Amazon announces Prime Now: delivery in an hour

December 20, 2014

Amazon announces Prime Now: delivery in an hour

I debated the headline a little bit, but decided to go with a clear one.

I considered:

“Next year: teleporters?”

“But that’s twice as long as Domino’s!”

“Amazon’s new high tech 19th Century delivery system”

Actually, I would have still mentioned Prime Now, but let’s go through this…there’s more to this than the headline might indicate.

Yesterday, Amazon announced in this

press release

that they are now doing deliveries in one hour!

Naturally, there are limitations to it

  • It’s currently only available in Manhattan, but they are planning to roll it out to other cities in 2015
  • It’s not available on every item (but is available on thousands)
  • It’s only available to Prime members
  • It’s 6:00 AM to midnight, 7 days a week
  • For delivery in one hour, there is a $7.99 charge…but within two hours is free (or at least, no additional cost over your Prime membership)
  • Looks like you need to order through a free app. Update: yes, only through a free app on iOS, Android (including in the Amazon Appstore)
  • Update: $15 minimum for one hour or two hours
  • Update: you’ll get text messages, and you can track the delivery on a map in the app
  • Update: zipcodes are 10001, 10010, 10016, 10017, 10018, 10019, 10020, 10022, 10023, 10024, 10025, and 10036
  • Update: someone must be there when it is delivered
  • Update: you can suggest products to be carried through the app
  • Update: you can’t view or work with your Amazon.com orders through the Amazon Prime Now app. they say: “Although Amazon Prime Now and Amazon.com are rleated, Amazon Prime Now is a standalone mobile application…”
  • Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, asked if you could use this to have things delivered in Manhattan, even if you lived somewhere else. I checked with Amazon (they replied very quickly), and the answer is…it is where it is going to be delivered which matters. So, you could be in California, and have something delivered to someone in an eligible Manhattan zipcode within an hour

Amazon has actually released two videos on it. One is at the official site:

video

The other, more interesting one in my opinion, is at

YouTube

The second one shows you more about the service.

One particular thing shows up at 17 seconds into it. We get a sequence showing us the app in use.

Included is a $5 recommended tip, over and above the $7.99 shipping charge.

That’s only a recommendation, but I’m guessing it appears automatically and you have to decline it (or change it).

If any of my readers in Manhattan have used it already, please let me and my readers know if that’s the case!

Oh, and the 19th Century technology they are using? Bicycles!

Yep, bicycle couriers.

One thing that makes this possible is a building Amazon recently set up…there was some speculation what that was going to be…a store was popular, or maybe lockers (where you pick things up after you order them online).

Getting something within one hour for $7.99 (or $12.99 with recommended tip?) is awesome, but here is what is more amazing to me: get it within two hours (and you specify the two hour window), and it’s at no additional cost! I mentioned that in the bullet points, but thought that it was worth repeating.

I was wondering…when would you pay the extra money to save sixty minutes?

I can see some motivations. You are having a Superbowl party, and your TV breaks (yes, this includes TVs…how they carry them on bicycles, I don’t know!). It’s the holiday, and you forgot (or you find out) that you need batteries to bring your kid’s brand new toy to life! Oh, and, um…I can see there being some urgent deliveries of contraceptives (don’t know if that’s included).

I went ahead and downloaded

the Amazon Prime Now app (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

so I could browse a bit more (you can browse it as a guest…but at least on my Fire phone, it still knew who I was). Oh, and I can revise that statement above…yes, you could get that item in under an hour.

Prices seem reasonable. I checked Ziploc sandwich bags (100 count). It was actually fifty cents less on Prime Now ($2.48 versus $2.98) than on the regular Amazon site. On the latter, you could only buy it as part of Prime Pantry, which I don’t find convenient..and that costs $5.99. So, if I wanted it in two hours, I could get it it for $2.48 (plus tax) rather than $8.97…plus tip!

The app (just browsing through it) interestingly has things that we buy that are somewhat unusual. Sensitive Skin dove soap, Tide Free and Gentle…certainly be a whole lot easier to get it from Prime Now than to go to the grocery store.

There are a lot of categories! That includes books, cell phones, computers, gift cards (that would be handy at times!), office products, pet supplies…largely like Amazon.

You can get the Fire tablets…but not the Paperwhite (although you can get a cover for the latter) or the Voyage. Oh, you can get the least expensive Kindle (the one I call the Mindle Touch), and importantly, a charger.

Gee, I wonder where they will deliver? Could you get to the airport (in the future…no airport in Manhattan), realize you forgot your Kindle…and get another one delivered before your flight leaves?

