Amazon’s 2015 Q1: the investors like it!

April 25, 2015

Amazon’s 2015 Q1: the investors like it!

I’m used to Amazon announcing their financials, making massive sales, losing money overall, and the investors being mad.

Sales?

Worldwide revenues grew fifteen percent…that’s a massive amount for a company this big and this dominant. Paid unit growth grew faster (20%), which means that their growth of revenue grew more slowly than their growth of units. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were discounting more, it could mean that they were selling more units of the inexpensive stuff.

Massive sales, though? Check.

Profit?

Well, they muddied the waters a bit by breaking out their Web Services (which did really well), but contrary to when people tell you that Amazon is just trying to make a profit off its customers when they do things (which, by the way, is what they should be doing, right?), they aren’t. :)

Investors?

They loved this report!

According to

CNN.Money

the stock is up a remarkable 18.52% over the past five days.

Again, this is not a start-up.

Investors are starting to believe that Amazon can make the business pay off, especially the web services thing.

The consumer part of it, you and me, is certainly the public face of Amazon for most people, but they no longer live and die by it.

For those investors who are into the gadgets, I suspect that the Amazon Echo (not yet released to the public) is seen as a possible hit.

According to this

Boston Business Journal article by David Harris

Amazon is doing a lot of hiring for people to work on

the Echo

and has a whole floor dedicated to it already (in Cambridge).

Now, I should be clear: the Echo wasn’t mentioned in the call. You can read a transcript here:

Seeking Alpha

and listen to the call here

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5189997…click or tap “Click here for webcast”, then log-in

In fact, the words “Kindle” and “Fire” don’t appear at all in the transcript…but “Prime” does 46 times.

That is a shift…a considerable shift from past financial calls.

“Media” appears seven times…”books” appears once, but it doesn’t mean the kind Amazon sells, and it was a caller, not Amazon that used it.

“Video”, interestingly, appears thirteen times.

My guess is that that is part of what investors liked: Amazon was not positioning itself in this call as a retailer, as an organization that sells things.

It provides services, both to business (like AWS…Amazon Web Services) and consumers (Prime).

The Echo is about that, too…it’s not just that it is a device, it’s that it may become how some people connect to the internet (particularly when spending money at home).

I’m not worried about that focus. As consumers, we get some advantage if Amazon doesn’t really need to make money on the e-books and other items it sells. That means they can have lower prices (although the Big 5 publishers have some control over that for many books, Amazon can increasingly control it for books they publish or which are independently published but use Amazon’s platform).

I’ve said it before: Amazon’s most valuable product is happy customers (outside of its business to business work, and even then, it matters).

They need to keep us happy as consumers, so we’ll trust Amazon…or at least, want to purchase things through them (not necessarily from them).

That’s good for us. :)

What do you think? Has Amazon actually started shifting what it does, or is it just positioning itself differently? Do you have any concerns that they’ll decrease their focus on books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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.

May 2015 Kindle book releases

April 24, 2015

May 2015 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it. We have started to return to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances…I’ll have to dig into that effect.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 5,729 (at time of writing) May releases in the USA Kindle store:

May 2015 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 991 are in

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

about 17%.

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

One interesting thing before I get into some individual titles: the first four (sorted by new and popular) are the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month!

Since Prime members can already be reading one of these (even though they aren’t officially released until April) at no additional cost, you can see how that would drive up their popularity as compared to actual pre-orders. The top four being Kindle First was also true the last time I did one of these.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay…books!

  • Rock with Wings (Leaphorn and Chee Mysteries) by Anne Hillerman
  • A Shade of Vampire 13: A Turn of Tides by Bella Forrest (KU)
  • The Crown of Ptolemy (The Heroes of Olympus) by Rick Riordan
  • Born of Defiance (The League: Nemesis Rising Book 7) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles by Bernard Cornwell
  • Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig by Mark Essig
  • I, Ripper: A Novel by Stephen Hunter
  • Benchwarmer: A Sports-Obsessed Memoir of Fatherhood by Josh Wilker
  • American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal by Taya Kyle and Jim DeFelice
  • Sesame Street Let’s Cook! by Sesame Workshop
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
  • Archie 1000 Page Comics BLOW-OUT! (Archie 1000 Page Digests) by Archie Superstars
  • The Fall: A Novel by John Lescroart
  • Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
  • The Enemy Inside: A Paul Madriani Novel (Paul Madriani Novels Book 13) by Steve Martini
  • Shigeru Miyamoto: Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda (Influential Video Game Designers)by Jennifer deWinter
  • Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News by A. Brad Schwartz
  • What’s Your Story?: True Experiences from Complete Strangers by Brandon Doman
  • The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
  • Smart Blonde: The Life of Dolly Parton by Stephen Miller
  • The Rose Hotel: A Memoir of Loss and Renewal From Iran to America by Rahimeh Andalibian
  • Avengers Epic Collection: Behold… The Vision (Epic Collection: Avengers) by Roy Thomas and John Buscema
  • Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews
  • The Art of Inside Out (The Art of…) by Amy Poehler and Pete Docter
  • The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and its Analysis by the Moors Murderer Ian Brady by Ian Brady and Colin Wilson
  • Have Gun-Will Travel (TV Milestones Series) by Gaylyn Studlar
  • Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford
  • Piranha (The Oregon Files) by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Well, again…quite the mix!

