Harlan Ellison has had a stroke

October 14, 2014

Harlan Ellison has had a stroke

I wish Harlan Ellison the best, and am saddened to hear of this acute health situation.

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

Ellison is an important writer…period.

That’s not just in the case of science fiction, or TV, or however you choose to define this unique voice.

No, we don’t approach the world the same way. Harlan Ellison is famously confrontational, and I’m not.

That doesn’t mean I think any less of Ellison’s writing.

If you needed no other reason to join

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

the Ellison books available there would be enough.

According to this

Oregonian article by Douglas Perry

visitors report that the author’s mind and will are still strong…that not even a stroke and partial paralysis will stop Harlan Ellison from thinking you under the table…and making sure that you know it. ;)

If you are a fan, you may want to visit

the author’s official site

and leave a comment in the Art Deco Dining Pavilion.

Thank you, Harlan Ellison, for all you have done for us so far…and may the future give you at least as much as you have given us.

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

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

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

Amazon announces Kindle Scout

October 14, 2014

Amazon announces Kindle Scout

Amazon’s newest program is a traditional publishing effort with a non-traditional twist.

It is aimed directly at disintermediation. It wants to make readers the arbiters of what books get published.

This is different, and significant.

In traditional publishing, the publisher decides what actually gets published (made available to the public).

An author submits a book (through an agent, again this is traditionally) and the corporation weighs its value. There will be strategic elements to the decision…it won’t just be what will be the best book, but what will best fit the publishing strategy of the company.

Let me give you an analogy for this.

I’ve always been good at trivia. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, we had a publisher’s representative (they would come around to the stores and pull books from their publisher they thought were past their sales cycle, and suggest new ones) who was a five-time Jeopardy champion (that was the limit back then)…and in casual trivial sparring, I could beat that person.

My Significant Other used to like the TV game show, The Weakest Link.

Once, it was doing auditions at the Metreon, which is near where we live…so I went to audition (it would have been fun for my SO if I got on the show).

Some people waited eight hours to get in, but we were there pretty early.

In line, I was chatting with some other would-be contestants. One thing I told them was that there would be a written test…and I advised them to miss a couple of questions on purpose. Game shows don’t want people who get everything right: there isn’t enough drama in that.

I followed that strategy, and so did the people with whom I spoke.

We all advanced to the next level.

In that level, there were about 300 of us in a room. Everybody in turn stood up and did maybe fifteen seconds on why they wanted to be on the show.

That eliminated about 90% of the people…it’s how they could tell how you would present yourself, and if the audience would like you.

I got through that level.

The next thing was the mock show. We played the game.

I got through that one, too.

I was then told that I had qualified to be on the show.

However…

They also said they wouldn’t have two people on from San Francisco (the San Francisco area, in my case) on the same show. They wouldn’t have two people on the same show with hair like mine.

They need distinct people, so the audience can immediately pick their favorites…and who they don’t like.

I was good enough to be on the show: it was just the luck of the draw as to whether or not there were too many other people similar to me.

If they didn’t call me in a certain period of time (a year, I think?) I could audition again.

They didn’t, and I didn’t.

That’s part of how traditional publishing works.

You can have written a terrific novel…but if someone else wrote one on a similar subject, or has your personality “hook”, the publishing slot might go to that person instead.

If you are very promotable to a particular market, and so is that other person…well, a talk show (a huge promotional tool for books) isn’t going to want to do two shows on the same basic topic too close together.

That was one path: the publisher decides.

Then, there is independent publishing.

In that case, the author simply publishes the book directly (a process that has become a realistic way to go, thanks to the low investment cost and equal distribution process of e-book publishing).

Those two choices still exist, and will continue to exist (although their market share may be shifting, with indies getting a bigger share).

Amazon’s new way to do it is to have readers largely make the choice.

That’s new.

Arguably, readers have had an influence in the past for brand name authors. If they show they’ve liked somebody in the past, that increases the chances that author can get another book published. Even if one publisher turns them down, another publisher would likely be interested in a proven moneymaker.

What about someone who isn’t as well known? Amazon refers to them as “…today’s aspiring authors”.

