Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Using the Kindle store’s Advanced Search

September 17, 2014

Using the Kindle store’s Advanced Search

Like a lot of people, I’m surprised sometimes at how unsophisticated the search in the Kindle store is.

You can put an author’s name into the searchbox at the top of a page and count on finding just books by that author.

You can’t search for books that came out this week easily, or the ones that have the most customer reviews, or ones published in a particular country, or that were originally published in a certain century, and so on.

If you get beyond the page top searchbox (say that three times quickly), it’s a bit better, but still not great.

The place to go is to

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

You have some parameters you can enter there:

Keywords: this is the broadest category. Try anything here…authors, “Swahili edition”, Legos…whatever. If you put a minus sign in front of a term, that should keep that word from being used. If you want to see books about the Kindle, but not about the Kindle Fire, you could do Kindle -Fire. Of course, that’s an example of where it won’t work all that well…a book might be called, “Chess sets of the 19th Century, optimized for the Kindle” and it would appear.

Author

Title

Publisher: the tricky thing here is that the tradpubs  (traditional publishers) have many imprints. Grand Central is an imprint of Hachette…if you search for Hachette, you won’t find those Grand Central titles.

Subject: there are a lot of choices here. These are picked by the publisher, and you may not agree with them…I’ve seen the same book classified as fiction and non-fiction, for example.

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Kindle Singles
  • Advice & How-to
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Biographies & Memoirs
  • Business & investing
  • Children and Teens
  • Comics & Graphic Novels
  • Computers & Internet
  • Cooking, Food & Wine
  • Fantasy
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • History
  • Humor
  • Literary Fiction
  • Mystery & Thrillers
  • Parenting & Families
  • Politics & Current Events
  • Reference
  • Religion & Spirituality
  • Romance
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Travel

Reader Age:

  • All Ages
  • Baby – 3 Years
  • 4 – 8 Years
  • 9 – 12 Years
  • Teen

Languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish

Publication Date (this is the date the publisher tells Amazon…not necessarily the date of first publication). First, you choose: All Dates; Before; During; After. Then you pick a month, then you enter a year

Sort Results by:

  • Relevance
  • Bestselling
  • Price: Low to High
  • Price: High to Low
  • Avg. Customer Review
  • Publication Date

There you go! If you enter into more than one field, your conditions will combine. In other words, you could search for Stephen King and Spanish.

That’s better than the general searchbox, although I hope Amazon is still working on search.

One other thing: in your search results, look to your left to see more filtering you can do. You may be able to pick a particular author or series, and you typically can further filter for Prime eligible, Whispersync for Voice, and I’ve seen Kindle Unlimited as a choice. Sometimes I even see tags put on by customers, but it appears to be inconsistent.

Hope that helps…

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.

Amazon Hot New Releases top 100

September 12, 2014

Amazon Hot New Releases top 100

Hey, here’s something you haven’t read before!

Well, 100 somethings…and okay, you might have read them in the last month, but you’ll remember if you did, right? ;)

Amazon has all kinds of interesting bestseller lists (updated hourly), and here is the one for “Hot New Releases” (which appears to mean within the last month…although the Kindle First titles can get on this list before they are released):

Amazon Hot New Releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Let’s take a look at some of the books on the list:

#1 is Personal: A Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child
4.0 stars out of 5, 634 customer reviews
$11.84

No big surprise there…

#2, though, is The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg. Yep, a traditionally published book from Amazon beats everything except the Jack Reacher novel.
4.2 stars, 81 customer reviews
$4.99
It should be in Kindle Unlimited once it is officially released on October 1st.

#3 and #4? Also Kindle First picks…will it get to the point where Amazon doesn’t need the tradpubs?

The highest rated KU (Kindle Unlimited) book is really up there…it is #7, Twice the Growl by Milly Taiden.
4.6 stars, 169 reviews. High-rated and a recent release…did you expect to be able to find those in KU?

Speaking of

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

Amazon has now made it easier to find books. When you do a search, you’ll often get a checkmark filter that allows you to limit it to KU. I used the Advanced Search in the Kindle store, but didn’t put in any parameters (which results in all the books).

Checking the KU box, I get 706,786 at time of writing…it’s really growing!

Here is that search:

Kindle Unlimited eligible books (at AmazonSmile*)

Want to narrow it down…maybe find books about cats that are KU eligible, or a particular author?

You can start at

Kindle eBooks: Advanced Search (at AmazonSmile*)

enter combinations of these parameters:

  • Keywords
  • Author
  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Subject
  • Reader Age
  • Language
  • Pub. Date
    Month
    Year

and choose how you would like it sorted. Once you get your results, you can check the box to filter for KU eligible.

Enjoy!

 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.

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

July 29, 2014

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

I’ve had my

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

since Thursday, which has given me an opportunity to use it over the weekend and at work.

