Archive for the ‘Traditional Publishers’ Category

Who is still blocking text-to-speech access?

October 8, 2014

Who is still blocking text-to-speech access?

A Kindle with text-to-speech access can use software to read aloud any text downloaded to it…provided that the ability to do that is not blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file which prevents it.

I haven’t written much about this in a while (although it still comes up), but it is an important issue to me. I believe that blocking the access disproportionately disadvantages the disabled. Personally, I don’t get books which have the access blocked, and I don’t intentionally link to books with the access blocked in the blog (I don’t want to give the publisher money on books where that decision has been made, and I don’t want to benefit from it by people clicking on the link in my blog).

However, I do believe this is a personal decision, and there are good arguments for supporting the author by buying the book (the author often has very little influence over whether it is blocked or not).

If you want more information on the issue, see my post from a bit over four years ago

The Disabled Deserve to Read

There was a time when blocking the access seemed much more common: Random House used to flat out state that they blocked it on all titles…but they later reversed that decision.

I thought it was going away. I think it’s generally a bad economic decision on the publisher’s part to block the access…I think it reduces the size of the audience. I use TTS myself quite a bit…I typically listen to it for hours a week in the car (I’d rather listen to a book than talk radio or music). That means I finish a book a lot more quickly, and need another book sooner.

Most people guess that publishers block it because they think it competes with the audiobook market. They are really two very different things. The audiobook is read by a human being (often, the author or an actor). TTS is just software (which incorporates a human’s voice, but that human was not reading this particular book…see my article

An ILMK interview with September Day, the voice of the Kindle Fire HD)

I’m sure I’m unusual in this, but I prefer TTS (unless I’ve read the book before). I don’t like the narrator interpreting the characters for me.

Whether you prefer TTS or an audiobook, though, I’m sure the preference tends to be pretty strong. They aren’t the same: it’s a very different experience. I find it pretty unlikely that people who would have bought the audiobook otherwise decide not to do it because TTS is available. If someone is print disabled and needs an accessible version, they can often get one for free (if they can certify the disability), so that’s not the audience here. From what I’ve seen, audiobooks wouldn’t tend to be their choice, because they are too slow. Many people with print disabilities listen to TTS on very fast speeds: they can interpret it that quickly, where as many people have trouble with it going that fast.

I noticed recently, though, that a number of books from the publisher Simon & Schuster seemed to be blocking access on a lot of books.

I decided to check: I like to see the data. :)

There are now a Big Five of USA trade (the kind of books you buy in a bookstore, rather than textbooks and such) publishers.

I took the top ten books for each publisher, and looked to see howmany had it blocked.

  • Simon and Schuster (I searched for “Simon”): 100% blocked
  • Hachette (I searched for “Grand Central”): 20% blocked
  • Penguin Random House (I searched for “Penguin”): 0% blocked
  • Macmillan (I searched for “Macmillan”): 0% blocked
  • HarperCollins (I searched for “HarperCollins”): 0% blocked

So, with this limited sample, my observation seems to have been right: Simon & Schuster does seems to be blocking it much more.

For quite a while, I had a personal policy of not buying books from companies which blocked, but eventually became convinced (see? I am flexible) ;) that just not buying the ones which are blocked is a clearer message to the publisher. I have also communicated with them more directly and explicitly about how I feel about the situation.

S&S is the smallest of the Big 5 and, well, I don’t this policy is going to help them change that.

What might change it?

One wild possibility is Amazon buying Simon & Schuster. Amazon does not block TTS in its traditionally published books. It discourages blocking it in books going through its Kindle Direct Publishing. Leaving it unblocked is one of the things you have to do to be eligible for a 70% royalty (versus a 35% royalty).

Earlier this year, Nate Hoffelder in this

The Digital Reader article

suggested it was a possibility that Amazon was in talks to buy S&S.

Being the smallest, and perhaps most vulnerable in terms of parent company relationships, it could be the most likely one.

Would Amazon want a tradpub (traditional publisher)? Maybe…they’ve owned an audiobook publisher (Brilliance). They are doing more and more traditional publishing on their own.

I don’t know that they would buy it and keep it as Simon and Schuster…I think they might be happy just owning the backlist. However, in several of their acquisitions, they have kept the names and even basic structures (Zappos and IMDb come to mind).

If they did keep it as S&S, that might even make legal challenges more likely. Buying the backlist is one thing. Operating a content producer and content distributor both can be something else. There was a time when movie studios owned movie theatre chains: that got broken up. That parallel would not be left unremarked by other publishers.

Hoffelder has called mergers before…although this is a case of it being called “possible” not “probable”.

Short of Amazon buying it, S&S could change the policy. I can tell you that we bought one of their most popular books when it wasn’t blocked…and then they blocked it subsequently. I even wrote the author on that one, because I really like the book and wanted to be able to recommend it freely.

