Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

December 17, 2014

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

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

Mass market paperback sales down 30%…in one year

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

e-book sales continued to gain on printed books.

I’ve written before about how e-books have largely taken over the market niche of mass market paperbacks, seen as the inexpensive way to get books.

The growth for e-book sales isn’t as meteoric as it was. For adult trade books (the ones you buy in bookstores…not textbooks…that’s also where the 30% drop happened in mass market paperbacks), they grew half a percent year over year. Still, that’s growth…where other formats saw losses.

Children’s books (including Young Adult) seem to be compensating, meaning growth for the year.

Worth noting: the market share for e-books for adult trade is about half what it is for children’s books. That’s something else I’ve observed before: I think adults currently like to give physical books to kids, but I think in ten to twenty years, that will have changed considerably.

Could Apple win its e-book case on appeal?

Well, well, well.

It looks like it is possible (some even think likely) that Apple will win its appeal of its conviction in the Department of Justice’s e-book case. There is a lot of buzz on this: here is one article

SF Gate article

Essentially, they argue that Judge Denise Cote blew it, and misinterpreted the law.

What happens if Apple does win?

It doesn’t invalidate anything else that’s already happened, as I understand it. The other publishers which have settled gave up the right to appeal (again, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my lay understanding of them making the agreement). The states’ Attorneys General case is also separate.

An Apple attorney made an interesting argument that the prices went up after the Apple deal because Amazon had been using its monopolistic power to keep prices low.

For me, that’s why the appeal might fail. Typically, anti-trust law is used to protect consumers, not producers (like publishers). I’m not sure a court is going to find that a monopoly which is making things better for consumers is doing something wrong…not that I’m saying Amazon was a monopoly in e-books (just really, really big).

We’ll keep an eye on this.

“…the book is back”

The book never went away. :)

Oh, in some segments it shed its corporeal body and became a being of light (digital, at least), but the book has always been there…and I my strong guess is that more people are reading books now than they were five years ago.

The headline quote, though, is from this interesting

The Guardian article by Robert McCrum

and is attributed to James Daunt, Chief Executive of the Waterstones bookstore chain in the UK.

I supposed one could say the business leader is “undaunted”, but that could get me in trouble in China. ;)

I recommend the article. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so perhaps it’s a bit more in my wheelhouse, but I think anyone might find it intriguing.

Waterstones has stabilized, and may see growth.

We can’t say the same thing about Barnes & Noble at this point.

I wonder if chain bookstores are going to be more likely to thrive outside the USA?

Digital adoption in many countries is actually higher than in the US…but that doesn’t necessarily go for e-books. The last I heard, the Japanese were slow to adopt them, for example.

Bestselling doesn’t mean most completed

Kobo has released (although I’ve looked, and can’t seem to find the full report) data on which books are bestselling for them in 2014…and which ones are completed the most.

That might be creepy, but yes, an e-book platform can typically tell how far you’ve read into a book (at least up to your last sync).

After all, how else could Amazon let you sync to the “farthest page read”?

According to this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

fewer than half of the people (44%) who start reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winner

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

finish it.

The article suggests that might be because of the length, but they also note that only 28% of readers of Solomon Northrup’s

Twelve Years A Slave (at AmazonSmile*)

finish it, and that’s about a quarter the length of Goldfinch.

I suspect it has more to do with people who aren’t serious readers getting those bestselling books, and often as gifts.

A lot of books are given as gifts. You can see how someone might give Northrup’s book as a gift to someone who loved the movie. That recipient might intend to read all of it, but just might not have the habit (and skill) of reading a book to start to finish.

Does it take skill?

I think so. I think those of us who read a lot have a lot of skills in finding the time and opportunity to do it!

Like a lot of things, you need to practice to be a great reader…many people can read, but not many people can average several books a month.

I also think people buy some of those bestsellers aspirationally: they’d like to read the book, they think they would be a better person if they read the book…the reality just overwhelms the intent.

I guess I’m saying that bestselling books are more likely than micromarket books to be started by someone who just isn’t likely to finish any book.

As I’ve written before (I’m saying that a lot this time! I guess that happens after more than five years of writing the same blog), I always finish every book I read…eventually.

I know that’s not true for many of you…you feel like you are wasting your time if you keep reading a book you don’t like. There are other books to read.

I understand that attitude…it’s just sort of the principal of the thing for me.

For example, I just finished reading a book…and I gave it one star in my

Goodreads revies

something I’ve never done before. According to Goodreads, that means I “didn’t like it”. Well, that’s true…despite thinking that it was well-written in some ways, I was offended by it. That’s not easy to do: I’m not somebody who is easily offended.

I have to say, though, that I was sorry when a commenter said they had deleted it unread based on my review.

I don’t want to hurt the author with the review…but I did want to give my honest opinion of it.

I read the whole book. Others might like it (it has an average of over three stars out of five at Goodreads, and 3.5 stars at Amazon).

I know, I know: I haven’t named the book here. When I polled my readers, book reviews by me weren’t one of their favorite parts of this blog, so I started doing them at Goodreads. I think naming the book here might have a bigger impact on it…if you are curious, you can read the review at the link above.

At any rate, I’m not surprised that the bestselling books are not the most finished. :)

What do you think? Are mass market books doomed? Are bookstores saved? Are you more likely to finish a book you bought for yourself than a book someone else gave you? Will Apple win on appeal? Should they? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Round up #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

December 6, 2014

Round up #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

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

Amazon improves author tracking

It’s nice to me to see that Amazon is working on improving the customer experience.

The ability to be notified when a new book is published to the Kindle store from an author you like seems like it would be a no brainer.

The customer is happy, Amazon gets a sale, the publisher is happy, the author is happy…it’s just a question of getting the infrastructure and user experience to be simple and robust enough.

