Archive for the ‘Polls’ Category

The new Kindle models poll: will you…?

September 18, 2014

The new Kindle models poll: will you…?

I wrote pretty extensively about Amazon’s announcement of new hardware (and a new version of the Fire operating system). I try not to write about the same thing two days in a row very often, but I didn’t want to just update that post (a lot of people miss it when I do that). Also, since this is both Fires and non-Fires, it will cover most of my readership (some people read on free Kindle reader apps, and some don’t have anything yet…but this will affect pretty much everybody). It’s also stylistically different from yesterday’s post.

Just a few notes from overnight:

  • Thanks to regular reader and commenter Edward Boyhan for pointing out that the new tablets are no longer “Kindle Fires”, they are just “Fires”. That’s been something I’ve wanted since before the first of them was released. I think it’s confusing to have the non-backlit Kindle readers co-branded with backlit tablets, since they are so different. I’ve seen much confusion about that in the Kindle forums (“I upgraded to a Kindle Fire from a Kindle Touch…why can’t I read outside as well?”). I’m fine with the Fire tablets, Fire Phone, and Fire TVs being a “brand”…they have quite a bit in common, much more than a Fire tablet and a Kindle Paperwhite
  • The Paperwhite’s storage was increased earlier this year…I don’t think I made that clear
  • How soon is “soon” in “coming soon” (for some of the new features)? I would think we’ll get a major update before the end of November, and another one in the first quarter of next year (with some incremental updates in between). I’m just guessing, though
  • There will be an outport on the Fire tablets for use with a TV (which the first gen Kindle Fire had), but it won’t be HDMI…it’ll be USB. Amazon says, “The latest generation Fire tablets now include a SlimPort enabled micro USB port that lets you view images and HD video from your tablet on any compatible TV or monitor”
  • It’s not clear that the “Family Library” (the ability to read books from more than one account on the same device without doing the register/deregister dance) will apply to all books, and it may not. It might be more like Kindle Unlimited, where only some books are involved
  • What really needs an update in Fire OS is the digital assistant, in my opinion…I want my Fire Phone in particular to be able to do more things through voice “command” (although that sounds so imperial…can’t it just be “voice communication”?) ;) Don’t know if we’ll get that, but I’m guessing we will. Anybody Amazon can buy to make that happen? I’d like it on the Fire tablets, too

Now, as to the main point of this post.

I’m generally seeing a positive reaction to this announcement…good initial reports in the tech media (although not much in mainstream…compare it to the Apple announcement, which was all over the mainstream). I think this will lift the Fire Phone boat as well, resulting in more sales for that device. I’m curious about how you feel about the new devices:

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

new entry level: “Mindle Touch” as a suggested nickname, any configuration (at AmazonSmile*)

Fire HD 6, any configuration (at AmazonSmile*)

Fire HD 7, any configuration (at AmazonSmile*)

Fire HD 6 Kids Edition, any configuration(at AmazonSmile*)

Fire HDX 8.9, any configuration(at AmazonSmile*)

Feel free to add comments and questions by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Kindle Unlimited: how does it affect authors, and what’s the deal with the KOLL?

July 23, 2014

Kindle Unlimited: how does it affect authors, and what’s the deal with the KOLL?

You know that look Indiana Jones has in that one scene, where the  adventuring archaeologist  thinks everything cool, and suddenly, it all goes reverse  Sisyphus? ;)

That’s the look a lot of the book industry still has after Amazon introduced its subser (that’s what I call a subscription service) for e-books and audiobooks for adults.

I’ve already written about it more than once, but there’s a lot more to say since I wrote

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

way back on…Friday. ;)

I said at that point I was going to address how this was affecting authors, and that’s going to be one of the two parts of this post.

A lot of people want to know if this is good or bad for authors, and like almost everything, in my opinion, it’s both.

My guess is that some authors are going to see tremendous increases in revenue by being part of Kindle Unlimited (KU). Others, rightfully, are concerned about the restrictions involved.

Let’s first lay things out a bit.

Authors get paid for the sale of the books they’ve written. In the traditionally publishing world, they licensed the rights to sell the book to a publisher (the deal was usually made by an agent acting on the author’s behalf), which sold the books to stores, which then sold them to customers.

A tradpub (traditional publisher) might give the author an advance against the royalties. Let’s say that you could be reasonably sure that Stephen King was going to sell a million copies of the next novel, and that you knew as the publisher you could get $10 per copy (I’m basically working with this as a hardback for this example). $2.50 of that is going to go to King.

However, the author needs a year to write the book, and needs to spend that year largely unconcerned about earning a living besides that.

You are looking at getting in $7.5 million…you’ll have expenses out of that, of course, including the actual manufacture of the book and marketing, but you’ll advance King $1 million.

