Archive for the ‘nook’ Category

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

April 4, 2014

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

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

“I’m not at Liberty to pay…”

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

Flexibility? Yes. Capability? No.

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

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

CNNMoney graph

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

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

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

 Digitizing your paperbooks will be legal…in the UK

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

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

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

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

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

Wired.co.uk article by Olivia Solon

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

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

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

I hope this inspires a similar decision in the USA…

Amazon Fire TV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HBO GO (at AmazonSmile)

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

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

That means that, if you have both a

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

and an

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

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

The app is free, by the way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Similarly, while the links to

Manage Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

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

Students: write your way to a Kindle Fire

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

Amazon has a nice

student guide

to

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)

One of the elements there is a contest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 17, 2014

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

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

Bookstore sales down 6.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly post

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

At the same time, the overall retail sector rose.

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

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

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

Speaking of that slowing e-book growth rate, this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

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

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

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

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

Margaret Adams on why dystopian fiction is popular

I recommend this

Financial Times article by Margaret Atwood

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

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

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

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

That might be an interesting study…

Classics or not, ya gotta sell ‘em

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

In this

Trivia Happy post

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

The pictures are great!

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

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

Would you believe…Catcher in the Rye?

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

According to this

Redmond Magazine post by Kurt Mackie

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

What is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

===

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

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

After the Agency Model, is there price competition again?

February 28, 2014

After the Agency Model, is there price competition again?

When the Agency Model came into being in the USA in April of 2010, publishers using it set the prices on e-books (rather than the retailers selling you the books). That basically meant that there was no price competition: the price would be the same wherever you bought it.

The US DoJ (Department of Justice) then went after those publishers…and they all settled, eventually ending the Agency Model.

A comment by reader Jamie Bothen got me wondering…are the prices different now at Barnes & Noble and Amazon?

I first checked some New York Times bestsellers:

  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $5.49
  • Amazon $5.49: B&N $6.15
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $5.99
  • Amazon $8.52: B&N $10.99
  • Amazon $11.47: B&N $11.47
  • Amazon $10.65: B&N $10.99
  • Amazon $11.89: B&N $16.99
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $6.83: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $10.65: B&N $10.99

Well, that answers the question in the affirmative!

Out of these ten books, only two were at the same price at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Only one of them was cheaper at B&N, and that was by fifty cents. Amazon does do price matching, so if people report the difference (there’s a link to do that on the book’s Amazon product page), the price would be likely to go down.

Interestingly, you could save up to $5.10 on a single book at Amazon!

Looking at the difference if you bought all ten (I went by the default order at Amazon…which happened to be by publication date), you would save $11.57…which could certainly get you another book.

I would actually expect the prices to be more similar on bestsellers than on “long tail” (older) titles…I would think competition would tend to keep them similar, since people are more likely to be comparing prices and shopping around.

So, I thought I’d try the

Science Fiction Classics (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

  • Amazon $3.99: B&N $3.99
  • Amazon $5.74: B&N $9.49
  • Amazon $4.95: B&N $5.99
  • Amazon $7.50: B&N $10.19
  • Amazon $8.04: B&N $9.99
  • Amazon $5.74: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $10.74: B&N $12.99
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $7.69: B&N $9.99

As I guessed: prices were significantly lower at Amazon on the backlist: the savings was $20.23, close to twice as much.

There’s the answer: prices are different at this point, and Amazon tends to be cheaper (but they are sometimes the same, and rarely, B&N is cheaper…but not by as much as Amazon tends to be cheaper on the average).

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

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

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

NOOK revenues down more than 50%

February 26, 2014

NOOK revenues down more than 50%

In this

press release

Barnes & Noble their fiscal 3rd quarter 2014 financial results.

While CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Michael P. Huseby says:

“During the third quarter, the company significantly improved its balance sheet and bottom line, while making real progress on our strategic priorities…”

that may not be the message most people take away from the numbers.