Seriously, the more I think about this, the more blown away I am.

Wait until they combine this with the Amazon Echo!

So, who is this going to disrupt?

Obviously, local stores. Using the gas, not knowing if the store has what you want, navigating the parking lot…who would do all that (outside of wanting to support the community)?

Can’t leave out the companies that make items used by local stores…shopping carts, shopping bags, that sort of thing. I suppose parking lots, and cities might be affected by a reduced use of parking meters.

Another big group affected?

Package delivery services: UPS, in particular, but the Postal Service, too (and others).

“Let’s see: I can have it in two hours by bike messenger, or in two days by UPS for the same price…decisions, decisions.” ;)

I’ve suggested before that Amazon would start doing their own deliveries in some way to cut out the delivery services. Amazon, of course, gets blamed right now when a package delivery service messes up…this, while it will be imperfect, at least puts the power and responsibility in Amazon’s hands.

It will also mess up companies whose products aren’t in Prime Now. Let’s say you can get one brand of fig newtons in two hours, and another one in two days…you might start switching loyalties.

There will be some thefts, there will be liability (someone is going to get run over by one of these couriers, someone is going to hit one with a car…but those things happen with bike couriers now, so the underwriting should be pretty solid).

Sometimes, they’ll go to the wrong address, or not be able to deliver inside for some reason…or the courier will get bitten by a dog.

Still, if this works (and I’m sure it will work well enough), it’s a game changer!

Why would Amazon do this? Could it possibly be cost effective?

Absolutely…it if makes you become or stay a Prime member.

Prime members spend a lot more at Amazon than non-Prime members, and they buy the better margin items (diapers and windshield wipers, as I like to say).

Prime also has a ripple effect. I would bet you that someone who already has Prime is more likely to buy a Fire tablet than an iPad, when compared with someone who doesn’t have Prime.

Can anybody else do this?

It would not be easy. Google can (and they may do it soon) add buy buttons, but they won’t be doing the fulfillment: can Google really get a store to get an item to you in an hour? I find that unlikely.

Again, this is restricted to Manhattan right now, and I think it’s going to be in big urban centers for some time, just because of the logistics (unless they can do sort of the same thing with drones in more rural areas, after the FAA ((Federal Aviation Administration)) okay that…but currently, a drone can’t carry a television!). I think you’ll see it in more cities before the end of 2015, though.

What do you think? Is this a smart move by Amazon? What could cause it to fail? If it gets big enough, what effect will it have on retailing..and society in general? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand 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.

 

 

 

Why have you replaced a Kindle?

December 18, 2014

Why have you replaced a Kindle?

I don’t tend to replace my Kindles/Fires…I just add to the group.

In part, that’s because I want to have older ones around for reference, for when people ask me questions.

That plan got a bit derailed when our house was burglarized, and I lost eight of them.

However, a reader, SKC, and I were discussing battery life. Not battery charge life (how long between charges), but that the battery will eventually become unable to be charged. Since a Kindle/Fire** does not have a user replaceable battery (as many modern electronics don’t), it becomes necessary to replace the device (if you still want to have that many devices).

My thought was that I haven’t heard that often about someone replacing a device because the battery died.

It’s more often been because it was lost/stolen, the screen failed, or they wanted something newer.

That’s just my guess, though…I thought it would make sense to do a poll.

Certainly, my readers aren’t typical of the general population, but it would still be informative.

First, let’s define replacing the device as getting another device (or, I suppose, an app) to take the place of one you will no longer have. You aren’t adding to your total number of devices: you are keeping the count the same.

Second, before I do the poll, let me point out that you still have your content (with a couple of exceptions, which I’ll explain).

It’s easiest to think of it as the e-books belonging to the account, not to the device.

When you register a new device to the same account, it has access to the books previously purchased on that account.

What are the exceptions?

There has been some debate about this, but my understanding is that if a book has been removed from the Kindle store by Amazon for legal reasons (such as it being a case of infringement), Amazon can not let people download it from the archives.

They don’t go after copies you’ve already downloaded to your device: having an infringing copy is not illegal (that’s been established by the Supreme Court…it’s not the same as stolen goods), it’s the distribution that’s the problem.

If a book is simply voluntarily removed from the Kindle store and you already bought it, Amazon will still have that one for you to download to new devices. I have one like that.

That’s one case where you wouldn’t have the book to download to a newly registered device if the old device failed.

