Archive for October, 2011

Amazon adds Disney/ABC to Prime Instant Video

October 31, 2011

Amazon adds Disney/ABC to Prime Instant Video

They’ve completed the set!

Amazon Prime Instant Video has signed a deal with Disney/ABC, which means they have free streaming video movies/TV from ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.

The

Press Release

includes the phrase, “…Giving Prime Members Even More Video Content for Their New Kindle Fire”.

Is this addition (which probably cost Amazon a pretty penny) supposed to encourage Prime members to buy a Kindle Fire? Well, yes, but more important (in my opinion), it’s to get Kindle Fire buyers to buy Prime.

Let’s look at the two populations.

Somebody who is already a Prime member gets the free streaming Prime videos whether they get a Fire or not.  They are already using Prime to buy things from Amazon, and reportedly, they spend a lot more money with Amazon than non-Prime members. If they get a Fire, it may increase their purchasing of digital content from Amazon, and sure, they may use Prime even more, since it will be so convenient (when connected to wi-fi).

On the other hand, a lot of people will get a Fire who don’t have Prime now…heck, people may join Amazon when they get a Fire, especially if they get one as a gift. Amazon will also give them a free month of Prime. During that month, they’ll experience the video, but hopefully also start buying things through Prime. How cool will it be during the holidays especially to get things in two-days with no minimum? Somebody wants a particular gift…and two (business) days later, you have it. It may not always be quite that fast…that’s the shipping speed, not the order-to-delivery speed, but it should be very fast. Hopefully, in Amazon’s point of view, that spoils them and they don’t give it up.

Prime (and by extension, the Fire) isn’t about hardback books…it’s about windshield wipers, cat food, and diapers.

Did you say that you had to run an errand this past weekend? You just figured you’d have to get to a given store some time in the next couple of days? Getting it from Prime is easier than that.

That’s the shift that the Fire investment gives Amazon…getting people to get all sorts of goods from Amazon, rather than from a brick-and-mortar store. That’s why it’s worth paying Disney/ABC for the licensing…not to just get them to get a Fire, not even to get them to pay $79 a year to Amazon for Prime…but to get them to mentally shift to getting day-to-day goods from Amazon.

By the way, CW fans, I know you may be wondering why I didn’t mention you in the network set. Anybody? Well, you can get Supernatural and Smallville episodes, even if they aren’t part of free streaming…yet.

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

A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2011

A Halloween classic to read aloud

This is one of the classic horror stories.  It was first published in 1843 and written by Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.   The story should be in the public domain everywhere.  As a Halloween treat, you may want to read it to each other out loud.  You can take turns, or one person can read it all.  You could let your Kindle take a turn…but that won’t be the same.  This shows the advantage of free distribution of the classics that e-books facilitates.  Be prepared, though…it’s scary!   It should take about fifteen minutes…hokey Halloween voices optional.  Parents, be advised…this could cause nightmares.

Enjoy?  Or at least…experience.  I now present…

THE TELL-TALE HEART (by Edgar Allan Poe)

TRUE!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief–oh, no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself–“It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder–louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Bonus: Quoth My Kindle

I originally published Quoth My Kindle (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe) in this thread in the Amazon Kindle forum.   It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, The Raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
As I reached to slide to sleep mode, suddenly I found my hand slowed
As if driving up a steep road, driving with a heavy load
“I can’t seem to move it forward, as if some Kowboy had ‘whoa’d,
It’s a fluke and nothing more.”

Suddenly, a wheel was spinning, a face appeared, and it was grinning
I gasped and nearly dropped my m-edge, dropped it on the hardwood floor
I shook my head, I couldn’t take it; wasn’t sure if I would make it
Then that voice: speakers of portent – portent I would know the score
Then the robot quirkily intoned words that shook me to the core
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

“I need sleep!” I firmly stated, yet I found I hesitated
Reading – reading how it drew me like it never had before
So I sat there, pushing buttons, appetite of sev’ral gluttons
Bestsellers, public domain, ’til I think I filled up my brain
“Tis some magazine I’ve never even purchased at the store”
“I need to get up early!” I heard myself again implore
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

My eyes opened and I woke up; knew I dreamt my Kindle spoke up
So I dragged myself off to what had become my bedtime chore,
Although fact is what it did seem, I knew it was just a weird dream
So as I brushed my teeth, I felt safe behind my bathroom door
I kept my head beneath my covers, as I sailed to Morpheus’ shore…
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

For more Edgar Allan Poe, try this search for Poe freebies in the Kindle store. If you want to keep it simple, you can get this collection, which has an interactive table of contents.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  ;)

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

KSO owners: get one of 100 horror novels for $1

October 30, 2011

KSO owners: get one of 100 horror novels for $1

Here we go again!

