Archive for May, 2010

Flash! Jeff Bezos delivers the 2010 Baccalaureate remarks at Princeton

May 31, 2010

Flash! Jeff Bezos delivers the 2010 Baccalaureate remarks at Princeton

Thanks to Amazon Kindle Community member Melinda Varian for the heads-up on this one!

Jeff Bezos delivered the Baccalaureate remarks at Princeton…you can read them here:

News at Princeton article

His advice is about how the choices you make can be more important than the gifts you were given. 

I’ve always thought that was key.  You may be smarter than a lot of people…okay, that may automatically give you an edge in certain arenas.

What you have to look for, then, is areas in which you might be deficient.  There’s nothing wrong with developing your talents, of course, but a racing car missing a wheel is still missing a wheel.

Make sure you have four wheels.  :)

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotations:

“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
–Elwood P. Dowd (played by Jimmy Stewart)
Harvey
screenplay by Mary Chase and Oscar Brodney

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! 2.5 Kindle update officially delayed

May 31, 2010

Flash! 2.5 Kindle update officially delayed

Some Kindle users have gotten the latest update, which brings a number of significant changes, including Collections for organizing books,what I call “klipentweet”, where you can send passages to Twitter, pan and zoom on pdfs, password protection, and two more fonts.

We were initially told that we would have it in late May, and of course, we are coming to the end of the month.

Many Kindleers don’t have it yet.

On the

Amazon update page

 it now says

We know Kindle customers are anxious to receive the 2.5 software update, so we wanted to provide you with some details about its status. We’ve rolled out the 2.5 software release to a set of Kindle customers and have received great feedback from these early customers. Based on this feedback, we are making some small adjustments to improve the experience further. We will be rolling out the 2.5 software update to more users over the coming weeks.

That’s interesting to me. 

It sort of suggests that there was something edgy about the software…or that they had concerns about what people would thin. 

That would explain why it hasn’t been available for wired download from that page, which is the norm with updates.

Perhaps it was sort of a beta (test version), which they don’t usually do.  If there’s a problem (or just an enhancement), they’ll be able to upgrade the people who got it, since the only ones who got it did so wirelessly.  If they had allowed wired download, that would be much more complicated.

I think this is a good sign, this attention to quality.  Are they also paying attention to reception?   They haven’t always been good at that, in my opinion, so I like that as well. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

In honor of Memorial Day: Poetry of War

May 31, 2010

In honor of Memorial Day: Poetry of War

Charge of the Light Brigade

by Lord Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
        Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
        Rode the six hundred.
    “Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!” he said:
    Into the valley of Death
        Rode the six hundred.
    “Forward, the Light Brigade!”
    Was there a man dismay’d?
    Not tho’ the soldier knew
        Some one had blunder’d:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
        Rode the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
        Volley’d and thunder’d;
    Storm’d at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
        Rode the six hundred.
    Flash’d all their sabres bare,
    Flash’d as they turn’d in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
        All the world wonder’d;
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right thro’ the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
        Shatter’d and sunder’d.
    Then they rode back, but not,
        Not the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
        Volley’d and thunder’d;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came through the jaws of Death
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
        Left of six hundred.

    When can their glory fade!
    Oh the wild charge they made!
        All the world wondered.
    Honor the charge they made!
    Honor the Light Brigade,
        Noble six hundred!

At the Cannon’s Mouth

by Herman Melville

 Palely intent, he urged his keel

  Full on the guns, and touched the spring;
Himself involved in the bolt he drove
Timed with the armed hull’s shot that stove
His shallop—die or do!
Into the flood his life he threw,
  Yet lives—unscathed—a breathing thing
To marvel at.
              He has his fame;
But that mad dash at death, how name?
Had Earth no charm to stay the Boy
  From the martyr-passion? Could he dare
Disdain the Paradise of opening joy
  Which beckons the fresh heart every where?
Life has more lures than any girl
  For youth and strength; puts forth a share
Of beauty, hinting of yet rarer store;
And ever with unfathomable eyes,
    Which baffingly entice,
Still strangely does Adonis draw.
And life once over, who shall tell the rest?
Life is, of all we know, God’s best.
What imps these eagles then, that they
Fling disrespect on life by that proud way
In which they soar above our lower clay.
Pretense of wonderment and doubt unblest:
  In Cushing’s eager deed was shown
  A spirit which brave poets own—
That scorn of life which earns life’s crown;
  Earns, but not always wins; but he—
  The star ascended in his nativity.
War Music
By Henry Van Dyke

    Break off! Dance no more!
      Danger is at the door.
      Music is in arms.
    To signal war’s alarms,

Hark, a sudden trumpet calling
  Over the hill
Why are you calling, trumpet, calling?
  What is your will?

