Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

Round up #250: $5 Audible credit, challenging Underpants

April 21, 2014

Round up #250: $5 Audible credit, challenging Underpants

250? Wow! ;)

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

Captain Underpants challenged more often than 50 Shades of Grey in 2013

The good news for many people will be that the American Library Association reported about a third fewer “challenges” to books in 2013 than in 2012: 307 versus 464.

The list is, as always, a bit puzzling to me. It may have to do with the age of the kids. Perhaps a school library that would carry Fifty Shades of Grey is less likely to be scrutinized by people who would complain than one that would carry Captain Underpants.

However, looking at my post on the 2012 books:

Should any books be banned? Banned Books Week 2013

they are actually in the same positions they were then…Captain Underpants #1, 50SoG #4.

One thing that does stand out to be when I analyze the

report from the American Library Association

is that one of the top ten, the Bone series of graphic novels (they count it as one listing) by Jeff Smith is challenged on the grounds of…political viewpoint.

I haven’t read these, but I know it’s a series of graphic novels set in a fantasy world: I wonder what the politics are from which you want to protect your child? “Don’t let my kid read that book! They might end up voting for a dragon for President!” ;)

Here’s my analysis of this year’s challenges:

2013ChallengedBooks

U.S. Customers: $5 coupon for Audible

Thanks to Books on the Knob for the heads-up on this one!

Customers of Audible in the United States can get a $5 credit, but you need to act quickly (it ends Monday).

http://www.audible.com/promo/offer/1763?bp_o=false&AID=10273919&PID=3512156&source_code=COMA0213WS031709&p=LISTENUP

I’m not much of an audiobook person (I prefer text-to-speech: I don’t like the narrators interpreting the characters for me), but I know a lot of people do like them. Audible is owned by Amazon, and it’s easy to play Audible audiobooks on your Kindle devices…at least, the ones which do audio at all.

Enjoy!

What happens to the rights when a publisher goes bankrupt?

This

Publishers Weekly article by Calvin Reid

may seem a bit “inside baseball”, but it’s important.

A major independent publisher, MacAdam Cage went bankrupt.

Let’s say you were an author, and you had licensed the rights to publish your book to them.

They are out of the publishing business.

Can you license the publishing rights to somebody else?

Not right away…and not all of the rights, apparently.

The authors of the books in this case (and they include Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, among other well-known titles) have gotten their p-book (paperbook) rights back…but not the e-book rights.

That’s because the e-book rights were apparently farmed out to another company…which didn’t go bankrupt, but which, according to the article, may not be paying the authors royalties for those books (that’s an allegation…I don’t know if it is true).

Well, at least it suggests more strongly that e-book rights and p-book rights are separate, which will tend to benefit authors. What a mess, though! Some may see this as an argument for independent publishing…

I’ve ordered the Fire TV Game Controller

I am liking my

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

a lot! I had debated whether or not I was going to order the

Amazon Fire Game Controller (at AmazonSmile)

and now I’ve decided to…er…mash the button? ;)

I would be, by the most generous definition, a casual gamer. I actually rarely play video games. My Significant Other, a bit oddly to me, plays them much more…particularly Candy Crush.

However, I am planning to write a small guide to the Fire TV, and I really need the controller to test out some of the apps…and, you know, the tax refund came in. ;)

While I was able to order it now and get the special deal that gives you 1,000 Amazon coins (basically, $10 for purchase of apps and in-app buys), and their new exclusive game, Sev Zero, I’m not going to have it for a while…it is sold out.

Expected delivery?

May 13th.

Riggio sells some Barnes & Noble stock (which then loses value)

Leonard Riggio, who is basically the architect of the modern (last forty years or so) Barnes & Noble, sold stock in the company, dropping down to a 20% stake.

BloomergBusinessWeek article

Riggio said it was partially for “estate planning”…but it may not help to suggest “after death” plans and Barnes & Noble in the same breath. ;) Following the announcement, the stock dropped more than 10%…and unlike when Amazon drops after a financial report sometimes, I don’t expect it to immediately bounce back up to where it was.

I don’t know who, casual investor or serious player, is thinking B&N is a great place to put their money right now.

What do you think? If you were an MBA (Master of Business Administration) student and I gave you an assignment to come up with a plan to save Barnes & Noble, what would you do…and how high a grade do you think you could get? :) When you hear a book has been challenged, does that make you more or less likely to buy it? Have you ever sight read a book, listened to the audiobook, and saw the movie…and thought the audiobook was best of the three? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Round up #249: Thank you piQx, reading 100 years of bestsellers

April 10, 2014

Round up #249: Thank you piQx, reading 100 years of bestsellers

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

Thank you, piQx!

I am so impressed with this!

I’ve written before

The Xcanex: a better book digitizer

about the

piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

a book scanner I bought which is vastly superior to how I digitized public domain paperbooks when I was working with a non-profit.

It’s so much faster, and so much easier to use! It’s much simpler to handle what might be a fragile item, and has cool features, like a digital finger remove (if you hold the book or magazine open by placing your fingers on it, it can recognize them as fingers and remove them from the image).

I also mentioned that they have an essay contest, where you can win one for yourself:

http://www.piqximaging.com/contest

I told you that I entered it…not for myself, but explaining that I would donate it to that same non-profit.

Well, I was pleased and shocked to get an e-mail from them…not saying that I had won, but saying that they would donate one to the non-profit anyway!

The person trying to contact me actually made the effort to send the e-mail twice…apparently, the first one fell into my spam folder.

I have facilitated the contact between piQx and the non-profit…and they are going to send it.

To me, this just shows a company doing a good thing. They do want a picture of it in use, and I suppose they might get some marketing value out of that…but that might also be just to show that it was actually be used as I suggested it might be.

Again, thanks to piQx!

The first Give a Kid a Kindle device has been delivered!

Another good news story (the world is a wonderful place): I written that the first recipient of a Kindle through our Give a Kid a Kindle program had been selected, and that the device had been ordered.

Our first Give a Kid a Kindle device has been ordered!

I got the confirmation from Amazon today that it was delivered.

Honestly, that makes me really happy and I thank everyone who participated. I do think I’ll do it again, maybe opening up nominations again in May.

“At Apple: a Stay Keeps the Judgment at Bay?”

People said that one reason Apple didn’t settle with the Department of Justice (when all of the accused publishers did) is that Apple has the money to just keep fighting judgments as long as they want. Instead of saying, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”, some people say, “It ain’t over ’til you run out of money fighting us.” ;)

Well, the Feds don’t run out of money for something like this easily, although they can run out of will eventually.

In this

Publishers Weekly article by Andrew Albanese

it’s reported that (no surprise) Apple has filed for a stay of proceedings in the damages phase of its trial.

