Archive for the ‘Brick-and-mortar bookstores’ Category

Round up #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

September 30, 2014

Round up #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

Attacking Amazon

Rage is all the rage right now. ;)

Even though I expect the

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

to do very well, and we are getting the Family Library (sharing books across accounts…although, presumably, in a limited fashion), and I bet we are going to get more cool services from Amazon in 2014 (expanding Firefly, the “real world recognition” software from Amazon is part of that…I find I’m using it pretty often to identify an actor on a TV episode, and to enter food into MyFitnessPal (at AmazonSmile*)), this is year where Amazon has been under attack…and I expect some of those aggressions are going to leave a mark (at least for a while).

Four years ago, I was writing about how super agent Andrew Wiley was in conflict with Random House over Wiley bringing e-book versions exclusively to Amazon.

Wylie riles

Now, Wylie has this to say:

If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.”

I guess it’s a good thing Random House got Wylie to back down…wouldn’t have wanted to see the poor thing get caught up in such a den of iniquity. ;)

Just kidding: I’m sure Andrew Wylie would say that Amazon isn’t the same place it was four years ago…and that Random House didn’t make the agent change any plans.

Then there is this

Salon article by Jim Hightower

which three ups Wylie by giving us “4 ways Amazon’s ruthless practices are crushing local economies”.

Hightower says:

“Amazon is insidious, far more dangerous and destructive to our culture’s essential values than Walmart ever dreamed of being.”

You see? It’s not just our literary culture, it’s our culture’s essential values.

I say it’s time to get the pitchforks and torches and storm the castle! Oh, we don’t have any pitchforks and torches? Here, I’ll 1-click some…we’ll be ready in two days. ;)

The 10 commandments of a book lover

The ever reliable EBOOK FRIENDLY has this

article by Ola Kowalczyk

with an image by Brittany Foster of ten commandments of a book lover.

I don’t agree with all of these, but I think it’s a fun graphic…and I wanted something fun after the first story.

I’ll just list one to whet your appetite:

“Thou shalt have more book covered surfaces in thine residence than not.”

Banned Books Week

Last week was Banned Books Week

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

and I realized I didn’t write anything about it.

Well, I could say that I did and it was censored, but that wouldn’t be true. ;)

I have written about it in years past, and I think readers know…I would always err on the side of openness. I would rather that someone reads something they “shouldn’t” than that ten people aren’t allowed to read something they should.

I believe that you want people exposed to ideas that you don’t like. It’s the only way they can judge them…you don’t want to be sprung on them when they aren’t expecting it.

For me, I’d say, “Let the hate speakers speak.” I don’t like it…I’m even thinking I was too harsh on Andrew Wylie in the first story (even it was in fun). However, hateful ideas are a bit like vampires…sunlight destroys them. If somebody thinks that all of x group should be hurt in some way, I want to know that before they do it…not after. I want the power of laughter and rational thinking to be unleashed. I want to give their opponents an opportunity to challenge the ideas in open forum.

There is an argument for age appropriateness for me. My feeling is that once your sense of right and wrong is reasonably established, a book advocating “evil” things won’t make you evil…but you may be open to a book advocating “good” things, which can make you a better person.

I’m always surprised, though, when families don’t want their children exposed to ideas different from theirs (I’m not talking about porn, here, but philosophical differences). It always makes me think that you must not consider your ideas to be very strong, or your child to have much respect for you.

I wanted our child to choose our ideas because the kid agreed with them…not because there was no other choice offered. We don’t agree on everything now that our kid is an adult, of course, but some of our fundamentals are the same…and we can accept the differences.

If you’ve never seen differences, how can you possibly accept them?

My First Bookstore

This

Huffington Post article by Celeste Ng

is an interesting remembrance, and comparison of the bookstore experiences of our youths with those of being a parent.

I don’t remember which was my first bookstore…because there have been so many.

I would go into a bookstore and spend hours there (and no, I’m not talking about when I managed one). ;)

I think I remember most dusty, cramped, used bookstores…there was such a hope there that you would discover a long lost treasure, a book that might change your world.

Oh, I haven’t told you this before…and it’s one of the weirder things in my life.

There was a comic book/science fiction store I would visit. On more than one occasion, I swear I would arrive there before I left.

I even demonstrated that to people. We’d leave the house at, say, 3:15, and get there at 3:05 (I think the trip should have been about twenty minutes, as I recall).

It made sense in a sci fi way, but I couldn’t quite explain it.

I’m sure that will surprise some of you, because I think I sometimes come across as very scientifically based…and this certainly doesn’t fit in with science. :)

My best weird story like that was in high school.

I had a history teacher I liked…we got along well. I remember asking if I could teach the causes of the Civil War one day, and was allowed to do that…it went very well.

So, one Friday, this teacher told a joke in our class: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” Yes, they do…fruit flies like all kinds of fruit. :)

I thought that was funny, and repeated it to friends.

Monday morning, the teach told the same joke. The teacher looked and me and said, “You’re not laughing.”

I said, “I thought it was funny on Friday.”

The teacher denied telling it on Friday…and the rest of the class denied hearing it. I was thinking they must have forgotten it, and then the teacher said, “It was in Herb Caen this morning.”

Herb Caen was a famous San Francisco area columnist, and I checked…sure enough, it was there Monday morning, and not Friday (I’m not sure I have the particulars right, but the basic story is right).

The people to whom I’d told it Friday? They remembered me telling it to them…and telling them I’d heard it in that teacher’s class.

Interesting that it was that joke…seems apropos.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite childhood bookstore? What made it special? Will Amazon shrug off the criticism? Will it drive them to give us more practical benefits…or eventually crush them or cause them to raise prices? What if you couldn’t take your child to a bookstore…would spending time online with them looking at books be similar? Would going to a public library be the same? 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.

B&N & B-A-M

August 31, 2014

B&N & B-A-M

What happens in the brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) is going to affect us Kindleers.

Right now, the publishers are still more interested in what happens in the bookstores than what happens online, although that is going to change.

If (as?) the bookstores become less of a market factor, the power of Amazon (and other e-tailers) will grow in negotiations with publishers…or at least, with tradpubs (traditional publishers).

When you are looking at the bookstore chains that are still operating in the USA, you look first at Barnes & Noble, and then at Books-A-Million.

That made this

24/7 Wall St. article by Douglas A. McIntyre

interesting, especially its title: “Barnes & Noble Shares Outperform Amazon”.

Now, the share price doesn’t tell the whole story of a company…but it is one measure of performance.

This short excerpt may make you take notice:

“Since the start of 2014, Barnes & Noble’s shares have advanced over 50%, while Amazon’s have fallen 20%.”

However, we are really talking about different scales. Barnes & Nobles’ current share price is $23.86…Amazon’s is $339.04.

Still, that article makes the point that investors may really be pressuring Amazon to start making more profit, which could mean a raise in prices and/or more fights with suppliers to try to keep costs down.

