Archive for March, 2013

Round up #157: AMZN 5% tax refund bonus, LibraryThing free today

March 31, 2013

Round up #157: AMZN 5% tax refund bonus, LibraryThing free today

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

A Skrumpshus deal

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals is the original Ian Fleming Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as two 21st Century sequels, for $1.99 each. I would have said this was a “Truly Scrumptious” deal, but that character (and spelling) was added for the movie. This book does have the Whispersync for Voice option for $6.49…audiobook read by Andrew Sachs, who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers. I have to admit, I was sort of hoping for Dick Van Dyke. 😉 WSV lets you switch back and forth between an audiobook and sight-reading.

As always, check the prices before you buy…this is a Kindle Daily Deal, and it may not apply in your country.

Use TurboTax, get a 105% refund as an Amazon gift card

This was quite a nice surprise! We use TurboTax to do our taxes. Note: I’ve linked to the version in the Amazon Appstore to keep this more Kindley, but I was using the website on my desktop. I assume this deal would be the same, though.

When it got time to do the Federal refund (we got a refund from the Feds…I have extra withheld to handle the writing, and we owed the State…not uncommon in California, I think), I had an interesting option.

If I took all or part of the refund as an Amazon gift card, they would give me 5% extra!

You can do it in increments of $100…so if you took $100 that way, you’d get $105. If you take $500 that way, you get $525.

Free money!

Of course, you do have to use it at Amazon, but with all of our Subscribe and Save items and such, we know we’ll spend it.

That also, in a way, keeps us from treating it like “found money” and just spending it  frivolously  (we wouldn’t tend to do that, actually, but there is certainly some temptation).

My Significant Other commented that “Amazon is everywhere.” 😉

Now, it’s important to note that this likely isn’t the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) making a deal with Amazon…it’s Intuit, the makers of TurboTax.

When you “refer” a gift card, just like with other items, you can get an “advertising fee”. That might cut down the cost on this from the Intuit side, but this is probably a big money maker for Amazon. I think most people will splurge a bit with it with Amazon, and buy things they wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Amazon does a similar thing with Coinstar, where you can turn in your coins and elect to get an Amazon gift card, saving the normal counting fee (which is now 9.8 cents per dollar in the USA).

This didn’t pay for entirely for using Turbotax for us, but it was nice. 🙂 I’m certainly hoping they continue to do it in the future.

“Experimental streaming viewer”

Thanks to Colleen, one of the Kindle Forum Pros, who noticed this new feature!

This appears to be since the recent Kindle Fire updates. Adobe made the decision to stop supporting Flash on mobile devices. I downloaded Flash to my Kindle Fire and use the Maxthon browser…I rarely use the Fire’s own Silk browser.

Now, though, there is a new setting.

If you go from Home to Web, then hit the Menu (horizontal lines in a box), you can now see a choice to “Prompt for experimental streaming viewer” (mine was checked automatically). You apparently must have “Accelerate page loading” on to have that option.

This is not just on Kindle Fire 8.9″ (which is where I’ve seen it)…my guess is that it is all of the second generation Kindle Fires that just got the update.

Amazon says here:

Using the Web on Kindle Fire HD 8.9″

in part, that

“Adobe Flash content is not supported on Kindle Fire HD 8.9”.

We have developed the experimental streaming viewer to allow you to view Flash content from a limited number of websites using your Kindle Fire. If you choose to view Flash content using the experimental streaming viewer, content for the Flash-enabled site (including any SSL content) will pass through Amazon’s servers if Silk’s cloud accelerator feature is enabled. Individual identifiers like IP and MAC addresses are not associated with browsing history, and are only collected for technical troubleshooting. Please see the Amazon Silk Terms and Conditions for more information.

To use the experimental streaming viewer:

  1. Tap the Menu  icon at the bottom or right side of the screen.
  2. Select Open experimental viewer.

You may also open the experimental streaming viewer by tapping the notification message that appears at the bottom of the screen when Flash content is detected.”

I’ve explored a bit, and haven’t found it showing up yet…but videos are working. However, I do have Flash installed, so maybe it only shows up if you don’t.

If they have figured out some way to get Flash videos to work in Silk without extra installations, that’s big news!

Oh, wait…I did find a place where I got the “puzzle piece” missing plug-in indicator, and I’m not seeing anything about the experimental browser (even when I click the menu). However, I suppose it’s possible that the plug-in it wants is something else. I tried opening the same video with Maxthon, and it did work…

Video now working in Enhance versions

When I first did the new update, I tested some Vook books I had gotten for free to see if they would now play the video on my Fire. They didn’t at first. I had downloaded them fresh for the test (I got them when they were free some time ago, partially in case video ever did work). 😉

Now, though, they do!

I used

The 1970s: A Brief History

as one test, and was rewarded with a cool short video of some ads from the period (including a very young John Travolta in an Army recruiting ad).

I wanted to share it with my Significant Other, and was very pleased that it worked with

Juice for Roku

My SO doesn’t like to see things on a small screen, and Juice lets me throw some videos (and still images) to our TV through our Roku…wirelessly. It was great to be able to just say, “Hey, I want to show  you something.”), switch to the Roku input, open the channel, and show the video.