I can say that the best is yet to come. ;)

This is a new and radically different device. Think of the people who bought the first automobiles, before there were purpose built roads. They had to bounce and rattle along over streets intended for entirely different vehicles. It wasn’t until people responded to the invention that it became completely indispensable.

At this point, the Fire Phone’s two breakthrough features (Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, which I call “dyper”) are like that.

I’m coming to the Fire Phone from a Galaxy S4…and I have an iPhone 5S that I use for work. The iPhone is new for me (the way Apple handled e-books left a bad taste in my mouth for their products), but I do have some experience with it.

I wouldn’t say I’m a power user of SmartPhones: not like I am with Kindles. However, I do know what I’m doing and I use them quite a bit.

At first, I found the Fire Phone’s interface less easy to use than my S4. After doing more research, playing around with it, and making a couple of calls to Mayday (the almost instant live online screen tech help…which is a huge plus for the FP over anything else), it’s growing on me.

It does all of the basics fine: e-mail, calendar, text.

The navigation is new. Without learning that, the phone can seem frustrating, like it takes a lot of steps to get anywhere.

Let’s talk this through.

The way I have the phone set, I turn it on by pushing a power button once…reasonable.

The lock screens look amazing! They have dyper…just by moving my head, I can see more of the image. For example, I have a neon sign up right now, like a tourist trap in the desert (it includes the date and time). By moving my head (even from probably half a meter away from the phone), I can see the streetlamps which are otherwise off the screen. I can see how many new e-mails I have, the signal strength and battery level.

To unlock it, I swipe up from the bottom…that’s an adjustment for me, I’m used to going side to side. However, as an ambidexter, I appreciate that it isn’t better for right or left handers. :)

I’ve put a password on mine.

Once it opens up, there is a Carousel, like there is an a Kindle Fire. It’s going to be easier for Kindle Fire users to adapt to this phone than other people.

At the bottom of the screen are four icons:

  • Phone
  • Messaging
  • Email
  • Silk Browser

Here’s the first thing you might not realize.

Swipe those four icons up, and you’ll be on the apps screen.

It will default to being the apps on your device, but you can switch it to the Cloud easily enough (it’s an obvious choice in your top left corner).

Okay, here’s are a few gestural things on this homescreen which aren’t intuitive.

In addition to swiping from the left or right side, you can just “flick” the phone.

Flick it where you are turning the phone with a rapid motion with the left side getting closer to you, and you reveal the main navigation. That has

  • APPS
  • GAMES
  • WEB
  • MUSIC
  • VIDEOS
  • PHOTOS
  • BOOKS
  • NEWSSTAND
  • AUDIOBOOKS
  • DOCS
  • SHOP
  • PRIME

Flick it back to remove that menu.

Generally, that left menu will be available in most places you are working, and will be the same.

Flick it the other way, with the right side getting closer to you, and you’ll reveal a context sensitive menu…one that varies depending on what you are doing.

ON the home screen, I get a weather report (which I could set to be in Celsius, my favorite…and which autodetected my location), and Google Now type cards. Right now, I’m seeing calendar events, but I may see an e-mail from people I designate, or texts. There is an ellipsis (“…”) at the bottom to go to the full calendar.

Flick left, flick right: two of the main gestures.

Three other big gestures:

Tip the phone to one side (either direction), and you’ll see a ribbon at the top with quick access to functions:

  • Airplane mode
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Flashlight
  • Sync
  • Settings
  • Mayday
  • Search
  • Brightness

How would you know what they were?

You peek.

Really, that’s what they call it.

Move your head to the side and look back at the phone, like you are trying to look behind the icons.

The captions magically appear.

You’ll use that a lot.

The last gesture I’ll mention is how to get back to what you were doing last.

The first couple of days, I really missed the Back button on my S4. Then, one of the Mayday reps told me that you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen. They didn’t describe it quite right: the thing is that you start off the edge of the screen at the bottom, at about the same level as the home button. Then swipe up on to the screen: that will take you back to the last function.

Before I go on, let me say that is seems to drink battery charge like a Chevrolet Suburban drinks gasoline! ;) Just while I’ve been writing this post, it went down four percent. I expect that will get better after I play with some settings.

In terms of the pre–installed apps, I recommend that you play with Clay Doodle and Monkey Buddy (although the latter might drive you crazy, if you are an adult). The first one is like Play-Doh, and takes advantage of the dyper. The second one is a virtual pet, like a Tamagotchi in concept. Since it can see where you head is, it responds to you nodding your head yes in approval, for example.

Believe it or not, the integration with Amazon could be better. My Prime music wasn’t available until I downloaded an app…that was weird. My biggest disappointment so far has been that gestural scrolling doesn’t work in the Kindle app! It only works in Silk on websites.

I was really looking forward to having an endless scroll in my Kindle books, where I could get to the next text by just moving my head or tilting the phone.

