Archive for the ‘Apps’ Category

Big app giveaway, FTV discount…and free books

September 25, 2014

Big app giveaway, FTV discount…and free books

There is a

Limited Time App Giveaway (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right now in the Amazon Appstore.

It’s not a LTO (Limited Time Offer) that we get on our Kindle Fires…it will probably be there through today, and maybe another day, but they don’t  give a date, and it’s available to everyone who can use the USA Amazon Appstore. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

There are some good apps here, ones that I use regularly! I know at least one of them is usually about $15.

Twenty-three of the twenty-seven are good for the Fire Phone, twenty-five are good on at least some Fire tablets, and three are good on the Fire TV.

I’m going to get all the ones I don’t already have. :) One nice thing about apps: you can send to Cloud storage only, so they don’t take up any room on your devices unless you choose to download them. I wish that was an explicit option for e-books…I usually send those to my Cloud reader, but that’s not quite the same thing.

Here are some highlights:

  • Office Suite Professional, 3.9 out of 5 stars, 2130 customer reviews. I use this one quite often…it lets you read and do some light editing of Excel, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word files. I’ll e-mail the file to myself and then open the attachment in Office Suite Pro. This one is normally $14.99
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II, 3.7 stars, 166 reviews…Fire TV compatible
  • Riptide GP2, 4.5 stars, 475 reviews…I’ve played this on our FTV (at least a bit)
  • Sketchbook Pro, 3.9 stars, 289 reviews
  • PrinterShare Mobile, 3.8 stars, 830 reviews
  • Perfectly Clear, 3.8 stars, 260 reviews…just got this today. It improves the appearance of photos. I tried it…seemed to work well on the one overexposed image I tested
  • Another World, 3.5 stars, 16 reviews…retro gamer
  • Heroes of Steel RPG Elite, 4.9 stars, 9 reviews: great reviews on this role-paying game
  • Paper Camera, 4.1 stars, 544 reviews: one of my favorite apps for my phone…creates filters for images, and one looks like it is hand-drawn. I’ve used that one several times…classy! You can also just look through the camera and see the world that way
  • Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Pro, 4.0 stars, 8 reviews…list priced at $59.00? I like having a dictionary app on my device…this isn’t to do look-up from within books, but to use like a regular dictionary (albeit with a lot more features). I’m definitely trying this one

Also wanted to mention that the

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

is on sale for $84, which is about 15% off the normal $99 price. I use ours every day. When we buy another TV that can work with it, we might really cut the cord (stop paying for cable). This, when you mirror your Kindle Fire to it, can give you a lot to watch! It works much better than our Roku, by the way…it’s much faster.

Finally, I don’t like to write posts without giving something to the book readers. :) That’s the main focus of this blog, certainly, although I know that some people like the other content information as well.

This time, I thought I’d throw in some links to free e-books in some popular categories, sorted by popularity:

Enjoy!

 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! :) 

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 #267: page 45, Neuromancer deal

September 7, 2014

Round up #267: page 45, Neuromancer deal

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

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal

In today’s

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

there are two deals which stand out to me.

Neuromancer by William Gibson came out in 1984, and won the Hugo, the Nebula, and Philip K. Dick award…and profoundly influenced geek thinking. You can get it today for $1.99…either for yourself, or maybe delay delivery for an appropriate gift giving occasion. It’s quite possible that even the way you are reading this was influenced by ideas in this book. 4.0 stars out of 5, 813 customer reviews.

The other deal is on twenty Iris Johansen titles for $2.99 each. There are a bunch of Eve Duncan books in this group, and others.

If you want to buy rather than borrow (through Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), these are good deals.

Page 45 status

Humans are great at finding linkages and patterns in things…even if they don’t actually exist. ;)

That has led to all sorts of fortune telling techniques, among other things.

I put together a CD with hundreds of small sound clips from movies and TV, gathered from

http://www.dailywav.com/

which is a great site for that sort of thing. It’s been around since 1995, and is nicely organized. They also comply with rightsholders, and I think that they are within Fair Use with what they do.

I have listened to it many times in the car (before I had text-to-speech…I listen to books, now). I would put it on shuffle, and I called it “The Magic Clip Ball”. One way to “use” it would be to think of a question, and then whatever quotation came up next was the “advice” for you. That was often fun!

My adult kid recently made me aware of a “viral book status”.

To quote:

“Pick up the nearest book to you and turn to page 45. The first sentence describes your love life.”

Now, there are some complications with this for e-book users. All of the books in my Kindle (and I know some of you may have thousands downloaded) are really equidistant from me. If you use a Kindle for this, I’d say the one that is nearest to the front of your Carousel. Of course, you may also not have a page 45…I’d go with location 450 if you don’t.

When I decided to try it just for fun, there was a p-book (paperbook) near me…Monsters by George Eberhart (believe me, if I could have had it as an e-book, I’d prefer it).

The line for me?

“One Man in Canoe Sets Out to Hunt Loch Ness Monster”

;)

I won’t comment on the appropriateness of that for me, but I can see how it might fit some people (making it gender neutral, of course).

Seeking Alpha round-up

I recently created a free account on

Seeking Alpha

and they’ve sent me several interesting articles!

They are well thought-out and researched…I’m impressed!

