Archive for July, 2011

“The Danger of E-books” by Richard Stallman

July 31, 2011

“The Danger of E-books” by Richard Stallman

Thanks to “Robin Hood” in the Amazon Kindle community for the heads-up on this one:

The Danger of E-books

by Richard Stallman. The work is listed as:

“Copyright 2011 Richard Stallman
Released under Creative Commons Attribution Noderivs 3.0″

You may be wondering why I’m quoting that specifically…as usual, I’m not going to go beyond what I think is Fair Use, and I don’t usually list the rights statement.

It’s because Stallman expresses concern about copyright issues, and I want to make certain to respect his desires for how his rights are asserted.

If you read the pdf (which I do recommend), I think you’ll find its perspective…interesting.

I think this one sentence sums up the position pretty well:

“Technologies that could have empowered us are used to chain us instead…”

The author goes on to list freedoms that we had with paperbooks that we don’t have with e-books. Yes, there are negatives to e-books…but I believe there are significant pluses as well.

More importantly, I think people can make an intelligent decision about getting a license for an e-book or a copy of a paperbook. In some significant ways, I am more empowered with an e-book license than a copy of a paperbook. For example, multiple members of my family can read the same book at the same time in different timezones for one purchase price. I’ve never been a person to sell a paperbook: that’s a freedom I never exercised. While I do lose that, in a sense, I don’t miss it.

I’d like to see your comments on it, so I’m not going to say too much.

That pdf also links to another article:

http://stallman.org/articles/internet-sharing-license.en.html

“Copyright (c) 2010 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.”

That article proposes to poll 100,000 people to provide lists of copyrighted works they have played (that would be read, presumably, in the case of books), then have the state pay the authors directly based on that.

That presumes that people would tell the truth about it, first of all. It also seems to me that less popular books might not show up on that list at all…which might mean no compensation?

The author wants to “fight” companies…publishers, in my take on what is written. Publishers wouldn’t be compensated in a “direct to authors” payment plan. That means no advances, no editing, no marketing, no legal services, no cover artist, no proofreading…unless the authors paid for those themselves, presumably.

Publishers provide a valuable service: cutting them out of the picture means that authors who have limited resources won’t be able to employ professionals to improve the quality of their works. It’s an interesting idea to trust the government to compensate artists more than companies…I’m not saying that’s incorrect, but I would guess it is an unusual position. Have publishers ever cheated authors? I’m sure that’s happened. Of course, there are laws involved and people have successfully sued for royalties in various creative endeavors.

Have publishers enabled authors to make money who probably wouldn’t have otherwise? Absolutely…and I would guess many more of them than have cheated authors.

E-book publishing is changing the role of publishers…but authors should still have the option to use them, and many of them will opt for that.

If you choose to read these articles, I’ll be interested in your feelings and thoughts about them.

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

Round up #43: Toys R Us, Ciao Italy?, Apple wants B&N?

July 29, 2011

Round up #43: Toys R Us, Ciao Italy?, Apple wants B&N?

Jeff Meets Geoffrey

“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Whispernet kid”

According to this

The Record article

Toys R Us will start selling the Kindle in their stores this Sunday, July 31.

The two companies have had a bit of an acrimonious history in the past, but business is business. Hey, one of the drivers for iPad sales (if not one of the biggest ones) is probably the Kindle app…if they can get along that much, Geoffrey the Giraffe and Jeff Bezos can make a deal. ;) Of course, Apple just made Amazon take the “buy button” out of the app, but still…

It’s an interesting decision…Toys R Us already sells electronics (including laptops and E-Book Readers ((Aluratek))), but space is very valuable in a brick and mortar retail store (as a former manager, I know).

This is probably the most interesting paragraph in the article, although I recommend you read the whole thing for other insights:

According to a report by the Scholastic publishing company, 25 percent of children in 2010 said they had used a digital device to read a book, with the highest percentage, 28 percent, occurring in the 6- to 8-year-old age group — Toys “R” Us’ core demographic.

I’m sure people buy Kindles for kids, even though I do think Amazon could make a kid-specific Kindle (tougher, for one thing). I’m just not sure Toys R Us will be the first place they do it. I would guess they do it some, though. Toys R Us can minimize the rent costs (for the space to display it) by making it one of their retrieval items (bring a number to the front, and they get your product), but that has to be more expensive for them.

They could sell nice kid-friendly covers, I think.

Oh, and the article says that they are going to do a ten dollar gift card for buyers the first week.

Ciao, Italy?

Customers can already buy Kindles from Amazon.com (the “world site”), Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.de. Now, there are indicators that the Italian site may start selling Kindles. This

Yahoo Finance article

points out how Mondadori, Italy’s largest publisher, is making thousands of books available for the Kindle. When I run a search for Mondadori as a publisher, I get…one result. It could be that the books are only available to customers with Italy as their country at

http://www.amazon.com/mamanageyourkindle

Mondadori may not be getting global rights from the authors (or their estates) when publishing…they may be limited to selling the e-books in Italy.

