightly thing, I switch to the

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for actually reading in bed before going to sleep. I’m usually asleep by 9:00…I get about six hours sleep a night. Just two years ago, I regularly got eight hours (9:00 PM to 5:00 AM), but I don’t know if it’s the lost weight or just getting older, but I don’t need that much any more. I wake up naturally…no alarm.

One more thing which I use a lot more on the weekend than I do during the week:

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I do use it some during the week. In one of our rooms, we do not have cable access at all: we just use the Fire TV. I watch Amazon Prime video on it. For one thing, I’m working my way back through

Red Dwarf (at AmazonSmile)

Some of it is quite ahead of its time! I just got to enjoy some SmartWatch jokes…with the AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the watch not enjoying what it sees when, for example, the wearer puts hands in pockets. ;)

I also use Netflix, and a couple of apps which didn’t come with it:

AOL On (at AmazonSmile)

Once again, it’s free…and it’s a good source of news stories (I like keeping up with the news). I can start a category of news story, and it will play them like a playlist…not that different from watching a news channel. There are some ads, but it’s not like the amount of commercials on a cable channel. The only annoying thing is that you may see the same short commercial over and over again. One tip: if it, or any app on your Fire TV locks up, you can go to Settings – Applications, and similar to on a Kindle Fire, clear the cache and/or force stop it.

YouTube (at AmazonSmile)

It’s a decent interface (although I wish it had voice search), and it’s good for something short. I usually check was trending, and I may search for something, although it is often obscure (I recently watched Frank Gorshin doing impressions on the Dean Martin show, for example).

Let’s see what else I use on the Fire:

Oh, I use

AccuWeather (at AmazonSmile)

every day…consider that part of the morning routine. I didn’t think of it at first, because I don’t invoke it: it’s in my notifications. I find it to be pretty accurate…and again, it’s free. I have it set in centigrade: I decided to convert to that a while back. I have trouble thinking of the temperatures in Fahrenheit now, so it’s nice that it has the option. Centigrade is just simpler: zero is literally freezing, ten is cold, twenty is fine for most people, thirty is hot. That’s rule of thumb, but works pretty well.

I tend to use the calendar on my phone, rather than on my KFHDX, but I will check an app which is no longer available. It shows my Google calendar: I could do that in the built-in calendar app, but this one had a nicer format.

I also suggest you use

Clean Master (at AmazonSmile)

I use it more than once a week to clean up junk files on my Fire, and it seems to work very well. Guess how much it costs? ;) Nothing…

I also use

Fandango Movies – Times & Tickets (at AmazonSmile)

on the weekend (not to purchase tickets, just to get times), and without thinking about it I use

Battery Doctor (at AmazonSmile)

The only reason I even notice it is it places a little tone when the Fire is 100% charged: nice to be able to hear it when I’m working on the desktop.

There, I think that’s about it! I do some shopping from Amazon it, but I think that gives you a sense of a day in the life of this Kindleer…2014, and pre-Fire Phone. :)

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Meanwhile…at the public library

July 20, 2014

Meanwhile…at the public library

I have a lot more to say about Kindle Unlimited (how it affects authors, how to find the audiobooks, my experience in using it), but I don’t like to write too much about the same thing too many posts in a row! I like the blog to be eclectic, so that if something doesn’t appeal to a reader, they don’t have to wait too long to get to something that does. :)

I was inspired to take a look at my public library’s e-book collection again, based on some things I’ve heard in the past couple of days (okay, those comments did tie into KU, but still…). ;)

I haven’t looked at it in a while. I have borrowed a couple of e-books from the library in the past, but it was really to test out how it worked for you readers.

One thing that might be a bit odd is that I deliberately picked unpopular books with no waiting lists.

I did that because I didn’t want to keep someone else from getting the book sooner, when I can afford to buy it myself if I want it.

That doesn’t mean I want to spend money unnecessarily, but my Significant Other had a great insight for me once, and it applies here.

Neither one of us is good at household things. I mean things like heavy gardening, fixing a door…you know, I’m proud of myself if I can get the air filter in for the air conditioner, and I literally have screwdriver scars on my hand. :)

However, I used to still try to do that stuff.

My SO pointed out, though, that there are people who are really good at doing it, like doing it (I’m stressed the whole time)…and it’s how they put food on their family’s table.

Since we can afford to pay somebody (that certainly wasn’t always true, but we both have good day jobs ((knock virtual wood)) and I make some money from writing), and it benefits that person and us (no stress and better results), it makes sense to do it.

Similarly, since I can afford to get e-books outside of the public library, it makes sense for me to leave those available for someone who can’t.

That may surprise some of you…that there is a “supply issue” with e-books at public libraries. You might think they can just let as many people download an e-book as they want.

Actually, they are quite limited…even more so than you are with your individual Amazon account, typically.

Publishers have gotten looser with their restrictions with the public libraries over time, but I’m going to show you what the current state is at my library (which I would say is a good one) for people wanting to get popular e-books.

Before I do, though, here’s how you can check your own library (in most cases).

Go to

http://www.overdrive.com

That’s the company most public libraries in the USA use for e-books (I’m reasonably sure it’s still most, although some other companies have been making inroads).

You should see a link to “Find your library”, and then you can probably find the e-books from there.

I can’t get too specific after that, because it varies considerably by library.

Here are the most popular fiction books at my library. The lending period can vary, but let’s call it two weeks. I’m going to give you the title, the number of “copies” the library has, the number of people on the wait list, and then I’ll divide the people by the copies to get an estimated wait time. I’ll also take a look to see if it is in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (eligible Prime members can borrow up to a book a month from the KOLL at no additional cost) and if it is in Kindle Unlimited (KU).

