Archive for February, 2012

March 2012 Kindle book releases

February 29, 2012

March 2012 Kindle book releases

These are some of the Kindle store releases scheduled for March 2012 that caught my eye…they aren’t necessarily the most popular. :)

You can pre-order them, if you want, or just wait for them to be released.

I haven’t read them yet, of course. :) Remember, you do have that seven day “return” policy…and it doesn’t start until you purchase the book, which doesn’t start on a pre-order until they charge you for it on the day it is released.

These books indicate that they do not block text-to-speech access.

The Thief (An Isaac Bell Adventure)
by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott

Cussler is popular, of course…but this book is $14.99 and categorized as non-fiction…

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith #8: Secrets
by John Jackson Miller

Lover Reborn: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
by J.R. Ward

Betrayal
by Danielle Steel

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
by Jacqueline Winspear

Infamous: Chronicles of Nick
by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, andLive–and How You Can Change Them
by Sharon Begley and Richard J. Davidson

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
by Jon Gertner

Murder at the Lanterne Rouge: An Aimee Leduc Investigation (Aimee Leduc Investigations)
by Cara Black

Due or Die (A Library Lover’s Mystery)
by Jenn McKinley

Discount Armageddon: An InCryptid Novel
by Seanan McGuire

Yep, “cryptid” as in cryptozoology. I may have to try a sample on this one. :)

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

Round up #71: Color overlay, color Kindle, bye-bye keyboard?

February 28, 2012

Round up #71: Color overlay, color Kindle, bye-bye keyboard?

ComputerAct!ve: “Kindle cover to help people with dyslexia”

ComputerAct!ve article

It’s interesting to me that there are still a lot of things we don’t know. :)

There are different approaches to that. We can try to figure out why something should be true, and then test it. That’s sort of the scientific method.

On the other hand, we have what is called by Isaac Bonewits The Law of Pragmatism (also called The Engineer’s Law): “If it works, it’s true.”

Dyslexia and color is a good example.

There is reportedly some evidence that using a color overlay on a paperbook can make it easier for dyslexic to read it.

Well, the above article talks about a color overlay that has been made for the Kindle Keyboard (formerly known as the Kindle 3):

ReadRight overlays at Amazon.co.uk

At this point, it appears that the three different colored covers are only available through Amazon.co.uk, but they may come to Amazon.com eventually.

If it works, great! That’s even if we don’t know for sure why. :)

It’s interesting, I’ve also heard that it’s harder for people with certain reading challenges when you use two spaces after a period (which is how a lot of people were trained when we used typewriters). For some reason, it creates visual “rivers” in the “page” in a way different from using one space. I’ve tried to retrain myself to use one space for that reason.

The Verge: “Ebook download site library.nu shut down by coalition of international publishers”

The Verge article

One of my readers gave me the heads-up on this in a private e-mail.

It’s been a little while, but that happens sometimes. I just leave the tab open in Google Chrome until it feels like the “write” time. :)

In this case, there wasn’t any particular hurry, because the deed has been done.

The article is about a site (library.nu) being shut down by publishers.

A lot of people’s immediate reactions are going to be to be mad at the big bad publishers. The companies partially have themselves to blame for that. There have been concrete examples of publishers doing things that make reading e-books more difficult. There was the Agency Model (which resulted in higher prices on New York Times hardback bestseller equivalents)…that one’s been challenged in a number of ways, including class action suits. Then there is blocking text-to-speech access. That engendered actual protests. There are restrictions on lending, restrictions on “clipping”, and so on.

I think, though, that this is something different.

In this case, it was a website that was allegedly linking to pirated copies of e-books…especially textbooks.

The article may answer a question for you…why pirate? How does benefit people to give away free books?

Well, there are a lot of reasons for that, but in this case, it sounds like it was (at least partially) for advertising dollars…more than $10 million.

If what is alleged is true, the site was using infringement on the rights of others (even if it wasn’t doing the pirating, but linking to pirated copies) for their personal enrichment.

I know that people have different opinions about copyright, and what’s an appropriate use, but I wouldn’t extrapolate from shutting down this site to something people might do without intent.

PC World: “Is the Kindle Getting a Color Screen?”

PC World article

What’s being talked about here is a color RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle). There is, of course, something Amazon calls a Kindle which has a color screen…the Kindle Fire.

This would be something different, though, and for quite a while it was a topic of a lot of speculation.

I wonder if it would have the same impact now, though?

A color reflective screen would have a lot of advantages…but it couldn’t do what a backlit screen (like the Kindle Fire) does. Quite simply, no reflective screen at this point can refresh (draw something new on the screen) fast enough for real animation.

