Archive for the ‘Kindle Fire’ Category

Round up #272: Fire update coming, Mindle Touch questions?

October 4, 2014

Round up #272: Fire update coming, Mindle Touch questions?

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

I have a Mindle Touch

I plan to write a review by Monday, but I wanted to let you know that Amazon has loaned me a

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

for review.

That’s the new $79 model. I called the old “entry level” model a “Mindle” (for minimum Kindle), and this one has a touchscreen, so…Mindle Touch.

Interestingly, Amazon refers to it in a few places as a 7th generation Kindle.

I’m guessing they are counting it this way:

  1. Kindle 1
  2. Kindle 2
  3. Kindle 3 (AKA Kindle Keyboard)
  4. Mindle
  5. Kindle Touch
  6. Kindle Paperwhite
  7. Mindle Touch

That would make sense to me: the Kindle DX was basically the same software as the Kindle 2…same generation, even though it was a different size.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention it in case you have any questions before I send it back. I’ve never asked them for review copies before, but really, I’m quite satisfied with our Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile*) and our Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) at this point…just didn’t want to buy new ones. After all, I’m apparently one of the very few people to pay close to $200 for the Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) recently…that’s a chunk of budget. :)

I’ve also asked for a Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for review…if I get one, I’ll let you know.

Amazon announces Fire OS 4…on my device

I got a letter from Jeff Bezos on my KFHDX7 this morning…I’m assuming many other people did, too. :)

It’s alerting me that the devices will be updated (for free) to Fire OS (Operating System) 4 in “the coming weeks”. That will be on the new generation of Fires, but I’m sure won’t be on the first generation.

What is it bringing?

  • Profiles (to the USA, UK, and Germany): every “family member” (Amazon usually doesn’t require proof…you know, like DNA sequencing) ;) can have a profile, including “individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, page in the book, spot in a movie, and game levels”. This ties in, in a way, with the Family Library which is coming, which will let us share books with people not on our accounts (we don’t know exactly what limitations that will have yet)
  • Office Documents: we’ll get WPS Office, so we can edit Microsoft Office documents (including creating new ones). It’s going to integrate with the Cloud Drive
  • Longer Battery Life: better battery management when sleeping
  • New Weather and Calculator Apps
  • Full-Screen Immersive Mode: apps and games will full the full screen in “immersive mode”
  • Backup & Restore: it will be interesting to see exactly what this done. It doesn’t look to me like it will mirror your entire device (your personal documents, which books you’ve already downloaded from your Amazon account), but can do “device settings, email and wireless configuration, notes, bookmarks, and more…” I never find the transition to a new device very difficult (I don’t keep a lot of content actually on my devices), but this may make it easier. It would be nice to get a new device and already have it on my network without having to enter a password, for example

Did you notice that Family Library wasn’t on the list? I assume that’s because that isn’t part of Fire OS 4, and that it will work with a much wider range of devices. This update could also affect the Fire Phone…and possibly, in some way, Fire TV.

Why send this announcement now, ahead of time? I think, in part, Amazon’s trying to patch its reputation going into the holiday season…and caring for customers with devices already helps them decide to buy newer devices.

Amazon sends more info on their crowd-sourced publishing program

I also got an e-mail from Amazon this week about their upcoming program. It explains it pretty well (and I’ve mentioned it previously). The basic idea is that authors can put up a sample of a complete but unpublished novel, readers “vote” on them, and Amazon will select some for publishing…paying at least a $1,500 advance. We could use a few more details, but I think this may work very well for Amazon…although it isn’t without risk (the main one being that it is seen as being fair). Here’s that e-mail:

Dear Author,

Thanks for subscribing to receive updates on Amazon’s new publishing program! We’re excited to announce that we’ll be opening for submissions in a couple weeks.

We’ll be welcoming submissions for English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller, and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres. Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible.

It only takes 15 minutes to complete a submission. Here are the things that you should prepare to successfully submit your book:

  • Complete, never-before-published manuscript & book cover image - We’re looking for 50,000 words or more in Word format and a book cover image that reflects the essence and uniqueness of your book. Make sure your work is ready for others to read. Only the first pages will be posted to the website (approx. 3,000 words).
  • Book one-liner - A very short pitch (no longer than 45 characters) for your book that will be used on the homepage and throughout the website. Think of examples like “Space opera meets the Middle Ages” or “How far will one woman go to save her family?”
  • Book description- Help readers understand the content and quality of your book. Keep the description to 500 characters or less.
  • Your bio & picture - Give readers a chance to learn more about you. You will also have a chance to answer relevant questions regarding your book and personal story in a short Q&A section.

We’ll also ask you to review and accept our submission and publishing agreement that grants us a 45-day exclusivity period to post your excerpt and tally nominations. If chosen for publication, you will receive a $1,500 advance, 5-year renewable term, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and Amazon-featured marketing. If not, you automatically get all your rights back at the end of the 45-day exclusivity period.
We’ll send you an email as soon as we’re open for submissions. Looking forward to hearing from you!

I don’t have a book written already that will fit this. I suspect it will have somewhat of a soft start: my guess is that people will write books specifically to try them for this program. Some folks have books sitting around…but how many of them won’t have independently published them already before they heard about this program?

You can contact Amazon about it here:

newpublishingprogram@amazon.com

Put in the subject “Question about Amazon’s new publishing program”.

Amazon still working on the KOLL/KU problem

Amazon’s been getting more information from me about the issue with being both a

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

member and a Prime member eligible to use the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

If you are both (which I am), at least some people (including me) are finding it very difficult to impossible to borrow a KOLL book. All of the books which are in both the KOLL and KU only seem to want me to borrow them through KU. If a book is in the KOLL and not in KU (a quite small number, from what I can tell), then I could do it…but that’s not much of a benefit. It doesn’t bother me that much…I’m not a Prime member because of the KOLL, it’s just a nice perk. Still, it doesn’t seem to be working the way Amazon wants it to work…and it does feel like a bit of a takeaway.

I’ve given them information about my experiences with it…I’ll let you know if they let me know that they’ve figured anything out.

