10 books from my Wish List…and why

July 29, 2015

10 books from my Wish List…and why

My book buying habits have changed, in part because of

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

I’m a happy member of Amazon’s subser (subscription service), but it does make me feel a bit…guilty when I pay for a book outside of that (at least for myself).

There are a lot of books I’d love to read which are not part of KU: at this point, the Big 5 (the biggest publishers of trade books…the ones you would have bought in a bookstore, not things like textbooks) are not participating. I do keep saying that I expect that at least on the Big 5 will put at least some of the backlist titles in KU by the end of the year. We’ll see. :)

So, what I do is put those books on an Amazon Wish List.

Then, I share it with my family at the holidays.

My Significant Other used to be so happy to find a book I didn’t have. On certain topics, I pretty much bought every title that came out…or that I could get used.

Now, there is my Wish List.

When I look at it, it almost feels like going into a bookstore. I now have over 200 things on my main list (I have several lists for different purposes), although not all of them are books.

A bookstore in an airport might have something like that number…oh, they might have a thousand or so titles. Eventually, e-books and print-on-demand (POD) may really change that experience!

I thought I’d list ten of the books, and tell you what interests me about them.

Note: I am not doing this because I’d like you to get them for me. :) I’m going to ask that you not do that:  I want to save that for my family. :)

You do enough for me just by being readers (and subscribers…thanks, subscribers!).

My Wish List isn’t public, it’s just shared with specific people.  That’s an option at Amazon.

For more information on Wish Lists, see

Wish Lists Amazon help page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

So, in no particular order, here are ten of the books on my main Wish List:

The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game
by Mary Pilon
4.2 stars out of 5 | 57 customer reviews

In addition to managing a bookstore, I managed a game store. Games have always been an interest of mine, and I always love the stories behind our pop culture.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
by Jill Lepore
4.4 stars | 182 reviews

Another look behind pop culture. I already know something about Wonder Woman and the unusual life of the superhero’s creator. This one sounds like an interesting accounting of it. Wonder Woman is amongst my favorite heroes.

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, Book 2)
by Jim Butcher
4.4 stars | 747 reviews

I’ve seen the TV series and read (and enjoyed) the first of these…I’d like to get further into the book series.

Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers
by Paul Dickson
4.5 stars | 14 reviews

Another interest of mine: words! Paul Dickson is quite good at this sort of thing.

Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement
by Tea Krulos
4.8 stars | 10 reviews

Yes, this is a real thing. Thee are people who actually wear costumes and fight crime. I’ve seen a documentary about this: fascinating!

Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel
by Jason Padgett, Maureen Ann Seaberg
4.0 stars | 91 reviews

Oh, the human brain! We still don’t understand all that much about how it works. Many people have approached it as thought it were a machine, with different parts performing different functions. It appears that perhaps interactions of multiple features may be crucially important.

Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism (Digital Picture Book)
by Ron Suskind
4.8 stars| 202 reviews

Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize winner whose autistic child communicated through Disney cartoons. I heard an interview: really intriguing!

1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Turning Points in Ancient History)
by Eric H. Cline
3.9 stars | 350 reviews

I also like more general history…and again, particularly when it illuminates something other than the surface version of what happened.

Generational Insights
by Cam Marston
4.0 stars | 1 review

I’ve been blown away by Marston’s observations on what were the four generations in the workplace. We actually had a presentation on it at work: that’s how I first encountered it…and I want more (I have already read a book of Marston’s, bu not this one).

Forry: The Life of Forrest J Ackerman
by Deborah Painter
3.5 stars | 10 reviews

I didn’t know Forry, but was personally helped by the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Geek culture might not exist without Uncle Forry (legendarily the first person to ever cosplay at a convention, for one thing). I’m not convinced this a great book, based on the reviews, but I’d still like to read it.

There you go! I’d love to get any of these from my family!

What about you? What sorts of books are on your Amazon Wish Lists? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

*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 justification to an author for unblocking text-to-speech

July 28, 2015

My justification to an author for unblocking text-to-speech

Regular readers know that I don’t buy books where the publisher has blocked text-to-speech (TTS) access.

I’ve talked a lot about the issue, and I know some people have probably heard enough. :)

I did want to share something with you, though.