Why Amazon’s Appstore Could Become As Big As Google Play by “Critical Timing”

This isn’t just pie in the sky, but makes a good argument for the super rapid growth of Amazon’s Appstore. Gee, in three years, will be people be as mad at a phone not having access to the Amazon Appstore as they are now to the Fire Phone and Kindle Fires not having direct access to Google Play? Perhaps, although Amazon seems more likely to me to make the apps available more places…they don’t tend to build walls to keep people from getting their products. Witness all of the Kindle reader apps. Of course, you can’t install a Kindle reader app on a non-tablet NOOK, but that has more to do with apps and that operating system, I believe, than deliberate exclusion. In this case there are apps that will work best with the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

dynamic perspective (which I call “dy-per”), but outside of that, I think we’ll see the Amazon Appstore continue to expand.

Oh, one comment on the Fire Phone: I now like it a lot, after using it for a while. The easy access to things I’ve done before (such as addresses I’ve mapped) is one reason. One big gap? The voice assistant can’t do as much as Google Now or Siri or Cortana, but that will likely improve with software updates. I also asked Amazon if it had a name, and they said no…that might be a mistake, in terms of brand loyalty.

Reading And Believing In Barnes & Noble by Kevin Donovan

I’ve been seeing articles recently talking up Barnes & Noble as a company, at least for investors. Again, this has graphs and trends to back up its point…and they do consider what Amazon does a potential threat to continued growth.

Speaking of what Amazon does, I expect we’ll get a new hardware announcement before the end of the month. In terms of my personal satisfaction, I don’t know what they would do hardware wise to get me to want to upgrade. I’m quite satisfied with both my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

and my

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

It’s possible they’ll introduce some services in another model that would make it attractive.

However, if a model has something unprecedented, I might get it anyway, so I can tell you about it. :)

Back to B&N: do I think they can succeed? I think it’s possible, but I don’t see the path yet.

Why Amazon Has No Profits (And Why It Works) by Benedict Evans

This may be the best article I’ve ever read on Amazon.

Thorough analysis explaining how it works, and what it will need to do to keep working.

Highly recommended!

It also helps explain why, according to this

RTT News article and other sources

Bank of America just gave Amazon a two billion (!) dollar credit facility.

This despite CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Thomas Szkutak of Amazon’s announced departure next year.

B of A can see money in Amazon’s future…

A KOLL of lump

Last month was the first month since it’s been available that I did not borrow a book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). It wasn’t by choice. Despite contacting Amazon, I could not figure out a way to do it…and I’m pretty good at figuring things out. ;)

You see, I’m both an eligible Prime member and a member of Kindle Unlimited…and even when a book was available in both, it would only let me borrow it as part of the KOLL.

Fortunately, we don’t have Prime just to borrow books, and this is not that big a deal for me (since as noted, I can borrow books through KU instead). It does feel like a bit of a loss, though.

What do you think? Did you get an intriguing “page 45″ result? Do you know of other similar things to do with books and insight? Will B&N survive…and perhaps even thrive? Did you already have an opinion on Neuromancer? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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! :) 

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 #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

August 17, 2014

Round up #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

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

The 11th book

People talk about the “tenth man” in baseball (that means the fans in the stands, who, in addition to the nine players on the field at a time are believed to influence the outcome of the game).

Well, I’ve run into an interesting situation with the “eleventh book”. ;)

I’ve mentioned before, and other readers have brought it up, that since I’ve joined Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s “all you can read” subser (subscription service), I haven’t been able to borrow a book through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). That’s part of my benefits as an eligible Prime member with a hardware Kindle.

I had been borrowing a book every month (that’s the maximum…one a calendar month), and I’ve come to think of it as one of the reasons we have Prime in my family…although certainly not the most important. The “no additional cost” two-day shipping is the main reason, and I use Prime video quite a bit. Prime music is fun, but I haven’t integrated it into my routines yet.

I checked with Amazon, and I published how they told me it should work here:

Kindle Unlimited: how does it affect authors, and what’s the deal with the KOLL?

It just wasn’t working that way for me: even when I was eligible to borrow a book from the KOLL, I wasn’t being given the option to do so on

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

Well, one of my contacts at Amazon suggested I check with Kindle Support: so I used Mayday on my Kindle Fire, and that person knew the answer right away!

When a book is in both the KOLL and KU (there are more books in KU than the KOLL, but just about all the KOLL books are part of KU), and you are a KU member and eligible for the KOLL, it will default to KU…unless you already have the maximum ten books (at a time) out from KU.

Hey…I just tested this by borrowing ten books from KU…and my options didn’t change! I still can’t borrow a book from the KOLL.

I’ll follow up with Amazon: false alarm. :(

I can at least report that when you have ten books borrowed from KU and try to borrow one more, it will offer to return the one you borrowed the longest time ago…or let you pick another one.

Update: I just spent, oh, half an hour or so with Mayday on this. I was passed from my first rep to another one, who then consulted extensively with another person. The best they can tell me at this point is that they are aware of the issue, and they’ll follow up with me when it is solved.

Bookstore sales fall 7.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly article

the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that bookstore sales are down 7.9% year over year for the first half of 2014.

That’s a huge amount for an industry without a lot of margin (I used to be a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager).

My guess is that there are some small stores doing quite well, and even growing, and that we are seeing this impact mostly from large or “undifferentiated” stores…ones without a specific “personality”.

I think it’s likely that more books are actually being read, thanks to e-books, but physical bookstores have to be destination stores to survive. You have to make people care about you enough that they will willingly pay more money than they would have paid online just to support you. That is entirely doable, but it does take focus and effort.

Entertaining a kid on BART

My Significant Other and I went to see a San Francisco Giants game today (a rare treat…my parents took us). On the way home on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit…that’s sort of our subway system around here), there was a fussy three-year old.

