Archive for October, 2010

Flash! Amazon’s E-Ink 101

October 25, 2010

 Flash! Amazon’s E-Ink 101

We know that one of the big dividing points (and there are many) between the Kindle and the iPad is the E-Ink screen on the former.

But when you say that to people, it just sounds too techie for some of them.  They like the idea that they can read a tablet in the dark without an external light.  Why, they wonder, is E-Ink such an advantage?

In this

announcement thread

Amazon lets us know that they have added a big section to the Kindle 3‘s product page to compare E-Ink to a backlit screen.

I think they’ve done a very nice marketing job on it.  I love the side-by-side of a Kindle screen magnified 300 times and an LCD screen magnified 300 times.  The LCD is unreadable.  Of course, unless you are Scott Carey in the Incredible Shrinking Man or you read through an electron microscope, you aren’t ever going to see them looking like this.  😉

The bar graph showing the battery life  of various devices is also striking.  The Kindle’s bar is green…the others are some kind of orange or something.  That proves it’s better, right?  🙂  Just kidding…the graph is very clear.

Interestingly, you know what it doesn’t say?  That the backlit screen causes more eye strain.  That’s always been one of the tenets of the pro E-Ink argument, but there hasn’t been a lot of data to back it up.  It absolutely seems logical, but I think most of the studies haven’t differentiated backlit screens versus reflective screens…it’s just been “reading on screens”.  That will change over time.  They do cite an LA. Times article that reading on a backlit screen right before sleep interferes with sleep, saying, “…Kindle is better for your sleep.” 

It’s interesting to me that the comparison now has to include backlit screens, as opposed to paper (which is how the Kindle ads started).  Reading e-books on a portable computer just wasn’t a market force when the Kindle was introduced, although it was happening.  Now, you can’t just compare Kindles to paperbooks…you have to include comparing them to backlit devices.

This is just part of the information on the Kindle product page, which has added more features.  There is (logically) more about the actual content and the accessories.   This holiday gift-giving season, there will be a lot more people who already have Kindles…and you are looking for something to go with it.  Wait until they make the appearance of gifting Kindle content better! 

Anyway, nicely done, even if it doesn’t tell you much technically.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

The Settings menu on the K3

October 25, 2010

The Settings menu on the K3

Here’s one of the main Kindle tips: when in doubt, hit the Menu key.  That’s sort of like right-clicking on a Windows computer.  What it does is give you more choices.  It doesn’t change anything itself, so it’s safe. 

That’s not 100% true on a Windows computer, because people can make the right-click change something…but that’s not the way it normally works.

The other reason why you should use the menu when you aren’t sure is that the menu changes depending on where you are and what you are doing.  It’s what we geeks call “context sensitive”: it changes depending on the context of what you are doing.  Even when you are in a menu, hit the menu button…you might be surprised.  🙂

Let’s take a look at one of the menus…this is different on earlier models of the Kindle, by the way.  I’m also using the 3G and wi-fi model, but I think that one and the wi-fi only model have the same Settings menu.

Hit the Home button, then hit Menu.  Next, select Settings.


This is an important one.  The choice (which will be automatically underlined when the menu opens) will be to either register or deregister the device (depending on the current state of the device).  If you deregister it, it will no longer be on your account.  It won’t be able to use the 3G (but will be able to use the wi-fi).  You won’t be able to buy things from the Kindle store.  However, someone else could register it to their account (you do need the password and the username to do that).  You can also do this from

It’s telling me who the registered owner is (in my case, Bufo Calvin).  I don’t think it used to do that, but I’m not 100% sure.

Device Name

The option here is to edit.

Amazon gives your Kindle a default name, but you can change it here (or on that Manage Your Kindle page above).   Why would you want to do that?  It’s fun.  🙂  Also, you could put your contact information as the name of your Kindle.  That way, it would appear on the home page if you lost your Kindle.  You need to consider whether you want that information visible or not, though.  When you go to download something, it will default (go to automatically) the first named Kindle alphabetically on the account.  You can certainly change it so that specific item is sent to a different device, though.  You can not have two Kindles on the same account with the same name.

Wi-Fi Settings

The option here is to view.