Enjoy!

Join thousands 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 Book features: which devices?

April 23, 2015

Kindle Book features: which devices?

We’ve seen a lot of features offered over the years inside Kindle books.

However, they haven’t all been available on all devices (Kindle hardware and reading apps).

One of the biggest jumps was from the Kindle 1 (the 2007 model) to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX (which Amazon collectively calls the “5-Way Controller models”).

Those of us (including me) who had (or have) the 1st gen Kindle were rapidly left behind when the 2nd generation was released.

I never mind that. I figure if I thought something was a good value when I bought it, it’s still a good value…I don’t mind if others get more than I did. That doesn’t change my initial math, right? Oh, and you all do the math before you buy, right? ;)

It’s gotten a bit confusing as to which models have which features.

Fortunately, Amazon has a page which spells it out:

Features Available in Kindle Books (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They describe the feature (these are currently available features, by the way…for example, NowNow, which was on the 1st gen isn’t listed…and what they do list isn’t comprehensive), then tell you which devices have it.

I wanted to make a grid out of that…so I did. :)

I let you look at either a device and see which features it has, or a feature and you can see which devices have it.

I want to explain my abbreviations before you look at it.

The devices are these:

  • K1
  • K2
  • KDX (the large screen Kindle)
  • K3 (also known as a Kindle Keyboard)
  • Touch (Kindle Touch)
  • PPW (Paperwhite…either generation)
  • MTch (Mindle Touch…the current least expensive model)
  • Vyg (Voyage)
  • KF1 (Kindle Fire 1st generation)
  • KF2 (Kindle Fire 2nd generation
  • KFHD (Kindle Fire HD)
  • KFHDX (Kindle Fire HDX)
  • FHD (Fire HD
  • FHDX (Fire HDX)
  • CR (Cloud Reader)
  • Droid (Kindle for Android)
  • Sams (Kindle for Samsung)
  • iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch…but check the asterisks)
  • Win8 (Windows 8)
  • PC
  • Mac

and the features are:

  • TPU (Text Pop-Up)
  • Pnl (Panel View: for comics)
  • Rep (Print Replica)
  • WSV (Whispersync for Voice…you can listen to an audiobook or sight-read, not necessarily on the same device, and maintain your place…I only listed the devices here on which you can sight read with this feature)
  • Imm (Immersion Reading…you can read and listen at the same time on the same device,with words highlighted)
  • XRy (X-Ray)
  • TTS (text-to-speech)
  • AV (Audio-Visual…movies and sound within the book)
Device TPU Pnl Rep WSV Imm XRy TTS AV
K1
K2 X X
KDX X X
K3 X X X X
Touch X X X X X
PPW X X X X
MTch X X X X
Vyg X X X X
KF1 X X X X
KF2 X X X X X X X X
KFHD X X X X X X X X
KFHDX X X X X X X X X
FHD X X X X X X X X
FHDX X X X X X X X X
CR X X X X
Droid X X X* X X
Sams X X X* X
iOS X X X** X X X
Win8 X X X
PC X X X***
Mac X X

* Tablets only (not phones)

** iPad or iPhone (not the iPod touch)

*** With an accessibility plug-in

That should give you current state on this, although it can change…both through the introduction of new devices, and by Amazon adding these features to more of the existing devices. I’d be quite surprised if they took any of the existing features away from existing devices…no real reason to do that, unless they abandon a feature altogether.

Hope that helps…

If you think something here isn’t correct (Amazon doesn’t always update the pages, and I could have made a mistake…I did make some interpretations of what Amazon was saying), or if you have any questions about these or other features, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. Oh, I should also mention that I’m looking at Amazon.com: it’s possible that some of these features have not been approved for some countries…it may often be a negotiation with the publisher.

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

* 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.