I always keep apps on my Kindle Fire specifically to entertain kids. :) After clearly gaining permission, I let the kid play with

Fingerpaint Magic (at Amazon Smile*)

That went well…we had a smiling and laughing kid in a short period of time. My SO also pointed out that this three-year old figured out how to start a new drawing, and select a background…much sooner than my SO would have. ;)

After a while, we switched to

Monkey Buddy (at AmazonSmile*)

a free app on my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s an interactive animal…you can think sort of like a Tamagotchi.

It reacts to what you do…stroke the ears, for example, and it gets happy.

It will also take a picture of you when you tap a camera…and then draw on the picture (putting glasses on you, for example), and then discards it (the picture is not saved).

Although a three-year old won’t discover this right away (and this was a bright kid), it will also react to your head movements. Nod your head “yes”, and it gets happy, recognizing it as approval. Shake your head “no”, and it gets sad. It also gets sad if it can’t see you.

I do want to mention something about using the Fire Phone. When I try to demonstrate the dynamic perspective (which I can “dy-per”, just for fun), I will tell someone to move their head to look at the phone to see the effect.

Most people stare steadily at the phone without moving their heads…even after I say it.

I have to point out that it is like you are trying to peek into the side of the phone.

Before the Fire Phone, I hadn’t noticed how rigidly people hold their heads when looking at a phone, but I guess that makes sense with most phones.

51% of kindergarteners through 5th graders prefer to read on a screen over paper

This

EBOOK FRIENDLY article by Ola Kowalczyk

has some interesting facts in an infographic from a survey by TeachHub.com.

The one I’ll point out is preferred reading medium.

37% prefer reading on a tablet (the infographic includes “Kindles” in that, and I would think not just the Kindle Fires), 35% prefer paper, and 14% prefer a computer. 12% preferred someone else reading to them (I’m going to guess they weren’t thinking text-to-speech, but a human being).

That’s extraordinary, and important.

Little kids’ books lagged behind adult and young adult titles in getting into the e-book market. Part of that was they waited for the technology: color, for one thing.

If screens are now the preferred method, bookstore sales may drop a lot more than 7.9% in a few years…

I think we’ll see an impact on the “books as gifts” market this holiday…Amazon should promote very strongly giving Kindle Unlimited (maybe for three months) as a gift this holiday! Not sure exactly the mechanism for that, but we serious readers know how intimidated other people can be in trying to pick out specific books for us. Netflix gifts have been a significant thing for a while: subscriptions to subsers (subscription services) for e-books could be really big.

What do you think? Why do so many kids like to read on computers (that surprised me)? Is it because those kids don’t have “tablets”, perhaps? Are there books that you prefer to read on a computer? Would you let your kid play with a stranger’s phone/tablet/Kindle? Do you keep things with you to entertain kids? Would you give KU as a gift? Are bookstores on the way out, or is it only certain bookstores? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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! :) 

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 #260: kids’ books at Food Banks, B&N splits, app giveaway

June 28, 2014

Round up  #260: kids’ books at Food Banks, B&N splits, app giveaway

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

Barnes & Noble “consciously uncouples” from NOOK

According to Barnes & Nobles’

press release

and other sources (including a Jeffrey Trachtenberg piece in the WSJ which was behind a paywall), they plan to split into two entities by the end of the first calendar quarter of next year.

One part will be NOOK Media (the devices and the content), and the other part will be the retail segment, which includes the brick-and-mortar stores.

It seems that the new sail (the NOOK) with which they had outfitted their corporate ship has become an anchor. ;)

This short excerpt tells the tale:

“Device and accessories sales were $25 million for the quarter and $260 million for the full year, declining 30.1% and 44.8%, respectively, due to lower selling volume and lower average selling prices. Digital content sales were $62 million for the quarter and $246 million for the full year, declining 18.7% and 20.6%, respectively, due primarily to lower device unit sales.”

On the other hand, the retail segment was definitely…um…less bad. ;) Core comparable sales were down 3.1%, but overall, things were pretty flat…which is a considerable improvement.

The stock rose, according to CNN Money

http://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=BKS

over 13% this week…and it’s risen more than 50% this year.

Not everybody thinks this is the death knell of the NOOK

Motley Fool article by Dan Newman

but it’s not exactly a victory march, either. ;)

Barnes & Noble is having a NOOK book sales on beach reads…and since Amazon tends to match prices, that means they are likely to be discounted in the Kindle store as well. I did check, and did see the price matching, although I didn’t check them all:

Barnes & Noble Beach Reads sale

Here are a few of the ninety titles:

  • Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
  • Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich
  • Four Friends by Robyn Carr
  • Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers

E-book revenues more than three times mass market revenues in 2013

This

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

has the stats from the Book Industry Study Group for 2013.

Sales in the trade sector (this group doesn’t include textbooks, kids books, or professional/scholarly books) dropped 2.3% (we’re talking about cash, not units), but other sectors grew.

In terms of formats, I’ve written before about how e-books are largely replacing mass market paperbacks as far as market positioning goes: relatively cheap and convenient. MMPs were down another 6.7% to $781 million…which you can compare to e-books having $3.03 billion.

Hardbacks (again, we’re talking revenue, not units) were still much higher than e-books, at $5.14 billion.

I don’t want to take too much away from the article…if you like to see these sorts of stats, I recommend it.

Through Saturday: over $100 worth of apps for free!

Amazon alerted me through e-mail (which I really appreciate…it lets me help you) about thirty-one apps they are giving away, just through tomorrow (Saturday).

