Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

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

July 22, 2014

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

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

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update 5.4.5

Amazon has released a new update for the KPW2:

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

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

It brings three main changes:

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

Video: “When the Words Stop”

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

When the Words Stop by Epic Reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kindle Unlimited mini-roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New “Find My Kindle” device setting on HDX

May 11, 2014

New “Find My Kindle” device setting on HDX

Thanks to *~*Pineapple*~* for the heads up on this!

There is a new setting on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

If you swipe down from the top, tap settings, then tap Device, you’ll probably see it.

It says

Find My Kindle

Remotely Locate Your Kindle at Amazon.com

and then you can turn it on or off.

Presumably, this would be a way to physically locate your Kindle. I have a free app that does that for me

Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile

although it is imperfect.

I’m not finding anything about it yet. I’ve searched Help, and checked

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

My guess is that something will happen with it soon.

Oddly, while my Fire had restarted itself yesterday, when I checked it for system updates, it said it had last been updated April 1st.

If this is a locator, it would likely work both with and without 4G…just better with the latter.

I’ll let you know if I hear more.

Update: I see a “Device Actions” dropdown in MYK in Google Chrome, but not in Maxthon. There is no related action there, though.

Update: I’ve been given permission to share this from Amazon:

Hey everyone, as you know, from time to time Amazon tests new features on the website, and that during these test periods certain aspects of the site will function or appear differently to randomly selected customers.

What you’re seeing is a new feature available for certain Kindle Fire HDX devices. You’ll be able to remotely locate, deregister, or factory reset your device. 

Some of the things you can do from the Manage Your Devices page are:

* Find a misplaced Kindle by selecting the Remote Alarm feature. Your device will play a sound to help you locate it (device obviously needs to be turned on and connected to Wi-Fi/Wireless)

* You can find an approximate location of your device on a map if you’ve enabled “Find My Kindle” on the device itself and then using “Find Your Device.” Note, the location displayed is dependent on a number of factors and shouldn’t be relied upon for precise location information

* Deregister or Factory reset your device remotely

All of these options are found under the “Device Actions” dropdown on the Manage Your Device page.

There was also this additional information:

* Manage Your Device features will only work if the device is on, connected to Wi-Fi/mobile, and if Kindle FreeTime is turned off

* Location-based services and Find My Kindle must be turned on in the device settings for the Find my Kindle feature to work

* The factory reset feature will only work if the battery is over 30%. If the device is not connected to a network or is turned off, Amazon will keep trying to reach it for three days and will send an e-mail indicating success or failure

So, it is rolling out (you may not have it yet)…and I haven’t actually seen it work yet. It is only going to be available, from what I can tell, on the Kindle Fire HDX.

Update: it worked this morning! At least, part of it did…the Remote Alarm option appeared in Chrome (but not Maxthon) this morning, and it worked just fine. I tried it when my Kindle HDX 7″ was asleep (not turned all the way off), and with the volume on and all of the connection options on (wi-fi, Location Based Services). It made a loud enough, but not too annoying ;) sound. When I opened the cover (which wakes it), there was a simple thing to tap to turn off the alert.

I haven’t seen the Find My Kindle or Deregister or Factory Reset options yet.

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.

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 Fire HDX update this morning

April 1, 2014

Kindle Fire HDX update this morning

Just a note that my

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

updated to version 13.3.2.2 this morning, at 4:29 AM PDT.

This is from 13.3.1.1…I’m not seeing anything talking about new features yet.

At the update page:

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

it just says

“The software update includes general improvements and performance enhancements.”

which typically means bug fixes, rather than feature adds.

I was alerted to the update on my Kindle: it happened automatically.

If you notice any changes, or that it has happened to other models of Kindles, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

I’ll also let you know if I find out anything more. :)

* 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.

Massive new update for 1st generation Paperwhite

March 6, 2014

Massive new update for 1st generation Paperwhite

Join the party, KPW1ers! ;)

Amazon has just added a new update for the first generation Kindle Paperwhite. That’s in addition to the update for the second generation…and I’ve added some of my testing on that to this post:

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update available

This brings the 1st gen inline with the second on many features. You can just wait and your KPW1 should update automatically (eventually), or you can do it yourself from:

Kindle Paperwhite 1st Generation Software Updates (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

What do you get?

