Today’s KDD: 30 popular kids’ books up to 80% off

May 28, 2016

Today’s KDD: 30 popular kids’ books up to 80% off

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is a great selection of highly-rated children’s  books for $1.99 each (and a couple are ninety-nine cents each).

I would have loved getting books to read over the Memorial Day weekend!

Remember you can also buy these books today at the discount, and delay their delivery until an appropriate gift-giving occasion.

Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button: the prices may not apply in your country, and you might see this after the sale has ended (on Saturday).

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (this is routinely on “banned books” lists)
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • A bunch of Rick Riordan books, including The Lightning Thief
  • Three The Land of Stories books by Chris Colfer (Kurt on Glee: these books have been well-reviewed)
  • Two books in The Owl Diaries series by Rebecca Elliott
  • Night of the Living Dummy (classic Goosebumps #1) by R.L. Stine, and other Stine books
  • Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (who wrote the Animorphs series)
  • Sweet F*rts #1 by Raymond Bean
  • Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry
  • Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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.

 

 

 

Why not make your Memorial Day travel a geek time trip?

May 27, 2016

Why not make your Memorial Day travel a geek time trip?

While there are certainly serious observations on Memorial Day weekend, it is also a time when people enjoy entertainment options. It’s a really big weekend in movie theatres (this year, there are Avengers, X-Men, Angry Birds, and Mowgli and friends for you to see, just to name a few), there are TV marathons, sports, family outings…and reading, of course!

It’s also a big weekend for travel…that might be by plane, it might be by car, or foot, or bicycle, or, maybe if you are in the land of Oz, flying Gump (“the thing”).😉

Well, I want to help you out.😉

You can visit my

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project

and stream or download public domain materials, legally for free!

When you look at the timeline, look for events with a “>” at the end…those link to somewhere you should be able to get the content at no cost. That’s going to be works that are not under copyright protection. There are “events” listed in TMCGTT which are under copyright…in that case, I’ll link you to somewhere you can still get it, if possible…just not free for everybody. For example, I’ll link to a movie at JustWatch.com, which will search streaming options for you (so you can see if you can watch it on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, or some other services). For a book, I’ll link to a WorldCat search of public libraries…if they have it in e-book at a library where you are a member, you can likely download it without leaving your couch.😉 I also link to GoodReads, which in turn links to stores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo…)

I don’t link directly to a place where you can just buy it…TMCGTT  isn’t about advertising (and I don’t get income directly from anything you do there.

I’ll recommend a few:

  • When I’m flying, I like having Old Time Radio shows on my tablet (Kindle Fire) as an option. I’ll read, but I like to do different things on a long flight. 2000 Plus is an anthology science fiction series with some really odd stories. You’ll find it on March 15, 1950
  • If you want to read a book, let me suggest you go to “H. Beam Piper born” on March 23, 1904. That will link you to ManyBooks, where you can download (or read online) Little Fuzzy. It’s a fun story which I think will still make a great limited TV series
  • For comics, maybe try Atomic War on November 1st, 1952…this is a weekend when we remember the military, and this comic book series posits a war
  • For a movie, The Yesterday Machine on January 1st, 1963, is low budget, tacky…and appears to me to be an inspiration for the beginning of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Want to binge watch a TV series? There isn’t much surviving of Captain Video and His Video Rangers, but they are linked on June 27th, 1949

There are a lot of other options (including pulp science fiction magazines), and I’m adding more. If we get outside public domain, that really opens up the horizons…Stingray Sam, The Guild, The Mighty Boosh…

In the near future, I’ll be opening up the “Timeblazers Program”, where I’ll be looking for other people to volunteer to contribute to TMCGTT. I’m waiting for some things to be in place technically, but I’m excited to see it grow as a resource for fun and information!