That suggests to me that it isn’t simply a case of waiting for contracts to run out (perhaps related to audiobooks)…this decision is happening currently.

I sincerely hope they stop blocking it…we’ll keep an eye on the trends here.

What do you think? Should Amazon buy S&S? Should they buy another big publisher? Would the Department of Justice allow it? Does TTS hurt audiobook sales? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

September 1, 2014

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

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

Hachette e-book sales down 34%

Behold the awesome power of Amazon!

Er…sort of. ;)

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think Amazon is making progress…

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

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

The tradpubs?

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

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

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

Book Country Genre Map


for the heads up on that!

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

Once you do that, you’ll get

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

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

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

The site is run by…Penguin Random House.

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

You may find it useful for discovery.

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

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

Win a Kobo Touch

You can enter this


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

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

Kobo Aura H20

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

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

What do you think? Besides Amazon, where do you find out about books? What’s the weirdest, most specific book topic for which you’ve ever searched? Had a Kobo? Have you had an EBR/tablet water damaged? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Round up #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:

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

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

Is the Hachazon War over?

May 28, 2014

Is the Hachazon War over?

Update: according to Amazon, the answer is no. After I wrote this, I saw that Amazon has posted a statement on this issue in the Kindle forum:

Announcement Hachette/Amazon Business Interruption (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Before I address the content, let me first say that I think it is a very good thing that they have said something.

Amazon often keeps things quite private…famously, they don’t release sales figures for Kindle devices or e-books (except sometimes), for example.


Reuters blog post by Jack Shafer

does not express a unique position:

“If Amazon thinks I don’t care about its silence, it’s wrong. I take it personally that the company doesn’t think it owes me even a half-baked explanation for why I can’t buy some books from it.”

Now that Amazon has ended that silence, what did they say?

When we negotiate with suppliers, we are doing so on behalf of customers. Negotiating for acceptable terms is an essential business practice that is critical to keeping service and value high for customers in the medium and long term.”

It is an intriguingly “high road” post. Where Hachette’s public statements seemed to suggest they were baffled by what could be seen as Amazon’s bad behavior, Amazon defends Hachette:

Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives.”

I think Amazon makes a mistake in the post in explaining what a tiny part of their business this is. People extrapolate from the specific to the general, not the other way around. In other words, they will assume that a broader class has the same characteristics as an individual case they know well. You can tell someone that 99% of snakes never bite anyone, but if they’ve been bitten by one snake once, that’s going to matter more to them.

What solution does Amazon suggest?

 If you do need one of the affected titles quickly, we regret the inconvenience and encourage you to purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors.”

When I wrote what follows on Tuesday night, I suggested that it looked like maybe things were getting better in the Hachazon War. Amazon suggests in the post that they don’t see it that way:

Even more unfortunate, though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.”

Looking at it again this morning, I’m seeing about the same results as I did last night…so my optimistic thought that I was perhaps seeing an indicator that the dispute was ending is not being validated.

What follows is my original post:


Interestingly, some of the books which were previously affected by the Hachette/Amazon dispute appear to be unaffected today.

In this search for

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

one of the big Hachette imprints, I’m seeing some which had been…made inconvenient, no longer having that issue.

For example, you can get Robin Roberts’ book right away now.

Now, I’m still seeing some which are affected…J.K. Rowling’s next book (writing as Robert Galbraith) still says you can sign up to be notified when it is available.

My guess is that they may be just updating everything after an agreement…let’s take a look at it again in the morning.

This has been a messy, messy disagreement, with a lot of bad public relations out of it (on both sides, but I would say I saw a lot more people not liking Amazon’s tactics).

I have expressed my unease with more than one outlet refusing to carry books when the disagreement is with the supplier or publisher of that book…as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager myself, I understand making a principled stand not to carry something, or an economic decision that it won’t sell…but trying to go after a business partner (and Hachette and Amazon do work together…that’s what I mean by partners, not anything legally organizational) by doing something that broadly inconveniences your customers doesn’t seem like good business to me.

Customers don’t generally understand the deep reasons why you don’t have something and someone else has it sooner and/or cheaper…they just know you don’t have it when they want it.

Hoping this is over!

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 #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


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!


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.

Is Amazon delaying Hachette books?

May 10, 2014

Is Amazon delaying Hachette books?

This story is all over the blogosphere. Here’s a Google search with several big name results (CNNMoney, Christian Science Monitor, Publishers Weekly, Slate, New York Times…):

Google news search for “Hachette”

The source of it appears to have been this

New York Times article by David Streitfeld

The article, which seems to uncritically accept what one party in the situation says, starts with:

“Amazon has begun discouraging customers from buying books by Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, J. D. Salinger and other popular writers, a flexing of its muscle as a battle with a publisher spills into the open.”