In the past, we’ve had a kind of clunky way of doing it…and I would hear from people that it didn’t really work (they didn’t get notifications).

I don’t know if they’ve fixed the latter part yet, but they now have a much more elegant and sophisticated way to request updates:

Amazon’s Favorite Authors page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

From there, you can just tap an Add Favorite button.

Not only that, but it recommends authors for you, both ones that are similar to what you’ve favorited, and ones that you’ve reviewed positively.

I found that its linkages were very good: when I favorited an author, it made suggestions that made sense. Even in the case of authors I didn’t know, there were book cover thumbnails which made it clear that the connection was logical.

You can search for an author, or choose from popular ones.

You can decide whether or not you want your favorites displayed on your profile.

You can also edit your favorites here: and interestingly, those include books, movies, music, and others.

They also suggest more features are coming to this in the future.

The one suggestion I’m going to make to them first is that they add a place for us to comment on our favorites, which displays on the profile. That would make it much more social.

Ideally, they would make it that if someone went from your favorite on your page and purchased the book, you’d get an advertising fee or other credit of some kind, but I don’t expect that right away.

Almost whole-heartedly recommended a Kindle First book

This is what I recently wrote about this month’s Kindle First books:

Prime members, don’t forget to pick up your

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

You can get one of the four books to own (not borrow) for free…these are books which will be actually released next month. The choices this month are:

  • Marked (Servants of Fate Book 1) by Sarah Fine (romantic fantasy)
  • The Last Passenger
    by Manel Loureiro, Andrés Alfaro (suspense)
  • Fatal Puzzle (Zons Crime Book 1) by Catherine Shepherd, Julia Knobloch (thriller)
  • Guardians of the Night (A Gideon and Sirius Novel) by Alan Russell (mystery)

I’m going with The Last Passenger, and it was an easy choice. Loureiro is the author of the Apocalypse Z books, the first of which is the most reviewed book I listed above. They classify it as a suspense novel, but it involves time travel…one of my favorite subjects.

When I started reading

The Last Passenger (at AmazonSmile*)

I was quite pleased with it. It reminded me of the pulp hero Doc Savage (without a hero like that), and from me, that’s a compliment. ;) I was already seeing how it would be a good movie.

It was a great high camp set up, had interesting characters including the lead…and it was an excellent translation from the Spanish.

Unfortunately, a character was introduced who is so thunderingly stereotypical in a negative way that now I don’t know if I can even recommend it.

This book was published by AmazonCrossing, which gets books from other countries…so we may not be able to blame the Amazon editor for not saying, “Um, don’t you think you want to tone that down or give that character more depth and complexity?”

I (eventually) finish every book I read, and I’m liking the book except for this one element.

It’s unfortunate, and I do think it’s something an editor could have affected.

Fire TV Stick means cutting the cord

I will write a review comparing the

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

and the

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

(I have and use both), but I thought I’d mention that the Stick may mean that we finally “cut the cord” and eliminate TV services from our cable company (we’ll keep their internet…we have Comcast, and it works well for us).

Interestingly, part of what happened was that we bought a new TV:

32″ TV HDTV LED 720p Element Electronics (at AmazonSmile*)

The Fire TV Stick was coming, and we had a paleolithic Sony TV without an HDMI input. ;) I mean, seriously, Fred Flintstone would have felt at home with the old one. Both of us were grunting and groaning when we had to move it…and we are reasonably strong.

So, when we saw the Element on sale for under $150 on Black Friday weekend at Target, we got one. We have an Element TV already, and I like it. One thing I like is they are super light…I have taken our old one to work easily for a game night there.

However, our recorded Tivo programs looked quite muddy on it (while the Fire TV Stick looked fine). That might be a matter of recabling the Tivo (we also are using an old one of those).

So the question became: could we do without Tivo and the programs it records?

One element of that: Hulu Plus.

We haven’t had it. My Significant Other doesn’t want to watch TV on a mobile device, so Hulu couldn’t be a replacement for us easily until we had a TV that could show it…simply.

The Fire TV Stick and the new TV makes that combination work.

I still have to go through and compare our season passes and see what we can’t do (although mirroring my Kindle Fire HDX or my Fire Phone to the Fire TV Stick might solve some problems, if new episodes are available on network/studio websites…for free, of course) through Hulu to decide.

We aren’t heavy duty TV watchers, I’d say, although I have the CBS app running in the other room and I’m listening to it as I write right now.

Let me revise that: we don’t follow a lot of current TV shows. I watch Survivor live, usually, to avoid spoilers in the apps I use in the morning (Flipboard, CNN, Washington Post). Otherwise, seeing things as they happen is not that important to us…I’d say we could generally wait until the next season.

The exception would be that I have CNN on…a lot. However, I now have some other news apps that could take that place. Watchup, CBS, BBC…oh, I should mention: my BBC news app works on our Fire TV at this point but not on the Fire TV Stick. I assume they’ll work that out.

We’ll probably make the decision this weekend…well, before the next time we pay a cable bill, at any rate (rate…so to speak). ;)

goodreads CHOICE AWARDS 2014

The Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 (I went with their capitalization above) have been announced:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014

First, I have to say: why isn’t there an easy page for this at Amazon in the Kindle store?

There is a page

Goodreads Choice Award Winners (at AmazonSmile*)

but the 2014 ones aren’t there yet as a sub-page…and I didn’t see any link from the main Kindle store.

This is where I’d like a bit more synergy, Amazon. :) As I’ve said before, SMMSA (Sell Me More Stuff, Amazon). ;)

Here are the winners:

Enjoy! These might be safe gifts, as well…there are a lot of Goodreads users, so if you were looking for the mainstream choice, this might be a good way to go. You recipient (and you can delay the delivery until the appropriate date) will have the option to exchange it for a gift card.