There is a new book coming out which I would like to read…it’s by an actor and writer whose work I have really enjoyed.

When I saw that TTS was blocked, I could have just said, “Oh, well.”

Instead, I wrote to the author.

I’ve had some success in writing to publishers and authors before…years ago, I wrote to the publisher of

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

to suggest they make an e-book edition (this was in the very years). I certainly got the impression, based on our correspondence, that my e-mail had an influence.

I’ve also sent publishers proofreading notes, and been assured that at least some of my suggestions would be used when the book was updated.

I don’t think that any of this is because I’m a blogger…I’m hardly famous. :) I say that just to suggest to you that communicating with publishers and authors can work…although I don’t know if it will in this case, yet. :)

I’m always careful to be respectful, and not critical…of course, that’s me in real life, too (except when I’m just with my Significant Other making fun of things on TV). ;)

So, I had first written a short comment…in private. I don’t want to call people out in public on this (I’ll be disguising identifying information below). I don’t think that’s helpful.

I heard something back from a representative, saying they had checked with the publisher, and that there was going to be something better than TTS: an audiobook.

The representative also nicely asked me to let them know if the audiobook “…doesn’t provide the options necessary to address any disabilities for our readers”.

I put quite a bit of work into my reply, and I wanted to share it with you:

Thanks so much for replying, and for looking into the issue with [the publisher].

I’m sure the audiobook will be a lot of fun! I would expect [the author’s] performance, being both an actor and the author, to add another dimension to [the book].

That’s what an audiobook, such as [the publisher] is describing is: a performance. Listening to a great audiobook is like going to see a movie. It’s not just a way to access the book, it’s another piece of art.

Text-to-speech is very different. It’s just a way to get to the words in the book. It’s much more akin to having a large print book than it is to seeing a movie.

There are three basic audio “channels” for a book to get to readers:

1. An audiobook. This is a recorded performance, and people use this for a different type of experience. They expect to pay separately for it, just like they would for a movie based on the book. They would purchase this from a store (such as Amazon). The author would get a royalty or other arrangements would be made for compensation, if the book is still under copyright protection

2. An audio version produced especially for people who can certify a disability. Thanks to an amendment to U.S. copyright law in 1996, these can be produced without first getting a license from the rightsholder. These can only be created by “authorized entities” and are produced in specialized formats that often require special equipment to hear. It might be made available for free. The book may be read by a volunteer, or produced by software. It is typically not a performance by a professional. The disabled would get this from an organization like https://www.bookshare.org/cms (after certifying the disability)

3. Text-to-speech (TTS): this is software (created from a person’s voice) which, in a streaming manner (not recorded), reads a book out loud. It does not interpret the text, and is not created individually for each book. License is not required to be purchased to make this available. As I understand it, publishers can legally block TTS access, as long as an accessible version of the book is available to those who qualify as disabled. Nothing needs to be done to prepare a book for TTS: a Kindle Fire with TTS can read personal documents out loud, for example. A publisher has to make an effort to block the access. Once a reader has a device with TTS, there is no additional cost to access the book in that way, and the author does not get an additional royalty

To answer your question about the needs of the disabled: certifying a disability is not an easy thing for everyone to do. Books under that structure are not always made available in a timely fashion.

However, the broader group affected by the lack of TTS is made up of those people who have print challenges which do not rise to the legal level of a disability. That might be a vision issue, but it could also be another medical issue (such as the ability to hold a paper book and turn the pages).

A group called the Reading Rights Organization, an umbrella organization which included: the American Council of the Blind; American Foundation for the Blind; Lighthouse International; National Federation of the Blind; and many other non-profits, protested publishers blocking text-to-speech…at the same time that the “specialized editions” were available.

There are also people who simply want to use text-to-speech when driving or exercising (to name two circumstances). They would not necessarily buy an audiobook: they intend to mostly sight-read the book, but don’t want to lose the opportunity to enjoy it when sight reading is impractical.