LibraryThing free accounts through today (Sunday, 31 March)

I was just going to mention LibraryThing’s open thread on Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads

LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world

when I noticed this announcement from LibraryThing. Ordinarily, there is a fee for adding more than 200 books, but they say (in part):

“…we’ve had some blow-back on the fact that LibraryThing charges for a membership to add more than 200 books. In fact, when you go to pay, it’s pay-what-you-want. The money helps pay for the site, and keeps us advertisement-free for members. Also, we believe customers should be customers, with the loyalty and rights of customers, not the thing we sell to our real customers.

However, some people don’t like it. And we want everyone. So, as a test and a welcome, we’re giving out free year’s accounts to everyone who signs up through the end of Sunday. We’ve also upgraded everyone who signed up since 4pm yesterday.”

I’m already a member (since 2009, although I haven’t used it much), so I guess that doesn’t help me, but some of you might be interested.

You can join here:

Joining is always free, but this gets you a pass when you are adding a lot of books.

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


KDD: The Host, AmazonLocal deal on kids’ books

March 30, 2013

KDD: The Host, AmazonLocal deal on kids’ books

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals is The Host by Stephenie Meyer for $1.99. Undoubtedly, this is to tie into the movie version of The Host, which is opening this weekend.

Actually, that’s one of six books from that author that are on sale.

Another one is in the author’s mega-popular Twilight series:

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella (The Twilight Saga)

That’s not one of the main books, of course…so why aren’t I linking to those?

Simple: they block text-to-speech access.

I really haven’t written much about that for a long time (although I do mention it), but I don’t deliberately link to books which block text-to-speech access.

Publishers have to basically insert code into a book to stop text-to-speech (software which reads a book out loud) from working. If they do nothing, it works…that’s why you can use text-to-speech on personal documents: nothing needs to be done to prepare them.

I used to not buy anything from companies that blocked text-to-speech, but I decided it was a better statement just to not buy the specific books. That gives more data to the publishers: e-books on which we don’t block TTS do X, e-books on which we do block it do Y.

I think blocking it has become more uncommon. These six books are all published by Hachette. Why block some and not others (especially when one is in the same universe)? I think it might be because the decision to block was made a couple of years ago, and hasn’t been reversed…whereas newer books didn’t block it.

Let’s see:

  • Date listed on the Amazon product page: July 18, 2007: blocked
  • August 7, 2007: blocked
  • August 8, 2007: blocked
  • August 3, 2008: blocked
  • June 5, 2010: not blocked
  • August 26, 2010: not blocked
  • November 8, 2010: complete collection, not blocked*

I tried to isolate variables: five of the six  books are from the same imprint (they are all from the same publisher), and all have Whispersync for Voice enabled. So, it doesn’t appear that the presence of an audiobook version is the deciding factor. Hm…I may need to do some more analysis of this at some point.


AmazonLocal deal skews a bit younger. 🙂

Get a free voucher at the above link in the next two days or so, and you can use it to buy up to 32 kids’ e-books from the group shown here:

Exclusive Offer for Amazon Local Customers: Select Kindle Kids’ Books for $2 Each

for $2 each. There are some interesting titles there, including a Jane Yolen.

You must use your voucher by April 10th…please read the details at the link immediately above to make sure this applies to you, and remember, you need the code first before buying the book(s).

This is the second time in the past two weeks that Amazon has done an AmazonLocal deal on a bunch of books…I like it. 🙂


* Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Tom Semple, pointed out that you can get the complete collection bundle without text-to-speech blocked

The Twilight Saga Complete Collection

That’s the four main novels and the novella. Right now (today), that’s not the best deal, if you ignore the advantages of text-to-speech: it’s priced at $32.78. You can get them individually right now for $13.95. It does seem to follow the timeframe idea, though. Otherwise, why block it in one edition and not another edition of the same book from the same publisher?

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

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2013

March 29, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2013

How things have changed since I did my first

A day in the life of a Kindleer

back in 2010!

I followed that up in 2011 with

A tale in the life: the Enhanced Reading Experience

but I thought it was worth doing another one.

One of the key changes, of course, is that I’m mostly using a Kindle Fire, rather than an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle).

The goal here is to give you an idea of how I use it, so you can maybe get some ideas and/or ask some questions. I’m going to describe a typical workday.


I wake up, usually on my own before any alarm. My Significant Other is out of the house at the gym swimming before I get up. We now have two older dogs, and when I want them up, I’ll get them…they don’t try to wake me up early.

I pick up my Kindle Fire 8.9″ from the nightstand. I leave it hanging off the edge by an inch or so…otherwise, it’s heavy enough that’s it’s hard to scoop up.

I have an autowake cover…I just have to open it, and the Kindle wakes up.  I use this one: CaseCrown Ridge Standby Case (Purple) for Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 Inch (Built-in magnet for sleep / wake feature). Even though I keep the brightness turned down (partially to save battery), I still have to cover my eyes when I flip open the cover. I’m pretty light sensitive, though, which may have to do with some color vision deficiency (“color blindness”).

I open up Flipboard, and give it a bit of time to update. I do leave the wi-fi connected when I go to sleep. It could take, oh, twenty seconds or so for the “spinners” to stop, and everything is updated.

I head into the bathroom, where I exercise (I don’t want to get the dogs going yet).

I work out for about forty-five minutes or so. During most of it, I am reading Flipboard with my Fire on the towel rack. I “favorite” things on Twitter that I might want to write about later…I’m actually pretty disappointed when I can’t favorite a specific article.

I read both the “cover stories” and my Twitter feed. The author Amanda Hocking really knows how to use Twitter! I look forward to those tweets every day.