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: 14 copies, 36 on waitlist, 36 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: 16 copies, 182 on waitlist, 159 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: 5 copies, 128 on waitlist, 358 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Sycamore Row by John Grisham: 10 copies, 59 on waitlist, 82.6 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline: 3 copies, 46 on waitlist, 214 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: 7 copies, 26 on waitlist, 52 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Inferno by Dan Brown: 9 copies, 83 on waitlist, 129 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James: 14 copies, no waitlist (available now), not KOLL, not KU
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: 5 copies, 51 on waitlist, 178 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Racketeer by John Grisham: 6 copies, 2 on waitlist, 5 days, not KOLL, not KU

You can see, the public library would be a place to get books you can’t get from the KOLL or the KU and get them for free…but you have to be patient.

How many fiction e-books does my public library have? 3,113.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in the USA Kindle store? 842, 979.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in the KOLL? 273,867.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in KU? 197,822.

Certainly, the public library is an important resource. I support their continued existence, and I’m happy for people who make good use of them.

I can also see how they aren’t going to provide a fully satisfactory alternative for many people to getting books (buying them individually ((which is really buying a license)), or through the KOLL or KU) from Amazon.

YLMV (Your Library May Vary). ;)

I have to say, I noticed some good prices on these books while I was checking for this story. A number of them were $4.99…that’s quite a bit lower than I would have guessed.

Here’s a search for

$4.99 literature and fiction books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

sorted by “New and Popular”.

I think a lot of you can find something you like there.

Enjoy!

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

It’s official! Kindle Unlimited is here with 639,621 titles

July 18, 2014

It’s official! Kindle Unlimited is here with 639,621 titles

After an apparent leak of the information yesterday, Amazon has announced in this

press release

that

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is live!

While I certainly wasn’t the only person predicting it (and I thought it might happen before this year), it is fun for me that I got the name right back in December. :)

Before I talk about what this might mean for readers and the industry, let’s take a look at the service itself.

  • There are over 600,000 e-book titles available…and you can read as many of them as you want for $9.99 a month. Even if they never added any more (and they’ll be adding books daily, I think), you could read a book a day for more than the next 1,750 years :)
  • There are also over 2,000 audiobooks…again, you can listen to as many as you want
  • You can get a free trial of one month right now by going to the above link and clicking a button (for me, it was on the video link graphic, but you can’t count on things being in the same place)
  • You can have up to ten books at a time, no due dates
  • You can read them on hardware Kindles AND on free Kindle apps
  • You can browse for them on  Kindle devices, Kindle for Android, and Kindle for Samsung, or on your computer for other devices
  • NOTE: to read a book under Kindle Unlimited and not purchase it, you will click “Read for Free” NOT “Buy”
  • You can return a book from the device (Kindle Unlimited is in the Shop under Books…on non-Fire Kindles, you select “All Categories” to get to Kindle Unlimited) or from http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle
  • In terms of the audiobooks, the free ones will have the words “with narration” on the Kindle Unlimited splash. Per Amazon: “Some Kindle Unlimited books have Whispersync for Voice upgrades that are not free. Only titles that include “with narration” are free.”

Those are the highlights. Next:

Kindle Unlimited Terms of Use (at AmazonSmile)

  • USA customers only (at this point)
  • Titles can be added or removed at any time
  • If you stop being a member, you will no longer have access to titles you’ve selected (need to see what would happen if you’d already downloaded a title and were in the middle of it…it could be that it would become available–that might require that you connect with Amazon’s servers, but it wouldn’t need to mean that. They could require a “go” affirmation each month from the server for a book to stay usable)
  • Membership fees may be taxed
  • “We only accept credit cards for payment of your membership fees. Please do not sign up for the program with a debit card. Also known as a “check” or “ATM” card, a debit card typically has the word “debit” printed on the face of the card.”
  • If you cancel your membership, you won’t get a pro-rated refund…in other words, if you’ve already paid $9.99 for the month and quit in the middle of the month, you don’t get any of that $9.99 back…that seems reasonable to me
  • “When your membership is cancelled, the titles you have selected from the program will be removed from your account, devices and applications.”
  • “You may not transfer or assign your membership or any Kindle Unlimited benefits. We may take reasonable actions necessary to prevent fraud, including placing restrictions on the number of titles that can be accessed from the program at any one time.”
  • If Amazon cancels your membership (that’s going to be very rare), which they could do at any time, they will pro-rate your refund: “…However, we will not give any refund for termination related to conduct that we determine, in our discretion, violates these Terms or any applicable law, involves fraud or misuse of the membership, or is harmful to our interests or another user.”

Nothing seems out of line to me so far. Ten books at a time may limit some accounts (which can have hundreds of people on them), but I assume the “simultaneous device licenses” still hold (I’ll check that). Most books have six SDLs, meaning that six devices on an account can have the book at the same time…if it’s different from that, it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page. So, I would guess that in most cases, you could have sixty people on an account reading a free book at a time.

Update: I did just borrow a book, in part to test it…and yes, I could read it at the same time on multiple devices on the account, just like I could if I bought the book (actually a license) in the Kindle store. You know what? Kindle Unlimited is incredibly freeing! I always like to be reading a book that relates in some way to my work (in addition to other books), and to not have to worry much about which book I got was great! When I do it through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), I have to make a very careful choice…with Kindle Unlimited, not so much. ;) Yes, there is that limit of ten books at a time (not ten books a month), but that’s entirely doable. That’s a key difference: it’s not ten books a month, it’s ten books at a time. You could read 100 books in a month with KU, as long as you kept returning books you had finished reading. The ten books just puts an effective limit on the number of people using KU on the same account, which again, I think is reasonable. This is truly what serious readers have only been able to imagine in the past.