Pulitzers and Hugos, 2015

April 21, 2015

Pulitzers and Hugos, 2015

Pulitzer Prize winners

The Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced:

Official Site

and it’s reasonable to expect the prices to come down on the involved books in the next day or so, at least for a short time. People might cynically expect it to go up, but there is likely to be a mini price war, and Amazon tends to match others’ prices.

Congratulations go to:

Winning a Pulitzer is like winning an Oscar: for the rest of your life, you’ll be introduced as “Pulitzer Prize winning author so-and-so”. :)

The Hugo Awards

I was originally going to do a full story just on this, then I was going to put in a round-up…but it fit best in this post.

I’ve been holding off on writing about it, because I wanted to investigate it more, to get more angles on it…but it’s just continuing to grow and I want to alert you to it now.

The Hugo Awards are one of the most prestigious in science fiction literature, with a long and storied history.

Official Site

As reader and commenter John Aga pointed out to me in a comment,

Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2) (at AmazonSmile*)

by Marko Kloos, is a Hugo-nominated novel published by one of Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints, 47North.

Well, perhaps I should say, “was a Hugo-nominated novel”, because Kloos has withdrawn it from consideration.

If you go to the link I gave you for the Hugo Awards, you won’t see it listed.

It’s been replaced in the list by The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu translator).

This has nothing to do with the book being published by Amazon.

It has to do with the way books get nominated for the Hugos, and concerns about how that may have been influenced this year.

Essentially, a group wanted to ensure that nominated books fit within their definitions of science fiction…so they took steps to see that happened.

The controversy is that there are many who don’t agree with their views, and feel that those steps they took may have “hijacked” the nominations.

I don’t want to get too much into it, because I want to know more about what “Sad Puppies” says about it.

I’ve read plenty of things about people who disagree with them, but before I possibly influence you, I want to see it more firsthand.

Kloos isn’t the only person to withdraw a nomination this year, and  even George R.R. Martin has commented on it.

Here’s a Google search for new on it:

https://www.google.com/search?client=aff-maxthon-maxthon4&channel=t26&q=hugo%20awards&gws_rd=ssl#q=hugo+awards&safe=off&affdom=thehugoawards.org&channel=t26&tbm=nws

What do you think? Have you ever read a book in part because it was a Pulitzer-winner (or nominee)? How do awards affect you? How do you think awards should be given? Should literary genres be “preserved” (by having them follow traditional guidelines)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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.

Great deal! Fire HD 7″ for $79 today

April 20, 2015

Great deal! Fire HD 7″ for $79 today

You may not think you are in the  market for a backlit tablet, like the

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

but today’s deal should make you seriously think about it.

Amazon has the 7″ Fire HD on sale starting at $79!

That makes it $20 less than the usually lowest-priced tablet, the

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*)

and even more remarkably, the same price as the

Seventh generation entry level Kindle…I call it the “Mindle Touch” (it replaces the old “minimum Kindle”, and has a touchscreen) or the “K7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) (my review)

That’s right…you can get a tablet for the same price as the least expensive EBR (E-Book Reader).

Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m suggesting you would get rid of an EBR: like many people, I use both every day.

I use a

Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile*) (Kindle Paperwhite 2: first impressions and menu map)

at home when I go to bed and a

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation – 3rd) (at AmazonSmile*)

when I am out and about.

I should empathize that: I sight read on a tablet. When we first had a choice of a tablet or an EBR (or again, both), there was a great deal of talk about how much better it is to read on an EBR.

Yes, I get that: the Paperwhite is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had, and that includes paper.

However, I find the HDX to be a serviceable reader. I think part of it is that the screen technologies and software have changed…with the brightness turned almost all the way down, and white letters on a black background, I don’t notice any extra eye effort (although I do have superior night vision, which I believe is tied to some color vision deficiency).

In addition (and for me, this is highly significant), the tablets (including the one on sale for $79) have text-to-speech (TTS), software which reads a book out loud to you.

I use TTS typically for hours a week in the car while commuting.

Of course, a tablet gives you other abilities…like video, apps, and web surfing.

This would be an excellent “guest Kindle”! We have the 6″ Fire hD for that purpose now, but a 7″ screen is a bit nicer.

What does this one not have that my HDX has?

The biggest thing is the lack of Mayday, the almost instant onscreen tech help.

On the other hand, this model has two cameras, front and back, and my HDX only has one (mostly for video calls and such, it faces you as you hold the device).

Bottom line: even if they bring out another generation later this year, this would be a good gift for the holidays, a nice intro to tablets, and a good guest device.