The suggestion has been made that unblocked TTS may reduce audiobook sales, and that may have been [the publisher]’s thought. However, since TTS has been widely available (when the Kindle 2 was released in 2009), downloadable audiobook sales have greatly increased. They have doubled in England since 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/11571627/Audiobook-sales-double-in-five-years-thanks-to-downloads-and-famous-faces.html

The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the leading industry group, had this to say about downloaded audiobooks in 2014:

“Though this category is relatively small (48 million units) compared to downloaded eBooks (510 million units), downloaded audio continued its multiyear growth track. The category hit record growth in both units (27.0%) and revenue (26.8%) over 2013.”

http://publishers.org/news/us-publishing-industry%E2%80%99s-annual-survey-reveals-28-billion-revenue-2014

That doesn’t seem to show much of a negative impact from TTS.

Finally, the top Audible audiobooks in Amazon’s “Featured” listing have both audiobooks and unblocked TTS access:

  1. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (Audible book narrated by Reese Witherspoon)
  2. Grey by E L James (Audible book narrated by Zachary Webber)
  3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Audible book narrated by Clare Corbett,, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher)

It’s worth noting that there are people (including me) who will not buy books with TTS blocked. That is probably not a large group, but my guess is that some of them are influencers.

Again, I want to thank you for your conscientious effort to understand this issue more fully. I do hope that the decision is made to remove the block to TTS access on [the author]’s book…I would really like to read it and promote it to my readers.

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask. Regardless, I wish [the author] success with the book and her other future endeavors.

I’ll keep you informed. If TTS is unblocked on this book, I’ll definitely link to it for you!

One unrelated point: I’ve decided to move most of my coverage of the

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

to another blog of mine

The Measured Circle

There’s just a lot to say about it,  and there will be a lot more the rest of this year. It doesn’t really fit the main thrust of this blog (e-books and devices which display e-books). I know some of you care about the Echo here, too, so I will provide links to The Measured Circle’s coverage.  I’ll just mention one thing: I recently started a hashtag: #TeachAlexa, for people (including me) to use to suggest things that the Echo could “learn”. I just started it this weekend, and there are already close 40,000 impressions. I’ve got a lot to build over at TMC for the Echo, but I think this is going to work the best.

Update: just to clarify, based on a couple of comments from some of my most loyal commenters and readers. :) You will not need to start reading The Measured Circle to find out about my Echo coverage if you are an ILMK reader. I’ll link here…if you do want to read about the Echo, it will just be a click to get there. I actually considered doing a poll on moving it…but I want to try it this way. I may do a poll later to see how people think it is working, but I have a lot more room over there to set up reference pages and posts. I appreciate the comments so far!

What do you think? Are you okay with my Echo arrangement? Is TTS an issue for you? Did you think I made a good case for not blocking it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

“A dime at a time”: why does Amazon limit us to ten borrows at a time with Kindle Unlimited?

July 27, 2015

“A dime at a time”: why does Amazon limit us to ten borrows at a time with Kindle Unlimited?

I’ve been a happy member of

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

since Amazon introduced it in mid-July last year (so it’s a bit over a year old at this point).

It’s what I call a “subser”: a subscription service. You pay a flat rate, and how much you read doesn’t affect that.

Why do I like it?

Interestingly, I’m not sure I’m saving money overall. The key difference is that I’m reading books which cost more than I might have paid  for otherwise. In the old days, I’ve paid $100 for a single book. Now, I tend to read books which were free to me (I like 19th Century literature), that I got on sale for under, say, $3, or that were gifts.

That means that there are a lot of books which cost more than $3 which I wouldn’t read without KU.

I haven’t moved all of my reading into KU…I’ve enhanced what I read.

That also means that for me, it’s not about volume…how many books I read with KU. It’s about which ones I read.

That said, there are two of us actively using this account: my Significant Other is the, well, other one. :) We’ve had four books we are actively reading at once: two for each of us. By actively reading, for my SO that means having two on a plane…it’s a case of serial reading (finish one, start the next). I normally have several books going at the same time…I like to bounce between them. :)

Why does the number matter?

During

Prime Day

Amazon gave Prime members the opportunity to pre-pay for KU…at a considerable discount.

Did we do that?

You betcha! :)

I’m confident that many people joined KU that day who might not have done so before.

