Round up #107: Prime passes Super Saver, nice words if you can pay for them

Round up #107:  Prime passes Super Saver, nice words if you can pay for them

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

The New York  Times: “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy”

The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy

Who knew there was so much money in sock puppetry?

In this great article in the New York Times by David Streitfeld, one particular person who wrote reviews for money for authors made up to $28,000 a month!

These are those online reviews you read…not ones like the New York Times publishes. 😉

Todd Rutherford charged $99 for one review, $499 for twenty reviews, $999 for fifty reviews.

Eventually, the business fell through when it was detected.

It’s a good, lengthy article…I recommend it.

This is somewhat of a tricky subject, with a lot of subtlety. If you think it should be illegal to pay for a good review, does it matter to you if the person who wrote it actually thought it was good? Let’s say here that it isn’t the author writing the review under fake names…real names, just good reviews influenced by money.

Is it different if someone is sent a review copy? After all, that has value. Of course, in that case, the reviewer doesn’t usually get a suggestion on what to say…they get the review copy whether the review is good or bad. What happens if the author who sends it says, “Hope you like it!” Is that different?

It’s interesting that we are so influenced by reviews…I do think that’s the case, and yes, I look at reviews on Amazon before I get something. I’m guilty of not writing many reviews myself, outside of the blog.

Prime passes Super Saver Shipping

You know how I keep saying that the Kindle Fire is in part a “Prime primer”? 😉 I haven’t used that term before, but I do say that Amazon’s strategy is, to some degree, about “diapers and windshield wipers”.

Prime is clearly growing. In this

press release

Amazon says that more items are now shipped with Prime than with Super Saving Shipper. The latter is free shipping when you get up to $25 worth of specific items in a single order.

People using Prime may be a better thing for Amazon. Certainly, Prime members spend a lot with Amazon…on top of the $79 a year that the typical Prime member pays for the service.

There are quite a few interesting statistics, but this one in particular caught my eye: 96.4% of the Prime Instant Video catalog is viewed every week. That seems astonishing to me…that’s a very broad consumption for over 20,000 items.

What’s the most watched TV series through Prime Instant video?

Downton Abbey

It was interesting, because I recently ran into a thread with some apparently offended that a movie they ordered was in French with English subtitles…that was described as “old school”. However, the most viewed movie through Amazon Prime is subtitled:

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (English subtitled)

That suggests that while the school may be old, it is still well attended. 😉

Amazon Cloud Drive arrives in the UK

In this

Engadget article

they point out that the Cloud Drive has arrived for UK Kindleers. Just as in the US, they get 5GB of storage for free. For you UKindleers, here’s the information:

Amazon.co.uk Help Page

You can buy additional storage, but they don’t apparently let me see the information unless I log into the site.

This is not the Cloud Player…it doesn’t play your music, it’s just storage for your files.

This could certainly partly be prep for a Kindle Fire expansion to the UK, which I think may be announced (along with other things) at the September 6th Amazon presser.

The Book that Won’t Wait

Well, here’s one solution for that ever-growing TBR (To Be Read) pile…

CTV article

You buy a book. What would motivate you to move that book to the front of the list?

After all, that can make a difference for the author…reading one book may get you to read other books by that author, and there can certainly be timing involved in marketing and such.

How about…a book where the ink disappears two months after you open it?

Believe it or not, that’s what “The Book that Can’t Wait” is.

It’s an anthology, and I can see how it appeals to the authors.

I’m just not sure how it appeals to the readers. 🙂 As far as paperbooks go, I’ve always kept mine. I certainly wouldn’t want them to disappear.

However, there is a parallel with something I read on my Kindles…magazine subscriptions through the Kindle store.

Unless I choose to “keep” an issue (which means I have to use up my memory to store it), magazines generally have a “rolling seven” philosophy. You have the current issue, and six back issues. When the next issue is downloaded, the oldest one is automatically made not available to you.

I have to say that does get me to prioritize those magazines over books, sometimes.