That’s really the focus of

Kindle Scout

As an author, I just got an e-mail from Amazon. Authors can start submitting completed but unpublished novels to the program today. In “…a couple of weeks”, readers will be able to start nominating books for publication.

Readers should take a look at this page:

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/about

and in particular, watch the video.

You can have up to three books in your “nomination panel”…and if one of them is actually chosen by Amazon for publication (the readers’ “votes”, based on an excerpt”, are really advisory), you’ll get the book for free.

I think this could be really popular.

My guess is that Amazon is going to get significantly good books…that there will be a much higher standard than there is in the indie publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing (there are some really terrific books there…and some that could have used stronger editing, proofreading, and formatting).

I’ve read through the terms, and I think they are good for newbies and yet-to-break mids. The reversion rules (under which circumstances the author gets the rights back) seem reasonable, as do the compensation rates.

You can read them here:

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/agreement

and I’m thinking of writing a more thorough analysis of them for an audience more specifically of authors.

I should point out that I am not a literary agent, and except for magazines, haven’t been traditionally published.

Right now, though, I want to highlight that this does not impact you selling the book as a p-book (paperbook). This may turn out to be the way that some authors are discovered by the traditional publishers, and become household names. Of course, nothing stops Amazon’s traditional publishing paper imprints from going after the book as well, if it’s a success as a Kindle Scout e-book, and Amazon would likely have an emotional edge in that case.

For readers, I think you are going to find this a great way to discover and get tradpub quality books.

I do think we’ll see some known authors participate with books which perhaps don’t match their market expectations…and that could be exciting as well.

Right now, Amazon is looking for “…English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres.”

That makes sense: as I’ve mentioned before, books with a strong genre identification rely less on who the specific author is. If you like time travel paranormal romance mysteries (I’m guessing that’s a thing) ;) , you want to read one, even if the author is unknown to you.

I hope that this succeeds well enough that they expand it. Specifically, I’d like to see this get into non-fiction. Prove that there is an audience for your political book, or pop culture reference, and we’ll see things on Amazon’s front page that would never have been traditionally published, or noticed as an indie.

As you can tell, I’m excited about this one. I don’t expect to participate as an author…I don’t have unpublished novels sitting around. The way my life works, I’m not likely to write one in the near future…writing at 4:30 in the morning before work is fine for a blog like this, and for non-fiction reference, but wouldn’t lend itself to getting on a roll and writing fifty pages in a sitting.

What do you think? Will authors embrace this, or stay away from it? What type of author will tend to do either? Would you “nominate” a book, hoping to get a freebie? Would you do it just because you think it’s a deserving book? How does this potentially shift the publishing world? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Who doesn’t have this e-book thing figured out?

October 14, 2014

Who doesn’t have this e-book thing figured out?

Some authors do very well in both e-books and p-books (paper books).

I was curious if there were authors who were doing very well in paper, but not so well in e-books.

I decided to make this simple, and just look at the authors of the bestselling books at Amazon.com.

The authors (and their agents) do have an impact on this decision, by the way. The author owns the e-book rights, separately from the p-book rights, and can sell them separately. Hypothetically, they could sell the hardback rights to a tradpub (traditional publisher) and keep the e-book rights for themselves…even sell them to a different publisher, if they wanted.

Most likely, the publisher of the hardback would frown on that, and might even have a clause against it…but the author/estate would most likely need to be compensated for not using those e-book rights.

  1. Rick Riordan: #8 e-book
  2. B.J. Novak: #2,450 e-book
  3. Gillian Flynn: #3 e-book
  4. Cary Elwes: #71 e-book
  5. Bill O’Reilly: #23 e-book
  6. Thug Kitchen: #915 e-book
  7. Rush Limbaugh: #861 e-book
  8. Atul Gawande: #173 e-book
  9. Jeff Kinney: #386 e-book
  10. Walter Issacson: #65 e-book

Interesting! I think this might confirm what some people would think. With the exception of Rick Riordan, I think the books intended for children are doing worse in e-book. There is a reasonable argument that a lot of the books bought for kids to read are bought as gifts (even if the gifts come from within the immediate family)…and that p-books might seem better as a gift, literally more substantial.