  • Kindle FreeTime (separate profiles and tracking)
  • Goodreads on Kindle
  • Cloud Collections
  • Page Flip
  • Enhanced Bookmarks, Highlights, and Notes
  • Smart Lookup
  • Vocabulary Builder

That’s a lot!

Update: while it wasn’t listed, you apparently also get “inline footnotes”. Thanks to Phink, one of my regular readers and commenters for mentioning that. I’d seen that it was included in an update document which appeared on my KPW1 with the update (which is greatly appreciated, Amazon!). I’m not sure what book I’d use to test it, but you can see a screenshot here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-imageproduct25

What it means is that (if the book if formatted for it), you can read footnotes without going to the back of the book and then having to return. That caused a lot of people problems in the old days…they’d jump to the end to read the footnote, and then let the Kindle sleep without returning to home first. I believe that would reset their “furthest page read” to the end of the book.

This is version 5.4.4.

Our “Guest Kindle” is a KPW1, so I’ll be testing it out soon…still working on testing the update to my Significant Other’s KPW2. :)

I do want to thank Amazon and point out that updates do come out for earlier models…you sometimes see that criticism. That doesn’t mean that your 2007 Kindle will get these updates…it couldn’t handle it technically. Amazon has in the past, though, updated discontinued models, and continues to do so, at least for a while.

Let me know if you have questions or observations…

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

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

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

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update available

March 5, 2014

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update available

I haven’t had time to download, install, and test it yet, but there is a new update available for the Kindle Paperwhite 2…and it looks promising!

Download KPW2 Software Update 5.4.3 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

As usual, you should be able to just wait for the update, if you want, or you can get it and install it manually at the above link.

Amazon says it has:

  • The ability to manage your Cloud Collections. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen the term “disaster” applied to the way Cloud Collections first worked on the KPW2. I’ve found them very useful on our Kindle Fire HDXs. This says that you’ll be able to “star” Collections to make them favorites…uniquely on that device. I’ll have to test this out to see if it resolves people’s concerns…let me know what you think!
  • You’ll be able to see your Notes in a book from “the Reading Menu”. Does this mean you’ll be able to see them along with the text? My guess is no, that it is just an easier way to access them (rather than using “Go To”). Update: I can confirm: it’s just another way to get to the Notes. I don’t remember being able to select between Your Notes, Popular Notes, and Public Notes, but that’s now a choice. You could also use this technique to get to the Table of Contents
  • PDF improvements
  • You’ll be able to cancel the purchase of a book you do from a sample, as long as you do it before it finishes downloading

More information later, but I know people like to get these right away. :) If you have feedback, feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Update: I have now downloaded and installed the new update.

It went as expected, using the link above: the whole process was under five minutes, I’d say.

The first obvious difference was a series of dark stars appearing on the homescreen, next to each of the Collections (I have the Kindle sorted by Collections).

Unfortunately, the directions at Amazon only apply to when you are seeing covers on your device, which is not my choice. It talks about the star being in the “…bottom-right corner of the collection cover”. However, it’s obvious in either view.

I long pressed (holding a finger in my case, or you could use your stylus, on a Collection for about a second).

One of the choices is to “Show Only in Collections View”.

I did that with my TBR Collection, since this is my Significant Other’s Kindle Paperwhite 2. I was looking to make it not visible on this device (to simply things for my SO).

I got a message:

“This collection will only be shown in the Collections View. Select Collections under My Items to see it. You can press and hold on a Collection to change its view options.”

I tapped “OK”.

At that point, the Collection disappeared from the  homescreen…the result I wanted. :)

To see it again on this device, you go to where it says “My Items” at the top of the homescreen…not where it says “Collection” on my currently (the sort order).

If I go to All Items under My Items, it shows up again.

That seems reasonable to me. You could switch to Collections to download things from a Collection which you don’t normally want to see. For example, you could have a “Read” Collection, and only invoke it when you want to re-read it.

So far, I like it. It’s not intuitive, but I think it works.

When you are sorted by Collections and filtered by My Items, you now see both Collections and items not in Collections…that’s going to confuse some people.

