Archive for December, 2011

Got a new Kindle? Here’s the most important thing to know

December 25, 2011

Got a new Kindle? Here’s the most important thing to know

Congratulations!

You may be one of literally millions of people who are the proud owners of a new Kindle today. :)

If you’re like me, you’ll come to love your Kindle…and you’ll have questions about it, too.

In this post, I’m going to to talk about the key point to understanding  ownnig any Kindle.

For more information for new owners from previous years, see this category.

There’s No Accounting for…Accounts

I get lots of questions (which I love, by the way) and see even more other places, and the idea of how your Kindle relates to an Amazon account may be one of the biggest sources of confusion.

When you buy (or are given) a Kindle, that’s a piece of hardware. It’s kind of cool even by itself. However, it’s using it with Amazon that really makes it come alive. You can think of it like…sitting in a new car in the dealer’s showroom, or taking it out on the road.

In this case, an Amazon account is the road…it’s that whole wide world of experiences you can have with your Kindle. Now, to be clear, it’s hypothetically possible to use a Kindle without an Amazon account…you can get and use books (and music and such) from other sources, but I would guess it’s a tiny, tiny amount of people that do it that way. A Kindle is designed to be used with Amazon.

So, the first thing is to get your Kindle registered to an Amazon account, and to understand that it’s really that account that’s important. Oh, I get attached to my individual Kindles (after all, this blog isn’t called, “I Love My Kindle Account”) ;)…giving them what I think are clever names, for example, and referring to them that way (“I’m taking Schwinn with me today.”)  However, intellectually I know that my Kindle is lost/stolen/fails, I can replace it…and have access to pretty much everything I did on the old one.

Getting an Amazon account is easy (and your Kindle will help you do it if you don’t have one). Essentially, you give them an e-mail address that they use to identify the account. You pick a password, and you (usually) set up some kind of payment method.

That’s about it.

That account is your identity with Amazon.

That’s really key.

It doesn’t matter to Amazon if one person is using the account or a hundred people are.

When you buy Kindle store books, think of it as the account owning the books.

Not an individual person…not an individual Kindle.

Let’s say you are a family of four…however you define family. Amazon doesn’t check that: you could be four friends who meet at Starbucks once a week, doesn’t matter. For convenience sake, though, I’m going to say Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother. Each one of the owns a Kindle. They are all on the same Amazon account, which I’m going to call the “family account”.

Dad buys a Kindle book using the account. That book is available to all four of them. Dad’s Kindle accidentally goes through the washing machine and is destroyed.

Makes no difference to the ownership of that book. Sister, Brother, and Mom can all still read it..and so can Dad, when the Kindle is replaced (or using another Kindle or reader app registered to that account).

Sister goes away to college in another state. Still makes no difference: Sister can read books that  Brother buys, and vice versa…as long as they are using the same old account.

What happens if Mother and Father eventually pass on?

Makes no difference. As long as Brother and Sister have the e-mail address and password for the account, they still have access to the books. The payment method can be changed, the e-mail address can be changed…the account goes on, with all the books in it available to all the devices registered to that account.

Now, to be clear, a person using an account is responsible for it. When you set one up, Amazon says:

===

“YOUR ACCOUNT

If you use this site, you are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your account and password and for restricting access to your computer, and you agree to accept responsibility for all activities that occur under your account or password. Amazon does sell products for children, but it sells them to adults, who can purchase with a credit card or other permitted payment method. If you are under 18, you may use Amazon.com only with involvement of a parent or guardian. Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in their sole discretion.”

===

Amazon Conditions of Use

Adults, you are responsible for minors using your account.

However, if you think of it as the Kindle store books belonging to the account, it will make the most sense to you.

What happens if you deregister a Kindle from that account?

It no longer has access to the Amazon storage of those books you bought. A Kindle can only be registered to one account at a time.

If you downloaded the books to your Kindle first, they’ll only disappear when you deregister the Kindle Fire . On the other Kindles, they’ll stay there. Importantly, though, they’ll only work on that one Kindle…you won’t be able to download them again to a new Kindle if you get one (more on that below).

Let’s say you have bought a thousand books on your account. A relative gets a new Kindle, and you let them register that Kindle to your account.

Boom! They have a thousand books they can read at no cost.

What if that relative buys a book on the account?

You also have access to it…and it’s already paid for.

What if, instead, that relative opens a brand new Amazon account? There won’t be any books in it, and when your relative buys a book on that account, you won’t have access to it (although there is some limited lending possible).

Different scenario: you and your Significant Other are on an Amazon account together. You pay for a hundred Kindle store books on that account with your own money. The relationship, sadly, ends. You deregister the Kindle from that account and register it to a new one.

Bye-bye, hundred books.

Even if your Significant Other wants to give them to you on that new account, it can’t be done. You either have to be registered to the old account, or lose access.

Update: Let’s go through this account thing and deregistering a little more clearly.

Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother were all on the same account, the “family account”. All of their Kindles had access to all of the books on that account, regardless of who paid for them. You can’t restrict which books are accessible by which Kindle…”the account owns the books”, not the individual devices. I think we may see that change in the future, but that’s how it works now.

Sister left the family account when she decided to deregister her Kindle from that one, and to start her own account (we’ll call it “sister’s account”). She might have done that because she wants to assert her financial independence…or maybe she wants to buy Kindle store books she doesn’t want her family to know about. ;)

When Sister deregistered, she already had books downloaded to her Kindle. Those books stay on that Kindle (unless it’s a Kindle Fire…then, they get removed), until she deletes them.

Sister later buys a new Kindle…her old one failed. She registers it to Sister’s account.

That new Kindle doesn’t have access to the books she brought with her from the family account. Those belong to the old account.

Even if she’d made copies of the files on her old Kindle before it died, they still won’t work on the new one.

Usually, Kindle store book files are keyed to work on a single device…they have code in the file that limits it to, say, “Sister’s Kindle”.

Now, let’s say Brother gets married later, but is still using the family account. Brother’s new spouse (let’s call the spouse “Sweetheart”) gets a Kindle as a wedding gift. Sweetheard already had a Kindle when they met, and it is registered to the Sweetheart’s family’s account.

Registering the new Kindle to Brother’s family account means that the new Kindle has access to all of the books bought by Brother’s family on that account…at no charge. Sweetheart can access the books on Sweetheart’s family’s account only on the old Kindle…and to Brother’s family’s account only on the new one.

Obviously, deciding to which account you are going to register your Kindle is the most important decision you can make about it…even before you get your first book.

What if two of you start out with separate accounts, and then want to merge them…combine the libraries? Officially, there isn’t a policy for that…but I’ve heard of it happening when Amazon has made an exception.

Don’t count on that, though.

Should you have more than one account if you have multiple Kindles in your house?

My feeling is that the default should be one account. The more people you have on it, the more buying power you have. Pay for a book once, everybody has access to it (although not necessarily all at once…the publishers limit how many devices on an account can have the book licensed at the same time. Unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon product page, that number is six). Everybody can share in each other’s purchases.

However, if you want to limit somebody’s access to an account, the most effective way is…another account. If you have books you don’t want your ten-year old to see, you might want to open a separate account for the kid. Yes, you’ll be responsible for that account. No, you won’t be able to share books.

I know, I know…I sort of feel like I should have hit the fun parts in this post first, like how to get free books. I get that enthusiasm. I was thinking, though, that if you get the free books on the “wrong account”, you are going to regret it. I’m going to give you information in future posts about having fun with the Kindle…I just don’t want what happens the first day to mess you up later.

Settled on which account? Got your Kindle all registered?  If you are having trouble with it, Amazon can help you here: Getting Started with Your New Kindle Amazon help page.

Okay, here’s a free legal place to find free thousands of free books from the Kindle store:

http://www.ereaderiq.com/free/

Just couldn’t resist giving you that. ;) I’m not connected to them except as a user, but it’s a great place to get started.

