Archive for December, 2012

The Year Ahead: 2013

December 31, 2012

The Year Ahead: 2013

This is my annual post where I look ahead to the next year. I’ll make some predictions, but I’ll warn you ahead of time…I don’t always get things right. ;) I do think I’m getting better at it, although there are always some surprises.

First, let’s take a look at what I predicted for 2012.

I had two categories: predictions and speculation.

Here were my predictions for 2012:

More than one new Kindle Fire

Status: hit

I got several elements of this correct, which is nice. :) I thought that they would bring out a 3G/4G model (I only said 3G, but close enough) of the Kindle Fire, and that they might partner with AT&T for a data plan. I thought a more fully-featured 7″ would be more expensive, and I was wrong there, but I was right about a camera (although I said “cameras”) and GPS. I thought we might see more than one larger screen Kindle Fire, and we did. I wasn’t completely right, but I did pretty well.

Continued support for Reflective Screen hardware…and a wi-fi large screen

Status: mixed

They did continue to support reflective screen hardware, and both Barnes & Noble and Amazon introduced frontlit models. They did not, though, introduce a larger wi-fi reflective screen device (replacing the DX) as I thought they might.

Current TV through Prime

Status: miss

I thought we might get current TV shows within a day or two of their broadcast through the Prime “no additional cost” video, and we didn’t. We can watch current TV as it is on using US TV Free, but that’s not the same thing.

Barnes & Noble hardware does well, Kobo doesn’t, mini iPad

Status: mixed

I got the description of the mini iPad pretty well (“…I think Apple will likely come out with a “mini” (or micro or nano  or whatever) iPad that competes more directly with the Fire. I would guess it would still cost more money, but be cheaper than the current generation.”), but I think I underestimated Kobo and overestimated the NOOK line. We’ll get a better idea on that when we see the fourth quarter and annual numbers.

Voice command

Status: miss

I can’t voice control my Kindle Fire, unfortunately. Oh, there are a couple of apps with voice recognition, but this didn’t happen in the way I thought it might.

For my speculation category, which I considered to be on less solid ground, I’d actually say I did better than on the predictions.

Governments make more public domain titles available

Status: unknown

I haven’t really looked at this carefully enough to evaluate it.

E-book sales growth rate eases

Status: hit

What we are hearing is that the growth rate slowed down…it was still huge, which is what I suggested, but slower than it had been.

Control over what is on each Kindle

Status: hit

Kindle FreeTime did pretty much exactly what I thought might happen. Even though that is only on the Kindle Fire line, that’s still a hit in my book.

Color reflective screens

Status: miss

These are not yet in the commercial market, and it may be that they are missing the window, but we’ll see. If a color screen reflective device was cheap enough, it might push out grayscale ones.

Kindles get better social features

Status: miss

We still don’t have something like “your friends like”…I do think this has to happen with Amazon, but it didn’t last year.

Challengers to traditional publishing

Status: hit

I mentioned Amazon’s moves into traditional publishing as part of this, and though bookstore boycotts affected it, the success is clearly there.

Blended media and synergistic marketing

Status: miss

I thought Kindle Fire usable books would get integrated audio and video…and Whispersync for Voice isn’t exactly what I was suggesting (although I suppose that’s in the same category).

Legal battles

Status: mixed

I was too broad on this. I was pretty good with the Agency Model, but I thought we might also get equal collection legislation (a nationwide sales tax policy), and we didn’t. Also, the Google settlement is still dragging on..

Advertising on the Kindle Fire

Status: hit

Yes, they got advertising and I described it as an opt in/opt out situation, and that was pretty close. It didn’t initially lower the price (and that matches what I said), because there was no option to get a Fire without it at first.

Amazon phone

Status: undetermined

I was just sort of floating the idea, and didn’t really make a prediction.

Now on to

2013 Predictions and Speculation (I’m combining the two)

Resolution of the Agency Model in the USA

I think we’ll see Macmillan and Apple settle with the Department of Justice. If they don’t, the court case could drag on past 2013, but I think that’s less likely.

Another major merger announced

My guess is that the Random Penguin (I can’t resist calling it that) merger is approved. That would leave, among the US Big Six: Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Hachette. I think Macmillan and either Simon & Schuster or HarperCollins bring the most diversity, but Joe Sargent (the Macmillan CEO) is a stubborn person who might not want to make it happen. Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins would be a real powerhouse…but I do see Macmillan in the mix somehow. I’ll say…Macmillan and Simon & Schuster as most likely. If that happened, would the other two also team up? Could be…and there could certainly be other media/tech companies in the mix. I could even, by the way, see NOOK/Kobo talks getting in the news.

Nothing really groundbreaking in hardware

I’m scared about this one! I think this is a consolidation year. I wouldn’t see a large screen wi-fi or a front-facing camera on a Kindle Fire as ground-breaking. This year, we had the frontlit reflective screens, and that’s truly significant. I’m just not picturing something like that. More features, prices coming down, yes. I think we may see a move towards wat I now dub the “phablet”, (which might get simplified to “fablet”). That’s something with a larger than regular cellphone screen, but it makes calls. We already see some advertising around that with the Samsung Galaxy Note. I can make and receive phone calls on my Kindle Fire using Magic Jack and Skype, but I think that’s just the beginning. In the future, I’d see us getting reflective screen cellphones, flexible displays (wrap a cellphone around your wrist, unfold a phone into a bigger display), eye and gesture tracking (so you can do things without touching a screen), and wireless transmission of power to our devices, but none of those market ready in 2013.