Second, there is a question of compatibility. The vast majority of e-books from the Kindle store are compatible with all of the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers). However, some may have audio or video which would not be compatible, and then there are “print replica” books which wouldn’t work on the first generation Kindle (the one from 2007), for example.

Another category, not books, is “active content”. Those are games you play on a non-Fire Kindle, and you can imagine that one that works with a touchscreen might not be compatible with an older Kindle without a touchscreen…that sort of thing. Also, currently, active content is not available for the

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

which, as I understand it, is a conscious choice for Amazon.

Okay, so let’s get to the poll. You can pick more than one choice on this:

If they answer you want isn’t there, please let me and my readers  know by commenting on this post.

While we’re here, let me also ask: why have you kept your Kindle/Fire when a new device was released?

Again, feel free to add additional reasons or to just tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand 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! :) 

**Update: regular reader and commenter jjhitt correctly pointed out that the 2007 Kindle had a battery designed to be replaced by the user, and people have replaced the batteries on other models…I should have said, “…modern Kindles/Fires…” or perhaps “…current…”

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.

Great deals in the top 100

December 18, 2014

Great deals in the top 100

You know how the Agency Model artificially kept prices higher because tradpubs (traditional publishers) were unhappy with Amazon’s $9.99 pricing on most bestsellers and other new and popular books?

There must not be enough sad face emojis in the world to express how they feel now!

Well, maybe they aren’t that sad. Maybe they are actually making more money by making it up on volume, but I am shocked (and as a consumer, pleased) with the prices in the top ten right now.

$9.99? They wish!

This list updates every hour, but here it is:

Top 100 Paid in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Seriously, check out the prices. Even for that person you know who only reads a few books a year (and only those in the middle of the mainstream), you can find something at a bargain price.

Remember that you can buy the book now and delay delivery until the appropriate gift giving event. Alternatively, you can have the gift sent to you, print it out, wrap it and give it in person.

These can also make great small gifts…just print it out and put it with the others.

If your recipient already has the book, they can get a store credit…easy peasy.

Here are some that are standing out to me:

  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand $4.99…4.8 stars out of 5 with 15,420 customer reviews at the time of writing! Also a major motion picture (likely to get Oscar nominations), and non-fiction
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr $6.99…topping best of and bestseller lists
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie $1.99
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn $4.99
  • Captivated by You by Sylvia Day $2.50
  • The Burning Room (A Harry Bosch Novel) by Michael Connelly $3.99…this is going to be an Amazon TV series
  • All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward $1.99 (this price won’t last)
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed $6.15 (another Oscar likely movie)
  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle $2 (new movie being released, might get Bradley Cooper an Oscar nom)
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien $2.79
  • The Martian by Andy Weir $3: indie to tradpub success, and yes, there will be a movie
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry $2.99
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman $2.75
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon $2.99
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King $3.99
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green $2.99
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman $2.99
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth $2.99

Really, those prices are generally lower than what we were charging for mass market paperbacks when I managed a bookstore…a lot more than a decade ago.

Some of this may be due to price matching, and the prices can change at any time…but you can get people very popular books for bargain prices!

Enjoy!

Join over a thousand 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 #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

December 17, 2014

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

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

Mass market paperback sales down 30%…in one year

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

e-book sales continued to gain on printed books.

I’ve written before about how e-books have largely taken over the market niche of mass market paperbacks, seen as the inexpensive way to get books.

The growth for e-book sales isn’t as meteoric as it was. For adult trade books (the ones you buy in bookstores…not textbooks…that’s also where the 30% drop happened in mass market paperbacks), they grew half a percent year over year. Still, that’s growth…where other formats saw losses.

Children’s books (including Young Adult) seem to be compensating, meaning growth for the year.

Worth noting: the market share for e-books for adult trade is about half what it is for children’s books. That’s something else I’ve observed before: I think adults currently like to give physical books to kids, but I think in ten to twenty years, that will have changed considerably.

Could Apple win its e-book case on appeal?

Well, well, well.

It looks like it is possible (some even think likely) that Apple will win its appeal of its conviction in the Department of Justice’s e-book case. There is a lot of buzz on this: here is one article

SF Gate article

Essentially, they argue that Judge Denise Cote blew it, and misinterpreted the law.

What happens if Apple does win?

It doesn’t invalidate anything else that’s already happened, as I understand it. The other publishers which have settled gave up the right to appeal (again, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my lay understanding of them making the agreement). The states’ Attorneys General case is also separate.

An Apple attorney made an interesting argument that the prices went up after the Apple deal because Amazon had been using its monopolistic power to keep prices low.