Those of you without a Kindle with Special Offers may still find something interesting in this list. If you’ve got one, there are some great bargains in this group.

You can now get a Special Offers Kindle (in the USA) for as low as $79 with the Mindle (that’s what I call it). You can tell, it may not take long for it to pay for itself, depending on how many and which Special Offers appeal to you.

The theme this time is horror, presumably for Halloween (you have to claim your promotional code by 11:59 PM  Pacific October 31st…although you have until November 30 to pick your book). Here are the details:

Special Offer Rules

Horror is something of which I’ve read quite a bit. I do consider myself a pretty eclectic reader, but that’s always been a soft spot for all forms of fantasy…science fiction, supernatural horror, and so on. There are some very interesting choices here…I think the odds are pretty good you can find something somebody on your account will like.

Here are some of the titles I think are notable on

The List

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Jane Austen and Seth-Grahame Smith
published by Quirk Books
size: 1732KB
categories: parodies; humor; horror
text-to-speech access not blocked
lending: not enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
price without Special Offer at time of writing: $6.99

This book, which combines the original Austen classic with new material about zombies, created a real splash. There has been a sequel, and other books inspired by it. Grahame-Smith is scripting next year’s Tim Burton version of Dark Shadows. The movie version of PP&Z just recently lost its third director, and its fate may be uncertain.

Rosemary’s Baby
by Ira Levin
published by Pegasus Books
size: 316KB
categories: horror
text-to-speech access is not blocked
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
First published: 1967

This bestseller was a watershed moment in contemporary horror. Supposedly inspired by Anton Lavey and the real-life Church of Satan, it brought a reality to horror that was unusual at the time. Levin went on to write The Boys from Brazil and The Stepford Wives, among others. The book was adapted into a movie by Roman Polanski, who also directed. Ruth Gordon won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Swan Song
Robert R. McCammon
published by Open Road Media
size: 2053KB
categories: horror
text-to-speech access is not blocked
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
first published: 1987
$9.99 without Special Offer at time of writing

This is a big, post-apocalyptic novel…I remember selling it when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore. There were people who listed it as one of their favorites, and it won the Bram Stoker Award for best novel. This is definitely a bargain at a dollar…the paperbook was large enough to serve as a booster seat for a small child. ;)

The Best Paranormal Crime Stories Ever Told (Best Stories Ever Told)
Martin H. Greenberg (editor)
published by Skyhorse
size: 960 KB
categories: horror; occult
text-to-speech access is not blocked
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
first year published: 2010

Greenberg is one of the best anthologists, in my mind. That’s not an easy task…it’s like the difference between being a great music director for a TV series, picking out just the perfect song for that scene, and an amateur putting together a playlist for a party. He’s been doing it since at least the 1970s. This one is a collection of paranormal mystery stories…currently under copyright (published in the 2000s). Authors include Patricia Briggs, P.N. Elrod, Anne Perry, Steve Perry, Kelley Armstrong, Laura Resnick, and more. By the way, don’t be discouraged by the 2-star review average: that’s one review by one person who disagree with the use of the term “paranormal” (saying that at least the first stories were “supernatural” instead). I think the Kindle is especially well-suited for short story anthologies…I’m often on a short trip where a short story is appropriate…but it might stretch into another story or two. :)

Foucault’s Pendulum
by Umberto Eco
published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
size: 1857KB
categories: thrillers; horror; occult
text-to-speech access is not blocked
lending: not enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
originally published: 1988
&7.62 without Special Offer at time of writing

This book, by the author of The Name of the Rose (which is only $3.28 right now at Amazon), can be a challenge. It’s definitely not a popcorn book, and I wouldn’t say it’s for everybody, but if you like a dense book (and I do…sometimes), this might get you thinking on a weekend.

The Book of Cthulhu
Ross E. Lockhart (editor)
published by Night Shade books
size: 1171KB
categories: genre fiction; anthologies
text-to-speech access is not blocked
lending: not enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
first published: 2011
$7.99 without special offer at time of writing.