More well-known publications going digital only

I think we definitely see that this coming year…the kind of things that make the news.

Author cooperatives

As US copyright begins returning rights to authors for books published in 1978, I think we may see brand name authors getting together to form a company, sort of like the old United Artists or Dreamworks. Pottermore has to suggest that controlling distribution could work, and if you got, say, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and John Grisham together, they could certainly lure (and pay) top notch editors. I think readers would go for that, too. If you don’t need book factories, as you did in the days of paper, this gets much easier. It would allow the authors to bring over their editors, and I think that may be where the real loyalty lies (as opposed to loyalty really being with the publisher, especially as the heads of the publishing companies change).

Direct distribution from publishers

They have got to be looking at this. The periodical publishers talked about it, but I think social media has grown in a way that makes it more possible for book publishers. People will buy a book from a tweet, and that’s a way to get the distribution you need without a storefront.

Book production services

I think Amazon could do very well with software and services to help fledgling writers. Pay a fee, get editing, proofreading, cover design, that sort of thing. I think other people will do it, too, but I think Amazon could seriously get into this business. Maybe require that Amazon gets a “first look” for a one year exclusive. Exclusive content will continue to be important to Amazon, and they’ve promoted that a lot with KDP Select.

Social structures from Amazon

I’m going to keep saying this until it happens. ;) They need to set up some way for us to join groups and see reviews and reading habits from those groups. Those could be friends/family/coworkers, or could be famous people.

Account management improvement

Kindle FreeTime and Whispercast clearly are a move in this direction. I think  we will see more ways to send a book to more devices, and to limit content on different devices, on the same account. This has to move past the concept of “parental control”.

Subscription “all you can eat plans”

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited could be a test case for this, as was the limited test of Prime on a monthly basis. I don’t strongly think this will happen, but I think it may be an alternative that attracts some segments (a “romance” or  “science fiction” plan, for example).

Well, there you go. I’m not all that confident about these, but we’ll see. As always, I predict there will be things I haven’t predicted. :)

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

Round up #138: Xfinity, James Bond bargains

December 30, 2012

Round up #138: Xfinity, James Bond bargains

Big Kindle Daily Deal: 50 “acclaimed” mysteries for $1.99 each

It certainly looks like Amazon wants to drive up the numbers at the end of the year! I wrote yesterday about a Kindle Daily Deal with over 200 books, and today we have fifty mysteries for $1.99 each.

That includes several original James Bond books (which Amazon now publishes). I would start with the first book, Casino Royale, if you haven’t read them yet. There are quite a few other options, though.

As always, check the price before you click the Buy button…it may have expired before you get to it, and it may not apply if you are outside the USA.

The holiday Amazonathon

Amazon has released their always amusing look at holiday sales:

press release

They like to come up with some odd stats. This might have been my favorite this year:

“The cumulative weight of the “Bond 50” Blu-ray sets purchased by Amazon customers this holiday season would be 800 times the weight of Daniel Craig.”

When I think about it, that doesn’t actually sound like that many, but it’s still cool. :)

Of more interest to us:

  • Amazon was ranked #1 in Customer Service by ForeSee for the holidays for the eighth year running. This is actually a significant feat. There’s a lot of fascinating information in this ForeSee report. Barnes & Noble was way down the list, about #25…that’s one of the reasons I recommend the Kindle over the NOOK
  • The KFHD was more popular than the Paperwhite…even though it was priced much higher
  • The Paperwhite was still one of the top four items…the other two were the Kindle Fire 2nd generation standard definition, and the Mindle (the entry level Kindle)
  • I actually gave a sibling the most gifted Kindle book of the season: The Signal and the Noise…I honestly don’t expect my family to be doing the most popular anything most of the time, which says something about the breadth of appeal of this book
  • Check out this amazing statement: “23 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors each sold over 250,000 copies of their books in 2012.”  Even though those authors may be selling those books elsewhere, I presume Amazon wouldn’t count those sales. Were there 23 hardbacks this year that sold that many copies? Yes, probably…but this is still a huge achievement for a single channel item
  • The three bestselling books during the holiday season at Amazon.com were all in the Fifty Shades of Grey series…how’s that for a self-discovered author? :) I assume a lot of those were given as gifts, and that seems like an odd choice to me. It seems more like something you would get for yourself. My Significant Other suggested that a lot of people don’t know the content, just that it’s popular. Of course, there’s always been a market for “bind and gag gifts;)

To Xfinity…and beyond!

I”ve recently written about an app that lets you watch live TV on your Kindle Fire. One tip on that, by the way…if you are having trouble getting it to open, put your Kindle Fire in portrait mode (taller than it is wide). After you pick a channel, you can switch back to landscape.  Well, quite a while back, I had commented on how Xfinity said they were still working on an app for the Kindle Fire. They have (a free) one now, and I can make this simple. If you are already a Comcast subscriber and you have a Kindle Fire, get it. :)

XFINITY TV Player

I’m pleasantly surprised with how well it works.

It’s like the On Demand that you already have through your cable box, although that is really slow and clunky when I use it with my TV. You can search by TV Series, by Movies, and by Network. You can download some of them, and you can filter for which ones are downloadable. That means you could throw a few movies on your Kindle Fire before a plane trip and be good to go. It’s got a history feature, and you can bookmark favorites. The image quality was good, and it didn’t take me ten minutes to download an over 500 MB movie (although that will depend on your network, of course).

