Round up #297: Bookcon, Alexa plays a game

May 24, 2015

Round up #297: Bookcon, Alexa plays a game

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

Copy text on the Kindle Fire HDX

When did this happen?

People have often asked about copying text from a Kindle book. They want to paste it somewhere else…an e-mail, a Word document, that kind of thing.

The answer in the past has usually been to highlight it in the book, then go to

https://kindle.amazon.com

From there, you could copy and paste.

Not very convenient.

I was just highlighting something in a book I was reading on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

by “long pressing” (hold your finger or stylus on something on the screen for about a second) and dragging ove what I wanted, when I was that one of the choices was to “copy”.

When I tapped the copy button, it told me it was copied to the clipboard.

The “clipboard” is what Microsoft calls the place where something is temporarily stored when you copy something and then paste it somewhere else.

Back before we had Windows, I created something similar for myself…I called it the “bucket”, but the idea was the same. :)

I could then go to the native e-mail program, start a new message, and long press again to paste.

I was also able to paste it into a new document in

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

Well, this will make things a lot more convenient! It also makes the Fire tablet a much more capable device for work and school.

I am on version 9.8_1– of the Amazon Kindle app.

When I copied on Kindle for PC, it would give me a citation (identify the source of the book), but I’m actually glad this one doesn’t do that. :) I wouldn’t mind having the option of the either one of the two…

A game you can play with your Amazon Echo

Back when the Amazon Kindle was first introduced in 2007, one question we would get was whether or not it played games.

It did, actually…I wrote about that back in 2010:

It’s the games Kindles play

There was a hidden version of “Minesweeper”.

Certainly, you may want to use your EBR (E-Book Reader) only for, you know, reading, but I think it’s nice to have the option. ;)

I’m guessing that the

Amazon Echo

Amazon’s “ambient computing” device (you talk to it…it does stuff) is going to have a general release in early July. That’s based on them not taking invitations any more, on it saying it is in stock on July 8th, and on them asking for video testimonials for it.

I’m sure people will ask if you can play games with it.

I asked mine it if played games, and it didn’t have an answer.

However, I tried:

“Alexa, scissors, paper, rock.”

Alexa responded with: “OK, let’s play. 3… 2… 1… scissors!”

Each time I ask, it responds with one of the three play options…and I don’t know which one it will choose.

In case you don’t know:

  • scissors cuts (wins over) paper
  • paper covers (wins over) rock
  • rock smashes (wins over) scissors

If you both “throw” the same choice, no one wins.

Have fun!

Oh, and for those of you who were curious…Alexa did not respond to the Big Bang Theory variant, “scissors, paper, rock, lizard, Spock”. ;)

Update: thanks to regular reader and commenter Phink for giving me the proper order to say the sequence…it should be “rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock”.  Then the Echo played the game! I’d never played it that way before, and interestingly, we both threw Spock. :) I also didn’t know that it had originated before the Big Bang Theory, with Sam Kass and Karen Bryla. Thanks, Phink!

For more conversations I have had with the Echo, see

Alexa says

Yes, I did reference WarGames, and say, “Alexa, shall we play a game?” ;) That didn’t get me much, but when I said, “Alexa, play global thermonuclear war,” the Echo responded, “I’d rather play chess.”

We bought a new computer…

…and we didn’t buy it from Amazon.

Honestly, I really wanted it to buy it from Amazon…not least because I could buy it at

http://smile.amazon.com

and get Amazon to donate some money to my designated non-profit (fifty cents per $100 I spend).

I also have credit at Amazon from doing our taxes through Turbotax (you can get a bonus on your refund if you take part of it as an Amazon gift card), and we have Prime, for free shipping.

Add it that I just like Amazon :) and there’s usually no good reason to buy something big anywhere else.

In this case, though, I get e-mails from TigerDirect (I’ve used them in the past).

We’d already pretty much decided on a Lenova laptop.

Some of you may remember that we bought an Asus two-in-one not too long ago (it converts from a tablet to a laptop by means of a detachable keyboard).

The problem with that one?

The keyboard is really too small.

I type pretty well, and typing is what often moves me from using my Fire to something else.

I just can’t do it comfortably enough on that Asus.

It’s still a valuable device for us, and I use it in addition to a desktop we’ve had for many years…and that is, well, let’s call it geriatric. ;)

This laptop (I’m using it now) is more of a replacement for the desktop, eventually.

TigerDirect had Lenovo G50s for about $100 less than Amazon…and more memory.

I tried to get one once, and it sold out to quickly.

So, when one came up again, I went for it.

Earlier, I had pointed out to my Significant Other that getting one from Amazon would be free shipping…and my SO asked, perfectly reasonably, “Will the shipping be $100?” ;)

Nope…the shipping was about $9.

Just made sense to go with TigerDirect in this case.

I did install the Kindle app on it…you knew I was going to get back to the Kindle eventually, right? ;)

The Kindle app for Windows 8.1 does look beautiful! I’m not often impressed with the graphic design of an app, but I was with this one.

The one negative right offhand was that

Creepy Archives Volume 1 (Creepy Archives Box Set) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

wouldn’t open, and told me it wasn’t compatible with this version of the Kindle app.

I’d already read it, but I just thought it would look good on this big screen. :)

“A Podcaster’s Passion for Ebooks”

This is a great

article by Len Edgerly

who does The Kindle Chronicles podcast (I’ve appeared on it, but not for years).

Len has been reporting on Kindles and e-books longer than I have, and brings an informed and compassionate viewpoint (a rare combination).

I enjoyed this piece, and I think you will, too.

HuffPost: “8 Books to Read Over A Long Holiday Weekend”

I know the weekend’s more than half over, but you weren’t going to read just one book, right? ;)

Huffington Post Oprah Winfrey Network article

I think it’s an interesting set of choices…always a tough thing to do.

Bookcon is next week

I’ve mentioned before (although I’m not sure that I’ve done it in the blog) that I find it interesting that we have great celebrations for movies and TV, and not much for books.