Cthulhu is one of the “Great Old Ones”…elder gods who existed on Earth before humanity. Seeing one of the Old Ones can drive a person insane. Cthulhu was created (or first publicized, if you go with the conspiracies) by H.P. Lovecraft in 1928. Interestingly, other writers got in on the action pretty quickly…and Lovecraft approved of that (corresponding with some). Writers continue to add to the Cthulhu Mythos to the current day, and this is a collection of some of those short stories. Authors contributing include Ramsey Campbell, T.E.D. Klein, David Drake, Kage Baker, and others.

There are a few of the ones that stood out to me, but there were quite a few choices. Do you have other recommendations out of the list? Feel free to let me (and my readers) know.

Remember, you need to redeem the offer (but not pick a book) by Monday night.

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

Review: Low Town

October 29, 2011

Review: Low Town

“There’s only so long one can maintain disapproval faced with the devastating and continuous onslaught of my humor.”
–The Warden
Low Town
by Daniel Polansky

Low Town: A novel
by Daniel Polansky
published by Doubleday, part of Random House
size: 793KB
categories: fantasy; mystery & thrillers
text-so-speech access is not blocked
lending: not enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
price at the time of writing: $12.99
released August 16, 2011

A substance-abusing ex-cop, living in the crumbling part of town, drawn out of retirement to hunt down a killer in his neighborhood. He needs his underworld contacts and calling in old favors to get the job done…and he’s on the wrong end of a beating more than once.

It’s a classic noir situation, but there’s a twist.

Sorcery.

Daniel Polansky’s first novel is refreshingly not meta in its treatment of noir and fantasy, which is often the case. You won’t get that “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” sort of faux noir.

The fantasy is of the gritty type…not fairies and unicorns, but drug dealers and murders.

Creating a fantasy world is tough, and Polansky’s pulled me up short a few times. This is a pre-heavy tech world, with swords and crossbows being the weapons of choice, not gats and shivs. That’s fine…the thing that really stopped me was one character referring to another as “my prodigal son”. It’s such a specific reference (to the Gospel of Luke) that it’s like mentioning Marilyn Monroe or Jersey Shore. I’m not equating the value of any of these, of course, I’m just saying that it is clearly an Earthly reference…and specifically, our Earth.

There aren’t a lot of made-up words, and those can be distracting. On the other hand, in this novel, people will “light up a joint”…that also feels strange.

I’m not quite sure why…I’m okay with a reference to a “pike”, and many other Earthly terms…this just pulled me out of the story a bit.

Setting that aside, I enjoyed the story. The characters were fine…the world-weary Warden was interesting, and I did want to see what would happen next. There are other good characters…I don’t want to spoil any of it too much.

It wasn’t a great novel for me. I love being surprised, and Low Town didn’t manage that. The story was solid, though, with good atmosphere, and some great lines. I liked that there wasn’t explicit sex and graphic violence. There is a place for that, but it seems that many fantasy novels include it to make them seem modern. It was kind of nice, and old-fashioned in a good way. There are also recognizable ethnic stereotypes, although they aren’t nominally races from Earth.

I think that gives you a pretty good idea. I know some of you may balk at the $12.99 price. I read it as a loan from my public library, and you could register it at

http://www.ereaderiq.com/pricewatch/

to get a free e-mail when it drops in price. Is it going to do that? Sure, that would be likely when the paperback is released.

You can also try a free sample.

If you do read it, I’d be interested to hear what you think. My guess is that I may have underplayed it for some of you…that you may like it better than I did. I’m guessing some of you may like it less…that’s just the way things go. ;)

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

Round up #50: HTML 5, everybody’s an author, B&N doubles down on NOOK

October 29, 2011

Round up #50: HTML 5, everybody’s an author, B&N doubles down on NOOK

The ILMK round-ups are groups of shorter pieces on topics of interest…these topics may or may not get extended coverage later.

B&N Bulks Up Nook Boutiques for Holidays
Jeffrey Trachtenberg
Wall Street Journal
October 29, 2011

One of my regular readers sent me a heads-up on this story in a private e-mail…thanks!

WSJ article

As is usually case, you may or may not be able to read the whole article if you go directly to that link. If you search for the name I gave to this piece

B&N Bulks Up Nook Boutiques for Holidays

in Google, you should be able to read the whole thing.

As regular readers know, I think Trachtenberg is the best mainstream writer out there on e-book issues.

This isn’t a big megatrends insightful article, but it’s simply about B&N (Barnes & Noble) doubling the amount of space dedicated in their busiest brick-and-mortar stores for the holiday season.