I tried it in a Starbucks (with the sound off)…no problem.

There was a lot of content! I counted 200 TV series…and that just got me into the beginning of the Gs. :) Of the TV series, 23 were unlocked and downloadable, 42 were downloadable if you included locked. What does locked mean in this case? It means you would have to be paying for a premium channel.

I definitely think this will be part of the mix for me.

I should mention that the stations did identify themselves at the start of a program, but there weren’t commercials from what I’ve seen.

Oh, and it looks great!

Redeeming a Kindle gift

I thought I’d show you a bit about what happens when you send someone a Kindle gift as a present via e-mail.

They get an e-mail that looks like this:

Gift Email

When they click that “Get your gift now” button, they are taken to Amazon:

They see the book’s regular Amazon product page, but instead of having that Buy now button, they see something like this:

Accept Gift

As you can see, they can apply it to whatever Amazon account they want.

If they click that “Learn how this works or exchange for gift credit” link, they see this:

Gift Alternatives

As you can see, quite simple to do.

ILMK in 2012

WordPress did a nice, infographic type report of activity on ILMK in 2012. I made it public, and you can see it here:

http://ilmk.wordpress.com/2012/annual-report/

Thanks to Edward Boynton, Lady Galaxy, Zebras, Roger Knights, and Pam, who are all cited as commenting the most in 2012! Oh, and I like the map where you can see how many visitors came from each country (hover over a country to see).  From A to Z (literally…Australia and Zambia are both represented), I had visitors from 189 countries! That’s almost as many as the UN has (193).

Thanks to everybody for making 2012 a great year, and I look forward to a fun and informative time with you in 2013!

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

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal: more than 200 books $1.99 each

December 29, 2012

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal: more than 200 books $1.99 each

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal

is over 200 books for $1.99 each (up to 90% off).

Remember to always check the price before you click that Buy button: this deal may not apply in your country, for example.

There are some interesting titles here, and I’m going to list some that caught my eye.

Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen

Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson

Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects
by Amy Stewart

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
by Richard Louv

Paris Was Ours: Thirty-two Writers Reflect on the City of Light
by Penelope Rowlands

Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books
by Aaron Lansky

Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home
by Maria Finn

If you notice any others you’d like to share with me and my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

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

The Year in E-Books 2012

December 29, 2012

The Year in E-Books 2012

I’m going to look at some of the big things that happened this year (so far…you never know what Amazon will do in the last days of the year). If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category. For a more numerical comparison between 2012 and previous years, I’ll be doing my Annual Snapshot in the next several days.

Legal Actions

The US Department of Justice got settlements from four publishers (Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin) in an Agency Model case this year (with one publisher, Macmillan, and Apple still fighting it). The  European Union’s European Commission got agreements. An action brought by the vast majority of US states was approved. The publishers spent so much money fighting the legal fights that it actually affected their quarterly reports. There will be more of this in 2013, and we should see the wrap up of the Agency Model in the USA (although class action suits might not be settled in 2013).

Library battles

There were a lot of news stories this year about publishers limiting the e-books that public libraries can license. It got pretty public and pretty ugly. There appears to me to be some weakening on the publishers’ side. I think this will continue to be a story, though. The very purpose of public libraries is now being debated: should they loan popular books to people who can afford them anyway? Should they focus on other functions? Is some sort of needs testing in the future? This will be a story still in 2013.

Amazon’s Global Expansion

Kindles and/or Kindle content expanded significantly in 2012. China got a store for Kindle e-books, Canada did, Brazil did, the Kindle Fire went international…this is only going to continue. When Britain’s Waterstones chose to go with Kindle, that was a blow for Barnes & Noble.

End of print editions

The Encyclopaedia Britannica and Newsweek both announced that they were going all digital. I expect we’ll see more of that in 2013.

Expanding availability

The Harry Potter books came to e-form, through a different sort of distribution model. Amazon acquired the Ian Fleming backlist of James Bond books. We continued to see more and more well-known backlist books make the jump. That will happen a lot more in 2013, partially due to an element of copyright law in the USA which will return rights to authors in some cases.

Team ups

Microsoft invested a ton of money in Barnes & Noble. Right at the end of the year, so did Pearson, the textbook publisher (although not nearly as much ,and just in the NOOK business…thanks to a reader for heads up in a private e-mail about that. Random House and Penguin have submitted merger plans to regulatory agencies. We may continue to see conglomeration in 2013, and people try to deal with Amazon’s size in the e-book world.

Hardware

Frontlit devices were one of the real stories. Barnes & Noble introduced the Glowlight in April, and Amazon followed with the Paperwhite in September. This suggested continued support for E Ink devices. There were conflicting analyses about whether E Ink was doomed or flourishing. Eventually, I think we’ll get devices which can switch back and forth (what I call “dualume”). My guess is that we’ll continue to see E Ink supported for the near future. Tablets, of course, were everywhere. Barnes & Noble and Amazon both introduced new models, and Apple did the mini. I think there’s quite a bit of room for the market to expand still, and yes, that will cannibalize some sales from reflective screen devices (like E Ink) in the next few years.

Game Changers?