I do understand that: reading is a very intimate activity, and so is writing.

However…

Authors seem to me to have become more pop culture friendly in the past decade or so.

Also, I think that authors have become more of a brand name…more associate with the movies based on their books.

I would guess that most even casual moviegoers know John Green and Nicholas Sparks, in addition to knowing Stephen King.

This is the second year of

Bookcon

which is done by the same people who do New York Comic Con, among other things.

I think they are doing a good job!

It looks exciting, it looks fun…it looks “now”!

Sure, the literati might not approve of it. Mindy Kaling and Nick Offerman might not be put at a literary tea with Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse…but why not? It would make for one interesting conversation. ;)

Check out their site…gee, I wonder if there will be cosplay as literary characters?

What do you think? Did you plan out a book (or more) to read this weekend? Are you going to Bookcon? Is it okay to make books pop culture, or should they be “elevated”? Do you ever copy text from a Kindle book to something else? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

I Love My Kindle | Fun and information about the Kindle and the world of e-books

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.

 

Today’s KDD: up to 80% Off Popular Summer Reads

May 23, 2015

Today’s KDD: up to 80% Off Popular Summer Reads

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of fifteen “Popular Summer Reads” up to 80% off.

What makes a great summer read?

Well, I suppose you could make some selections based on release date. Summer is traditionally a big reading time…hypothetically, people have more time to read, especially students. It’s not just young people out of school, though. Many people take vacations during the summer, and that can be a great time to read.

That’s interesting…you would think that summer is about being active and being outdoors. You can read outdoors, of course. Oh, not as easily on a tablet as with a p-book (paperbook) or on an EBR like the

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

which you can read in bright sunlight just as easily as in a darkened room.4.4 s

There is, though, also that sense that summer is a time apart from your normal life. Maybe that’s ingrained in us from those school days. Maybe it’s that in some parts of the world, it really is nicer to travel in the summer.

Regardless, this set of books has some that would be good any time of year. ;) Remember that you can buy these as gifts at these low prices, and delay the delivery until the appropriate gift giving occasion.

As always, check the price before you click or tap that “Buy” button. These prices are just for today, and may not apply in your country.

Titles include:

  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen | 4.4 stars out of 5 | 6,853 customer reviews | $1.99 at time of writing
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri | 4.1 stars | 951 reviews | $2.99
  • The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan | 3.6 stars | 1,841 reviews | $1.99
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (no, this is not in the public domain) ;) | 4.4 stars | 1,101 reviews | $2.99
  • This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury | 4.7 stars | 148 reviews | $1.99

That’s just ten percent of them. ;)

Enjoy!

What do you think? What was one of your favorite summer reads? Do you feel like the season in which you read the book made a difference? Did you ever re-read a book in a different season and interpret it differently? What other books in this set would you recommend? 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.

June 2015 Kindle book releases

May 22, 2015

June 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.

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 5,519 (at time of writing) June releases in the USA Kindle store:

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

Of those, by the way, 858 are in

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

about 16% (a bit lower than last month).

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!

  • The Master Magician (The Paper Magician Series Book 3) by Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Manhattan Mayhem: New Crime Stories from Mystery Writers of America by Mary Higgins Clark and Lee Child
  • Connect: The Secret LinkedIn Playbook To Generate Leads, Build Relationships, And Dramatically Increase Your Sales by Josh Turner
  • Dirty Boys of Summer: Alphas, Billionaires, Bikers, and Jocks by Gennifer Albin and Evangeline Anderson (keep your eye open for this sort of thing…more than ten books in an omnibus for ninety-nine cents. I’m seeing more than just this one)
  • Tom Clancy Under Fire (A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel) by Grant Blackwood
  • In Plain Sight (Sisterhood) by Fern Michaels
  • Finders Keepers: A Novel by Stephen King
  • Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World H*llhole by Ann Coulter
  • The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Power of Meow by David Michie
  • Isn’t That Rich?: Life Among the 1 Percent by Richard Kirshenbaum and Michael Gross
  • Some Were In Time: Shift Happens Book Two by Robyn Peterman
  • Target Israel by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson
  • The Phantom Bully (Star Wars: Jedi Academy #3) by Jeffrey Brown
  • Downton Tabby (The Pampered Pets Series) by Sparkle Abbey
  • The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm by Max Beerbohm and Phillip Lopate
  • No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar
  • The Gentle Art of Murder: Dorothy Martin investigates (A Dorothy Martin Mystery) by Jeanne M. Dams
  • The Cost of Courage by Charles Kaiser
  • Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War by P. W. Singer and August Cole
  • The Paranormal Conspiracy: The Truth about Ghosts, Aliens, Mysterious Beings and the Deepest Longings of Your…by Timothy J. Dailey
  • Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran by Nina Ansary
  • Margery Allingham’s Mr Campion’s Fox: A brand-new Albert Campion mystery written by Mike Ripley by Mike Ripley
  • The English Spy by Daniel Silva
  • Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari
  • The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas
  • The Deeper Genome: Why there is more to the human genome than meets the eye by John Parrington
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison
  • A Stolen Childhood: A dark past, a terrible secret, a girl without a future by Casey Watson
  • Storm and Steel (The Book of the Black Earth) by Jon Sprunk
  • Anger: Taming a Powerful Emotion by Gary D Chapman
  • Blood Sisters (Katie Maguire) by Graham Masterton
  • Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer
  • Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos

Well, again…quite the mix!

June 1st also marks the publication of one of my siblings’ first novel:

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

Fascinating to watch how it’s doing as we get within ten days! Reviews from “regular readers” (as opposed to well-known authors and such) have started to show up at Amazon. Those will be from people who were part of the crowd sourcing campaign, who got the book pre-release. We were talking about it yesterday, and I mentioned that I don’t think I can fairly review it (given the relationship). Oh, I think I’d do okay at separating myself, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to do it. :)

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.