If the article is accurate, though, it would show a continuing commitment to RSKs on Amazon’s part.

More interesting to me (since I have some color vision deficiency…color blindness…I don’t care that much about the color part) is that the article suggests it could be in the market in March.

That would coincide with a possible release date for a larger screen Kindle Fire (or two) and an updated version of the current Kindle Fire.

I think Amazon would like to release several models at once…they did that last time, and it appears to have worked well for them.

One possibility…will they eliminate and/or replace the Kindle Keyboard?

When you look from the main navigation on the Amazon homepage, it doesn’t show up:

The

Kindle Keyboard wi-fi only

is not available new from Amazon currently. The picture for it doesn’t show up any more when you are seeing the Kindle family, although the

Kindle Keyboard with wi-fi & 3G

is.

Does this mean Amazon will abandon a physical keyboard for Kindles?

I don’t see that happening quite yet…maybe eventually keyboards will be as old-fashioned as floppy drives, but I don’t see that happening this year.

By the way, notice that the Kindle DX is still around. I thought it was doomed, at least in its current state. Would a color DX make sense? Maybe…maybe they could give us color for the same price as what grayscale is now.

That would be a specialty item, though.

What do you think? Is the shutdown of an e-book file sharing site a sign of things to come? Would you buy a color RSK…let’s say it was $175? Are you an expert on dyslexia and can comment on the impact of color overlays? Free free to comment on this post to let me (and my readers) know what you think.

* Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magichttp://www.neopagan.net/AT_Laws.html

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

Answers to For Presidents’ Day: consider the alternatives

February 27, 2012

Answers to For Presidents’ Day: consider the alternatives

For Presidents’ Day, a week ago, I posted a little quiz about fictional places that don’t have a President, but have a very different system of government. I said to give yourself credit if you knew what the place was (or who the author is…these places may cover more than one book) even if you couldn’t name it.

Here, then, are the questions and answers.

Place #1

In this society, you move up by killing people above your rank and “taking their metal”. You can’t just poison them or ambush them, though…this isn’t 16th Century Italy. :)

They have to attack you first, so you kill them in self-defense, or the entire ruling council as to decide that you should fight. You can ask for that…that puts a check on a high-ranking person just never attacking anybody.

This society does have a lot of cultural rules: males don’t kill females…or vice versa, and prisoners aren’t killed (but may have “worse” things done to them).

Answer #1: The Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Specifically, this is the society of the green Martians, the Tharks. If you haven’t read A Princess of Mars and want to do so before the new movie (which is a major release) comes out, you have until March 9th in the USA. :)  Clearly, this system limits the type of person who will become a leader (Can’t fight? Can’t lead) but does, at least, base advancement purely on ability. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is, if you can accomplish the goal, you advance. Well, except for that gender issue…since only males are leaders and females don’t kill males, women can’t really become leaders.

Place #2

This place has a beloved leader, ranked over all others (and there are many at lower levels). There are challenges and clear aggressive action against the land, but this ruler is basically a pacifist. That doesn’t mean steps won’t be taken by this administration to remedy evil deeds. The ruler is aided in that by a powerful magic user…and the ruler has forbidden the use of magic except by two people.

The land, under the guidance of the ruler, is basically socialist in concept…there used to be money, but it isn’t used any more. However, some people certainly have wealth. That happens in part because the land is so separated, with considerable geographical challenges…some small areas have never even heard of the central ruler.

Answer #2: The Oz series by L. Frank Baum

If you’ve only seen the 1939 Judy Garland movie, you might think this ruler is Glinda, the good witch. While the witch of the South (not the North, as it was changed for MGM’s version) is powerful, she is secondary in the series to Princess Ozma.

Ozma rules by right of inheritance…she is the daughter of the former king (although it’s more complicated…not too surprising in a magical land).

That said, her subjects who know her love her…for the most part. She is kidnapped and threatened in other ways in the books: that’s one place having a powerful sorceress as an adviser comes in handy.

Ozma is generally loving and fair, and makes some interesting strategic choices. The other person (besides Glinda) allowed to practice magic? The Wizard…

Ozma first appears in The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Place #3

While perhaps not a ruler in the formal sense, this character has absolute dominion over the land, and must be obeyed. Over 2,000 years old and ruthless, the ruler had come to this place because of a process that provides immortality. The ruler commands magic, but overwhelming attractiveness may be the despot’s greatest power.

Answer #3: The Amahagger people in Africa in the Ayesha series by H. Rider Haggard

There are clear reasons why “She” (Ayesha AKA Hiya) is called She-who-must-be-obeyed.

Like Glinda, she is a powerful magic-user…unlike Glinda, she is ruthless. She took power: it wasn’t given to her. Within the society, no one can challenge her…and it’s possible she’ll live forever.