They might also have jumped on it more precipitously than they might have. I don’t mean they made a bad decision…they just might not have researched it as thoroughly as they would have if they didn’t have the time pressure of a same day decision.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Man in the Middle, mentioned being surprised by one of the limitations of Kindle Unlimited: you can only have up to ten books out at a time.

I’m sure that’s a surprise to quite a few people who joined on Prime Day…so I thought it was worth expanding on my response.

Two things I want to get out of the way first.

I referred to it as the “dime at a time” rule…with a dime standing in for the number ten. :) I’m guessing some of my readers may not know…in the USA, a “dime” is our ten cent piece. It comes (indirectly) from the Latin meaning “tenth part” (it’s the tenth part of a dollar). “Decima” also gives us “decimate”…which contrary to the way it is usually used now, does mean “nearly wiped out”. It means “reduced by one tenth”. Taking a cue from our adult kid who is a linguist, I’ll say it “meant” that rather than “means”. :)

Second, I’ve seen people on the Kindle boards question the use of the term “unlimited”, since there are limitations…even calling it false advertising. I think it reasonably communicates the product. You can’t read a book which hasn’t been written yet through KU: is that an unfair limitation? ;) You can’t read books which aren’t part of the program…there are a lot of limitations.

Okay, let’s talk the economics here (that’s your favorite part, right? When I get all mathy on you?). ;)

Amazon pays publishers so you can have books to read in KU.

There are two types of publishers in this case.

There are publishers (and they might be just the author…if you make your books available to the public, you are a publisher) which use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Those publishers are paid by the page you read. It used to be that they got paid for the who book once you’d read ten percent, but now it’s pro-rated.

The other type of publisher is a traditional publisher (which I call a tradpub). We  don’t know for sure how they get paid…and it may not be the same for all of them. It’s possible they are paid like a purchase. It’s also possible that they are paid a flat fee (like ten thousand dollars for a year, regardless of number of borrows).

Let’s work with the indies…the Big 5 of the USA trade (those are the kind of books you would have bought in a bookstore…not textbook and such) aren’t participating in KU yet (although I still think at least one may put at least some of their backlist titles into KU this year). Also, we know the numbers. ;)

Well, sort of.

The amount that the KDP publishers get varies from month to month. They divide a pool of money, so how much each borrow gets depends on how many borrows there are. If the pool is ten million dollars and there are a total of ten million borrows (not just your book…all of the books in the program), each borrow gets you one dollar. If there were five million borrows, each borrow gets you $2…and so on.

That amount has been around a couple of dollars.

Let’s make this easy and call the pay out a penny a page read…a 250 page novel, read all the way through, gets a royalty of $2.50. That’s probably in the ballpark.

Amazon (without the pre-pay discount) is getting the money for 999 pages a month using that measurement: if we call it thirty days in a month, Amazon breaks even (not counting costs of sale) at about thirty-three pages read a day.

That sounds reasonable…committed readers may read more than that, casual readers (who may not be the best market for KU) typically read considerably fewer.

At thirty-three pages a day and 250 pages in a book, you finish a book about every seven and a half days…call it once a week, and that’s about four and a half books a month.

Of course, a lot of people want to have more than one book on their devices at the same time…I usually have about ten. Even in the case of novels, as I mentioned, I go from one to another. That’s even more true with non-fiction. It does seem okay to me that I can download ten a time if I want, and return one and get another one when I want. Unless I’m going on vacation somewhere where there is no wi-fi (as if!) ;) for a week or so, that works for me.

Here’s where it gets interesting…well, hopefully, more interesting.

The dime at a time limit isn’t per person…it’s per account.

If you have five people on your account, you still have that ten book limit…meaning you could each have two books at a time (on average).

That’s starting to get a bit tighter…but again, that’s not unreasonable to me.

How many people/devices can you have registered to your account?

That is unlimited!

Okay, okay…not literally unlimited. They might object if you had, oh, ten billion people on your account…since there aren’t that many people on the planet, and they might challenge the legitimacy of non-humans. ;)

Also, and this is important, you can’t have you people on your account for commercial purposes. In other words, you can’t charge people to join your account and make a profit. It’s certainly okay to cost share…you just can’t be doing it as a business.

We’ll say you have…fifty people on your account.