Reflections: 5 ways e-books are better

May 21, 2015

Reflections: 5 ways e-books are better

I didn’t think I would like e-books.

I was wrong.

Regular readers have heard me say that before. My first Kindle (one of the very first generation, which was released in 2007) was a gift.

Now, I’d had a very long history with paperbooks (p-books).

I’d been a bookstore manager, I used to travel with a separate suitcase just for books, I always had an “emergency book” with me (in case, tragedy of tragedies, I finished one while I was away from the house and had nothing to read), I had a floor to ceiling library (in a room which our kid eventually noticed was bigger than our kid’s bedroom), and owned books that were 100 years old.

That doesn’t mean I was a rich person who indulged in books as a hobby.

Those floor to ceiling bookshelves? They weren’t built-ins. We bought them “as is” from Ikea…some of them were as low as $5. Yep , five dollars for an assembled bookcase.

They don’t all exactly match, and we bought some of them with scratches and other imperfections.

I figured, hey, you aren’t going to see those anyway. I was right on that…the shelves are often two deep, with another layer with the books sideways on top.

Our best friends have said they will never help us move again, because of all the books. :)

I sometimes had the same book in several editions (The Wizard of Oz), for example, because I liked the actual morphology and design of the books, not just the words in them.

Like a lot of book people, I sort of dismissed e-books. Oh, I wouldn’t say I was dismissive of them, and I wouldn’t have denigrated anybody for reading them…they just seemed…ephemeral.

According to Isaac Bonewits, author of

Real Magic (at Amazon Smile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the Law of Contagion in magic (Bonewits has done non-fiction analysis of how magic is believed to work) is

“Objects or beings in physical or psychic contact with each other continue to interact after separation.”
http://www.neopagan.net/AT_Laws.html

I, irrationally, felt that physical books had a special connection with me.

I wouldn’t say I actually thought that was the case, but I felt it.

Books that I had since I was a child seemed almost alive to me, like old friends.

If I knew a book had been owned by someone else in particular, I felt (not thought, felt) that it was “imbued with their essence” in some way.

E-books? They weren’t going to have any of that.

However, I was willing to give it a try…you know, like augmented reality of Stephen King’s “3-D sound book” decades ago. I didn’t think it would actually become part of my life, but it would be fun to experience. Sort of like…you don’t take a roller coaster to work, but they can be great on vacation. ;)

Well, I would never have predicted that I would do all of my regular reading with e-books!

Yes, I go back every once in a while to look something up in one of my p-books, but my day to day reading? That’s all e.

Why is that?

Part of it, I think, is that I am good at changing my positions.

I’m always open to other ideas.

I love looking at a behavior of mine, sometimes one of which I am completely unaware, and finding a better way…and most importantly, being able to make that shift (and love it).

I want to be very clear: I didn’t change to e-books to be trendy. ;) I certainly did it before it was a trend, for one thing, but also, logically, I think they are better for my day to day reading.

Not better in every single circumstance. There is nothing wrong with reading p-books, and I want to see them all preserved. I don’t like art made out of books, where the books are destroyed in the process (like plates with embedded book covers…I’ve seen that sort of thing at arts and crafts fairs).

However, if I just want to read a book? It’s always an e-book now.

Here are five reasons why.

1. Text-to-speech

I would have laughed at the idea that I would like software reading me a book! This has been the biggest boon, the biggest shift. I typically listen to TTS for hours a week in the car. The technology has gotten much better over the years, which helps…but the main thing, as I like to say, is that driving is no longer “wasted non-reading time”. ;) If I’m in a position where I can as easily sight read as listen to text-to-speech, I’m going to sight read. That’s not always the case, though. Much of technology becomes adopted because it is “better than nothing”. That’s going to be the case with robots (which I write about quite often in my The Measured Circle blog. Is a robot caregiver in the home better than a licensed social worker for an autistic child? No. Is it better than nothing? Absolutely! You can’t afford to have a social worker in every autistic child’s home, and I can’t sight read while I’m driving. I would not consume books anywhere near as quickly as I do because of TTS. I think publishers make a mistake when they block the access, partially for that reason.

2. The invulnerability of e

When I read a p-book, you usually can’t tell it has been read. I don’t even break the spine on a mass market paperback. That is, though, hard work. I love that when I read an e-book, I can’t degrade it! When someone is using our guest Kindle, they can’t mess up “my copy” of the book. I used to keep several copies of some books around (like The Man of Bronze, the first Doc Savage book) so I could just give them to people, rather than loaning them a copy. I didn’t want to have to worry about the damage…with e-books, that’s never an issue.

3. Increasable text size

This has become more important for me over time. As I write this, I am wearing one dollar glasses from the dollar store (I now also buy very inexpensive reading glasses from Amazon, but these literally came from a dollar store). I do tend to wear them when I read on a Kindle…but it’s really nice not to have to do that. I’d probably be into large print books now if I were reading p-books…and those are expensive, physically larger, and not always available.

4. Simultaneous Device Licenses

The ability for us to have the same book on multiple devices at the same time for one download price has changed (for the better) my reading relationship with my Significant Other. When a new Stephanie Plum comes out, we now read it at the same time (thanks to TTS, I tend to finish first, but we start at the same time). We can talk about it afterwards. I’d never read a Stephanie Plum before the Kindle. My SO would read one…and then give it to a sibling or someone else. Reading a book is one of the most intimate acts there is (just you connecting directly to the author through the words). Talking about a book with someone else, therefore, reveals some of your inner self. I wouldn’t have thought about this being a benefit of e-books, but it really is.