When you look back over five years instead of just one year, Amazon is crushing B&N…but this recent trend is not insignificant.

As for Books-A-Million, its recent financials sent the stock down.

I think this

Seeking Alpha article by Josh Arnold

offers a thoughtful perspective and a good analysis (note: you will need to complete a free registration to read the entire article).

Bottom line: Arnold does not view this stock as a good investment, and sees a bleak future for the company.

I read quite a bit of news on bookstores, and my sense is that some smaller, independent stores with unique “personalities” are doing quite well. What I call the “dinostores” (the big stores where the main attraction is the size of the selection) aren’t.

I’ll give my advice again to bookstore owners: you have to make the experience such that your customers will willingly and knowingly (and cheerfully) pay more to buy a book at your store than they would at Amazon, because they want to support you.

People will support customer service, they will support expertise, they will support a pleasant and unusual experience while shopping…and they may support you because of your “story”.

You won’t beat Amazon on price or selection…and beat your expenses.

It’s pretty simple: if you can’t tell me why people will pay more to shop at your store than at Amazon, you are going to have a tough time making it. If you can, and you are right, your future is bright.

What do you think? Do you shop at the dinostores? Are there other stores that you do patronize? Are you wondering why I didn’t mention Half Price Books? Well, I can answer that…it’s a privately held company, so I don’t have comparable stock price information. ;) Tell me about a store (not necessarily a bookstore) where you wanted to give them extra money over the price you knew you could get somewhere else…and why that was the case. You can share your thoughts with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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 #252: new Star Wars novels, losing out on magazine access?

May 4, 2014

Round up #252: new Star Wars novels, losing out on magazine access?

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

Amazon.com editor, Jeopardy champ…bookstore owner

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I had a publisher’s rep who would come into the store who was a five-time (that’s as far as you could go back then) Jeopardy champ.

We’d have some fun with trivia…I could certainly hold my own.

When I was watching an episode recently, I missed one question…the entire game. :)

People often ask why I don’t go on Jeopardy myself. Well, I know enough to know that a lot of us has to do with the buzzer. There are many times when all three people appear to know the answer…but one person rules the buzzer and wins the game.

There’s not good way to judge your buzzer skill before spending your own money to do the audition process (which might entail multiple trips, at a cost of thousands of dollars).

Do I think I’d be good on the buzzer? Well, I’m a former conga drummer, and I’ve been tested at typing in the 90s (words per minute), so my guess is I’d be pretty good.

However, I also always say you could run into somebody who is a Jeopardy playing mutant (like Ken Jennings). Clearly, I’m joking, but the suggestion is that you might have an opponent who is exceptionally good at Jeopardy…and perhaps flawed at others of life’s  endeavors. ;)

One thing I would guess is true of all substantial Jeopardy champions, though.

I would bet they are all readers.

That’s why it’s not too much of a surprise to me that this

MyNorthwest.com article by Zak Burns

reports that Tom Nissley is buying a bookstore, partially with Jeopardy winnings.

Running and/or owning a bookstore isn’t easy. Many years ago, someone we knew asked me to speak with their adult kid who was planning to open a bookstore…you know, share my sage advice. :)

By the time I’d gotten done explain the realities of the business, including the ten percent “shrinkage” (damage/employee theft/shoplifting) factor, my listener decided not to do it.

I think that might have surprised the parents…they just expected some sort of pep talk, I think, and a few tips.

I never felt like I “crushed the dream”…I just told about the reality. Dreams and realities can co-exist…as long as they both realize they are living in the same house. ;)

Did the name “Tom Nissley” sound familiar? Another interesting part of this is that Tom Nissley was a books editor at Amazon for ten years, and started their Omnivoracious books blog.

Add up the add-ons

Marge Holz, one of my readers, pointed something out to me about add-on items and Amazon.

According to Marge, and confirmed by this

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

you can do an order entirely of add-on items. A lot of people haven’t liked add-ons, because it seemed odd that you couldn’t just buy it if you wanted to do that.

According to the page:

“Include the Add-on Item in an order that includes $25 or more of items shipped by Amazon.com (including items sold by other sellers and shipped by Amazon). This order can include a mix of Add-on Items and other items shipped by Amazon, or be entirely made up of Add-on Items.

That does make it a lot easier to get them.

While I’m not seeing a place at Amazon that has only add-on items, I did try this search through Google:

===

site:www.amazon.com “This item is available because of the Add-on program”

===

That seemed to work pretty well…you could add a more specific name to the search, like “battery”, and find them that way. I’m sure there are tons of  false positive (search results that really don’t match up), but it still might be helpful.

Thanks, Marge!

Managing your Amazon Instant Video lists centrally

One thing I really like about my

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

is that you can remove items from “Recently Watched”, similar to removing them from the Carousel on a Kindle Fire, like my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

Well, after I had removed some things from the Fire, I was a bit surprised to see them still on the Recent list on our Roku!

I’m noticing some of that: you manage the Fire on the Fire, again a bit similar to managing a Kindle…it doesn’t necessarily affect the central storage.

So, I chatted with Amazon support…and got a great answer!

You can go to this page:

What’s on Your Lists (at AmazonSmile)

and remove things from history!

Who knew?

You can also see a list of “what’s up next”…those appear to be the next episodes/season of TV series you’ve watched, and movies you haven’t finished. I assume that’s what informs the Fire’s ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) feature. That’s what lets a video start with no buffering.

You can also remove things from there, if you want.

I don’t think you can remove from the recently watched on Netflix.

This, by the way, is an example to me of one of those great features Amazon has…but they don’t promote it or let you know about it very well. I see the same questions over and over again in the Amazon Kindle forums, in part because Amazon just doesn’t communicate to consumers as well as they could (in my opinion).

Access to Kindle edition of some magazines ending on KF1s?

There are understandably some upset Amazon customers in this

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile)

What’s being reported (and my intuition is that this is accurate) is that people who were getting a Kindle edition of a magazine to which they had a print subscription are no longer able to access it…on Kindle Fire 1st generations.

That would certainly feel like a takeaway!

I had a subscription like that on my KF1. We subscribed to the paper edition of Entertainment Weekly. We were then able to get the Kindle edition for free. We eventually got them to stop sending the paper edition.

Not too long ago, on March 21st, I wrote about how the magazine app had been converted to a newsstand subscription…and how that was better.

However, it appears that the newsstand edition we’re receiving may not be compatible with first gen Kindle Fires (I read it on a Kindle Fire HDX).

I don’t quite get that, though. I checked, and I’m not finding the EW app in the Amazon Appstore any more.

However, the subscription is available…and it says it is compatible with:

  • Kindle Fire Tablets
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″
  • Kindle Fire HDX
  • Kindle Fire HD(2nd Generation)
  • Kindle Fire HD(1st Generation)
  • Kindle Fire(2nd Generation)
  • Kindle Fire(1st Generation)

If they simply eliminated the app, why can’t people get the newsstand subscription on the KF1s, if it actually is compatible?

