Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs

November 14, 2014

Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs

Amazon had told us they were coming, and in this

press release

they announce that new features are available for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…non-Fires).

They will come automatically over-the-air, or you can get them by going to

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

If you do it manually, be careful to pick the update for the right model of Kindle.

Here are the specific models they have announced have the new updates. This doesn’t mean that older models absolutely won’t get them, although that is possible.

What are these new features?

  • Word Wise (at AmazonSmile*) (click links for screenshots): definitions of “difficult words” automatically appear above the words. You can then tap to see more information. You can control how many of these appear by using a slider. This may be particularly useful for children and for those learning English as a second language. It’s not going to be available on every book, but some popular books already have it. I’m sure you’ll be able to turn this off, in case you find it vexatious (annoying) ;)
  • Family Library (at AmazonSmile*): this allows you to share books from one account with a set number of people from another account. This will also only be certain books. This is a huge change, and we’ll have to see how the implementation is
  • Kindle FreeTime Unlimited: this is the subser (“subscription service”. You pay $2.99 a month, and your child gets access to curated content at no additional cost
  • Expanded X-Ray for Books (at AmazonSmile*): X-Ray gives you information about the characters, terms, concepts and more in the book which you are reading. Now you’ll be able to browse the pictures in a book and the meaningful passages as well.
  • Deeper Goodreads Integration (at AmazonSmile*): Amazon owns the immensely popular social reading site. Looking at this, it appears that this will have more of an impact when you are in the Goodreads app/function on your device than when you are reading a book. For example, it doesn’t appear to me that your reading status will automatically update as you read the book (I’d like to see that feature…with an ability to mask it, of course), but you will be able to buy books (not quite yet) directly from the Goodreads function
  • Enhanced Search (at AmazonSmile*): when you search for something, you’ll get results from your library, from the Kindle Store, and from Goodreads
  • About This Book (at AmazonSmile*): it’s unclear to me yet if this will work when you aren’t connected to wi-fi, but it definitely has some things people have talked about since the Kindle 1 in 2007. It will give you series information, author information (and in the screenshot, it shows a way to sign up to be notified when new books by that author are released), “mentioned in this book” (that looks like other books), and contrary to what I said above :) gives you a way to at least update Goodreads with the fact that you are currently reading it

I’ll install this on our Paperwhite 2 and test it out.

One interesting note: the links above for each of the features also include links to the Fires. That doesn’t necessarily mean that every Fire gets every one of these features, or even that any of them do…they may just link to all products on the “Press Resource” pages.

Note that this is Amazon, as they often do, giving us more at no additional cost…thanks, Amazon!

If you’ve checked these out or have questions about them, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this page. Which of these do you think you’ll use? What do you wish they had done which they didn’t (I figured I’d ask the question before people volunteered, as they always do ;) )?

 

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

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

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

Hachazon War: peace declared

November 13, 2014

Hachazon War: peace declared

I was on my phone and additionally limited when I sent the first very short version of this post, but this obviously deserves a major update.

It’s being widely reported (I’ll include links later on) that Amazon and Hachette have reached an agreement after months of a messy contract negotiation that saw Amazon discouraging customers from buying Hachette books (by delaying them, putting ads on the books’ pages for other books, removing the ability to pre-order them, not discounting as deeply, and, I think perhaps by not listing them on their books of the year, except for one…these are all allegations that have been made. It would be hard to prove the exact motivations).

It also got authors involved on both sides…pro Amazon and anti-Amazon (not so much pro or anti Hachette, I’d say). For more on my coverage of what I’ve been calling the “Hachazon War”, see

this category of posts on this blog

I’m not seeing an announcement in the Amazon Kindle forum, yet, so I’ll be going by what is in the news as I look at the ramifications.

Interestingly for readers, this appears to be a return to the “Agency Model”, meaning that Hachette will set the prices that consumers pay for e-books.

There has been confusion about that. The U.S. Department of Justice went after the publishers that had used the Agency Model and forbade them from using it…for a while.

That wasn’t because the Agency Model was in itself illegal. It was because they had, according to the DoJ, used it to do illegal things.

I said before that it was sort of like a baseball bat. You can own a baseball bat, and you can carry it around. However, if ten of you got together and used baseball bats to inflict damage on somebody, a judge might say that you ten can’t have them.

I’ll admit: this makes me uneasy.

The Agency Model, by its nature, reduces price competition. If the publisher sets the consumer price at multiple sales channels, it’s unlikely that it will be lower at one than at another. Amazon has always used the power of discounting, and this pretty much takes that out of the picture for the e-tailer.

Here’s a phrase which has been in several stories:

“…pleased with this new agreement as it includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices.”

That’s attributed to an Amazon executive, David Naggar.

It says clearly to me that Hachette gets to set the prices.