5. You ain’t heavy…you’re my e-book

It’s absolutely amazing to be able to easily carry ten books with me and switch back and forth whenever I want! I always tended to be reading more than one book concurrently. I would often have a book in each room in the house, and just read whichever one was where I was. I kept that emergency book I mentioned above in the car, and then I might have two with me. I love, love, love being able to bounce around! With access to wi-fi (which is common where I am), I can also download more if I want. One big reason why the Kindle exploded the e-book market and other devices hadn’t (there were more than ten EBRs…E-Book Readers available in the USA market when the Kindle was released) was that you could download wirelessly. Before I got the Kindle, I still thought of reading an e-book as either doing it on a computer, or plugging a device into a computer, downloading the book and transferring it over a period of perhaps minutes…with very little capacity on the device to hold books. I thought e-books weren’t more convenient than my home library, I thought they were less so. The Kindle completely inverted that: e-books are far more convenient for me than p-books! I think my SO had the best line. In the early days of the Kindle, someone sneeringly said to my SO, “I like the feel of a book in my hand.” My SO replied, “I like the feel of a hundred in mine.” Exactly.

Those are just five of the reasons, and there are more. I would miss each and every one of those if I had to go back to just p-books.

How about you? Think back…what have been the biggest advantages for you of e-books? Did you first try an e-book as a lark, as an experiment…or did you already know you would like them? 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.

Obama’s plan for needs tested library books…where have I heard that before? ;)

May 20, 2015

Obama’s plan for needs tested library books…where have I heard that before? ;)

Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong…and sometimes, you are just ahead of the curve. ;)

About two and a half years ago, I got one of the most…oppositional responses I’ve ever gotten to this post:

What should the role of public libraries be?

In it, I reiterated something I said in the blog about a year before that…on February 3, 2013:

Random House continues its commitment to unrestricted public library lending

In that one, I said:

“I still think that what may happen in the future is that all of the publishers may allow e-book lending…and a needs-tested basis. In other words, for people who are “certified poor” in some way (one possibility would be proof of enrollment in some appropriate government program, such as food stamps), the publishers would allow them to borrow e-books for free.

Publishers could do that directly, or might do it through a public library system or even through retailers like Amazon.

Publishers have always donated books (and gotten write-offs for it), and I think they would participate in a program like that.”

That might not have been the first time I’d brought up that idea in the blog, but it’s a clear statement of it.

Well, President Obama recently basically announced that plan:

FACT SHEET: Spreading the Joy of Reading to More Children and Young Adults

They’ve gotten commitments from the Big 5 USA trade (trade books are the ones  you bought in bookstores…not textbooks and such) publishers (Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan) to make e-books available to low-income children through an app.

Those are also major e-books (including Dr. Seuss)…and I think many of them are not currently available to the general public through public libraries (as e-books), or have pretty serious restrictions put on the libraries.

There’s also a push to get libraries and schools connected to high speed internet (at least 99% of them) by 2018

Whitehouse.gov ConnectED

through the ConnectED program.

Add to that working to get every kid a library card, and yes, that’s pretty much what I thought would happen.

I just thought it too soon. ;)

Actually, I didn’t make any kind of prediction as to when it might happen, and I thought it might take a while.

In the intervening time, more tradpub (traditional publisher) books have gotten into public libraries (although it’s felt like they’ve been dragged, resisting all the way in some cases), and restrictions have…loosened.

I’m still okay with the idea that low-income people could have access to free books that people with more income pay to get.

Now, I totally get the idea that a public library should be all of the world’s information available to everyone equally for free. That’s certainly the ideal.

I just don’t think it’s achievable at this point.

I also still think that if the Obama administration were to say that the Big 5 needed to make those books free through public libraries without needs testing, it simply wouldn’t happen.

I’d rather have some people be able to get them that way than no people.

It also seems like a practical investment to me.

There is evidence that kids exposed to more books end up making more money (and perhaps paying more taxes to the government).

Hm…I’d be interested to know if that doesn’t have a sort of saturation point.

My intuition is that, if you take a child with access to zero books and give them access to 1,000, it makes more of a difference in earning potential than if you take a child with access to ten thousand books and give them access to 1,000 more.

That’s just my guess, though…don’t have the studies to back it up.

Having this happen for the kids makes me feel good…and yes, I’m glad I suggested it here in the blog.

Gee, maybe if I last long enough, that idea I had decades ago for a decimal time system will catch on.

I’m not holding my breath on that one…not even for a kilosecond. ;)

What do you think? Is this program a good thing? Will it really happen? What difference does it make to give a low-income child access to books versus a child of means? 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.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the…Kindle

May 19, 2015

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the…Kindle

I find it’s valuable for my readers for me to return to the basic  hierarchy of devices and the account from time to time.

That’s partially because I have new readers, but it’s also just worth a reminder. :)

I recently answered a question like this in the Kindle forums: essentially, what had happened was that the person posting had lost a Kindle at the airport. They wanted to deregister that one (which is the right thing to do), but was worried that doing that would have a negative impact on a Kindle Fire on the account.

It won’t.

What you do on one Kindle really has no impact on other devices registered to the account.

I’ll need to clarify that, of course, because I’m sure some of you are going right to Whispersync…I’ll get there. ;)

Let’s stay with the idea of a single account with a…I’ll go with a

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

and a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

which are two of the devices we have on our account, and the two Kindle/Fires I use the most.

There is a very important third entity in this equation: “the account”.

Our Paperwhite does not communicate directly to our Kindle Fire HDX…and vice versa.

However, they both communicate with the account.

Let’s say I remove a book from the Paperwhite…does that affect the book if it is on the Fire?

Nope.

However, it does affect the account…which can affect the Fire.

Most books from the Kindle store have six SDLs (Simultaneous Device Licenses). That means that you can generally have Kindle store books on six devices at the same time on your account for one purchase price. If it’s a different number (a small minority of books have fewer licenses…some are unlimited), it will say so on the book’s Amazon product pages.

Let’s just pretend that this book has one SDL: I’ve seen that be the case for some textbooks.

That means I’m only allowed to have it on one device registered to the account at a time.

If it’s on the Paperwhite, I can’t download it to the Fire.

If I remove it from the Paperwhite, that “returns the license” to the account. The Fire, then, can download it from the account.