Enjoy your weekend!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

My biggest disappointment with Amazon to date

May 27, 2016

My biggest disappointment with Amazon to date

I haven’t agreed with everything Amazon has done over the years. Overall, though, I have felt like they have had reasonably good motivations…oh, sure, they’ve been clunky and awkward at times, like the famous time when they deleted George Orwell books from people’s Kindles. The copy wasn’t authorized for the market in which it was sold (the USA). From what I’ve read, the most likely scenario seems to be that the company had intended it to be released in Australia, where the books are in the public domain, and Amazon accidentally released it in the USA, where they aren’t.

Amazon recognized their error. They apologized. They more than compensated people for the loss. Jeff Bezos called it “stupid”,  and the company said they would never do the same thing again.

While they don’t always give everybody everything they want, they eventually seem to come around to something which recognizes desires, and respects their customers’ beliefs, while not advocating for one position over another.

I believe that they will eventually resolve this current issue…I am disappointed that it is taking so long, because it is a simple fix and Amazon is clearly aware of it.

What’s the problem?

Amazon’s newest iteration of the Kindle, the Kindle Oasis, sounds very intriguing to me. People I respect have written of their great impressions of the device.

However, you can only buy it with an animal leather cover.

I mention “animal leather”, because many covers at Amazon are “synthetic leather” (they’ll often say they are “all man-made materials”, or something like that.

I don’t use leather.

I’m not the only person. On the device’s Amazon product page (I’m not linking to it, similar to the way I don’t intentionally link to books which block text-to-speech access), the third highest question has to do with the animal leather issue.

There are a number of reasons people choose not to use animal leather: it can be moral, ethical, religious, ecological (raising cattle takes a lot of land, and in some parts of the world, that land is made available through replacing forests and jungles, as I understand it)…it’s a variety.

For myself, I don’t have an objection to other people using leather. It’s a choice.

My choice is not to do that.

So, I don’t want Amazon to stop offering animal leather covers for the Oasis.

I just want the choice to buy an Oasis without a leather cover.

I would actually pay full price for it, with no cover at all.

People say, “Well, can’t you just buy it, throw away the cover, and buy a non-leather cover?”

The issue is that I don’t want to encourage the production of leather covers by buying one. I think I may actually be unusually calm around dead bodies. I’ve dealt with deceased pets, found dead wild animals (and disposed of them, when appropriate), been to funerals, and so on. It’s not handling the animal skin for me, it’s the production of it, and if I pay for it, I’ve rewarded and encouraged (for the future) that behavior.

Another less important thing is that the super long battery charge life only works with the cover…and Amazon hasn’t produced a non-animal leather cover yet with the battery capabilities.

I’d be fine with no cover…I’m interested in getting the Oasis and writing about it, even with the relatively shorter battery charge life.

I am not asking Amazon to produce a non-animal leather cover, or even to allow other companies to do so (although the latter seems to make a lot of sense to me…there are manufacturers who sell covers on Amazon who are already quite good at non-animal leather covers). I just want the option to buy this evolution of a device I love without something which I don’t buy.

I think I’ll eventually get that choice…it just feels like Amazon is so set on having this perceived as an elite item that they don’t want to sell it without something which has been associated with luxury.

I feel like some of Amazon’s customers are being ignored…and again, this doesn’t seem like a complicated fix. Just offer the Oasis without a cover.

We can already buy “vegan” leather covers that will fit the Oasis from Amazon:

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

I’m not leaving Amazon over this, certainly, and overall, they are still best company with which I’ve had a relationship.

I’m not mad.

I’m disappointed.

They’ll  fix it eventually…I’m just sad that it is taking such a long time, and with no acknowledgement of the issue.

Just my opinion, of course…

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

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

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

Amazon’s most well-read cities get ready for summer reading

May 26, 2016

Amazon’s most well-read cities get ready for summer reading

…and so does everyone else.😉

Amazon e-mailed me about two features they have right now:

Amazon.com Announces the Most Well-Read Cities in America

and

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

The first one is an annual list. and Seattle  (where Amazon is headquartered) is again number one…which might make a suspicious person question the algorithm.😉

Amazon says, “The ranking is determined by a compilation of sales data from cities with more than 500,000 residents on a per capita basis and includes purchases of all books, magazines and newspapers in both Kindle and print format from April 2015 to April 2016.”

