Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

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.

Round up #259: read to your kids, Prince of Tides

June 25, 2014

Round up #259: read to your kids, Prince of Tides

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

KDD: Prince of Tides

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is

The Prince of Tides (at AmazonSmile)
by Pat Conroy
4.5 stars out of 5, 501 customer reviews
$1.99 at time of writing

Very successful and made into a movie, this is a good one for your guest Kindle, or just for a read for you. :) It’s almost thirty years old at this point: I’m sure some people wonder why a “classic” like this isn’t available legally free on line. ;)

Supreme Court rules against Aereo

According to this

The Guardian article by Dominic Rushe

and other sources (I have the TV on in the other room while I write this, so I can listen to CNN), the Supreme Court has just ruled against “rebroadcaster” Aereo.

This is a copyright issue at heart, and I think a lot of people generally expect those to go in the direction of more access in the future…but this one didn’t.

For example, my guess is that it is legal to digitize a p-book (paperbook) you own to turn in into a digital file for your own use (sort of like using a DVR to record a broadcast program), but to my knowledge, that has not been established. I’ve been thinking that it will be solidly established at some point, and nobody is hunting anybody down at this point, but it hasn’t happened yet.

This is a bit different, though, because Aereo is a commercial enterprise.

Aereo uses antennae to pick up over the air signals, and then stream them to subscribers.

They argued that they were an antennae company, not a streaming company…at least, that’s my understanding. Picking up the signals by antenna is legal, of course: it’s the way they got to consumers that was in question.

This could impact literary content, at some point, as hardware becomes more capable of digitizing things. That ability will be one of things I test early on my Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)…on something in the public domain.

13 single issues of magazines, $0.99 each

I do read magazines on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

both from the Kindle store, and from Zinio.

I often mention the roughly ten thousand paperbooks I have on shelves in  our home…but I also have quite a few old magazines.

Many years ago, there was a store going out of business (I think) in my town, and I bought a wooden magazine shelf…I think I paid $5 for it.

I’m sure we’ve paid more than that in gas hauling it around when we’ve moved over the years. ;)

It’s about a person tall and a couple of people wide, and has a lot of horizontal slots…you can put maybe ten issues of a magazine in one, and still see the top one to see what title it is.

My intuition, though, is that some people haven’t even tried magazines on their Kindle Fires.

One reason for that is that the experience on a non-Fire Kindle just didn’t approach that of paper.

For me, the Fire’s experience of reading a glossy magazine often exceeds paper.

Yes, one reason is the “digital extras” you may get. I’ve been an

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (at AmazonSmile)

for a very long time. I’m not usually big on watching the trailers they include, but I do listen to song samples sometimes. They also may include a video interview, and that can be quite an enhancement.

Pictures look great, and while not all magazines give you the text + pictures mode of

National Geographic (at AmazonSmile)

I’ve been able to zoom photos and have used that to show off the Fire’s screen. On the HDX, you can triple tap pretty much any screen (not videos) to magnify it, then use two fingers together to drag it around.

Why don’t more people read magazines on their Fires?

While you can get a 14-day free trial (or thirty day, in some cases), those renew automatically…and I think it concerns people. A year-long subscription is a lot more than most people pay for an e-book.

Amazon is having a

Ninety-nine cent single issue sale (at AmazonSmile)

for one week only.

I’ve bought a couple of single issues of magazines and newspapers from the Kindle store over the years. There was something specific in them that I wanted, but I didn’t really want a subscription.

Well, if you want to try out reading a magazine without worrying about a renewal, you may want to get one of these during the sale:

  • Eating Well
  • More
  • Do it Yourself
  • Family Circle
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Every Day with Rachel Ray
  • Fitness
  • Traditional Home
  • allrecipes
  • FamilyFun
  • Midwest Living
  • Parents
  • Wood – by Better Homes & Gardens (um…it may be a good thing they included the subtitle…) ;)

Michael Hart, The Grandfather of E-Books

This is a nice

Bidness Etc. article by Zoe Jacobson

about Michael Hart, who created Project Gutenberg…which is the reason we have so many free classics legally available to us today.

The article also talks about e-books generally.

I recommend it, although you may need to sign-up to be able to read the whole thing.

AAP recommends reading to your child

I used to work for The American Academy of Pediatrics, so I should mention that first.

According to this

NPR piece with Audie Cornish…transcript and audio

the AAP is specifically recommending reading to children, even infants, every day.

Absolutely.

Not every adult serious reader was read to as a child, but many of us were…and I do think it matters.

They are talking about linguistic development for one thing. Let me give you some of my thoughts on that part of it.