There’s no announcement on this yet, but my guess is that it will happen. It makes it easier for people in Italy to buy a Kindle, and can make more e-books available to them in Italian, but it does further fracture the market in a way.

Fox Business: “Apple Eyeing Barnes & Noble?”

In this

Fox Business article

Jonathan S. Geller writes about a possibility that Apple may be considering buying Barnes & Noble (which is available).

I’ll say that Geller’s speculations don’t match mine. First, I do think Apple has thought about it…why not? However, I’m not sure what Apple would get out of it.

They certainly have acquired a number of companies over the years, but they don’t tend to go for well-known names like Barnes & Noble. Geller thinks they’d drop the NOOK (I know, tech writers…”Books, yuck!”). ;) Just kidding, but I think many tech writers don’t embrace readers (people, not devices) as a market.

People own both Kindles and iPads…large numbers of people, reportedly. Apple doesn’t have a reflective screen EBR (E-Book Reader), although they have patented something that would lead to a device that has both backlit and reflective abilities. I could see them wanting one with a built-in customer base.

However…would it still be a NOOK? Or would it be…um..an iNook? If Apple owns a hardware product, would they want to market it without the Apple name?

I also don’t think that you just automatically get Barnes & Nobles’ e-book inventory. The relationship publishers have with B&N isn’t the same as the one they would have with Apple.

One big question for me: how quickly would Apple dump the brick and mortar stores and online paperbook sales?

Yes, Apple has Apple Stores, so they do retail…but that’s not at all the same as bookselling. Apple would have no reason to promote bookselling: they aren’t going to have the expertise or be good at it.

That doesn’t mean I’m saying that I expect Apple to buy Barnes & Noble and close the stores. I don’t expect them to buy Barnes & Noble, in part because of the liability of those general interest bookstores.

What do you think? Should Amazon make a kid-specific EBR? Does the NOOKColor serve that purpose for B&N? Is it weird that Amazon might sell Kindles through the Italian site before they do it through the Japanese site? Should Amazon keep selling in country specific sites, or will global rights sales increase to the point where that is unnecessary? Will Apple buy B&N? Would that be a good news for anybody but Books-A-Million? Feel free to let me know.

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

Freebie flash! Tom Peters, Deepak Chopra, and more

July 29, 2011

Freebie flash! Tom Peters, Deepak Chopra, and more

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and none of them block text-to-speech access. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

The Frank Diary of Anne
by Dan Dillard
published by Smashwords (independent)

Hostage in Havana
The Cuban Trilogy
by Noel Hynd
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

The Pick-Up
by William Butler
independent

Love in Bloom
by Karen Rose Smith
independent

Wandering Koala rides The Phantom Coach comic 1
by Jeff Thomason
published by Jatce (independent?)

Dorrin’s End
by Sandra Miller
independent

Pig Man
by Dan Dillard
published by Smashwords (independent)

Simian’s Lair (A Tale From The Land of Verne)
by David H. Burton
published by Stonehenge Press (independent?)

Flowers over the Wall
Diet Bible Study
by Kelli Grim
independent

Beyond All Price
by Carolyn Poling Schriber
published by Katzenhaus (independent?)

Dead Deceiver
by Victoria Houston
published by Adams Media

Exotic Indulgence
by Jess Dee, Lexxie Couper, Vivian Arend
published by Samhain

Preorder for August 23

The Fey
Alex the Fey thriller series
by Claudia Hall Christian
published by Cook Street Publishing (independent?)

First Frost
by Jennifer Estep
published by Kensington

Sapphire of the Fairies
Sword of Heavens #1
by Richard S. Tuttle
published by KBS (independent?)

Thunder Valley
Thunder Valley Trilogy
by Thomas Kelly
independent

Online Dating: The Video Guide
by Amy Goldschlager
published by Vook

This is one of those “enhanced” editions from Vook. It has video, but the video only plays on iDevices (iPads, iPod touches, iPhones) currently. You can read the text on a Kindle, PC, Mac, and so on, but won’t be able to watch the video.

The Only Running Guide You’ll Ever Need: The Video Guide
by Carrie Snider
published by Vook

See above note.