There are always lots of free apps at Amazon, of course, but these are ones for which you would normally pay.

Over $100 in apps…free (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I just figure I’ll go ahead and get all of the ones, if I don’t already have them. With apps,  you can get them for “Cloud Only”, so they don’t take up any memory on your devices unless you choose to use them.

This set includes apps that are generally pretty well-rated, and it has Splashtop and a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

One interesting thing: some apps (like Plex, which is part of this deal) are compatible both with my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

and my

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

Since it’s basically the same operating system, I suspect that some of the apps I already own for my KFHDX will also work with my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

when I get it at the end of July.

They won’t all be cross-compatible: if a game/app is designed to work with the Fire Phones dynamic perspective (which I call “dyper”), it won’t be able to do the same thing on the Kindle Fire. They might be able to make two different versions of it available, though, which it would seem like must be the case with the Fire TV and the Kindle Fire.

Children’s books given away at Food Banks

I love this story!

When our now adult kid would have birthday parties growing up, we normally did them at the Food Bank (that was our kid’s choice). It was actually a lot of fun. We would reserve a time, and we’d show up with maybe ten or fifteen people (kids and guardians). We would sort food donations and box them up. It was hard work, and you had to do it right (one big part was checking expiration dates, and looking for damaged containers…like moldy peanut butter). We got to bring our own music, though, and we could crank it up! We’d spend an hour or so (I think that’s right), and end up with a whole palette of food for people!

Afterwards, we’d invite people out to pizza or something like that.

It felt really good to be able to help.

Well, it would have felt even better if we could have given out toys, too, which is what happened recently in England, according to this

The Telegraph story by Martin Chilton

The book that was given away was Super Duck, by Jez Alborough (not available in a Kindle edition), which I understand is popular in England.

When we buy our Toys for Tots donation every year, I do think it’s a good thing to get well-known brands, like Spider-Man. I just figure that has to make the kids feel more “normal”, since many of them see the commercials just like everybody else.

Bravo to the charity Booktrust for arranging this!

Lemony Snicket endorses Spencer Collins

Daniel Handler (A.K.A. Lemony Snicket (at AmazonSmile)) provided verbal support to our

ILMK Reader Hero #3

Spencer Collins, according to this

Huffington Post article by Ed Mazza

That likely ups Spencer’s cool quotient with the kids…not that Spencer needs that. You may recall that our Reader Hero put up a Little Free Library…and it was ordered taken down by the City Council. This issue is still unresolved (you can click our link above to add your support), but we particularly salute Spencer for approaching this by reading up on city codes to work within the system and in a mature and responsible way.

Full disclosure: one of my relatives knows Daniel Handler, although we’ve never met.

Mary Rodgers reported dead

Mary Rodgers (at AmazonSmile)

the author of Freaky Friday (not available in a Kindle edition) and a handful of children’s books, including the sequel

Freaky Monday (at AmazonSmile)

has reportedly died.

The book was a bestseller, and was adapted memorably more than once (some of will think first of Jodie Foster…others of Lindsay Lohan).

She also wrote plays (including Once Upon a Mattress), and was the child of Richard Rodgers (of “and Hammerstein” fame).

The book will live on.

The Measured Circle free Flipboard magazine continues to grow

On Monday, I gave you an

Update on my free Flipboard magazines

Well, the readership continues to grow! I have to say, this may be the most dynamic growth of anything I’ve done creatively.

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

had 716 readers on Monday…and 1,109 at time of writing! That’s more than half again.

Interesting… :)

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! :) 

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 #258: WSV for apps, access instead of ownership

June 13, 2014

Round up #258: WSV for apps, access instead of ownership

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

Mayday heyday

I’ve said:

“Having a tablet without Mayday is like having a car without a windshield: it doesn’t matter how fast your car is, or how cool it looks, if you can’t see how to get where you’re going.”

Amazon has just put out this new

press release

with some very interesting (and positive) information about the live on-screen tech help for the

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

They say that 75% of contacts about the KFHDX come through Mayday…and that the average response time is 9.75 seconds.

Imagine getting knowledgeable help in under ten seconds by walking into a chain brick-and-mortar bookstore! Not very likely…and I used to be a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager. Our store was small enough that we were likely to say “Hi” to you as you walked into the store, although not always (we might have been on the floor helping somebody else or merchandising). In a Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million, though? You’ll probably either need to wait in line at the front to ask a question, or work your way through the aisles to an advice desk…where you may still need to wait for somebody.

They tell several anecdotes in the press release, including somebody getting help with Angry Birds, and a rep singing Happy Birthday (I’ve wondered before if Amazon pays royalties when that happens…).

It is one of my major reasons to recommend the Kindle Fire HDX…and I think it is the future of Customer Service (although, I suspect that Artificial Intelligence responses will be part of this sort of instant help eventually).

I did just recently have a reader comment on getting someone through Mayday that they had difficulty in understanding. That’s the first time I’ve heard that, and I’ve used Mayday several times myself without an issue like that.

Whispersync for Voice added to apps

In another

press release

Amazon announced an update to their free reading apps for Android and for iDevices which brings Whispersync for Voice to them.

WSV allows you to switch between sight-reading a book and listening to an audiobook.

While I use text-to-speech often for the same purpose (listening in the car, sight-reading at home or on a break at work), I really don’t use WSV.

As regular readers know, I’m not a big fan of audiobooks…unless I’ve already read the book. I don’t like the actor/author interpreting the characters for me. I like TTS better because it is generic, which I know seems odd to some people.