I also check a few other things with the Fire on the towel rack. I use the WordPress app to check for comments that happened over night, and generally approve them. I’m not going to reply until I can sit down. 😉

I use the Maxthon browser (which I think I sideloaded for this model of Kindle) to check the Free App of the Day (which I almost always get…it takes some pretty bad reviews to get me to skip one), and Kindle Daily Deal. I might buy something from the KDDs right then.

Again, using the Maxthon browser, I check IMDb. I know there is an app for it on my Fire, but I prefer looking at the full site. I might also check BoxOfficeMojo (also owned by Amazon), which is linked at the bottom of the IMDb page.

I’m probably through with that part of the exercise by then, but I may also check my e-mail using the built-in e-mail app. I’ve said this before, but I am far more responsive to comments on the blog than to e-mails… occasionally, a reader finds my e-mail address and sends me something, and it may be days or longer before I respond to it. 😦

For the next part of the exercise, I can’t stand next to the towel rack (I need more room). So, I put the Fire on the counter, and open iSpy Cameras. I get to my favorites, and while they are still in “thumbnail” (which is actually pretty big), I can see what the weather is like where my adult kid lives. Then, I usually open up the Snooty the manatee cam. There is more than one manatee, actually, and they can be pretty active at that time of day. It’s fun to watch them swim around, slowly…like dolphins in slow motion (without all that jumping). 😉 I also, love, love, love to see the dogs swimming in the Olde Town Pet Resort pool, but there’s usually nobody there that early.

Then I finish getting ready to that point, and wake up the dogs for breakfast.

If I haven’t read my e-mail, I do that during breakfast. I also plug in the Fire…it will fully charge before I get to the car. Before I leave the house, I’ll also play some Dabble…that tends to wake me up. 🙂

I’ll still use the desktop to deal with the forums and usually to write replies to comments and a blogpost. I can do it with a Bluetooth keyboard and my Fire, but it’s easier on the desktop.

I check my daily schedule using the built-in calendar app, which draws from the Google calendar I use for work. I have an irregular schedule, and want to make sure I don’t go to the wrong place. 🙂

Off to work…I put the Kindle Fire in Airplane Mode to save power, and then it’s text-to-speech in the car. I use my Coby CA-745 Wireless FM Car Transmitter and a car charger. We are thinking about getting a new car…this one (a Scion) has over 150K on it, and it’s still doing okay, but it’s about time. I presume my next one will have Bluetooth, or at least an audiojack. 😉

Park the car, go in…well, one more game of Dabble first. 😉 Hey, I’m always early. 🙂

During work, I’m not typically connected. I do have a 4G model, but don’t use the 4G much at all. If I need to use any documents, I will have e-mailed them to myself (using my regular e-mail address…not sending it through the Kindle Personal Document Service, usually) when I was at home…that’s usually the easiest. I download them at home. Then, I open them with OfficeSuite Professional 7 at work. I do that for PowerPoint, Excel, and Word.

If I need to make a quick note at work, I still use ColorNote Notepad Notes, which I first started using on my Kindle Fire 1st generation. I have Evernote, which is a lot more robust, but I rarely need all that. I’m just jotting down a few words, and ColorNote is simple for that.

I don’t like to read Flipboard at night…I’m treating it like a morning paper, and I want to make sure there’s enough of it to read. 🙂

So, I am reading books on my Fire at home. I do use an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle) a bit every day, but the bulk of my reading is on my Fire. That certainly surprised me!

I’m also likely to read magazines on my Fire…Entertainment Weekly every week, TV Guide, Fortean Times (which I read in the Zinio app…it’s not available in the Kindle Newsstand).

End of the night, I exercise again. The dogs are awake, so I’m not doing that in the bathroom and reading, usually, for most of it. When I do part of it with the Kindle on the towel rack (and while I brush my teeth and such), that’s usually a book.

Go to bed, play a little Dabble, read a bit more…put the Kindle Fire back on the nightstand, with a bit of it hanging off to make it easy to lift the next morning…scratch one of the dog’s heads thirty times before going to sleep: we have that ritual. 🙂 My  Significant  Other doesn’t think the dog can count that high, but I can…

That’s not all that I do with the Kindle Fire during a week…the weekends are different. For example, I’ll use Fandango to check movie times on Saturday…we go almost every week.

Well, hope that helps! If you have any question, feel free to comment on this post. I can just hear some of you now…”Scratching the dog’s head the same number of times each night? Hm…” 😉

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

Amazon buys Goodreads

March 28, 2013

Amazon buys Goodreads

Honestly, it was a bit of a surprise when I got this

Amazon press release

in my e-mail!

I doubt anyone has been talking more about the idea of Amazon getting more social than I have (although it’s possible), but I didn’t really expect them to buy

After all, Amazon already bought a readers’ social site:

back in 2008 (in the first year of the Kindle, which was released late in 2007).

Shelfari never had the cache that Goodreads does, though, so this is a big deal.

In fact, if this was a major industry, there might be a lot of scrutiny about the “merger”. Yes, there are others out there:


for one, and earlier this year, I suggested Amazon buy the BookAnd app.

Goodreads reportedly has more than 16 million members…when you think about the total number of “serious readers” in the USA, that’s a really sizable chunk (it wouldn’t surprise me if it is half of the people who buy, oh, more than 100 books a year).

