Is Amazon making us better people?

August 26, 2014

Is Amazon making us better people?

Stay with me on this one.

Amazon’s reputation has recently taken a major hit, or perhaps I should say, they’ve gotten a new reputation.

We’ve always felt like Amazon was socially awkward with its customers. It would sometimes do or say clunky things, like removing an illegal book from our Kindles without asking us (which they then more than compensated people for having done it, and mea culpad all over the place).

We’ve known they were secretive, not revealing numbers of books or devices sold.

Recently, though, they’ve gotten a reputation for acting with evil intent. They sent out an e-mail

Amazon’s “Important Kindle request” for KDP authors

which clearly misrepresented George Orwell (ironically, the author involved in the book removal above), quoting out of context to use, well, Orwellian double-speak to rally people against their “enemy” in the Hachazon War (publisher Hachette).

It’s very hard to believe that it was simply an error, and that the person who wrote the e-mail didn’t know it was the opposite of what Orwell would have intended to say. I do, by the way, find it likely that people higher up in the organization didn’t know what was happening with that e-mail…I don’t believe Jeff Bezos would have signed off on the strategy.

I think the fact that it was pretty much unprecedented in that way was part of what has made it so impactful for so many people.

I always look for the good in the “bad”…that’s just my nature.

I had to say to myself: what is good about Amazon placing hurdles in between readers and the books they want (which has been one of their tactics in the Hachazon War)?

What if, by denying customers the “People Magazine books” they want to read, they get people to read things they wouldn’t?

Suppose people always ate steak and potatoes, and you took it off the menu and offered them a variety of food from other cultures instead. Would that make them appreciate those other cultures more?

If we assume that Amazon has a goal of cultural change (and that is not a safe assumption), they seem to have a primary strategy: when it comes to reading, quantity is more important than quality.

I have sympathy for that concept.

I would rather somebody read ten books of questionable quality from ten different points of view than read one book which “everybody agrees is a great book”.

I think that reading always puts you in someone else’s cognitive and emotional shoes**…even if it might do it very imperfectly. I also believe that tends to make you more understanding of other people’s positions.

Now, of course, this is largely the opposite of what you’ll get in school. Tell a teacher that you read twenty comic books or ten science fiction “popcorn books” instead of reading To Kill a Mockingbird or Romeo and Juliet, and they won’t think you’ve helped your development.

I can also see that…if you always read comic books or science fiction adventure.

I think for me, the key is to read different things, diverse things.

Arthur C. Clarke supposedly said, “Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.”

Well, I’ve always felt is should be that politicians read all three…and romance, and non-fiction, and children’s books, and…

Amazon’s models encourage that.

If you join

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

you can read from a choice of close to 700,000 titles.

I guarantee you that there are ones there that come from a viewpoint different from yours.

There are also books which have been imperfectly edited and/or proofread.

You also won’t have many of the books I called “People Magazine” books above…the ones you’d read about in that publication.

Let’s say someone would have read the new J.K. Rowling…and instead, reads five other books. We’ll further say that none of them are as good as Rowling’s writing…but they present a variety of perspectives on the world (and the people in it).

Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? Would that make them a better person at the end of it…or might it just turn people off reading?

I think we are going to see this trend growing. Less quality control, more quantity focus.

Of course, one can argue the other side…and I love to argue both sides. One of my favorite things we did when I was a professional actor way back when was they had us improv a scene where we were on a talk show, taking two diametrically opposed positions as characters. Then (and we didn’t know this was going to happen), they had us switch roles and positions and keep going.

In high school, we were going to do a debate. I chose to debate in favor of drunk driving…even though I didn’t drink then, don’t drink now, and believe alcohol does more damage in the United States than any other drug.

I actually won that debate. One of the points, as I recall, was something like they said that, oh, forty percent of driving accidents involved alcohol. I said in rebuttal that meant that 60% didn’t…so you were safer driving drunk than not drunk.

Of course, that was ridiculous, and I knew it. There are mechanical factors and other issues, but they didn’t respond, so I got that point.

So, one response to what I’m saying about Amazon’s subser (subscription service) is that people will also feel it’s more reasonable to simply abandon an “unpleasant” book…since it costs nothing to do so. If you spent $20 for a controversial book, you might feel like you’d better read the whole thing. If you get part way into a Kindle Unlimited book and hit a concept you don’t like, you could just dump it and go to something with which you are more familiar.

Anyway, my basic suggestion here (and I want to hear your responses): Amazon is encouraging people to read a greater variety of works by, in part, denying them easy access to blockbuster mainstream titles…and that will make them better people by having them exposed to a more diverse set of viewpoints. It will also make society better, by having less homogenization in what is read.

What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers 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! :) 

** I forget who said it, but I love this line: “Never criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes…because that way, if they get mad, they’ll be a mile away and barefoot.”

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.

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 2)

August 25, 2014

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 2)

This is a continuation of a recent post

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 1)

in which I list and talk about the books I currently have downloaded to my Kindles. For more information on this, see that first post linked above.