That wasn’t the Paperwhite giving it to the Fire. It was the Paperwhite giving it to the account, and the account giving it to the  Fire.

That may seem like an overly technical way to explain it, but it’s important.

Losing one of your devices has no impact on the other devices registered to your account.

It’s a similar idea with Whispersync, which enables you to pick up where you were when you go from device to device. I could read three chapters of a book on the Paperwhite, and then pick up right on Chapter Four on the Fire.

Again, that’s a case of the Paperwhite telling the account what my “furthest page read” is, and the account then telling the Fire.

We didn’t used to be able to do this, but you can now reset that reading point by going to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

That will reset it for all devices on the account.

You also have the option to keep Whispersync turned off…that’s what we do. You do that on the Settings tab at that MYK page linked above.

It’s a pretty simple equation:

One person reading the same book on multiple devices = Whispersync on.

Two people reading the same book on different devices = Whispersync off.

My Significant Other and I sometimes read the same book at the same time (Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, for example), but not at the same speed.

With Whispersync on, it would keep skipping my SO ahead to where I am in the book. I’m usually ahead, since I use text-to-speech in the car and I drive a lot (I worked in three different cities…today alone).

Don’t worry…I never spoil the books. :) I’m quite careful about that.

Do we get competitive about who is ahead? Not really…but I remember jokingly saying to my SO once, “I can be less competitive than you can!” ;)

We have a healthy competitive feel. I do that with everything. Yes, I want to win, but I want you to have the best game you possibly can…otherwise, it doesn’t mean as much to me.

I will train you for our match. I’ll recommend books to you. I’ll do what I can to make you better…and then I want to beat you. ;)

So, to restate this: books belong to the account, not to the device.

I think for a lot of people, they still think of it as if they bought a physical copy of the book.

They think there is just one copy for them. They downloaded it, so if they accidentally delete it, they’d have to buy it again. That did used to be true with some digital files, but not from the Kindle store.

You buy a license to read the book: you don’t buy the file itself.

It’s Amazon’s responsibility to keep that book available to you.

For more information on that, you may find this earlier post of mine interesting:

How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

You can read the book on the device…you can’t manage the book on the device.

That’s an important distinction.

You could have a hundred people on your account…that’s fine: Amazon doesn’t put a limit on the number of devices registered to one account.

Very few of them, though, should have the password and username for the account.

Those credentials should only be known to the “account managers”, as I like to call them.

Lots of users: very few managers.

The managers have the authority to delete the book from the account…which does affect everybody.

The account (reached at that Manage Your Kindle page above) is central…all devices on the account touch it.

Each device connects to the account…but not directly to another device on the account.

There you go! Hope that helps…

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me 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.

3 books that changed my thinking

May 17, 2015

3 books that changed my thinking

Books change you.

Yes, I think that every single book you read changes you in some way. I actually think that’s true about all of your experiences. Even if what it does is reinforce a prior held belief, the fact that that belief is now harder to shift is another (and sometimes very) important change.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m choosing these books at random. ;)

In each of these cases, I would say that the change was conscious. I can articulate something that shifted…there is a before and after, and I can see a causal relationship to having read the book.

I also am only picking books which are available in Kindle editions in the USA.

While that is becoming less of a factor, it’s still significant for many books I have read, especially those I’ve read decades ago.

I’m also going to try to pick books I haven’t talked about repeatedly in this blog in the past. I think all my regular readers know that my having read the Doc Savage adventures has shaped who I am today. I keep the Doc Savage oath on my computer at work, and I use that as an inspiration. I do strive to make myself better so that “all may benefit” by it, and to help those who need it. :) That also eliminates

The Book of the D*mned (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which I know I’ve referenced repeatedly. The basic idea that you should be able to be fluid in your beliefs about facts also informs what I do and how I (tolerantly, I think) approach others’ beliefs.

I’m also not going to limit myself to non-fiction, although they may turn out to all be that. I say they “might” because I haven’t chosen the books yet…I’m going to let inspiration strike me as I reflect and write. :)

We’re off!

The Human Zoo (at AmazonSmile*)
by Desmond Morris
4.4 stars out of 5 | 115 customer reviews

Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape is one of the most important books of the (relatively) modern era…and is not available in the USA Kindle store. However, this isn’t just a case of “I can’t have that, so I pick this.” ;) The Human Zoo treats humans like other animals (which is what Morris did in The Naked Ape).

The fascinating thing here is the discussion of how living in crowded city conditions affects our behaviors…and the parallels there are to animals living in zoos.

When you think about it, city dwellers may see hundreds of people a day which they have not previously assessed as not a threat.

We don’t have the tactical option to choose “fight or flight” every time…and we know we may encounter some of them again (the bagger at the grocery store, for example).

That means that we can’t use our normal social skills, which changes our behavior.

It turns out that animals in zoos or other artificially crowded conditions have some changes in the same way.

One thing that I remember (and it’s been a long time since I read this) was the idea that rats in a confined space may end up having “teenage gangs” that would rove around and terrorize other rats. That’s not something that happens in the wild, where there is a lot of territory.

An adolescent rat in a confined, crowded environment doesn’t have the ability to establish their own territory…or to move out of a territory already dominated by another rat.

Being in a “human zoo” (a city) doesn’t mean that all the characteristics influenced by that will be negative, of course, but this gave me an intriguing insight into the impacts it does have…and how they aren’t unique to humans.

Thinking, Fast and Slow (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Daniel Kahneman
4.4 stars | 1,688 reviews

I wrote a review

A book I’m reading now: Thinking, Fast and Slow

of this one just over a year ago, but I haven’t talked about it over and over since then.

Quite simply, I think this may be one of the best books you’ll read to understand your own thinking.

Understanding doesn’t necessarily mean that you can change any of it, but if you know you are likely to act in one specific way even when that way is not optimal, it can help you recognize the risks and take steps to mitigate the damage.

