Archive for April, 2011

Target carrying KSO: CNET giving one away

April 30, 2011

Target carrying KSO: CNET giving one away

Target, which has been carrying Kindles, is apparently going to carry the new

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

as well.  That’s the $114 wi-fi only model, where you agree to get ads and special offers on it (for more on the first special offer, see this previous post).

To promote this, CNET is giving one away:

CNET KSO giveaway

You comment the article to be in the drawing, and you can only comment once.

There are 1,404 comments at the time of writing.

Who wants a Kindle with advertising on it?

There are more than a thousand answers for you.  ;)

Thanks to Peter Craine in the Amazon Kindle community for the heads-up on this one.

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

First Special Offer for KSO owners: buy a specific book, get a $10 credit

April 30, 2011

First Special Offer for KSO owners: buy a specific book, get a $10 credit

I’ve got a

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

on the way.

One of the questions people have had with that Kindle ($114 instead of $139, but you agree to get ads and special offers) is how the special offer part would work.

I don’t know how it appears on the KSO yet, but they list it on the Amazon website as well:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000675981

This first deal (April 27, 2011, 12:01 a.m. (PDT) through May 21, 2011, 11:59 p.m. (PDT), while supplies last) lets you pick from one of 46 books, pay for it with a Visa card (Visa is the sponsor of the promotion), and get a $10 credit.

There are some great books there (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Kindred by Octavia Butler, The Hunger Games…), and many of them are well under $10.

So, you could get a book for free…plus maybe $5 to use for something else (like 5 ninety-nine cent books). ;)

This promotion is only for KSO owners. 

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

New Kindle calendar app

April 30, 2011

New Kindle calendar app

For those of you who only want to read books on your Kindle, you can stop here.  :)

For those of you who want to make the Kindle a more robust device, read on.

Calendar Pro
from Jujuba Software
$0.99 at time of writing

Let’s say you want the Kindle to be the only device you carry around with you.

This new utility app brings one of the capabilities I’ve seen requested many times…a scheduler.

It’s important on the Kindle to try to make the interface easy to use.  The inherent slowness of E Ink means that using the 5-way to get around and having to page through to get somewhere difficult…this app does a nice job of getting around those problems by using keyboard shortcuts.

For example, the Next Page button moves you to the next day…that’s what you would expect.

However, Alt+Next Page goes to the next week, and Shift+Next Page goes to the next month.  That’s thinking ahead, and will reduce battery usage.

Each mode (Go To Today, the calendar view; Agenda the list view) has its own Help.

When you get to a place where you would type numbers, it shows you the Alt letter combinations at the bottom of the screen.

You can view by day, month, or year.

I generally found it easy to read and easy to use.

There are a few enhancements I’d like to see in future editions:

  • Recurring events
  • Search events
  • Date formatting (so that dates can be displayed day/month/year, instead of just month/day/year…especially in the agenda view

Overall, it’s serviceable…and that’s good.  The look of it was clean.  For those of you who want a calendar, it’s worth the ninety-nine cents.  :)

Oh, one thing I have to say: don’t be thrown off by the reviews!  There’s one five-star review…and one of the strangest, most unfair 1-star reviews I’ve seen.  The reviewer hasn’t tried the app…and rated it 1-star because they can’t get apps in Canada!  I actually commented the review, because I hope the reviewer deletes it.  I don’t think it is unreasonable to be upset about not being to get the app, but to take that out on the app publishers is…misplaced.  Many people want to state their annoyance publicly, and that can be done…but this kind of thing belongs in a forum, not where it reduces hurts an innocent bystander.  Does it hurt the publisher to give them an undeserved 1-star review?  Yes!  Some people search by average review, and this drops the app from a five to a three (at time of writing).

Bonus note: new free game or the Kindle

Dots and Boxes

As with other Active Content titles, these don’t work on the K1, but do work on K2s, K3s, and the KDX.  They don’t work in reader apps, and I assume they can’t be purchased outside the US.

You can buy one once and share it with all compatible devices on the account.

If you try either of them, feel free to let me know what you think.

For information on more active content, see this category.

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

Can you get a $114 K3 at Best Buy…without ads?

April 29, 2011

Can you get a $114 K3 at Best Buy…without ads?