I also think there might be some negative impact on digital with a book being a pre-order. It may be that people feel it is less necessary to pre-order an e-book. They aren’t going to run out of it, and you can typically have it within sixty seconds of deciding to buy it.

However, you can pre-order e-books (and I know many people do), so it’s not as simple as that.

I suppose it isn’t surprising that Walter Isaacson, who write on tech related subjects, does well in e-books. I should be clear, I’m not convinced that the e-book market is really techies (I think that’s what Amazon did differently that made the Kindle go mainstream when many other EBRs…E-Book Readers hadn’t managed it in the USA…they designed them for readers, not techies).

Still, there is a significant minority of people who just read e-books…I think as an author going into the future, you’ve pretty much got to make that market work for you. That is, of course, unless you are selling relatively expensive books, where you don’t have move as many units.

What do you think? Could an author live by paper alone? ;) Are some authors just a better read for you in either digital or paper? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

I’m spending more money per month with Kindle Unlimited…and it’s a great deal

October 13, 2014

I’m spending more money per month with Kindle Unlimited…and it’s a great deal

I used to spend a lot of money on books.

Even when I didn’t have much money, it was a significant percentage. I once literally turned orange…well, one arm did, anyway, because books were that high a priority for me.

How did that happen?

At first, I really didn’t know: I thought I’d been radiated or something. The top of my left arm (as I recall) was bright, like pumpkin orange.

I went to the doctor who said, “How many carrots are you eating a day?”

Me: “A pound or so.”

Doctor: “Don’t eat so many…” ;)

I had “carotene poisoning”…not dangerous, but it certainly looked odd.

How does that tie into my love of reading?

Carrots were cheap, filling, and healthy. I could eat those, and still money to spend on books. I would go into a used bookstore, and see a book I wanted. My rule was that I would have to leave the store for an hour, and then come back if I still wanted to spend the money on it. Suffice it to say, I made a lot of round trips. :)

Since the Kindle, though, my spending has gone way down. E-books are cheaper than p-books (paperbooks) generally. There are also many free books, and books on sale! I can gorge on 19th Century literature (which I enjoy), and not spend a dime on it.

$9.99 a month for an “all you can read” program sounded great! I went for the free month, and then we’ve kept

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

Now, I knew going into it that it wasn’t actually unlimited…that should be pretty clear, despite the occasional tale of shock and woe that gets posted in the Kindle Forums. For example, you can’t read books which haven’t been written yet. ;) Many books still haven’t been put into Kindle format.

I also knew, just from looking at the website and a bit of easy research that the biggest publishers weren’t going to participate at this time.

Yes, Kindle Unlimited has a limited set of books.

What it doesn’t have is a limit on how many you can check out i a month…just how many you can have at a time, which is ten. If you can read and return ten books in a day (my record is three and a half novels in a day), you could check out three hundred and ten books that month (if it’s a month with thirty-one days).

You say you can’t read ten books in a day…that’s beyond your physical limit? See, there are limits on how many books you can read. ;)

I thought I’d take a look, and we haven’t been spending $10 a month a books…in August and July of this year, for example, we spent $4 and $3.98…less than half the $9.99 we spend for KU.

Still, I do think KU is great!

The difference is that I’m reading much more expensive books with KU.

I recently wrote about

#1 New York Times bestsellers available through Kindle Unlimited

and many of those are more than what we’ve typically been paying for Kindle books: $9.99, $10.99…even $13.99 (although that one contains three books).

The “These Are the Voyages” books about the creation of Star Trek that I read and so enjoyed? $9.95 and $14.95.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have paid that amount for either one of them…I might have put them on a wish list and hoped my family and friends go them for me, but it’s hard for me to justify spending almost $15 for a book, now, when I have so many less expensive options.

Reading them as part of KU at no additional cost, though? Perfect!

I wonder if this is true for a lot of people…that they actually spend more with KU than the did before on average, and they consider it worth it.

