Archive for the ‘nook’ Category

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.

Round up #216: Miracast dongle, new NOOK

October 31, 2013

Round up #216: Miracast dongle, new NOOK

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

There’s a new NOOK in town

You know when, sometimes, you see a commercial on TV for an upcoming episode, and you say to yourself, “That show’s still on?”

That’s sort of how I felt when I saw the news on the new NOOK model being introduced. :)

Oh, I know intellectually that NOOKs are still out there, that they have their fans, and that they are one of the big competitors for Amazon…certainly, on non-backlit EBRs (E-Book Readers).

It’s just…they’ve been a bit off my radar.

The new nook (I wish they’d make up their minds on capitalization) GlowLight is $119.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook/379003208

Anything really stand out?

Well, they’ve reportedly eliminated full screen flashing when you “turn pages”…that’s nice.

Here’s the

User’s Guide pdf

It does have 4GB of storage: that’s a lot, nowadays.

They also

compare it to the Paperwhite

It does have some advantages: if you don’t want an ad-supported EBR, it’s cheaper (if you don’t mind the ads, and many people like the Special Offers, it’s the same). It’s about an ounce lighter, and does hold a lot more books.

I have to say, though, I didn’t see a page with tech specs (specifications)…they don’t make it easy to see what file formats it will use, for example.

They also push that you can get “personalized recommendations”…that’s highlighted in the

press release

They say (in part):

“The enhanced shopping experience features a new “Now on NOOK” section right on the home screen, giving readers instant access to a curated list of content suggestions from Barnes & Noble booksellers. The new Shop also delivers an array of exclusive personalized lists “Picked Just For You,” which combine the expert knowledge of Barnes & Noble booksellers with rich book data to deliver unparalleled recommendations.

The new NOOK GlowLight also brings NOOK Channels™ to the shop experience, offering customers more ways to browse the more than 3 million titles from the world’s largest digital bookstore to expand their passions for the authors and subjects they love…”

Those are good things, and I know a very techie person who really liked a NOOK. It will be interesting to see how this does this holiday season. I think the zeitgeist may have changed from it being “normal and safe” to get something from Barnes & Noble to being “normal and safe” to get something from Amazon…and that getting something from B&N may be a risk, due to their possibly uncertain future.

Pop quiz: what is available from B&N in terms of NOOK hardware?

  • NOOK HD+ tablet starting at $149
  • NOOK HD tablet starting at $129
  • NOOK GlowLight at $119
  • Simple Touch at $79

I try a Miracast dongle for my Kindle Fire HDX

I’ve been trying to wait to see if Amazon introduces a TV solution (I think they will…within two weeks, is my guess), but when

Eight of our Kindles were stolen

this week, that meant we had no TV in one room (we only have two TVs…well, three, if you count an old one that literally serves as a stand for a newer one…yeah, we can be classy like that). ;) You see, I had been using my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB (well, the LTE model, but I never used the LTE) with the Live Media Player app.

Well, that last generation model had an HDMI out, which means I could run it through that TV with a cable.

My newer Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers doesn’t have an HDMI out: it’s designed to use wireless Miracast, which the TV doesn’t have.

I bought the MOCREO Airplay Miracast HDMI TV Dongle

for $32.19.

Does it work?

Sort of…

First, it has quite a short power cord on it, designed to plug into a USB port on the TV…which this TV (it’s a few years old, but is HD) doesn’t have. So, it took a bit of stringing things together to get power to it (it needs to be plugged into power to work, but a powered USB might run it).

Second, there were no instructions. It worked pretty easily, though: plug it into the HDMI port on the TV, and that was about it.

I had the TV set to receive HDMI in already. I just had to tell the Kindle Fire HDX to find it:

Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

Really, it was easier than Bluetooth pairing.

However…

The sound and the video were out of sync…way out of sync. The sound on the TV was running at the same speed as on the Fire (I only heard it through the TV, the same way it would work if you had something plugged into the headphone jack).

When I watched a Prime video, the video was a couple of minutes behind!

It seemed like the more data intense it was, the more the lag. Angry Birds Star Wars was more like thirty seconds behind. The e-mail app? Less than ten.

I Maydayed it, and the rep could see that my wi-fi was somewhat erratic, and suggested that might be it.

That means I’ll try more testing. Maybe try it closer to the router, and I do have a different router I can try. I might also try it at work. If it works with a better signal, I could try a wi-fi extender (but I don’t think those are cheap…if anybody can recommend one, I’d appreciate it).

If that’s the only issue, then this is a good solution. If it’s not, it’s not. ;)

NPR: “Brick-And-Mortar Bookstores Play The Print Card Against Amazon”

In this

NPR article by Lynn Neary

the basic assertion is that Larry Kirshbaum recently left as the head of

Amazon Publishing

because many brick-and-mortar stores refused to carry books published by Amazon, making that an unsuccessful venture.

As I wrote about a year ago, that drives me crazy! I speak as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager…you’re just shooting yourself in the foot doing that. I would love to see brick-and-mortar bookstores stick around, and I think some will…but not with that kind of move.

Get comps when you review on Amazon

In another good

NPR article

Lisa Chow writes about top Amazon reviewers getting lots of stuff for free.

I really didn’t know that!

I mean, you aren’t even really supposed to write about e-books if you were given them as compensation for writing a review. That’s not quite what is happening here, but I sure would like to know if a review is written by someone who was given that $500 item!

As a blogger, I’m required to reveal when I got a comp (free) copy of something if I review it (that doesn’t usually happen, by the way).

Does put an interesting spin on things…probably really motivates some people to write reviews that will get good responses. I guess that could be a good thing…

What do you think? Is the NOOK as relevant as it was a year ago? Do you mind that some Amazon reviewers get free things to review? Are brick-and-mortars hurting Amazon by not carrying its paperbooks? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #199: bundles, B&N

August 21, 2013

Round up #199: bundles, B&N

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

Digital downfall! 

Okay, I would not want to be Barnes & Noble trying to compose this

Press Release on Q1 finances

Actually, I might…I do love a challenge. ;)

Maybe you could hire somebody like an old Catskills comedian to do it like a stand-up routine…

“Hey, it’s nice to see all the investors in the audience. You know, I was afraid this place was going to be like one of our stores…empty. Just kidding…revenues were only down 9.9%, which comes out to 111,000,000 bucks. With all those ones and  zeroes, it looks like our name on the internet. Speaking of digital, if you think our retail sales are bad, you should see our NOOK sales! Yeah, take a look at them…no, lower…lower…lower…yep, that’s them down there. Our NOOK sales were down 20.2% over last year. A 20% decrease…that’s like saying you have a perfect attendance record at work…if you don’t count Fridays. On the other hand, we only dropped $39 million there…so we lost almost $72 million less than we dropped in the bookstores: go, progress! You ready for the good news? Wait, wait, don’t get so excited…I didn’t say there was any good news, I just asked if you were ready for it. Actually, the college bookstores did have a 2.4% increase…up 5 meeeeeeellllllliooon dollars! Let’s see…five million up, compared to $111 and $39 million down: I’d do the math for you, but I couldn’t afford my algebra textbook after I paid ten dollars for a pack of Post-It notes in my campus Barnes & Noble…”

;)

This

GIGAOM article by Laura Hazard Owen

does a nice job of analyzing the Q&A part of the investor call. Are they going to stop making tablets inhouse? Um…maybe not. They are committed to continuing with the NOOK side of the business…at which point, I’m all of the investors in the room snuck a sideways peek at the person next to them, to see if they were dumping the stock and making a break for the exit.

Owen included this quotation:

“At least one new Nook device will be released for the coming holiday, and further products are in development. At the same time, we will continue to offer our award-winning line of Nook products, including Simple Touch, Simple Touch with GlowLight, Nook HD and Nook HD+ at the best values in the marketplace today.”

I think we may continue to see reductions in NOOK hardware prices, which does exert a downward price pressure on Amazon…which the latter might choose to ignore, of course.

The USPTO wants your input on “Copyright Issues in the Digital Economy”

There is a debate going on right now about extending copyright terms.

This is going to be worth another, separate post from me, but I wanted to go ahead and give you the place to make your comments, if you want:

http://www.uspto.gov/blog/director/entry/we_want_to_hear_from

It relates to this

PDF entitled COPYRIGHT POLICY, CREATIVITY, AND INNOVATION IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

I plan to listen to that in the car today, after which I’ll write my response.

Listen to a PDF?

Yep. I recently bought

ezPDF Reader PDF Annotate Form

which has text-to-speech for PDFs. I actually finally spent some of my Amazon Coins on an app, and that was it and this is why. :)

Remember when a “bundle” in publishing meant newspapers tied together with kite string?

Many people bring up the idea of “bundling” e-books and p-books (paperbooks) in the Amazon Kindle forums.

The idea is that you would buy a p-book and get a free e-book, or vice versa.

That often comes from a position of  naivety: they think that Amazon can just give you a digital copy, I guess by scanning the p-book. They don’t understand (and there is nothing wrong with not understanding, as long as you are willing to learn) that Amazon pays the publisher for both the e-book and the p-book, and that in turn is part of how authors get paid.

However, a publisher (not Amazon) could work out a deal with the author that included both the e-book and the p-book…and some publishers (not a lot so far) are.

PM Press in Oakland is one, according to this

Publishers Weekly article by Judith Rosen

I have to warn you, though, when I went to the PM Press site to check it out, the home page had an NSFW (Not Safe For Work) image right at the top.

I tried to find something about their Paperback Plus! program, and they don’t seem to be promoting much. When I searched for Paperback Plus, I did find these eleven results:

https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=search_list&s[search]=paperback+plus&s[title]=Y&s[short_desc]=Y&s[full_desc]=Y&s[sku]=Y&s[match]=all&s[cid]=0

So, you buy a paperback, and get a free e-book copy.

Now, honestly, I’m not sure to whom this appeals. I don’t want p-books any more, even for free. I’m sure I’m not the only person in that category. I love the ones I have, but I don’t want more in my house and I don’t like the ecological impact of the manufacturing process.

Also, I’m never quite sure what prevents somebody from simply doing a deal like this, and then selling the p-book. One barrier is that you would pay more for this combo than you might pay for the e-book alone, but I still don’t quite get it. It used to be different with DVDs and CDs, because there was a clear division in the player. You wanted a physical version to watch/hear on your superior, non-portable hardware, and a convenient digital version. I think increasingly, though, people don’t want the CDs or DVDs either, and for the same reasons that many of us don’t want the p-books.

Alexander Turcic reported in this

mobileread post

that the University Press of Kentucky is doing something interesting. You send them a picture of you holding the p-book, and they send you a pdf of it for free. Again, a kind of bundling…and I’m guessing they can use your picture for promotional purposes, although I haven’t checked.

I don’t expect bundling to become commonplace, except on expensive books, where it will be just part of the luxury service.

What do you think? How good/bad does the Barnes & Noble report look to you? Do you want both an e-book and a p-book when you buy something? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Update: bonus deal

I meant to include this this morning. :)

End of Summer Savings: Kids & Teen Kindle Books up to 75% off

Right now, there are 149 titles in there, and there are some good and “brand name” choices. They don’t say how long this will last, and it may not be available in your country, so as always, check the price before you click that Buy button.

Good time to look for gifts for the holidays…you can delay delivery.

Enjoy!

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


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