This was an interesting post in the Amazon Kindle community:

Amazon thread

In it, a poster claims to have gotten a price match at Best Buy for the $114 for the

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

Well, that’s interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, whoever gave the poster that deal is likely to get in trouble.

The price match from Best Buy isn’t for “store to website”.  They have two deals: store to store or website to website.

These are the details on the retail store version:

Best Buy Retail Store Price Match Guarantee

Second…it isn’t the same item.

That makes something clearer to me

I was wondering a bit why they called it a “new member of the Kindle family”, gave it a new ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).  The hardware must be identical with the

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

It’s just a different deal, and they send ads to your Kindle.  Why not just say, “Check this box and get a $25 discount in exchange for agreeing to ads and special offers?”

Well, this is why.

Price match guarantees, and other item specific legalities.

That makes sense.

I don’t recommend that you try that, though…taking in the Amazon ad to Best Buy to get them to price match it. 

The poster won’t get into any trouble for it, but it was a mistake on the part of the store.  I’m a former bookstore manager…the store employee who made that decision was wrong, and may get in trouble for it. 

It’s sort of like putting the wrong price up on an item, and honoring that price.  The store usually does it (there are some circumstances where they don’t have to honor it…that’s a bit technical, though), but the person responsible for the wrong price being displayed is going to hear about it.

Why am I writing about it if I don’t suggest you do it?

It’s interesting.  :)

It also gives me a chance to educate a little bit about the price match policy, and it gave me insight on why there are now three Kindle 3s.

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

Mothers’ Day special: buy a K3G or KDX, get a $25 Amazon gift certificate

April 28, 2011

Mothers’ Day special: buy a K3G or KDX, get a $25 Amazon gift certificate

I thought Amazon might run a $99 ad-supported Kindle with Prime deal before Mothers’ Day, but they’ve done something different.

Buy a

Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

or a

Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 9.7″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology 

at the current price of $379

between now and May 8, and get an additional $25 Amazon gift certificate for free.

You have to order a particular way, so make sure you check the

Special Offer Terms and Conditions

first.

Mothers’ Day is traditionally a big book-giving day, so EBR’s (E-Book Readers) should be hot. 

This deal feels a little weird to me…I’m not sure why.  It’s definitely good…you can gift the GC to Mom so she can buy books.  It just doesn’t seem…dramatic, I guess.

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

Animorphs come to the Kindle

April 28, 2011

Animorphs come to the Kindle

I mentioned the Animorphs in the Amazon Kindle community more than two years ago.

K.A. Applegate’s young adult series, about a group of kids who can turn into animals, was very popular ten to fifteen years ago.

There were more than fifty books published, a TV series…and we have a boardgame in the garage.  :)

My kid was into them, so I read them all (and still have the paper copies in my library).  I would probably only have read a couple if I didn’t enjoy them myself.  They aren’t great literature, but well-written, exciting, and even a bit angsty popcorn books.

While primarily a science fiction adventure series, they also appealed to readers who wanted a little romance (but not to the soap opera level).

I had suggested that it could do really well on the Kindle.  I saw it being offered in two ways: the individual novels for a few dollars, and the equivalent of a box set, an omnibus, with all the main series novels (54, I think) for maybe $100.

I was happy when C. Fenimore in the Amazon Kindle community gave the heads up the series was being released for the Kindle.

 The first one is available for pre-order for May 1:

Animorphs: The Invasion

They’ve scheduled a couple more, and I’m sure that Scholastic will make a decision about converting the rest based on the sales of the first few.

If you are looking to get a middle-schooler (or so…younger could be okay) into reading, I think this could be a good way to do it.

The first book has 174 reviews on Amazon…149 of them are 5-stars (and another 17 are 4-stars).  That’s remarkably good!

The release is interesting time-wise…if somebody read it as a ten-year old in 1995, that person would be about 26 now.  It would be unlikely for a lot of people in that group to have kids old enough to enjoy them (although possible), so this will be largely either people buying them for their kids when the adults haven’t read them themselves, or adults wanting to re-read them.

At $5.59, it’s a bit higher than I would have priced them initially, but in-line with other young adult novels for the most part. 

If you are looking for something for your kids or if you read young adult books yourself (perhaps to get away from some of the complications in your adult life), I recommend you try a sample. 