Goodreads wrote about this in a

Goodreads blog post

and there are a couple of interesting things there. One, this means Goodreads is hiring, and two, they want to know what integration you want between your Kindle and Goodreads.

Now, I want to point out that this may not mean a lot of changes at Goodreads (outside of that integration thing). was the best movie reference site on the web (in my opinion) before Amazon bought it, and it still is.

The obvious question for me is, what happens to Shelfari?

I have an account there, and I have used it some. Social sites take a lot of work in you personalizing your use of it (ask the doomed Google Reader what people think when you take something away). Migrating to a new one is like moving to a new school when your are ten years old. It might be a better school, but it’s a still a hard adjustment.

Amazon just could keep running them both, but my guess is that they will migrate Shelfari accounts to Goodreads, and shut down the former eventually.

That’s going to be a bit complicated, because they aren’t the same, but there probably is a lot of duplication of features.

My guess is, though, that this is going to result in a better site for Amazon users. I do think they’ll lose some of the anti-ammys (People who are against Amazon…I just made that one up), but they’ll make up for it with other people.

The acquisition is expected to be complete by the end of June of this year.

I’m looking forward to it, but I know that might not be your reaction. I’ve been a Shelfari user, but not really a Goodreads one (I’m going to start exploring the Goodreads options). Part of that was because you could import your books from Amazon to Shelfari, and I assume they’ll add that to Goodreads later.

I’m also curious about what your involvement with readers’ social sites has been up to this point:

I’m not quite ready to poll about what features you would like this to bring to the Kindle service, but feel free to make suggestions by commenting on this post. I’m particularly interested in what you love about Goodreads. 🙂

Thanks to my reader, Ed Foster, for giving me a heads-up on this! I saw the press release first, but it’s always appreciated. Ed linked to this

Publishers Weekly article

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

Round up #156: major update for Kindle Fire, X-Ray for TV shows

March 28, 2013

Round up #156: major update for Kindle Fire, X-Ray for TV shows

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

Major 2nd Generation Kindle Fire updates

The Kindle Fire HD 7″ just got a major

Update 7.3.0

This brings significant new features:

  • X-Ray for Textbooks (previously on the 8.9″, and taking an advantage away from the big screen model)
  • Simplified Chinese Support
  • Time To Read (which calculates how time you have left in a book and in a chapter
  • Support for Kindle Editions with Audio/Video…this is a huge change!  Hm…I just checked one of the Enhanced Editions in the Kindle Store, and it still says the multimedia only works on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod)…I’ll have to test it out. Maybe it means different editions, maybe the page is behind
  • Print Replica Textbook enhancements

I want to let you know about the update right away…I’ll download it and check it out for you later. It should download on its own, or you can go to the update page I linked above, and follow the instructions to do it manually.

Oh, cool! There is also an update for the 8.9″ (which is my main device):

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ Software Update Version 8.3.0

It brings:

  • Support for 8 languages (including Simplified Chinese)
  • Time to Read
  • Enhanced Editions support
  • Print Replica Textbook enhancements

And here it is for the Kindle Fire 2nd generation (not HD):

Kindle Fire (2nd Generation) Software Update Version 10.3.0

No update for the Kindle Fire 1st generation right now…I know that will disappoint some of you.

X-Ray for TV shows

Amazon gave me a personal heads-up, and it is in this

press release

X-Ray for Movies comes to TV shows. I’ve tested this already with a Dr. Who episode I bought…yep, it was there. You can tap the screen, and get information about the actors on the screen right then. You can leapfrog from there over to other movies in which they appear.

It’s a nice feature, and nice to get it at no additional cost. 🙂

It’s not available for every TV show yet, but they do plan to expand it.

Well, this is a relatively short round-up, but I want to go test the new update. 🙂 I may add more to this later. I’ll probably test it on my 8.9″, by the way…

Update: I’ve updated my 8.9″. I did it the way I usually do, even though it’s not exactly what Amazon says to do. They tell you to download the update to your computer, then transfer it to your Kindle Fire. I download directly from my Fire (I actually went from the link in this blog) 🙂 , then use the free

ES File Explorer

to locate the Kindle update file, and move it to my Kindle Updates folder. I’m not sure that’s the exact name, but it was easier to search on “update” and find both of those.

The update took a couple of minutes…not long. I think it took about 7% of my battery charge (including the download).

The update file seems to have deleted itself after I updated it.

You update by doing this:

Swipe down – More – Device – About

If you have the update in the right place, the “Update Your Kindle” button will be active.

Okay, the changes:

To change the language, it’s

Swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard

Tap Language, and you can choose between

  • Deutsch (German)
  • English (United Kingdon)
  • Espanol (Spanish)
  • Francais (French)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • Japanese
  • Chinese (Simplified)

That will change the language on the menus (for example, Games becomes Juegos). It does not change the text-to-speech language, or the language in the books. It did appear to change the keyboard for Spanish, but not for Japanese.

You do not need to restart the Kindle for the new language to take effect.

“Time to Read” was visible in my bottom left corner of the page…it started with saying something about learning the speed, and then converted quickly.

I was disappointed to open up a couple of free Vook books that I’d gotten that were Enhanced editions…it still couldn’t play the video. Either it will work with different books, or I may need to redownload them. I did not have a print replica handy to try yet.

Update: those Vook books work now! I can see the videos, and, even cooler, use Juice for Roku to throw it to my TV.