What do you think? Have you ever had a situation where you found one element of a book offensive, but liked the rest? What did you do…did you read it? Do you have alternatives to suggest to the Goodreads winners? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

Round up #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

November 30, 2014

Round up #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

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

Digital Book World: 45 Percent of All Parents Plan to Purchase a New Device for Their Child to Read Ebooks [this holiday season]

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this!

Digital Book World has released their latest survey, and purchasing both of devices on to which to read e-books and e-books themselves appears to be up this year, based on their survey.

DBW Survey Highlights

It’s not unreasonable to question how objective a site called “Digital Book World” would be on this, but it’s worth noting that they partnered with PlayCollective.

According to the summary, 45% of parents (not legal guardians?) of children aged 2 to 13 plan to buy an e-book reading device (an EBR…E-Book Reader or a tablet, but the latter with the intent of reading books) this holiday season.

That’s up from last year by 4%.

I’ll note two other things, and then encourage you to read that summary…I don’t want to take too much away from it.

First, the most popular device for this is a Kindle (they didn’t break down which kind) at 26%.

Second, a full 75% plan to buy e-books for their kids this year, up 2% from last year.

As they say, “our children are the future”. If kids grow up reading e-books, they’ll very likely want to read them as adults.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that p-books (paperbooks) simply disappear…I expect them to stay around, as vinyl records have.

40 free apps of the day today

Finishing up today is a special Black Friday promotion with 40 apps which normally cost something being available for free today:

40 Free Apps of the Day today (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

There are some good choices here, and as usual, I’ve gotten them all. :) I have them delivered only to the Cloud, unless it’s something I want to start using soon. I figure, why not? Our guest who is here, currently using our

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile*) (on sale right now for $79, normally $99)

has a lot of choices!

I figure, why not get them? If they are stored in the Cloud, they aren’t taking up any room on our devices unless we choose to use one.

A few highlights of the offerings:

  • Bike Race Pro (normally $0.99): 4.6 out of 5 stars, 2761 customer reviews
  • Mind Games Pro ($4.99): 4.4 stars, 1011 reviews
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD ($2.99): 4.3 stars, 304 reviews
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition for Android ($24.00!) 4.4 stars, 29 reviews
  • Shredder Chess ($7.99): 4.7 stars, 14 reviews…supposedly, it plays chess somewhat like a human, making mistakes appropriate to the level you choose for it
  • Perfectly Clear ($2.99): 3.9 stars, 455 reivews…I’ve used this one to improve pictures I’ve previously taken. I find it works quite well

Price drops from price matching

This weekend (certainly through Cyber Monday), look for big price drops on some popular books…which won’t last.

I recommend (at any time, not this time of year) listing books at

eReaderIQ.com

They will give you a free e-mail notification when a book you specify drops an amount you specify.

I often tell people eReaderIQ is the most valuable resource for Kindleers on the web…this is just one of their free services.

Some drops I’ve noticed this weekend…note that they could change any time. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

  • Field of Prey by John Sanford: dropped to $3.75 from $8.99
  • The Collector by Nora Roberts: dropped to $3.75 from $10.49
  • Skin Game: a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: $3.75 from $11.99

I could keep going!

Hmm…clearly, $3.75 is a price point right now! Here’s a search for books that cost $3.75 in the USA Kindle store right now, sorted by most reviewed:

$3.75 books in the USA Kindle store by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Yep, that did it!

Wow!

Don’t wait on these, and don’t forget that they can make great gifts! You can delay a gift book to be delivered at the date of your choosing, and the recipient does not need a Kindle to read them (there are a lot of free Kindle reading apps). If they already have the book, they can get a gift card for the value instead, so there is really no risk.

Some of the ones I see: The Invention of Wings; Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander); Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King; The Silk Worm (J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith…this is the new one)…you want new popular books on sale, time’s a’wastin’! ;)

The Echo is learning

Some people who have gotten the Amazon Echo (no invitation for me yet) seem to be judging it as though it was as good as it was ever going to get. I even saw somebody say that “like most technology”, it was going to be obsolete as soon as you got it.

The Echo (ILMK Echo posts category) is not a self-enclosed device. When you bought a videogame console years ago, and you bought games for it, well, that was about it…no updates, it was what it was. To get a better experience, you would eventually have to buy another machine.

Kindles, on the other hand, are update pretty often (until they are out of the “front list” of current ones being sold, at least). Those are operating system upgrades, and they may bring us new features and better performance.

The Echo, though, can grow in a way different from either of those.

Most of what happens on the Echo happens in the Cloud…not in your house.

Right now, the Echo “hive mind” is learning from what someone is doing with the device.

I’ve seen anecdotal reports already of something not working at first, then reporting it, and then having it work. One example was a band with a quirky spelling to the name (two words smashed together…and I think there was a number in there, too). Two people reported Echo not understanding it…then, it did!

Another example is that, according to the help pages, you ask it for a “Flash Briefing” to get the local weather and the news. Now, apparently, you can get the same thing just by saying, “Alexa, news”.

Oh, “Alexa”, by the way, is the name of a company Amazon bought about 15 years ago. You can currently change the “listening prompt” to “Amazon”, and they are working are more prompts. Eventually, you may be able to choose your own.

My point about this updating that’s happening is that it happens in the Cloud…not on your device.

If you have an Echo, please keep reporting how it works. I’ve been told you can say, “Alexa, that was wrong” to flag the question and response for review.

It also appears to be getting a lot of joke responses as people say things like, “Alexa, beam me up” or “Open the pod bay doors”. My intuition here is those are also being improved regularly.