I’m guessing the incentives would be Amazon agreeing to take a lower cut at different price points. Hypothetically: “Price the books under $10, and we’ll take a 30% cut. Price them at higher than $14.99, and we’ll take a 50% cut.”

The logic behind that, which Amazon has explained, is that many more of the books will sell at $9.99 than $15, so they  make up the difference on volume.

I’m happy to see it settled, but I still don’t like it. As a former brick and mortar bookstore manager, I don’t like the idea of the publishers setting the prices. The store owner/manager should do that, it seems to me.

Publishers don’t have the experience at doing it, and I see that as a problem.

Another big issue for me is how nimble they will be. When something  big happens in the news, a store can slash the prices on all related books…let’s say a celebrity announces an engagement. A store might give 10% off on all of the books about that celebrity…to get people into the store, where they will hopefully also buy other things.

A publisher doesn’t have the same motivation to make someone a customer of a specific store. They’d probably have to run the idea through a pricing committee, which looks at all the stores, runs projections…and by then, the logical discounting window may have closed.

I’m not saying it will happen that way, just that I’m concerned. I suppose all of the big publishers could hire retail pricing managers…and give them considerable autonomy to make the decisions.

One question is whether Hachette will strike this same deal with other big e-book retailers…hmmm, just who would that be again? ;)

Amazon has now reached agreements with Simon & Schuster and Hachette, leaving three of the Big Five to go: HarperCollins; Penguin Random House; and Macmillan.

Another interesting thing for me: how does this impact the subsers (subscription services), like Oyster, Scribd, and Amazon’s own

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

?

My guess?

It helps them.

I think the prices may rise under these agreements, at least somewhat on some titles (I’ll keep track of prices, as I always do).

That will, in turn, make the subsers more attractive.

We’ll have to see, though.

I took a look at

Hachette’s Grand Central books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s sort of their “blockbuster” imprint. I didn’t see any delays listed on any of the ones I checked, including

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Book 2) (at AmazonSmile*)

by J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith…that had been one of the most high profile books in this dispute.

I also didn’t notice any Stephen Colbert books being delayed.

Good will all around from here on forward?

That would be my preference…but I wouldn’t bet the bullfrog.

Here are some of the articles:

and a search at Google:

Amazon Hachette in News

Update: more links now that there has been a bit of time since the announcemnt:

What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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

November 13, 2014

Kindle Unlimited page is down: new features?

I saw this on the Kindle Forum and checked it myself. The

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

is down right now. I am able to get to it through the Bookstore on my Kindle Fire HDX 7″.

My intuition here is they may be doing some major update to it with new features. That’s purely a guess…it could just be a routine glitch, of course, or, I suppose, some sort of cyber attack.

The most likely thing is this resolves quickly and we never know why, but I’ll keep an eye on it.

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

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

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

PKD’s The Man in the High Castle to be an Amazon TV series

November 12, 2014

PKD’s The Man in the High Castle to be an Amazon TV series

I wonder how many authors have had a higher percentage of their books adapted for movies or TV than Philip K. Dick (PKD)? ;)

Well, of course, if somebody only wrote one book and it was adapted, that’s 100%, so I guess it will be quite a few.

Still, the list of PKD adaptations is long (although, again, thinking about it, the author’s bibliography would be much longer). I guess it’s also the impactfulness of the movies: Blade Runner; Total Recall; Minority Report; and the Adjustment Bureau come to mind.

Now, it’s been announced that one of the pilot’s for Amazon’s 2015 “season” will be an adaptation of Dick’s Hugo-winning novel

The Man in the High Castle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There are some big names involved, including Ridley Scott (the PKD adaptation Blade Runner) as a producer, Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) writing the pilot, and featuring Rufus Sewell (Dark City) among others.

The book is an “alternate history” story. I’ve never quite been comfortable with labeling those en masse as science fiction, although many people do.

AH essentially looks at what would have happened if history was different in some way. In this case, what if the Axis powers had won World War II?

This is a well-reviewed book, and has been critically-lauded. It’s complex, though: adapting it for television effectively would mean being in it for the long haul.

Here’s something nice: it is part of

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

so you can read it at no additional cost if you are a subscriber to that service…you can beat it to the screen, if you want. ;) It also has an audiobook version and is Whispersync for Voice ready.

It’s nice to see something this ambitious and this well-pedigreed coming as an original production to Amazon: no question, the industry thinks that model is working.

What do you think? What other books would you like to see adapted? Are some books better as TV series than movies? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Update on my free Flipboard magazines: 50,000 page flips!

November 11, 2014

Update on my free Flipboard magazines: 50,000 page flips!

It’s rare that I think of something as really a new type of content.

Twitter was that, certainly. Those 140 (or fewer) character tweets created a different medium, and that shapes what’s in it.

I also feel like Flipboard magazines are a new way to express yourself…and I’m surprised at the success mine are having!