Maya Yoga Vinyasa Fusion: Standing Flow
by Nicki Doane
published by Vook

See above

Rock Climbing for Beginners
by Adam Barczak, Rachel Balik
published by Vook

See above

Taekwando for Kids
by Master Steve Rapport, Jovanny Garcia
published by Vook

See above

Keeping It Real (estate)
by Kris Berg
published by Vook

See above

Lay a Hardwood Floor: The Video Guide
by Glenn Pasewicz
published by Vook

See above

The Little Big Things: Strategy
by Tom Peters
published by Vook

See above

The Little Big Things: Enterprise
by Tom Peters
published by Vook

See above

Sages and Scientists
by Deepak Chopra
published by Vook

See above

Skateboarding Basics
by Yancy Scot Schwartz, Sara Blowers

See above

Your Baby’s First Three Months: The Video Guide
by Gemma Quinn
published by Vook

See above

Tips and Tricks for iPhoto: The Video Guide
by Simon Williams
published by Vook

See above

Watercolor Basics
by Stephanie Sachs
published by Vook

See above

Maya Yoga Vinyasa Fusion: Back Bending Flow
by Nikki Doane
published by Vook

See above

Quilting for Everyone
by Sharona Fischrup
published by Vook

See above

Mother’s Favorite Recipes
by Lynda Maria Gurney
published by Vook

See above

Amaury’s Hellion
Scanguards Vampires #2
by Tina Folsom
independent

After Sunset
by Amanda Young
independent

The White Shadow Saga: The Stolen Moon of Londor
by A.P. Stephens
by White Wolf Press (independent?)

Priscilla the Great
by Sybil Nelson
published by Little Prince (independent?)

Surrender at Dawn
by Laura Griffin
independent

When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances
by Carol J. Kent
published by NavPress

Maggie Come Lately (The Pathway Collection #1)
by Michelle Buckman
published by NavPress

Homefires
by Emily Sue Harvey
published by The Story Plant

Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore
by Neale Martin
published by FT Press

Diabetic Diets
by C.L. Vaughn
independent

Security: The False and the True
by W.T. Purkiser
published by Beacon Hill Press

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

Hunting Yesterday: Buying a Paper Book

July 28, 2011

Hunting Yesterday: Buying a Paper Book

Note: this is a fictional episode of an equally fictional future reality show. It takes place in our future (but hopefully, someone’s past). Each week, contestants are given a challenge to do something the way it was done by earlier generations…

“Eighteen teams have come here to face the challenge of their lives…or should I say, of their parents’ lives. Each week, they find out how it used to be…no modern conveniences, no social networks. Will they fail and be “past over”? Or will they succeed in…Hunting Yesterday?”

Previously…on Hunting Yesterday:

The Junior/Senior Senators from Kamchatka were eliminated during our “Crime Never Payphones” challenge, when it was determined that Senator Nichevo had used a SmartPhone to pay for the call. Newly dating  Carol and Pat fought over the popcorn challenge, but narrowly avoided elimination. Tonight, they face off against our remaining teams: Yo and Tho, genetically identical winners of last year’s M&M America; Danh, a boy deathly allergic to plastic, competing via a uniquely designed telepresence robot…his partner? Burnell, a cybernetically enhanced Bernese Mountain Dog. Finally, our leaders: Chloe, a 123-year old combat yoga instructor, and Pippa, her great-great-great-granddaughter…a fifteen year old lawyer raised on a space station.

Which of them will be “past over”, and which of them will succeed in…Hunting Yesterday?

Warhol, the host: “Okay, hunters. We have a very special challenge for you tonight. Are you ready?”

Teams cheer.

Warhol: “Pat and Carol: this may require you to work together as a team. After what we saw in the popcorn challenge, convince me you can do that.”

Pat: “I’d walk through fire to win this game, Warhol.”

Carol: “Or push somebody into it.”

Pat: “I didn’t push you! I told you before, one of the popcorns hit me in the face and I jumped!”

Warhol: “Yo and Tho, you seem to find that pretty funny.”

Tho (or Yo?): “We’re sorry…we just couldn’t help laughing.”

Pippa: “It looked like a push to me.”

Warhol: “What about you, Danh?”

Danh: “I wasn’t looking that way.”

Burnell: “The popcorn smelled good.”

Warhol: “Chloe, you’re quiet.”

Chloe: “I’m just thinking about tonight’s challenge, Warhol.”

Warhol: “Let’s get to it, then. Read any good books lately? Well, tonight you’ll have to find another one. But you won’t be able to download it…or even read it online. In a challenge we call, “You Can’t See the Novels for the Trees”, you need to buy a book the old-fashioned way. You’ll have to find a store that still sells paperbooks, buy one, and bring it back to Time Plaza. The first team back is guaranteed to see tomorrow. The last one, may be eliminated…and for them, it will be “past over”. Any questions?”

Danh: “If we buy it in a store, can it be a real book?”

Warhol: “No, it has to be a book actually printed on paper.”

Pippa: “Does it matter how we pay for it?”

Warhol: “I’m glad you asked. Since you are buying a paperbook, we are giving you paper money. These ‘bills’ add up to fifty dollars. You’ll pay for the books with that.”

Tho (or Yo?): “Cool! We’ve never seen paper money!”

Pat: “They’ve probably never seen a book, either.”