A Mayday rep told me that an update is coming soon which will include more functionality…and better interface with the Kindle app is one of the things we may see. Right now, you can get the X-Ray background data by flicking from the right…good to know, right? :)

I may do a full menu map at some point (that kind of thing might make a good short “book” for people to borrow through Kindle Unlimited), but let’s go through the settings at a high level:

Wi-Fi & Networks

  • Connect to Wi-Fi
  • Enable Airplane Mode
  • Pair Bluetooth Devices
  • Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot (only if that’s part of your data plan, I think)
  • Enable NFC (Near Field Communication)
  • Turn off cellular dta usage
  • See your cellular data usage
  • Change your mobile network operator

Display

  • Adjust screen brightness
  • Turn off automatic screen rotation
  • Hide (or show…the commands change based on current state) status bar
  • Change time to sleep
  • Share your screen via Miracast
  • Configure low motion settings (this will turn off some of the gestural stuff, which would be useful for those with unsteady hands or heads)

Sounds & Notifications

  • Change your ringtone
  • Manage notifications
  • Select ringtones for specific people
  • Select text message tones for specific people
  • Change volume levels (there  are also physical volume buttons)
  • Change touch feedback settings (my first call to Mayday: how to turn off hepatic feedback, the vibrating you get when you touch a key…I just don’t like it, and it uses battery charge)

Applications & Parental Controls

  • Configure Amazon application settings
  • Manage applications
  • Prevent (or enable) non-Amazon app installation
  • Turn off product recommendations
  • Enable Parental Controls

Battery & Storage

  • View battery usage (the system is taking 50% of my usage right now)
  • View available storage
  • Free space on your phone (not how much you have…this one is designed to free up space)
  • Change USB connection type

Location Services

  • Configure Location Based Services for your applications
  • Enable Enhanced Location Services
  • Disable Find My Device (enabled by default)

Lock Screen

  • Select a lock screen scene (the default is that it changes every day)
  • Set a password or PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  • Change the automatic lock time
  • Turn off (or on) notifications on the lock screen

Keyboard

  • Change the keyboard language
  • Configure auto-correct and spell-checking
  • Manage advanced keyboard features
  • Edit your personal dictionary

Phone

  • Configure call waiting
  • Configure caller ID
  • Forward incoming calls
  • Edit Reply-with-Text messages
  • View your phone number
  • Set up voicemail
  • Contact your carrier

My Accounts

  • Deregister your phone
  • Manage e-mail accounts
  • Connect your social networks
  • Manage your Amazon account
  • Manage your Amazon payment method
  • Manage your Amazon Newsstand subscriptions
  • Manage your Send-to-Device email address

Device

  • Change the date and time
  • Disable auto backups
  • Change your language
  • Install system updates
  • Factory reset your phone
  • Get info about your Fire
  • Configure your emergency alerts
  • View your emergency alerts
  • Manage your SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card PIN
  • Manage enterprise security features
  • Manage accessibility (it has nice magnifier features…I turned  those  on)
  • View Legal and Compliance Info

Voice

  • Configure voice settings (oh, it does take voice commands…hold down the home button, like accessing Siri. I have found that I have to say “Search the Web” to get it to do that…it doesn’t just guess that’s what you want if you say something for which it doesn’t have a command)
  • Change Text to Speech (TTS) language (it does have TTS for Kindle books…it comes with English and Spanish, but you can download quite a few others for no additional cost)

Help & Feedback

  • Get help from Mayday (there is a lifesaver for that on the quick access ribbon…remember, you can tip your phone quickly for that, or swipe down from the top. Use it to get the most out of your phone)
  • Browse online help
  • Contact Amazon technical support
  • Provide feedback

There, that gives you a pretty good idea of its capabilities.

Overall, I’m starting to like it. If you want everything to be easy, if you want it to be as good as the most popular other phones, you may not want to be an early adopter. You can download apps to do things it doesn’t do right now (in many cases), but a year from now, it will be much more capable…I suspect it will be a lot more capable before the holidays.

It’s certainly satisfactory…and the hardware (the four cameras that enable dyper) and Firefly (the real world recognition system) promise much greater things in the future, once people start designing for it. The killer apps are yet to come.

I think it’s a great first SmartPhone (which is where I think the market is), and an adequate transition phone (with amazing potential).

Hey, my Kindle app has an update available! That sort of thing is going to happen a lot…I won’t focus on the Fire Phone a lot in this blog (just as I haven’t done that with the Fire Phone), but it is a Kindle reading device, and  I think it deserves some coverage here.

If you have any specific questions about it, or things to say, feel free to comment 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.

Seeing the (back)light

June 8, 2014

Seeing the (back)light

I still see a lot of confusion in the Kindle forums about the different screen technologies.