Do you have other questions? Feel free to ask me by commenting on this post. If you want your question to be confidential, please tell me in your comment.

Have fun!

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

A Kindle Carol

December 24, 2011

A Kindle Carol

In celebration of the holiday, I’m going to repost my original fiction, A Kindle Carol. The first part originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog on December 1, 2009. It was inspired by A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

A Kindle Carol, Part 1

This story, inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, originally appeared in ILMK on December 1, 2009. 

It was a cold night in the publishing house.  Every night was cold, and the days weren’t much better.  The employees (well, the ones that were left after the latest round of layoffs) had been told it was a cost-cutting measure.  Samir in Accounting had gotten quite a laugh when he suggested it was to match the CEO’s reptilian heart.  Michel had disagreed…he said Scrooge had no heart.

Bob Cratchit would have disagreed for a different reason, if anyone had shared the joke with him.  He’d been Mr. Scrooge’s Executive Assistant for nearly twenty years.  He believed that there was some humanity left in the Old Man, although it had been diminished by years of declining sales.  It had been ten years since his last raise…before any of his children had been born.  Company policy prohibited raises based purely on longevity, and Scrooge had given him a perfect review ten years ago.   Nine years ago, his boss had said there wouldn’t be any point in doing another review…unless Bob’s performance declined.  Bob was proud of the fact that it hadn’t.

Tonight was going to be a particularly difficult test.   It was time for the annual holiday marketing strategy meeting.  J. Marley Publishing hadn’t turned a profit in three years, and was rapidly depleting its cash reserves.  It had accepted an offer of twenty-five cents on the dollar for its audiobook business in exchange for a considerable loan that would see them through the spring.  If something didn’t change, there would be no Jay-Em romances on the beaches that summer.

“Cratchit.”

Scrooge’s voice carried into Bob’s little cell of a cubicle.  He didn’t shout: he saw no reason to spend the extra energy that would take.  The phones would only accept incoming calls…even salespeople had to use their own phones to call their clients.  There was no way to call someone’s extension from inside the building, and Scrooge wasn’t going to waste the valuable time it would take to walk the ten steps from his inner office.  Time was money: although when Scrooge saw his own face in the mirror, he knew he might soon have very little of either left.

“Yes, Mr. Scrooge?”

“How many are going to be in the meeting?”

“Just three of us, sir.  You, your nephew, and myself.”

“Don’t bother printing out any agendas, then.  We can’t afford the paper.  No coffee, no donuts.  Don’t bring the garbage can: we won’t need it.”

“Yes, sir.  Anything else?”

“No.  Don’t be late…I can’t abide tardiness.”

“Yes, sir.”  Bob Cratchit had never been late for anything in his life, much less a meeting.  He wondered what had made Scrooge forgetful, and hoped the Old Man wasn’t ill.

Scrooge wasn’t sick, or not especially sick.  When you get as old as he was, you were always sick with something.  You outlived most of the viruses…it was your own failing systems that would probably get you.   That’s why they call it natural causes…only fools were surprised when the end came.

Marley had been no fool.  Everything was in order, and Scrooge had found it all laid out in minute detail.   He had followed his old partner’s plans for three years.  Marley had always been the face of the organization, and his name could still open a few doors.  Lately, though, there had been fewer and fewer of those doors…open or otherwise.

He could almost picture Marley now.  They would strategize before these meetings.  But strategies suggest choices.  Nobody in the book industry had a lot of choices left.  “People just don’t read any more”, thought Scrooge, “unless it’s under 141 characters”.  Books were going to go the way of newsreels and LPs.   Even if the electronic cancer didn’t kill them, the rising cost of paper would…the expense of natural resources bringing on natural causes.

“Hey, Unca!”

Scrooge’s nephew burst into the room.

“Seven minutes early.”

“I figured that would be okay.  Why not get the meeting done, and we can get out of here early…it’s the night before Thanksgiving, after all.”

“Hmph.  That doesn’t mean today has to be any shorter.  Why not two hours…or half the day?  Why not take the whole week off?”

“Why not?  A lot of people do.”

“Idiots.  You can’t run a business by taking off time.  If it was up to me, we’d work through Thanksgiving.”

“You don’t mean that, Unca.”

“I do…and if you had any sense, you’d agree with me.”

“Oh, I have plenty of sense, Unca…runs in the family, right?  So, you want to have Bob join us in the Conference Room?”

“You’re already here.  Cratchit!  Cancel the lights and turn off the heat for the rest of the building.  We’ll meet here now.”

“Yes, sir.  Right away, sir.”

“You mean the heat’s on?  It’s like a refrigerator in here.”

“Mr. Scrooge, would you like to begin with old business?”

“Let’s dispense with that, Unca.  I wanted to let you know…I met with some guys from Amazon.”

“And?”

“They were talking to me about the Kindle–”

“Bah!  E-books!”

“Hear me out, Unc.  They were telling me that they thought the Jay-Em line would be a good bet.  Romances do well…all those Harlequin imprints…Kimani, Silhouette, Steeple Hill…Samhain’s moving titles, too.”

“We’re not in the software business.  We sell books.”

“These are books, Unc…they’re just a different format.”

“Paperbacks and hardbacks, those are different formats.  E-books are nothing.  What do they charge for those things?”

“Well, actually, they suggested we offer a couple of them for free–”

“FREE?  That’s not a business, it’s a charity.  Call Bill Gates…he can give them away in South America or something.”

“But Unca–”

“If those e-books were worth anything, they wouldn’t be giving them away.  Books are paper, period.  Nobody’s going to pay any real money for fake books.”

“They really open up the market, though, Unca.  People who have difficulty reading the paper books can really use the increasing text size and the text-to-speech.   It’s easier for people with arthritis and you should understand about the aging population.”

“Our market’s dying off, you don’t need to remind me.  As to the blind, they can already get books for free.  That’s no help.”

“But this is more convenient, and they can share with the family.  They don’t have to prove any kind of disability to buy books from the Kindle store.”

“We’re not here to make their lives easier…we’re here to make money.”

“But Unca, I’ve got some numbers here…oh, my cell!  It’s my wife…excuse me while I take this.”

“Cratchit, go work on those end of year calculations.  No point in wasting the time while my nephew conducts his personal business.”

Left alone in his office, Scrooge’s gaze fell on the J. Marley Publishing logo on the wall.  It was a stylized silhouette of old Marley himself.   As he stared at it, he fancied he saw the portrait turn and look at him.

“These old eyes of mine are playing tricks on me,” Scrooge thought.

“Ebenezer Scrooge.”

“Audio hallucinations as well.  It was only a matter of time.”

“I am no hallucination.”

“Nonsense.  My mind is starting to go…I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately.  After the holidays, I’ll catch up and then I won’t have to worry about mind slips like you.”

“You know who I was.”

“I know you appear to be Jacob Marley, but you could have been a two-headed giraffe.  It’s just a normal consequence of sleep deprivation.  See that stack of bills?  That’s real.”

At this, the figure of Marley let out a wail that shook Scrooge to his toes.  He was sure that Cratchit and his nephew must have heard it, and would rush in at any moment.  When that didn’t happen, he knew that only he could hear and see it.

“It seems it’s just the two of us.  Alright, I’ll play along. ”

“We do not play games in this office…you of all people should know that.”

“What do you want of me?”

“Much.”

“Good luck with that.  There is very little of me left…I’ve already given everything to this company.”

“You do not know what you have to give.  But you will.  If you can still learn, you will.”

These last words chilled Scrooge.  He was unsure that he could learn anything new…and if he couldn’t, what would be the consequences?  He frantically looked at the ghost, looked for anything there that might give him a way to avoid the lesson.  He noticed the spectral ruins of buildings at the feet of the phantom.