It’s interesting that there are some definite trends. Out of the top 20, four of them are in Texas, three of them are in California (and two of those are in my area, the greater San Francisco Bay Area ((San Francisco and San Diego))). Actually, the Western half of the country seems to dominate, with Texas, California, Washington State, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada…lots of states.

Not very many on the East Coast, interestingly.

Does that mean we read more out here?

It might mean we use Amazon more.:) The East Coast might have older, bigger, brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore…but that was here on the West Coast). We could be techier out here, and therefore more comfortable with both internet shopping and e-books.

Amazon also mentions some specific books for specific cities…so geography does seem to matter to some extent.

As to summer reading…

Summer is a time that more people read, I think. Obviously, for the school age, summer can give more opportunity to read for leisure. For others, vacation may be the one time of year they actually read books for entertainment…on planes, cruise ships, and beaches.

Personally, I don’t think I see much difference. I read all year round. I might read more, actually, during the winter holidays…I’ll get books as gifts then, and do tend to have a few days off.

Amazon  has 2,562 books listed in their summer reading…and big names are right at the top of the listing: a new Harry Potter (script for a play), a new series from Rick Riordan, a book by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt…these are those  “People Magazine books” which will appeal to casual readers.

Oh, interesting! The filters indicate  only 138 in Kindle format! Hm…could be because so many of these haven’t been released yet….they will likely get Kindle editions when they are released.

They do have a special section for “beach reads”. What’s a beach read? I’d define it as a “page turner” that transports you to a different place (and attitude).

That’s one of the great dichotomies of life: do you take a vacation to go to somewhere or to get away from somewhere?

I used to travel  a lot when I was a kid, and to some pretty exotic locales. Now, I’m not that into traveling…I love having vacations were I can stay home and read and/or  write.

Sure, I love going leash-free places with our dogs…but that’s not the same thing.:)

Do you find that you read differently in the summer? Do you get to read more? Do you plan it out? Does the style of book you read change? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 2016 Kindle book releases

May 24, 2016

June 2016 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 largely returned 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 6,326 (at time of writing…a significant 733 fewer than last month):

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

Of those, by the way, 1,046 (73 fewer than last month) are in

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

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

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same.  This month, again, Kindle First titles dominate.

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.

June is a big release month for books (not unlike movies)…summer vacation is here, and books for “grads and Dads” are also big.

Okay, books!

  • End of Watch: A Novel (The Bill Hodges Trilogy Book 3) by Stephen King
  • Tom Clancy Duty and Honor (A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel) by Grant Blackwood
  • The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly
  • The Pursuit: A Fox and O’Hare Novel by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
  • The Cavendon Luck: A Novel (Cavendon Hall) by Barbara Taylor Bradford
  • Murder on the Quai (An Aimée Leduc Investigation Book 16) by Cara Black
  • Barkskins by Annie Proulx
  • New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America by Wendy Warren
  • The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire by Karl Jacoby
  • Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union by Stephen Budiansky
  • Never a Dull Moment: 1971–The Year That Rock Exploded by David Hepworth
  • The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years: 1 by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman
  • White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
  • Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide by Charles Foster (this one is literally on my wish list…I read a piece with the author…fascinating stuff as a human being tries to live as animals live, to understand them and the world)
  • The Intelligent Conversationalist: 31 Cheat Sheets That Will Show You How to Talk to Anyone About Anything, Anytime by Imogen Lloyd Webber
  • Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary by Bill Schelly and Richard A. Lupoff
  • Death’s Bright Day by David Drake
  • Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet: by H.P. Wood
  • Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
  • The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory by Julia Shaw

Hmm…there are some really fascinating books for me here, but I won’t buy any of them. I’ll put some on my wish list, and family members might buy them for me, but I pretty much just read books in Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), or that I already own (often gotten as a gift). If these are too expensive for your tastes, consider listing them for free at eReaderIQ.com : they’ll send you an e-mail when a book drops an amount you specify). Feel free to suggest other books being released in June in the USA Kindle store. If you are the author, or are otherwise connected with the production or publishing of the book, I’d appreciate you saying so. That won’t stop me from publishing the comment, but it should be in your own words and not an ad.