The main idea is that you can use the

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

app, which I read every morning anyway on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

to “flip” articles into a magazine of yours, which you make available to other people for free.

You can also get an extension for Chrome which allows you to do it with websites (most of my flips come from things I read in the Flipboard app…except in the case of one my magazines, which I’ll explain below).

It’s really about your curation…your taste and editing skills.

You put in what you think is interesting, or what you think other people will think is interesting.

You generally don’t write anything additional about it, unless you are using the browser extension. In that case, you can add a short caption about it (which you can not edit later, by the way).

I thought I’d give you a rundown on my magazines and how they are doing (at time of writing…it changes rapidly).

I’m going to do this in order from the biggest number of readers to the smallest number.

The Measured Circle

“A geeky mix of pop culture, tech, and the weird world”

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

  • 2,378 readers (which they now call “viewers”…that actually makes more sense, since you can put links to videos in these)
  • 6,565 page flips
  • 10,508 articles
  • 17 followers (since this is a new measurement, I looked up what it meant at Flipboard: they explain the new stats here. I had misunderstood page flips before…I thought it was when people flipped an article I picked into their own magazine, but it turns out it is “the number of items viewed in the magazine. Readers visit the mag: page flips are the number of items viewed…I think that means they click on it in the magazine to go to the original article). The number of articles are the ones I put into it…hm…that seems to suggest that they click on somewhat more than half of the ones I put in…that’s fine, since some can be pretty well understood by what you can see without clicking on them for more info), and followers are the actual subscribers)

This one is inspired by my blog, The Measured Circle. The blog has never been very popular, and unlike this one, I don’t write in it (on average) every day (I sometimes go a week).

It is eclectic, but you’ll see a lot of things on geek topics, tech, and “weird world” (“Bufo’s Weird World” was my first e-zine, back before we called them blogs).

I’d say its primary purpose is…fun!

To give you a sense of it, here are ten recent articles and their sources. Last time, I did the most recent ten in order, but that’s not really representative, since I may read a number from the same source at the same time

  1. 10 big Broadway disasters, according to Seth Rudetsky (Entertainment Weekly)
  2. Republicans vs. Democrats favorite TV shows revealed (Inside TV at Entertainment Weekly)
  3. Six Things We Learned About Interstellar and Science Fiction From the Mobile Game (and Trailers) (Topless Robot)
  4. The Active Side of Infinity – Shamanism and Intuition with Carlos Castaneda (Waking Times)
  5. Can Batman fix India’s pothole problem? (The Guardian)
  6. Nick Frost plays Santa Claus in this year’s ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special (The Verge)
  7. The American who Turned Ugly Betty into a Russian (BBC)
  8. How Virgin Galactic doesn’t just benefit the rich (Wired)
  9. Combining the DNA of Three People Raises Ethical Questions (NPR)
  10. Denmark Funds research on underground trolls (The Local)

ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

“The long-running blog about the world of e-books and publishing, which is one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store, brings you related news stories”

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

  • 822 readers
  • 50,288 page flips (fifty thousand!)
  • 5,536  articles (I’d have so say my curation is better here, or at least, more focused…close to ten times as many page flips as articles)
  • 94 followers

This one is based on my blog, ILMK (I Love My Kindle). They aren’t the same, though. I write original material in the blog itself. I told myself that I’d average 1,000 words a day, and I do. I write a lot of different things, often providing analysis and opinion.

For the Flipboard magazine, none of that happens…you just get articles from other people (unless I flip one of my own in there).

It does allow me to do some different things.

For example, I can more easily flip ten different articles on a new piece of Amazon hardware into the magazine than I can link to them in the blog. Linking in the blog takes some work: it’s simple to flip (just a couple of clicks or taps).

There are also times when something is too short to warrant a full post in the blog. Those types of things go into my Round-ups, but I don’t do those every day.

Another thing? I do a lot more images in the magazine: it’s just more compatible with it. My blog is read on non-Fire Kindles, and images are tougher there.

  1. Ebook geek problems #14 (EBOOK FRIENDLY)
  2. You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down by Alice Walker (Open Road Media)
  3. The 20 Funniest Books Ever Written (Esquire)
  4. Community Centered: 23 Reasons Why Your Library Is the Most Important Place in Town (Public Libraries Online)
  5. William Gibson: I never imagined Facebook (Salon)
  6. Prominent Editor’s Exit is Setback for Amazon Publishing Unit (New York Times)
  7. In Loving Color: Romance 2014 (Publishers Weekly)
  8. Incredible chart maps out every house in the Game of Thrones (EBOOK FRIENDLY)
  9. 10 Amazing Female Novelists unde r50 (BuzzFeed)
  10. Fight Evil. Read Books (society 6)

The Weird Old Days

“Has the world always been weird? These news stories from the 19th and early 20th centuries bring you tales of lake monsters, the Hollow Earth, ghosts, and more! Edited by Bufo Calvin, of The Measured Circle blog. Note: these articles reflect the culture of their times. As such, they may use terms and concepts which some modern readers will find offensive”

 http://flip.it/ZtmYw

  • 237 readers
  • 478 page flips
  • 27 articles
  • 10 followers

My original idea on this was that I was writing a book made up in large part of public domain newspaper articles. I was writing pieces to provide context, both because I wanted to do that, and because it would enable me to sell it in the Kindle store (they require original material…nothing purely public domain…that was a policy which evolved over time).