For me, that’s why the appeal might fail. Typically, anti-trust law is used to protect consumers, not producers (like publishers). I’m not sure a court is going to find that a monopoly which is making things better for consumers is doing something wrong…not that I’m saying Amazon was a monopoly in e-books (just really, really big).

We’ll keep an eye on this.

“…the book is back”

The book never went away. :)

Oh, in some segments it shed its corporeal body and became a being of light (digital, at least), but the book has always been there…and I my strong guess is that more people are reading books now than they were five years ago.

The headline quote, though, is from this interesting

The Guardian article by Robert McCrum

and is attributed to James Daunt, Chief Executive of the Waterstones bookstore chain in the UK.

I supposed one could say the business leader is “undaunted”, but that could get me in trouble in China. ;)

I recommend the article. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so perhaps it’s a bit more in my wheelhouse, but I think anyone might find it intriguing.

Waterstones has stabilized, and may see growth.

We can’t say the same thing about Barnes & Noble at this point.

I wonder if chain bookstores are going to be more likely to thrive outside the USA?

Digital adoption in many countries is actually higher than in the US…but that doesn’t necessarily go for e-books. The last I heard, the Japanese were slow to adopt them, for example.

Bestselling doesn’t mean most completed

Kobo has released (although I’ve looked, and can’t seem to find the full report) data on which books are bestselling for them in 2014…and which ones are completed the most.

That might be creepy, but yes, an e-book platform can typically tell how far you’ve read into a book (at least up to your last sync).

After all, how else could Amazon let you sync to the “farthest page read”?

According to this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

fewer than half of the people (44%) who start reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winner

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

finish it.

The article suggests that might be because of the length, but they also note that only 28% of readers of Solomon Northrup’s

Twelve Years A Slave (at AmazonSmile*)

finish it, and that’s about a quarter the length of Goldfinch.

I suspect it has more to do with people who aren’t serious readers getting those bestselling books, and often as gifts.

A lot of books are given as gifts. You can see how someone might give Northrup’s book as a gift to someone who loved the movie. That recipient might intend to read all of it, but just might not have the habit (and skill) of reading a book to start to finish.

Does it take skill?

I think so. I think those of us who read a lot have a lot of skills in finding the time and opportunity to do it!

Like a lot of things, you need to practice to be a great reader…many people can read, but not many people can average several books a month.

I also think people buy some of those bestsellers aspirationally: they’d like to read the book, they think they would be a better person if they read the book…the reality just overwhelms the intent.

I guess I’m saying that bestselling books are more likely than micromarket books to be started by someone who just isn’t likely to finish any book.

As I’ve written before (I’m saying that a lot this time! I guess that happens after more than five years of writing the same blog), I always finish every book I read…eventually.

I know that’s not true for many of you…you feel like you are wasting your time if you keep reading a book you don’t like. There are other books to read.

I understand that attitude…it’s just sort of the principal of the thing for me.

For example, I just finished reading a book…and I gave it one star in my

Goodreads revies

something I’ve never done before. According to Goodreads, that means I “didn’t like it”. Well, that’s true…despite thinking that it was well-written in some ways, I was offended by it. That’s not easy to do: I’m not somebody who is easily offended.

I have to say, though, that I was sorry when a commenter said they had deleted it unread based on my review.

I don’t want to hurt the author with the review…but I did want to give my honest opinion of it.

I read the whole book. Others might like it (it has an average of over three stars out of five at Goodreads, and 3.5 stars at Amazon).

I know, I know: I haven’t named the book here. When I polled my readers, book reviews by me weren’t one of their favorite parts of this blog, so I started doing them at Goodreads. I think naming the book here might have a bigger impact on it…if you are curious, you can read the review at the link above.

At any rate, I’m not surprised that the bestselling books are not the most finished. :)

What do you think? Are mass market books doomed? Are bookstores saved? Are you more likely to finish a book you bought for yourself than a book someone else gave you? Will Apple win on appeal? Should they? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand 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! LTO on Amazon headphones on Kindle Fire ends at 6:00 PM Pacific

December 16, 2014

Heads up! LTO on Amazon headphones on Kindle Fire ends at 6:00 PM Pacific

40 minutes to go as I write this, 27% claimed!

So, I’m going to send this right now, then update it.

$12 for Amazon headphones, normally$24.99. I got them with my Fire Phone…nice earbuds, more comfortable than most, includes microphone…tends not to tangle.

Update:

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

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). That will disappear when the sale is over.

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, although this one looks like it will last the hour.