That’s sort of like saying, “Time out! Look, we’re going to win anyway, so don’t do anything until we do.”

The stay will, I think, get a ruling this week…and my intuition is that Judge Cote is not going to give them one.

More Penguin e-books now available in school libraries

I’ve written a lot about e-books and public libraries…how some publishers seriously restrict their use (or don’t license them to libraries at all).

I haven’t written that much about school libraries…but that’s been an issue as well.

According to this

The Digital Reader article by Nate Hoffelder

Penguin has now worked out their concerns…and 17,000 titles are available to school libraries, including some iconic books.

I’m very happy to see this progress! Of course, I’d like to see all e-books available to be licensed by school and public libraries, but I do applaud progress.

Speaking of school libraries, this unnerving

goodEreader article by Mercy Pilkington

talks about the trend for school libraries to simply close!

Schools may decide they can’t afford them, and off they go.

I wrote before about how a book I got out of a school library changed my life, and I’d have to say the library was always one of my favorite places at school.

In fact, we were quite shocked when our now adult kid started at a school, and the school closed before 3:00. We were told that our kid had to leave the campus…all kids did, unless they were participating in after school activities (mostly sports). That just seemed dangerous! There weren’t school buses running, and public buses took a long time to get home…there have been some bad incidents in the town with kids hanging out for a couple of hours before their guardians can get them.

I said to the school, “Can our kid study at the library until we can get there?”

Nope: no school library use after school hours!

Of course, I understand the economics…but remember, they could afford to have sports coaches there after hours, but apparently, not librarians.

Reading 100 years of #1 Publishers Weekly bestsellers

This

Salon.com article by Laura Miller

has a really interesting interview with Matthew Kahn of

Kahn’s Corner

who is reading and reviewing every #1 hardback Publishers Weekly annual bestseller, from 1913 to 2013.

I always find it interesting when readers decide to take on a task like that. Sure, I’ve read all the books in a series (181 original Doc Savage adventures, for example), but I haven’t tended to take a list and work my way through (that goes for movies, too).

I can understand it, though…there are so many things to read, and this at least gives you a path through the forest.

It will be interesting to see Kahn’s take on the changing tastes of America…

What do you think? Has a company ever did something that you really admired? How important was your school library to you? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

April 4, 2014

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

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

“I’m not at Liberty to pay…”

“‘By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,’ Mr. Maffei said in a statement.”
–quoted in a New York Times article by Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman

Flexibility? Yes. Capability? No.

Yes, I’m sure all that money you were giving them was reducing their choices. It’s like a parent saying, “You don’t like my rules? Fine. Then you can just get an apartment on your own and live your own rules. Of course, you might have trouble finding someone who will rent to a ten-year old…”

I don’t really see how to spin this and make it a good thing for B&N, and neither can the stock market…following the announcement, B&N’s stock took a more  precipitous  dive than an Acapulco cliff diver. ;)

CNNMoney graph

That doesn’t mean that they won’t recover…but I would be very interested to hear what people think does mean that Barnes & Noble is going to get back to robust health.

I think this does make the continued existence of Barnes & Noble bookstores as we know them today less likely (and I’m speaking as a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore).

The article was generally pretty good, but I doubt the folks at Books-A-Million liked this statement: “…Barnes & Noble, the nation’s last major bookstore chain”.

 Digitizing your paperbooks will be legal…in the UK

America’s copyright system is often relatively complex compared to many other countries’ systems.

I honestly don’t really expect us to lead on this front.

One could argue that it is due, in part, to us being so successful in creating intellectual property. Most countries in the world consume American media, even if we don’t return the favor in equal proportion. You can also see this in the use of our software.

So, I wasn’t surprised the the UK beat us to saying something that I’ve been hoping would get said here in the USA.

Starting 1 June 2014, it is legal to digitize your paperbooks (turn them into e-books) at home for your own purposes in the UK, according to this

Wired.co.uk article by Olivia Solon

This decision wasn’t specifically about p-books to e-books, but it does cover them (it also covers things like “ripping a CD” to digital).

It doesn’t allow you to do that for other people, but that’s fine. If I knew it was legal here, I’d probably start digitizing a lot more of my books (I do public domain ones now…just started on that with my new Xcanex scanner, although I did it with a flatbed for a non-profit).

I don’t think this is much of a threat to the e-book industry. Not very many people are going to scan a book when they can buy one already done and nicely formatted. I think, as would be the case with me, that it would be books that aren’t available otherwise in most cases. Certainly, some hobbyists might scan the books instead of buying them…but it would be a bit like saying that people who build their own computers are a threat to HP. It just isn’t going to be that large a group.

I hope this inspires a similar decision in the USA…

Amazon Fire TV

My Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile) should be here today. I meant to order it with one-day shipping, but apparently, in my haste (I would afraid they would sell out), didn’t click the button to switch it. That’s okay…I probably won’t really get to explore it until Saturday, and I’ll write more about it then.

Of course, many people don’t wait to explore it before they write about it.  :)

I was…intrigued with all of the 1-star reviews that showed up before almost anybody had the device. The vast majority of those were from people who didn’t have it yet.

1-star reviews for the Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

A lot of the “reviews” (I don’t believe you can actually “review” something until you have viewed it) had to do it with it missing something the poster wanted.

That just seems very self-centered to me. Its like giving Baskin-Robbins a 1-star review because, out of the 33 flavors of ice cream they have, they don’t have Banana-Coconut-Mango…and that’s your favorite! So, it doesn’t matter if their service is excellent, prices are good, and the vast majority of people who go there like their ice creams…the place sucks! :)

Now, that’s not quite a fair comparison…arguably, at $99, Amazon is not a price leader on this (they are comparable to many other devices in the category, although not the the Google Chromecast). It does seem like a very narrow focus…seeing the world through “me-colored glasses”.

One of the most commonly mentioned ones, and one that Amazon even includes in the comparison chart, is

HBO GO (at AmazonSmile)

That also messes up the analogy, because that’s a popular “channel”…it’s more like Baskin-Robbins not having strawberry ice cream. To me, that wouldn’t mean BR should get a 1-star review…there would still be a lot of good in that place, and a 1-star review is as low as you can go at Amazon.

Notice, though, that I have a link for HBO Go? That’s because you can get it in the Amazon Appstore…for your Kindle Fire.

That means that, if you have both a

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

and an

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

you will be able to watch HBO GO through the AFTV, since you can mirror the Fire to it (display what’s on the Fire’s screen on your TV). I assume that will be true: I won’t be testing that specifically, since we don’t have HBO.

The app is free, by the way.

Equally worth noting: no reason to suppose the app won’t get added directly to the AFTV at some point.