Not much chance for a member of the community to rule…even surviving is at the whim of “She”.

Ayesha first appears in She.

Well, there you have three fictional alternatives to the US political system. Countless people have imagined living in Oz, traveling to Barsoom…and avoiding Ayesha. ;)

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

Review: Baby Boomer Comics: The Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Comic Books of the 1960s

February 25, 2012

Review: Baby Boomer Comics: The Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Comic Books of the 1960s

Baby Boomer Comics: The Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Comic Books of the 1960s
by Craig “Mr. Silver Age” Shutt, illustrated by Jim Mooney
published by Krause Publications
original publication: 2012
size: 14057KB (207 pages)
categories: comics & graphic novels – history & price guides
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
text-to-speech: yes

“Dr. Light’s goal, of course, was to take over the world. But he was no fool, he assured us — I mean, Snapper. He knew The JLA had to be disposed of first. To prove the point, he was depicted standing in his laboratory, clearly having a brainstorm:“Those champions of justice will never permit me to use my powers to dominate the Earth!” It’s no wonder Dr. Light became the master criminal he did, with such incredible insight at his command.”
–Craig Shutt
writing in Baby Boomer Comics: The Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Comic Books of the 1960s

Brother Power the Geek, Streaky the Supercat, Reed and Sue getting married, Ringo wanting an autograph from the Metal Men, and the inimitable Herbie (the Fat Fury)…

If these bring a nostalgic smile to your face, true believer, then you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane. ‘Nuff said.

If your comics experience starts with Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, or you’ve never read a comic book or graphic novel…well, there’s still a lot here for you, but not quite so much.

Shutt writes well…respectful without being blindly adoring, fun, but with an important element of (dare I say it?) scholarship.

Fifty years on, there’s an advantage in not getting new stories to read every month. It’s actually possible to catch up, and to see trends that you otherwise might not notice.

For example, I didn’t at all recall Superman being kidnapped by Amazons (no, no…not the website, the evidently amorous warrior women) not once, not twice, but multiple times.

I also really like that Shutt didn’t stay with one publisher, but writes about DC, Marvel…and other publishers as well.

The articles are periodically illustrated with actual comic panels. Those work quite well on the Kindle Fire, by the way. You can “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second) one of these pictures and choose zoom. Then you can zoom it more and scroll around, if you want.

Unfortunately, something that didn’t work well (and the book did say it was optimized for larger screens…I guess the Kindle Fire doesn’t count) was a series of trivia questions. I love trivia, and even though I wouldn’t have known a lot of these, I would have liked to have played the quizzes throughout the book. What happened, though was that the answer for a different question would appear below something you were guessing. Not only did that lead to some bizarre apparent answers (see below), it meant that I might have seen an answer before I read the question…not a good thing.

I’m going to  give you two of the really funny mismatches, but I want to give you a spoiler alert first. You’ll see the answer to a question you haven’t seen yet, which is what happened to me with the book. However, I did think these two were hilarious!

Q. Who was the CHIEF battling when he lost his legs?

A. HIS RIGHT LEG

Q. What part of METAMORPHO”S body is brown?

A. THE NETHERWORLD

End spoiler

:)

I’m guessing that those work properly on, say, a PC. However, since I got this from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, I couldn’t check that.

If you bought the book, you might also be surprised to find out that about 20%  of it is a price guide. The problem with that is that prices change…while they could update the book, it does give me the sense that a fifth of the book is going to be obsolete in a year, which is a bit strange. Yes, there are comic book price guides that come out regularly, but that’s what they do…they aren’t mostly articles.

One other thing that some might see as a problem, but I found, well, charming. Since this is a collection of articles, you can see the repetition…like watching a marathon of a TV season in a day, rather than seeing them a week apart. Shutt points out the absurdity of the story lines sometimes by saying, “I don’t write ‘em, I just read ‘em.” I know that must happen when people read  The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1…I do use some of the same phrases in different posts (like “diapers and windshield wipers” to describe Amazon selling physical goods).

Those absurd plot lines are part of what makes this book great, though! There was a huge backlash against comics in the 1950s, really led by one person. Culture wars now have nothing on schools literally burning piles of comics and Congressional testimony (for an excellent coverage of this part of American history, I highly recommend The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America).

One thing that meant was that, partially in response to the Comics Code Authority, an industry had to reinvent itself. Artists and authors were given new rules. While you might think that would limit creativity, it can actually force new ways of thinking…it’s like playing a game.

