Archive for the ‘Legal Actions’ Category

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

September 11, 2014

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

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

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

Borrowing from the KOLL when you are a KU member

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Tom Semple for this!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, useful info…thanks, Tom!

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

I recently wrote about Amazon’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, Amazon made their announcement before Apple made theirs…

Apple Settlement: you may get a check

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

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

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

Here is most of it:

Dear Kindle Customer,

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

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

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

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

Notice ID Number: [deleted]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference: [deleted]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Settlement pay-outs are here

March 25, 2014

Settlement pay-outs are here

I just got this e-mail from Amazon:

===

eBooks Antitrust Settlement Information

Dear Bufo Calvin,

Good news! You are entitled to a credit of $11.20 for some of your past Kindle book purchases. The credit results from legal settlements reached with publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks.

You don’t have to do anything to claim your credit, we have already added your credit to your Amazon account. We will automatically apply your available credit to your next purchase of a Kindle book or print book sold by Amazon.com, regardless of publisher. The credit applied to your purchase will appear in your order summary. If your account does not reflect this credit, please contact Amazon’s customer service.

For more information about the settlements, please visit Information for eBooks Antitrust Settlement (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) [link added to e-mail]

Your credit is valid for one year and will expire after 03/31/2015. If you have not used your credit, we will send you another email 90 days before it expires to remind you that it is still available.

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

===

That’s more than I expected, since I didn’t think we bought that many books under the Agency Model, but it’s still nice. :)

Here is the breakdown:

Category Non-Minnesota Minnesota
NY Times Bestsellers $3.17 $3.93
Other Books $0.73 $0.94

Check your e-mail: you may have one, too. However, it’s worth noting that you don’t need to check anything: the credit will apply automatically when you buy a Kindle store book or a paperbook from Amazon.

A few notes:

  • This has nothing to do with Amazon having done anything wrong. I’m sure a lot of people will think, because they are being notified about the credit from Amazon, that Amazon is being forced to pay them for something. Amazon is simply the conduit for getting you the money that the publishers are being forced (well, agreed) to pay out for their actions
  • This is also unconnected to the US Department of Justice legal action against the publishers and Apple (Apple is appealing the decision against them). This is a separate legal action, brought by the Attorneys General of most of the US States and some US territories
  • This specific pay out is for Amazon customers. Customers who bought qualifying e-books from other sources are entitled to the settlement…but the mechanism for getting it may not be as easy as this

Here are Amazon’s FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on it:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements (at AmazonSmile)

and here is the general page for the settlement (not just Amazon):

https://ebooksagsettlements.com/

The short story on what made this happen:

Amazon transformed the e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle in 2007 and its own e-book store.

Amazon priced many (it was never promised to be all e-books) bestsellers and recent releases at$9.99, sometimes taking a loss on a sale.

The publishers didn’t like that. One of their concerns was “price value perception”…that the customers would get the idea that a book (paper or e-book) should cost $9.99, and that that would hurt their p-book business.

The publishers, prompted by Apple (according to the DoJ case) instituted a new pricing model, where the publishers set the prices customers paid (“the Agency Model”).

The Attorneys General sued on behalf of the customers, saying that this resulted in higher prices.

The publishers involved settled, agreeing to pay the customers back.

Now, I think one of the most interesting things here is that you can use this credit to buy books from any publisher.

That’s something to consider.

If you take your settlement and use it to buy books from a publisher which wasn’t part of this (an independently published book, perhaps…or, you know, ten of them!), that is really making a statement to the ones who did participate (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin…and all of their various imprints).

I am an independent publisher like that, in a very minor way (I’ve only published my own works through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing). I also am not particularly mad at the tradpubs (traditional publishers) who settled.

However, I can certainly see indies using this for advertising: in fact, I think I’ll suggest that over at

The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

after I finish alerting you. :)

I’m going to suggest an ad like, “Don’t give them your money back”.

It’s nice to see this chapter closed…enjoy your books!

What do you think? Did you get an e-mail? Was it more or less or about what you expected? Are you going to spend the money any differently (perhaps splurging on a more expensive book) than you normally would?  Is this a fair result, or should have there been bigger (or smaller) penalties? 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 #243: under $50 Kindle, blogs on Fire

March 4, 2014

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

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

Mindle under $50, Paperwhite under $100

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

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

and the

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

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

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

It does not apply to the Paperwhite 3G.