Amazon introduced two new features which have the potential to really change the game, although they may not be there yet. One is Whispercast, which enables large groups of devices on the same account to be managed more easily. I think that’s got to expand, and could really give Amazon a leg up in the enterprise market. We need to have it come to personal accounts as well, though. The other one is Kindle Freetime Unlimited, and “all you can eat” subscription service for kids. Pay a monthly fee, get unlimited access to a curated selection. That’s just opening the door to what could be really interesting business models in the future.

There were a lot of other interesting stories, not the least of which was the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, which had started out as self-published fan fiction (fanfic). The fact that it went to a major publisher and was so successful suggests, as I’ve said before, a very different “farm system” for the tradpubs (traditional publishers). The rise of the indies, even if it means they get co-opted, is a large part of the future, especially if other traditional publishers merge. What do you think? Have I missed listing anything really important here? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

In the next few days, I’ll look ahead to 2013 in a separate post.

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

Watch live TV on your Kindle Fire

December 28, 2012

Watch live TV on your Kindle Fire

Do you ever just want to watch TV?

You know, not pick something to watch (outside of choosing a channel), but just see whatever is playing?

I know that sounds weird to a lot of you. When I was a kid, you didn’t have any choice about what was on. We didn’t have on demand, or Tivo, or DVDs, or videotapes. I did have some movies on Super 8mm, but they were three minute long silents and I needed to get out the projector. :)

When we watch broadcast TV now, we can go through a “guide” first to see what is playing.

Well, what if you do want to be surprised?

Better yet, what if you know that the kids just want to watch Cartoon Network and you don’t want to go through the big rigmarole of deciding what show to put on?

You can do that on your Kindle Fire with this free app:

US TV Free

Let me warn you, this is not an optimal viewing experience. :) It has ads (tiny ones, like the ones you would see in other apps), and it periodically asks me if I’d like to upgrade to Pro…in the middle of the screen.

Sometimes it buffers (where you have to wait for the video to load), and sometimes it has foreign language subtitles.

It also stops working from time to time.

I’d like it to the old hobbyist crystal radio set I had when I was a child, or trying to tune a TV with “rabbit ear” antennae.

That said, it does work. :)

What channels do they have?

This list could change at any time, I’m sure, but here is what I see right now:

  • HBO
  • Showtime
  • Cartoon Network
  • Cinemax
  • Discovery Channel
  • MTV Spanish
  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN2
  • Fox News
  • ESPN
  • Animal Planet
  • National Geographic
  • Panorama Action
  • ESPN America
  • BBC
  • A&E
  • MSNBC
  • Fox Movies
  • CNNUS (the American feed of CNN)
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Syfy
  • Tru TV
  • C-Span 2
  • TLC (US)
  • Sky
  • Active Channel
  • CNNIT (the International feed of CNN)
  • ABC
  • USA Network
  • Sky Poker
  • Starz
  • NHK
  • RT2
  • CBX News
  • Fox 13
  • EuroNews
  • CW
  • Pentagon Channel
  • BBC (I don’t know what it is listed twice)
  • Amazing Facts TV
  • NASA TV
  • RT3
  • Kids TV
  • CBN News
  • NBC
  • CBC
  • WSTV
  • CBN
  • CBN (again, don’t know why it is twice)

That’s right…you can watch all those channels (less than optimally) for no charge. If you do upgrade to Pro (which allows previews of the channels, for one thing…and removes the ads), it’s $1.99…a year. Oh, I just tried some channels, and they told me they were unavailable…and while watching a show, I tried the channel thing again and got a lot more choices. As, I say, quirky. :)

On my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB (which is the only one where I’ve tested it), I can turn the device to landscape (wider than it is tall), and it becomes full screen.

It looks pretty sharp, although it may vary by channel. I did try it with the HDMI to my TV, and it was a bit muddier there, but watchable. I haven’t tried to adjust the settings on the TV to go with my 8.9″, so I might be able to make that better.

The interface is pretty simple, although not entirely intuitive. When in doubt, tap the screen to get more choices. It seems like once I start watching a show, I end up exiting the app when I leave it, instead of getting back to channel choices.

I also haven’t played with the settings on the app itself: for example, there is a “Post-processing” choice which is supposed to improve the picture quality, but to also “consume more energy”.

I’m sure this must take some significant battery charge, although I don’t see a huge drop.

It also, of course, requires that you be connected to the internet. I’m sure it would consume a lot of your 4G, if you have that, but on wi-fi, that doesn’t really matter. You aren’t going to be using this when you aren’t connected, by the way…unless you provide wi-fi in the car somehow (maybe from your phone, or some cars can do it), this isn’t going to help on trips.

Hm…I just noticed that you can set up a preview section. You choose channels, and it shows you a still of what is on currently. It doesn’t give you the title, though.

It also lets you add your own channels by putting in a URL (uniform resource locator…web address) for a feed.

If you do decide you want to upgrade, you need to be on the homescreen of the app in portrait mode (taller than it is wide), and then tap More.

Overall, I’d say this is a novelty item at this stage…it’s not going to replace your cable bill (for those of you who still have that…we do). Still, it’s another fun thing to do with your Kindle Fire. :)

One more big thing…it says it is even compatible with the 1st generation Kindle Fire, although I’ve only tested it on the one model.

Is it legal? I’m guessing it is. I’m thinking that this is one of those things where content providers have special off feeds intended for a small audience, and that you can get to them on the internet. I think this app probably just consolidates them in one place, and brings it to a wider audience. They have a screen in the beginning that says that rightsholders can contact them for removal.