Not everything came from that…Shutt also gives us insight into the business, since he has spoken with some of the driving forces. Why did so many Silver Age superheroes fight gorillas? It was because one particular cover with a gorilla on it had sold especially well. :) What about an editor giving two different writers the exact same cover…and publishing the two very different stories in different months? While that might have saved a few dollars (I presume the cover artists might not have been paid twice for the two issues), it’s still a fascinating creative exercise.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Without the formatting problem with the trivia questions (and they may fix that at some point), I’d strongly recommend it. If you do read it on a PC, Mac, or iPad (or other larger screen device) and the trivia questions work fine there, I’d appreciate you commenting on this post to let people know. I tried getting a sample, but it didn’t go far enough into the book.

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

Amazon forum gets moderators

February 24, 2012

Amazon forum gets moderators

When people ask me to compare the NOOK and the Kindle, I always go back to the Customer Service difference.

That comparison needs to be made both on policies and on people.

On policies, there is no question: Amazon wins.

Amazon allows the “return” of any Kindle store book within seven days for a refund.

“Returning Kindle Books

Books you purchase from the Kindle Store are eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within seven days of the date of purchase. Once a refund is issued, you’ll no longer have access to the book. To request a refund and return, visit Manage Your Kindle, click the actions tab for the title you’d like to return, and select “Return for refund.”

Amazon help page

Barnes & Noble does not allow the return of e-books at any time.

“Items That Cannot Be Returned
We are unable to accept returns for NOOK Books, magazines, downloadable PDFs for SparkNotes products, gift cards, and shrink-wrapped items that have been opened. Please note: Once purchased, NOOK Books cannot be refunded.”

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/cds2.asp?PID=8121

Amazon allows the return of a Kindle within thirty days. If you are returning it and there is nothing wrong with it, they do expect you to pay the return postage (a few dollars in the USA). This can be very important, especially for those with special needs who need to see how the device works for them.

“You can return any Kindle device you purchased directly from Amazon.com for a full refund within 30 days of the day you received it as long as it’s in new condition and the return is in accordance with our return policy. “

Amazon help page

In the stated policy that most floors me as a former retailer, if you don’t follow the proper procedure when you return a NOOK, Barnes & Noble will keep it…and not refund you any money for it. That’s even if you’ve labeled it nicely and they know who you are! I just find that truly bizarre. I do understand that they might have to charge you something to get it to the right part of the company, but I can’t imagine having somebody walk into my bookstore with a book they bought from, say, another store in the chain…and my employee just taking it and not giving it back or giving any money for it! I mean, I have to admit, I picture somebody opening that package at Barnes & Noble with an evil laugh and saying, “Sucker!” and high-fiving everybody. No, I’m sure they actually don’t behave that way…the employee who opens it may feel sad about it for the person. But their bosses’ policy is to take the property and give no compensation for it.

“Returning nook

You can return nook within 14 days of receipt. Either call 1-800-THE-BOOK (843-2665) for a return authorization, or return it to a Barnes & Noble store.

Please note: if you do not call for a return authorization number and send the nook to the wrong return center, no refund will be provided and your nook will not be returned to you.”

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/cds2.asp?PID=8121#nook

So, the policies, which can be looked at objectively, favor Amazon.

As to the people, admittedly, that’s harder to demonstrate.

We can look at surveys…Amazon is number 1 in the below survey, BN.com (not the stores, that’s different) is #26:

Foresee study

Oh, let’s get that out of the way…I’ve seen people say that they would rather buy a NOOK because they can go into the store if something goes wrong with it. I guarantee you, the store clerk in your local B&N is not going to be the one to fix that NOOK. They are going  to send it somewhere. Of course, if it’s just an exchange,  that might be easier, but don’t expect to be able to go to your local NOOK and ask questions. You can do that easily online…but my experiences online with B&N have not been good. That’s subjective, but I do love my experiences at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

What’s a way you can tell if the support people are good?

You can talk to them. :)

That’s another place where I’d say Amazon really trumps B&N. They have Kindle forums where we can talk to each other. I’m there a lot  (a lot a lot). ;)

They also have a specific forum where we see answers from Amazon support people. Oh, probably 90 percent of the questions have been answered by Kindle owners, but we do see those support folks there.

That’s the

Kindle Help Forum

Well, I was fascinated to see a recent announcement that they had added forum moderators…and they named them.

Welcome, Will, Megan, Josh, Meg and David!

Right away, I wondered what their job descriptions were.

When you say “moderator” on an online forum, it usually means someone who reviews posts before they are posted…and may reject “extreme” ones. Moderators keep things moderate. :)

It doesn’t always mean that. A moderator could simply suggest that maybe it wasn’t appropriate to call someone a “troll” or a “fanboi” after something is posted…and who has the power to enforce that by blocking posts are removing posting privileges.