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

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

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

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

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

Are Kindle store blogs finally coming to the Kindle Fires?

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you go to

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

and click or tap

Subscription Settings

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

Checking those options, our Fires are now listed!

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

“Upgrade Your Device

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

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

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

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

Apple appeals

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

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

Apple Insider post by Mikey Campbell

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

The filing says:

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

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

That, for me, is key.

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s where Apple has an interesting argument:

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

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

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

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

That is actually a hypothetical possibility.

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

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

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

I think that is a possibility.

Would that bring back the Agency Model?

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

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

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

The beat goes on…

Amazon workers will be heard by Supreme Court

In this

Salon.com article by Andrew Leonard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 5, 2014

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

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

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

According to this

Bloomberg article by Patricia Hurtado and Christie Smythe

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

Apple is appealing.

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

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

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

According to this

Fortune article by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

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

A real American fanfic?

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

According to this

press release

Amazon has licensed seven more “Worlds” for

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

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

That’s G.I. Joe.

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

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

The other new licenses:

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

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

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

Update on  Give a Kid a Kindle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give a Kid a Kindle

Kindle Fire wi-fi connection wonky again

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

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile)

staying connected has somehow resolved themselves.

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

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

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

Manage Your Kindle update

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

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

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

Amazon Kindle forum announcement

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

What speed do you read?

Staples has a fun test you can take at

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

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

It includes comprehension.

I see a considerable flaw in the test.

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

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

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

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

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

GOODEREADER: “Adobe has Killed e-Readers”

According to this

GOODEREADER article by Michael Kozlowski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round up #226: E-book settlement, B&N investigation

December 11, 2013

Round up #226: E-book settlement, B&N investigation

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

Kindle Fire update in “the coming weeks”

In this

press release

Amazon announces an update coming to the Kindle Fires “… just in time for the holidays”. Of course, they don’t say which holidays. ;)

The PR focuses on some important and interesting changes to Kindle FreeTime, which helps guardians set limits on the use of the tablet. One interesting one is the ability to require a certain amount of “educational” use before you can use it for “entertainment”.

As a trainer, I can tell you that you really can’t have much education without entertainment, but that’s another discussion. ;) I’ve asked people to remember back when they were in elementary school: very few of them recall sitting in the classroom…most of them first remember playing with their friends. Kudos to their teachers if their now adult students do think of that first!

While this is great in and of itself (and they promise more improvements after that for FreeTime), I’m also excited because it’s quite possible (knock virtual wood) that the upgrade will contain bug fixes. As I’ve mentioned (and others have also said they have this issue), my wi-fi won’t stay connected since the last upgrade (Amazon is aware of the problem). I have to toggle Airplane Mode on and off many times a day…virtual fingers crossed that this upgrade might address that as well.

ITYS*: raptors will attack PrimeAircraft

When I wrote about Amazon’s PrimeAir reveal (delivery by small “octocopters”), I said:

“Certainly, dogs would pose a risk, as might bird strikes (perhaps even intentional ones, in the case of a raptor), but I’m not convinced it would be inherently more risky.”

I was pleased to see that this

Slate article by Nicholas Lund

not only agrees with me on the bird risk, but has video to prove it!

Also on the “drone” front (I don’t consider artificially intelligent craft to be “drones”, but I know many people define them as simply craft without humans on board…whether they have remote pilots or not), I saw this news today, and later saw a comment from one of my readers about it:

CNN article by Ann Cabrera

A town called Deer Trail in Colorado is going to vote (it was postponed) on a law allowing residents to shoot down drones.

Quite simply, I’m horrified. :( Even though this is aimed (so to speak) at government drones, there is no question that it would result in commercial drones being shot down as well (and kids’ toys, for that matter). I’m thinking that there would be a lot of mistaken identity (possibly even resulting in bird deaths), even though the bounty (really!) is higher on a complete drone with government markings.

Sure, shoot down the drone delivering a shut-in’s medicine, or the book a poor child saved up for six months to buy. Sure, those are “slippery slope” examples…even just the destruction itself makes me unhappy. This is specifically designed to destroy other people’s property…I think that puts it in a different category than a lot of other questions people might see as related.

On a lighter note…

Amazon Rockets parody on YouTube

My favorite clock is a Kindle

This seems a bit bizarre, but they gave us a new (free) clock app with the last Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers upgrade. Yes, it appears to have caused the wi-fi glitch I mention above, but there were a lot of good things about it. This app is one of them.