Yo (or Tho?): “Just because we’re identically attractive doesn’t mean we don’t read.”

Carol: “No…being as stupid as you are means you don’t read.”

Yo and Tho together: “We didn’t almost burn each other up with popcorn!”

Warhol: “Remember, you must buy a paperbook in a store. It has to be sold by the store…you can’t just buy it from somebody shopping there. The hunt for yesterday starts…now!”

Pippa: “G-ma, do you think we should look for a bookstore?”

Chloe: “There aren’t any more bookstores, sweetie. Maybe a drugstore.”

Pippa: “What’s a drugstore?”

Chloe: “A grocery store?”

Pippa: “I think the closest one is in Oregon.”

Chloe: “This may be interesting.”

Burnell: “Where are we going?”

Danh: “I don’t know yet. We’re looking for something.”

Burnell: “What does it smell like?”

Danh: “I don’t know.”

Carol: “I saw a Costco outside of town when we had to do that lawn-moaning  thing.”

Pat: “Costcos don’t sell paperbooks!”

Carol: “Your mother told me they used to.”

Pat: “Don’t talk about my mother!”

Yo and Tho: “Let’s go shopping!”

The teams head out in different directions. Pat and Carol quickly get lost, arguing about where the Costco is. Yo and Tho go to the airport. Pippa and Chloe head for the antique district, and Danh and Burnell follow them.

Chloe: “Let’s try these antique stores…they sometimes have old books.”

Pippa: “But which one? There are a hundred of them.”

Danh: “What do you think, Burnell?”

Burnell: “What does it smell like?”

Danh: “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”

Burnell: “Something smells funny on you.”

Danh: “What? What is it?”

Burnell: “Warhol gave it. It’s a new smell.”

Danh: “What…the money! That’s it, Burnell! It’s paper! The books are paper! Smell it…do you smell more?”

Burnell: “Oh, wow! I smell it…I smell it…over here! This one, this door, let’s go in here! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

Danh: “Excuse me, sir, do you have any books made out of paper?”

Storekeeper: “I think I do…let’s see…calculator…dial phone…buggy whip…gas can…ah, here we go! It’s a romance.”

Danh: “How much?”

Storekeeper: “It’s not in good shape…five hundred dollars.”

Danh: “I have pay for it with these, and I don’t think I have that much.”

Storekeeper: “Are those real? I’ll take ‘em in trade!”

Danh: “Deal! Good dog, Burnell!”

Burnell: “Woof!”

Danh: “Let’s get back to Warhol.”

Warhol: “Danh and Burnell, you were the first back with a paperbook. The hunt will continue for you…you have earned another tomorrow. Yo and Tho, Chloe and Pippa, you each bought books: you are safe. Pat and Carol, you were unable to find a paperbook in the allotted time. You have been past over.”

Carol: “That’s okay, Pat. We had a great time, and we have some things to work on…”

Warhol: “So you two are going to make a go of it?”

Pat: “We’ll see where it goes from here, but yes, I’m willing to try.”

Carol: “Pat, you are the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Next week on Hunting Yesterday…the teams have to type a letter on a typewriter…with a carbon copy.

Clip of Yo and Tho: “We should be naturals at this!”

Clip of Pippa: “I’m purple!”

Clip of Burnell: “Woof!”

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

Amazon Q2: sales zoom, income drops, Wall Street happy

July 27, 2011

Amazon Q2: sales zoom, income drops, Wall Street happy

First things first: no tablet news. :)

Oh, somebody did ask, and I thought it was a pretty clever way to do it. Basically, the question was, “So, are you going to be able to sell the tablets in brick and mortar stores like you sell the Kindle?”

The answer was pretty much, “No comment.”

Somebody also asked about the sales tax/affiliates issue. They said they were happy to have the Affiliates they have and that

“We support a federal simplified approach….”

Another questioner said, “It’s inevitable that 100% of your business will be taxed.” Amazon responded that they already collect sales tax or equivalent on half of their business now. Customers want convenience, a great experience, selection…they keep working on that.

Outside of that, not too much new. The ad-supported/AT&T supported six inch Kindle with wi-fi  & 3G is the best selling Kindle. People are willing to pay more for 3G. That’s a good sign for those of us who like it. :)

Sales were up 51%! That’s an incredible increase, and shows that the business is not mature. Operating income was down, but not as much down as Wall Street expected…so that’s good. The stock was up some today, but we’ll know better tomorrow. It was up quite a bit in after hours.

If you want to listen to it yourself, you can do that here:

recorded Webcast

I don’t pretend to be a stock market expert…feel free to leave your comments if you do. ;)

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

iDevice Kindle apps get subscriptions, lose buy button

July 25, 2011

iDevice Kindle apps get subscriptions, lose buy button

This is a major update to the free Kindle apps for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad!