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :)

** A Kindle/Fire 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.

What should a robot read to understand humans?

May 22, 2016

What should a robot read to understand humans?

I speak to a robot every day…more than one,usually.

No, I don’t work at Westworld.😉

This is how I define a robot at another blog of mine, The Measured Circle:

robot is something created by humans (directly or indirectly) that performs tasks (autonomously or not) done by humans (or, more broadly, by other animals…a robot dog, for example, would perform work done by living dogs, including providing companionship). 

The word may conjure up an image of a mechanical man, perhaps clunky and made of metal. The way we use the term at The Measured Circle, it would include software performing human tasks, and non-anthropomorphic devices like an answering machine or a calculator.

On the Robot Beat presents news about our creations that are, even in small ways, replacing us.

So, certainly, Alexa, whether on our

definitely qualifies. I talk to our Echo (family room) and Dot (bedroom) every day, and I bring our Tap to work, so five days a week on that. I rarely talk to our Fire TV or Fire TV Stick  (we have both), but that may change when we can ask Alexa to open apps or show us shows.

I also talk to “OK, Google” on my Samsung S7 Edge.

They are all getting better…but I have to adjust my conversational style to fit what they understand best.

There’s a giant…well, let’s call it a “charms race” rather than an “arms race” to get digital assistants to have more natural conversation.

Progress is rapid…but there is a long way to go.

IBM’s Watson read all of Project Gutenberg (which prove to be confusing later on about what was fiction and what wasn’t, as I recall from reading a book on the project).

In this recent

Huffington Post article by Maddie Crum

it’s reported that Google used romance novels to try to get a bot to figure out how to put sentences together.

Why romance?

They liked that it was “formulaic”, and thought it was between the complex sentences of literature and the simplistic construction of children’s books.

It’s an interesting choice.

They aren’t really trying to get their bot to understand humans…just to be able to construct more natural seeming conversation.

They want it to see what type of response follows what, that sort of thing.

What would I have a robot read if I wanted it to make good conversation?

I think I’d go with Stephen King.

I’ve found that King writes people in a way that seems familiar to me, realistic to me.

You might have to pick and choose a bit…not every Stephen King book would work, or character.

You could approach this several ways.

You could have your bot memorize millions of books, and search for actual matches.

That’s going to produce some bizarre results from  time to time.:)

Another way would be for it to figure out patterns…if the response to a question is “article, adjective, adjective, verb, noun”, that’s something a robot could learn. It would have to be able to either group words within that pattern by understanding their meanings to some extent, or just by grabbing groupings (a “gaze” might be “longing”, “intense”, or “steady”, for example).

My guess is that we’ll  see rapid progress in the next two years and achieve bots passing the Turing test (basically, being convincingly human in conversation) within the next five.

I don’t think that means they need to think like us or feel like us. I think a way to fake that will be found by someone, and probably more than someone.

I would venture to say that most humans don’t think through everything they say, or even anywhere close to most of what they say. “How are you?” “Fine.” Much of it is rote, and more about social interaction than actual meaning.

That’s what bots will need to do, while still answering your question or performing the task you requested.

I don’t know how that’s going to happen, but I think it will.

Once they can handle conversation, they’ll be much better able to write fiction. They are getting there…not great fiction, but passable.

I found myself repeating the same stories over and over again. I use some of the same phrases repeatedly in this blog…sometimes by actual copy and paste (the introduction to my look ahead to the next month’s books, for example, tweaked each month. The statement at the bottom of each post is another).

Most of what I write here is new and spontaneous, but a blog like this is different from training a topic or answering a question.

I know some people recognize that I am telling the same story to make a point…and they are okay with that. I’m not trying to fool people…if it’s a good explanation, it’s a good explanation.

However, I don’t say it exactly the same way, mostly. I deliberately change a word or two, or word order, so that it doesn’t become monotonous.