“What…what are those crumbled walls?”

“Those are the chains to which we sold when I was alive…Crown Books, B. Dalton, Waldenbooks…I am tied to them in death as I was in life.  I stumble over them, wander their empty halls…I can not leave them, can not move on to more fertile markets.   If you can not change, you will join me here in death.”

“Tell me, spirit…tell me what I have to do!”

“That is not for me to do.  When you see me, you see our lives together.  The echoes of the past will overwhelm any truth I might tell you now.  That will be for the others.”

“Others?”

Scrooge’s heart beat faster than it had in years.  Seeing your dead business partner was one thing…he could manage Marley.  But other people…other ghosts…Scrooge had always been better with numbers than people.  That had been Marley’s area.

“Three others.  Listen openly to what they tell you, Ebenezer.  You will not be given another chance.”

At this, the figure faded back into the logo on the wall.

The ruins crumbled into dust, and the dust to lesser dust, until there was no sign that anything had ever been there.

“Delusions,” said Scrooge, “brought on by stress and lack of sleep.  Where is that nephew of mine?  Work…that’s what I need.  Back to work, and I won’t be bothered by these ridiculous visions any more.”

He noticed the old-fashioned Rolodex that sat on a corner of his desk.  He flipped backwards, precisely one letter at time.  “Just the thing,” thought Scrooge.  “I’ve been meaning to get this organized.”

He began with the letter A.  He looked at the first card.  “Dead.”  He put it in a large envelope he used to take shredding to the bank…JMP wasn’t going to pay a shredding service while he was in charge.  He looked at the second card.  “Out of business.”  The third: “Merged.”

Soon, his envelope was filled to overflowing.  He decided he would need something bigger.  He took a dusty plaque honoring the company on its first million seller out of a box.  He tried to shake the cards into the box, but they wouldn’t come out of the envelope.

“Out, you lazy garbage!  Staying together isn’t going to save you!”

He shook harder, and the cards came out in a lump.  Scrooge was stunned, though, to see that they didn’t fall.  They hung in the air above the box.   Slowly, the cards began to spread out…first in one direction, then another.  Two long flows spread towards the floor, and two more towards the walls.  A fifth formed a lump at about Scrooge’s chest level.  It took on the shape of a child.

“Neezy,” it said in a soft and gentle voice.

“Neezy?!”  No one had called Scrooge that since he was a child himself.  Scrooge had almost no memories of his own childhood…they had long ago been crushed under the weight of corporate responsibility.

The figure, who ruffled and shuffled as its card body constantly flowed and changed, held out a “hand” to the Old Man.

“No, no!  What is it?  Where do you want to take me?”

“Only where you have already been.  You will see nothing new…nothing you haven’t already lived.”

Scrooge thought about that…if there was damage to be done by the past, it had already hurt him…and he had beaten it.  He had forgotten the worst of it before…he could do it again.

“Spirit, you do not frighten me.”

“It is your past we will see…do you frighten yourself?”

The hand began to withdraw, but Scrooge snatched it before it could merge back into the card cloud.  He had never been afraid to seize an opportunity.

The rustling became an overwhelming sound, like being swept up in a tornado!  The sprite grabbed Scrooge’s other hand, and they whirled in a mad game of ring-around-the-rosy, spinning faster and faster, until it seemed to Scrooge he was in danger of exploding outwards into a million pieces!

The spinning stopped, the sound subsided…and Scrooge saw something he would never have expected…

To be continued…

A Kindle Carol, Part 2

This is part 2 of a story inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  It originally appeared in ILMK on December 22, 2009.

This is part 2 of the story that had begun in this earlier post.

“The Greasy Cat!”

The spirit child rippled with laughter at the name.

Scrooge’s eyes grew large, and he shook his head to clear it.  There could be no doubt.  Although it was much smaller than he remembered it, he was seeing the treehouse of his youth.  They had called it “The Greasy Cat” after a secret meeting place in The Scarlet Pimpernel.  While the name, Le Chat Gris actually meant “The Gray Cat”, that had been beyond his level of French at ten years old.  Marley had known that “chat” meant “cat”, and the rest had been a guess.

“But how can it still be standing after all this time?”

The spirit child rippled again.

“It couldn’t be, could it…the house was sold years ago.   This whole area is an industrial park now.”

“Not now, silly head,” said the child.

“Of course!  This is the past.  Oh, the times Jakey and I had up there!  The laughter and the secrets.  I’d love to see the inside again…but my legs are more rickety than that old board ladder.”

There was no whirlwind, just a whisper…like the too loud hsh-hsh-hsh of small children hiding behind a couch.

Scrooge suddenly found himself inside The Greasy Cat.  He thought he would feel claustrophobic, but he didn’t.   The room hadn’t gotten bigger…and he didn’t seem smaller.  In fact, he didn’t seem to be there at all, and yet, it was all perfectly clear.

The only lighting in the room came from a two-battery flashlight with a cracked lens.   If Scrooge needed any more convincing, that would have done it.  He remembered reading so many things with that thin black jagged line across the words.  They pretended it looked like a Z, and that they could use it like a Zorro signal to call that masked defender of the people.  Although there was one night when they would swear they had both heard Tornado’s hooves, Don Diego remained as hidden from them as he had from Sargent Gonzales.

But who was holding the light…

“Jakey!”

“They seek him here,
They seek him there…”

The boy with the flashlight read on, paying Scrooge no heed.

Suddenly, another child’s voice echoed through the gloom in a lightning crack:

“They seek him in his underwear!”

Both kids exploded in raucous laughter, slapping each other and rolling on the floor.

The older Scrooge smiled.   The spirit child became a cloud and whirled around the room, mirroring the boys as they made no attempt to control themselves.

“Oh, I loved that book.”

“Not a book,” said the spirit child sternly.

“Of course it is!  That’s The Scarlet Pimpernel!  That’s why we named the treehouse the Greasy Cat.”

“Comic book.”

“Comic…say, that’s right!  We were reading the comic books!  I remember now.  We would get them at Fezziwig’s.  We used to ride our bikes down there and sneak the comics back under our shirts.  Wouldn’t do to have Dad catch me with a comic, even if it was a classic.”

“Not a real book.”

“They were real to us!  Realer than school, realer than anything!”

“Fake books.”

“Hey, at least we were reading, right?  I might not be what I am today without those comic books.”

The spirit child flew at Scrooge, and for a moment all he could see was a wall of white.

He blinked his eyes and found himself back in his office.

He jumped when a figure suddenly entered the room.

“Hey, Unc…I just need to make one more call…gotta follow up on something with one of the kids.  You know how kids are, right?”

Scrooge’s nephew turned away, his thumbs flicking on the keys.

Left alone in his office, Scrooge gave the question more consideration than it had been meant to deserve.

It had been a long time since he’d thought about children.  Children didn’t buy JMP books.  He didn’t have any kids of his own.  This company had been his life.  When Marley died, he had felt like a single parent.  JMP had been theirs…it still was.  But he had suddenly had to do it all by himself.  They had always divided everything.  It wasn’t as simple as good cop/bad cop, or tough love/tenderness.  They were both tough, and everybody knew it.   They were just tough in different ways.  Marley was tough with people…Scrooge was tough with the numbers.

When he’d been left by himself, he didn’t try to copy Marley.  He couldn’t, there was no point to it.  So, he’d just let that part die along with Jacob.

He missed him now.  He’d know kids.  He’d known what people…all people wanted.

Didn’t Cratchit have kids?  Scrooge thought he did…in fact, he was sure he did.  He’d never met Cratchit’s family…not that he could remember.

“I wish I knew more about them.”

A breeze seemed to cause the potted plant in the corner to wave from side to side.  But it couldn’t be a breeze: there were no windows, and the air conditioning was off.

“Hmph.”