I’ve mentioned before that I have some color vision deficiency, and my understanding is that connected to that, I have superior night vision. Any light in a room (or the room next door, or down the hall…) can bother me at night.

We also got a used bedroom set. It’s nice, but it was hard to conveniently plug in a clock, just because of the design.

Well, the clock app on the Fire solves both of those problems. It has a “Nightstand” mode, which has the time (and a postmodern clock design…that one takes some getting used to, but I don’t typically use analog clocks anyway) in red. With the brightness turned down all the way, it’s been the most pleasant clock. I was also a bit worried about running it not plugged in, but it consistently takes about 50% of the charge over night (it hasn’t taken more than fifty). Again, I have the brightness turned down all the way (a big battery charge life saver), and the wi-fi off.

If I wake up in the middle of the night (we have a new dog…yes, in bed with us, so it happens), I can see the time without it seeming too bright.

Oh, while I’m talking about apps for the Fire, let me also mention

This is a goofy free app, but might be great for a little holiday fun. You can use video backgrounds, characters, and objects they supply…or you can add your  own pictures. Then, you animate them in a very simple way and do a voiceover. I found it to be easy to use…for example, the character will automatically flip to face the other direction, depending on how you move. They have licensed images from Pacific Rim. You can share your videos publicly, but that’s up to you.

State e-book settlements approved…pay-outs coming in 2014

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Andrew Albanese

my favorite Federal judge (what…you have one, right? ;) ), Denise Cote, has approved the pay-out plan for the settlements between the States Attorneys General and Macmillan and Penguin (which completes the group).

That was on December 6th, and then there is a thirty day period, and then a bit of time after that…I’d say those of us getting pay-outs will see them…oh, by early February. Amazon told us before that they will show up as credits, and I expect the Smilin’ A (I’ve recently started calling Amazon that…I like it. ;) Feel free to let me know if you like it or not) to be one of the fastest at doing this.

Well, at least B&N hasn’t been in legal troub—uh, oh

Barnes & Noble has been in a bad news factory lately, with a particularly poor quarterly financial report…and I’m afraid to see what this quarter is going to be for them.

They didn’t need anything else to spook investors, but they got it.

According to this

Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

and other sources, Barnes & Noble is under investigation by the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) for questionable accounting practices.

A really healthy company could probably handle that better than one that is walking on such thin financial ice already…share prices are down.

Keep the text by blocking the tip

Just a little tip for you: when you want to listen to text-to-speech in the car, lock your device so it doesn’t auto-rotate. When a Fire autorotates, text-to-speech stops playing. I simply lock my rotation (swiping down from the top, or using the Settings gear, depending on your model) before starting TTS. That way, it doesn’t stop when I set it on the seat for the drive.

What do you think? Is shooting down a drone a legitimate thing to do? Is the the straw that breaks B&N’s back? Do you care about the refund you might get from the settlement? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* I Told You So ;)

** 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! :) NOte: you can select WorldReader.org as the non-profit you support, if you want.

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 #224: 12 Days of Deals, $20 donations

December 3, 2013

Round up #224: 12 Days of Deals, $20 donations

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

Buy a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ on AmazonSmile and Amazon will donate $20 to a non-profit of your choice

My readers have embraced AmazonSmile, a new program which allows you to benefit the non-profit of your choice by shopping at a special Amazon mirror site. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it feels just like shopping at Amazon (you’ll use the same account).

Amazon donates half a percent of the purchase price of eligible items, and you can change your non-profit whenever you want.

Half a percent isn’t much, of course…spend $100, and your non-profit gets fifty cents. However, every small bit can help (I was formerly on the Board of a non-profit, and you’d be surprised how much difference $10 can make).

Today, Amazon announced a great promotion!

If you buy a

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

or

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

at AmazonSmile through Sunday, December 8th, Amazon will donate $20 to your designated non-profit! That’s in addition to the normal half a percent.

That could really make a difference. If five of these Fires are bought for your preferred organization, that’s more than $100 donated.

I would send this post or the

press release

to any non-profits you support, so they can publicize it with their supporters…I’m going to do that with some I know.

Thanks, Amazon!

Amazon “floats” a “pie in the sky” idea

This may be the most positive (or at least, not negative) publicity Amazon has ever gotten.

In a 60 Minutes

interview

with Charlie Rose (Amazon’s best friend in the media), CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos revealed PrimeAir, an “R&D” (Research and Development) stage idea to have small “octocopters” deliver Amazon packages to your door. This is how it might work:

concept ad

Every major news outlet seems to have carried the story, although I think they were sometimes a bit fuzzy on the reporting.