  Men, men, men!
Men who are ready to fight
For their country’s life, and the right.
Of a liberty-loving land to be
  Free, free, free!
Free from a tyrant’s chain,
Free from dishonor’s stain,
Free to guard and maintain
All that her fathers fought for,
All that her sons have wrought for,
  Resolute, brave, and free!

  Call again, trumpet, call again,
      Call up the men!
  Do you hear the storm of cheers
  Mingled with the women’s tears
And the tramp, tramp, tramp of marching feet?
  Do you hear the throbbing drum
  As the hosts of battle come
Keeping time, time, time to its beat?
  O Music give a song
  To make their spirit strong
For the fury of the tempest they must meet.

    The hoarse roar
    Of the monster guns;
    And the sharp bark
    Of the lesser guns;
    The whine of the shells,
    The rifles’ clatter
    Where the bullets patter,
    The rattle, rattle, rattle
    Of the mitrailleuse in battle,
    And the yells
    Of the men who charge through hells
    Where the poison gas descends.
    And the bursting shrapnel rends
    Limb from limb
    In the dim
    Chaos and clamor of the strife
    Where no man thinks of his life
    But only of fighting through,
    Blindly fighting through, through!

  ‘Tis done
  At last!
  The victory won,
The dissonance of warfare past!

  O Music mourn the dead
  Whose loyal blood was shed,
And sound the taps for every hero slain;
  Then lend into the song
  That made their spirit strong,
And tell the world they did not die in vain.

Thank God we can see, in the glory of morn,
  The invincible flag that our fathers defended;
And our hearts can repeat what the heroes have sworn,
  That war shall not end till the war-lust is ended,
Then the bloodthirsty sword shall no longer be lord
  Of the nations oppressed by the conqueror’s horde,
But the banners of freedom shall peacefully wave
  O’er the world of the free and the lands of the brave.

The Blue and the Gray

by Francis M. Finch

By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the Judgment Day:
Under the one, the Blue ;
Under the other, the Gray.

These in the robings of glory,
Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet:
Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the Judgment Day:
Under the laurel, the Blue;
Under the willow, the Gray.
From the silence of sorrowful hours,

The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers,
Alike for the friend and the foe:
Under the sod and the dew.

Waiting the Judgment Day:
Under the roses, the Blue ;
Under the lilies, the Gray.

So, with an equal splendor
The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
On the blossoms blooming for all:
Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the Judgment Day:
Broidered with gold, the Blue;
Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
The cooling drip of the rain:-
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day:

Wet with the rain, the Blue;
Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done.
In the storms of the years that are fading
No braver battle was won:
Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the Judgment Day:
Under the blossoms, the Blue;
Under the garlands, the Gray.

No more shall the war-cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red :
They banish our anger forever

When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the Judgment Day:
Love and tears for the Blue;
Tears and love for the Gray.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Atlas Shrugged: $27.99 e-book from Penguin

May 30, 2010

Atlas Shrugged: $27.99 e-book from Penguin

This has been getting a lot of comments in the Kindle community.

Let me start with this: I am not linking to this book nor recommending that you buy it, since Penguin blocks text-to-speech access in their Kindle books.  I am reporting this for information’s sake only.  If you choose to buy books from Penguin, that is up to you, of course, but I do not knowingly provide links for books from companies who have chosen to block text-to-speech access.

Books from Penguin have just gone under the Agency Model at Amazon, and that’s been creating some confusion and consternation among buyers.

The Agency Model only affects e-books: on those books now, the publisher is setting the customer price, not Amazon.

On paperbooks (p-books), Amazon can (and usually does) discount the list price, which is set by the publisher.

In some cases, that results in the e-book costing more than the p-book.  The publisher has likely priced the e-book below the list price for the p-book, but then Amazon discounts the p-book, making it cheaper.

This particular case has another common source of misperception: there may be two different versions of the same book (often with different supplemental material).  You can’t really compare the prices of two different versions.