When we read we use many words we might not otherwise use…it’s why so many of us appear to be British when we write, when we may never have been there. ;)

Also, when we read to a child, we are speaking steadily for a period of time. The focus is on words: the words on the page for us, but the words in our mouths for the child. How many people have a “conversation” with a pre-verbal child that lasts as long as

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (at AmazonSmile)

With older children, you are really modeling the act of reading, in addition to other positive elements. When you see the adults in your life reading as, say, a five-year old, you want to read, too. One great thing is that when kids are trying to establish themselves as separate from their intellectual guardians, I don’t think they tend to do that by becoming non-readers…they just read different things. Once you are a reader, you tend to stay a reader, I believe. Reading is like interacting with another person…just time delayed. ;) Not very many people stop talking to other people…

What do you think? Is digitizing a book for your own use legal? Do you read magazines on a tablet…or perhaps on an non-Fire Kindle? Do you haul old issues of magazines around with you from house to house…and if so, do you ever pull them out and read them again (I do)? Were you the first serious reader in your family? If so, what got you started? 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 #258: WSV for apps, access instead of ownership

June 13, 2014

Round up #258: WSV for apps, access instead of ownership

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

Mayday heyday

I’ve said:

“Having a tablet without Mayday is like having a car without a windshield: it doesn’t matter how fast your car is, or how cool it looks, if you can’t see how to get where you’re going.”

Amazon has just put out this new

press release

with some very interesting (and positive) information about the live on-screen tech help for the

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

They say that 75% of contacts about the KFHDX come through Mayday…and that the average response time is 9.75 seconds.

Imagine getting knowledgeable help in under ten seconds by walking into a chain brick-and-mortar bookstore! Not very likely…and I used to be a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager. Our store was small enough that we were likely to say “Hi” to you as you walked into the store, although not always (we might have been on the floor helping somebody else or merchandising). In a Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million, though? You’ll probably either need to wait in line at the front to ask a question, or work your way through the aisles to an advice desk…where you may still need to wait for somebody.

They tell several anecdotes in the press release, including somebody getting help with Angry Birds, and a rep singing Happy Birthday (I’ve wondered before if Amazon pays royalties when that happens…).

It is one of my major reasons to recommend the Kindle Fire HDX…and I think it is the future of Customer Service (although, I suspect that Artificial Intelligence responses will be part of this sort of instant help eventually).

I did just recently have a reader comment on getting someone through Mayday that they had difficulty in understanding. That’s the first time I’ve heard that, and I’ve used Mayday several times myself without an issue like that.

Whispersync for Voice added to apps

In another

press release

Amazon announced an update to their free reading apps for Android and for iDevices which brings Whispersync for Voice to them.

WSV allows you to switch between sight-reading a book and listening to an audiobook.

While I use text-to-speech often for the same purpose (listening in the car, sight-reading at home or on a break at work), I really don’t use WSV.

As regular readers know, I’m not a big fan of audiobooks…unless I’ve already read the book. I don’t like the actor/author interpreting the characters for me. I like TTS better because it is generic, which I know seems odd to some people.

Still, WSV seems to be a success for Amazon, and I’m sure many of you will be happy to hear this. Once again, Amazon gives us more at no additional cost.

To find which books you already own as e-books that having matching reduced cost audiobooks under the WSV program, you can go to

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

Music studios probably don’t want to hear this…

With yesterday’s implementation of

Prime Music (my post on it)

I can’t imagine buying music for myself again.

That’s how the world has changed for a lot of people.

I have something like 10,000 paperbooks on shelves in my home. I have…oh, more than a 100 DVDs.

I definitely was somebody who owned things for the sake of owning them.

Now (and isn’t this modern of me?) ;) I’m generally good with paying for access instead.

I’ve been using Prime Music since yesterday. I’m listening to it right now…The Andrews Sisters are singing, and it’s a song I have bought in the past. It’s part of the Prime Playlist

50 Great Swing Era Songs (at AmazonSmile)

It’s sort of like listening to a radio station…with no ads. :)

I consider myself a pretty eclectic music listener, just as I think of myself as an eclectic reader (although I do have some preferences, I can read pretty much anything). With Prime Music, there are plenty of things I want to hear…and in many categories. I may listen to the Taiko (Japanese drumming) album I see later this day, but I also listen to contemporary music.

Do they have everything? No.

Do they have enough? Looks like it. ;)

I feel the same way about video. There is enough TV and enough movies for me to watch through Prime and Netflix (and legal free online sources) that I’m trying to see a path where I would buy a DVD for myself…and not finding one.

I suspect that Amazon could (and may this year) introduce a book subser (subscription service) where I feel largely the same way.

It’s been quite a mental shift for me to not need to watch a specific video or listen to a particular tune…and I think I’d get there with books.

That would really change the economics of things, if many people did that.

We might end up with ten percent of the number of new books being released each year by the tradpubs (traditional publishers)…and the cost going up a lot.

I’ve talked about $50 as a reasonable price for a new hardback novel in the future (as a possible scenario).

If subsers take off, I could see that going to $100.

Early access would become a true luxury.