The key thing here was thinking about two processing systems in my mind. One that is super quick and where I’m not even aware of it. The other one that is slower and more deliberate and conscious.

Both are absolutely necessary.

In the fast system, for example, you are constantly assessing threats.

When I sat down to write this post, I didn’t say to myself consciously, “There isn’t a mountain lion in this room which might attack me.”

Without being consciously aware of it, though, I had scanned the room.

How do we know that?

Since I would have noticed the mountain lion if there was one. If I wasn’t scanning the room without thinking about it, the mountain lion would be invisible to me until I said to myself, “Initiate threat scan.” ;)

That’s just not the way it works.

This book does a great job of making you aware how the two  systems work together, and what the strengths and flaws are of each.

Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers (at AmazonSmile*)
by Jacques Vallée
4.8 stars | 18 reviews

One thing true Forteans learn is to not think, “You are wrong, I am right,” since there will be elements of the rightness in the wrong and the wrongness in the right. In the Fortean paradigm, the correct theory and the incorrect theory are actually just different degrees of the same thing.

Let me stress that I don’t mean this about morality, but only about matters of fact.

It’s very simple to substitute one belief for another. However, as John A. Keel said, “Belief is the enemy.”

Let’s take UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) for example.

Many people substitute the belief that they all reports of UFOs are the result of hoaxes or misidentifications with the belief that they are structured vehicles from another planet.

It’s not scientific (or Fortean…contrary to what some people think, those come very much from the same place) to say either one.

They are both different possible explanations…and while you certainly might think one is more probable than the other, to say that one is definitely true is to close your mind to new evidence which might sway you.

Passport to Magonia was a shock to many when it was published in 1969. Vallée is an astronomer, and had already written books which people saw as perhaps supporting the ETH (Extraterrestrial Hypothesis).

Magonia suggested something very different: that what we now interpreted as UFOs and aliens was the same phenomenon that we had previously interpreted as fairies (among other things).

What was important about this for me was that it was clear that the consensus reality belief could be wrong without it proving that an alternative belief was correct. They could both be at least incomplete.

It also was a big deal to me that Vallée had to some extent shifted.

To me, I had already assessed Vallée as intelligent, imaginative, perceptive, and empathetic. This was somebody who was scornful and bullying of other’s beliefs, and had the intellectual and emotional tools to really see things in a new way.

Those are things I admire…and if a person like that could set aside a prior leaning and go in a new direction…well, that encouraged me to strive to be able to always do the same.

There you go! Three books which have affected me, and by extension, affected you. :) I would be a different person without having read them, and that means this blog (if existed at all) would be different, too.

Don’t think reading something can change your thinking?

I can tell you something right now that can change your thinking.

However, I’ll warn you…you may not be happy with the change. :)

For that reason, I’m going to put it at the very bottom of the post**, even after my normal “end matter”…so you’ll only read it if you choose to do that. You’ve been warned… ;)

What do you think? Can you point to specific books which changed your paradigm? Is it good to have solidly held beliefs in matters of fact, or is it better to be able to shift…or both? If books do change the way we think, does that justify their suppression (whether in public libraries, school libraries, or by the government)? 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.

** LIFE CHANGING MATERIAL ALERT…DO NOT PROCEED BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE HERE UNCHANGED: Many years, I read a science fiction short story. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who wrote it or what the title was…if you recognize this, please let me know. In the story, someone wakes up in bed…and feels that there is something missing in the room. They look around, and can’t tell what it is, but the feeling persists. Later, the character finds out…they have become invisible, and they are no longer seeing the blurry outline of their nose that you can otherwise always see. That’s the change…from time to time, in the future, because you read this, you’ll suddenly become aware that you can see your own nose… ;) END LIFE CHANGING MATERIAL

Round up #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

May 16, 2015

Round up #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

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

“Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying”

I’m a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I follow the world of e-books quite closely.

I’ve long said that independent bookstores have a place in the future.

There are a few caveats to that.

People have to like the experience of going there so much that they are willing to pay more money than they would pay at Amazon (or Costco, to name a couple of alternatives) just to support you.

That’s right: they have to willingly pay more.

Do people do that?

Sure!

We have to get our fence replaced.

Its’ been falling down for some time…oh, not literally falling, but leaning and in bad shape.

It doesn’t help that our two little terriers want to look out and see people…so they keep pulling a plank out of it.

Yep, the pair we call collectively “Butterscotch Chaos” (I say that’s their “band name”…and my Significant Other and I are roadies) actually can remove the plank.

They could easily jump through at that point, but they don’t.

Still, it’s not good to have a plank out, and I tried to get it to stay where they couldn’t do it.

I’m not at all handy, but I figured I could nail it to the two planks next to it.

You guessed…three planks out. :)

At any rate, we need it replaced.

We are going to pay a company more than we might somewhere else, because we have used them before and like the people.

For one thing, they were totally cool with the idea of putting in a “dog window”…in fact, they said they had done it before!

We like them: we are willing to reward them for doing a good job and, quite simply, for being nice. My guess is that we will actually pay maybe a couple thousand more dollars than the cheapest other bid we’d be able to find (they are also doing a lot of yard clean-up…removing baby trees, trimming hedges, that kind of thing).

That’s what independent bookstores have to do.

They can’t beat Amazon on selection.

They can’t beat Amazon on price.

They have to win on service and on shopping experience…with an emphasis on the latter.

This

The Daily Beast article by Joanna Scutts

talks about the state of independent bookstores in the USA today, and specifically, about this year’s first “Independent Bookstore Day”.

There are several success stories in the article, and this quote from Samantha Schoech of Independent Bookstore Day:

“In reality more bookstores have opened than closed in the last couple of years in the U.S.”

I think generic bookstores (large chains, the “dinostores”) may be doomed (or at least, books will become a minority of what they sell), but bookstores with personality? They can survive.

Amazon readying general Echo release?

