Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

December 17, 2014

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

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

Mass market paperback sales down 30%…in one year

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

e-book sales continued to gain on printed books.

I’ve written before about how e-books have largely taken over the market niche of mass market paperbacks, seen as the inexpensive way to get books.

The growth for e-book sales isn’t as meteoric as it was. For adult trade books (the ones you buy in bookstores…not textbooks…that’s also where the 30% drop happened in mass market paperbacks), they grew half a percent year over year. Still, that’s growth…where other formats saw losses.

Children’s books (including Young Adult) seem to be compensating, meaning growth for the year.

Worth noting: the market share for e-books for adult trade is about half what it is for children’s books. That’s something else I’ve observed before: I think adults currently like to give physical books to kids, but I think in ten to twenty years, that will have changed considerably.

Could Apple win its e-book case on appeal?

Well, well, well.

It looks like it is possible (some even think likely) that Apple will win its appeal of its conviction in the Department of Justice’s e-book case. There is a lot of buzz on this: here is one article

SF Gate article

Essentially, they argue that Judge Denise Cote blew it, and misinterpreted the law.

What happens if Apple does win?

It doesn’t invalidate anything else that’s already happened, as I understand it. The other publishers which have settled gave up the right to appeal (again, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my lay understanding of them making the agreement). The states’ Attorneys General case is also separate.

An Apple attorney made an interesting argument that the prices went up after the Apple deal because Amazon had been using its monopolistic power to keep prices low.

For me, that’s why the appeal might fail. Typically, anti-trust law is used to protect consumers, not producers (like publishers). I’m not sure a court is going to find that a monopoly which is making things better for consumers is doing something wrong…not that I’m saying Amazon was a monopoly in e-books (just really, really big).

We’ll keep an eye on this.

“…the book is back”

The book never went away. :)

Oh, in some segments it shed its corporeal body and became a being of light (digital, at least), but the book has always been there…and I my strong guess is that more people are reading books now than they were five years ago.

The headline quote, though, is from this interesting

The Guardian article by Robert McCrum

and is attributed to James Daunt, Chief Executive of the Waterstones bookstore chain in the UK.

I supposed one could say the business leader is “undaunted”, but that could get me in trouble in China. ;)

I recommend the article. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so perhaps it’s a bit more in my wheelhouse, but I think anyone might find it intriguing.

Waterstones has stabilized, and may see growth.

We can’t say the same thing about Barnes & Noble at this point.

I wonder if chain bookstores are going to be more likely to thrive outside the USA?

Digital adoption in many countries is actually higher than in the US…but that doesn’t necessarily go for e-books. The last I heard, the Japanese were slow to adopt them, for example.

Bestselling doesn’t mean most completed

Kobo has released (although I’ve looked, and can’t seem to find the full report) data on which books are bestselling for them in 2014…and which ones are completed the most.

That might be creepy, but yes, an e-book platform can typically tell how far you’ve read into a book (at least up to your last sync).

After all, how else could Amazon let you sync to the “farthest page read”?

According to this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

fewer than half of the people (44%) who start reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winner

The Goldfinch (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

finish it.

The article suggests that might be because of the length, but they also note that only 28% of readers of Solomon Northrup’s

Twelve Years A Slave (at AmazonSmile*)

finish it, and that’s about a quarter the length of Goldfinch.

I suspect it has more to do with people who aren’t serious readers getting those bestselling books, and often as gifts.

A lot of books are given as gifts. You can see how someone might give Northrup’s book as a gift to someone who loved the movie. That recipient might intend to read all of it, but just might not have the habit (and skill) of reading a book to start to finish.

Does it take skill?

I think so. I think those of us who read a lot have a lot of skills in finding the time and opportunity to do it!

Like a lot of things, you need to practice to be a great reader…many people can read, but not many people can average several books a month.

I also think people buy some of those bestsellers aspirationally: they’d like to read the book, they think they would be a better person if they read the book…the reality just overwhelms the intent.

I guess I’m saying that bestselling books are more likely than micromarket books to be started by someone who just isn’t likely to finish any book.

As I’ve written before (I’m saying that a lot this time! I guess that happens after more than five years of writing the same blog), I always finish every book I read…eventually.

I know that’s not true for many of you…you feel like you are wasting your time if you keep reading a book you don’t like. There are other books to read.

I understand that attitude…it’s just sort of the principal of the thing for me.

For example, I just finished reading a book…and I gave it one star in my

Goodreads revies

something I’ve never done before. According to Goodreads, that means I “didn’t like it”. Well, that’s true…despite thinking that it was well-written in some ways, I was offended by it. That’s not easy to do: I’m not somebody who is easily offended.

I have to say, though, that I was sorry when a commenter said they had deleted it unread based on my review.

I don’t want to hurt the author with the review…but I did want to give my honest opinion of it.

I read the whole book. Others might like it (it has an average of over three stars out of five at Goodreads, and 3.5 stars at Amazon).

I know, I know: I haven’t named the book here. When I polled my readers, book reviews by me weren’t one of their favorite parts of this blog, so I started doing them at Goodreads. I think naming the book here might have a bigger impact on it…if you are curious, you can read the review at the link above.

At any rate, I’m not surprised that the bestselling books are not the most finished. :)

What do you think? Are mass market books doomed? Are bookstores saved? Are you more likely to finish a book you bought for yourself than a book someone else gave you? Will Apple win on appeal? Should they? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #268: KU and KOLL, Apple check?

September 11, 2014

Round up #268: KU and KOLL, Apple check?

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

Thanks to the readers who have inspired some of today’s stories!

Borrowing from the KOLL when you are a KU member

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Tom Semple for this!

It’s still not quite a solution, but it does give me more information to give Amazon…they are supposedly still trying to figure it out.

I am an eligible Prime member, so I should be able to borrow a book a calendar month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). I could do it (and did do it…every single month) before I became a member of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Since, then, I’ve been unable to borrow a book through the KOLL, at least as far as I knew. When I went to a book in the KOLL, it would only let me borrow it through KU.

Not a huge deal…but it did mean that I had effectively lost a benefit of Prime.

Well, Tom suggested a specific book which is part of the KOLL and not part of KU. Those are going to be few and far between, I think. The book is one which I do think is excellent, but which I won’t link (and I don’t think it’s necessary to mention it for the sake of this story). I’m not linking it because the publisher has chosen to block text-to-speech access in the Kindle edition…I read it in paper, years ago.

On that one, I do get the option to borrow it through the KOLL.

That’s definitely not the way it is supposed to work…I should be able to borrow books that are in both populations either way, at least some of the time.