However, I should also say…I don’t like it. 🙂 That’s one thing that Zinio (which I use on my Kindle Fire) does better…they store all my back issues for me.

Cool infographic on Mashable

Check this one out:

http://mashable.com/2012/08/26/reading-stats-infographic/

It’s about reading statistics, and there are some really interesting things in it…I highly recommend it.

I don’t want to take too much away, so I’ll just mention a couple of things:

They make a point about 82% of e-book readers living in cities. Well, I think that’s only slightly above the percentage of people who live in cities in the US…period. I think it tends to run about 80/20, so that’s not that exciting a statistic. Unless I’m missing something, living in a city does not make you more likely to read an e-book than living in a rural area…based on percentage.

It did surprise me that science fiction was a more read genre than romance…the latter was also beaten by Christian fiction.

Anyway, I really recommend you take a look. It will be fine on the Kindle Fire, but I think you’ll be able to see it without all the colors on a reflective screen Kindle (RSK). I’ll test it after I publish this.

Update: no Buy buttons for Kindle Touch

It’s worth noting that you can’t buy a Kindle Touch directly from the USA Kindle store today…it’s not just that they are out of stock, but they don’t even have a button to “add to cart”. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that those buttons may not return before September 6th…when Amazon may announce a successor. I checked all the other current models: they all had “add to cart” buttons.

Any comments on any of these stories? Would you buy a book with disappearing ink? Would you accept $5 to write a review for an online site…if you weren’t told what to write? If you are in the UK, did you notice the arrival of the Cloud Drive? Do you care about it? Oh, and how excited are you about the possibility of a Kindle Fire in the UK? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

13 Responses to “Round up #107: Prime passes Super Saver, nice words if you can pay for them”

  1. Sheryl Painter Says:

    I’m interested in what you think of Zinio. I’ve seen you mention it before. As always – I learn so much from you! Thank you!

    And no, I do not believe we should be paid for reviews. I write reviews when the book only has a few or none at all. I always read reviews and take them as I do movie reviews – see what people like and don’t like about the book/movie – and then make a judgement call on my own. By writing them – and letting people know if good or bad, make me laugh or cry or confused, hopefully helps others decide. But paying me wouldn’t change what I wrote. And if I got a copy of the book by the author asking me to review I always put that in the review – so others are aware and there is nothing underhanded. I would like to think others are as honest, but afraid they aren’t.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Sheryl!

      I like Zinio. 🙂

      https://ilmk.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/round-up-60-amazons-customer-service-is-1-zinio/

      The one negative for me is that, at least with the magazine I read, I don’t have a “text view” option, like I do with magazines from the Kindle store. For me, I usually pinch and zoom the text…but then I do end up with “pan and scan”, the way that movies on TV used to do. What I mean is that if the article is in three columns on a page, I usually just read one column at a time…which means I need to sort of zig over to the next column.

      That’s not that big a negative, though. Being able to keep my old back issues is a much bigger positive than that is an negative (yes, I look things up in old magazines I have). It does look great, and the interface is easy to use.

  2. Erin-Joi Says:

    I understand the statistic about romances. My mother reads a lot of romances, but mostly as used books. The name brand authors are expensive on the kindle. By comparison, my mother buys used paperbacks at 2-2.50 each then sells them back for 1-1.25. Much cheaper than buying kindle versions.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Erin-Joi!

      That’s an interesting perspective! I would have said that romance publishers have particularly good at providing free books…they’ve also been leaders on that in paperbooks. There are a lot of ninety-nine cent romances. I’ve seen bundles and subscriptions for romance e-books. I haven’t looked much at “brand name” romance authors…maybe that’s where the issue lies?

  3. rogerknights Says:

    “How about…a book where the ink disappears two months after you open it?”

    That happens unintentionally to the labels printed by dedicated label printers. (They don’t use ink, but heat.)

  4. rogerknights Says:

    PS: I forgot the phrase, “after two or three years.” The fading is slow.

  5. rogerknights Says:

    Amazon is encouraging people to write reviews with its Vines program.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, roger!

      I don’t have a problem with that…I think encouraging reviews is a good thing. I assume one of the differences in ILMK’s ranking on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com is that it only has one poor review there. It’s also due, no doubt, to my necessary focus on the USA (I can’t easily see other countries’ specials and such), but I suspect that more positive reviews would make a difference.

      Paying people to write reviews for you does feel different to me, though.

  6. Man in the Middle Says:

    As an Amazon customer, I used to value the opinions of Vine reviewers and Top (insert number here) reviewers more than other reviews, figuring such folks must have something on the ball to have become well ranked. Now I’m a Vine reviewer myself, and have been a Top 1000 reviewer, so realize there’s nothing magic about it.

    The key thing seems to be that such people go to the trouble of writing lots of reviews that are helpful – giving people information they might want to know before buying something, and as another has already noted, writing reviews for products that don’t already have dozens of other reviews. To me, it’s just a way of “paying it forward”, as such reviews have been a huge help to me in my own purchases over the years.

    One down side I’ve realized is that it can be brutal to a reviewer’s rank to give only one (I hate it) or two (I don’t like it) Amazon stars to a product with fans, I don’t care about my rank, so call them as I see them, but am now more cautious about drawing conclusions about products that get 3 (It’s OK) stars from ranked reviewers.

    The book reviews by others that I personally appreciate the most are those that alert me to things I need to be aware of about the book in advance, such as whether or not it includes a lot of swearing or adult issues. Many temporarily-free books are down-rated in reviews for being badly-formatted or having spelling and grammatical errors, but I worry less about that, as Amazon often offers me a free update later with such errors corrected. That said, if I were writing books again, I’d edit them very carefully before letting anyone review them, as some reviews are brutal about such errors.

    One unexpected benefit of being a Vine reviewer is that we are offered free advance copies of forthcoming books (and sometimes other products) to review. That ensures such products will have at least a few reviews immediately upon release.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I do think the answer on this is going to be some sort of social circles. You see reviews just from your friends or from groups to which you subscribe.

      Another interesting possibility would be to let reviewers self-identify, and then apply those filters. For example, you allow reviewers to self-identify (to Amazon) their ages. You can then apply an age filter to see how people of a particular age feel about the book. They could self-identify by political party, or as “Twi-Hards”…hm, this could be a really big deal, now that I think about it. You’d have to not let people change their identification tags for, oh, six months at a time (to prevent people constantly shifting them to skew results). I may need to write a post on this…thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

    • Lady Galaxy Says:

      Twice now, books that I downloaded for free (which contained lots of errors) were listed as “no longer available” when I clicked on the link from the “Manage your Kindle” page, but when I did a search on the book’s title, I found that the book was indeed still available. I don’t know if the available book was an update or not, but update wasn’t an option on the “manage” page. And the product page gave no indication that I had previously purchased the title. It makes me wonder if some publishers are treating the free version and the paid version as separate entities.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I’m sorry to hear that!

        I can imagine a scenario, but I don’t know if this what happened.

        Publisher books the book out for free.

        You get it.

        Amazon gets complaints about the bad quality. Tells the publisher to fix it or Amazon will take it off sale.

        Publisher lets it get withdrawn.

        Meanwhile, publisher publishes the same book as a different version, where perhaps the quality is good. It has a different ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).

        Now, I would have thought, in this case, that you would still be able to download it from

        http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

        I thought it would only become unavailable for download from there if it was withdrawn for legal reasons.

        After all, we’re given the choice to accept an updated version or not, usually.

        If you do check with Kindle Support on this

        http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

        I’d be interested to hear what they tell you…

  7. Carol B. Says:

    I personally would not buy a book with disappearing ink. I used to have an extensive library of paper books. I loved having the ability to look at them and browse some of my favorite sections from time to time. Now I have an extensive eLibrary and still love having the ability to go back to many of these books from time to time.

    I also have several family members on my Amazon account who enjoy my books. I say keep the licensing as it is … no disappearing ink!

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