Wild and Untamed Thing: Richard O’Brien – the LOST interview (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)
by Phil South
5 stars out of 5, 1 customer review
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
not yet started

It’s been about forty (!) years since The Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released in the USA. When I first saw it, there was just a handful of people in the audience, and the whole audience immersion part of it hadn’t happened yet. I’d had it recommended to me by someone who knew my fondness for the Universal Horror movies of the 1930s and 1940s (and to which it pays homage). It was fascinating to see the development of the “cult” over the years, as I went back to see it many times. It went from people spontaneously shouting at the screen, to ritualized mass repetition of the same audience-spoken lines…often with the original meaning diluted. My Significant Other, by the way, had never seen it when we met…and in fact, jokingly suggested that as an epitaph: “Here lies — — who never saw Rocky Horror”. ;) When I was looking to get to the maximum ten simultaneous borrows for

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

so I could test something, I happened to stumble across this one. It made sense: it’s a transcription of an interview with the creator (and one of the stars) of Rocky Horror, first as a stage show, then on-screen. I look forward to reading it.

This is a case where the publisher will make a lot more money because I borrowed it through KU than if I had bought it, since it is priced at $0.99. The publisher (which could be just the author) would get about $0.35 if I bought it…and while we don’t have the exact figure yet (it’s based on a pool of money which is divided dependent on the number of borrows there are), it is likely to be upwards of $2.

Flying Saucer to the Center of Your Mind: Selected Writings of John A. Keel (at AmazonSmile*)
by John A. Keel (edited by Andrew Colvin…no relation, and not spelled the same) ;)
4.5 stars, eleven reviews
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
not yet started

Ah, John Keel…it’s a bit hard to describe this writer, and how big the influence of Keel’s books has been (not just on me, but on many people). Keel was the clear inspiration for Carl Kolchak on The Night Stalker, and of Alva Keel in the lamentably short-lived Miracles TV series (at AmazonSmile*). Keel brings this odd synergy of ordinariness in the midst of “high strangeness”. Just as in the Darren McGavin performance, Keel comes across as no superhero, or Sherlock Holmesian genius, yet encounters Mothman and the Men-in-Black (and popularized both). Keel’s greatest book (which became a New York Times bestseller) The Mothman Prophecies (at AmazonSmile*), and several others, are available in the Kindle store…but the classics aren’t available through Kindle Unlimited. This book collects articles by Keel: I suspect I will have read some of them, however, many of the magazines which would have carried Keel were not widely available (even to someone like me who collected a lot of “Forteana”). Thanks, e-books!

THE ROAD TO LOCH NESS (The Kodiak Books) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Lee Murphy
5 stars out of 5, three customer reviews
not yet started

While this book is available through Kindle Unlimited, I got it when it was recently free (and I flipped that information into the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard, so I’m guessing some of my readers did as well). Murphy writes a series of novels involving cryptids (reported animals not recognized by science, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster), starring George Kodiak. I’ve read one of them…not burning to read another one, but I probably will eventually. :)

Batman Eternal (2014- ) #1 (at AmazonSmile*)
by Scott Snyder, James Tunion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Jason Fabok
4.1 stars, 68 customer reviews
gotten as a freebie
7%

I don’t read many comics nowadays, although I used to read them a lot. I had told you about this freebie when San Diego Comic Con was starting this year, so I assume some of you got it as well.

Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less (at AmazonSmile*)
by S.J. Scott
3.9 stars, 212 customer reviews
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
completed

This is one of those books I borrowed to be reading something that ties into work (I actually report that regularly to my boss, as part of “personal/professional development”). It’s not bad: very bite size, and the structure of how to build habits is more significant than the habits themselves…which is important.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (the one I have isn’t available any more, so no linking)
by Lewis Carroll
4.2 stars, 1672 reviews
gotten as a freebie
51% right now, but I’ve finished it

I keep this one on my Kindles to demo stuff for people. It’s in the public domain, so there aren’t any copyright concerns (if you used text-to-speech in a public setting with a book under copyright protection, for example, you could be infringing on the public performance right). Since I’m not really reading it currently, I don’t care if they leave it in a different place in the book, so it works well to just let somebody play with it. :)

The Rise of the Humans: How to outsmart the digital deluge (at AmazonSmile*)
by Dave Coplin
2.7 stars, 3 customer reviews
not yet started
gotten as a freebie

This is another one I got to read as a “work book”. Haven’t started it yet. The low ratings aren’t encouraging me, but I’ll likely try it eventually.

To be continued…

Bonus deal

My apologies that this is so late: I know some of you may miss it. On the other hand, that’s always true, since I have readers around the world…even if the deal is good in their countries (which is often not the case), the timezones would cause problems as to when the deal was available.

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals is five Sookie Stackhouse novels (including the first one) for $1.99 each. You can buy as many as you want of the five, paying $1.99 for each one. This is clearly a tie-in to the finale of the True Blood series, which is based on these books (but the story lines really diverged).

I would have gotten it out sooner, but my Significant Other is an Insurance Claims Manager, and had to go into the office to deal with the earthquake in Napa, which through off the timing. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area (although not that near Napa), and really felt it this morning, but there wasn’t any damage here.

Hopefully, some of you can take advantage of this.

These books are not currently available through Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

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.

Round up #265: Signs of the tomes, WorldReader.org

August 23, 2014

Round up #265: Signs of the tomes, WorldReader.org

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

CNN writes about WorldReader.org

I’ve been writing about

WorldReader.org

for years, and I was happy to see them recently get a nice story on CNN:

CNN article by Katie Linendoll

WorldReader is a non-profit (you can donate at the above link) which gets Kindles and e-books to children in difficult circumstances (this article focuses on Africa). They also can help them with electricity and satellite internet.