Are you sure you don’t want to throw an “allegedly” or “reportedly” in there?

I mean, this is the New York Times, right? Not some anonymous book blog?

Well, I’m sure they verified Amazon’s actions and motivations before running the article…or not.

The gist of the story is that Amazon is REPORTEDLY deliberately keeping low stock on some Hachette p-books (paperbooks), which results in waits of two weeks or more for customers to get them.

Before I start commenting on this, let me say that my background might paint me as prejudiced…on one side or the other. ;) I was a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so that might put me in Amazon’s camp (since they are, in this instance a book retailer). I am also not an Amazon employee, but I have gotten money from them (royalties, for one thing).

On the other hand, I am (in a very small way) a publisher. I’ve published my own titles to the Kindle store…and Amazon could certainly mess me up if it chose to do that.

Okay, with that out of the way…

My first question is…is it true?

First, I did a search for Grand Central (one of Hachette’s imprints…and one suggested by the article) print books at

Grand Central print books at (at AmazonSmile)

Looking at the “New and Popular” sort, I see

  1. No delay
  2. No delay
  3. No delay
  4. Pre-order
  5. Usually ships in 1 to 3 weeks (this is Robin Roberts’ Everybody’s Got Something)
  6. Pre-order
  7. No delay
  8. Pre-order
  9. No delay
  10. No delay
  11. No delay
  12. Usually ships in 3 to 4 weeks (The Hit by David Baldacci)
  13. No delay
  14. Usually ships in 3 to 4 weeks (Gone by James Patterson)
  15. No delay
  16. Usually ships in 2 to 5 weeks (Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food by Jody Williams and Mario Batali)
  17. No delay
  18. Pre-order
  19. No delay
  20. No delay

Well, there are some books there with a significant delay.

My next question: are the books delayed at Amazon also delayed at Barnes & Noble?

Assuming that “usually ships within 24 hours” means that they don’t expect a delay, the answer was no…for all four of these.

Next, I’ll try some Random House titles, to see if they also have significant delays. I checked the top twenty Random House books, using the same technique I did for Grand Central: no delays.

So, tentatively at this point, I’ll say the evidence supports Hachette’s reported contention…Amazon may in fact be understocking Hachette’s books.


By that I mean that they aren’t keeping enough in stock to meet customer demand and get them delivered in a c0uple of days.

Why would that be the case?

It could be a deliberate bargaining tactic, as the stories suggest. The idea is that by delaying delivery, they are hurting Hachette.

However, wouldn’t that also hurt Amazon? The way they would be hurting the publisher is by reducing the sales…which also hurts Amazon.

I never think it’s a good tactic to annoy your customers to get back at your suppliers…I didn’t like it when stores did it to Amazon by not carrying Amazon’s traditionally published books, for example.

I think there might be a couple of other possible explanations.

One is that Amazon just blew it on the ordering. Certainly, that happened sometimes in my store. We way over-ordered on a Suzanne Summers book…because she lived in the area and we thought there would be a lot of interest. Maybe Robin Roberts got more publicity than they expected?

I don’t really think that’s likely. I think Amazon is generally good at ordering…and it would be pretty fluky if they just happened to be one publisher’s books (unless that publisher did something unexpected in terms of publicity).

Another one is that Amazon is experimenting…maybe trying to drive customers to e-books instead. In a case like that, they might pick one publisher’s books, or books that fit a certain profile (which might, coincidentally, align with a publisher’s content choices).

I would consider that…possible. Amazon has more (and I would guess increasingly) control in the e-book market than they do in the p-book market (although they are a major player there too, of course…and perhaps, becoming even more powerful as B&N wobbles on the edge of a cliff).

This might also simply be a way to try to cut costs and up profits…Roger Knights, one of my regular readers and commenters, had a strongly correct prediction about e-book prices rising at Amazon.

It costs money to store books. Every day a book sits in your warehouse (or back room, in a bookstore the size of the one I ran), you lose money on the sale. Maybe that’s making Amazon take more chances with low stock…and if Hachette’s return policies aren’t as friendly as other publishers, that could make them more likely to be hit by it…that’s just speculation, though.

Let’s sum this up:

Books unavailable? That’s a bad thing.

Is Amazon at fault here? I think that’s the most likely scenario.

What’s the plus side (there is always a plus side)? I suppose it might accelerate the shift to e-books, which I do see generally as a good thing (they are more accessible, less expensive for the most part, and as I understand it, more ecologically friendly).

If Hachette decides it needs to go more directly to readers, that’s very much more likely to be with e-books than p-books. Amazon is a behemoth in delivery, and does it for a lot of other companies. It would be very hard for a publisher to start doing D2R (Direct To Readers) with p-books…but a snap (logistically…marketing is a different question) with e-books.