There are a lot of features: I’m going to focus on just a couple so I can get this out quickly. :)

First, the “buy button” was removed from the app. You can still buy Kindle items on your iPhone, you just open Safari and go to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlestore

This is in response to something we’ve talked about before, where Apple changed their rules. If you have the ability to buy from inside the app, Apple gets a cut. This removes that.

Second, iDevices now can get 100 magazines and newspapers. That puts them in line with Android devices, which have had that since December.

That also means you can read the ones to which you subscribe for your Kindle: one subscription, read it on multiple devices. You get the recent back issues from the archives.

They’ve also added more German features, the ability to tweet and update your FB (FaceBook) wall, real page numbers (where available), more dictionary support, and seeing your progress in your book from the homescreen.

No press release yet, but I’ll link that later.

It’s exciting to see the progress!

I think you’ll be updating them through the Apple appstore…they may update automatically, but I’m not sure about that on those devices. If you know, I’m sure people would be happy to hear it from you. :)

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

Round up #42: last day for a dollar book, Amazon 2nd Quarter, EW rips Hocking

July 25, 2011

Round up #42: last day for a dollar book, Amazon 2nd Quarter, EW rips Hocking

Last day for one dollar book promotion

I’ve written previously about one of the Special Offers for people who own a KSO (Kindle with Special Offers). It’s any one of thousands of books for $1. You can get one book for each KSO on your account.

I just wanted to remind people that today is the last day to make that purchase.

Get a Kindle book for just $1 details

It feels a bit silly to spend a lot of time and energy on the choice…there are always books for a dollar in the Kindle store, and I get so many free ones.

Still, it was fun to debate the choice. :) I first gave the offer to my Significant Other to consider (the KSO is my SO’s). That just didn’t happen, so then I went into making the decision.

Having a limited number of titles and a limited amount of time actually makes it feel more like shopping in a bookstore used to feel. :) That was always an issue in a bookstore: if you didn’t buy it today, it might not be there the next time. With e-books, it’s unusual (but not unprecedented) that they aren’t there…although certainly, the price may have changed.

I considered

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I’ve read about that one, and it seems like it might right up my alley. It’s built around Victorian photographs that appear to show the impossible…sort of the CGI fantasies of their day, although the belief structure might have been a bit different in the heyday of Spiritualism.

Fortunately, I took advantage of the free sample to see how the pictures would look on my six inch Kindle first. Honestly, the pictures just didn’t resolve well enough (even zoomed) for my vision. I looked at it on my Kindle for PC, out of curiousity…and really, they didn’t look great there either (and I wouldn’t read a whole book on my K4PC anyway).

I also thought about The Hunger Games. I’d like to read it before the movie is released next year, but one mitigating factor in that case was that the book is pretty inexpensive anyway ($4.69 at time of writing). I’m not that concerned about the price of a book, but if I’m getting a bargain, I wanted to see what kind of bargain I could get.

So, I sorted the books high to low. :) The higher the price on Amazon, the more I save if I get the book for a dollar, right? ;)

I ended up going with

Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking

by Christopher Hadnagy. I’m very interested in what contributes to people to coming to particular conclusions or taking particular actions. That is pertinent to what I do for a living, and is also generally something that intrigues me.

There were a lot of strong review for this one, and it sounded intriguing. It may be approaching the topic to some extent from the point of view of security…it’s suggested that it is easier to get someone to tell you their password than it is to hack it (although the latter isn’t that hard, usually). In training people, I need to know why they don’t do certain things and do others…this could help.

Oh, and it’s priced in the Kindle store at $19.24…so we saved $18.24. ;)

One more thing: I was excited to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in there…but that’s currently part of The Big Deal promotion…for ninety-nine cents. Does that mean that if I have a KSO, I pay a penny extra for it? :)

Entertainment Weekly rips Amanda Hocking

I read every word of Entertainment Weekly every week. Well, maybe not every word…if I know there is a spoiler, I skip that part until I’ve seen/read/heard the work in question.

Yes, I feel a bit guilty that I get it on paper. I feel like I’m doing good for the environment that I don’t get my books on paper, but at least the magazines are recyclable (the paperbooks stay on my shelves). I’m hoping a hypothetical Amazon tablet changes that…I hope I’ll be able to get EW on it and have it look reasonably good and not lose much from the paper version (and, of course, perhaps gain some things as well).

I’ve mentioned before that I wish they would cover e-books more.

Well, the current issue (#1165, dated July 29, 2011) has the lead article in the Books section called, “The Hottest Self-Published Books”  (by Rob Brunner).

Be careful what you wish for. ;)

Actually, I don’t mind that they actually reviewed the books by Amanda Hocking and John Locke…but they gave them reviews that will really discourage some people from reading them.

Two lines about Hocking: “Her work reads like a high school creative-writing assignment” and “…a bunch of goopy romantic nonsense…”

Locke comes off a bit better, although Brunner says, “…the book’s neither suspenseful nor especially clever.”