That’s the difference between a “moderated forum” and an “unmoderated forum”. Unmoderated forums are free-for-alls…it’s the Wild West.

That’s hasn’t been 100% true for the Amazon Kindle forums. There is software that blocks posts with obscenities, for example…”boterators”, so to speak.

I was curious if these new “moderators” were actually going to moderate, or were just going to post.

It appears to be the latter. I haven’t seen any difference when I’ve posted before or after their announcement, in terms of process…no “comment pending approval” message.

Amazon doesn’t always use terms the way most people do. :) There is another group of people identified by Amazon as “KINDLE FORUM PROS”. Pro, of course, is short for “professional”, which suggests that they are paid for it (some would say that it requires that it’s the way you make your living). Those are just people who are really dedicated to helping other people, basically. Amazon says specifically about a KINDLE FORUM PRO

“These customers have demonstrated not only skill and knowledge of Amazon and Amazon Kindle Products, but also a willingness to help their fellow customers.”

They identify them as customers…not professionals, not part of Amazon.

The Forum Moderators have the AMAZON OFFICIAL badge…presumably, they work for and are paid by Amazon.

So, the “pros” aren’t pros, and the “moderators” don’t appear to moderate. :)

That quibble out of the way, I think it’s a great thing!

The fact that Amazon would apparently pay people to hang out and answer questions on a forum shows their commitment to Customer Service. I love that customers help customers (I love doing that myself), but it’s nice to have the answer being “official”…it says that right by their names. :)

If you do have questions, that Kindle Help Forum is a good place to go…although I like it when you ask me here, too. :)

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

NYT: “Amazon Pulls Thousands of E-Books in Dispute”

February 23, 2012

NYT: “Amazon Pulls Thousands of E-Books in Dispute”

Is Amazon getting to the point where it can say, “Publishers, we don’t need your e-books”?

Generally, when Amazon has disputed with a publisher, the publisher has won. That was true on the Agency Model, it was true on text-to-speech.

Now, though, Amazon has told the Independent Publishers Group that if IPG doesn’t agree to Amazon’s terms, Amazon won’t carry their e-books.

In the short term, I don’t like that (as a reader). Amazon used to say that a goal was for the Kindle to bring us “Every book ever published…”

Obviously, they can’t do that if they refuse to carry books.

On the other hand, what if the only way for Amazon to do that profitably is to charge $15 for some e-books? They already do that…what about $25? $50?

Is it better for readers in the long term for Amazon to force prices down by getting better terms?

Maybe…

I do think Amazon certainly has the right to only get books under the conditions they want. As a former store manager, I know that’s part of the process.

As a reader, I want to be able to make the decision about getting any book…even if it does cost more.

As you can tell, I’m kind of torn on this one. My emotional, short term, gut reaction is I want the books to be in the store. My analytical, long term, logical mind wants publishers to have a check and balance on them.

What do you think about this one? Feel free to let me know…

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

KDP Select results for January 2012

February 23, 2012

KDP Select results for January 2012

Amazon has reported the results of the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select  (KDPS) program for January 2012.

That’s a way that publishers who use KDPS can be compensated when eligible Prime members borrow their books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

Let me explain that a little more before I get into the figures.

Eligible Prime members typically pay $79 a year for two-day shipping on many items at no additional cost. Another significant group who are eligible Prime members are Kindle Fire owners in their first month (when they get a free month of Prime).

One of the added benefits of Prime is the ability to borrow up to one book a calendar month from a special set of books called the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

Independent publishers (often just the author of the book) can get their books into the Kindle store by using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which was formerly called the Digital Text Platform (DTP).

Why would an author, though, want their books to be given away when they could be sold?

Obviously, one reason is to promote sales through what I call “word of mouse” (tweets, reviews, blog posts, and so on).

However, that may not be enough of a motivation. Amazon needs the KOLL to be attractive to get people interested in Prime so those customers buy physical goods (what I call “diapers to windshield wipers”), where the profit is.

When the KOLL started it had about 5,000 titles.

It now has 111,598…that’s the jump just since November 3, 2011 (not even four months).

KOLL list*

Clearly, KDP Select was a big part of that. KDP Select started on December 8, 2011…we’ve only seen figures so far for December and January (which was just announced).

Publishers divide a pool of cash, with each “borrow” during the period getting one share.

In December, there were 295,000 borrows, and a $500,000 pool…which came out to about $1.70 per borrow.

Earlier post on December KDPS

It was quite exciting when Amazon announced that they were increasing the pool for January from $500,000 to $700,000. I’m sure publishers figured they would make more money in January.

Well, with the same number of borrows it would have been more money, of course.