It’s a labor of love, for sure!

I find it fascinating. I’m very interested in how people think about things, and how that has changed over time.

At this point, I’ve been using the Library of Congress’ fabulous “Chronicling America” resource. The negative to that one is that the pages don’t display very well on smaller screens. However, you can click to display the page as a PDF, and that can work quite well.

You also do have to read through the newspaper page to find the article…I also think that’s fun. ;)

I do feel like I’ve made some real discoveries: I posted one that is about an apparently hoaxed photograph of a UFO (airship)…in 1897!

  1. “Was All a Fraud” (Baxter Springs News, April 17, 1897) (that 1897 UFO photo hoax)
  2. “Was Not a Sea Serpent” (The Fulton County News, September 15, 1907: a photograph allowed a scientist to identify the creature as a “thrasher” shark)
  3. “Hooray! Hooray! Sea Serpent Here” (The Washington Times, June 12, 1907)
  4. “Red Sea Serpents” (Deming graphic, March 10, 1905)
  5. “Legend of the Great War” (The Mahoning dispatch, August 26, 1921: about the Angel of Mons…the “Great War” is World War I…there hadn’t been a II yet)
  6. “WILD MAN OF BORNEO DIES AT 92 YEARS” (Hopkinsville Kentuckian., June 4, 1912: while the “Wild Man of Borneo” appears to have been a pretty standard and recognized acting part in traveling shows, this one presents them as real. Interestingly, they are described as “small”, which would better fit modern reports of some island hominids. The fake ones tended to be big bruisers)
  7. “Wild Man Flees to the Capital: Cop Nabs Him” (Lincoln County Leader, November 29, 1912: this is another one which is presented as real)
  8. “MODERN WITCH: Visits a Farm and Whole Family is Driven Mad” (The Semi-Weekly messenger, July 21, 1905)
  9. “MACHINE BESTS MEN IN GAMES OF CHESS” (The Sun, June 28, 1914)
  10. This one had a few articles…one on a cigarette smoking sea serpent, another on a captured lake monster (Los Angeles Herald, September 9, 1906)

Again, this one can go in “flaps” of one topic, because my search sometimes leads me to related articles. I think this gives you some idea, though.

Doc Savage Fanflip

“Doc Savage, the forerunner of Superman and Batman, has been one of my fictional heroes for a very long time. Thanks in part to Doc, I try to better myself to help others, and to do so with “…no regard for anything but justice.” A “fanflip” is my new term for a Flipboard magazine by a fan, dedicated to one topic. I will bring you not only Doc Savage news, but Doc stories and resources from around the web. Think of it as a scrapbook with news.”

http://flip.it/HJShc

  • 138 viewers
  • 558 page flips
  • 91 articles
  • 5 followers

I look for interesting things on the web about Doc. If Shane Black ever gets out the Doc Savage movie, this may get more popular, but I’m happy to ferret out the oddball bits and pieces.

  1. Doc Savage Paperback Book Covers by James Bama (The Golden Age Site)
  2. Doc Savage (Flickr)
  3. I Fell in Love with Pat Savage When I was About 10 Yes Old” – David Walker Talks Doc (Bleeding Cool) (Pat is yet another element where Superman followed Doc Savage…a blond female cousin)
  4. Why You Should Care: Doc Savage Edition (Crave Online)
  5. Doc Savage Casting Call (IGN)
  6. Doc Savage’s oft-misunderstood ‘Crime College’ (Julian Perez Conquers the Universe)
  7. Arizona Doc Con (Facebook)
  8. Michael Uslan Talks The Avenger, The Shadow And Doc Savage – Justice, Inc. (Bleeding Cool)
  9. Superhero Doc Savage (WGNS Radio)
  10. 80 Years of Doc Savage: 1933 – 2013 (YouTube)

I’m also working on another Flipboard magazine, but I’m not ready to release it yet…it needs more content first.

These are not hard to do, and they aren’t taking significant time or creative energy away from my other creative work. I don’t get any money directly from them, although they might lead to more discovery of other things where I do.

Enjoy!

Do you have a Flipboard magazine about which you want to tell me and my readers? Feel free to comment on this post.

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

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

 

Heads up: LTO 4PM Verso clip light

November 10, 2014

Heads up:  LTO 4PM Verso clip light

Amazon: Upcoming Limited-Time Special Offer on Kindle Fire: Verso E-Reader Clip Light for $5. Deal starts at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT.