I think this may require a bit more explanation…unleash the tabular format! ;)

Filter Sort Count Comment
My Items Recent 24 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items show both inside and outside Collections, sorted by downloaded or accessed dates
My Items Title 24 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items show both inside and outside Collections, sorted by title (no separation for Collections and individual items
My Items Author 24 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items show inside and outside Collections, sorted by author (with Collections appearing after the individual items and the Collections also sorted alphabetically)
My Items Collection 14 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items in Collections do not show outside them, sorted by Collections first, then individual items (looks like by Recent)
Books Recent 12 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items appear and outside of Collections
Books Collection 5 Unstarred Collections don’t show, items in Collections do not show outside them, sorted by Collections first, then individual items (looks like by Recent)
Collections Recent 9 Unstarred Collections show, no individual items show

I didn’t do all of the options there (yet), but here’s the bottom line: for most people, you wanted the filter to be by Books and the sort to be by Collections.

More later…

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

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

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

Kindle Fire update now available!

February 25, 2014

Kindle Fire update now available!

It’s he-ere! ;)

You can now do the manual update for the Kindle Fire HDX from

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (http://smile.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m most interested in it because it is supposed to address wireless connection instability, from what I’ve heard.

Amazon says:

“The software update includes general improvements and the following feature enhancements:

Protect your device with encryption
You can now encrypt your accounts, settings, and downloaded apps and their data, media, and other files on your Kindle Fire. To learn more, go to Protect Your Data with Security Settings.

Test your knowledge with Flashcards for Kindle Print Replica textbooks
Create flashcards to help you learn more about key terms and concepts in a textbook. To learn more, go to Reading Enhancements.”

I’ll get it updated and then update this post with my experience with it, but I figured you’d want to know right away.

There should also be other updates available for other Fire models…you can get to it from the page I linked above.

Update: I was also able to download it the easy way…by doing

Home – Swipe down from the top – Settings – Device

and then having it check for System Updates.

It found it, and then started downloading it.

Before the update, I was at 13.3.1.0. I believe this will be 13.3.1.1 (on my Kindle Fire HDX 7″).

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

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

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

Round up #228: Silk fix, what did Melville make?

December 18, 2013

Round up #228: Silk fix, what did Melville make?

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

Coming in 2014: Give a Kid a Kindle

I’m going to give away a Kindle to a child in 2014 (I hope to do it every quarter), and you’ll be able to help.

You can nominate a child that you know, by commenting on this page:

Give a Kid a Kindle

which I have just made public this morning.

Nominating comments can be made now (see that page for more information), and I will begin displaying those nominations (which may be edited) on the page in January.

Readers will be able to recommend a child for the Kindle in March of 2014, by using a poll which will be on that page.

There is no charitable organization involved in this, and there won’t be any tax write-offs associated with it…it’s just something that I want to do personally (and I’ve discussed with my Significant Other, of course).

I’ve tried to keep this simple. I just want to do something nice. :)

I think reading is important, and that readers can (but don’t have to) change the world.

I’d appreciate any comments or suggestions you have for this. I can certainly see some challenges in doing it…

Amazon promises Silk “accordion” fix

It has seemed pretty obvious lately that Amazon needs to do more testing before they release updates.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting free updates with new functionality! It’s just that you don’t want them to make things worse. That’s clearly how some people are feeling about Amazon’s updates…I know of people saying that they are afraid to turn on the wireless, because they don’t want to get a new update.

Recently:

  • A Kindle Fire update appears to have made wireless connections unstable…I have to frequently toggle the wireless on and off now
  • The introduction of Cloud Collections to the Kindle Paperwhite in a recent update has been widely criticized as confusing and unwieldy
  • An update to the Silk browser caused pages to “accordion” as you scrolled, making it impossible to read them

As to the last one, Amazon had now addressed it in this:

Kindle forum thread

They’ve said that a fix has been released, and that the Fire should automatically update within the next few days.

I really appreciate that Amazon employees will go into a public forum and make a statement like that…but it would be better if the problems were discovered pre-release, and fixed.

I’m guessing that when Amazon gets a little distance on all this after the holiday season, they’ll re-evaluate their quality control and testing for updates. That might mean we get them farther apart, but I think that would be worth it.

Hugh Howey writing in the world of Kurt Vonnegut

My feeling is that Kindle Worlds has been a bit slow getting off the ground. This is Amazon’s bold venture to mainstream fanfic (“fan fiction”), in a sense, by licensing properties from the rightsholders and then letting anyone write within those worlds (within certain guidelines), and splitting the royalties.

I’ve been following the forum at the

and after some initial activity, it’s been quite slow.

The bestselling Kindle Worlds books tend not to break the top 10,000 in the Kindle store. That doesn’t mean that can’t be profitable and popular, but my intuition is that Amazon would like more out of the program.

