Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

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.

Round up #266: genre map, Hachette’s sales are…

September 1, 2014

Round up #266: genre map, Hachette’s sales are…

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

Hachette e-book sales down 34%

Behold the awesome power of Amazon!

Er…sort of. ;)

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

traditional publishers didn’t have a great first six months of 2014.

It’s worth reading the article to get the stats for the reporting publishers involved (HarperCollins, which I now tend to think of as one of the most customer-friendly of the tradpubs…traditional publishers…seems to have done the best).

While not taking too much away from it, I will call out this:

“The increase came despite a decline in U.S. e-book sales, which fell to 29% of trade HBG [Hachette Book Group] sales in the first half of 2014, down from 34% in the same period last year. HBG cited fewer movie tie-ins and the “punitive” action of Amazon as causes of the drop in revenue.”

Book Country interactive genre map: are publishers figuring out how to do discovery without Amazon?

I’ve written before about how Amazon is looking for a way not to be dependent on the tradpubs, and the tradpubs are looking for a way not to be dependent on Amazon.

I think Amazon is making progress…

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

may train people away from just reading “People Magazine books” (the books you would read about in that mainstream periodical). That’s just one place.

The tradpubs?

Well, they do keep trying things, but I’m not sure I’m seeing that much evidence of success.  HarperCollins is participating in the Oyster subser (subscription service), which is one path…and could have contributed to the better year we see above (although it’s hard to say how much influence that income could have, since we don’t know what it is).

One main reason why tradpubs need Amazon is for discovery: how will people find your books if they aren’t on the increasingly easy to access e-tail behemoth?

Here’s an interesting (and useful) attempt at a solution:

Book Country Genre Map

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY

for the heads up on that!

What you do is hover over the map to find a genre you like, then click on it.

Once you do that, you’ll get

  • a definition of the genre (those seemed okay to me)
  • subgenres
  • “landmark” titles in the genre (I wouldn’t have picked the ones listed
  • Book Country titles in the genre (I got 165 results for science fiction…none of them well-known that I noticed at first)
  • latest science fiction discussions
  • Book Country science fiction people

As you can probably tell, there’s quite a social component to this (there are reviews and such) and what certainly seems to be independent publishing.

The “landmark” titles could be clicked on and purchased…and those appeared to be from tradpubs (traditional publishers).

The site is run by…Penguin Random House.

I think this shows that the tradpubs are trying new things…not sure how successful it will be.

You may find it useful for discovery.

Back in 2009, I listed literary websites, and one of the ones I mentioned (still in operation) is AllReaders.com. I think that has an interesting discovery system, where you can put in elements, and it will find books for you. For example, you could search for a humorous time travel book with clones (I found several). You can search for a librarian who is a super genius (aren’t they all), and so on.

I think we’ll continue to see Amazon and the tradpubs try to make it on their own. I have to say, I probably give the edge to Amazon, since I would guess they have many more customer transactions in a year, giving them more opportunity to figure out what works.

Win a Kobo Touch

You can enter this

contest

to have a chance to win a Kobo Touch. You have to enter by September 1st.

Kobos get good reviews and have a lot of fans…I would say they are seen as somewhat upscale compared to Amazon. In fact, their new “waterproof”

Kobo Aura H20

can be ordered starting September 1st (that’s not the one being given away).

It is $179.99, so certainly on the high end for an EBR (E-Book Reader)…but lots of people worry about reading their Kindles in the bath or at the beach, and this seems like a good solution. In case it starts to rain, I carry a gallon-size Ziploc bag. I can seal it…and keep reading. :)

What do you think? Besides Amazon, where do you find out about books? What’s the weirdest, most specific book topic for which you’ve ever searched? Had a Kobo? Have you had an EBR/tablet water damaged? 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!

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 #265: Signs of the tomes, WorldReader.org

August 23, 2014

Round up #265: Signs of the tomes, WorldReader.org

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

CNN writes about WorldReader.org

I’ve been writing about

WorldReader.org

for years, and I was happy to see them recently get a nice story on CNN:

CNN article by Katie Linendoll

WorldReader is a non-profit (you can donate at the above link) which gets Kindles and e-books to children in difficult circumstances (this article focuses on Africa). They also can help them with electricity and satellite internet.

There are great pictures heading the article, and a good perspective on why this is so important.

First, let me say: reading matters. It helps to read about people who are like you (they do make a real effort in that direction) and people who aren’t. It broadens your horizons, and gives you mental tools which can help you succeed.

So, why not give kids in remote villages paperbooks?

The biggest thing is getting them there. We have friends who say they will never help us move again, because of all the p-books (paperbooks) I own. My books would hardly be enough to keep a school going very long, even though I have something like ten thousand. Most of my books are mass market paperbacks, which are relatively small and easy to transport. It would be a very different story with ten thousand hardbacks.