Instead, the number of borrows went up so much, that KDP Select participants are getting less per borrow $1.60 approximately, instead of $1.70.

I think it’s also pretty likely that there are a lot more publishers in the pool. Even though some publishers probably added titles (I added my Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet to it in February), I would guess that it was spread a lot more thinly. Oh, some publishers probably made more, but others probably made less.

There were 437,000 borrows in January.

Does that mean that the trend will continue and there will be close to 650,000 borrows in February?

If it did, publishers would make a lot less per borrow: the pool for February has gone down to $600,000 from the $700,000 in January…that would drop it down to about ninety-three cents per borrow.

However, as Amazon noted in the announcement to KDP publishers, January was likely an especially good month. January is a good sales month: there are returns, for one thing, and people who held off buying something for themselves until they saw what other people got them. :) The Kindle Fire owners are part of the KOLL…and that may have bumped up more in December than it did in January.

February is also two days shorter than January this year. :)

My guess, though, is that KOLL borrows are front-loaded in a month…that a lot more of them happen in the beginning of the month than in the middle or at the end.

That just makes sense to me, since the limitation is up to one book per calendar month. If you borrow a book in January, you can’t borrow another one until February. So, there is pent-up borrowing demand until the next calendar month starts.

Even given that, I think it is possible that there will be fewer borrows in January than in February…but about fifteen percent fewer? That’s what it would have to be for $600,000 to pay as much as $700,000.

Let’s say that publishers make less for KOLL borrows in February than in January (as they did in January compared to December). Does that mean that publishers should stay out of the KOLL?

We still don’t have enough data. If the KOLL borrows increase paid sales, it could be worth it. If the KOLL borrows represent additional income, rather than replacing sales, that could make it worth it.

We do have to balance the ninety-day exclusivity period…if publishers are making sales through Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, or their own websites (not through Amazon), the KOLL is less attractive.

I’m staying in it, but I’m keeping an eye on it, too. :)

One last fascinating question for me on this…was Amazon deliberately manipulating the pool amount to try to get the per borrow pay to be about $1.50? They are presumably really good at estimating demand (although they’ve underestimated it on Kindles in the past).  The example that Amazon uses to show the math uses 100,000 borrows with a $500,000 pool…or $5 per borrow. That may, perhaps, suggest to people an overly optimistic outcome.

Living on Lending, Banking on Borrows

I noticed something interesting the other day, and it is related to this discussion.

I managed a game store (in addition to having managed a bookstore), and I do like to play around with (but still within) the rules.

When it was time for me to borrow a book from the KOLL, I sorted them by most expensive. :) I figure I want to get my $79 a year out of our Prime membership. Yes, the Prime streaming videos are a great plus. Yes, we’re having fun with the Prime shipping (but I’m not convinced that actually saves us any money…it didn’t in the previous analyses I did). If I can borrow books that cost more than the annual Prime fee divided by twelve (about $6.58), I’m making a profit. :)

Of course, I may also be getting books I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

However, here’s what I noticed…over forty Kindle store books priced at $200!

Who would buy a Kindle store book for $200?

Well, there are some expensive books where it makes sense…textbooks and such. There are even Kindle store books that cost more than $5,000.

That doesn’t seem to be the case here, though. There are a bunch of books by the same person, but there are a number of books. Some of them are smaller than a regular novel (based on file size), and some appear to be fiction. Here, for instance, is a book that costs $200…and is a tiny 41KB.

Who would pay $200 for it?

Well, the thing here is that nobody has to pay that…and the publisher can still make money.

How?

If people borrow it in the KOLL.

Why would people borrow this?

Curiosity, maybe…and maybe they found it by sorting the prices high to low like I did.

Does that strategy work?

Dunno. ;)

It’s like when people are saying that some odd collectible is going for a thousand dollars. I often say, “No, it’s being offered for a thousand dollars.” That doesn’t mean it has ever sold for that…and I don’t know if anybody has borrowed one of these $200 books.

Oh, and why is it $200 and not, say, a gazillion dollars? Kindle Direct Publishing books have to be priced from ninety-nine cents to $200. Some people want to know how to tell if a book is published through the KDP…if it’s priced over $200, it isn’t. ;)

What do you think? If you are a publisher, are you staying with the KOLL? Is Amazon trying to keep the borrow pay down around a buck and a half? Is anybody going to borrow This Book Shows Everyone Just How Rich You Really Are by Mon. E. Bags, priced at $200? Feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

* Note: while you can see the books you can borrow as an eligible Prime member at the link I have provided, you can only borrow one from you physical Kindle . If you are reading this blog on your computer, you will not see a “borrow” button on the product pages for the books. If you want to borrow a book for free (technically, for no additional cost), you must click a button that says “borrow”, not “buy”.