It’s not just inexperienced users. Here is an example of a product made specifically for the Kindle Paperwhite, so you would think they would be familiar with the basics of how the Kindle Paperwhite works:

MoKo Vertical Flip Cover Case for Amazon New Kindle Paperwhite with Backlight, BLACK (with Auto Sleep/Wake Function) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Did you notice that? It says the cover is for the New Kindle Paperwhite “with Backlight”. Presumably, that’s for nothing, since there isn’t a Paperwhite which is backlit. ;)

Oh, and the new and old Paperwhites are the same size, so they didn’t have to specify that either.

The product has 4.5 stars with 3,610 customer reviews, so I assume it’s quite good…but honestly, I’d have to push myself past their description of it before I would consider it. That’s just silliness on my part, I know: it’s like judging the quality of the story in a book by the number of typos. It’s natural to do, but those are really different measures.

So, I thought I’d take a post and quickly explain the different technologies.

No lighting (reflective screens)

When the first Kindle was released in 2007, it didn’t have any built-in lighting. You read it by light bouncing off it…just like you read a paperbook. That screen (and most unlit E-Book Reader screens) used a brand name screen called “E Ink”. I often see that referred to as though it was a generic term, but it really isn’t.

I tend to use the term “reflective screens” for this, and that’s correct, but people get confused by it sometimes. They think of it having a glare…which they also confuse with what happens when you try to read an iPad in the sun. It’s called a “reflective screen” because, as I mentioned earlier, it reflects the light (like a rock or a tree or a wombat or…).

These screens require no energy to maintain an image, which gives them great battery charge life. The technology to “redraw” the screen (when you more from one “page” to another, for example) isn’t that fast…it prevents them from doing animation (for videos or apps), at least at a commercial level at this point.

You need some sort of external light to read these: a booklight, a lamp, or the sun, something like that.

Backlit screens

With a backlit screen, you read what is on it by a light coming from behind the screen. The screen is between you and the light source, and the light is basically shining into your eyes. Those were around before the reflective screens mentioned above. You have them in your computer and your SmartPhone, most likely.

It’s a mature technology: it can do lots of colors, super sharp images, and can redraw quickly enough for HD movies.

They have a built-in light source, which can be nice, but it does take a lot of power. For Kindles, this is what the Fire uses. The battery charge life is much shorter, but one big tip: turn the brightness down. That is the number one thing I find that makes my battery last longer…even more important than turning off the wireless. I have excellent night vision (connected, I think, to my color vision deficiency), so I often have the brightness turned down all the way when I’m inside. I think I can read for an hour and not lose a single percentage point of battery charge.

Another problem with this technology is that the light coming from behind the screen competes with lighting hitting the front of the screen. If the sun is hitting your screen, it’s likely to make it nearly impossible to see the image…the internal backlight just can’t beat the sun.

That’s not glare, as I mentioned above…no “anti-glare” screen will help. Glare has to do with light being brightly reflected from a surface: think of a signal mirror. An anti-glare screen can make something less reflective, but that’s not the issue here.

Turning up the brightness as far as it will go will help when you are in sunlight (although you will burn your battery charge more quickly). I find that I can always read outside, as long as I turn the Kindle Fire so the sun isn’t hitting it as directly. If you are  looking for a place to sit in the park and read, try to have the sun in front of you or to your side, not directly behind you…assuming you are sitting up holding the Kindle in front of you. If you lie on your back and have the back of your Kindle to the sky, you’ll probably be fine. :)

Frontlit

A frontlit device (like the Kindle Paperwhite ((at AmazonSmile))) is actually a reflective screen with a built-in light that shines at the screen from the front of it (not from behind it). The light is still bouncing off it as with the “no lighting” screen, so your screen isn’t competing with the sun. This is the best of both worlds. Like a backlit device, you can read it in a dark room (it’s so nice to not have to turn off a lamp after reading in bed). Like a reflective device, you can read it in bright light.

The Paperwhite is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had, including paper.

The light isn’t bright enough to be bothersome, and it isn’t creating the image…the battery charge life is still quite good, comparable even to an unlit Kindle.

Well, those are the three possibilities.

In the future, we may have devices which can switch between backlit and front or non-lit. There have been some dual-screen devices, but they’ve been expensive and haven’t done well so far. Reflective screens will also likely speed up and get color…my guess is that’s where we will largely go, but we’ll see.

Hope that helps…

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

Added today: my new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days (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.

New Manage Your Kindle page

May 25, 2014

New Manage Your Kindle page

Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle page has some wonderful features to it.

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

It has been one of the features that shows what Amazon does best when it connects with its customers…although it has certainly had challenges and people have wanted it to do more.

Some of the great things we could do there:

  • “Return” a Kindle book for a refund within seven days of purchase
  • Reset the last page read
  • Send items to different devices on the account
  • Manage whether a device was subscribed to Special Offers
  • Change the display name of a device

I’ve written about changes to it several times…they rolled out a change that allowed mass actions not too long ago, then rolled it back in again. ;)

Right now, I have a new version available to me…in Silk on my  Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

It’s not available to me in Maxthon on my desktop or Google Chrome on my desktop.

My guess is that they are testing it out (again). You might have it, you might not. It’s possible that clearing cookies and/or signing in and out of your account might help. If you want to see it, I’d try different browsers and devices if you have them.

What’s different?

I’d say one big stand out is that there appears to be a single scrolling page, rather than fifteen items at a time. Many people complain when they take an action on an item, and then it takes them back to the beginning of the list. That won’t happen here, since you can do mass actions.

By mass actions, I mean that you tap or click a checkbox next to each item, and then you can choose to deliver or delete all of those at once.

That “deliver” option is something that people really want. When they get a new device (app or hardware Kindle), they could send a bunch of the books on the account to it at the same time.

I’d be a bit careful, though, particularly with a non-Fire Kindle. If you send 500 books at once, you could “overwhelm” the device…unless they’ve figured out how to deliver it in “buckets” rather than as a firehose.

With whatever device you put it on, there will be indexing** which has to take place. If you put, oh, 100 books on your device, I’d leave it plugged and not turned off (asleep is fine) so the device can finish all that up.

It now has three tabs: Your Content, Your Devices, Settings

I like that better than the old side navigation: it seems clearer.

“Your Content” defaulted to Books, and then I could choose

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Audiobooks
  • Music
  • Apps
  • Instant Video
  • Docs
  • Active Content
  • Dictionaries & User Guides
  • Pending Deliveries

Hm…I see that “Loans” is gone. Oh, I see! There is a dropdown next to the one that I listed above. In that one, you can choose

  • All
  • Purchases
  • Rentals
  • Loans
  • Borrows

Selecting “Borrows” did not show my any of my Kindle Owners’ Lending Library borrows, except for the current one. It did show me public library borrows.

This does mean that people won’t see the foreign language dictionaries Amazon provides so that the Kindle can do look-up in different languages, unless they switch something: we get questions about those pretty much every day in the Kindle forums.

I checked “Pending Deliveries”. It appears to me that I should be able to cancel the pending delivery, although it isn’t actually letting me select the checkbox.

If we can do that, it would be great! I have accidentally ordered a book to be sent to a device we no longer have, for example…in the past, that has just kept sitting there under Pending Deliveries…forever, as far as I can tell.

It also tells me for which device it is pending, and when it was ordered.

If the checkbox worked, this would be a feature I would definitely use.

Choosing “Music”, by the way, takes you somewhere else…haven’t checked that yet.

I went back to displaying books, and checked the actions. That one was:

  • Deliver
  • Delete
  • Download & transfer via USB
  • Clear furthest page read…
  • Loan this title

There were also links for the Order Details and Manage Kindle FreeTime Content.

The sort options for the items were

  • Title: A-Z
  • Titles: Z-A
  • Author: A-Z
  • Author: Z-A
  • Purchase Date: Oldest-Newest
  • Purchase Date: Newest-Oldest (default)

Going to “Your Devices”, it looks pretty much like it does now (a ribbon across the top), but we do have more actions!

On my Kindle Fire HDX, I now do have:

  • Deregister
  • Remote Alarm
  • Find My Device
  • Remote Factory Reset

In the old version on Maxthon, I don’t have any of the last three.

In the old version on Chrome, I only Deregister and Remote Alarm.

I just tested the “Find My Device”: it did show within a couple of blocks were it is. I could tell, for example, if it was at home or at work.

It didn’t find my exact address…but neither does my SmartPhone.

The fact that we can remote a factory reset will mean that more companies will allow the use of Kindle Fires, since it helps protect company data.

Obviously, I had to have my Fire connected to the wireless (this is not a 4G model), and you have to have allowed this. For more on this, see my post

New “Find My Kindle” device setting on HDX

from a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, this could mean that one family member could “spy” on another family member (by locating them, not listening to them or seeing them), if things were set up that way. It doesn’t have to be family members, of course: it could be bosses checking up on employees.

Under Settings, we have…whoops, it failed to load! I got a message suggesting I refresh the page, and if that doesn’t work to call customer service (they actually gave a phone number for that). I don’t recommend calling “cold”…start at

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

and what devices you have.

Refreshing the page did it. Then I had:

  • Kindle Payment Settings
  • Country Settings
  • Subscription Settings
  • Kindle FreeTime Settings
  • Device Synchronization
  • Automatic Book Update
  • Language Optimized Storefront
  • Personal Document Settings
  • Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings
  • Personal Document Archiving
  • Whispernet Delivery Options
  • Approved Personal Document E-Mail List
  • Personal Document Service Charges
  • Manage Whispercast Membership
  • Your AmazonLocal Vouchers

Overall, I think this version is a massive improvement! Assuming it works reasonably well, this is the kind of thing I like Amazon to do. :)

It would be nice, as a future improvement, if we could manage Cloud Collections here, but that doesn’t dim the brightness of this one for me.

Thanks, Amazon!

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! :) 

** I recently answered a question for somebody in an Amazon Kindle forum who wanted to know (in a non-technical manner) what indexing and syncing were. I thought it would be useful to post it here as well:

…indexing is somewhat similar to what is done when an index is created for a paperbook.

The Kindle “reads” the book, noting the location of specific words. For example, it might create a file like this:

cat: location 5, location 17, location 35
dog: location 5, location 40, location 93

I’m using that format as an illustrator: it wouldn’t really look like that.

Then, when you look up a word, it can find it very quickly.

The initial indexing, as you can imagine, takes the device some work to do and takes some energy…again, just as it would with a paperbook.

Note: I’m not suggesting that the Kindle indexes as well as a human would…humans can create indices based on concepts, and the Kindle just does it based on words (although it does skip some words, like “the” and “and”).

“Sync” is short for “synchronize”, which basically means “to make the same”.

Your device (Kindle or app) displays some items which you have downloaded from a central storage area. The latter is called the “Cloud” or your “Archive”.

Let’s suppose you have a Kindle on the account, and your Significant Other has a SmartPhone on the same account.

Your Significant Other buys a book using the SmartPhone.

The SmartPhone knows about it, and so does the Cloud…but your Kindle doesn’t know about it until it “syncs” with the Cloud. That doesn’t mean it will automatically download the book, just that it will have knowledge of it being available on the account.

Another example of syncing is for reading progress. Let’s say you are reading a book both on your Kindle and on a SmartPhone.

You read to “page” 100 on your Kindle.

When you sync with Amazon, you tell the Cloud that you are on page 100.

When you open the book on your SmartPhone, it can sync with Amazon and open the book right to where you left off.

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.

Add Your Amazon Books rolling out to Goodreads website

April 17, 2014

Add Your Amazon Books rolling out to Goodreads website

When Amazon bought Goodreads (a bit over a year ago), one of the advantages people  envisaged  (and certainly, some people thought there might be disadvantages as well) was the ability to easily import your Amazon purchases to your Goodreads shelves.

We did get the ability to do that from some Kindle devices. For example, you have that functionality on the Kindle Paperwhite.

That was fine for people with those devices, but there are lots of Goodreads users who have bought books from Amazon and don’t have Kindles (or at least, those specific devices). The import isn’t just for Kindle editions…it’s for p-books (paperbooks) also.

In this

Goodreads blog post

they announce that Add Your Amazon Books”…will be available in the next few weeks to members in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. ”

Other countries are expected to follow.

After giving you an explanation of what it will be like (it will be on My Books under Tools), they give you a link to where you can go ahead and do it now:

Early Access

They have a Question and Answer section there. I’ve asked this, but don’t have an answer yet:

“This seems to be similar to the functionality on the Kindle devices (for the ones which have it). It is only showing me recently purchased books, and I have something like a thousand which haven’t been imported. My guess is that there might have been a size limit the first time it did the sync, and now it doesn’t go back and re-query, just starts with books after the last sync (yes, I’m a geek). :) Any troubleshooting for it not importing all of the books? Are there books which wouldn’t be imported (ones without ISBNs, perhaps)? Thanks! “

Why do this?

Mainly to “feed” Goodreads. It lets other people see what you are reading (if you choose that), helps you keep track for yourself…and strengthens the algorithms used by the system to make recommendations to you.

For those of you who are already Goodreads users, this simplifies things. If you don’t use Goodreads now (I do…you can follow me. I write a little review there on most books I finish), maybe this will get you to start. ;)

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.

Amazon updates Kindle Personal Documents

April 17, 2014

Amazon updates Kindle Personal Documents

In this

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

Amazon announced some significant changes to their Personal Documents service.

Previously, you had the ability to send documents to your Kindle. You could e-mail them to a special e-mail address your Kindle has, or use the “Send to Kindle” feature:

send to kindle (at AmazonSmile)

and they would be stored in your Cloud/archives. One place they were available was at

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

You could also download them from your device.

For example, I keep the configuration information for my routers there. That way, I can access it from any of my devices. That means I have the information on my phone or tablet when I set up a new device.

As of today, though, they are also stored in your Amazon Cloud Drive, in a folder called “My Send-to-Kindle Docs”.

That does give you the advantage of the additional organizational capabilities of the Cloud drive (you can add folders, mass delete, move and copy, and so on).

Nice enough, I suppose, to have it in the same site as personal photos and documents you’ve uploaded directly to the Cloud drive.

By the way, I’ve seen a lot of complaints today. That seems to be the normal thing with any update…”Though Kindle updates, may bring the pain…” ;)

Some people appear to have gotten tons of documents this way, and a few people mentioned .png files. Those are “Portable Network Graphics” files, and I’m guessing what happened there is they uploaded a file with pictures in it, and the Cloud drive broke each picture out into its own file. That didn’t happen with me, by the way: my new drive looks very much like what I would want it to do in this case, with the appropriate number of files.

The other big part of this announcement, though, is that files will stay in their native formats.

What that means is that, if you e-mail a Word document to your Kindle, it will be converted to a Kindle friendly document…and it will be available as a Word document in your Cloud Drive. I tested it, and that is what happened. That is an easy way to use your Cloud Drive somewhat like Dropbox (without some of the features of the latter).

If they were to incorporate this into the

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

I would actually find that quite useful.

I do presentations. I could e-mail a presentation to my Kindle Fire, and on a Fire TV at work, I could display it on an HDTV. Of course, I could mirror from my

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

to the Fire TV, but that would commit the resources of my Kindle Fire to that task…and I might want to use it for something else. I wouldn’t even have to be where the Fire TV was, if someone else was using it.

It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s in the offing.

I also like the idea that I could carry a document on my Kindle (Fire or not), and easily access the same document in full-featured Office on my desktop/laptop/two-in-1.

I think this is one of those that may take a while before people really realize the benefits.

Feel free to let me and my readers know what your experience is with it!

* 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.

Kindle Fires are on sale today

April 15, 2014

Kindle Fires are on sale today

Note: see the update below: Prime members are getting an extra ten percent off the prices listed in the first part of this post!

This is a “limited time” offer, but not one of those that disappears in seconds. No way to know how long it will last, but I guess it will be good for today. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

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

That’s my personally most-used device.

It’s $199 for the configuration I have: 16 GB, special offers, wi-fi only.

That’s $30 off the normal $299 price.

It appears to be $30 off any of the possible configurations.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ (at AmazonSmile)

is $40 off, again, that appears to be all the configurations (including 4G).

That brings the cheapest version down to $339.

In addition to the larger screen, you also get a rear-facing camera with that one, in addition to the front-facing camera (for videocalls, mostly) you get on the 7″.

Kindle Fire HD (2nd generation) 7″ (at AmazonSmile)

No cameras, no Mayday…but $20 off the 8GB makes it as low as $119. 16GB? $40 off.

For comparison’s sake, $119 makes it the same price as the

Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ 2nd generation, wi-fi only, with Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

Update: thanks to reader Glenn Starrett for the heads-up on this one!

I missed this at first, and I think a lot of people did.

For the first time, Prime members are getting an additional discount on Kindles…and it can be combined with the above.

We don’t know if it will last very long, but the extra 10% is an interesting move (and a way to give us more as they raise the prices. Here are the details:

Prime Members Save 10% on Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

Bonus tip: I’ve written before about pricing strategies. Pricing something with a price ending in .99 makes it seem like you are getting a bargain, like you are saving money.

Pricing something ending in .00 makes it seem like it is a quality product.  When I managed a gamestore (I also managed a bookstore), we couldn’t have sold a $499 chess set…but we could sell a $500 one. Someone spending that much doesn’t want a “bargain”, they want “the best”.

Oddly, sort of the same thing goes with Kindle books. A stand-out book may be priced at an even $5, instead of $4.99:

$5 books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile)

Some of the books there:

  • Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Lean In by Sheryl Strandberg
  • I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

Those were all buzzy books. That doesn’t mean that books priced at $4.99 aren’t as good, and certainly not that they aren’t as popular. It’s just that if you sort things only by price, you may miss some really good backlist books at what are now bargain prices.

Enjoy!

* 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.

3 years of Special Offers

April 11, 2014

3 years of Special Offers

Three years ago, on April 11, 2011, Amazon introduced Kindles with Special Offers in this

press release

The basic idea is that the buyer of a new Kindle could agree to see ads, and in exchange for that, that initial purchase price was lowered.

That’s why they are also called “ad-supported” models.

It was up to the customer: get “paid” for watching ads by getting a discount, or pay the normal price and avoid seeing ads.

It’s a simple idea, but there was a lot of buzz around it at the time.

Many people decried it, equating it with ads in books.

First, there were ads in books before that…I have some mass market paperbacks that have a cardboard ad stuck in the middle of them.

Second, the ads don’t appear in the books themselves. They appear on the sleep screen, and (originally) at the bottom of the list of books on the homescreen.

This idea may have been complicated by Amazon having gotten a patent to put relevant ads in e-books. I wrote about that a bit here:

Advertising in E-books

That wasn’t this, though…and Amazon hasn’t followed through on ads in books themselves.

Another concern people expressed was that the ads might be “inappropriate”. Basing it on television, they though that kids might see ads for “mature products”, as one example.

While we did see ads for things like cars, we haven’t had alcohol or intimate  hygiene products.

Over time, my feeling is that the ads have actually gotten more tied into what the Kindleers want…more ads for books and Kindle accessories, for instance.

Now, that could be because it didn’t turn out that a Kindle was a great way to sell a car…so those companies stopped buying the ads.

I think it must work somewhat, though, since we still have Special Offers.

It’s also tended to be that SO models are more popular than their non-ad-supported, full price counterparts.

If you think that’s just because people want to save the money (and that they don’t really like the ads), I’ll tell you that I’ve seen plenty of statements to the contrary. Many people like seeing the ads: they know they sometimes get deals that way, and hey, if nothing else, it’s something new to see. :) A lot of people didn’t like the old “woodcut” type pictures we had, and one reason was that after a while, you’d “…been there, saw that”.

With the advent of the Limited Time Special Offers on the current Kindle Fires, folks (including me) have been saving a lot of money.

Looking at the list of “recent deals” on the above linked page, you could have saved $674.96 buying those six items…an average of over $100 per deal!

We bought a Kindle Paperwhite for $19, when it was normally $119 at the time.

These LTSOs are a big incentive to go with a Kindle Fire, that’s for sure!

If you want to stop getting Special Offers, you have that choice.

You would, naturally, have to pay the difference between the original discounted cost of the device and the full price…on the order of $20.

You do that by going to

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

and clicking or tapping

Manage Your Devices

You can then “unsubscribe” from Special Offers if you want.

Can you opt into getting Special Offers if your device came without them?

Sure…same thing as unsubscribing above, except that you choose to subscribe.

Oh, and they won’t retroactively give you the discount.

Still, I think many people do make that choice, just to have the option of getting a discount on something.

While we are talking about this, let me ask you hypothetically about ads in the books themselves (again, this is something different and not on the table right now):

If you want to tell me and my readers more about what you think about this, feel free to comment 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.

Kindle Outlet Store

April 7, 2014

Kindle Outlet Store

While Amazon has had refurbished Kindles for some time, they’ve recently added a link to a new page…the

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

at the top of the Kindle storefront.

The savings aren’t huge, but the warranty is good.

They go to the point of explaining how a Kindle becomes a certified refurbished Kindle, and I think it’s worth noting.

A Kindle gets returned to Amazon.

Now, Amazon has a very generous thirty-day:

Kindle Return Policy (at AmazonSmile)

They say (in part):

Returning Kindle Devices

You can return any Kindle device you purchased directly from Amazon.com for a full refund within 30 days of the day you received it as long as it’s in new condition and the return is in accordance with our return policy.

Note: If you want to return your Kindle device for a refund, and you purchased your Kindle from a third-party retail store, you must return your Kindle to the retailer where you made the purchase according to the retailer’s return policies.

 

Partial refunds / restocking fees

If You Return You’ll Receive
Kindle device within 30 days from receipt of shipment 100% of the item’s price
Kindle device past the return window, but within 60 days from receipt of shipment 80% of the item’s price
Kindle device over 60 days from receipt of shipment 0% of the item’s price

That’s if you follow their policies, of course.

On the Kindle forums, we sometimes recommend that somebody wondering about a particular Kindle model go ahead and get it and try it out. If, for example, it doesn’t work well with the user’s disability, they can return it.

In a case like that, the Kindle is very often going to be very much like new.

Amazon will get it, check it out, fix it if necessary, and certify that it is like new.

My feeling has always been that those reviews of the devices are probably more thorough than a new one gets. I think it’s more likely for you to get a lemon with a new Kindle than with a refurb.

After they’ve checked it out, they sell it again…with the exact same warranty as a new one.

You do get a discount on it compared to a new one…up to 25%.

Not all of the refurbs are even still available new from Amazon.

For example, a lot of people want an inexpensive, long battery charge lived device that does text-to-speech.

You can get a certified refurbed Kindle Touch for $79…only $10 more than the current “entry level” Kindle which does not have text-to-speech…or a touch screen, for that matter.

Some of you might be saying, “I can find one a lot cheaper than that on eBay”.

Yes, that’s possible (although I’ve seen Kindles hold their values remarkably well). I’ve seen them for down around $35.

However, those haven’t been inspected and refurbed.

You aren’t going to get the warranty with it if you are buying it from an individual who has already had it for more than a year.

There’s also the very real risk that it is stolen. The person selling it to you may not even know it is stolen…they might have bought it from a thief or from someone who bought it from a thief.

If that’s the case, you may be unable to register it…and you might end up out both the device and the money with which you paid for it.

I think refurbs are a good alternative if you are willing to get one which isn’t brand new…and it’s nice that Amazon has put them much more in the forefront of the site.

What do you think? Have you ever bought a refurb from Amazon? What did you think of that decision? Are you only comfortable with new electronics? Have you bought a used Kindle from an individual and had a good story…or maybe had some challenges with having made that purchase? 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.

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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