Amazon would lose a lot on money on that!

You’d pay $9.99 for a month.

We’ll say all fifty people read on average thirty-three pages a day.

Amazon would pay out…$495 that month. Not a viable model.

Naturally, it would be unusual for someone to have fifty people on their account.

Also, there is likely a significant portion of KU users who use it hardly at all.

The low users subsidize the high users…but that can only go so far.

That’s why there has to be a limit to simultaneous borrows…and not one for sequential borrows. You can’t assign a novel to three people and have it read three times as quickly…well, you could, but most people wouldn’t.

One person reading a hundred pages a day loses Amazon money on that KU subscription…but that would be less of a problem than twenty people on the same account reading 33 pages a day.

Hope that helps explain it…having several people on your KU account will usually give you more benefit than having one, but having fifteen won’t.

What do you think?  What is your favorite thing about KU? How many Kindle books do you have on your device? Do you find the dime at a time rule limiting? If you don’t have KU, why not? Do you have other KU questions? 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!

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

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

Today’s KDD: up to 80% off “beach reads”

July 25, 2015

Today’s KDD: up to 80% off “beach reads”

One of today’s

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

is up to 80% off “beach reads”.

Given that I would call that a pretty fuzzy category, it means that there is a good variety in this of 45 titles.

I’m not a fan of the beach,  unless it’s overcast…I really don’t like being out in the sun. :) Oh, I love seeing the nature there, but just sitting there baking in the solar radiation? Not my thing.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I wouldn’t want to read any of these books ;)

Titles include:

  • Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (there is currently a TV adaptation running…”revenge of nature” has been the plot of many movies/books: it was arguably a genre in the 1970s)
  • The Littlest Angel (And Baby Makes Three Book 10 by Sherryl Woods
  • Night Moves by Nora Roberts
  • The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos
  • The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
  • Protection Detail (Capitol K-9 Unit) by Shirlee McCoy
  • Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
  • The Unimaginable by Dina Silver
  • Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Hm…if I did have a beach read, it seems to me like I’d go with non-fiction nature science, perhaps, like Gerald Durrell (unfortunately not available for the Kindle).

Enjoy!

What are your favorite “beach reads”? Feel free to share with me and my readers by commenting on  this post.

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

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

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

Top 10 Political Crime Fiction Thrillers by Kris Calvin (in The Strand Magazine)

July 25, 2015

Top 10 Political Crime Fiction Thrillers by Kris Calvin (in The Strand Magazine)

Some of you may be familiar with The Strand Magazine, which published many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (starting for them with A Scandal in Bohemia in 1891). I have a connection with them, since I republish the public domain Sherlock Holmes stories (including ones originally published in The Strand) in my blog

221B Blog Street

I also have a connection with

Kris Calvin

first time novelist author of

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

In that case, the connection (well, one of them, anyway) is a genetic one: we are siblings. ;)

One Murder More is a mystery which stars a Sacramento lobbyist, and politics is definitely a main theme.

Like most good authors, Kris reads…a lot. I was proud (not that I get to take any responsibility for it) ;) to see

Top 10 Political Crime Fiction Thrillers by Kris Calvin

in The Strand’s online version.

While unabashedly subjective (as lists like this generally are), I think it’s an interesting set of choices. I don’t want to take away from you reading it, but I suspect that you’ll agree with the inclusion of at least some of these titles. I was happy to see

Lud-in-the-Mist (at AmazonSmile*) (available through  Kindle Unlimited(at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*))

by Hope Mirrless included, since it is undeniably geek-friendly (I’m a proud geek)…and that would often make many people exclude it.

There have been lots of science fiction and fantasy books which focus on politics, and could be called political thrillers.

One of the first ones that comes to mind is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series…but certainly 1984 and Animal Farm qualify, as would The Hunger Games (and many dystopias). Even my beloved Oz series has very clear political plots, including a women’s rights revolution that overthrows the Scarecrow as ruler of the Emerald City.