Still, WSV seems to be a success for Amazon, and I’m sure many of you will be happy to hear this. Once again, Amazon gives us more at no additional cost.

To find which books you already own as e-books that having matching reduced cost audiobooks under the WSV program, you can go to

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

Music studios probably don’t want to hear this…

With yesterday’s implementation of

Prime Music (my post on it)

I can’t imagine buying music for myself again.

That’s how the world has changed for a lot of people.

I have something like 10,000 paperbooks on shelves in my home. I have…oh, more than a 100 DVDs.

I definitely was somebody who owned things for the sake of owning them.

Now (and isn’t this modern of me?) ;) I’m generally good with paying for access instead.

I’ve been using Prime Music since yesterday. I’m listening to it right now…The Andrews Sisters are singing, and it’s a song I have bought in the past. It’s part of the Prime Playlist

50 Great Swing Era Songs (at AmazonSmile)

It’s sort of like listening to a radio station…with no ads. :)

I consider myself a pretty eclectic music listener, just as I think of myself as an eclectic reader (although I do have some preferences, I can read pretty much anything). With Prime Music, there are plenty of things I want to hear…and in many categories. I may listen to the Taiko (Japanese drumming) album I see later this day, but I also listen to contemporary music.

Do they have everything? No.

Do they have enough? Looks like it. ;)

I feel the same way about video. There is enough TV and enough movies for me to watch through Prime and Netflix (and legal free online sources) that I’m trying to see a path where I would buy a DVD for myself…and not finding one.

I suspect that Amazon could (and may this year) introduce a book subser (subscription service) where I feel largely the same way.

It’s been quite a mental shift for me to not need to watch a specific video or listen to a particular tune…and I think I’d get there with books.

That would really change the economics of things, if many people did that.

We might end up with ten percent of the number of new books being released each year by the tradpubs (traditional publishers)…and the cost going up a lot.

I’ve talked about $50 as a reasonable price for a new hardback novel in the future (as a possible scenario).

If subsers take off, I could see that going to $100.

Early access would become a true luxury.

Sure, there would be some specials on things like that, but you’d have the “golden gateway” crowd, which pays more to “get in” first, then the average person, who pays monthly or annually for a subser and gets books that are a year old or so…and disadvantaged people, who get them free from sources like the library, but perhaps even slower than that. Of course, the libraries could have them as quickly…if governments support them paying licenses that the publishers consider reasonable.

What do you think? Are we seeing and will we continue to see a shift towards people paying for access rather than ownership? How will that affect the production of content? Do you find that it’s happened for you? What has your experience been with Mayday (if any)? Are you a Whispersync for Voice user? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* 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.

What’s happening to Amazon’s core principles?

May 24, 2014

What’s happening to Amazon’s core principles?

I have loved Amazon.

There has never been a company with which I have had a better relationship, and I can’t imagine another one that is out there right now which would be as good.

However, for the first time, I’m getting a little concerned about the future.

I’ve staked a lot on having an ongoing connection to Amazon. I’ve said before that I think it is more likely that my descendants will have access to my Kindle books than to my paperbooks.

One reason I thought that is that Amazon has three core principles:

  • Price
  • Service
  • Selection

Jeff Bezos has mentioned how those three are the same all over the world. While delivery methods might be different in different countries, you aren’t going to find someone who says, “I wish you had fewer choices that cost me more and got them to me more slowly.”

Recently, though, Amazon has done some things which seem to me to be moving away from those principles…and that concerns me.

Let’s start with one particularly clear example.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, alerted me to this…and I had flipped a couple of articles about it into my

Free ILMK magazine at Flipboard

Here’s one that gives an interesting perspective:

The Bookseller post by Sarah Shaffi

I’ve already written about an apparent dispute between Amazon and the publisher Hachette:

Is Amazon delaying Hachette books?

but this new development seems a clearcut violation of the three principles.

The story is that Amazon is removing the ability to pre-order some Hachette Kindle books, including J.K. Rowling’s (writing as Robert Galbraith) next novel.

Well, at this point, I don’t see that novel listed at all in Kindle format…and you can’t pre-order the hardback (that may be a change since the article was written). It simply says the hardback is unavailable, and that you can sign up to be e-mailed when it is.

I’ve always pictured people in a meeting in Amazon being challenged by any proposal with the three principles. In other words, they would have to justify how the new idea fits at least one of them (without, presumably, throwing the balance off by making the other two much worse).

Does having the book be unavailable help with selection? No, it hurts selection. Selection has to mean “what is available to the customer now”, not what will be available at some point, at least if your competitors have it. I could pre-order that book right now, as a hardback or an e-book, from Barnes & Noble.

Does having the book be unavailable help price? No. It doesn’t offer something at a lower price to fail to offer it at all. I suppose you could argue that the customer isn’t spending the money, but it doesn’t work that way emotionally for people.

Does having the book be unavailable help service? No. If a customer does want the book, they would have to wait to get an e-mail, then click (presumably) on a link in the e-mail…as opposed to just 1-clicking a pre-order button on the book’s product page.

So, if the idea was brought up in a committee, I would have hoped it would be rejected on those grounds.

Now, is it possible that it actually serves the principles in some way we can’t see?

Could it be that Hachette’s terms were so difficult that agreeing to them would have hurt future selection, service, and/or price? Maybe…but if we can’t see it, it’s hard to not feel the loss of the book’s availability…and that can affect customer loyalty. I’ve said before that I think market leaders can lose that position when they overestimate customer loyalty (as opposed to when they underestimate the competition, which is what many people think happens).