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

8GB NOOK Tablet released for $199: head to head with the Kindle Fire

February 21, 2012

8GB Nook Tablet released for $199: head to head with the Kindle Fire

Barnes & Noble released a new version of their NOOK tablet today, with 8GB of memory rather than 16GB…and at the same price as the Kindle Fire at $199:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/nook-tablet-barnes-noble/1104687969

This eliminates the “easy choice argument” for the Fire over the 16GB NOOK Tablet…did you want to pay $50 more for it?

Honestly, people are going to see this as a real challenger to the Fire in what I call the “entertablet” (a portmanteau of “entertainment” and “tablet”) market.

The memory comparison is much stronger than it was before. There is more user available memory on the 8GB NOOK Tablet than on the 16. The NT8 (my new abbreviation) has 5GBs available for your files (not B&N content): the NT16 only has 1GB. That puts the NT8 in line with the Fire, which has 5.36 for general personal files and 1.17 specifically for apps.

There will be other things that stand out to comparison shoppers:

  • The NT8 has a microphone. The Kindle Fire can use a particular type of microphone in the headphone jack, but that’s probably baling wire and chewing gum in comparison
  • The NT8 natively reads Excel and PowerPoint: the KF needs apps
  • You can create your own wallpapers with the NT8, not with the KF
  • The NT8 can take up to a 32GB micro SD card…not memory expansion slot on a KF. You can use a wi-fi drive, but again, not as convenient
  • The KF is half an inch shorter…but weighs a bit more
  • The KF allows sideloading using a USB cable…the NT8 doesn’t have a port for that (but you could use the SD card)

Seriously, line up the tangibles and ignore the companies, and I think many people would select the NOOK Tablet 8GB over the Kindle Fire.

The intangibles count, though. Amazon’s Customer Service has been so much better for me than the experiences I’ve had online with Barnes & Noble. Amazon lets you “return” a Kindle store book for a refund with seven days of purchase. Barnes & Noble still doesn’t allow the return of NOOK Books at any time:

“Items That Cannot Be Returned
We are unable to accept returns for NOOK Books, magazines, downloadable PDFs for SparkNotes products, gift cards, and shrink-wrapped items that have been opened. Please note: Once purchased, NOOK Books cannot be refunded.”

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/cds2.asp?PID=8121

If you pay to be an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow up to a book a month from about 100,000 titles, and watch Prime streaming videos at no additional cost.

However, I think those are intangibles are a tough sale to people who haven’t already committed to one company or the other emotionally.

Will Amazon respond?

They’ve responded to Barnes & Noble before, but this is a tough call.

They can’t just lower the price: Barnes & Noble also lowered the price on the NOOK Color to $169: even though it isn’t technically comparable to the Fire, it puts that price into a comparison chart.

Amazon could announce a bigger, more expensive one. They could announce new features (come on, text-to-speech! Someone in the Kindle forum recently reported that Amazon told them they were working on TTS for the Fire). They could coast…but I think that might be a mistake here.

What do you think? Does Amazon need to respond to this? Will this take market share? How does a possible smaller iPad play into this? Feel free to let me know by commenting this post…

Thanks to my reader Susan for a proof-reading comment on this post. :)

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

For Presidents’ Day: consider the alternatives

February 20, 2012

For Presidents’ Day: consider the alternatives

Today is Presidents’ Day in the USA. When that came into being in California, I felts a little cheated. Since my birthday is the same as Abraham Lincoln’s, I sort of lost a personal holiday when The Great Emancipator’s got merged with the Father of Our Country. ;)

I’ve done other Presidents’ Day posts, but this time, I thought I’d do another game and let you guess…I love games!

In this case, I’m going to describe some fictional set-ups where they don’t have a President, they have some other kind of government.

The game is to see if you can identify the place and/or the book and/or the author.

My intuition here is that this is going to be relatively easy (compared to, say, the games I do with quotations), but we’ll see.

Any spoiler concerns here? Maybe a bit…I’ll be describing the societies, and the way they got that way or how characters use the “rules” of the society may impact story lines. I’m pretty careful about spoilers, though, and I think you’ll be okay. :)

Place #1

In this society, you move up by killing people above your rank and “taking their metal”. You can’t just poison them or ambush them, though…this isn’t 16th Century Italy. :)

They have to attack you first, so you kill them in self-defense, or the entire ruling council as to decide that you should fight. You can ask for that…that puts a check on a high-ranking person just never attacking anybody.

This society does have a lot of cultural rules: males don’t kill females…or vice versa, and prisoners aren’t killed (but may have “worse” things done to them).