In the case of Ayn Rand’s books, there have been special Centennial Editions issued.  I’ve seen comments questioning that terminology, since the books are not one hundred years old.  That’s correct: the centennial being observed is that of Ayn Rand’s birth (she was born in 1905, and the Centennial Edition in hardcover was published in 2005).

That hardcover edition is currently priced at $39.95. 

Four different e-book formats of that edition are priced at $27.99 directly from Penguin: that is about a 30% discount.

Interestingly, Penguin has the paperback of that edition for $26.00…lower than the e-book version.

There is a mass market version available for $9.99: that is both the list price and the price at which Amazon is currently selling it.

There is also a trade paper edition of the Centennial which Penguin has listed at $26.00, and Amazon has discounted to $15.82 (39%).

Ideally, Penguin would release an e-book version of the mass market paperback, non-centennial edition at lower than $9.99.

It isn’t clear to me what the difference is between the Centennial Edition and the standard edition, by the way…I do know there is an introduction, but there may be more than that.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

An open letter to J.K. Rowling

May 29, 2010

An open letter to J.K. Rowling

You have brought so much to so many people.

The first and foremost is that you shared Harry Potter with us.  Like other great works of literature (Tom Sawyer, the Oz books, The Jungle Book) we feel like we know the people.

They aren’t just characters in a book…for so many readers, they are friends.

Imperfect friends, certainly…you had the bravery to give even your heroes flaws. 

The books are an incredible journey.  Children can grow along with Harry: brave Harry, angry Harry, self-pitying Harry, heroic Harry…human Harry.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to read that you and the Christopher Little Agency are looking at publishing Harry Potter in e-book form!

Paperbooks are beautiful, magical…they have been part of my life for longer than I can remember, and still are.

I know how fortunate I’ve been to be able to afford the books I have.  I feel incredibly privileged to have a floor to ceiling library in my home, with one hundred year old hardbacks steps away from rare genre paperbacks.

Just because my family valued books and I’ve never been without them is not the only reason I feel lucky.

I’ve never had a physical condition that put inexpensive books out of my reach.

My understanding is that you’ve felt the physical presence of multiple sclerosis in your life…and have contributed resources to others who have.

I’m aware of people with debilitating conditions who have had the physical Harry Potter books torn apart to make them easier to read.  I know how hard that must be for people who love books.

I’ve read about older people who had their ability to read returned to them by e-books, especially by the enlarging text sizes.

E-books make books more affordable to those with limited resources, and more them accessible to those with physical challenges.

It’s amazing to me that anyone with access to a computer or an e-book reader can get Shakespeare, Dickens, Doyle, Dostoevsky, Burroughs, and Alcott with means and distance as no barriers.  It has literally allowed a charity group* to bring the world’s literature to orphans in Ayenyah, Ghana. 

The accessibility aspects of e-books allow those with challenges to share the books that family members have…sisters and brothers can read the same ones.  That may seem like a small thing: but for the blind or debilitated to be able to get the books they want at the exact same places and in the same ways as everyone else…it takes away one more thing that makes them feel separated.

On behalf of the millions of people who want to buy your books as e-books, I thank you for your openness in considering adding a few more cars to the Hogwarts Express.

* Worldreader.org

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Amazon to introduce next Kindle in August?

May 29, 2010

Flash! Amazon to introduce next Kindle in August?

Bloomberg reports that Amazon is planning to introduce the next version of the Kindle this August.   Reportedly, it would be thinner, but would not have color or a touchscreen, as has been speculated.  It will, however, reportedly have a sharper looking display.

This doesn’t sound like enough to me to go to a new model…don’t be surprised if there are some other radically different features introduced.  It’s a bit odd, if they actually do it in August…since the current Ks will be getting software updates this summer (including audible menus).

This is all just according to unnamed sources, by the way.

Hmm…what else could it do that would justify a new edition?  Well, they are going for committed readers, they say, so maybe not web stuff.  Maybe more language capability?  That might be something…perhaps onboard translation?  I recommended that to them years ago.  That would be a software thing, though, presumably able to be done with an update for current Ks. 