A typical B&N store might be 25,000 square feet, with the NOOK section being about a 1,000…so doubling the size isn’t going to seem that big. However, that doesn’t mean that 23,000 square feet are bookshelves. There’s a lot of empty space…your aisles have to be wide enough for wheelchairs, for one thing. Barnes &  Noble store also have toys and games, T-shirts…and a café with table space (although that may not count in the 25,000 feet).

Space is important in a retail store (I’m a former bookstore manager)…you always figure that you are fighting rent right after fighting salaries (and “shrinkage”…employee theft, shoplifting, and damage is important).

Barnes & Noble will likely have something to feature, though…the strongly rumored NOOKColor 2.

I think we’ll continue to see Barnes & Noble stores shift away from most paperbooks. I’ll go back to my scenario that says that new hardback novels go to $50 pretty quickly (in a few years), and become much better quality. So, I think they’ll see lower volume with higher average per sale.

The 6 Shifts of a Kindle Dominated Marketplace

Julien Smith
In Over Your Head

“So, this is about the time everyone starts to write books.”

A different reader told me about this one in a private e-mail…thanks to you, too!

This is more of a thoughtful piece. It speculates on how e-publishing may be changing the market.

I’d say the most interesting concept is that we’ll begin to think of writing a book as something anybody can do (and many people will).

That may seem impossible.

However, go back to the early days of spreadsheets. Back in the day, there would have been one person in your office who did Excel…and that would have been that person’s entire job.

It was amazing that got to be that everybody was expected to know Excel, and it was just one of the things you did.

I saw the same thing with Microsoft Project. When I started teaching that, just about everybody in the class would have a degree or a certification in Project Management, and that’s what they did…they would all have the job title of Project Manager.

Then, as time went on, it got to be that almost no one in the class had that job title…they were just expect to do Project Management as part of the job they already had.

Being an author, though, may seem like it’s an artistic pursuit…not something just anybody can do. I have to say, though, I’ve read some books where artistry wasn’t a prime component. :) Sometimes that’s fiction, sometimes it’s not.

As software gets smarter, people will not have their works spell-checked, but continuity checked, style checked, and so on. Some of that is already available.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be people that we know are great authors…it just means that the author title in and of itself may not mean much.

I do recommend you read the article:

In Over Your Head post

How Deep is Amazon’s Love for HTML5 in Kindle Format 8?
Scott M. Fulton
ReadWrite Web
October 27, 2011

ReadWrite Web

This one gets a bit deeper into the woods, but goes a good job of what Amazon’s new format for Kindle books “supporting” HTML 5 means. It had some good information about what that means…how big it is, and what it’s not going to do. It talks about how HTML 5 impacts EPUB 3. This one brings you great technical insight into something that is going to change how you read what you read.

One last comment…on the two articles besides the Trachtenberg one, I wouldn’t have read them before tonight if it wasn’t for

http://sendtoreader.com/

and text-to-speech. I listened to both of them on the way home in the car.

I also benefited from the recent Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi upgrade that lets me start and stop VoiceGuide (the Kindle’s audible menu feature) with the keyboard shortcut Shift+Spacebar. I do carefully watch the road when driving…I keep shifting where I look on a regular pattern…straight ahead, left side view, straight ahead, rear view, straight ahead, right side view, straight ahead, rear view, straight ahead, left side view, and so on. Oh, I don’t stick to that all the time, but pretty close.

With the short cut (which I can feel easily), I can turn on VoiceGuide, pick what I want to listen to next, then turn off VoiceGuide. If I don’t turn off VoiceGuide, the two voices (text-to-speech and VoiceGuide) overlap each other, which is weird…particularly since it’s the same person speaking. While it was reading  and I put it to sleep (to save battery, since it doesn’t need to “redraw the pages”), it said “screensaver” quietly while a book was being read to me.

Being able to toggle the Voice Guide on and off easily makes that more pleasant.

So, what do you think? Will Barnes & Noble further reduce the number of books in the stores? Are you going to e-publish a book? Is HTML 5 the future of e-books?

Feel free to let me know…

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

Freebie flash! Chicken, Ghost, Tattoo, and more

October 28, 2011

Freebie flash! Chicken, Ghost, Tattoo, 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.