There was debate on the thread about whose fault is was…Amazon’s or the publisher’s.

It seems to me that what may have happened is that a publisher which was giving a free Kindle edition (through an app) now requires you to pay for both the paper edition and the digital if you want both. We’ve only been paying for digital, which would be why we were converted. If you’d been paying for paper and getting the digital as a perk, that may have stopped.

Hopefully, we’ll get something more official than my speculation above.

New Star Wars novels coming

Today is Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with you.”). I wrote a piece about it in another blog of mine, The Measured Circle:

Happy Star Wars Day: the original trilogy is less than 10% of Star Wars

Since Disney bought the property, some things have been up in the air. One issue was Star Wars novels, which tend to get on the New York Times bestseller lists…and having sold 100 million of them would not be an unreasonable guess.

It’s just been announced, as reported in this

Publishers Weekly article

that Disney and Del Rey are doing a new series of adult Star Wars novels. The first of them can be pre-ordered now, for delivery on September 2, 2014:

A New Dawn: Star Wars (at AmazonSmile)

It’s by John Jackson Miller (who has written in the Star Wars universe before). Text-to-speech is not blocked…but I have to say, at $13.99, it’s on the expensive side…

What do you think? Would you buy and open a bookstore in this day and age? Are you affected by the magazine thing…if so, what (if anything) are you going to do about it? Do you buy add-ons? Do you agree with me that Amazon should do a better job of helping customers understand what benefits are available to them through Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

New! 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 #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

April 4, 2014

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

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

“I’m not at Liberty to pay…”

“‘By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,’ Mr. Maffei said in a statement.”
–quoted in a New York Times article by Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman

Flexibility? Yes. Capability? No.

Yes, I’m sure all that money you were giving them was reducing their choices. It’s like a parent saying, “You don’t like my rules? Fine. Then you can just get an apartment on your own and live your own rules. Of course, you might have trouble finding someone who will rent to a ten-year old…”

I don’t really see how to spin this and make it a good thing for B&N, and neither can the stock market…following the announcement, B&N’s stock took a more  precipitous  dive than an Acapulco cliff diver. ;)

CNNMoney graph

That doesn’t mean that they won’t recover…but I would be very interested to hear what people think does mean that Barnes & Noble is going to get back to robust health.

I think this does make the continued existence of Barnes & Noble bookstores as we know them today less likely (and I’m speaking as a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore).

The article was generally pretty good, but I doubt the folks at Books-A-Million liked this statement: “…Barnes & Noble, the nation’s last major bookstore chain”.

 Digitizing your paperbooks will be legal…in the UK

America’s copyright system is often relatively complex compared to many other countries’ systems.

I honestly don’t really expect us to lead on this front.

One could argue that it is due, in part, to us being so successful in creating intellectual property. Most countries in the world consume American media, even if we don’t return the favor in equal proportion. You can also see this in the use of our software.

So, I wasn’t surprised the the UK beat us to saying something that I’ve been hoping would get said here in the USA.

Starting 1 June 2014, it is legal to digitize your paperbooks (turn them into e-books) at home for your own purposes in the UK, according to this

Wired.co.uk article by Olivia Solon

This decision wasn’t specifically about p-books to e-books, but it does cover them (it also covers things like “ripping a CD” to digital).

It doesn’t allow you to do that for other people, but that’s fine. If I knew it was legal here, I’d probably start digitizing a lot more of my books (I do public domain ones now…just started on that with my new Xcanex scanner, although I did it with a flatbed for a non-profit).

I don’t think this is much of a threat to the e-book industry. Not very many people are going to scan a book when they can buy one already done and nicely formatted. I think, as would be the case with me, that it would be books that aren’t available otherwise in most cases. Certainly, some hobbyists might scan the books instead of buying them…but it would be a bit like saying that people who build their own computers are a threat to HP. It just isn’t going to be that large a group.

I hope this inspires a similar decision in the USA…

Amazon Fire TV

My Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile) should be here today. I meant to order it with one-day shipping, but apparently, in my haste (I would afraid they would sell out), didn’t click the button to switch it. That’s okay…I probably won’t really get to explore it until Saturday, and I’ll write more about it then.

Of course, many people don’t wait to explore it before they write about it.  :)

I was…intrigued with all of the 1-star reviews that showed up before almost anybody had the device. The vast majority of those were from people who didn’t have it yet.

1-star reviews for the Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

A lot of the “reviews” (I don’t believe you can actually “review” something until you have viewed it) had to do it with it missing something the poster wanted.

That just seems very self-centered to me. Its like giving Baskin-Robbins a 1-star review because, out of the 33 flavors of ice cream they have, they don’t have Banana-Coconut-Mango…and that’s your favorite! So, it doesn’t matter if their service is excellent, prices are good, and the vast majority of people who go there like their ice creams…the place sucks! :)

Now, that’s not quite a fair comparison…arguably, at $99, Amazon is not a price leader on this (they are comparable to many other devices in the category, although not the the Google Chromecast). It does seem like a very narrow focus…seeing the world through “me-colored glasses”.

One of the most commonly mentioned ones, and one that Amazon even includes in the comparison chart, is

HBO GO (at AmazonSmile)

That also messes up the analogy, because that’s a popular “channel”…it’s more like Baskin-Robbins not having strawberry ice cream. To me, that wouldn’t mean BR should get a 1-star review…there would still be a lot of good in that place, and a 1-star review is as low as you can go at Amazon.

Notice, though, that I have a link for HBO Go? That’s because you can get it in the Amazon Appstore…for your Kindle Fire.

That means that, if you have both a

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

and an

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

you will be able to watch HBO GO through the AFTV, since you can mirror the Fire to it (display what’s on the Fire’s screen on your TV). I assume that will be true: I won’t be testing that specifically, since we don’t have HBO.

The app is free, by the way.

Equally worth noting: no reason to suppose the app won’t get added directly to the AFTV at some point.

I expect AFTV’s 3.1 star average to rise considerably in the next week, once the initial flood of negative reviews by people who don’t have it is countered. Don’t know where it will get, don’t know how good the experience is yet…but I think it has been front-loaded with negativity.

If you don’t have and don’t plan to get an AFTV, does this part of this post matter to you?

A bit…it’s making some changes on the Amazon.com site, and possibly pointing to some interesting strategic shifts.

First, the AFTV appears in the Kindle “family stripe”. That’s the thing at the top of a Kindle’s product page which shows you what other Kindles are available.

If you go to a Kindle Fire’s page, you now see the Kindle Fires…then a “show all device types” illustration, which includes a Fire, a Paperwhite…and an Amazon Fire TV.

I have said many times that I wish they hadn’t named the Fire a “Kindle”, since they are such different devices…I wish they had kept “Kindle” for dedicated EBRs (E-Book Readers).

While I had suggested the “Amazon Current”, I would have been much happier with the “Amazon Fire” rather than the “Kindle Fire”.  It has created a great deal of confusion, with people wondering why they can’t read their “new Kindle” in the sun as well.