Seeking Alpha round-up

I continue to be impressed with the quality of stories about Amazon at Seeking Alpha. Here are some recent ones:

Update: Fire Phone And Kindle Voyage Developments by Paulo Santos

Santos sees both the Fire Phone and the Kindle Voyage as underperforming, and indicative of Amazon’s customers not being able to be brought to profitable price points.

2 Reasons Why Amazon Will Never Make Money by Shock Exchange

The two reasons? They don’t know how, and they don’t wanna. ;) They recommend selling the stock.

How Amazon.com Got Into Yet Another Fight, This Time With Greenpeace by Paulo Santos

Santos starts out by apologizing for writing about Amazon so much. :) This one did interest me, though: Amazon has had a rep as being an environmentally conscious company…not someone you would expect Greenpeace to actively target.

However, Santos noticed a massive drop in ratings for the Fire Phone…and thinks it is due to an active 1-star campaign by the non-profit.

I generally like Greenpeace, but this raises an interesting question for me: should you go after a company by rating one of their products at 1-star? What does their policy (with which you disagree…details on that in the article) have to do with the quality of the device? I don’t rate books as 1-star because the publisher chooses to block text-to-speech access…I don’t buy the book, but it doesn’t feel…honest to rate the book 1-star on that basis.

What do you think? What do you want me to check on the Mindle Touch? Is rating a product 1-star because of a policy something with which agree? Does it make a difference that this is an Amazon product, rather rating, say, an e-book not from Amazon 1-star because the price it too high or it isn’t available in your country? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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 #270: “Amazon Idol”, Unlimited Finds #1

September 25, 2014

Round up #270: “Amazon Idol”, Unlimited Finds #1

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

Unlimited Finds #1

I do think that

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

has the potential to reshape the bestseller lists (at the Kindle store) by next year, and, along with other subsers (subscription services), really change people’s reading habits.

I’ve seen people make what I think is a mistake, and dismiss it as being “just independently published titles” (not that there would be anything wrong with that, in my opinion).

It’s much more than that.

I recently ran across a book in KU

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (at AmazonSmile*)

of which I had sold many copies when I managed a brick and mortar bookstore.  I wasn’t the only one: it was a New York Times bestseller.

If you are a KU member, I’d certainly consider this one…it’s non-fiction, and I knew people who loved it. I add KU books to a wish list I have for that purpose…I’ll probably borrow this one at some point.

If you aren’t a KU member? $8.63 at time of writing.

I’ve seen somebody recently say that you would “never” see New York Times bestsellers in KU. Well, okay, that might have been ones on the current list.

That doesn’t really work either. The #1 NYT bestselling non-fiction hardback is in KU right now:

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (at AmazonSmile*)

It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s that high in part because it is in KU. That gets it more exposure at Amazon, and more reviews…this one had a lot of other coverage, but I would guess it contributed.

I took a quick look, and it might be true that there aren’t any current NYT adult fiction bestsellers in KU…but I do think that will change by holiday season of 2015. Partially that’s because I expect KU to start driving those lists…

Wish with Tweets

Amazon’s Wish List feature is becoming more and more robust.

In this

press release

today, they announced “Wish with Tweets”.

If you reply to a tweet (on Twitter) that has an Amazon product link in it, and you include the hashtag

#AmazonWishList

it will automatically add it to your wish list (presumably, the default one).

You do have to do a little set up, but it isn’t hard…and you might have already done it to take advantage of

#AmazonCart

so you can add something to your cart to buy it yourself.

Here are some other features of Amazon Wish Lists that they, well, listed in the press release:

  • NEW Save-A-Photo: With the new Save-A-Photo feature, customers can snap a picture of anything from anywhere and save it to their Amazon Wish List.
  • Universal Wish List Add-on: The Amazon Wish List is truly universal. Customers can add anything from any online site to their Amazon Wish List with a simple add-on available for any browser.
  • Don’t Spoil My Surprises: This feature does not reveal to the Wish List creator which items have been purchased, so every gift is truly a surprise. However, once an item is purchased from an Amazon Wish List, other shoppers will see only what remains on the Wish List – avoiding duplicate gifts.
  • Virtual Notes: Customers can save an idea and search for it later by adding a virtual note to an Amazon Wish List. Jot down anything and give friends and family a little gifting inspiration.

Here’s some more information:

www.amazon.com/AmazonWishList (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon’s new crowd-sourced publishing…with guaranteed advance

This is fascinating!

According to this

The Digital Reader post by Nate Hoffelder

Amazon is launching a new publishing program for indies (independent authors)…and they’ve already been approaching Kindle Direct Publishing authors about it.

The basic idea is that authors submit never-before-published books (including covers).

Amazon posts a few pages of it.

People “vote” on them, and the winners are reviewed by Amazon and may be chosen to be traditionally published by Amazon…with a minimum advance of $1,500.

I would guess North of 90% of indies publishing through KDP never see $1,500.

The terms actually seem pretty good to me, with decent reversion provisions:

“Easy reversions: After two years, your rights in any format or language that remains unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request – no questions asked.”

Essentially, if Amazon can’t promote it to the point you make $500 in the prior two years (after the first year), you can take the book back and do whatever you want with it. Indie publish it, sell it to somebody else…up to you.

Oh, and people who nominate a book that gets published? They get a free e-book copy.

You can sign up for the mailing list here for more info:

Updates on Amazon’s New Publishing Program mailing list (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s important to note that this is not crowd-funding…the readers don’t have to pay to get it published (like would happen on Kickstarter, for example). Amazon takes on the costs.

It’s more like a competition reality TV show.

My guess?

This will work.

They’ll get higher quality books, choose them, polish them, promote them…authors will see it as lower risk, with middle and up rewards…which is worth it.

Why would it not work?

If Amazon doesn’t choose enough for publication. If people invest in writing a review of a book, and it doesn’t get chosen, they might think it is some sort of trick.

Speaking of tricks, it’s going to be pretty hard to game the system, since it isn’t just the “voting”that counts…it’s still up to the judges.

Kindle Fire HDX update

My

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

updated yesterday to version 13.3.2.6.

This appears to be an incremental update…no big new features, just bug fixes and performance enhancements.

I haven’t noticed anything yet…if you have, let me know.

This could also have included foundations for changes which will come, including the Family Library.