What do you think? What are your favorite political thrillers? What makes for a good one? Would you include Game of Thrones?  Tarzan (there is a battle for power to lead the Mangani, the “apes” who raise Tarzan)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Dr. Seuss classics: on sale for $1.99 each

July 25, 2015

Dr. Seuss classics: on sale for $1.99 each

There is a previously unpublished Dr. Seuss book which you can pre-order now for delivery on Tuesday, July 28th:

What Pet Should I Get? (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This will surely be a big hit…and that will make the second “discovered” book this year that may be a top seller, along with

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

I guarantee you right now that both tradpubs  (traditional publishers) and authors with their own rights (which may have reverted) are making a much more careful search of old file cabinets.  ;)

No doubt in connection with that, you can get classic Dr.  Seuss books for $1.99 each!

Dr. Seuss Kindle books in the USA store (at AmazonSmile*)

Yes, these are the titles…they include the most popular.

Before I give you a listing, let me point out that they will say that the text-to-speech is not enabled. In a case like this, it won’t be because the publisher has deliberately blocked the text-to-speech access. I’m reasonably confident that it is  because the text is part of the images: TTS can’t access that.

Okay, here are some of the titles:

  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Fox in Socks
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • The Lorax

There are 46 results on that page…that doesn’t mean 46 individual Dr. Seuss books (there is at least one omnibus), and What Pet is still $9.99.

Regardless, this is a great deal! I don’t know how long it will last.

Remember that you can buy these now to give as gifts, and delay delivery until the appropriate gift giving occasion. Oh, the Places You Go is a very popular graduation gift, for example…

Enjoy!

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

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

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

Amazon’s 2015 Q1: Amazon Phase 2 has begun?

July 24, 2015

Amazon’s 2015 Q1: Amazon Phase 2 has begun?

Amazon just celebrated two decades (although you could choose a different “birthdate” if you wanted to do that) with a very successful first (in terms of sales) “Prime Day”.

The company has famously been perceived as being forward-looking…more about the long term than the short term.

One thing that has meant is that they haven’t been making big (or often, any) profits. Investors have been betting that, eventually, profits would happen.

Well, that day is here.

Early today, they did a webcast with their results for the first financial quarter of 2015.

You can listen to a recording of the webcast, and see the slides from the presentation here:

Q2 2015 Amazon.com Inc Earnings Conference Call

Update: here’s the

Seeking Alpha transcipt

If you’d prefer, you can also read the

press release

They headline the press release with sales up 20%, but increasing sales is not a surprise for Amazon.

This is the real story,  in my opinion:

“Net income was $92 million in the second quarter, or $0.19 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $126 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, in second quarter 2014.”

Look at that one again. The net income changed from a loss of $126 million to a gain of $92 million.

From what I can see (and I’m not a financial expert), there wasn’t anything particularly anomalistic. It doesn’t look to me like they couldn’t continue this for any obvious reason.

In terms of what specifically worked well…most of it. ;) If you listen to the Q&A part of the webcast (always the most interesting part…you can jump there with a dropdown at the bottom of the screen), you hear that the investors aren’t that concerned with what we buy as customers. It’s more about efficiency, web services, fulfillment centers, and so on.

The press releases is a bit different and calls out items that are part of front-facing relationship with Amazon.

The third generation of the

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*)

is mentioned.

A big star, though?

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

There are four bullet points related to the Echo and Alexa…which aren’t exactly the same thing. They talk about the Echo device, but they separately mention the Alexa Voice Service. Here’s the big point on that:

  • Amazon opened the Alexa Voice Service to third-party hardware makers, giving them the tools to integrate Alexa into internet-connected devices.

Hypothetically, that means that we could get the Alexa service on other tablets, phones, and other devices.

That, along with the “Alexa Skills Kit” for developers, will, I think, mean that Alexa may become as important to people as answering machines were. You won’t want a home or to stay in a hotel that doesn’t have one (although you may have a portable version on your phone).

Lots of other items get shout-outs…and the

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

was mentioned during Q&A. Yes, the questioner was basically asking if it was dead and should be swept under the rug, but Amazon sidestepped that a little. I noticed that quite a few people bought them on Prime Day. It is my daily use phone, but it isn’t my favorite phone I’ve ever owned (that would be a Samsung). I’ve been trying to think about how they could give it a unique way to connect to the Echo sales. One possibility might be to do some kind of free tethering. I don’t know how that would work, but if the Echo could connect to the internet through the Fire Phone without the tethering plans you might need on other phones, that would make a difference.