First, this is not going to happen on “your next order”, as I saw one headline say. It won’t happen before 2015 at the earliest (they need FAA…Federal Aviation Administration approval), and Bezos was indicating it could be years away.

Second, it’s worth being clear that these would not be remotely piloted. You would give them the coordinates (presumably, the small helicopter would read them off a label), and then it would make its own decisions about how to get there.

I have been most amused about people’s immediate concerns about them being shot down: I suspect using the term “drone” had something to do with that. That’s not to say it wouldn’t happen: people have been known to shine lasers at piloted helicopters, a very dangerous practice.

It’s just that other methods also have a risk of robbery.

Suppose, as was suggested, you could place an order online and have the PrimeAir delivery in half an hour (if you live in certain areas near a fulfillment center). I would guess that poses less of a risk of theft (since you’d be waiting for it) than the package being left on your doorstep for eight hours while you are at work. I think it may become fairly easy to catch people actually shooting at microaircraft, as they become more commercially necessary.

It won’t stop entirely: people shoot at UPS trucks, too.

Certainly, dogs would pose a risk, as might bird strikes (perhaps even intentional ones, in the case of a raptor), but I’m not convinced it would be inherently more risky.

It also obviously wouldn’t work with everything…you aren’t going to get a 25 pound bag of dog food that way, since the projected carry limit is five pounds.

The real question for me is why Amazon showed it on a national TV program now.

They usually won’t even tell us what they are releasing next week. For that matter, they sometimes don’t even tell us what is in an update after they’ve released it. ;)

It’s just not typical for them to tease something by years…they are a pretty secretive company.

The most likely thing to me is that it is to use public opinion to sway the FAA and other entities to approve the project. It may also be to force the package delivery companies to develop something similar. How much is Amazon’s business worth to UPS? If Amazon can do, oh, ten percent of its deliveries itself, that would really hurt Brown’s profitability, I would think.

Amazon threatening to disrupt your industry has got to make you seriously consider taking preemptive action.

That sort of move on Amazon and Jeff Bezos’ parts is why this

CNNMoney article by Adrian Covert

makes so much sense. Covert makes the great point that Jeff Bezos is not the “next Steve Jobs”. They are very, very different. Jobs masterminded great hardware, and yes, absolutely influenced how people see and use technology.

For Bezos, hardware is simply one more tool to use in reshaping commercial society.

Jeff Bezos is more like Henry Ford. Ford didn’t just make cars. Ford remade how people make cars…and so many other things. It’s important to note that Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line concept, but saw a practical use for it. Bezos didn’t invent autonomous microaircraft, or even  the use of them for product delivery. It’s figuring out how they can serve Amazon’s three tenets of Service, Selection, and Price that show the genius of Jeff.

“20 Things That Happen When You’re a Book Nerd”

This is a fun

post on BOOKRIOT by Rebecca Joines Schinsky

I agree with quite a few of them, and I’m sure many of you will, too. I really like that it isn’t limited just to p-books (paperbooks). In my experience, the more you love books, the more you love e-books. I mean, you’d read books on soap bubbles, if somebody could figure out a way to do that. ;)

Supreme Court declines to hear internet tax case

Amazon wants a national sales tax policy (not a national sales tax).

They’ve testified in favor of it.

What they don’t want is a bunch of different rules in a bunch of different places, and they don’t want states to simply act on their own, imposing whatever rules they want.

That’s why Amazon challenged New York’s “Amazon Law”. It got up to the doorstep of the Supreme Court, but they declined to hear it.

Bloomberg article by Greg Stohr

That should make a bigger push to get something through Congress.

I’ve written a lot about equal collection legislation before.

There are important constitutional issues here, but it could be resolved by Congress passing a law (it doesn’t require an amendment).

Believe it or not, that actually could happen. ;)

Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals for books

Today is the first day of the second annual 12 Days of Deals for books at Amazon:

These are limited time (and quantity) deals on new and popular books…there are three of them today, and they’ll change each day.

One thing this really drives home for me: how much cheaper Kindle store books can be than the hardback equivalents! The first deal (on as I write this…check the price before you click or tap the Buy button) is for

The Goldfinch
at AmazonSmile

It’s $2.99 as a Kindle book…$8.99 (just about three times as much) as a hardback. As I write this, 17% of the latter have been claimed, with about 3 1/2 hours left to go.