More later, because I am on my phone right now. I did not want people to miss the opportunity to get this. This only applies to people who have a Kindle Fire with special offers.

I believe that this is a clip light for your non-fire Kindle that is normally $15.

Update:

These are special limited time offers, which are only available to Kindle Fire owners.

What happens is you can get a text to alert you to an upcoming deal (details in the links below). You don’t get much warning…maybe an hour (about half an hour in this case).

The deal also appears on the sleep screen of your Fire, and you can find it under Offers on the homescreen (all the way at the end).

Then, you say you want to “learn more”. You’ll get to a screen with a countdown clock. As soon as the clock gets to zero, you need to click to have a chance to get it.

They have typically been selling out in seconds.

Here is information on the program:

As I’ve written before, I look at these LTOs (Limited Time Offers) sort of like buying a lottery ticket: I don’t expect to get one (win), but its exciting if I do! Of course, the “ticket” doesn’t cost me anything.

These LTOs are one of the best arguments for having Special Offers…and yes, a good argument for having a  Fire (at AmazonSmile)!

Did you get one? Do you have any other comment on this? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

One more thing: I’ve had a couple of readers say on past offers that they never even saw the offer. As far as I know, these go out to every eligible Kindle Fire in the USA. A few possibilities occur to me:

  • They either bought a Kindle Fire without Special Offers, or bought out of the offers later. You have to be subscribed to those in order to get these deals
  • They weren’t connected to wireless in time for it to update
  • They didn’t check the Offers tab (I don’t always see it on the sleep screen)

It might not have been any of those, but those three would have done it.

===

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.

Deal of the Day: refurbed Paperwhite for $79

November 10, 2014

Deal of the Day: refurbed Paperwhite for $79

This is a great deal, and I suspect they may run out.

As one of today’s deals, you can get a

Certified Refurbished Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for $79…the same price as the current entry level Kindle (what I call the “Mindle Touch”, which doesn’t have a light).

The Paperwhite is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had (including paper), and I recommend this one.

As far as refurbished goes (meaning most likely that someone returned it, it was totally checked out by Amazon and made like new), I always think that’s fine from Amazon. They give you the same warranty, and my intuition is that you are actually less likely to get a “lemon” because they’ve been checked more  carefully.

I do buy devices new from Amazon, though, but that’s often because I’m in a hurry to get them when they are first released. ;) Part of that is that I want to write about them for you.

If you were looking for something to be

A Kindle for the guest room

or to get something as a gift for a kid or as a spare, this would be an excellent choice.

It’s honestly hard to tell the first and second generation Paperwhites apart by the product pages…the look very similar. At first glance, I’m not even sure on this one.

One thing that’s worth noting: it does say it will have some of the upcoming features, including Family Library (which lets you share some books between accounts for the first time).

If you are interested, I wouldn’t wait too long on this. It already says it will ship in three to five weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they sell out this morning.

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

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

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

Spot check #1: five books from my shelves

November 9, 2014

Spot check #1: five books from my shelves

The USA Kindle store is likely to hit three million titles by the end of this month or so.

I’ve been noticing more of the books on the “backlist” (not new titles, but ones which might still be purchased) showing up in the store.

In particular, I was struck by seeing some that I own.

Thinking of that, I got curious.

What would happen if I just picked five random books out of our floor to ceiling home library, and checked them in the Kindle store? Would they be there? How many would be in

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

? What would they cost?

I decided to do the experiment. :)

The choices weren’t truly random, but I didn’t know at all which specific books I would select. That was important: I could, for example, take five Shakespeare books, and they’d all be in the store.

What I did was come up with a number. It had to be large enough so I couldn’t easily predict where it would end up (I do know my library pretty well), but small enough to be a manageable search item.

I went with thirty-four. I figured I wouldn’t do this again this year, so I added twenty to fourteen (for 2014).

Then I closed my eyes, touched a book on a shelf, and started counting until I reached the thirty-fourth book.

I started on different shelves. I could easily have gotten just science fiction and fantasy books, I didn’t want to do that.

I was a little trepidatious going into…I’ll admit, some of the books on which I landed might change your perceptions of me. ;)

Here’s what I got:

Sky Pirates of Callisto
by Lin Carter
Printing date: January 1973
Dell mass market paperback
Original price: $0.95
Not available

While I didn’t find the Callisto books, a

search for Lin Carter in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

did turn up quite a few titles, including Thongor, some Cthulhu, and some Conan. A few of the books were available through KU.

This is space opera, along the lines of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series. Lin Carter wrote quite a bit of this type of material…not, by the way, making fun of it, but there is perhaps a tinge of meta.