This family striping seems to be a step away from branding everything as a “Kindle”, which I think may be a good thing.

Similarly, while the links to

Manage Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

still work, the page is now branded, “Manage Your Content and Devices”.

Students: write your way to a Kindle Fire

I mentioned this briefly, but wanted to call it out more.

Amazon has a nice

student guide

to

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)

One of the elements there is a contest:

This lesson will allow your students to write an account of an American History event as seen through a CHRONOS historian. Students can submit their work here to enter to win one of 5 autographed editions of Timebound. One lucky student will win a Kindle Fire. Submissions must be received by 12/17/2014. For more information on the content visit: http://www.chronosfiles.com/students.html.

This is, in my opinion, a good academic and creative contest. The rules will require some real research, and I see this as a legitimate school exercise.

What do you think? Should I cover the Amazon Fire TV at all in this blog? I do think I will do it some (not a lot), but I’m interested in your opinion. Will the USA follow the UK in legitimizing format shifting? Should they? What would be the impact? Were you ever given an assignment in school with a prompting question? If so, was it valuable? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* 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.

** 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 #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

March 17, 2014

Round up #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

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

Bookstore sales down 6.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly post

bookstore sales in the US dropped 6.7% year over year for January (per the Census Bureau).

At the same time, the overall retail sector rose.

Quite simply, this is not a good sign for bookstores. What changed in 2013 that could be seen as an exceptional accelerant? Borders has been closed for longer than that. E-books aren’t new (and the growth rate for those have slowed).

I suppose that one could argue that they’d been coasting on reserves, but seriously, most bookstores don’t have a year’s worth of reserves.

I think this is a genuine indication that people are going less. I know, I know…no surprise to a lot of folks.

Speaking of that slowing e-book growth rate, this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

has an interesting hypothesis (along with some other intriguing infographic stats…I’d suggest you check out the article).

One of four possible causes given is that the Association of American Publishers (AAP) data, which is what most people use, doesn’t track e-books published by indies.

If the marketshare of indies is growing significantly, that would make it appear to the AAP that the growth rate slowed, when it may not have done so.

Looking at the USA Kindle store bestsellers, there are certainly books from tradpubs (traditional publishers) on there (The Divergent Series Complete Collection ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)) helps with that at the top), but there are also indies. I’ll have to look at that again to see if the sands have shifted.

Margaret Adams on why dystopian fiction is popular

I recommend this

Financial Times article by Margaret Atwood

about people’s fascination with dystopian (negative futures…or at least, negative societies) literature.

Atwood (MaddAddam ((at AmazonSmile))) does a nice job of putting the genre in historical perspective. This isn’t a new phenomenon, bred of economic difficulties for millenials (and the generation after).

As regular readers know, I tend to be optimistic about the future. Take a look at almost anything tangible in our lives and look back, oh, a short two hundred years. Life expectancy? Opportunity for women and minorities? Literacy rates? Infant mortality? I know that some people see a moral decay, but that’s a bit of a different question. Was an individual likely to suffer more physical misfortune two hundred years ago than they were now? Go back three hundred years or forward from my original point one hundred years (to 1914). That’s how I see the trends.

I don’t think dystopian literature becomes more popular, necessarily, when people actually believe the world is getting worse. Wouldn’t one expect that utopian literature might become more popular in fantasy/science fiction at that point, as an escape?

That might be an interesting study…

Classics or not, ya gotta sell ‘em

Looks like I might need to get familiar with this site!

In this

Trivia Happy post

The post has what they claim are genuine covers (and I’m leaning towards that being true) of “pulpish” editions of classic books.

The pictures are great!

I also like the copy on this one…which book would you guess this is describing?

“This unusual book may shock you, will make you laugh, and may break your heart — but you will never forget it”

Would you believe…Catcher in the Rye?

nook discontinuing Windows app: Microsoft Consumer Reader to work with that format?

According to this

Redmond Magazine post by Kurt Mackie

Barnes & Noble has filed an amendment to an earlier statement. B&N won’t need to make a nook app for Windows, and will help with the “Microsoft Consumer Reader”.

What is that?

Hopefully, something that will do better than when Microsoft had the .lit format!

This may be something that Microsoft does that gives an app that will read your nook books and your Microsoft Word documents…heck, why not PDFs and text files, too? The astonishing thing is if they could pull anything else proprietary into it…Kobo, Kindle. I can see that as a possibility, believe it or not.

That wouldn’t have Microsoft selling the content, so it wouldn’t hurt there.

Amazon/Kobo could negotiate payments which might make it worthwhile.

Right now, you could have both the Kobo app and the Kindle app on one device…would it be that much worse for the two companies if, instead of two apps, you had one?

I think this is pretty unlikely, but it’s just something that occurred to me…and I don’t think it’s impossible.

What do you think? If Microsoft makes it so you can read nook books on a Surface (or other tablets), is nook hardware doomed? Why do people love dystopias? Do you read them? Are bookstores on an inevitable slide, or will they hit a plateau…and possibly even grow? How much are indies skewing the stats? 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.

===

* 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 #242: Prime prices to rise in the UK, Gold Box deal on Kindle books

February 22, 2014

Round up #242: Prime prices to rise in the UK, Gold Box deal on Kindle books 

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

Gold Box Kindle book sale, today only

Gold Box Deals can be all kinds of things, but sometimes they are on e-books. That’s the case today:

Gold Box Deal of the Day: 50 Top-Rated Kindle Fiction Books, $1.99 Each (at AmazonSmile*)

There are some well-known books in there (top-rated doesn’t always equal well-known), including books by Louis L’Amour. There’s a pretty good variety: I’d recommend you take a look.

Updates for both generations of Kindle Fire happening?

While they aren’t available for manual download yet, from what I can see, and they haven’t been announced, I’m seeing people on the Amazon Kindle Forums talk about new updates for Kindle Fires…and it may be for all generations and models.

They wouldn’t be the same updates for the different gens, and they wouldn’t have the same features, most likely.

What I really want is a bug fix for my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When I first got it, the wi-fi connection was great.

After an update that brought more enterprise network capability to it (I’m not saying that was the cause, but it might be), I usually have to toggle wireless on and off…many times a day. I’ve never counted, but I would guess I’ve done it ten times today already…and that’s with having taken the dog to the dog park for a couple of hours. ;)

I’ll keep you informed: if you’ve been updated recently, I’d like to hear about it.

When they are available for manual download, they will be at

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

Amazon set-top box coming in March of this year?

I’ve written before about how I think a TV gadget of some kind may be coming from Amazon this year, and this

Re/code (formerly AllThingsD) article by Peter Kafka

has created a buzzstorm.

Many people are reporting it, even though there is nothing official.

I do think this is likely…and that it may include both video content and games.

There are a couple of related stories which strengthen it.

Amazon has been pinning down more exclusive streaming video deals, and that’s going to be a big point for sales.

In this

press release

they announce that Amazon is going to be the “…exclusive online-only subscription home for streaming all past seasons and episodes of the popular MTV series Teen Wolf”.