There are great pictures heading the article, and a good perspective on why this is so important.

First, let me say: reading matters. It helps to read about people who are like you (they do make a real effort in that direction) and people who aren’t. It broadens your horizons, and gives you mental tools which can help you succeed.

So, why not give kids in remote villages paperbooks?

The biggest thing is getting them there. We have friends who say they will never help us move again, because of all the p-books (paperbooks) I own. My books would hardly be enough to keep a school going very long, even though I have something like ten thousand. Most of my books are mass market paperbacks, which are relatively small and easy to transport. It would be a very different story with ten thousand hardbacks.

Another thing is that p-books simply don’t last that long, especially in very humid climates. Most people really degrade p-books when they read them: it’s typically a snap to be able to tell if a copy of a p-book has been read before: the spine will show it, and the pages may have wrinkles and folds.

An e-book isn’t decayed when read.

I found the article heartwarming, and strongly recommend it.

Author backs Amazon: claims it is the best hope for publishing

There have been so many takes on what I call the “Hachazon War”, the dispute between Amazon (a bookseller) and Hachette (a publisher). It’s much more than that, of course…this is really a battle over the future of publishing.

Oh, the future won’t be decided just here…these things go back and forth.

I think it’s important to realize that this isn’t just a price negotiation…there are some basic questions at stake.

It comes down to this: is the current model of traditional publishing the way things will go in the future?

Steve Cohen in the Wall Street Journal

argues that it isn’t…and that the current model is unsustainable.

Cohen says, “I think Amazon is far more likely to come up with innovations that may save book publishing, which is in desperate need of being saved.”

I think we’ve seen a pretty clear split: authors who have been succeeding in the status quo want to maintain it. Authors who have not are interested in change.

In both cases, that might be short-sighted. An indie might eventually get picked up by a tradpub (traditional publisher) and benefit from the current model. The current model could fail, leaving authors who depended on it stranded.

Ideally, author would know how to make it both systems, and there are those “hybrids” who currently both indie publish and are tradpubbed.

The article has some interesting stats, and is worth reading.

“Help me, Jeff-Bezos Kenobi…you’re my only hope.” ;)

Buzzfeed: 13 Clever Signs that Will Make You Want to Buy a Book

This

Buzzfeed article by Aaron Calvin (no relation, as far as I know

reproduces bookstore “signage”…and those can be quite clever.

You should go to see the pictures…I love the one that explains why every book is actually…well, let’s just say science fiction technology, and let you discover why. ;)

The Book-Lovers’ Anthology from 1911

The always reliable EBOOK FRIENDLY

has this

article by Piotr Kowalczyk

about a book which is in the public domain from 1911 about the love of books. They link to sources there.

Sex sells…but not always enough

There is mythology out there that the one absolutely sure business is selling sex, but it just doesn’t work that way.

I’ve listed freebies in the past in this blog from the publisher Ellora’s Cave, which specializes in…um…let’s go with erotic romance.

Well, they’ve recently had to lay some people off (and I am not going to comment on that phrase in this context) ;), due to a big drop in sales…that is only happening at Amazon.

They don’t know why.

It’s interesting to speculate. Amazon does get pressure to not carry erotica, or to make it not appear in search results.

Is it possible the e-tailer has done something which reduces the visibility and discoverablity of Ellora’s Cave, therefore reducing the sales?

Perhaps…but that’s pure speculation.

It could also be that there is increased competition from indies (independent publishers). I took a look, and the books do not appear to be in Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

That’s an interesting question (even though KU has only been around a month and isn’t likely to have had this sort of impact on this company yet).

Could it be that small tradpubs are going to be most hurt by new models?

The larger tradpubs are often part of media conglomerates, and simply have more reserves (including the brand name authors). They may be able to batten down the hatches and get through some changes.

Indies clearly benefit from new models, like KU. Many publisher will make more money when there are books are borrowed than they would if they were sold.

The smaller tradpubs, which at first benefited from the more open distribution of e-books, may find that if they are not super discoverable, people who are willing to with a non-tradpub will simply take the ones they find, rather than digging around.

That would be an important turn of events, and perhaps an unfortunate one.

Authors might end up with two choices: go with a huge tradpub, or go it on your own.

Going it “on your own” doesn’t mean that you don’t have an editor and other resources…it does mean you might have to pay for them yourself.

We’ll have to see what happens going forward.

What do you think? Is Amazon the best hope for authors…let’s say ten years from now? Are smaller tradpubs especially at risk? What’s the best bookstore sign you ever saw? 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.

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 1)

August 22, 2014

Books on my Kindles #2

Books on my Kindles is a series of posts where I list what books I currently have on my devices.

This listing is quite a bit different from the last one.

One reason for that is

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

I normally only keep about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices at a time. I like to keep my devices lean if I can: I do think they run better. So, even though I could hypothetically have over 5,000 e-books on my

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

for example, I normally don’t carry more than I need with me (and being an inveterate book lover who reads multiple books at a time, “need” means ten or so). :)

I was testing something with KU, though, and needed to get to the limit…so I borrowed ten books. I didn’t have to download them all to my Fire, but I think I did.