Last thing before I look at the selection: just a reminder that you don’t own these books, you are borrowing them. Buying access rather than ownership has been a wave in consumer culture for some time…this matches up with those values, as I’ve discussed before.

Okay…books! :)

There are many books here that I have purchased in the past, and I think that’s going to be true for a lot of my readers.

Here are just a few of the titles (and just for fun, if I’ve read them, and if there has been at least one movie and/or TV show):

  • Water for Elephants: read it, movie
  • Life of Pi: read it, movie
  • Flash Boys: movie in development
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: movie
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: read it
  • Wonder Boys
  • The Great Santini: movie
  • Kitchen Confidential: TV series
  • Animal Farm: yes (soon to be a major motion picture…with Andy Serkis involved on motion capture)
  • Wool Omnibus Edition: reading it, in development
  • Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet: read it
  • The Princess Bride: read it, movie
  • All the King’s Men: movie
  • Cat’s Cradle: read it
  • The Giver: soon to be a movie
  • The Good Earth: read it, movie
  • Hunger Games series: read them, movies
  • Lord of the Rings series: read them, movies
  • Harry Potter series: read them, movies
  • Pines: read it, soon to be a TV series
  • 1984: read it, movie
  • Sophie’s Choice: movie
  • Marathon Man: movie
  • Flowers for Algernon: read it, movie
  • North and South: TV series
  • Delta of Venus: movie (some people may not realize adult titles like this are in Kindle Unlimited…Kindles do have parental controls, but some people may dive into KU who haven’t been Kindle content consumers before. Even though checking the content would seem reasonable to me, I suspect we’ll hear some complaints about this)
  • Under the Volcano: movie
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: movie
  • The Name of the Rose: read it, movie
  • Everything is Illuminated: movie
  • The Blind Side: movie

I could do this all day. :)

Okay, now let’s talk about what this means.

Do I think it will succeed?

Yes.

Do I think it spells trouble for other subsers (that’s what I call subscription services) like Oyster and Scribd?

Yes. Since people can get a free trial of KU, they can try it alongside Oyster and Scribd. If they have Kindle devices, or have Kindle apps (or get one for this), they’ll probably find the interface so much easier that if they choose one or the other, they’ll stay with KU.

Will people pay less money for books in a year?

Yes…and no. :) My guess is that many serious readers will use this as an add-on. They’ll continue to buy individual books, and they’ll tack on the $9.99 a month for KU. Some people, who haven’t been buying many books, may start doing this. For example, let’s take a family with limited means, and a child who is an avid reader. They haven’t been able to afford to buy enough books to keep the kid in letters…and the library may have been a challenge to reach (especially since many of them are not open outside of work hours, or not open for long during those times). They might start paying $9.99 a month, and skip going to the library as much.

Will this cut into other book sales?

The tradpubs (traditional publishers) who don’t get into this are in trouble…unless they can find some viable alternative. While I think serious readers may simply up the amount they pay for books in a year, casual readers probably won’t. If you can give somebody a $9.99 gift card to get a month of books as a gift, and you don’t know all that much about books, wouldn’t you do that instead of buying an individual book and maybe getting something the recipient already has or doesn’t like? No, it doesn’t end book gift sales altogether…but iTunes gift cards have had an impact on CD sales and MP3 album gifts, I’m sure.

Does this give an advantage to non-tradpubs?

Absolutely! Amazon can promote things on the KU pages. They can wave a wand and make an indie author a professional author. They can promote their own tradpubbed books, again making household names out of authors. Reading a book for free could lead to buying other books.

In short: this is a major game changer for readers and the industry.

In a later post: the impact on authors.

What do you think? Am I overstating this? Is the drive to own (as opposed to consume) a book different from the one to own or consume music? Am I counting too much on the backlist driving people? I haven’t addressed yet how this might affect the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which could also affect Prime…what do you think will happen? Should Prime members have gotten a break on this? I’m not a big audiobook user: how is that affecting your perception of this? Have you already signed up? Will you? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Amazon launches subser: Kindle Unlimited?

July 16, 2014

Amazon launches subser: Kindle Unlimited?

In my

The Year Ahead: 2014

post in December, I made this guess about what might happen:

“Kindle Unlimited: Amazon does an “all you can eat” plan

I think this has become a lot more likely. Amazon already has it for kids, and rumor is that they’ve been talking to publishers about it. They could open it with mostly independently published books, but they would hopefully get HarperCollins or some other tradpub (traditional publisher) to join in. You’d be able to read as many books as you wanted out of a select group. I could see this being discounted with Prime, or available without it. Let’s say… about$20 a month without Prime, $5 with it. Once people become Prime members, they spend a lot more money, so this could work economically.”

Now, two of my readers (Lady Galaxy and Marjorie) tell me that they’ve actually seen links and information about something called…Kindle Unlimited!

Marjorie said:

“Did you see that Amazon started an unlimited borrowing program for their kindle? First month free. Then $9.99/ month. I saw quite a few Simon & Schuster titles while browsing. The selection is similar to Scribd but Amazon seems to have some newer titles.”

Lady Galaxy said:

“When using a Kindle to “shop in Kindle store,” I see that two of todays “Kindle Daily Deal” books are listed as “kindleunlimited.” Underneath is a link saying “Subscribers read for free.” If you click that link, it leads to the kindleunlimited page offering a 30 day free trial .”Unlimited reading, unlimited listening, any device, $9.99″ a month.” It offers over 600,000 books. So far, I can’t find a link to it in the online Amazon store.”

This would represent what I call a “subser” (short for “subscription service”).

I will add to this post, but I wanted to get this out there right away. This could be “A/B testing”…some people see it, some people don’t.

** Updated info: if you signed up, you won’t be charged. If you downloaded books, you’ll be able to read them…so people who were quick got freebies (to read, probably not to keep) out of this.

I’m investigating a couple of ways, but if you see this link, please let me know. One thing that would help: right-click the link for more information, then choose “copy shortcut” (it might be a bit different wording…and right-clicking is more likely on a Windows PC…it could be a long press on your device, for example) and post that for me in a comment.

Exciting news!

I really appreciate it when my readers take the time and effort to give me the heads-up on something like this. It really helps get the information out to everyone.

More to come…

Update: I’m not seeing the link shopping on my computer in the Maxthon browser. I’m not seeing it on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

whether I go from the Shop tab on the homescreen, or from the Shop in the Books tab.

On our

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(newest version), it updated the store when I went to it. That could be connected to this. However, I checked all five books, and didn’t see anything.

If you are seeing something, please also let me know where on the page you see it…although, again, that could be different for different people.

I haven’t seen the link in Chrome on my computer, either.

I did a Google search: not seeing that anybody else has announced it yet.

Update:

A reader, Kindle Fan, commented this:

“The link to Kindle Unlimited is:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/ku/

Kindle Unlimited is an offer for customers in USA and for only $9.99 per month you have unlimited access to over 630,000 Kindle books. You can read the books on your Kindle device or Kindle Reader.

A few hours ago the total number of books in Kindle Unlimited was around 639,000.

It’s likely that Amazon by mistake opened Kindle Unlimited to a number of customers and they have now removed the links and all info about it.

I signed up for Kindle Unlimited and managed to get two good books before Amazon closed it.

My guess is that Amazon will open up for Kindle Unlimited within a few months.”

I responded:

“Thanks for writing, Kindle Fan!

I just tried that link and got a 404 message, indicating that it doesn’t exist (for me).

I tried it in Maxthon, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.

It is possible it was an error, as you suggest, or an A/B test. They may have wanted to have a very small sample with which to work first.

I really appreciate you making this comment!

I’m checking in some other ways. It’s possible we won’t hear anything more right away. My guess, though, is that we’ll hear something (even if it’s a “coming soon” announcement) by Tuesday. We’ll see… :)

Lady Galaxy wrote back and identified one of the books as

Gone South (at AmazonSmile)

by Robert McCammon (one of the Kindle Daily Deals at $1.99), but also said the link had disappeared.

That book is published by Open Road, which tends to be feature forward and customer friendly. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were to participate in something like this…which would bring us many great backlist books.

It’s also interesting that Marjorie mentioned Simon & Schuster. Before I saw their comments, I had flipped this article into the ILMK Flipboard Magazine (see below):

The Bookseller article by Sarah Shaffi

which talks about Les Moonves (Chief Executive Officer of CBS, parent company of S&S) talking about Amazon. The comments are a bit…hard to define, and it could be that Moonves was aware of the subser at the time of the interview. Moonves said,

“It’s going to be a very interesting thing as we go into the future.”

That might have nothing to do with it, but still…intriguing. :)

Update: I’ve now had a chance to look at the cached page above, so I can say some more about it. None of this is final, and it might not be like this when it launches: we might have seen an accidental leak of a mock-up. I have gotten some information from Amazon on it, and am waiting for permission to share their brief statement (which does not have a launch date).

Here are books shown on the page, their publishers, and if they are currently available in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. I’m including the last one because the figure of “over 600,000″ KU (Kindle Unlimited) titles is close to the same (I get 614,972 right now). Could KU work with the same titles as the KOLL (from which you can currently borrow up to a book a month)? Maybe…but flashier titles might get more people into it.

  • Water for Elephants (Algonquin, a Workman imprint), yes
  • Life of Pi (Mariner, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint), no
  • Flash Boys (W.W. Norton), no
  • The Hunger Games books (Scholastic), yes
  • Lord of the Rings books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), no
  • Harry Potter books (Pottermore), yes
  • The Fracking King (Little A, an Amazon imprint), yes
  • When I Found You (Lake Union, an Amazon imprint), yes
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press), no
  • War Brides (Lake Union, an Amazon imprint), yes
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), no
  • The Namesake (Mariner, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint), no
  • The Bone Season (Bloomsbury), no
  • The Summer I Found You (Albert Whitman), no
  • “Kindle Exclusives” (I think all Amazon, all KOLL): The Long Way Home, Trinity Game, Firefly Beach, The Detachment
  • Old Girls in Low Cotton (Kindle Singles), yes
  • Revolution by Murder (Kindle Singles), yes
  • Operation Cowboy (Kindle Singles), yes
  • Books by Michael Lewis: Moneyball, Liar’s Poker, Home Game (W.W. Norton: no, no, and yes)

They are also indicating audiobooks, which would give them a decided advantage (for those who like them) over Oyster and Scribd.

So, looking at this, although one of my readers reported Simon & Schuster (and my readers were able to go from a live link into a much more complete listing), I’m not seeing any of the Big Five publishers displayed on the cached landing page.

However, there are quite a number of them which are not available through the KOLL.

Scribd and Oyster should be scrambling today as they hear this information…that’s the direct challenge.

This is not at all simple, though.

I think one big appeal for it is going to be gift subscriptions. It would be like buying Netflix for your kid…but people feel really good about giving the gift of reading. I’m not sure how many people think they spend $120 a year on books (most of the readers of this blog, quite possibly, but we aren’t enough to make this work).