Teen Wolf has quite a following, and I have watched it. It’s an interesting, very differently-toned adaptation of what was first the comedic Michael J. Fox movie. Don’t worry, though…Styles is still funny. ;)

It surprised me that Amazon would be able to pin that down, taking it away from other services.

I suppose it shouldn’t have, though. The same press release says,

“Prime Instant Video is the exclusive online-only subscription home for PBS series Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, FX drama The Americans, CBS summer blockbuster series Under the Dome and later this summer, Extant. Other hit TV series exclusives include Veronica Mars, Justified, Falling Skies, Grimm, Workaholics, Suits and Covert Affairs. Prime Instant Video also offers an exclusive collection of kids shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. that customers won’t find on any other online-only subscription service, including favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Blue’s Clues, and The Bubble Guppies. “

I’d say the odds are pretty good that most TV consumers have at least heard of some of those.

Pumping up the content exclusives (and the content generally) would be an important thing to do before launching a service/device.

In the UK and Germany, Amazon just announced a merging of Lovefilm (roughly equivalent to Netflix…Amazon bought it a while back) and Prime, according to this

24/7 Wall St. article by Paul Ausick, via Yahoo! Finance

and other sources.

The price is taking a big jump: in the UK, it’s going up the equivalent of roughly fifty dollars a year, from a close to USA equivalent of about $81 to an equivalent of about $131.

However, people will be able to make some choices about what services they get, affecting the price. The $131 equivalent will be the full platter. You could order just the Prime Instant Video “side dish” for $10 equivalent a month. However, that works out to only $11 less for the year…so, if they could give you installment payments for Prime, who wouldn’t go for the shipping benefits, too?

Will something like this happen in the USA?

Well, we already have Prime Instant Video as part of our Prime price, but yes, Amazon said it might raise prices on Prime in the USA…and I think they will (I’m guessing $20).

This could also clearly tie into a set-top box or other TV gadget.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon is in the midst of its “pilot season” for original works.

press release

Viewer feedback helps determine which pilots become original series on Amazon.

The only one that was interesting to us so far (and much more to me than to my Significant Other) was Chris Carter’s (The X-Files) The After. It was an interesting cast with some intriguing concepts and imagery, although it did feel unfinished, which is often the case with a pilot. Full disclosure: my Significant Other knows a parent of the editor of that episode, and yes, that’s why my SO even watched. ;) I probably would have watched anyway…

Amazon Pilot Season (at AmazonSmile)

Speaking of visual media, I am doing my annual BOPmadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) again. You are all invited to play. :) It’s all free, and the more people we have, the better we usually do as a group. I’m doing it technically a different way this time, using SurveyMonkey, rather than sending out Excel spreadsheets. You can get the information and the links here:

2014 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

Oh, and something else that may tie into a possible Prime price hike for the USA…one of my readers sent me a heads-up (thanks, reader!) in a private e-mail to this

Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger

It suggests that Amazon is looking to make deals with other major retailers. The retailers products would be listed at Amazon, and buyers could use their Amazon accounts and Prime benefits to get them. The other retailer would then pay Amazon.

That would be huge for Amazon! They would really be becoming the “everything store”, and they would know so much more about you. As a consumer, I would think it would be great. It doesn’t quash competition on prices…other retailers could still undercut Amazon’s prices. It just makes it much easier logistically.

That’s putting more and more power in Amazon’s hands, though, and some people won’t like that. If Amazon got hacked, it would expose a lot more data.

Still, overall, I think shoppers will love this…and competitors will submit to it.

Bookstores: more in the USA, fewer in the UK

I suspect some of this has to do with definitions, but this

The Guardian article by Sarah Butler

talks about independent bookstores in the UK dropping to under 1,000…they say

“The number of independent bookshops gracing British high streets has fallen below 1,000 – a third fewer than nine years ago, amid cut-throat competition from supermarkets, Amazon and ebooks.”

At the same time, the ABA (American Booksellers Association), in this

American Bookselling article

lists (with contact information…addresses and websites) 44 stores which were added to the ABA in 2013.

That’s a good sign of vitality in the USA.

Some of these are additional branches of existing stores, but many are not. They also listed a number of stores which changed hands…another reasonably good sign. That means that someone thought the business was worth buying, rather than it just going under.

Check out the list…you might find someone in your neighborhood. ;)

Which books would you add to the “classics” category?

I’ve written before about how I feel about classics…and been a bit challenged on it, too. ;)

This is a fascinating list from Jason Diamond at Flavorwire:

The New Classics: 21 Writers Tell Us Which Books They’d Add to the Canon

My guess is that you’ll see something there that intrigues you…I recommend that you check it out.

Maybe it’s from my years as a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, but I do tend to think that a true classic needs to be in the public domain. :) That’s one thing many people expect when they look for classics…that they aren’t under copyright protection any more (although they pay for copies in a store, of course).

Update on Give a Kid A Kindle

We are about a week a way from when you will be able to recommend nominated children to be the one to get the Kindle which I plan to give away. I’m hoping that once the recommendation process happens, I’ll get more nominees…just because I want more stories exposed (I think that’s good for people to see).

I do have one nominee so far, so at least I know I’ll be giving away a Kindle…

What do you think? What defines a classic book? Would you buy a set-top box from Amazon? Why haven’t more people nominated kids for a free Kindle? 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.

* 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 #241: messy bookstores, color screens

February 20, 2014

Round up #241: messy bookstores, color screens

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

Just around the corner: a color non-tablet Kindle?

pdurrant made this interesting

MobileRead post

It has to do with noticing new job openings at

Liquavista

a company Amazon bought from Samsung in May of last year.

Why does that matter?

Liquavista makes color screens…for non-backlit devices. I prefer the term “reflective screen”, but I know that confuses some people. You read a reflective screen by the light reflecting off it…the same way you read a p-book (paperbook).

There have been a lot of challenges to bringing a color reflective screen to market. They are likely to cost more, refresh the screen more slowly, and use more battery charge.

The real question is, do people want one?

I think the answer is yes…I believe there would be a market for it.

The trick would be to make that the choice for a reflective screen device at the moderate price level.

Let’s think of it like the frontlighting on a Kindle Paperwhite.

You can get the least expensive Kindle, or you can  move up one step and get a frontlit device.

The market is supporting frontlighting.

If you had another device which was the equivalent of the Paperwhite, but didn’t have a frontlight, and was, say, $20 cheaper, which one would be more popular?

I think that’s harder to say.

If Amazon brings out a color reflective screen device, not as a more expensive upgrade, but as the next generation of device, I think that would be attractive to people.

It wouldn’t replace a tablet…it’s not going to do animation, most likely.

Many people, though, want both: a largely dedicated e-book reader, and a tablet.

I don’t think the vast majority of people would reject color for their EBR…if the costs for it (money, efficiency, and so on) were low.

Color can be useful for textbooks, and especially for magazines…which just aren’t an optimal experience on EBRs now.