The first million dollars which would have gone to King from the royalties once the book starts actually selling, you keep to pay off the advance.

So, that’s one model.

In the independent (“indie”) e-book model, the author may publish the book themselves, going perhaps through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. The author, following certain guidelines, can get 70% of the list price they set for the book. Sell it for $2.99, keep about $2.09. Of course, the author has also taken on all the expenses: they might have paid for an editor, done marketing, and so on.

If the indie set the price outside of the $2.99 to $9.99 range, they can only get 35% for it…that’s going to become important as this explanation continues.

When Amazon introduced the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) in 2011, they created a new income stream for authors.

Eligible Amazon Prime members with a hardware Kindle can borrow up to a book a month from a certain set of books.

The indie publishers (and those might be just individual authors) divide a variable pool of money, getting a cut of it for each borrow that happens.

Let’s say the pool is $1.5 million for January. If there were 750,000 borrows that month, everybody in the pool gets $2 for each borrow. If your book was borrowed ten times, you get $20. That $2 figure is close to what it has been actually running.

That’s a big plus if someone borrows a $0.99 book: $2 instead of $0.35. It’s about a wash with a $2.99 book that meets the other requirements to get 70%.

There are also traditionally published books in the KOLL, although not from the biggest publishers. They get paid differently: they probably mostly get paid like it was a sale, and so the author would get their normal royalty…presumably. Publishers don’t release those kind of contract details, normally.

Now, along comes KU, and the economics change.

The one big technical change is that the indies publishers don’t get a royalty unless someone “reads” ten percent of the book (not based on when they simply download it). I put “reads” in quotation marks, because of course, the system doesn’t know if you actually read it or just flipped through it…or even, I think, jumped ahead to 10%.

That’s not that big a deal, though. I doubt very many people downloaded a KOLL book and didn’t read at least 10% of it.

What makes the difference is the “Unlimited” part.

KU isn’t really unlimited, of course, but it would be unreasonable to think that “unlimited” was a literal term, in my opinion. For example, you can’t go back in time and read the book. ;) You can’t read a book on the surface of the sun. “Kindle Unlimited” is a name, not an actual definition.

In practice, though, it is pretty much all you can read. You can have ten books out at a time. I think that’s to limit the number of people using it, not to limit an individual. I could borrow ten books on August 1st. If I read all ten by August 10th, I could just borrow ten more…it’s not ten per month, it’s ten at a time.

I do find that it feels freeing. I had to make careful choices with the KOLL…I don’t with KU.

That’s going to be a big boon for books which most people would not have bought.

In this

TechCrunch article by John Biggs

In the article, Biggs says:

“My son, for his part, has already downloaded a few dozen Minecraft ebooks…”

A few dozen!

The article also suggests those books may not be that good, but the point is,  that would not have happened without KU.

It wouldn’t have happened with the KOLL: after the first book, you’d have to wait until the next calendar month to get the next one.

Even if we figure they were all ninety-nine cents, we can be sure they wouldn’t have spent more than $30 on them.

Those publishers will all get royalties…and possibly, much bigger royalties than they would have gotten for sales which probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Authors whose books were part of the KDP Select program (that’s what gets indie books into the KOLL) were automatically made part of KU:

“All books currently enrolled in KDP Select with U.S. rights will be automatically included in Kindle Unlimited. KDP Select books will also continue to be enrolled in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) available to Amazon Prime customers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Japan where authors will continue to earn a share of the KDP Select global fund when their book is borrowed. KOLL borrows will continue to be counted when a book is initially downloaded.”

–Amazon e-mail

So, why wouldn’t every indie author jump into KU?

There’s one big sticking point.

KU requires exclusivity for Amazon for indies…that’s part of the KDP Select rules.

Put your book in KU (through KDP Select) and you can’t sell it through SmashWords or Barnes & Noble.

I actually think it’s possible that requirement will go away at some point, or at least, have two tiers of royalty for exclusive and non-exclusive.

Obviously, the exclusivity rules don’t apply to tradpubbed books…Harry Potter e-books aren’t exclusive to Amazon, and are part of KU.

So, KU is most beneficial to books which weren’t selling well, and to very low-priced books. It’s not as beneficial to books which do sell well and are higher priced.

How will this affect Big 5 publishers and their brand name authors?

Unless it starts significantly cutting into “piece” sales (buying a book at a time), it doesn’t affect them much. They may think that putting books into KU will cannibalize their piece sales…at least for the frontlist (the new and bestselling books).

If it does start to cut into piece sales…the game changes.

I can imagine that by the end of 2015, 10% of e-book downloads happen through KU.

That’s not ten percent of the income…a lot of those would be books with micro sales.

