Archive for November, 2012

Round up #131: KDP doubles December pool?, 2007 article: Kindle will “be a flop”

November 21, 2012

Round up #131: KDP doubles December pool?, 2007 article: Kindle will “be a flop”

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

CNET 2007: “Amazon Kindle: Flop”

Thanks to Glenn in the Amazon Kindle community for the heads-up on this one!

Amazon Kindle: Flop

I recently wrote about how the Kindle has changed my world, since the device just hit its five year anniversary.

Of course, I”m not the only person in my world (unless the solipsists are right). Publishers, bookstores, authors, other readers….we’ve all been affected.

So, the coming revolution must have been obvious, right? ;)

Not to everybody.

In the case of the Kindle, not to a lot of people, especially tech bloggers. Who was going to pay that much money to, you know, read, when they could get a gaming system cheaper?  If you were a reader, the Kindle wasn’t going to change anything significant, people said. Also, Amazon wasn’t a hardware company: they weren’t going to get people to buy an Amazon “gadget”.

Well, the article above encapsulates the concerns beautifully. :)

Don Reisinger gives you four reasons why the Kindle will inevitably fail, and offers this advice: “Stick to retail, Amazon. It’s safer that way.”

I think the thing that stood out the most to me was this one:

“I don’t know about you, but I can only read one book at a time and carrying a stack of paper is just as easy as carrying a 10 ounce device.”

As somebody who always carried two books around with me (and kept an emergency book in the car), that’s a bit of a bizarre concept. Sure, I don’t (usually) have two books open at the same time and skip from one to another (although I’ve done that with non-fiction), but I love to bounce around from book to read. The author of the blogpost had clearly never packed a suitcase of books to go on a trip!

So, did the Kindle change Don Reisinger’s world by having the prognosticator laughed out of the business?

Not at all, and it shouldn’t have. Reisinger still writes on CNET.

I’m currently going through Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t (which I think is a significant book…both logical and fun to read). It’s clear from Silver’s analysis of predictions from TV pundits that being right doesn’t necessarily correlate to media success. ;) I think you are more likely to be interesting to the audience if you are bold, even if you are later proven to have been wrong.

I’ve been wrong. :) I thought that publishers would embrace Amazon paying for a technology at no cost to them that expanded the market for their products (text-to-speech). While I do think blocking access is becoming less common, they didn’t retract what I considered to be knee-jerk concerns about it impacting audiobook sales right away, as I thought they would.

KDP doubling pool to $1.4 million in December?

That’s odd! I received an e-mail from Amazon, clicked through it, and I’m sure I saw a splash that said that Kindle Direct Publishing publishers were going to have a “bonus” pool in December…instead of $700,000 to divide for each borrow from the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), it was going to be $1.4 million, and that I saw the word “bonus”.

Now, as I went to write the piece, I’m not seeing it. I wonder if I saw something they plan to announce later?

It would be nice for the publishers, certainly, and the KOLL has been extending to other countries as well. The latter, though, reduces the per title pay-out, since there are presumably more borrows dividing up the same pool (there is one international pool, I believe).

Well, this may really be a case of you read it here first. :) Of course, it might not materialize, and then people would be annoyed with me (see previous story). ;)

“Amazon’s the devil — and I love it”

In this

Salon.com article

by author Art Edwards, we see the portrayal of Amazon and as a predatory threat to books…and yet, the author ironically notes, the Kindle is cool. :)

I thought Jeff Bezos response on Charlie Rose recently about being called a “disruptor” was interesting. The Amazon CEO said that disrupting wasn’t the goal; innovating was the goal, and disrupting was an associated effect. Jeff claims to be working from the customer backwards, rather than specifically targeting competitors (which, gallant as we can count on Mr. Bezos being, was cited as another viable approach). It’s not that Amazon is trying to crush competitors in the described model: it’s that they are trying to do things better, and when they do, that must inevitably upset the status quo.

I recommend the article: it’s an interesting take on this ambivalent viewpoint some people have.

Simon & Schuster & Harper & Collins?

There were articles about this in my Flipboard read this morning, and a reader also sent me a heads-up in a private e-mail.

Wall Street Journal article

It appears that News Corp may be in talks to acquire Simon & Schuster and merge it with their HarperCollins publishing entity.

This would be partially motivated by the recent merger of Random House and Penguin.

One issue is simply to have the resources to compete. Random House is huge, and what they unfortunately elected not to call “Random Penguin” is bigger. If you need to outlay large amounts of money to attract brand name authors, and/or to innovate significantly in your business practices, size helps.

