Amazon launches the Kindle Reading Fund

August 25, 2016

Amazon launches the Kindle Reading Fund

I’ve written several times in the blog about WorldReader.org, an organization that uses Kindles to bring books to children in parts of the world where transporting bulky paperbooks is effectively impractical.

I’ve also suggested  that Amazon could set up a way to give Kindles to kids…and  I have, with the guidance of my readers, done that myself:

Give a Kid a Kindle

As you can imagine, then, I was very pleased to see in Amazon’s blog yesterday that they have started the Kindle Reading Fund:

blog post by Dave Limp

This is a multi-pronged effort, which in part centralizes community literacy support that Amazon has done in the past.

The KRF will include

  • A new partnership with Worldreader.org
  • Donations to local schools and libraries
  • Donations to hospitals and non-profits
  • Work with the National PTA

I commend Amazon on these efforts!

I also recommend the video (featuring David Risher, CEO…Chief Executive Officer…of Worldreader) embedded in the blog post: I like the description of books as at first a “mirror”, where we look for ourselves to be reflected, and then later as a “window”, where we see the lives of others. It’s a succinct two minutes (slightly under) explaining what Worldreader does, and why.

There is a new

Kindle Reading Fund page

I went there expecting to be able to donate to the effort…but instead, there was a button to request a donation from Amazon (for a school, for instance).

This page also features Amazon’s other community efforts, and there are many, from disaster relief to the Amazon Literary Partnership (which offers grants to publishers and author group) to pro bono legal services.

Thank you, Amazon, for the good you are doing in the world, especially through spreading the power of books!

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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

August 23, 2016

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

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

One Murder More reportedly wins three Silver Falchion awards!

I’m waiting for

Killer Nashville

to post the official results before I do a full post (and celebration), but I thought some of you would be curious: my sibling’s first novel, One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), won three Silver Falchion awards this past weekend! That’s amazing, and puts Kris in good company, including Anne Perry, John Sandford, Dean Koontz, and Sue Grafton.

More to come…

Barnes & Noble loses CEO

In this

press release

Barnes & Nobles announced the “departure” of its Chief Executive Officer, Ronald D. Boire (after not quite a year in the post).

This is being reported both as Boire being fired, and as Boire “stepping down”…but regardless, this is a negative for the Big 5 traditional publishers (who are still reliant on brick and mortar bookstores…I’m a former manager of one). Nobody who is already established in business likes uncertainty, and this is B&N’s third CEO recently.

The press release says that the Board determined Boire wasn’t “a good fit”…and that’s the Board’s fault.

One of my proudest things after I became the training manager at a franchise (where I think we had five owners in seven years…something like that) was that I lengthened the average longevity of my team significantly. When I was hired there, I was told there was a ninety-day “ramp up” period. I asked how many people didn’t get through that period, and I was told two out of three! Sure enough, I was hired with two other people, and I was the only person still there after three months.

That’s just…inefficient hiring, in my opinion.

I’ve hired a lot of people over the years, and I think I’m pretty good at it.

After I was the Training Manager for a year, the average longevity went from under three months to over a years, as I recall…basically, nobody left. Yes, I hired people during that year, but not that many because turnover was low. If I hired them, they stayed.

If the Board hired somebody who wasn’t a good fit, that’s likely to be mostly their fault.

This is odd timing, because we are heading into the most important time of the year…the last three months of the year, in a retail business like this, can easily be 90% of the year’s sales.

Maybe if Boire had made it a full year, the departure would have cost them more?

Replacing the CEO at the end of August is a little bit like replacing your pilot while your plane is at the gate readying for takeoff.😉

However, Leonard Riggio, who was going to retire in a few weeks (Riggio has been a driving force at B&N since buying the company forty-five years ago) is going to take the helm for now.

The publishers may see that as a good thing…they understand Riggio, even if the leadership is only temporary and therefore limited in determining the strategic direction.

I thought this

RetailDive post by Corinne Ruff

had intelligent insight.

B&N has had some good signs recently…none of them said “Books for Sale in Our Stores”, though.😉 The strategy has been to move the stores more into other things (especially the cafes), cut back on the NOOK even more, and try to remake the online presence. Those strategies aren’t likely to change.