There are some positive things said as well, but the highest grade given is a B- (Hocking’s Trylle trilogy) and the lowest is a D (Hocking’s Virture).

My guess is that this write-up may actually increase the sales (although they are very high already), although it may discourage some people from trying e-books.

I did think Brunner’s last rhetorical question said a lot about the writer’s involvement with e-books: “But if you’re after a bargain, why not wander down to the library and pick up one of the world’s best novels ffor free?” Um…because I can get those same great novels from my couch for my Kindle…and not have to return them in two weeks? ;)

Amazon’s 2nd Quarter Financial webcast is tomorrow

Just a reminder that Amazon’s 2nd Quarter financial conference call will be webcast at 2:00 PM Pacific time tomorrow, Tuesday July 26. We often find out interesting things in those calls, especially in the Q&A. It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear something about the hypothetical tablets. I don’t know if I’ll be able to listen to any of it live, but it will be available online afterwards. The information is in this

Press Release

What do you think? Which book did you get for a dollar? Do you agree with EW about Hocking and Locke? What percentage of Amazon’s book sales would you guess are digital by now? Feel free to let me know.

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

In depth with Collections in Kindle for PC 1.6

July 24, 2011

In depth with Collections in Kindle for PC 1.6

recently wrote about an update to the free Kindle reader app, Kindle for PC.

I have time today to experiment with it, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more.

First, if you don’t have it already, you can get it at here:

Kindle for PC official page

However, I have heard from one of my readers, and read about it on the Amazon Kindle forum, that it has crashed their Kindle for PCs. I don’t have a pattern on that yet. Mine was fine: on the computer where I have it is, I’m using Windows Vista Home Premium, Service Pack 2. If yours had problems, I’d love to hear what operating system you have. You can open your Windows Explorer (the Windows button, with the four wavy squares and usually to your left of the ALT key to your left of your spacebar, combined with the letter E will get you there), and then right-click on Computer and choose Properties. That should tell you your version.

From within Kindle for PC, you can choose Help, Future Improvements…that will give you a link to download an upgraded version.

Second, the Collections/Shelfari upgrade has also come to Kindle for Mac:

Kindle for Mac official page

I don’t know about it having come to any other Kindle apps..yet. I suspect they’ll all get it eventually.

Third, it appears that the “copy and paste” feature I mentioned may not be available everywhere in the world. That happens: that are complications to exporting software, and in this case, copyright laws may also be an issue. Why? How much and under what circumstances you can copy and paste without getting permission from the copyright holder (if any) varies from country to country. “Fair use” isn’t defined the same way everywhere…hey, last I checked, Afghanistan had no copyright laws…

Those are the three non-use things that really stand out to me since I last wrote about the upgrade.

Okay, let’s get down to using it.

What is Kindle for PC?

It is a free application that allows you to read Kindle store books on your PC. It does quite a few other things…one I really like is that you can write notes in the application and have them appear on your Kindle.  If you are like me and actually learned to touch type, it can be so much easier to do it on a full-sized keyboard like your PC may have than on your Kindle’s tiny keyboard. For those of you following my public notes on

http://kindle.amazon.com

I do really plan to do some at some point. ;) I have one book in particular where I’m planning to write some, and I’ll do them in Kindle for PC.

That’s been existing functionality, though.

There are a few new things with this upgrade…so new that don’t appear to be reflected on the Amazon help pages yet:

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

The big addition is Collections.

Collections are a way to organize your books (and some other items) on your Kindle…and now, on your Kindle for PC.

What you are doing is “tagging” a book as belonging to a certain group…say, “Mysteries” and/or “To Be Read”.

One reason to do that is to make them easier to find.

On Kindle for PC, you see three groupings automatically:

  • All Items
  • Downloaded Items
  • Archived Items

The Downloaded Items are actually on this PC. The Archived Items are not, but are available for download. All Items combines the two…they should add up.

Below that, there is a section for Collections.

You can create Collections directly on the PC, or you can import the Collections of another device (such as the ones from a Kindle where you have already created Collections).

In either case, you click the plus to your right of Collections. You can also use the File menu, or do CTRL+N.

Give it a name…then click on Downloaded Items. You can drag the titles you want (either their covers, or their names if you are using List View) on to that Collection. You’ll see a highlight bar when you are over the Collection: release your mouse button, and that does it. You’ll see the number of items in the Collection increase. If you try to drag one into a Collection that is already in it, nothing happens.
Unfortunately, I could not find any way to drag more than title at once.

Still, that’s much faster than doing it on a Kindle.

Most intriguingly at this point, you can drag titles into the Collection from the Archived Items. Remember, those are not on the PC yet. They do not automatically download. For the first time, we can put titles into our Collections while they are still in the Archives. That will also really speed things up! If they aren’t downloaded yet, you’ll see an icon of a cloud with a downward pointing arrow on it. Right-click on the title, and you can download it if you want.