When Do Fish Sleep? and other imponderables of everyday life
by David Feldman
Printing date: 1990
HarperPerennial trade paperback
Original price: $10.00
not in KU
available through Kindle Matchbook for $2.99

When Do Fish Sleep? (Imponderables Books) (at Amazon Smile*)
Price at time of writing: $8.00
published by Harper

These are fun books…the basic premise is that they are about things you can’t figure out just by thinking about them. You can’t “ponder” your way to the answer.

THE UFONAUTS
by Hans Holzer
Printing date: 1976
Fawcett Gold Medal mass market paperback
Original price: $1.75
not available

When you do a

search for Hans Holzer in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

there are about ten real results (searches often find things that mention that for which you are searching, but aren’t really matches)…and a number of those are in Kindle Unlimited. This one intrigued me: Holzer really popularized “ghost hunting”, and this was the author’s take on UFOs. It’s not unreasonable to speculate on whether the two things might be related…

Drama: Principles & Plays
edited by Theodore W. Hatlen
Copyright date: 1967
Meredith trade paperback (textbook?)
Original price: unknown (none printed on the cover)
not available

No Hatlen books in the USA Kindle store (but you can buy some of the books in paper…you’ll pay a lot). I bought this used…there is a twenty-five cent price penciled inside, so that’s probably what I paid for it. ;)

Tragic Prelude: Bleeding Kansas
by Karen Zeinert
Copyright 2001
Linnet Book hardback
Original price: unknown
not available

You can buy it a used library bound book for a penny. I don’t think I ever actually read this one. It’s a non-fiction account of the formation of the Kansas Territory in 1854.

While only one of the five books was actually available in the Kindle store, I like that there were books by three out of the five authors. Finding Lin Carter in KU was nice: I’ll add some to my KU wish list at Amazon (which makes it easier for me to pick more KU books to add when the time comes.

This was fun, and I might try it again! Let me know if you found it interesting by commenting on this post…

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 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 #275: why the Echo will succeed…and why it won’t, Amazon’s Best Books of 2014

November 8, 2014

Round up #275: why the Echo will succeed…and why it won’t, Amazon’s Best Books of 2014

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

Amazon’s 2014 Best Books of the Year

Amazon has announced their

2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Kindle Format (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I went right away to look at something that I think most people might not consider: who the publishers were.

I was curious as to whether Amazon was going to stick mostly with traditionally published books (which might give their list more legitimacy in the eyes of the literati), whether they would include books traditionally published by Amazon, and whether Hachette might be downplayed (because of the ongoing contract dispute I refer to as the Hachazon War) and perhaps Simon & Schuster upplayed (since they reached a contract with them).

I wasn’t expecting the Hachette/Simon & Schuster thing, really…presumably these lists take months to compile, and although the Hachazon War has gone on long enough, the S&S agreement is new.

Here is how it breaks down for the top 10:

  1. Penguin Press (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  2. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  3. Doubleday (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  4. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  5. Penguin Press (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  6. Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
  7. William Morrow (HarperCollins)
  8. Knopf  (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  9. Putnam  (PRH…Penguin Random House)
  10. Knopf  (PRH…Penguin Random House)

No Hachette or indie (independently published) or Amazon tradpubbed book in the top ten…interesting. Certainly PRH publishes a lot more books (I believe I’ve seen that that one publisher is as big as the other four in the Big Five combined), but still, it suggests there is a difference.

Continuing down the list, I noticed two from Amazon’s “Little A” tradpub imprint (#75 and #78), and finally, down at #97, one from Hachette’s Grand Central. I checked: the Grand Central one doesn’t appear to be delayed for delivery right now, and I didn’t see a banner directing me to buy something else. It was $12.99.

The lack of Hachetter representation could be coincidence, of course…and there was one, so it wasn’t a disqualification…

I’m a bit disappointed that we don’t see real indies on here, from what I can tell…although what may happen is the indies get bought up by a tradpub. That’s what happened with

The Martian (at AmazonSmile*)

by Andy Weir, which is also soon to be a major motion picture.

Lists: as always, intriguing and challenge-provoking. ;)

My new favorite video news app

Our

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

hasn’t quite allowed us to totally “cut the cord” yet and give up cable. One of the barriers to that for me has been the 24 hour news channels. I like watching those, and while you can watch CNN on the CNN app, you can only do that if you verify for them that you are paying for CNN with a cable/dish company…at least, that’s how it was last time I looked.

Now, though, I am liking

Watchup (at AmazonSmile*)

which gives me current CNN stories…among other things.

I’ve only started using it, and it will “learn” me over time and as I give it more input.

Right away, though, it does have major news channel coverage (including CNN) of major events…same day, I think. It also has specialized news.

This is something different from others I’ve tried, where you don’t see the mainstream stuff.

The interface is okay…and it will just go from story to story without your intervention, so you can have it on while you are brushing your teeth or working out (or, you know, sometimes I do both at the same time). ;)

You don’t have to set up anything for it to work, but for it to work best, you do a free account…and you vote stories up or down.