Certainly, they may sell out: many people prefer to give hardbacks as gifts, and (at least among traditionally published books), paper still sells more than digital if we look at all channels.

Still, if you just want to read it, there is a big economic argument to go with e-books.

* 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.

Google FTW! Judge Chin rules

November 14, 2013

Google FTW! Judge Chin rules

Thanks to reader Evan for the heads-up on this!

I first wrote about the Google settlement more than four years ago (and it actually started back in 2005), and it’s been ongoing (off and on, at least) since then.

Now, according to this

Reuters article by Jonathan Stempel

and other sources, Judge Chin has now ruled that Google’s scanning of copyrighted works, and subsequent specific use of them, falls under Fair Use.

Here is the actual

opinion in PDF

I’m looking forward to reading it, but I wanted to give you a chance to see it right away.

Skimming it, and particularly the argument that what Google did is “transformative”, lets me give you a quick, preliminary sum up now:

  • What Google did transforms the works
  • It doesn’t replace the original works
  • It’s good for society
  • It doesn’t show harm, and probably helps copyright holders

Again, that’s just preliminary…I’ll read through the whole thing when I can.

The Authors Guild is likely to appeal this dismissal of the case (legal advocacy is one of the main things they do).

I think this might have far-reaching implications in terms of making things (indexes, snippets) available on line without the rightsholders’ permission, but we’ll see…

* FTW = “For The Win” (internet slang)

Update: I’ve now read through it. Judge Chin’s point by point analysis of the Fair Use application to this (and that’s the key…every point is supposed to be satisfied in Fair Use) will be the crux of any appeal, I think. Some of it feels a bit subjective to me, and that’s one of the frustrating things about copyright. It isn’t usually a simple mathematical answer…it’s fuzzy.

I could see this being used to further the idea that people can digitize their own p-books (paperbooks) for their own use. Judge Chin seems to make the point that if you already own the book, you aren’t infringing on the copyright if you make another copy for your own use. Judge Chin says:

“…the scans do not replace the books. While partner libraries have the ability to download a scan of a book from their collections, they owned the books already — they provided the original book to Google to scan. Nor is it likely that someone would take the time and energy to input countless searches to try and get enough snippets to comprise an entire book. Not only is that not possible as certain pages and snippets are blacklisted, the individual would have to have a copy of the book in his possession already to be able to piece the different snippets together in coherent fashion.”

This seems to suggest to me that when you own the p-book, you can create an e-book copy for  your own use without interfering with the market for the book. That might seem obvious, but it would be great to have that established in precedent. This doesn’t do that,but it might be cited by someone trying to establish home digitizing for personal use as Fair Use.

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 #217: Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, Kindle First

November 1, 2013

Round up #217: Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, Kindle First

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

Prime members get another perk

Still not a Prime member? How about this one?

Kindle First

You can choose one of a select group (this first time, there are four) of books to own (not borrow) for free…the month before it is published! These are books being published by Amazon Publishing.

I fot one: sure, why not? All of these say that will be $4.99 when published, and there are interesting books here. For me, there is sort of no reason not to do that.

Why is Amazon giving Prime members free e-books?

To make more people want to be Prime members, and to retain the ones they have. This is in addition to the one book a month you can borrow at no additional cost.

It’s worth them spending quite a bit of money to get people to become and stay Prime members, because Prime members spend a lot more. Those Prime members also spend it on physical goods (what I shorthand as “diapers and windshield wipers”), where there is more profit typically than on digital goods.

Nothing very tricky about this (although it is only available to U.S. customers), but here is the

Kindle First help page

“Place your trays in the upright position…”

…and keep reading!

Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration put out this

press release

which announces that

“…Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions.”

“Eventually” turned out to be today, at least for Delta.

Airlines need to get approved by the FAA to do this, and they don’t have to do it, but I expect most will.

It’s not quite “read any time you want”, but it does equalize e-books and p-books (paperbooks) for the most part. For example, there is this:

“7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.”

They aren’t separating what they call PEDs (Personal Electronic Devices…Kindles, tablets) from p-books.

This is great!

I don’t really like to buy paper content any more, I really prefer to have it electronically. One reason for that is the increasable text size, but I also don’t like to have it afterwards (how things change!). I also have some concerns about the ecological impact of manufacture and distribution of paper-based goods.

I have, though, bought paper magazines to read on flights, just during take-off and landing (yes, it would be hard for me to go that long without reading something on a plane).