Edge of Grace
by Christa Allan
published by Abingdon Press
size: 718KB
categories: fiction; Christian; contemporary

The Chicken Project (Fiction Friday)
by Michael Jasper
published by UnWrecked (independent?)
size: 43KB
categories: fiction; short stories

Reflections at Sunrise
by Sandra Dorsett
independent
size: 16KB
categories: nonfiction; death & grief

First Through the Post (Short Story)
by Mike Lewis
independent
size: 94KB
categories: fiction; short stories

Orchard Park
by Tom Fahy
published by Orchard Park (independent?)
size: 584KB
categories: literary fiction; contemporary fiction

Soul Tattoo: A Bilingual Edition
by Isaias Doleo Ochoa
independent
size: 98KB
categories: nonfiction; religion & spirituality; personal transformation

The Ghost Legion: Cold Blades, Story I
by Geltab
independent
size: 29KB
categories: fiction; action & adventure

Haunted Ground: Ghost Photos from the Gettysburg Battlefield
by Hollister Ann Grant, Jack Grant (photographer)
published by Expedition Books (independent?)
size: 1121KB
categories: United States; Civil War; unexplained mysteries

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

KSO owners: Get a Kindle Book from a List of Thousands for $1

October 27, 2011

KSO owners:  Get a Kindle Book from a List of Thousands for $1

There is one of those great offers for Kindle owners who have  Kindle with Special Offers going on right now.

You can select one book out of a specific list of thousands for $1.

I think there are a lot of great possibilities this time, and I’m going to suggest some. For those of you who don’t have a KSO on your account, I think you’ll still find the post interesting…you may not have realized these books were available for the Kindle, and may want to pay more than a dollar for some. :)

Our interactions with the Special Offers have changed in my house, since I now have a Mindle (the $79 in the USA Kindle with Special Offers).

It used to be that just my Significant Other in our household had a Kindle with Special Offers…and for those of you who worry that the ads could be intrusive, well, my SO never even noticed them. :) Part of that was that my SO rarely turns on the wireless, so they don’t change as much.

If you have a KSO, you can check what the current Special Offers (I know, it’s weird that Special Offer and Significant Other are the same abbreviation) are by doing

Home-Menu-View Special Offers

You need to request this one by October 27 (this Thursday), and then you have a month to pick one.

More Details

By the way, we can thankful to Open Road Media for some of the books on this list. They do not use the Agency Model, so Amazon is able to discount their books to give us special like this…and they have some great books!

One more interesting thing until I started listing some notable books in the list.

This offer is being sponsored by the movie Anonymous. I have to say, the fact that is was sponsored by Anonymous threw me on the website…it didn’t say “by the movie Anonymous”, and I thought we might have had an unknown benefactor to thank. :) That doesn’t say much for that part of the advertising…but I do have an advert for Anonymous the movie on my Homescreen (just in that little spot where we usually see one).

This also is a good example of why Special Offers aren’t available around the world (yet).

The movie opens in the USA, US, Canada, and some other markets on Friday (the day after the ad will probably stop appearing on our Kindles, since we can’t redeem it after the 27th). So, Columbia gets their money’s worth out of sponsoring the Special Offer in the USA, presumably. But if you are in France, the movie doesn’t open until December…which wouldn’t make the ad much of a driver for the box office for that market. Different companies are also distributing the movie in different countries, and that might also have an impact on who sponsored the offer.

Now, on to

The List (all books do not have text-to-speech access blocked)

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
by Carson McCullers
published by Houghton Mifflin
size: 188KB (160 pages)
categories: literary fiction; short stories
$6.15 without Special Offer at time of writing

Carson McCullers is known for her literature of loneliness. Among her other works are The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Member of the Wedding (both of which, along with Ballad, have been made into movies).

This is the one we got…I was a little concerned that this was just the title novella, but I checked, and it is the short story collection.

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It
by Karl Weber
published by Public Affairs
size: 662KB
categories: nonfiction; nutrition
$8.52 without Special Offer at time of writing

This book is a companion to an Oscar-nominated documentary.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins
by Richard and Florence Atwater, illustrated by Robert Lawson
published by Open Road Media
size: 1307 KB
categories: children’s
$5.99 without Special Offer at time of writing

I remember this well from reading it as a kid. Separate it from the Jim Carrey movie…I didn’t see that, but the original is charming and whimsical. Yes, this is the illustrated edition, optimized for larger screens…should look great on the Kindle Fire, although I suppose it’s possible they’ll do an interactive version as well.