It could be, then, that a brand name author starts putting short stories and other “peripheral” material to big series into KU.

Not necessarily through their tradpub.

They may correctly feel that so much discovery is happening through KU that they can’t ignore it.

This might also spur a growth of Kindle Worlds (Amazon’s program which licenses books, comic books, TV shows, movies, and so on so that anyone can write in them, following certain guidelines, and the rightsholder, author, and Amazon all get a cut).

A tradpub could license a series to KW, which would then result in non-canonical works in KU…which in turn serves to promote the non-KU books.

The more successful KU is, the more successful it will become.

Now, people are undoubtedly thinking of ways to game the system. I asked Amazon what happens if somebody borrows a book, reads ten percent of it (triggering a payment), returns it, and then borrows it again and again reads ten percent.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Tom Semple, asked what would prevent someone from just asking a bunch of people to borrow it, jump to the ten percent mark, and then return it.

The answer is that Amazon has made it clear that if they decide you are doing things like that, you are out. Naturally, they can always stop carrying someone’s book, they don’t really need a reason. I don’t want to get into any non-public details about this…suffice it so say, they aren’t going to get “tricked” much and suffer the consequences. I think it’s far more likely we will hear about them thinking someone has done something wrong who hasn’t. They are pretty good about taking “appeals” in those cases…but we see it happen on the forum that someone’s posts are deleted, and they never figure out why, for a much smaller example of what might be Amazon being overly cautious.

Now, as to what is happening with the KOLL:

As you can see from the quote from the Amazon e-mail, the KOLL continues to exist: no change at this point.

That said, I’ve seen many threads in the Amazon forums where people think it has been discontinued.

That’s because the interface for getting to it has changed, and that has been affected by KU.

Basically what has happened, according to Amazon (and I asked them a detailed question) is that, if you are a KOLL member who is not eligible for a loan right now (because you’ve already borrowed a book this calendar month), you’ll see the KU “Read for Free” button instead of the KOLL “Borrow for Free”.

According to them, it works like this:

  • A Prime member and eligible for a KOLL loan will see “Borrow for Free” button on Prime eligible titles
  • A Prime member who has hit the KOLL limit will see “Read for Free” with KU eligible titles
  • Someone who is neither a Prime nor a KU member will see “Read for Free” with KU on KU titles which are also Prime titles, and will see “Borrow for Free” with Prime on Prime titles which are non-KU titles
  • Quoting Amazon: “For the E-readers and Kindle Fires, you’ll see the above, except for Kindle Touch and Kindle Paperwhite users will see the “Read for Free” button regardless of their current KOLL status.”

Hypothetically, then, the confusing thing has been that a “borrow” button wasn’t available in the browser, but only when a KOLL loan wasn’t availbale..and Kindle Touch and Kindle Paperwhite users didn’t see a KOLL button regardless.

That doesn’t answer everything: how does a Paperwhite owner make a KOLL borrow? Apparently, from what I’ve heard anecdotally, clicking that “Read for Free” on your Paperwhite will make it the KOLL loan if you haven’t done one yet that month.

I hope that makes it clearer.

What do you think? Is KU a good deal for authors, a bad deal for authors, both or neither? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Hachazon War: the Battle of Petition Hill

July 4, 2014

Hachazon War: the Battle of Petition Hill

Amazon and the publisher Hachette have had a very public dispute over terms, which I refer to as the “Hachazon War”.

Rather than calming down, I’d say that the coverage, at least, has been escalating.

In a recent

Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey Trachtenberg (who I think is the best mainstream reporter covering these issues)

Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s top Kindle content person, said that this is in the best long-term interest of Amazon customers, even if it hurts Amazon’s reputation in the short run.

That reputation is important.

Amazon’s ability to launch something like their new

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

(which I have ordered) depends, in my opinion, in large part on the average consumer (not the super techie) being comfortable with Amazon…feeling safe with them.

They may not be reading the details of this dispute, but like an argument overheard through the thin walls of an apartment complex, they can get the gist of it. ;)

Not surprisingly, one battlefield in this conflict is the internet.

Douglas Preston (at AmazonSmile)

a very successful author, has started an open letter to readers, explaining one view of the situation, and asking those readers to e-mail Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Jeff Bezos, at

jeff@amazon.com

to express their opinions.

It’s an interesting letter, pointing out how authors supported Amazon, and helped it become what it is today.

The part that many casual observers will hear is the list of authors who have signed the letter (and that is growing).

Even someone who just reads a few books in a year has heard of Stephen King. If all they hear is that Stephen King signed a letter “against Amazon”, it will influence many of them to have a lower opinion of Amazon…it’s sort of like name recognition getting incumbent politicians elected.