How about you? If you are a KU member, go to Your Account on Amazon and take a quick look at your digital orders. Are you spending more or less than $9.99 a month on e-books from the Kindle store? If you are spending more, does it seem like it is worth it, or not? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Update: when I find someone infringing on my copyright, I typically try to reach them without identifying them publicly. I have received an apology and retraction in the past: in some cases, people simply don’t realize that what they are doing is illegal. In this case, I can not find a way to contact a site called Kindle Updates. I discovered that this entire post appeared on that site. When looking for a way to contact them, I found many of my copyrighted posts appearing there without my authorization. There are posts from other sources as well, but I don’t know if they are gaining the necessary legal permissions from the legal rightsholders. They also appear to be selling advertising on the site, making the use of the material a commercial use, I believe. If you know of a way to contact them (I assume they are reading these articles, although it could be more automated than that), please ask them to remove the material, or to contact me to make arrangements for publication. That’s the best way to handle this for all involved. I’ll check the site again in the future to see if the material is still there before taking any other action. If you are with the site, you can comment on this post as a way to contact me and I will keep it anonymous if you like: I noticed you also included a comment link, which brings you back to this blog.

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.

Kindle and Fire Generations

October 12, 2014

Kindle and Fire Generations

Many people have complained about how Amazon names their devices…it’s been confusing.

The least expensive Kindle has generally just been officially called a “Kindle”, for example.

That might be okay, but the problem really happens when you are trying to buy

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

A cover for one model won’t necessarily fit another model.

It also gets very confusing when we try to help people on the Amazon Kindle forums. You might think a question like, “Can I stream my Kindle Fire to my TV?” would be easy to answer, but it’s different for different years. We frequently have to ask people to identify their devices before we can help them, or give them multiple answers (which can be confusing).

Well, recently, Amazon has started identifying Kindles and Fires (which used to be called “Kindle Fires”…another confusing factor) by generations.

The upcoming

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

and

the new

7th generation entry level Kindle: “Mindle Touch” (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

are both being identified now as “7th Generation”.

Let’s work our way back through the non-Fire generations first:

  • 7th generation (announced September 2014): Kindle Voyage, “Mindle Touch” (the $79 least expensive Kindle)
  • 6th generation (September 2013): Kindle Paperwhite 2 (now just called the Kindle Paperwhite)
  • 5th generation (September 2012): Kindle Paperwhite 1
  • 4th generation (September 2011): Kindle Touch, Mindle (my name for the entry level Kindle…”Minimum Kindle”)
  • 3rd generation (August 2010): Kindle Keyboard
  • 2nd generation (February 2009; May 2009): Kindle 2 and Kindle DX
  • 1st generation (November 2007): Kindle 1

The recently announced Fires (formerly Kindle Fires) are the 4th generation of those:

  • 4th generation (September 2014): versions of the Fire HD, Fire HDX, and a kids’ version
  • 3rd generation (September 2013): introduces HDX, new HDs
  • 2nd generation (September 2012): Kindle Fire 2nd gen, Kindle Fire HDs introduced
  • 1st generation (September 2011): Kindle Fire

How can you tell which one you have?

Here are the Amazon help pages:

It would be nice if they’d start actually putting the numbers on the devices, but I don’t think that will happen (they want the brand identification to be “Kindle” or “Amazon”, not “Kindle 7″…at least, that’s my guess).

Hopefully, this will help you buying those accessories…and those can make good gifts for the holidays for people you know who already have a device.

Bonus deal: some of the Kindle e-mail subscriptions have a deal going where you can get a free book (from a very limited set) if you are a new subscriber.

You can see the list of these free e-mails from Amazon here:

E-mail Subscriptions (at AmazonSmile*)

The free book deal is through October 18th…I know the Business & Money newsletter has one, Teen & Young Adult has one, Mystery & Thriller has one…I’d just sign up for the ones you want and see what happens. :) These are all free, by the way.

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.

Copyright law: inherently unequal?

October 11, 2014

Copyright law: inherently unequal?

Copyright law matters to you as a reader.

It has a huge effect on what is available to you.