The investors appear to be reacting positively.

Is there a conflict between happy investors and happy customers? After all, investors want a company to make money…and that money comes from the customers, who presumably want to hold on to it.

However…I think that many people have the mistaken idea that people never want to spend money.

I like giving money to people who I think deserve it. I want to reward them…that feels good.  :) In fact, I don’t like to feel like I’m taking advantage of somebody. If I got a great deal, but thought it would damage the company…maybe even make them go out of business, I wouldn’t want it.

Yes, there were some complaints about Prime Day on social media. Certainly, there are people who unhappy with Amazon…and it’s possible that percentage will grow.

There are also, though many people who are happy with Amazon.

This doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing ahead for Amazon forever. :) That said, I think Amazon may now think they are going in the right direction (and it may be a direction they’ve planned for decades).

What do you think? As a customer, are you concerned that Amazon may raise prices to increase profitability? Or, do you think that you being happy is one of their assets? They didn’t call out Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) in the press release…what do you think that means? Is it possible this has been part of  plan all along…are is that just part of the Amazon mythology? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

We interrupt this story to bring you…SEX!

July 22, 2015

We interrupt this story to bring  you…SEX!

I’ll read books with explicit sex scenes…but I do want to expect them. :)

I think it’s quite strange when I’m reading a story I’m enjoying…a science fiction novel, a mystery, with interesting character development and plot, and suddenly, there is an anatomically specific sex scene.

It doesn’t feel like it belongs there:  like it’s an ad for sex. ;)

The old saying is that sex sells, but these sorts of incongruous sex congress interludes have the opposite effect on me.

They often aren’t even sexy…it’s so step by step, it reads like instructions on how to put together a piece of furniture. ;)

Again, my biggest problem with them is that they just don’t belong there. It would be just as bad if you were reading a Western and got three pages of string theory (wait…I think Michael Crichton might have actually done that once…just kidding).

I was recently speaking with an author who had a related story. This author wrote a novel, and the publisher said it needed a sex scene. The author suggested that wasn’t a good idea…and the publisher offered to hire a ghost writer for it!

The book was published without it, and honestly, I think people would have liked the book a lot less with one of these “coitus insertus” bits.

While there are undeniably people who seek out a book to read because it has sex, I just can’t see a lot of people saying, “You know, I loved that novel…but it would have been better with a sex scene in it.”

I don’t know what the answer is to  it. Books don’t have a rating system, like movies or videogames, and I don’t really want them to have one. It’s not even about rating the overall level…I just want to know ahead of time if the author (perhaps under the influence of an editor/publisher) is going to take a “dirty detour”.

I should be clear: editors and publishers often greatly improve a book…the recent example of

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

which was reportedly an early draft of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

appears to be the exemplar of editorial improvement.

What do you think? Are you bothered by these sorts of sex scenes? Are there other types of incongruous scenes which bother you? Are they less likely in tradpubs (traditionally published) books than in indies (independently published books)? Would you want to be warned…if so, how and by whom? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Amazon’s “Quick Fixes” for Kindle

July 21, 2015

Amazon’s “Quick Fixes” for Kindle

While  I think Amazon’s Kindle Support is marvelous, and that the on-screen help on some Fire models (including the Fire phone) called Mayday is one of the great advancements in Customer Service in my lifetime, I don’t think the Amazon Help pages are that impressive.

I always find it a bit hard to get to what I want…and when I get there, the information can be…skimpy.

I find it much more effective to actually speak with someone at Amazon, by going to

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

and using the

Contact Us

button to have them call me.

You do have the advantage of asking me ;) but sometimes, I even do “ask myself”. I’ve been writing this blog for close to six years, and I can’t always remember what I’ve said, especially in regards to older Kindle models  I don’t use any more. So, on occasion, I do go the blog and search for things…things which I wrote.

However, I do want to mention this Kindle Help page to you:

Quick Fixes for Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile*)

It applies to the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation, Kindle Paperwhite (7th Generation), and Kindle (7th Generation).