MarketWatch: physical bookstores rebounding

In this

MarketWatch article by Trey Williams

they report a clear rebound for brick-and-mortar bookstores in the USA, continuing last year’s reversal of a downward trend which had been in place since 2009. I’m not sure I agree with Whitney Hu of

The Strand Bookstore in New York

a marvelous institution. Hu says in part:

“The recent growth in sales is a result of the waning novelty of e-readers, such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle…”

On the other hand, Hu is more likely to be right than another authority they quote…Ronald D. Boire, the aforementioned outgoing CEO of Barnes & Noble.😉

Are audiobooks cheating?

Regular readers know I listen to text-to-speech (software which reads books out loud to you) a lot. It’s typically hours a week in the car. I sight read every day, too…on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX (that’s what does the text-to-speech in the car for me), on a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a

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

depending on where I am in the house (I also read different books in different parts of the house…I’ve always done that).

I will admit, though,  that there has been a slight, nagging thought: is listening to the book somehow “inferior” to sight-reading it?

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with that thought.🙂

This

CNN post by Melissa Dahl

resonated with me…it was the same question.

Fortunately, Dahl was referencing this

blog post by Daniel Willingham

The bio states that Willingham is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.

Willingham addresses the idea of whether or not listening to an audiobook is “cheating”.

I was actually hoping for an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) study showing that what the brain was doing was similar during sight-reading and listening, but the post isn’t that.

It’s talking more about the process, and how it will “mostly” be the same (although there may be an advantage when reading more complex material to sight-reading it, an adult reading a typical novel should be pretty much the same).

It was interesting to me that the article was at least partly what I would consider to be philosophical…questioning the value of defining reading as “work”, something to be more rewarded when you put something more into it.

I do think some “literati” have that attitude: if a book was harder to read, it was better for you and more worthwhile.

I don’t buy that myself.

I think there is value in reading a “popcorn book”, one which reads with little effort. People used to (and some still do) call them “page turners”, although “button masher” became the digital equivalent for a short time (when was they last time you used buttons to “turn the page” on an e-book reader?).

In fact, and maybe I am a bit of a lazy reader in this regard, I tend not to like very “dense” epics…I describe them as when the sentence is better than the paragraph, the paragraph is better than the page, the page is better than the chapter, and the chapter is better than the book.😉

You know the type…I would put The Worm Ouroborus by E.R. Eddison into that category.

Still, it’s nice to know that a professor of psychology has the opinion that listening to an audiobook isn’t cheating.🙂 I intend to comment on the blog post (if the requirements to do so are not overly restrictive) to ask about text-to-speech versus audiobooks…I suspect that the TTS cognitive processing is much more similar to sight-reading than audiobooks are. I’d be interested to hear what the professor thinks about that…and about the fact that I generally don’t experience prosody (hearing voices when you read).🙂

What do you think? Have you thought of listening to books as “cheating”? Will Barnes & Noble continue to have physical bookselling in dedicated brick-and-mortar stores as a major component of their business? If they don’t, what does that mean for tradpubs? Why do you think brick-and-mortar bookstores have been rebounding? Is it because of a decline in e-book use…or maybe it’s coloring books?😉 Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

2016 Hugo Award winners

August 22, 2016

2016 Hugo Award winners

The Hugo Awards (named after Hugo Gernsbeck) are one of the most prestigious science fiction awards out there.

Past winners include Dune, The Man in the High Castle, and Stranger in a Strange Land.

There has been quite a bit of controversy in the last couple of years, as a couple of groups have made an effort to get the results that they want. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, when I put it that way…but many people disagree with the apparent agenda of those groups.

The Hugo Awards have addressed this in part by having a “No Award” choice. Last year, it was a big impact…this year, not as much. It’s reasonable to conclude that the awards actually given this year do not align with the groups’ objectives.

I mention all this because the campaigns make some people question the legitimacy of the awards. That’s always true with awards, of course, but I would say that the Hugos certainly were an indicator of high quality for many geeks like me.

I was curious, so I checked: I’ve read most of the novel winners from the 1950s through the 1980s…not as much after that.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t consider those later novels worthy, not at all…I would say that it is more that I diversified my reading quite a bit.

If you are looking for a quality science fiction/fantasy read (or watch or  listen…they do more than  just literature), I think that using the Hugos is not a bad data point in making your decision.