Check the price before you click or tap the Buy button…it may not apply in your country.

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

* 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.

That’s just sic (sic)

April 19, 2015

That’s just sic (sic)

When I was going through my morning

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

read this morning, I have to say I was amused…or was it  appalled?   Annoyed? It was one of those “A” words, but really, I’m only good at the first one. ;) I’m going with amused…to see a quotation in a news article coming from WikiLeaks.

The quote said something about “centre (sic)”.

Now, the use of “sic” (a Latin word basically meaning “thus”, as I understand it) is usually intended to convey something like, “Hey, this is the way I found it…I didn’t make this mistake”.

That just struck me as odd in this case.

I would assume that anyone who understood the use of “sic” would also know that “centre” isn’t odd or an error…it’s the way the word is spelled in the UK (and other places), and was the “proper” spelling in the U.S.A. for a long time.

I always like to remind people that Noah Webster was really making a point in 1828. Webster wanted to separate American spellings from British spellings. That’s not to say that it was totally made up (“center” and “color” predate the dictionary), but like today’s chat speak, part of doing it for some people is to make a political or social point.

I’d really like to know why the writer of the article I was reading chose to put in that “sic”. Was it because the writer thought it was an error…or thought the readers would?

If you are a “serious reader”, as I’m sure many of you are, you may find that you spell some things differently from many of your colleagues.

For example, for me, “theatre” is the natural spelling…but right now, WordPress has put a red wavy underline under that spelling for me, to let me know it is “wrong”. :)

I’m sure I’ve been influenced by being a fan of 19th Century literature. Even when I’m reading translations from, say, Russian, they tend to be in British English more than American English…they follow Samuel Johnson rather than Noah Webster.

I’ve mentioned before that our adult kid is a linguist, and, thanks to that, I’ve come around to the idea that if the language serves its purpose, it is correct. Language often changes over time, so that what you might be adamantly insisting on now may have been incorrect in the past (and vice versa).

Certainly, even more so, the spelling can vary in different cultures.

I was pulled up short by seeing the spelling “kerb” in Australia years ago, for what would be spelled “curb” in the USA (it was some sort of traffic or warning sign…I think it may have been about where to stand).

Obviously, I knew what it meant…I think, nowadays, I would simply find it more amusing (there’s that word again) and charming, but I do think I’ve become a better person over the years (I think the majority of people do). Oh, I wasn’t irritated then, but I think I thought it was funnier than I would now…there was perhaps a tad bit of  condescension  on my part, which was inappropriate.

I also catch myself spelling the same word different ways at different times…not through error or inattention, but perhaps through context.

For me, James Bond has a licence to kill, and I have a driver’s license. I assume I first read James Bond in a British edition, where the second “C” would be common, and that I’ve been seeing  the “S” at the American DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). In England, I believe the “S” is the verb and “C” is the noun…in America, we just use the “S” version for both.

Here’s another example: how do you pronounce the word “Caribbean”? Obviously, this one isn’t just from reading, but from usage.

For me, the first syllable rhymes with “bear” in the place (and is emphasized), and it rhymes with “fur” in the adjective (and the third syllable is lightly emphasized).

So, I could hear the word out of context, and if someone was following my preferred pronunciations, I would know if it was a noun or an adjective…but honestly, how often is that situation going to arise? :)

I also use British slang at times (as well as some other dialects of English). When I’m surprised by something, I may say, “Hello!” and pretty commonly, “Hello, what’s this?” That’s not something that my fellow Americans say very often, with that connotation.

As a trainer, though, I have the ability to monitor what I am saying and adjust it for my audience. When I used to hire trainers, I would explain that the ability to “dissociate” (I use that to mean to be able to think about one thing while doing something else) was something I wanted.

I have empathy (another quality of trainers) for the people in the room…I can get a pretty good sense of how they feel. If I realize that they aren’t understanding my “big words”, for instance, I will dial that back (if they aren’t needed for the context).

I also now find that happens a lot for me with pop culture references. I may make a reference to The Man from U.N.C.L.E.** as easily as I’ll make one to Zayn leaving One Direction. I can tell if my students understand one or the other or both, and again, may make a joke about it and adjust.