I asked Amazon about FL…their upcoming feature that will allow sharing books with other people not on your account. At this point, they aren’t revealing which content will be involved (my guess is that it will be similar to Kindle Unlimited) or who will be eligible for sharing (I’m thinking it might be the “in the same household” rule they use for some other things, but not sure).

What do you think? Will “Amazon Idol” be successful? Would you participate, if you are an author? Am I overestimating the impact of KU on the market? Do you think it will change what you read…will you read more backlist books and indies, for example? Have you used #AmazonCart…and do you think you’ll use #AmazonWishList? 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.

1-day deal: certified refurb KFHDX 7″ for $159

September 22, 2014

1-day deal: certified refurb KFHDX 7″ for $159

This is $50 off the model I use every day…and which I like well enough that I’m not itching to upgrade to the recently announced ones:

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

Certified refurbished models from Amazon have the same warranty as new, and in fact, I think they tend to be a safer bet. They’ve each been thoroughly checked.

They are limiting people to five apiece, and the deal could sell out. That doesn’t mean the model becomes unavailable quite yet: they may only have a certain number set aside for the sale.

If you buy this one, how will you feel when the new ones come out?

You can see information about them here:

It’s official! New Kindle hardware…and software

Actually, you’ll be able to get the new entry level model (6″) at an equivalent 16GB for $119…and it will have two cameras, front and back.

For $159 (the same price as this), you can get the same size 7″ screen**, that 16GB, and the two cameras.

Looking at that, it’s possible you’ll want to wait…

** Thanks to regular reader and commenter Tom Semple for comments that improved 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.

Hey, Amazon! Sell me MORE stuff

August 5, 2014

Hey, Amazon! Sell me MORE stuff

One of the criticisms I often see leveled at Amazon is that their devices are just selling machines for Amazon.

If that’s the case, they are more like mechanical looms than SmartPhones. ;)

I would looove an easy, seamless, 1-step process to buying things when I’m using my Amazon devices, but it just isn’t there yet.

On a daily basis, I use:

What may happen in all of these cases is that I’m reading/watching something, and it references something else…and I might want it.

Let me give you an example.

Right now, I’m reading (and enjoying very much)

These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One ( Season One Book 1) (at AmazonSmile)
by Marc Cushman
4.8 stars out of 5, 84 customer reviews

It’s sort of an authorized “biography” of the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series. The author had official access to materials (and people). At times, we actually get a day by day description of what was happening…and why.

It’s priced at $9.95: but I’m reading it as a

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

loan, covered byour free month (and it would have been part of my $9.99 a month after that).

The author says:

“In the latter half of Day 4 and for the first half of Day 5 the action moved to sickbay, where the world gets its first glimpse of an ebook (as Gary Mitchell reads from a video screen)…”

While I might quibble with that statement (I pointed out a reference to a “pocket reading machine” in 1945 in Flash! Kindles foretold in 1945), I did want to go back and see that scene, to see just how close it was to how e-books are today**.

That episode

Where No Man has Gone Before (at AmazonSmile)

is available for me to watch as part of Prime video at no additional cost. We are Prime members, and one of the benefits of that is being able to watch a lot of videos which are covered by our annual fee.

I did do that…but I had to go to one of my devices and look up the episode.

What would be really cool is if I could highlight the name of the episode in the e-book, and it just automatically took me to the Amazon Instant Video product page, where I could watch it. Having to go look for it is a barrier.

Now, I realize that some of you may think that my title for this post doesn’t apply, here because: I’m only borrowing the video, not buying it; and I’m not paying anything additional for it.

I think the same concept applies. I’m doing a “secondary buy”. Amazon wants me to “buy” Prime (they really, really want that…they are spending tons of money getting people to do that), and to remain a Prime member. Having me enjoy Prime is part of that, and getting me easily to a video I want to watch is a way to get me to enjoy it.

I’d also like to see them tell me how much money I saved…like I get at the end of my Safeway grocery receipt.

They don’t have to show me a running total (which could conceivably disappoint some people), but popping something up that says I saved $2.99 by watching this as part of my Prime (as opposed to buying it) would be nice and a validation for me to be in the program. The same thing should happen when I order a physical object with Prime…let me know what the two-day shipping would have been.

Oh, and even the highlighting could be easier. If I press one word in a title, there could be logic to look to see if that is part of an italicized phrase, in quotations, or part of a group of words in “Title Case” (all major words capitalized). It might have to offer the full selection (in case you were trying to look up one word in a quotation in a book), but I think it’s entirely doable.

The key thing here is that Amazon needs a search from within content for things it can sell you or secondarily sell you.

If one book mentions another book, let me jump to it with the option to borrow/read it.

If a book mentions a person, let me jump from that name to a store at Amazon…and a complete store, not just one kind of content.

These Are the Voyages mentions

George Takei (at AmazonSmile)

If you click that link, it takes you to Amazon’s author page for Takei, which has a bio, a picture, latest tweet, blogposts…but no links to videos, games, clothing, and so on featuring the actor.

Absolutely, give me a way to filter to just books if I want (and they do let you filter by book format now), but give me a hub to everything Takei.

This should even work for non-brand names.

If I’m reading about somebody eating trail mix, I should be able to highlight that and be taken to a search at Amazon for trail mix.

Here’s another idea.

If a book mentions “…great movies of the 1930s”, and I choose to pursue that, first check for books or content with that phrase in the title. Then, do a search (using Silk) on the web. Here’s the kicker: give me a choice to filter to Amazon results.

So, the search finds The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The “Amazon results” search then reenters those names into the content search at Amazon…and bam! I can get them there.

That would make Silk useful for me. ;)

Even though I wrote about

Why I don’t use Amazon’s Silk browser

I have started to use it more on my Fire Phone.

That’s because they have a nice feature that works there…and doesn’t work in other browsers (I have Maxthon, my browser of choice) added to the phone.

When you are on a website, you can tip the phone back to scroll. The steeper the tip, the faster the scroll. It’s surprisingly nice to be able to scroll without touching the screen. The Fire Phone specializes in “no touch navigation”…which really does keep the screen considerably cleaner.