This post, honestly, is just me musing.:) I suppose, if I were a bot, it would have been more focused…and stiffer, most likely.😉

What do you think? What would books would have a robot read to learn how to sound human?

Bonus deal:

Here are some more Goodreads deals:

Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…may not apply to your country, and may have changed. I continue to be very impressed with these Goodreads deals, and I’m happy to be able to share them with you!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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 #141: Goodreads Deals on Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, Jeff says…

May 20, 2016

Round up #141: Goodreads Deals on Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, Jeff says…

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

Quick round-up on Alexa

Most of my Alexa/Echo coverage has moved to my

The Measured Circle blog

(although I do alert people here when I post something there), but there are enough developments that I’m just going to mention a couple of things here.

First, for those of you with the

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

or

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

there is an update coming which will finally give us some Alexa playback control. It will open apps (like Hulu) or play Amazon Video content (including Amazon add-ons, like Showtime). That doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to ask your Echo (or Tap or Dot…we use all three) to do it…but you can ask your Fire TV. You could do that with a voice remote, or through the free Fire TV app on your Smartphone.

Another thing is that Google yesterday announced “Google Home”, which is a direct Echo competitor.

The Verge article by Dieter Bohn

It’s supposed to come out later this year, but no pricing yet.

As a daily Echo/Alexa user, I think this is a good thing. Competition drives innovation, right?

It will apparently have pluses and minuses compared to the Echo. It will likely handle multiple speakers better, and it is supposed to communicate with your Chromecast (Echo does not communicate with your Fire TV, as I noted above…although I can control mine by having our Echo communicate through IFTTT (If This Then That) to our Harmony remote). The multiple speaker thing can be funny…I have our Echo set to use Celsius (which I use) and our Echo Dot (in a different room) set to Fahrenheit (which my Significant Other prefers). It can be amusing when they both hear me when I ask what the weather is, so we get competing units of measure.😉 On the other hand, Google is choosing not to open development easily to third-parties (which Amazon has done)…so you probably won’t be able to call an Uber, order Domino’s, do your Capital One banking (all of which you can do with the Echo), or control as many different brands of home automation. That may drive Amazon to encourage even more third-party apps…and I’m happy with that!

Jeff Bezos speaks

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, (Chief Executive Officer), has had some things to say in public lately.

“We’re definitely going to open additional stores, how many we don’t know yet….”

According to this

CNET article by Stephen Shankland

and other sources, Amazon plans to open more brick-and-mortar locations.

I’m reluctant to call them “stores”, although Bezos does.

I’m a former retail manager…a bookstore, a game store, and a “nature” store.

As a simple definition, most people would say that a store is “a place that sells you stuff”.:)

Amazon does have a bookstore in Seattle which sells you books…I consider that one a store. However, their college locations are more like showrooms (with Wi-Fi).

I don’t think it’s going to be that common that people walk into an Amazon store (especially without already knowing what they want), pay for something, and walk out with it.

This is exciting, though! When they open a San Francisco “pop up store” (not a permanent location), I’d be interested in seeing it…we live not too far away.

Also, Jeff Bezos said:

“…a company like Amazon deserves to be scrutinized and criticized. I have no worries about that.”

Washington Post story by Paul Farhi

There is also a seven minute video there.

You might be wondering what might have Jeff Bezos worried, because that’s sort of implicit in the statement.

I flip the stories into the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard, and you can read the article to which I’ve linked, but I think I won’t name which Presidential candidate here right now. Quite simply, one of the two frontrunners has explicitly expressed concerns about Amazon (and about Jeff Bezos’ ownership of the Washington Post). Interestingly, Bezos has made the decision to respond publicly.

Current Goodreads Deals

Yesterday, I wrote a piece

Goodreads introduces Goodreads Deals

These seem to me like great deals! I’ve included all the options I could, so I should be seeing everything available to the general public (but individuals may see additional deals, based on what is on their shelves at Goodreads and which authors they follow.