We’ll see what happens, but that could really make a splash (which might not be an inappropriate term for “electrowetting” technology). ;)

“Why libraries deserve to be hip”

In this

Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams

the author makes an argument that libraries should be more “fashionable”…

One of the points is that the author likes having the sense that a book has passed through many hands, contrasting that with a Kindle (about which the author says, “…I’m sure someday I’ll get around to getting a Kindle or an iPad”).

My adult kid at one point mentioned the same thing.

It’s an interesting perspective, and one that many people share…but many don’t.

I love that people at another time read the same book…but for me, I don’t need it to be that they read the copy in my hands.

I don’t like finding marginalia, or dog-eared pages, or broken spines.

When I read a hundred year old e-book, I can imagine how it impacted someone a hundred years ago.

However, for me, it’s a bit like Shakespeare. People forget that audiences in Shakespeare’s day weren’t hearing archaic language (to them). If you wanted to experience Shakespeare the way those audiences did, it should be written in your contemporary language…with all the slang, double entendres, and dialectical humor that would be the equivalent of what they understood.

That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t read Shakespeare in the original! Absolutely not…I loved getting some education in Shakespeare, so that I could recognize what six “feet” in a line instead of five meant, for example.

It’s just that…revering the object on which the play (or book) is written is not the same experience as people had when it was new. For them, it was like watching television is for us today (well, Shakespeare often was more exclusive than that, especially what were essentially commissioned works, but you get the idea).

Public libraries are great, and p-books are great…but should they be fashionable? I think that might go against their special status. Libraries do not equal reading…there is a lot more to them than that, and reading a current book for pleasure may be best done for many people on an e-book. Libraries serve in part as a place of honor for books…and it makes sense to me that history there is more important than fashion.

“In praise of neat and tidy bookshops”

In a related case of variant perceptions, this

Book Riot post by Peter Damien

criticizes messy bookstores (including used bookstores).

For myself, I like my bookshelves in my floor-to-ceiling library (in my home) to be very organized…but I do have books stacked horizontally on top of other books. The shelves of mass market paperbacks may also be two or three books deep, when possible.

They are, though, in alphabetical order and organized by category, typically.

I like order…people see that as an indicator of certain psychological conditions, and I don’t dispute that. I don’t have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)…it doesn’t interfere with my life, but I do like things in order.

For example, I was once in a videostore for, oh, a good forty-five minutes or so. Finally, one of the employees trepidatiously approached me, and asked me what I was doing.

Me: “I’m alphabetizing the shelves.”

Videostore employee: “They’re already alphabetized.”

Me: “Well, all the “A”s are on the same shelf, but they aren’t alphabetical within A.”

Yep…I was going through the whole store, putting the shelves in order…and having the best time!

What makes it not compulsive is that I could stop any time (they didn’t ask me to stop, by the way). It’s just fun! :)

That said, you might imagine I, like Peter Damien, would disdain disorganized bookstores.

Not at all…

It’s one of the attractions for me of a used bookstore (this is not the same for me in a new bookstore, by the way).

I want it to feel like I’ve made an  archaeological discovery…a lost city in the middle of the Fawcettian jungles…and I might stumble on a treasure no one has seen in decades.

Yes, I guess that’s sort of weird…but I do like it like that, and my guess is that some other people do.

I mean, some people like the dusty-musty smell in a used bookstore. Due to allergies, I’m really not one of those, but I want a sense of adventure and serendipity.

What do you think? Should your bookstores be neat? Should your libraries by trendy? Would you want a color reflective screen device, if performance and cost were roughly equivalent to a grayscale one? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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 #237: Bezos goes to college, stealing from yourself

January 30, 2014

Round-up #237: Bezos goes to college, stealing from yourself

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

J’accuse…moi!

One of my readers gave me a heads-up to this one in a private comment:

Wall St. CheatSheet article by Nathanael Arnold

You know those science fiction stories where a robot or computer decides the best way to serve homo sapiens is to protect it from its biggest threat…itself?

Apparently, a “highly automated” system at Digimarc, working on behalf of HarperCollins, has asked Apple to remove from the iTunes store e-books listed there to which HarperCollins has the rights…and which HarperCollins itself put there!

In other words, what is most likely happening here is that the system is looking for the books online, but doesn’t know where they are supposed to be.

That is one way to stop piracy! If you could stop a book from being distributed by anybody at any time in any way, there would be no piracy…or legitimate sales, for that matter. ;)

Thanks to the reader for the heads-up! I think you intended that to be private: if not, let me know and I’ll credit you here.

Amazon expands into…

One of \S/uperman’s powers, according to the old opening was (besides bending steel, etc.) was that the Kryptonian could “…change the course of mighty rivers”.

The Amazon, of course, is one of the mightiest rivers…and its e-tailer namesake is constantly changing its course.

In fact, anybody can change the course of a river: drop a rock in right next to the bank, and the river will flow around it, carving out a new spot.

That’s the way Amazon is…oh, it’s very hard to change where it has already been going (you know, except for online auctions) ;) , but it keeps going new places.

This year they may, according to this

Forbes article by Erik Kain

and other sources, release an Android game console for under $300.

“A console…really?” That seems to be what a lot of people are saying, given how much gaming is moving to mobile (phones and tablets).

My guess is that, if this happens, it will be far, far more than a gaming console.

Make it Miracast compatible, and it’s everything your Kindle Fire HDX is…on your big screen.

Videos? Sure. Websites? Absolutely. Your music? Check.

I can already mirror my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

on my TV using the

NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile)

and while it isn’t super cheap (it’s around $50), it’s a lot less than $300.

My guess is that an Amazon set-top box would bring more than mirroring. It would likely bring a significantly interesting interface, with a lot of curation (suggesting things for you).

It would have to sync with Amazon, of course, and seamlessly with your Fire.

It could have Mayday on it! That could make it hugely attractive.

With the way Amazon has done things in the past, it’s possible that it would have some desired software ability that would be more exclusive to it originally. For example, I could see it being the way to manage your Collections in your Cloud initially. It could let you drag and drop books from one Collection to another, with the argument being that the big screen makes it more possible somehow.

Yes, some people who didn’t get that would be upset…but they likely wouldn’t lose sales because of it.

Interface would be an interesting question. Would it have gesture detection? Would they make hardware joysticks for it?