Essentially, Alexa is what used to be called a “dumb terminal” for the most part. Its music playing hardware  is one thing, but the conversational skills are handled at Amazon…so those can be updated on the hardware you have.

Eventually, there will be newer models with more capabilities, including perhaps faster response times (although it seems pretty fast now), but I wouldn’t worry about yours becoming quickly out of date.

Both my Significant Other and my now adult kid are creeped about by the idea of the Echo, and my kid doesn’t even want to be in the same house as one. :) I said that was going to be inevitable, but hopefully, I get an invitation and get one after this visit is over, so we don’t have that issue. Otherwise, I suppose I can unplug it while my kid is in the house.

My Fire TV Stick is here!

While I was writing this, my

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

arrived! I took a quick break to set it up…that was basically plugging it into the power and the HDMI outlet on our TV (we just bought a new TV today…we had one that was at least ten years old as our main TV. I would have waited until the holidays, but we saw an Element ((that’s a brand I like)) at a great price at Target: under $150 for 32″).

I just had to give it our network password, and it’s downloading the latest updates now!

I’ll write a review of it soon. With our kid here, my writing time has been a bit curtailed (family first), but hopefully, in the next few days.

I want to get this out now, so people don’t miss the $3.75 price on the books and the free apps!

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

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

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

Round up #276: PRH on subsers, Boehner blocks

November 15, 2014

Round up #276: PRH on subsers, Boehner blocks

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

No Active Content for the Voyage?

This question had come up before, but according to this

post in The Digital Reader by Nate Hoffelder

Amazon is not planning to add Active Content for the

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

their flagship model.

Hoffelder reports having been told by Amazon that their “…focus is on building the best purpose-built reading devices.”

I suppose I can understand as a goal, but Active Content is one of those really non-intrusive things. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t. Games have been on the Kindles since the very first one in 2007 (although the games on that one were hidden…I played Minesweeper on mine, though). It’s an interesting decision.

There are over 1,500 customer reviews for

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

in the USA Kindle store, with an average rating of 4.3 stars (out of 5). There have been ten reviews at time of writing in November 2014…and almost all of them were five stars.

It’s currently ranked #2,397 free in the Kindle store…out of 64,497, making it in the top 4% of sellers.

My guess is that this really has more to do with associated expenses (adapting the Amazon published ones for new models, customer service) than it really has to do with what customers say. However, I have had e-mail exchanges with the person listed by Hoffelder, and that person has always seemed nice and knowledgeable to me…so I’m sure there is some evidence for what the rep says.

$80 worth of apps free through Saturday 11/15

While I probably do more reading on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

than I do anything else (counting text-to-speech as reading…which I do), it certainly isn’t a “purpose-built reading device”.

I’m sure some people would argue that Amazon is turning away from Active Content to encourage people to buy Fires…but I think they’d be happiest if people had both. ;)

For those of you who do use a Fire and want apps, Amazon has a promotion going on through today (Saturday) with $80 worth of apps being given away. They are calling it an

App Toolbox (at AmazonSmile*)

Note that not all of these will work on a Fire tablet (the ones that don’t may work on the Fire Phone, if you are one of the rarities like me who owns one). ;)

Titles include:

  • Office Calculator Pro: 4.4 stars, 172 reviews
  • MathsApp Graphing Calculator: 4.4 stars, 63 reviews
  • EasyTether: 4.3 stars, 861 reviews
  • Open Document Reader: 5.0 stars, 3 reviews
  • Oxford Dictionary of English: 3.5 stars, 8 reviews…normally $24.99

and twelve more.

Amazon and others advocate for Equal Collection Legislation

It’s been a while since I’ve written about this issue, but it’s back in the news.

Congress is considering a bill which would mean that sales tax would be collected on online purchases in a way similar to how it is collected now in brick and mortar stores.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both support the current legislation, along with many other entities.

The

National Retail Federation

has sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, urging passage. Unfortunately, every link on their website to that letter is failing for me…they may be overwhelmed because of the coverage.

Why does this matter now?

If the current bill isn’t passed before the new Congress takes over in January of 2015, it’s dead…and they have to start all over (again).

It might surprise you that Amazon and B&N are on the same side on this.

Amazon has argued for it before. They don’t want there to be lots of different rules about how this happens all over the country: they want one clear sales tax collection policy (not rate, policy) at the national level.

This (and previous bills) bill is not about people owing more taxes, but it would certainly mean that many people pay more.

Check the sales tax category (linked at the end of this post) for more information, but essentially, what happens now is that many people are supposed to pay tax on things they buy on the internet…and they don’t. Every year, my family adds more when we pay our State taxes for those uncollected taxes…it would be far easier if they just collected them at the time of purchase.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to track your in-store purchases yourself to figure out what sales tax you owed?

Amazon has repeatedly said that when they are in situations where sales tax is collected on their purchases, it doesn’t hurt their market share.

I believe that. Oh, that’s not to say that some people might buy very expensive items from Amazon to avoid having sales tax collected. Of course, they might be quite surprised if they ever get audited…not having paid that will not get you invited to the IRS offices for tea. ;) It might get you invited somewhere else less pleasant, though…

According to this

The Hill article by Bernie Becker

Speaker Boehner is blocking the bill, despite some significant bipartisan support.

It’s worth noting that not every state would collect sales tax on e-books anyway (California doesn’t, when they are delivered electronically…at least, that’s how it was last time I looked), but this still could affect Kindleers.

PRH C.E.O. doesn’t like subsers

Generally, I’ve found Random House to be pretty forward thinking…but this

The Bookseller article by Benedicte Page

makes me question that.

C.E.O. (Chief Executive Officer) Tom Weldon of Penguin Random House makes several statements.