I’ve noted that the

Amazon Echo

product page is now indicating an in-stock date of July 10th (less than two months away).

They’ve shown in-stock dates before without it resulting in a general release…but they also aren’t doing the invitation route any more, so there really isn’t much of a reason to say it is “in-stock” for that group.

I just got an e-mail which seems like another strong indicator to me that it is releasing soon.

I was invited to make a video testimonial about my experiences with the Echo.

People who do have to have availability for an in-person interview from May 29th to June 1st.

The only likely reason I can see to collect video testimonials is to use them to promote the product (that’s made clear in the e-mail).

You aren’t likely to be promoting what you aren’t selling. :)

By the way, I decided to go ahead and publish an embryonic page I’m making, called

Alexa says

If you are curious about the Echo’s conversational abilities, that should help. :)

I’m guessing that before release we may see: the ability to play Audible audiobooks you own (that could be a licensing issue); the ability to control a Fire TV (and, less likely, a Fire TV stick); and possibly multiple alarms (maybe even recurring alarms, which would be nice).

There are quite a few other things we could see:

  • They could admit that you can text with it (you can do that now using If This Then That, but it’s definitely a workaround…you have to add something to your To Do or Shopping List)
  • Text-to-speech for books. One easier implementation I could see would be to parallel the “Alexa, tell me a joke” format. You could say, “Alexa, read me a story,” and it could give you a public domain short story. I think it’s less likely that we see text-to-speech with books you own that are not in the public domain, but maybe eventually
  • Movie times. Amazon owns IMDb which does that, so that makes it more likely
  • Shopping for non-Prime items
  • Shopping for items you haven’t bought before
  • Ad hoc travel times…you give it a destination verbally. Right now, you have to put in one route in the app
  • Firefly: Amazon’s song/video recognition. It wouldn’t be the visual recognition of objects, of course

Those just some things.

We could also see some very interesting third party apps.

Something I don’t expect is new Echo hardware before the end of the year. Some people think that will happen: I think it’s unnecessary. I think the hardware as it is is good enough for a first release…and that’s what we’ll have this year.

I also think they may limit the shopping part of it to Prime members, initially. That’s simpler, for one thing, but it’s also an inducement to get Prime.

Over $110 in free apps

I’m glad I started with a book story, because I just did an Echo story and now I’m going to one about apps.

That’s not the normal plan, but it just worked out that way today.

I have to do this one soon, because it is a limited time thing…in fact, it ends tomorrow (Saturday, May 16th).

Amazon is giving away a bunch of normally paid apps.

They do this from time to time…and there are usually some good ones in there. :)

I pretty much get all the ones I don’t have. With apps, you can just store them in the Cloud, if you want: you don’t need to take up any memory on your device unless you want to use one.

Titles include:

  • Star Traders 4X Empires Elite
  • Bike Race Pro by Top Free Games
  • Bloons TD 5
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD (Fire Edition)
  • Highrise Word Heroes+
  • Cooking Dash Deluxe
  • SUPER WHY ABC Adventures: Alphabet
  • ShutterFolio
  • Rebuild
  • Time Mysteries 2: The Ancient Spectres (Full)
  • Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere
  • Empress of the Deep: The Darkest Secret (Full)
  • Mini Golf Mundo
  • Star Command
  • Angry Birds Seasons (Ad-Free)
  • Sorcery! 3
  • True Booster | Speed Cleaner
  • Smart Office 2
  • Photo Studio
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3
  • Game of Thrones
  • Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson
  • Genius Scan+
  • G-Stomper VA-Beast Synthesizer
  • Language Coach

and quite a few more!

The display of this is a little weird…I’m not seeing an easy way to get them all on one page, but it’s definitely worth exploring. They appear to almost all be four stars (out of five) and up, and some have more than a thousand customer reviews.

Little Free Library Book Drive on Saturday, May 16th

We have a Little Free Library in our neighborhood.

I think these are really cool!

It’s just a little birdhouse sort of thing that people build and put outside.

Other people put free books in there, and you can take whatever books you want.

Saturday is their third anniversary as a non-profit, and they are doing a book drive, specifically for children’s books:

http://littlefreelibrary.org/this-began-because-of-my-mom/

If you post a picture of yourself dropping off books with the hashtag, #givebooks, you might win something…but that’s clearly not the main reason to do this. :)

I don’t usually give away my books, but I may look for something (or maybe buy something to give).

I won’t take a picture, though. Same reason I won’t do one of those video testimonials.

I’ve been on TV in the past, and used to go out and do more public stuff (radio and such).

Now, I like that we can be known on the internet for what we think and how we say it, rather than who we are physically.

That just means I don’t tend to promote myself as a physical identity, and that includes being in pictures. :) There is at least one photo labeled as being of me on the web which isn’t, so even if you do look me up, it’s not reliable.

If you want to post your picture doing this, or do a video testimonial for the Echo, though, I whole-heartedly endorse that! I love to see my readers get out there…those who want to do that. I also love my readers who prefer, like me on this blog, to be incorporeal. ;)

Update: thanks to reader Susan Cassidy for a comment which helped improve 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.

New: reorder items using the Echo

May 14, 2015

New: reorder items using the Echo

Just a quick note, because I am just on my phone.

Amazon just added ordering capability to the Echo.

Well, re-ordering capability at any rate. In the email they sent me, they say:

“Just say “Alexa, re-order laundry detergent” — Echo will search your order history and can order the item for you using your default payment and shipping settings. If Echo can’t find the requested item in your order history, it may suggest an item for your approval using Amazon’s Choice, which picks highly-rated, well-priced, Prime products. You can manage your shopping preferences and set an optional confirmation code in your Amazon Echo App.”

Update: I’ve tested this now…it’s a game changer!

Yes, it’s what some people feared…the

Amazon Echo

is another way to buy things from Amazon.

Yes, it’s even easier than 1-click.