The other big thing, as I mentioned last time, is that this is kind of hard for me to do. I know people judge people by what they read…both in good ways and in bad. This particular grouping (I did not manipulate them before writing the post) leans pretty heavily in the geeky direction. I am a proud geek, but I also mention on here that I’m an eclectic reader. This grouping won’t look much like that: it seems like much of a muchness, as I glance at it at first. Still, as a bit of a random snapshot, I’ll go with what’s here. There are too many to really list in one post, so I’ll take a few to go through them.

Not counting the dictionaries that come with the device, magazines, items filed under Docs rather than Books, here are the first of the 37 Kindle store titles in descending order of most recent (most recent first):

The City on the Edge of Forever (at AmazonSmile*)
by Harlan Ellison
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
47% complete

I borrowed this one Wednesday morning, because a couple of my readers (Allie D., jjhitt) and I have been talking about Harlan Ellison after I recently listed a Kindle Daily Deal with Hugo Award winning and nominated books.

There’s a lot of controversy over Ellison’s script (and pre-scripts) for The City on the Edge of Forever, which became an episode of the original Star Trek…and cited by various sources as one of the best.

As regular readers know, I’m not fond of vituperation, and Ellison certainly isn’t hesitant about it.

Ellison’s version of the events does sound…plausible, for the most part, with appropriate details. The way the author describes it and characterizes other people does make me less sympathetic, though.

One interesting point: Ellison (and other sources which can be seen) quote Gene Roddenberry as saying, “He had my Scotty selling drugs…” The script and treatments are in the book, and that’s not it.

However, Ellison also says, “Geezus bleeding Kee-rist on a crutch! Scotty doesn’t even appear in the g*ddam script!” (I added the asterisk, even though the author left out the “n”).

Perhaps not in the script, but in the first version in the book, there are a few references to the “SCOTTISH ENGINEERING OFFICER”, who participates in a court martial with Kirk, Spock, and “THE MEDIC”.

That isn’t in one of the actual script versions, and it isn’t Scotty by name…and, most importantly, that’s not “selling drugs”, but I think it’s not unreasonable for someone to think Scotty was in Ellison’s story based on that.

At this point in reading it, I’d say that Ellison wrote well, and not inexpertly for the medium…but the feel is certainly not Star Trek (it lacks the optimism about the future), and the characterizations aren’t on target (although they improve in successive versions which are in the book).

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Merzenich
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
6% complete

This one was recommended to me by a physical therapist (who wasn’t treating me…I was training the PT) who thought it might be useful for me. The main point is the idea that the brain can be changed…I’m not far enough into it to judge it well, yet. I like to always be reading something that can relate to my day job, and that’s the one right now…

These are the Voyages – TOS: Season Two (at AmazonSmile*)
by Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn
4% done
borrowed from Kindle Unlimited

I really enjoyed the first one of these! At times, it was a day by day “biography” of the original Star Trek (which is where I got the “other side” view of The City on the Edge of Forever), and quite well done. Again, not really far enough into this one to judge, but I’m enjoying it so far.

These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One ( Season One Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Marc Cushman
100% done

I just haven’t deleted this one yet, because I still want to write up a review at my Goodreads account:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3037617-bufo-calvin

I’ve been doing an okay job of keeping up with that, but things have been super busy lately. I’ll catch up. :)

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile*)
by Hans Holzer
50% done

I really like this book! I’ve always enjoyed Holzer, and have suggested elsewhere someone could do a good TV series based on the original “ghost hunter”. This is kind of an emergency book for me…I go to it from time to time between other books, and maybe on a long drive. I always enjoy it.

The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins (at AmazonSmile*)
by Phil Cousineau
100% done

Another one I just need to review. I was disappointed in this one. I love words, and books about words. I just didn’t find it that engaging. It was also weird to read this: “…it’s hard not to hear the echo of Sly and the Family Stone’s funkadelic song ‘Play that funky music right, boy!…'” Um…I don’t think that’s quite the right lyric, which then makes me doubt the scholarship of the rest of the book. It’s also not the right band, from what I know, but I haven’t checked to see if there was a “cover” by Sly. By the way, do you know why they are called “cover” versions? Originally, it was because radio stations and certainly stores didn’t want to play music by African American artists. So, the songs would be re-recorded by Caucasian American artists…putting a more “marketable” face literally on the cover of the record. It always surprises me a bit that many people don’t seem to know that nowadays, and blithely use the term “cover”. It has changed over time, though, and I can accept that it has a different meaning now.

That’s enough for part 1!

Not all of the books will get this much coverage (and I wrote the big introduction in this post), so I think I can do this in…two to three more posts, most likely.

What do you think? Any comments on these books? Do you enjoy somebody being caustic? I can’t deny having liked Simon Cowell. ;) Do you want to just list the books on your Kindle (or, say, ten of them)? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

A new NOOK…sort of

August 21, 2014

A new NOOK…sort of

I last wrote about a new NOOK back at Halloween.

Now, Barnes & Noble announces in this

press release

a new NOOK tablet.

It’s not exactly a NOOK, or at least, not just a NOOK. It’s co-branded with Samsung…it’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK.

I had a Galaxy S4 phone which I really liked, although I gave it up for my

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

which I am starting to like more and more as its easy access to recent activities are becoming more populated. For example, I’ve been driving to places where I need to use GPS. I can easily see my history of searches I’ve done…right from the Carousel. I also like that I get notifications about packages being delivered from Amazon or en route…and I’m made aware of them from the lock screen.

Let’s get back to this new device

Official Page

and the press release.