Food for thought, though…

Bloomberg article

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! J.K. Rowling “opens door” to Harry Potter in e-book

May 29, 2010

Flash! J.K. Rowling “opens door” to Harry Potter in e-book

I would say this the most requested e-book out there…well, seven of them.  :)

Harry Potter is particularly appropriate for e-book form.  The books are so physically large that people with debilitating conditions have had them torn into pieces for them.  It is simply too difficult for someone with muscular sclerosis, for example, to hold a book the size of Harry Potter.

I think they are great literature, and it’s very exciting that J.K. Rowling may be ready to let the be published in a format that makes them so much more accessible for so many people.

I think the only group of people likely to be unhappy about this is the pirates…people want to pay money for these.  If this happens, they’ll be able to do that legitimately.

Bookseller.com article

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Amazon confirms for me that they can “blacklist” a lost Kindle

May 28, 2010

Amazon confirms for me that they can “blacklist” a lost Kindle

As many of you know, one of my Kindles has been missing for quite some time now.

I had reported it to Amazon (and taken several other steps).  The Kindle Customer Service rep also confirmed to me that, on request, they can “blacklist” it.  I was told that “disabling” it was the same thing.

What this means is that the Kindle can not be registered by someone else.

The Kindle also will not then access the Whispernet (the Kindle’s wireless internet) at all.  If it is simply deregistered, it apparently has some very limited Whispernet access (such as the ability to be registered from the device). 

This is good news.  I’ve added it into my second most popular post of all time,  What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen.

I do want to be clear, you do need to ask them to do this.  Simply deregistering the device does not also “blacklist” it, which makes sense.

I was told that if my Kindle shows up again (I am the eternal optimist), I could call them and they could unblacklist it, so I could register it.

I’m not seeing this on the Help pages, by the way.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Penguin books “back back” in the store…under Agency Model

May 28, 2010

Flash! Penguin books “back back” in the store…under Agency Model

Well, I was worried about that, but it’s not a big surprise.

I feel like we’ve been playing Penguin Pong: the books were out, they were back, they were out, now they are back.

This time, though, they do have that

“This price was set by the publisher.”

statement.

Penguin has a lot of imprints, but the ones that are The Penguin Press or Penguin are priced quite high:

 $   19.99
 $    6.99
 $    9.99
 $    9.99
 $   12.99
 $   11.99
 $    9.99
 $    9.99
 $   12.99
 $   14.99
 $   12.99
 $    9.99
 
Average
 $   11.91

Now, that may be a higher priced subset.

I checked Jove as well, which I would anticipate being lower priced.  From my days as a bookstore manager, I think of them as low-priced genre paperbacks:

 $    6.99
 $    6.99
 $    4.99
 $    4.99
 $    4.99
 $    4.99
 $    2.99
 $    4.99
 $    4.99
 $    6.99
 
Average
 $    5.39

The average of both sets of prices above?  $8.94.

I did go back and check Penguin e-books published before April 1st 2010 (Agency Day), and it was inconsistent, but at least some of them have the  Agency Model pricing disclaimer.  I think they all will eventually.

So, all of the “Apple 5″ are now under the Agency Model at Amazon.  Of the Big Six US trade publishers, that leaves Random House that is not using the Agency Model…and is not in the iBooks store.

That’s an interesting choice for them, of course.  I don’t think that many people are buying books from the iBooks store yet…but I could be wrong on that.  I think people are mostly getting books for their iPads from the Kindle store, and that they will start getting them from Barnes & Noble now that they’ve released an app.

So, Random House books are not unavailable on the iPad…and they aren’t under the Apple agreement.

We’ll find out how well that works partially when the Agency Model agreement at Apple is first up for re-contracting…which I’ve heard is only a year.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #24: Acer, Penguin

May 28, 2010

Round up #24: Acer, Penguin

Penguin, Penguin, who’s got the Penguin?

It’s clear that a lot of things at Amazon are automated, and sometimes things just happen when somebody flips a switch that they didn’t intend.

Amazon and Penguin had been working on a new contract since at least April 1st, which is known as Agency Day.

That’s the day that several large publishers in the American trade world switched to a new way of selling books.  It’s called the Agency Model

This appeared to be a pretty serious disagreement.  Penguin e-books published after March 31st were not in the Kindle store.  Amazon marked some Penguin hardbacks to $9.99 in what was widely speculated to be a negotiating tactic (but may not have been).