In particular, for e-book users, this is not good news.

Here’s a short excerpt about the NOOK part of the business (which includes the devices, accessories, and e-books):

“The NOOK segment (including digital content, devices and accessories) had revenues of $157 million for the quarter, decreasing 50.4% from a year ago.  Device and accessories sales were $100 million for the quarter, a decrease of 58.2% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume and lower average selling prices.  Digital content sales were $57 million for the quarter, a decline of 26.5% compared to a year ago, due primarily to lower device unit sales.” 

Clearly, the NOOK business is sliding, even if it might not be sliding as much as it was. A drop of 50% (closer to sixty for the devices) means that at this rate, in two years, it would make no money at all.

The device declines were due to, according to them (although I’ll put it in other words), they didn’t sell as many and the ones they did sold, they sold for less money.

Lower sales of NOOK hardware is a bad number for Kindle users, because competition is good.

Also worrisome is that the content sales dropped about a quarter, which they blame on lower NOOK hardware sales (primarily). If the device sales dropped by half, and the content sales dropped by a quarter, that might seem like it suggests that about half the sales occur on NOOK apps, which would be one possible avenue for them for the future.

However…

Much of the content sale likely occurs to people who already own NOOK devices. It wouldn’t surprise me if 90% of Kindle book sales to people who own Kindles already.

That makes me guess that very few of their sales come from people who don’t own NOOKs. If they stop manufacturing NOOKs, as the NOOKs fail/are lost/get stolen, that pool of existing owners declines. That decline will be accelerated if the NOOK doesn’t keep up with the market in terms of features.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I’m also interested in the bookstore sales, and I’m sure many of you are, too.

Even though they were down 6.3% year over year, it is by far mostly the NOOK’s fault, according to them. They say that without the NOOK, they’d only be down 0.5%…up is better, but that’s tolerable.

That’s another bad thing for the NOOK, though. Barnes & Noble pushed as a strength for e-book readers that they had a physical presence (even though they weren’t going to actually repair your NOOK at your local store). They started out with letting you read e-books on your NOOK in their stores, and they had these NOOK desks in the stores.

If those are major anchors on the stores, holding them down, and they eliminate it…that reduces the strength of the NOOK.

Does this mean that B&N will abandon the NOOK?

Not according to Huseby:

“We remain committed to delivering world-class reading experiences to our customers through our reading centric e-Ink and color reading devices.  The Company is actively engaged in discussions with several world-class hardware partners related to device development as well as content packaging and distribution.   As a result, we plan to launch a new NOOK color device in early fiscal 2015.” [emphasis added]

A NOOK color device does not mean a color non-backlit model, based on the way they use it…it suggests  a new tablet.

Early fiscal 2015 is probably sooner than you think. The third quarter ended on January 25, 2014. Three months later would be the end of April, which would end fiscal 2014. So, we’d be looking at likely the summer.

The third leg of B&N’s stool, College, were also down. The best number they can give us is down 3.1% for comparable stores. It looks like they are doing better with non-book items in college stores…but as I wrote about at the end of January, Amazon has a pilot program which may challenge B&N in that area as well.

Overall, this is a report that isn’t encouraging for e-book readers. However, there are ways that good things could happen here. B&N could have a turnaround…or the resources currently being used to support B&N might end up doing something better for readers…

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

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

B&N offer: company will buy stores for $22 a share, or NOOK for $5 a share

February 22, 2014

B&N offer: company will buy stores for $22 a share, or NOOK for $5 a share

I’ve simplified it in the headline, but basically, news broke according to this

Bloomberg BusinessWeek article by Nick Turner and Miles Weiss

and other sources (I first heard it on ABC News) has put an offer on the table to buy Barnes & Noble.

It’s important to note that this same company, G Asset, made an offer a few months back.

This is a better offer by about ten percent, but the big problem seems to be that G Asset just may not have the…gee…assets ;) to buy it.