Still, useful info…thanks, Tom!

Did Amazon drop the price on the Fire Phone because of the Apple announcement?

I recently wrote about Amazon’s

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

being reduced over 99% from about $200 to about $1 (both with a two-year contract).

A reader, Stephen, asked (perhaps rhetorically) if the price drop was because of Apple’s recent announcement (of two new iPhones and the Apple Watch).

I actually think it’s pretty unlikely that was the specific impetus.

This announcement doesn’t change the landscape much. Apple already had a better phone, as far as many people were concerned. While the new iPhones have some improvements, I can’t say that this announcement was something Amazon hadn’t anticipated when they initially priced the phone.

I’m happy for Apple that the announcement was generally well received…and it’s good for Amazon to healthy competitors.

However, I don’t think the Fire Phone was intended as a direct competitor to a top of the line iPhone…Amazon doesn’t need to knock the iPhone out to keep the Fire Phone viable…that’s not their target market space.

Also, Amazon made their announcement before Apple made theirs…

Apple Settlement: you may get a check

Lady Galaxy, regular reader and prolific (and most welcome) commenter, copied and pasted an e-mail purporting to be from Amazon about an Apple settlement.

I also received that e-mail, and will post that for you here. Lady Galaxy had asked if that was legal: yes, my understanding is that unless someone tells you that an e-mail is private, you have the right to publish it. IANAL (I Am Not a Lawyer), but I think that’s right.

The e-mail appears to be legitimate, and other news sources have reported it as such.

Here is most of it:

Dear Kindle Customer,

We previously emailed you about Settlements between several eBook publishers, State Attorneys General and private plaintiffs. On March 25, 2014, Amazon made credits from the proceeds of those publishers’ Settlements available to eligible customers. You can learn more about those publishers’ Settlements by clicking here.

The Attorneys General and private plaintiffs have now settled similar claims against Apple Inc. The court where those claims are pending has directed us to send the following legal notice to you to advise you of your rights in the Apple Settlement. If you have any questions about this notice, or your legal rights, please visit the E-book Lawsuits website or call the phone number listed at the end of this notice. Amazon’s customer service will not be able to answer questions about your legal rights in the Apple Settlement.

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

==========================================================

Notice ID Number: [deleted]

Legal Notice
Benefits from E-books Settlement with Apple
Para una notificación en Español, llamar o visitar nuestro website.
Records indicate that you are eligible for a payment from a Settlement reached by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs with Apple Inc. (“Apple”). The Apple Settlement resolves Plaintiffs’ claims for money damages against Apple in antitrust lawsuits about the price of electronic books (“E-books”). Amazon has not been sued in these cases. It is providing this notice as a service to its customers.

What the Apple Settlement Provides
The Apple Settlement provides for three possible outcomes, depending on the decision of an appeal of the District Court’s July 10, 2013 finding that Apple violated the antitrust laws (“Liability Finding”). First, if the Court’s Liability Finding is upheld, Apple will pay $400 million to Eligible Consumers. Second, if the Liability Finding is sent back to the District Court for further consideration of whether Apple violated the antitrust laws, Apple will pay $50 million to Eligible Consumers. Third, if the Liability Finding is reversed, Apple will make no payments.

If Apple is required to pay Eligible Consumers under either of the first two options and if the Court approves the Apple Settlement, you will receive an automatic credit to your customer account. The credit can be used for the purchase of products or services sold by Amazon. The amount of your payment, if any, will be determined based on the qualifying E-book purchases identified by Amazon in your customer account.

How to Receive your Benefit
If Apple is required to make a payment to Eligible Consumers, you do not need to do anything to receive your credit unless you change your email address. (If you do change your email address, you should update your Amazon profile or visitwww.EbookLawsuits.com and click on the “Update Your Contact Information” link.) Because you are pre-qualified, your credit will be applied to your account by Amazon automatically, and you will receive another email letting you know when it’s available. If you bought E-books from more than one retailer, you may receive other notices with different instructions on how to receive a payment.

If Apple is required to make a payment to Eligible Consumers, you also will have the option to receive a check instead of your credit. You can request a check by calling 1-866-686-9333, or going to the Apple Settlement website listed below, and clicking on the Check Request Option link on or before October 31, 2014. Be sure to reference the Settlement ID number found at the top of this email. Customers who received a check from the earlier E-books settlements do not have to re-submit a check request for the Apple Settlement. However, if your mailing address changes before you receive your check, please visit www.EbookLawsuits.com and click on the “Update Your Contact Information” link to update your mailing address.

Your Other Rights
You can choose to exclude yourself from the Apple Settlement and keep your right to sue Apple on your own. If you exclude yourself, you can’t receive any benefits from the Apple Settlement. Your written Exclusion Form must be postmarked by October 31, 2014.

If you don’t exclude yourself, you can submit objections about the Apple Settlement. Your written objections must be postmarked by October 31, 2014.

Please visit the Apple Settlement website below for detailed information on how to submit a valid Exclusion Form or objection.

The Court will hold a hearing on November 21, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. to consider whether to approve the Apple Settlement. You or your own lawyer may ask to appear and speak at the hearing. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so please check the website below for additional information.

For more information:
Call 1-866-686-9333 or Visit www.EbookLawsuits.com

==========================================================

(c) 2014 Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Amazon.com, 410 Terry Avenue N., Seattle, WA 98109-5210.

Reference: [deleted]

Notice that it says you don’t need to do anything. That’s what I’d do at this point, unless you feel like you need to go to one of the sites indicated to do something. Before you do that, I would verify with Kindle Support that this is real:

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*)

What do you think? Was Amazon lowering the Fire Phone’s price in response to the anticipated (at that point) Apple announcement? Is it an act of desperation because of possibly low sales, or had they perhaps always intended to drop the price like that? How important is the KOLL to you, if you are a Prime member? Why do you think Amazon sent out that e-mail (if they did), before there was anything definitive to announce? Could it have been an attempt to tarnish Apple following their big announcement? Do you think Amazon has a hardware release on the horizon? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post…and thanks again to the commenters who inspired today’s stories!

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #243: under $50 Kindle, blogs on Fire

March 4, 2014

Round up #243: under $50 Kindle, blogs on Fire

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

Mindle under $50, Paperwhite under $100

“Today only” per Amazon, two popular models of the Kindle are $20 off:

Kindle, 6″ E Ink Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (Black) (what I call the “Mindle” (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the

Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

That brings the least expensive version of the Kindle down to $49, and the least expensive Paperwhite down to $99.

The twenty dollar discount still applies if you decide not to let advertisers support your purchase (if you get it without Special Offers), it’s still $20 less than it would have been. For some people, this basically means that they’ll get the “ad-free” version for the price they would normally pay for the one with ads.

It does not apply to the Paperwhite 3G.

According to Amazon, this is to celebrate National Reading Month.

This offer may not apply in your country (I have readers around the world…which is so cool!), so check the price before you buy.

This is a good deal! Having a “guest room Kindle” worked out very well for us, and you might consider that.

Does this indicate new models are coming soon? Perhaps…there have been rumors of a new Paperwhite. However, unless they release a color version later this year (which I think is a possibility), I doubt the next generation would be so much better that you’d be sorry you got this. It could have some new features, and it could be cheaper…hm, a sound-equipped Paperwhite might make me back off that statement.

Regardless, right here, right now, this is a good price.

Are Kindle store blogs finally coming to the Kindle Fires?

This blog has typically been in the top ten in the USA Kindle store (thanks, subscribers!), although we do sometimes drop to still being in the top twenty.

However, the number of subscribers went down after the introduction of the Fire tablets.

Naturally, that could be because of some factor intrinsic to the blog, but I don’t think that’s the case…my ranking hasn’t changed considerably at the same time that the number of subscribers dropped, suggesting that everybody else at the top was dropping right along with me.

I think one main reason was because you haven’t been able to have your Kindle store blogs delivered to your tablet. If someone switched to mostly using a Fire for reading, I can understand them not wanting to pay for a blog which wasn’t being directly delivered (even if it is only ninety-nine cents a month).

I am sure that some readers have continued to subscribe just to support my efforts, for which I am truly grateful.

Now, a sharp-eyed reader alerted me to something in a private comment (thanks!) which strongly suggests that situation might change!

If you go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle (at AmazonSmile)

and click or tap

Subscription Settings

you’ll see a column for “Deliver future editions to” for each of your subscriptions. There is an “Edit” link, that you can click to choose a device.

Checking those options, our Fires are now listed!

However, if I actually choose a Fire, it says:

“Upgrade Your Device

To start reading I Love My Kindle, you must first install the latest software update for HDXter. Once installed you may deliver this title to your Kindle. For detailed instructions on installing the free update please visit Kindle Support.”

My device is updated. :) It just recently updated to 13.3.2.1, which is the current version.

Since that message is there, that strongly suggests that having the Fires listed is not a mistake…just premature.

Now, it’s possible that they intended to implement it with the last update and didn’t manage it somehow, and that they could abandon it…but I’m going to hold out hope (virtual fingers crossed) that this is coming soon. I hope there is a new update that also addresses the wi-fi instability (I have that) and text-to-speech stopping at some images, both of which appears to have happened after a previous update. There are a lot of things I love about my Fire, but this wi-fi thing does give me friction every time I use the device.

Apple appeals

Apple said that they were going to appeal the decision against them in the DoJ (Department of Justice) action that found them guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices.

Regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy gave me a link to an article with both a summary and the original filing:

Apple Insider post by Mikey Campbell

I waited to post about it (it was filed on February 25th) until I read at least a substantial portion of the filing…I don’t like to go just by what a summary says, and I didn’t think there was any real time pressure (or likely, surprise) here.

The filing says:

“Apple’s entry as an e-book retailer marked the
beginning, not the end, of competition.” [emphasis in the original]

Okay, that’s something you could try to argue. Were there more options from which people could buy e-books after the introduction of iBooks? Yes. Were there more price options? No.

That, for me, is key.

The Agency Model, which came into play at the same time (and the DoJ argues was…led, at least, by Apple) homogenized the prices at the existing retailers, largely eliminating price competition (which has returned, as I showed in a recent post, since the accused publishers all settled with the DoJ).

I’m often surprised by the…pugnacious language in legal filings. I always expect them to be polite and in carefully restrained language. That’s just not the case, often, and shows my own prejudices, rather than the reality. So, I’m not going to claim that this is unusual when Apple says:

“The court repeatedly applied the wrong legal standards, which led it to jump to the false conclusion of a price-fixing conspiracy from Apple’s lawful, unilateral, and procompetitive business activities.”

This next one is an important claim. The accusations included conspiracy. If Apple independently offered the same deal to multiple publishers, and if the publishers independently decided it was a good deal, that’s not a conspiracy. The issue becomes if they worked as a group to set the price the same, as I understand it:

“Apple never met or spoke with more than one publisher at a time.”

Here’s where Apple has an interesting argument:

“At those very first meetings, the court found, Apple “willingly joined” a pre-existing publisher conspiracy. Dkt326.113;
see also

Dkt326.129 (“Apple made a conscious commitment to join a scheme with the Publisher Defendants”).

This finding forms the bedrock of the court’s entire decision, and is demonstrably wrong. The undisputed record reflects that Apple had no prior dealings in the publishing industry and that everything it knew it had gleaned from public sources
— like reports inThe New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
— none of which reported on a conspiracy”

In other words, Apple is arguing that if there was a conspiracy between the publishers, they weren’t part of it.

That is actually a hypothetical possibility.

Apple could have “unilaterally” suggested a deal to each of the publishers.

The publishers could then have consulted with each other (hypothetically conspiring) to take the deal…and even suggested similar terms to Apple.

Could Judge Cote’s decision be overturned on that basis (and on their suggestions of improper use of inadmissibility, and possible prejudice)?

I think that is a possibility.

Would that bring back the Agency Model?

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think so. The publishers settled, and took deals. I believe they’d be bound by the deals, even if Apple successfully got their verdict overturned. The publishers dropped out of the case before the verdict.

I’m not 100% on that, though: if you are a lawyer, I’d be interested to hear what you think on that score.

I also think that the response to the appeal may be strong and definitive, refuting Apple’s allegations.

The beat goes on…

Amazon workers will be heard by Supreme Court

In this

Salon.com article by Andrew Leonard

it is reported that a case brought by Amazon workers is going to be heard by the Supreme Court.

The basic argument is that Amazon warehouse workers have to spend a long time going through Security, and aren’t compensated for that time.

While it might seem obvious (let’s say you have to spend three hours a week at work doing something that your employer requires you to do to have the job) that workers should be paid for that time, it doesn’t work out that way.

Suppose you are required by your employer to park in a certain lot. That lot is fifteen minutes away from your place of employment. When you get there, you clock in…they aren’t going to pay you for your time from the parking lot to the door, even though you basically have no choice.

Whether they should (in an ethical sense) pay you for that time is not the specific legal issue: it’s whether they have to do it.

The article suggests that this Court will not be likely to rule against Amazon.

If they did, I think it would just accelerate Amazon’s use of robots (they own a robot company that does this sort of thing) in the warehouses.

They might have to (in the worst case for them scenario) pay back wages to a lot of people…and then they might just say, “Fine, people are too expensive,” and get rid of a lot of staff.

Amazon has been touting the number of jobs they’ve been creating, but there is a real debate about the quality of those jobs.

What do you think? If Amazon is proven to be treating their employees unfairly at some point, and if they don’t rectify it, would that affect your shopping? Will Apple win on appeal? Would you subscribe through the Kindle store to blogs on your Fire? Would you switch the delivery of a current subscription? What new feature could Amazon release on a non-Fire Kindle that would make you want to upgrade? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #238: Yo, Joe! Adobe obsoleting some EBRs

February 5, 2014

Round up #238: Yo, Joe! Adobe obsoleting some EBRs

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

Bloomberg: “Apple Inc. (AAPL) faces as much as $840 million in state and consumer antitrust claims related to electronic-book deals”

According to this

Bloomberg article by Patricia Hurtado and Christie Smythe

Apple may end up owing close a billion dollars in the State attorneys general e-book price-fixing case.

Apple is appealing.

However, to put that in perspective, that is more than PG&E’s entire profits for 2013 (Fortune listing).

There was another hearing on Tuesday about a separate case, the DoJ (Department of Justice) case.

As a result of that case, there was a monitor appointed to keep an eye on Apple. Apple has complained about it, and this hearing was about that.

According to this

Fortune article by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

it looks like the monitor may stay in place, but with new rules.

A real American fanfic?

Okay, Kindle Worlds isn’t really fanfic (fan fiction), but it made for a fun headline. ;)

According to this

press release

Amazon has licensed seven more “Worlds” for

Kindle Worlds (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

One in particular stands out to me, and gives me hope for some exciting opportunities in the future.

That’s G.I. Joe.

Yes, they mostly mention characters from the 1980s (and forward…including the recent movies,  presumably, although purely movie characters might not end up being part of this), but this is still a licensing of a “nostalgia brand”.

If this does well (and I suspect it might), that might lead to licensing of more properties which I have suggested before, like The Addams Family and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

The other new licenses:

  • Veronica Mars: this is the popular TV series, and soon to be Kickstarter-funded movie. Interestingly, Amazon’s Prime Instant Video has the exclusive streaming rights right now, and I think that probably played into the deal
  • Ravenswood: Kindle Worlds already had Pretty Little Liars…they pick up the spin-off
  • The Abnorm Chronicles, from the Marcus Sakey novel, Brilliance (at AmazonSmile)
  • The Lizzy Gardner Files, from the Theresa Ragan book series (at AmazonSmile)
  • Quantum and Woody, and Eternal Warrior, adding to the Valient Entertainment comics worlds

They join (with the number of KW titles so far):

  • The Vampire Diaries (113)
  • Silo Saga (70)
  • Pretty Little Liars (36)
  • The World of Kurt Vonnegut (34)
  • Harbinger (25)
  • John Rain (19)
  • Gossip Girl (18)
  • Wayward Pines (13)
  • The Foreworld Saga (11)
  • Archer & Armstrong (10)
  • Bloodshot (10)
  • Unity (9)
  • Shadowman (5)
  • XO Manowar (5)
  • The Dead Man (3)

Update on  Give a Kid a Kindle

Nominations for a child to receive a free Kindle from me have been open for more than a month, and we have one so far:

[Nominee #1] is a ninth grade student who comes to class every day with a stack of books. [Nominee #1] seems to read very rapidly, perhaps a book a day, and [Nominee #1] checks out stacks of library books so that [Nominee #1] has enough to read. [Nominee #1] would benefit from a Kindle because [Nominee #1] could read free classics and not have to carry around a stack any longer!

The ability to recommend one (or more) of the nominees will begin on March 1st, and nominations will continue through March 31st, with the Kindle being award in April.

I’m hoping to get more nominations…I suspect there may be a significant uptick when recommending is available, and I think there may be a rush of entries towards the end.

I’d appreciate you letting people know about the opportunity.

I also appreciate that people have offered to help in some way with the giveaway (either through money or through contributing a Kindle), but I need to keep this simple, so there are no tax or legal complications. I want to be able to continue to do this in the future.

If you know of a child to nominate, you can do so at

Give a Kid a Kindle

Kindle Fire wi-fi connection wonky again

For quite a while, it seemed as though the problems I was having with my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile)

staying connected has somehow resolved themselves.

However, in the past few days, they are back. I need to toggle wi-fi on and off pretty often…at least several times a day.

My sense is that an update to the KFHDXs is imminent. I ran into someone who said they were told that an update was coming to fix a text-to-speech problem. For some people, on at least some books, the TTS stops at the end of each chapter. That wasn’t true before,but I have experienced it. That can be a problem: my drives are certainly sometime more than a chapter long, so having it stop part way is…inconvenient.

In addition to other upcoming features they’ve mentioned (press release), I’m hoping for bug fixes for both of these issues.

Manage Your Kindle update

Speaking of updates, I wrote about changes to Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle page back on January 19th. Well, they are still rolling out…and there has been a lot of negative reaction to them.

Lots of people don’t have the new look yet, or, like me, only have it in some places. Different browsers, different devices…that can all apparently affect it.

Amazon, which is, I think, getting better at communicating with customers, posted this

Amazon Kindle forum announcement

to basically say, hey, if you don’t see it yet, you should eventually.

What speed do you read?

Staples has a fun test you can take at

http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/technology-research-centers/ereaders/speed-reader/

to see how quickly you read, and how that compares to the national average.

It includes comprehension.

I see a considerable flaw in the test.

It uses a particular public domain book (I don’t want to tell you which, so it doesn’t prejudice your test.

I was familiar with the book, which probably made it easier to answer the comprehension questions (I got them all correct).

According to this, my reading speed was 460 words per minute…84% faster than the national average, and somewhat above the average college student.

Again, according to the page, the world speed-reading champion is more than ten times that fast. :)

There are a lot of other factors involved (I used a mouse to scroll, for example), but I still think it is fun. You don’t need to sign up, so if you’re curious, I’d recommend this.

GOODEREADER: “Adobe has Killed e-Readers”

According to this

GOODEREADER article by Michael Kozlowski

Adobe is making changes in April that will require an update to a device for it to be able to access Adobe Digital Editions books. The big problem there is that many devices (especially from defunct product lines) won’t get the update:

“Unless thousands of app developers and e-reader companies update their firmware and programming, customers will basically be unable to read books they have legitimately purchased. In effect, Adobe is killing eBooks and e-readers.”

I would presume that, if someone bought a device that had the update, people would still be able to access those books.

Still, this is somewhat ironic for people who were always pushing for Amazon to license EPUB for their Kindles, so that we wouldn’t be “trapped in the walled garden” of Amazon.

Amazon devices, if they had licensed it, would presumably get the update, but I think there is an argument to be made here that companies that benefited directly from people buying books are likely to support those formats and security. Companies that aren’t the book sellers may be less likely to do so.

Following an “industry standard” makes you less dependent on updating your product for your customers…

We’ve seen another issue with Adobe in the last couple of years, when they stopped supporting Flash on new mobile devices…making it require a workaround to get it to work on a Kindle Fire.

My guess is that a lot of people will take the opportunity to migrate to other devices, including Kindles.

What do you think? Will Apple eventually prevail? How’s your Kindle Fire’s wi-fi stability? How did you do on reading speed test? Would you want to write a G.I. Joe story? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Collections come to a Kindle reader app

September 18, 2013

Collections come to a Kindle reader app

Well, well, well!

One of the main concerns people express when they go from an RSK (a Reflective Screen Kindle…not a Fire) to a Fire is that they don’t have a way to organize their books on the device. There have been some third-party (not Amazon) apps to try to address it, but they’ve had real limitations.

In this Amazon Kindle Forum thread

What’s New in Kindle for iOS Version 4.0?

they announce changes to the iOS (mobile Apple devices) app.

Most of it is appearance and interface (how it looks and menu changes), but the Collections addition is new functionality.

We have it on current RSKs: it lets you create “Collections” (sort of like folders in Windows, although they work differently) such as “To Be Read”, “Romance”, or whatever you want.

Does this mean it will come to other apps…Blackberry, Windows for PC, Windows for Mac, Android…and the Kindle Fire?

Well, it shows that they are working on Collections, but you can’t easily take something you built for iOS and presto changeo make it work for another platform. It would be like…designing a play in American football, and trying to use it in rugby. ;) The basic goal might be kind of the same, but how you get there is very different.

My guess is that the next generation of Kindle Fire (which I think may be announced soon maybe might have Collections, and this again shows that there is an effort to get Collections into apps…but we’ll see.

They haven’t updated the page on Amazon yet, but the iTunes listing does show the information on 4.0:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id302584613

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

DoJ proposes Apple punishment…and it’s a doozy

August 2, 2013

DoJ proposes Apple punishment…and it’s a doozy

It’s not approved yet, and Apple will appeal…but the Department of Justice (DoJ) is definitely looking to have Apple punished for their behavior in the e-book pricing conspiracy…and it goes way beyond just addressing specific consumer losses.

The

DoJ press release

gives you the highlights…and some of them will certainly affect some of my readers.

One interesting one: Apple would be prohibited from stopping Amazon (and others) from having links to buy books in their apps (for two years).  That’s a biggie: right now, if you are using Amazon’s Kindle for iPad app, you can’t buy books directly from it…you have to leave it and use a browser. There was a lot of talk about that when that prohibition was put into the Apple Appstore (I wrote about it in Bye-bye, Buy: Apple changes app policy? more than two years ago).

The proposed rules would also go beyond e-books, affecting music and movies in specific ways.

Here are some of the proposals:

  • Apple would have to terminate its contracts with the five publisher co-defendants (who all settled before it was in court). Terminating contracts can cost you big money, since negotiations begin again…and who doesn’t think Apple would be more constrained in negotiating this time?
  • For five years, Apple can’t enter into e-book distribution contracts which would “constrain it from competing on price”…I would think this means no “most favored nation” contracts (“you can’t sell it for less somewhere else), and possibly no Agency Model
  • Apple can’t serve as a conduit of information between publishers. That means they can’t say, “We have three on board with our deal already”, for example. Again, that hurts negotiations
  • Apple can’t retaliate against publishers that don’t adopt an Agency Model (maybe they are okay…I need to read the actual proposal, and we need to see what the court approves)
  • I’m going to quote this one: “Apple will also be prohibited from entering into agreements with suppliers of e-books, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content.” I doubt Apple expected videos to get pulled into this court case
  • A full-time external compliance monitor would be hired…and Apple would have to pay all of the salary and expenses? I assume somebody like that makes six figures. I was also amused by this part of it: “The antitrust compliance officer will be responsible for training Apple’s senior executives and other employees about the antitrust laws and ensuring that Apple abides by the relief ordered by the court.” Like they didn’t already know the rules…I couldn’t help but be reminded of being sentenced to Traffic School ;)

Again, this is not final, and Apple will almost certainly fight it.

It feels a little to me like the DoJ is trying to seize on a rare legal victory over Apple…like putting Al Capone in Alcatraz for tax evasion. ;)

We’ll keep an eye on it (this one might even affect Apple stock), but feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Judge Cote rules: Apple loses Agency Model case

July 10, 2013

Judge Cote rules: Apple loses Agency Model case

“…the Plaintiffs have shown that Apple conspired to raise the retail price of e-books and that they are entitled to injunctive relief. A trial on damages will follow.”
–Judge Denise Cote, decision in Apple Agency Model case (quotation added in update to post)

This is the breaking news, and I haven’t yet read the decision, but I thought you’d want to know right away.

I’ve praised Judge Denise Cote before on how quickly decisions come down, and this one seems fast to me.

According to this

Reuters article

and others, Judge Cote has found Apple guilty of conspiring to raise e-book prices.

What does this mean?

It likely means Apple will appeal. ;)

That would be my guess, but I need to look more into what was said and exactly what happened. I’ll expect to update this post when I have more data.

Update: here’s the decision:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/152915071/United-States-v-Apple-Inc

Update: more quotations from the decision:

“Apple seized the moment and brilliantly played its hand.”

“It [Apple] provided the Publisher Defendants with the vision, the format, the timetable, and the coordination that they needed to raise e-book prices.”

“…the prices in the nascent e-book industry shifted upward, in some cases 50% or more for an individual title.”

“…removed Amazon’s ability to price their e-books at $9.99.”

“…many publishers set a wholesale price for e-books at a 20% discount from the equivalent physical book wholesale price to reflect the many cost savings associated with the distribution and sale of e-books. For instance, there is no cost for the printing, storage, packaging, shipping, or return of e-books.”

“This Opinion has already described several instances in which testimony given by Cue and Sargent was unreliable. Other witnesses who were noteworthy for their lack of credibility included Moerer, Saul, and Reidy. Their demeanor changed dramatically depending on whether Apple or the Plaintiffs were questioning them; they were adamant in denials until confronted with documents or their prior deposition testimony; instead of answering questions in a straightforward manner, they would pick apart the question and answer it narrowly or avoid answering i taltogether. Thus, the findings in this Opinion are informed bythe documentary record, the circumstantial evidence, including an understanding of the competitive landscape in which these events were unfolding, and that portion of each witness’testimony that appeared reliable and credible.”

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

Round up #179: updates, DRM that changes the words

June 18, 2013

Round up #179: updates, DRM that changes the words

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

Playing “Hangman”…

Amazon claims in this

press release

that its publishing division has had a million seller. It’s significant that Amazon could, with its traditional publishing business, sell enough of a work to challenge the Big Six publishers. As I wrote about a couple of years ago in A Tale of Two Middles, that’s one way that Amazon can potentially work around the publishers. The e-tailer has tended to lose when going up against them (text-to-speech, and the Agency Model, for two examples), but as indicated in the current Apple trial, the publishers are worried about Amazon gaining more power and luring away their authors.

Congratulations are definitely due to Oliver Pötzsch, who is the author featured in the press release.

However, this isn’t exactly Stephen King territory yet.

Here’s the telling part of the press release:

“… the first Amazon Publishing author to sell 1 million copies in combined print, audio, and Kindle English language editions worldwide.”

That’s right…this is not the same thing as selling a million copies of a hardback book: it combines hardbacks, paperbacks, audiobooks, and e-books. This is also the combined figure for three different titles (the fourth, The Poisoned Pilgrim: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale, can be pre-ordered for July 16th, 2013).

Still, this is no small accomplishment, and can’t make those other tradpubs any happier.

Steve Jobs in the Apple trial

We are winding down in the Apple Agency Model trial, and today, Eddy Cue talked about Steve Jobs role, as reported in this

AllThingsD article by Peter Kafka

Honestly, I looked at another article first to bring you, but it was too tacky. Steve Jobs didn’t always do things with which I agreed, certainly, but I do think that respect is reasonable here.

Cue talked about how Jobs got into the iBooks project, once it was decided it was a go…including picking Winnie-the-Pooh as part of the launch.

It looks like we’ll have closing arguments on Thursday, and I would expect there to be a decision fairly quickly…I like Judge Cote, and I don’t think this will get stretched out for months.

As this point, I do think it’s possible Apple will prevail…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of years…”

Just doesn’t have the same ring as the original, right?

Well, according to this

PaidContent.org article by Janko Roettgers

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is working on an anti-piracy DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme that would change words in books so that you could identify which copy belong to whom, as a way to combat piracy.

Wait, what? ;)

I mean, I’m sorry, but authors sweat blood sometimes picking just the right combinations of vowels and consonants to tell their tales. I can’t imagine that this kind of “finger-printing” is going to be embraced. I hope-I hope-I hope… :)

Netflix to introduce user profiles

The video giant has figured out that not everybody on the same account has the same tastes. ;)

Huffington Post article by Alexis Kleinman

My adult kid and I share an account (my Significant Other just doesn’t use it), and that does make for some odd recommendations. For one thing, my kid is a linguist…we aren’t even always watching things in the same language! We don’t know quite how it will work yet, but it is supposed to be here by the end of the summer.

Why report on that?

We’re still waiting for Amazon to get something like that going for Kindle accounts. Yes, we have FreeTime for the Kindle Fire, and parental controls on the RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything but a Fire at this point), but we could certainly use something simpler. My SO is not going to read the Doctor Who book I borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library this month, so it just sort of clutters things up.

I mentioned that we might see more software/service changes from Amazon this year than radical hardware changes (although I would figure that we’ll get new hardware), and this “profiles within accounts” kind of thing could certainly attract a lot of people.

Kindle for Windows 8 update

In this Amazon Kindle forum thread

Kindle for Windows 8 update 2.0

Amazon announced a new version of Kindles for Window 8. It’s bringing quite a few new features:

* Ability to search from inside a book
* Redesigned home screen and in-book navigation
* Easier bookmarking
* Filtering of Notes and Bookmarks
* Option to sample recommended books
* Live Tile displays of the book you’re reading
* Updated view options menu, library and search views

I’ve seen quite a few threads where people complain about the limited functionality of this version, so this should help. I’m intrigued by “filtering of Notes and Bookmarks”…I’ll look for more info on that.

Kindle Paperwhite update 5.3.6

They also announced the

Kindle Paperwhite Update Version 5.3.6

While it appears to have brought some other minor changes, this is the big new feature:

* Improvements when buying from a book sample – While reading a sample of a book, you can view the price of the full book and purchase from the reading toolbar with one tap

That seems nice…we all want things that make it easier for us to spend money with Amazon, right? ;) Well, if it’s money you were going to spend anyway, making it easier is a plus for the consumer.

How to support a blog

I do get asked about this, and I’m reluctant to bring it up. I don’t accept payment for ads (any ads you ever see here are added by WordPress, and they get the money. You don’t see that in the regular blog feed, I think, but I have seen it on individual articles on the website.

You can certainly subscribe (thanks, subscribers!) if the blog is in the Kindle store…but that doesn’t work for a lot of people (if you are outside the USA, I think, or if you are using a reading app).

I’ve had people ask me if I accept donations, or if they can just send me money. I’m not a non-profit, and reporting money given to me for the blog on my taxes would really befuddle me.

One thing you can do: if the blog has a link for Amazon Gift Cards, that can be a good way to do it. You can buy gift cards for other people, or you could just buy them and apply them to your account. That’s a pretty painless way to help out. :) It doesn’t change what you pay for anything at all.

As long as I’m writing about this (and so I can get back to something where I feel more comfortable), let me talk about Amazon Gift Cards a bit…I often see questions from people who are confused about how they work with Kindle books.

There are no Kindle gift cards…there are Amazon gift cards with pictures of Kindles on them, but when you buy a gift card with a picture of a birthday cake, that doesn’t mean you can only buy cake. ;)

You apply the gift card to your account.

The way that we buy books in the Kindle store is with “1-click”. 1-click will draw from any available gift card balance on your account until it is exhausted, then go back to whatever 1-click payment method you’ve designated (if any).

Let’s say somebody gives you a $25 gift card, and you want to spend it on books. You apply it to your account, and someone else on your account buys, oh, mouthwash (I’m not suggesting anything about their personal hygiene here, by the way). ;) If they use 1-click, it will take away from that gift card balance.

You aren’t asked if you want your gift card balance applied to your current Kindle store purchase, because you would have to click on something to do that…and it’s called 1-click. :)

That’s why some people have an account just for Kindle purchases, so they can keep them separate.

Infographic of mysteries in different US states

This

Ebook Friendly article

has a nice infographic from Open Road with e-book mysteries in different states in the USA.

I have to say, I’ve never gone to this site before, and I’m impressed! I don’t follow a lot of sites on Twitter, but I’m going to start following this one, which will put it in my Flipboard read in the morning.

I’m going to explore

http://ebookfriendly.com/

more, and then report back to you on it. I always figure there is room for a lot of good writing on the web about e-books, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and publishing. You’ve probably noticed that I tend to link and credit…I like being a place you can find the good work that others do. :)

What do you think? Is changing words in a book an acceptable way to combat piracy? Will you just be happy when the Apple Agency Model trial is over, however it goes? ;) Am I making a mistake when I promote other sites, or do you like it? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #178: Screaming Kindle, DecalGirl discount

June 14, 2013

Round up #178: Screaming Kindle, DecalGirl discount

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

DecalGirl: Buy one, get one 50% off

DecalGirl is having a sale (through June 24th) on skins, cases, and more. Skins are essentially very strong decorative stickers, and they have them for Kindles. They can make very nice gifts for someone who already has a device.

Here’s the site for shopping:

http://www.decalgirl.com/?promocode=bogodad&trk_msg=66IQ6I5A39SKV5038DNLCINSC4&trk_contact=2TKDE83GIGKCJGK8UTEQKL4R74&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3a%2f%2fwww.decalgirl.com%2f%3fpromocode%3dbogodad&utm_campaign=fathersday

Note: they list all Kindles, including RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything but a Kindle Fire) under “Tablets”. Select Tablets, then say it is made by Amazon.

Vlad Studio has some nice book-themed ones.

At checkout, you’ll be entering BOGODAD to get the discount…remember that you need to be buying two items, and the discount will be applied to the least expensive one.

Free app finds your Kindle Fire

I’ve tried a Kindle Fire locating app before and it didn’t work well for me, but now I’ve found a free one that does…and has some other interesting capabilities:

Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile

There’s a premium version as well with more capabilities, but I did like what this one did. It could locate my Kindle Fire…I went to a website, enter a passcode (they did something clever with that which didn’t make it harder for me to remember, really, but would make it harder to guess), and showed me the current location of my Fire…within a couple of hundred feet. It actually gave me an address (not the right one), but it was nearby. That could let me know, for example, if I left it at the office or at home (not that I would do either accidentally…knock on virtual wood).

What if it’s just misplaced in the house?

You can send it a command to scream…and yes, it was loud and annoying! :) That’s what you want, though: a thief would likely ditch the device if they were in a public area and it started screaming like a person! That also locks the screen. You can also lock it without the screaming. So, you can locate, lock, and scream…with the premium version of this app (not free), you could send a remote wipe command.

It also scans your device for malware (software that does bad things, basically): it didn’t find any on mine.

Why wouldn’t you get this? Well, if you forget your password, that could be a problem. You might not want other people in your family (if they have access to the Webroot account) tracking you…or pranking you (I wouldn’t want it to scream in the middle of a meeting). You might be concerned about the government or hackers getting information about you through Webroot. Of course, if you don’t have wi-fi on and have misplaced it, it won’t help you much. If a bad guy when it reconnects, though, it will scream at that point (my test showed it wasn’t immediately…took a few minutes).

Generally, though, I would recommend it for most people who are comfortable with having online accounts and creating (and remembering) passwords. It has four stars (out of five) with 124 reviews at the time of writing, so that is somewhat reassuring. :)

Eddy Cue on Steve Jobs and iBooks

The Apple Agency Model trial continues, and I’m feeling more and more like Apple might win. I wonder if that means the publishers are kicking themselves for having gotten out?

There are definitely interesting revelations. This

AllThingsD article by John Paczkowski

relates some interesting insight from Eddy Cue, being painted by the Department of Justice (DoJ) as the driver of the Agency Model for e-publishing, and who worked closely with the late Steve Jobs.

Cue says he approached the CEO in 2009 (the year before the iPad was released) about doing a bookstore, and Jobs wasn’t interested.

The year before (and within six months of the Kindle’s initial release), Jobs was famously quoted in a

New York Times article by John Markoff

as saying, “…people don’t read anymore” in dismissing the Kindle.

By 2009, though, Cue doesn’t mention that overall condemnation and marginalization of serious readers…instead, it was because phones were too small and computers were too big.  That feels like a bit of a whitewash to me, but Jobs did change the position when the iPad was going to be released.

I think we’ll have a verdict by the end of next week…and if Apple loses, they could appeal.

Apple could appeal? I thought only bananas could do that… ;)

Oh, and Apple is mad that Random House isn’t being compelled to testify…

Publishers Weekly article

That could bolster that appeal effort…if it becomes necessary.

Comcast will use your router to provide neighborhood wi-fi

Well, it’s not exactly your router…it’s your wi-fi gateway that you got from them for your broadband. This is a clever idea, and part of their (successful) effort to expand wi-fi for their customers.

The devices won’t use the same signal you use, but will broadcast a second one that can be used for free…by other Xfinity customers. Non-customers can use it for free…twice, and then they’d have to pay.

CNET article

I’ve found wi-fi from Xfinity (we are subscribers) available to me before, and I think this will really expand it.

Comcast has to figure out how to get people not to “cut the cord” (and go without cable services). This is one way, as is their app:

XFINITY TV Player

The app would be a lot more attractive if it didn’t stop the video from running when I plugged in my HDMI cable to my Kindle Fire HD to watch it on my TV…I think they’ll work that out eventually.

Still, the expanded wi-fi should be good for wi-fi Kindle owners (Fire or not) who are Comcast subscribers…and others in a pinch.

Kindle hardware in India

The Papewhite, the “Mindle”, and the Kindle Fire HD 7″ and 8.9″ are now available from Amazon.in

http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/B007HCFU90/ref=gw_in_c1_ks/275-7716727-1685962?ie=UTF8&nav_sdd=aps&pf_rd_m=A1VBAL9TL5WCBF&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=10MHJXW9MFNNMSKY87JG&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=408409067&pf_rd_i=1320006031

It doesn’t appear to have local language support, though, so that’s a possible serious hindrance.

NPR’s Backseat Book Club

People might not like backseat drivers, but backseat readers? Joy for the reader, quiet for the driver. ;) Actually, we sometimes read out loud to the others in the car, but this is an excellent reading list from National Public Radio

The Complete List: What NPR’s Backseat Book Club Has Read So Far

Reading lists are tricky things, and I haven’t read everything on this one, but it looks solid to me. I mean, once you hit

The Phantom Tollbooth

you’re good :) but this includes The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Black Beauty) and more contemporary titles…as a former bookstore manager, I’m impressed. :)

Have comments on any of these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know.

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

Round up #177: $5K from 7-11, OCR oops

June 12, 2013

Round up #177: $5K from 7-11, OCR oops

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

HarperCollins wants you to reinvent publishing

There is this mythology that the tradpubs (traditional publishers) are stuck in the 19th Century…that they can’t see beyond tree-gobbling, smoke-belching book factories and brick and mortar stores.

I’ve said before that I expect the large publishers to be able to make adjustments…oh, not all of them, and not completely, but this industry has already seen major changes, during the life of most of these companies. Look at how railroads and TV have changed publishing. In 1930, publishers hired Edward Bernays (who basically invented modern public relations) to increase sales…and Bernays convinced architects to include built-in bookshelves in new homes. That’s not traditionalist thinking: that’s the ability to go to an expert for help, and to accept it…not what you get with hidebound organizations.

Now, HarperCollins is asking app developers to

“Use imagination and technology to build software that goes beyond the traditional ways we read and discover books.”

This is a contest, with monetary rewards (as high as $15,000).

They aren’t just saying, “Hey, do what you do.” They are making the HarperCollins Open Book API (Application Programming Interface) available. According to the

Booksmash Challenge details page

the API has

“…exclusive book data, author data, and content not available to the general public. These tools will allow developers to think about how to make readers fall in love with books all over again, and how to lead a reluctant reader to just the right story.”

Notice that part about “content”. This suggests that apps will interact with what  you read in some way. Suppose an app noticed the content of a book you read, and maybe took note of what you highlighted. It could then (after you are done reading, hopefully) suggest something else similar. That’s sort of like “people who bought also bought”, but it could be based on actual content, not just the fact that five disparate books were on sale at the same time. Applying “sentiment analysis” might also be a great tool. That would guess, based on the language in the book, if the book was in favor of something or against it. The app could then suggest “other books that support this idea” or “hear from the other side”.

I think this may end up producing something which has a significant impact on the industry. It doesn’t necessarily mean it happens within the confines of the contest: just the fact that it exists may inspire others to come up with their own apps.

Kudos to HarperCollins for encouraging innovation!

Similar to Kindle Worlds, though, there may be developers who are uncomfortable with the terms…out of the box thinking like this tends to naturally encourage the contributions of outsiders. That can be both good and bad, as you get people with less understanding of the situation, but you may also get people who had never thought (or written) about something turning considerable talent and intelligence to it.

7-11 giving away $5,000 in Amazon gift cards

Here’s an opportunity for you to win $5,000 in Amazon gift cards!

https://7eleven.promo.eprize.com/awesummer/

That’s only going for this week, but it does cost anything to enter. I was first alerted to this by my Special Offers on my Kindle Fire…which is one reason the ad-supported  versions of the devices tend to be more popular than their ad-free, but more expensive, counterparts.

I think you could now refer to Amazon gift cards as “Anything Money”. ;) I mean, there are so many options!

If you win, let me know… :)

Doctor W In47o

You know how sometimes you run across books in the Kindle store that are clearly the results of bad OCR (Optical Character Recognition)? No? Let me explain that a bit.

Let’s say that you have a print copy of a book, and you own the rights to it…and you don’t have an electronic file. You want to digitize, to make it into an e-book. You have a few options:

1. Have somebody re-type it. That’s time-consuming, labor intensive (and therefore expensive). With professionals doing it, you are likely to get a pretty good result

2. Have somebody read it into voice recognition software (speech-to-text). That requires less skill, but tends to be somewhat less accurate…and takes quite a long time

3. Scan the book, and ask software to read the images which are created and turn them into words. That’s what OCR does…it looks at (optical) the images to find the letters and numbers (characters). That’s relatively fast, inexpensive…and can be quite inaccurate

I borrowed

Doctor Who Short Trips: Life Science

from the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) this month…and the faults of OCR are obvious and atrocious.

Here are some of the things that I see:

  • Numbers randomly appearing throughout the book…in the middle of words, for example. They look like footnote indicators, but they aren’t. These are likely because there were wrinkles or smudges on the page, and the numbers are the software’s best guess
  • “M”s rendered as “I n” and things like that. That’s what makes it clear it is OCR…a human wouldn’t make that mistake
  • Sections randomly bolded
  • Completely illegible sections
  • Wordsallsmashedtogether and w o r d s w h e r e e v e r y l e t t e r i s s e p a r a t e. I listen to text-to-speech in the car, and Ivona on my Kindle Fire does a remarkably good job with words without spaces between them…but tends then to pronounce every letter separately in ones where there are unnecessary spaces. So, I might hear “TEE ATCH EE DEE OH SEE TEE OH ARE” instead of “The Doctor”, all said rapidly. I’m pretty good at understanding that sort of thing, but I’m going to stop listening to this book in the car, because it’s clearly going to create a distracted driving situation ;)

How could they have fixed this?

Proofreading, just like you do with any other book. I could have fixed all of it in probably a few hours.

They just don’t want to spend the money. Now, I’m happy to have the book available to me…the writing actually has been good in these short stories. It’s just been such a challenge to get to it! I’m glad I didn’t pay the $12.99 list price for it, certainly, and I think many people would return it as unacceptable.

Apple trial continues

It’s looking increasingly to me like Apple will prevail at trial, but we’ll see. We are getting some very interesting testimony from the publishers (John Sargent of Macmillan, for example), which makes it look less like a conspiracy and more like a game of Cosmic Encounter. ;) Nobody seems to be able to remember anything specific, and they all have these weird powers they suddenly drop into the mix. They all think they are playing the other people for fools. Apple’s not coming across as a “ringleader”, manipulating these publishers into all working together. It sounds like the publishers were also willing to work with Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Google…or anybody they wanted to get the best deal. ;)

Sure, according to this

PaidContent.org article by Laura Hazard Owen

Rupert Murdoch wanted to “screw Amazon”…but it sounds like they were willing to do that to Apple, too. :)

It’s hard to imagine this group all agreeing to anything, based on testimony. I feel like I wouldn’t want to go to lunch with them unless they removed the butter knives first. ;) Just kidding, but it sounds more like a mosh pit than lockstep…

What do you think? What would you like to see an app do to help you discover new books? Do you know someone who might enter the Booksmash Challenge…or who would choose to stay out of it? Is the testimony in the Apple trial getting you to change your estimation of who will win? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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


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