It’s a 7″ wi-fi only tablet. The screen resolution is 1280 x 800, with 216 ppi.

That’s the same resolution as a

Kindle Fire HD 7″, HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

and I think that’s the best direct comparison.

The NOOK is a lot more expensive.

With Special Offers (which is the more popular configuration), the 8 GB (same size as the NOOK) Kindle Fire HD is $139. Without Special Offers, it’s $154.

The new “Samsunook” ;) is $179…and that’s after a $20 rebate from the $199 price.

The Samsunook is notably lighter…about 20% lighter (9.74 oz versus 12.2 oz…276g to 345g). It’s also a bit thinner.

The Samsunook has a micro-SD slot. The KFHD doesn’t.

The Samsunook comes with two cameras: 1.3 MP front, 3.0 rear. The KFHD has zero.

The Samsunook directly supports Google Play and ePUB files…the KFHD doesn’t.

Interestingly, I didn’t find the processor speed right away. Online sources suggest it is 1.2 ghz…slower than the KFHD’s 1.5 ghz.

So, yes, the Samsunook has some advantages.

I don’t see any of this making people stand up and cheer, though. I think the most persuasive thing for someone looking for a cheap tablet compared to the Kindle Fires is the presence of the cameras.

They are also saying it comes with $200 worth of content.

The press release says:

“Free with Purchase: $200 in Popular NOOK Content
Barnes & Noble will welcome all Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK customers with more than $200 of free NOOK reading and entertainment content, including three free bestselling eBooks Freakonomics, The Wanderer, and I Am Number Four, and an episode each of three hit TV shows: HBO’s Veep, NBC’s Hannibal, and BBC America’s Orphan Black. As part of the package, magazine lovers can choose up to four 14-day free trial subscriptions from a selection of 12 popular magazines – including Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, US Weekly and more, and also receive the previous 12 issues of each title at no cost. A $5 credit will also help customers get started as they explore the NOOK Store. More detail on the free NOOK content offer can be found at NOOK.com.”

If we look at those prices at Amazon…

  • Freakonomics $10.99
  • The Wanderer $4.00
  • I Am Number Four $1.99
  • Veep (HD): $2.99
  • Hannibal (HD): $2.99
  • Orphan Black (HD): $2.99

Let’s see…that’s about $25.

Then there is a $5 credit.

I think they are counting a lot of the money in those back issues. A current single issue of Cosmopolitan is $3.99 at Amazon…so 12 of them would be $47.88 (if you could buy the back issues).

You can also buy a year for $9.99…$0.83 an issue.

So, I’m not that impressed with the $200…but it will sound like a break even to some people.

My opinion?

It’s an okay tablet, not a stand out…people will have to want to have a NOOK to make it work. Fortunately for Samsung, it would be easy to convert it if the B&N branding became a liability or non-existent.

As to that press release…

It has some very interesting statistics, supporting the value of reading. This one in particular stood out:

“Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults state their reading habits have increased over the past three years, and nearly half, over two in five (44 percent), attribute access to an eReader, tablet or smartphone as the reason.”

I’ve been saying that I think the easy availability of e-books has probably increased the number of books being read. Certainly, anecdotally, I’ve heard that from people…they say that they used to read a lot, then it fell off     (sometimes busy lives are mentioned), and after the convenience of having books handy (on EBRs ((E-Book Readers)), tablets, and/or phones), it’s increased again.

However, we have to take that stat in the press release with a grain of salt, since they apparently are counting personal e-mail and social media, among others. I recommend you take a look at the press release…intriguing stuff.

I see some pushback in the comments, thinking it isn’t enough…but that happens with pretty much every new product release. ;)

We’ll see how this affects the stock of both companies…it’s kind of a drop n the bucket for Samsung, but really important for Barnes & Noble.

What does it mean for Kindleers?

Competition is good…but I’m not sure how much competition this is. We could hope that it nudges Amazon towards two cameras on future Kindle Fires…

The KFHDX blows this away, in my opinion…thanks in part to Mayday, the almost instant onscreen tech help. People will like having Google Play on the Samsunook, although you can get a lot of those apps (at least the popular ones) for your Fire through 1mobile and other sources.

What do you think? Do you care about this at all? Does it matter that B&N indicates it will continue to support non-tablet NOOKs? Does the all capital version of the name bug you? ;) 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.

Movies, TV shows boost tradpubs

August 19, 2014

Movies, TV shows boost tradpubs

Independently published books are making great strides.

Before the Kindle redefined the e-book market (there was one before that, but it wasn’t much) in 2007, bestseller lists were dominated by books published by traditional publishers (tradpubs).

That’s been changing. There is no longer a need for “book factories”. The rules of marketing have changed considerably. Amazon democratizes discovery, putting indie publishers (which may be just an author) on the same playing field as tradpubs.

You know what hasn’t changed?

Media adaptations.

At this point, a major movie studio or TV network just isn’t as likely to make a deal with an indie.

I’m sure the long history has something to do with it, and yes, there may be a bit of the “old company’s club”. In some cases, there may be direct synergy: the publisher and the studio might both have the same entity as a parent.

This was made obvious to me when I checked the

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

Those the are the ones which aren’t free…there is a separate list for that.

I was sort of thinking I might see just indies for the top ten. I guessed that a lot of indies, which are in

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

might dominate.

Nope…but what does are traditionally published books with movie or TV tie-ins.

Half of the top ten fall into that group!