It’s quite a bit of money, and they may not have that much on hand.

Alternatively, though, they would buy the NOOK business (actually, 51% shares…that’s the case for both of these deals) for $5 a share. Comparing that to $22 a share for the other part of B&N, it’s a lot less to raise. Even for the NOOK, other people would probably have to kick in north of $100 million to make it happen, I think.

Who would do that?

That’s hard to say.

There might be some value in the “parts”. I don’t think that’s true for the NOOK much, but B&N probably owns some attractive physical assets and supply chains.

Honestly, though, I don’t think this will happen at this price with this company.

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

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

Round up #240: S&S profits way up, AmazonLocal deal on e-books

February 15, 2014

Round up #240: S&S profits way up, AmazonLocal deal on e-books

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

AmazonLocal: select Kindle books for $0.99 each

AmazonLocal is an Amazon deals site. You have to belong to it (that’s free), and then typically what happens is that there is a coupon available for a limited time. You get the coupon, and you have a limited time to use it.

It might be that you buy the coupon…pay $10, and get $25 off, something like that.

In some cases, the coupon is free.

That’s the case with this one…it’s free:

http://local.amazon.com/national/B00IDNLGGS

Here is the deal page, so you can see what books are available and the rest of the details. Remember, though, that there is a process to this: you can’t just go to that page and get a book (up to thirty of them, actually) for ninety-nine cents:

Exclusive Offer for Amazon Local Customers: Select Kindle Books for $0.99 Each (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There are some interesting titles here. People sometimes worry that deals like this are only on obscure books, but this time, certainly, there are some with quite a few reviews (which can be considered somewhat of an indicator for how well-known a book is. Here are the ones with more than 100 customer reviews (I’m not linking, because I don’t want people to buy them instead of going through the proper procedure, and end up paying more than $0.99 for them):

  • Doc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden (4.3 out of five stars, 225 customer reviews)…a good gift for a baseball fan
  • Silent Harmony: A Vivienne Taylor Horse Lover’s Mystery (Fairmont Riding Academy) by Michele Scott (4.3 stars, 171 reviews)…teen/children’s fiction, and the categories include “detectives”, “horses”, and “peer pressure”
  • Angel Wings by Harold Kaminsky (4.3 stars, 120 reviews)…mystery/police procedurals
  • Harrowgate by Kate Murayama (4 stars, 115 reviews)…horror/suspense
  • Downward-Facing Death (A Matt Bolster Yoga Mystery) by Neal Pollack (3.6 stars, 106 reviews)…mystery

Hm…you know what else all of those have in common? They were all traditionally published by Amazon. That might even be true of all of the books in this deal.

Enjoy!

NOOK lay-offs

You know how many people work in Barnes & Noble’s NOOK division?

Fewer than before.

This

New York Times article by Julie Bosman

and other sources report a recent lay-off of “fewer than 100 people” in Barnes & Noble’s NOOK division.

If this is really a lay-off, that’s significant. That means that the jobs were eliminated. As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you that a lay-off means something different from someone being fired.

At least in California, you couldn’t hire somebody to replace somebody who was laid off. By definition, the job was gone. You were also supposed to offer the job back to people you laid off if you needed the position again.

Obviously, this suggests that B&N needs fewer people working on the NOOK than they used to need.

They say they are committed to continuing in the device business, and they may well be. These weren’t necessarily development people. For example, let’s say that B&N decided that selling NOOKs in the stores was a bad idea, but selling them online was fine. In that case they could be eliminating people involved specifically with selling the NOOKs in the stores.

Another real possibility to me is that they plan to drop part of the business…let’s say they stopped making either the tablets or the non-tablets. That could mean a need for a lot fewer people.

If they did that, my intuition is that they would drop the non-tablets, and maybe just start selling the Kobo.

That’s all speculation, though.

How did Wall Street react?

The stock went up.