That’s a feature that is getting me to use Silk…having Amazon search results, reached intuitively and conveniently from my content would be another…and would result in more sales and borrows (and thus, enhanced loyalty) from Amazon.

These sorts of things should also happen when I’m watching video. See a TV character wearing a piece of clothing you want? I’d love to be able to ask my device to note it, and maybe find it for me later on Amazon. On a touchscreen device, it might be a question of tapping the clothing. When you wanted, it would ask you if you wanted more information on the actor, on what they were wearing, on the profession the person represented, on the character…lots of possibilities.

Is any of this easy?

No, and I understand that.

Would it make me even more bonded to Amazon? Without a doubt.

Bonus deal:Amazon had a deal yesterday with $20 off lots of “flavors” of the Paperwhite. Today, there is a one day deal with a much bigger savings: $130 off this specific model of

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

That’s just for the 32 GB version (with or without Special Offers).That brings it down to $299 (from $429) with Special Offers for this 8.9″ screen version of the latest Kindle Fire.

It also oddly makes the 32GB less expensive than the 16GB right now.

Check the price before you click that Buy button: this may not apply in your country, or you may see this after today’s sale has ended.

What do you think? How could Amazon be further integrated into your life…and should it be? Would “smart link shopping” be an attractive thing to you? Do you think you would buy more things from Amazon if it was even easier? Would you want to see a “you saved” statement? 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! :) 

** There’s no arguing that Mitchell is reading e-books…and yes, that includes classics. The mechanism isn’t like a Kindle…it’s more like the Kindle for PC app, reading them on a pretty large screen. Each book appears to come on a separate “tape”, and they do have a reference to page numbers. It doesn’t appear that the Enterprise has all that many books. Mitchell reads “half the library”, in what is clearly a fast time, but not super fast…and we see how quickly the “esper” can turn pages. 

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 #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

July 22, 2014

Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

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

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update 5.4.5

Amazon has released a new update for the KPW2:

Update 5.4.5 for Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile* Benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can wait and it will eventually happen on its own (that can be weeks), or you can go to the above link and update manually

It brings three main changes:

  • Sync on Your Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile): honestly, I’m not quite clear what the difference is here. I usually don’t bounce between devices when reading, and since my Significant Other and I may be reading the same book at the same time (so we can talk about it afterwards), we have Whispersync turned off. I’m not clear on what this is doing now that it didn’t do before. One interesting thing, though. I’ve always recommended that people return to Home after a reading session if they may need to sync, and the video on this page recommends the same thing
  • “When viewing a PDF in pan-and-zoom mode, you will now see a small preview window in the margin of the screen”: this one sounds helpful!
  • Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile): for those of us who answer questions on the official Amazon forums, there is a tendency (which can be avoided, with effort) to develop canned responses. One thing has always been about where you find sample in the Cloud. We would say they weren’t stored in the Cloud: I’ve likened it to getting a free sample at Costco…there’s no record of that in your account, either. ;) One reason is that it lessens costs to not do the processing of the transaction and the storage of the sample. Well, now, when you buy a p-book (paperbook), you can often choose to “Start Reading Now”, and you get the sample of the e-book on your Kindle (so you can read while the p-book is on the way). Those samples (and only those samples), are going to be available in the Cloud: Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile)

Video: “When the Words Stop”

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this great video!

When the Words Stop by Epic Reads

I think a lot of you will appreciate it…it’s a humor piece about that deflated feeling you have when you finish a book…when the words stop. Back in the paper days, I remember feeling a great anxiety sometimes when I realized there was only maybe ten percent of the book left to go. With an e-book, I have to say, I find so often that it ends much before the percentage would indicate (because of back matter, or a preview, or something like that), that I can’t really judge it. I’ve had books finish at maybe 66%! This is funny and worth watching, in my opinion.

Gold Box Deal: $100 off Kindle Fire HDX 7″ 4G LTE

This is a today only deal (that’s how GBDs work):

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

It’s $100 of the models with 4G (like a cellphone connection to wireless, instead of just wi-fi…this has both). I tried having 4G on one of my Fire models, and didn’t find it was worth the monthly service plan cost to me. However, I’m in a pretty techie area, and there is a lot of wi-fi around here. For some people, having 4G makes a big difference in convenience, and they are willing to pay for it. It’s also nice for people who aren’t as techie, but want to be connected…no wi-fi required to use it (if you have a signal for 4G at home, you don’t have to enter passwords or anything to connect).

The least expensive configuration of this deal is $229…which makes it the same initial cost as having a wi-fi only version.

Kindle Unlimited mini-roundup

I’m still going to write another big post on Kindle Unlimited soon (following this one)

It’s official! Kindle Unlimited is here with 639,621 titles

including what I think the impact will be on authors (some will benefit…a lot), but I did want to hit a few high points:

  • Audiobooks: I’ve seen interest in the comments on the blog in the audiobook part, and that is something that makes KU stand apart from other subsers (that’s what I call subscription services) .ike Oyster and Scribd). As is, unfortunately, not uncommonly the case with Amazon, people want to do it…but have trouble finding instructions on how to do it. I’ve done it successfully, but it wasn’t as easy as going to “audiobooks” in KU and picking one. What I did was first find an e-book in KU that was set up for “Whispersync for Voice”. You can do that with this link: Kindle Unlimited Whispersync for Voice titles (at AmazonSmile). The e-book has to say that it is “with narration”, otherwise you might pay extra for it. I downloaded the e-book (one that I’ve read before, by the way…I don’t like listening to audiobooks if I haven’t already sightread the book). Once I’d done that, the audiobook was available to my Audible app…including on my Galaxy S4 (which should be, sadly, replaced later this week by my Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile). I’m not sad to be getting the phone: I’m excited for that! I’ve just really liked the S4). So, the counterintuitive part was getting an e-book I wasn’t going to read so I could get the audiobook. After that, it worked fine. One of my readers commented that they couldn’t get the audiobook part to work, even with help from both Kindle and Audible reps…but I still don’t quite know why. Might have been a different phone, or they weren’t following the above sequence
  • How authors get compensated: I will do a big post on authors and KU generally, as I’ve mentioned, but for indie (independent authors) using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, they split part of a pool fund (the same way they get compensated for borrows from Amazon Kindle Owners” Lending Library)…but they don’t get the cut until the borrower has read ten percent of the book. Tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors will have a different deal, and we won’t know the details…the publishers don’t usually release royalty contract terms. I did check, by the way: if someone borrows your book, reads ten percent of it (triggering the royalty), return it, borrows it again, and ten percent of it again, you don’t get a second royalty…in case you were planning to game the system ;)
  • Confusion for people who are both KU members and KOLL eligible: this has been very confusing, engendering many threads on the forums! I’m hoping they make this clearer…and soon. The KOLL has not gone away, and there hasn’t been an indication that it will. The BUTTON to borrow for free, however, has gone away in many cases. What I understand at this point is that, if you’ve already borrowed your KOLL book for the month, the button will convert to a “Read for Free” button, and it will be one of your KU borrows instead (assuming the book is in both programs). If you don’t have KU, clicking the button will take you to some place to sign up. If it actually works that way, that’s not too bad. However, I did see “The Artist” on the forum say that they had not yet borrowed a KOLL book in the month…and clicking “Read for Free” made it the KOLL borrow. That would be bad: what you want to borrow from the KOLL and what you want to read from KU may not be the same. You can have up to ten books out from KU at a time, and when you return one you can get another one. That seems to me like a generous amount for one person (unless, perhaps, you are going on a trip where you won’t have wireless access), but if you have five people on the account (and there is no limit), you may often bump up against that simultaneous ten limit

Wow! There is a lot happening (Fire Phone for hardware, KU for services), but what do you think? Have you ever feared reaching the end of a book? I know people who don’t want to buy a book unless there are more books in a series, just to try and stave off the eventual “separation”.  Do you find 4G worth it for a Fire? Are you weighing keeping Audible versus going with KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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.

The reading experience: Paperwhite vs. Kindle Fire HDX

July 10, 2014

The reading experience: Paperwhite vs. Kindle Fire HDX

I very often see people in the Kindle forums asking what they should get: a

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

or a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

I have to admit: I always find that a somewhat odd question.

It suggests that there is either one correct answer, or that complete strangers on an online forum know you well enough to know what’s better in your situation. :)

People are often helpful on the forum. One of the first comments you’ll typically see is, “If you want it mostly for reading,  you should get the Paperwhite.”

Is that true, though?

Like a lot of people, I have both an HDX and a Paperwhite. I actively use them both…and yes, I actively read on them both.

My Fire is what goes with me when I leave the house…I need its other capabilities (like viewing and doing light editing of Excel files), and an important one I’ll mention a bit later in the article.

I read my Paperwhite in bed before going to sleep.

I don’t think it’s a matter of a simple black and white answer (and I’m not talking about the grayscale of the Paperwhite). ;) The Paperwhite is better for me for some reading tasks, the Fire is better for others.

In this post, I’m going to compare the two.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the screen technology.

The Kindle Fire has a “backlit” screen. You read what is on it by a light coming from behind the image: the text is between you and the light source.

That’s how a lot of technology works: laptops, desktops, TVs, SmartPhones (at least, all the popular ones at this point).

You read what is on a Paperwhite by light bouncing off the screen from the front: the same way you read a p-book (paperbook).

Before the Paperwhite, you needed an external light source to read a non-Fire Kindle.

The Paperwhite has a built-in light…and that light is in front of the screen, not behind it: it’s “frontlit”. It’s on the same side of the screen that you are (like a booklight would be that you clip on to a book).

Some people don’t like reading backlit screens for long periods…they say it tires their eyes (or gives them headaches…I’ve heard both). That’s understandable: if you stared at a flashlight or a lit lamp for a while, that would tire you, too.

I don’t think the Fire is as harsh as a lot of devices: you can change the brightness, and have different text backgrounds…so I don’t find that it bothers me.

Backlighting takes up a lot more battery charge life than the Paperwhite’s frontlighting. A backlit screen requires a constant application of energy to maintain the image. With the technology in the Paperwhite, it “draws the page”…and doesn’t need more energy to maintain the image. The Paperwhite is like an Etch-a-Sketch in that way. It takes energy to draw a house on an Etch-a-Sketch, but if you don’t shake it, the image will stay there with no more effort.

A backlit device is like a garden hose: the Paperwhite is like a puddle.

It’s a huge difference. I charge my Fire every day. I charge my Paperwhite every couple of weeks (reading on it every day…although not for more than a half an hour or so).

The last thing on this screen technology is reading in bright light. A backlit device (the Fire) has to compete with light hitting the screen from the front…and it’s not going to win against the sun. :) More light makes a Paperwhite easier to read, and because it has that frontlit screen, it’s also easy to read in a dark room. The Paperwhite is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve had…including paper.

I’m always able to read on my Fire outside, but it’s not as easy. Crank the brightness up all the way, and keep the device between you and the sun. If it feels like you are shading your eyes with your Fire, you are in a good position. For example, you might be leaning back, holding the Fire above chin level, with the bottom of it farther away from you than the top. Of course, don’t set it up where you might slip and end up looking directly into the sun!

Okay, let’s say you’ve got the lighting where it works for you. What about options when you read?

Fonts

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 7
  • Paperwhite (I’m using the latest edition): 6

Font Sizes

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 11
  • Paperwhite: 9

Font/Background Combination Options

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 4 (including white on black)
  • Paperwhite: 1

Margins

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 3
  • Paperwhite: 3

Line Spacing

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 3
  • Paperwhite: 3

The Fire wins on three of these, and it’s a tie on the two others.

Text-to-speech

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: no

The Paperwhite doesn’t have any audio capabilities. My guess is that they did that to make it cost less, and to reduce battery drain. This is the thing I said I was going to mention later. :) I use TTS (software which reads the book aloud to you) pretty much every workday for an hour or more a day in the car. I love this! I like to say that driving is no longer wasted “non-reading time”. ;)  The TTS on the KFHDX is much superior to what we had on the Kindle 2 (it sounds more natural, makes fewer errors, and there are more choices), and it’s better than what we had on later non-Fire Kindles with TTS.

The Fire wins this one…hands down.