If you make this choice when the wireless is off, it will ask you if you want to turn it on.  Click OK if you want to check for wi-fi networks, tell the Kindle to forget a network to which you are connected (so it doesn’t automatically connect in the future when you enter the range of that network), and so on.

Device Info

There are no choices to make here, so there is no option selected.

You’ll see your wi-fi MAC (Media Access Control) address.  It’s what identifies your Kindle to a network, basically.  Unless you are doing some sophisticated work with your network, you probably won’t use this.

You’ll also see your device’s serial number.  You should record this, in case the Kindle is lost or stolen.  You may not need it, but the police might want it if you file a report.  You may want to just take a screenshot of this page, and store it somewhere else.  You do that with Alt+Shift+G (shift is the Up Arrow).  The GIF will be in your Kindle’s Documents folder.

At the bottom of the screen on your left, you’ll see Page 1 of 3.  On your right, you’ll see the current version of the software on your Kindle…that’s one way to tell whether you have the most recent update or not.

Hit either of the Next Page buttons to get to the next screen of settings.


The default option here is to turn on (unless it already on, in which case the option will be to turn off).

Turning this on activates one of the new features of the K3, the audible menus.  This is a great innovation for the visually impaired.  If you don’t need it, you’d probably find it too much.  I do use it sometimes, like when I am driving, so I don’t have to look at the device.  It can help you navigate the menus.  If you are helping a person with a vision issue, we got here with Home-Menu-Settings, Next Page, click.

Device Email

This is an informational section, so no options.

This will tell you what the e-mail address is for this device.  That’s the address to which you send personal documents.  However, if you send them to that address, you’ll be charged a fee.  If you add the word “free” after the @ symbol, it becomes a free address.  For example, if it said, you could send something to  Then, if you do send something to that address, you’ll get a link to the converted file in your normal e-mail (the one you use to log into Amazon).  Even better, though, it will deliver to your Kindle wirelessly for free when you are connected via wi-fi.  You may wonder why I dared to use my own address here: you can only send documents to a Kindle from an address that has been specifically authorized.

Device Password

The default option is to turn on.

If you turn this on, you will be asked to enter a password.  You’ll have to enter the password to get the Kindle out of sleep mode.  For more information, see this previous post.  You can also enter a password hint…this is another location where you could put your contact information.  If you had the password option on, and someone went to wake up the Kindle, they’ll be asked to enter the password.  They’ll be instructed that if they don’t know the password, they should hit down on the 5-way.  At that point, they’ll see the hint you entered.  Be careful about this password option.  If you forget your password and it has to be reset by Amazon, you’ll lose everything personal on your Kindle…including personal documents and web bookmarks.

Device Time

The default option here is to set manually.

This is new on the K3s.  Earlier Kindles got their time from the cell tower.  However, since a Kindle with a wi-fi option may never connect to a cell tower, we’ve been given a way to set the time manually. 

Annotations Backup

The default option here is to turn off.

Amazon will back up your annotations (notes, bookmarks, and highlights) for you on books you buy from the Kindle store.  You may wonder why someone would want to turn this off.  One reason is that you might not want the notes one person is making on one Kindle to go to a second Kindle on the account reading the same book.  The other thing is that some people prefer not to participate in the Popular Highlights program.  If you have Annotations Backup turned on, and you highlight the exact same thing that at least two other Kindleers participating in the program highlighted, that becomes a “popular highlight”.  It will appear underlined on devices which have not turned off the feature (see below).  You can not both have automatic backup and decline to participate in the Popular Highlights program.

Popular Highlights

The default option here will be to turn off.

This is where you choose whether or not to see the popular highlights underlined in books on this device.  This does not affect whether or not your highlights become part of the program…you do that with Annotations Backup (see above).

Hit either of the Next Page buttons to get to the next screen of settings.

Social Networks

The default option is to manage.

If you choose manage, you can set up your Kindle’s connection to Twitter and/or FaceBook.

Personal Info

The default option here will be to edit.

You can enter anything you want here as personal information.  You could put your contact information here, but that does mean that other people might see it.  It would probably take someone who know about Kindles (or is pretty persistent) to find this buried where it is.   If you make your device name your contact information, it will appear on the homescreen. 

Whew!  That’s enough for this post…there is a sub-menu when you hit Menu while in the Settings, but I’ll deal with that in another post.

Any questions or comments?  Feel free to ask.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Are you loan worthy?

October 24, 2010

Are you loan worthy?

Amazon has announced that it will soon enable lending, in a manner similar to Barnes & Noble’s NOOK (sic).  A book will only be able to ever be loaned by a particular person once.  While it is on loan, the lender will not be able to read it.  The loan will be fourteen days, and only on books where the publishers allow it (when I last did the figures for the NOOK, that was about a third.  That number may have gone up, since Barnes & Noble requires independent publishers who use their PubIt service to allow LendMe.  I presume the same will be true for independent publishers who are part of the 70% royalty option through Amazon’s Digital Text Platform.  While the NOOK has had LendMe since it was released, Kindle owners will be faced with the decision to lend or not (using an official system) for the first time.  That got me thinking…what would that be like.  Here’s a bit of speculation…

“Wow, what a great book!  I know who would love this…Sue.  Hey, why not share it with my sister…we used to share paperbooks all the time?  I’ve got that new lending thing.

Oh…but she’s got that continuing education course this week.  She’s probably not going to have much time to read for fun.   What if she can’t finish it in fourteen days?  She’d probably be mad at me!  She’d have to buy her own copy to finish…or she’d make me do it.  No, this probably isn’t a good time for her, and I don’t want to take the chance.

I could lend it to Mom!  She’s got plenty of time to read.  Although…she probably already bought it.  That’s right…she was talking about how much she loves this series.  She probably pre-ordered it and finished before me.  She could have loaned it to me!  That would have saved me ten bucks.  But, you know, she might have still been reading it…I can’t expect her to loan it to me before she’s finished it.

Let’s see…hubby and daughter are already on my account, so I don’t have to lend it to them.  Maybe my kid wants to lend it to her boyfriend.  But why should that guy get the only loan ever?  I don’t even know if he reads, and they might have broken up already…I hope.  Well, not really, but I don’t know what she sees in him.

Hmmm….maybe I can offer it to my boss?  No, I don’t know what kind of message that would send…would it seem like I was kissing up?  Would the boss feel pressured to read it?  What if somebody else already loaned it to her…would I just look like I was late to the party?  Better not risk it.

Oh, you know what I would love to do?  I used to send books to people in the service!  Wouldn’t that be cool?  I wouldn’t miss loaning it, since I wasn’t able to do it before anyway.  I wonder if the military has set something like that up?  I mean, I wouldn’t want to lend it and then have it turn out it was a fraud.

I wonder if I could loan it to the school?  No idea how that would work.  Same thing with the public library, I guess.

Maybe  I should just hang on to it…maybe I’ll want to lend it to somebody ten years from now.  That military thing does sound good, though.”

I was just making that up, but I would totally do the military thing.  I would also certainly do that with underprivileged people, but that would be harder to verify and set up.  It wouldn’t be hard to do.  The military makes available a list of military e-mails…they have those, right?  I assume it’s going to work like it does at Barnes & Noble…you send them an offer, and they accept it or not.  So, I’d finish a book, send a borrow offer to somebody on a military list.  If they’ve already read it or don’t want to read it, they reject it.  I send the offer to someone else on the list.  I think the publishers might actually be fine with that…great word of mouth, great PR (even though they don’t do it), and I’m guessing that wouldn’t lose them too many sales (which lending to friends and family might). 

That sounds like a simple and workable system.

I am anxiously awaiting the details on this…I’ve got some questions! 

  • Will the 70% royalty program for independent publishers using Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP) require participation in lending?  I’m guessing yes…Barnes & Noble does it that way.  The way I’ve read the public terms (this is not based on anything confidential), I don’t think they’d even have to ask you if it was okay…I think you already agree to participate in programs like that (and text-to-speech)
  • Will you just send an offer e-mail?  I’m guessing yes
  • If somebody rejects the offer, does that use up the one-time only loan?  I’m guessing no
  • What happens if you make notes or highlights while you are a borrower?  Will they be backed up by Amazon?  If you eventually buy the book, will those notes be available to you?  I’m guessing yes
  • Will Amazon send you an ad to buy a book you’ve borrowed?  Maybe
  • What happens if you lend a book to somebody in an unapproved country for that book?   In other words, I’m a USA Kindleer, and I buy a book authorized for the USA, but not for Australia.  Am I allowed to loan it to an Australian Kindleer?  This one is complicated…would the Aussie accept my offer, and then it is blocked when it is going to that person’s account?  On the other hand, is it okay to do because a sale isn’t taking place?  This is a tough one
  • Will I be able to loan active content (like games)?  I’m guessing not
  • Will I be able to loan subscription items (magazines, newspapers, blogs)?  That would be really nice, but I’m guessing not
  • Which publishers are going to allow this?

What are you wondering about the Kindle’s lending feature?  I do have to say, I’ve been surprised at how negative the reaction has been, at least on the Amazon official announcement thread.  It’s something we didn’t have before…that’s a good thing, right?  Part of it might be because some Kindle owners convinced themselves that the NOOK lending was bad, and this is like that.  I’ve seen several people say Amazon should have been able to force a better deal out of the publishers.  They haven’t been very successful forcing the publishers to do things.  The publishers won on the $9.99 price point for bestsellers and new releases by setting up the Agency Model.  It’s not that all bestsellers were $9.99, but more were before.  The publishers won on being able to block text-to-speech access.  Random House forced Andrew Wylie to back off an exclusive Kindle deal.  It’s going to take a much bigger rise of the independents to give Amazon more power.  Of course, as e-books become a bigger part of the market, Amazon may get more power from that…if they maintain a large part of the market share.

Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think.

Oh, and you might enjoy this one I wrote some time ago about the NOOK’s lending…it’s a parody of the Dick Van Dyke Show:

The nook Van Dyke Show: Neither a lender… The nook Van Dyke Show: Neither a lender…

For more information on the NOOK’s LendMe feature, see this earlier post:

Inside the NOOK’s LendMe feature

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Lending coming to Kindles, periodicals to some apps!

October 22, 2010

Flash! Lending coming to Kindles, periodicals to some apps!

Big news!

In this

Amazon forum thread

Amazon officially says that lending is coming to the Kindle, similar to the NOOK (sic), and periodicals are coming to some of the reader apps! 

Yep, you’ll be able to lend a book for 14-days to someone not on your account, if the publisher allows it.

Magazines and newspapers will be available for iDevices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch).  They don’t say that they will be available for the Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac.  They also don’t mention blogs.

I’ll keep you informed…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Amazon announces Q3 earnings

October 22, 2010

 Flash! Amazon announces Q3 earnings

Amazon announced its third quarter 2010 earnings today. 

No surprise: things are up.  🙂  According to this

Press Release

Net sales are up 39% year to year.  39%!  Look at the rest of the retail stores out there…it’s an amazing number.

Here’s a short excerpt of the key Kindle number:

More new generation Kindle devices were ordered in the first twelve weeks of availability than in the same time frame following any other Kindle launch. In addition, in the twelve weeks following the introduction of the new generation of Kindles, customers ordered more Kindle devices on and than any other product.

One interesting number was that they reported that both physical and Kindle books saw accelerated growth in Q3 vs Q2…but I wonder if physical books were up year to year? If so, why not report it that way?  Amazon still has room for growth in paperbooks (not that many people buy books in the US very often…if you could get non-readers to buy, there is a lot of potential.  It’s similar to the way you only really have to campaign to likely voters), but August numbers were bad for paperbooks overall, according to the Association of American Publishers.

I think it’s pretty clear…Amazon is making some right decisions.  So is Apple…they had a great quarter, too.  Entertainment does often do well in bad economic times…but that’s not saving the big generic brick and mortar bookstores. 

My intuition is that reading for fun is up.  It’s certainly an inexpensive way to take your mind off the world.  Lots of e-books are cheap or free, but even if you figure an e-book at $9.99 (roughly equivalent to a movie ticket), that’s usually many hours worth.  Of course, we used to think of TV as free, but many people pay $70 a month for it.  If you watch free TV on-line though, that’s a deal.  Same thing with Netflix…$8.99 for all you can watch streaming.  Oh, and you want expensive, look at amusement parks!  Yow!

This doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing ahead for Amazon, but they do seem to get underestimated frequently.  I think part of that is that Jeff Bezos just isn’t your typical CEO. 

If Barnes & Noble releases a color NOOK next week, as is rumored, it will be interesting to see how Amazon responds.  It might precipitate an announcement…like a wi-fi DX.  It’s never boring.  🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Review: Draculas

October 21, 2010

Review: Draculas

by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, F. Paul Wilson

You know those dark Disneyland rides…the ones where you sit in some cute little vehicle and slowly cruise past light and happy fantasy scenes, one after the other?

Well, Draculas is like that…if the car was going 100 miles an hour and every scene contained gore and guts and somebody dismembering somebody else.  😉

I really enjoyed Draculas, and that honestly surprised me a bit.  Not because of the authors…the four authors are experienced professionals.  I’m just not that much of a gore hound, and I kind of thought it might be like that.

It is gory, but fortunately, it’s also funny.  It walks a difficult line deftly…it isn’t a parody, but it was so fast and so unbelievable that it may be the first “feel good horror” novel I’ve ever read.

Unbelievable is not a bad thing here…it’s well-written.  There are great characters, and memorable scenes.  It’s just that the monsters are entertainingly unreal and the lines too clever to be real dialogue.  The flash-flash-flash rat-a-tat pacing was aided by the way the book was written.  Each author took some characters and wrote their POV (Point of View) scenes.  This gives us a constantly shifting, kaleidoscopic view of the action.  The amazing thing is that the book all holds together very well…even if you know all four authors, you’ll have trouble telling who wrote what.

If you’ve ever tried to collaborate with somebody at work, you may be wondering how they could possibly do that.  🙂

Well, they’ve done some very interesting things with this book.  One is that they included their collaborative messages to each other.  Through hundreds of e-mails (some quite funny), you can follow the development.  I have to say, it was a little bit weird reading those…because the whole process happened so quickly.  It starts in March of this year…before word one is written.  You can see the outline come together, the beats discussed, the characters, the corrections, the floated ideas, and so on.  I found that fascinating.  I did get a little worried as we got into October of this year, though…I had this weird feeling that I was going to just keep reading into the future and find out how I was going to die or something.  😉

As they discussed with each other, they made this like a DVD with extras.  There is an alternate ending, deleted scenes, book excerpts, and more.  I do want to say, someone who thought Draculas was fun might be offended by the short story Serial (included in the e-book) by Crouch and Konrath.  It doesn’t have the fantasy element that made Draculas work for me.  It’s simply what I call EBHB (Extremely Bad Human Behaviour).  Those kind of stories have never been my cup of tea…or, um, bodily fluid.  😉

The Draculas story itself is funny, gory, and has characters you’ll enjoy.  It’s clever and visceral, an uncommon combination.  There is plenty of explicit violence…but it’s silly, like an R-rated Wile E. Coyote cartoon.  It’s much more Charles Band than George Romero…and if you know who those are, this is definitely a book for you. 

They wisely didn’t include explicit sex scenes…of course, since almost nobody stands still for very long, there wasn’t much opportunity.  But the female characters are as strong as the male ones…that that keeps it out of Troma territory.  If you can deal with a lot of inside-out anatomy, you’ll find characters you like.

I’m very careful about spoilers, so I don’t want to say much about the plot.  I will say that a Kindle makes an appearance…and in a natural way, one that makes sense.  Of course, so does a chainsaw (and a lot of big, big guns).  🙂

As I mentioned in this earlier post, you can make a statement against the Agency Model (if that’s how you feel) by buying this book.  A lot of people have: it’s #66 paid in the Kindle store at time of writing.  It’s published outside the traditional publishers…even though the authors could have easily sold it.  It’s important to note that these are experienced writers who know what works: somebody just trying it out would be in more need of a skilled editor.  They were also smart enough to hire a proof-reader…I only found a couple of tiny errors…no more than I would have found in a traditional publisher’s paper edition.  I’ll send those to them…but I wanted to do the review first, so they don’t think I’m just a nitpicker.  🙂

For full disclosure, I’ll point out that they sent me a free review “copy”.  I did have to request it…they had sent out 260 review copies to bloggers and such, but I apparently wasn’t one of those.  I’m tempted to just sign this as #261.  😉  However, I’m not egotistical enough to think they should have sent me one or known who I am.  I’m grateful every time you read this (well, I assume you read it…I’m not spying on you or anything), and I’m happy to be part of the Kindle community…but that doesn’t mean New York Times bestselling authors should have any idea who I am.  🙂

Bottom line: Draculas is a fun and gory ride.  I recommend it.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! I’ve tried the 3.03 update for the K3

October 20, 2010

Flash! I’ve tried the 3.03 update for the K3

As I expected, I haven’t (so far) seen any menu or interface changes with the new early release software update for the Kindle 3.

I was hoping it would give us a “persistent zoom” on the browser (so  I could tell it to always make the webpage image at, say, 150%), but no such luck.

Are the page turns faster?  Maybe…hard to tell, because they weren’t slow before.  The text doesn’t look any different to me, at least.  The web browser does seem a bit faster, but that’s subjective as well.  When I’ve zoomed a page and then go to a different section of that page, that seems to happen more quickly.

I wouldn’t say there were any significant problems to fix for me with Drake (knock virtual wood), so there aren’t any standouts for me to notice.

The update process took about six to seven minutes, and went smoothly.

I don’t have any “hacks” on my Kindle, so I’m not seeing anything there. 

My guess is that it mostly fixes problems and might plug a hole or two. 

If you aren’t having problems, my feeling is you can wait until this is official.  If you are having problems, it might be worth a try.  If you have “hacks” or otherwise work significantly outside the system, this might cause a problem for you.  I’ve heard rumored that blocks the new installation of at least one hack…without affecting a hack you have already installed.  I do not recommend doing hacks, because they violate your Terms of Service with Amazon.

Have you updated and noticed anything?  Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Freebie flash! Rich, Spy, Creature, Conspiracy…and more

October 20, 2010

 Freebie flash! Rich, Spy, Creature, Conspiracy…and more

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and they come from companies that are not (to my knowledge) blocking text-to-speech. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

Never Blame the Umpire
by Gene Fehler
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

The Malacca Conspiracy
by Don Brown
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions 
by Jeff Manion
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

I Quit!: Stop Pretending Everything Is Fine and Change Your Life
by Geri Scazzero
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

The Truth About Managing People
by Stephen P. Robbins
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Naomi and Her Daughters
by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

Chosen Ones
by Alister E. McGrath
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

Living Rich by Spending Smart: How to Get More of What You Really Want
by Gregory Karp
published by FT Press (a business publisher)

Preacher Creature Strikes on Sunday
By Mike Thaler
published by Zondervan (a faith-based publisher)

Spy Killer
by L. Ron Hubbard
Published by Galaxy Press (a publisher focusing on the fiction works of L. Ron Hubbard and related non-Scientology works)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Kindle 3 3.03 early preview available

October 19, 2010

Flash! Kindle 3 3.03 early preview available

Amazon has released an early preview of a new software update for the Kindle 3

Kindle Software Update

Rumor has it that it blocks some security holes (which some people won’t like, since they are using those holes). 

It’s also supposed to provide some “general performance improvements”.  What that typically suggests is that you do the same things you did before, but they work better.  It might mean improved web browsing, faster “page turns”, that kind of thing.  If there were signficant changes, I would guess they would be showing them.

I’m not going to update this morning (too busy if something goes wrong), but I may do it in the next day or two. 

If you get it and notice a change, please let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #28: Draculas, Negroponte, life-destroying piracy?

October 19, 2010

Round up #28: Draculas, Negroponte, life-destroying piracy?

Want to fight the Agency Model?

The Agency Model is working. 

At least, it isn’t destroying e-book sales.  Sales are great…up to over 9% of US publishing.  Could the sales be better?  Maybe…it’s a bit hard to tell.  When the firehose hits you in the gross income, it’s hard to argue that maybe it’s only at 98% efficiency.  🙂

You aren’t going to convince the publishers that people won’t buy bestsellers that are over $9.99 when people are buying them.

But sales going to somebody else?  That they understand.

Let’s say you are a movie studio and you have an actor who has made five successful movies with you.  You wanted that actor for your next blockbuster…but the talent goes with another studio, makes another tentpole picture.  It opens at $70 million…you know at least fifty of that is due to the star.  That could have been yours.

The tradpubs (traditional publishers) have been like those studios.  They lock in authors to multi-book deals.  If it’s a “brand name author”, you know a certain amount of sales are guaranteed.

Jack Kilborn (AKA J.A. Konrath) is one of those authors who has had success through tradpubs.  So is F. Paul Wilson (The Keep, the Repairman Jack books).  Now they, along with Blake Crouch and Jeff Strand, have potentially done what the tradpubs fear most…published a bestseller without them.

Not only that, they’ve priced it at $2.99.

Konrath/Kilborn explains the economics in this

Huffington Post article

Even splitting it four ways, even paying a cover artist and a formatter, they won’t make that much less per copy than they would with a typical paperback.

At $2.99 (compared to $12.38…that was the average when I last ran the New York Times bestseller hardback fiction equivalents), they could sell a lot of them. 

I don’t believe it can get on the New York Times bestseller list (I don’t think they count e-books), but if it sells really well, I think we’ll know it.  🙂

Oh, and they are releasing it without Digital Rights Management (DRM).  That means you can buy it from Amazon and convert it for other devices. 

They were nice enough to send me a review copy (which I’m mentioning for full disclosure), and I’m about halfway through.  It’s well-edited and well proof-read (I’ve only found a couple of little errors, which I’ll send them).  I’ll write a full review and it’s not for everybody (there is what I would consider cartoonish violence, but others might find it too gross), but I am enjoying it.

So, if you want to let the publishers know what you think about e-book prices (and read a good horror/humor novel at the same time), you may want to give


a try.

Bye-bye, paperbooks?

Thanks to Sheryl K. Wetmore of the Amazon Kindle community for calling my attention to a

CNN video interview

with tech expert Nicholas Negroponte.  In the interview, he suggests that physical books could be gone in five years.

I don’t see that happening.  Mass market paperbacks are losing ground pretty quickly.  I could see it being unusual that books are released in that format five years from now.

But I think that, while the market for hardbacks may contract, they’ll stick around.  I expect them to go up in price, and increase in physical quality as well.  They’ll be luxury items…having them will show you have money.

Trade paperbacks may certainly become the cheaper physical alterative. 

It’s an interesting interview.  One of the key points is that e-book adoption may be faster in developing countries.  A country like the USA has the infrastructure and can afford the expense of paperbooks.  If your nearest road is 100 kilometers away, it’s hard to have a Barnes & Noble nearby.  🙂  We may make the move more slowly…that’s what happened with cellphones. 

Does piracy destroy lives?

New reader Daz pointed me to an interesting blog post.  Deborah McGillivray wrote a guest post on Rowena Cherry’s blog:

How Piracy Hurts. 

It’s a very sad account of the difficulties an author faced.  If you read it, be prepared to be moved.

Separate from that, I don’t agree with some of the premises of the article.  One is that the suggestion that the reduction in mass market paperback sales is due in some significant part to piracy.  Book piracy certainly exists, and  I’ve written about it before.  I oppose book piracy, and theft generally.  But my guess is that the impact on mass market paperback sales is small.  The presence of legitimate e-book sales is likely to be having a much larger impact, in my opinion. 

Another suggestion in the story is that illegal downloads directly correlate to lost royalties.  That implies that people who got the e-book illegally would otherwise have purchased it.  That’s difficult to prove, and I think it’s unlikely.  When I surveyed my readers, 45% thought it was never okay to pirate (I’m in that group).  30%, though, thought it was okay if the book otherwise wasn’t available as an e-book.

As I’ve mentioned before, the publisher Dorchester has dropped mass market paperbacks in favor of e-books and trade paperbacks.  That’s the best anti-piracy move that can be made, in my opinion.  Authors and agents who work with Dorchester can be grateful to them.  Any publisher who isn’t releasing a legitimate e-book version at the same time as the paperbook version is greatly increasing the likelihood of piracy.  Pirated e-books may hurt the sale of e-books later. 

The situation described in the post is terrible.  In my opinion, piracy is wrong.  However, I think we have to be careful about ascribing cause and effect to piracy and lost income. 


What do you think?  Paperbooks here forever, and e-books will never catch them?  Independently publishing not the answer to the Agency Model?   Prefer the Agency Model to the Wholesale Model?  Think piracy isn’t wrong?  Feel free to let me know. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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