Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

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.

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

September 16, 2014

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

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

Should Amazon buy Radio Shack?

Several articles are talking about Rob Peck of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s suggestion that Amazon could buy Radio Shack if the latter declares bankruptcy. Here’s one that I thought had a good discussion of the idea:

MarketWatch article by Jennnifer Booton

I don’t really see it. They certainly don’t want the name or the operating strategy. Generally, when Amazon takes over a business (IMDb, GoodReads, Zappos) it keeps the name and the business runners…and the basic system.

Would owning the physical stores do them any good? Well, first, that would depend on the leases, but let’s skip that.

Many Radio Shacks now are tiny, and they don’t seem to me to have a good layout. I don’t think people would go to an old location out of habit, and then shop at an Amazon store.

They are in expensive malls in many cases.

I suppose they could become lockers, where you can pick up your Amazon orders in your town, but it doesn’t seem like the most efficient place to do it.

Would a strictly Amazon hardware place work? Kindles, Kindle Fires, Fire TVs, Fire Phones? Nope, I don’t see it…maybe as a pop up store at the holidays, but not year round.

It’s not to Amazon’s advantage to encourage you to go to physical stores. They live online…it would be like a shark trying to stalk a New York alley. ;)

Who had a bad summer?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find another three month period that was so negative for Amazon, in terms of public relations. Yes, people didn’t like it when Amazon removed a George Orwell book from their Kindles, and they are still having some repercussions from that, but generally, they got past it.

Recently (in the September 5th issue), Entertainment Weekly did a Summer Winners & Losers piece. In the books category, they classified Amazon as a loser, saying in part that they had made enemies of “…book publishers, the German Government, George Orwell’s estate, and Stephen Colbert — to name a few.”

The

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

is being pegged (prematurely, in my opinion) as a loser. I have one myself, and there are some real attractions to it. I’ve recently used Firefly a few times to identify TV shows: worked great! Within about ten seconds, it could tell me the name of the episode, who the actors are, and so on. I suspect Amazon will give it three years…if developers start really building for Firefly and dy-per (dynamic perspective), I think it could be a solid 15% player in the SmartPhone market…and a much bigger moneymaker than that for Amazon.

However, Amazon’s success (in terms of sales and market share, not profit) has depended to a large extent, in my opinion, on good will with customers. It doesn’t help that many of the customers’ favorite authors are part of Authors United, which is about to send a new letter to the Amazon boardmembers. You can read the letter here:

http://www.authorsunited.net/

It’s worth reading. They make some important points, including that many of them are not Hachette authors, and are therefore not directly impacted by what I call the Hachazon war.

I think this short excerpt from the letter sums up the argument:

“Since its founding, Amazon has been a highly regarded and progressive brand. But if this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company’s fine reputation last?”

Going to the Board (and publishing their contact information) is an interesting tactic. The Board could pressure the company to change a position.

That’s not to say that I agree with everything in the letter. Amusingly, they suggest that Amazon can’t be forced into doing anything. I say that’s amusing, because Amazon has in the past always lost when they’ve gone up against the big publishers…text-to-speech and the Agency Model are two good examples. In the latter case, it took the Department of Justice to make a change.

That history might be part of what may have convinced Amazon to do an “end around”…to try to keep customers without being so reliant on the tradpubs (traditional publishers). We now see that many of Amazon’s bestsellers are not published by the tradpubs. Would it take a long time to get people to make that switch? Sure, but Amazon is famous for taking the long view.

That can’t possibly do it if the customers aren’t on their side, though…

Checking in on my free Flipboard magazines

I continue to be amazed at the growth of my free Flipboard magazines.

The main idea is that you can use the

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

app, which I read every morning anyway on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

to “flip” articles into a magazine of yours, which you make available to other people for free.

To me, it’s a different medium, in the way that Twitter is.

I doubt I’ve had anything else which has reached more people…although I don’t make any money directly from it, and it certainly doesn’t satisfy my creative nature like this blog does.