Here are this year’s winners (awarded Saturday night, August 20th at MidAmeriCon II):

Best Novel

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1) (at AmmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by N.K. Jemisin

Best Novella

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Best Novelette

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)

Best Short Story

“Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)

Best Related Work

No Award

Best Graphic Story

The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions;Netflix)

Best Editor, Short Form

Ellen Datlow

Best Editor, Long Form

Sheila E. Gilbert

Best Professional Artist

Abigail Larson

Best Semiprozine

Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Best Fanzine

File 770 edited by Mike Glyer

Best Fancast

No Award

Best Fan Writer

Mike Glyer

Best Fan Artist

Steve Stiles

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not technically a Hugo)

Andy Weir

Congratulations to the winners!

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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

 

Your move, Amazon: Kobo announces a new frontier E-Book Reader

August 19, 2016

Your move, Amazon: Kobo announces a new frontier E-Book Reader

I always want there to be competition for the Kindle.

It’s a good thing…it drives innovation.

Frontlit EBR (E-Book Reader)? NOOK was first.

Lending to your friends and family? Again, NOOK first.

Well, while the NOOK line has been imploding, Kobo has been continuing to improve its EBRs.

Available for preorder August 30th is their latest:

Kobo Aura ONE

While I’m not at all tempted to switch, I am impressed with the features…and with a marketing introduction which I admire, and appears to be working; it’s been years since I’ve seen the “Kindle Killer” stories in the blogosphere.😉

I’m sure it’s not a Kindle Killer…but in the paraphrased words of Nietzsche (and exact words of Kelly Clarkson),  “What  doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”😉

The price is $229.99, which is $60 less than Amazon’s top of the line Kindle Oasis…in fact, you could buy the new Kobo and the entry level Fire tablet for the price of the Oasis.

What does the Aura ONE have going for it?

It can automatically adjust the amount of blue light, meaning it has a day mode, and a mode which won’t tend to disrupt your sleep. While the Fire tablets now have a blue light filter option (“Blue Shade”), that doesn’t adjust automatically and it’s not on the Kindle EBRs. You can also adjust it manually.

Do we want this for the Kindle EBRs? Sure, why not? I actually have my

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

light turned all the way down when I read in bed…but I do have superior night vision, which may be connected  to some color vision deficiency.

It has built-in Overdrive: borrow e-books from your public library easily. It looks to me like you set up OverDrive with your public library, and then you’ll have a choice of buying it or borrowing it from your public library (if available). Seems like it will just be a tap of a button, although it might not be quite that simple.

Why would they do that? Won’t that hurt their sales?

They say they looked at data, and that people who were serious readers both bought and borrowed books.

Yep…there is a “myth of scarcity”, that suggests that there tends to be only so much of a resource, so it will only be allocated in limited ways. In this case, it would be that people spend X amount for books…so, if they borrow a book, that reduces the number of books they buy.

However, it could be that they buy the same number of the books they did before, plus they borrow library books. It could even be that they buy more books…they borrow a book, like  it, and then buy other books in the series or buy that book for other people.

Before I mention more features, I want to mention that marketing angle.

Kobo is positioning this as customers being involved in the design process. They say, “Designed with the help of our most passionate customers.”

Now, Amazon has clearly had customers looking at devices before they are released (that’s why they can have blurbs for the announcement press release). They don’t, though, identify those people in the way Kobo is doing. I think that’s effective. It makes people think that Kobo is listening to its customers.

More on features:

  • It’s waterproof:  something Amazon has yet to do (but I think we may see that in new models in September)
  • They have a lot of options for the appearance of the text: “…weight and sharpness settings exclusive to Kobo, as well as the ability to choose from over 50 font sizes and 11 font types”. The Oasis has nine fonts and eight sizes
  • The ONE weighs 230g: that’s more than the Oasis when it doesn’t have its cover (it’s 131g or 133g, depending on whether it has 3G or not). The cover adds 107g…which makes the Oasis in its cover heavier than the ONE without a cover…but I would guess many people will read the ONE in a cover
  • The ONE has 8gb of memory…the Oasis has 4gb
  • The Kobo has 14 file formats supported natively (EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR). The Oasis supports these: “Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion”. CBR is for comic books, and that’s popular

The other big difference is that it is, well…bigger. 😉 That’s in terms of screen size: it’s 7.8″, compared to 6″ for all of the current Kindle EBRs.