I also downloaded a sample of a print replica book. It does appear to look just like the paperbook would. You can pinch and zoom on it, but you are pretty limited. There is a Go To button, one for Notes, and one to Bookmark. No text-to-speech, no font size changing, which is what I thought the situation would be.

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

Re-imagining copyright

March 27, 2013

Re-imagining  copyright

Maria A. Pallante, the Register of Copyrights, recently spoke before Congress about the future of copyright:

The Register’s Call for Updates to U.S. Copyright Law

The transcription linked above is fairly short. I’ve read it, and I had a couple of people direct me to it as well (thanks for that…even if I’ve already found something, I appreciate getting a heads up).

There are certainly interesting things in this Federal document. I’m going to reproduce a couple of paragraphs here:

“A central equation for Congress to consider is what does and does not belong under a copyright owner’s control in the digital age. I do not believe that the control of copyright owners should be absolute, but it needs to be meaningful. People around the world increasingly are accessing content on mobile devices and fewer and fewer of them will need or desire the physical copies that were so central to the 19th and 20th century copyright laws.

Moreover, while philosophical discussions have a place in policy debates, amending the law eventually comes down to the negotiation of complex and sometimes arcane provisions of the statute, requiring leadership from Congress and assistance from expert agencies like mine. The list of issues is long: clarifying the scope of exclusive rights, revising exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, addressing orphan works, accommodating persons who have print disabilities, providing guidance to educational institutions, exempting incidental copies in appropriate instances, updating enforcement provisions, providing guidance on statutory damages, reviewing the efficacy of the DMCA, assisting with small copyright claims, reforming the music marketplace, updating the framework for cable and satellite transmissions, encouraging new licensing regimes, and improving the systems of copyright registration and recordation.”

However, while the Register says that “…Congress does not need to start from scratch…”, I wanted to do just that.

I’m going to free us from the requirement to think about what could pass, and what is technically possible, and ask us just to re-imagine copyright. I’m going to act as if there had never been copyright, and look at the idea afresh.

After all, the original concepts of copyright largely had to do with protecting people who made maps. There was a lot of risk in mapping a coast, and if you couldn’t benefit from it (since other people just reproduced your map and sold it), there would be a lot less incentive for people to invest in the enterprise. Certainly, people would still have explored, but it wouldn’t be likely to produce the kinds of relatively accurate maps that other people could use.

So, let’s start at the very beginning.

Someone creates something intangible, a book, a song, which can be consumed by others.

Why should the government be involved in what happens next?

What are the societal benefits in creating law which controls what happens to that work?

Well, there are a couple of things.

The first thing we could say is that there is just a moral right that the person who created the work should have control over how it is used. In that argument, we are protecting people from unreasonable exploitation by others.

We do pass a lot of laws for that reason. For example, if someone is a “Peeping Tom”, that’s illegal. There doesn’t have to be any monetary use of that…the observer doesn’t have to sell, or even record, images of you for it to be a crime. We just say that you have the right to that privacy, and someone who violates that right can be charged with a crime. We could think of copyright the same way: you created that work, and you should get to control who consumes it.

The other big argument is an advantage to the economy.

That says that there is a plus to the society in people creating something, and that they won’t tend to do it without the ability to make money from it (this is akin to the map argument).

Would somebody spend $100 million to make a movie if there wasn’t a way to make that money back?

Would someone spend two years researching a non-fiction book, if they couldn’t be compensated?

This one suggests that copyright makes it more likely for valuable ideas to get into societal use, even if that use is controlled by the creator of the work. If you can’t make money with that documentary, would you share it with other people the way movie makers do now?

While emotionally, the moral argument is powerful to me, I think I would tend to set up a government system based on making money. The taxes from that clearly benefit the society, and an economic motive is going to encourage production and risk.

Here’s my first new copyright postulate:

If you create something, you have the right to make money from it.

Now, current copyright recognizes something called “Fair Use”.

U.S. Copyright Office – Fair Use

When you look at the elements of Fair Use, it currently suggests that there are times when your right to control your material is  overridden  by a societal good…such as criticism of your work, or teaching (within limits).

I’m going to expand this in my thinking.

Here’s my second new copyright postulate:

If what someone does does not impact your ability to make money on your work, you do not have control over it.

This is sweepingly broad, and would be a big change. It would create a lot of arguments when there was transmission involved from one person to another, but it would remove a lot of controversies over personal use.

The burden would be on the rightsholder to prove that making money was impacted.

For example, let’s say you have a p-book (paperbook). You want to scan it and turn it into an e-book for your own personal use. While many people assume that’s legal, and it may be, that isn’t clear.

Under my re-imagined copyright, the rightsholder has to prove that you would otherwise have bought an e-book if you couldn’t do that. There isn’t a presumed control over every copy produced, just a control over making money from your work.

This is, incidentally, how a lot of readers seem to think it should work (that doesn’t make it right, of course). If they bought the book once in paper, they think they are entitled to a free copy in e-book form. The same could be said for going from a hardback to a paperback…if you wouldn’t have bought the paperback, should it be okay for you to photocopy the book and reproduce it in a more convenient form?

I need to be very clear that I am not advocating these changes, I’m just thinking about them.

Under this new concept, it isn’t reproduction that matters: it’s consumption.

Could it be worked out that the rightsholder collects a fee every time you read a book? In other words, you buy the book, pay for reading it the first time, don’t pay anything more if it sits around in your archives (on your bookshelves in the paper world), then pay for it again if you read it again years later?