Don’t worry…I still love you best. ;)

The Measured Circle

“A geeky mix of pop culture, tech, and the weird world”

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

  • 2,278 readers
  • 5,630 page flips (by other people of my article choices)
  • 6,124 articles

ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

“The long-running blog about the world of e-books and publishing, which is one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store, brings you related news stories”

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

  • 654 readers
  • 35,590 (!) page flips
  • 3,607 articles

The Weird Old Days

“Has the world always been weird? These news stories from the 19th and early 20th centuries bring you tales of lake monsters, the Hollow Earth, ghosts, and more! Edited by Bufo Calvin, of The Measured Circle blog. Note: these articles reflect the culture of their times. As such, they may use terms and concepts which some modern readers will find offensive”

 http://flip.it/ZtmYw

  • 112 readers
  • 381 page flips
  • 269 articles

Doc Savage Fanflip

“Doc Savage, the forerunner of Superman and Batman, has been one of my fictional heroes for a very long time. Thanks in part to Doc, I try to better myself to help others, and to do so with “…no regard for anything but justice.” A “fanflip” is my new term for a Flipboard magazine by a fan, dedicated to one topic. I will bring you not only Doc Savage news, but Doc stories and resources from around the web. Think of it as a scrapbook with news.”

http://flip.it/HJShc

  • 100 readers
  • 272 page flips
  • 89 articles

As you can see, The Measured Circle has the most readers…but ILMK has by far the most article flips by other people.

For more information on them, see Update on my free Flipboard magazines.

What do you think? What would Amazon’s best strategy be to get public opinion back…or do you think they haven’t lost it? Do you think Amazon is working to make the tradpubs irrelevant to their success strategy? Should Amazon buy Radio Shack? Would that be like Futurama coming back after it was canceled? ;) Should Amazon even have brick and mortar stores? 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 #268: KU and KOLL, Apple check?

September 11, 2014

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

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

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

Borrowing from the KOLL when you are a KU member

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Tom Semple for this!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, useful info…thanks, Tom!

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

I recently wrote about Amazon’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, Amazon made their announcement before Apple made theirs…

Apple Settlement: you may get a check

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

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

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

Here is most of it:

Dear Kindle Customer,

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

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

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

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

Notice ID Number: [deleted]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference: [deleted]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Round up #267: page 45, Neuromancer deal

September 7, 2014

Round up #267: page 45, Neuromancer deal

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

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal

In today’s

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

there are two deals which stand out to me.

Neuromancer by William Gibson came out in 1984, and won the Hugo, the Nebula, and Philip K. Dick award…and profoundly influenced geek thinking. You can get it today for $1.99…either for yourself, or maybe delay delivery for an appropriate gift giving occasion. It’s quite possible that even the way you are reading this was influenced by ideas in this book. 4.0 stars out of 5, 813 customer reviews.

The other deal is on twenty Iris Johansen titles for $2.99 each. There are a bunch of Eve Duncan books in this group, and others.

If you want to buy rather than borrow (through Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), these are good deals.

Page 45 status

Humans are great at finding linkages and patterns in things…even if they don’t actually exist. ;)

That has led to all sorts of fortune telling techniques, among other things.

I put together a CD with hundreds of small sound clips from movies and TV, gathered from

http://www.dailywav.com/

which is a great site for that sort of thing. It’s been around since 1995, and is nicely organized. They also comply with rightsholders, and I think that they are within Fair Use with what they do.

I have listened to it many times in the car (before I had text-to-speech…I listen to books, now). I would put it on shuffle, and I called it “The Magic Clip Ball”. One way to “use” it would be to think of a question, and then whatever quotation came up next was the “advice” for you. That was often fun!

My adult kid recently made me aware of a “viral book status”.

To quote:

“Pick up the nearest book to you and turn to page 45. The first sentence describes your love life.”