My point in all this, as it has to do with reading, is that variety in spelling is fine with me…but I do think there is a tendency to standardize. That standardization is going to frequently move towards the American, for a few reasons:

  • America is a really big market…just like New York, if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere ;)
  • Much of the software, such as spell checking, is written in the U.S.A.. It may have regional settings, but I think many people simply don’t change them, even to match their own place of residence
  • This may be a stereotype, but Americans may be less…tolerant of understanding other culture’s local linguistics than they are of ours. Of course, the French are famously protective of their language, but it is seen as an American thing as well. I’ve also mentioned this before, but I sometimes see Americans derided for, by and large, not being bilingual (compared to, say, Europeans). I do think one legitimate reason for that is that we are a large country without a lot of other languages easily accessible to us (one exception being Spanish from Mexico, and French from parts near French-speaking Canada…and those are the two languages which are perhaps the most popular “second” languages for Americans). In Europe, you could probably drive through five different “language zones” in a day. We do have a lot of immigration, so there are many languages spoken in the USA…but again, by and large, we expect immigrants to learn English. We do voting materials in several languages, and where I work, we have a translation line with something like 300 languages available, but perhaps because we have such a heterogeneous country, it would be quite complex to expect everyone to learn everyone else’s language, so we standardize to English. Wow, that is probably the most complex sentence I’ve ever written in the blog!

What do you think? Do people ever think you are from another country because you’ve used a word or phrase you learned in a book? Are you comfortable with seeing words spelled differently from what you expect, or will that pull you out of a book? Would you rather read a book (Harry Potter is a good example) with the original language, or would you prefer it was “regionalized” for your country? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

* 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! :) 

** The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a popular 1960s TV show (I like 19th Century literature and 1960s TV). Fortunately for me, there is a big screen remake coming out this year, so my references may make more sense to more people ;)

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.

Ends Saturday: up to $105 in paid apps for free

April 18, 2015

Ends Saturday: up to $105 in paid apps for free

In celebration of spring, Amazon is giving away apps for which you  would normally pay:

Up to $105 in Apps and Games Free (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM (Pacific) on Saturday, April 18th.

There are some with thousands of reviews here…one of the highest rated is

Plants vs. Zombies

with a 4.4 rating out of 5 stars, and 4,188 customer reviews.

Another stand-out is the Oxford Spanish Dictionary, which normally costs $19.99. 4.5 stars, although only six reviews. It looks like it is a pretty sophisticated app. I don’t believe it can be used as the look-up dictionary, but it does let you favorite word, and has a “fuzzy filter”, so you don’t need to spell things correctly. This is a bilingual dictionary, by the way, designed in part for learning.

Other titles:

  • Virtua Tennis Challenge
  • Unmechanical
  • RRDP Pro Client
  • Amazing Alex Premium
  • Osmos HD
  • Pudding Monsters HD
  • Table Top Racing
  • LectureNotes
  • Fun English Course
  • Wolfram Alpha
  • Chess and Mate
  • Adventure Time Game Wizard
  • Songster Guitar Tabs & Chords
  • F18 Carrier Landing II Pro
  • Flightradar 24 Pro
  • MeteoEarth
  • Splashtop Whiteboard
  • Prince of Persia Classic
  • Mobile Doc Scanner
  • TouchDraw

As always, check the price before you hit that Buy button…this may not apply in your country.

Enjoy!

Bonus deal: you know I always like to do something with books, right? :)

Goodreads (owned by Amazon) has a group where publishers/authors can post that they are giving away books:

Free Book Giveaway Goodreads group

Not every book being given away is in the Kindle store, and some of them are a chance to “win” one…there may be only one or two copies available.

However, you are also likely to find ones that are available free for a limited time through the Kindle store.

It’s worth checking, and I may let you know about some of them as well, from time to time.

Join thousands 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.

The Clone Ranger

April 17, 2015

The Clone Ranger

VERY MILD SPOILER ALERT

Amazon is making the first season/series of Orphan Black free to stream tomorrow. For details, see my post in my Measured Circle blog:

Free for all Friday: Orphan Black S1 from Amazon

Shh…the series involves clones. ;)

That’s not much of a spoiler, because it’s probably in every mention you ever see about it…and the fans of the show call themselves the “Clone Club” (in addition to referring to characters on the show).

So, it’s sort of as much of a spoiler as saying that Star Wars takes place partially in space…

END VERY MILD SPOILER

It’s amazing what can be a popular topic in the Kindle store!

I was inspired recently to look to see what I would find by using the search word “clone”.

“Clone” search in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I got 1,036 results!

373 of those were available to read at no additional cost if you have a

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

subscription.

Most of the books were listed as science fiction, but we have to remember that cloning isn’t science fiction…it’s been done in real life.

There are a lot of associations with cloning…some of them real, some not.

Clones occur in nature, for example, although many people have the connotation of them only being done by scientists.

A clone is produced without sex…bacteria clone themselves, for example.