Sure, you know how investors feel: “Employees…ew.” ;) Employees are expensive, and eliminating them eliminates some costs, which investors see as a good thing.

Of course, a sinking ship also looks to lighten the load…

My sympathy to the people who lost their jobs…here’s to hoping they find something new, and change the world!

A Farewell to Adverbs

Here’s an interesting (and fun) one!

You can paste text you are editing into

http://www.hemingwayapp.com/

It will analyze your writing, and make suggestions…like cutting out adverbs, avoiding the passive voice, using shorter words, and so on.

I guess you’d end up with a more Hemingway-esque work, if you followed the advice…but I’m not sure how accurate that is, or even if that’s always a good thing. ;)

When you get to the page, you can do CTRL+A (on a Windows computer), and then paste in your text.

Have fun!

H.M. Ward: “I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals”

My guess is that many people who are publishing independently would be thrilled if one of the Big 5 publishing houses came to them and said, “We want to pay you $200,000″.

Certainly sounds good, and I think it’s one many people still think being a “real author” means…being paid by someone else for your work (besides readers, of course).

Well, this

The Passive Voice article

quotes H.M. Ward (at AmazonSmile) as saying (this is just a short excerpt…I recommend you read the article):

“The most recent offer was for a high six figure deal on my next novel, on spec, sight unseen from one of the big 5. I gave the same terms – show me a kick *ss marketing plan and I’ll consider it. They were excited and on it! They were going to wow me. Like I was gonna be so wowed that I’d die of the wowness. True story.

Dude, the marketing plan I got back was the equivalent of, ‘we’re gonna do stuff.’ Their email list – yeah, they don’t personally have one, but this archaic place does – had 2K people on it. That was the bulk of their plan.”

Ward has the credentials to make a claim like that. According to the author’s Amazon Author Central page (linked above),

“H.M. Ward is the #1 bestselling New Adult author in the world, having sold over 4 million books in 2013. This NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, USA TODAY, and Amazon #1 bestselling writer’s series…”

It’s going to get increasingly difficult for tradpubs (traditional publishers) to attract newer authors. It may be possible for authors to make more money as indies with  more control, and get it faster.

However, that won’t be true for everyone. The trick is always going to be to understand the difference between the possible and your own situation. In some cases, it may make sense to take the money and run. For example, if you are shy and/or not willing to promote yourself, you might not make as money as the tradpub will pay you.

Everybody say, “Aww…”

Okay, I may get a reputation here as a cat person…not that there’s anything wrong with that. ;) I’ve had cats (and dogs…and exotics, although I don’t recommend the latter), and I’m definitely an animal lover.

I did think this was super-cute, though, and a clever program to stimulate reading in kids:

Taxi article by Dorothy Tan

According to the article

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Pennsylvania

has set up a “Reading Buddies” program where kids read books…to shelter cats!

Seriously, take a minute to take a look at the photographs…both cats and kids look thrilled.

Cats do, in my experience, like the sound of the human voice…they are especially amused by it when it is telling them to do something and they are completely ignoring it. ;)

Speaking of pets, I was quite surprised to see a picture of our dog, Elf, in my morning Flipboard (at AmazonSmile) read!

What happened is that I wrote about our dog recently in this blog, and one of my readers wanted to see a picture, so I added that…and then the tweet that goes out whenever I post something got re-tweeted, and that ended up in Flipboard!

Elf is a bit unusual looking (in a good way, I think), and so I was first thinking, “Wow, that dog looks like Elf!” :)

Bookstore sales are down, Simon & Schuster profits are up

Here’s a reason for Barnes & Noble to be concerned…er, another reason. ;)

Bookstore sales were down 1.3% last year, according to this

Publishers Weekly article

citing the U.S. Census.

Not too worry, though, right? Publishers still need bookstores.

Well, maybe not as much as they used to need them.