#1: If I Stay (at AmazonSmile*)
by Gayle Forman
4.3 out of 5 stars, 2328 customer reviews
movie: If I Stay (opening August 22)
published by Penguin

#2: The Giver (Giver Quartet Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Lois Lowry
4.3 stars, 5766 reviews
movie: The Giver (August 15)
publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
available through Kindle Unlimited

#3: Outlander (not linked since the publisher blocks text-to-speech access…but there is an omnibus which is not blocked)
by Diana Gabaldon
4.5 stars, 5200 reviews
TV series: Outlander
publisher: Random House

#7: The Fault in Our Stars (at AmazonSmile*)
by John Green
4.7 stars, 29310 customer reviews
movie: The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)

#8: Where She Went (If I Stay Book 2) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Gayle Forman
4.6 stars, 901 reviews
movies: sequel to book adapted above…it’s safe to say that a movie can help all of the books in a series

At this point, the book to TV or movie market seems like a real lifeline for tradpubs.

Amazon does make TV series, and has adapted books for them…but it will be a while before that could become as important to a book’s sales as having a movie in the movie theatres.

I also think it would be hard for Amazon to go the other way…to be the publishers of movie/TV adaptations. I think that’s more likely, though.

For now, it may be a case of “old media” sticking together…

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! :) 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.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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.

KDD: Hugo winners/nominees for $1.99 each

August 18, 2014

KDD: Hugo winners/nominees for $1.99 each

One of science fiction and fantasy’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo Awards, had their winners announced last night:

The Hugo Awards

The winner for novel was

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Ann Leckie
4.3 stars out of 5, 347 customer reviews

Interestingly, the book is published by Hachette in the USA…and is available without impediment from Amazon.com.

I was thinking of listing some other Hugo winners available through the Kindle store, but Amazon beat me to it (at least in one way).

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile*) is twelve Hugo winners and nominees for $1.99 each.

Their selection is dominated by Harlan Ellison (seven out of the twelve), but that’s not a bad choice. ;) The books in the deal are:

  • Bloodchild: And Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  • I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
  • Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy
  • A Fire in the Sun by George Alec Effinger
  • Strange Wine by Harlan Ellison
  • Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison
  • The City on the Edge of Forever (I plan to read that one soon…it will tie in nicely to These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One ( Season One Book 1) (at AmazonSmile) which I am just about to finish. It will give another side to the controversy over Ellison’s script which became an acclaimed Star Trek episode) by Harlan Ellison
  • The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World by Harlan Ellison
  • Selected Stories by Theodore Sturgeon
  • Slippage: Previously Uncollected, Perilously Poised Stories by Harlan Ellison
  • Harlan Ellison’s Watching by Harlan Ellison
  • The Whole Man by John Brunner

It’s not a very wide set of choices, though.

Amazon has a special section for

Hugo Award Winners in the Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

and there are 36 titles there, from Robert A. Heinlein to Neil Gaiman to Orson Scott Card.

Why not pick those for the deal?

Well, certainly, part of might have to do with deals with the publishers. Since the Agency Model was largely dismantled (but may be coming back) by the Department of Justice’s actions, Amazon can discount anything as much as they want. If they could get cooperation from the publisher, though, they might lose less money in doing so.

There was something interesting that tied the selected twelve together.

They are all available through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

For people on their free month, or who are paying $9.99 a month (for people who joined right away, perhaps on July 18th, that’s just starting to happen), they can read them at no additional cost.

That could have been Amazon’s specific intent: to advertise KU with higher profile books by putting them on sale.

It could also just be a side effect of all of these being published by the same publisher: Open Road Media. Again, what could happen is that Amazon strikes a deal with Open Road to take a lower percentage while the books are on sale…as if they were list priced (the pricing set by the publisher) at a lower price than normal.

Regardless, if you are someone who is still buying books (as opposed to paying for access to them), this is a good deal. ;)

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 #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

August 17, 2014

Round up #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

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

The 11th book

People talk about the “tenth man” in baseball (that means the fans in the stands, who, in addition to the nine players on the field at a time are believed to influence the outcome of the game).

Well, I’ve run into an interesting situation with the “eleventh book”. ;)

I’ve mentioned before, and other readers have brought it up, that since I’ve joined Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s “all you can read” subser (subscription service), I haven’t been able to borrow a book through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). That’s part of my benefits as an eligible Prime member with a hardware Kindle.

I had been borrowing a book every month (that’s the maximum…one a calendar month), and I’ve come to think of it as one of the reasons we have Prime in my family…although certainly not the most important. The “no additional cost” two-day shipping is the main reason, and I use Prime video quite a bit. Prime music is fun, but I haven’t integrated it into my routines yet.

I checked with Amazon, and I published how they told me it should work here:

Kindle Unlimited: how does it affect authors, and what’s the deal with the KOLL?

It just wasn’t working that way for me: even when I was eligible to borrow a book from the KOLL, I wasn’t being given the option to do so on

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

Well, one of my contacts at Amazon suggested I check with Kindle Support: so I used Mayday on my Kindle Fire, and that person knew the answer right away!

When a book is in both the KOLL and KU (there are more books in KU than the KOLL, but just about all the KOLL books are part of KU), and you are a KU member and eligible for the KOLL, it will default to KU…unless you already have the maximum ten books (at a time) out from KU.

