Round up #174: BAM vs. Kobo, Kindle accessories discount, Fire update

Round up #174: BAM vs. Kobo, Kindle accessories discount, Fire update

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

Kindle Fire 8.9″ update 8.4.1

It’s been some time since one of my Kindle’s just updated itself over wireless…I usually go to

Kindle Software Updates

and do it manually. You can do that, if you want, or you can just wait. 🙂

This one brings two main features:

  • The ability to switch to Canadian English and Canadian French (Swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Language)
  • The option to display the amount of battery charge life remaining (as a percentage) in the status bar, up next to the battery icon (Swipe down – More – Device – Show Battery Percentage in Status Bar)

At least the second one will let you know when it’s a 100% charged…when you have it turned on, anyway. A lot of people would still like a light or a sound to let them know when it is fully charged even while it is in a case, but this is a nice plus. Be aware, though, that (somewhat ironically) displaying that battery status is likely to drain the battery more quickly.

The Kindle Fire HDs and the 2nd Generation Kindle Fire got updates with these features…the first generation Kindle Fire did not.

AmazonLocal deal for 40% off select Kindle accessories

You can go to

in the next six days or so (there is a countdown clock on the site) and get a free 40% off voucher for select Kindle accessories. If you aren’t a member of AmazonLocal, you would need to join, I believe…that’s free, too.

They are promoting this as a Fathers’ Day deal, but you can take advantage of this regardless. Don’t wait too long: they’ve indicated this is a limited quantity thing, meaning they’ll only give out so many.

Pew Research: “In a digital age, parents value printed books for their kids”

In this well-illustrated

Pew Research article by Kathryn Zickuhr

they’ve done some polling about how people feel about e-books versus p-books (paperbooks).

Yes, parents are more likely to read e-books than non-parents, but Zickuhr correctly points out that that isn’t necessarily cause and effect. It may be that parents also have other things in common (besides kids) that may make that behavior more likely…age, income, and so on.

They also point out that 81% of parents think it is very important that their children read print books. I’m going to guess here that the question was asked in a way that it made it clear that these were print books versus books period.

I do think that’s interesting. My Significant Other and I had a couple of…I’ll say discussions when our child was quite young. I didn’t see any point in a very young child learning to tell time with an analog clock…you know, with the hands on it. I think kids had to do that when there weren’t digital clocks, but it was often a daunting task at the age at which it was taught. I think our kid was likely to see only one analog clock…in a room with several digital clocks visible.

The other one was learning to tie shoes: again, our kid had shoes with velcro. I didn’t think tying shoes was a big thing on which to focus when a kid is relatively uncoordinated…it’s quite frustrating. 🙂

I suppose what’s contradictory about that is that my SO has always credited me with helping our kid be particularly academic (never having gotten anything but an A in school, I believe…and that does include Physical Education). 😉

One reason is that I would expose our kid to concepts quite early…if it’s understood, great, if not, it makes it easier later.

I think concepts and physical skills are different. I’ve seen some young kids with amazing physical skills…dancing, playing an instrument, but generally, I think kids have an easier time tying their shoes at, say, seven than at five.

My point, I guess, is that I’m not sure I see the value in reading paperbooks over reading e-books for a child. Certainly, it can be more appealing to the parent/legal guardian. You can see when the child is reading. It looks like what you did as a kid, and that’s probably rewarding (and for some, stokes the ego).

I’m willing to listen to arguments in favor of the need for a, say, eight-year old to read p-books…I can think of a few, but I’ll leave that up to you. 😉

The article has some other points (like for which activities people prefer e-books or p-books)…I recommend it.

Publishers Weekly: “Slow Start for Books-A-Million”


Publishers Weekly article

says that Books-A-Million’s sales were down 7.4% for the first quarter year over year.

That’s a huge drop for the second largest USA book chain!

Sure, Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy was a phenomenal seller last year, and that skews the numbers a bit…but news flash, brick-and-mortar bookstore managers (from somebody who used to be one)…it’s going to be a whole lot harder for books to dominate the print market like that in the future. Just as it is tough for a network TV show to have the kind of ratings they used to have with a gazillion cable and online options, the same thing is true of books from tradpubs (traditional publishers).

Actually, that’s not a bad analogy. You can think of the Big Six tradpubs as being like the old three TV networks. They controlled distribution (if you weren’t on one of those channels, very few people would see your show). Then, we got cable (and some other things, but cable is one of the big ones), and people had many more (and edgier) choices. The same thing is true with e-books and independent publishing…

Meanwhile, Kobo grown 98% in revenue

As a contrast to a brick-and-mortar, take a look at this

press release from Kobo

They rightfully trumpet their successes in hardware, content, and services.