Now, that’s not necessary.

As always, the flight crew can tell you to put it away, and the hard part for them may be enforcing that things are in “airplane mode”…but it will make their jobs otherwise somewhat easier.

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t think there could be any significant risk to an aircraft with a device on in airplane mode (in the modern era), or they wouldn’t let them in the cabin. With this review, that’s been shown to be the case.

Amazon is giving away six Kindle Fire HDXs

In conjunction with the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie, Amazon is running a sweepstakes where there are three winners…each of which gets two Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offerss:

Kindle Fire HDX “Catching Fire” Sweepstakes Official Rules

The top two prizes also include going to the Premiere of the literary adaptation, which is poised to open very well…it’s possible it will be the second biggest US box office weekend of all time (although not necessarily in constant dollars).

Good luck!

Wow! Three good news stories…and the optimists smile and nod knowingly. ;)

Update: Miracast

I thought I’d update this, and just found something since I posted.

The new Kindle Fire HDX does not have an HDMI out, but it has Miracast  capability  (which is a way to wirelessly send what is on your tablet to your HDTV with an HDMI input).

I wrote recently about getting an iPush device to try (for $32.19). It hasn’t been satisfactory, due to a time lag between the audio and the video. You can hear the audio significantly before you see the video…talk about spoilers. ;) You might hear the ending of the movie two minutes before you can see it.

It’s possible improved wi-fi would help, but I do have thirty days to return it and may do that.

The news is that Amazon is now recommending a specific device for this purpose (Miracast mirroring with your Kindle Fire HDX). They are recommending (on this help page: About Wireless Display Methods for Kindle Fire) this one:

NETGEAR Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter – Miracast and WiDi (PTV3000)

which is $57.53 at time of writing.

I’m going to try it: I should have it Tuesday.

I’ll let you know how it works. One thing: they are making a big point about doing the latest update, which I’ll do.

The reviews are not great at 2.9 out of 5 stars, but this is a good example of where digging a bit deeper into them can help.

My hypothesis was, if the update made a big difference, that the more recent reviews would tend to be better.

It was nice to see the Netgear team answering questions!

The most recent three reviews were a 5, a 4, and a 5.

However, they did go 1, 2, 3 after that, in that order.

Looking at the content, I’m not convinced that I’ll have the same issues as the 1-star…there could be a user factor there in the ability to set it up. That person also is quite negative, which always tends to make me think I won’t have the same experience as the reviewer.

The next thing was to search for reviews that mentioned the Kindle Fire. An October 27th review specifically said, “I don’t miss the HDMI port on my Kindle Fire HDX because the Push2TV works!” That was a 5-star review.

So, I’m not as concerned about the total review average, but again, I’ll be testing this and will report back.

Thanks to Colleen for the heads-up on this!

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

Round up #210: KPW search tip, France’s stance

October 5, 2013

Round up #210: KPW search tip, France’s stance

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

Dans votre visage, Amazon!*

While Amazon has  benefited from some legal actions in the USA (notably the Department of Justice action against five publishers and Apple, and the State Attorneys General suit against the publishers), that’s not the case everywhere…notably in France.

This

The Guardian article by Angelique Chrisafis

gives you a pretty good rundown on a recent action by one house of government there that limits the discounting that Amazon (and hypothetically other online booksellers…but we know who they mean) can do…and they sort of count free shipping as a discount.

It’s intended to help brick-and-mortar bookstores compete, and is part of France’s long tradition of trying to provide cultural support within its borders.

I think you are going to know how I feel about this. You don’t protect your culture by making books more difficult to afford and obtain. That’s especially true if you think  your culture goes back more than five years or so…brick-and-mortars have a much harder time stocking the backlist than Amazon does.

While it isn’t an excuse, less affordable and available books do, I think, lead to more piracy (in the world of paperbooks, that includes counterfeits, which are surprisingly common in some places).

Today: “8-year-old flags ‘sexist’ children’s books; bookstore takes notice”

Personally, I’d like to see Amazon carry anything that’s legal, in terms of books.

I don’t really want them making editorial choices about what options I have.

However, there are some people complaining about the book mentioned in this

Today.com article by Morgan Brasfield

It sounded really ridiculous…and an 8-year was moved to tears by seeing them in a store.

They are two “survival guides”…one for boys, and one for girls.