Update: this additional

New York Times article, again by David Streitfeld

has two additional accusations against Amazon…claiming two more tactics against Hachette use by the e-tailer.

One is higher prices.

The other one, more intriguing, is running banner ads on a book’s Amazon product page…recommending similar, less expensive books.

That latter one, if true (and my intuition, without additional evidence, is that the story wouldn’t include this if it wasn’t), changes the math.

It would mean that Amazon could actually profit by reducing the sales of the Hachette books. Readers could be directed to books with more favorable terms..perhaps ones published by Amazon itself.

Nothing illegal about that…I wouldn’t even say it is unethical.

But it is sneaky. ;)

This second article focuses on how authors are hurt in these sorts of “spats”…certainly, that’s a motivation for them to publish independently in the future. Is that good for Amazon? Sure, that’s where most of them would indie publish!

Is that the real goal? Get authors out of publishers completely, and into controlling their own destinies…but using Amazon’s distribution platform?


Customers, of course, are also hurt by this…that’s where I would advise Amazon to be careful, if they are doing this at all. Even if a customer can get a cheaper (perhaps even better) alternative, most of them won’t get that emotionally. They’ll just get that Amazon doesn’t have the book they wanted it, when they wanted it, at the price they wanted.

That’s the sort of mistake Amazon hasn’t tended to make in the past…I hope they don’t let pressure for greater profits make them change their three core values: price; service; and selection.

What do you think? How bad is this? If this is Amazon’s fault, would that surprise you? Do you see it as part of a general trend? If the move towards popular reading being done with e-books rather than p-books accelerates, do you think that’s a good thing? 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 #227: dynamic pricing, workaround for connection issue

December 12, 2013

Round up #227: dynamic pricing, workaround for connection issue

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

A partial workaround for the connection instability on the Kindle Fire HDX

Big props to ✿ Jingle-bella ✿, another Kindle Forum Pro who came through with an idea that’s really helping with the problems I’ve been having with my Kindle Fire HDX (at Amazon…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). Since the recent update, it hasn’t been staying connected to wi-fi networks…I have had to toggle the Airplane Mode on and off frequently to connect to things. That’s been in more than one browser (I use Maxthon), and in apps without a visible browser (like Fandango).

✿ Jingle-bella ✿ intelligently suggested limiting the variables by turning Airplane Mode off, and then turning wi-fi on.

What that does is turn off the rest of the wireless connections…my intuition here is that the LBS (Location Based Services) might perhaps have been interfering. It’s even possible that when I’ve lost connection, it’s been when LBS has been trying to check-in.

I don’t have a 4G model, by the way.

I tried it this morning:

Swipe down from the top – Wireless – Airplane Mode on – tap Wi-Fi (just below Airplane Mode) and turn Wi-Fi on

I would guess I was on for at least an hour without having to toggle! I did toggle the wi-fi once so far today, although the Fire had been sitting idle for a while when I did that.

Thanks again to ✿ Jingle-bella ✿ for the suggestion!

I’m hoping we get a more robust solution with an update for the Kindle Fires which has been announced in “the coming weeks”.

For those of you having freezing issues, I’d be curious to hear if that helps you as well.

Save $50 on an HDX (up to 3 of them…possible savings of $150) with an Rewards Visa

Here’s a great deal!

You need to have that special credit card, and it says this will go “while supplies last”. As we saw with the Keurig special yesterday, that might not be much time! =:o

It’s been a bit bizarre to see people’s vitriol over not getting that deal…even reportedly to the extent of writing a bunch of 1-star reviews on the product.

I tried to get one, watched the countdown clock, and still didn’t.

I look at it like buying a lottery ticket…the odds are very against you, but it’s fun if you win! ;) They announced ahead of time that there were 5,000 of these. Let’s say, oh, a million people tried to get one…your odds would be one in 200 (half a percent).

I’m happy for the people who got one! I’ll probably try again for others.

I’m sure people didn’t think about the fact that leaving 1-star reviews might actually reduce the number of people who buy one (many people just look at the average)…are they really willing to increase the chances that people will lose their jobs, because they didn’t get an opportunity to save some money? I’m sure most folks don’t go through that thought process, but that’s a possible result of 1-starring a product.

However, there is one big difference between this and the lottery…you have to pay for a lottery ticket. ;) You don’t have to pay anything for trying this, although you do have to have Special Offers on your Fire.

I recommend that you sign up for the text alerts, if you want to do this. You can do that at

Limited Time Special Offers only on Kindle Fire
Limited Time Special Offers only on Kindle Fire at AmazonSmile

P-books aren’t perfect, either

Whenever something is introduced, there is a tendency to point out all of its flaws, and ignore the flaws of the current technology or system.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.