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 on past offers that they never even saw the offer. As far as I know, these go out to every eligible Fire tablet in the USA. A few possibilities occur to me:

  • They either bought a Fire tablet 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.

===

Join over a thousand 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 devices holiday sale: Mindle Touch $59, more

December 15, 2014

Amazon devices holiday sale: Mindle Touch $59, more

It’s December 15th, and we have a limited time offer on Amazon devices.

I’m guessing this might be about it, except for maybe some flash sales.

One of the Gold Box Deals of the day is $125 (!) off the

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation – 3rd) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That brings the lowest configuration of this largest Fire down to $224. This is the previous generation, but it does have front and back cameras and Mayday (the onscreen technical help). It is the previous generation of the operating system, though.

Other deals promoted here:

Fire & Kindle Deals (at AmazonSmile*)

Great deals!

I thought you might also be interested in this comment I made recently in the Amazon Kindle forums. There has been some very lively discussion of the Amazon Echo (I do not have an invitation at this point), and one poster suggested Amazon should hurry and send out some more invitations, since the number available on eBay was dwindling. I responded:

===

“…getting the majority of Echoes off eBay may be a good thing for Amazon…so waiting might actually help them. :)

They didn’t prohibit resale of the devices as a contractual condition of getting one in pre-release, and they could have done that. However, my guess is that they are picking people in order to get a diversity of use patterns, depending on demographics, buying habits, and so on. Having them sold unused on the secondary market skews that data, since they can’t control who gets one.

They can’t have them disappear altogether, since someone who legitimately got one directly through invitation could sell it used.

Once they are mostly gone from eBay, though, they have a number of choices:

* They could make no resale a condition of pre-release ownership…perhaps sunsetting that provision when the device goes into general release. They could put that restriction in the invitation e-mail
* They could send out another round or two of invitations…since people who are getting are Prime members, they could probably get them on Monday, December 22nd, and still have them for December 25th. It’s worth noting that a lot of purchasing goes on after December 25th as well
* They could offer it to all Prime members for $99. That could also be a tie-in to promote Prime: “Get Prime for $99 for the year, and buy the $199 Echo (not released yet) for $99″. People would see that as getting Prime for free for the first year
* They could do a one day, flash sale of them to the general public (maybe through WOOT, owned by Amazon). That would get a lot of publicity, and would start getting them tech reviews (outside of the ones who have bought the device on the secondary market). Then, they could follow up with surveys…perhaps, intriguingly, even conducted by Alexa herself: “Do you mind if I ask YOU some questions?” :) I would think compliance with that survey would be relatively high. Also, since the device is registered with Amazon generally by existing customers (I would guess), they already have a lot of data on the users
* They could simply open it for general purchase…which would tend to knock the wheels out from under the eBay market

In none of those scenarios would I guess that Prime members would lose the opportunity to buy it for $99…but that’s just a guess. :)”
===
Amazon Kindle thread (at AmazonSmile*)

Join over a thousand 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.

 

Characters as friends: the allure of series

December 15, 2014

Characters as friends: the allure of series

You never know what will happen when you hang out with your friends…but you have a pretty good idea about the range of possibilities. ;)

That same combination of familiarity and surprise applies to literary series.

By series, I mean books which feature the same characters and/or setting, but aren’t one continuous story.

Look at Xanth or Oz or Stephanie Plum or Little House (on the Prairie) as examples.

Sure, there may be an evolution of the situation. That’s certainly true in Oz, where characters’ past experiences shape their future actions (even though the characters don’t age), or in Little House, where natural human aging has an effect.

Generally, though, each book in a series contains a story…it has a beginning, middle, and end.

There is a reason people refer to the “Lord of the Rings trilogy”, rather than simply referring to it as the “Middle-Earth series”. The three books really tell one tale.

While some people look down on series as being less creative than coming up with something unprecedented each time, I think some authors are really freed by the format.

Great series manage the trick of being accessible to newcomers, but not needing to do all the background exposition every single time, as you would do in stand-alone novels.

We don’t need a description of Uncle Henry and Aunt Em’s farm in Kansas every time we read an Oz book, and we don’t need to get all the details about how Dorothy became friends with the Scarecrow.

Certainly, it enriches the book for the reader if you do know that back story, but you can always go, well, back and read more about it, if you want.

I liken a book series to a TV series, with separate episodes, but shared history.

That said, I always want to read series in order, from the first to the last.

I love to be surprised when I’m being entertained, so I don’t want to read about something in passing in a later book that is a big reveal in an earlier one…I don’t even want to know who has survived each book.