Sophie’s Choice (Open Road)
by William Styron
published by Open Road
size: 1939KB (includes an illustrated biography of Styron)
categories: fiction
$8.99 without Special Offer at time of writing

It was a National Book Award winner…and the basis for a major movie, for which Meryl Streep got a Best Actress Oscar.

Cold Sassy Tree
by Olive Ann Burns
published by Mariner Books
size: 3823KB
categories: literature
$4.95 without Special Offer at time of writing

This is a much beloved novel.

Earth Abides
by George Stewart
published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
size: 479JKB
categories: fiction; science fiction
$7.69 without Special Offer at time of writing

This 1949 post-apocalyptic book is a classic work of science fiction, and respected outside that genre as well. It has hundreds of five-star reviews at Amazon. That’s not too oversell it, I don’t know if you’ll like it…it’s just to show it’s had broad appeal.

The Eagle Has Landed
by Jack Higgins
published by Open Road Media
size: 836KB
categories: suspense
$3.79 without Special Offer at time of writing

This was a #1 bestelling World War II adventure novel, made into a movie with Michael Caine.

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
published by Open Road Media
size: 797KB
categories: fiction
$8.50 without Special Offer at time of writing

Pulitzer-prize winning novel that was also the basis for an Oscar-nominated movie and Tony-nominated musical.

The Selfish Gene : 30th Anniversary edition
by Richard Dawkins
published by Oxford University Press
size: 837KB
categories: science; genetics
$9.48 without Special Offer at time of writing

This was a huge international bestselling science book, and very influential.

Secretariat
by William Nack
published by Hyperion
size: 830KB
categories: nonfiction; sports; horse racing

The story of the Triple Crown-winning racehorse.

There are ten suggestions for you, but there are many more notable titles in this group. If you have ever wondered if you might be interested in a Special Offer, this should convince you.

Did you find a different book on the list you want to suggest? Are you mad that you don’t have Special Offers? Do you think I’m exaggerating  the value? Feel free to let me know.

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

Free app of the day might be great for your Fire: OfficeSuite Pro 5

October 26, 2011

Free app of the day might be great for your Fire: OfficeSuite Pro 5

Even though the Kindle Fire is what I call an “entertablet” (a tablet intended to be an entertainment center), there’s no question, there will be times I’ll want to edit Excel or Word on it. For one thing, I find Excel to be entertaining. ;) Of course, that might not be you…it might be that you just need to do one thing while you’re at lunch at a place with free wi-fi.

Today’s free app (and I”m starting to see the abbreviation FAOTD, for Free App Of The Day) is

OfficeSuite Pro 5

The FAOTD is one for which you would normally pay…in this case, $14.99.

The reviews are mostly good…except that there a bunch complaining about needing a payment method to get a free app. Interestingly, it didn’t ask me about that at all. It could be that their 1-clicks are set up differently than mine…a different payment method on file.

I opened it on my Samsung Captivate…a new Excel document seemed to work okay, although I didn’t get into the advanced functions I often use.

“But,” you say, “how are you going to do Excel on a cellphone-sized screen?”

I don’t really plan to do that. I plan to use it on my 7″ screen Fire.

That should work pretty well.

Again, I want to be clear: I’m not endorsing this product, I haven’t used it enough yet. However, it’s free…why not? You can’t always say that on the general Android market, but I do think the Amazon Appstore may be…more selective for quality.

I don’t know if you can get it if you don’t have a device registered for the Amazon Appstore yet…if you don’t, I presume you could put it on your wish list. :) However, it won’t be free tomorrow…

Oh, and for my readers outside the USA (Hi!), I think it’s only available as a FAOTD here.

If you’ve used it, let me know what you think. If you have an alternative Android app for Office, feel free to share. If you get asked for a payment method, I’d be interested in hearing about that.

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

Amazon’s Q3 call: selling more, earning less

October 25, 2011

Amazon’s Q3 call: selling more, earning less

This is the way Amazon wants it right now. Sales are up hugely, like the second year of a start-up. In this

Press Release

Amazon says net sales were up 44%: $10.88 billion in the third quarter, compared with $7.56 billion in third quarter 2010.

That’s a huge increase!

During the same, period, though,  net income decreased 73% to $63 million.

Right now, Amazon is doing what it is famous for doing…buying marketshare.

In this case, they are spending a lot of money creating marketshare. They aren’t buying it from somebody else…they are making markets. I think the Kindle Fire will create a new segment of the market…not take existing share from Apple, for example.