Another thing is that p-books simply don’t last that long, especially in very humid climates. Most people really degrade p-books when they read them: it’s typically a snap to be able to tell if a copy of a p-book has been read before: the spine will show it, and the pages may have wrinkles and folds.

An e-book isn’t decayed when read.

I found the article heartwarming, and strongly recommend it.

Author backs Amazon: claims it is the best hope for publishing

There have been so many takes on what I call the “Hachazon War”, the dispute between Amazon (a bookseller) and Hachette (a publisher). It’s much more than that, of course…this is really a battle over the future of publishing.

Oh, the future won’t be decided just here…these things go back and forth.

I think it’s important to realize that this isn’t just a price negotiation…there are some basic questions at stake.

It comes down to this: is the current model of traditional publishing the way things will go in the future?

Steve Cohen in the Wall Street Journal

argues that it isn’t…and that the current model is unsustainable.

Cohen says, “I think Amazon is far more likely to come up with innovations that may save book publishing, which is in desperate need of being saved.”

I think we’ve seen a pretty clear split: authors who have been succeeding in the status quo want to maintain it. Authors who have not are interested in change.

In both cases, that might be short-sighted. An indie might eventually get picked up by a tradpub (traditional publisher) and benefit from the current model. The current model could fail, leaving authors who depended on it stranded.

Ideally, author would know how to make it both systems, and there are those “hybrids” who currently both indie publish and are tradpubbed.

The article has some interesting stats, and is worth reading.

“Help me, Jeff-Bezos Kenobi…you’re my only hope.” ;)

Buzzfeed: 13 Clever Signs that Will Make You Want to Buy a Book

This

Buzzfeed article by Aaron Calvin (no relation, as far as I know

reproduces bookstore “signage”…and those can be quite clever.

You should go to see the pictures…I love the one that explains why every book is actually…well, let’s just say science fiction technology, and let you discover why. ;)

The Book-Lovers’ Anthology from 1911

The always reliable EBOOK FRIENDLY

has this

article by Piotr Kowalczyk

about a book which is in the public domain from 1911 about the love of books. They link to sources there.

Sex sells…but not always enough

There is mythology out there that the one absolutely sure business is selling sex, but it just doesn’t work that way.

I’ve listed freebies in the past in this blog from the publisher Ellora’s Cave, which specializes in…um…let’s go with erotic romance.

Well, they’ve recently had to lay some people off (and I am not going to comment on that phrase in this context) ;), due to a big drop in sales…that is only happening at Amazon.

They don’t know why.

It’s interesting to speculate. Amazon does get pressure to not carry erotica, or to make it not appear in search results.

Is it possible the e-tailer has done something which reduces the visibility and discoverablity of Ellora’s Cave, therefore reducing the sales?

Perhaps…but that’s pure speculation.

It could also be that there is increased competition from indies (independent publishers). I took a look, and the books do not appear to be in Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

That’s an interesting question (even though KU has only been around a month and isn’t likely to have had this sort of impact on this company yet).

Could it be that small tradpubs are going to be most hurt by new models?

The larger tradpubs are often part of media conglomerates, and simply have more reserves (including the brand name authors). They may be able to batten down the hatches and get through some changes.

Indies clearly benefit from new models, like KU. Many publisher will make more money when there are books are borrowed than they would if they were sold.

The smaller tradpubs, which at first benefited from the more open distribution of e-books, may find that if they are not super discoverable, people who are willing to with a non-tradpub will simply take the ones they find, rather than digging around.

That would be an important turn of events, and perhaps an unfortunate one.

Authors might end up with two choices: go with a huge tradpub, or go it on your own.

Going it “on your own” doesn’t mean that you don’t have an editor and other resources…it does mean you might have to pay for them yourself.

We’ll have to see what happens going forward.

What do you think? Is Amazon the best hope for authors…let’s say ten years from now? Are smaller tradpubs especially at risk? What’s the best bookstore sign you ever saw? 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 #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

August 17, 2014

Round up #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

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

The 11th book

People talk about the “tenth man” in baseball (that means the fans in the stands, who, in addition to the nine players on the field at a time are believed to influence the outcome of the game).

Well, I’ve run into an interesting situation with the “eleventh book”. ;)

I’ve mentioned before, and other readers have brought it up, that since I’ve joined Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s “all you can read” subser (subscription service), I haven’t been able to borrow a book through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). That’s part of my benefits as an eligible Prime member with a hardware Kindle.

I had been borrowing a book every month (that’s the maximum…one a calendar month), and I’ve come to think of it as one of the reasons we have Prime in my family…although certainly not the most important. The “no additional cost” two-day shipping is the main reason, and I use Prime video quite a bit. Prime music is fun, but I haven’t integrated it into my routines yet.