One of them has to do with keeping e-book royalty rates the same, but the headline item is really about not believing in subsers (subscription services), like Amazon’s

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

In this short excerpt, Weldon is quoted as saying:

“We are not convinced it is what readers want. ‘Eat everything you can’ isn’t a reader’s mindset. In music or film you might want 10,000 songs or films, but I don’t think you want 10,000 books.”

Well, as someone with something like 10,000 paperbooks on my shelves, I beg to differ. ;)

Certainly, it usually takes longer to read a book than it does to listen to a song or watch a movie, so you might think you need access to fewer…but you still need to make the choices as to which ones to consume.

While I think there is a lot future in curation (people, and perhaps software, picking books that you are likely to like), having a variety is important now.

Let’s say you like 1% of the books that are published each year. 10,000 gives you one to enjoy every three days. That’s a pretty good pace.

I think subsers are a big part (but not the only part) of the book market in the next few years, and I suspect Random House may come on board with it. Weldon didn’t rule it out, although the CEO thought they were more likely to succeed in emerging markets. If they did there, that might encourage them to join in more developed markets.

I recommend the article: see what Weldon has to say about PRH selling directly to consumers…I think what’s said there is wise.

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

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

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

 

Round up #275: why the Echo will succeed…and why it won’t, Amazon’s Best Books of 2014

November 8, 2014

Round up #275: why the Echo will succeed…and why it won’t, Amazon’s Best Books of 2014

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

Amazon’s 2014 Best Books of the Year

Amazon has announced their

2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Kindle Format (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I went right away to look at something that I think most people might not consider: who the publishers were.

I was curious as to whether Amazon was going to stick mostly with traditionally published books (which might give their list more legitimacy in the eyes of the literati), whether they would include books traditionally published by Amazon, and whether Hachette might be downplayed (because of the ongoing contract dispute I refer to as the Hachazon War) and perhaps Simon & Schuster upplayed (since they reached a contract with them).

I wasn’t expecting the Hachette/Simon & Schuster thing, really…presumably these lists take months to compile, and although the Hachazon War has gone on long enough, the S&S agreement is new.

Here is how it breaks down for the top 10:

  1. Penguin Press (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  2. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  3. Doubleday (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  4. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  5. Penguin Press (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  6. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  7. William Morrow (HarperCollins)
  8. Knopf  (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  9. Putnam  (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  10. Knopf  (PRH…Penguin Random House)

No Hachette or indie (independently published) or Amazon tradpubbed book in the top ten…interesting. Certainly PRH publishes a lot more books (I believe I’ve seen that that one publisher is as big as the other four in the Big Five combined), but still, it suggests there is a difference.

Continuing down the list, I noticed two from Amazon’s “Little A” tradpub imprint (#75 and #78), and finally, down at #97, one from Hachette’s Grand Central. I checked: the Grand Central one doesn’t appear to be delayed for delivery right now, and I didn’t see a banner directing me to buy something else. It was $12.99.

The lack of Hachetter representation could be coincidence, of course…and there was one, so it wasn’t a disqualification…

I’m a bit disappointed that we don’t see real indies on here, from what I can tell…although what may happen is the indies get bought up by a tradpub. That’s what happened with

The Martian (at AmazonSmile*)

by Andy Weir, which is also soon to be a major motion picture.

Lists: as always, intriguing and challenge-provoking. ;)

My new favorite video news app

Our

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

hasn’t quite allowed us to totally “cut the cord” yet and give up cable. One of the barriers to that for me has been the 24 hour news channels. I like watching those, and while you can watch CNN on the CNN app, you can only do that if you verify for them that you are paying for CNN with a cable/dish company…at least, that’s how it was last time I looked.

Now, though, I am liking

Watchup (at AmazonSmile*)

which gives me current CNN stories…among other things.

I’ve only started using it, and it will “learn” me over time and as I give it more input.

Right away, though, it does have major news channel coverage (including CNN) of major events…same day, I think. It also has specialized news.

This is something different from others I’ve tried, where you don’t see the mainstream stuff.

The interface is okay…and it will just go from story to story without your intervention, so you can have it on while you are brushing your teeth or working out (or, you know, sometimes I do both at the same time). ;)

You don’t have to set up anything for it to work, but for it to work best, you do a free account…and you vote stories up or down.

I don’t find I have time to vote when I’m watching it on my Fire TV while I’m doing something else…there is only a three second window.

You can, though, pause playback, and get to where you can vote stories up and down.

Overall, this does move us closer to cutting the cord: Sky News, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Univision, euronews, c|net…quite a few.

It’s free, so worth trying on your Fire TV or on your phone. I haven’t been a news watcher on my SmartPhone, but I have found myself having it on in the background at work (with earphones)…you do need to be connected to a network, though, so if you aren’t on wi-fi, be aware of the possible data costs.

Why the Amazon Echo will succeed…and why it won’t

I recently wrote about Amazon’s market-defining new device:

Amazon reinvents…life? Amazon Echo

It’s been really interesting to read intelligent people commenting on it.

Many tech folks (and others) are down on it. They don’t understand why people would pay that amount of money for something they can do on their phones, and they also refer to it as just a sales channel for Amazon. Of course, they are also comparing it to the

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

which clearly didn’t meet Amazon’s expectations…I think I might have bought the only one in North America. ;) Just kidding…but they mention it as a drag on the bottom line during their recent financial call.

I think there is a pretty good chance it defines a new market, and is a success.