I see three particular challenges in this:

  • Getting more big publishers on board…you need a turnover of promoted mainstream titles, I think, to keep people engaged
  • What do you do with the KOLL? How does this interact with Prime (if it does)? Is the KOLL going to be positioned as the Prime version of Kindle Unlimited now (and still limited to up to a book a month)?
  • Compensation…and in particular, how that might vary for tradpubs (traditional publishers) versus indies (independents). That’s already different in the KOLL, though, so it isn’t insurmountable

I’m very confident we’ll hear the Authors Guild and others express concerns about this…

Update: thanks again to Kindle Fan! My very informative reader on this linked to some terms on Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) site, which proves that Kindle Unlimited is official!

It’s interesting stuff…I’ll need to verify that it is in the public-facing material, and if it is, I’ll let you know more.

Update: okay, I’ve verified that you can see this without having a KDP account: I don’t want to breach any confidences:

https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AI3QMVN4FMTXJ

Here’s the key point:

“You’re eligible for royalty payment from Kindle Unlimited each time a new customer reads more than 10% of your book for the first time. A customer can read your book again as many times as they like, but you will only receive payment for the first 10% read.

It may take months for a customer to read more than 10% your book, but no matter how long it takes, you’ll still be paid once it happens. This is true even if your KDP Select enrollment period has lapsed, and you chose not to re-enroll. “

This suggests that perhaps you have to be in KDP Select (as an indie) to be part of KU. That requires Kindle store exclusivity, which may make some authors hesitate.

I’m also curious about limits on how many books you can have out at a time.

Let’s say you have five people on your account (there is no limit). Can each of them have out a different book at the same time? If so, what if you had 600,000 people on your account? You aren’t allowed to share your books for commercial purposes, but maybe you are just friendly with everybody in your city. ;) Can two devices have the same book at the same time? If so, multiple device licenses create the same problem. We’ll have to wait to see details.

**UPDATE: okay, I just got permission from Amazon to share this information, and it’s important!

“From time to time, we test both new and existing features on our website to determine which services would drive customer purchases and satisfaction. We’re testing Kindle Unlimited but the service is currently unavailable. If you tried to subscribe, you will not be charged. If you downloaded books, you are able to continue reading them.

During these test periods, certain aspects of our website will function or appear differently to randomly selected customers, or to the same customer using another computer or browser. We don’t have any specific information about this service. We’re continually fine-tuning our presentation to provide our customers with the greatest value, selection, and information for their online purchasing decisions.”

Thanks to all of the readers who have commented so far! What do you think? Would you buy into this? If not, what would get you to do it? Do you think it will work in the marketplace? When do you think Amazon will introduce it? Will it cannibalize book sales (these are borrows), and will it mean more of the backlist appearing? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #261: Shannara to the screen, $85 PW2 refurb

July 15, 2014

Round up #261: Shannara to the screen, $85 PW2 refurb

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Refurb PW2 for $85 (today only)

I know that many of my readers prefer the non-Fire Kindles, so it’s always nice to be able to write about a deal for them. ;)

Gold Box Deal of the Day: KPW2 refurb for $85 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s the current generation Kindle Paperwhite, which is normally priced (this is all the USA store…this deal may not be available in your country) for $109.

The Paperwhite is a great reader. It’s only big lack is in not having sound, so it can’t do text-to-speech (or audiobooks or music), but otherwise, I like it a lot.

“Refurbed” is short for “refurbished”. I’d never hesitate to buy a refurb from Amazon: they have the same warranty as a new one, and they’ve been inspected perhaps more carefully.

I would guess that new items have been inspected outside Amazon (by the actual manufacturer), and refurbs are inspected at Amazon, although I don’t know that for sure.

This is a Deal of the Day, so although it may go on sale again at some point in the future, it won’t be the price tomorrow.

If you’ve been debating getting a newer model non-Fire Kindle, this is something to consider. I’d say that there are people who prefer some of the earlier models (both for the sound, as I mentioned, and for a physical keyboard), but they won’t last forever…

The Hachazon War and the rhetoric of class warfare

This

Gigaom article by Laura Hazard Owen

is one of the most interesting takes I’ve seen on what I call the Hachazon War (the dispute between retailer Amazon and publisher Hachette) to date.

The lengthy piece points out how Amazon is positioning itself as being the populist entity, and the publishers are the establishment.

Well, yes.

Despite Amazon being a huge corporation, in this case, they have very much empowered small indies (independent publishers, which can be individual authors) and disrupted the status quo.

Which authors have tended to come out in favor of the big publishers?

Brand name authors who have benefited from the tradpubs’ (traditional publishers’) prior dominance.

Which authors have tended to come out in favor of Amazon?

Indies, even if some of them make enough money now to be in the same league as many tradpubbed authors.

When being published and widely distributed required a huge infrastructure, tradpubs ruled.

E-books don’t require that same structure. Accurately, we can say that Amazon provides that infrastructure…to pretty much everyone.

Amazon also pays more royalties (the percentage authors get of each sale) that the tradpubs.

I do think tradpubs bring legitimate value to the process…but theirs is no longer the only process.

Owen does a great job of pointing out how even their corporate language differs, with Hachette tending to be formal, and Amazon tending to be informal.

I highly recommend that article.

On the other hand, there is this

Huffington Post article by Maddie Crum

It’s about how to “quit Amazon” as a customer, and is written in a humorous fashion.

I don’t put this one on the “other hand” because it is anti-Amazon…while I like Amazon, I haven’t liked some of their tactics in the Hachazon War, and have said so.