According to a book I’m just finishing (I’m in the end matter):

Thinking, Fast and Slow (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

people consider a loss to be much more impactful than a gain. Losing ten dollars hurts more than gaining ten dollars feels good.

This is a loss. We would have to gain something many times as good before we felt that this move on Amazon’s part was a plus for us.

If this was the only such action on Amazon’s part, I could construct some sort of “prospiracy theory” (a prospiracy is the opposite of a conspiracy…a secret plan to do something good) that would explain it.

However, as I wrote in

Kindle New York Times bestsellers shockingly up almost $1 a month so far this year

and as another of my regular readers and commenters, Roger Knights, predicted, prices have been rising rapidly (at least on New York Times bestseller hardback equivalents).

That doesn’t serve the price principle, and I can’t see how it benefits selection (unless the publishers were going to withdraw the books if Amazon didn’t raise the price) or service (you don’t get them any faster or have a better return policy).

Then, and this will seem minor to many, there has been a major overhaul of the

Kindle Help Community (at AmazonSmile)

I have tried and tried to see how the changes are better…but so far (and I’m quite imaginative) I have failed at the task.

I am a “Kindle Forum Pro”. We aren’t Amazon employees, but we have been designated by Amazon as being particularly helpful to other people who use Amazon’s customer forums. That has also been something where I thought Amazon was doing an incredible service. They freely allow criticism of Amazon in these forums, and they allow great speculation and helping of each other. Sure, that can save Amazon some Customer Service cost, but most companies’ forums just aren’t this free.

What changes did they make?

  • You used to be able to tell to which threads you had posted recently…that made it much easier to get back to help someone who asked a question, you asked a clarifying question (such as which model they have) and then they answered it
  • You used to be able to preview the thread without opening it…that was a quick way to tell if the question had already been answered. Now, I have to open each thread just to tell if they need help. I used to love going that forum to help people…I recently mentioned that I now approach it with the same feeling I have going in for a teeth cleaning at the dentist. I still now it’s a good thing, but it’s not comfortable…
  • They took away our Kindle Forum Pro badges (which was something which officially identified us to customers). I was helping people long before I had the badge, and will continue to do without…but for customers, it raises the signal to noise ratio. We certainly see people give answers which are wrong, and sometimes harmful. While we “Pros” didn’t always know everything, we were a pretty reliable source. In a way, I suppose it was like those “Volunteer” vests you sometimes see people wearing at conventions…it lets you know you can trust them, even if they aren’t employees

I know I would have to prove that these actions are different from what Amazon did in the past. After all, Amazon did remove the Macmillan buy buttons back in 2010, when they were fighting the Agency Model. That one, though, really felt like it was about us, the customers. I don’t know what Amazon and Hachette are tussling over, but this one just…feels like it is about Amazon.

Some of you may also bring up the price raise in Prime. That one didn’t bother me much, given the amount of raise and how long it had been since it had been raised before. It’s logical that costs have gone up considerably for Amazon during that time for that part of the business.

Why do I think this is happening?

If Roger (see above) is right, this could certainly be due to pressure to show more of a profit.

I don’t think that Jeff Bezos is short-sighted, though…quite the opposite. It needs to be true that everyone making these sorts of decisions takes the long view…not just Jeff. Jeff may certainly be turning some attention elsewhere, and eventually (hopefully a long time from now…knock virtual wood) someone else will be the CEO.

That’s assuming Amazon outlasts its defining founder.

I think it will.

My (perhaps incurably optimistic) thought is that this is a temporary aberration. Someone is going to glance up at the wall (or on the screensaver, perhaps…I don’t know) and see those three principles displayed:

“Price…Service…Selection…Price…Service…Selection…Price…”

They’ll look at someone else, look at the principles, tilt their head and raise one eyebrow.

I expect a lot of good things in Amazon’s future…as long as they listen to themselves, and follow their three North stars.

I welcome the thoughts you share with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

===

Bonus deal:

This is good at time of writing, but do check. You can

Get 200 Amazon Coins (at AmazonSmile)

for each of these five free apps you license (“buy”). That’s up to $10 worth to spend on apps in the Amazon Appstore and in-app purchases.

If you already have one of these apps (I did), I don’t think you can get the  200 coins for that.

Otherwise, why not? :)

New! 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! :) 

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.

 

Get 300 Amazon Coins for browsing Summer Reading for Kids

May 20, 2014

Get 300 Amazon Coins for browsing Summer Reading for Kids

I think this one is clever, although I certainly expect to encounter some push back to it.

Amazon has a

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

store.

It’s further divided into

  • Summer Reading for Kids (2,364) (at time of writing)
  • Summer Reading for Teens & Young Adults (1,114)
  • Summer Reading for Adults (1,878)

and has a lot more discovery options besides those age-based ones.

Well, if you click on a book featured in the Summer Reading for Kids section (you don’t have to buy it…just click on it), you’ll get $3 in AmazonCoins (you can only do this once per customer…in case you had dreams of a clicking frenzy). ;)

My guess is that there may be some criticism from people who think that apps are likely to distract children from reading, so they may see this as hypocritical (since the coins are used to buy apps or make in-app purchases).

However, that is a perhaps…shallow understanding of apps.

That’s like saying that “all books are good for you”. Oh, wait…I do think that one’s true. ;)

It would be like saying all comic books are for children. A medium, while it may influence the content, does not define it.

There are, for example, over 1,500

Children’s Book Apps (at AmazonSmile)

in the Amazon Appstore…some of those might actually encourage someone to do more reading.