Honestly,  I don’t think I’d like that better. I had an 8.9″ tablet (one of a bunch of devices stolen in a home break-in), and it was too big to fit comfortably in pockets in my “utility vest” which I wear on the weekends. I like the form actor of the Voyage and Paperwhite. On the other hand, my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″ isn’t too big,  so  maybe it would be okay.

Bottom line: I think this has some great features, and Kobo has been, I think, thoughtful in the design. Amazon has other great features, and the obvious one is that it’s compatible with my Kindle books.😉 That’s by no means the only thing, though: Amazon’s customer service is so good (in my experience, and based on surveys) that it is a major advantage.

I expect this will drive further development on Amazon’s part, giving us Kindleers even better devices in the future.

Bonus deal: speaking of devices, two Kindle EBRs are $20 off at time of writing:

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $59.99 instead of $79.99

and

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $99.99 instead  of $119.99

Those are both good models (I own the both). I like the Paperwhite very much, and this is the new entry level Kindle with Bluetooth audio.

What do you think? Which of these features would you want in future Kindles? Have you owned or do you own a Kobo? What would make you switch to another model…if anything? Would you have two different  libraries to use two different devices? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

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

 

 

 

One Murder More nominated for three awards

August 16, 2016

One Murder More nominated for three awards

My readers have been following the progress of my sibling’s first book:

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

I write about it in part because I support my family, sure, but I also think it’s informative about the publishing industry.

OMM has had  a number of milestones, including appearing in Amazon’s tightly curated physical bookstore.

It has an average of 4.7 stars out of 5 with 89 customer reviews, which is very high.

An early enthusiastic blurb was from New York Times bestselling author, John Lescroart.

It’s currently ranked 459,158 in the USA Kindle store. That’s out of 4,717,502, which puts it ahead of about 90% of the titles.

Now, it’s been nominated for three (!) awards at the major mystery writers’ conference:

Killer Nashville

To give you a sense of the conference (which runs this Thursday, 8/18, through Sunday), the Guests of Honor include Janet Evanovich.

You can see the nominees for the 2016 “Silver Falchion” (a falchion is a type of sword) awards here:

http://www.killernashville.com/2016-killer-nashville-silver-falchion-finalists/

The three categories in which One Murder More is nominated are:

  • Best Fiction First Novel
  • Best Mystery/Crime
  • The Judges’ Choice

That’s impressive to me…especially the Judges’ Choice which has a different selection process.

Kris will also be part of Session 59, Turning Headline News into Fiction, on Sunday at 12:45 in the Sycamore room.

To celebrate these honors, I’m going to give away the Kindle edition of One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) to the first three (for the three awards) of my readers who comment on this post asking for one. You’ll need to be somewhere you can get a Kindle gift from the USA, and I’ll use the e-mail address you use when you post (which is not visible to the public) to send you your gift. As you may know, if you get a Kindle gift and already have that book, you can contact Amazon to change to a store credit instead.

If One Murder More does win any awards at the Killer Nashville conference this weekend (virtual fingers crossed), it will be interesting to see how that impacts the book’s progress. I think that “award-winning” can be an influential statement to make on a book’s product page, but if it happens, we’ll be able to see if the sales ranking changes (although we won’t know for sure that the award mattered, of course).

Congratulations, Kris!

What do you think? Does it matter to you if a book is “award-winning”? Does it matter if you haven’t heard of the award before? Do you pay more attention to judge-selected or peer-nominated awards? What about reader-voted? Are you going to Killer Nashville, or have you been in the past? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post (and ask for a copy of OMM, if you like).

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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

Note: other of my family members have published books, including another sibling. You can see more information at I know these authors!

 

Should the President be reading indies?

August 15, 2016

Should the President be reading indies?

“Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.”
–Arthur C. Clarke

I like that we get to see the President’s reading list..and just to be clear, that would be any President, not particularly the current one.

It tells the country and the world that the President of the USA reads recreationally…not a small message to send.

When I saw this year’s list, though, I was struck by one thing in particular. Here’s  the list, as reported by the White House

here

What stood out to me?