There was one particular statement, though, that pulled me up short:

“How does one stop purchasing books, and also many other things, from a company that has been repeatedly accused of price fixing…”

Um…I’m not sure if Crum realized that accusations of price-fixing against Amazon came from publishers…who accused them of fixing the prices too low! Publishers complained about Amazon selling bestsellers (apparently often at a loss) at $9.99, which led to the agreements with Apple to raise those prices that eventually brought in action by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Amazon has been accused of a lot of things by a lot of people (including pressuring publishers, including academic publishers, to take a smaller cut), but artificially raising prices and locking them in at a higher price hasn’t commonly been one of them.

In an article supposedly explaining why it is…perhaps inappropriate to keep shopping at Amazon as a customer, pointing out that they have low prices may be ineffective. ;)

A bestseller…and more than fifty years old

I’ve been watching the sales ranking of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

It’s been in the top 100 in the USA Kindle store.

That matches my prediction that it could be one of bestselling e-books of the year, although we have a ways to go yet.

I think we may see a considerable jump in its sales when the school year has started (as the book gets assigned), and I think it may also be a popular holiday gift.

Due to the former reason, I think it will have solid sales for quite some time.

E-books have a much longer sales cycle than p-books (paperbooks). The economics are very different. You don’t have to predict how many to print and order and store, so you don’t have to tie your promotional efforts into that time when the paper copies are available.

With p-books, you typically get huge sales in the beginning, and a rapid dwindling.

With e-books, they are around (with no supply challenges) for a long time. It may be that they sell almost nothing at first, and then spike, then taper a bit, then sell at a lower level, then spike again, and so on.

Very different strategies, just based on the medium.

Terry Brooks’ Shannara coming to MTV

No, this is not Game of Thrones. ;)

A popular fantasy series is being adapted for television:

Shannara series (at AmazonSmile)

The feel of the two is very different…this should be a whole lot lighter.

According to this

The Hollywood Reporter article by Lesley Goldberg

and other sources, the series has solid geek cred in the production department: Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Al Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville).

This is another case where you might want to read the books first. The series will reportedly be based on The Elfstones of Shannara. Text-to-speech access is blocked in the single edition, but not in

The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)

omnibus (three novels in one).

There are more than two dozen books in the series, with more on the way…

What do you think? Do you buy refurbs? Even though I think they are fine, I don’t usually do that. One reason? Since I’m going to write about them, I want them on release day. When do you buy a new model Kindle for yourself? Only when an old one fails? When a new one is released because, you know, that’s cool? When they are on sale? Is Amazon the champion of the “little guy”? Think back to when you were in high school (assuming you no longer are)…what media did you love that was fifty years old at that point? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

“You should be ashamed of reading that”

July 15, 2014

“You should be ashamed of reading that”

I recently wrote about being a fan of the Planet of the Apes (I was linking to the original book). One of my regular readers, Tuli Reno, commented (thanks, Tuli!) that

“I love Planet of the Apes and am not ashamed of it. For some reason someone I know thought I should be.”

There is no reason to be ashamed of what you read or watch or play or to which you listen.

Oh, I suppose…let me get this out of the way. There is content which is created as the result of a crime, or that exploits real people. That’s a different story. The issue there is the crime, the production of the material.

One weird thing that I remember being proposed was banning sexually explicit animation…making it a crime to produce. I can understand people not wanting to watch it, but there has hardly been a crime committed against the pixels. ;)

So, with the issue of production out of the way, let’s talk about “content shaming”.

It’s interesting to me psychologically.

Why should it matter to one person if another person reads (or otherwise consumes) something that the first person thinks is too “babyish” or “silly” or that it is just junk?

Is the argument that they should be reading something better?

I can certainly see that being a slippery slope…isn’t there always something better? ;) Should you not be reading a really good novel because there is a great one you haven’t read? ;)

My feeling always is that if you are getting nothing out of a book, the lack isn’t in the book…

If you have enough imagination, and choose to exercise it (and it is exercise…it can be tiring), you could read a great novel in a blank book, right?

I just never understand the point of diminishing someone else’s happiness.

I’ve heard the argument about all kinds of things, from comic books, to romances, to mysteries, over the years.

“Stop reading that drivel!”

I do have a theory.

Years ago, I had an  epiphany.

I realized something, and said it this way:

“We hate in others that which we fear in ourselves.”

Let’s say that someone has been taught that crying in public is bad.

They were punished for doing it (“I’ll give you something to cry about!”).

They never cry any more…it’s not that they don’t want to cry sometimes, but that they repress it.

Then, they see someone freely crying in public.

For some people, the reaction to that in that situation is instant anger.

They may yell the same thing at the other person that the authority figure in their life yelled at them.

They hate that the other person is crying, because it is something that they struggle with in themselves…that they work hard to crush.

I honestly think there is something like that at work in some content shaming.

Someone who was told to stop reading Sweet Valley High or The Animorphs or Robert Heinlein, for that matter, learns to repress the desire to do so.

When they see somebody else reading, say, The Hunger Games, they may have that same lashing out.

I’m a proud geek…and we are really used to this sort of thing. :)

Now that geek has become mainstream, it’s a bit different…but yes, watching Star Trek or playing Dungeons and Dragons or reading Lord of the Rings could get you a sneering lecture in the past.

We used to gather in conventions to find like-minded people…but now, you can do it on the internet.

If you are a fan of pretty much anything, you can probably find like-minded people online.

That can help.

I should also mention that not everybody who thinks of themselves as a geek is open to all content. There have been geek feuds (Star Trek vs. Star Wars…or Star Trek vs. Lost in Space, back in the day), and you can see some geeks putting other people down. There is a derogatory term, “skiffy” (a deliberate mispronunciation of “sci-fi”) that some people use for…I guess I’ll say they might call it schlocky pseudo science fiction. When I see someone use that, it makes me a bit sad.