The plant continued to move.  Scrooge smelled that distinctive plant smell, like walking by a park after a rainy day.  The smell terrified Scrooge.

The plant was plastic.

The smell began to fill the room.  It reminded Scrooge of a particularly unpleasant trip, when he had gone to Hawaii for a publishing convention.  He’d always hated travel…meeting with people had been Marley’s part of the deal.  But Marley had been too sick to go…he’d gotten better, that time.

Scrooge coughed and hacked.  Why wasn’t his allergy medicine working?

When he could stand again, he saw that the room was covered in ivy, overgrown in leaves.  They were still growing…flowers sprouted, tendrils twisted around branches.

A man stepped into the center of the room.  At least, “man” was the closest approximation Scrooge’s confused mind could make.  Whatever it was, it was part of the jungle that was all that Scrooge could see.  He couldn’t see where the man started and the plants stopped.

“Ebenezer Scrooge.”

“Are you the second of the spirits?”

“I am here and now.”

“What will you show me?”

“I am here and now.”

The ivy continued to grow and expand.  Scrooge felt it pressing against him, wrapping around him.  He struggled. It covered his face.  He couldn’t breath!  He felt it go through his skin, becoming part of him…or he of it?  Scrooge found it hard to think…his mind was stretched, and the thinner it became the less of him was left.

He fought to control it…control was always how he got through things.

He lost.

To be continued…

A Kindle Carol, Part 3

This is the third part of a story inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  It originally appeared in ILMK on December 24, 2009.

This is part 3 (and the conclusion) of the story that had begun inthis earlier post.

It was like being everywhere at once.

Warmth and sorrow, family and fear, here and there…it was all the same.  It seemed to flicker like an old nickelodeon…phft-phft-phft as each smallest split second changed to the next.

At first, Scrooge/Everything couldn’t focus.  It was one rush of feelings, emotions, thoughts, and nothing.  You couldn’t look anywhere in particular because wherever you looked, you saw something else…or was it the same thing?  You (and I) saw yourself (and it) whenever we/they tried.

Eventually (although it happened instantly), Scrooge/Everything became aware of scenes.  Not as things separate from himself or from each other, but as part of existence (and yet, the whole of it).

Scrooge felt the immersion of someone reading a book…how you enter the author’s universe, while still being part of yours.

He was a single mother, a soldier in Iraq, the captain of the high school football team, himself, a surgeon, a small child sleeping on a cement floor with five other siblings, a cat, a dog, a thought, a prayer, a kiss, a tear…a moment.

He became aware of the Cratchit family.  Bob was still at work…we had that meeting tonight.  He felt his (Bob’s?) wife’s resentment, but resignation at the same time.  Two young children, who he knew were the twins, were playing a videogame.  A third tiny youngster shouted encouragement.

“Get him, Robby, get him!”

“I’ll get him, Tim.”

Scrooge knew there was nothing on the screen right then for Robby to get.  He was humoring Tim, who was blind.  His video self fired off a shot at the wall…the TV made the distinctive “pzzoo” sound of the ray rifle.

“Did you get him, Robby?”

“Sure did, Tim!  Sure did!”

The other gamer, a girl named Kelsea, rolled her eyes.  She didn’t really approve of lying, but it made Tim happy to be a part of the game.  She was itching to see the next level, and they weren’t going to have as good a chance of getting there if Robby kept wasting his ammunition charge like that.  Still, she figured it was worth it to see Robby high-five tiny Tim’s outstretched hand.

Buzz!

A voice came through the intercom.

“Mom, it’s me!”

Scrooge knew it was Martha, the oldest daughter.  “I’ll get it!”  Tim ran unerringly to the button and buzzed his sister up the stairs.

“Hey, Double-T!  I got you something!”

“Whatizitwhatizit?”

“Well, the teachers let us out early for Thanksgiving, and Ms. Ramirez dropped me off at the library–”

“Did you get me a book?”

“I did,” Martha said smiling.  “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”

“Oh boy, thanks!  What’s a pimplemill?”

Tim’s mother called from the kitchen.  “Pimpernel.  It’s a flower.”

“A flower?”  Tim was still holding out his hands to Martha.

“Not this Pimpernel, Double-T!  He’s a hero…with a secret identity and everything.”

“Like Daredevil?”

“Even better.  He saves people from the bad guys in old France.  If he didn’t, they’d cut off their heads!”

“Yaaaaay!  I’m going to go listen to it right now!  Thanks, Martha!”

Tim took the box of CDs that Martha slapped into his open hands and ran down to the room he shared with Robby and Kelsea.

“That was nice of you, Martha.”

“Well, Mom, Ms. Ramirez offered to drive me.  Mr. Cho brought turkey in for everybody, so I had enough lunch money left for the bus.  I can probably get one of the other kids to take it back.”

“Mom,” Kelsea said hesitantly, “Latella’s cousin is blind.  They don’t have to get books from the library…he gets all the audiobooks he wants sent to him for free.”

“That’s great, dear.  But to do that, you have to have a doctor certify you as blind as there is a lot of paperwork to fill out.”

Scrooge/Kelsea fell silent.  S/he knew that they couldn’t afford a doctor.  Scrooge/Mrs. Cratchit wished again that Bob had a job with full benefits.  She’d always wondered if little Tim’s eyesight could have been saved if they weren’t just going to the community clinic.  She knew it probably wouldn’t have made any difference, but she couldn’t help wondering.

“Mom, when is Dad going to get here?”

“I don’t know, Robby.  They have that annual marketing meeting tonight.”

“Dumb old Scrooge!”

“That’s Mister Scrooge, Robby…he is your father’s boss, after all.”

“I know.  I just hate that guy sometimes.  Why doesn’t Dad just quit and get a better job?”

“We don’t say hate in this house, you know that.  It’s not that easy, Robby.  It’s a hard time to find work out there.  Besides, your father likes working for Mr. Scrooge.”

Martha pouted.  “I don’t know why.  He treats him like dirt.  He doesn’t pay him anything, and he makes him work all the time.”

“I can’t say I really understand it either, dear, but it’s what your father wants.”

Scrooge suddenly found himself back in his office.  He was just himself again.  He was thinking about Bob, when a dark figure grabbed him by the wrist.

“Wait!  Slow down”

The ghost of tomorrow did not wait…it never does.

“Where are you taking me?”

Scrooge felt himself fall through the floors of the building.  He thudded on to the lobby floor.  Workers went past him, carrying chairs and tables.  They came out of the freight elevator, headed for a big truck on the street.

“Somebody must be moving,” thought Scrooge.

The spirit pointed to where the building receptionist was opening the glass case that contained the directory.  She slid out one of the printed names.

“Spirit, tell me…what is happening?”

The spirit continued to point.  The receptionist walked over to the garbage can where a security guard was standing.

The guard smiled at her.  “Well, that’s it, huh?  They are finally gone.”

“Well, it was only a matter of time, I guess.  I heard on the news that they went bankrupt.”

“Got any news on a new tenant?”

“It’s not that easy to fill a whole floor.  I’m guessing it will be awhile.”

She dropped the laminated name in the silver bin and walked back to her desk.

The spirit led Scrooge to the garbage can.  Scrooge stood, afraid to look inside, afraid at what he might see.

“No, spirit, no!”

The spirit stood, immobile and impassionate.  Scrooge couldn’t help himself…he saw the J. Marley Publishing sign, with the logo of Jacob on it.

“Bankrupt!  It can’t be!  I won’t let it happen!  You…you wouldn’t show me this unless I could do something about it, right?  Jacob said it could change…he said I had a chance if I could learn something!  I’ve learned, spirit!  I’ve learned that books are books, whatever the format!  Its not the paper, it’s the words that matter!  And poor Tim Cratchit, and a million others like him!  We…I can help them!  Please, spirit, please!  Give me another chance!”