I was an actor, and one tradition is that we got a night on the set before the show opens. We walk around and point out all the potential dangers, typically in a joking way.

That might just seem silly, but it’s actually very important.

You see, the person in charge of the sets is there listening (not saying anything, by the way).

They can then assess those comments, and very often, they end up fixing something that could have been a real risk.

In the case of e-books compared to p-books (paperbooks), some people pointed out possible eye issues on the former (although those aren’t as likely on a non-backlit screen…you read an older style Kindle the same way you read a paperbook).

We also have had a lot of people say that they like the “smell” of a p-book, or the feel of it. My Significant Other had a great response once. Somebody said (somewhat snidely) on seeing my SO with a Kindle (several years ago), “I like the feel of a book in my hand.” My SO said, “I like the feel of a hundred in mine.” ;)

Well, many people have actual physical issues with p-books. Allergies are a common one (I think it has to do with dust mites, in some cases, as I recall).

Here is a

Daily News article

about a student who had to stop going to university because of an allergy to dusty books (and other allergen issues).

I do love old books, but for people who have complained about the effects they have on them, here is some evidence to show others…

HarperCollins CEO says that publishing is healthy

In this

Variety article by Ted Johnson

HarperCollins CEO (gee, wasn’t that a song by by Jeannie C. Riley ((at AmazonSmile))? ;) ), Brian Murray, has some very interesting and positive things to say about the publishing industry.

Drawing a parallel between how digital music affected the studios and how e-books affect publishing isn’t entirely wise, as Murray notes. One of the things I’ve said about that before is the consumption of the two are very different. Most people will listen to a song multiple times, and read a book once, for example (not that there aren’t many re-readers out there).

I think this might stand out to a lot of people:

“The company, a unit of the newly spun off News Corp., is testing what he called “dynamic pricing,” where prices of ebooks can be changed “daily” to increase revenues and royalties for authors, as opposed to the print side, where prices are set on the book itself.”

That’s another thing I’ve noted in the past. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore (which was admittedly some time ago), we had to have “sticker guns” to put new prices on books…and it was labor intensive. If you could vary prices easily, you could take advantage of current events (like a hot pop culture movie) to raise or lower to maximize your revenue.

What does that mean for you as a Kindleer?

I’ve got two pieces of advice.

First, to quote (from memory) Whitley Strieber, “Learn to live at a high level of uncertainty.” ;) In other words, if you can not know for sure what the price will be from one minute to the next, you have to figure out how to accept that.

Here’s the key to that: buy a book at a price that you think is fair.

Then, if it goes up or down later, you already know you got a fair price, right? Sure, I know people get jealous when other people get a lower price, but if you know you made a well-reasoned purchase in the first place, you can be satisfied with yours and happy about theirs. Easy, right? ;)

Second, take advantage of price notification services. Those are no doubt going to have to become more sophisticated…right now, they probably aren’t price checking quickly enough to notify you in time of “dynamic pricing” changes.

I recommend


the most valuable resource on the web for Kindle users.

You can give them the information on books you want to track, and they’ll send you a free e-mail (the whole service is free), when it drops an amount you specify.

They have a lot of other good resources, but that one in particular may help as prices start to roller coaster more…wheeeee! ;)

Falling behind the Norwegians…

“Magnus, you are the Head Librarian here at the National Library of Norway…which books should we digitize?”

“All of them!”

That’s right…according to this

The Verge article by Adrianne Jeffries

the National Library of Norway is working on digitizing all of the books in its collection, and making them available online to anyone with a Norwegian IP (Internet Protocol) address…for free!

They are making deals with publishers to make that happen.

Yes, it will take a while…they are thinking decades (but improvements in technology could shorten that).

Probably not going to happen in the USA, although there are more things becoming available.

I’m still looking for a magical book machine to come on the market: put a p-book in there, and it automatically digitizes the book with no action required from you and no damage to the book.

No luck so far. :)

I have digitized public domain books, and it’s a lot of work. This one caught my eye:

The reviews are generally good. It seems to have some smart features: apparently, it can tell when a new page is in place, detecting perhaps the motion of moving the page. That would make it a lot easier than having to get the book in place, and then pushing a button…I know that doesn’t sound like much effort (“Get over it, George Jetson”), but the issue is that you are sometimes carefully holding the book so it becomes a bit of a juggling act to push that button and keep the book from moving at all (which would mess up the scan).

At $268.90 at time of writing, it isn’t outrageously priced…

What do you think? Is traditional publishing in good shape? Are you surprised at how many ways there have been to get discounts on Kindle hardware this holiday season? Are you able to feel happy for other people when they get a deal you don’t?  Do you have any negative physical reactions to p-books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Round up #221: PODBAM!, customizable covers

November 14, 2013

Round up #221: PODBAM!, customizable covers

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

Now you can judge a Kindle by its cover

In this

press release

Amazon announces a new ability to customize your Kindle cover. You can upload a picture, and get it printed on an Origami cover (or some other options).