As you can see, I’m not worried about the technological implementation in this “thoughtabout”. I’m looking for the guiding principles.

What about somebody licensing/buying a book from you, and then distributing it for free over the internet?

Hm…if the purchaser could be charged for everybody who read that free copy, that could work.

Somebody reads it, the rightsholder gets paid.

Ideally, of course, the rightsholder gets paid before somebody reads it.

That might be the best way to go, in this hypothetical world. The rightsholder is paid per use.

Of course, that would mean that there would be some sort of record of who was using what, and people would resist that…but I’m not concerned with what’s practicable right now.

Another major issue is whether creative works eventually belong to society at large. I’ve asked this question before:

Should copyright be permanent?

Under my first postulate, if copyright is purely to protect an economic value, then you give up copyright if you are not using it to make money.

That sends shivers down my spine in a bad way…I want artists to be able to control their art, emotionally. However, is that what the government should be doing?

We do this already with patents…if you don’t use your patent, you can lose it.

We could say that if your book isn’t available to the public (“in print”, in the old parlance), or if you aren’t making a good faith effort to make it available, you lose control over it.

What about educational use? If the educational use doesn’t cut into the market, then it would be allowed in this new conception. If it did, if the students don’t buy the work because they can read for it free whenever they want to as part of a class, that would fail the test.

Oh, those might be some complicated court cases in the beginning!

Actually, I think these two postulates create an interesting balance. You control your creative works as long as you are using them to make money, and any other use of them is okay.

What do you think? I’m not terribly happy with this myself, and can poke holes in it. 🙂 I just really want to rethink things. We shouldn’t have copyright which is based on individual ownership of physical containers, because that’s just not the entire future.

Do you think copyright should take into account art for art’s sake? Should educational use get any special and separate rules? Parody is legal in the USA, not legal in Canada…what should it’s status be? What do you think of what Register Pallante has actually suggested? 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.

Round up #155: what is the future of coffee table books, B&N shuns S&S

March 26, 2013

Round up #155: what is the future of coffee table books, B&N shuns S&S

Barnes & Noble stops carrying some Simon & Schuster books

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

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, this just makes my head spin. Well, it would if I hadn’t already done the full Linda Blair with Barnes & Noble deciding not to sell specific books to make a point in the past. 😉

Look, for me, this isn’t complicated. If you are a bookseller, you need to sell books to people to keep them as your customers.

They aren’t going to care about why you don’t have the book they want…they are just going to buy it somewhere else.

They also will form the opinion (perhaps  irrevocably, at least for years) that you aren’t worth checking in the future.

It’s a huge hurdle to place in your own path.

Amazon did something similar with Macmillan more than three years ago. I went back and looked: I wasn’t as negative about that as I’ve been with Barnes & Noble.

However, I’ll argue that Amazon was fighting the Agency Model when they pulled the “Buy” buttons from Macmillan books. That was a hugely disruptive, industry affecting initiative…one where Macmillan (along with every other publisher in the case) eventually settled with the Department of Justice.

The issues cited in this

Wall Street Journal article

by Jeffrey Trachtenberg (and to which I was directed by a reader in a private e-mail) just don’t sound that existential.

There’s been quite a bit written about this…I thought this

Huffington Post article

by Terence Clark was a good one.

It looks like part of what is going on is that Barnes & Noble wants to charge more for the things that its stores can provide (like prominent display of specific books), now that there is a reduced supply of those services. In other words, when there were other big bookstore chains, there were more opportunities for publishers to have their books displayed prominently, and competition for the privilege. “I’ll put your books right at the counter for $25 a month.” “I’ll do it for $20!”

Now, Borders isn’t around any more to put competitive pressure on the price…and publishers still believe bookstore discovery of titles is valuable.

However, I might argue that bookstore discovery isn’t as important as it was, and that it will become increasingly less important as people get their books from other places.

Coffee table books face a challenge in the digital world

Should B&N be focusing on big, beautiful books that work better in paper?

First, let me say that I’m sure the time will come when big books with a lot of pictures (“coffee table books”) will be better consumed as e-books.

There are some similarities between glossy magazines and coffee table books, and Entertainment Weekly is now figuring out how to do e-versions to the point where my reading it on my Kindle Fire 8.9″ is a much more pleasant experience than reading it in paper, even though the screen is smaller than the page.

For example, it may be a question of tapping one in a series of images to see the “caption” for that image. While that might sound like it would be less convenient, it makes the page much less “busy”. You don’t have to mix words and images in the same space, and the text size can be bigger. I only see one caption at a time, but it’s much nicer.  Having scrollable text also means that an image can stay next to the words I’m reading as I go through a longer text piece. I find that more pleasant as well, as compared to flipping the page, and perhaps having to flip back to see the image again.

Coffee table books will probably eventually work the same way. You’ll pinch and spread to zoom in and see detail, see captions as you “roll over” images, and not have to have those confusing “opposite page clockwise from the top left” legends. 🙂

Can’t you also see throwing the picture from your coffee table book to a big screen monitor (which we might now call a TV), or to someone else’s tablet?

As this

Wall Street Journal article

by Rory Gallivan points out about the publisher Quarto, sales of those books in bookstores may have a tough row to hoe in the future.

Interestingly to me, they do sell them in non-bookstores…places like Urban Outfitters.