Hey…I just tested this by borrowing ten books from KU…and my options didn’t change! I still can’t borrow a book from the KOLL.

I’ll follow up with Amazon: false alarm. :(

I can at least report that when you have ten books borrowed from KU and try to borrow one more, it will offer to return the one you borrowed the longest time ago…or let you pick another one.

Update: I just spent, oh, half an hour or so with Mayday on this. I was passed from my first rep to another one, who then consulted extensively with another person. The best they can tell me at this point is that they are aware of the issue, and they’ll follow up with me when it is solved.

Bookstore sales fall 7.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly article

the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that bookstore sales are down 7.9% year over year for the first half of 2014.

That’s a huge amount for an industry without a lot of margin (I used to be a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager).

My guess is that there are some small stores doing quite well, and even growing, and that we are seeing this impact mostly from large or “undifferentiated” stores…ones without a specific “personality”.

I think it’s likely that more books are actually being read, thanks to e-books, but physical bookstores have to be destination stores to survive. You have to make people care about you enough that they will willingly pay more money than they would have paid online just to support you. That is entirely doable, but it does take focus and effort.

Entertaining a kid on BART

My Significant Other and I went to see a San Francisco Giants game today (a rare treat…my parents took us). On the way home on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit…that’s sort of our subway system around here), there was a fussy three-year old.

I always keep apps on my Kindle Fire specifically to entertain kids. :) After clearly gaining permission, I let the kid play with

Fingerpaint Magic (at Amazon Smile*)

That went well…we had a smiling and laughing kid in a short period of time. My SO also pointed out that this three-year old figured out how to start a new drawing, and select a background…much sooner than my SO would have. ;)

After a while, we switched to

Monkey Buddy (at AmazonSmile*)

a free app on my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s an interactive animal…you can think sort of like a Tamagotchi.

It reacts to what you do…stroke the ears, for example, and it gets happy.

It will also take a picture of you when you tap a camera…and then draw on the picture (putting glasses on you, for example), and then discards it (the picture is not saved).

Although a three-year old won’t discover this right away (and this was a bright kid), it will also react to your head movements. Nod your head “yes”, and it gets happy, recognizing it as approval. Shake your head “no”, and it gets sad. It also gets sad if it can’t see you.

I do want to mention something about using the Fire Phone. When I try to demonstrate the dynamic perspective (which I can “dy-per”, just for fun), I will tell someone to move their head to look at the phone to see the effect.

Most people stare steadily at the phone without moving their heads…even after I say it.

I have to point out that it is like you are trying to peek into the side of the phone.

Before the Fire Phone, I hadn’t noticed how rigidly people hold their heads when looking at a phone, but I guess that makes sense with most phones.

51% of kindergarteners through 5th graders prefer to read on a screen over paper

This

EBOOK FRIENDLY article by Ola Kowalczyk

has some interesting facts in an infographic from a survey by TeachHub.com.

The one I’ll point out is preferred reading medium.

37% prefer reading on a tablet (the infographic includes “Kindles” in that, and I would think not just the Kindle Fires), 35% prefer paper, and 14% prefer a computer. 12% preferred someone else reading to them (I’m going to guess they weren’t thinking text-to-speech, but a human being).

That’s extraordinary, and important.

Little kids’ books lagged behind adult and young adult titles in getting into the e-book market. Part of that was they waited for the technology: color, for one thing.

If screens are now the preferred method, bookstore sales may drop a lot more than 7.9% in a few years…

I think we’ll see an impact on the “books as gifts” market this holiday…Amazon should promote very strongly giving Kindle Unlimited (maybe for three months) as a gift this holiday! Not sure exactly the mechanism for that, but we serious readers know how intimidated other people can be in trying to pick out specific books for us. Netflix gifts have been a significant thing for a while: subscriptions to subsers (subscription services) for e-books could be really big.

What do you think? Why do so many kids like to read on computers (that surprised me)? Is it because those kids don’t have “tablets”, perhaps? Are there books that you prefer to read on a computer? Would you let your kid play with a stranger’s phone/tablet/Kindle? Do you keep things with you to entertain kids? Would you give KU as a gift? Are bookstores on the way out, or is it only certain bookstores? 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.

Kindle indies getting pre-orders

August 15, 2014

Kindle indies getting pre-orders

When Amazon wanted to put pressure on the publisher Hachette during some recent negotiations, one thing they did was take away pre-orders from some books.

Pre-orders are important. One of the big things they do is drive a book up the bestseller list, even before it is released (it’s not uncommon that some of the bestsellers are on pre-release).

Broadly speaking, traditionally published authors have tended to side with Hachette during what I call the “Hachazon War”, and indies (independent authors) have tended to side with Amazon. That’s just a rule of thumb, though…your authors may vary. ;)

One ironic thing that some indies mentioned, though, is that they couldn’t do pre-orders for Kindle books when using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon punished Hachette by taking away something it hadn’t given to any of the KDP indies.

Well, I’m happy to let you know that’s changing!

Indies can now also do pre-orders, as outlined in this

public KDP help page

It’s pretty simple: you say that a new book will be published at a future date, and allow pre-orders (it can happen in any of the KDP markets except India, which doesn’t do pre-orders for some reason).

Pre-orders push a book up the bestseller list.

The publisher (which may be just the author) doesn’t get paid until the customer is charged (on release day), but does get reports about pre-orders before that.

This certainly helps level the playing field.