If you’ve tried it out and want to give your opinion, or have other questions, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: I have now found myself using this…I was watching BBC News while I was writing something. :) A big tip: if you have having trouble getting the app to launch or to open, put your Fire into portrait mode (taller than it is wide). I think the first time you try to open it, it may need you to agree to its EULA (End User License Agreement), and it can’t show it to you in landscape where the shows would be full screen, so it kicks you out. I know that sounds weird, but it seems to work that way.

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

Eddiecoms #4: “I am gonna watch out for brussels”

December 27, 2012

Eddiecoms #4: “I am gonna watch out for brussels”

This is one in a series of posts about what I call “Eddiecoms”. You can see more detail about what these are in earlier posts on the topic, but it boils down to this. These are ads intended to promote something, disguised (often not very well) as comments on something I’ve posted. I test a comment in a couple of ways before deciding it is an Eddiecom, including doing a Google search for the same wording. When I do use Google, I’ll sometimes find hundreds of instances of the same comment on different blogs, ones which are often unrelated in topic.

“Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks”

“Post writing is also a fun, if you know afterward you
can write otherwise it is complicated to write.”

The above two were posted linked to the same website at the same time (within the same minute, at least), on two rather different posts of mine.

“Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the knowledge you provide here and can’t wait
to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
. Anyhow, superb site!”

I thought this one was relatively convincing…although a Google search found it on many, many sites (sometimes with a slight variation).

“Hi there, There’s no doubt that your blog could possibly be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it’s got some overlapping
issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that,
excellent website!”

This one failed the Google test…and came from a plumbing website. While plumbers certainly could be reading this blog, it looked like a simple ad.

“I’ve been browsing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content
as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than
ever before.|
I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!|
This is exactly along the same lines as my blog”

“Hi there, I found your blog by means of Google at the same time as searching for a similar matter, your
web site came up, it seems great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
Hi there, simply was aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative.
I am gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in
future. Many other people will be benefited out of your writing.
Cheers!”

I have no idea what “I am gonna watch out for brussels” means, but it came up in comments on many blogs when I did the Google search. Anybody know? I considered that it might be some internet meme, but that didn’t seem to be the case when I looked at the comments.

“Your method of telling the whole thing in this article is
genuinely nice, every one be capable of without difficulty understand
it, Thanks a lot.”

I’ll let the irony of the syntax stand… ;)

“Wonderful post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on
this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!”

They were smart with this one, keeping it simple. However, it fails the Google test…even with the misspelled word of “litte” instead of “little”.

“My brother owns a pawn shop, here are some tips…
If you are shopping for seasonal brooches, try to buy them out of
the season. By buying Christmas brooches, valentine’s day broaches or Easter brooches out of the season, you can usually save a lot of money and acquire a quality piece of jewelry. So, if you are looking for a Christmas tree brooch or a snowman brooch, try to buy it in July.”

A seasonal Eddiecom…

“Hello everyone, it’s my first go to see at this web site, and post is actually fruitful in support of me, keep up posting these types of content.”

“I keep listening to the rumor lecture about getting boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the
finest site to get one. Could you tell me please,
where could i find some?”

“I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one
these days.”

“I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet visitors, its really really nice
article on building up new website.”

This one appears to have been posted by a law firm offering DUI services…

“I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this blog. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own website now ;)

“It’s the best time to make some plans for the long run and it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this put up and if I could I want to suggest you some attention-grabbing things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!”

“Hi, this weekend is fastidious in support of me, since this point in time i am reading this enormous
educational post here at my residence.”

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

Round up #137: Kindle Singles to the UK, free Windwalker books

December 26, 2012

Round up #137: Kindle Singles to the UK, free Windwalker books

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

Some free books

As always, please carefully check that the price says zero before you download any of these. That can change at any time, and the books may not be free in all territories.

How To Use Your God Power To Get Everything You Ever Wanted and Live The Life of Your Dreams! “The Master’s Course”
by Richard McKim, Jr.

The author contacted me a couple of times about this one, to let you know it would be free at this time. I was offered a free copy earlier than that, and the tone was too much like advertising to post the comment (when you call your own book “amazing”, it reads like an ad).

The author also promised audio tracks, but I’m not quite sure how that would work. It’s possible some of you are interested, so even though I’m not endorsing this one (I haven’t looked at it yet myself), I thought I would give you the heads up.

The Complete 2013 User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle Fire
by Stephen Windwalker and Bruce Grubbs

The Complete 2013 User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle – E INK EDITION
by Stephen Windwalker and Bruce Grubbs

Kindle Fire Tips, Tricks and How-Tos: Kindle Nation Daily’s Guide To Save You Money, Save You Time, and Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Kindle Fire
by April L. Hamilton and Stephen Windwalker

Stephen Windwalker is the author of the long-running blog, Kindle Nation Daily. The books say they are free today through the 26th, but again double-check. I have found Windwalker’s books to be good before, although I have not read these (yet). I would recommend getting them. For full disclosure, we have had some correspondence, but we don’t know each other outside of cyberspace and don’t have a financial interest in each other’s works different from what we would have with any books.