I don’t think that paper coffee table books will save Barnes & Noble. I think they are especially ripe for direct publisher to consumer sales through the internet. In our store, we didn’t particularly like people flipping through those books, just because they would tend to get damaged, and that’s a relatively big loss. Remember that in a brick-and-mortar store, you are always fighting rent…and a coffee table book has taken up a lot more rent than a mass market paperback before you sell it, so having “shrinkage” due to damage is a bigger deal. They also were prone to being shoplifted, despite the size (shoplifters would stack them up on a shelf, then scoot out the door with them when it was not being observed).

Daily Progress: “Literary agents discuss publishing industry”

In this

Daily Progress article

literary agents talk about the state of the industry. I found this quotation particularly interesting:

“Things are actually very healthy in terms of readers and in terms of authors,” Patrick said. “What’s sick is the business model of publishing and that’s what I’m finding is so depressing.”

Are agents hurt by a model that may incorporate more of publishers selling directly to consumers?

Not necessarily: their involvement comes before that. The publishers still have to decide which books to publish, and that’s one of the places where an agent has a function.

However, if the tradpubs (traditional publishers) increasingly look like (and therefore have more competition with) independent publishers, then it gets trickier. Ten years ago, if you wanted to sell your books, you had to get them into brick-and-mortar stores. If you wanted to get them into brick-and-mortar stores, they had to come from tradpubs. If you wanted to have your book published by a tradpub, you had to have an agent. That’s a simplification, but that’s generally how it worked.

Now, that’s not the way it works. If you want to sell your books, e-books especially, you have to get them on to an e-tailer (especially Amazon). You don’t need an agent to do that.

There is still a place for agents, certainly, but they’ll have to look carefully at the model. My guess is that the opportunities will be reduced for tradpubbed books, but the reward per book will increase. Let’s say that a tradpub currently publishes 1,000 books a year and an agent averages $1,000 per book (I’m completely making up these figures, to make the math easy). I suspect that in the future, that same publisher might publish one hundred books…but the agents might average $10,000 per book (which is being sold at a higher price and with a greater likelihood of success, because they’ll stop doing riskier titles).

That’s a big way that I can see the industry going. The risk is taken by indies, and only after the books are proven do they have a chance of being picked up by a tradpub. The tradpubs will concentrate on brand name authors and sure bets.

I would guess that will make it less fun to be a publisher. I would think that taking a risk would be part of the attraction, a place where you could show your skills in picking a winner nobody expected. I think the art part of publishing is going to be harder to justify to the stockholders as things go forward. Indies will try wild things, a few of which will succeed…and those are the ones the tradpubs will license.

What do you think? Do customers understand a book not being in a store because there are business negotiations going on? Are customers so bound to brick-and-mortar bookstores that B&N won’t lose them as long as they are the only chain in town? Will tradpubs take fewer risks? If so, what does that mean for publishing? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

How often do you use these Kindle features/services?

March 26, 2013

How often do you use these Kindle features/services?

It’s been a while since  I’ve asked how you use your Kindle device, and I actually want to expand the question this time to Kindle services as well.

We’ll start out with different types of content, then move on from there. On these questions, a “Kindle” would include a Kindle Fire, an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle…any hardware Kindle but a Fire). If your device can not do something, please skip the question rather than answering “Never”. For example, skip the music question for the Mindle, which does not have speakers.

Now, let’s talk about some of the other types of things.

One of the cool things about the Kindle service has been Whispersync. You can start reading a book on one device (say, a Kindle) and continue reading it on another (such as your SmartPhone). This can work very well when one person is reading the same book on more than one device.

Another great thing is that more than one person on an account can read the same book…for one purchase price. For example, my Significant Other and I might buy a book once, and then both read it.

Whispersync for Voice (WSV) is a fairly new feature that lets you switch back and forth between an audiobook and the e-book, and lets you buy the audiobook for a reduced price (after having bought the e-book).

Well, that’s probably enough for this time. 🙂

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

Amazon makes it easy to find KOLL books

March 25, 2013

Amazon makes it easy to find KOLL books

This is something people have wanted!

When you are searching for books in the Kindle store, there is now a checkbox so you can limit the results to those that are Prime eligible.

Update: some readers aren’t seeing the box. I just tested it again this morning (using Maxthon) and it was there and the link below worked for me, just returning KOLL books. One more test…yes, it did not work for me when I was logged out!  When I logged back into the account, it worked again. You may have to be logged into a Prime eligible account to see the box. Here is what it looks like:


It may also have to do with what browser you are using. If you do comment about seeing it or not, please include your browser. I just checked it in Internet Explorer 7, and I had it there. To be clear, I am selecting a category in Kindle e-books before I see this.

Update: I’m sorry a lot of people aren’t finding this! Here’s a process that is working for me, although it may be different in different browsers (and sometimes, Amazon tests things with a limited number of people).

I go to Amazon (and am signed in).

I change the searchbox at the top to search from “All Departments” to “Kindle Store”.

I search for (for example) cat.

I see the checkbox at the top of the results.


That means they are part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

Yes, you can narrow by category, sort by highest rated, and so on.

For example:

KOLL books by best reviewed

This is a fantastic improvement, but remember, you have to actually borrow the books from your hardware Kindle (including Kindle Fires)…this is just so that you can find them.

To borrow a book for free, you must click a button that says “Borrow”, not “Buy”. I see people get confused by that a lot.

With the KOLL, you can borrow up to a book a calendar month.