Place #2

This place has a beloved leader, ranked over all others (and there are many at lower levels). There are challenges and clear aggressive action against the land, but this ruler is basically a pacifist. That doesn’t mean steps won’t be taken by this administration to remedy evil deeds. The ruler is aided in that by a powerful magic user…and the ruler has forbidden the use of magic except by two people.

The land, under the guidance of the ruler, is basically socialist in concept…there used to be money, but it isn’t used any more. However, some people certainly have wealth. That happens in part because the land is so separated, with considerable geographical challenges…some small areas have never even heard of the central ruler.

Place #3

While perhaps not a ruler in the formal sense, this character has absolute dominion over the land, and must be obeyed. Over 2,000 years old and ruthless, the ruler had come to this place because of a process that provides immortality. The ruler commands magic, but overwhelming attractiveness may be the despot’s greatest power.

Well, there’s a few for you. :)

These are all definite alternatives to the electoral college! The systems are considerably different. In the first one, authority is granted by ability…the lowest can rise to the top, if they deserve it (or get lucky enough). Many people would like living in the second one…but there is no chance of becoming ruler…well, without significantly subverting the current system. In the third, individuals have very little power.

Give yourself credit if you can identify the place, even if you can’t name it.

I’ll publish the answers in a later post.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

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

Book, Interrupted

February 20, 2012

Book, Interrupted

I’ve written previously about reports I’d seen that sometimes, after a book had been downloaded to a Kindle Fire, the reader had to connect to wi-fi again partway through the book to be able to finish it.

I polled my readers about it:

===

Have you been reading a downloaded book on a Kindle Fire and been unable to finish reading it without reconnecting?

Yes 36.59%

No 39.02%

I don’t know  24.39%

===

As you can see, about half of the people who thought they knew one way or the other reporting having had it happen.

Well, as of this morning, you can add me to that list.

I was reading a book I borrowed from the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)*

Baby Boomer Comics: The Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Comic Books of the 1960s**

I was about twelve percent through it yesterday. I turned off the wi-fi before I went to bed…I typically do that. On my RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything but a Kindle Fire), I tend to leave the wi-fi off unless I am using it. With the Fire, I figure I charge it every day, so I’m not as concerned about the wi-fi. I do turn it off when I’m traveling between locations, so it doesn’t use up a lot of battery charge finding networks along the side of the road on the route. :)

When I went to open the book today, I saw this:

Notice that you can see the “Kid under the Kindle Tree” logo? I saw the reader launch when I opened the book. Ordinarily, you don’t see that when you open a book on the Fire. You can see the logo if you go into

Settings Gear – More – Applications

and switch to All Application.

I had to turn on the wi-fi, then click Resume in my bottom left. The download happened, and then I’ve been okay since.

The fact that this screen exists with specific instructions shows that Amazon knows that this might occur.

Now, I’ve hypothesized before that maybe people move out of a wi-fi area or turn off the connection before a book completes its download.

I can’t say for sure that didn’t happen. I don’t remember checking to see the notification to see if it had completed.

However, I’m sure the little progress bar showing that it is downloading had finished.

This gives me personal experience with what other people had reported.

I have to say, this would have been pretty annoying if I was on an airplane (I’m going on a trip soon). I might have really wanted to finish that book on the trip.

It may not matter, but this book is a huge file. Amazon figures a typical novel is 800 or 900KB, somewhere in there. This book? 14057KB…much more than ten times the typical.

Hmm…I wonder if the size of the file meant that something timed out before the download completed?

Well, just thought you’d want to know. :)

One other thing that may be interesting. We took a picture of the screen with my Samsung Captivate. I don’t know of an easy way to do a screengrab on a Kindle Fire, without adding something to the Fire to do it.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to demonstrate something about the appearance of the Kindle Fire. The picture you see above was taken with the brightness turned down all the way.

This one was taken with the brightness up all the way:

See how much more washed out it looks?

I was not using any extra lighting in the room. I’m just showing you how much difference the brightness setting can make. Outside, I have the brightness setting cranked up all the way…it makes it easier to read in bright light.

Settings Gear – Brightness, slider (tap or slide)

* The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) is a group of books from which eligible Prime members can borrow up to one a month at no additional cost

** I do plan to write a review of this one. I know it’s a fun idea that may appeal to some of you right away…there are some issues with it, so you may want to wait until you can read my review (within a week, I’d bet)…up to you, though.

Off topic: if you are a movie fan, you might be interested in my annual BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) game. There is no charge for anybody to play. I mentioning here because of the limited time left (the Oscars are a week from today). For more information, see this post in The Measured Circle.

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


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