Would it do text-to-speech? You know, I haven’t tried that with my Push2TV! If that worked, I would definitely use it with the louder speakers while doing things in the house. I’ll let you know…

Pre-release update (yes, I checked this before I actually published the post): Eureka! I can use my Push2TV to display the text from my Kindle Fire HDX while my TV plays the text-to-speech! Putting the KFHDX into landscape mode makes the print quite large, but it means I can listen while doing things that take my eyes away from the screen. That may sound super-bookwormy to some of you, but I will definitely use this. It also won’t hurt to have some of the images in the books on the big screen…and mirroring allows that. You could pause on a map to take the time to examine it carefully, or a graph in a non-fiction book. Seeing some images more than life-size will also be entertaining. This is the sort of  serendipitous find I make when writing these posts that really makes me smile. :)

Update: this also means that we can read our Kindle Fires hands-free with “autoturn”, something people have wanted for a long time, while, for example, exercising or knitting. We’ve been able to turn down the volume on Kindles with text-to-speech (which “turns the pages”) for some time, but because we have variable speed (which can get quite fast) on the KFHDX, it will work better. This means that I can exercise with my KFHDX mirrored through the TV, the sound turned off, the TTS speed cranked up, and read while I work out…a whole new world! ;)

Amazon is also possibly going to expand into point-of-sales processing, according to this

CNET News article by Desiree Everts DeNunzio

and other sources.

This could actually be a very big deal. It’s not just that it would compete with Square, that little gadget that you see stuck on a cellphone or tablet to process your credit card (although it would do that, too).

I could see this going a lot more than that.

Picture this scenario:

You are shopping in a brick-and-mortar hardware store. A knowledgeable employee has helped you pick the right set of blinds for your guest room. That employee checks you out on a Kindle Fire…right there in the aisle.

Further more, you need some hardware to mount the blinds, and the store is out of it (or just doesn’t carry it). The store orders it from Amazon for you, it will arrive in a day or two (or maybe the same day, in the future, via drone), and the store gets a commission…or Amazon knocks off part of the processing fee for the credit card (which can be significant).

That’s what Amazon could do that other credit card processors can’t: add access to additional products, so the store doesn’t have to have as deep a stock.

That, in turn, could enable Amazon to charge lower processing fees.

Oh, and what if you could choose to pay in the store with your Amazon account? Even if the store doesn’t go through Amazon to fulfill your order, Amazon getting the information about what you are buying (and where) could be a big plus for it…and again, could lower processing fees.

We can already pay with our Amazon accounts at many websites…why not in brick-and-mortars?

There are a lot of interesting possibilities here…

One more potential expansion, which could be really disruptive for a major competitor (at least in one part of Amazon’s many businesses).

According to this

UC Davis News and Information post

the university has entered into a pilot program for students to buy things through Amazon.

University/College sales have been one of the relatively bright areas for Barnes & Noble. If that Amazon river gets diverted into college sales, it could result in a Carthaginian peace for Barnes & Noble and Amazon. ;) A “Carthaginian peace” (at least in the idiom) is basically when you make peace with your enemy…by destroying them. I actually thought the story had gone that a river was diverted to wipe out what was left of Carthage after the war, but I must be conflating mythologies.

At any rate, free delivery with the Amazon Student Prime program could mean that you don’t have to pay $10 for a Post-Its pad while you are in college any more.

This is just a pilot program, but if it works well…it could knock the last sturdy leg out from under Barnes & Noble’s three-legged (retail, digital, college) stool.

Marcus Books fundraiser this Saturday

I’ve written before about attempts to save Marcus Books in San Francisco from closing. It’s an historic bookstore…and there was an effort to get it officially designated as such.

Now, according to this

SF Weekly post by Jessica Nemire

there will be a fundraiser this Saturday, February 1st.

Here is more information about the event:

Keep It Lit’

You can also donate directly through the Marcus Books website:

MarcusBookstores.com

What do you think? Would you buy a set-top box from Amazon, or are you about gadget-ed out? What would it have to have? Are traditional publishers too concerned about piracy? Are bookstores any more entitled to efforts to save them than any other kind of store? 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.

* 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 #234: kids read e-books, “bigger than Kindle”

January 16, 2014

Round up #234: kids read e-books, “bigger than Kindle”

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

Census Bureau: bookstore sales drop 1.7%

The Census Bureau regularly releases sales figures, and the numbers are out for the first 11 months of 2013 versus the first 11 months of 2012.

http://www.census.gov/retail/index.html

The bookstore figure went down from $11,913,000,000 to $11,707,000,000 (I think I’m doing those zeroes right)…down about 1.7%.

For retail stores, where the margin may not be that big to begin with, that’s a big drop.

It’s also important to note that Barnes & Noble, for example, cited considerable growth in some non-book items in its holiday report. It’s likely that traditionally published paperbooks (p-books) being sold in bookstores saw a considerably bigger drop in 2013. I think we’ll see that accelerate in 2014…especially if we can get unit numbers. I expect the price of paperbooks to generally climb in 2014.

General retail, by the way, was rising during the same period…

Two thirds of children now read e-books

Here is one likely contributor to a reduction in bookstore sales.

According to this

Digital Book World post by Jeremy Greenfield

2/3rds of children who are readers read e-books. Now, that doesn’t mean that they read them exclusively, but it is up from 54% last year.

Looking at the figures broken out by age group, the younger the child, the more likely they are to read e-books at least once a day, with the two to five year old group at 50%.

Now, a two- year old isn’t going to be actually reading the book…at that age, they’d be more likely to be using board books in the physical world, and perhaps importantly, interactive books on tablets.

Still, the trend that the younger the child, the more e-books, bodes ill for bookstores in the future.

Children’s books are a very important part of the revenue stream for most brick-and-mortar bookstores (I speak as a former manager). They are often given as gifts, and people will pay more for them (although they may also cost more to produce for the publisher).

Class action suit against Barnes & Noble

Are you a Barnes & Noble stockholder? You may want to get involved in a class action suit against the bookseller:

press release

Here is a short excerpt of the release:

“The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, Barnes & Noble issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s financial performance and future business prospects.  Specifically, the complaint alleges that defendants misrepresented or failed to disclose: (1) Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader sales had dramatically declined; (2) the Company would shutter its Nook manufacturing operations altogether; (3) the carrying value of the Nook assets were impaired by millions of dollars; (4) the carrying value of the Nook inventory was overstated by $133 million; (5) the Company was expecting fiscal 2014 retail losses in the high single digits; (6) Barnes & Noble had over-accrued certain accounts receivables; (7) Barnes & Noble was unable to provide timely audited financial results for fiscal 2013; and (8) the Company might be forced to restate its previously reported financial results.”

As I’ve mentioned before, the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has been looking into Barnes & Noble.

None of that is good for them…

In related news, I keep seeing people asking when they’ll get the money from the successfully settled class action suit against the publishers. I also hear people complaining that it’s been repeatedly been pushed back.

Here is Amazon’s

Judge Denise Cote approved the settlement on December 6th. There was a thirty-day period after that, and then there is some essentially administrative time for companies to get the payments together:

My guess? Early February, from Amazon…

Amazon working on something “bigger than Kindle”?

Well, here is an intriguing

Engadget post by Jon Fingas

It has what appears to be a fascinating invitation from Amazon’s “Kindle New Initiative” team to an event which was scheduled for December 30th.

In it, they say they are working on a new product that will be “…bigger than Kindle”.

Obviously, there isn’t a lot of information in the invitation, but it does say it is a product, not a service…and the host does have “Kindle” in the title.