Interestingly, the $169 Kobo Aura HD is now “up to” 27% of the Kobo devices sold at retail…and it’s what half of the new to Kobo people are buying. This goes against the idea that some people have that cheaper is always more attractive. You can get EBRs (E-Book Readers) for a lot less than that…but people are making the choice to pay more for it. Kudos to Kobo 🙂 for a good year!

What do you think? Do the last two stories suggest that the end of chain bookstores is nigh? Why should kids read p-books over e-books (if you think they should)? Or is it really that kids should read both? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

14 Responses to “Round up #174: BAM vs. Kobo, Kindle accessories discount, Fire update”

  1. Booklover Says:

    My kid is currently learning to read, and we have a rather extensive collection of beautiful picture books, early readers, and other books that were handed down from family. Paper books make up the majority of my son’s reading, and there is a much better selection of early readers and phonics books than is available in the Kindle store. However, I carry at least one Kindle all of the time that is loaded with picture books, classic children’s literature, and phonics readers, and I just started reading an e-chapter book to my son. Definitely need both e-books and p-books!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, booklover!

      That’s why I set the age at eight in my question. 🙂 I can certainly understand the attraction of tactility for, say, a five year old, but I don’t think it’s the same as you get older. I can also see the value of “legacy books”, being handed down.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I learned to tell time on analog clocks (that’s all there was back then) in both Arabic and roman numerals 😀 before I started kindergarten — I also learned to tie my shoes way before kindergarten (like when I was 3 or so). Unlike today’s over-challenged kids that was about the extent of my pre-school learning. Reading and writing didn’t begin for me until the first grade (all I remember of kindergarten is lots of naps 🙂 ).

    BTW I still mostly wear laced footwear: running shoes; English Oxfords from Churches in London, and of course my roller skates 😀

    I suspect the pbooks vs ebooks opinions will change over time — most of the parents surveyed I would surmise learned to read on pbooks. When there are some parents who learned to read using ebooks, I suspect the results will be different.

    We all learn lots of useless stuff too. Cursive handwriting isn’t taught much anymore. As a kid I had to learn all about “Rods and Chains (say what?) also I think there were at least three different kinds of ounces and pounds.

    The most ridiculous of all though was when I was in High School in Switzerland, and in my first German class, I opened the textbook, and it was all written in Gothic script, and a peculiar version of same quite a bit different from the very few samples of English I might have seen written this way before. Germany didn’t start shifting away from Gothic until after WW2.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Good stories!

      I’ve mentioned before that I’m ambidextrous, but I was taught to write right-handed…I can write with my left, but not as well.

      When I was the age to be learning, they pretty much didn’t let anybody write left-handed. My understanding is that was because it was a problem with fountain pens…if you write from left to write (as we write in English), you would tend to drag your sleeve in what you just wrote if you were writing left-handed.

      Did my teachers use fountain pens? Nope, but it’s not impossible that their parents did…so they thought it wasn’t appropriate to write left-handed.

      Those things change over time, as you note. 🙂

  3. Tuxgirl Says:

    My daughter currently has picture books, but she knows that once she can read, she can have a kindle. I personally will not give my daughter a fire, but I do plan to hand down an eink kindle once she can read simple books. What that means, though, is that she will still be mostly reading paper books until she is ready to read books that aren’t reliant on pictures.

    That said, the munchkin is really really excited about eventually getting her own kindle… 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuxgirl!

      Getting past pictures would get to be around eight, right? That’s why I was picking that age for the question.

      Oh, we always remember when our kid said that a goal was to have more books than I do…that wasn’t going to be likely. 😉

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    When I started to read your post, I checked my KF89’s version and it was 8.3.1. I then went on to write my previous comment. I had just finished when a beep informed me that some Android process on my KF89 had stopped. I again checked my KF89 version and voila! 8.4.1

    Don’t know if you mentioned it or not, but to get the battery % display on your status bar, you have to turn that display on on the Device settings page. That’ll be handy because while the battery is charging previously you couldn’t tell how far along the charging process had gotten without first unplugging the KF from the charger. The % display now makes everything explicit.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I’ve been using the

      GSam Battery Monitor

      on my Fire, so I would just swipe down and see the battery level. However, I’m guessing those folks aren’t happy about this update…I’m finding I really like having the percentage displayed at the top. I did include the instructions, but here they are again:

      (Swipe down – More – Device – Show Battery Percentage in Status Bar)

  5. Ann Von Hagel Says:

    HD7 Fire also has an update available — 7.4.1 which adds the same functionality as the HD8.9 update. I suspect it has to do with the recent expansion to more non-US sales channels.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ann!