I don’t find I have time to vote when I’m watching it on my Fire TV while I’m doing something else…there is only a three second window.

You can, though, pause playback, and get to where you can vote stories up and down.

Overall, this does move us closer to cutting the cord: Sky News, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Univision, euronews, c|net…quite a few.

It’s free, so worth trying on your Fire TV or on your phone. I haven’t been a news watcher on my SmartPhone, but I have found myself having it on in the background at work (with earphones)…you do need to be connected to a network, though, so if you aren’t on wi-fi, be aware of the possible data costs.

Why the Amazon Echo will succeed…and why it won’t

I recently wrote about Amazon’s market-defining new device:

Amazon reinvents…life? Amazon Echo

It’s been really interesting to read intelligent people commenting on it.

Many tech folks (and others) are down on it. They don’t understand why people would pay that amount of money for something they can do on their phones, and they also refer to it as just a sales channel for Amazon. Of course, they are also comparing it to the

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

which clearly didn’t meet Amazon’s expectations…I think I might have bought the only one in North America. ;) Just kidding…but they mention it as a drag on the bottom line during their recent financial call.

I think there is a pretty good chance it defines a new market, and is a success.

They are being much smarter about how they are introducing it than they were with the Fire Phone…really building up demand. Amazon was very clever to introduce it at apparently two prices: $199 for most people, $99 for (invited) Prime members. I’ve seen people say, “I wouldn’t pay $200 for it, but $99 seems like a bargain.” I suspect many of the same people would have said, “I wouldn’t pay $100 for it, but $50 seems like a bargain” if Amazon had set the prices that way. ;)

Prime members are seeing it as saving $100, and feeling pretty special about it…both of those are good things. After all, if you buy it, you’ve saved the cost of your Prime membership for that year, right? ;)

Techies think nothing of whipping out their phones at home to ask a question. For a lot of people, there is a considerable amount of friction in doing that. Some folks actually have their phones turned off at home, charging. Some people are intimidated by their phones, not enamored of them. Having this “always on” device in your house will feel very different to them.

For it to be a success, it needs to do two things:

  • It has to be the simplest interface to the internet and shopping ever. It has to be much simpler than that phone. It has to understand us, and give us the answers we want
  • It has to integrate with things, so it doesn’t become just an isolated disembodied voice. It will work with music, but it needs to quickly work with TV (through the Fire TV and Fire TV stick, I would guess), and other items…maybe your car. “Alexa, ,turn on the car and warm it up…baby, it’s cold outside!” “Alexa, make me some coffee.” All of that is entirely possible

I think those sorts of things will happen, although there does have to be a virtuous circle of market penetration and attractive features…the more people who use it, the more will be made available for it to do…the more it is able to do, the more people will use it.

Why might it fail?

  • It doesn’t understand us well enough and doesn’t do enough…those are both “ifs”
  • People are concerned about the privacy…I doubt that will be the case. I don’t think most people worry about that that much. Sure, hypothetically, the NSA could hack into it and listen to all your conversations, but this isn’t the only or most likely channel for that
  • Somebody else introduces something cheaper and better…again, I don’t think that will happen quickly. I think it will define a market and there will be competitors, but I think the Echo will dominate
  • It’s just too expensive…it wouldn’t surprise me if it costs $50 three years from now. Producers paying Amazon for referrals through Echo will subsidize the price, driving it down. Amazon doesn’t need to make money from consumers if it can make money from producers by becoming the new infrastructure…I think that’s their real golden path

That new KFHDX update

I manually updated my Kindle Fire HDX to the update which I told you about yesterday:

Profiles are here for the KFHDX

The look of everything is much better. They’ve done something which has really enhanced the crispness, and they’ve made the visual interface items cleaner.

I realized today that I can set up another Amazon account with another e-mail address of my own, so I’ll test that out for you.

They took away the “modern art” clock they had, which I did enjoy. I literally use my KFHDX as my nightstand clock, and I miss having those two growing circles (one for hours, one for minutes). Also, the time moves around the screen, which is weird.

The Carousel now has a lot fewer items on it…it does seem to be growing as I use it, and I know a lot of people complained about having hundreds of items on it.

I now have text-to-speech for National Geographic! That might have been there before, but I’m not positive.

Overall, I’m liking the update…have to play around with the profiles.

What do you think? What do you think were the best books of 2014? Were there indies that stood out to you? If you are using Goodreads (now owned by Amazon), I think you can go back and check which ones you read this year. Will the Echo succeed or fail…or be somewhere in-between? Will, perhaps, the Echo rescue the Fire Phone, if it gets a great interface with it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Profiles are here for the KFHDX

November 7, 2014

Profiles are here for the KFHDX

This morning, my Significant Other brought me their

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

unable to get into it.

It had updated the system software, with what turned out to be a significant update…and wanted a password to get into the device, which hadn’t been true before for my SO.