My holiday

Thanks for your patience, although I actually feel like I inundated you more the last few days than usual. :) My adult kid has gone home, so I’m back to it. I hope your holiday was great for you and yours, and thanks to the well-wishing readers! :)

In addition to some great Kindle books, I got two pieces of hardware I wanted to mention. One is a roll-up silicon Bluetooth keyboard. I’ve tried it out some…the feel is a bit to get used to using (I’m finding I need to hit relatively hard, compared to a typical hardware keyboard, but this does seem like it has possibilities for daily travel use. I’ll still use my solid Bluetooth keyboard at home, since it can sit in my lap, and this needs to be on a hard surface. However, I think it may be just the ticket for use with my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB when I’m at Whole Foods for lunch. :)

The other thing is the AAXA P4 P4X Pico Projector. I needed to order the right connectors, so I haven’t been able to test it with the Fire yet. Still, I’m really excited about it! It lets you project what is on your tablet (or your laptop or your phone or…). Running VGA from my laptop, the image wasn’t very sharp where I tried it (on a rough wall). I suspect I need to play around with the resolution to increase the pixels per inch. I think it will be much sharper with the HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) of the Fire, though…I’ll let you know. :)

Newsweek’s last print issue

Take a look at the cover:

#LASTPRINTISSUE

I think putting the hashtagged caption was clever. :)

You can also read Editor Tina Brown’s commentary on the change at that link.

Google versus Amazon in 2013

Publishers Weekly alerted me to this interesting

Reuters article

looking at how Amazon and Google are beginning to compete more directly. Have you noticed that you now get ads for places besides Amazon in your search results at Amazon? That’s the e-tailers big move into Google’s bread and butter, advertising. If they can target ads to your buying history, that’s very attractive (and worth a ton of dough) to advertisers. Google’s starting to do some retailing as well. Pretty simply put, though, Amazon can expand into advertising a lot more easily than Google can expand into retailing. “The box is locked, the lights are on…it’s robot fighting time!” ;)  Oh, wait…Amazon bought the robot company recently…hm…

Kindle Singles launch in the UK

In this

press release

Amazon.co.uk announced the arrival of

Kindle Singles (US store)

in the UK store. These are short works, between a magazine article and a book (or between a short story and a novel…or what we sometimes call a novella, but I’m not being technical here).

That’s been one of the apparently successful ways that Amazon has gotten original and exclusive content into the Kindle store. Interesting to see it expand internationally.

Reading Habits by Place

I also want to thank Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this

Book Patrol article

that shows the reading habits of people in different density zones in the USA (urban, suburban, and rural). I would have guessed that lower density residents who were readers would read more e-books than readers in other places, given the convenience of getting them, but that’s not the indication here. I recommend looking at the full chart (which came from Pew originally).

Publishers Weekly is a great news source, but I will say I was amused recently when they apparently retweeted an article from The Onion without realizing it. :)

Update: Kindle Daily Deals recently

I was excited to see some well-known books as the Kindle Daily Deal a couple of days that I wanted, but the publishers chose to block text-to-speech access. That meant that I neither got them nor linked to them for you.

This morning, though, there are two good ones where they have not taken that step. Both have been popular, and one is going to be a major movie this year.

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

This 1985 novel was nominated for both a Booker and a Nebula…I wonder how often that has happened? :) The first award really recognizes literary merit, and the second one is for science fiction. This one was also adapted into a movie with Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall.

The Host: A Novel
by Stephenie Meyer

This one is from the author of the Twilight series, and is more intended for an adult (versus a young adult) audience.

Both books are $1.99 today, a considerable discount. As always, check before you click or tap that “Buy” button.

What do you think? Are Google and Amazon clashing any more than they did before? Does seeing outside ads on Amazon concern you at all? How far do you drive to a brick and mortar store to get books, if you still do? Why do you think folks in rural areas aren’t reading more e-books, if you think the information is accurate? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: Thanks to readers Pam and Edward Boyhan for comments that helped improve this post.

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

Fun things to do with your new Kindle Fire HD

December 25, 2012

Fun things to do with your new Kindle HD

If you just got a Kindle, congratulations!

Once you’ve taken care of the most important thing (choosing which account you’ll use), and maybe set the parental controls so you don’t have any surprise charges, it’s time to have some fun!

While all Kindles are fun, they can’t all do the same things. Before you plunge into these quick suggestions, make sure you know which Kindle you have:

Which Kindle Do I Have?

While just to keep things simple, I’m just listing items for a Kindle Fire HD, some of these will also work with other models.

Note: while most of these are free, some do require purchase of an app. Please check the price before clicking or tapping the Buy button. In many cases, they do require download of an app, even if it is free. Also, these are available to US customers, and may not be available elsewhere.

This is mostly just a listing. If you have questions about them, please free to ask by commenting on this post.

One last thing: I have used all of the apps listed here. There are certainly many other options, and I won’t guarantee that each is the best possible solution for you. :)

Fun things to do with your new Kindle Fire HD

  1. Take a picture (tap Photos: there is a camera icon)
  2. Send a text
  3. Make a phone call
  4. Make a videocall using Skype (Skype is installed; you may need to set up an account)
  5. Play Magic Piano
  6. Play Angry Birds Star Wars
  7. Get a free trial for a magazine
  8. Send an e-mail (E-mail is installed; you’ll need to configure your accounts, which is generally easy)
  9. Check the weather
  10. Watch webcams around the world
  11. Go retro and play Atari games
  12. Get a free e-book
  13. Get a free song
  14. Get the free app of the day
  15. Check out the Kindle Daily Deal
  16. Set up a free Flipboard account and get news and your Twitter feed
  17. Make plasma sounds
  18. Watch Netflix
  19. Listen to Songza
  20. Listen to local radio stations
  21. Turn the world into art with Paper Camera
  22. Enhance your TV experience with Zeebox
  23. Level a table
  24. Measure something
  25. Put a pricewatch on a Kindle book, so you know when it goes down in price
  26. Have your Kindle read a book out loud to you (tap towards the top middle of the page, tap Aa, tap More options, turn Text-to-Speech On)
  27. Chat with other people inside a book (long-press ((hold your finger or stylus on something for about a second)) something, choose Share)
  28. Find local movie showtimes with Fandango
  29. Make notes (including pictures) about who gave what with Evernote
  30. Play my favorite game on the Kindle Fire, the word game Dabble
  31. Light up the room (including flashing police lights)
  32. “X-Ray” a movie (Videos- Prime Videos…you can see if a movie has X-Ray or not before you start it running. Tap the screen while the movie is running, and you’ll see a choice for X-Ray: tap that, and get info about actors in that scene, including links to other movies in which they appear)
  33. X-Ray a book (open a book and tap towards the top middle of the screen…you’ll see the option)
  34. Have a Roku? “Throw” your pictures or personal videos on the screen with Juice for Roku
  35. Make a voice recording (perhaps have the group in the room say something appropriate for the event)
  36. Make a video recording

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

Parental controls and your Kindle

December 24, 2012

Parental controls and your Kindle

This year, many children may start using a new Kindle. While that can be a really wonderful, life-expanding experience, adults may want to guide what that child does. For example, parents/legal guardians might not want a child spending a thousand dollars on apps, or having access to certain content that the adult considers to be inappropriate.

When this issue comes up within the Amazon Kindle community, there are always posters who chide the adult for even asking about it, saying that it should be the parent/legal guardian who watches over what the child does, not some “parental control” tool.

Well, that seems a bit to me like saying you shouldn’t put a lock on the cabinet that has your household deadly chemicals, because you should simply be there to prevent your kid from getting into them. “Parental controls” (and I’m going to use that term for simplicity’s sake, even though it may not be a parent-child situation) are a tool you can use (just like that lock). While we can certainly debate how much free access to content a child should have, I think it’s worth knowing what your options are to help you actualize that decision.

Parental controls can actually give a child more freedom. Let’s say that an adult does not want a child to get to websites that have content not intended for children. I have run into situations where parents will not allow kids to click on websites at all…the parent has to do it, if they are going to go there. With a parental control system, it can be possible to limit which websites the child can access. The parent approves the sites ahead of time, and then the child has the freedom to go to sites within that group without constant supervision.

Is that kind of specific content guidance (called “whitelisting”) possible with a Kindle? Yes, but not with all Kindles at this time.

I’m going to run through the possibilities here. I would set up the Kindle with the guidance you want before the first unsupervised use.  With one click, a child could buy a $600 Amazon Instant Video (you won’t be buying it if you click here, but I thought you might be interested in what it was), and unlike Kindle store books, Amazon Instant Videos are not refundable.

Before we get started, you need to know which Kindle your child is going to be using, since the parental control options and procedures are different on different models.

You can tell by looking at this Amazon help page:

Which Kindle Do I Have?

Next, let’s go through some of the concepts.

Content Purchase Control

This allows you to turn off the ability to purchase content (e-books, videos, apps) directly from Amazon. While you have seven days from purchase to “return” a Kindle store book for a refund, that is not the case with other digital content. Generally, I would turn this off for children who are not responsible for their own finances.

That also goes for a special subset, what are called “in-app purchases”. When you are using an app on a Kindle Fire, you may be offered the opportunity to buy real things with real money. For example, you might be able to purchase a “power up” for a character for ten dollars.

Content Access Control

There are two broad types of this, if we consider a website to be the equivalent of an e-book…the website is treated as one item, just as an individual book would be.

You can turn off access to everything in that category: not allow any videos to be accessed by the device, or not allow any books to be read on the device.

You could also selectively access items. In other words, you can have a “blacklist” of items you don’t allow, or a “whitelist” of items you do. You might let  your child use some apps you have purchased, but not others.

Curated Access Control

In this method, available on some Kindle Fire models, you don’t make the specific decisions for child, but allow your child access to a set of content chosen by someone else. It is sort of the equivalent of letting your child look in the children’s books section of a brick and mortar bookstore (I’m a former manager) and look at anything they want there, but not leave that part of the store.

On all of these, there are three main sources of content, and you may be able to block one or more of them:

  • Items you have already purchased from Amazon (your archives of “Cloud”)
  • Items you have not yet purchased from Amazon
  • Items from outside Amazon

Now, let’s go through the currently available devices:

2nd Generation Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HDs

One approach:

Swipe down from the top of the device – More – Parental Controls

You’ll be asked to enter and confirm a password. Make sure you can remember that password: if necessary write it down.

From here, you’ll have several choices:

  • Block the Silk Web Browser (it just says “Web Browser”). This does not block the device’s access to the internet…it just can no longer use Silk. If you’ve installed another browser (like Maxthon or Dolphin), that one will work just fine. The device will also still be able to download items from your archives/Cloud, and do Wikipedia look-ups
  • Block E-Mail, Contacts, and Calendars (but I believe that will only be the Amazon apps)
  • Password Protect Purchases (this will stop purchasing from Amazon)
  • Password Protect Video Playback (no video playback, regardless of where it was obtained…I have not tested this within apps that play video, and I suspect it might work there)
  • Block and Unblock Content Types (you can block all of a many of these as you want: the Newsstand, Books & Audiobooks, Music, Video, Docs, Apps & Games, Photos).
  • Password Protect Wi-Fi
  • Password Protect LBS (Location Based Services)
  • Password Protect Mobile Network (Kindle Fire 4G only)

If you’d like to block In-App Purchasing, you do that here:

Swipe down – More – Applications – Apps (under Amazon Applications) – In-App Purchasing

You can do that even without using Parental Controls.

The Kindle Fire HDs also have Kindle FreeTime, which is an app that allows you to “whitelist” books, videos, and apps. You can create a profile for each child, and then manage content. Under content, you can add Books, Videos, and/or apps you want them to access. While they are in Kindle FreeTime, they will not have access to anything else (including purchasing from Amazon, web browsing, and in-app purchasing).

Note: they can use the wireless (unless you’ve blocked that in parental controls) to download books from your archives/Cloud. They will not have the ability to share notes and highlights, or to look things up in Wikipedia (but they can look them up in the dictionary).

Even though I have other browsers besides Silk on my device, they did not appear to be available to put into Kindle FreeTime. I tried an app which I knew required the web, and it was able to connect…but browsing appears to be out. I also don’t think you can add the e-mail app.

Additionally, for each profile, you can control time limits. You can set a limit for the total screen time per day, and separate limits each for reading books (which defaults to unlimited), watching videos, and using apps.

Even if they shut the Kindle all the way off, it will restart in Kindle FreeTime. (unless you have previously exited it with your password). You have to enter a password to switch the kids’ profiles: if Raggedy Ann is using it, and Raggedy Andy wants a turn, they have to come to you first.

Still, Kindle FreeTime does give you quite a few options…even if whitelisted web browsing isn’t one of them.

You can actually get whitelisted web browsing for the Kindle Fire HDs…but not for access through Kindle FreeTime (I think…I haven’t tested this one), and not for free.

It’s by using a third-party browser…and a sophisticated one at that:

Funamo

One last thing for the Fires: you can subscribe to a service called Kindle FreeTime Unlimited. For a monthly fee (as low as $2.99, if you are already an Amazon Prime member), your child can have “all you can eat” access to a curated set of  books, videos, and apps. This can be a great deal! You don’t own these items, and you’ll lose access if you stop subscribing, but there are a lot of well-known characters here, from Curious George to Shrek to Thomas the Tank Engine.

Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite can’t play all the content that a Kindle Fire can, and subsequently, the parental controls are much simpler.

Home – Menu – Device Options – Parental Controls

You can turn each of these on and off:

  • Web Browser (Silk)
  • Kindle Store
  • Cloud (archives)

While you can have “active content” on a Kindle Paperwhite, no apps (which means you can’t install extra browsers), no videos.

One nice thing: even if you turn off the Kindle Store, you can buy books for your child on your computer and have them sent to the Kindle Paperwhite.

Mindle (“basic Kindle”, “baby Kindle”)

The Mindle (my name for it) is similar to the Paperwhite in this.

Home – Menu – Settings – Next Page – Parental Controls

You can turn each of these on and off:

  • Web Browser (Silk)
  • Kindle Store
  • Archived Items (same as the Cloud above)

Kindle Keyboard

This is similar to the Mindle

Home – Menu – Settings – Next Page – Parental Controls

and I believe it has the same options.

Free Kindle Reader Apps

I don’t believe these have Parental Controls at this time.

One other choice with all Kindles: you could set up a separate account for your child. That one could have a different payment method, and it would have different archives/Cloud. If you did not have a credit card/debit card listed as a payment method for 1-click, the child would only be able to buy things from Amazon with whatever gift card balance there might be on that account. I personally think it is easier to manage one account, but I wanted to make you aware of this as a possibility.

If you have any additional questions on Kindle parental controls, or have something else you want to tell me and my readers about it, feel free to comment on this post.

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

A Kindle Carol, Part 3

December 24, 2012

A Kindle Carol, Part 3

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

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

It was like being everywhere at once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Get him, Robby, get him!”

“I’ll get him, Tim.”

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

“Did you get him, Robby?”

“Sure did, Tim!  Sure did!”

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

Buzz!

A voice came through the intercom.

“Mom, it’s me!”

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

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

“Whatizitwhatizit?”

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

“Did you get me a book?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Like Daredevil?”

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

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

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

“That was nice of you, Martha.”

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

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

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

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

“Mom, when is Dad going to get here?”

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

“Dumb old Scrooge!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wait!  Slow down”

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

“Where are you taking me?”

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

“Somebody must be moving,” thought Scrooge.

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

“Spirit, tell me…what is happening?”

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

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

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

“Got any news on a new tenant?”

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

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

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

“No, spirit, no!”

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

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

“Unca?  Are you alright?”

Scrooge found himself back in his office again.

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

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

“Yes…yes, I do!  Cratchit!”

Bob was surprised to hear his boss yelling.

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

“Sure, Unc, that’s great!”

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

“Uh..a bonus, sir?”

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

“Yes sir!  Bless you, sir!”

Epilogue

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

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

The End

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


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