Oh, and that also means no immersion reading for the Paperwhite (where you can hear a voice and see the words at the same time), which the Fire has.

X-Ray (gives you information about the book)

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: yes

It’s a tie.

Annotations: Notes, Highlights, Bookmarks

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: yes

I like the experience of Notes better on the Fire. It’s one tap to get to the Notes icon, and it’s two on the Paperwhite. You have multiple color highlights on the Fire. The interface with the notes and highlights seems easier on the Fire: long press (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second) and you can view, edit, or delete. On the Fire, Bookmarks are labeled as Bookmarks…not on the Paperwhite.

I’m going to give this to the Fire.

Look-up

  • Kindle Fire HDX: X-Ray (including a Shelfari link), Dictionary, Wikipedia, Translation, in the book, and on the web
  • Paperwhite: Dictionary, X-Ray, Wikipedia, This Book, All Text, Kindle Store

The Fire seems to do this faster, and has more information (Shelfari has some great stuff), but I do like being able to search the Kindle Store on the Paperwhite. Still, I’d give this to the Fire.

Color, embedded or linked video or audio

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: no

You might not use this much. Still, it’s nice if you are reading about Martin Luther King and can actually jump to the dream speech. This one goes to the Fire, although again, you might not care about it.

Sharing

  • Kindle Fire HDX: Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook
  • Paperwhite: Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook

It’s a tie.

Report a Content Error

  • Kindle Fire HDX: no (if you know of a way, please let me know!)
  • Paperwhite: yes

This one goes to the Paperwhite.

Overall? I’m actually surprised that the Fire wins in so many categories. That doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend the Paperwhite: the more comfortable reading experience and the long battery charge life are strong pluses. Also, a lot of people like the lack of distractions (although the Fire does have a “Quiet Time” setting.

What do you think? I’m sure some of you want to leap to the defense of the Paperwhite, and I understand that. :) Have I missed any advantages? I suppose I should have said that the Paperwhite is smaller, although the weight isn’t all that different…the KFHDX wi-fi only is 10.7 oz (303 grams), and the Paperwhite wi-fi only is 7.3 ounces (206 grams). I’ve heard that ten US pennies weight about an ounce, if that helps. ;) The Paperwhite is cheaper ($119 vs $199 in their cheapest configurations at time of writing), but I don’t know if I’d consider that part of the reading experience. ;) Are there other advantages you see with one or the other? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post. You can also let me know if you have other comparison questions about them that way.

Update: thanks to reader burmmom for a comment which improved 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! :) 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.

 

“Back to School” Kindle Fire sale…in July?

July 9, 2014

“Back to School” Kindle Fire sale…in July?

I don’t even think that if they mean summer school that makes sense. ;)

Still, it’s a good sale, even if I don’t understand the way Amazon labeled the sale. They actually have that label in more than one place…maybe people are shopping now for the fall year? Maybe it’s for modular schedules? Oh, well…

Back to School store (at AmazonSmile)

You can get $50 off some Kindle tablets (and $30 off some) and 20% off some accessories:

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

From that page, you can choose the configuration you want:

  • 8 GB, with or without Special Offers, $20 off (as low as $119)
  • 16 GB, with or without Special Offers, $40 off (as low as $129)

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile)

  • 16 or 32 GB, with or without Special Offers, with or without 4G, $30 off (as low as $199)
  • 64 GB, with or without Special Offers, with or without 4G, $50 off (as low as $259)

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ (at AmazonSmile)

  • Any configuration $40 off (as low as $339)

What do I have? The Kindle Fire HDX 7″ with 16GB and Special Offers without 4G, but different people will have different use cases.

I don’t put a lot of movies and such on my device at a time, so the memory has never been an issue for me.

I tried using 4G for a year…it wasn’t worth it for me (you have to pay for a data plan for that). There’s just too much wi-fi in my area to make it a big issue.

I like having the Special Offers…and that’s especially true on the Fire. They do these Limited Time Offers (often, they sell out in seconds…and you get maybe an hour’s warning that it’s going to start)…we’ve literally saved hundreds of dollars that way.

I prefer the HDX over the HD for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Mayday, the live onscreen help option.

I’ve had a Kindle Fire with a bigger screen…I didn’t find that the extra weight and awkwardness of carrying it was worth it for me. I do have the

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

so it’s easy to throw it on a big screen if I want to do that.

Weirdly, I can’t easily find which accessories are 20% off. There would normally be a link or a section promoted on the main accessories page.

This is advertised as a limited time sale, and may not apply in your country. As always, check before you click or tap that Buy button.

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile) is now for sale legally as an e-book…and at time of writing, it’s only $3.95!

Definitely think about this one as a gift (the price will likely go back up…this is probably a result of price competition at launch)…you can delay the delivery to a date you choose. It’s also a good one for your guest Kindle.

Right now, it’s number 113 paid in the Kindle store. I’ve said I think it may be one of the bestselling e-books of the year, and I’m sticking with that. I think it will have legs (keep selling for a long time), and again, should see an upsurge at gift-giving times.

There was a time when a lot of people were surprised by how expensive older books could be for the Kindle, but I’d say there are some bargains out there now.

I ran a search for literature classics prices from $0.99 to $3.99, and tried to filter out public domain titles:

Under $4 classics (at AmazonSmile)

I did this using

eReaderIQ

which I consider the most valuable resource on the web for Kindleers (I am not associated with that site except as a user, although we have had some correspondence).

Some titles standing out to me in the search:

  • Marathon Man by William Goldman for $2.51 (I wouldn’t consider this a classic, but the publishers get to define the categories for marketing reasons)
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck for $3.50
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston for $1.99
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck for $2.50
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for $2.99
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner for $2.50
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (that was one of the most wanted on Kindle for a while) for $2.99

If you’d pay that much for a new book and you haven’t read one of these (or you want to re-read it…or give it a gift), why not pay for one that has stood the test of time?

I can tell that, at least in this case, excluding public domain didn’t work very well. :) Many of the books in the search results are in the public domain (not under copyright protection). You can often find those free: but it can be nice to have, say, 10 books in a series in a single volume. That kind of thing is showing up a lot.