While they aren’t all from Big 5 publishers (Grove isn’t one), they are all traditionally published.

Now, that’s not really a surprise. These books are well known, and I’m sure a President doesn’t have much time to browse.🙂

However, it could have really had an impact on an indie (independently published book) if the President had selected one.

I’m sure there are people who could have made a recommendation.😉

I don’t have anything against mainstream published books. It’s just that it seems like this is a missed opportunity.

I was curious: in terms of the Kindle store, the highest any of these was ranked was #19 bestseller at time of writing. It’s a different situation in p-book (paperbook) bestsellers, and I would guess that at least some of the time, the President reads e-books…

One other comment: all of these publishers are headquartered in the USA. Penguin (a British company) merged with Random House, but the HQ is in New York. There are hundreds of indie books published in the USA Kindle store every month, and I would be sure the vast majority of those, if they make any money at all, are under USA tax jurisdiction, and tend to contribute to the USA  economy.

What do you think? Were you surprised by any of the President’s choices? Do  you think picking an indie or lesser-known book would have been a good  thing? 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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

 

 

 

Today’s KDD: Up to 75% off over 20 top-rated Kindle books

August 14, 2016

Today’s KDD: Up to 75% off over 20 top-rated Kindle books

Today’s

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

has many well-known authors and some well-known books.🙂

This is a one day sale, and as usual, do check the price before tap that Buy button…the prices may not apply in your country, for one thing.

Today’s books include:

  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • What We Find by Robyn Carr
  • Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts
  • Afterburn & Aftershock by Sylvia Day
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreigtt
  • The  Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
  • The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell
  • The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
  • Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
  • The Fireman by Joe HIll

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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

 

Wiki me this, Amazon

August 12, 2016

Wiki me this, Amazon

Amazon devices are deeply integrated with Wikipedia.

It’s an interesting strategy. Amazon has, in the past, been criticized for being a “walled garden”, but I’ve never really felt that they were overly restrictive with their devices accessing other producers’ content.

For example, we’ve always been able to get the Netflix app on Fire tablets, despite Netflix and Amazon’s Prime video being direct competitors.

While users haven’t been able to use the Google Play store, and the NOOK e-books app hasn’t been in the Amazon Appstore compatible for Amazon tablets, we’ve also had a specific software menu choice to allow installation of apps from sources outside of Amazon…not something you commonly see on tablets. I’ve never known for sure if it’s Amazon that excludes Google Play, or Google Play which excludes Amazon tablets from being compatible directly with Google Play.

Wikipedia, though, has been a resource for us on Fire devices and on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) for years.

In fact, there’s clearly been a special relationship. When you couldn’t browse to just any old website you wanted, you could still get Wikipedia entries from look up within an e-book on a Kindle Touch (for example).

I took a look, and I didn’t see anything that says there is an actual deal between the two…does Amazon have a contract with Wikipedia, or do they just smooth the path to them?

It makes some sense that Amazon likes Wikipedia, a user-edited encyclopedia. Amazon has been very much about the crowd…I would guess that Amazon user reviews have a bigger impact on perhaps the majority of e-book titles’ sales than mainstream, traditional media reviews.

If you highlight two words together on a

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

(or other current EBRs  or a Fire device), it will do a Wikipedia lookup.

I think less well known is that you can use Wikipedia with the Echo family of devices. For an

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

or

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

or

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

(I use all three regularly), you can say, “Alexa**, Wikipedia Doc Savage” and Alexa will read you the start of the entry. If that’s not enough, Alexa can read more.

I  think this is a good thing.

Yes, Wikipedia can be manipulated for a short time by people with nefarious intent…or given false information unintentionally. However, I find these problems tend to get straightened out quite quickly.

For me, as an optimist and generally someone with a good opinion of humanity🙂 , it is evidence of the majority wanting to do good rather than bad. Imperfect evidence (not everyone edits Wikipedia, of course), but an indicator. When one person does something “bad”, other people on Wikipedia want to fix it and make it right.

I’m not saying that Wikipedia is an equally good source to cite for a paper as, say, an encyclopedia with editors and fact checkers. I do consult it quite often myself. I’ll often try to confirm the information, although that can be difficult…there’s a pretty good chance that a secondary web source has gotten the information from Wikipedia.😉

So, I would say, don’t be afraid to use Wikipedia on your Alexa devices on Fires/Kindles…lots of interesting, crowdsourced information is available to you.