One concern I have: what happens if somebody announces a pre-order…and then doesn’t have the book ready?

Do they just get to announce a new date, or are the orders canceled and then they have to be placed again?

Part of the idea of this is that you could announce a book while you were writing it or while it was in the production phase following the writing.

They only let you have up to ten at a time, but I predict right now that you’ll see people doing those ten, and doing them into the future. If somebody produced a series, and you could pre-order them now with a book coming out every year (or six months or month), that might make many people more likely to buy it.

Hey, here’s an idea: somebody could do one where a chapter or short story came out every day for ten days. You could pre-order them all on the same day, and then it would be sort of like a serialized novel.

I’m not big on pre-orders myself, but many of you may use this.

Oh, I should mention: you can’t pre-order Kindle Unlimited “borrows”. I’ve mentioned that before, but I’m sure some people are getting caught by that. They intend to borrow the book, and pre-order it…and then get charged for it.

I should also mention that Amazon announced much bigger “pool pay” for publishers in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited. That’s the money that people split for each borrow, and it made sense that they would raise it, since one has to assume that Kindle Unlimited has added a lot of borrows to the pool.

I wonder if Amazon was thinking that they needed to something good for authors right now, during the Hachazon War. I don’t think that would have been the sole impetus, but it might have accelerated a development schedule.

Amazon is, I believe, needing tradpubs (traditional publishers) less and less…and to do that, they need authors. Making publishing through Amazon more attractive helps get that content (and often exclusive content) that they need to thrive without the Big Five.

What do you think? Do you care about pre-orders? Do you deliberately check what is coming up in the future? Have you ever pre-ordered a book and not gotten it when promised? 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!

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.

Only on Amazon

August 14, 2014

Only on Amazon

Back in the old days ;) a number of people would get upset when they heard that an e-book store had gotten an exclusive on something. There was a bit of back and forth: Amazon might get something, Barnes & Noble might get something else.

Well, Amazon clearly sees this as a big strategy…and they are investing in it.

That doesn’t go just for e-books (which I’ll talk about shortly). There was this weird little app called Flappy Bird. It was really hard to play, and not much happened in it…but it was very, very popular.

So popular that, reportedly, the creator withdrew it from sale…because it was too addictive.

Naturally, that made it even more of a legend.

People were paying hundreds of dollars for used phones that already had that app installed, so they could keep playing it.

Well, Amazon must have paid a lot of money to get the exclusive rights for

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

which, yes, is an official version (there are a lot of rip-offs out there).

You would think they might have licensed it for the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile*)

which would make sense and be a good way to really push their new phone (which I’m liking more and more as I use it more).

Nope. they released it exclusively for the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

which, by the way, is discounted right now to $84 from $99.

I’m not sure if that will work to push people over the edge to get a Fire TV. I like mine a lot, and when we buy our next TV, we’ll get a second one to use. It’s still embryonic, but they are improving it. It’s really fast! When I use my Roku, it takes several seconds for YouTube to load. With the Fire TV, it’s a fraction of the time.

Okay, what about books?

There are more than 600,000

Kindle Exclusives (at AmazonSmile*)

in the USA store!

SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND!

That’s a lot of books to have locked into one source.

Of course, you don’t need to own a Kindle to get them…you can get free Kindle reading apps for a lot of devices.

Hey, there was a new option in the search results to limit them to Kindle Unlimited titles!

That resulted in 587,648 titles at the time of writing.

For $9.95 a month, you can read more than half a million titles you can’t read (as e-books) anywhere else.

Now, naturally, you may be thinking that it doesn’t matter how many books there are if there aren’t books you want to read.

Sorting by New and Popular, here are the overall rankings of the top five Kindle Unlimited Kindle Exclusives:

  • #55
  • #42
  • #83
  • #84
  • #19

Those are their ranking among paid books…not as free books.

Four out of five of them were Amazon imprints (traditionally published by Amazon): the fifth one may have been published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

This is one of the big problems for Hachette and the other Big Five publishers.

Amazon is rapidly growing it’s “direct to customer” business…where they don’t need to buy books from the tradpubs (traditional publishers).

I think it’s safe to say that the tradpubs have not come up with a robust direct to customer strategy yet (although they have made moves in that direction).

These aren’t all new authors, by the way: one good example is that the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming are here.

Hachette may be fighting so hard because they want to lock something into place before the situation just gets worse. Buying another year of time might let them get something going in direct to customer…maybe.

How does Amazon get the exclusives? After all, it seems like it would make more sense to have your book available to more people.

For the big name/tradpubs, they pay for it…presumably, big time. Amazon doesn’t need to make a profit on selling books: it’s a small part of their overall business.

For indies (independent publishers, might be just an author), exclusivity is a requirement to have your book be available through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)…again, if you are an indie (a tradpub doesn’t need to make a book exclusive to be in the KOLL, I believe).

Amazon is literally the only legal place in the USA to get some of the world’s literature as e-books.

It’s a different world than it was. Barnes & Noble used to have some exclusives in paperbooks in their stores, but nothing like this.

What do you think? Does it bother you that everyone has to deal with the same company to read such a large amount of books as e-books? If you can get them in the public library (meaning that they dealt with Amazon), does that make it okay? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus story: Amazon Associates love to link to Kindle books…to promote the books they like and recommend to their audiences. Associates do not get money for Kindle Unlimited borrows…

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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