I expect AFTV’s 3.1 star average to rise considerably in the next week, once the initial flood of negative reviews by people who don’t have it is countered. Don’t know where it will get, don’t know how good the experience is yet…but I think it has been front-loaded with negativity.

If you don’t have and don’t plan to get an AFTV, does this part of this post matter to you?

A bit…it’s making some changes on the Amazon.com site, and possibly pointing to some interesting strategic shifts.

First, the AFTV appears in the Kindle “family stripe”. That’s the thing at the top of a Kindle’s product page which shows you what other Kindles are available.

If you go to a Kindle Fire’s page, you now see the Kindle Fires…then a “show all device types” illustration, which includes a Fire, a Paperwhite…and an Amazon Fire TV.

I have said many times that I wish they hadn’t named the Fire a “Kindle”, since they are such different devices…I wish they had kept “Kindle” for dedicated EBRs (E-Book Readers).

While I had suggested the “Amazon Current”, I would have been much happier with the “Amazon Fire” rather than the “Kindle Fire”.  It has created a great deal of confusion, with people wondering why they can’t read their “new Kindle” in the sun as well.

This family striping seems to be a step away from branding everything as a “Kindle”, which I think may be a good thing.

Similarly, while the links to

Manage Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

still work, the page is now branded, “Manage Your Content and Devices”.

Students: write your way to a Kindle Fire

I mentioned this briefly, but wanted to call it out more.

Amazon has a nice

student guide

to

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)

One of the elements there is a contest:

This lesson will allow your students to write an account of an American History event as seen through a CHRONOS historian. Students can submit their work here to enter to win one of 5 autographed editions of Timebound. One lucky student will win a Kindle Fire. Submissions must be received by 12/17/2014. For more information on the content visit: http://www.chronosfiles.com/students.html.

This is, in my opinion, a good academic and creative contest. The rules will require some real research, and I see this as a legitimate school exercise.

What do you think? Should I cover the Amazon Fire TV at all in this blog? I do think I will do it some (not a lot), but I’m interested in your opinion. Will the USA follow the UK in legitimizing format shifting? Should they? What would be the impact? Were you ever given an assignment in school with a prompting question? If so, was it valuable? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #247: Amazon announcement, win a book scanner

March 29, 2014

Round up #247: Amazon announcement, win a book scanner

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

Win an Xcanex book scanner

I’ve written about my

piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s a remarkable device for digitizing your public domain books (and lots of other things.

Well, they are currently them away!

They are in Round 4 of what is basically an essay contest. You say why you want one, and they pick a winner (the current contest ends April 4th, but they may keep going after that. You enter here:

http://www.piqximaging.com/

I paid over $250 for mine…I did enter the contest, but with the intent to donate it to a non-profit if I win.

Amazon announces…something to do with video

This coming Wednesday, April 2nd, at 11:00 AM Eastern, Amazon is going to announce something. According to the invitation, as shown in this

Droid Life post

it will involve “…AN UPDATE ON OUR VIDEO BUSINESS.”

That could be several things.

Amusingly, I see a lot of news reports referring to a “set-top box”.

I find that amusing not because I don’t think they will introduce video hardware, but because it is already an obsolete term.

The

Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player
(at AmazonSmile)

isn’t a set-top box…it doesn’t go on top of the set (there isn’t much of a top to many TV sets any more any…some of them just hang on the wall and are thin). It plugs into the HDMI port, typically on the side of it.

I know that being techie, but I always find it funny which words catch on and get used even when they don’t fit the situation.

I would expect them to introduce hardware here. I’m hoping for a Chromecast type stick (something small) that pairs super well with my

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

That would mean it would have Miracast capability, most likely. I actually don’t need that right now, since my only TV that has an HDMI already has a

NETGEAR Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter – Miracast and WiDi (PTV3000) (at AmazonSmile)

which works well enough.

It would, though, give us more options in buying a future TV. Hm…I wonder if that might work for me at a hotel, as well? I’m guessing it would.

That would make enough news, especially if it was cheap enough to rival the $35 Chromecast.

Amazon is good at announcing more than what most people expect, though.

They may also announce something to do with video content.

This

The Wall Street Journal post by Greg Bensinger

created quite a buzz, suggesting Amazon might be doing a free (advertising supported) streaming music and video service.

Doink! Doink! Doink!

What’s that? The sounds of the jaws of cable operators hitting the floor. ;)

Amazon has denied that since the report came out.

However, I could see them doing a few interesting things.

One would be to give us in the USA a model like they recently did with LoveFilm in Europe.

In addition to Prime, give a possibility to subscribe to video only for a monthly fee.

I’d also love to see them crack the live TV thing, but I’m not quite sure how. I’d like to be able to see some shows live. They could partner with somebody to do exclusive video…maybe The Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos recently bought?

On my

I can see news stories for free. They come from web-type sources, and they aren’t as slick as cable, but I could see dropping cable and making do with them.

Another way to go would be to do something like Kindle FreeTime through it. Create “channels” of videos for a monthly fee, and use profiles…you could make it work with all ready created FreeTime profiles, for that matter.

I do expect strong integration with the Kindle Fires, whatever they do.

“You can’t buy that! The great e-book royalty war”

This

Salon post by Laura Miller

does a nice job explaining the difficulties in getting some older (but not public domain books) into e-book form. I’ve written about this before, but it’s a bit complicated.

Essentially, rights are considered to remain with the author in most cases, unless that author licenses them.

For books published prior to about 2005, contracts usually didn’t mention e-books…meaning that the e-book rights would stay with the author.

There has been a lot of debate about some clauses, and a judge recently (narrowly) ruled that Open Road did not have the right to procure e-book rights to

Julie of the Wolves (at AmazonSmile)

by Jean Craighead George.

That’s a little scary…I like there to be competition for e-book editions. However, it’s less scary than it used to be, because it used to be that large tradpubs (traditional publishers) didn’t have much interest in e-book editions. If they had the rights, we might not have the books.

That’s changed…the market value of e-books is much clearer than it was five years ago.

Still, the article points out that tradpubs are tending to stick to what can be seen as a somewhat low royalty rate…certainly, much lower than independently publishing through Amazon (where you can get 70%).

That may drive some authors away from them…they have to watch this carefully, or they could trip over their own feet.

Getting into a goodreads rhythm

Okay, I’m starting to use goodreads more effectively.

When I finish a book, I mark it as finished…and write a review.

For example, I just wrote this one

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/882763732

on

What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine (at AmazonSmile)

by Danielle Ofri.

Polls of my readers here have shown me that reviews are not people’s favorite posts in ILMK…but I know people do like to read them at goodreads (that’s how they capitalize the site on the site, by the way).

