Round up #100: Cloud Player’s big update, Amiciville

Round up #100: Cloud Player’s big update, Amiciville

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

ABA and B&N file to be friends of the court

Barnes & Noble (B&N) and the American Booksellers Association (ABA) have filed a motion to “friends of the court” (amici curiae) in the DoJ’s (Department of Justice’s) settlement in the Agency Model action.

What does that mean?

The issue is between the Department of Justice, five publishers, and Apple. Legally, the ABA and B&N aren’t involved. However, they think that they can help the judge in making a decision, by providing relevant data and opinion.

You know when someone says, “Hey, buddy, can I give you some friendly advice?” Somehow, the next thing that follows is never, “You’re doing a swell job! My advice is that you don’t change a thing.” ;)

Of course, being a friend does have benefits…so to speak. ;) They would get to be in the loop on things, and have a voice.

In this

B&N press release

they make their point.

“…elimination of the current pricing and distribution method for e-books, known as the agency model, will injure innocent third parties, including ABA member bookstores, Barnes & Noble, authors, and non-defendant publishers; hurt competition in an emerging industry; and ultimately harm consumers. “

The DoJ has already made it pretty clear that they aren’t there to protect the retailers, they are there (in this case), to protect the customers. Even if the ABA and B&N are granted to leave, I don’t think it’s going to make much difference.

The DoJ says that the Agency publishers and Apple colluded to raise e-book prices, and did. If they did something illegal, the DoJ can’t look at “future evil” which might possibly result. In other words…

Let’s say that B&N and the ABA’s worst case scenario happens. The Agency Model goes away. Amazon lowers prices so much, no one else can compete. All other e-book sellers go out of business. Brick and mortars get crushed in the process. Then, Amazon is the only bookseller in the world, and they raise prices to a gazillion dollars a book…mwah hah hah! Then, nobody can afford to read any more, and we all become illiterate, and aliens come down and challenge us to a Scrabble game, and if we win, they give us endless free energy, and if we lose, they eat us, and since we can’t read, we can’t play Scrabble…and we all become extraterrestrial entrees.

Even if that might be true, the DoJ can’t act on Amazon’s crime in that scenario before it happens…this isn’t Minority Report.

B&N nicely provided the filing on line:

B&N document

I think they may be moving pretty quickly on this, since David N. Wynn declares in the document, and I quote: “I am an partner…”

This could mean that we see Agency Model pricing for the settling publishers go away before the end of the year, but I’m not going to try to put a timetable on it…the microwave of justice cooks at conventional oven speeds. :)

Cloud Player gets a major update

Amazon isn’t messing around:

press release

They’ve revolutionized their Amazon Cloud Player.

This definitely affects Kindle Fire, but if they could analogize it to e-books, it would make things really interesting.

They cite three big updates:

  • It sounds like they are automatically going to add previously purchased Amazon MP3s to your free Cloud storage. They were doing that with newly purchased stuff, but if they can go back and get all your old purchases for you automatically, great
  • They are going to add more devices (including Roku…yay!) and I think access will get easier
  • Here’s the big one, though. Your Cloud Player is going to scan your iTunes and Windows Media libraries. It will look for matches to those songs that you bought somewhere (even ripped from CDs), and if Amazon has a match to it, that gets loaded into Cloud player. Oh, and they are upgrading the quality, too (to 256 kbps)

You see, Amazon worked out a deal with the rightsholders. Even if you bought it somewhere else, Amazon can make it available to you.

The free tier of the Cloud Player will let you store 250 non-Amazon purchased MP3s. The premium version ($24.99 a year) lets you store 250,000 (!) non-Amazon purchased MP3s.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if they could do this with e-books? So that, even if you bought them from Barnes & Noble, you could have them in your Kindle library?

I’m sure they wouldn’t have any trouble convincing the publishers to go along with that…they are getting along so well with them already. ;) Just kidding…but hey, a blogger can dream, right?

Update: one of my readers, Emily, pointed out a problem with the update for people who already had 250 non-Amazon songs in the cloud. If they want them  (and their playlists) to continue to work with the Cloud player, they are given a choice (according to her): delete some songs, or get a free month of premium and then pay the $24.99 a year. I was curious as to how many people that is affecting, so…

Joe Wikert on used e-books

Joe Wikert’s 2020 Publishing Blog post

Once again, Joe Wikert and I come from very different places. I do think Wikert is a smart person, and there is an interesting idea in here…but we just think about things differently.

For example, there is this from the post:

“That’s yet another reason why consumers want low ebook prices. They’re lacking some of the basic features of a print book so of course they should be lower-priced.”

Yes, e-books lack some things that p-books have…like mildew, yellowing, and non-adjustable text sizes. ;) Just kidding. The thing is that each of the formats have some advantages and disadvantages. Why don’t people think paperbooks have to replicate everything e-books have to make it fair? If e-books have to be resellable, why don’t p-books have to be automatically searchable?