Now, there are some complications with this for e-book users. All of the books in my Kindle (and I know some of you may have thousands downloaded) are really equidistant from me. If you use a Kindle for this, I’d say the one that is nearest to the front of your Carousel. Of course, you may also not have a page 45…I’d go with location 450 if you don’t.

When I decided to try it just for fun, there was a p-book (paperbook) near me…Monsters by George Eberhart (believe me, if I could have had it as an e-book, I’d prefer it).

The line for me?

“One Man in Canoe Sets Out to Hunt Loch Ness Monster”

;)

I won’t comment on the appropriateness of that for me, but I can see how it might fit some people (making it gender neutral, of course).

Seeking Alpha round-up

I recently created a free account on

Seeking Alpha

and they’ve sent me several interesting articles!

They are well thought-out and researched…I’m impressed!

Why Amazon’s Appstore Could Become As Big As Google Play by “Critical Timing”

This isn’t just pie in the sky, but makes a good argument for the super rapid growth of Amazon’s Appstore. Gee, in three years, will be people be as mad at a phone not having access to the Amazon Appstore as they are now to the Fire Phone and Kindle Fires not having direct access to Google Play? Perhaps, although Amazon seems more likely to me to make the apps available more places…they don’t tend to build walls to keep people from getting their products. Witness all of the Kindle reader apps. Of course, you can’t install a Kindle reader app on a non-tablet NOOK, but that has more to do with apps and that operating system, I believe, than deliberate exclusion. In this case there are apps that will work best with the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

dynamic perspective (which I call “dy-per”), but outside of that, I think we’ll see the Amazon Appstore continue to expand.

Oh, one comment on the Fire Phone: I now like it a lot, after using it for a while. The easy access to things I’ve done before (such as addresses I’ve mapped) is one reason. One big gap? The voice assistant can’t do as much as Google Now or Siri or Cortana, but that will likely improve with software updates. I also asked Amazon if it had a name, and they said no…that might be a mistake, in terms of brand loyalty.

Reading And Believing In Barnes & Noble by Kevin Donovan

I’ve been seeing articles recently talking up Barnes & Noble as a company, at least for investors. Again, this has graphs and trends to back up its point…and they do consider what Amazon does a potential threat to continued growth.

Speaking of what Amazon does, I expect we’ll get a new hardware announcement before the end of the month. In terms of my personal satisfaction, I don’t know what they would do hardware wise to get me to want to upgrade. I’m quite satisfied with both my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

and my

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

It’s possible they’ll introduce some services in another model that would make it attractive.

However, if a model has something unprecedented, I might get it anyway, so I can tell you about it. :)

Back to B&N: do I think they can succeed? I think it’s possible, but I don’t see the path yet.

Why Amazon Has No Profits (And Why It Works) by Benedict Evans

This may be the best article I’ve ever read on Amazon.

Thorough analysis explaining how it works, and what it will need to do to keep working.

Highly recommended!

It also helps explain why, according to this

RTT News article and other sources

Bank of America just gave Amazon a two billion (!) dollar credit facility.

This despite CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Thomas Szkutak of Amazon’s announced departure next year.

B of A can see money in Amazon’s future…

A KOLL of lump

Last month was the first month since it’s been available that I did not borrow a book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). It wasn’t by choice. Despite contacting Amazon, I could not figure out a way to do it…and I’m pretty good at figuring things out. ;)

You see, I’m both an eligible Prime member and a member of Kindle Unlimited…and even when a book was available in both, it would only let me borrow it as part of the KOLL.

Fortunately, we don’t have Prime just to borrow books, and this is not that big a deal for me (since as noted, I can borrow books through KU instead). It does feel like a bit of a loss, though.

What do you think? Did you get an intriguing “page 45″ result? Do you know of other similar things to do with books and insight? Will B&N survive…and perhaps even thrive? Did you already have an opinion on Neuromancer? 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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