I don’t worry about that. Really, I’m not going to give up on buying something I want to buy because I need to make a few extra clicks or taps, and I’m not so impulsive I’ll buy something I don’t want to buy.

Even with Prime, you have some time to cancel an order, so as long as your buyer’s remorse is fast enough, you’ll be okay. :) With many things, you can return them later also, of course.

So, why is this easier?

It’s not just that I can order by speaking, although that is a big plus. Our Echo can hear us in the kitchen. I can certainly see being there, realizing we are just about out of something, and saying it right then and there. That’s simpler than remembering it, getting to a phone or computer and then going in and ordering it.

Another good reason is that it is searching our prior orders…and you can be quite fuzzy in asking for it.

I just tested it by saying, “Alexa, order dry dog food.”

We order a specific brand. The response I got was , “Purina ONE SmartBlend Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Rice Formula, 8-Pound Bag, Pack of 1. The order total is $12.36. Should I order it?”

I said, “No, thank you.” We subscribe to it…I was just testing.

Then, it shows up in the app…which makes it even better.

  • It gives me the date I last purchased it
  • It tells me how soon I can get it
  • It tells me who ships it and who the seller is
  • I can view the product details on Amazon
  • I can search for dry dog food on Amazon
  • I can add dry dog food to our Shopping List

Oh, and it showed me a picture of the item.

I also try this one, “Alexa, reorder Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom.” It correctly found multiple matches in our past orders (we’ve ordered different formats…we give that book as a gift).

There are a couple of more interesting twists to this.

One big one is that this only works with Prime eligible items…this could be something that only works for Prime members with the Echo (which might convince more people to become Prime members). Right now, everyone who got an Echo from Amazon is a Prime member.

However, I think maybe in July (currently, it says it’s in stock on July 10th), that won’t be the case.

What they could do is give you a free month of Prime with an Echo, just like they’ve done with Fire tablets.

In terms of the consumer part of the business, Amazon really, really wants people to become Prime members. They spend more, and I’m sure they are more loyal to Amazon.

Spend a month with an Echo, being able to listen to Prime music and order things which arrive in two days, and I think many people will be hooked.

If they also get it to work with Prime video, probably through interfacing with an

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

or

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

and that would be even more of a bond.

You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Oh, and the other intriguing item in the e-mail?

“If Echo can’t find the requested item in your order history, it may suggest an item for your approval using Amazon’s Choice, which picks highly-rated, well-priced, Prime products.”

That name, “Amazon’s Choice” was new to me. I did a quick web search…I do think this is something they may have just created, for the Echo (although that doesn’t mean it couldn’t become available on the website as well).

This could be another source of revenue for Amazon (they may get a “commission” from a company for selling their product as an Amazon Choice product…I do not believe that would mean they would sell us an inferior product, by the way), which fits right into what I’ve said for what I think Amazon’s consumer sales model could be.

They keep the prices low for consumers, and charge companies for access to what I’ve called Amazon’s most important product: satisfied customers.

Works for me. ;)

Bonus deal: recently discounted books which have or will become major motion pictures

You know I always like to do something with books. :) I checked what I consider to be the best Kindle resource on the web,

eReaderIQ

One thing I noticed was a number of books which have recently been made into major motion pictures (within the last few years), or which have been announced as being adapted in the future (likely to come out within the next few years, although it’s a crowded market right now!).

Here are some that I noticed:

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
4.8 stars out of 5 | 23,758 customer reviews
$4.99 at time of writing

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
3.9 stars | 39,601 reviews
$4.99

Divergent
by Veronica Roth
4.5 stars | 20,396 reviews
$2.99

Insurgent
by Veronica Roth
4.5 stars | 13,354 reviews
$3.99

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
4.7 stars | 37,419 reviews
$2.99

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
4.3 stars | 4,375 reviews
$3.99
Tim Burton directing, 2016 announced release

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
4.6 stars | 5,692 reviews
$3.99
Steven Spielberg directing

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman
4.2 stars | 5,639 reviews
$2.99

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
4.3 stars | 6,060 reviews
$1.99

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.

Today’s KDD: 13 books by Rosamunde Pilcher for $2.99 each

May 14, 2015

Today’s KDD: 13 books by Rosamunde Pilcher for $2.99 each

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of thirteen books by Rosamunde Pilcher for $2.99 or less each.

Summer blockbuster movies tend to be loud and noisy.

The perfect summer novel, on the other hand, is sometimes quiet, quaint, charming…something to be read on an overcast day at the beach in an almost comfortable beach chair with a breeze  occasionally blowing your hair gently into your face.

Or perhaps, you read it on a sleepy train ride through the Scottish countryside, continuing it in a country house with a pleasantly tepid cup of tea.

Or on a subway with the smells of your fellow city dwellers around you and the tinny sound of thrash metal coming through someone else’s headphones while bright lights periodically flash in your eyes through the window…you know, let’s get real. ;)

Rosamunde Pilcher is a great author of that sort of book. :)

During a writing career that lasted half a century (before stepping away from it in 2000), Rosamunde Pilcher wrote a number of beloved books…first as Jane Fraser and later under that real name.

Today’s deal includes:

  • The Shell Seekers: 4.7 stars out of 5 with 516 customer reviews…yes, starting here makes sense
  • The Empty House
  • Wild Mountain Thyme
  • Snow in April
  • The Day of the Storm
  • Voices in Summer
  • Under Gemini
  • Another View
  • Winter Solstice
  • The Carousel
  • The End of Summer
  • Sleeping Tiger
  • Blue Bedroom and Other Stories

Not one of these is rated under four stars…not a lot of well-known authors can say that.

Remember that you can buy these as gifts at this discounted price, and have the delivery delayed until the appropriate gift giving occasion.

Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button: this is in the USA Kindle store today. Pilcher is especially respected in England (the author has the OBE…Order of the British Empire), but today’s Kindle Daily Deals on Amazon.co.uk are not these…you can get a book about The Simpsons and maths, though. ;)

Enjoy!

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.


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