“Unca?  Are you alright?”

Scrooge found himself back in his office again.

“You…you’re still here!  The business is still here!”

“Sure it is, Unc.  Geez, how long was I on that phone call, anyway?  So, you want to get back to that meeting?”

“Yes…yes, I do!  Cratchit!”

Bob was surprised to hear his boss yelling.

“Get in here.  No, wait, start some coffee first.  Nephew, tell me about those e-books.  I want to do them…I want to get started right away!  Make sure they have that read-aloud thing…that’s important!”

“Sure, Unc, that’s great!”

“Cratchit…Bob, I’ve decided you are going to get a bonus!”

“Uh..a bonus, sir?”

“Yep!  I’m getting everybody in your family a Kindle!  You tell Tim he can have all the books he wants, and you send me the bills.  When he gets done with The Scarlet Pimpernel, you tell him old Neezy wants to talk with him about it.”

“Yes sir!  Bless you, sir!”

Epilogue

Scrooge was never again troubled with spirits.  Jay-Em e-Romances were a permanent part of the bestseller lists, with the first one in the series  always being offered for free.  Martha Cratchit wrote a few herself, eventually become a successful author.  The company thrived, and the Greasy Cat Foundation, with Timothy Cratchit as its Executive Director, became a leader in providing free e-book readers to those in need.

May we all learn from the past, savor the present, and build a future not just for us, but for others.

The End

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


The Year in E-Books 2011

December 23, 2011

The Year in E-Books 2011

Once again, a remarkable year!

Eventually, this may all slow down, but we are definitely still in the Big Bang of E-Books.

I’m going to look at some of the big things that happened this year (so far…you never know what Amazon will do in the last days of the year). If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category.

Special Offers

April 11 saw the release of the first Kindle with Special Offers. In exchange for agreeing to see ads on the “screensavers” and a small ad on the homescreen, purchasers could get a Kindle at a discount. While initially greeted with some vehement skepticism, the ad-supported models proved to be more popular than their non-ad supported equivalents. Later on, Amazon will even give people who bought the more expensive version the ability to opt-in to receiving the ads and special offers.

Kindle Public Library Lending

Announced on April 20th as coming “this year”, borrowing books from the public library was enabled for Kindle users on September 21st. In November, there was a big buzz when the publisher Penguin has Overdrive disable the Kindle editions.  Some access was later restored.

Kindle World Expansion

Throughout the year, Amazon expands the Kindle to additional Amazon sites in more countries: Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. When the new low-cost Kindle was introduced, it gave users the choice of several languages for the menus. Amazon also opened Kindle Direct Publishing to these other countries.

Legal Challenges to the Agency Model

When the Agency Model came into play for e-books on April 1, 2010, some people thought that the idea of publishers setting the prices that consumers pay might be open to legal challenge. There have been investigations in the European Union, and class action lawsuits in the USA. Random House joined the other five largest US trade publishers in using the Agency Model in March of 2011.

Amazon Introduces the Cloud Reader

Following Google’s lead with web-e-books, Amazon introduced its Cloud Reader on August 10th. This let people read Kindle book through a browser, expanding their reach.  It launched for Safari and Chrome, and expanded to Firefox before the end of the year.

The Year of the Tablet…and the Touchscreen

On September 28, Amazon announced the new Kindle family. It kept the reflective screen, physical keyboard model, and introduced a touchscreen line. It also brought out an inexpensive, stripped down version. The big news, though, was the introduction of the Kindle Fire, a media tablet. Barnes & Noble and Kobo also introduce tablets (Barnes &  Noble already had the NOOKColor “Reader’s Tablet”, but they introduce a NOOK Tablet as well). Before the end of the year, Amazon will report having sold millions of Kindle Fires, as well as a million combined Kindle units a week for at least three weeks.

Equal Collection Legislation

States continued to pass so-called “Amazon laws”, designed to redefine what “doing business in a state” means in order to compel Amazon and other online retailers to collect sales tax at the time of sale. One particularly famous battle was in California (a temporary compromise was worked out in that state).  Paul Misener of Amazon testified before Congress in support of a national policy.

E-Book Market Continues to Expand…and with it, Independent Publishing

As sales of e-books continued to multiply (and mass market paperback sales retracted), independently published books rose on the bestseller lists. Two of Amazon’s top ten best-selling books of the year (combining e-book and physical book sales) were independently published. Some indie authors joined the Kindle Million Club, having at least a million sales of their titles at Amazon. In a related development, Amazon expanded its own publishing. Kindle Singles became bestsellers, and Amazon introduced new imprints, including one for science fiction/fantasy/horror.

A Special In Memoriam: Michael S. Hart

The mainstream media (and the specialty media) rightfully focused on the loss of Steve Jobs, a true innovator who affected the way we read e-books. Less covered was the loss on September 6, 2011, of Michael S. Hart, who was essentially the inventor of e-books. Hart’s organization, Project Gutenberg, utilized volunteers to digitize some of the world’s great (public domain) literature…and make it available to anyone for free.

Those are what I consider the top stories. In a later post, I’ll make my predictions for 2012…and look back at my predictions for 2011.

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

Woot (today only) has Kindle DX for $199.99 + $5 shipping

December 22, 2011

Woot (today only) has Kindle DX for $199.99 + $5 shipping

Jump on this one!

One of my readers, Philip Jackson, was nice to alert me to today’s

http://www.woot.com/

special!

Woot is owned by Amazon, and does one daily special…and it tends to sell out.

Today it is a refurbed Kindle DX for $199.99 plus $5 shipping!

That’s the larger, 9.7″ Kindle E Ink model.

If you bought it new from Amazon directly, it would be $379.

I don’t see it refurbed directly from Amazon right now.

It doesn’t ship with a wall charger, but it does have the USB cable.

I’m also not positive that it’s the international model, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t. It says

“The experimental Web browser is not currently available for some customers outside of the U.S.”

and

“Connectivity: HSDPA modem (3G) with a fallback toEDGE/GPRS; utilizes Whispernet to provide wireless coverage via AT&T’s 3G high-speed data network in the U.S. and partner networks outside of the U.S.”

Update: confirmed, this is the international model:

Global Coverage: Enjoy wireless coverage at home or abroad in over 100 countries”

If you’ve always wanted a Kindle DX, don’t let this go by…could sell out at any time.

The KDX is the only model I don’t have…I’m thinking about this. The question is whether I need one as a reference to ask questions…I don’t see many KDX specific questions. I know there are those of you who love the KDX…

Anyway, don’t hesitate if you know you want it.

Thanks, Philip!

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

Does a Kindle Fire only partially download a book?

December 21, 2011

Does a Kindle Fire only partially download a book?

This is an odd thing, but I’ve encountered several reports of it in the Amazon Kindle community, so I thought I’d check in with you.

With an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle…anything except a Kindle Fire), when you download a book, it’s there. You do not need to connect to the wireless again to read the book before you finish it.

That can be important when you are traveling. If I was going to be on a cruise ship, or in the woods for two weeks, I could download enough books before I went and be fine.

However, what I’m seeing reported with the Kindle Fire is that people are away from wireless, are partway through a downloaded book…and can’t finish reading it.

The Fire wants to connect to the server again to be able to finish the book.

One person who posted even specifically mentioned the red exclamation icon you see on a book on the Fire when you tried to do a download and it failed.

This is a bit disconcerting, if true. I have not encountered it myself, but I haven’t been reading away from wi-fi for more than a day in a row, yet.

I’m curious as to whether or not this is a widespread issue, so I’m going to ask you:

I can see the logic of this…if it was a choice the user could make. Hmm…Amazon says you can download about 6,000 books on a Kindle Fire.

“8GB internal (approximately 6GB available for user content). That’s enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.”

That’s in 5.37 GB available for non-app user storage.