Another way to create a Collection is to right-click on a title (downloaded or not) and choose to Add to Collection (New Collection).
Again, this means we can organize the titles in our archives into Collections without downloading them first.

I did test it: if I right-clicked an archived item that is in a Collection on my Kindle and not in one on my K4PC, that Collection was unknown to the K4PC.

The other thing you can do is import Collections. You can use that plus, the File menu, or do CTRL+I.

You’ll see a choice of your devices which have Collections (excluding the one from which you are checking). Select the one you want (you can just click the box with your mouse or, as is common in computers, use the arrow key to get to the one you want, then use the spacebar to select it).

The definitions of those Collections then appear on the K4PC. If those particular items are on your K4PC, they’ll appear in the Collection. If they aren’t, they’ll appear in the Collection as “download options” with that little cloud arrow icon.

One thing that might throw you (it threw me at first) was that the number of items might be different on your Kindle and your K4PC for a given Collection. That’s because you can put what Amazon calls Personal Documents (including books from sources other than Amazon) into a Collection. Those items are not stored for you on Amazon’s servers, so they can’t appear as download options (hmm…would “Cloud Titles” sound better?).  For example, my Current Collection on my Kindle has 12 items in it…that includes non-Amazon items. When I imported the Collections, I only got nine of them.

Also, items that can’t work on the K4PC (active content, like the games and Kindle apps) don’t appear in the imported Collection…that makes sense.

You have copied the Collection. Changes you make after the import to the Collections on the Kindle or on the K4PC won’t affect the Collections on the other device. Add a book to a Collection on the Kindle, and it won’t add to the Collection on the K4PC. You can always just import them again, though.

One weird thing, though, and it isn’t working the way it is supposed to work. When I import Collections and those Collections already exist on the device, I get duplicated Collections. They are supposed to merge…I shouldn’t have two Current Collections, for example…but I get that both on my Kindle and on my K4PC.  On the K4PC, they appended an at sign @ at the end of the name of the Collection.

They have to get that fixed! Otherwise, when I want to update the Collections from Kindle to K4PC, I’ll have to delete them all one at a time from the K4PC first (if I’ve previously imported them). That could be a real headache.

Oh, here was something that was nice, to sort of balance that. :) When I added a Collection on my Kindle, did a Sync & Check to Amazon, and imported Collections into my K4PC literally five seconds later, the one came in.

On your left side of the screen, you can right-click on the Collections.

By the way, that’s a general tip on a Windows PC…when in doubt, right-click. On a Kindle, when in doubt, hit the Menu button.
You can delete a Collection, Rename it, or Duplicate it. The last one is a choice we don’t have on our Kindles.

Why would you duplicate a Collection?

Let’s say you made a Collection called Animal Stories. You realized five out of your six were about cats. You could duplicate the Collection, name the second one Cat Stories, and remove the one dog title from that one.

The way K4PC named the duplicated Collection was to add a number to it. Duplicate Current, and the second is Current1. Duplicate it again, and it’s Current2, and so on.

One weird thing: I can’t figure out how the K4PC is sorting the imported Collections. I can’t choose another sort. It doesn’t appear to be by title, quantity, or date added. When I duplicate a Collection, it appears at the bottom of the list. When I create a new Collection, it appears at the bottom of the list. That seems logical. However, I can’t change the order to get those created Collections above the imported ones.

Bottom line: working with Collections in K4PC is generally easier than working with them on the Kindle. One exception: I think it may be easier to add a bunch of books to a Collection on the Kindle, since you just need to click on them (first, right-click on the Collection and then choose Add/Remove Items)…that could be easier than dragging. If they can figure out how to allow dragging of multiple items at once, though, that eliminates that as a plus.

Amazon says you don’t need a computer to use a Kindle, and that’s technically correct…but it does make it easier. It’s a bit like saying you don’t need a hammer to drive a nail…you don’t, but it’s usually the best method. ;)

What do you think? Have you found anything else I omitted? More questions? Feel free to let me know.

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

Round up #41: The Economist, My2K, Kindle pays for itself in one night

July 24, 2011

Round up #41: The Economist, My2K, Kindle pays for itself in one night

“The Amazon War”

Thanks to my reader Morgan for the heads-up on this

The Economist article

It’s not surprising that the century and a half old British publication understands the subtleties of the US politics on the issue of states wanting to compel more companies to collect their sales tax for them. It is nice to see the venerable news source explain it so well…I do highly recommend this article.

One of the things they note is that my state, California, may be one of the most interesting to watch, thanks to our state initiative procedures. That allows Amazon (and its supporters in this case) to take the issue to the public for a vote.