I thought that review came out pretty well. :)

Several of you have become my “friends” there…I think you do that on my profile page:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3037617-bufo-calvin

I am finding it interesting to see what my “friends” are saying…what they are reading and such.

I’m still a goodreads novice, but I’m finding this level of involvement fun, and worth the time.

What do you think? Do you wish I would write reviews here? What would you do with an Xcanex if you won one? What do you think Amazon will announce on Thursday…and do you care? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

===

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. (Last weekend before recommendations close!)

===

* 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 #246: Amazon AFD, $5 extra at AmazonSmile

March 27, 2014

Round up #246: Amazon AFD, $5 extra at AmazonSmile

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

Extra $5 donation from AmazonSmile if you buy by 3/31

Wow!

This is a lot extra!

Normally, when you buy any eligible item at AmazonSmile, your chosen non-profit gets half of one percent of the purchase price.

Spend $100, and they get fifty cents.

With this bonus, it’s the equivalent of you spending $1000!

Here are the details:

  • One donation per customer.
  • Limited time offer. You must complete a purchase at smile.amazon.com including one or more items eligible for an AmazonSmile donation between 12:00 a.m. (PT) March 24, 2014 and 11:59 p.m. (PT) March 31, 2014. In addition, this promotion will expire after aggregate donations have reached $1 million.
  • The $5 donation will be made through the AmazonSmile program at smile.amazon.com under the same terms and at the same time as other donations made through the program, and will be in addition to the 0.5% donation made on the purchase price of your eligible item(s).
  • Offer valid for customers located and with billing addresses in the United States.
  • Offer may not be combined with other offers.
  • Amazon reserves the right to modify or cancel the offer at any time.
  • Offer is non-transferable and may not be resold.
  • If any of the products related to this promotion are returned, the donation will not be made.
  • If you violate any of the Terms and Conditions, the promotion will be invalid.
  • Void where prohibited.

Note that they will stop when they hit $1,000,000…so you’d better get shopping! :)

I already bought something, so my chosen non-profit has benefited.

For more information on AmazonSmile (including how to get your qualified non-profit into the program), see:

Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

Don’t Give Them Your Money Back

I suggested that some indies might want to promote using your overcharges from tradpubs (traditional publishers) settlement money to buy indie books…so you aren’t giving the money right back to the people who took too much in the first place. :)

Well, I did write about it here:

E-book settlements are here: “Don’t give them your money back”

and based on the comments, it seems to be getting some traction…Facebook, Twitter, that kind of thing. :)

You might be asking yourself, how can I find indie books to buy, if I want to do this?

Well, Amazon does have a storefront for

Kindle indie books (at AmazonSmile)

You can probably find something…they have gotten better at discovery on that page. They have top-rated, bestselling, new, and featured books, for one thing.

If you’d rather go with a well-known book, but still want to avoid the publishers that overcharged, you could get books published by Amazon. Amazon wasn’t (and wouldn’t have been) part of raising those prices.

For example, there are the

Thomas & Mercer (at AmazonSmile)

Those are mystery and suspense and include the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming and the 87th Precinct books by Ed McBain.

Books traditionally published by Amazon like that are often relatively inexpensive, and typically have the special features from Amazon (text-to-speech, lending, and so on).

I can tell you: the publishers who agreed to settle after being charged with overcharging (basically) would not be happy if you spent that money with Amazon! ;)

The next holiday is the Fourth of July…April Fool!

My first retail job (I eventually managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, among other things) was in a “joke shop” called The House of Humor.

I was really there as a make-up expert at Halloween. I did special effects type make-up in the theatre, so I could serve as an advisor to people (and a retail clerk).

Things would get crazy when I worked there at Halloween! We literally might have a line of 300 people waiting to get into the store.

They would come in ten at a time…and get five minutes to shop!

During that time, I would help them pick latex masks, costumes, and make-up…and we’d get them rung up and out right afterwards (they got five minutes, but they were in the store longer than that).

What fun that was!

One interesting thing that most people didn’t realize is that we had to order the “good” Halloween masks…in March. It takes a very long time for them to create the Don Post quality masks.

That’s why we’d always be out of something hot…

A few examples:

  • Darth Vader (almost nobody thought Star Wars was going to be a big success before it was released)
  • Miss Piggy
  • Coneheads

On the last one, it was actually possible to make something, if you were crafty enough, with liquid latex and a plastic football.

We were also happy that Howard the Duck (at AmazonSmile) could be sold as, you know, a duck. ;) That one did look good on paper in March, having George Lucas, Lea Thompson (hot from back to the future), and Thomas Dolby involved (and based on a Marvel comic…although that wasn’t as big a selling point back then as it is now).

I also remember one “oh oh” for somebody. This poor businessperson came into the store, with an “only slightly” faded red clown nose (drawn on with greasepaint), red cheeks, and red lips. You see, the person had taken greasepaint and drawn directly on their skin…not a good idea with red, especially (red stains the most). That person had a big presentation to do…and all I could really suggest was cover-up at that point.

We also sold all sorts of gags, including things like spaghetti forks (with a crank) (at AmazonSmile) and X-ray Spex (at AmazonSmile).

Well, if you want to get those sorts of things (or books about practical jokes), this year you can go to

Amazon’s April Fool’s Day store (at AmazonSmile)

It’s an interesting collection, including things like we sold, but also clothing, books, and gift cards for comedy clubs.

What do you think? Are you doing anything special with the money you got from the settlement? One of my readers got almost $100 back…how did you do? Do you have a great makeup/mask/costume story? Are you part of an organization that’s been helped by AmazonSmile? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

===

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

===

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

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 #245: trade-in a Sony and get an extra $20, Patty

March 21, 2014

Round up #245: trade-in a Sony and get an extra $20, Patty

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

I got some stuff :)

I’ve recently gotten a couple of gadgets which may enable me to effectively digitize public domain books.

I’ve done that in the past when I was the Education Director for a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation.

Using a flatbed scanner (like a copier), it was a slow, laborious process.

One issue was waiting for the scan bar to move back and forth…that adds up. :)

If I was willing to destroy the paper copies (that’s how most scanning companies do it), it would be easier…but I’m not.

I came into a bit of extra money, so I’ve bought something I was considering:

piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

What it says it does (and some of it is patented) is quite impressive. I have it, but won’t have a chance to test it until the weekend (it’s been super busy at work). It seems to be quality construction (knock virtual wood), which is good.

It works much more like a digital camera than a copier. It takes a picture of a page.