I’ll admit, though, that that is probably partially my somewhat obsessive nature. I kid my family and say I’m obsessive but not compulsive: it doesn’t rise to the level of a compulsion for me, but I’m aware of order (and yes, I count steps when I walk on them).

For example, in a very unusual situation for me, I woke up this morning sure it was Monday (it was Sunday).

I tore the page off my page-a-day calendar (a gift…I do recycle the pages and the holder) for Monday before I realized.

It’s been bothering me all day that I’ve seen it a day ahead of time. :)

Not bothering me so much that I can’t do other things, and I didn’t go back and replace the page or make a conscious effort to forget what it says.

Awareness of it, though? Yes, absolutely.

So my desire to read series books in order may not apply to you. After all, I’ve suggested that’s sort of the point of a series: you can read them out of order.

I refer to the characters as “friends” at the top of this post, and for many characters, it does feel like that to me.

It might not always be the healthiest of relationships, and the friendship isn’t reciprocal…but that’s how it is sometimes in real life, too, right? ;)

Monk and Ham; Dorothy, Ozma, Jack Pumpkinhead, and all the rest; Stephanie, Lula, Ranger, and Morelli; Sherlock and Dr. Watson; Professor Challenger; Elric; Rachel Morgan; Miss Marple*…they all bring me that comfortable and yet exciting feeling. I know them: I know who they are, but I don’t know what they’ll do.

They can reassure me and challenge me…and hopefully, yes, surprise me.

That’s why it can be so disappointing when a series gets to be too predictable…or when characters act “out of character”.

We want our friends (living and literary) to help us grow: to show us new things by building on the past.

There used to be an old joke that Playboy had brought out a new magazine for married men: it had the same centerfold every month. ;) However, if it was the same person, but different activities, well, that might actually work…you know, if the person was actually treated as a three-dimensional human being, anyway.

Our literary “friends” often have depth and complexity…but is that really necessary for us? Hm, interesting question…there are certainly some characters who are pretty much always the same, and that still works.

I should also be clear: I’m not saying I’d like to know all of these folks in real life! Elric and I would probably not get along at all well…

One other interesting phenomenon with this: I do feel a certain loyalty to characters. I feel like I owe them something, for what they have given me.

If a new Doc Savage movie comes out (and one is expected, in the next few years, currently in development by Shane Black), I will feel like I should go see it…even if the reviews turn out to be awful.

I owe Doc that much. :)

Amazon has a listing of series here:

Series in the USA Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping**)

although they aren’t using the term the way I am, and there are some odd listings there.

What about you? Do you like open ended series, or do you prefer having something that completes itself? What series have you loved? What series took a turn in such a way that you stopped reading them? Do you feel the same sort of loyalty that I have? Would you like to meet any characters from series…or live in (or visit) their worlds? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

* I thought you might want a bit more information on the characters here (and I could have chosen many more):

  • Monk and Ham: two of Doc Savage’s associates, in the books by “Kenneth Robeson” (that’s a house name…the main author was Lester Dent). Monk is a chemist who looks enough like an ape that people make that mistake in identity. Ham is a dandified lawyer. They fight constantly, but in reality, would die for each other
  • Dorothy, Ozma, Jack Pumpkinhead, and all the rest: the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Dorothy is from Kansas. Ozma is the ruler of the land in later books (I’m not going to consider that a spoiler…I won’t tell you how or when it happens). Jack literally has a pumpkinhead, and is a bit of a cosmic fool
  • Stephanie, Lula, Ranger, and Morelli: the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie Plum is the main character, a bounty hunter. Lula is…a friend with an outside personality. Ranger is a charismatic monosyllabic security expert, and Morellis is a cop
  • Sherlock and Dr. Watson: from the Sherlock Holmes books by Arthur Conan Doyle. I assume I need not explain anything here ;)
  • Professor Challenger: again by Doyle. Best known for The Lost World, but appears in two other novels and other works. Bombastic, intelligent, abrasive
  • Elric (of Melniboné) by Michael Moorcock. Truly a tragic figure, Elric is a physically weak person (and an albino) who has a sword that gives him strength and fighting prowess, but that has a will of its own (and may certainly kill Elric’s loved ones if unsheathed). Anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons will recognize the influence of Stormbringer. There are a lot of metaphors here…
  • Rachel Morgan of The Hollows by Kim Harrison. Set aside the supernatural elements, and these are better Stephanie Plum books than some of the actual Stephanie Plum books. ;) You can’t set aside the supernatural, though…that’s definitely part of the appeal. Rachel is a bounty hunter and a detective, but differs markedly from Stephanie Plum in dealing with vampires, witches, and the like who are now living openly with humans
  • Miss Marple by Agatha Christie. Like many fictional detectives, Jane Marple is generally underestimated and dismissed by those in authority, but has a keen intellect. Would you like Miss Marple to be helping you? Definitely! Would it be fun to watch, even if you weren’t involved in the case? Indubitably

Join over a thousand 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.