Geek culture should be about acceptance, not exclusion. George Takei has made this point about Star Trek and Star Wars…after all, Takei has appeared in both universes (having done a voice in Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Many other people have as well, although perhaps not with such prominence.

My main message on this, though, is that if someone else shames you because of what you are reading, it’s not about you…it’s about them.

A lot of how you emotionally react to things has to do with how you frame the situation.

After all, you are fine with your doctor doing things that would horrify you if someone else did…because you’ve framed it as happening for medical purposes.

If someone wants to content shame me, my framing of it makes me pity them. I feel sad both that they can’t get the joy out of the material that I do, and that something happened to them that made them fear in themselves something that I enjoy in myself.

I think, perhaps, the proper response is just to let them see that it isn’t hurting you…what you are reading, I mean.

Shamer: “Why are you reading that junk?”

Reader: “I like it.”

Shamer: “It’s stupid.”

Reader: “It’s interesting to me.”

Shamer: “You should be reading Tolstoy or Shakespeare.”

  • Reader (response 1): “I do [only if that's true]…I enjoy that, too. This isn’t Shakespeare…but Shakespeare isn’t this, either. I just like different things at different times.”
  • Reader (response 2): “Yes, that’s another thing I’d like to try some day.”
  • Reader (response 3): “You know, I’ve always been kind of scared of that…I’m not sure I’d understand it. Maybe you could help me get into it: where would you suggest I start?”

The bottom line, I guess, is that it should end up with a shrug on the reader’s part. You don’t want to be dismissive of the other person…showing interest in what they are saying would probably be best. You really don’t want to get defensive and engage the anger…that’s a rarely a good strategy.

I think one thing I might do is send the person a gift of a book in the genre…a book that I particularly like. I’d probably include a message that was something like, “I know that what I was reading didn’t make much sense to you, and I can understand how it could seem weird. Here’s a book I think you might enjoy…and if you want to talk about it afterwards, I’m open to that. If you want to trade it in for something else, that’s fine…I just wanted to give you an opportunity to see what I see in it.”

I know, I know…some of you think I’m a dreamer. :) Yup…and proud of it. ;)

Have you ever been content shamed? What were you reading/watching/playing? What did you do about it? Have you ever converted somebody who hated a genre into respecting it? If so, how? Name a book which you think would be a good “ambassador” to get somebody into something (for example, I’d go with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns for somebody who doesn’t like the idea of comic books and graphic novels). Outside of something criminal or exploitative, is there something that has a fandom that you just don’t get? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think, by commenting on this post.

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

50 Kindle books for $2 each

July 14, 2014

50 Kindle books for $2 each

It’s possible to become jaded to sales in the Kindle store…there are so many of them, and the prices are often quite low even when books aren’t on sale.

Right now, there are more than half a million books in the USA Kindle store that are two dollars or less, for example.

This sale:

50 Kindle books for $2 each (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

though, has some interesting elements to it.

First, they all look to me to be traditionally published by Amazon.

When I say “traditionally published”, I mean that Amazon chose the book…the publisher didn’t just put the book in the store without it being editorially evaluated, which is what happens when books go through Kindle Direct Publishing.

In my experience with Amazon’s traditionally published books, they’ve felt professionally done: not a lot of typos, for example.

Tradpubbed by Amazon also means that they will generally have the extra features: they’ll be available in the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library); they’ll have text-t0-speech available; they’ll be lending enabled; and they may have X-Ray and Whispersync for Voice.

So, this sale is a good opportunity to get professionally produced books with the extras for a low price.

Second…I’ve read some of them. :)

I do read some pretty obscure books, but it’s possible that you will also have heard of some of these.

Here are a few of them which caught my eye:

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (at AmazonSmile)
by Gregory Berns
4.2 stars out of 5, 323 customer reviews
non-fiction, neuroscience

I read this one and enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s not a technical book…there is quite a bit about how they were able to get the experiment approved and get conscious dogs to stay still in an MRI (it can be hard to get people to do that).

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End (at AmazonSmile)
by Manuel Loureiro
4.2 stars, 2182 reviews
fiction-horror

I read this one, too: my mini-review is in this post:

Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down

I said, in part:

“Overall, I found it an engaging, fast read. It will be too violent for some, but it isn’t just gore for gore’s sake. It’s much more about how the character reacts than it is about that. I always like to let people know about the use of the “F word”, and that’s here, but not really out of place. I have a lot more trouble with books that just indicate everybody is horrible, and that isn’t the case here. I like that.”

Two other books in the series are also available as part of the sale: Dark Days; and The Wrath of the Just

That means that for $6, you could get yourself (or somebody else…you can delay a Kindle gift being delivered until an appropriate gift giving occasion) three novels in a series, all rated four stars or above.

The Boy from Reactor 4 (The Nadia Tesla Series, Book One) (at AmazonSmile)
by Orest Stelmach
4.0 stars, 750 reviews
mysteries, thrillers, and suspense – espionage

The Boy Who Stole from the Dead, the second book of the series, is also available as part of this sale for $2.

The Palace Job (at AmazonSmile)
by Patricia Weekes
4.0 stars, 169 reviews
mystery, thrillers, and suspense – science fiction & fantasy

A heist caper…with elves!

Midnight Train to Paris (at AmazonSmile)
by Julliette Sobanet
3.9 stars, 233 reviews
romance – time travel (yes, that’s a category)

Starship Grifters (A Rex Nihilo Adventure) (at AmazonSmile)
by Robert Kroese
4.5 stars, 60 reviews
science fiction – space opera

I’m tempted by this one! I do like humorous science fiction, such as Bill, the Galactic Hero. :) The reviews make it sound like it might be fun.