Mergers also can result in eliminating redundant positions, which creates a net efficiency (of course, some people who leave might become competitors, working either for Amazon or publishing independently…the latter much more possible now that you don’t need giant physical book factories and distribution chains to compete).

Eventually, will we just get down to one company which, like the Rollerball movie suggested, might be called just “Books”?

Would this possible merger be a good thing for customers?

I like competition, and I like that publishers have different attitudes. Let’s say that each of these publishers currently has ten risky imprints. When they combine, do they go with twenty niche markets, or do they pick the ten best out of the twenty? I’m guessing the latter is the most likely.

I think these two are a reasonable fit, though, probably more so than Penguin and HarperCollins would have been. HC has Zondervan, an evangelical imprint, and Simon & Schuster has Theshold Editions, a politically conservative imprint. I’m thinking those two can get along…it would be different if you were trying to merge Zondervan and, say, Llewellyn (which publishes New Age, and has had a focus on astrology in its past).

All mergers need approval, and this article suggests these are only preliminary talks.

What do you think? Does it make any difference to you emotionally if publishers merge? Is that a threat to Amazon? Is Amazon the devil? Should the success of the Kindle have been obvious? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

No overage charges on the Kindle Fire 4G

November 20, 2012

No overage charges on the Kindle Fire 4G

Thanks to Josh W., an Amazon official, for this information! Josh said it could be shared with customers, and I thought you’d be interested.

It may eventually be added to the Help Pages.

There has been some not unreasonable concern about the 250MB per month data plan that we’ll be buying for our

I’m thinking that’s generally going to be enough for me. I’m in wi-fi enough that I can download the videos need without worrying about the 4G. I expect to use that 4G connection (which is similar to the way a SmartPhone connects) for simple website kind of use, including e-mail, and I’m not thinking I’m going to use a lot of data. I know I could be surprised, though. :)

If you were planning to download or even stream video with the 4G, though, that 250MB limit might get hit pretty quickly.

There was some speculation about what would happen at that point. Would you  suddenly find a bill with extensive overages? Would you have an opportunity to upgrade to a larger, more expensive plan on the fly?

TuxGirl, a regular reader and commenter here, raised the question in a comprehensive, forward looking way.

Here are the answers provided by Josh:

*Overages – This is a prepaid plan. When a customer reaches their 250MB limit, they will receive a message letting them know they can either wait until the following month, or upgrade their plan to a 3GB or 5GB plan. There will be no overage charges.

*Restrictions – To prevent the data from being used in one sitting or accidentally, there are some restrictions to the data usage. They include:

-Downloads over 50MB from Appstore, Amazon MP3, Amazon Instant Video (AIV), Audible, or the Kindle Store require a Wi-Fi connection to complete.
-Transitioning from Wi-Fi to cellular (e.g. customer leaves home Wi-Fi network) when downloading an item over 50MB will result in the download stopping and asking the customer to connect to Wi-Fi to complete it.
-Transitioning from Wi-Fi to cellular when streaming AIV content will result in the stream stopping and asking the customer to connect to Wi-Fi to continue watching.

*Customers may see a restriction to their AIV streaming, this restriction will be removed with a software update once the device is connected via wireless and has at least a 40% charge.

*If a Wi-Fi network is recognized by your device and you’re in range, it will connect to it automatically.

*When you’re connected to the 4G network, the status bar will display the AT&T logo, the network type, and the network signal strength bars. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi, the mobile network type will not be displayed.

That should take care of some anxiety! While the 50MB limit may frustrate some people (you want to download that 2GB HD movie, which is about what Amazon estimates, while on a camping trip without wi-fi, and can’t do it), I think this is generally a good implementation.

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

How the Kindle changed my world: the first five years

November 20, 2012

How the Kindle changed my world: the first five years

“SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nov. 19, 2007–Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today introduced Amazon Kindle, a revolutionary portable reader that wirelessly downloads books, blogs, magazines and newspapers to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight. More than 90,000 books are now available in the Kindle Store, including 101 of 112 current New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases, which are $9.99, unless marked otherwise. Kindle is available starting today for $399…”
Amazon press release

It seems like books have always been a big part of my life.

I remember being read out of a book at bedtime. I remember the wonder of the school library, and the public library.

As I became an adult, books continued to matter. There were times when I didn’t have much money to spend. I know I spent more of it on books than on food. I’d see a book in a used bookstore, even for fifty cents. I’d make myself leave and come back an hour later. I figured if I didn’t still want it an hour later, it could wait. That didn’t happen very often; I usually ended up buying it, even if that meant I ate so many carrots (which were very cheap) that I literally turned orange.