Well, I should say, “…a new to Amazon ability”. It’s been possible to have custom covers/sleeves made at third party sites for some time (I had one years ago that my adult kid had done for me), and these are being done by those other companies from what I’ve seen, and being sold through Amazon. I’ve seen ones both from CafePress and DecalGirl.

It’s pretty simple.

You go to

or, if you want to support a non-profit while shopping*, to

You pick your device (the HDXs, the new HD, the Paperwhite ((both generations use the same cover)), the Touch), the underlying color of the cover (you may be covering only one side), and the type of cover (mostly Origami now, Marware coming in the future, from what I saw).

You pick from existing library images, or upload your own…and that’s about it.

The cost?

The same as without the personalization!

Why not do this? Here’s a great idea for a gift: buy the cover through AmazonSmile, support your gift recipient’s favorite non-profit (you can switch to it just for that one purchase), and upload an image that says something like, “I support XYZ”. The recipient gets a nice cover, gets to make a statement, and Amazon donates to that non-profit (for a $50 cover, they get twenty-five cents).

I just have one problem with this so far, and I asked Amazon about it when they sent me the press release.

The release says,

“… a library of hundreds of images, logos, designs and patterns—including popular comic, movie and television show graphics from Peanuts, National Geographic, Breaking Bad, Star Trek, and more.”

I haven’t found any of those brand name image options, and I’ve checked quite a few of the choices.

For some people, of course, there will be an irony here: Amazon doesn’t generally let us change the sleep pictures/screensavers/wallpaper on our devices. :) That’s different, and would be complicated for people who have Special Offers on their devices, but this is a nice option.

Buy a Kindle Fire HD, get a $15 gift card today only

If you buy a

Kindle Fire HD 7″

Kindle Fire HD 7″ and support a non-profit through AmazonSmile

today (Thursday, November 14) only, you get a $15 Amazon gift card for free! Do make sure you see that banner on the page before you click…this certainly might not apply in your country (I know I have readers around the world).

It applies to any of the configurations of this model, so you could get a Kindle Fire with the new Mojito operating system for $124, effectively.

By the way, I’ve also seen a story today that you could get $40 off, but when I’ve tested that links, that doesn’t seem to be working. It might be for only certain people, or it may have been withdrawn.

BAM! goes POD

This one will particularly appeal to my reader, Roger Knights, who has advocated for the idea of Print-On-Demand (POD) in bookstores…we’ve had some lively discussions about that.

Well, Books-A-Million, now the second largest bookstore chain in the USA, has just announced in this

press release

that they are going to start installing the Espresso Book Machines in their stores (two at this time, one in Maine and one in Alabama).

What does that mean?

A customer can select a book from about seven million titles, and a machine prints the book for them right then.

One concern in the past has been the selection of books, but it looks like that has been solved. They say,

“These titles are available through partnerships with Google, Lightning Source, Harper Collins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan, McGraw Hill, and others, and includes content from publishers like Random House, W.W. Norton, and Simon & Schuster.”

That probably won’t mean every book from those publishers, of course, but it might be a great way to do the backlist.

How long does it take?

It happens “within minutes”, and produces a bookstore quality paperback.

How much does it cost?

Hmm…it says they are priced according to length, but I’m not seeing what the prices would actually be.

Still, this is an exciting option for people who still want p-books. I was really expecting us to see them in other kinds of stores, retailers of more general interest (is that like Rodents of Unusual Size?).

Score one for Roger! ;)

How much is that Penguin in the galley?

You know how Amazon recently introduced Kindle First (Kindle First and support a non-profit), where eligible Prime members can get an Amazon published book before it is released at no additional cost?

Penguin has something similar.

First to Read

You can sign up (through Facebook, if you want, but you can do it without that), and then request upcoming books (just like Kindle First, from a very specific short list)…for free.

Although, I have to say, it’s a bit weird and complicated.

I signed up for it today, and it kept kicking me out (I had to switch to Chrome from Maxthon).

There was a particular book I wanted to get…and it didn’t show up in all the places I could see choices.

There are appear to be a limited number of “copies” available, and there seems to be some sort of lottery for who gets them.

You get points, and you might be able to spend them to guarantee that you get a copy…but none of that was spelled out easily for me.

Overall, I’m happy that a publisher is trying this…but it really shows you what Amazon has figured out about making things simple!

Yes, we pay $79 a year for Prime…but in terms of Kindle First, getting a book is super easy.

This “First to Read” was a bit complicated and frustrating, certainly by comparison.