Yesterday, those Penguin books started to appear again.  Then there was an announcement from Amazon that an agreement had been reached and the books would be appearing.

Then, they disappeared again.

The latest thing I’ve seen is that they “should begin” appearing by Monday, per this

Publishers Weekly article

I thought it was a little odd that they had just recently sent out a press release about how they (Amazon and Penguin) were jointly doing the Breakthrough Novel thing…even though they were still arguing.

Appears to be settling, though…

B&N Reader iPad app

This is actually a big deal.  Just as Amazon has a number of free Kindle reader apps that let you read Kindle books on different devices, Barnes & Noble has a number of “e-reader” apps.  You can read B&N e-books on the nook (sic), their EBR (E-Book Reader), but you can also read them on phones, computers, quite a few things.

Why does this matter?

I think Amazon has been dominating the e-book sales on the iPad.  People don’t need a Kindle to shop in the Kindle store, and the selection is so much better than at Apple’s own iBooks.

Now, people can also read Barnes & Noble e-books on the iPad, whether or not they have a nook.

That limited lending thing that B&N does should work with the iPad as well.  You could lend an e-book you bought at B&N to someone with an iPad…well, if the publisher allows it, of course.  There are other limitations:

  • You can only lend a book once…ever
  • You can only lend it to someone for 14 days
  • You don’t have access to it while they have it (which is similar to a paperbook, of course)

B&N doesn’t have anywhere near the in-copyright selection of the Kindle store…the K-store is several times bigger. 

Category Kindle B&N Percentage
Fiction   203,387        33,172 16%
Nonfiction   376,037        15,723 4%

Still, if people don’t choose to shop at the Kindle store (and some people who own iPads may not want to do that, although my guess is that many people have both), they can buy those “frontlist” (recent, bestselling books) from B&N instead, now.

For books under the Agency Model, the price should be the same at both places, but this may siphon off some of the Kindle store’s iPad sales.

Acer announces an EBR

Acer, a leading netbook maker, has announced an upcoming EBR.  It doesn’t answer two of the popular questions (when and how much), but it has some cool features.

One new one to me is that it will have an ISBN scanner.  You’ll be able to scan the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) on a paperbook, and it will find you an e-book version.  That would be nice for filling out your e-library from your p-library…and when shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

They are going to team with Barnes & Noble…but also with a German and Chinese supplier (suggesting it could work internationally).

It will have a web browser.  It’s going to have a six inch E Ink display (like the Kindle and nook), and have wi fi and 3G.  It will have 2 GB on-board, and an expansion slot.  It promises sharing of audiobooks and e-books, but under what conditions isn’t clear to me.

This sounds like it could be a pretty good device, although it’s hard to tell how much of the market it could get without a price.

Press Release

Sony expands its market reach

Sony, meanwhile, which was in the EBR business long before Amazon, is going to expand their market to other countries.  You can already get them in eight markets (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland).  They are going to start selling them (don’t know when) in Japan, China, Spain, Italy, and Australia.  That’s nowhere near the number of countries in which Amazon sells the Kindle, but it’s a step up.  China is particularly interesting, since they’ve kind of been developing home grown products as well.

Press Release 

Kindle won’t try to be iPad-like

Jeff Bezos has reportedly said that the Kindle market will focus on the ten percent of households that are “serious readers”.  In other words, that it won’t try to emulate the internet integration and graphic capabilities of the iPad.

Hm.  It’s interesting: when you say that 90% of the households aren’t serious readers, my first thought wasn’t that they were internet households, but I guess that makes sense.  I figure that those people who know how to read and can afford to read generally do so, but that’s probably old-fashioned.  I know studies actually show that people consume more words now than they used to do, but that counts reading websites and such.  I wonder what defines a “serious reading” household?  I like lots of kinds of information…definitely, I’d consider myself a serious reader, but I’m also a serious watcher (of TV and movies) and listener (of music…well, I may be more casual there).

Still, I think this is reasonable.  No point in switching to a backlit screen, for example.  Bookaholics spend tons of money on books, always have.  No reason to imagine that is going away in the near future, despite all the changes.  Amazon doesn’t need to get the gameplayers and online video watchers as well.

Macworld article 

Tip of the Day: I use http://www.dogpile.com to search for news stories.  That’s not my only source, but I’ve used it for years and I’m happy that the results seem to be pretty much what I want.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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