This other

Publishers Weekly article (this one by Jim Milliot…PW doesn’t always put a byline)

reports that Simon & Schuster’s profits were up 32% in 2013.

Those are profits…not just sales, like we often hear about with Amazon.

Here’s what should concern B&N (and those NOOK owners which rely on it):

“[CEO Carolyn] Reidy said she is feeling very positive about where S&S stands. She said because of less consumer traffic in retail stores S&S has done a better job in reaching consumers directly and that those efforts will continue.”

Yep…I’ve talked about that before. Publishers may figure out real ways to connect directly to readers, cutting out retailers (including Amazon, of course).

Amazon can counter that to some extent with traditional publishing of its own (as we saw above), but if the bricks-and-mortars increasingly are seen as only one channel, and not even the most convenient channel, to buy books, that’s bad for B&N.

What do you think? Do your pets like you to read out loud to them? Do they just like it when you settle down to read, or are they jealous of your Kindle? Can publishers cut out the middle and go directly to readers? Would B&N drop the non-tablets first, or the tablets? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

NOOK hardware sales down by two thirds over holidays

January 9, 2014

NOOK hardware sales down by two thirds over holidays

Amazing.

They have some justification for it, but take a look at this small excerpt from a Barnes & Noble press release:

“The NOOK segment (including digital content, devices and accessories), had revenues of $125 million for the nine-week holiday period, decreasing 60.5% as compared to a year ago.  Device and accessories sales were $88.7 million for the holiday period, a decrease of 66.7% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume and lower average selling prices.  Digital content sales were $36.5 million for the holiday period, a decline of 27.3% compared to a year ago due to lower device unit sales and lower average selling prices.”
press release

Again, to emphasize, the device and accessories sales were down 66.7%

The much better news in the press release is that the core comparable bookstore sales were only down 0.2%.

Now, does that mean that p-books (paperbooks) sold about equally as well during holiday 2013 for Barnes & Noble as they did during holiday 2012? Unfortunately for paper lovers, no, but they probably did do okay.

Part of the success is credited to “…strong increases in our Juvenile, Gift and Toys & Games categories.”

That’s one of the interesting things with people possibly “showrooming” Barnes & Nobles. That’s what it is called when you go into a retail store, find something you like, and then order it online (not from that store).

I think that’s much more likely to impact digital goods, like e-books, where you have the item just as quickly as if you bought it in the store (more quickly, in many cases, because you don’t have to wait in line to buy it).

With a physical item, it might be cheaper, but you might have to wait days to get it. People have a sense of uncertainty at the holidays: they want to make absolutely sure they have what they need when they need it. Same delivery will impact that. If the item is backordered with same day delivery, you can probably still “correct the issue” in time.

With digital items, there is no backordering (although digital items to do sometimes become temporarily unavailable).

While Michael Husby became the head of B&N’s digital division after the NOOK outlook became grim, it still surprised me a bit that B&N made Husby the new CEO (Chief Executive Officer):

press release

If I was a Barnes & Noble investor, or potential investor, I’m not sure that hearing that the head of the anchor was being put in charge of the sails. ;)

I will say that B&N did better this holiday than I thought they might…congratulations to them!

Bonus deal: bundles in the Kindle store

In some cases, you just know you aren’t going to want to read only one book in a series…you want it all! Or, you know, you at least want a bunch of books. You are willing to get ten books in a romance series you know nothing about if the price is low enough.

Well, in the paper world (I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager), we commonly referred to several books in one as an “omnibus”. In the e-book world, that might be referred to as a “bundle”.

I did a

There are some great deals there! You have to look past the price you see, and divide that by the number of books in it.

Five Game of Thrones books for $19.99? That’s about $4 per book. Sure, you want to be pretty sure that you’ll eventually want to read them all…but I think many of you know that ahead of time. How about nine books for $0.99? Worth the risk? Up to you… ;)

Enjoy!