They are being much smarter about how they are introducing it than they were with the Fire Phone…really building up demand. Amazon was very clever to introduce it at apparently two prices: $199 for most people, $99 for (invited) Prime members. I’ve seen people say, “I wouldn’t pay $200 for it, but $99 seems like a bargain.” I suspect many of the same people would have said, “I wouldn’t pay $100 for it, but $50 seems like a bargain” if Amazon had set the prices that way. ;)

Prime members are seeing it as saving $100, and feeling pretty special about it…both of those are good things. After all, if you buy it, you’ve saved the cost of your Prime membership for that year, right? ;)

Techies think nothing of whipping out their phones at home to ask a question. For a lot of people, there is a considerable amount of friction in doing that. Some folks actually have their phones turned off at home, charging. Some people are intimidated by their phones, not enamored of them. Having this “always on” device in your house will feel very different to them.

For it to be a success, it needs to do two things:

  • It has to be the simplest interface to the internet and shopping ever. It has to be much simpler than that phone. It has to understand us, and give us the answers we want
  • It has to integrate with things, so it doesn’t become just an isolated disembodied voice. It will work with music, but it needs to quickly work with TV (through the Fire TV and Fire TV stick, I would guess), and other items…maybe your car. “Alexa, ,turn on the car and warm it up…baby, it’s cold outside!” “Alexa, make me some coffee.” All of that is entirely possible

I think those sorts of things will happen, although there does have to be a virtuous circle of market penetration and attractive features…the more people who use it, the more will be made available for it to do…the more it is able to do, the more people will use it.

Why might it fail?

  • It doesn’t understand us well enough and doesn’t do enough…those are both “ifs”
  • People are concerned about the privacy…I doubt that will be the case. I don’t think most people worry about that that much. Sure, hypothetically, the NSA could hack into it and listen to all your conversations, but this isn’t the only or most likely channel for that
  • Somebody else introduces something cheaper and better…again, I don’t think that will happen quickly. I think it will define a market and there will be competitors, but I think the Echo will dominate
  • It’s just too expensive…it wouldn’t surprise me if it costs $50 three years from now. Producers paying Amazon for referrals through Echo will subsidize the price, driving it down. Amazon doesn’t need to make money from consumers if it can make money from producers by becoming the new infrastructure…I think that’s their real golden path

That new KFHDX update

I manually updated my Kindle Fire HDX to the update which I told you about yesterday:

Profiles are here for the KFHDX

The look of everything is much better. They’ve done something which has really enhanced the crispness, and they’ve made the visual interface items cleaner.

I realized today that I can set up another Amazon account with another e-mail address of my own, so I’ll test that out for you.

They took away the “modern art” clock they had, which I did enjoy. I literally use my KFHDX as my nightstand clock, and I miss having those two growing circles (one for hours, one for minutes). Also, the time moves around the screen, which is weird.

The Carousel now has a lot fewer items on it…it does seem to be growing as I use it, and I know a lot of people complained about having hundreds of items on it.

I now have text-to-speech for National Geographic! That might have been there before, but I’m not positive.

Overall, I’m liking the update…have to play around with the profiles.

What do you think? What do you think were the best books of 2014? Were there indies that stood out to you? If you are using Goodreads (now owned by Amazon), I think you can go back and check which ones you read this year. Will the Echo succeed or fail…or be somewhere in-between? Will, perhaps, the Echo rescue the Fire Phone, if it gets a great interface with it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #274: the adventure of the standing ruling, infringer down

November 5, 2014

Round up #274: the adventure of the standing ruling, infringer down

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

Infringing site taken down

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that a site was reproducing all of the posts in this blog…every day..verbatim…without permission.

One of my readers, Clint Bradford, suggested I use

http://www.whois.com/

to find out who the host was, to report the infringement.

That didn’t work exactly, because the company it said was hosting it wasn’t actually the right one.  It identified GoDaddy, and that company was nice enough to give me the accurate name, lunarpages.

After informing lunarpages, within days, the site was down.

To me, this is a story about the good in the world.

The website was infringing…that’s not good, although it could have been done out of ignorance.

I first notified Google AdSense, and they apparently pulled their ads…thanks, Google!

Then Clint helped me…thanks, Clint!

Then GoDaddy helped me…thanks, GoDaddy! They weren’t under any obligation to do that.

Then lunarpages helped me…thanks, lunarpages!

On balance, there was a lot more good in this sequence than bad…and that’s the assessment I generally make of the world. :)

Fire TV $15 off

I use our

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

every day, and it’s on sale right now for $84 instead of $99. They’ve been putting it on sale on and off, and there may be more sales before the holidays…although I don’t think this specific sale will be continuous until then.

You can get that one right away, unlike the

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

which is currently expected to arrive for consumers placing new orders after January 16, 2015. I’m glad I recommended that people jump on the chance to buy it…and lots of people did do so!

These two devices will work well with the new Prime benefit announced today in this

press release

With Prime photos, Prime members get unlimited Cloud storage of their photos…and can view them easily on many devices.

That is a really nice additional benefit: we now have shipping; Prime video; Prime music; the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library; and early access to Lightning deals.

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Sherlock Holmes case

I’ve written before about a legal fight going on over the copyright status of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a bit tricky. In the USA, most of the original Holmes stories are clearly in the public domain. There are a few stories, though, that are not. The estate essentially argued that, when people write fiction about Holmes, it is likely influenced (and some cases, specifically so) by those still under protection works…so that new unauthorized may be infringing.

The Supreme Court declined to review a lower court ruling saying that wasn’t the case…making it okay to write new Holmes works without obtaining permission or paying royalties, but keeps the ten stories which were under protection in that condition.