Okay, that’s better…but here are some of the other things I’m hoping it actually does effectively:

  • It’s supposed to be able to tell when you’ve turned the page and take the picture on its own…at least, I think that’s right
  • It’s supposed to be able to take a picture of two pages at the same time…cutting scanning time roughly in half
  • It can digitally remove your fingers! You can use your fingers (not covering text, of course) to flatten the book or document some (but it doesn’t need to be completely flat), and it recognize that they are fingers and removes them from the image (if you weren’t doing optical character recognition…OCR…but producing something like a replica PDF, that would be a big help)
  • It comes with the ABBY OCR

So, I’ll give you more of a report on that after I’ve tested it.

I’ll be using it with our new

ASUS Transformer Book T100TA-C1-GR 10.1-Inch Detachable 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop (at AmazonSmile)

Regular readers may remember that I haven’t been using Microsoft Office for a little while (despite a past history of being a certified Excel expert), because I had to “recover” an older desktop, and, well, we didn’t have the Office “key” that would allow us to use it again (that won’t happen to me in the future, hopefully…I now take a picture of the key, and store it in the Cloud).

That meant I definitely wanted something that came with Office (it can be expensive to buy separately)….we considered a Microsoft Surface.

Doing some research, though, I saw people recommending the Asus over the Surface…and it was cheaper (yes, that does matter to us).

Again, haven’t had a chance to explore it much yet. It’s a 2-in-1: that means it has a laptop type keyboard, but the “screen” separates off to become a tablet (it’s touchscreen).

It has Windows 8.1 on it: that’s an adjustment! I was looking for Notepad: who would guess that you would swipe up from the middle of the screen to find it?

On the other hand, having a touchscreen is (now) pretty intuitive.

I’ll let you know about both of these. Being able to take the scanner and the tablet part into our floor-to-ceiling library ought to work quite well.

We got one other thing (tonight): another dog!

Some readers may remember that we got Elf about 5 months ago. Elf is a terrier mutt…my Significant Other thinks Elf is part terrier and part Slinky Dog, so we call Elf a “slinkier”. ;)

Well, the place where we got Elf had another dog online…that looked almost exactly like Elf!

Not only that, they are about the same age…and found as strays not that far apart (not in the same city, but still).

We thought it was possible they were siblings…maybe even littermates.

That’s how much alike they looked in the picture.

We had wanted two dogs all along: I’ve always said that two dogs are easier than one: sometimes, they just want to do doggie stuff you don’t want to do (like roll in the mud).

Well, seeing the new dog, they don’t look as much alike as we thought…the new one is quite a bit smaller, and the hair-type is a bit different.

Everyone, though, is going to think they are related…and they very well may be.

I’ll post some pictures if they ever stand still long enough (they’ve been playing a lot since the first introductions ended).

Update: I call this picture, “I dreamed I was on the back of the couch.” ;) Elf is on the back, the new dog is on the blanket.

Couch Dream

The new dog is called “Patty”. See, Elf is “Elf” because eleven was that dog’s number when we got there. Elf is German for eleven.

Patty was Number Six…so Patty is after Patrick McGoohan, who starred in one of my favorite series, The Prisoner…as “Number Six”.

Fun stuff…I love my work, but I am looking forward to the weekend! :)

Subscription app converted to Newsstand subscription

This was fascinating!

I have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. In the Kindle store, that was an app…which is really not as convenient as Amazon’s normal subscription thing.

Well, I went to read it yesterday…and it told me that it had been converted.

That has some real advantages: the latest issue will automatically download, for one thing, as opposed to me having to go fetch it.

Still, that is an interesting change…and I wonder if they are going to do that with more of the subscription apps.

Trade-in an EBR (E-Book Reader) at Amazon and get a $20 gift card on top of the value

When you trade in electronics at Amazon (it’s actually a third-party buying them, but you go through Amazon), you don’t get anywhere near as much as you might selling it yourself…but it is easy and secure, and that’s worth something.

Well, Amazon has a special deal right now:

Trade In Your Old E-reader for a Gift Card, Plus Get a $20 Instant Credit Toward a New Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

Yep, Amazon says:

“For a limited time, trade in an eligible Nook, Kobo, Sony, Kindle or other e-reader for an Amazon.com Gift Card, plus get a $20 instant credit toward a new Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, or Kindle Paperwhite 3G e-reader”

The trade-in value for Sonys, Kobos, and nooks is only up to $15…but then you do get this $20 on top of it (following the rules). If you had an unused Sony sitting around, getting $35 off a Paperwhite would be a pretty sweet deal…and it would really bring down the cost of a “Mindle”.

Trade in a first-generation Paperwhite…and get up $58.55! That, plus the $20 ($78.55) brings the current gen Paperwhite wi-fi only to…$40.45.

Now, you might not get the highest trade-in, and there isn’t that much difference between the two models after the recent updates, but it’s still an interesting plan.

One more thing (and I don’t know if it could be combined). Some people (including me) can buy a Kindle in 5 installments: you pay 20% up front, than have four more payments of 20% each.

If you are eligible for it, you’ll know…Amazon will splash it on the website for you, for one thing.

Just thought I’d mention it…now, if they would only do that for Prime! :)

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

===

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

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 #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

March 17, 2014

Round up #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

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

Bookstore sales down 6.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly post

bookstore sales in the US dropped 6.7% year over year for January (per the Census Bureau).

At the same time, the overall retail sector rose.

Quite simply, this is not a good sign for bookstores. What changed in 2013 that could be seen as an exceptional accelerant? Borders has been closed for longer than that. E-books aren’t new (and the growth rate for those have slowed).

I suppose that one could argue that they’d been coasting on reserves, but seriously, most bookstores don’t have a year’s worth of reserves.

I think this is a genuine indication that people are going less. I know, I know…no surprise to a lot of folks.

Speaking of that slowing e-book growth rate, this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

has an interesting hypothesis (along with some other intriguing infographic stats…I’d suggest you check out the article).

One of four possible causes given is that the Association of American Publishers (AAP) data, which is what most people use, doesn’t track e-books published by indies.

If the marketshare of indies is growing significantly, that would make it appear to the AAP that the growth rate slowed, when it may not have done so.

Looking at the USA Kindle store bestsellers, there are certainly books from tradpubs (traditional publishers) on there (The Divergent Series Complete Collection ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)) helps with that at the top), but there are also indies. I’ll have to look at that again to see if the sands have shifted.

Margaret Adams on why dystopian fiction is popular

I recommend this

Financial Times article by Margaret Atwood

about people’s fascination with dystopian (negative futures…or at least, negative societies) literature.

Atwood (MaddAddam ((at AmazonSmile))) does a nice job of putting the genre in historical perspective. This isn’t a new phenomenon, bred of economic difficulties for millenials (and the generation after).