I would even dream about bookstores. I’m a lucid dreamer: I can be aware during a dream that I am dreaming, and still keep going. One clue that I was dreaming? There was a used bookstore I would go to in my dreams…it wasn’t a real one, but there wasn’t anything really special about it. If I realized I was in that store, I knew it was a dream.

Later, I would go on to manage a bookstore. Even though I didn’t make much money at it, I loved that! I loved connecting readers with books, and I just loved being surrounded by them. Yes, it was hard work and long hours. That’s why I eventually stopped: I got into a relationship, and it didn’t really seem fair to work three evenings and both weekend days.

Eventually, I had about ten thousand paperbooks on shelves in my home. When we bought a house, we would buy an extra bedroom, just to have a floor to ceiling library. I always remember the moment when my kid realized the books always got the bigger bedroom. ;) What was my kid’s stated life ambition? To have more books than me…

When the Kindle was introduced on November 19, 2007, I wasn’t really interested. I thought, as so many other people did, that I liked the feel of a “real book”. I loved books as artifacts of history; I had ones that were over 100 years old by that point.

I wasn’t going to spend $399 on a device to read electronic books! Oh, I think I’d looked at e-books a bit on my computer…that didn’t thrill me.

A relative, though, got me a Kindle for a holiday gift.

I was happy about it, but just figured it was a gadget…like those vacuum cleaners that spiffed up your LPs, or the little calculator-like device I’d had that you could type on and it would print out an adding machine tape with the words on it.

I started reading on it. It was okay, a little hard to get used to holding. I bought my first Kindle book on January 29, 2008. It was a book I already owned…I had several different editions of it. I liked the ability to search, but I wasn’t hooked.

It’s amazing to me when I look at it now, but over the next couple of months, I only bought a few e-books. I was reading a lot of paperbooks, and still trying to find the value in that butcher block of a device.

Then, author Michael Hicks helped me out by answering a question on line.

I bought In Her Name (no longer available in the edition I got…I’ve linked to the current version which contains what I read and more) on March 12, 2008.

It was a big sweeping epic science fiction novel, and one of the best things I had read.

It was that experience, of being able to read a book which would have been the size of a small airport ;) easily which really got me into reading on the Kindle.

It wasn’t a diminution of my experience of reading paperbooks…it was an expansion of it.

I couldn’t have easily carried that book with me everywhere, although I don’t always do things the easy way. :) I was in the habit of packing an extra suitcase just for books when I traveled, and I kept an “emergency book” in the car in case I was out and finished what I had.

Shortly after that, I published my first book on the Kindle.

That was a huge change! I’d had a column in a national newsstand magazine, and had some other articles published. I’d had a couple of plays done, and had been  publishing what was then called an “e-zine” online.

This was different, though. I had a book at Amazon.

As a former bookstore manager, I knew how hard it was to crack that distribution near monopoly of the major publishers. I would have people walk into my store with a self-published book and ask if I would sell it on consignment (if it sold, they got paid. If it didn’t, they got nothing).

They figured that was a no risk proposition for me.

They didn’t realize that we were always fighting rent and salaries. A book sitting on a bookstore’s shelf costs that store money, because they have to pay the rent for that space.

I would ask the indie: “If I call you and tell you I need 100 of these in three days, can you do it?” The answer was always no. The tradpubs (traditional publishers) can do that.

Here I was, though, with a book in what was perhaps the largest bookstore in the world.

I started buying more e-books. I also scanned a public domain book for a non-profit where I was on the board, and we made that available to the public. What a wonderful feeling that was!

Gradually, I started buying fewer and fewer p-books (paperbooks).

As the Kindle technology improved (the devices got lighter, easier to use, cheaper, and with more capacity), I was making the full switch.

I stopped even buying p-books. Me…not buying paperbooks. Our best friends had said they would never help us move again because of the number of boxes of books. :) That wasn’t going to be an increasing issue in the future.

By February 15th of 2009, I had found the Amazon Kindle forum. This is the first thread I remember starting, although I think I’d done a few before that:

Is there a way to get a list of the discussions you’ve started?

While I got one snarky response right away, people were generally nice and helpful…I had a clever response to the snark (one which might have pleased Sigmund Freud), so I felt good about that.

That relationship to the forum would definitely become a major part of my life over time.

On August 28, 2009, I started this blog.

It was an amazing creative outlet, and a great way to help people.

Eventually, it would become (but not stay) the number one paid blog at Amazon. I always like to tell people about the day I passed both The Huffington Post and The Onion.

I continued to publish to the Kindle store, and to write the blog. For the first time in my life, I was making real money as an author. Oh, I still had (and still have) a (more than) full-time job.  I remember the first time, though, that income from my writing alone would have kept me above the poverty level…that was a shock (and in some ways, still is).