I checked with Amazon, and I published how they told me it should work here:

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

It just wasn’t working that way for me: even when I was eligible to borrow a book from the KOLL, I wasn’t being given the option to do so on

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

Well, one of my contacts at Amazon suggested I check with Kindle Support: so I used Mayday on my Kindle Fire, and that person knew the answer right away!

When a book is in both the KOLL and KU (there are more books in KU than the KOLL, but just about all the KOLL books are part of KU), and you are a KU member and eligible for the KOLL, it will default to KU…unless you already have the maximum ten books (at a time) out from KU.

Hey…I just tested this by borrowing ten books from KU…and my options didn’t change! I still can’t borrow a book from the KOLL.

I’ll follow up with Amazon: false alarm. :(

I can at least report that when you have ten books borrowed from KU and try to borrow one more, it will offer to return the one you borrowed the longest time ago…or let you pick another one.

Update: I just spent, oh, half an hour or so with Mayday on this. I was passed from my first rep to another one, who then consulted extensively with another person. The best they can tell me at this point is that they are aware of the issue, and they’ll follow up with me when it is solved.

Bookstore sales fall 7.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly article

the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that bookstore sales are down 7.9% year over year for the first half of 2014.

That’s a huge amount for an industry without a lot of margin (I used to be a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager).

My guess is that there are some small stores doing quite well, and even growing, and that we are seeing this impact mostly from large or “undifferentiated” stores…ones without a specific “personality”.

I think it’s likely that more books are actually being read, thanks to e-books, but physical bookstores have to be destination stores to survive. You have to make people care about you enough that they will willingly pay more money than they would have paid online just to support you. That is entirely doable, but it does take focus and effort.

Entertaining a kid on BART

My Significant Other and I went to see a San Francisco Giants game today (a rare treat…my parents took us). On the way home on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit…that’s sort of our subway system around here), there was a fussy three-year old.

I always keep apps on my Kindle Fire specifically to entertain kids. :) After clearly gaining permission, I let the kid play with

Fingerpaint Magic (at Amazon Smile*)

That went well…we had a smiling and laughing kid in a short period of time. My SO also pointed out that this three-year old figured out how to start a new drawing, and select a background…much sooner than my SO would have. ;)

After a while, we switched to

Monkey Buddy (at AmazonSmile*)

a free app on my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s an interactive animal…you can think sort of like a Tamagotchi.

It reacts to what you do…stroke the ears, for example, and it gets happy.

It will also take a picture of you when you tap a camera…and then draw on the picture (putting glasses on you, for example), and then discards it (the picture is not saved).

Although a three-year old won’t discover this right away (and this was a bright kid), it will also react to your head movements. Nod your head “yes”, and it gets happy, recognizing it as approval. Shake your head “no”, and it gets sad. It also gets sad if it can’t see you.

I do want to mention something about using the Fire Phone. When I try to demonstrate the dynamic perspective (which I can “dy-per”, just for fun), I will tell someone to move their head to look at the phone to see the effect.

Most people stare steadily at the phone without moving their heads…even after I say it.

I have to point out that it is like you are trying to peek into the side of the phone.

Before the Fire Phone, I hadn’t noticed how rigidly people hold their heads when looking at a phone, but I guess that makes sense with most phones.

51% of kindergarteners through 5th graders prefer to read on a screen over paper

This

EBOOK FRIENDLY article by Ola Kowalczyk

has some interesting facts in an infographic from a survey by TeachHub.com.

The one I’ll point out is preferred reading medium.

37% prefer reading on a tablet (the infographic includes “Kindles” in that, and I would think not just the Kindle Fires), 35% prefer paper, and 14% prefer a computer. 12% preferred someone else reading to them (I’m going to guess they weren’t thinking text-to-speech, but a human being).

That’s extraordinary, and important.

Little kids’ books lagged behind adult and young adult titles in getting into the e-book market. Part of that was they waited for the technology: color, for one thing.

If screens are now the preferred method, bookstore sales may drop a lot more than 7.9% in a few years…

I think we’ll see an impact on the “books as gifts” market this holiday…Amazon should promote very strongly giving Kindle Unlimited (maybe for three months) as a gift this holiday! Not sure exactly the mechanism for that, but we serious readers know how intimidated other people can be in trying to pick out specific books for us. Netflix gifts have been a significant thing for a while: subscriptions to subsers (subscription services) for e-books could be really big.