Do you have Animorphs memories?  Feel free to share them.

Animorphs at Scholastic

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

Digitizer in my pocket: Google Docs Android app updated with OCR

April 28, 2011

Digitizer in my pocket: Google Docs Android app updated with OCR

Well, this is an interesting concept…although I’m not too satisfied with the output yet.

I have an Android phone (a Samsung Captivate).

Google just updated their Google Docs app, to include the ability to take a picture of a document with the phone, upload to Google Docs, and have it convert words in the picture to text.

Hypothetically, you could pick up a book, snap a picture of each page, and convert it to text…which you could then put on your Kindle.

Sounds kind of James Bond, doesn’t it?

Well, I haven’t practiced much with the camera yet, and I tried a few snaps without getting great results.

First, there was an issue of which way to hold the phone (camera).  I got more than one shot where it looked right-side up in the phone, but was sideways (and not converted into text at all) in the doc.  Sending the photo worked fine, by the way.

Second the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) just wasn’t that accurate…although again, that may improve based on my camera skills.

I got a decent shot of the back of my DragonNaturally Speaking box.  This is a small excerpt for journalistic purposes, so it should be covered under Fair Use:

“Step Tyisìmg, Start Tallfáng
Dragon’ NaturallySpeaking“ Home makes it faster and easier to create and edit documents or without typing. Just say words and they appear on the screen.
Say It and Your PC Does It
 
That first line (which was green and a different size…I suppose that might have affected it) is actually, “Stop Typing, Start Talking”

Outside of that, though, it did work.

If I can get a whole shot of a page of text at once, this could be very useful.  I’d only use it with public domain materials or those for which I have the rights.

I could also see it being used for documents someone brings to a meeting…right into Google Docs for everybody to see and edit. The picture shows up too, by the way, but you can delete that.

To take the picture, you open up the Docs app, and there is an icon up by the search magnifying glass.

Tap that, and with your phone in portrait mode (taller than it is wide), you’ll see a choice for “Document from photo”.

Tap that, and take your picture.

If you like it, click Save.

You can rename it on the next page, verify your account, and click OK.

It will show up in your Google Docs online (if you already have an account, of course).

From there, just open it up.  The converted text will be below the picture.

You can also open it right on the phone…just tap the document it.  There’ is a choice on the single document screen to edit it.

This may help you appreciate how you can have so many errors in OCR’d docs…it just isn’t that accurate.

Some of you are probably a lot more skilled with a cell phone camera than I am.  If you give it a try and let me know how it works, I’d appreciate that.

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

Should Amazon buy Calibre?

April 27, 2011

Should Amazon buy Calibre?

Amazon is an empire.

It’s not just that they have sites Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the USA.

You may think of them just for Amazon.com (and those other country sites). 

However, they are a lot more than that.

It’s not just Amazon Web Services.

It’s those other non-Amazon branded sites they own, including:

  • IMDb (Internet Movie Database), one of the very best movie/TV information sites on the web
  • Audible.com
  • Shelfari
  • Zappos
  • Woot
  • Lovefilm
  • Mobipocket
  • Joyo
  • CreateSpace
  • Box Office Mojo

and others.

It’s important to note that the above sites were acquisitions.

Amazon didn’t develop them initially…it bought them.

Calibre  is not an empire.

Like many of the sites above, it is a home-grown destination with a great reputation.

Reputation for what?

E-book management.

There are lots of things that it does that Kindle owners would appreciate.

How do I know?

Kindle owners recommend it quite often in the Amazon Kindle community.

Some of the features:

  • Easy conversion from one e-book format to another (those without DRM, Digital Rights Management)
  • Library management
  • News feeds

It works well.

It’s not always the most user-friendly in its explanations (neither is Amazon, honestly, but Amazon is better)…but it has close to three million users in 200 countries, so that’s not stopping everybody:)

Calibre (pronounced like “caliber”, even though the “libre” part is from “freedom”) provides a solution for many concerns people have with Kindle management.

If it was integrated with Amazon, that would presumably allow your Kindle books to be automatically managed by Calibre, if you chose

I have no doubt that it would be a big plus for Amazon, and a big plus for Kindleers.

What about the impact on Calibre?

Well, it would a considerable shift…and not one to which they would agree lightly.

