Updates: credit card notice, library lending

Updates: credit card notice, library lending

Update: Credit Card Notice

Original post (September 23, 2011):

Was Amazon wrong to do this?

I recently wrote about a concern that one of my readers brought to me. The reader had turned on the Kindle, and it displayed a notice that there had been a problem with a credit card, and an order had not gone through.

The post got a lot of response, especially on Polldaddy.com. I don’t normally get very many comments there.

I ran a poll, with these results so far:

===

What do you think about Amazon putting a bad credit card statement on a Kindle?

It’s way out of line 45.03% (77 votes)
I’m not sure 10.53% (18 votes)
It seems fine to me 44.44% (76 votes)

Total Votes: 171

===

As you can see, the votes are pretty split. If I was a Customer Service manager at Amazon, though, that would be a major red flag. It’s not a single elimination tournament. If even 5% of your customers are upset by something you are doing, you need to look for other ways to approach it.

Sure, there is some balancing…if 99% of people think something is a good practice and one percent hate it, you don’t juts switch it to make the 1% happy…you don’t want to make the 99% unhappy. However, you can look for a way to make the 100% happy. You also have to look at the degrees of passion…if 5% hate it and 95% think it is just pretty good…you’ve got to look at the pluses and minuses to changing it.

I’ve heard more from this reader about what has happened, and I was given permission to update you.

First, one interesting thing was that the message did appear on all the Kindles/Kindle apps on the account. That meant, in this case, that my reader’s kid in college saw the message…which prompted a worried phone call. I believe these may have appeared even after the credit card issue was cleared up.

Second, I noticed that those messages were different (unless there was another screen we didn’t see on the Kindle). My reader was kind enough to send me pictures, but I think the one I’ve shared is enough at that point. One difference was that the title of the book was listed…for me, I think that makes it more intrusive. We share a Netflix account with our kid, and I always find it weird to see the “recently watched” information. My kid is more of the “sharing generation”, and I don’t think is bothered by that: but I would turn that off if I could.

These other methods also had links for contacting the company. That may be because doing so in Kindle for PC or on a SmartPhone is easier. Again, that might have been on the message on the Kindle, but it wasn’t in the picture I got.

So, my reader was pretty upset.

The good next step is that my reader spoke to Amazon and was transferred to a Supervisor.  My reader reported that the Supervisor said that they understood why the reader was upset…and that the Supervisor would also have been upset. My reader appreciated that response. Further, the reader was given a purchase credit and told that the Supervisor

“…would make sure it was brought up in the next management meeting and steps would be taken to modify the process.”

That’s one of the things I like about Amazon!  I thought it was great when Jeff Bezos publicly apologized for Amazon removing unauthorized copies of a George Orwell book from people’s Kindles…he even called it “stupid”. Quick: who is the CEO of Barnes & Noble? When have you seen Barnes & Noble make a public apology for something? I’m not just picking on Barnes & Noble…you could pick many retail companies and ask these same questions.

I want to stress that I’ve always had good Customer Service in Barnes & Noble stores…I’ve just had less than empathetic responses (in my opinion) from B&N online and by phone.

I don’t know that we’ll know if Amazon changes this policy…unless somebody gets a different kind of a notification and lets us know. It will also likely take a bit of time to make a change.

I also want to say that I’ve written this post without questioning the accuracy of what my reader has told me. As I mentioned in the other post, I know there is a possibility that this isn’t accurate, but that isn’t my intuitive sense of it. I don’t see a particular practical reason for somebody to do it, and my assessment is that this is most likely someone who was genuinely upset…and who is now getting some resolution.

It’s possible that Amazon even saw your poll responses and comments, and that what you said has been a heads up for them as well.  Thanks for taking the time to express yourself!

If I hear more about a policy change, I’ll you know.

Update: Public Library Lending

Original post (September 20, 2011):

Flash! Kindles in Beta for public library lending on some sites

I’ve been reading my first public library book on my Kindle, and I wanted to return to the topic a bit (and I’ll probably do a Frequently Asked Kindle Questions on it).

I’m reading

Arrival City

by David Saunders. It’s a really interesting nonfiction look at a worldwide phenomenon, involving people from rural areas moving into “arrival cities” on the outskirts (or sometimes inside) large cities. Those arrival cities become a key growth factor for the city and for the “villages”…people who succeed there start businesses, and send money back to the villages. It’s well documented, and challenged my stereotypes of those sorts of “tent cities” (although they may be much more than tents). It suggests that governments may wrongly perceive these as detriments.

Is my reading it from the library a lost sale?

Nope.

I can say pretty confidently I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. It wasn’t even on my radar. It’s $13.99 in the Kindle edition…I don’t have a cutoff price, but that’s high enough that it wouldn’t have moved to the front of the line (over free public domain books, for example).

My mentioning it on the blog may even result in Kindle store sales they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten: not everybody has public library lending yet. For example, public library lending is not available outside the USA yet, to my knowledge, and people outside do read this blog. One or more of those may sample the book…and may end up buying it.

I did find the process pretty easy. I wanted to list here a very high level sense of how you get public library books on your Kindle or Kindle app:

  1. Get a library card
  2. Go to http://search.overdrive.com/ and click on Library Search and enter your zipcode to find your library
  3. Select a book that says it is available for the Kindle
  4. When you order the book, you’ll be taken to Amazon to choose the device to which you want it sent. If it’s a Kindle 3 or a reader app, it will show up there wirelessly. For a Kindle 1, Kindle 2, or Kindle DX, you download the book to your computer and then sideload it to your Kindle’s Documents folder using your included USB cable

There are some interesting factors to it. The sites for different libraries seem to vary considerably…not just in selection, but in how you search for titles, how long you can keep the book, and so on.

Yes, it’s much easier to get the books wirelessly. 🙂 That may also get people to get more free reader apps and/or to upgrade their Kindles.

The libraries’ collections already seem to be growing.

Okay, so here is a negative, but this may be mostly for me. 🙂 I like to read several books at the same time (not precisely the same time, of course)…to skip from one to another. However, since I have that library book, I feel like I need to concentrate on that one and get it done quickly…since other people may be waiting for it. 🙂 It’s sort of like the pressure to watch something on Tivo before it gets deleted to make room for something else. 😉

I also wanted to mention that I started two threads in the Amazon Kindle community to try to gather some data.

In this one:

How many e-books does your public library have?

I asked people to list how many e-books their libraries had and how many were actually available. I’ve had over 100 responses so far, but more than the numbers, it’s been interesting to see how the sites differ. I can easily see fiction versus nonfiction, and available versus not available. That hasn’t been true for everybody.

I also think it significant that some people suggest that the fact that their library is in a rural area, they’d be less likely to have e-books. I wouldn’t think that’s the case…I would think that rural libraries, with a lower concentration of people, would benefit more from digital distribution…and might find it cheaper. Of course, the penetration of EBRs (E-Book Readers) may be different in cities and rural areas, but I don’t know that.

In this thread:

Public librarians: what has been your Kindle/Overdrive experience?

I asked public librarians to give their experiences. I asked these questions as a prompt:

1. Did your library have to make a decision to add the Kindle format, or did it happen automatically if you already had Overdrive?

2. Is there an additional fee to the library to offer Kindle editions? Do you have to buy additional licenses?

3. Did Overdrive notify you of the change?

KDD had the first response, and it boiled down to: the library got Kindle versions automatically with no notification and at no additional cost.

However, KDD also observed the possibility that fees for Overdrive (the service that connect patrons to libraries for digital material) may go up as usage rises.

I really thought the library thing would be no big deal, that it was mostly to be competitive with other EBRs…but the implementation on the K3 is so easy that I can certainly see it regularly entering my reading mix.

As one of my regular readers and commenters, Tom Semple, pointed out, the new Sony has the ability to get Overdrive books directly from the device. That’s an update I’d like to see…right now, I plan on browsing the books and doing the “checkout” from my computer. I’d like to be able to do it from the Kindle, though. It’s worth pointing out that it would require a software update (we know one is coming, at least for ad-supported Kindles, but I suspect for more than that)…this one didn’t. I think that’s also why you can do public library related activities (like returning a book when you are done…drat, I’ve got to hurry in case someone is waiting!) from the Kindle. I don’t think the Kindle itself knows it is a library book.

There you go…two updates on previous stories. Feel free to let me know what you think about them.

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

7 Responses to “Updates: credit card notice, library lending”

  1. Louise Says:

    Just a point of interest on the library lending. In my library, there is no rush to finish and return your Kindle ebook. Only Adobe and EPub books can be returned at this time. So I’m assuming the Kindle books are non-returnable and will just expire at the end of the lending period, as was the case about a year ago when I first looked at library ebooks.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Louise!

      If you go to

      http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

      you’ll see the option to return any Kindle format books you got from the public library…it’s on each book.

      My hurry is just so I don’t keep it from other people who want to read it. 🙂

      • Tom Semple Says:

        I trust that, more and more, library users will observe such etiquette (return when done reading, not when due) out of self-interest (so they can borrow something else) as well as out concern for other patrons waiting for it to become available.

        I think a problem in the past has been that library users were not even aware that ‘return early’ is possible: once it is on their reading device there’s often no borrowing status shown, and there was no way to return from the device itself (even those with wifi/3G). The list of checked out books on your library account page likewise does not let you do it. You needed to use ADE and even there it was not so obvious that you could do it. Even Overdrive’s reading apps for iOS and Android wouldn’t let you do it until relatively recently.

        Today there are several reading apps for iOS and Android that support library DRM for ePub/PDF, and for the most part those that do provide an option to ‘return & delete’ in the application itself (including Overdrive Media Console). I expect the new Sony Reader will allow this as well.

        One fly in this ointment is HarperCollins, who limit the number of checkouts per ebook. Ordinarily there would be no penalty for checking out a book, reading a bit, and deciding to return it rather than reading the whole thing. But now such ‘grazing’ will consume one of the limited checkouts. Some ebooks do have downloadable samples that can be used for this purpose, but it should be ‘standard practice’ to provide these.

  2. Louise Says:

    Fantastic! I was looking at my library’s site and not at Amazon and nothing was said about returning Kindle books. I like being able to return the books when I’m finished. When my library first started ebooks, there was no way to return–you just had to let them stay checked out to you until the loan expired. I’m glad that has changed (not sure when) because I never need the entire loan period and always thought that was slowing circulation. Thanks for the info.

  3. Kristi aka Fiberfool Says:

    I didn’t pay attention to total number of Kindle books available, but I have a card for my city and the next town over and I can say there us a huge difference in what titles are available at each. My city has over twice as many romance titles as the next city. They have a similar number of mysteries, but probably only about 30% overlap I’d say. The next city appeared to have more nonfiction, well at least in the types I am interested in lately – health, fitness and biographies. I can say I’m very happy to have cards for both libraries. I just wish there were a way to keep a combined wishlist!

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kristi!

      That’s interesting information! I wonder if the libraries base their collections on what they presume their patrons want to read…or if it’s because of choices made by librarians, perhaps based on their own tastes? Another possibility is that some people earmark donations for particular types of books…might someone give ten thousand dollars and specify it’s for science fiction, for example? Something to ponder…

  4. Brian Hartman Says:

    Hi Bufo!

    A couple of quick points here. I would love to get a KINDLE warning if something suddenly happened to my Credit Card. I check my email infrequently, but am always with my Kindle and will appreciate any notices Ammy may send me if there were a problem. The quicker I learn about it, the less damage would be done.

    About Library lending. What happens when a book is downloaded to a K1, and that K1 never connects wirelessly? I’ve already returned 3 books, and they disappear from K3 after I sync. If one were to have a K1, and never sync wirelessly, would the clock in the K1 refuse access, like some PC software does? Just a question that I was thinking of when contemplating this wonderful library lending. I won’t buy expensive books again, (actually, never did anyway, but would wait for price drops) given the length of my TBR list. But now I can read them. As a rock Band once sang, “All you need is just a little patience.”

    Thanks for your time, and, as always, keep up the best blog on Kindle.

    Brian

    I tried to post this about five or six time and every time I hit backspace to enter my name, it jumped to the facebook link, with which I will have nothing to do.

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