What if the publishers said, “You can resell an e-book…but only one person can read it at a time”?

Right now, you can have a hundred or more people on your account, and all read the same book for one purchase price. You can’t usually do it at all at the same time, but still.

One last thing before I let you go read the article:

“In the print world we’d pass those [books] along  to friends, resell them or donate them to the local library.”

I’m sure like a lot of other people, I didn’t do any of those things….I kept my books. That’s why I have something like ten thousand paperbooks on shelves in my home, and a dedicated floor to ceiling library. If you typically got rid of your p-books after you read them, that’s a plus for that format. If you didn’t, but just wanted to share books with friends and family (especially ones that don’t live with you), that’s a plus for e-books.

Feel free to comment on any of these…

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

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20 Responses to “Round up #100: Cloud Player’s big update, Amiciville”

  1. Emily Says:

    I am actually very frustrated by the changes in the cloud player. I heard about it online and I thought I would see what the differences were. When I opened the Amazon MP3 app on my phone I got a notice that since I have more than 250 songs that I didn’t buy from Amazon that I have uploaded to the cloud, I have to pick one of two options. Either I go in and delete songs that I have already uploaded so that I have 250 or less, or I can start a 1 month free trial of the premium version and in a month start paying $25 a year to store my music. I was not even able to use the app without choosing one or the other. So ALL the time that I spent uploading songs to the cloud to use that 5Gb free storage was a waste unless I want to pay for it. All that time I have spent putting together my playlists in the MP3 app are wasted unless I pay for it.

    I had a conversation with one of the help guys at Amazon and with a supervisor and neither were helpful.

    So my thoughts are, they are trying to gain new customers at the expense of their current, faithful customers. They are asking current customers to pay for something that was free before in order to get new customers. They are assuming current customers are so invested in their cloud player that they would be willing to pay in order to not lose that investment.

    I am kind of holding off to see if Amazon budges at all. But I honestly don’t need Amazon to stream my music. I can do it directly from my computer. If that’s what I end up doing, I won’t be buying any more music from Amazon.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Emily!

      Very interesting field report!

      To be clear, you had already uploaded more than 250 MP3s to the Cloud Player that you did not get as Amazon MP3s, right?

      That had been covered in your free storage, but now is not.

      Hmm…I wonder how many other people are in that situation. I don’t think the calculation is “let’s lose established people to get new people”, but you do have to figure on losing some people in any change. When we were bringing in a new technical system at work (which was going to attract a lot of employees), we also had to figure that some employees would just choose to retire rather than learn it.

  2. Emily Says:

    To be clear, all the old cds that I had saved over the years, I eventually put on my computer. I then uploaded most of them to the Amazon cloud. It’s not a huge library of music but certainly more than 250 songs. I think the total is a little more than 3gb, well under the free cloud storage limits. When I spoke with customer service, they explained to me that the cloud storage and cloud player are being separated. In the Cloud player, any music purchased from Amazon will still be available, unlimited. I can leave my old cd music in the Cloud storage if I want to back them up there (I have an external hard drive, so I don’t feel the need to back up music on Amazon) but the cloud storage music will not be accessible by the cloud player any more if there are more than 250 songs – unless I pay the yearly $25.

    As far as other people in the same situation, I’ve been following the thread on the Amazon MP3 page and have been seeing a number of complaints similar to mine. However there are people who are much more invested than I am, have a lot more music than I have on Amazon. And understandably they are upset too.

  3. Emily Says:

    A couple further thoughts, Amazon really should have found a way to grandfather in customers who already have been using the cloud drive for their music. OR, they could have included a premium version with prime membership, or they could have some deal where if you spend a certain amount on music each month, or each year you get the premium version for free. There are any number of ways they could have made the changes without making their current customers feel like they are getting the bait and switch.

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Like you, I’m cool to the idea of “used” e-books. It’s true one can make an analogy with p-books, but there are are some significant differences. In general p-books degrade with repeated use — the 10th reader will probably be handling a book in pretty poor shape. Each iteration of an ebook is pristine — its quality is as good as the day it was first bought. There is “friction” in the resale of p-books — it takes some effort to do; whereas the resale of an ebook would be much easier. These two factors in my mind would dilute significantly the remuneration accruing to the author if ebook resales were allowed — so it makes some economic sense that resales of ebooks are forbidden. In an e-booked world illicit copying is also going to be a problem (virtually non-existent in the p-book world)

    Also like you I have thousands of p-books, and I have no intention of getting rid of them (or loaning/sharing them for that matter). After I’ve read them, they become part of my home’s decor, and a source of pleasure should I choose to reread a favorite (or increasingly :D forgotten) title.