In science fiction, though, we typically think of it as a scientist taking some small element of a person (they just need DNA…but the idea of cloning was around before DNA was defined) and “growing” an identical person.

Often, they have some highly accelerated way of growing them, so that a thirty year old person can meet their thirty year old clone. In reality, it would be much more likely that if you cloned someone at thirty, they could be sixty when their clone was thirty (give or take…some initial growth stages might be accelerated).

There is also a considerable amount of stories about cloning animals…including extinct animals if you can get the DNA. Jurassic Park is a particularly famous cloning novel.

There is real world talk right now of cloning mammoths…we could bring the species “back to life”, very much like Jurassic Park.

They would use an elephant in part as the incubator, or at least, that’s one suggestion.

Speaking of bringing things back to life, “reviving” specific people is also part of clone fiction: Adolf Hitler, for one, in Ira Levin’s The Boys from Brazil (and other books).

There are a lot of ethical questions involved here. A common theme is that the clones are seen as less than sexually produced humans…they may be used as “cannon fodder” (Star Wars does that), or to provide organs for transplant.

In many cases, the clones don’t know they are clones initially…that can make for some real drama!

Also, a clone need not be identical: it would be possible to manipulate the DNA to produce something different.

Here are five books which I think show some of the variety in clone tomes:

  1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro…who won the Booker Prize and wrote The Remains of the Day
  2. The Klone and I by Danielle Steele: probably not someone you think of as a science fiction writer
  3. The Third Twin by Ken Follett: again, probably doesn’t have a space reserved on your science fiction shelf
  4. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm: Kate Wilhelm, on the other hand, does…a Hugo and Nebula Award winning author, and many consider this book a classic of the genre
  5. Clone: The Road to Dolly, and the Path Ahead by Gina Kolata…non-fiction

Do you have a favorite clone book? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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.

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

April 16, 2015

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

Huge kudos to

Agent Hunter

for a really fascinating survey of tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors!

You can see the entire dataset of twenty-nine questions (and three more items) here:

http://agenthunter.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Data_All_Final.pdf

to get the results from 812 respondents.

This is an immensely intriguing survey!

I hear it a lot: people are surprised that authors stay with their traditional publishers when they could just self publish and get a much bigger cut.

There are a lot of reasons for that…and they don’t apply to every author.

At this point in the evolution of publishing, being with a tradpub is a bigger benefit if you are already a success than if you are just beginning.

That doesn’t mean that a first novelist shouldn’t be with a tradpub…it’s just that people like Stephen King get more out of the deal than someone who doesn’t have a track record.

Think of it a bit like…taking a cab.

A lot of people don’t own cars nowadays. They may use Zip cars, or Uber, or Lyft, or public transit…or cabs.

So, let’s say you don’t take a cab, but you need to drive through a town.

One option is to own the car.

You have to put your money into it.

You have to deal with the legalities (like registration and insurance).

You have to know where you are going.

The cabs get to drive right up to the front door of the hotel, or to the airport…you aren’t allowed to do that and just leave your car there. You have to park…and pay for parking.

When you independently publish, it’s like owning the car.

With a cab, you have to have the money to pay for it. Then, if it’s a reputable cab, the rest of it is done by somebody else. They know how to get there. They pay for gas, tolls, registration, and so on.

If you are already a success, and you know that when you get to your appointment you are going to make a lot of money, paying for a cab makes sense.

If you don’t have much money, and don’t know that the trip is going to be profitable, it may not.

Let me focus for right now on two questions: I don’t want to take too much away from the survey.

Question 24 says, “Amazon and other e-book distributors
pay a 70% royalty to authors (assuming your price is $2.99–$9.99), as opposed to the roughly 17.5% paid by most publishers.
If you did self-publish an e-book, how do you expect you would fare financially?”

The first interesting thing about this to me is that more than half of the respondents skipped the question!

Now, you may guess that’s due to question fatigue (sometimes, the farther you get in a survey, the fewer answers you get), but about 90% of the respondents answered the previous question.

No, I think there are a couple of possibilities.

One is that people are afraid to think about it. They may even have been shocked by the 70% figure…they might have had no idea it could be that high.

Another is that, well, it has numbers in it. ;)

Not everybody who is good with words loves math. That might have put off some people as well.

The most popular answer (besides “I don’t know”) by far was that they would lose money. 23.78% thought that would happen…only 15.14% thought they would make more money.

The answers make it look as though the choice is between an independently published e-book and no p-book (paperbook) version, or a tradpubbed e-book and p-book.