Naturally, a lot of antsy investors won’t get this strategy…and we’ll probably see a stock drop initially. As I look at it right now at

http://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=AMZN

the stock went down 4.4% today. Wednesday update: it dropped another 12%.

Don’t worry about that…I could be totally wrong, of course, but I think that will bounce back quickly. What’s good for the stockholders isn’t always what’s good for us as Kindleers anyway.

There are two things that particularly stood out to me in the press release.

One was Jeff Bezos being quoted as saying that they are increasing Kindle Fire availability by millions of units. It sounds like they may not run out, as they’ve done with reflective screen Kindles. That may be because the ability to mass produce backlit devices may be easier to ramp up after all these years than reflective screens.

The other one is that they really featured Amazon Publishing in the press release. I’ve written about that quite a bit: people need to start thinking about Amazon as a major US publisher…

During the Q&A (Question & Answer) part of the conference call, which is archived at

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=97664&p=irol-irhome

they made several references to “lifetime value” of a Kindle. That’s value to them: they included content (the books and such you buy), but also things like ad revenue on the Special Offers models. As they point out, profit both from content and from advertising trail the purchase of the device. You buy the device, then you buy the content. Amazon continues to be paid by the advertisers for hypothetically years after you’ve bought your Kindle with Special Offers.

Feel free to let me know what you think…is Amazon investing too much? Will the stock recover tomorrow? Have they drilled “premium products at non-premium prices” into your head yet? ;)

Update: Interesting chart comparing Amazon’s sales to their operating income:

Business Insider

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

EBR Training at the MeGAdget Store

October 25, 2011

EBR Training at the MeGAdget Store

The scene: it’s 6:00 AM inside MeGAdget, a big box consumer electronics store. Seasonal employees, hired to help out during the busy holidays, are getting product knowledge training. Kenny, an experienced Junior Second Key Customer Service Sales Supporter Pal, takes them from department to department, giving them an overview of what is sold. This is a piece of fiction and humor…no connection is suggested with the French website, Megadget…the capitalization is different. ;) 

Kenny: Okay, over here we have the e-book readers, also called EBRs. As you can see, they all look pretty similar. It’s important that you use the proper names properly. It can be confusing, but the names all make sense. You just have to come up with the proper associations…the right mental images that let you remember which is which. Millions of dollars go into name research…it’s should be easy to get them right. It’s like our name: MeGAdget. When you see that, what do you think of right away?

Ella: “Me” and “Gadget”! It’s my gadget…mine, mine, mine! You can’t have it, buster! This gadget is mine!

Kenny: Actually…um…Ella, it’s “Mega” and “Gadget”. We’re a really big store, and we sell gadgets. That’s why the letters “G” and “A” are both capitalized…MeGA GAdget.

Ella: Oh, I get it! We sell Lady Gaga in the music section! We’re the MeGAGAdget store!

Kenny: No, no. There’s only one “GA”. We don’t have two “GA”s. It’s just one “GA”. Got it?

Ella: Sure, I got it. Or should I say, “Gaga it?”

Kenny: Very funny…everybody’s a comedian. Look, Ella, this is serious business. People come here to give us their hard-earned money. People out there are struggling…struggling, do you hear me? They have to scrape up every penny from their part-time jobs to be able to buy that flatscreen! Do you not want to be prepared to tell them how to spend their money?

Ella: No. I mean, yes. Why did you have to say it like that? “Do you not…?” Who talks like that?

Kenny: Do you want to be a Customer Service Sales Supporter Pal?

Ella: Yes, sir!

Kenny: All right, then. Then prove it…all you have to do is pay attention to what I tell you, make the proper mental associations, and you’ll be fine.

Ella: I’ll do my best.

Kenny: Let’s get started. What did I say these gadgets are called?

Ella: E-books.

Kenny: No, e-book readers.

Ella: That’s not an e-book?

Kenny: No, the e-books are the books you read on it.

Ella: I read books on it?

Kenny: E-books, yes.

Ella: Does that make me an e-book reader?

Kenny: Are you trying to be funny?

Ella: You’re the one that’s trying to tell me I’m a gadget.

Kenny: I did not say that!

Ella: You said that’s an e-book reader. Then you said I read e-books, which make me an e-book reader. Ergo, I’m an e-book reader. Or should that be “ere-GOGO?”

Kenny: This an e-book reader. You are an e-book reader reader.

Ella: That’s easy…I’ll try to be a good rememberer.