    Lately, I’ve started to buy ebook versions of my p-book collection for especially favored authors — as rereading on a kindle is more convenient than finding the p-book and reading that. I have found that maybe only 10% of my p-book collection is available in e-book form. I have often talked about tradpubs needing to develop more e-book friendly business models. Here’s an easy one: put all of your backlist out in e-book instead of leaving the bulk of it out of print. The amount of money they are leaving on the table must be incalculable. Better they do something like this than trying to fight wIth the DOJ over agency pricing.

  5. Karin Bird Says:

    I love the Kindle, because I can share all of my books with friends and family: I lend them one of my Kindles. I don’t have to worry about the Kindle (I can always buy another one), and my books will always be available to me, no more unreturned books. It’s cheaper, I don’t have to buy friends another copy ( because I know they won’t return it).

  6. Zebras Says:

    Bufo/Emily: I had not uploaded huge amounts to the Cloud, really just some I wanted to dowload to my Fire, but I’d been enjoying using the Cloud Player at work for a variety from the ones I have on my Ipod. So, out of curiousity after reading Emily’s post, I went into the cloud player, and I, too, got the message about having more than 250 uploaded songs. OK, even with the past downloaded songs that Amazon added, that don’t count towards that number, I do not have 250 songs in the cloud. Only about 230. So, they have some refining to do!

  7. Common Sense Says:

    I had Emily’s experience also. I actually have two accounts, my personal long-term account and a family account I set up so that we could all share data for our Kindle Fires.

    The Cloud Player came out before the Fire so most of our music content is on my account (I purchase most of my music from Amazon). My son is away at Air Force tech school, so I started moving/purchasing a small amount of music for him on the family account. I also uploaded some I had purchased on my account – just under 400 songs.

    I’d prefer moving all of my music content to the family account, but Amazon won’t do that.

    A big pain, but not unexpected.

    The worst thing is that now you have to have “authorized devices”. You are limited to 10 authorized devices and a device can only belong to one account. Clearly the deal with the devil music industry. So if I buy music on the family account, I have to download it on some other computer and then transfer it instead of my laptop because my laptop is an authorized device for my personal account. HUGE inconvenience! I backup all of our media on external harddrives. On top of that, when you deregister a device, you can’t re-register it to another account for 180 days. No switching back and forth like you can with Kindles.

    Needless to say, I made my unhappiness known. I’ve reduced the songs on the family account to under 250 to stay on the free side and am working to do the same on my account. It’s harder there since I have 1500 songs uploaded. I refuse to pay for their service. I won’t renew my Cloud Drive either, I rarely use it.

    Note: If you had the 20GB for free deal from last year, you can get 50GB for free if you upgrade to Premium before the end of your 30 days. They are also planning on making Cloud Player available for the Roku and other similar devices.

    I’ve always been a pretty happy Amazon customer. I have almost 8,000 ebooks and over 5,500 songs on my account, plus other purchases, Prime, videos, etc. I feel cheated and this will make me far less willing to look at Amazon first for my purchases. They made things less convenient for customers just to do a deal with the music industry who basically assumes all customers are thieves. I hate to tell them but almost all their music is already available for free, and you don’t even have to use bit torrent.

    I’ve already started looking into a home media server. Why pay for someone else’s cloud and put up with their limitations when you can create your own?

  8. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I find that for most fiction books, the p-book and e-book formats are pretty much the same. I run into problems with books that contain charts. On my K3 (I know it’s a Kindle Keyboard now but it was a K3 when I bought it and that’s easier to type.) most charts are just plain unreadable. Sometimes the stuff in the charts doesn’t matter that much. In books on diet and nutrition, the most important stuff is usually in the charts. Many recipe books put the ingredients list in a chart like format. I wish all sample recipe books would include at least one recipe so the reader would know ahead of time if this was going to be a problem. Some do; many do not.

    In a few cases, I’ve contacted the author or publisher and most have been kind enough to provide links to places where they’ve posted the charts online in PDF format. One even e-mailed me the PDF files. A few have pretty much said if I want the charts I can buy the book or get it from a library. Needless to say, I won’t be doing either nor will I be purchasing more books from them.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I find that some detailed images like that are better on my Fire than on paper. That’s because I can zoom in, which can make it easier to read…even though I have to “pan and scan”.

  9. Man in the Middle Says:

    My big complaint with the cloud changes is that there is no easy way to get rid of imported songs to get below Amazon’s new arbitrary limit of 250 songs for free accounts. Worse, if you don’t get rid of the extras, they apparently become zombies – still listed in your cloud account, but no longer able to be played. At the very least, Amazon should make it easy for us to get rid of the songs above their new maximum, since it was their idea for us to upload them in the first place. Rather than only being able to check one song at a time for deletion, in my opinion they should also allow checking all songs on a page with a single click, or even all songs in a playlist with a single click. Without that, the “upgrade” is a huge downgrade, in my opinion, at least for me, and will likely result in my no longer using their cloud player at all..