Part of this is chicken or the egg: they may need hits to get people interested in the program, and people need to be interested in the program to write those hit titles.

Well, this title should help.

Hugh Howey (at AmazonSmile) is a best-selling (New York Times and USA Today) science fiction author. I’m reading Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (at AmazonSmile) myself, although it’s not first in line for me (I’m reading a galley copy of something right now, as part a “beta reader”, and then there is always the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library book to finish). My guess is that I’ll finish the five books in the next few months.

Howey is writing a Kindle Worlds’ title in the world of Kurt Vonnegut:

It can be pre-ordered now, for delivery on January 14, 2014.

Howey’s books are well-reviewed on Amazon, and this announcement has gotten some media play. It’s an interesting mix of inspiration (Slaughterhouse-Five (at AmazonSmile)) (which is only $2.50 at time of writing) and author. Howey had a personal experience with the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, which may certainly inform this piece.

Janet Dailey reported dead

We sold a lot of Janet Dailey (at AmazonSmile) when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore…and we certainly weren’t the only ones.

Reportedly, the author’s books sold something like 300 million copies, certainly making the romance novelist one of the best-selling novelists of any kind.

Amazon lists over 100 Janet Dailey titles in the Kindle store, including at least some of the Americana series (Dailey wrote a novel for each state).

Dailey began writing in the 1970s, and the latest book from the author was published this year.

New York Times article by Paul Vitello

Herman Melville’s Lifetime Literary Earnings

Bibliokept has this nice

post

which shows you how much Herman Melville got paid for writing. While not complete, let’s just say that the figures might be surprising…you do have to remember that we aren’t talking about constant dollars, though. Money went further back then. Still, being an author is rarely one of the best paid occupations.

* 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 #226: E-book settlement, B&N investigation

December 11, 2013

Round up #226: E-book settlement, B&N investigation

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

Kindle Fire update in “the coming weeks”

In this

press release

Amazon announces an update coming to the Kindle Fires “… just in time for the holidays”. Of course, they don’t say which holidays. ;)

The PR focuses on some important and interesting changes to Kindle FreeTime, which helps guardians set limits on the use of the tablet. One interesting one is the ability to require a certain amount of “educational” use before you can use it for “entertainment”.

As a trainer, I can tell you that you really can’t have much education without entertainment, but that’s another discussion. ;) I’ve asked people to remember back when they were in elementary school: very few of them recall sitting in the classroom…most of them first remember playing with their friends. Kudos to their teachers if their now adult students do think of that first!

While this is great in and of itself (and they promise more improvements after that for FreeTime), I’m also excited because it’s quite possible (knock virtual wood) that the upgrade will contain bug fixes. As I’ve mentioned (and others have also said they have this issue), my wi-fi won’t stay connected since the last upgrade (Amazon is aware of the problem). I have to toggle Airplane Mode on and off many times a day…virtual fingers crossed that this upgrade might address that as well.

ITYS*: raptors will attack PrimeAircraft

When I wrote about Amazon’s PrimeAir reveal (delivery by small “octocopters”), I said:

“Certainly, dogs would pose a risk, as might bird strikes (perhaps even intentional ones, in the case of a raptor), but I’m not convinced it would be inherently more risky.”

I was pleased to see that this

Slate article by Nicholas Lund

not only agrees with me on the bird risk, but has video to prove it!

Also on the “drone” front (I don’t consider artificially intelligent craft to be “drones”, but I know many people define them as simply craft without humans on board…whether they have remote pilots or not), I saw this news today, and later saw a comment from one of my readers about it:

CNN article by Ann Cabrera

A town called Deer Trail in Colorado is going to vote (it was postponed) on a law allowing residents to shoot down drones.

Quite simply, I’m horrified. :( Even though this is aimed (so to speak) at government drones, there is no question that it would result in commercial drones being shot down as well (and kids’ toys, for that matter). I’m thinking that there would be a lot of mistaken identity (possibly even resulting in bird deaths), even though the bounty (really!) is higher on a complete drone with government markings.

Sure, shoot down the drone delivering a shut-in’s medicine, or the book a poor child saved up for six months to buy. Sure, those are “slippery slope” examples…even just the destruction itself makes me unhappy. This is specifically designed to destroy other people’s property…I think that puts it in a different category than a lot of other questions people might see as related.