I think, from looking at it, that occurred because I have set up Kindle FreeTime profiles on the account…it appeared to be intended to keep children out of the device. I actually set them up for our dogs, just testing it out for my readers. :)

Fortunately, I knew that password…and it worked.

The look of the interface is different (I’d say it is…crisper, easier to read. That also goes for the icons: the e-mail icon no longer has that gray background, for example), and there are some feature changes.

They list:

  • A personalized experience with profiles (for the US, UK, and Germany): it allows for individual e-mail, game levels, movie locations, pages in books, Facebook and Twitter accounts. This is clearly the big change, and I’ll have to explore it more. I don’t know yet if this has anything to do with the Family Library, which will allow (some) sharing of e-books between accounts
  • Office Document: I already have a Microsoft Office app on my Fire I like (OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), but this apparently also backs up Office files automatically to your Amazon Cloud Drive…allowing access on other devices
  • Longer battery life: this uses Smart Suspend to prolong battery life while it sleeps
  • New weather app
  • Full screen immersive mode: apps and games will now fill the entire screen (you’ll swipe for controls)
  • Backup and restore: this sounds nice! You have to turn it on, but it will store your configuration (bookmarks, even wi-fi configurations) to the Cloud for free making it easier to set up a new device

Since mine hasn’t updated yet (I’ll see if I can update it manually…these updates can roll out over weeks), I’ll do a quick comparison of the two devices:

  • When you are unlocking them, the lockscreen has just a chevron (an arrow without a stick) on the new one…the old one had a padlock
  • The lockscreen entry has a more transparent background
  • The lockscreen entry says “Go” rather than “OK”
  • On the homescreen, the clock is on your right, rather than in the middle
  • As mentioned, there are some icon changes
  • On the new one, it appears I needed to reenter the password for the AOL account…I’m guessing we’ll need to do that on mine as well when it updates, since we can now have separately protected e-mails
  • Swiping down from the top has the same choices…although weirdly, autorotate now looks like it goes anticlockwise, rather than clockwise…what was the point of that change? Feels like it is just change for change’s sake
  • Settings has some significant differences. There is a new category for “Household Profiles”. You can add a new adult or child (you have up to four child accounts, and two adult accounts, which will be, I believe, the same thing for the Family Library). When you go to add an adult, it sys, “Pass the device to new user: We’ll need  the preson you are adding to this household to login using their Amazon account. Please make sure they are available to take the tablet for the next step”. So, this is for the Family Library! Let me jump out of the bullet points for this

When you add the Adult Profile, it says, “If you share an account, you must set up a new Amazon account to share the customized experience”. Interesting…does it benefit Amazon for you to have multiple accounts? Sure! Some things are only good per account, and it looks good when they are selling services to other businesses, which I think is increasingly becoming their main business. I’ve commented on that in regards to the Amazon Echo
: I think what people aren’t getting about it is that Amazon never needs to make money by selling things to people if they can make money by charging other companies to use Amazon to sell things to people.

I know this is a sidestep here, but I think it’s important. Amazon is becoming our retail infrastructure. Let’s say I want to buy something from, oh, Target (from their website). If I can just ask my hypothetical Amazon Echo to do that for me, I would. If Amazon then charges Target for me having done it, they can make money with very little cost to them. If they actually do the fulfillment for Target (the shipping…via drone, or as recently was announced as a trial, taxi…and maybe the same day) they can charge Target and make more money.

This doesn’t need to be just physical products: it can be digital content as well…even, possibly, your internet.

The Amazon Echo isn’t a store…it’s the road that takes you to the store (and everywhere else).

Imagine if you owned the roads fifty years ago…and could charge every store (and doctor’s office and movie theatre and…) when people used them.

Of course, they won’t monopolize the internet…it will simply be a choice consumers make, for the convenience…no monopoly there, right?

Okay, back to the update…

  • The new one says “Wireless & VPN”, rather than just “Wireless”: the old one does have VPN options
  • “Device” has been relabeled “Device Options”: those have more choices…including the ability to change the name of the device from the device itself. That’s also where you’ll find “Backup & Restore”. It will backup automatically once a day
  • Enable ADB is no longer available…that was something that could “Enable Kindle developers to debug over USB”…not something people used much, if at all
  • I was guessing that the Shopping might have changed, and there is a new category for “Fire Accessories”, but otherwise, it looks pretty similar. Looking at the Bookstore, it also looks similar

I’m guessing mine will update soon, but I think that’s enough of a comparison for right now. If you have specific things for me to check on the new on this morning, let me know…I might get to check a few yet this morning.

Oh, one more big thing! They’ve really changed the system software numbering system! My old one is 13.3.2.6…the new one says “Fire OS 4.1.1″.

If you want to update it manually, here’s the page:

Kindle Fire HDX update page (at AmazonSmile*)

 

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

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

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


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