I’m going to briefly quote the article:

“In the boy version, the chapters covered topics such as “How to Survive a Shark Attack,” “How to Survive in a Desert,” and “How to Survive Whitewater Rapids.”

The girl version addressed such issues as “How to Survive a BFF Fight,” “How to Survive a Fashion Disaster,” and “How to Survive a Breakout.””

Yes, these are recent books (not available in Kindle editions). I wanted to see what people were saying on Amazon…

Girls Only: How to Survive Anything
by Martin Oliver (illustrated by Daniela Geremia)

had the lowest possible rating a solid 1 star out of 5. That was with eleven reviews.

This one

Boys Only: How to Survive Anything
again by Martin Oliver, although illustrated by Simon Ecob

had 2.3 out of 5 with three reviews.

Ban the book (ironic given the timing around Banned Books Week)?

I think most of you would say no. I could see how it could be absolutely instructive to sit down with your kids (of both genders) and discuss this book…

Kindle Paperwhite tip: searching

I’m still exploring my new Kindle Paperwhite, which is the second generation. I did a complete menu map (linked above), but that doesn’t mean I tested everything at that point.

Both the first generation and second generation Paperwhites (I have mine open side-by-side right now) have a magnifying glass at the top of the home screen that you can use to search.

They also both have dropdowns where you can choose what to search.

Here’s the difference, though:

Gen 1:

  • My Items
  • Kindle Store
  • Dictionary
  • Wikipedia

Gen 2:

  • My Items
  • All Text
  • Kindle Store
  • Dictionary
  • Wikipedia

Notice that in both of them, you can search for a word in the dictionary. That’s something people had wanted earlier, and it works pretty well.

The Gen 2 adds All Text…which means you can test to see if all of your books are  indexed.

Let me just explain indexing on the Kindles briefly. When you put a book on a Kindle, the device “reads” the book to figure out where the words are in it. It might make a note that “cat” appears at location 200, 355, 1420, that sort of thing.

That’s how it can find those words when you search for them.

As you can imagine, reading the book and building that index is energy intensive. If  you put a bunch of books on your Kindle in short order, you might want to leave it plugged in overnight…it can index while it sleeps.

How do you know if an e-book on your device hasn’t been indexed yet?

Search for a nonsense word (I use something like “xxy”).  When it gives you the result, it will tell you if there are any unindexed books yet…and which ones they are.

On the KPW2, switch to All Text when you do that search.

ON the KPW1, you can have it search My Items.

That’s likely to make the searches faster on the KPW2 when you search under My Items, since it only searches titles and authors.

Cutting the cable?

We used to get cable TV channels on a TV in our bedroom without a cable box. We weren’t stealing them…I think we paid something like $5 a month for some time, and we always let the cable company know that we had that TV.

Now, though, due to regulation changes (as I understand it), we suddenly don’t get any cable TV channels on that set (we do get some radio channels).

So, we are considering using the Fire in that room to provide content, and cutting way back on which cable channels we get (and perhaps dropping cable altogether).

We’ll look at that carefully. I watch a lot of cable news. One solution to that is

US TV Free

which I’m using now. I can get some interesting news channels, including Russia Today (which is in English and intended for American audiences) and the BBC.

It’s not perfect: it ends up buffering sometimes. Still, it’s a good choice.

I also use

DroidTV – Free Trial

I pay about $3 a month for it.

That has a lot of current shows. You have to wait for downloads…sometimes for hours before it happens, but you can do “season passes”.

I do believe both of these are legal: I wouldn’t use them otherwise.

I’m watching right now by running an HDMI cable from my Kindle Fire 8.9″.

I think it’s very likely that Amazon will release some TV device before the end of the year, that will use the Miracast that will be available on my Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi. Mine is scheduled to come October 18th…they’ve been pushing back the date for people ordering now. Order one today (at time of writing), and they now think October 21st. This is the one I think will be the most popular model, and may be really popular.

I’m speculating that Amazon might release two TV devices: an inexpensive Miracast stick that works with the Kindle Fire (it would probably plug into your HDMI port on your TV, and then you could wirelessly mirror from your Kindle Fire HDX), and a somewhat more expensive set-top box that has a lot of content options.

Here is a

Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger

that speculates on the box, but doesn’t mention a stick. If you can’t see it from the above link, try searching for “Amazon Readies Set-Top Box for Holidays”.

We’ll see what happens…

Scribd responds to my questions

I want to thank Scribd for responding to my questions about their new subscription (“all you can read”) e-book service.