In other words, you can go ahead and write a new Holmes story…

Fun image

EBOOK FRIENDLY is especially good at finding clever e-book related images, and I thank them for the heads up on this one:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/132996995221820561/

Star Libraries

This is a fascinating

Library Journal article by Ray Lyons & Keith Curry Lance

It analyzes libraries in some very intriguing ways. One thing is that people are now trying to measure the impact a given library has on the community…the article says specifically:

Outcomes are an entirely different matter. They are changes experienced by library users—changes in knowledge, skills, attitude, behavior, status, or condition.

One of the stats they give us is circulation per capita…and the library listed with the highest is in Avalon, New Jersey, with a very high 121.6. The next one only has 95.5, so you can see it is a stand-out.

Why your favorite author’s next book isn’t finished

This

Buzzfeed article by Arianna Rebolini

reports on a survey of authors by Stop Procrastinating about what distracts them from writing.

23% said “videos of animal internet celebrities”, while 4% said…sex.

Hm… ;)

What do you think? If you are a writer, what keeps you from writing? I hope reading is on that list! After all, that’s probably one of the best fuels for the literary engine. Are you satisfied with the outcome of the infringing site being taken down…or do you think that was too harsh or not harsh enough? Do you think libraries should be measured by their impacts…or should they simply stand as a public good with no performance evaluation? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #273: what Edith Wharton and Scarlett Johansson have in common, the Everything Store store

October 10, 2014

Round up #273: what Edith Wharton and Scarlett Johansson have in common, the Everything Store store

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

The New Yorker cartoon about Amazon

A reader alerted me in a private e-mail (thanks, reader! If you want credit, let me know) about this

New Yorker cartoon by Sip Ress

It illustrates how some people feel about Amazon (present company excepted…I assume). ;)

Amazon webcast of Q3 financials

Amazon has announced that they will webcast their third quarter financials (they always webcast them) on Thursday, October 23, at 2:00 PM Pacific.

You can listen live at

www.amazon.com/ir

or listen to the recording later at the same site. I’ll let you know what I think. This is an interesting one, because of all the controversy with Hachette (and other things), the launch of the Fire Phone, and Kindle Unlimited. I think the last one must be working pretty well, since they are expanding it to other markets.

This

Seeking Alpha article by ValueWalk

suggests it may be a better report than some people projected.

“You know what this website needs? Walls…”

According to this

New York Daily News article by Katherine Clarke

and other sources (it seems to have started with the New York Times, but they like to keep their stuff from you with a paywall…I try to make this simple for you when I can), Amazon is going to open a brick and mortar (or as Clarke cleverly called it, “clicks and mortar”) store in New York City.

Don’t expect to walk into it and see twenty million books. :) It will probably serve two main purposes.

The first is as a showroom for Amazon hardware and such. You know, they can have Kindles and Fires (tablets, TV, phones) on display, and let you get hands on. Gee, this is a case where showrooming (something that many brick and mortar stores hate: people come into their store to check out items, feel them…and then buy them online) is a good thing. ;)

That makes sense: it’s not a store/store, it’s a live demo.

The other thing they are likely to do it “order online, pick up in person”. That would only be for a limited number of items if you wanted to pick it up the same day, and could be far more if you are willing to wait a couple of days.

It seems pretty unlikely to me, as a former retailer, that the store can sell enough merchandise in that location to be profitable…but if you chalk it up to advertising expense, it makes sense.

New York Comic Con

It may not be as big as San Diego Comic Con, but New York Comic Con is happening this weekend. You can expect some tie-in deals from Amazon: one of my regular readers, Brian Hartman, commented on this, noticing it on trade paperbacks (the large size).

While Amazon recently bought the very popular Comixology app, they also have comic books available directly through the Kindle store:

Comic Books in the USA Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m not noticing a big sale there, but I did stumble across that there are over 4,000 comic books available as part of Kindle Unlimited! I keep seeing more and more value to that subscription…

Some books coming to TV

Movies and TV based on books can really drive up book sales…Gone Girl is #1 in the Kindle store right now, for example.

So, here’s a quick listing of some upcoming adaptations. Note that they might never make it to your screen…you never know for sure.

  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy on Spike
  • Steven Frey’s The Chairman on Spike
  • Richard D. Bronson’s War at the Shore on Spike
  • Mairi Hedderwick’s Katie Morag books on CBBC
  • Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel The Custom of the Country (to star Scarlett Johanssson), network to be determined
  • Dan Brown’s The Digital Fortress on ABC
  • Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, network to be determined

What do you think? Is there a book you would like to see adapted to TV? would you be excited to go to an Amazon physical store. Do you have  a prediction on Amazon’s Q3 financials? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

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

October 4, 2014

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

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

I have a Mindle Touch

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

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

for review.

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

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

I’m guessing they are counting it this way:

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

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

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

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

Amazon announces Fire OS 4…on my device

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

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

What is it bringing?

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

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

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

Amazon sends more info on their crowd-sourced publishing program

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

Dear Author,

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can contact Amazon about it here:

newpublishingprogram@amazon.com

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

Amazon still working on the KOLL/KU problem

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

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

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

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

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

Seeking Alpha round-up

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

Update: Fire Phone And Kindle Voyage Developments by Paulo Santos

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

2 Reasons Why Amazon Will Never Make Money by Shock Exchange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round up #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

September 30, 2014

Round up #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

Attacking Amazon

Rage is all the rage right now. ;)

Even though I expect the

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

to do very well, and we are getting the Family Library (sharing books across accounts…although, presumably, in a limited fashion), and I bet we are going to get more cool services from Amazon in 2014 (expanding Firefly, the “real world recognition” software from Amazon is part of that…I find I’m using it pretty often to identify an actor on a TV episode, and to enter food into MyFitnessPal (at AmazonSmile*)), this is year where Amazon has been under attack…and I expect some of those aggressions are going to leave a mark (at least for a while).