Eventually, it got to the point where my writing was making enough to pay my kid’s rent in college. That’s not bad, and has certainly helped make our lives easier.

On September 7, 2010, I described A Day in the Life of a Kindleer. You can see how integrated the Kindle had become.

Since then, it’s been non-stop. I’ve had Kindles fail, and I’ve had Kindles stolen (one theft was actually caught on a security camera). I’ve moved on to using a Kindle Fire tablet, and am anxiously awaiting my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB.

I haven’t been in a bookstore in a long time, and I haven’t dreamed about one, either.

I do know one thing, though: I love books now more than ever.

How about you? How has the Kindle changed your world? Feel free to share your experience by commenting on this post.

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

USA Kindle Store bestseller analysis November 18 2012

November 19, 2012

USA Kindle Store bestseller analysis November 18 2012

I thought I’d take a look at the bestselling paid books in the USA Kindle store, so I did some analysis on the top twenty.

Rank Price Agency Publisher
1  $    14.99 Yes Simon & Schuster
2  $    12.99 Yes Random House
3  $       0.99 No Independent
4  $    14.99 Yes Hachette
5  $       9.99 Yes Penguin
6  $    12.99 Yes Random House
7  $       3.99 No Montlake (Amazon)
8  $       8.80 No Agate Bolden
9  $       0.99 No Independent
10  $       4.24 No Samhain
11  $       7.59 No Houghton MH
12  $       9.99 Yes Random House
13  $    12.80 No HarperCollins
14  $    14.99 Yes Hachette
15  $    13.99 Yes Random House
16  $       9.99 Yes Penguin
17  $       3.99 No AmazonCrossing
18  $       1.99 No Thomas & Mercer (Amazon)
19  $       3.99 No Montlake (Amazon)
20  $       0.99 No Independent

The first thing that jumps out at me from the above table is the number of Amazon’s traditionally published books that are on the list. There are four out of the top 20 (20%), and their average ranking is 15.25 (lower ranking is better, since the #1 rank sells better than the #20). That’s really remarkable! Remember that this is a relatively new business for a company (Amazon) that has been around for less than twenty years, competing with publishers which have often have been in business for decades.

The average price of books in the top twenty was higher than I might have guessed, at $8.26.

Another thing: there is a perception that Penguin is priced on the higher end, but that doesn’t match here with the Agency Model publishers:

Publisher Average
S&S  $    14.99
Hachette  $    14.99
Random  $    12.49
Penguin  $       9.99

Admittedly, the top twenty is a small sample, but I still always enjoy it when something doesn’t match my expectations (or what I perceive to be the “common wisdom”).

How about this one? More books in the top twenty are non-Agency Model than are Agency Model (there are only nine of the latter).

Then, I wanted to look at some of the features, and they really surprised me:

Rank TTS X-Ray Lending KOLL WSV
1  No  Yes Yes No No
2  Yes  Yes No No No
3  Yes  Yes Yes Yes No
4  No  Yes No No No
5  Yes  Yes No No Yes
6  Yes  Yes No No Yes
7  Yes  No Yes Yes No
8  Yes  No No No Yes
9  Yes  Yes Yes No No
10  Yes  Yes Yes No No
11  Yes  Yes No No Yes
12  Yes  Yes No No Yes
13  Yes  Yes No No Yes
14  No  Yes No No No
15  Yes  Yes No No No
16  Yes  Yes No No Yes
17  Yes  Yes Yes Yes No
18  Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
19  Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
20  Yes  Yes Yes No No

I would not have guessed that 90% of them have X-Ray enabled! I would have put that at a much lower figure…I remember having to scramble around to find any in the beginning.

I’d like to see no books with TTS (text-to-speech) blocked, but there were three.  Their average ranking is 6.3, much higher than those without it blocked. However, I don’t think that’s because people see that as more desirable. ;) I think it’s because only tradpubs (traditional publishers) block it, so access is only going to be blocked on the very most popular books (at least at this point).

Peer-to-peer lending is on almost half of the books: nine out of twenty. The prevalence of Amazon published books helps here, since they always allow it.

Participation in the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) is only true on five of them, though…25%.

Whispersync for Voice was also surprising high to me, at nine out of the twenty. I”m not a user of that feature, which syncs an audiobook to the text, but I do hear from people who really like it.

Things are clearly changing…

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

Round up #130: Fictionwise shuts down, the Bezos buzz

November 18, 2012

Round up #130: Fictionwise shuts down, the Bezos buzz

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

The Bezos buzz

Jeff Bezos is everywhere lately! Amazon has really (I think properly) decided that their CEO can be a good person to just get out there and schmooze about the company and the products.