I may be conditioned by the Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), but I was thinking these deals would only last a day…they are lasting longer than that. On reflection, that makes sense…a publisher might have a sale for a week, and it could show up here.

These are the books (in order of most customer ratings first) they’ve told me about at time of writing. The prices could change any time, and they may not apply in your country, so check the price before click or tap that Buy button. If you can buy the at these prices, remember that you can also give them as gifts! You could buy it today, and specify delivery on the appropriate gift giving occasion. Some of these are quite well-known, and would likely be well-received. If someone getting an e-book gift already has it as a Kindle book, they can get store credit.

  • Angels and Demons by Dan Brown | 3.83 stars out of 5 with 1,752,960 customer ratings at the time they sent me the e-mail | $1.99
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold | 3.75 stars | 1,484,094 customer ratings  | $2.99
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | 4.14 stars with 430,134 customer ratings | $1.99
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman | 4.1 stars with 409,503 customer ratings | $2.99
  • Misery by Stephen King | 4.07 stars with 300,372 customer ratings | $1.99
  • Before I Fall  by Lauren Oliver | 3.92 stars | 188,519 ratings  | $2.99
  • Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout | 4.25 stars | 149,651 ratings | $0.99
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson | 3.73 stars | 136,311 ratings | $2.99
  • The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver | 4.17 stars with a 109,586 customer ratings | $1.99
  • The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter | 3.84 stars with 42,435 ratings  | $0.99
  •  The Pact by Karina Halle | 3.94 stars | 15,583 ratings| $0.99
  • Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey | 3.9 stars | 4,743 ratings| $0.99

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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.

 

Goodreads introduces Goodreads Deals

May 18, 2016

Goodreads introduces Goodreads Deals

Goodreads is the leading social reading site. Amazon bought it about three years ago

Amazon buys Goodreads

and there were concerns that it would become Amazon-centric and hopes that it could use the power of Amazon for readers.

Amazon doesn’t tend to be heavy handed when it acquires a company. I would guess that many people didn’t realize for some time that Amazon had acquired IMDb.com, which I use regularly (it’s a movie/TV reference site).

I would say that’s been the case with Goodreads as well. Yes, you got integration with Amazon, where you could import your Amazon-purchased books to your Goodreads shelves. Sure, we see some Amazon ads. However, when you go to an individual book’s page, there are links to buy it at all these places:

  • Audible
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Apple iBooks
  • Google Play
  • Abebooks
  • Book Depository
  • Indigo
  • Half.com
  • Alibris
  • Better World Books
  • IndieBound

Amazon is listed separately and first, but they haven’t stopped people from using Goodreads to discover books to buy at specific competitors (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBooks…).

That’s why I use it as one of my top links in

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip 

for books not in the public domain. For a public domain book (one not under copyright protection), I’ll first link to somewhere you can read it legally for free (I usually use ManyBooks). If it’s under copyright protection, my first link is to WorldCat, so someone can find it in the public library…I’m trying to make access to the books, movies, TV shows, radio sows, and so on, at TMCGTT as frictionless as possible. If somebody wants to buy it, I don’t link directly to a page like the book’s  product page at Amazon, where the primary purpose is to sell you the book. I do link to the Goodreads page, where buying it is an option, but not the focus.

Well, Goodreads just announced a new discounting program:

Goodreads deals announcement blogpost by Annarose Mclaughlin

This is only for U.S. members at this point (I know that may be disappointing for my readers around the world, but it may expand in the future), but I’m looking forward to seeing what discounts are available!

One part is based on books on your Want to Read list, and on authors you follow. These are personalized coupons. I have to say, if they work as well as our Safeway coupons work, I’m in! Our Safeway app regularly saves us significant money on items we buy regularly.

I do think it’s interesting that it doesn’t say it will be based on books you say you have read. I think that may be a mistake: as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you that significant part of our business was people buying books they already owned as gifts for other people. I’ve bought some books many times to give away. However, since it does work for authors you are following, that’s another way to go.