Most reviewed Kindle Unlimited books by category

December 14, 2014

Most reviewed Kindle Unlimited books by category

I continue to be amazed and delighted with books I stumble across  in

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

Amazon’s subser (subscription service) launched in July with a bit over 600,000 titles…and has already grown to over 800,000!

When I run across books I want to read, I add them to a special Amazon wish list I have just for that purpose.

I thought what I’d do, though, is go through each of the major categories in the USA Kindle store within Kindle Unlimited, and see what book is the most reviewed in each of them.

I use “most reviewed” (which is a sort I apply myself…see New search tip: sort by Most Reviews for information about how I do it) because I find that tends to net me the most “mainstream” of the books. Bestselling is more ephemeral…it changes often, but once you have reviews, you aren’t likely to go backwards. ;) These review counts aren’t limited to the Kindle editions, so that also helps find the “standard list”.

The categories are, I believe, chosen by the publisher…you might not agree with a book being put in a particular category, because the publisher may have done it for marketing purposes. I’ve seen the same book classified as fiction and non-fiction, for example.

Here are those major categories (with the count of KU titles) and the most reviewed Kindle Unlimited book in each:

  • Arts & Photography (30,142): Guitar Mastery Simplified: How Anyone Can Quickly Become a Strumming, Chords, and Lead Guitar Ninja by Erich Andreas
  • Biographies & Memoirs (28,514): Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
  • Business & Money (41,419): Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis
  • Children’s eBooks (69,943): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Comics & Graphic Novels (4,315): 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by Matthew Inman
  • Computers & Technology (7,918): Windows 8 For Dummies by Andy Rathbone
  • Cookbooks, Food & Wine (22,976): Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  • Crafts, Hobbies & Home (18,421): Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote
  • Education & Reference (34,478): The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
  • Foreign Languages (125,075): Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (Libro 1) (Spanish Edition) by J.K. Rowling
  • Gay & Lesbian (6,623): The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Health, Fitness & Dieting (55,911): The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary D Chapman
  • History (17,415): Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
  • Humor & Entertainment (25,470): Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Literature & Fiction (261,891): The Hobbit: 75th Anniversary Edition by J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (56,656): The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller (The Origin Mystery, Book 1) by A.G. Riddle
  • Parenting & Relationships (16,289): What to Expect When You’re Expecting: 4th Edition by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
  • Politics & Social Sciences (17,236): Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
  • Professional & Technical (24,799): The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
  • Religion & Spirituality (75,668): The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary D Chapman
  • Romance (52,448): War Brides by Helen Bryan
  • Science & Math (11,640): The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy (63,016):
    Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (The Silo Series) by Hugh Howey
  • Self-Help (29,000): E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout
  • Sports & Outdoors (13,823): Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote
  • Teen & Young Adult (36,202): The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins
  • Travel (12,802): The Illegal Gardener (Greek Village Book 1) by Sara Alexi

Interesting!

These books would cost you over a hundred dollars to buy to own…if you read ten books a month, you are getting to read them at the cost of about a dollar a book.

You can see the impact of the categorization thing I mentioned: several books are the most reviewed book in more than one category.

Obviously, some of them are also very well known! However, if you asked me as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager to recommend a science book or a romance book, for example, I wouldn’t say these would be the first ones to come to mind.

Hopefully, this listing will help you find a book or more to use with your KU membership. If you aren’t a KU member, you can get a free month…or you could buy the books.

Enjoy!

What do you think? Pick one or more of these categories…what would be the first book that came to mind for you? Do any of them match the above? Which categorizations surprised you the most? Do you think that using the “most reviews” produces fairly representative choices? If not, how would you suggest I do that? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

New! Join over a thousand 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! LTO on Fire tablets at 4 PM Pacific: Artist Studio Painting Kit

December 12, 2014

Heads up! LTO on Fire tablets at 4 PM Pacific: Artist Studio Painting Kit

Amazon: Upcoming Limited-Time Special Offer on Kindle Fire: Artist Studio Painting Kit for $17. Deal starts at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT.

I am on my phone so more later…

Update:

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

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). That will disappear when the sale is over.