What do you think? How reliable  do you consider Wikipedia to be? Do you use it on Alexa devices/Echoes/Fires? 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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

** With the Tap, you don’t say, “Alexa”…you “tap” a button to ask a question

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.

September is coming: what devices have been around the longest?

August 11, 2016

September is coming: what devices have been around the longest?

Next month,  September, is when Amazon has been doing a big hardware announcement.

There are often surprises, but I thought that taking a look at how long currently available new models have been available might give us a clue about what might be due for a refresh.

Entry level Kindle

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This was actually just updated this June (the big addition was Bluetooth audio…which I think is great). That makes it seem unlikely that we’ll get a new entry level Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) in September…but you never know.😉

Kindle Oasis

This came out in April of this year, and seems soon for a new model…unless they were to do a different size, which seems unlikely. I’m not linking to it because you still can’t buy it without an animal leather cover. Oh, and they could update it with Bluetooth audio.

Kindle Paperwhite

The 3rd

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s been over a year since this was announced in June of 2015…and a refresh with Bluetooth seems likely to me.

Kindle Voyage

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

came out in 2014…but I feel like it’s been replaced as the top of the line by the Oasis. I have one and I like it, but it feels a bit like the fifth wheel. I think entry level, Paperwhite, and Oasis is a good lineup.

Fire tablets

I’m addressing these a group…and there was an  update in fall of 2015. I expect an update of the Fire line…the least expensive one has been a big hit

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I think this is where we’ll see some real innovation. I think the iPad has lost some of its luster…there are a lot of tablets out there still, and the tablet isn’t an exploding market…but I think that benefits Amazon, which is sometimes seen as a utility player for hardware, when they enter existing markets.

Echo family

The

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

and

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

were introduced in March of 2016…and I use both of mine every workday (and the Tap on weekends). Probably too soon to refresh those.

On the other hand, the original

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

has never been updated since it rolled out in 2014. It’s due.

Fire TV family

The

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

2nd generation was released at the end of last year, but I think we’ll see an update…this is a vibrant growing market, and Apple TV has challenged it with its most recent version.

Could we see something brand new? Sure!

My intuition is something new in home automation, connecting to the Alexa voice service. For example, I’d love it if Amazon introduced a widely compatible SmartHub. They could also do “AmazonBasics” for home automation lights, that kind of thing.

Could they do a watch? A Virtual Reality headset? A fitness tracker? Maybe…none of those feel really likely to me. I like the idea of a wearable audio player (for Prime Music, audiobooks, and text-to-speech) with no visual display, but that might just be me.

What do you think? Will we see new hardware announcements from Amazon in September 2016 ? If so, what do you think we’ll see? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

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

Round up #144: Prime Air, read more live longer?

August 9, 2016

Round up #144: Prime Air, read more live longer?

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

Publishing Perspectives: “Sisters in Crime on Diversity: Multiculturalism, They Wrote”

I found this

Publishing Perspective post by Porter Anderson

intriguing.

It’s about a recent report from

Sisters in Crime (SinC)

about diversity within their group of mystery writers.

The whole question of diversity is an interesting one…and one that’s been in the news repeatedly recently.

Do people of similar nature (gender, ethnic background, sexual preference) have similar perspectives? More importantly, do they lack perspectives that people of different (diverse) natures would have?

If someone believes that’s true, than finding out that a group of content creators or “influencers” being less diverse than the general population means that the works produced by that group underrepresent perspectives in society.

This survey (which is available at the SinC website) compared self-reported categorization of the membership with census data (with the exception of LGBT ((Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender…although it is generally used in a more inclusive manner than that, including those who identify as “gender fluid”, or example)) identification, which used another comparison study).

All of the groups were underrepresented by the authors under this methodology except for two.

SinC members (the survey was sent to 3,400 members; SinC is in fifty states) were reported as 93% “White, non-Hispanic”, compared to 62% of the general population…half again as many.

LGBT self-reported at 6%, compared to 3.8%…158% (somewhat higher than the above).