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! :) 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 #257: things like us, Colbert & King

June 6, 2014

Round up #257: things like us, Colbert & King

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

For my UK readers: KFHDX 20% off

Amazon.co.uk is having a Kindle Fire HDX sale through 12 June:

Kindle Fire HDX (from Amazon.co.uk)

You can get the 7″ (gee, do you call it a 17.78 centimeter?) from £159.20, a savings of about £40.

The 8.9″ is from £263.20 (a savings of about £66).

You can also get the first generation (so, not the current one) Kindle Fire HD 7″ for £99! That’s a savings of £60.

We aren’t having an equivalent sale in the USA, but I thought my UK readers might appreciate the alert. :)

It’s ba-ack! The Kindle DX available again new from Amazon

Thanks to Andrys Basten of the

A Kindle World blog

for the heads up on this…and it would have been tough to find!

The larger (9.7″) non-Fire Kindle is back on sale new from Amazon…and for a good price of $199.

Kindle DX

You are definitely dealing with older technology here, but it a large screen non-backlit device with text-to-speech (although an older and less sophisticated version than we have on the Kindle Fire HDX) and a physical keyboard.

Maybe I should find somebody with a different first name…

You know how, for some people, e-books made books a whole lot cooler?

Well, we know that book issues are part of the mainstream…because celebrities are commenting on the Hachazon War (that’s what I call the disagreement going on between Amazon and Hachette, a publisher).

First, let’s mention Stephen Colbert, who did a pretty lengthy (3 minutes and twenty seconds) segment on the Hachazon war:

Comedy Central video clip

Colbert’s books have been affected by Amazon’s “tactics of mass inconvenience”, causing delays in getting the faux pundit’s books.

The weird thing is that you can get Kindle editions of the books right away…but they appear to only be the enhanced versions (meaning they’ll audio/video content). The two in particular that I’m seeing have text-to-speech access blocked, so I’m not going to link to them…but they say they are only available on these devices:

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)
Kindle for Windows 8
Kindle Cloud Reader
Kindle for Android Phones
Kindle for Android Tablets
Kindle for iPad

Since they list no non-Fire hardware Kindles, it makes me think these are only available as enhanced versions…and it is possible that that is a different deal with Hachette.

If you want the hardback new from Amazon, you have to wait: “Usually ships within 3 to 5 weeks.”

However, here is something else interesting. On the product page, you can get a used copy from Amazon for $9.50…and they’ll ship it with Prime!

Used books usually don’t go Prime (where you pay nothing additional for two-day shipping beyond your annual Prime fee).

That’s a fascinating approach on Amazon’s part!

The publisher, of course, doesn’t get an additional cut for a used book…and the author gets no royalty.

Amazon has found a way to get you the book (albeit, a used copy) just as quickly as if you bought it new…and pay Hachette nothing when you do it.

Colbert was funny, and put a lot of effort into this, I’d say. I did like this line (which I’ve edited slightly from the live delivery):

“This is a big blow to my bottom line because Amazon controls around fifty percent of all book sales. That’s right: thirty books a year.”

Colbert also has a printable sticker you can put on a book that says, “I Didn’t Buy It On Amazon.” You can get it at the site above.

That reminded me of the statement that Psychotronic Video used to put on the cover: “Still not a part of AOL Time/Warner”.

This segment clearly presents the authors as victims. The piece doesn’t make Hachette blameless, but mostly mentions Amazon.

I did think it was nice that they arranged a deal with Powell’s Books (one of the great bookstores) so you can order the book through the Comedy Central website above.

Sherman Alexie recommended boycotting Amazon until this was over.

The other famous Stephen who recently commented on the Hachazon War is Stephen King.

I was reading (as I do every week)

Entertainment Weekly (at AmazonSmile)

(specifically, the June 13, 2014 issue), and the cover had a link (I’m reading it on my

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

to a commentary by the prolific author called, “Stephen King Sounds Off on Amazon” (which is actually a sidebar on a longer article by Karen Valby about the Hachazon War).

I’m not seeing it as available on the EW website, but I’ll give you a small excerpt:

“In a sense, it’s like a hoodlum in the protection racket strong-arming one small-business owner so that all the other owners on the street — we could call it Book Street — will fall into line.”

While I have found some statements aligning with Amazon, I’d be happy to find one by somebody who has a voice outside of books and the publishing/bookstore world. Stephen King is an author, of course, but is known to people who…gee, how do I put this…don’t read.

Amazon has recovered from other public relations issues in the past (such as the removal of an unauthorized George Orwell book from people’s Kindles…although I just saw someone raise that on the Kindle forum again, without mentioning what I thought was a good resolution and apology), and if the gadget which is announced in about a week and a half is buzzy enough, it may turn the narrative.

Barnes & Noble partners with Samsung for future tablets

NOOK tablets did not go well for Barnes & Noble. People doubted that Amazon could do hardware at all before the Kindle…after all, it wasn’t their area of expertise. However, they did do it quite successfully.

For B&N, it makes sense to turn over tablet manufacturing to an experienced partner (resulting in a co-branded device)…and Samsung is a good choice for that.

PC Mag post by Angela Moscaritolo

In fact, my intuition here is that Samsung may greatly improve the NOOK tablet reading experience…which might drive improvements in Kindle tablets as well.

Why does Samsung want to do it?

Why not? :)

They get to be seen as saving Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, and people appreciate that. They don’t have to invest a lot of money…it sounds to me like they’ll basically take existing hardware and add NOOK software to it. Of course, you can already get NOOK software on a Samsung tablet…but they will brand it that way.

While B&N hypothetically gives up the income stream from NOOK tablets, it hadn’t really been working out as a plus…

Kiva robots going to work at Amazon

Robots to the left of me
Robots to the right of me
Into the Amazon warehouse rolled the ten thousand…

Thanks to the reader who alerted me in a private e-mail to this

EXTREMETECH article by David Cardinal

I write about robots (and lots of other things) in my

The Measured Circle blog

and “flip” lots of articles about them into the free

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

Well, this brings together Amazon and robots.

Amazon spent a lot of money (about $775 million) for a robot company, as I wrote about back in 2012:

I, Amazon: the e-tailer buys a robot company

The article has a great video of the Kivas at work, but also points out some important things.