On a lighter note…

Amazon Rockets parody on YouTube

My favorite clock is a Kindle

This seems a bit bizarre, but they gave us a new (free) clock app with the last Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers upgrade. Yes, it appears to have caused the wi-fi glitch I mention above, but there were a lot of good things about it. This app is one of them.

I’ve mentioned before that I have some color vision deficiency, and my understanding is that connected to that, I have superior night vision. Any light in a room (or the room next door, or down the hall…) can bother me at night.

We also got a used bedroom set. It’s nice, but it was hard to conveniently plug in a clock, just because of the design.

Well, the clock app on the Fire solves both of those problems. It has a “Nightstand” mode, which has the time (and a postmodern clock design…that one takes some getting used to, but I don’t typically use analog clocks anyway) in red. With the brightness turned down all the way, it’s been the most pleasant clock. I was also a bit worried about running it not plugged in, but it consistently takes about 50% of the charge over night (it hasn’t taken more than fifty). Again, I have the brightness turned down all the way (a big battery charge life saver), and the wi-fi off.

If I wake up in the middle of the night (we have a new dog…yes, in bed with us, so it happens), I can see the time without it seeming too bright.

Oh, while I’m talking about apps for the Fire, let me also mention

This is a goofy free app, but might be great for a little holiday fun. You can use video backgrounds, characters, and objects they supply…or you can add your  own pictures. Then, you animate them in a very simple way and do a voiceover. I found it to be easy to use…for example, the character will automatically flip to face the other direction, depending on how you move. They have licensed images from Pacific Rim. You can share your videos publicly, but that’s up to you.

State e-book settlements approved…pay-outs coming in 2014

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Andrew Albanese

my favorite Federal judge (what…you have one, right? ;) ), Denise Cote, has approved the pay-out plan for the settlements between the States Attorneys General and Macmillan and Penguin (which completes the group).

That was on December 6th, and then there is a thirty day period, and then a bit of time after that…I’d say those of us getting pay-outs will see them…oh, by early February. Amazon told us before that they will show up as credits, and I expect the Smilin’ A (I’ve recently started calling Amazon that…I like it. ;) Feel free to let me know if you like it or not) to be one of the fastest at doing this.

Well, at least B&N hasn’t been in legal troub—uh, oh

Barnes & Noble has been in a bad news factory lately, with a particularly poor quarterly financial report…and I’m afraid to see what this quarter is going to be for them.

They didn’t need anything else to spook investors, but they got it.

According to this

Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

and other sources, Barnes & Noble is under investigation by the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) for questionable accounting practices.

A really healthy company could probably handle that better than one that is walking on such thin financial ice already…share prices are down.

Keep the text by blocking the tip

Just a little tip for you: when you want to listen to text-to-speech in the car, lock your device so it doesn’t auto-rotate. When a Fire autorotates, text-to-speech stops playing. I simply lock my rotation (swiping down from the top, or using the Settings gear, depending on your model) before starting TTS. That way, it doesn’t stop when I set it on the seat for the drive.

What do you think? Is shooting down a drone a legitimate thing to do? Is the the straw that breaks B&N’s back? Do you care about the refund you might get from the settlement? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* I Told You So ;)

** 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! :) NOte: you can select WorldReader.org as the non-profit you support, if you want.

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 #222: Mark Grist, Paperwhite update

November 19, 2013

Round up #222: Mark Grist, Paperwhite update

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

Major Paperwhite update

Yesterday, I wrote about a major Kindle Fire update.

Today, Amazon announced a big update to the new Kindle Paperwhite (new Kindle Paperwhite at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit by shopping) in this

press release

There are three main features:

  • Goodreads integration
  • Kindle FreeTime
  • Cloud Collections

Goodreads and Cloud Collections were part of the update to the new generation Kindle Fires yesterday, and they already had Kindle FreeTime.

I do have a Kindle Paperwhite expected to arrive today (I was able to get it for $19 in a recent promotion…it replaces one for me which was recently stolen during a home break-in). I’ll be able to look at these more carefully after I get it.  If you want to get it right away and install it yourself, you can go to

Kindle Software Updates page

Here is part of the press release Amazon sent me:

===

Goodreads Integration

Goodreads on Kindle Paperwhite brings together the world’s largest e-reading community and the world’s largest community of book lovers. Join more than 20 million other readers on Goodreads to discover great books and have discussions about what you’re reading. Features of the new Goodreads integration, available exclusively from Amazon, include:

- Share favorite passages with your Goodreads friends without leaving the book.