What do you think? Why do so many kids like to read on computers (that surprised me)? Is it because those kids don’t have “tablets”, perhaps? Are there books that you prefer to read on a computer? Would you let your kid play with a stranger’s phone/tablet/Kindle? Do you keep things with you to entertain kids? Would you give KU as a gift? Are bookstores on the way out, or is it only certain bookstores? 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 #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

August 3, 2014

Round up #263: parody legal in the UK, Kindle case for those with grip issues

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

Kindle case for those with grip issues

I have a sibling with a medical condition that makes it hard to hold on to things…lots of things get dropped.

We happened to be visiting today, and my sibling told me about a Kindle case which had been recommended in a class…and which really worked very well:

MarBlue Atlas (new) for Kindle Case, Purple (Fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can’t see it at all well in the product pictures, but it has a broad strap on it…roughly the size of a deck of cards (well, an almost two dimensional deck of cards).

My sibling is able to slip a hand in there, and then can even turn the Kindle upside down without dropping it.

It could be useful for a lot of people who want to make sure they can hold on to a Kindle (even in the bath, for example).

It’s $24.99 for basic colors at time of writing, and is also available with a customizable design (which could be good for gifts, or if the person is in a group living situation).

One other thing: we don’t use leather, and this one is all synthetics.

My Fire Phone tells me where to go

No, it wasn’t insulting me. ;)

I’m liking my

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

more as I use it more.

Today was the first time I tested it out for navigation (using the native Maps app).

It worked fine. :)

I liked the timing of it…with my S4, I sometimes wouldn’t get the upcoming directions at the right time…too soon or too late. One test isn’t enough, of course, but the timing seemed quite good. It didn’t announce the next move way ahead (once I was on the right path), which meant it was less “chatty”. Oh, and if it had to re-route (because I went a different way), there was just a little chirrupy sound, and it seemed to re-route very quickly…within half a block, I’d say.

I’ve also been playing

Planet Puzzles (at AmazonSmile*)

which came on my phone. It’s a puzzle game: you have a Rubik’s Cube looking thing, and there will be two squares of the same color on it. There might be several pairs. All you have to do is “connect the dots”, coloring the squares in between, say, blue and blue.

That sounds easy…it very quickly became quite a challenging puzzle!

It has the dynamic perspective, the sort of 3D effect.

I had a New Millennial (born roughly between 1980 and 2000) relative try it (and play around with the phone). The response was good. :)

August Kindle First books

The

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

books are out for August, and this time, I had an easy choice.

Prime members can choose one of these pre-release titles…not to borrow, but to own.

The choices this time are:

  • Fantasy: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Mystery: A Cold and Broken Hallelujah by Tyler Dilts
  • Historical Fiction: Portrait of a Girl by Dörthe Binkert (translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo)
  • Romantic Suspense: Crazy for Her by Sandra Owens

I went with The Paper Magician…

If you wait until they are released (in September), you should be able to read them through Kindle Unlimited, and borrow them through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library).

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Public Domain Detective

I haven’t reported on this one yet, but the U.S. Supreme Court, according to this

BBC article

and other sources, declined to hear an emergency appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, effectively ending (at least for now) a legal battle over the copyright status of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a bit of a tricky case, but very interesting and potentially with sweeping implications (including for fan fiction, in my opinion).

It goes like this:

A lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain in the USA. That means that the public owns them: they are not under copyright protection. Anybody can publish them, distribute them, profit off them, and make media adaptations of them without first getting permission.

Ten of the stories, however, are not.

The estate argued that a new work which is “informed” (my term, not theirs) by the last ten stories would infringe upon their rights if unauthorized.

The suggestion was that a new work with Sherlock Holmes as a character might infringe their copyright…because those last ten stories were under protection.

The declination to rule clears the way for new Holmes works…although not, of course, for reproduction of the last ten, without permission.

In a related story, the British House of Lords has just okayed the use of parody there, according to this

The Drum article by Angela Haggerty

and other sources.

I think most Americans don’t realize our relatively freedom to parody works (which I’ve done many times in this blog).

When you parody something, you can use the original characters (even the names) if what you are doing is critiquing that work. In the USA, we see it all the time…Saturday Night Live, Mad Magazine, and so on.

That hit me years ago as the explanation for a mystery: why are so many comedians (including ones on SNL) working in the USA Canadians? John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Eugene Levy…the epiphany was that Canada doesn’t specifically have parody as a defence in copyright cases. In order to make parodies, it makes sense for them to come to the USA to practice their art. That’s not the only reason, I’m sure, but I would guess it is a contributing factor.

Another way that the UK is updating copyright laws is to make format shifting legal of items you legally own, when you do it for your own use:

Intellectual Property Office PDF

I’ve been saying for some time that the USA needs to make this explicit change as well.

Currently, it isn’t clear that it is legal for you to digitize a p-book (paperbook) you own, if it is not in the public domain…even for your own use.

Oh, the odds are that no one would come after you, of course, but you can’t judge morality and legality just on whether or not you will get caught (at least, I don’t).

The hard thing in the USA is that it might be legal…this is one of those fuzzy areas that the Copyright Office often has.

I’d like to just see a straightforward statement: format shifting for your own use of legal items (just like it is now in the UK) is legal.

It seems unlikely that we’ll get that soon, though. We need a major overhaul of copyright: I’ve suggested one possibility would be to go to permanent copyright in exchange for much greater Fair Use provisions for educational and non-profit uses. That may have been my most controversial article to date, even though I didn’t advocate for the idea, just explored it:

Should copyright be permanent?

A great example of the value of Kindle Unlimited

I was working with a physical therapist who recommended a book to me:

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Merzenich
4.3 out of 5 stars, 74 customer reviews

I’m guessing this will be the kind of book I won’t want to re-read.

It’s price in the USA Kindle store right now is $9.95…but I could borrow it for free as part of

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

So, this month, I’ve already almost saved enough with KU to pay for itself…with one book. :)

What do you think? Should it be legal to format shift books? Will the US make any major changes to copyright in the near future? If so, what would you like to see? If you are on the trial of KU, will you pay for it when that trial is up? Which Kindle First book did you pick? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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 #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

July 22, 2014

Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

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

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update 5.4.5

Amazon has released a new update for the KPW2:

Update 5.4.5 for Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile* Benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can wait and it will eventually happen on its own (that can be weeks), or you can go to the above link and update manually

It brings three main changes:

  • Sync on Your Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile): honestly, I’m not quite clear what the difference is here. I usually don’t bounce between devices when reading, and since my Significant Other and I may be reading the same book at the same time (so we can talk about it afterwards), we have Whispersync turned off. I’m not clear on what this is doing now that it didn’t do before. One interesting thing, though. I’ve always recommended that people return to Home after a reading session if they may need to sync, and the video on this page recommends the same thing
  • “When viewing a PDF in pan-and-zoom mode, you will now see a small preview window in the margin of the screen”: this one sounds helpful!
  • Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile): for those of us who answer questions on the official Amazon forums, there is a tendency (which can be avoided, with effort) to develop canned responses. One thing has always been about where you find sample in the Cloud. We would say they weren’t stored in the Cloud: I’ve likened it to getting a free sample at Costco…there’s no record of that in your account, either. ;) One reason is that it lessens costs to not do the processing of the transaction and the storage of the sample. Well, now, when you buy a p-book (paperbook), you can often choose to “Start Reading Now”, and you get the sample of the e-book on your Kindle (so you can read while the p-book is on the way). Those samples (and only those samples), are going to be available in the Cloud: Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile)

Video: “When the Words Stop”

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this great video!

When the Words Stop by Epic Reads

I think a lot of you will appreciate it…it’s a humor piece about that deflated feeling you have when you finish a book…when the words stop. Back in the paper days, I remember feeling a great anxiety sometimes when I realized there was only maybe ten percent of the book left to go. With an e-book, I have to say, I find so often that it ends much before the percentage would indicate (because of back matter, or a preview, or something like that), that I can’t really judge it. I’ve had books finish at maybe 66%! This is funny and worth watching, in my opinion.

Gold Box Deal: $100 off Kindle Fire HDX 7″ 4G LTE

This is a today only deal (that’s how GBDs work):

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

It’s $100 of the models with 4G (like a cellphone connection to wireless, instead of just wi-fi…this has both). I tried having 4G on one of my Fire models, and didn’t find it was worth the monthly service plan cost to me. However, I’m in a pretty techie area, and there is a lot of wi-fi around here. For some people, having 4G makes a big difference in convenience, and they are willing to pay for it. It’s also nice for people who aren’t as techie, but want to be connected…no wi-fi required to use it (if you have a signal for 4G at home, you don’t have to enter passwords or anything to connect).

The least expensive configuration of this deal is $229…which makes it the same initial cost as having a wi-fi only version.

Kindle Unlimited mini-roundup

I’m still going to write another big post on Kindle Unlimited soon (following this one)

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

including what I think the impact will be on authors (some will benefit…a lot), but I did want to hit a few high points:

  • Audiobooks: I’ve seen interest in the comments on the blog in the audiobook part, and that is something that makes KU stand apart from other subsers (that’s what I call subscription services) .ike Oyster and Scribd). As is, unfortunately, not uncommonly the case with Amazon, people want to do it…but have trouble finding instructions on how to do it. I’ve done it successfully, but it wasn’t as easy as going to “audiobooks” in KU and picking one. What I did was first find an e-book in KU that was set up for “Whispersync for Voice”. You can do that with this link: Kindle Unlimited Whispersync for Voice titles (at AmazonSmile). The e-book has to say that it is “with narration”, otherwise you might pay extra for it. I downloaded the e-book (one that I’ve read before, by the way…I don’t like listening to audiobooks if I haven’t already sightread the book). Once I’d done that, the audiobook was available to my Audible app…including on my Galaxy S4 (which should be, sadly, replaced later this week by my Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile). I’m not sad to be getting the phone: I’m excited for that! I’ve just really liked the S4). So, the counterintuitive part was getting an e-book I wasn’t going to read so I could get the audiobook. After that, it worked fine. One of my readers commented that they couldn’t get the audiobook part to work, even with help from both Kindle and Audible reps…but I still don’t quite know why. Might have been a different phone, or they weren’t following the above sequence
  • How authors get compensated: I will do a big post on authors and KU generally, as I’ve mentioned, but for indie (independent authors) using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, they split part of a pool fund (the same way they get compensated for borrows from Amazon Kindle Owners” Lending Library)…but they don’t get the cut until the borrower has read ten percent of the book. Tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors will have a different deal, and we won’t know the details…the publishers don’t usually release royalty contract terms. I did check, by the way: if someone borrows your book, reads ten percent of it (triggering the royalty), return it, borrows it again, and ten percent of it again, you don’t get a second royalty…in case you were planning to game the system ;)
  • Confusion for people who are both KU members and KOLL eligible: this has been very confusing, engendering many threads on the forums! I’m hoping they make this clearer…and soon. The KOLL has not gone away, and there hasn’t been an indication that it will. The BUTTON to borrow for free, however, has gone away in many cases. What I understand at this point is that, if you’ve already borrowed your KOLL book for the month, the button will convert to a “Read for Free” button, and it will be one of your KU borrows instead (assuming the book is in both programs). If you don’t have KU, clicking the button will take you to some place to sign up. If it actually works that way, that’s not too bad. However, I did see “The Artist” on the forum say that they had not yet borrowed a KOLL book in the month…and clicking “Read for Free” made it the KOLL borrow. That would be bad: what you want to borrow from the KOLL and what you want to read from KU may not be the same. You can have up to ten books out from KU at a time, and when you return one you can get another one. That seems to me like a generous amount for one person (unless, perhaps, you are going on a trip where you won’t have wireless access), but if you have five people on the account (and there is no limit), you may often bump up against that simultaneous ten limit

Wow! There is a lot happening (Fire Phone for hardware, KU for services), but what do you think? Have you ever feared reaching the end of a book? I know people who don’t want to buy a book unless there are more books in a series, just to try and stave off the eventual “separation”.  Do you find 4G worth it for a Fire? Are you weighing keeping Audible versus going with KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #261: Shannara to the screen, $85 PW2 refurb

July 15, 2014

Round up #261: Shannara to the screen, $85 PW2 refurb

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

Refurb PW2 for $85 (today only)

I know that many of my readers prefer the non-Fire Kindles, so it’s always nice to be able to write about a deal for them. ;)

Gold Box Deal of the Day: KPW2 refurb for $85 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s the current generation Kindle Paperwhite, which is normally priced (this is all the USA store…this deal may not be available in your country) for $109.

The Paperwhite is a great reader. It’s only big lack is in not having sound, so it can’t do text-to-speech (or audiobooks or music), but otherwise, I like it a lot.

“Refurbed” is short for “refurbished”. I’d never hesitate to buy a refurb from Amazon: they have the same warranty as a new one, and they’ve been inspected perhaps more carefully.

I would guess that new items have been inspected outside Amazon (by the actual manufacturer), and refurbs are inspected at Amazon, although I don’t know that for sure.

This is a Deal of the Day, so although it may go on sale again at some point in the future, it won’t be the price tomorrow.

If you’ve been debating getting a newer model non-Fire Kindle, this is something to consider. I’d say that there are people who prefer some of the earlier models (both for the sound, as I mentioned, and for a physical keyboard), but they won’t last forever…

The Hachazon War and the rhetoric of class warfare

This

Gigaom article by Laura Hazard Owen

is one of the most interesting takes I’ve seen on what I call the Hachazon War (the dispute between retailer Amazon and publisher Hachette) to date.

The lengthy piece points out how Amazon is positioning itself as being the populist entity, and the publishers are the establishment.

Well, yes.

Despite Amazon being a huge corporation, in this case, they have very much empowered small indies (independent publishers, which can be individual authors) and disrupted the status quo.

Which authors have tended to come out in favor of the big publishers?

Brand name authors who have benefited from the tradpubs’ (traditional publishers’) prior dominance.

Which authors have tended to come out in favor of Amazon?

Indies, even if some of them make enough money now to be in the same league as many tradpubbed authors.

When being published and widely distributed required a huge infrastructure, tradpubs ruled.