That’s not an unreasonable thing to say.

Yes, you can do a p-book version independently through Amazon along with your e-book, but that’s a tiny slice of the p-book market…certainly, as long as people still buy p-books in stores (and that includes places like Costco and grocery stores).

Question 25 is even more interesting to me:

“If you were to self-publish, you would have control over every aspect of publication. How would you feel about that prospect?”

Even fewer people answered that one…only about 41%.

You might think everybody wants to be in control of the process…but fully 36.63% of respondents were “Horrified/negative” on it. That’s about 12% more than the “Excited/positive” group.

I can understand that.

Can’t you see wanting to be somebody who just writes? Who doesn’t have to worry about proofreading, and layout, and filing the copyright?

You may think you want to be in control of everything…but do you want to do your own appendectomy? ;) In my case, I definitely don’t want to be the person fixing my car!

My Significant Other made a great point to me a long time ago.

We are not good at gardening…we just aren’t. Oh, one of us can get out there with a weed eater and cut down the weeds. I did that recently, at least part of it. The weeds were twice as tall as our dogs (we have short dogs). I bought a new weed eater (they have really improved the technology since the last time I bought one!), and literally did it until I came to the end of the line. ;) When that spool was out, I had to stop…got more through Prime, so one of us will do more of the yard soon.

Anyway, the point my SO made was that, if there are people who are good at doing something and want to do it, and we are bad at it and don’t like it, and (and this point is important) we can afford to pay them to do it…we are keeping them from putting food on the table for their kids for essentially selfish reasons.

One big reason to have money is to help other people, as far as I’m concerned.

We aren’t rich (although that’s always going to be a relative term to people), but we can afford to pay somebody a couple of times a year to trim the trees and cut down the weeds and haul everything away.

For some authors, it may be a bit like that with their publishers. Yes, anybody can try to be a marketer, or a proofreader…but paying somebody (by taking a relatively lower royalty) may be the right thing to do.

Of course, it goes far beyond that.

I’ve helped some people by reading their drafts and making comments.

There is no question that some editors and authors have had terrific partnerships. The editor doesn’t write the book, but helps the author improve it by making suggestions.

I’ve seen it with some authors (who shall remain nameless) where it seems to me that they become brand names…and people stop editing them as strongly, and their work (although not necessarily their sales) suffers for it.

If  you are at all interested in the actual source of the books you read (the authors), I’d recommend you spend some time with this survey. You may also find the anonymous pseudo-tweets they asked people to write (although they have to be shorter than tweets…120 characters)…one set of them is to Jeff Bezos. Some of them are very praising, others are negative…with themes running through both. I have to say, I was a bit perplexed with one accusing Amazon of making “obscene profits”…that’s somebody who hasn’t ever looked at an Amazon financial statement! Many of the comments had to do with taxes, and with treating employees better.

Once again, congratulations to Agent Finder! The questions are entertaining, and the answers informative.

After you’ve read it, I’d be interested in what you think about it…you can tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #291: HarperCollins/Amazon deal, $20 off Paperwhite

April 14, 2015

Round up #291: HarperCollins/Amazon deal, $20 off Paperwhite

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

Book collecting: how has the presence of e-books affected it?

I’ll admit to being surprised by this

Wall Street Journal post by Steven Rosenbush

I have collectible books…oh, not books worth thousands of dollars, but I’ve paid $100 for a single book.

I’ve also “collected” all of a single series, although that’s not quite the same thing.

What would I guess would have happened to the collectible book market in the past few years?

I thought prices would have gone up.

My intuition is that people will see the rise in e-books as meaning that there will be fewer p-books (paperbooks) to collect in the future. Lessening supply with the same demand could mean a rise in prices.

I also figured there would be an “endangered species” mentality. Falsely, I think, there was this sense that p-books were simply going to disappear.

Remember that p-books decay. Different quality p-books (in terms of materials used and production methods) decay at different rates, but pages can become brittle with age.

If they are actually (gasp!) read, the situation is even worse for them.

I’ve had people surprised that I could read a mass market paperback and still have it look like new at the end, and that’s not how it is with most people. The spines get broken, people “dog ear” pages, things get spilled on them,they get exposed to the elements…people tout p-books as one of the great technological innovations of all time, and that’s reasonable…but they aren’t invulnerable.

If we stopped making p-books, the world supply of them would dwindle over time, and I thought that would be the collectors’ collective vision.

Nope, according to this article, the business has been stable.

To me, that’s a bad omen for the future of p-books.