What could it be?

It might not be that hard to have something that has bigger sales than the Kindle, but it would be harder to have something that was more disruptive to an industry or more noted by the media.

Sure, it could be a phone…but would that be bigger news? Maybe if it was 3-D (which has been rumored).

Could it be a TV gadget? Yes, that could fit the bill. The Google Chromecast has already outsold the Kindles…at Amazon. If they could do something that disrupted network TV delivery, that would be big enough to be considered bigger than the Kindle. A lot more people watch TV than read books.

The big money in an industry to change would be videogames, but I would guess that is less likely.

Connected home?

Kindle car?

I’ve joked about some of those.

I just tried to look a little bit more into “Kindle New Initiatives”. One thing: apparently, December 30th was a mistake…they meant January 30th. That, or they are working on time travel. ;)

I will tell you this: I didn’t get an invitation…yet. :) My adult kid does live in the Boston area, Amazon, if that makes it any easier. ;)

What do you think? What, if anything, could reverse the slide in bookstore revenue? Are interactive e-books the new board books? What could Amazon be working on? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think 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.

Round up #233: isolated readers, Push2TV sale

January 8, 2014

Round up #233: isolated readers, Push2TV sale

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

Push2TV part of Gold Box deals for today

Amazon has deals every day. Some of them are specific to Kindles, some of them aren’t…and some of them sort of crossover. :) Today there is a

That includes the Push2TV adapter, which, as I wrote about

A Miracast adapter that works with the Kindle Fire HDX

you can use with your Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile) to mirror the device on your TV. There’s a bit more to it than that (the TV needs to have an HDMI in, for example), but this is a good deal at $39.99. I paid $57.53 for mine (plus tax).

As always, check the price before you click the Buy button: it may not apply in your country, and it’s only good today.

This device will let you mirror your Fire: what that means is that whatever is on your Fire screen (a video, an app, a book, the Carousel) appears on your TV. That’s not the only way to go, though. You should think about why you want what is on your tablet to be on your TV. If it’s really just for, say, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, then I would consider a Roku…or the Google Chromecast. The

which was introduced at $35 and became the #1 bestselling  electronic  at Amazon (outselling their own Kindles), is currently $29.99.

Note that the Amazon Appstore doesn’t have the necessary app, but you can get it at other places, like 1Mobile. I have heard from a very reliable person that they are using this with the Fire…but to be clear, it isn’t mirroring. It will show certain apps.

I haven’t tested it myself.

I do use (and just ordered another one) the

and recommend it for videos (Netflix, Amazon Instant…and others, including a nice public domain channel called Pub-D-Hub).

We had one for years, but after an upgraded modem from Xfinity, it wasn’t able to connect well. Roku’s Customer Service is remarkable, by the way. I chatted with them, using the Kindle Fire HDX’s dictation speech-to-text feature to do my typing (and the latter is quite good). We tried a lot of things, but it just wasn’t going to work reliably.

I got a gift of this newer generation at the holidays…and then bought a second one myself. :)

There are a lot of Roku “flavors”, and it can be a bit confusing. The one to which I’ve linked above is good both for an older standard defnition TV and an HDTV. It doesn’t have a motion sensitive remote,which some do (you can play Angry Birds with those by waving the remote), but it has a new feature I really, really like: you can plug a headphone right into the remote! Yep, wireless headphone, that easy. You can also use the Roku to show pictures from your SmartPhone.

For those of you without a Fire, I will point out that this Netgear sale includes a wi-fi extender, which can matter for your wi-fi enabled non-Fires. For those of you with an older, 3G only Kindle…more stories coming up! :)

‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader”

In this

New York Times op-ed by Colin Robinson

there is a very interesting look at the current state of publishing, and how it affects readers.

It’s largely gloom and doom, but unlike some Chicken Little posts, supports quite a bit of it with documentation.

However, this may be another case of confusing form with function (very common). When I look at processes for work, I’m always careful about that distinction.

Some people absolutely lamented the loss of page numbers when Kindle books first entered the market. My first thought in a case like that, and yes, you were clearly losing something, is, “What function did the lost object serve?” It’s not that you loved page numbers: it’s that you  loved what they did. They let you not only know where you were in the book, but let other people know as well (when you did citations, for example). Importantly, they let you satisfy the requirements of a professor when writing an article.

“Locations”, while unfamiliar, actually gave you a better idea where you were in the book: since the text size can be changed, the page number wasn’t particularly meaningful. A location is also typically a smaller unit than a page, so it is more precise.

However, it didn’t serve the purpose of satisfying the professor…or crossover to the large number of people still using paper.

For many books, we now have page numbers that reference a specific edition of the p-book (paperbook)…since page numbering isn’t the same in all p-book editions either.

In this case, one thing Robinson is concerned about is expert advice on which books to read. The writer specifically mentions book reviewers, but other things, too. It seems a bit odd to me to think that expertise is less available now than it was in the past! You have to get to it a different way, but that way (once you’ve evaluated the source) seems a lot easier to me.

I recommend the article: it talks about a lot of other things, too. :)

Better without Borders?

I recently wrote about Barnes & Noble closures (and since then, it has come out that the flagship store in New York has closed), and this

Chicago Tribune story by Wes Ventiecher

takes an interesting look at the impact on towns of the Borders stores closing following their bankruptcy.

Not surprisingly, like most things, it is both good and bad.

Bookstores were really seen as “anchor stores” in malls. People would make a trip specifically to go to the bookstore…and might do more shopping at the same time. How often did you buy a book, and then start reading it at a nearby restaurant? I’m sure many of you have had the experience I have: I would go to the bookstore, while somebody I was with would shop somewhere else…often several somewhere elses. ;) We were specifically spurred to go to the store by my desire to go the bookstore. That doesn’t mean the other person didn’t want to go to mall equally strongly, but this was a way we would go together, which might make the difference.

HuffPo: “Here’s What Your Favorite Children’s Book Series Says About You”

This is a fun

Huffington Post article

At least, it’s a fun idea. :) It is supposed to be a personality indicator based on your favorite kids’ book series.

It doesn’t really offer any unexpected insights, though. It seems to mostly describe the main characters in the books, rather than the reader. Wouldn’t it have been cool to find out that you are, oh, gregarious based on you reading The Jungle Book? That wouldn’t have been obvious.

By the way, we knew we might have some challenges when our now adult kid watched the Disney version of The Jungle Book over and over again. Mowgli is quite independent…and at probably under three, I believe our kid said, “Don’t worry about me…” ;) Independent is good, and things have been great…but I wouldn’t say it is always easier for the guardians. ;)

Any list like this will be notable for its omissions (no Oz?), and the comments show that many people don’t quite get the idea that it is about series, but I still think you’ll be amused by it.

What do you think? What was your favorite children’s book series…and do you think that says something about you? Will towns be better without a Barnes & Noble? Do you feel you are now  more or less isolated as a reader from society…and does that make your reading life better or worse? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

* 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.


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