That’s quite different from other CEOs. Jeff always comes across as genuinely enthusiastic…he seems very approachable. While there is no question that Bezos is great at what he does, you don’t get that prickly genius or overbearing boss thing that comes with some.

For example, Bezos was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday:

I would say that Jimmy Fallon was positively gushing about it. :) It was fun to hear Jeff talk about the very early days…and Fallon tried to get him to talk about a possible SmartPhone. The discussion certainly made it seem like it was happening, but no beans were spilled. :)

Fortune Magazine also named Jeff Bezos its “Business Person of the Year”:

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The ultimate disrupter

This a great, lengthy article (dated December 3rd) by Adam Lashinsky, with pictures, graphs, and analysis.

By the way, I was impressed that the Ivona text-to-speech on my Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB pronounced “Bezos” correctly (it’s “BAY-zohs”, not “BEE-zohs”).

I strongly recommend this article to you.

It even inspired a response article in Forbes:

What Fortune Didn’t Tell You In Its Jeff Bezos Cover Story

Bezos was also on Charlie Rose yesterday, but I haven’t seen that one yet.

We’re gonna make that gift card dance!

This one is super cool!

You may be familiar with JibJab, maybe from political animations.

Well, Amazon just announced

JibJab for Amazon gift cards

You can upload your picture, or a picture of your recipient, and they make an animated movie with your face in it for a gift card.

These are not just holiday cards, but birthdays, “love videos”, dance videos and so on.

If you’ve never seen one, these can be hilarious! I see this as a huge value added for a gift card, making it uniquely personal as well.

You can also schedule these up to a year in advance, so you can play ahead for those gifts. On the actual day of a holiday, you don’t want to have to do anything to get a small (or large) gift delivered and now, you don’t. :)

Fictionwise to become “Fictionwise was” on December 4

This one makes me a bit sad.

Fictionwise, owned by Barnes & Noble, was a good site for Kindle owners to get current, in-copyright books from a different source than Amazon…and it’s shutting down.

FAQ PAGE – Fictionwise Bookshelf Transfer to Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Library”

If you have personal documents there, download them soon.

Definitely if you have done business with Fictionwise, you need to check this out, so you don’t lose access to things you have there.

They will transfer your library to a NOOK library…but only into EPUB format. They say:

“BN.com only supports the ePub format, and BN.com is working with publishers to convert your content should you wish to transfer your Fictionwise Websites Bookshelf to a NOOK Library at BN.com. For any eBooks which are not converted for transfer to BN.com, we suggest that you downloadthese eBooks if you haven’t already before December 21, 2012, . Click here to see the Fictionwise Websites titles that are not transferrable.”

If you bought books there for your Kindle, you’ll need to retrieve them.

Is this a model for what could happen if major e-book retailers were to fail?

Maybe…note that people aren’t losing their books (if they go them)…they are losing access to remote storage. That’s the real concern, I think.

Amazon ends “Prime by the Month” experiment

I wrote recently about Amazon offering their Prime membership on a $7.99 a month basis (rather than they typical $79 annual fee).

I really thought that would be a significant change. They’ve stopped the offer, at least for now. They may just need to assess to see how it is going.

Engadget article

This was not the time of year to be doing a monthly offer…so it might return later. The people who bought it will give them valuable use case data.

Is Amazon spending a billion dollars a year on video licences?

Netflix CEO: Amazon Losing Up to $1 Billion a Year on Streaming Video

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, describes Amazon as “…the best competitor we’ve ever faced.”

I think he makes a simple mistake in his concerns about how much money Amazon is spending on video licensing.

This goes back to my thing about the Fire being a gateway to Prime, and Prime being a gateway to selling physical products (“diapers and windshield wipers”).

Amazon is spending tons of money, of course, but it may be inspiring profitable  sales of physical items (as opposed to not so profitable sales of digital ones).

That’s the key. The no additional cost Prime streaming videos encourage people to become or stay Prime members…and then they start doing a lot more purchasing with Amazon. That’s what should make brick-and-mortar stores concerned.

Amazon can spend a lot of money on video because they don’t have to make the money on video…they are buying purchases of other items.

By the way, I know my posts have been a bit shorter the few days. :) It’ s been a very long week, with a special initiative at work that had me working all day today (Saturday) as well. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to inundating you with data. ;)

What do you think? Does Jeff Bezos deserve the “Praise-os” ;) ? Did you use Fictionwise? Are you going to do a JibJab for Amazon card? Will Amazon go back to offering a monthly option for Prime? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

Black Friday deals 2012

November 17, 2012

Black Friday deals 2012

I wrote yesterday about the availability of Kindles directly from Amazon, and how that might affect your possible plans to get one for the holidays.