One more, and then I’ll recommend you read the study. I was surprised that people with a disability were underrepresented. I would expect writers with disabilities to be overrepresented…a person can write for a living with limited mobility. I can certainly see how someone who had a change in mobility status would choose to be the writer they perhaps always wanted to be. I’ve walked with a cane for maybe a few years now…it does make doing my day job marginally more difficult. Perhaps being a successful writer nowadays may require a lot of travel, to go to book festivals and such…I know my sibling, author of

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

does travel to those sorts of events frequently.

HDXter, the work horse

When I was a kid, you figured that you bought household appliance and it would last for generations of devices, but human generations.🙂 It was entirely possible that you would get your grandparents’ vacuum cleaner or refrigerator to use.

While the term had been around for a few decades, it was really in the 1950s that “planned obsolescence” became a popular concept. The basic idea is that companies would intentionally design their products so that the consumer would want to replace it, probably with a newer model from the same company.

Car companies have understood that.

Apple’s phone business has arguably depended on it.

It’s funny, but emotionally, when I buy a Kindle  or a Fire tablet, I feel (not think) that I will have and use it for decades.

Oh, I expect to buy new models when they come up, but that is largely to write about them for you, my readers. I’ve certainly bought them because I’ve been curious about a new feature, but I  expect the old ones to still be around and be part of my life (if I don’t give them away).

Regular readers may remember we had a break-in a few years ago and had a bunch of our Kindles/Fires taken:

Eight of our Kindles stolen

However, I have and use daily a Kindle Fire HDX (now discontinued). HDXter (“H-Dexter”) is the Kindle/Fire I use the most…it’s the one that comes to work with me, the one that does text-to-speech in the car. I use a Voyage and a Paperwhite at home as well, but HDXter has served me incredibly well.

It’s been in Amazon’s own Origami cover, and yes, it’s been dropped or fallen a few times.

Updates have affected it, which is nice…I got the new Page Flip version, for example, which is brilliant.

I have one of the current gen Fires, but I like HDXter better at this point:  it fits my needs.

Reading is life

“Serious readers” may feel like we get to live more by reading books, but one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, linked me to this

New York Times article by Bryan Thomas

which reports on a study that says that regular readers literally live longer.

Here’s the key in a short excerpt:

“Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die. Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.”

They reportedly controlled for other factors (readers may be disproportionately part of other groups with average longer life expectancy, including women and those of greater financial means, for example).

There may be a number of reasons for that…it may reduce stress, acting as a form of meditation. I think empathetic people tend  to be more emotionally fit, and there have been other studies which suggest that readers tend to be more empathetic.

“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Amazon!”

While Amazon’s drone delivery program isn’t happening in the USA yet (it will likely happen in other countries first, due to our approval process moving more slowly), Amazon has launched Prime Air…and it’s a cargo jet!

You can see pictures of it in this

GeekWire post by Alan Boyle

Amazon would clearly like to be able to control the delivery process from store to door. They also are using “Amazon Flex” drivers, sort of like Uber for Amazon package deliveries, for those final miles (they recently delivered the hardback version of the new Harry Potter book between midnight and 2:00 AM…creating some speculation, including here, that it might be some other secret product launch…it wasn’t).

I pity folks at package delivery companies who have based their business projections on how much Amazon was going to use them. It’s a tiny percentage at this point, I’m sure, but if Amazon expands control of self-delivery, it could even cause layoffs at those companies, I would guess.

Stock prices of traditional publishers are…

…doing just fine, thank you.

You might guess that publishers are in trouble…I’ve reported on the rise of indies. However, that’s one of the things about being professional companies with a long history: they understand how to make money, even if how they do it isn’t as “sexy” as just selling more copies of books.

This

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

has a nice look at stock prices, showing that their PWSI (Publishers Weekly Stock Index) has gone up a lot faster than the Dow Jones Industrials.

They break it down by individual companies, and some of the strong players might surprise you…Barnes & Noble (they don’t just include publishers, but B&N has had some “house branded” books before) is up 30.3%…Amazon, by comparison, is up 5.9%. However, it’s a lot easier to rise in percentages when you have a much, much smaller starting number.🙂

What do you think? Are tradpubs gains short term, or can they survive and thrive? Would you rather have Amazon deliver your packages, or UPS/Fed Ex/USPS? Should the author pool reflect the general population? Should reading be part of fitness/longevity plans? 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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

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

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

 


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