The second part isn’t based on you specifically: you sign up for discounts in specific genres. They will add to these, but they are starting with these genres:

  • Bestsellers
  • Romance
  • Mystery & Thrillers
  • Fantasy & Sci-Fi

“Bestsellers” isn’t exactly a genre, but we’ll let that slide.:)

Those will come as daily e-mails.

That means that Goodreads is now directly competing with sites like BookGorilla and BookBub.

When I signed up, it was interesting that I could configure it for deals from any of five sources (and by default, all five were selected):

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook
  • Google Play
  • Kobo

For me, I left it on the default with everything selected. That’s so I can get more information about what’s happening in the industry, and report things to you.

The first deal which was sent to me, within about a minute of signing up, was impressive:

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

This Alice Sebold book was a huge bestseller…and the price is $2.99.

I did check: that’s the same price you see if you go to the book through the Amazon website…it’s not an exclusive coupon, from what I can see, but notification of a sale. Not surprisingly, the sale price was good from all five of the stores…price matching can do that, as can the Agency Model.

By the way, I often have put books on my Want to Read shelf which I already own (but haven’t yet read). This wasn’t one of those, but I don’t know if that will impact the offers I see or not (I’m guessing not).

This seems like something that  makes sense for most readers to do.

What if you are a publisher?

Here’s the

Goodreads blog post, again by Annarose Mclaughlin

on that.

You can nominate an e-book deal by e-mailing advertising-inquiry@goodreads.com.

I think that, generally, Goodreads will find the deals on their own…but it’s also possible that publishers will be able to pay a fee to have a deal included. The blogpost says, “We’ll announce pricing soon. Stay tuned.”

What do you think? Will you sign up? What genres would you like to see? Will you look at books for stores you don’t use? Would you want to see books you’ve already read included (I’ve suggested on the comments page that they allow us to indicate on each of our shelves if we want the used for Goodreads Deals or not. That would also allow people to have a shelf specifically for that purpose…and they might add books to that  during the holidays). What does this mean for Bookgorilla, Bookbub,  eReaderIQ, and others? Would you use it for gifts, or more for yourself? Does it change your engagement with Goodreads (it will mine, because I’ll follow more authors…hey, I’d probably follow all of them).  ;) How do you feel about them including non-Amazon stores? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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.

Random country #1: Dominican Republic

May 17, 2016

Random country #1: Dominican Republic

I’m always looking for new ways to discover things to read. It really concerns me that I might get set into certain patterns, and miss something which might change my thinking just out of habit.

I’ve done it different ways, but today, I thought I’d pick a random country and see what was in the USA Kindle store for it. Sure, I want to expand my horizons, but I want the convenience of buying from the Kindle store…and doing something I think is illegal or immoral (for me) is not where I’m going to go.

In terms of methodology, I figured I’d go with United Nations member states. That doesn’t cover every country, but does cover quite a few. So, I started with the

United Nations list of member states

from their site.

Next, I used our

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

to give me a random number between one and twenty-six (to get a letter), and then had it give me a random number for the number of countries that started with that letter. That was just a simple way to do it.

The letter was “D” and the number was “6”…which is the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic joined the UN on October 24, 1945…which means it joined in the first year (but wasn’t one of the very first).

For an overview, here is

The Dominican Republic at Wikipedia

Briefly, it is on the same island as Haiti, and has one of the more robust economies in the area.

I’ll admit, I couldn’t name authors from the Dominican Republic right offhand…which fit right in with the idea of checking “random countries”!

I checked a couple of sites outside of Amazon first:

The Latino Author

Dominican Republic Literature at Wikipedia

The latter, not surprisingly, had a much bigger list…including at least one well-known name in the USA, Junot Diaz. It also had links to other online sites.

Next, I wanted to see what Amazon had. That’s part of the point of this for me, to see what shoppers at Amazon would find who were interested in the given country’s literature.

Search for “Dominican Republic” in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I got 343 results, with 80 available through

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

at no additional cost for members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service). I’ve been a happy KU member since they started, so I do always check that. In fact, I basically read e-books I already own (our adult kid just gave me a bunch of science fiction pulp anthologies) or books from KU. I put other books on my wish list for my family.:)

Here is the distribution among categories:

Note that the same book may appear in multiple categories (I think up to three).