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: free comics, B&N BF deals

November 27, 2013

Round up #224: free comics, B&N BF deals

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

Barnes & Noble announces Black Friday NOOK deals

You want a deal?

In this

press release

Barnes & Noble announces really low prices on some of their hardware…and more. Their low prices on NOOK books will likely drive low prices on Kindle books, since Amazon does typically price match where possible on those.

Interestingly, you can get these deals online, in addition to in the stores.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • NOOK Simple Touch (not lit): $39
  • NOOK HD tablet: $79
  • 50% off hundreds of bestselling titles (you’ll be able to get them for the NOOK here starting on Black Friday…and again, look for them in the Kindle store)
  • Buy $75 in B&N gift cards, get another $10 B&N gift card

Meanwhile, at Books-A-Million…

I reported yesterday on the big drop in Barnes & Noble sales. Well, the second largest bookstore chain in the USA is also down.

Publishers Weekly article

Same store sales fell 8.5%…that’s bad.

Unlike B&N, which managed to improve profitability by cutting costs, BAM saw it’s third quarter loss more than double YOY (Year Over Year) from $2.8 million to $7.1 million.

While this is actually a bit better than last quarter, it’s still not good. For those of you concerned about the literary culture being affected by the loss of dinostores (large, generalized bookstores) I’m not sure you’ll be heartened by their dependence on Duck Dynasty merchandise and Doctor Who toy tie-ins. ;)

The digital comic book spinner rack…and these are free!

Amazon has a special deal through December 2nd where you can get up to eight DC (Superman, Batman…not Marvel) digital comics for free.

8 Free Comics from DC

They work on Kindle Fires, Paperwhites, in reader apps (including iPad), in the Cloud reader…even older versions of the Kindle (including the Touch and the Keyboard). Yes, they’ll look better in color, but you can read them in the others.

There are some fun choices here, including Batman ’66 (the Adam West version), Vampire Diaries, and Smallville.

I’m getting them all…why not?

What about Kindles on Black Friday?

Amazon’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals will come fast and furious, changing as often as every ten minutes. We don’t know exactly what will be in those…I expect to keep checking. :)

Here is their

Black Friday Deals Week
Black Friday Deals Week at AmazonSmile (benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping…shop ’til you help)

which has links to Gold Box deals and more.

In terms of other stores, here is the search for “Kindle” at my favorite Black Friday site, BFads.net:

http://bfads.net/Search/kindle

Be careful as you look at those to check what model is involved. Some of the discounted prices are for last year’s models. For the current models, what I’m tending to see is an incentive when you buy (like a gift card to the store). Best Buy does show the Mindle for $49.99 ($20 off).

The ads at BFads.net aren’t official…but they tend to be accurate.

Enjoy!

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.

NOOK segment sales drop 32%

November 26, 2013

NOOK segment sales drop 32%

Losing a third of something is really significant.

Picture these:

Moe, Larry…and no Curly.

Snap, Crackle…and no Pop.

Life, liberty…and no pursuit of happiness.

Well, that last one might eventually apply to Barnes & Noble and digital content/devices. ;)

In this

press release

Barnes & Noble reports their second quarter financial results, and it is sort of the Bizarro world version of Amazon’s.

Amazon’s sales continue to skyrocket, while we don’t see earnings/profit increasing much.

Barnes & Noble’s earnings increased 13.7% YoY (year over year…comparing this year to last year) which might sound like a good thing. If you do it in a sustainable way, great.

They say that they “improved margins” and reduced expenses. Sure, that’s good, and congratulations.

However…

You still have to make money. You still have to sell stuff.

I mean, you could say, “We saved a lot of money on our groceries last month.” “Gee, how did you do that?” “We didn’t eat anything…” ;)

Obviously, that would ignore the side of the equation that justifies why you spend money in the first place.