Regardless, this is a low cost way to get $3 worth of coins. :)

New! 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! :) 

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.

Evi: free voice-input assistant for the Kindle Fire

April 15, 2014

Evi: free voice-input assistant for the Kindle Fire

Note: if you are not an app user, I have something else for you at the end of this post

I’m more of a keyboard person than a mouse person.

When I first learned to use computers, we didn’t have mice. In fact, we didn’t even use a keyboard. Do you know what we used to talk to the computer?

A punchcard machine.

Quickly, though, we got keyboards…and I took a typing class in high school.

Eventually, I got to be pretty quick: I was measured typing in the 90s (words per minute), which is fast, but not world class.

Then along came SmartPhones, and people were texting.

I’ve never really gotten the hang of texting quickly. The keyboard is too small to qwerty on it (at least for me), and the thumb thing…I’d say I’m adequate.

It’s a little easier to type on a tablet (the screen is bigger), and I have happily used a Bluetooth keyboard with my Kindle Fires.

However, typing is still much more of an effort on those little mobile devices than it is on a laptop or a desktop.

My preferred input method now?

Voice.

Sure, you run into places where you can’t do it (without disrupting people around you), but if I can talk, I prefer it.

One of the things which had been missing on the Kindle Fire, including my  latest generation

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

was voice input.

They fixed that when they gave us Dictate in an update.

Now, most places I would use the keyboard, I can tap a microphone icon instead, and speak it.

I can do that for e-mails: I’ve even done it for posts for this blog.

I now no longer carry a Bluetooth keyboard, for that reason.

That takes care of some of what I need.

I can go to a browser (I prefer Maxthon, but I tested it in Silk for this post) and ask a question, and then search for an answer.

That’s okay…but it’s not like Siri or Google Now, where you can ask a question, and your “assistant” speaks the answer back to you.

Well, the free app

Evi (at AmazonSmile)

gives us that on the Kindle Fire…and it works pretty well.

The app is “speech powered” by Nuance, the same company that make Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

You open the app, tap a big microphone icon (you can type your question, if you prefer), and it gives you the answer…out loud.

For example, I tried this:

“How tall was Mickey Rooney?””

The voice read out, “Mickey Rooney’s heights are 5 feet 2 inches and 1.57 metres.”

Yes, “heights” plural, because it is giving me the height in two different systems.

That answer was also displayed on the screen.

I tried asking it, “Where is the nearest bookstore?”

The results were pretty good!

Obviously, I have LBS (Location Based Services) turned on on my KFHDX.

I thought I’d try something a little trickier:

“What is the tallest building in Boston?”

Hm…that one didn’t work…it suggested I try Yelp. :)

I should mention that when it is getting me these answers, it is often giving me links to results on the web.

It also lets me vote: Good answer, or Bad answer.

For this one:

“How old is Jeff Bezos?”

it was quite complete: “Jeff Bezos was born on the 12th of January 1964. That makes his current age 50 years, 3 months and 3 days old.”

It gives quite a few examples when you tap the tutorial. For example, I could ask, “How hot will it be tomorrow?” and it gave me the temperature for an acceptably near by town…in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. I usually use the latter, so I was happy to hear it. :)

It doesn’t always get things right, of course. When I asked what movies are opening this weekend, it gave me movies…for September 10, 2010. :)

Overall, though, this is a fun way to get answers without typing…and it is free.

Bonus item: I don’t like to do things which are just for the Fire (although I do sometimes), so I thought I’d mention that

Joyland (at AmazonSmile)

just became available for the Kindle.

This is a hit book from Stephen King. 4.4 out of 5 stars, 1,434 customer reviews.

I wasn’t happy when I wrote about it last year…because Stephen King chose to “window” it, and not release it in e-book form initially.

I’m still not happy with that choice: e-books are so much easier for many people with disabilities and challenges which do not rise to the legal level of a disability. However, King did make clear that it would come out in e-book eventually…and I understand the motivation to help brick-and-mortar stores. In other words, I don’t agree with the decision, but I don’t think it should prevent you from getting the book now that it is out in e-book form.

The price?

$6.59 at time of writing…not bad. The book is only ranked #88 paid in the Kindle store right now. It surprised me a bit that it is that low…

* 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.

Free App of the Day: OfficeSuite Professional 7

March 25, 2014

Free App of the Day: OfficeSuite Professional 7

I’m hoping some of you still see this…this is the Free App of the Day for today, March 24th. I believe it will still be available until midnight Pacific time.

This is one that I use myself, quite often:

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s normally $14.99, and today’s it’s free…quite a savings!

What is it?

It’s what I use on my

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

to read (and make small changes to) Microsoft Office files.

It’s compatible with at least some other models of the Fire as well.

My biggest uses?

One is to show people PowerPoints. I’m often doing “over the shoulder” help, and this is the simplest way to show them.

I’ve also edited Excel files on it…just filling in cells. It can do a fair amount of things, but it’s not the full Excel.

The specs include:

“The program supports Microsoft Office 97 to 2010 text documents – DOC and DOCX (open , edit, and save), Microsoft Office 97 to 2010 spreadsheets – XLS and XLSX (open , edit, and save), opening PPT, PPTX, PPS, and PPSX presentations, PDF files viewing, and integration with Google Docs.”

I’ve tried some other Office programs, but this is the one I like the best.

Do check that it is free for you before you click that Buy button…it might not be free in your country, and you may (unfortunately) get to this after it is available for free.