As regular readers know, I tend to be optimistic about the future. Take a look at almost anything tangible in our lives and look back, oh, a short two hundred years. Life expectancy? Opportunity for women and minorities? Literacy rates? Infant mortality? I know that some people see a moral decay, but that’s a bit of a different question. Was an individual likely to suffer more physical misfortune two hundred years ago than they were now? Go back three hundred years or forward from my original point one hundred years (to 1914). That’s how I see the trends.

I don’t think dystopian literature becomes more popular, necessarily, when people actually believe the world is getting worse. Wouldn’t one expect that utopian literature might become more popular in fantasy/science fiction at that point, as an escape?

That might be an interesting study…

Classics or not, ya gotta sell ‘em

Looks like I might need to get familiar with this site!

In this

Trivia Happy post

The post has what they claim are genuine covers (and I’m leaning towards that being true) of “pulpish” editions of classic books.

The pictures are great!

I also like the copy on this one…which book would you guess this is describing?

“This unusual book may shock you, will make you laugh, and may break your heart — but you will never forget it”

Would you believe…Catcher in the Rye?

nook discontinuing Windows app: Microsoft Consumer Reader to work with that format?

According to this

Redmond Magazine post by Kurt Mackie

Barnes & Noble has filed an amendment to an earlier statement. B&N won’t need to make a nook app for Windows, and will help with the “Microsoft Consumer Reader”.

What is that?

Hopefully, something that will do better than when Microsoft had the .lit format!

This may be something that Microsoft does that gives an app that will read your nook books and your Microsoft Word documents…heck, why not PDFs and text files, too? The astonishing thing is if they could pull anything else proprietary into it…Kobo, Kindle. I can see that as a possibility, believe it or not.

That wouldn’t have Microsoft selling the content, so it wouldn’t hurt there.

Amazon/Kobo could negotiate payments which might make it worthwhile.

Right now, you could have both the Kobo app and the Kindle app on one device…would it be that much worse for the two companies if, instead of two apps, you had one?

I think this is pretty unlikely, but it’s just something that occurred to me…and I don’t think it’s impossible.

What do you think? If Microsoft makes it so you can read nook books on a Surface (or other tablets), is nook hardware doomed? Why do people love dystopias? Do you read them? Are bookstores on an inevitable slide, or will they hit a plateau…and possibly even grow? How much are indies skewing the stats? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

===

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

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 #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

March 9, 2014

Round up #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

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

KDD: “Books That Inspired Our Passion for Reading, $2.99 or Less [each]“

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deal‘s (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of twenty specific books for $2.99 or less each.

This is National Reading Month (um, gee, isn’t that every month? No? Okay, then.). ;) In honor of that, Amazon has discounted these books (for today)…and there are definitely some good ones on the list!

  • The Alchemist
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • American Gods
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Tales of the City
  • The Natural
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • The Complete Stories (Flannery O’Connor)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Kane and Abel
  • The Good Earth
  • Old Yeller
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8
  • Cryptonomicon
  • Miss Marple, the Complete Short Stories
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast
  • [Ray] Bradbury Stories
  • Native Son
  • Sophie’s World
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall

You know how you say you are going to wait until those really great, well-known books go on sale? That’s now. ;)

As a reminder, you can buy these as a gift and delay the delivery until the appropriate  occasion. For example, do you know a kid who would enjoy Sarah, Plain and Tall? You can order it now and pick a delivery date in December…

One of my regular readers, Lady Galaxy, suggested I might buy a couple to add to our Guest Bookshelf (see On our guest Kindle for a listing of the books we have on our Guest Kindle). A few people, I think wisely, suggested the list could use some more short story anthologies or collections.

Understanding the new Cloud Collections

Overwhelmingly, I’m seeing a positive reaction to the recent update to the Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation.

However, I’m still seeing a lot of confusion, even among very sophisticated users, about how Cloud Collections work now.

I have to say, this does show that Amazon could explain these things better. I like that they have the Kindle Forum Pros (I’m one of those…we volunteer our time to help people), but their Help Pages could be more scenario based, in my opinion. They don’t tend to say, “You want to do this…here’s how”). They will tell you steps to do, but not tell you why you would do them.

I’m going to share something I posted elsewhere…this is based on our KPW1 (Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation): I think it’s the same on the KPW2.

There are really three key things:

1. You can set a Collection so that it either appears in Collections view only, or in all views [note: you do this by selecting "Collections" in the menu to your right of where it says, ,"On Device"]

2. There is a menu for the filter (what will be displayed on your home screen). You can choose: All Items; Books; Periodicals; Docs; Collections; or Active Content [note: that's the same menu as above]

3. There is another menu, similar to what we had before for sorting (the order in which the items you have chosen to display in the second step will show). You can use: Recent; Title; Author; or Collection [that's the last menu on that row, to your right from the menu above]

Here’s my own example:

I created a Collection called “Guest Bookshelf” (this Kindle is one we use for guests). I can add books to it from the Paperwhite or from my Kindle Fire HDX (I find the latter easier).

That is the only Collection which is starred (“Show in All Views”) on this device.

I have it set to show “All Items” in the filter. It shows that Collection, plus active content, the Vocabulary Builder, a blog…just a few things that I have on it.

I have it sorted by “Collection”, meaning that the books in the Guest Bookshelf show inside that Collection (which appears at the top of the homepage) and not outside it.

That’s exactly what I want. :)

I think for most people, the set up is:

Switch the filter to Collections, and star the Collections you would like to show.

Switch the filter to All Items.

Switch the sort to Collection.

Now, I do understand that some people want more functionality. Right now, the count of items in a Collection doesn’t change if you are on the Cloud tab or the Device tab. In other words, if you have a Romance Cloud Collection, you can’t tell how many of those books are actually on this device without opening the Collection. Even then, it doesn’t show a count…they just look different (books not on the device are faded).

Let me know if you have more questions…

A tip on connecting with the Push2TV

I’ve written before about using my Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile) with the NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile) to “mirror” everything on my tablet’s screen to my TV.

That works very well! I use it quite a bit.

I started running into an issue where it wasn’t always finding the Push2TV…in other words, it wouldn’t make the connection so that I could watch.

I figured out a minor thing, but it seems to make a big difference (that’s the way it often works, right? Big problems solved with a small change).

The trick seems to be to start the Fire looking first:

Swipe down from the top – Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

then activate your Push2TV, rather than the other way around.

Sequencing is often the key with technology.

I assume what happens is that the Push2TV sends it’s “here I am” signal right away: if the Fire isn’t looking for it when it is broadcast, it misses it.

Comixology Submit started bundle: 100 books for $10!

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this!

Celebrating SXSW (South by Southwest),

Comics (at AmazonSmile)

is offering a bundle of 100 of their Comixology Submit titles…for $10!

That offer is only good through Sunday (March 10). This is a savings of 97%, and will give you some good indie (independently published) comics. Think of it like Kindle Direct Publishing for comic books.