It’s an astonishing list of names, including at least one who has been published by Amazon’s own traditional publishing imprints. Here are just a few of the long list:

  • David Baldacci
  • Greg Bear
  • Philip Caputo
  • Robert A. Caro
  • Susan Cheever
  • Clive Cussler
  • John Grisham
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • Donna Tartt
  • Jane Yolen

That letter has gotten a lot of coverage.

On the other side is this online petition

To Thank Our Readers (on Change.org)

It’s description is much longer than the Preston letter, and it is largely independent writers supporting Amazon (with a particular focus on this dispute).

The petition suggests that this is a fight between the tradpubs (traditional publishers) who have, in the past, controlled publishing, and Amazon, which disrupted that model and enables indie (independent) authors to make a living when they wouldn’nt have been able to do so through tradpubs.

As disclosure, I am an author who benefited through the use of Amazon’s indie publishing platform (now called Kindle Direct Publishing). None of my titles would have been published by one of the Big Five (used to be Big Six) publishers.

However, I don’t think that makes me prejudiced in favor of Amazon. In fact, my sense was that many of my readers were surprised when I first wrote about the Hachazon War, and I indicated that I didn’t like some of the things Amazon was doing.

I would guess that both sides are contributing to the conflict. Conflicts are surprisingly weak organisms: if you don’t constantly feed them, they tend to die pretty quickly. ;)

We now have heard a bit more about what the disagreement.

Grandinetti flat our said it was about e-book pricing (even though p-books…paperbooks…are casualties).

I’ve heard that Amazon may want a bigger cut: 50% rather than 30%, but I don’t know that that is true.

If it was, what would it mean for readers?

Let’s say that a publisher prices an e-book at $10, and Amazon pays them 70% for it. The publisher gets $7, and Amazon gets $3. That’s not all profit, of course…there are costs of sale and of production. Amazon is also likely to discount it, but let’s leave that for now.

Now, let’s say that the split changes to Amazon paying them 50% instead of 70%.

Let’s further say that the publisher’s model is based on getting $7 for that book.

For the publisher to get $7, they have to raise the digital list price to $14.

That is the price you might pay at other retailers.

What does Amazon have to charge the customer to get the same $3 they were getting?

The same $10 they were charging before!

A bigger cut for Amazon means that they can discount more…and at a rate that other retailers might have a hard time matching. As I’ve written before, Amazon doesn’t need to make money on e-book sales (although they’d like to do that)…if the e-book sales inspire other more profitable sales, Amazon does fine.

The way I’ve laid it out above, the readers would pay the same for the book at Amazon, but likely more for it at other places.

This dispute may also encourage more authors to publish independently…like

Hugh Howey (at AmazonSmile)

and other authors who are mentioned on the Change.org petition.

Indie publishing right now is likely to include Amazon, which also benefits the e-tailer.

It’s possible that indies may eventually be able to dispense with retailers at all (selling directly to readers), but we aren’t there yet for most people.

I generally see both sides to an issue, and that is the case here…but I’ll stay with my not liking some of Amazon’s tactics.

What about you? What’s your opinion?

Have more to say to me and my readers about this? Feel free to do so by commenting on this post.

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

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

How old were you when you read…

May 20, 2014

How old were you when you read…

Edmund Wilson (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is credited with having said, “No two persons ever read the same book.”

This was apparently attributed to Wilson in the 1970s, but there is another quotation from Wilson from 1938 (in the Triple Thinkers) which intrigues me more right now:

In a sense, one can never read the book that the author originally wrote, and one can never read the same book twice.”

It’s that second part.

Does it matter when in your life you read a book?

Did you read a book when  you were a child, and then re-read it as an adult and have an entirely different take on it?

How about when you were in college versus later in your life when you were more settled?

I’m not a big re-reader of books (although I am reading the L. Frank Baum books again right now), but I wonder about how my age (and/or life experience) has affected the way I see certain books.

When I list my fictional heroes, I realize they are all people I first encountered when I was a child (including being a teenager): Doc Savage; Kwai Chang Caine; Mr. Spock. When I think of authors like Gerald Durrell and John A. Keel, the same is true.

When I read a book now, I may be very impressed and marvel at the author, but I don’t think the books have the same capability to be ingrained in me for life.

Perhaps, more accurately, I should say that I may not have the same capability to take them into my being.

My guess is that tends to be true…that literary characters and authors you find when you are young are the ones that become part of you. You are in a super-learning part of your life…of course, the vast majority of words you learn you learn before you are settled.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t learn some new words later, or enjoy some new characters…but is it…more of an acquaintance of equals than you aspiring to be like someone you see as greater than yourself?

Since I’m using the term “settled” (not to suggest inert…just stable and reasonably satisfied), I wonder if people who are in more insecure situations later in life are more able to have that integrative reading experience?