- See what your friends are reading, read their reviews and discover new books to read.

- When you finish a book, immediately rate it without putting down your Kindle.

- Keep track of all your reading activity—update your “Currently Reading”, “Read”, and “Want to Read” shelves directly from your Kindle. Easily add your Amazon book purchases, print and digital, to your Goodreads account.

Kindle FreeTime

Built-in parental controls have been extended to give parents a simple way to encourage kids to spend more time reading. Parents can set daily reading goals for their kids, hand-select books for their kids to read, and track progress against goals. Children earn achievement badges for hitting reading milestones—for example, reaching and exceeding their daily reading goal, and passing big milestones like “Read 1000 pages”. A progress report keeps parents updated on total time spent reading, number of words looked up, badges earned and books finished.

Cloud Collections

Organize your books, newspapers, and magazines in customized collections for easy reference, and Amazon’s Whispersync technology synchronizes the collections across your Kindle devices and reading apps so they’re available on all of your devices.

===

“I Like a Girl Who Reads”

There is a great video linked in this

Huffington Post article by Sarah Barness

It’s a poem by Mark Grist, and it has to do with what’s attractive…and that isn’t always the physical.

I will warn you that it is NSFW (Not Safe for Work), although you could probably hear it performed on network TV.

Although I’m not a fan of calling adults by words meant for children, I think that the poet is trying to make the point that someone who uses the common vernacular can also be drawn to the intellectual…and that’s important to express.

“How to Open a New Book”

This

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

reproduces a quaint, illustrated explanation from a bookbinder about how to open a new hardback properly.

I must say, I didn’t do it that way. I generally didn’t open the book all the way, the way it is shown here. I sort of peeked into the middle, tilting the book back and forth for each side, so that I didn’t break the spine. I was going to say “never”, but I did open them fully for some things like coffee table books. Novels, though? Not usually…

Bookstore sales buck general retail trend…by going down

For the third month in a row, according to this

Publishers Weekly article

U.S. bookstore sales were down..a lot. 4.5% year over year…we are also down for the whole year so far.

Overall, retail is up…this is particularly a brick-and-mortar (I’m a former manager) bookstore issue.

I do think this may be the last holiday season that we see Barnes & Noble in its current configuration. Amazon is doing more and more for us, and there are independent bookstores that are growing…I just don’t see investors looking at this holiday for B&N thinking that it’s worth keeping up the support.

That could mean that the chain gets sold to someone…or even that we know it will largely close. If the latter is the case, I think we would see one more holiday season out of them, but knowing that it was going.

I have given some ideas earlier about How to save large bookstores, and it’s possible Barnes & Noble will pull a phoenix on this…but you don’t see a lot of phoenixes around. ;)

The Onion goes all digital

I remember seeing a stack of copies of The Onion in a bookstore, just like any other newspaper.

Now, after 25 years, according to this

USA Today story by Roger Yu

it’s going to stop publishing on paper. It’s only been doing that in three cities recently, but this is another example of a major print publication dropping that format to go for all digital.

I also remember the day this blog passed The Onion in the Kindle store! That was exciting for me, and I wish them the best in the future.

“Apple Seeks to Knock Out E-book Class Action Suit”

Legal issues have been part of publishing for a very long time, and there is not indication they are going away any time soon.

They certainly go back more than a century, when the Supreme Court ruled that a store could discount books without the publisher’s permission (creating the “First Sale Doctrine”) in 1908. There was a battle that lasted more than a decade over whether or not Captain Marvel infringed on Superman, which meant the “Big Red Cheese” was off the stands for a long time.

In this

Publishers Weekly article by Andrew Albanese

we learn that Apple is basically arguing that the “class” in class action suits against it for e-book pricing is…I guess, ill-defined is a good way to put it.

My intuition is that they won’t prevail in getting the case dismissed, and that (if they don’t settle…they didn’t in the Department of Justice case, but did in the European Union) will have a trial in maybe May of 2014.

What do you think? Will Barnes & Noble exist, largely as we know it today, into 2015? How much does whether or not a person read affect how you feel about them…both as a friend and a potential partner? Stating a more simple (and narrow) version of that, is reading sexy? Did you try to keep a book in the same condition it was when you bought it, or did you curl the cover under, dogmark pages, and make marginalia? 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. 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.


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