Round up #180: free audiobooks, open-minded readers

Round up #180: free audiobooks, open-minded readers

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

Reading fiction makes you more open-minded

Science! 😉

No, actually, it is science. I mean, this seems intuitively obvious to me, but I like to see those kinds of things tested. My guess is that people who read a variety of literature are generally more open-minded about the world than people who don’t. I would have a couple of hypotheses about that.

First, when you read, you put yourself into someone else’s shoes…or neurons, perhaps. 🙂 Within the same book, you may see things from the point of view of the hero, the villain, the sidekick…and none of them may be your own. For you to feel the right emotional resonances (which I think is part of why you read), you need to “practice” those perspectives. If you have tried thinking like someone else, that may encourage you to do that again in the future in real life situations.

The second thing is that I think that imagination aids open-mindedness, and reading aids imagination. You can see possible consequences without experiencing them…so you might find out that a lifestyle you would never actually want to experience appears, in the fiction, to have advantages. The plot can actually reward thinking which is different from yours…which might, again, make you consider that IRL (In Real Life).

In this

Pacific Standard article by Tom Jacobs

they talk about a University of Toronto study in which they gave participants either fiction or non-fiction to read, and then tested them on their need for certainty. Fiction readers had a lower need for a definitive answer.

I’m going to have to paraphrase here (I’ll track down the quote at some point…I only have a paperbook version of it, so it’s tougher), but I loved this advice given to somebody who was explaining to a therapist about how they were in a situation which just couldn’t be pinned down. It was stressing the person. The doctor said something like, “Is it possible to get an answer?” The patient said “No.” As I recall, the therapist gave this advice: “Learn to live at a high level of uncertainty.” 😉

Well, many people have a very, very difficult time doing that…but maybe reading more fiction would help them.

I have to say, I was somewhat amused by psychologist Maja Djikic’s quoted comments about the study. In particular, there was this:

“Their results should give people “pause to think about the effect of current cutbacks of education in the arts and humanities,” Djikic and her colleagues add. After all, they note, while success in most fields demands the sort of knowledge gained by reading non-fiction, it also “…requires people to become insightful about others and their perspectives.”

I have to say, I’m unconvinced that the people who are responsible for school funding have much motivation to try to mold people to be more open-minded! It’s much more complex to govern folks who may change their minds…not to mention trying to sell them toothpaste. 😉

“Fanatics are the worst enemies, and the worst friends, as well. We employ a few, for special purposes, but dislike them as a matter of policy.   Any man who cannot be bought cannot be trusted.   He may sell you out on a whim.”
–A T.H.R.U.S.H. Agent
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. #4 The Dagger Affair
written by David McDaniel
collected in The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations
by Bufo Calvin

New (Kindle) Worlds to conquer…

When I first wrote about Kindle Worlds, I suggested that we might see a lot more rightsholders license their “worlds” to the program. What happens is that someone with the rights puts a property (a TV show, a book, a movie, a game, a comic book, and so on) into the program, and provides guidelines for writing in it. Authors write stories in the world, and Amazon sells them…and both the author and the rightsholder get royalties.

I thought that could be very attractive, especially for older properties.

Well, in this

press release

Amazon announces the next wave of Kindle Worlds…and says that they are working on more licenses. They expect to launch later this month (so, in the next eleven days) with fifty works.

What got added?

“…leading comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment and best-selling authors Hugh Howey, Barry Eisler, Blake Crouch and Neal Stephenson. Through these licenses, any writer will be able to create and sell fan fiction inspired by the popular Worlds of Valiant superhero comic book series Bloodshot, X-O ManowarArcher & ArmstrongHarbinger, and Shadowman, with more to be added at a later date, as well as Howey’s Silo Saga, Eisler’s John Rain novels, Crouch’s Wayward Pines Series, and the Foreworld Saga.”

I have to say, though, the negotiations may not have been too tough on some of these…I know the Foreworld Saga and Wayward Pines are both already published by Amazon!

I do think we are going to see a lot more licensors, especially if these do well. I mentioned before, I think a great way to go would be to license older properties: The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dark Shadows, that kind of thing. I think there is a chance this becomes a solid market slice for Amazon.

Marvel, by the way, has been trying to expand its comics-inspired pop culture media (not through Kindle Worlds)…and one way they’ve made the leap is with The She-Hulk Diaries. How do I want to describe this? Let’s see…Bridget Jones with green skin? No, not really…in her non-Hulk form, Jennifer Walters is a lawyer, but this does have to do with her personal life and relationships.

Free audiobooks from Sync

Thanks to The Artist in the Amazon Kindle forum for the heads-up on this!

You can get two free audiobooks a week during the summer here:

They offer one Young Adult book and one classic each week.

You need to download them with Overdrive, but then I’m not entirely clear if you could transfer them to an audio-enabled non-Fire Kindle to listen to them. You could, though, use them on a Fire with Overdrive on it for sure.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited gets more popular content…are adults next?

I speculated that, if Kindle FreeTime Unlimited (a pay-by-the-month “all you can eat” program for kids) was successful, we might see similar programs for tweens, teens…and maybe adults.

Well, it appears to have been successful, or at least to have warranted more investment on Amazon’s part.

In this

press release

Amazon announces new content deals (at no additional cost for subscribers), including

“…Disney’s hit Where’s My Mickey?, Warner Brother’s LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4, Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat Comes Back from Oceanhouse Media, Plants vs. Zombies by EA, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Curious George at the Zoo.”

Those are not obscure titles…that’s the big time.

I do think it’s possible Amazon could come up with programs like this for adults…pay $14.99 a month (discounted with Prime), and get access to (but not ownership of) content. Amazon could really bolster that with things it publishes (e-books, apps). I think it would attract outside publishers, if the deal was right. They could be themed (science fiction, romance), but wouldn’t need to be.

Let’s say that for $14.99 a month, you could have access to all of Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints…that would give you James Bond and the 87th Precinct, to name a couple of series. Sure, some people would burn through those very quickly…but would those same people have bought them otherwise? There are so many reading options, I’m not sure they would have. It would also give exposure to other, lesser-known Amazon-published titles. They could, of course, move titles into and out of the program, sort of like the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. I think this would feel different for people, although “Prime by the Month” is a similar idea. Amazon flirted with that, but the economics might not have been right. Focusing on content might make the difference…

What do you think? What would you like to see in Kindle Worlds? Star Trek and Doctor Who? Would you like to read more Harry Potter (even if there was the risk that it wasn’t very good)? Do you think if people read the same sorts of things all the time (I’ve known somebody who only read the same two books…over and over, taking turns) that it makes them less open-minded? How much would you pay for an “all you can eat plan”…and what would have to be in it? 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.

One Response to “Round up #180: free audiobooks, open-minded readers”

  1. EJC Says:

    I downloaded the free Sync books last year and some of the books this year. They are MP3s without DRM when downloaded through Overdrive. I sideloaded a couple of books on my Kindle Keyboard and enjoyed them like Audible books.

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