Four years ago, I was writing about how super agent Andrew Wiley was in conflict with Random House over Wiley bringing e-book versions exclusively to Amazon.

Wylie riles

Now, Wylie has this to say:

If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.”

I guess it’s a good thing Random House got Wylie to back down…wouldn’t have wanted to see the poor thing get caught up in such a den of iniquity. ;)

Just kidding: I’m sure Andrew Wylie would say that Amazon isn’t the same place it was four years ago…and that Random House didn’t make the agent change any plans.

Then there is this

Salon article by Jim Hightower

which three ups Wylie by giving us “4 ways Amazon’s ruthless practices are crushing local economies”.

Hightower says:

“Amazon is insidious, far more dangerous and destructive to our culture’s essential values than Walmart ever dreamed of being.”

You see? It’s not just our literary culture, it’s our culture’s essential values.

I say it’s time to get the pitchforks and torches and storm the castle! Oh, we don’t have any pitchforks and torches? Here, I’ll 1-click some…we’ll be ready in two days. ;)

The 10 commandments of a book lover

The ever reliable EBOOK FRIENDLY has this

article by Ola Kowalczyk

with an image by Brittany Foster of ten commandments of a book lover.

I don’t agree with all of these, but I think it’s a fun graphic…and I wanted something fun after the first story.

I’ll just list one to whet your appetite:

“Thou shalt have more book covered surfaces in thine residence than not.”

Banned Books Week

Last week was Banned Books Week

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

and I realized I didn’t write anything about it.

Well, I could say that I did and it was censored, but that wouldn’t be true. ;)

I have written about it in years past, and I think readers know…I would always err on the side of openness. I would rather that someone reads something they “shouldn’t” than that ten people aren’t allowed to read something they should.

I believe that you want people exposed to ideas that you don’t like. It’s the only way they can judge them…you don’t want to be sprung on them when they aren’t expecting it.

For me, I’d say, “Let the hate speakers speak.” I don’t like it…I’m even thinking I was too harsh on Andrew Wylie in the first story (even it was in fun). However, hateful ideas are a bit like vampires…sunlight destroys them. If somebody thinks that all of x group should be hurt in some way, I want to know that before they do it…not after. I want the power of laughter and rational thinking to be unleashed. I want to give their opponents an opportunity to challenge the ideas in open forum.

There is an argument for age appropriateness for me. My feeling is that once your sense of right and wrong is reasonably established, a book advocating “evil” things won’t make you evil…but you may be open to a book advocating “good” things, which can make you a better person.

I’m always surprised, though, when families don’t want their children exposed to ideas different from theirs (I’m not talking about porn, here, but philosophical differences). It always makes me think that you must not consider your ideas to be very strong, or your child to have much respect for you.

I wanted our child to choose our ideas because the kid agreed with them…not because there was no other choice offered. We don’t agree on everything now that our kid is an adult, of course, but some of our fundamentals are the same…and we can accept the differences.

If you’ve never seen differences, how can you possibly accept them?

My First Bookstore

This

Huffington Post article by Celeste Ng

is an interesting remembrance, and comparison of the bookstore experiences of our youths with those of being a parent.

I don’t remember which was my first bookstore…because there have been so many.

I would go into a bookstore and spend hours there (and no, I’m not talking about when I managed one). ;)

I think I remember most dusty, cramped, used bookstores…there was such a hope there that you would discover a long lost treasure, a book that might change your world.

Oh, I haven’t told you this before…and it’s one of the weirder things in my life.

There was a comic book/science fiction store I would visit. On more than one occasion, I swear I would arrive there before I left.

I even demonstrated that to people. We’d leave the house at, say, 3:15, and get there at 3:05 (I think the trip should have been about twenty minutes, as I recall).

It made sense in a sci fi way, but I couldn’t quite explain it.

I’m sure that will surprise some of you, because I think I sometimes come across as very scientifically based…and this certainly doesn’t fit in with science. :)

My best weird story like that was in high school.

I had a history teacher I liked…we got along well. I remember asking if I could teach the causes of the Civil War one day, and was allowed to do that…it went very well.

So, one Friday, this teacher told a joke in our class: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” Yes, they do…fruit flies like all kinds of fruit. :)

I thought that was funny, and repeated it to friends.

Monday morning, the teach told the same joke. The teacher looked and me and said, “You’re not laughing.”

I said, “I thought it was funny on Friday.”

The teacher denied telling it on Friday…and the rest of the class denied hearing it. I was thinking they must have forgotten it, and then the teacher said, “It was in Herb Caen this morning.”

Herb Caen was a famous San Francisco area columnist, and I checked…sure enough, it was there Monday morning, and not Friday (I’m not sure I have the particulars right, but the basic story is right).

The people to whom I’d told it Friday? They remembered me telling it to them…and telling them I’d heard it in that teacher’s class.

Interesting that it was that joke…seems apropos.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite childhood bookstore? What made it special? Will Amazon shrug off the criticism? Will it drive them to give us more practical benefits…or eventually crush them or cause them to raise prices? What if you couldn’t take your child to a bookstore…would spending time online with them looking at books be similar? Would going to a public library be the same? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

September 25, 2014

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

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

Unlimited Finds #1

I do think that

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

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

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

It’s much more than that.

I recently ran across a book in KU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wish with Tweets

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

In this

press release

today, they announced “Wish with Tweets”.

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

#AmazonWishList

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

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

#AmazonCart

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

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

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

Here’s some more information:

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

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

This is fascinating!

According to this

The Digital Reader post by Nate Hoffelder

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

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

Amazon posts a few pages of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s more like a competition reality TV show.

My guess?

This will work.

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

Why would it not work?

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

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

Kindle Fire HDX update

My

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

updated yesterday to version 13.3.2.6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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