Blood Makes Noise (at AmazonSmile)
by Gregory Widen
4.0 stars, 232 reviews
historical fiction – mystery, thriller, and suspense

I wouldn’t say the title or cover engaged me, but the author and premise both do. Gregory Widen is a screenwriter, known in my kind of geek circles for Highlander (“In the end, there can be only one.”). The story is based on true events surrounding the body of Eva Peron…and the CIA’s involvement with it.

The Hiccupotamus (at AmazonSmile)
by Aaron Zenz
4.3 stars, 323 reviews
children’s, mammals

An illustrated children’s book…with text-to-speech enabled…and well-reviewed…for $2!

The Basement (at AmazonSmile)
by Stephen Leather
3.7 stars, 210 reviews
mystery, thriller, and suspense – hard boiled – serial killers

I’ve read another book by Stephen Leather. I wasn’t crazy about it, but it was worth reading.

Enjoy!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Better than the book? Planet of the Apes

July 12, 2014

Better than the book? Planet of the Apes

I’m about to head out with my Significant Other to see

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

the second movie in the second reboot of the movie series (there have also been a live action TV series and an animated series).

Am I a Planet of the Apes (PotA) fan?

Does watching all five movies of the first series in a row in a movie theatre count? ;) Let me take that one step further…I did that…in an ape suit (with a Don Post mask).

I started writing a script (completely unsolicited) for the live action series, although it was canceled before I was finished. My script focused on a stereotype-busting intellectual gorilla…

However, it all started with a French novel:

Planet of the Apes (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The novel was published in 1963, and was followed five years later by the Roddy McDowell/Charlton Heston version which was most Americans first encounter with it (at least back then):

Planet Of The Apes (at AmazonSmile)

That version, by the way, is available at no additional cost as Prime streaming…along with its four direct sequels! Good way to have a good binge watch. ;)

Generally, people tend to think that a book is better than the adaptation of it, and that’s often the case. Part of it just has to do with the nature of the two media: you can put a lot more into a book than you can into a movie, and the special effects are largely unlimited. ;)

This is the rare one, though, where I would submit that the movie (the 1968 version) is better.

It’s not just a question of the translation (I thought the translation I read was quite good).

There are a lot of similarities between the movie and the book…it’s clearly based on it, even with some of the same characters (down to their names).

As regular readers know, I’m very careful about spoilers…and spoiling the 1968 PotA movies is one of the great offenses in that area, in my opinion (along with Psycho, The Sixth Sense…I would argue, even the 1939 Wizard of Oz).

I was not happy recently when a journalist did just that: spoiled PotA, and unnecessarily, in my opinion. They could have left five words out of their piece, and been fine.

The key thing here is that the book and the movie are…different in their ideas (and in their tones). The book is far more philosophical: it’s not intended to read as reality.

The movie is gritty. We are supposed to think it could be happening (given the willing suspension of disbelief about the premise)…that it could be real.

I’ll recommend the book to you: I do think it is worth reading, and it’s only $5.43 at time of writing.

However, I’m also going to recommend the 1968 movie to you…and I feel more confident that most people will enjoy the latter.

One reason for that may be that Rod Serling, of the original Twilight Zone series, co-wrote the script.

As to the other movies in the first series? Well, there’s a whole through story that’s quite interesting, and there are some notable scenes in all of them (one, in particular, has something to say about celebrity culture). Roddy McDowell is brilliant in all of them. :)

I think, though, they do belong squarely in the geek zone (which is where I live)…non-geeks are just not going to enjoy them as much. ;)

What do you think? Are you a PotA fan? What was your first exposure to it? Was it the Tim Burton version? Are there other movies which you think were better than their source material? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post…but no spoilers, please. :)

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Heads up! 1TB Portable Hard Drive for $25: 5:00 PM Pacific!

July 11, 2014

Heads up! 1TB Portable Hard Drive for $25: 5:00 PM Pacific!

These are going to sell out quickly at $25!

It’s a one terabyte portable hard drive for $25…74% off the $94.99 normal price.

They are only doing 10,000 of these.

Buy this for yourself, or for a gift…

These are special limited time offers, which are only available to Kindle Fire owners.

What happens is you can get a text to alert you to an upcoming deal (details in the links below). You don’t get much warning…maybe an hour (about half an hour in this case).

The deal also appears on the sleep screen of your Fire, and you can find it under Offers on the homescreen (all the way at the end).

Then, you say you want to “learn more”. You’ll get to a screen with a countdown clock. As soon as the clock gets to zero, you need to click to have a chance to get it.

They have typically been selling out in seconds.

Here is information on the program:

As I’ve written before, I look at these LTOs (Limited Time Offers) sort of like buying a lottery ticket: I don’t expect to get one (win), but its exciting if I do! Of course, the “ticket” doesn’t cost me anything.

These LTOs are one of the best arguments for having Special Offers…and yes, a good argument for having a  Fire (at AmazonSmile)!

Did you get one? Do you have any other comment on this? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

One more thing: I’ve had a couple of readers say that they never even saw the offer. As far as I know, these go out to every eligible Kindle Fire in the USA. A few possibilities occur to me:

  • They either bought a Kindle Fire without Special Offers, or bought out of the offers later. You have to be subscribed to those in order to get these deals
  • They weren’t connected to wireless in time for it to update
  • They didn’t check the Offers tab (I don’t always see it on the sleep screen)

It might not have been any of those, but those three would have done it.

===

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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