Amazon figures about 800KB or about a megabyte (MB…”meg”) for a typical book. A gigabyte (GB) is very approximately a thousand megs.

That suggest that Amazon expects the 6,000 books to be downloaded in a manner similar to the RSKs…fully downloaded. There are also a number of “associated files” that may be downloaded (page numbers, popular highlights, annotations, and so on) with a book, but those tend to be pretty small.

Given that, I wonder why a book would either only partially download or want to check in with Amazon’s server if it was fully downloaded?

I’m still not sure how often this is happening…answering the poll can help find out if this is a significant problem.

If you’ve experienced it (or not), feel free to tell me what you think about it. Would this be a problem for you? I can see how it would be for me…

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

Round up #59: Pirate to prison, impressive impressions, Amazon predicts where you’ll go

December 21, 2011

Round up #59: Pirate to prison, impressive impressions, Amazon predicts where you’ll go

Kindle Fire mobile ad impressions

Well, this is going to make Amazon happy!

Kindle Fire mobile ad impressions are growing at 19 percent a day

That’s an article in ExtremeTech.

Here’s the key thing…other people than Amazon can track how many times we see web ads on our Kindle Fires. I dont’ know exactly how all of that works, but the bottom line is that lots and lots of people are getting “ad impressions” on the Kindle Fire. An “ad impression” just basically means that you’ve seen the ad.

Why is this good?

You want companies to want to sell things on the Fire. That may mean that the cost of the Kindle Fire can be lowered…even future Fires…by having it partially supported by ads.

Interesting stuff…I’d recommend you read the ad to see how it compares to the iPad.

Pirate gets a year in prison

We’ve talked about piracy in the blog before

http://ilmk.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/pirates-of-the-high-e-s/

In this context, pirates distribute copyrighted material without authorization.

Downloading the pirated material supports the pirates, but it’s the distribution which is really the crime.

Well, this

The Hollywood Reporter article

talks about a pirate who got a year in prison.

Yes, it’s for uploading a movie rather than a book, but the principle applies.

Just thought it was worth noting…pirates beware!

Amazon knows where you’ll go

I first ran across this one in the Popular Science feed in the Pulse app on my Kindle Fire.

This is also a bit peripheral to the Kindle, but I think it shows Amazon’s forward thinking ways.

Popular Science article

Here’s the basic idea…not only would Amazon use GPS or some other geolocator to know where you are, it would predict where you are going to go…and be able to sell that to advertisers.

Let’s say that many people always stop at Starbucks after they go bowling in a particular alley on Friday nights. Amazon figures that out…and before the bowler leaves, a coupon appears on their SmartPhone for that specific Starbucks.

It could also be tied into display systems (billboards) along the route.

Sound creepy?

When I’ve brought it up with people, the reaction so far has been very positive.

I can see how it could be very effective.

It takes a few years to get a patent…so this doesn’t mean that Amazon is immediately planning a bigger Kindle Fire with a GPS…but it is possible.

By the way, this could be based on demographics in addition to on your as an individual. Males in their twenties might see different ads than women in their sixties.

This kind of thing happens already. You know those ads in the mall that keep flipping to another ad? I understand that some of them do facial analysis to figure out your age and gender, and show you ads that they think are appropriate…

Updated Love Your Kindle Fire

I’ve asked Amazon a couple of times to offer an updated

Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet

to people who bought it earlier. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll ask again. I’ve just updated it with information on the 6.2.1 update. That hasn’t finished the publishing process.

I’m going to try again to get them to offer it to you early buyers. :)

Believe it or not, they told they were busy with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) publishers from other countries…I presume it’s the time of year as well, but it surprises me that it’s the same staff doing all the KDP stuff.

What do you think? Is the pirate punishment too harsh? Will it not have any impact, because the pirates don’t think it will happen to them, or don’t even live in the USA? Are you worried about the ads you see on your Kindle Fire? Would you be willing to see ads on your Kindle Fire’s boot up screen if it saved you money? Feel free to let me know…

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

Free 2-day shipping on Kindles extended: order by 12/21 8:00 PM PDT

December 20, 2011

Free 2-day shipping on Kindles extended: order by 12/21 8:00 PM PDT

Amazon is extending free two-day shipping on Kindles to the continental U.S..

If you order it by December 21 (this Wednesday) at 8:00 PM Pacific, they guarantee delivery by Christmas (which is Sunday).

They talk about it in this

press release

Those are the currently available Kindles (but they don’t mention the Kindle DX 9.7 inch…they say the “Kindle family”. Apparently, the Kindle DX has become like Chuck Cunningham on Happy Days…the older brother who was mysteriously never mentioned again after the second season).  Those are:

I don’t think it matters if they are Special Offers or not…the Special Offers definitely qualify.

They also mention that the Kindle Fire has been the #1 bestselling item at Amazon for twelve weeks running. That always amazes me…a $199 item sells more units than, say, AA batteries? Of course, there are many brands of AA batteries, but that still seems odd to me.

Also touted: the new ability to choose a delivery date for e-book gifts, which I’ve written about previously.

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

Kindle Fire update reportedly appearing: Update…you can officially download it

December 20, 2011

Kindle Fire update reportedly appearing

Update: you can now officially get the update

here

I’m starting to get reports of the Kindle Fire update being out there.

One person (who wrote me in private e-mail…if you want credit, let me know) said it was 6.2.1, and that it allows deleting from the Carousel.

Consider this a preliminary heads-up. I’ll update it when I have something more significant.

I have been syncing and powering my Kindle Fire off and on to try to prompt the update. :)

Update: Joseph K. Naneville has posted what appears to be a link to the update in this

Amazon Kindle community thread

The link is this:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/kindle-fire-updates/update-kindle-6.2.1_D01E_3103920.bin

Now, I want to be very clear. This hasn’t been, as far as I can tell, officially announced by Amazon. There is, hypothetically, a risk in trying this file. I don’t know anything about Joseph. The address is consistent with other updates.

I did, however, try it myself.

I used the free app

WiFi File Explorer PRO

which I’ve reviewed in this earlier post (along with a number of other apps) to wirelessly transfer it into the Kindle Fire‘s kindleupdates folder.

I then shut down the Kindle, by holding in the power button for several seconds.

When I restarted it, I went to

Settings Gear – More – Device, Update Your Kindle

Update Your Kindle had not been enabled until I did the power down, by the way.

The update took, oh, maybe a minute, and involved a restart.

Let’s take a look at what I see that is different:

  • The first thing was that the available memory in the Device display is now split between apps and everything else. I’d always wondered about that…the way Amazon states the memory, it was “80 apps” and something else, suggesting it was always partitioned (having a certain amount of memory dedicated to apps). That’s also what I had heard from some people…they’d reached an app installation limit while there was still memory available to them on the device. I show 1.17 GB available for apps, and 5.37 GB available for “internal storage”. I saw this first because I was checking the update
  • My system version is now 6.2.1_user_3103920
  • I long pressed (hold your fingertip on it for about a second) an item on the Carousel that was not downloaded to the device. I got a choice to “Remove from Carousel”. That’s a big one! You could remove questionable titles so other people didn’t see them. However, my literally thousands of Cloud titles were there…might take a while (not that I have that many questionable titles) ;) Note: the book still shows on the Books tab (I figured it would…you have to have some way to download it). So, somebody doing a “deep dive” into your Kindle could still see it. It does stop the casual viewer, though
  • I’m not sure if this is new, honestly, but on the Newsstand, I can long press and get a choice to “Show Back Issues”
  • Under Settings Gear – More, there is now a choice for Restrictions. You enter a password there (if you elect to use it). That then (by default) password protects your wi-fi. Is this intended for “parental controls”? This warning certainly seems to indicate so: “Be sure to disable Wi-Fi before giving the device to your child.” Honestly, that’s a bit “nanny-ish” to me…I think I can make that decision reasonably based on my child. I think I would have said something like, “If you would like to disable…” When this is on, there is a key icon that appears up by your battery. Oh, and it appears to have turned off my wi-fi…even when I disabled the restrictions. I had to manually turn it back on again…no big deal, though
  • I haven’t seen anything for Collections or text-to-speech
Performance changes (if any) will become more apparent as I use it more. If you notice anything, feel free to let me know. :)

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

Round up #58: estimated pages, X-ray info, Kindle Nation app

December 19, 2011

Round up #58: estimated pages, X-ray info, Kindle Nation app

X-ray: not enabled

No, that’s not a warning for the radiologist. ;)

X-ray is a feature on the Kindle Touch that lets you download information about the book with the book. I’ve written about it previously.