On the other hand, collectors aren’t the same as readers (although there is some overlap). A collector (especially one doing it for investment purposes) sees the book as an object…not as a story. If this physical object was signed by someone, or owned by someone,  or is rare in some way…that all makes it more valuable for a collector, but not particularly for someone just wanting to read the contents.

Regardless, I do think there will continue to be a market for collectible p-books…and I do think we’ll eventually see prices rise, even if it hasn’t happened yet.

Will subsers be the new MMPs?

One of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, said something that got me thinking about the role of subsers (subscription services) in the future.

Let’s say a novel is released today. We’ll say the hardback is list priced (the price the publisher puts on it) at $25, and the e-book is priced at $12.99.

A year from now, the trade paperback comes out at $15.

Does the e-book drop?

Not necessarily.

A year later, the mass market paperback (MMP) comes out at $9.99.

Then, yes, I’d expect the e-book to at least match that price, if not go a bit lower.

However…

There is a possibility that publishers simply stop issuing MMPs for popular novels.

I think it’s a possibility that books come out at a price like $25 (although I’ve suggested before that some new novels could get as high as $50), then maybe drop some after the first year…let’s say $20.

Then, that’s it.

The e-book comes out at perhaps $12.99…and doesn’t drop (except for sales).

Where do “casual readers” get that book? After all, they are a big part of the market.

They get it after it is on the “frontlist” (that would depend on its success, but let’s call it two years for a popular book…I expect to see fewer books altogether, and the ones from tradpubs…traditional publishers…to stay on the New York Times bestseller list longer on average) when it becomes part of a subser, like

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

MMPs were not really released for people who wanted to own a book or gift a book. They were really intended to be read and then to fall apart…which is not that different an experience from reading a book as part of a subser but not owning it.

I’m  just kicking around this idea, but I do think it’s a possibility.

HarperCollins and Amazon reportedly reach a deal

Four down, one to go.

It’s possible that at some point, a tradpub and Amazon will part ways…but today is not that day.

According to this

New York Times article by David Streitfeld

and other sources, Amazon and HarperCollins have reached an agreement which will keep the publisher’s books in the e-tailer’s store.

While these deals don’t really become public, it sounds like all four of the Big 5 who have come to terms (Penguin Random House hasn’t, yet…that doesn’t mean they are fighting, it may just not be time) have pretty much the same thing.

The publisher sets the price (yes, this is the Agency Model), and Amazon can incentivize them to discount the books.

Publishers haven’t yet figured out how to do without Amazon…and  while Amazon is becoming less dependent on tradpubs over time (Amazon published books regularly top their own bestseller lists…in the Kindle store), they are still in business with them big time.

I think that eventually, that business may consist of backlist titles…which could largely be in subsers (see above).

For now (and this is a multiyear deal), things continue.

Amazon Financials on April 23rd

According to this

press release

Amazon will do its next quarterly financials call on April 23rd at 2:30 PM Pacific.

I think this may be a particularly interesting one…they seem to be pushing a bit into a new direction. We’ll see…

Paperwhite 2 $20 off today

The

Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile*)

which is the current model, is $20 off today. That makes it under $100 ($99, to be precise) for the lowest priced configuration.

This is the model of Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) that I use every day.

I like it enough that I chose not to go to the Kindle Voyage…and from everything I’ve heard, I don’t regret that decision at all.

I’m quite happy with both that and my

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

These are both devices which do what they are designed to do very well…I’ve been quite satisfied with them both.

I can contrast that with my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

and our

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

and

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

The Fire Phone is a serviceable phone, but I did like my Galaxy better.

The Amazon Fire TV is good…better than our Roku (which we’ve stopped using). I do expect it to get quite a bit better.

The Fire TV Stick is noticeably not as good as the Fire TV. It takes it much longer to load something, for example, the video stutters quite a bit (it’s on the same network at the Fire TV), and I find I need to restart it every couple of days (by holding in the select and play buttons together for about ten seconds).

The only big thing I see missing in the Paperwhite is sound (especially for text-to-speech, which I use every workday), and for my Kindle Fire HDX, it would be nice to have a rear-facing camera.

I would say this Paperwhite deal is a good one…if you are looking for a gift (they may discount it again for Mothers’ Day), or for a Guest Kindle…or even if you are just ready to replace an older model (keeping in mind the lack of audio), this is a good buy.

What do you think? What’s been your favorite Kindle/Fire model so far? Penguin Random House has always been a bit of an outlier…how will their negotiations with Amazon go? When will a publisher break with Amazon…if ever? What gadgets (including non-Amazon) have you had in your life which achieved the state of satisfying you? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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.


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