Books that are not under copyright protection, that are in the “public domain” (owned by the public), are often available free as e-books. No one needs to be paid for the rights to publish those, and with the advent of e-books (and in particular, the exemplary and valuable work of Project Gutenberg), an effort has been made to take advantage of the low costs of production and distribution to let readers read them.

For books under copyright protection, it is that law which largely makes it possible for authors to make a living as writers.

By setting the rules under which books can be reproduced, the government creates a structure of compensation.

Certainly, it is possible to distribute works without regard to copyright, and to simply ask for people to pay for them, if they want. It is a stretch to see that generating the kinds of income we see through licensing of works, though. You could also have individual contracts to allow the reading of the books, but that would be unduly cumbersome.

So, copyright is important: and the fairness of the ability to use that copyright to make money from your intellectual property is important.

In the USA (and in many other countries), that opportunity is unequal.

Why?

The copyright terms are based on the life of the author plus a certain number of years (in the USA, it’s Life+70).

The intent here, presumably, is that the author and the author’s children (if any) can benefit from the creation of the book…and after that, the government removes their right to control the work, and it falls into the public domain (effectively eliminating its value as a way to generate income).

I’ve wondered before if the idea of a copyright term like that is a good idea in and of itself. See what is perhaps my most controversial post:

Should copyright be permanent?

There are those who simply don’t believe in copyright…if you create something, they argue that the society should have unencumbered (and uncompensated) access to it. I assume they also think it is okay to go into a stranger’s house and eat the food in their refrigerator, or to drive away with someone else’s car without their permission. ;)

Let’s leave off the extremes of permanent copyright and no copyright, and just look at the issue of Life+a certain number of years: what’s wrong with that?

You want to know what’s wrong with that? Mortality.

Suppose a fifty year old writes and publishes a book. Let’s just say that, on average, that book is going to generate royalties of a thousand dollars a year.

We’ll further say that the author can be expected to live to be age 100.

That book will generate $120,000 for the creator and the estate: one thousand dollars each year of the author’s remaining life,then a thousand dollars a years for each of the subsequent seventy years.

Now let’s do that math with a twenty year old author.

Again, assuming they live to be 100, there are eighty+seventy years of copyright protection: that’s a lifetime value of $150,000. That’s $30,000  (25%) more.

Given the statistical probabilities of life expectancy, the older author won’t earn as much as the younger author for the same thing…and that’s unequal protection under the law, and should be illegal under the Constitution.

The “equal protection” of the Fourteenth Amendment actually only applies to the states, as I understand it, but in Bolling v. Sharpe, the Supreme Court basically said the Federal government shouldn’t have a lesser responsibility than the states, and so “equal protection” is sort of covered by “due process”. I’m not a lawyer, but that’s how I read it.

I’m surprised this hasn’t been successfully legally challenged, but given that Life+x years is a widely used copyright term in other countries as well, I assume there are treaties involved. That complicates things.

I also don’t like Life+, because it makes it much harder to figure out when something goes into the public domain! Just knowing when something was first published in the USA doesn’t do it (if the publication is after 1977), since you have to know when the last surviving author died. For famous authors, that’s not that hard to find…but not all authors are famous. With something like half a million independently published books a year now (I’ve seen that estimate), it’s going to be very difficult to figure out.

You often don’t even know the author’s real name…there is no requirement that they put that on a published work, and copyright exists even without registration (although it’s more difficult to go after infringers if you don’t register it).

Do I think a challenge to the Supreme Court could change Life+ to a finite term? I do think it could be successful, but I really don’t expect it to happen.

We will simply continue to institutionally disadvantage older authors as a group.

That is, unless there is really major overhaul of copyright, which I would like to see.

I still find the idea of permanent copyright, in exchange for greater Fair Use provisions, to be an intriguing idea. I’m not advocating for it, and it doesn’t seem to be what copyright was intended to do (the Constitution specifically calls for “limited times”), but things have massively changed in terms of content consumption in the past couple of hundred years.

The market value of Sherlock Holmes is arguably much bigger now than it was when the copyright term first expired, for example. One could argue that that is in part due to it having gone into the public domain (for the most part…some of the original stories are still under copyright in some parts of the world), allowing for more experimentation with the character (and perhaps more nimbly adapting to changing audience tastes).

I also have people say that they don’t like that it would be corporations owning the rights a hundred years after the author died, not the author and their descendants.

That point, though, may be changing. As independent publishing becomes increasingly viable, more authors will retain their rights…and could have something to pass on to generations of descendants.

The other argument I get from people is about “cultural ownership”. Shouldn’t Shakespeare and Mark Twain’s works belong to everybody equally? I’m not quite sure why. If you can take the rights away from the family 100 years after it was written, why not 99? Then why not fifty? Then why not after one week? I just haven’t quite understood the logic of that, and I’d be happy to have someone explain it to me. :)

What do you think? Is the copyright concept of Life+ unfair? It doesn’t matter how old you, the rule is the same…it’s just that we know that, statistically, the result won’t be: is that okay? Copyright terms have continued to get longer since they were introduced (in the USA) at fourteen years, renewable once (if the author was still alive…not a certainty, given life expectancy in the 1700s, and the age at which someone might publish back then)…do you think that will continue to be the case? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

 

 

Round up #273: what Edith Wharton and Scarlett Johansson have in common, the Everything Store store

October 10, 2014

Round up #273: what Edith Wharton and Scarlett Johansson have in common, the Everything Store store

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

The New Yorker cartoon about Amazon

A reader alerted me in a private e-mail (thanks, reader! If you want credit, let me know) about this

New Yorker cartoon by Sip Ress

It illustrates how some people feel about Amazon (present company excepted…I assume). ;)

Amazon webcast of Q3 financials

Amazon has announced that they will webcast their third quarter financials (they always webcast them) on Thursday, October 23, at 2:00 PM Pacific.

You can listen live at

www.amazon.com/ir

or listen to the recording later at the same site. I’ll let you know what I think. This is an interesting one, because of all the controversy with Hachette (and other things), the launch of the Fire Phone, and Kindle Unlimited. I think the last one must be working pretty well, since they are expanding it to other markets.

This

Seeking Alpha article by ValueWalk

suggests it may be a better report than some people projected.

“You know what this website needs? Walls…”

According to this

New York Daily News article by Katherine Clarke

and other sources (it seems to have started with the New York Times, but they like to keep their stuff from you with a paywall…I try to make this simple for you when I can), Amazon is going to open a brick and mortar (or as Clarke cleverly called it, “clicks and mortar”) store in New York City.

Don’t expect to walk into it and see twenty million books. :) It will probably serve two main purposes.

The first is as a showroom for Amazon hardware and such. You know, they can have Kindles and Fires (tablets, TV, phones) on display, and let you get hands on. Gee, this is a case where showrooming (something that many brick and mortar stores hate: people come into their store to check out items, feel them…and then buy them online) is a good thing. ;)

That makes sense: it’s not a store/store, it’s a live demo.

The other thing they are likely to do it “order online, pick up in person”. That would only be for a limited number of items if you wanted to pick it up the same day, and could be far more if you are willing to wait a couple of days.

It seems pretty unlikely to me, as a former retailer, that the store can sell enough merchandise in that location to be profitable…but if you chalk it up to advertising expense, it makes sense.

New York Comic Con

It may not be as big as San Diego Comic Con, but New York Comic Con is happening this weekend. You can expect some tie-in deals from Amazon: one of my regular readers, Brian Hartman, commented on this, noticing it on trade paperbacks (the large size).

While Amazon recently bought the very popular Comixology app, they also have comic books available directly through the Kindle store:

Comic Books in the USA Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m not noticing a big sale there, but I did stumble across that there are over 4,000 comic books available as part of Kindle Unlimited! I keep seeing more and more value to that subscription…

Some books coming to TV

Movies and TV based on books can really drive up book sales…Gone Girl is #1 in the Kindle store right now, for example.

So, here’s a quick listing of some upcoming adaptations. Note that they might never make it to your screen…you never know for sure.