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 on past offers that they never even saw the offer. As far as I know, these go out to every eligible Fire tablet in the USA. A few possibilities occur to me:

  • They either bought a Fire tablet 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 over a thousand 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’s bestselling books of 2014

December 12, 2014

Amazon’s bestselling books of 2014

In this

press release

Amazon announces their

Customer Favorites: 2014’s Top-Selling New Releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Actually, while they call it the “bestselling” list, they also include information about “most wished for” (added to Amazon wishlists) and “most gifted”…both interesting.

I would guess the “most gifted” may be the most inaccurate: how many people actually indicate a p-book (paperbook) is a gift when they buy it? With e-books, you can send a book to someone as a gift, so that’s more obvious…unless the person is on your account, in which case, it may just look like you are buying it.

Some interesting points from the press release:

  • Over half of the books on the lists are from series
  • “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is the only book in the top 20 to sell more print copies than Kindle copies”…think about that one. There has been an argument that people want to give p-books to children as gifts, rather than e-books. Part of that has to do, I think, with a…presumption that p-books make kids more scholarly than e-books (since the latter are read on a dreaded “screen). I think it’s partially also nostalgia: adults remember being given p-books as kids, and may still own them decades later (or have passed them on to their kids). That will change: in time, adults will remember having been given e-books as children…and will share them with their kids through the account
  • “The best-selling book by a debut author in 2014 was The Martian by Andy Weir”…yep, science fiction, and originally self-published (but then picked up by a tradpub…traditional publisher)
  • The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story by R. J. Palacio and The Staff of Serapis made the list with Kindle-only books”…another amazing fact. Remember that ten years ago there were no Kindle books. Initially, many of the Kindle store books were converted from p-books, followed by simultaneous releases. For a bestseller to never have been a p-book is a real evolutionary change!

Standing out for me in the top 100 Kindle store books (only paid, by the way…they don’t free in these lists) is

#3: The Fixed Trilogy: Fixed on You, Found in You, Forever with You (at AmazonSmile*) by Laurelin Paige

This is a self-published book…actually, an omnibus of three books in a series.

It has 4.6 out of 5 stars, with 4,836 customer reviews.

Text-to-speech enabled, lending enabled, has X-Ray, and has Word Wise.

It’s also available through Kindle Unlimited, where members can read it at no additional cost.

What is the price on it?

$3.99.

Now, this is #3 on the Kindle list, so it wasn’t included in those above that didn’t have print editions…but it doesn’t.

Congratulations to Laurelin Paige for showing that you don’t need the traditional system to be a success!

I’m not opposed to tradpubbing…it certainly has its benefits. I just like people to have options…that results in more books, and that’s a good thing. :)

Here is Amazon’s top 20 (they say, “List counts only first editions published in 2014 and includes paid units in print and Kindle.”)

  1. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  2. Gray Mountain by John Grisham
  3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  4. 20 Seconds Ago by Lee Child
  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  6. The Target by David Baldacci
  7. The Fixed Trilogy by Laurelin Paige
  8. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
  9. Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (I’ve read this one)
  10. Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
  11. WMC 13 by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
  12. Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett
  13. Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts
  14. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  15. Blood Magick by Nora Roberts
  16. Field of Prey by John Sanford
  17. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  18. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney
  19. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
  20. Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

These are mostly “People Magazine books” (that’s what I call the mainstream…books likely to be reviewed in that publication, with a lot of brand name authors. I might have expected more young adult books, and it’s intriguing to see Nora Roberts so well represented with this type of genre series.

Bonus deal:

Amazon is continuing their 12 Days of Deals in Kindle Books” at the

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

page. For Day 2, we have a really important book in the “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime”:

Silent Spring (at AmazonSmile*) by Rachel Carson.

This 1962 non-fiction book was a major influence on creating an environmental movement in the USA. It’s $1.99 to buy today…and it is part of Kindle Unlimited.

Their Best Books of 2014 selection for today is

Those Who Wish Me Dead (at AmazonSmile*) by Michael Koryta

It’s $2.99 today.

I would consider both for gifts…remember that you can delay the delivery date until the appropriate one, and if your recipient already has the book, they can get a store credit instead.

These would both make good small gifts, if you like…if you put a bunch of small gifts together, haven’t you spent $1.99 on something that might have less of an impact and be less appreciated than The Silent Spring? I have. :)

You can choose “Give as a Gift” and then have it e-mailed to you, print it out, and include it with the other gifts.

What do you think? Any surprises for you on Amazon’s lists? What were your favorite books published this year? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,324 other followers