Sure, there would be some specials on things like that, but you’d have the “golden gateway” crowd, which pays more to “get in” first, then the average person, who pays monthly or annually for a subser and gets books that are a year old or so…and disadvantaged people, who get them free from sources like the library, but perhaps even slower than that. Of course, the libraries could have them as quickly…if governments support them paying licenses that the publishers consider reasonable.

What do you think? Are we seeing and will we continue to see a shift towards people paying for access rather than ownership? How will that affect the production of content? Do you find that it’s happened for you? What has your experience been with Mayday (if any)? Are you a Whispersync for Voice user? 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!

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* 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 #257: things like us, Colbert & King

June 6, 2014

Round up #257: things like us, Colbert & King

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

For my UK readers: KFHDX 20% off

Amazon.co.uk is having a Kindle Fire HDX sale through 12 June:

Kindle Fire HDX (from Amazon.co.uk)

You can get the 7″ (gee, do you call it a 17.78 centimeter?) from £159.20, a savings of about £40.

The 8.9″ is from £263.20 (a savings of about £66).

You can also get the first generation (so, not the current one) Kindle Fire HD 7″ for £99! That’s a savings of £60.

We aren’t having an equivalent sale in the USA, but I thought my UK readers might appreciate the alert. :)

It’s ba-ack! The Kindle DX available again new from Amazon

Thanks to Andrys Basten of the

A Kindle World blog

for the heads up on this…and it would have been tough to find!

The larger (9.7″) non-Fire Kindle is back on sale new from Amazon…and for a good price of $199.

Kindle DX

You are definitely dealing with older technology here, but it a large screen non-backlit device with text-to-speech (although an older and less sophisticated version than we have on the Kindle Fire HDX) and a physical keyboard.

Maybe I should find somebody with a different first name…

You know how, for some people, e-books made books a whole lot cooler?

Well, we know that book issues are part of the mainstream…because celebrities are commenting on the Hachazon War (that’s what I call the disagreement going on between Amazon and Hachette, a publisher).

First, let’s mention Stephen Colbert, who did a pretty lengthy (3 minutes and twenty seconds) segment on the Hachazon war:

Comedy Central video clip

Colbert’s books have been affected by Amazon’s “tactics of mass inconvenience”, causing delays in getting the faux pundit’s books.

The weird thing is that you can get Kindle editions of the books right away…but they appear to only be the enhanced versions (meaning they’ll audio/video content). The two in particular that I’m seeing have text-to-speech access blocked, so I’m not going to link to them…but they say they are only available on these devices:

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″
Kindle Fire HDX
Kindle Fire HD(2nd Generation)
Kindle Fire HD(1st Generation)
Kindle Fire(2nd Generation)
Kindle Fire(1st Generation)
Kindle for Windows 8
Kindle Cloud Reader
Kindle for Android Phones
Kindle for Android Tablets
Kindle for iPad

Since they list no non-Fire hardware Kindles, it makes me think these are only available as enhanced versions…and it is possible that that is a different deal with Hachette.

If you want the hardback new from Amazon, you have to wait: “Usually ships within 3 to 5 weeks.”

However, here is something else interesting. On the product page, you can get a used copy from Amazon for $9.50…and they’ll ship it with Prime!

Used books usually don’t go Prime (where you pay nothing additional for two-day shipping beyond your annual Prime fee).

That’s a fascinating approach on Amazon’s part!

The publisher, of course, doesn’t get an additional cut for a used book…and the author gets no royalty.

Amazon has found a way to get you the book (albeit, a used copy) just as quickly as if you bought it new…and pay Hachette nothing when you do it.

Colbert was funny, and put a lot of effort into this, I’d say. I did like this line (which I’ve edited slightly from the live delivery):

“This is a big blow to my bottom line because Amazon controls around fifty percent of all book sales. That’s right: thirty books a year.”

Colbert also has a printable sticker you can put on a book that says, “I Didn’t Buy It On Amazon.” You can get it at the site above.

That reminded me of the statement that Psychotronic Video used to put on the cover: “Still not a part of AOL Time/Warner”.

This segment clearly presents the authors as victims. The piece doesn’t make Hachette blameless, but mostly mentions Amazon.

I did think it was nice that they arranged a deal with Powell’s Books (one of the great bookstores) so you can order the book through the Comedy Central website above.

Sherman Alexie recommended boycotting Amazon until this was over.

The other famous Stephen who recently commented on the Hachazon War is Stephen King.

I was reading (as I do every week)

Entertainment Weekly (at AmazonSmile)

(specifically, the June 13, 2014 issue), and the cover had a link (I’m reading it on my

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

to a commentary by the prolific author called, “Stephen King Sounds Off on Amazon” (which is actually a sidebar on a longer article by Karen Valby about the Hachazon War).

I’m not seeing it as available on the EW website, but I’ll give you a small excerpt:

“In a sense, it’s like a hoodlum in the protection racket strong-arming one small-business owner so that all the other owners on the street — we could call it Book Street — will fall into line.”

While I have found some statements aligning with Amazon, I’d be happy to find one by somebody who has a voice outside of books and the publishing/bookstore world. Stephen King is an author, of course, but is known to people who…gee, how do I put this…don’t read.

Amazon has recovered from other public relations issues in the past (such as the removal of an unauthorized George Orwell book from people’s Kindles…although I just saw someone raise that on the Kindle forum again, without mentioning what I thought was a good resolution and apology), and if the gadget which is announced in about a week and a half is buzzy enough, it may turn the narrative.

Barnes & Noble partners with Samsung for future tablets

NOOK tablets did not go well for Barnes & Noble. People doubted that Amazon could do hardware at all before the Kindle…after all, it wasn’t their area of expertise. However, they did do it quite successfully.

For B&N, it makes sense to turn over tablet manufacturing to an experienced partner (resulting in a co-branded device)…and Samsung is a good choice for that.

PC Mag post by Angela Moscaritolo

In fact, my intuition here is that Samsung may greatly improve the NOOK tablet reading experience…which might drive improvements in Kindle tablets as well.

Why does Samsung want to do it?

Why not? :)

They get to be seen as saving Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, and people appreciate that. They don’t have to invest a lot of money…it sounds to me like they’ll basically take existing hardware and add NOOK software to it. Of course, you can already get NOOK software on a Samsung tablet…but they will brand it that way.

While B&N hypothetically gives up the income stream from NOOK tablets, it hadn’t really been working out as a plus…

Kiva robots going to work at Amazon

Robots to the left of me
Robots to the right of me
Into the Amazon warehouse rolled the ten thousand…

Thanks to the reader who alerted me in a private e-mail to this

EXTREMETECH article by David Cardinal

I write about robots (and lots of other things) in my

The Measured Circle blog

and “flip” lots of articles about them into the free

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

Well, this brings together Amazon and robots.

Amazon spent a lot of money (about $775 million) for a robot company, as I wrote about back in 2012:

I, Amazon: the e-tailer buys a robot company

The article has a great video of the Kivas at work, but also points out some important things.

Sure, people worry about humans losing jobs to robots…and that undeniably happens. The thing is, though, that people also gain jobs because robots are working…and they may be jobs which are better suited (and feel better) for humans.

Robots aren’t cheap, but there are some huge savings involved with them. You often hear people say that they don’t get sick, although they do need maintenance. They don’t need some kinds of leave, though…and they don’t need raises.

Perhaps not as obviously, the Kiva robots can cut down on utility bills. They probably don’t need lights, for example, and from what I’ve read, you don’t have the same air conditioning issues (which has been one of the major complaints for humans working in Amazon warehouses…they can get hot!). They aren’t like mainframe computers, which often need quite a bit of climate control.

Isn’t that a weird thought?

Tourist: “Hi, I’m here for the Amazon warehouse tour.”

Tour Guide: “Great! You’ll need these night-vision goggles, and this personal-cooling suit.”

Tourist: “My what and my who?”

Tour Guide: “This warehouse has been optimized for our silicon-based workers. What do you see through this window?”

Tourist: “That’s a window? I thought it was a TV that was off.”

Tour Guide: “No, that’s the interior of the fulfillment center. It’s just that dark.”

Tourist: “Can’t you turn the lights on?”

Tour Guide: “There aren’t any lights.”

Tourist: “Um, okay. Why the suit?”

Tour Guide: “Well, the suit isn’t strictly necessary, but it is about 40 degrees in there.”

Tourist: “Wait, didn’t you say it was a cooling suit?”

Tour Guide: “Oh, sorry…forty degrees  Celsius. It’s about…104 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Tourist: “Why so hot?”

Tour Guide: “That’s just because of the temperature outside…we don’t heat the floor.”

Tourist: “I’m from Phoenix, I won’t need the suit. How long does the tour take?”

Tour Guide: “About seven to nine minutes.”

Tourist: “That’s it? Don’t we get to see the whole place?”

Tour Guide: “That is the whole place…well, all of it where a giant biped like you will fit. The rest of it is all Kiva height.”

Tourist: “You know, I think I’ll skip it.”

Tour Guide: “Suit yourself. The next shuttle for downtown is in two hours.”

Tourist: “Two hours? I knew I should have driven!”

Tour Guide: “You can’t…there’s no parking lot.”

Tourist: “No parking lot?”

Tour Guide: “No need for one. Do you know how much land like that costs? Not to mention the expense for damages, the danger to people walking to and from…this is much simpler.”

Tourist: “What about you? Where do you park?”

Tour Guide: “Oh, I don’t park. I just live here. I’ve got everything I need…and AmazonFresh brings me my groceries. It’s actually cool. I’m the only human most of these Kivas have ever seen.”

Tourist: “I wonder if they think all human beings look like you…”

Tour Guide: “I doubt that’s the case.”

Tourist: “Yes, that’s silly. Robots don’t think.”

Tour Guide: “They think…they definitely think. They just don’t think about things which are insignificant to them…”

Speaking of thinking, what do you think? Will Samsung keep the NOOK brand for tablets alive? Will B&N farm out the non-tablets to somebody else? Will Amazon ever run out of Kindle DXs…or replace them with another big screen non-backlit device? 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! :) 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 #256: 6 AmazonLocal coupons, DoJ looking at AMZN?

June 4, 2014

Round up #256: 6 AmazonLocal coupons, DoJ looking at AMZN?

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

Cloud Collections are on Kindle for Android

A number of people had negative reactions to Cloud Collections when they were first introduced…certainly, there was confusion about them. That led me to write this post:

I really like them, personally. I find it easy to manage our Kindle books. There is a Collection for me to read, and one for my Significant Other. When my SO buys a book, I stick it in the appropriate Collection (I can do that on my device), and my SO doesn’t have to hunt around for the books.

Amazon has been spreading them out to more devices and apps.

You can now get to them on:

  • Kindle Fire HDXs
  • Kindle Fire HD 2nd Generation
  • Kindle Paperwhite (1st and 2nd Generation)
  • iDevices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch)
  • On Android devices
  • In the Kindle for Samsung app

So, what currently sold as new devices (hardware Kindles/apps) don’t have them?

  • The “Mindle” (which is what I call the lowest priced model)
  • Blackberry
  • Anything Windows
  • Mac desktop/laptops (“non-mobile” Apple devices)
  • The Kindle Cloud reader (Amazon’s browser-based reader)

On my Samsung (running Kindle for Android), I tap the menu, then tap Collections. I don’t have a lot of Collections on individual devices, so what came up worked fine for me.

When I “long press” (hold a finger or stylus on it for about a second) one of those collections, I get the choice to trash it or edit it (using a pencil icon). Choosing “Edit” only lets me rename it.

If I tap a Collection to open it, I can use the menu to sort by author, most recent, or title.

Again, there is a pencil edit icon, and a plus in a circle, which lets me add titles.

Long pressing a title within the Collection gives me a plus circle, a minus circle, and a menu (three squares). Tapping the menu lets me download it, view it in the store, or see the Shelfari book extras. Clicking the plus  circle lets me add that book to other Cloud collections.

For me, again, this is a nice new feature!

I know a lot of people swear AT their devices, but… ;)

This is…well, I’m going to have to say cute. :)

In this

NBC News post by Erin McClam”>

I learned that Suzi LeVine, the new American ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, was sworn into office…by putting a hand on a Kindle!

It’s a cool picture, and shows how integrated they’ve become.

The file was open to the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution…

Department of Justice looking at Amazon?

I’ve been flipping lots of articles about the Hachazon War (the Hachette and Amazon “negotiations”) into the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard. I’ll link a few here, but one interesting thing is the number of people who say that what Amazon is doing with Hachette may be illegal.

Running a search for “Amazon illegal Hachette” nets quite a few results:

https://www.google.com/search?client=aff-maxthon-maxthon4&channel=t26&q=amazon%20illegal&gws_rd=ssl#channel=t26&q=amazon+illegal+hachette&tbm=nws

Apparently, the DoJ (Department of Justice) is asking publishers about their new dealings with Amazon.

Now, that might not be to target Amazon…it might just be checking in with publishers that settled over the Agency model with the DoJ.

Still, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some entities (including the Authors Guild) might have asked the DoJ to investigate.

Sure, a store could stop carrying somebody’s product (like Amazon dropping Hachette, if they were to do that…which they haven’t) and that’s legal. There’s no obligation to carry everybody’s everything.

However, there might be other concerns.

Take a look in particular at this

New York Times opinion piece by Bob Kohn

Kohn is a lawyer, and explains the concept of a “monopsony”. I think my vocabulary is pretty good, but I didn’t know this one.

In a monopoly, a seller has excessive (that can be arguable) control over customers.

In a monopsony a seller has excessive control over wholesalers.

That’s the way I understand it, and I don’t know the legal detail on it (I’m not a lawyer).

To illustrate, though:

If there was one car dealer in town, and they charged a million dollars per car to customers, that would be exerting monopoly power.

If that same car dealer only agreed to pay the auto company ten dollars a car (for the cars they sell to the customers), that would be exerting monopsony power.

If someone does practice law in this are and would like to comment, I’d appreciate it.

Some other dispatches from the Hachazon War front:

AmazonLocal coupons

There are a bunch of relevant coupons through AmazonLocal right now!

You do need a free AmazonLocal account to take advantage of these, but why not? Well, I suppose some of you might not want to give them your information, but I’d be surprised if very many readers of this blog don’t already have Amazon relationships.

Update for Kindle Fire HDX rolling out?

One of my regular readers and commenters, jjhitt, mentioned getting an update for a Kindle Fire HDX to 13.3.2.3.1.

I don’t have that yet on my

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

Mine is still at 13.3.2.2…most likely, it is just bug fixes. My version is the one that shows for both the 7″ and the 8.9″ at

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

I’ll keep an eye on it for you and let you know if I see an update becoming broadly available.

What do you think? Are you sick of Hachazon War stories? As regular readers know, I try to keep the blog eclectic, covering lots of different topics. This one is getting so much coverage, though, that it’s a bit hard to avoid mentioning it. ;) Have you found good uses for Cloud Collections? Since they aren’t on the Mindle, does that suggest the Mindle is going to be discontinued? Does Amazon need a Kindle device which is lower-priced than the Paperwhite? Will the DoJ go after Amazon? 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 #255: authors’ insults, HBO ruh-roh

May 22, 2014

Round up #255: authors’ insults, HBO ruh-roh

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

Simon & Schuster joins Oyster

I’ve written before about testing out Scribd, one of the big subsers. That’s what I call subscription services…the “all you can read” plans for e-books.

They aren’t all “all” you can read, but the basic idea is that you pay a flat fee, and then can select from e-books to read at no additional cost.

Amazon does that, in quite a limited way, with the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). Eligible Prime members with a hardware Kindle can borrow up to a book a calendar month as part of their $99 a year Prime membership.

Amazon also does it with Kindle FreeTime, but that’s for kids.

Simon & Schuster joining Oyster is a big deal, even if it just for their backlist (books that are at least a year old, basically).

This

The Next Web article by Josh Ong

talks about the addition (Oyster already has HarperCollins), and has this interesting line:

“As it gains traction, Oyster could represent a viable alternative to Amazon, which has secured a dominant position in the ebook space.”

The very big presumption there is that Amazon doesn’t take them head on.

My guess is that Amazon does just that: starts a subser for adults this year, and I’d be very surprised if they aren’t working industriously on it as I type this.

When might it happen?

I think they may tie it into a hardware announcement.

Now, in recent years, Kindle hardware announcements have come late in the year, that wasn’t always true. The DX, for example, was introduced on a May 6, and the Kindle DX Graphite on a July 1st.

I think a great time to launch a subser would be as we go into summer reading…subsers are not really gift items (although I assume they could be gifted), so waiting for the holidays isn’t necessary.

Yes, I could see that happening: perhaps in conjunction with a new Paperwhite, and then hold off on a tablet announcement until that prime shopping season in October or so.

Oh, and there may be a phone announcement too, but I don’t see this being tied to a phone.

Could it be tied into Prime? Absolutely. Not limited to Prime, necessarily, but an advantage for Prime owners (a strong discount, perhaps). Prime is the game, I think, for a lot of the retail business for Amazon.

We shall see…

In the mean time, this

Oyster blog post

points out that this adds Stephen King and Hemingway. The blog, by the way, is poorly punctuated (“Im”, “youre”), but a blog is different from a book in that regard. Still, when it is a commercial tool to promote your service to literary types, it might be better to proofread it a bit more carefully…

To be fair, the “Im” is, I think, quoting Hemingway, so perhaps Papa had it wrong…but there are no quotation marks and no “sic”.

Nebula Award Winners

The Nebulas have just been awarded, and I’ll let this

The Mary Sue post by Becky Chambers

point out something that all of the fiction winners have in common. It’s an inherent characteristic, and I don’t really like to make a point of those…although I do it sometimes. :)

The article also has links to some of the stories which you can read for free online.

The Nebulas are awarded by the

SFWA…Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

If you are interested in earlier winners as well, you can shop at

Amazon’s Nebula Winners Kindle store page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

“Mommy, why is that vampire naked?”

It’s a big deal that Amazon just added some of HBO’s backlist to Prime streaming.

Now, Prime members can watch older seasons of True Blood and Rome, for example, at no additional cost.

I’m not sure that everybody is aware that those series include nudity and sexual content.

Knowledgeable Prime Video users are probably aware of

https://www.amazon.com/video/settings

where you can centrally set content restrictions based on ratings.

You can require a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to watch video in these categories, as one setting: R, NC-17, TV-MA, Unrated, Not rated.

You can even be specific as to which devices have the restriction, and which don’t. That means that if the adults want to watch True Blood freely, they can…while the kids can’t get into it on their Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*) (or Rokus, for that matter) without knowing the PIN.

Yay!

However…

You know where that doesn’t work?

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

Yes, as far as I can tell (and I’ve asked Amazon), you can block purchasing on a Fire TV, but can’t block content based on ratings.

That seems like a considerable weakness, compared to the Roku!

There is no question to me that the Fire TV is intended as a family device…there are a lot of kid-friendly apps, for example.

Hopefully, they get something out soon that allows the blocking…although I wonder if it is technical, since it doesn’t work on the XBOX either.

Summing up: you can block purchasing on the Fire TV by changing a setting on the Fire TV itself, but you can’t block content based on ratings.

HuffPo interactive chart with authors insulting each other

While I am capable of very cutting remarks, I don’t tend to insult others publicly. My Significant Other knows I have fun doing it in a joking way to the television at home, but I don’t really desire to hurt actual people. I like Jeopardy, for example, and will make comments about the people on the show. I’ve even suggested that we do a t-shirt that says, “It looks like you’ll be going first in Double Jeopardy.” ;)

Writers, of course, can be very creative with words (gee, I wonder why?) ;) so their insults about each other can be quite entertaining…

This

Huffington Post interactive chart by Jan Diehm

lets you click on links between authors to see those not so bon mots…

What do you think? If Amazon offered a subser with tradpubbed (traditionally published) books which were a year old or more, would that affect your purchasing of new releases? Are there any literary awards which prompt you to read specific books? Have you ever tried to read all of a category of award winners? Do you have fun insulting other people in public? Or, perhaps, are you like me, and are more likely to make self-deprecating comments? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #254: the return of Time-Life Books, does any other business like Amazon?

May 16, 2014

Round up #254: the return of Time-Life Books, does any other business like Amazon?

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

Is Amazon punishing you?

In the new e-book world, you might think traditional publishers are in trouble. Actually, though, they can survive. Once they figure out how to sell books D2R (Direct To Readers), bypassing retailers like Amazon, it will be a whole different ball game.

Another group which does have a real threat hanging over them?

Literary agents.

An agent, just simplifying things, represents the author to the publisher.

They find a publisher and negotiate the deal.

Independent publishing, where an authors publish books themselves, clearly cuts them out.

Amazon, through its Kindle Direct Publishing, is one of the great independent publishing enablers…perhaps the most important one to date.

If tradpubs become more risk adverse, which is certainly possible, every tradpubbed book arranged by an agent is going to become more valuable.

Tradpubs will, I think, increasingly try to buy indie books which are already selling pretty well…again, potentially reducing the need for an agent to act as the discovery engine.

Right now, tradpubs trust certain agents…if they bring them a book, that gives the author a lot more negotiating power.

So, I found this

Publishers Weekly article

very interesting.

It purports to reproduce a letter from Gail Hochman, the President of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, to Amazon.

The language is…well, blunt is too soft a word.

Hochman uses the term “brutal” and draws an analogy (without specifically saying that Amazon is doing these actions) to hostage-taking.

That is a gamble…and suggests that they are feeling uncertain. People take the biggest risks when all of the options look bad.

And what about brick-and-mortars?

I thought this was a great

The Street article by Rocco Pendola

It’s called, “Physical Retailers Still Have No Answer for Amazon”, and it makes excellent points (mentioning Barnes & Noble, by the way).

For a long time, brick-and-mortars (I used to manage a brick-and-mortar bookstore) were in such a fortified position in the retail segment, that it was as if they were sitting in a castle at the top of the hill.

You know what the difference is between the people in the castle, and the people who want to take over that hill?

Planning.

The castle-dwellers are good with the status quo. They don’t have to plan…if things stay the same, that’s good for them. For them, change is bad.

For the people outside (Amazon in this story), they have to change things…they have to plan out something that affects the current circumstances.

Then, the castle people might react when they see what is happening…maybe. People are risk adverse: they’d have to be very sure that changing what they have is worth it before they would try anything.

I particularly liked this line:

“…Jeff Bezos has tunneled an unparalleled trajectory of unadulterated greatness at Amazon.”

Time-Life Books returns

I don’t think I’ve told these stories on the blog…stop me if I have. Oh yeah…you can’t. ;) Actually, I know I sometimes tell the same stories…that’s a habit I have as a trainer. My feeling is that most people don’t remember that you told it before, and if they do, well…it can be like re-reading a favorite book. :)

Anyway, many years ago, I worked for Time-Life Books in San Francisco.

Yep…it was a “boiler room” sales situation. A bunch of people cold calling homes to sell them the Time-Life Books series.

You might remember those…Knight of the Air, for example, about World War I fighter pilots. You could examine a book for ten (?) days, and send it back if you didn’t like it.

I started out as a salesperson: everybody did. I wasn’t great at that, and quickly I was moved into being a “verifier”.

I was the good person. :)

I would call somebody who ordered the book the next day, and see if they really wanted it.

Lots of people didn’t.

Where I worked, they pretty much would hire anybody who could sign their names and let them try to sell books.

We had people who had plastic grocery bags for shoes, for example…although those folks could be quite erudite and literary, even without homes.

Some salespeople would lie and write up a sale (we would catch them), and some…well, there were some interesting stories.

I always remember calling someone who had ordered the series on animals…a book on monkeys, one on lions, one on tigers…that sort of thing.

The purchaser seemed enthusiastic enough on the phone. Then, the customer said, “I’m going to have to stop after the monkey: I only have a small apartment.”

Me: “The books aren’t that big.”

Customer: “What books?”

This customer (and this was not the salesperson’s fault) thought we were sending them the actual animals! Yes, we’ll send you a monkey to try for fourteen days, and then if you keep the monkey, we’ll send you a bear…then a lion…then a…

I guess we should have realized that you need at least a two-bedroom condo to make that practical. ;)

Then, there was the time that one of our best sales people (very honest, very nice…that’s how the best ones tended to be) had sold somebody a series.

I call the next day, and as always, identify myself.

The voice on the other end says, “What time was that?”

I explain the time, and the voice says, “This is the Sheriff. I need to talk to your salesperson.”

It turned out the house was robbed…and the burglar answered the phone!

Not only answered the phone…but stayed on long enough to have the conversation…and to say “yes” to the books!

The owner of the house was in Europe…the salesperson had to describe the voice.

Anyway, according to this

Seattle Times article

the brand is returning…but not as series of books, just individual titles.

Oh, and not digitally…physical books to be sold in stores.

Looks like it might be only brick-and-mortar stores.

I could see them working in places like Costco, but this does seem like an…interesting business plan.

Children’s Book Week: Writers on Writers

Here’s a fun

YouTube video

from Open Road Media.

Just as you would expect…writers tend to be readers, too.

What do you think? Do any other businesses like Amazon? Do you remember Time-Life Books? Did you ever buy an encyclopedia…one volume at a time? Did you ever work on the phone? Can you be a good writer without being a reader? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

New! 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 #253: Jeff Bezos in class, best reviewed “mother” books

May 11, 2014

Round up #253: Jeff Bezos in class, best reviewed “mother” books

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

My Flipboard magazines take off!

Thanks to those of you who are reading my new Flipboard magazines:

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

and

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

I already have over 100 readers, which seems like a lot to me at this stage.

I wrote about this before:

Flip your way into being a magazine editor…I did

but I have to say, it is fun to see these results!

What happens is that I do my normal morning

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

read on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

and as I read the articles, I “flip” them into one of the two magazines…which you can then read.

This is just my curation: I don’t even get to add comments, which I think is fine.

Oh, and how do I get compensated for this?

Just by knowing people are reading it. :)

Unlike the subscribers to this blog (thanks, subscribers!) I don’t get royalties. If you are seeing any ads, they are put there by Flipboard, not me.

I’ve actually flipped more articles into The Measured Circle (174 at time of writing, versus 160 into ILMK), but ILMK is a lot more active (there have been 1,382 page flips there, as opposed to 233 at The Measured Circle).

There are lots of magazines being created by others…have you created one?

If you are reading either of mine, do you have any feedback to share?

Jeff Bezos speaks…to an eighth grade class

I’m always interested in what Jeff Bezos has to say. While I certainly find the company interesting, I’m also interested in Jeff as a human being. Often what the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) communicates is philosophy…and it’s important to keep that first in a business setting.

In this

New York Times article by Nick Wingfield

we get to see a parent’s tweets when Jeff spoke to a class of kids.

This is pretty different from that Princeton commencement speech back in 2010 (which you can watch here), but the ideas are not that different.

One thing which was? Jeff brought a drone!

Bezos is quoted as saying, “Who succeeds at amazon? “Explorers and pioneers”. Who fails? Those who focus on killing our competitors.”

I think that’s key to success…that, and not over-estimating your customers’ loyalty. I’ve said before, I think that’s how market leaders tend to lose that position…

HarperCollins credits e-books when profits jump 83%

Now that they aren’t spending all that money fighting over the Agency Model, publishers can start making money again. ;)

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

HarperCollins said, “…sales of more profitable e-books, ongoing operational efficiencies and higher revenue, EBITDA rose 83% at HarperCollins for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 which ended March 31. EBITDA hit $53 million, up from $29 million in last year’s third quarter. Revenue increased 14%, to $354 million. Both sales and profits were driven by the Divergent series which sold more than 8 million units in the quarter. Total e-book revenue increased 46% and accounted for 26% of HC sales, up from 21% a year ago.”

It might surprise you that only 26% of HC sales are e-books…but units for e-books are going to be much higher than that.

They mention the

the Divergent series (at AmazonSmile)

as being a major contributor.

While certainly adults have read those books, it’s nice to me that young people are, in a lot of ways, driving book profits. That bodes well for the future. :)

The “mother” of all best reviewed books ;)

Just for fun, here’s a search of the

Best reviewed books with “mother” in the title (at AmazonSmile)

One that stands out to me right away?

Are You My Mother? (at AmazonSmile)

by P.D. Eastman. I remember this one! It’s a great kid’s book…and even though it is illustrated, it is accessible with text-to-speech.

Have a great day on Sunday!

Enjoy!

What do you think? I’ve tended to like HarperCollins as a publisher…did it surprise you that the percentage of e-book sales are still that low? Does this result change your feeling about the future of traditional publishers? I mentioned kids’ books driving profits…but 50 Shades of Grey did, too. Neither of those are really the mainstream…what is the future of literary fiction? Do you have a Flipboard magazine? Should Jeff Bezos have brought a book, rather than a drone? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

New! 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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