Still, you know…free books. ;)

* 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. I recently polled my readers about my linking to AmazonSmile, and while more than two-thirds of the respondents said they would like it or didn’t mind (and about 15% didn’t know), there were enough people who wouldn’t like it that I’m not going to just jump into it and do it for everything. I’m going to try doing both links in this post, and see how hard and/or confusing that is for people. You can let me know how you feel about having both links by commenting on this post.

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 #215: So long, Sony, and tradpubs won’t guarantee print?

October 28, 2013

Round up #215: So long, Sony, and tradpubs won’t guarantee print?

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

Oh…your question isn’t about Adobe Flash

A poster, with a likely intent to be funny and an apparently fictitious name, asked an interesting question in this

Amazon Kindle Forum thread

While the post used an arguably offensive reference (in which you refer to an adult as a child, in order to diminish their status), it posits this significant question:

What happens if someone behaves inappropriately with a Mayday rep? Specially, “flashes” that person?

I do think that Amazon opened the door to this sort of speculation a bit through the nature of the commercials. It’s hard not to describe the caller’s action as flirtatious (although the tech rep behaves professionally).

The first answer to the question is that, while you can see the tech rep, they can’t see you (by default). I’m sure many calls will be made with the caller in a state of dishabille which wouldn’t happen at your local Genius Bar. ;) It will be fine to call Mayday while you are in the bathtub, for example, which may happen.

However, there are a lot of ways someone could behave inappropriately, even perhaps criminally…I’m hoping Amazon has made some preparations for this (both procedurally and in training for the Mayday reps).

One issue is that the Mayday rep can see what is on your screen. Someone could call (arguably legitimately) because their streaming porn has frozen on the screen. In that case, the tech rep would see the pornographic images. I don’t think the customer would be in trouble in that case, but Amazon hypothetically could be if that risk is not explained to the reps.

More troublesome would be the customer using the built-in camera to show video of themselves while the Mayday rep was on the screen. If that video consisted of “lewd and lascivious” behavior, which could be combined with threats, there could be an issue.

In that case, I would imagine that the customer could be criminally liable (and the call might be recorded…customers are warned about that).

Even if there wasn’t legal action taken, Amazon could, hypothetically, drop that person as a customer. That is not something that they do lightly, but it is something they have reportedly done in the past. One of the things that would happen, in that case, is that you would not have access to content stored in your Amazon archives/Cloud.

Again, my hope here is that Amazon has provided training for the reps in how to react in those situations, and has protocols already in place for what the company will do. If they don’t have that, they are opening themselves up for employee legal action.

Things in business are never as simple as they might seem at first, but it is possible to consider the ramifications of your actions and prepare for them.


The countdown to the launch of

Kindle Matchbook

Kindle Matchbook continues, with quite a few Kindle Forum posts asking when it is going to happen. That indicates significant interest.

Well, “countdown” isn’t accurate, because you can’t have a countdown without knowing where the end point is. ;)

Amazon has said that the program, which allows the discounted purchase of some e-books when you have purchased the p-book (paperbook) from Amazon in the past, will launch “in October”.

Counting today, there are four days left.

It could happen any time (I have it open in a browser tab, and keep refreshing). Tuesday is possible: that’s a big day for announcements and releases in publishing.

On the other hand, they could definitely do a “soft launch”, not really making a big announcement right away. This might place some stresses on Amazon’s systems, depending on how many people take how much advantage of it right away. It might be better if it happened in dribs and drabs first, so they can almost pilot it and see how it works. It wouldn’t surprise me if people get e-mails giving them access, and that those are staged, prior to a full launch (I would expect the latter to be before November 1st, though).

The other thing is that it is to Amazon’s advantage to have a lot of well-known books in there initially, and at the best possible prices, to get the most publicity out of it. They may be negotiating right up to the last minute.

As I said before, whether a book is in the program or not is really up to Amazon, not the publisher. Amazon may be trying to get the publishers to agree to accept less money for the books in exchange for them being in the program, and that may take some real arguing.

We’ll see it before November 1st, unless something really goes wrong…but there are reasons you could see it today in an e-mail, or that no one would see it before Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween…

Amazon has a lot going on for one of my favorite holidays. :) There are temporary categories which appear, and this is one of them:

Children’s Halloween Books

There are many Kindle editions listed there, although they aren’t necessarily on sale.

For that matter, they have a whole

Halloween Shop

sponsored by Hershey’s.

Isn’t it interesting that Amazon has a store section “sponsored” by another business? That certainly doesn’t mean that only Hershey’s products are available in it (there are movies, decor, music, and more…yes, including candy, but not just Hershey’s candy…although the latter does have a 30% discount deal, and yes, you can get it by Halloween). Hershey’s is paying Amazon money to be mentioned on their site…even though it may drive business to competitors. Oh, and I do like that you can select “vegetarian” as a filter. :)

Publishers Weekly: “For Major Pubs, Will Print No Longer Be the Norm?”

This is an interesting

Publishers Weekly article by Rachel Deahl

The basic premise of the article is that traditional publishers may no longer guarantee a print edition when a book is signed. The publisher will make that determination.

While they weren’t able to really back it up with any proof that it is happening, it appeared to be a concern of agents.

I can certainly understand publishers wanting that option. These deals can be made some time in advance of the actual publication…and conditions could change enough so that a print edition wouldn’t make sense, when an e-book still would.

Tradpubs’ (traditional publishers’) real power area is still p-books, though: that’s one area where they have distribution and promotion advantages over independents. They have to really regauge to show those same sorts of advantages for e-books. That means, they’ll have to show caution in this, that they don’t let an individual deal overpower the long term goals.


Sony was ahead of Amazon in getting into the EBR (E-Book Reader) market in the USA…and it appears that they have now abandoned it.

Following a heads-up from


I went to the Sony site. I used a link which used to take me to their EBRs, but it just took me to the first page.

Searching for “e-book”, I only found a gift card for their e-book store, which does still exist at

I decided to search for “reader”, and that’s when I found the listings.

All of the EBRs had the language I used for the headline here…they said that they were discontinued (this would be for the USA).

They aren’t the first EBR manufacturer to get out of the market, but they used to be one of the big players (even though they never seemed to me to put much effort behind it).

People liked the product, but you did seem to pay the “Sony tax” for the name (in other words, they were priced higher).

Guess I’ll be pulling the link from the ILMK blogsite to Sony EBRs…

What do you think? Will Amazon see complaints of “hostile working environments” from Mayday reps? Do you consider referring to an adult with a term used for a child offensive, or okay, or does it depend? Did/do you own a Sony EBR? Are you still going to order things online for Halloween? How much are you looking forward to Kindle Matchbook? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Agency Model ends for Random House, Penguin: new discounts

September 1, 2013

Agency Model ends for Random House, Penguin: new discounts

Earlier today, I gave you a heads-up that something was happening, when some of the New York Times bestseller hardback fiction equivalents were unavailable in the USA Kindle store. I noticed they were from Random House (including its imprints), and speculated that it had to do with the end of the Agency Model for that publisher.

Well, that was it!

It no longer says, “This price was set by the publisher.” for Random House or Penguin (they merged recently).

Penguin was the last of five publishers to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice in a legal action against them (and Apple) for price-fixing, utilizing the Agency Model.

That is now over for e-books in the USA.

The Agency Model could return in a couple of years, but the situation would be different.

The key thing is that Amazon (and other retailers) can now discount e-books from Penguin and Random House again…and we’ve started seeing those already.

This will allow for price wars for the holiday season..yay!

We should also stop seeing e-books priced higher than the p-books (paperbooks) as much…it will still happen sometimes. A few reasons it happens that are unaffected by this:

  • The paperback price is a pre-order, and the e-book price is still based on the hardback
  • The p-book is either used, a bargain copy, or not coming from Amazon
  • Someone is looking at two different territories when doing the comparison (the USA and France, for example)

There are many imprints (typically, a part of the company that specializes in a particular sort of book, like mysteries or science fiction, and that has a different name) for Random House and Penguin, which makes a comprehensive search complicated. Here are a couple of links for their books in the USA (outside the USA will not be directly affected by this change) Kindle store, and then I’ll link to some books that recently dropped.

Penguin books in the Kindle store
Random House books in the Kindle store

Note that the price-changing won’t happen on every title, and it make take a few days for them to process it all. Amazon now gets to decide the consumer prices again, and there is a lot involved in that (as a former bookstore manager, it surprised me that the publishers wanted to set the consumer prices, which the Agency Model enabled them to do…it wasn’t their area of expertise).

Here are a few titles I noticed. I got these by going to the most useful site for Kindle owners on the internet:


Among their many free and excellent services is tracking price drops for you. You can list books, and they’ll send you a free e-mail when it drops an amount you specify. You should go check those lists, your wishlists, and any other way you are tracking books to see what has gone down. They list the most recent drops…that’s what I checked.

I specifically chcecked price drops in the past 24 hours, and went down at least a dollar.

As usual, I won’t knowingly link to books which block text-to-speech access.

There are, of course, many, many more.

By the way, I’m going to try some new code here…it’s supposed to let you see a preview of the book cover when you hover over it (that probably will work in a browser, maybe on a Fire, but probably not on a non-Fire Kindle. I’d appreciate feedback on it…I don’t want to cause anybody any problems with it, and I hope it helps. I just tested it on this computer (which I have borrowed), and it didn’t seem to do or hurt anything. :)

Enjoy the discounts!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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