Hm..nothing is listed as literature, although clearly, many of the books in “Kindle eBooks” are likely to be fiction.

Oh, that’s better! When I clicked “Kindle eBooks” and then expanded, I got more valuable categories:

Checking literature, I found something that very much fit what I would want to read…if it was in KU:

In the Time of the Butterflies (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Julia Alvarez
4.4 stars out of 5 (459 customer reviews)

Alvarez is a native of the Dominican Republic, and wrote How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.

It’s based on real events in history, when “Las Mariposas” (The Butterflies”) who, as siblings, opposed the dictatorial leader Trujillo.

That’s exactly the kind of cultural thing I would think would give me insight into a country’s thoughts and feelings…like an expert American writer fictionalizing Billy the Kid, or an Australian writing about Ned Kelly.

There were six KU  books listed as history for the Dominican Republic, and I would probably read this one if I was going to go visit:

History and Culture of Dominican Republic, Government, Politics Economy, Tourism: Migration, The First Colony
by Uzo Marvin

I’d also look for a humor book, a children’s book, and a science fiction/fantasy book.:) Being me, I’d look for a book on the animals of the country as well.

I suspect I may have some readers with knowledge of the literature of The Dominican Republic, though, so before I keep digging, I thought I’d ask…any recommendations? I’d prefer KU,  of course, but regardless, I’m curious.:) Feel free to make them (or add other thoughts) by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

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

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

 

 

Amazon@home

May 16, 2016

Amazon@home

I considered writing this as a humor piece, but I like the idea too much.:)

I was reading about Amazon opening another college center (their seventh) at Pennsylvania University. Here’s one article on it:

CNET article Ben Fox Rubin

These aren’t college bookstores…they don’t have books.:) They are pick-up centers (and media centers…you can hang out and use Wi-Fi, try out Amazon hardware, that sort of thing).

The articles generally talk about Amazon getting closer to their customers…so I was thinking, why not give me a pick-up center at my house?

Right now, we don’t have Amazon items delivered to our house, due to a history of mail theft in our area (it has happened to us personally). We have them delivered to where my Significant Other works…which is a bit awkward sometimes. It can mean we get it a day later (it has to go through central receiving), and it’s obviously not good on the weekends.

We considered buying a locking mailbox, but they are pretty expensive.

What if Amazon sold you a mailbox just for their own deliveries? They could make it inexpensive, since they don’t have to profit on the box. If you were in a Prime Now city, you could get a delivery in an hour. It would be better for them, because they don’t have to gamble on you actually being there.

The other thing they could do very effectively is put something like a “dashback” button inside it for the delivery person. It would be like their

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

where you just push a button to order something. Instead, the delivery person would push the button…and it would automatically e-mail/text you to tell your package had been delivered.

They could sell it in different sizes…maybe even a Block size where neighbors might go in on it for big deliveries (although that would complicate the dashback idea).

You could secure it by locking it down, or installing it in a wall (Amazon can help connect you to handypeople who could help you with that).

At some point in the future, this could also be accessible to drones (flying or ground delivery). They would have some way to unlock the Amazon@home box…although it has to be something that people couldn’t steal from it easily.:)

Well, this is all just an off the cuff idea…but I like it.:)

What do you think? Do you think this would work? What would you pay for it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Oh, two quick follow-ups to recent stories: Amazon has confirmed for me that you do not need to certify a disability to buy their

Kindle Paperwhite Blind and Visually Impaired Readers Bundle – Includes Kindle Paperwhite with Wi-Fi and Special Offers, Kindle Audio Adapter, and $19.99 Account Credit (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and their new Amazon Video Direct, which I wrote about here

Round up #140: Megapacks in KU, B&N’s future?

is a non-exclusive license, which is great! You can monetize your videos through YouTube or your personal website, and still offer them through Amazon!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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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