A week from today is “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a family tradition that we go out that morning to buy Toys for Tots, as I think I’ve mentioned before.

I’ve actually written pretty extensively about how we approach it in the past, but I did want to mention some possible Black Friday deals this year that might interest you as a reader of this blog.

There are many sites out there that tell you about Black Friday ads: my favorite is

http://bfads.net/

Looking at that, I see some possible Kindle bargains.

However, I need to be clear: these are not official statements by the stores, and they could certainly change. My experience in the past, though, has been that they tend to be accurate.

Some of these come from leaked information, I think, and in some cases, it might be store management doing the leaking. ;) They can judge the interest and could, hypothetically, adjust.

Still, here are some things you might consider:

  • Staples is reportedly going to give a $20 gift card with the purchase of a Kindle Fire HD 7″ (16GB or 32 GB)
  • Best Buy is reportedly going them $10 better, and giving a $30 gift card with the purchase of the 16GB Kindle Fire HD 7″ or the Kindle Fire 7″ SD
  • Office Depot isn’t going with their own gift card…they’ll give you a Visa gift card for $25 with the Kindle Fire 7″ SD (that’s a lot on a $159 device!)
  • I don’t quite get Shopko’s supposed deal…it says it is $30 off a Kindle Fire, making it $149.99. Here’s the ad: Shopko ad. I’m not sure which Fire they mean, since $179.99 doesn’t match a Kindle Fire price (at least in the USA). For one thing, Kindle prices don’t end in ninety-nine cents…
  • Office Max will reportedly have 40% off Belkin Kindle cases and chargers, and 50% off Speck (I had a Speck cover once, and didn’t really like it…it warped quickly)
  • Shopko also says 40% off Kindle accessories

Again, these should all be in the rumor category. Some will be “doorbusters” (which means they are usually only available in the beginning of Black Friday…either because they have a limited supply and run out, or they only offer them until a certain time).

Oh, and deals may not be available online and/or in your country.

Will Amazon offer any Black Friday deals on Kindles and/or accessories?

It’s possible…they just recently had a Gold Box deal on the Kindle Fire SD. If I hear about something, I’ll let you know. Feel free to comment on this post if you see a Kindle deal which might also be available to my readers.

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

KFHD 8.9″ starts shipping today, 5 days early

November 16, 2012

KFHD 8.9″ starts shipping today, 5 days early

In this

press release

Amazon announces that they have started shipping the

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″

today. It was originally scheduled for release on November 20th, so they are five days early.

They also say they are going to start shipping the

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 32GB

That’s the one that I have on order, but my delivery date hasn’t moved up yet. I’m hoping to have it for Black Friday shopping, so we can Skype with our adult kid. :) Black Friday shopping is a family tradition for us: we set a budget to buy toys for Toys for Tots. We actually have fun showing up at a store at 4:00 AM, and you can get the brand name toys cheaply that morning. A disadvantaged kid still knows who Spider-Man and Dora the Explorer are, but they usually don’t get to have toys with them.

So, if you are thinking about Kindles for the holidays and haven’t ordered yet, where are we?

I think you can also expect some accessories to sell out, although a cover that fits an 8.9″ with 32GB will fit one with 64GB, so there is more flexibility of use. I would also expect a cover to fit an 8.9″ with or without 4G. :)

I wouldn’t expect these dates to hold…the ones that are shipping “the week of December 3rd” for orders placed today may not be that early for orders placed next week.

This information is for customers using Amazon.com, by the way…might not hold for your country.

Oh, one accessory I’d be worried about being in short supply is a Bluetooth keyboard, since it goes with so many devices and the manufacturers probably didn’t know for sure how many models would be in the marketplace. Since the update to the Kindle Fire fixed the repeating key problem, I’ve been loving my Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000! It’s very comfortable…I like typing on it better than our desktop keyboard. I haven’t taken it out on the road yet, but I do expect to do that.

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

Round up #129: touchless screens, color E Ink next year?

November 15, 2012

Round up #129: touchless screens, color E Ink next year?NOOK app arrives for Windows 8

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

I’d written previously about there not being a NOOK reading app for Windows 8 when it was first released. That was odd, because Microsoft recently invested a lot of money in Barnes & Noble, and you would think they would be shooting for synergy.