The help topics are:

Restart Your Kindle
Battery Won’t Stay Charged
Can’t Connect to Wi-Fi
Forgot Kindle Passcode
Content Won’t Download
Content Won’t Sync
Book Won’t Open
Reset Your Kindle

Let’s just take the “Forgot Kindle Password” topic. Amazon says

  1. Tap the passcode field to bring up the onscreen keyboard.
  2. Type 111222777, and then tap OK. Your Kindle will restart.

This will wipe everything off the Kindle…but if you can’ remember your passcode you’ll have do something.

I’ll admit: I don’t always remember that  number offhand, and restarting hasn’t been the same on every model (we had to use a paperclip to push a button, after sliding the back cover off a Kindle 1).

Amazon has very highly rated Customer Service…and they certainly have enough options that you should be able to get help when you need it.

You know, if you don’t want to wait for my answer. ;)

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

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

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

 

August 2015 Kindle book releases

July 20, 2015

August 2015 Kindle book releases

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

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

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

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 4,984 (at time of writing…more than 200 more than last month) August releases in the USA Kindle store:

August 2015 USA Kindle Store Releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 788 (114 more than last month) are in

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

about 16% (almost 3% fewer than last month).

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

In the past several  months, the top four had been 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. Yes, the top book is a Kindle First book, but they aren’t the top four. It’s an interesting choice, on Amazon’s part. I like curation, generally, but I think of Amazon’s book search results based on impartial data, but that’s not the case any more.

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

Okay…books!

  • X (Kinsey Millhone Book 24) by Sue Grafton
  • Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes (A Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide) by Rick Riordan and John Rocco
  • Herculean (Cerberus Group Book 1) by Jeremy Robinson and Sean Ellis
  • Invisible by Jennifer Rothschild
  • Fool’s Quest: Book II of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb
  • Immortal Guardians (Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 1) by Eliot Schrefer
  • The End of All Things (Old Man’s War Book 6) by John Scalzi
  • The Phoenix of Destiny (Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy) by Geronimo Stilton
  • The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
  • The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
  • Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Applied Minds: How Engineers Think by Guru Madhavan
  • Wind/Pinball: Two novels by Haruki Murakami and Ted Goossen
  • Edge of Darkness by Christine Feehan and Maggie Shayne
  • Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism by Slavoj Zizek
  • Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
  • The Thinker’s Thesaurus: Sophisticated Alternatives to Common Words (Expanded Third Edition) by Peter E. Meltzer
  • Coming of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlante
  • The Murderer’s Daughter: A Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
  • Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad
  • Iron Wolf: A Novel by Dale Brown
  • Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books by Michael Dirda
  • Irona 700 by Dave Duncan
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
  • New Methods for Crochet Socks by Rohn Strong
  • NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
  • We Install: And Other Stories by Harry Turtledove
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove
  • Latest Readings by Clive James
  • Midnight on the Mississippi (Secrets of the South Mysteries) by Mary Ellis
  • Dragonbane (Dark-Hunter Novels Book 19) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Frodo’s Journey: Discover the Hidden Meaning of The Lord of the Rings by Joseph Pearce
  • Of Goats & Governors: Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories by Steve Flowers and Edwin Bridges
  • The Making of a Navy SEAL: My Story of Surviving the Toughest Challenge and Training the Best by Brandon Webb and John David Mann
  • The State We’re In: Maine Stories by Ann Beattie
  • Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then & Now by Amanda Jones
  • Archie 1000 Page Comics Jam (Archie 1000 Page Digests) by Archie Superstars
  • May Sarton: A Self-Portrait by May Sarton
  • Windows 10: The Personal Trainer (The Personal Trainer for Technology) by William Stanek
  • What Color Is Your Parachute? 2016: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles
  • Horror Show by Greg Kihn
  • The Face That Changed It All: A Memoir by Beverly Johnson and André Leon Talley
  • The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
  • Death at Hungerford Stairs: Charles Dickens & Superintendent Jones InvestigateAug 15, 2015 | Kindle eBook
    by J C Briggs

Well, again…quite the mix! It’s particularly interesting to see some famous “backlist” novels: Never Cry Wolf and The Bell Jar. There were also quite a few Ellery Queen books and Mr. Moto books.

Enjoy!

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

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

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


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