We’ve had all kinds of initiatives in the past (some that were never going to pass, some that did and changed the state), which may contribute to this subtitle in The Economist:

“More complicated than the Boston tea party, but potentially as colourful”

By the way, WordPress spellchecker, I don’t want to change that spelling. ;)

My2K

No, not Y2K, “My2K”. I’ve finally gotten over 2,000 items in my Kindle library. It’s weird, but I’m actually kind of embarrassed that it has taken this long. I shouldn’t be…it took me relatively much longer to get to the 10,000 or so paperbooks I have. Still, I know there are people out there with bigger Kindle store libraries (and that’s all I’m counting).

It’ll be nice to be able to say “thousands of books”, though. :) Actually, I’ll have to say “thousands of titles”, since a lot of the freebies are too short to be books…they are often short stories.  I suppose I would count a paperbook with just one short story as a book, though, so I have to think about why I make that distinction.

I know being happy about having a large number like that is partially a leftover from having to have the physical books in my home to have access to them. I have access to almost 40,000 free books directly from the Kindle store right now (whether I’ve bought them or not) and access to well over a million free e-texts from other sources (like Archive.org).

I think the society is moving more towards access being the desired state rather than ownership…but that’s a big change.

I only keep something like ten Kindle store books actually on my Kindle (since a couple of those are large omnibuses, I could go over two weeks without having to connect), but it’s nice to have all of these books easily available to people currently on our account or who may be on it in the future.

“Kindle pays for itself in one night”

I got an e-mail from a relative who is driving across the country. It’s not a trip with a planned night in this city and another planned night in that city. That means there is a need to find a hotel each night.

Ordinarily, that would mean pulling into a rest stop, getting out the computer, and searching online. In this instance, though, the computer’s battery was dead. That was probably because something went wrong…but it is an issue with backlit devices (like tablets, netbooks, and notebooks) which take so much more battery charge than reflective screens like the Kindle.

So, it was, as my relative put it, time for the “old fashioned” way…find a motel/hotel and see if they have a vacancy. That usually runs about $90 a night.

In this case, though, the asking price was…$300! While the motel (not a fancy one, by the way, but a well-known chain) was willing to negotiate a bit, that still seemed like too much.

What to do?

Pull out the Kindle, use the free wireless to go to Hotels.com…and find a hotel nearby for $120 a night! $300-$120=$180…and there are four Kindle models close to that price or lower (as low as $114). For $139, you can get one with free 3G (supported by advertising)…people often underestimate the value of that. Even though the internet access is a bit challenging (I call it “slogging the internet”), it works…and this is a perfect example of where it can come in really handy. It’s  obviously on a very different scale, but we’ve gotten stories from people in natural disasters (like the Japanese tsunami) who have been able to use their Kindles to reach the “outside world”.

How about you? Do you have a story when the Kindle’s internet saved you in a pinch? Do you have a lot more than 2,000 Kindle store titles (tell me…wait, don’t tell me…no, go ahead and tell me ;) )? Do you think The Economist has it right? Feel free to let me know.

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

Freebie flash! Zero, Dating, Truth, and more

July 24, 2011

Freebie flash! Zero, Dating, Truth, and more

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and none of them block text-to-speech access. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

Stop Smoking (52 Brilliant Ideas)
by Peter Cross, Clive Hopwood
published by Infinite Ideas (independent?)

Boost your memory (52 Brilliant Ideas)
by Darren Bridger
published by Infinite Ideas (independent?)

Sun Tzu’s Art of War
Karen McCreadie
published by Infinite Ideas (independent?)

This appears not to be the original work (which is available as a public domain freebie), but uses contemporary case studies to illustrate Sun Tzu’s principles.

More balls than most
by Lara Morgan
published by Infinite Ideas (independent?)

The title is an allusion to being able to juggle a lot of things, as in work/life balance…why, what did you think it meant in a freebie? ;)

Stress proof your life (52 Brilliant Ideas)
by Elisabeth Wilson
published by Infinite Ideas (independent?)

Master dating (52 Brilliant Ideas)
by Lisa Helmanis
published by Infinite Ideas (independent?)

Winning the Zero Moment of Truth – ZMOT (Enhanced Version)
by Jim Lecinski
published by Vook

This is an enhanced audio/video edition…the audio/video currently only works on iDevices (iPads, iPod touches, iPads). You can read the text on other devices (like Kindles).

The Bronze and the Brimstone: Book #2 of the Verona Trilogy
by Lory S. Kaufman
published by The Fiction Studio

Fearworld (A horror short story)
by Paul Melhuish
published by Greyhart Press (independent?)

Unbreakable
by M.C.A. Hogarth
published by Stardancer Studios (independent?)

Just One Taste (The V V Inn)
by C.J. Ellisson
published by Red Hot Publishing (independent?)

Fair Price
by Lara Lond
independent

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


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