  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy on Spike
  • Steven Frey’s The Chairman on Spike
  • Richard D. Bronson’s War at the Shore on Spike
  • Mairi Hedderwick’s Katie Morag books on CBBC
  • Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel The Custom of the Country (to star Scarlett Johanssson), network to be determined
  • Dan Brown’s The Digital Fortress on ABC
  • Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, network to be determined

What do you think? Is there a book you would like to see adapted to TV? would you be excited to go to an Amazon physical store. Do you have  a prediction on Amazon’s Q3 financials? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Barnes & Noble partners with Overdrive on magazines for public libraries

October 9, 2014

Barnes & Noble partners with Overdrive on magazines for public libraries

In this

press release

Barnes & Noble announced today that they are partnering with Overdrive to make magazines and newspapers available through public libraries which can be read on NOOKs and NOOK apps.

Public libraries have quite a variety of e-media available (although it varies greatly from location to location).

Many of them have e-books, of course, but they also have audiobooks, videos…even comics.

Some of them have magazines now: Zinio, which I use on my

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

which I use to read Fortean Times, does it, although not with all magazines (at least not at all branches).

If you have the NOOK app on your device, you could use this (if your public library is participating…important ifs, there, both of them).

You could install the NOOK app on your PC, for example, and borrow just a current issue of a magazine, if there was a particular article you wanted to see.

I would love it if the Kindle Newsstand would do this as well!

There are times when I just want to read that one article…maybe a comparison of EBRs (E-Book Readers). I don’t want to keep it after that…I just want to get the information.

Buying a single issue can be more expensive than subscribing for a month and then canceling, oddly enough.

Take

National Geographic Magazine (at Amazon Smile*)

for example, to which we do subscribe.

You can get a trial month for free (which would probably get you the current issue you wanted).

You can subscribe for $1.99 a month (and cancel at any time, even keeping that “copy” on your device).

Or you can buy the current issue…for $4.99.

Hmm… ;)

It’s nice to see that B&N is still trying new things, still pushing the race for customers to higher speeds.

That’s only good for us as Amazon customers.

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.

Who is still blocking text-to-speech access?

October 8, 2014

Who is still blocking text-to-speech access?

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

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

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

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

The Disabled Deserve to Read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What might change it?

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

Earlier this year, Nate Hoffelder in this

The Digital Reader article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there more…? #1

October 7, 2014

Are there more…? #1

This is just a fun little game. It’s based on Amazon’s categories, and I used

eReaderIQ.com

to do the search.

In the USA Kindle store, are there more…

  1. Books about wombats or books about walruses?
  2. Books with the reader age of “teen” or cookbooks?
  3. Five star range books (probably 4.5 and up) that are free, or five star range books which cost at least $25?
  4. Science fiction and fantasy, or romance?
  5. Books in Japanese or books in French?
  6. Books by Stephen King or books by Agatha Christie?
  7. Books published in 2014, or books in the Classics category of Literature & Fiction?
  8. Books published by Harlequin or books with the keyword of “clown”?
  9. Books that are at least 50% off or books under $10?
  10. Books in Kindle Unlimited (I did not use eRIQ for this) or books in Spanish?

Answers tomorrow…

Update: here are the answers!

  1. Books about wombats or books about walruses? Wombats = 77; Walruses = 6
  2. Books with the reader age of “teen” or cookbooks? Teen = 16, 481; Cookbooks = 47,002
  3. Five star range books (probably 4.5 and up) that are free, or five star range books which cost at least $25? Free = 5,226; $25 or more = 27,736
  4. Science fiction and fantasy, or romance? SF&F = 178,327; Romance = 210,896
  5. Books in Japanese or books in French? Japanese = 28,502; French = 60,578
  6. Books by Stephen King or books by Agatha Christie? Stephen King = 242; Agatha Christie = 439
  7. Books published in 2014, or books in the Classics category of Literature & Fiction? 2014 = 708,668; Classics = 42,866
  8. Books published by Harlequin or books with the keyword of “clown”? Harlequin = 21,945; Clown = 835
  9. Books that are at least 50% off or books under $10? 50% = 1,814; Under $10 = 2,455,978
  10. Books in Kindle Unlimited (I did not use eRIQ for this) or books in Spanish? KU = 740,397; Spanish =  107,216

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

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


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