E-books don’t require that same structure. Accurately, we can say that Amazon provides that infrastructure…to pretty much everyone.

Amazon also pays more royalties (the percentage authors get of each sale) that the tradpubs.

I do think tradpubs bring legitimate value to the process…but theirs is no longer the only process.

Owen does a great job of pointing out how even their corporate language differs, with Hachette tending to be formal, and Amazon tending to be informal.

I highly recommend that article.

On the other hand, there is this

Huffington Post article by Maddie Crum

It’s about how to “quit Amazon” as a customer, and is written in a humorous fashion.

I don’t put this one on the “other hand” because it is anti-Amazon…while I like Amazon, I haven’t liked some of their tactics in the Hachazon War, and have said so.

There was one particular statement, though, that pulled me up short:

“How does one stop purchasing books, and also many other things, from a company that has been repeatedly accused of price fixing…”

Um…I’m not sure if Crum realized that accusations of price-fixing against Amazon came from publishers…who accused them of fixing the prices too low! Publishers complained about Amazon selling bestsellers (apparently often at a loss) at $9.99, which led to the agreements with Apple to raise those prices that eventually brought in action by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Amazon has been accused of a lot of things by a lot of people (including pressuring publishers, including academic publishers, to take a smaller cut), but artificially raising prices and locking them in at a higher price hasn’t commonly been one of them.

In an article supposedly explaining why it is…perhaps inappropriate to keep shopping at Amazon as a customer, pointing out that they have low prices may be ineffective. ;)

A bestseller…and more than fifty years old

I’ve been watching the sales ranking of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

It’s been in the top 100 in the USA Kindle store.

That matches my prediction that it could be one of bestselling e-books of the year, although we have a ways to go yet.

I think we may see a considerable jump in its sales when the school year has started (as the book gets assigned), and I think it may also be a popular holiday gift.

Due to the former reason, I think it will have solid sales for quite some time.

E-books have a much longer sales cycle than p-books (paperbooks). The economics are very different. You don’t have to predict how many to print and order and store, so you don’t have to tie your promotional efforts into that time when the paper copies are available.

With p-books, you typically get huge sales in the beginning, and a rapid dwindling.

With e-books, they are around (with no supply challenges) for a long time. It may be that they sell almost nothing at first, and then spike, then taper a bit, then sell at a lower level, then spike again, and so on.

Very different strategies, just based on the medium.

Terry Brooks’ Shannara coming to MTV

No, this is not Game of Thrones. ;)

A popular fantasy series is being adapted for television:

Shannara series (at AmazonSmile)

The feel of the two is very different…this should be a whole lot lighter.

According to this

The Hollywood Reporter article by Lesley Goldberg

and other sources, the series has solid geek cred in the production department: Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Al Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville).

This is another case where you might want to read the books first. The series will reportedly be based on The Elfstones of Shannara. Text-to-speech access is blocked in the single edition, but not in

The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)

omnibus (three novels in one).

There are more than two dozen books in the series, with more on the way…

What do you think? Do you buy refurbs? Even though I think they are fine, I don’t usually do that. One reason? Since I’m going to write about them, I want them on release day. When do you buy a new model Kindle for yourself? Only when an old one fails? When a new one is released because, you know, that’s cool? When they are on sale? Is Amazon the champion of the “little guy”? Think back to when you were in high school (assuming you no longer are)…what media did you love that was fifty years old at that point? 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 #260: kids’ books at Food Banks, B&N splits, app giveaway

June 28, 2014

Round up  #260: kids’ books at Food Banks, B&N splits, app giveaway

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

Barnes & Noble “consciously uncouples” from NOOK

According to Barnes & Nobles’

press release

and other sources (including a Jeffrey Trachtenberg piece in the WSJ which was behind a paywall), they plan to split into two entities by the end of the first calendar quarter of next year.

One part will be NOOK Media (the devices and the content), and the other part will be the retail segment, which includes the brick-and-mortar stores.

It seems that the new sail (the NOOK) with which they had outfitted their corporate ship has become an anchor. ;)

This short excerpt tells the tale:

“Device and accessories sales were $25 million for the quarter and $260 million for the full year, declining 30.1% and 44.8%, respectively, due to lower selling volume and lower average selling prices. Digital content sales were $62 million for the quarter and $246 million for the full year, declining 18.7% and 20.6%, respectively, due primarily to lower device unit sales.”

On the other hand, the retail segment was definitely…um…less bad. ;) Core comparable sales were down 3.1%, but overall, things were pretty flat…which is a considerable improvement.

The stock rose, according to CNN Money

http://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=BKS

over 13% this week…and it’s risen more than 50% this year.