Well, this is just to let you know that they have one now:

Official Page

Don’t touch that dial…er, screen

I’ve suggested before that one of the innovations we could see were gestural interface tablets/EBRs (e-book readers). That would mean that you don’t have to touch the screen (getting those yucky fingerprints on it), but just wave your hand near it to tell it what to do.

Well, according to this

Engadget article

we’ll have it at least for Windows 8 soon (within a year or so). The article includes a pretty convincing video.

Color frontlit device for 2013?

Pocketbook has

announced

that they’ll have a color, touchscreen, E Ink device in the market in 2013.

It looks good in the pictures, but there isn’t a mention of price.

It’s also frontlit (probably somewhat like the Kindle Paperwhite or NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight.

I’m guessing people will like it, but again, price might be a daunting factor when we find out what it is (remember, it will be compared to tablets…which could be down around $100 by then).

It also may not be available in the USA next year.

Still, this suggests to me that other manufacturers will have them in the next year or so as well.

Inside an Amazon warehouse

This

The Telegraph article

gives you a good look inside an Amazon warehouse (fulfillment center). They are clever and organized on those, although the Kiva robots still aren’t there .

GoGo Gadget wi-fi!

In this

Mashable article

they report that GoGo in-flight internet had gotten a lot faster…and also more money. You can pay $10 for one hour, but it goes up from there.

I’ve still never tried it, and I know it blocks video, but I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted to use it with my Fire. I probably won’t, though, unless it’s a really long flight…I’m fine with downloading stuff ahead of time for the flight.

Five budget routers

Speaking of internet, one of the things a lot of people may do when they get a Fire is to buy a wireless router. I got a new one, because our old one just wasn’t enough “juice” for what we were doing…and our cordless phone interfered with it.

Here’s a

CNET article

on five budget routers they say won’t disappoint.

This is the one we’ve been using:

Medialink Wireless N Router – 802.11n – 150 Mbps – 2.4 Ghz – NEW Design w/ Internal Antenna

It’s $49.99 right now, and it’s been fine at serving a pretty wide variety of devices (two Kindle Fire HDs, a Kindle Paperwhite, a “Mindle”, two SmartPhones, a Roku, and a Wii…I think that’s the main set right now).

Knock virtual wood, but I like it. :)

65-year old ABC Book & Comic Emporium to close

According to the

Vancouver Sun

a used bookstore which has been open since 1946 is going to close.

I read a lot of these stories. No question, it’s tough to make a brick-and-mortar bookstore work (and I speak as a former manager), but it’s harder now than it was five years ago.

I have said to my Significant Other that you’d be hard press to get me to invest in a brick-and-mortar that was going to sell things. How do they compete with the internet? Yes, you can do services (you can’t use the internet to get your dog groomed), and you can do perishable food and restaurants (although the latter has always been a big risk). If you want to sell stuff, though, you better have an impressive business plan.

On the other hand, some new outlet stores have opened within an hour of our house…and they have been packed! Traffic has gone from where something that used to take five minutes is taking forty-five, and our local news has been reporting that more than 300,000 people have visited the complex in a week.

Two of my articles

This last Saturday was the second Saturday of the month, which is when my rotating column appears in the The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing.

That blog is oriented towards authors specifically, so I do tend to write somewhat different things there than here.

I was surprised at the reaction to my latest:

Did your mother say you could read that book?

I was writing about how “white lists” in parental controls, like FreeTime on the Fire, might make it more difficult for indies (independent publishers) to get discovered. I honestly thought people would be more upset by the fact that a kid couldn’t browse in a bookstore and discover and request books, but could only read books that a legal guardian pre-selected.

People seemed to be okay with it, and even with the idea of a rating system for books, like we have for movies, music, and videogames.

On the other hand, I had some unexpectedly…I’m going to say negative, but that might be too strong a word, reactions to a post in this blog

We need to talk about your relationship…with Amazon

I think Amazon is great, and have a wonderful relationship with them. I wasn’t saying anything that I saw as bad about them. I was just suggesting that people tend to see them as something they aren’t, more akin to a family member or a friend. I wanted people to be aware of what could happen.

It seemed like people read that as me being suspicious of or negative about Amazon. That’s not the case…I tend to trust them. I just want to be realistic about what the situation is, so people aren’t surprised with things that might happen.

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

Flash! About to end…$129 for Kindle Fire 2nd Generation Standard Definition

November 13, 2012

Flash! About to end…$129 for Kindle Fire 2nd Generation Standard Definition

This deal is about to end. Amazon has a Gold Box deal right now on the Kindle Fire 2nd Generation (not the HD):

Gold Box deal on KFSD

Don’t wait…this is literally ending shortly!

My apologies if you don’t see this in time.

It’s thirty dollars off, $129 instead of $159.

You must order it from the Gold Box deals page above…if you don’t see the deal, it’s over (or you might be in a country where it doesn’t apply).

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

We need to talk about your relationship…with Amazon

November 13, 2012

We need to talk about your relationship…with Amazon

The internet is an intimate experience.

It’s how many of us communicate with our friends and families. Relationships may begin (and end) with an e-mail (or instant message, or tweet).

I think that might be part of the confusion with how some people seem to see their relationships with Amazon.

The immediacy and personal connection of communicating with the e-tailer through the same methods we use with our parents, kids, and Significant Others might be generating these feelings of additional obligation I don’t think you’d find with a brick-and-mortar store.

Amazon is a business…you are a customer.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you that people wouldn’t have expected to be able to come into my store, tell other customers that a book was terrible at the top of their voices…and not expect me to be able to ask them not to do that, or even ask them to leave.

I think people recognize that a physical store is the territory of the store.

The internet is shared territory.

It’s both yours, as the customer, and Amazon’s, as the business.

They can’t tell you to stay off the internet. They can’t even tell you to stay off their site (although they can tell you they won’t do business with you).

If we caught someone who was clearly shoplifting (the person had books under their shirt, for example…that actually happened), but who hadn’t left the store yet, we couldn’t really do anything to them. They hadn’t committed the crime yet. We could tell them to put the books back, and leave the store.

We could also tell them they were never allowed back in the store. If they did come back, we could actually call the police and have them charged with trespassing.

Amazon is under no obligation to do business with you.

It doesn’t have to sell to you.

It doesn’t have to post your reviews.

It doesn’t have to publish your book.

It doesn’t have to tell you why it doesn’t want to do these things with you.

In fact, if it does tell you why it deleted your review, that could cause it (and you) problems.

As a former manager, I would have this problem some times. We would have an “at will” relationship with employees (in at least one place I worked). That meant the employee was free to leave at any time, and we were free to dismiss them at any time…for no reason.

However, if I fired somebody for cause, I had to be able to justify it.

We had to reduce the size of the staff once, and I let somebody go. That person wanted to know why I did it, so that they could do a better job at the next place…a reasonable request.

I had to explain that I wasn’t saying the person did anything wrong: we were just using our “at will” choice.

If I did say that person did something wrong, the person would be fired, not laid off…and would be ineligible for unemployment compensation.

Being fired would be worse for the employee, and worse for us.

That person had just been let go, with no statement that they had been doing a bad job.

If Amazon deletes your review and doesn’t tell you why, they don’t have to defend it. They have that right. If they suspected you of a crime in the posting (but couldn’t prove it easily), such as fraud (pretending to be an independent customer when you were actually gaining financially from posting the review), libel, or infringement, removing the review is an easy way to go.

If they accused you of the crime, that is very complicated and messy for both of you.

If you continued to post reviews that raised the issue, without being definitive, they could simply choose not to let you post any more reviews.

They have no obligation to let you post reviews.

At that point, you might ask them why (and I’ve seen that happen on Amazon’s own forums and elsewhere).

Do  you really want them to say, “It’s because we think you might be defrauding people?” Then you can say, “No, I’m not!” and they have to prove the case…which means a lot of time, money, and bad publicity for you.

You could certainly ask them to look at the situation again, and they might do it. Maybe your name coincidentally is the same as the author’s (that can happen…although probably not with my name). ;) If they examine the situation, they might decide to let you start posting again…without telling you why.

Amazon, though, has more of a relationship with you than that brick-and-mortar store. The Kindle provides a service, not just an item, and they are obligated to meet the agreements of that service which they have made; just as you are obligated to stay within the Terms of Service.

That’s a bit of a different situation. If they said you could use an e-book on six devices and it would only let you use it on one, that’s a problem for them. If they said they would store your books for you for free, they’d better have some reason to stop doing that…like you broke the Terms of Service by installing a hack on your device that altered the software:

“No Reverse Engineering. You may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to copy, modify, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble, or otherwise tamper with, the Amazon Software, whether in whole or in part, or create any derivative works from or of the Amazon Software.”
Amazon Conditions of Use

Don’t fall into the error of thinking of Amazon as your friend. I like them very much as a company, no question. I’ve always had good service from them, and there are things I expect them to do for me in the future.

That’s different from thinking they are obligated to do those things.

It’s to their advantage to have a good relationship with a good customer, and I fit that category, in my assessment.

If you are a bigger risk than you are a benefit, though, it might be a different story…and you might find  yourself on the outside looking in.

If you did, Amazon wouldn’t have to tell you why, as long  as they met their legal obligations.

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


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