Kenny: That’s enough of that! These devices over here all come from Amazon.

Ella: They come from the Amazon?

Kenny: Not “The Amazon”. Just “Amazon”.

Ella: Is that spelled like the river?

Kenny: Yes. Here’s their latest. It does streaming video.

Ella: Oh, I get it! A stream is like a river, so that’s why it’s named after the Amazon.

Kenny: Actually, this one isn’t named “Amazon”. It’s called the “Kindle Fire“.

Ella: But I already made the mental association between the Amazon and a stream.

Kenny: Unmake it. Amazon puts out the Fire.

Ella: Of course Amazon puts out the Fire. That’s a lot of water. You can put out a fire with just a little bucket…you don’t need a big giant river.

Kenny: Stop that! The company Amazon sells the Kindle Fire.

Ella: I like “puts out the fire” better…I can remember that.

Kenny: Fine, fine…whatever works for you.

Ella: Let me make sure I have this. The Amazon is a river, but the one that streams, which is like a river, isn’t called the river, but it’s called the Fire, and then Amazon puts out the Fire.

Kenny: Almost right. It’s called the Kindle Fire.

Ella: Is it called the “Kindle” Fire because of all the wood in the Amazon rainforest?

Kenny: Um…it’s called the Fire because it came after the Kindle. You use kindling to make a fire.

Ella: And then a river puts it out…got it. What’s that little one?

Kenny: That’s the Kindle.

Ella: I thought the other one was the Kindle.

Kenny: No, the other one is the Kindle Fire. This one is just the Kindle.

Ella: It’s not on fire?

Kenny: No.

Ella; So, the Kindle Fire was introduced after the Kindle?

Kenny: These two were introduced on the same day, but Amazon has been putting out Kindles since 2007.

Ella: If they put out the Kindles, how did they ever get a fire?

Kenny: Amazon has been making Kindles since 2007.

Ella: So Amazon has been making the Kindle Fire since 2007.

Kenny: No, I told you it was new. Haven’t you been listening?

Ella: Yes. You told me that the Kindle and the Kindle Fire were introduced on the same day, and that the Kindle was released in 2007.

Kenny: Not this Kindle.

Ella: Which Kindle?

Kenny: The Kindle.

Ella: I thought the little one was the Kindle.

Kenny: It is. So was the first one they introduced in 2007.

Ella; But they aren’t the same?

Kenny: No, this is a much more advanced device.

Ella: It does more?

Kenny: Actually, it does less. But it’s smaller and the screen is better.

Ella: So it’s more advanced than the Fire, too? It’s smaller than the Fire.

Kenny: Smaller doesn’t always mean more advanced. Here, let’s talk about these other two. They should be easier. This one has little physical buttons to enter words. With this one, I touch the screen and bring up these letters on the screen to enter words. Which one do you think is called the Kindle Touch?

Ella: The one with the buttons.

Kenny: The one with…why would you think that?

Ella: That one has buttons I can touch and feel. The other one just has pictures of buttons. I can’t really feel anything there, so the one with the physical buttons must be the Touch.

Kenny: That’s not right. With this one you can touch the screen.

Ella: I can touch the screen on the one with the buttons.

Kenny: Yes, but that won’t do anything.

Ella: It will leave fingerprints…that’s something. Don’t I touch the buttons on the other one?

Kenny: Yes, but that’s not a touch screen.

Ella: So we only call it a Touch Kindle when you touch the screen? So only the screen is called the Kindle?

Kenny: No. The whole thing is the Kindle.

Ella: But it’s not the 2007 Kindle.

Kenny: Now you have it.

Ella: I may have it, but I don’t know what it is. Show me again how you type words on the one without the buttons?

Kenny: I touch here, and that brings up the keyboard, and then I type on those letters.

Ella: Okay, and that one is the Touch. What’s the one with the buttons called?

Kenny: The Kindle Keyboard.

Ella: Didn’t you just tell me that you use a keyboard on the Kindle Touch?

Kenny: That’s a virtual keyboard.

Ella: So, they both have keyboards, but the one that has buttons I can touch is called the Kindle Keyboard, and the one that just has pictures of the buttons is called the Touch?

Kenny: That’s it.

Ella: I need a break. Give me one of those. I’m going to go over to this nook and read for a while.

Kenny: You can’t.

Ella: Why not? I’m entitled to a break.

Kenny: You can’t read Amazon books in a NOOK…

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


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