Not everybody thinks this is the death knell of the NOOK

Motley Fool article by Dan Newman

but it’s not exactly a victory march, either. ;)

Barnes & Noble is having a NOOK book sales on beach reads…and since Amazon tends to match prices, that means they are likely to be discounted in the Kindle store as well. I did check, and did see the price matching, although I didn’t check them all:

Barnes & Noble Beach Reads sale

Here are a few of the ninety titles:

  • Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
  • Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich
  • Four Friends by Robyn Carr
  • Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers

E-book revenues more than three times mass market revenues in 2013

This

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

has the stats from the Book Industry Study Group for 2013.

Sales in the trade sector (this group doesn’t include textbooks, kids books, or professional/scholarly books) dropped 2.3% (we’re talking about cash, not units), but other sectors grew.

In terms of formats, I’ve written before about how e-books are largely replacing mass market paperbacks as far as market positioning goes: relatively cheap and convenient. MMPs were down another 6.7% to $781 million…which you can compare to e-books having $3.03 billion.

Hardbacks (again, we’re talking revenue, not units) were still much higher than e-books, at $5.14 billion.

I don’t want to take too much away from the article…if you like to see these sorts of stats, I recommend it.

Through Saturday: over $100 worth of apps for free!

Amazon alerted me through e-mail (which I really appreciate…it lets me help you) about thirty-one apps they are giving away, just through tomorrow (Saturday).

There are always lots of free apps at Amazon, of course, but these are ones for which you would normally pay.

Over $100 in apps…free (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I just figure I’ll go ahead and get all of the ones, if I don’t already have them. With apps,  you can get them for “Cloud Only”, so they don’t take up any memory on your devices unless you choose to use them.

This set includes apps that are generally pretty well-rated, and it has Splashtop and a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

One interesting thing: some apps (like Plex, which is part of this deal) are compatible both with my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

and my

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

Since it’s basically the same operating system, I suspect that some of the apps I already own for my KFHDX will also work with my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

when I get it at the end of July.

They won’t all be cross-compatible: if a game/app is designed to work with the Fire Phones dynamic perspective (which I call “dyper”), it won’t be able to do the same thing on the Kindle Fire. They might be able to make two different versions of it available, though, which it would seem like must be the case with the Fire TV and the Kindle Fire.

Children’s books given away at Food Banks

I love this story!

When our now adult kid would have birthday parties growing up, we normally did them at the Food Bank (that was our kid’s choice). It was actually a lot of fun. We would reserve a time, and we’d show up with maybe ten or fifteen people (kids and guardians). We would sort food donations and box them up. It was hard work, and you had to do it right (one big part was checking expiration dates, and looking for damaged containers…like moldy peanut butter). We got to bring our own music, though, and we could crank it up! We’d spend an hour or so (I think that’s right), and end up with a whole palette of food for people!

Afterwards, we’d invite people out to pizza or something like that.

It felt really good to be able to help.

Well, it would have felt even better if we could have given out toys, too, which is what happened recently in England, according to this

The Telegraph story by Martin Chilton

The book that was given away was Super Duck, by Jez Alborough (not available in a Kindle edition), which I understand is popular in England.

When we buy our Toys for Tots donation every year, I do think it’s a good thing to get well-known brands, like Spider-Man. I just figure that has to make the kids feel more “normal”, since many of them see the commercials just like everybody else.

Bravo to the charity Booktrust for arranging this!

Lemony Snicket endorses Spencer Collins

Daniel Handler (A.K.A. Lemony Snicket (at AmazonSmile)) provided verbal support to our

ILMK Reader Hero #3

Spencer Collins, according to this

Huffington Post article by Ed Mazza

That likely ups Spencer’s cool quotient with the kids…not that Spencer needs that. You may recall that our Reader Hero put up a Little Free Library…and it was ordered taken down by the City Council. This issue is still unresolved (you can click our link above to add your support), but we particularly salute Spencer for approaching this by reading up on city codes to work within the system and in a mature and responsible way.

Full disclosure: one of my relatives knows Daniel Handler, although we’ve never met.

Mary Rodgers reported dead

Mary Rodgers (at AmazonSmile)

the author of Freaky Friday (not available in a Kindle edition) and a handful of children’s books, including the sequel

Freaky Monday (at AmazonSmile)

has reportedly died.

The book was a bestseller, and was adapted memorably more than once (some of will think first of Jodie Foster…others of Lindsay Lohan).

She also wrote plays (including Once Upon a Mattress), and was the child of Richard Rodgers (of “and Hammerstein” fame).

The book will live on.

The Measured Circle free Flipboard magazine continues to grow

On Monday, I gave you an

Update on my free Flipboard magazines

Well, the readership continues to grow! I have to say, this may be the most dynamic growth of anything I’ve done creatively.

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

had 716 readers on Monday…and 1,109 at time of writing! That’s more than half again.

Interesting… :)

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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