Sure, people worry about humans losing jobs to robots…and that undeniably happens. The thing is, though, that people also gain jobs because robots are working…and they may be jobs which are better suited (and feel better) for humans.

Robots aren’t cheap, but there are some huge savings involved with them. You often hear people say that they don’t get sick, although they do need maintenance. They don’t need some kinds of leave, though…and they don’t need raises.

Perhaps not as obviously, the Kiva robots can cut down on utility bills. They probably don’t need lights, for example, and from what I’ve read, you don’t have the same air conditioning issues (which has been one of the major complaints for humans working in Amazon warehouses…they can get hot!). They aren’t like mainframe computers, which often need quite a bit of climate control.

Isn’t that a weird thought?

Tourist: “Hi, I’m here for the Amazon warehouse tour.”

Tour Guide: “Great! You’ll need these night-vision goggles, and this personal-cooling suit.”

Tourist: “My what and my who?”

Tour Guide: “This warehouse has been optimized for our silicon-based workers. What do you see through this window?”

Tourist: “That’s a window? I thought it was a TV that was off.”

Tour Guide: “No, that’s the interior of the fulfillment center. It’s just that dark.”

Tourist: “Can’t you turn the lights on?”

Tour Guide: “There aren’t any lights.”

Tourist: “Um, okay. Why the suit?”

Tour Guide: “Well, the suit isn’t strictly necessary, but it is about 40 degrees in there.”

Tourist: “Wait, didn’t you say it was a cooling suit?”

Tour Guide: “Oh, sorry…forty degrees  Celsius. It’s about…104 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Tourist: “Why so hot?”

Tour Guide: “That’s just because of the temperature outside…we don’t heat the floor.”

Tourist: “I’m from Phoenix, I won’t need the suit. How long does the tour take?”

Tour Guide: “About seven to nine minutes.”

Tourist: “That’s it? Don’t we get to see the whole place?”

Tour Guide: “That is the whole place…well, all of it where a giant biped like you will fit. The rest of it is all Kiva height.”

Tourist: “You know, I think I’ll skip it.”

Tour Guide: “Suit yourself. The next shuttle for downtown is in two hours.”

Tourist: “Two hours? I knew I should have driven!”

Tour Guide: “You can’t…there’s no parking lot.”

Tourist: “No parking lot?”

Tour Guide: “No need for one. Do you know how much land like that costs? Not to mention the expense for damages, the danger to people walking to and from…this is much simpler.”

Tourist: “What about you? Where do you park?”

Tour Guide: “Oh, I don’t park. I just live here. I’ve got everything I need…and AmazonFresh brings me my groceries. It’s actually cool. I’m the only human most of these Kivas have ever seen.”

Tourist: “I wonder if they think all human beings look like you…”

Tour Guide: “I doubt that’s the case.”

Tourist: “Yes, that’s silly. Robots don’t think.”

Tour Guide: “They think…they definitely think. They just don’t think about things which are insignificant to them…”

Speaking of thinking, what do you think? Will Samsung keep the NOOK brand for tablets alive? Will B&N farm out the non-tablets to somebody else? Will Amazon ever run out of Kindle DXs…or replace them with another big screen non-backlit device? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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! :) 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.

Heads up: Fire LTO. 256 GB drive at 530 Pacific

May 27, 2014

Amazon: Upcoming Limited-Time Special Offer on Kindle Fire: 256 GB Solid State Drive for $49. Deal starts at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT.

Update: sorry I had to be really brief on this one! Not only was I on my phone, but I was in a place where I couldn’t speak out loud…so I couldn’t use speech-to-text! That really limited my ability to input the information. In fact, all I did was copy and paste the text I got (see below) into the post. I was really in the middle of something…

These are special limited time offers, which are only available to Kindle Fire owners.

What happens is you can get a text to alert you to an upcoming deal (details in the links below). You don’t get much warning…maybe an hour (about half an hour in this case).

The deal also appears on the sleep screen of your Fire, and you can find it under Offers on the homescreen (all the way at the end).

Then, you say you want to “learn more”. You’ll get to a screen with a countdown clock. As soon as the clock gets to zero, you need to click to have a chance to get it.

They have typically been selling out in seconds.

Here is information on the program:

As I’ve written before, I look at these LTOs (Limited Time Offers) sort of like buying a lottery ticket: I don’t expect to get one (win), but its exciting if I do! Of course, the “ticket” doesn’t cost me anything.

These LTOs are one of the best arguments for having Special Offers…and yes, a good argument for having a  Fire (at AmazonSmile)!

Did you get one? Do you have any other comment on this? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

One more thing: I’ve had a couple of readers say that they never even saw the offer. As far as I know, these go out to every eligible Kindle Fire in the USA. A few possibilities occur to me:

  • They either bought a Kindle Fire without Special Offers, or bought out of the offers later. You have to be subscribed to those in order to get these deals
  • They weren’t connected to wireless in time for it to update
  • They didn’t check the Offers tab (I don’t always see it on the sleep screen)

It might not have been any of those, but those three would have done it.

===

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.

Gold Box Deal: refurb KFHD8.9 with 4G…for $219!

May 19, 2014

Gold Box Deal: refurb KFHD8.9 with 4G…for $219!

One of today’s

Gold Box Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ (the bigger screen) with 4G (like a cellphone) and wi-fi connectivity for $219.

That’s $80 off the current price…and less than half of what it cost when it was introduced in late 2012.

This is not the current generation (no Mayday, for example), but it does have the HDMI out so you can use a cable to attach it to your TV.

The Gold Box Deals sometimes sell out (there was another Kindle Fire deal today which is already gone).

This is a good deal, although if you are going to use the 4G (you wouldn’t have to do that), you would need a data plan, which you would pay for monthly (and they don’t have the same deal they did when it was introduced).

In terms of refurbs (refurbished units), I’d be very confident in them. They have the same warranty as a new one, and my feeling is that they are probably more carefully reviewed, since they are treated individually.

People are likely to also opine that this means the retirement of some models and the introduction of new ones, but they’ve been doing lots of discounts lately…I wouldn’t count on new ones because of this.

There already is an 8.9 HDX, so a newer version is already on the market.

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.


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