Very simply, Barnes & Noble needs to keep selling things to have the income side be stable. You might be able to cut expenses faster than your sales are dropping for a while, but that can only go so far. Closing stores and reducing staff will cut your expenses, but eventually, you won’t be keeping your customers happen and you’ll hit that tipping point where the purchasing falls off a cliff.

In this case, B&N says (in this short excerpt from the press release):

“NOOK
The NOOK segment, which consists of the company’s digital business (including digital content, devices and accessories), reported revenues of $109 million for the quarter, decreasing 32.2% from a year ago.  Digital content sales were $57 million for the quarter, a decline of 21.2% compared to a year ago, due to lower average selling prices and lower device unit sales.  Device and accessories sales were $51 million for the quarter, a decrease of 41.3% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume and lower average selling prices.

Despite the sales decline, NOOK EBITDA losses decreased $6 million as compared to a year ago to $45 million on lower device markdowns and reduced expenses.”

Notice that their digital content sales were down significantly, but not nearly as much as the hardware/accessory sales.

I started this post talking about the roughly one third loss in the NOOK segment, but I could have just gone straight to the roughly two fifths drop in device/accessory sales.

They are both important, though.

One possible strategy for B&N is to essentially drop the hardware sales, and work on getting their reader apps in more places. They are trying that. In this

press release

they say

“Barnes & Noble Teams Up with Samsung to Make NOOK® the Only Reading App on the New Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids”

They are making the point that it has parental controls, that it is “…compliant with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).”

However, they better hurry up. You can’t lose 20% in your digital content sales in one year and hope to turn that around very quickly.

They could, hypothetically, manage a NOOK turnaround if other elements compensated for the expense.  Amazon could lose money on all of its hardware and all of its e-books, and still…well, not make money, because they don’t do much of that, but be fine. ;)

In the past, the College stores have been good performers for Barnes & Noble.

This time, they are down 4.6% YoY.

How about the bookstores, where we have probably all spent happy times in the past?

Down 7.5%.

Looking at the core bookstore figures, so ignoring the reduction in sales from store closures, online sales, and the NOOK segment, looks to me to be down 3.7%.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, it’s important to note that being down 3.7% doesn’t mean you have 96.3% to go. You can’t go to zero. It could be that you would fail with a reduction of 10%, if your expenses were high enough…and that wouldn’t be super high.

While B&N has reduced expenses, overall, you can’t figure that retail space rent and salaries are going to decrease in the next five years.

I hate to say it, but I don’t see much in here that looks very positive.

Why do I hate to say it?

I may love my Kindle, but that doesn’t mean I  have anything against the NOOK devices. There are a lot of people who own them, and I’d like to see them continue to be supported.

There’s also the competition issue. Kindle versus NOOK brought us some improvements. Having a healthy competitor is good for the consumer.

Yes, the Kobo Aura may be driving improvements. There are rumors, as reported in this

TechCrunch article by Matthew Panzarino

that there will be a new Paperwhite in Q2 (the second quarter) of 2014, with a better screen, better fonts, and a light sensor for automatic adjustment.

We Kindle users can be thankful to Kobo for that.

That doesn’t mean that they fill the vacuum if B&N drops out of the hardware race.

There was an old story, supposedly reported in Pravda (the old Soviet era newspaper…which isn’t a direct editorial line to the Pravda that’s around today).

I heard it as the headline being something like, “In international car race, Russian car finishes second from the top, American car is second from the bottom.”

Absolutely true…and the way it goes, they were the only two cars in the race. ;) Coming in first would make the American car second from the bottom: coming in last would make the Russian car second from the top.

Those relative positions only really matter when we assume there were a lot of cars in the race.

In terms of EBRs (E-Book Readers), we want there to be a lot of cars in the race…

What do you think? Can B&N turn it around? Would you buy a NOOK this holiday season, and feel comfortable that it was a good investment? Will the day come when Amazon could go the way of B&N, and would that mean that buying e-books/EBRs is always a risk? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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