I like the feature, and in fact, wanted it on more books.

One big problem I had was not knowing which books had it before I downloaded them.

Well, today, I was checking the Kindle store from my Kindle…not something I usually do. I usually just shop the Kindle store from my computer…I find that easier. However, i was going to get a book from the Kindle Owners Lending Library (available to paying Prime members who own a Kindle, as opposed to just an app or no Kindle at all), and that’s a bit easier to do from the device, in my opinion.

Anyway, I noticed that the books were telling me whether they were X-ray enabled or not!

That made my selection easier.

However, I couldn’t see that information when I was on my computer, and I couldn’t see it when I tested it from my Mindle (that’s what I call the $79/$109 Kindle).

That suggests to me that they’ll only show that information when someone using a Kindle Touch shops.

That’s smart! I figured they weren’t showing it because they didn’t want a lot of questions from people about what it meant who couldn’t get it. Also, it seems the vast majority of books are not enabled…so it might be disappointing.

I wondered if Mindles would be able to see that text-to-speech is enabled, since they can’t play it (or any audio). I checked: I couldn’t see that on my Mindle, although it didn’t seem to show me much about a book in the Kindle bookstore compared to  my Touch.

There was, though, a real inconvenience discovered in this process. I knew I’d want to listen to text-to-speech in the car on this one (I want to take advantage of Prime lending, and that means getting through those books relatively quickly…that’s what TTS does. I always hope the publishers all realize that, and react by enabling it more offer).

I’d tried TTS in the car on my Touch once before, and it seemed much quieter than on my Kindle Keyboard (formerly commonly called a Kindle 3) or my Kindle 2. I use a Coby CA-745 Wireless FM Car Transmitter, and it’s always worked fine.

When I tried the TTS once before with my Kindle Touch, and it was relatively very quiet. Cranking my radio up on the way, it was still hard to hear.

While I was testing this, I got the same result with the book I borrowed, Water for Elephants. I took my Kindle Keyboard out to the car to test it…it was fine.

It does seem harder to get the headphone jacked into my Kindle Touch. I’m guessing it may have a somewhat different jack, but I’m not sure.

I tried a pair of headphones on the Kindle Touch…they seemed okay (but a bit quiet).

I’m guessing some of you have a Coby or have tried your Kindle Touch with different headphones and cables. If you can let me know how it’s been for you, I’d appreciate that. I’m curious as to whether this might be a problem with the Coby and the Touch, or maybe just my Touch.

Estimated pages

Speaking of product page information, I’ve noticed that some Kindle store book product pages now give you an estimated number of pages. That’s the case with Stompin’ On Stetsons by D.D. Scott*, but curiously, not with Scott’s Bootscootin’ Blahniks, the first in the series.

That’s also not the case with my latest book, Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet.

My guess is that it will eventually show up on all the books that don’t have “real page numbers”, but I don’t know that.

Still, interesting. It seems to me like the page estimates are perhaps high…they say that it’s “…Based on the page size of a paperback book.”. When I estimate pages, I use 250 words, which is sort of a traditional measure. I wonder if paperback books have fewer words? That could certainly make sense.

“Stop Freaking Out About Amazon’s Price Check App”

I’ve been in some lively discussions about Amazon’s new Price Check app. People are worried that it’s unfair for Amazon to encourage people to go into brick-and-mortar stores and price check the items and then buy them on Amazon.

I’m a former retail manager…I would have welcomed that. I kept competitor’s brochures at the counter, so people could check them if they wanted. When you have a brick-and-mortar store, you aren’t going to get people to shop there nowadays because you have better prices or a better selection. It’s simply not going to happen, most of the time, compared to the e-tailers.

They are going to buy from you because they like you (yes, personally) and want to support your business.

They want your expertise and the experience of shopping there, certainly…but if they like you, they are willing to pay more for the same product they can get cheaper elsewhere.

That’s the winning strategy for a small physical store these days, in my opinion.

So, it was nice to see this

mocoNEWS article

It gives several reasons why this isn’t any big deal. I recommend the article (by Laura Hazard Owen) to you.

Kindle Nation app

Most of you will be familiar with Stephen Windwalker, the “Dean of Kindle Bloggers”.

Well, Windwalker has made another interesting move:

Kindle Nation Daily app

It’s a free app in the Amazon Appstore.

I’ve only taken a first look at it, but I will say that it looks good. It looks like one of the magazine apps (I’ve tried Wired, Entertainment Weekly, Smithsonian, and National Geographic). It navigates like a webpage, though…no thumbnails of the pages, for example.

You can increase the text size, which is something I really appreciate.

Some of the content (at least two of the links I clicked) requires a live wi-fi connection.

It’s an interesting move. I really like the Pulse app that comes with the Kindle Fire, as you know. I will say that the KND app looks better than that does. :)  Is this the future of blogs on the Kindle Fire? I don’t know…I like the subscriber model, and Stephen’s Kindle Nation Daily has been a bestseller in the Kindle store longer than mine has (I’m at 835 days in the top 100…Kindle Nation Daily is at 895).

I really rely on those of you who subscribe (thanks, subscribers!). That’s not even an option on the Kindle Fire right now. On the other hand, you can’t run an app like KND on a reflective screen Kindle.

It’s still an evolving world…being in it feels a little bit like diving deliberately into a tornado. :) It might make you dizzy, but it’s a heck of a ride. ;)

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

Overall, it looks like it’s worth trying. Let me know what you think about it.

Analysis: Amazon’s 100 top-selling Kindle books of 2011

December 18, 2011

Analysis: Amazon’s 100 top-selling Kindle books of 2011

This year, Amazon has given us a list of the

100 Top-Selling Kindle Books of 2011

I thought I’d do some analysis on it…I’m curious as to how certain characteristics might affect sales ranking. I can test that within this group.

First, the data I collected:

E-books Price Agency Genre TTS Lending Reviews Rating KS Prime
1 0.99 No Fiction Yes Yes 655 4
2 2.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 501 4
3 11.99 Yes Biographies No No 964 4
4 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 328 4
5 14.99 Yes Thriller No No 234 3
6 14.99 Yes Nonfiction No No 726 4
7 12.99 Yes History Yes No 536 4
8 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 254 4
9 8.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 480 3
10 2.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 265 4
11 13.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 258 4
12 9.99 Yes Thriller No No 467 3
13 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 368 3
14 Unk No Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk
15 9.99 Yes Thriller No No 139 3
16 1.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 125 3 Y
17 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 793 3
18 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 227 3
19 0.79 No Science Fiction Yes No 322 4
20 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 154 4
21 0.99 No Thriller Yes Yes 42 4
22 14.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 116 3
23 13.99 Yes Mystery No No 187 4
24 0.99 No Action Yes Yes 54 4
25 0.99 No Thriller Yes Yes 81 4
26 2.99 Yes Fiction No No 221 3 Y
27 0.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 187 3 Y
28 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 92 3
29 12.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 219 2
30 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 508 4
31 9.99 No Children’s No Yes 308 4
32 14.99 Yes Science Fiction No No 570 4
33 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 111 3
34 0.99 Yes Fiction No No 46 2 Y
35 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 179 4
36 14.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 1139 3
37 13.99 Yes Children’s Yes No 689 3
38 3.99 No Romance Yes No 14 3
39 12.99 Yes History Yes No 2544 3
40 9.99 Yes Romance Yes No 144 3
41 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 121 3
42 12.99 Yes Mystery No No 79 3
43 2.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 99 4
44 13.99 Yes Mystery No No 102 3
45 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 82 4
46 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 85 4
47 2.99 No Romance Yes Yes 71 4
48 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 175 3
49 9.29 No Children’s No Yes 145 4
50 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 130 4
51 7.99 Yes Romance Yes No 154 4
52 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 87 4
53 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 209 4
54 12.99 Yes Action Yes No 178 3
55 14.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 177 4
56 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 78 3
57 12.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 106 4
58 8.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 1056 2
59 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 135 4
60 0.99 No Romance Yes Yes 59 4
61 8.37 No Romance Yes No 69 4
62 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 58 3
63 0.99 No Western Yes Yes 58 4
64 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 162 3
65 0.99 No Action Yes Yes 65 4
66 Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk
67 11.99 Yes Fiction No No 204 3
68 12.99 Yes Nonfiction Yes No 208 4
69 4.79 No Romance Yes No 53 4
70 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 170 3
71 12.99 Yes Fantasy Yes No 547 4
72 2.99 No Nonfiction Yes Yes 36 3 Y
73 0.99 No Romance Yes Yes 54 4
74 Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk
75 12.99 Yes Nonfiction Yes No 245 4
76 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 242 2
77 4.97 No Thriller Yes Yes 46 3
78 2.99 No Fiction Yes No 27 4 Y
79 5.21 No Romance Yes No 42 4
80 3.99 No Children’s Yes Yes 252 4
81 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 90 3
82 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 160 3
83 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 114 4
84 2.99 No Thriller Yes Yes 87 3
85 9.34 No Nonfiction No No 150 4
86 3.99 No Romance Yes Yes 77 4
87 13.99 Yes Romance Yes No 47 4
88 2.99 No Romance Yes Yes 95 4
89 7.99 No Horror Yes No 526 4
90 11.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 157 4
91 7.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 102 3
92 13.99 Yes Romance Yes No 51 3
93 0.99 No Romance Yes Yes 37 3
94 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 106 2
95 2.24 No Nonfiction Yes Yes 108 4 Y
96 9.99 Yes Fiction No No 445 4
97 2.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 32 3
98 0.99 No Action Yes Yes 259 4 Y
99 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 66 4
100 19.99 Yes Nonfiction No No 147 4

A couple of comments about the data:

  • When it says “unk” (for unknown), it’s becasue the book is not available right now. That in itself was interesting to me. I sort of expect e-books to always stay available, certainly fiction ones. That would seem to be doubly true of ones that sell well, like the ones on this list…but it’s not
  • KS stands for “Kindle Single”. They can be proud of that program…5 of the top 100 are Kindle Singles. That’a very high representation in the first (partial) year of a program!
  • Prime means that the book is available as part of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, which is avaialable to paid subscribers to Prime. That probably won’t have affected sales much (it happened too recently)
  • The genres are a little subjective on my part. I didn’t choose one that wasn’t listed, but if I had both “fiction” and “romance” listed for Danielle Steel, I went with romance. :)
  • As you’ve no doubt noticed, I didn’t list titles or authors. I don’t like to promote books that have text-to-speech access blocked, so I didn’t list any of them. I also like to look at it a bit more generically…while a famous author certainly may affect sales, I’m looking at these other characteristics this time
  • When I’m looking at rating, I’m rounding down and just doing it based on the stars. If the fourth started was partially filled in, I counted it as three stars
  • Note that the information you are seeing may have changed during the course of the year. The price now hasn’t necessarily been stable for the year

The first thing I wanted to look at was how many of the books were not published by the Agency Model publishers. Those are largely the Big Six…the six largest trade publishers in the US.

My reason for that is that, before e-publishing became popular (before the Kindle in 2007), best-seller lists would almost always be comprised entirely of books from traditional publishers. The difficulties of distribution meant that it was very hard a small or independent publisher to crack that list.

Remarkably, 33 of the books on the list were non-Agency books! Two more were unknown, but I would presume, based on the books, that they are non-Agency. Remember that before e-publishing, the number would likely have been very close to zero. If you check the paperbook best-sellers from Amazon this year, I think you’ll find a few that aren’t Agency Model…but none that were independently published.

The next question for me is whether being an Agency Model book hurt or helped within this group.

With 100 titles, the average ranking is 50.5.

The lower the average ranking, the better you are doing (the #1 ranked seller is doing better than the #100 ranked seller).

The average ranking for the known Agency Model books in this group is 47.1. So, non-Agency books (counting the two unknown ones) did somewhat worse than Agency Model books.

The average ranking where text-to-speech access is known to be blocked is 39.2. Clearly, within this group, blocking text access is better. My guess is that the unknown ones did not block it, which would have affected this somewhat.

Oh, one key thing: when my listing says “Yes” for text-to-speech, it means it is available (it is not blocked).

My next check? Does enabling lending help? No, the average ranking there is 54.8.

I’ve also always thought that having more reviews (good, bad, or indifferent) helps the sales. The average number of reviews on this list was 247.1. The ranking for books with more than that? 33.6…that definitely seems to help. If the number of reviews is under 100, the average ranking is 62.6. If it’s over 500 reviews, the average ranking is 34.2.

What about the rating given by readers?

  • 2 stars: 58.2 average ranking
  • 3 stars: 47.2 average ranking
  • 4 stars: 51.9 average ranking

Next, price points:

  • 0.79 (1 title): 19 average ranking
  • 0.99 (12): 48.67
  • 1.99 (1): 16
  • 2.24 (1): 95
  • 2.99 (10): 45.7
  • 3.99 (3): 68
  • 4.79 (1): 69
  • 4.97 (1): 77
  • 5.21 (1): 79
  • 7.99 (3): 77
  • 8.37 (1): 61
  • 8.99 (2): 33.5
  • 9.29 (1): 49
  • 9.34 (1): 85
  • 9.99 (5): 38.8
  • 11.99 (3): 53.3
  • 12.99 (30): 48.4
  • 13.99 (6): 49
  • 14.99 (13): 39.5
  • 19.99 (1): 100
  • Unknown (3); 51.3

I checked books below $10 and books $10 or higher. The average rank for books over $9.99 was better, at 47.5.

I also looked at genres. I tended to lump rather than split…one exception is mystery and thriller being listed separately. I just don’t see a shoot-em-up in the same category as Agatha Christie. :)

  • Action (4 titles): 60.3 average ranking
  • Children’s (4): 49.3
  • Fantasy (1): 71
  • Fiction (27): 54.5
  • History (2): 23 (this could have gone in nonfiction)
  • Horror (1): 89
  • Mystery (12): 36
  • Nonfiction (8): 63
  • Romance (14): 68.9
  • Science Ficton (2): 25.5
  • Thriller (21): 36.5
  • Unknown (3): 51.3
  • Western (1): 51.3

Just a few other things that caught my eye:

  • John Locke is a one-person bestseller list! Locke has four titles on this list. Nora Roberts has three
  • There were a number of Penguin books on the list…they’ve done some things some consumers haven’t liked, but their books still sell
  • Congratulatins go to Kindle blogger and author Michael Gallagher for having a book on this list: Free Kindle Books and How to Get Them

Well, there you go. The big story to me is the loosening of the grip of the Big Six on publishing. I do think they may make some smart moves in the future (at least some of them), so i don’t want to say that the non-Agency Model publishers will outrank them on average next year…but it’s possible. :)

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


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