Kovid Goyal has said on the site:

“…one of my goals has always been to prevent either the fragmentation or the monopolization of the e-book market by entities that care solely for short-term goals.”

While Amazon is arguably not just interested in short-term goals (you don’t spend as much time as they did not making money on a site, or sell bestsellers below cost if you don’t have a longer view), I suspect being owned by a huge corporation might not be the first choice.  ;)

When I use IMDb, I see very little influence from Amazon.  Some, but not much.

Could the same be true with Calibre?

My guess?  Some deal could probably be reached.  There would have to be increased integration with Amazon, and they might need to remove this “fight DRM” page:

http://drmfree.calibre-ebook.com/about#drm

That doesn’t mean that Calibre couldn’t be used with e-books you got other places, or that it would even be obviously branded as Amazon.

Amazon already directs people to e-book collections outside of its own shop, and Kindle apps can be used on a wide variety of devices.  While there used to be the idea put out there by some people that Amazon was a closed ecosystem, I (and many others) read things from other places on our Kindles frequently.  Amazon owned CDNow while it was selling CDs on its own site, I believe.

I know it’s not up to us, and Calibre may already have been approached and declined.

I also presume many of you would think this is a really bad idea, that you like the idea of extra-corporate entities.  Hey, one of my favorite magazines used to carry the subtitle, “Still not a part of AOL Time Warner”.  ;) 

This does seem like a good match, though.  If you are going to influence how people read e-books, having the power of Amazon involved gives you a boost.  Of course, a boost isn’t always good…steering a rocket is a lot harder than steering a tricycle.  ;)

Anyway, I’m just musing…feel free to tell me what you think. 

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

Freebie flash! Advance, Spark, Future, Truth, and more

April 27, 2011

 Freebie flash! Advance, Spark, Future, Truth, and more

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and they come from companies that are not (to my knowledge) blocking text-to-speech. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business
by Luke Williams
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

The Whole Life Adoption Book: Realistic Advice for Building a Healthy Adoptive Family
by Thomas C. Atwood, Jayne E. Schooler
published by NavPress (a faith-based publisher)

Powering the Future: A Scientist’s Guide to Energy Independence
by Daniel B. Botkin
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Free again.

The Truth About Starting a Business
by Bruce Barringer
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Free again.

Options and the Volatility Risk Premium
by Jared Woodard
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Strategies for Success in Retail (Collection)
by Z. John Zhang, Herb Sorensen, Rick DeHerder, Dick Blatt, Jagmohan John Raju
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

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

Amazon’s 2011 Q1: sales up 38%

April 26, 2011

Amazon’s 2011 Q1: sales up 38%

Amazon reported its 2011 first quarter financial results today.

This

Press Release

has some of the details.

You aren’t going to see how many Kindles were sold…and Kindle sales aren’t supposedly a big part of their business.

There are a lot of financial data here…I’m not an expert on that.  It appears to me that sales were up, but free cash flow is down.  What does that mean?  Stockholders don’t get as much.

Again, not an expert…but I think we may see the stock drop on this.

The Q & A on the conference call, which you can hear recorded here:

http://www.amazon.com/ir

is often the most interesting part.

The first question had to do with the impact of the events in Japan, and a note that shipping costs are a growing negative.  That may be due to Prime adoption (which increases free shipping).

2. Are international markets adopting Prime?  Is Kindle international growth following the US pattern?  A. People love Prime.  “Tremendous growth” “Very, very happy”.  KSOs (Kindle with Special Offers) will start shipping tomorrow (April 27).

3. Unit growth seems very high.  What about an outage on Amazon services that had happened?

4. Included a question about the state tax issue.  If you’d had to collect sales tax all long, how would that have hurt you?.  A.  They already collect sales tax on 50% of their revenue base…

Financial questions followed…

How will the change in distribution in books affect the margin at Amazon?  “long term perspective” “incredibly excited…with Kindle”  “customers are buying a lot more books”

There was a question about the “Living Social” promo…it seems as though customer acquisition costs might be rising…

When a customer becomes a “digital customer”, how does that affect their spending with Amazon?  A. Digital customers are also good physical customers. 

Those are just my very rough notes.  :)

If you listened to the call (or just read the press release), feel free to let me know what you think.

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


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