      Yes, I mentioned that in the post here:

      “The Kindle Fire HDs and the 2nd Generation Kindle Fire got updates with these features…the first generation Kindle Fire did not.”

      although I didn’t include the version number…thanks for pointing that out!

      Right, the addition of Canadian English and Canadian French probably drove this update. I have to admit that, despite having a linguist in the family, I was a bit surprised by the inclusion of the former. Certainly, there are term differences between the USA (which is the default English used) and Canada, but I didn’t think they would come up in menus enough to matter. I didn’t check…maybe that gives you a different dictionary as well?

  6. Lady Galaxy Says:

    When I was a Title I reading teacher, part of my job was to do kindergarten screening to help assess reading readiness. One of the tests was to simply hand the child a hard back picture book containing both words and texts. We were to hand the book to the child upside down and back cover up and then observe what the child would do next. The expected outcome was that the child would turn the book right side around and open it and start turning pages. This would show familiarity with handling books. If the child just held the book, we were to prompt the child to open it since some super obedient children may have been told by parents not to do anything until the teacher told them to. The same goes for turning pages. The next step would be to ask the child to point to the “words” and then point to the “picture.” Or course, at that time, electronic books existed mainly in the “computer” world.

    Because of my expertise with computers (the main reason I was transfered from teaching HS English and reading and into the Title I position) I was asked to pilot a program of integrated software to improve reading as well as math. Along with the software, we got a library of computer books on CD’s. There was text as well as stories. The students could click on unknown words and the computer would read the word. There was also an option to have the computer read the story. Within the text and pictures were “hot spots” that would initiate animations, sounds, etc. The idea was that it would encourage reading, but what I found was that the kids would click on all the hot spots but pretty much ignore the story.

    As for the integrated software, it was supposed to diagnose and progress according to areas of student strengths and weaknesses. It was mostly “workbook, busywork” type material. The students would sometimes just mindlessly click away at random answers until the program timed out. I used to get frustrated when they would do this, but recently I downloaded a Kindle game called Brain Trainer. Though I enjoy and do well in most of the modules, there’s one logic puzzle that doesn’t really allow enough time to complete so that even though I usually solve it, I don’t get the “star” because I took too long. So when that module comes up, I find myself just clicking at random until it times out. I now understand why my students did the same with that overhyped, overpriced “integrated” software!

    As for telling time on analog clocks, the HS where I taught had digital clocks in the hallways but analog clocks in the classrooms. None of the elementary schools in my district had digital clocks. They were all analog.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      First, let me apologize for the delay in approving this comment! I appreciate the gentle nudge you gave me about that.

      I did see the comment, and thought I had approved it (although then I would normally respond, which I haven’t). I often approve it first on my phone, where responding isn’t easy, then reply later when I can have a keyboard. Since I apparently accidentally didn’t approve it, I didn’t see it in the recent approvals.

      What’s complicated this is that I’ve lately been awash in spam comments…I think it’s been up to something like ten a day. Some of them are lengthy. I’m not sure what the change is: I suppose I should appreciate it as a recognition of my value. 😉 Perhaps inundation is the sincerest form of flattery…

      You are one of a handful of commenters where I would just grant you blanket approval if I could. Your comments have always been appropriate and interesting, and I trust you to not say something I would not approve. That’s not an option in the system, though.

      I’m curious about that book test. Let’s say that a child showed no familiarity with books: what would happen then? Presumably, that is due to the domestic situation, not the child. Were you supposed to pursue it with the legal guardians? Clearly, there wouldn’t be anything illegal about legal guardians not exposing a pre-K child to books, so I would think the remedies would be limited…

  7. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Thank you for the kind comments. The kindergarten screening was just a way of finding out information about the children who were entering. There were many other tests given. Those students who seemed to be behind their peers in readiness skills might be recommended for the full day kindergarten. [At the time, kindergarten was half day for most students, but Title I funds were used to provide all day kindergarten for students who met the criteria.]

    When I taught HS, I always wondered where students started falling behind. It only took me on session of Kindergarten screening to find out it starts before they ever get to school. Some kids could open a book and start reading. Others didn’t even know how to orient and open the book. Some kids could recognize all the letter of the alphabet when they were presented in random order while others didn’t recognize a single letter. Ironically, many of the ones who couldn’t recognize letters could still recite the alphabet song.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      That thing about knowing the song, and not recognizing the letters, is interesting. Many kids, I think, learn that song and don’t know exactly how it relates. They may say, “emmoemmopee”, for example. Tarzan learned the written language and spoken language separately in the original book (not counting Mangani, the language the “Jungle Lord”‘s adoptive hairy relatives spoke (they are quite clearly not the great apes we know, and are likely to be intended to be a much more human, currently unscientifically recognized, species), and didn’t know that the two were connected.

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