Take a moment to think about the books that have transported you, transformed you, and enthralled you. The ones where you still randomly imagine yourself to be that character. Maybe you are on vacation or just walking down the street, and you see something…a wall, a bit of litter, a person half seen in the shadows, and for a moment, you see them through fictional eyes.

Who are the ones you quote in conversations with loved ones…because what they say is better than anything you could say at that point?

When did you first read them?

I’ll say, I’m not really comfortable with those age breaks…I know some societies make a big difference between twelve and thirteen, but I’m not sure that matters that much to what you read. High school (which I didn’t break out) could make a bigger difference (at least in the USA), because you might be exposed to considerably different books (both in the classroom and from your friends).

I have to say, I don’t think I’m feeling that different about the Oz books now than I did when I was a kid…although I’m definitely getting more detail and insight, the basic feel of Oz and the way I feel about the characters is similar.

I’m sure in the case of some books, I would be more put off by chronocultural prejudice

The Chronological Cultural Context Conundrum

but I think I would still see the character as the same. I think I would tend to judge the world more than the author.

I love reading, and I love my current discoveries…but I would say I do miss that tendency to memorize an entire book, and to project myself into the characters’ worlds…and to have them project into mine.

That may happen again in the future, but for now, I have to recognize that the relationship has changed.

What do you think? Are there books that you re-read over and over again  (I know of someone who reportedly just alternated Gone with the Wind…and Helter Skelter)? Is it because they are different each time, the same…or both? If certain ages are more impactful, would it be possible to engineer someone’s life (a la Lord Tyger ((at AmazonSmile))by Philip Jose Farmer, which I recommend and think would make a good movie) by introducing certain books into their life at certain ages? Are there books you wish you hadn’t read until you were older…or that you had read when you were younger? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Does Amazon love us TOO much?

April 28, 2014

Does Amazon love us TOO much?

The name of this blog is “I Love My Kindle”, but I’ve never really felt like that was a one-way street…I mean, that would be kind of pathetic and stalkerish, right? ;)

I’m a former retail manager, and I have to say, Amazon does a whole lot of things for its customers that not everybody does…and that arguably, they don’t have to do.

Sure, you could cynically say that it’s to keep us as customers so we’ll spend money…but people spend money with companies that don’t do as much.

Amazon is willing to spend a lot of money to buy goodwill…so much that it makes a lot of investors uneasy.

My guess is that we’ll see Amazon stock rebound this week, but the narrative in the blogosphere right now is that, based on Amazon’s recently reported Q1 financials, investors are fed up and selling the stock.

They want more money, not just happier customers.

Now again, my guess is that the stock will bounce back up to where it was pretty quickly…but I’ve never claimed to be a Wall Street savant.

My feeling is that Amazon could take quite a few perks away from us, and the majority of people would not stop (or even cut back on) using them.

At least not at first.

After a while, if a more attractive alternative appeared, people might switch…which they wouldn’t do while feeling that Amazon amour. ;)

What I thought I would do is ask you would you would be willing to give up, if it meant keeping Amazon solidly around and growing.

Imagine that we are in a stockholder meeting. The stockholders are demanding that Amazon stop being so generous to their customers, or they are going to bail.

Which of these things, even if it would make you sad to see them go, would you be willing to offer up to be sacrificed (or reduced…for example, the 30 day return policy on Kindles might go to ten days)?

I deliberately haven’t listed everything (there are a lot!), and I’m not suggesting that any of these specific things might happen…but I’m sure some stockholders see each of these as an unnecessary expense.

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

3 years of Special Offers

April 11, 2014

3 years of Special Offers

Three years ago, on April 11, 2011, Amazon introduced Kindles with Special Offers in this

press release

The basic idea is that the buyer of a new Kindle could agree to see ads, and in exchange for that, that initial purchase price was lowered.

That’s why they are also called “ad-supported” models.

It was up to the customer: get “paid” for watching ads by getting a discount, or pay the normal price and avoid seeing ads.

It’s a simple idea, but there was a lot of buzz around it at the time.

Many people decried it, equating it with ads in books.

First, there were ads in books before that…I have some mass market paperbacks that have a cardboard ad stuck in the middle of them.

Second, the ads don’t appear in the books themselves. They appear on the sleep screen, and (originally) at the bottom of the list of books on the homescreen.

This idea may have been complicated by Amazon having gotten a patent to put relevant ads in e-books. I wrote about that a bit here:

Advertising in E-books

That wasn’t this, though…and Amazon hasn’t followed through on ads in books themselves.

Another concern people expressed was that the ads might be “inappropriate”. Basing it on television, they though that kids might see ads for “mature products”, as one example.

While we did see ads for things like cars, we haven’t had alcohol or intimate  hygiene products.