It’s $8.99 a month, and HarperCollins has signed up with it, meaning that you can get well-known content…although it will be backlist, not the absolutely current bestsellers, you would be likely to find things to read.

I’m not signing up for it myself, for two reasons.

I asked this:

===

Bufo Calvin
Oct 03 04:48 pm (PDT)

I have one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store (I Love My Kindle) and had just started a write-up on your subscription service, but I have two key questions before I complete that.

1. You indicate it is compatible with the Kindle Fire, but the user is directed to Google Play (which does not recognize a Kindle Fire) for the Android app. The app is available on 1Mobile, but do you also make it available directly on your site?

2. When I tried a sample, I did not see an option to use text-to-speech. That’s important to my readers: is it available through your app?

Thank you for your attention to these questions.

===

They responded (quickly and courteously) with this:

===

Hello Bufo,

Thank you for reaching out to us. I spoke to our engineering team and we currently do not support Kindle through our app, because Google Play Store is required as you said. We have submitted an application to Amazon, but it’s still being reviewed by Amazon. The app will not work with Kindle e-ink, but will work with the Fires if/when it’s approved.

Regarding your second question, we do not support text-to-speech, unfortunately. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best regards,
Kay Jong
Scribd, Inc.

Questions? http://scribd.com/faq

===

That shouldn’t stop you. This isn’t a case of someone blocking text-to-speech access, but simply not providing it. I use TTS too often myself to ignore the lack of it, but I have no moral objection to not including it. While I’d like every device to be accessible to everyone, I don’t think that’s a requirement for every app and every device in every circumstance.

As to not being in the Amazon Appstore…well, it may be later. Contrary to what some people say, Amazon does not “wall you into their garden”. You can get the Netflix app, for example: a direct competitor.

You could get the app now, from 1Mobile, or you could when I checked earlier.

Update: I meant to include the Scribd page…you can get all the info (and see what books are available) from links there:

http://www.scribd.com/subscribe

My guess is that this will succeed, and that we’ll see more subscription e-book services. It’s possible Amazon will do one (and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is not all you can read, of course: it’s up to one book a calendar month).

Some of you might be thinking, “Amazon won’t do that…they want you to buy the books.” Well, yes, they’d prefer that…but they really want you to buy physical goods (“diapers and windshield wipers”) where there is more profit, and tying you into a subscription service (especially if it was linked to Prime) would help with that.

What do you think? Have you already cut the cable? If not, what would be necessary to get you to do it? Do you pay more than $100 a month for cable? Is it okay to sell a sexist book to kids? Do protectionist laws help or hurt book culture? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

* I was using Google translate to try to say, “In your face, Amazon!” Not sure how close it is, given the idiomatic nature of the expression.

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

Amazon makes an announcement about e-book settlement pay-outs

August 31, 2013

Amazon makes an announcement about e-book settlement pay-outs

In this

Kindle Forum Announcement

Amazon gave more information on the e-book pay-outs from the settlements between publishers and most US states (Minnesota chose not to participate…they may be pursuing something separately).

This is not the Apple Agency Model court case: we’ll likely hear more about that one next week, but it’s not likely that one results in direct payments to customers (which this one does).

Amazon says in part that the amouts are :

“… estimated that it will range from $0.73 to $3.82 for every eligible Kindle book that was purchased. To be eligible, customers must have a U.S. billing address and must have purchased a Kindle book published by Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin or Macmillan between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.”

This is higher than previously announced, because two more publishers had settled since the first estimates were made.

Random House isn’t part of this, because they didn’t join the Agency Model when everybody else did…they joined it later. The concern here is an alleged conspiracy, not the Agency Model iteslf. You can’t be a conspiracy by yourself. :)

You don’t need to do anything, and it isn’t quite all finalized yet (the next big date is December, 2013…and then there could be appeals, although since the publishers have already agreed to this, I think appeals are unlikely). The total pay-out is something like $165 million.

You can see more information here:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements

I also see a lot of people confused about this, and think that Amazon is being punished. The money is being sent to you by Amazon, but they didn’t do this…the publishers did, and appear to have forced the Agency Model on Amazon, according to that Apple trial. Think of it like your local store giving you a manufacturer’s rebate…the store gives you the money, but it comes from the manufacturer.

Update: thanks to reader jjhitt for letting me know I had a broken link…should be fixed now. I’m away from my normal resources, which is making things a bit more complicated.

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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,306 other followers

%d bloggers like this: