Round up #120: Booker infographics, AZW[1]

Round up #120: Booker infographics, AZW[1]

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

What’s in a (re)name?

This is one of those weird things that is causing some people a lot of problems, has an easy fix…and the fix may not be easy to discover.

I’m not sure who it is affecting yet, and it’s definitely a change.

Here’s the story:

There are people who download their Kindle store books using a computer, and then transfer them to the device using a USB cable, rather than using wireless.

Why?

I assume it’s typically because of unreliable or unavailable wireless.

We used to see this a lot with people on military bases outside the USA, or other places where wireless might not be provided.

You have to have wireless (wi-fi, 3G, or soon, 4G) to register the device. However, people are advised that they can go to a public wi-fi hotspot (like many McDonald’s or Starbucks) with a wi-fi only device, register it, and then use the USB transfer method after that.

Here is the Amazon help page on using the USB:

Transferring Content via USB

You start out by using your computer to shop at Amazon. When you order a book, you choose

Transfer Via Computer

under “Deliver To”.

Well, here’s the problem.

For some reason, at least some people are downloading the file, and instead of having an extension of AZW, the file has an extension of AZW[1]…which the Kindle fails to recognize.

Let me back up for a minute.

Computer files have an extension (usually three letters) after a period (dot) at the end of the file name.

The computer uses that extension to determine which program to use to open that file.

For example:

  • .xls = Excel Spreadsheet (open with Excel)
  • .ppt = PowerPoint file (open with PowerPoint)
  • .pdf = portable document format (open with Adobe Reader)

Now, some extensions might be able to be opened with more than one program, and your Windows based computer will typically ask which one you want to use when that happens.

You can also tell your Windows computer which program to use to open an extension, and if that program is capable of opening it, it will.

What happens if the Windows computer doesn’t recognize the extension at all?

It will usually ask you which program to try.

If you change the extension of a file, your computer may no longer know which program to use.

In this case, customers are downloading a file from Amazon…and the file is getting a messed up extension.

Instead of AZW (which we think means “Amazon Whispernet”), the file says AZW[1].

That bracketed 1 is enough to make it so the Kindle doesn’t know how to open it…and a Kindle is not sophisticated enough to ask you which program you want to use.

That means that these folks who have downloaded a book to read can’t read it.

The solution (which has been tested by people on the Kindle Forum) is to simply rename the file on the computer, so that it has that AZW extension.

You do that on the computer…you can use Windows Explorer, right-click the file, choose “Rename”, and change the extension.

This does require some computer skills: it helps if you know how to make your version of Windows display the extensions (so you can find the problem files), and how to right-click.

I’ve heard that people have contacted Kindle Support

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

and not been helped.

I can understand that: Kindle Support is typically very helpful, but this is really outside of a Kindle question, even though it is affecting Kindles. They probably don’t have reference materials that would help with this, and it is opening a bit of a can of worms. What if somebody is told this technique by Kindle Support, and then uses it improperly and makes other files unusable? Do they then call Kindle Support to fix it, and does Kindle Support have any liability?

The key thing is that Amazon needs to fix whatever is causing the problem (my intuition is that the file is getting confused by an existing ancillary file with the same name).

Until then, though, the fix is pretty easy…if you can find out about it. I’m hoping Google gets people here.

The Guardian: “How to win the Booker prize – in charts”

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this

Guardian article

I love analytics! I’m not big on charts, but they nicely also let you download a spreadsheet with the data in this article. Most of you will prefer the pictures, though. 🙂

Adam Frost and James Kynvin analyzed forty years of the Man Booker, and produced fourteen charts with “how to win”.

For example, one way to increase your chances of winning is…to be male. Twice as many men have won as women.

There are 56 countries eligible, but only eight countries have had winners…and the UK has produced 27 winners, while its closest competitor has only produced four.

If you are interested in what makes an award winner (at least this award), and in how winning affects an author’s sales (they analyze that, too), I strongly recommend this article!

Shipping soon!

My Kindle Paperwhite‘s status has changed to “shipping soon”, and should be here on Thursday. I’m really looking forward to it! I’m curious to check it out and get into the weeds with it.

So, what are the robots going to do?

Amazon is going to hire 50,000 seasonal employees this year.

That’s wonderful news, of course.

press release

If you want to apply, or know someone who would want to apply, here’s the site:

http://www.amazonfulfillmentcareers.com/

The only thing that I’m curious about on this is how this is being affected by Amazon’s purchase of Kiva. Amazon spent $775 million buying a robot company which automates fulfillment services (which is presumably where these new workers are going to be). The robot company doesn’t just serve Amazon…in the same way that the e-tailer sells cloud use to businesses, they can sell robots to other companies.

In thinking about this, it may be that Amazon just hasn’t been able to really deploy the robots yet, and that they may need to hire fewer seasonal workers in the holiday season of 2013.

It’s not that I want to lower seasonal employment, of course. I’m a former retail manager: I’ve hired a lot of seasonal workers in my time. 🙂 It’s just that I assume one of the benefits of buying Kiva was to lower employee costs and needs.

Have a comment on any of these stories? I’d love to see it. 🙂

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

4 Responses to “Round up #120: Booker infographics, AZW[1]”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    A reason to use a USB cable to put content on a kindle could be 3G slowness. If I have a large pdf file, I will often download it directly to my kindle DX rather than use whispernet — in this case the USB approach is much faster.

    I hardly ever use USB when I’m buying in the Amazon store — as I can deliver the purchase directly to the kindle of my choice at purchase time (I do most of my buying from Amazon on the computer rather than from a kindle — as the experience is richer/easier to use). Even after purchase, anything bought from Amazon can be “pushed” to any of your kindles from the “manage my kindle” page.

    The USB cable approach makes more sense if you are buying content from a non-Amazon source which typically doesn’t support whispernet. The process for this that Amazon recommends (and you provided the link for) will work, but is overly complex. I prefer to first connect my kindle using a USB cable to my computer. It then appears as a Windows drive (in my case the I: drive) I then download all my non-Amazon purchases directly to I:\documents.

    Doing it this way will pop up any duplicate file names on the kindle in a dialog box — giving you the option to rename, cancel, or overwrite the duplicate. The bracketed file names you mentioned are the result (as you suggested) of a windows explorer automatic mechanism that attaches bracketed numbers to duplicated file names when copying which will happen if you use the Amazon suggested method.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I was probably imprecise to say “unreliable or unavailable wireless”. 🙂 I meant to suggest slow as well by “unreliable”. Looking back on it, that wasn’t a good denotation…something can be reliably slow. 🙂

      I think you’ve given good advice on how to do it. The only problem I’ve ever had people express is Windows not showing the Kindle as a drive consistently. Usually, refreshing the Windows Explorer screen with F5 will fix that.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    The kiva approach requires all new warehouse shelving and fixtures — as well as a radically different floorplan layout (it looks kind of triangular). I’m guessing only a very few Amazon fulfillment centers have (at this point) been reworked to accommodate Kiva.

    Amazon took a $65MM charge in the second quarter to cover the Kiva acquisition. I would expect that in the years ahead they will recoup that and more as their fulfillment centers get “kivaized”. Kiva warehouses require very few people to run.

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