I checked, and they don’t seem to have changed the description on the book’s Amazon product page much if at all, so people will still make the mistake…but it does make it easier to find the books.

Thanks again to Amazon for always working to make things better!


Oh, and I’m seeing it in the Maxthon browser…I assume you’ll see the checkbox everywhere, but they don’t always deploy things like this everywhere at once. If you don’t see it, feel free to comment on the post to let me and my readers know…

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

Senate approves equal collection budget amendment

March 24, 2013

Senate approves equal collection budget amendment

I’ve written many times about equal collection legislation.

What that would be is federal legislation that would result in large internet retailers (like Amazon) collecting sales tax at the time of sale on purchases in states where they do not have a nexus (essentially, a physical presence, but a sales force counts in addition to buildings). That would make your purchase from an out-of-state retailer seem more similar to your purchase from a brick-and-mortar store: sales tax would be collected when you made your purchase.

It’s very important to realize that this is not a new tax. Generally, purchasers are supposed to pay those taxes (they may be a “use tax” at that point) on their annual state taxes, the same time they pay they income taxes.

We do that every year (I’m still working on our taxes for this year), and it’s been a bear in the past. We have to go through our internet purchases, figure out whether or not taxes were collected, then figure out which purchases are taxable in our state (not all purchases are…e-books delivered electronically, for example, are not subject to sales/use tax in California where I reside…but e-books on a CD would be), then pay one big lump sum.

I was quite happy when Amazon started collecting and then paying the sales tax for me on purchases. That makes it far easier than doing it myself.

However, it is likely that the vast majority of people do not pay those taxes. The states don’t (currently) have a way to know about those purchases, so it’s hard for them to enforce the payment. Oh, I assume they can sock it you for penalties and fees if they catch it on an audit, but that’s an expensive thing to do.

So, people have been introducing equal collection legislation for some time, which would compel the collection (although it’s a bit complex).

How do you think Amazon feels about that?

They are for it…big time.

In 2011, Amazon Vice-President Paul Misener testified before Congress in favor of it, and you don’t send a top executive to do that if you don’t mean it.

Why would Amazon support the company having to collect taxes, therefore raising the bottom line that the consumer pays at the time of purchase (but not the bottom line overall for that consumer, if they properly pay their use taxes later)? Isn’t it more expensive for them? Doesn’t it cut into a competitive advantage?

Yes and yes.

However, if it doesn”t happen federally, then states start passing all kinds of “Amazon laws”, that have different rules and different processes. That’s more expensive.

Amazon already collects sales taxes in a lot of places (the state of Washington, of course, but also a lot of places outside the USA), and has repeatedly said that it doesn’t significantly hurt them.

What they don’t want is to have to do it a whole bunch of different ways.

That suggests that equal collection is inevitable in some form or another, so Amazon is trying to get it into the best form for them.

Now, I need to say that this amendment doesn’t make it law. There is a law under consideration called the

Marketplace Fairness Act

and a vote will likely come on that fairly soon.

Will it pass?

Well, the amendment passed handily, 75 to 24…bilateral support.

It’s being sold by some groups as making a “level playing field” for brick and mortar stores and e-tailers, but of course it doesn’t. It’s still more convenient to shop online, for example, and it’s still possible to get something in a brick and mortar store more quickly (although not by much).

One of the reasons it has support?


Remember, this is money that taxpayers should already (according to the law) be paying. If they start paying it, that will put more money in state coffers, which in turn makes things easier on the feds.

For the Congresspeople who are staunchly against new taxes, this is not a new tax. No one will owe an additional penny in taxes, as I understand it…it’s just that (I would guess the vast majority of) taxpayers will pay more taxes.

It’s not going to save main street. As a former retailer (including having been a bookstore manager), I’ve written about that many times, too. 🙂 You have to make the buying experience such that your customers are willing to pay more money than they would online. You can not sell in a brick and mortar more cheaply than you can online and make a profit. You have literal overhead, and more payroll per sale, and shoplifting losses in a way quite different from an e-tailer. You have to appeal on other bases, and then you’ll survive…and thrive.

As you can imagine, there has been some coverage of this…although I think the issue has been going on for long  enough that the sharpness of any protests have dulled.

I think that this

Forbes article

gets it right, but this

cnet article

doesn’t make it clear. They say, for example, that “The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly today to endorse levying Internet sales taxes on American shoppers…” says in their definition (which I am briefly excerpting):

“verb (used with object)

5. to impose (a tax): to levy a duty on imports.”
They are not imposing a tax: they are changing the point in the cycle at which an existing tax is collected, and changing who has to do the collection and submission from the consumer to the seller.
If the MFA (Marketplace Fairness Act) passes, how will affect you?
It probably won’t affect you on e-books delivered electronically, unless your state already has a tax on those. Oh, it’s worth saying…why don’t they tax those? Remember that what you buy is a license to read the book, which is like a contract…you aren’t buying a physical object. Generally contracts are not subject to sales tax.
It might affect you when you purchased an EBR (E-Book Reader), tablet, or accessory from Amazon. Again, it wouldn’t add sales tax, but you would have the sales tax collected at the time of sale.
I think it’s probably pretty obvious here that I’d like to see this passed…it would simplify my life. 🙂 However, I would be interested to hear what you think about it, particularly if you think it should not be passed (and why). Feel free to let me and my readers know your thoughts by commenting on this post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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