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      For some people, their music is going to be only stored in the Cloud Drive. Those folks may have ripped the songs from CDs, uploaded them to the Cloud Drive, and then dumped (or sold) the physical CDs.

      Although they may not be played from there, I think “zombie” might be the opposite term…they are “unalive”, meaning they are living but not active, rather than dead and active. Hm…un-zombies? Anti-zombies? Not sure… ;)

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Suspended animation? The deep sleep? What if the cloud gets absorbed into some alien spaceship’s memory and its contents are used as a blueprint for a society? (Star Trek: A Piece of the Action or STNG: The Royale comes to mind here. Can you imagine a science fiction world where songs come alive? Look out for the Purple People Eater!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        That’s a fun idea! I’m picturing it, rather than as an imitative society, but as reality shifting as songs are chosen. Some of it might be fine (“Big Rock Candy Mountain”, perhaps…”Walking on Sunshine”), but the story might have a bad twist finish when “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M. was selected…but hey, at least we’d feel fine. ;)

        I think I’d be most scared with some of the country songs, though…

  10. Jj Hitt Says:

    Chiming in a little on the late side here, but with a different experience. I had something like 8000 songs in Cloud Drive.
    I was also on the 20 GB plan at 20.00 a year, but I think I upgraded in a manner that gave me that year for free. I bought something (song or album) and I got the one year upgrade.

    As best I can understand it, when my year expires in a free weeks, I’ll be billed 20 dollars for CloudDrive and get the CloudPlayer Premium for free.

    Seeing how I was already planning on paying 20.00 I’m reasonably happy with this.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jj!

      I’m not sure why you would get the CloudPlayer Premium along with the CloudDrive.

      What it looks like to me is that you’d need to upgrade to the CloudPlayer Premium ($24.99 a year) to store those 8,000 songs in a way that the CloudPlayer could play them. I think the 20GB CloudDrive is going down to $10 a year…although if your 8K of songs are moved to the CloudPlayer, you may not feel like you need 20GB.

      My understanding:

      Past:

      You are paying $20 a year (ignoring the free year you got for purposes of the comparison). You are able to store and play your 8K songs.

      Current:

      You can pay $24.99 a year, and move your 8K songs to the CloudPlayer Premium. If you have under 5GB of other files on your CloudDrive, you could make that the free plan. Otherwise, you’d pay an additional $10 a year for the 20GB storage on the CloudDrive. You won’t be able to play songs from the CloudDrive in the CloudPlayer.

      So, for about $35 a year, you can have your “8Kake” songs and play them, too. :)

      I’ll try and confirm that, but that seems right to me.

      • Jj Hitt Says:

        Here are the options I get when I’m push the ‘Manage Your Cloud Drive’ button:

        5 GB + Cloud Player (250 songs)
        Free

        20 GB + Cloud Player (250 songs)
        $10.00 / year

        Your subscription:
        20 GB + Cloud Player Premium
        $20.00 / year

        50 GB + Cloud Player Premium
        $25.00 / year

        100 GB + Cloud Player Premium
        $50.00 / year

        200 GB + Cloud Player Premium
        $100.00 / year

        500 GB + Cloud Player Premium
        $250.00 / year

        1000 GB + Cloud Player Premium
        $500.00 / year

        I’ll probably go for the 25.00 package before my current plan expires, but the 20.00 plan is available as a renewal.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Jj!

        Interesting! So, you could get quite a deal for the $20…20GB CloudDrive plus CloudPlayer Premium.

        People starting that from scratch would pay $34.99…you are getting about a 43% discount on that package deal.

      • Jj Hitt Says:

        And, my music already moved by itself. And it left a backup copy on ‘CloudDrive’. The backup folder ‘Archived Music’ doesn’t count against my storage quota, but anything I add to it will.

  11. GregC Says:

    I’ll echo Emily’s comments as well.

    I really feel that the changes to Cloud Player and the additional charge is bordering on a “bait & switch”. Amazon said they were letting you use 5 GB free for storing and playing your music, regardless of the source of the tunes. Now that you have uploaded your music library, you have to pony up $25 to have access to it through Cloud Player. Or you can download/delete the tunes from Cloud Player and not pay anything. As Man in the Middle pointed out, this is not a trivial exercise when you’re talking about 3 or 4 GB of music.

    Maybe I’m just complaining about not getting something for free anymore, but this sure leaves a bitter taste in my mouth about the way Amazon treats their customers. Changing the rules in the middle of the game. What’s next – are we going to have to pay to access the personal documents we have stored on Amazon to view in our Kindles? Are we going to have to pay to re-download books that we have previously purchased? Sorry Mr. Bezos, this has really eroded the trust I had in your company.

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