Enjoy!

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.

Round up #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

March 9, 2014

Round up #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

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

KDD: “Books That Inspired Our Passion for Reading, $2.99 or Less [each]“

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deal‘s (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of twenty specific books for $2.99 or less each.

This is National Reading Month (um, gee, isn’t that every month? No? Okay, then.). ;) In honor of that, Amazon has discounted these books (for today)…and there are definitely some good ones on the list!

  • The Alchemist
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • American Gods
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Tales of the City
  • The Natural
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • The Complete Stories (Flannery O’Connor)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Kane and Abel
  • The Good Earth
  • Old Yeller
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8
  • Cryptonomicon
  • Miss Marple, the Complete Short Stories
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast
  • [Ray] Bradbury Stories
  • Native Son
  • Sophie’s World
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall

You know how you say you are going to wait until those really great, well-known books go on sale? That’s now. ;)

As a reminder, you can buy these as a gift and delay the delivery until the appropriate  occasion. For example, do you know a kid who would enjoy Sarah, Plain and Tall? You can order it now and pick a delivery date in December…

One of my regular readers, Lady Galaxy, suggested I might buy a couple to add to our Guest Bookshelf (see On our guest Kindle for a listing of the books we have on our Guest Kindle). A few people, I think wisely, suggested the list could use some more short story anthologies or collections.

Understanding the new Cloud Collections

Overwhelmingly, I’m seeing a positive reaction to the recent update to the Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation.

However, I’m still seeing a lot of confusion, even among very sophisticated users, about how Cloud Collections work now.

I have to say, this does show that Amazon could explain these things better. I like that they have the Kindle Forum Pros (I’m one of those…we volunteer our time to help people), but their Help Pages could be more scenario based, in my opinion. They don’t tend to say, “You want to do this…here’s how”). They will tell you steps to do, but not tell you why you would do them.

I’m going to share something I posted elsewhere…this is based on our KPW1 (Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation): I think it’s the same on the KPW2.

There are really three key things:

1. You can set a Collection so that it either appears in Collections view only, or in all views [note: you do this by selecting "Collections" in the menu to your right of where it says, ,"On Device"]

2. There is a menu for the filter (what will be displayed on your home screen). You can choose: All Items; Books; Periodicals; Docs; Collections; or Active Content [note: that's the same menu as above]

3. There is another menu, similar to what we had before for sorting (the order in which the items you have chosen to display in the second step will show). You can use: Recent; Title; Author; or Collection [that's the last menu on that row, to your right from the menu above]

Here’s my own example:

I created a Collection called “Guest Bookshelf” (this Kindle is one we use for guests). I can add books to it from the Paperwhite or from my Kindle Fire HDX (I find the latter easier).

That is the only Collection which is starred (“Show in All Views”) on this device.

I have it set to show “All Items” in the filter. It shows that Collection, plus active content, the Vocabulary Builder, a blog…just a few things that I have on it.

I have it sorted by “Collection”, meaning that the books in the Guest Bookshelf show inside that Collection (which appears at the top of the homepage) and not outside it.

That’s exactly what I want. :)

I think for most people, the set up is:

Switch the filter to Collections, and star the Collections you would like to show.

Switch the filter to All Items.

Switch the sort to Collection.

Now, I do understand that some people want more functionality. Right now, the count of items in a Collection doesn’t change if you are on the Cloud tab or the Device tab. In other words, if you have a Romance Cloud Collection, you can’t tell how many of those books are actually on this device without opening the Collection. Even then, it doesn’t show a count…they just look different (books not on the device are faded).

Let me know if you have more questions…

A tip on connecting with the Push2TV

I’ve written before about using my Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile) with the NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile) to “mirror” everything on my tablet’s screen to my TV.

That works very well! I use it quite a bit.

I started running into an issue where it wasn’t always finding the Push2TV…in other words, it wouldn’t make the connection so that I could watch.

I figured out a minor thing, but it seems to make a big difference (that’s the way it often works, right? Big problems solved with a small change).

The trick seems to be to start the Fire looking first:

Swipe down from the top – Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

then activate your Push2TV, rather than the other way around.

Sequencing is often the key with technology.

I assume what happens is that the Push2TV sends it’s “here I am” signal right away: if the Fire isn’t looking for it when it is broadcast, it misses it.

Comixology Submit started bundle: 100 books for $10!

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this!

Celebrating SXSW (South by Southwest),

Comics (at AmazonSmile)

is offering a bundle of 100 of their Comixology Submit titles…for $10!

That offer is only good through Sunday (March 10). This is a savings of 97%, and will give you some good indie (independently published) comics. Think of it like Kindle Direct Publishing for comic books.

You can read this through the free app you can get for your Kindle Fire (see above), and read it other places (including Android devices, iPads and iPhones, and Windows 8).

Update: Orphan Black on Prime

I meant to mention this one (and gee, this has become a really multimedia post! I started with books, I’ve done comics, and now video). Amazon Prime has recently added

Orphan Black (at AmazonSmile)

It’s a science fiction series from last year where there was a lot of mainstream push that the lead actor should have been nominated for an Emmy…you don’t usually see that.

The performance by Tatiana Maslany is extraordinary. I want to leave you the discovery of what is happening, but I would guess you’ll be impressed. There are other good things to the series as well…might make a good binge watch (ten episodes). With Prime, you can watch them at no additional cost.

A content advisory: this ran on BBC America (and Space in Canada), and they don’t have the same restrictions that you might expect from a USA network show. There are sexual situations and nudity.

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.


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