You can read this through the free app you can get for your Kindle Fire (see above), and read it other places (including Android devices, iPads and iPhones, and Windows 8).

Update: Orphan Black on Prime

I meant to mention this one (and gee, this has become a really multimedia post! I started with books, I’ve done comics, and now video). Amazon Prime has recently added

Orphan Black (at AmazonSmile)

It’s a science fiction series from last year where there was a lot of mainstream push that the lead actor should have been nominated for an Emmy…you don’t usually see that.

The performance by Tatiana Maslany is extraordinary. I want to leave you the discovery of what is happening, but I would guess you’ll be impressed. There are other good things to the series as well…might make a good binge watch (ten episodes). With Prime, you can watch them at no additional cost.

A content advisory: this ran on BBC America (and Space in Canada), and they don’t have the same restrictions that you might expect from a USA network show. There are sexual situations and nudity.

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

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

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

Round up #242: Prime prices to rise in the UK, Gold Box deal on Kindle books

February 22, 2014

Round up #242: Prime prices to rise in the UK, Gold Box deal on Kindle books 

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

Gold Box Kindle book sale, today only

Gold Box Deals can be all kinds of things, but sometimes they are on e-books. That’s the case today:

Gold Box Deal of the Day: 50 Top-Rated Kindle Fiction Books, $1.99 Each (at AmazonSmile*)

There are some well-known books in there (top-rated doesn’t always equal well-known), including books by Louis L’Amour. There’s a pretty good variety: I’d recommend you take a look.

Updates for both generations of Kindle Fire happening?

While they aren’t available for manual download yet, from what I can see, and they haven’t been announced, I’m seeing people on the Amazon Kindle Forums talk about new updates for Kindle Fires…and it may be for all generations and models.

They wouldn’t be the same updates for the different gens, and they wouldn’t have the same features, most likely.

What I really want is a bug fix for my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When I first got it, the wi-fi connection was great.

After an update that brought more enterprise network capability to it (I’m not saying that was the cause, but it might be), I usually have to toggle wireless on and off…many times a day. I’ve never counted, but I would guess I’ve done it ten times today already…and that’s with having taken the dog to the dog park for a couple of hours. ;)

I’ll keep you informed: if you’ve been updated recently, I’d like to hear about it.

When they are available for manual download, they will be at

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

Amazon set-top box coming in March of this year?

I’ve written before about how I think a TV gadget of some kind may be coming from Amazon this year, and this

Re/code (formerly AllThingsD) article by Peter Kafka

has created a buzzstorm.

Many people are reporting it, even though there is nothing official.

I do think this is likely…and that it may include both video content and games.

There are a couple of related stories which strengthen it.

Amazon has been pinning down more exclusive streaming video deals, and that’s going to be a big point for sales.

In this

press release

they announce that Amazon is going to be the “…exclusive online-only subscription home for streaming all past seasons and episodes of the popular MTV series Teen Wolf”.

Teen Wolf has quite a following, and I have watched it. It’s an interesting, very differently-toned adaptation of what was first the comedic Michael J. Fox movie. Don’t worry, though…Styles is still funny. ;)

It surprised me that Amazon would be able to pin that down, taking it away from other services.

I suppose it shouldn’t have, though. The same press release says,

“Prime Instant Video is the exclusive online-only subscription home for PBS series Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, FX drama The Americans, CBS summer blockbuster series Under the Dome and later this summer, Extant. Other hit TV series exclusives include Veronica Mars, Justified, Falling Skies, Grimm, Workaholics, Suits and Covert Affairs. Prime Instant Video also offers an exclusive collection of kids shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. that customers won’t find on any other online-only subscription service, including favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Blue’s Clues, and The Bubble Guppies. “

I’d say the odds are pretty good that most TV consumers have at least heard of some of those.

Pumping up the content exclusives (and the content generally) would be an important thing to do before launching a service/device.

In the UK and Germany, Amazon just announced a merging of Lovefilm (roughly equivalent to Netflix…Amazon bought it a while back) and Prime, according to this

24/7 Wall St. article by Paul Ausick, via Yahoo! Finance

and other sources.

The price is taking a big jump: in the UK, it’s going up the equivalent of roughly fifty dollars a year, from a close to USA equivalent of about $81 to an equivalent of about $131.

However, people will be able to make some choices about what services they get, affecting the price. The $131 equivalent will be the full platter. You could order just the Prime Instant Video “side dish” for $10 equivalent a month. However, that works out to only $11 less for the year…so, if they could give you installment payments for Prime, who wouldn’t go for the shipping benefits, too?

Will something like this happen in the USA?

Well, we already have Prime Instant Video as part of our Prime price, but yes, Amazon said it might raise prices on Prime in the USA…and I think they will (I’m guessing $20).

This could also clearly tie into a set-top box or other TV gadget.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon is in the midst of its “pilot season” for original works.

press release

Viewer feedback helps determine which pilots become original series on Amazon.

The only one that was interesting to us so far (and much more to me than to my Significant Other) was Chris Carter’s (The X-Files) The After. It was an interesting cast with some intriguing concepts and imagery, although it did feel unfinished, which is often the case with a pilot. Full disclosure: my Significant Other knows a parent of the editor of that episode, and yes, that’s why my SO even watched. ;) I probably would have watched anyway…

Amazon Pilot Season (at AmazonSmile)

Speaking of visual media, I am doing my annual BOPmadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) again. You are all invited to play. :) It’s all free, and the more people we have, the better we usually do as a group. I’m doing it technically a different way this time, using SurveyMonkey, rather than sending out Excel spreadsheets. You can get the information and the links here:

2014 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

Oh, and something else that may tie into a possible Prime price hike for the USA…one of my readers sent me a heads-up (thanks, reader!) in a private e-mail to this

Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger

It suggests that Amazon is looking to make deals with other major retailers. The retailers products would be listed at Amazon, and buyers could use their Amazon accounts and Prime benefits to get them. The other retailer would then pay Amazon.

That would be huge for Amazon! They would really be becoming the “everything store”, and they would know so much more about you. As a consumer, I would think it would be great. It doesn’t quash competition on prices…other retailers could still undercut Amazon’s prices. It just makes it much easier logistically.

That’s putting more and more power in Amazon’s hands, though, and some people won’t like that. If Amazon got hacked, it would expose a lot more data.

Still, overall, I think shoppers will love this…and competitors will submit to it.

Bookstores: more in the USA, fewer in the UK

I suspect some of this has to do with definitions, but this

The Guardian article by Sarah Butler

talks about independent bookstores in the UK dropping to under 1,000…they say

“The number of independent bookshops gracing British high streets has fallen below 1,000 – a third fewer than nine years ago, amid cut-throat competition from supermarkets, Amazon and ebooks.”

At the same time, the ABA (American Booksellers Association), in this

American Bookselling article

lists (with contact information…addresses and websites) 44 stores which were added to the ABA in 2013.

That’s a good sign of vitality in the USA.

Some of these are additional branches of existing stores, but many are not. They also listed a number of stores which changed hands…another reasonably good sign. That means that someone thought the business was worth buying, rather than it just going under.

Check out the list…you might find someone in your neighborhood. ;)

Which books would you add to the “classics” category?

I’ve written before about how I feel about classics…and been a bit challenged on it, too. ;)

This is a fascinating list from Jason Diamond at Flavorwire:

The New Classics: 21 Writers Tell Us Which Books They’d Add to the Canon

My guess is that you’ll see something there that intrigues you…I recommend that you check it out.

Maybe it’s from my years as a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, but I do tend to think that a true classic needs to be in the public domain. :) That’s one thing many people expect when they look for classics…that they aren’t under copyright protection any more (although they pay for copies in a store, of course).

Update on Give a Kid A Kindle

We are about a week a way from when you will be able to recommend nominated children to be the one to get the Kindle which I plan to give away. I’m hoping that once the recommendation process happens, I’ll get more nominees…just because I want more stories exposed (I think that’s good for people to see).

I do have one nominee so far, so at least I know I’ll be giving away a Kindle…

What do you think? What defines a classic book? Would you buy a set-top box from Amazon? Why haven’t more people nominated kids for a free Kindle? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

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

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

Round up #241: messy bookstores, color screens

February 20, 2014

Round up #241: messy bookstores, color screens

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

Just around the corner: a color non-tablet Kindle?

pdurrant made this interesting

MobileRead post

It has to do with noticing new job openings at

Liquavista

a company Amazon bought from Samsung in May of last year.

Why does that matter?

Liquavista makes color screens…for non-backlit devices. I prefer the term “reflective screen”, but I know that confuses some people. You read a reflective screen by the light reflecting off it…the same way you read a p-book (paperbook).

There have been a lot of challenges to bringing a color reflective screen to market. They are likely to cost more, refresh the screen more slowly, and use more battery charge.

The real question is, do people want one?

I think the answer is yes…I believe there would be a market for it.

The trick would be to make that the choice for a reflective screen device at the moderate price level.

Let’s think of it like the frontlighting on a Kindle Paperwhite.

You can get the least expensive Kindle, or you can  move up one step and get a frontlit device.

The market is supporting frontlighting.

If you had another device which was the equivalent of the Paperwhite, but didn’t have a frontlight, and was, say, $20 cheaper, which one would be more popular?

I think that’s harder to say.

If Amazon brings out a color reflective screen device, not as a more expensive upgrade, but as the next generation of device, I think that would be attractive to people.

It wouldn’t replace a tablet…it’s not going to do animation, most likely.

Many people, though, want both: a largely dedicated e-book reader, and a tablet.

I don’t think the vast majority of people would reject color for their EBR…if the costs for it (money, efficiency, and so on) were low.

Color can be useful for textbooks, and especially for magazines…which just aren’t an optimal experience on EBRs now.

We’ll see what happens, but that could really make a splash (which might not be an inappropriate term for “electrowetting” technology). ;)

“Why libraries deserve to be hip”

In this

Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams

the author makes an argument that libraries should be more “fashionable”…

One of the points is that the author likes having the sense that a book has passed through many hands, contrasting that with a Kindle (about which the author says, “…I’m sure someday I’ll get around to getting a Kindle or an iPad”).

My adult kid at one point mentioned the same thing.

It’s an interesting perspective, and one that many people share…but many don’t.

I love that people at another time read the same book…but for me, I don’t need it to be that they read the copy in my hands.

I don’t like finding marginalia, or dog-eared pages, or broken spines.

When I read a hundred year old e-book, I can imagine how it impacted someone a hundred years ago.

However, for me, it’s a bit like Shakespeare. People forget that audiences in Shakespeare’s day weren’t hearing archaic language (to them). If you wanted to experience Shakespeare the way those audiences did, it should be written in your contemporary language…with all the slang, double entendres, and dialectical humor that would be the equivalent of what they understood.

That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t read Shakespeare in the original! Absolutely not…I loved getting some education in Shakespeare, so that I could recognize what six “feet” in a line instead of five meant, for example.

It’s just that…revering the object on which the play (or book) is written is not the same experience as people had when it was new. For them, it was like watching television is for us today (well, Shakespeare often was more exclusive than that, especially what were essentially commissioned works, but you get the idea).

Public libraries are great, and p-books are great…but should they be fashionable? I think that might go against their special status. Libraries do not equal reading…there is a lot more to them than that, and reading a current book for pleasure may be best done for many people on an e-book. Libraries serve in part as a place of honor for books…and it makes sense to me that history there is more important than fashion.

“In praise of neat and tidy bookshops”

In a related case of variant perceptions, this

Book Riot post by Peter Damien

criticizes messy bookstores (including used bookstores).

For myself, I like my bookshelves in my floor-to-ceiling library (in my home) to be very organized…but I do have books stacked horizontally on top of other books. The shelves of mass market paperbacks may also be two or three books deep, when possible.

They are, though, in alphabetical order and organized by category, typically.

I like order…people see that as an indicator of certain psychological conditions, and I don’t dispute that. I don’t have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)…it doesn’t interfere with my life, but I do like things in order.

For example, I was once in a videostore for, oh, a good forty-five minutes or so. Finally, one of the employees trepidatiously approached me, and asked me what I was doing.

Me: “I’m alphabetizing the shelves.”

Videostore employee: “They’re already alphabetized.”

Me: “Well, all the “A”s are on the same shelf, but they aren’t alphabetical within A.”

Yep…I was going through the whole store, putting the shelves in order…and having the best time!

What makes it not compulsive is that I could stop any time (they didn’t ask me to stop, by the way). It’s just fun! :)

That said, you might imagine I, like Peter Damien, would disdain disorganized bookstores.

Not at all…

It’s one of the attractions for me of a used bookstore (this is not the same for me in a new bookstore, by the way).

I want it to feel like I’ve made an  archaeological discovery…a lost city in the middle of the Fawcettian jungles…and I might stumble on a treasure no one has seen in decades.

Yes, I guess that’s sort of weird…but I do like it like that, and my guess is that some other people do.

I mean, some people like the dusty-musty smell in a used bookstore. Due to allergies, I’m really not one of those, but I want a sense of adventure and serendipity.

What do you think? Should your bookstores be neat? Should your libraries by trendy? Would you want a color reflective screen device, if performance and cost were roughly equivalent to a grayscale one? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

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


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