Over time, my feeling is that the ads have actually gotten more tied into what the Kindleers want…more ads for books and Kindle accessories, for instance.

Now, that could be because it didn’t turn out that a Kindle was a great way to sell a car…so those companies stopped buying the ads.

I think it must work somewhat, though, since we still have Special Offers.

It’s also tended to be that SO models are more popular than their non-ad-supported, full price counterparts.

If you think that’s just because people want to save the money (and that they don’t really like the ads), I’ll tell you that I’ve seen plenty of statements to the contrary. Many people like seeing the ads: they know they sometimes get deals that way, and hey, if nothing else, it’s something new to see. :) A lot of people didn’t like the old “woodcut” type pictures we had, and one reason was that after a while, you’d “…been there, saw that”.

With the advent of the Limited Time Special Offers on the current Kindle Fires, folks (including me) have been saving a lot of money.

Looking at the list of “recent deals” on the above linked page, you could have saved $674.96 buying those six items…an average of over $100 per deal!

We bought a Kindle Paperwhite for $19, when it was normally $119 at the time.

These LTSOs are a big incentive to go with a Kindle Fire, that’s for sure!

If you want to stop getting Special Offers, you have that choice.

You would, naturally, have to pay the difference between the original discounted cost of the device and the full price…on the order of $20.

You do that by going to

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

and clicking or tapping

Manage Your Devices

You can then “unsubscribe” from Special Offers if you want.

Can you opt into getting Special Offers if your device came without them?

Sure…same thing as unsubscribing above, except that you choose to subscribe.

Oh, and they won’t retroactively give you the discount.

Still, I think many people do make that choice, just to have the option of getting a discount on something.

While we are talking about this, let me ask you hypothetically about ads in the books themselves (again, this is something different and not on the table right now):

If you want to tell me and my readers more about what you think about this, feel free to comment on this post.

 

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

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

How many Kindles do you have?

March 13, 2014

How many Kindles do you have?

My guess is that there are still some K1s out there…in fact, I personally know that’s the case. ;)

Still, with the proliferation of models (and perhaps, more coming soon), I’m curious about what you have.

When you count, count the ones which are registered to an account, and which you (or someone on your account, at any rate) has. If it’s gone, but still registered, don’t count it. If you have one, but it’s an orphan (no account) or on somebody else’s account, don’t count it…there’s no accountin’ for the count of the no-account no account Kindles. ;)

I’m also going to ask you about apps…again, they should still be registered.

I know it may be hard for you to figure out. You can go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

then click or tap

Manage Your Devices

I think we are all back to the same Manage Your Kindle (MYK) page, while they analyze the data from some experimenting they did. If so, you will likely be able to tap or click one of your devices or apps, and see the “Type” displayed (you may need to scroll to your right to see it). There should also be a picture, to help you identify it.

Oh, and when you get to apps, you may discover that you have “phantom” ones. I think it may be when we get an app updated, but you might have several Kindle apps registered for one iPhone, for example. This might be a good opportunity to thin those out. What I suggest in that case is to name them something identifiable (maybe adding a number at the end of the name…1, 2, 3, and so on), and then looking at the device to see which is the right one. Try to avoid counting the phantoms, if you can.




























Whew! :)

Believe it or not, I actually didn’t name every possibility. If you have something else, feel free to mention it by commenting on this post. My guess is that there won’t be many, though: that should be all of the hardware (ignoring “flavors” of models, like international or Pearl), and all of the currently available apps.

I also totally understand if you aren’t sure which one you have, even with the MYK listings. You can make your best guess, or this page of mine can help:

Which Kindle do you have?

We have:

Kindle 1st generation: 2
Kindle 3: 1
Kindle Fire HDX 7″: 2
Kindle Paperwhite 1st gen: 1
Kindle Paperwhite 2nd gen: 1
Mindle: 1
iPhone: 1
Android phone: 1
Kindle Cloud Reader: 1
Kindle for PC (XP/Vista/7): 1

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

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

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

Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

February 4, 2014

Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

Amazon just announced in this

press release

a new feature:

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

As with most lists like this, there will be a lot of debate. I’m surprised at what seems like a high number of recent books, but I perhaps shouldn’t be.

Amazon now owns Goodreads, and has set up a poll of sorts there, which lets you suggest books not on the list (and vote for ones which are):

http://www.Goodreads.com/100books

Interestingly, it told me how many I had read, based on their data, and how many I “wanted to read”. That’s one of the biggest problems I have with Goodreads: you can’t simply say you own a book from what I can tell. They assume that if you own it, you must want to read it, have read it, or are reading it. That’s not always the case: for one thing, not everybody in a family reads every book. I also have to recognize that I may never end up reading every book I own…newer ones I get move up in the list over older ones frequently, and, well, I’m unlikely to be reading forever (books are published faster than they can be read, of course…even if you want to read every book in the world ((and I understand that)), you can’t keep up).

So, I thought I’d go ahead and list them here, and then ask you how many you’ve read. :) I’ll let you know my count as well.

Oh, an observation: there is at least one book on here which I would have read if text-to-speech access had not been blocked in the Kindle edition by the publisher. I don’t buy paperbooks to read for myself any more, and I don’t buy books with TTS blocked**.

I also did a quick count: looks like fifteen of them are available in print, but not as Kindle editions. I’m just basing that on the links on the page, but I suppose that suggests that they aren’t doing this purely based on which books would be the bestsellers for them (I’ll state pretty confidently that not having a Kindle edition reduces your sales).

I’m going to follow Amazon’s order here, which is not based on merit (it’s supposed to be alphabetical, but they count the words “a” and “the” as full words for alphabetization purposes…quite non-traditional, and easier for a computer. That doesn’t reinforce their desire for this to be seen as curated by human editors, in my opinion):

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  • A Long Way Gone by Ismael Beah
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Teh Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Selected Stories by Alice Munro
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  • Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (#1) by Jeff Kinney
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared M. Diamond
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Love in the Time of of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Out of Africa by Isaak Dinesen
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Color of Water by James McBride
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • The Little Prince by Antoinde de Saint-Exupery
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  • The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro
  • The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Wind-up Bird by Haruki Murakami
  • The World According to Garp by John Irving
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • Things Fall Aprt by Chinua Achebe
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My own count is that I’ve read 26 of these. How about you?

Feel free to comment on this list: what would you have done differently?

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! :)

 

** 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.

Poll Party #5

December 13, 2013

Poll Party #5

My regular readers know that I really like to hear your opinion. I often ask for it at the end of posts (and I try to give you conversation starters), and I love reading (and responding to) the comments.

I know not everybody wants to, or has the time and energy to, write something like that.

That’s one reason I love the polls we do here. It gives people another way to be heard. Even though we certainly aren’t a scientific sample of the mainstream, I find it interesting to see what we are saying. I suspect we might even be predictive as a group, as far as e-books are concerned, but I don’t really know that.

This time, I really wanted to focus on some trends, comparing this year to last. I’m starting to see those “Best of” 2013 lists, and I don’t tend to do those.

I do look backwards in my The Year in E-Books posts, but it’s not really about what is best (I always find that to be very subjective…what’s best for one person is not best for another). I also try to do those very late in the year…some surprising things can happen in the last weeks. :)

However, I do think you have a pretty good idea about how some things will have played out for you by the end of 2013, and hey, I was in the mood. ;)

Reading Increases by Format

My intuition has been that reading (of full-length books) has been on the rise since the introduction of the Kindle in 2007. That’s not just e-books: I think that e-books have also resulted in a more general acceptance of reading, which has likely resulted in more people reading p-books (paperbooks) and audiobooks as well.

For this question, I’m interested in which formats you find yourself reading more…not more compared to the other formats, but more compared to last year. I’m not looking so much of a shift from, say, paper to e, but whether you are reading more: you could have increases in all of the formats.

Source of Books

I actually think that traditionally published books may be reversing a trend, and getting market share back from independently published books. Some of them are starting to figure out the digital world, and they have a lot of resources (including relationships with brand name authors) to bring to the playing field. HarperCollins, in particular, seems to be experimenting with some interesting things, participating in Kindle Matchbook and Scribd’s “all you can eat” plan.

Voting with Your Dollars

Lots of times, we think we have a particular opinion…perhaps that we revere one thing more than something else. When we look at actual expenditures, though, it may turn out that we are supporting different things than we would have guessed.

Length

There is quite a bit of argument over whether or not there is a renaissance in short stories.

Genres

While I generally consider myself an eclectic reader, I do think that e-books have broadened my horizons. I think I’m reading more books of different types, and due in part to independent publishing, more books which can’t be easily classified.

I’m going to take the categories from the Kindle store, although I won’t necessarily take them all.

Quality

Totally subjective, but I’m just curious…

Remember, you can comment on this post if you have more to say about these choices to me or my readers.

* 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.

Chicken Little: “Amazon is removing all erotica and self-published books”

October 15, 2013

Chicken Little: “Amazon is removing all erotica and self-published books”

I’ve had a story brewing for a couple of days about the removal of some titles from some e-book retailers (including Amazon) because of their content.

However, this has just started to explode, with multiple threads in the Amazon Kindle forums with some really hyperbolic statements.

There is some real SIF (Sky Is Falling) panic possibility here, so let’s take a look at what is actually happening…and the implications.

Let’s start out with this article from October 11th (and warning, the article itself is going to be offensive to some):

The Kernel article: “An Epidemic of Filth” by Jeremy Wilson

This is the one that caused a lot of response…which may have resulted in Amazon and Kobo removing some titles.

Here’s a brief quotation:

“Unlike the bookshelves in physical stores, online bookstores appear to be a Wild West of depraved content sure to horrify every parent and book-lover.”

Now, it’s worth taking a look at the other articles on that site. I’ll let you judge the tone of the website yourself. I’ll say…that they would probably agree with me that “dispassionate” would not be an appropriate adjective.

Shortly afterwards, there was this

BBC article: “Amazon removes abuse-themed e-books from store” by Matthew Wall and Dave Lee

Not just Amazon, but other online retailers, are apparently removing books, both cited in the Kernel article and not cited.

That’s what is raising the concern.

These are going to be independently published books, from what I’ve seen.

This has been expanded into Amazon removing all independently published books and all erotica.

Neither seems likely.

The concern here is whether Amazon is selling illegal books…and that’s not the case for all erotica or all independently published books.

It is important to note two things about Amazon’s role here.

Amazon has the right to carry or not carry whatever they want as long as it is legal. They are not censors when they choose not to carry something. That can be purely a business decision. If they decided that people didn’t like seeing books with purple font on the cover, they could just stop carrying those. They are under no obligation to carry anything.

Second, and this may be significant, Amazon can be seen as at the least a distribution platform for books coming through Kindle Direct Publishing, and is arguably a publisher. That may give them some more legal responsibility if the books are actually illegal.

That’s the next big question.

Are these books illegal?

This brouhaha is really happening in the UK, and I don’t know their laws about pornography well enough to make that assessment.

Let’s say, though, that the books depict illegal acts (using words, not pictures). That in and of itself does not make them illegal…if it did, huge categories of books, including all murder mysteries, would be illegal.

The books in question are fiction. It’s interesting to me that a society would make any fiction actually illegal. Suppose you take the very most vile kinds of sexual crime you can imagine, and depict them using just words. It’s somewhat different with images, since it is harder to fake some things there (but not a lot more difficult, any more).

With words, directly out of the author’s imagination, no one is actually harmed in the creation of the work.

There are those who argue that people are harmed by the consumption of the work, but that does get very complicated.

This is clearly illustrated by the lead article on Kernel today:

NEW AMAZON SHAME: HOLOCAUST DENIAL by Edna Crowley

Even if you think something like Holocaust denial is absolutely reprehensible, is it a “shame” for a bookstore to carry books that take that position?

I’m a great believer in free speech (which has to do with what the government does, not what corporations are individuals do). If somebody has ideas with which I intensely disagree, I want those ideas exposed for everybody to see. Put them on TV, let them march, publish the screeds. If people agree with me, great. If they don’t, fine…but I don’t want those sorts of ideas to flourish only underground, where the greater society doesn’t know about them.

Certainly, the books listed in the first article which seems to have prompted their removal seem not only repugnant to me, but in violation of Amazon’s own self-publishing terms. In the US, their publicly available

Content Guidelines

say

“Pornography
We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

Offensive Content
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.”

Those have always seemed very fuzzy to me, especially the use of the word “offensive”. What offends me is not necessarily what offends you.

“A sodomite got very excited looking at a zoology text. Does this make it pornography?”
–Stanislaw J. Lec writing in Unkempt Thoughts, translated by Jacek Galaska

Amazon says it doesn’t accept pornography or “offensive content”, and yet it carries fiction that many people might find offensive (including depictions of incest, which was a focus of the first Kernel article).

Did the books cited simply get past Amazon’s review, due to a lack of diligence? Or was it a deliberate disregarding of their own rules?

In either case, I don’t think we are going to see Amazon sweepingly remove all erotica or all independently published books from its store. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Might they over zealously remove some books which “shouldn’t” be removed? Sure, that might happen…just as YouTube removed an Amazon ad for the Kindle Paperwhite that some people apparently found offensive. They won’t be any under obligation to restore books that got caught in too wide a sweep, but they will likely do so…it makes economic sense to have books in the store that aren’t in violation of the guidelines, and could affect their relationship with authors to remove books unnecessarily.

Summing up:

  • An article on a website in the UK called out Amazon and others for carrying offensive books
  • Amazon and others removed some books, apparently in response
  • Those books appear to violate Amazon’s own guidelines
  • This does not mean that Amazon is widely removing all erotica or all independently published books

I do want to ask you a few questions:

What do you think? If the polls aren’t enough for you to express your opinion, feel free to do so by commenting on this post. Yes, I do moderate which comments get published, but I welcome a diversity of opinion.

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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,306 other followers

%d bloggers like this: