Brain: “It’s a new boardgame I just bought. It’s called The Author Game. Want to play?”
Sparky: “Sure…how about you, Oddball?”
Oddball: “Can I make up my own rules?”
Sparky: “Maybe next time…let’s try it with the official rules first.”
Oddball: “Okay. I want to play with my eyes closed.”
Brain: “You can’t–“
Sparky: “Sure, that’s fine. We’ll tell you what’s on the cards. It has cards, right, Brain?”
Sparky: “What happens next?”
Brain: “You two are Authors, and I’m going to be the Publisher.”
Oddball: “What does that mean?”
Brain: “It’s like being the banker in Monopoly. I control all the money.”
Oddball: “Cool. I hate money.”
Sparky: “So, what do we do?”
Brain: “First, you have to decide if you want to be an independent author or a traditionally published author.”
Oddball: “What’s the difference?”
Brain: “If you choose to be an indie, you have this short path here. If you choose to be a traditionally published author, you go on this spiral path around the outside until you end up in the middle of the board.”
Sparky: “I’ll go first. I want to be an indie.”
Oddball: “I’ll be Short Round! Dahduhdundah! Dundundun! Dahduhduhdah! DundunDUNDUNDUN!”
Brain: (sighs): “Okay, Sparky. Pick a card.”
Sparky: “Do I have to write a book first?”
Brain: “That’s not important to this part. What’s the card say?”
Sparky: “Pay $100 to a proofreader and $50 to a cover artist, or roll the dice and go directly on the web…I guess I’ll go on the web.”
Brain: “Now it’s my turn. I’m going to use my piece to block you getting on TV and in the newspapers.”
Sparky: “How am I supposed to get to the readers?”
Brain: “It doesn’t say. Oh, wait, you can write a blog.”
Sparky: “How do I do that?”
Brain: “You roll the dice. If you get a twelve, somebody buys your book.”
Sparky: “Can I just pick another card?”
Brain: “Sure…what does it say?”
Sparky: “Mow the lawn. Lose one turn.”
Brain: “That means it’s my turn again.”
Sparky: “Doesn’t Oddball get a turn?”
Brain: “Not until I say so. I play my lawyer card to make you go back to the beginning.”
Sparky: “You mean I’m not even on the web any more?”
Sparky: “How many lawyer cards do you have?”
Brain: “As many as I need.”
Sparky: “Hey, Oddball…do you want to buy my book?”
Oddball: “Sure! Release the Booken!”
Sparky: “Great! I made…ninety-nine cents! How much have you made, Brain?”
Brain: “I would have made money, but I had to pay my lawyers.”
Sparky: “So I’m winning? Yay! How about giving Oddball a turn?”
Sparky: “Oddball, do you want to be an indie or traditionally published?”
Oddball: “Untraditionally published!”
Sparky: “That’s as close to a choice as we are going to get, Brain. Oddball wants to be traditionally published. What happens next?”
Brain: “Oddball, roll the dice one hundred times.”
Oddball: “Roll the dice, roll the dice, eat beans and rice, find genes to splice!”
Sparky: “Oddball got a six. What does that mean?”
Brain: “It means there are ninety-nine more rolls to go.”
Sparky: “No cards? No moving?”
Brain: “Negative. As far as I can tell, Oddball just rolls the dice forever, and nothing happens.”
Sparky: “Well, gee, Brain, thanks for letting us play your new game! Oddball, what do you want to do?”
You sometimes get stories from people who are worried that commerce moving on to the internet will mean increased unemployment. After all, there is one Amazon, and perhaps thousands of brick-and-mortar bookstores, right?
the brick-and-mortar had about 35,000 employees in April of 2012…so Amazon has close to three times as many.
Of course, that isn’t a pure comparison between an internet store and a Main Street store: Amazon is much more than an online bookstore, and Barnes & Noble also has a digital presence. Still, that seems to me to say that the internet (and perhaps by extension, high tech) isn’t leading to higher unemployment.
It’s important to note that many of these are “blue collar” jobs. You also have that idea out there: sure, Amazon employs people, but just those with higher level degrees and specialized tech knowledge. That simply isn’t the case.
The “geeks only” stereotype doesn’t fit the jobs at the fulfillment centers, or in Customer Service (where Amazon is also hiring 2,000 people).
Customer Service even has “work from home” jobs.
If you know someone who is looking for work, Amazon might be one of the best opportunities out there to get something. You can direct them to
although don’t be surprised if it’s hard to get on those websites today.
There has been a lot of controversy about those fulfillment center jobs, especially in Europe. Clearly, it’s a lot of hard work, and the conditions may not always be optimal (to put it lightly, according to allegations).
I wonder if people will be happier when Amazon starts making fuller use of its robot company purchase (as I wrote about in I, Amazon: the e-tailer buys a robot company), and starts needing fewer employees in the centers…
One of the reasons has to do with the lack of a private/stealth browsing mode.
I like the idea that my device doesn’t keep track of where I’ve been on the internet, even if the places where I went know I was there (and that Amazon and the government might know as well).
There’s another thing that was bothering me about my Fire.
When I go use my onboard keyboard to type in search terms, the device remembers it and starts suggesting words I’ve used.
That can be a good thing, sure. I’m a vegetarian, and I end up searching for products from Morningstar Farms in MyFitnessPal, an app (which I recommend) that I use to track my food intake and exercise. It’s nice that when I start typing it Morningstar, it guesses after the first few letters…and then suggests “Farms” as the next word.
However, I’ve seen a lot of people ask about turning that off. Suppose, oh, you worked in a place with a very mainstream viewpoint, and you liked My Little Pony. When someone borrowed your Kindle Fire to look up something about Mack trucks, typed the M and saw “My”, then hit a space and saw “Little”…well, you might not want them to get to “Pony”. 😉
You might be allowed to go to websites on your device at work, but still not want your boss to know that one of the ones you visit most frequently is Break.com (which includes some definitely NSFW…Not Safe For Work…materials).
I’ve also seen it memorize my e-mail addresses (although not my passwords…it seems to be smart enough for that), and I don’t want those readily available.
I think Amazon Customer Service is typically very, very good, and it is highly rated.
Sometimes, though, I ask them something in an e-mail, and get what seems to me to be a sort of desperate response asking me to contact them by phone to discuss it farther.
I suspect that e-mail only works well for machine parsable questions…ones that software can address without human intervention. Anything beyond that gets pushed over to a person.
I could have had them call me, but I wanted to play around with it myself.
Well, I found the solution!
Swipe down – More – Applications – Installed Applications
Scroll down until you get to the Swype app (I use Swype on the Kindle Fire…it comes with now, and you can slide your finger over the letters of a word to enter it: that can be a lot easier on a touchscreen than touching each one separately).
Then, clear the data.
Now, to be clear, this will clear all of the data…it won’t suggest words that you’ve typed before until it builds up a history again. It forgot which language keyboard was my preference: interestingly, I think it set it to Japanese as the default.
Here’s the next trick. 🙂
Use the English (United States) keyboard usually…if that’s what you would normally use (I have readers from around the world).
When you want to “stealth” something, switch the keyboard to a similar language …English (Canada) might be good.
Swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Keyboard – tap the first choice to change the language
Just remember to switch it back to the standard after your secret search…and you can always wipe out the data again if it gets to that point.
Amazon announces Big Fall Book Preview
We’re coming into what is usually the biggest book season of the year. After all, books make great gifts, and that’s definitely part of it. An Amazon press release points people to their
which has not only 20 big blockbusters, but under-the-radar editors’ picks, graphic novels, and so on.
I like the Editors’ Picks: they would make a great window display in a brick-and-mortar (I’m a former manager). They’ve picked strikingly different and attractive books. That addresses another misconception about the internet versus Main Street. Some people think of internet retailers and just zeros and ones, without the love of books and personal attention that a brick-and-mortar would have. There’s no inherent reason for that to be the case: e-tailers may be distracted by the technology, but no more than brick-and-mortars are distracted by shoplifting and merchandising, I think.
What do you think? Will robots taking over jobs which are difficult for humans to do be good or bad? Are there books you are especially anticipating for this holiday season? Do you wish I didn’t just mention the holidays when we are only in July? 😉 Have your “digital footprints” ever embarrassed you when someone else used on of your devices? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
When it happens, it happens. There’s really nothing you can do about stopping an update, if you connect with Amazon’s servers (which I do regularly).
I normally welcome the updates, but this one, which will change my system from 8.4.3 to 8.4.5, is reported to break something I use every day.
First, let me tell you how to check your own version:
Swipe down from the top, More, Device, About…you’ll see the system version listed there.
If you have 8.4.5, you’ve already gotten the update.
The numbers are similar for the 7″: if you have 7.4.5 (rather than 7.4.3), you are updated.
I’ve heard that it brings the ability to highlight in different colors.
However, and this is what concerns me, I’ve also heard that it breaks the use of the Flash player in non-Amazon browsers.
You see, back in November of 2011, Adobe abandoned Flash for mobile browsers. That meant that the most current mobile browsers were unable to play Flash videos. It wasn’t Amazon’s fault, and it wasn’t limited to the Fire.
What you could do, though, is install the Flash player on your Fire, and use another browser that would support it.
That’s what I’ve been doing.
Amazon allows us to install apps from outside sources…despite what you might hear, it’s not a closed ecosystem, and never has been.
I think Amazon wants to compete. Oh, they want to win, and they’ll spend more money than you’ll ever see to do it, but I think they like the head-to-head.
Here’s how you allow it:
Swipe down, More, Device, Allow Installation of Applications from unknown sources
Naturally, if you do that, Amazon can’t be sure that what you install will work and that it won’t hurt your Kindle, so you take the responsibility for that app. That makes sense to me, and I’m fine with it.
I have the Maxthon Browser (version 4.0.4 1000) installed, and Adobe Flash Player (version 11.1).
You can get the Flash Player directly from Adobe here:
I’d gotten the Maxthon browser originally directly in the Amazon Appstore, when it was compatible with my first generation Kindle Fire.
I think I got Maxthon for my Fire 8.9 from 1Mobile. Note: I am not recommending that you do the same…while I took that responsibility with my own Fire, I don’t want to take it with yours. 🙂
Having the combination of the two has meant that I can watch Flash videos on my Kindle Fire.
According to what I’m hearing, though, once my Fire updates, I won’t be able to do that any more, using Maxthon (or Dolphin).
I know some people will immediately assume that Amazon did this on purpose, to force people to use Silk.
Personally, I doubt that’s the case. Yes, if you use Silk, they can probably collect more data on you, and that’s valuable. Yes, if Maxthon (or Dolphin, another reportedly affected browser) breaks your Kindle Fire, you are going to ask Amazon for help…even saying “no” costs them something, because Customer Service is expensive.
Generally, though, Amazon hasn’t done that kind of thing. For example, they approved the Netflix app for the Kindle Fire…even though it is a direct competitor to their own Amazon Instant Video (and in some ways, to Prime Streaming Video).
While I do believe Amazon will do what it can to encourage you to use their apps, devices, and services, I don’t think they do it by trying to prevent you from using the competition (any more than what is the business norm).
In fact, I’m hoping that the reason I don’t have this update yet, and that it isn’t on the Kindle Software Updates page, is that they are trying to fix the problem (and possibly others). Amazon doesn’t want unhappy customers. I’m guessing that they were trying to do something to make the Silk browser work better with online videos, and that is just conflicting with Flash. That’s just my guess, though.
So, here’s the obvious question:
I’m a big Amazon fan. I use Kindles, Kindle Fires, Subscribe & Save, and am a Prime member.
Why don’t I use Amazon’s browser?
After all, I thought it sounded like one of the coolest Kindle Fire features. I liked the idea of “predictive loading”. It was going to learn my habits (and those of others), and pre-load webpages to make it faster. For example, when I go to
a movie & TV reference site on the web (which is now owned by Amazon), I almost always go to the Top News section after I peruse the front page.
Silk was supposed to learn that, and so pre-load Top News whenever I went to IMDb.
It was supposed to do a lot of the processing in Amazon’s Cloud, where it would be much faster than on the device itself.
Well, I never really saw that…Silk has never been that fast for me, but that’s not the big issue.
The big thing is that it doesn’t have a couple of important features that I rely on in my browser.
The first one would be hard for them to fix. There is no desktop version of Silk, and no SmartPhone version.
One reason that I like Maxthon is (like Google Chrome), you can easily sync your bookmarks. Inevitably, I’m going to find websites on my Fire which I would rather see on my desktop, and I’m going to want mobile access to sites I’ve bookmarked on my desktop. Silk can’t do any of that.
The other big thing is that there is no privacy or “stealth” mode. I use that much of the time. It just means that the browser doesn’t store information about you the same way. When I visit a site, it doesn’t cache that site for me later, or store my passwords, or put it into my history, that kind of thing. Sure, that means that I have to enter that stuff every time, but for a lot of sites, I’m okay with that. If I have a site I’m going to use a lot, I browse not in private mode. If it’s somewhere I’m just going to maybe see a funny video, I’m stealth.
There are other reasons to use a privacy mode…you may not want other users of the device to know which sites you visit…I won’t speculate on why. 😉
That’s one they could fix. I think it would especially appeal to people now, after all the talk there has been in the press about surveillance of internet use. Stealth mode wouldn’t prevent spying on you, of course, but it would make people feel like something has been done.
In fact, I think it would be cool if Amazon licensed
for Silk, so we could have better control over our information on line while still using services.
Now, it’s possible Amazon doesn’t want a privacy mode because it wants to collect data on your use, and it might interfere with that. I do think those two don’t have to be the same thing…you could erase my tracks while still knowing what my itinerary was. 🙂 Amazon could know in the moment, and then not have my Kindle Fire know it afterwards.
Now, I should be clear: from what I’m hearing, the update won’t break Maxthon…just break the use of Flash in Maxthon. If I want to go to a site privately and use Flash, though, I’ll reportedly be out of luck.
Here’s hoping that isn’t what happens. 🙂
I’m curious if other people use the Silk browser (that’s what you use when you tap Web on your Fire)…so I’m going to ask you:
These questions only apply if you use a Kindle Fire (of any generation):
Okay…I’m going back to having the update of Damocles hanging over my head. 😉 Hopefully, it won’t mess me up…virtual fingers crossed.
What do you think? Does privacy mode matter to you? Do you sync your internet bookmarks/favorites between devices? Have you had experience with the latest updates? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
Update: I’m hearing from reliable sources that 8.4.6 is out there, and does not cause the Flash problems in non-Amazon browsers. Hopefully, if that one is good, they will post it at the software update site. My Fire hasn’t updated yet…
Bonus: Amazon recently updated the discontinued Kindle Touch. Yes, that’s right…contrary to what I see people say, Amazon does sometimes update discontinued devices…and in this case, it added some significant functionality (improving search, buying from a sample, and viewing the full dictionary definition).
KDD: 42 titles, from Tobacco Road to The Cider House Rules
Today’s Kindle Daily Deal is 42 books, ranging from $0.99 to $2.99 each…and there are some good ones here.
I’m going to list a few that caught my eye…as always, check the price before you click or tap that Buy button. These prices may not be good in your territory, and they may have changed before you see this post.
This book was quite controversial when first released in 1932. It’s a novel about poor Georgia sharecroppers. I would consider this a “legacy book”, something that you perhaps should have in your library for the future generations which may be using your Kindle account. It’s likely to still be talked about decades from now.
4.7 stars with 5,772 (!) reviews…that’s a solid endorsement of these science fiction novels. Interesting, this has also been licensed for Amazon’s Kindle Worlds. I think I’ll read them for that reason…I’d like to write something in Kindle Worlds, and they haven’t licensed any properties that inspire me…yet. Perhaps this one will. 🙂
This is considered by some to be one of the most interesting of the Poirot novels, working on what we might now call a “cold case” (although it was supposedly solved some time earlier). The audiobook, available for $9.99 after purchasing this and which works with Whispersync for Voice (so you can bounce back and forth between the audiobook and sight reading) is read by Hugh Fraser, an well-known actor who appeared in a Poirot TV series as Captain Hastings.
Inspired by the L. Frank Baum Oz books (although key elements are from the 1939 Judy Garland movie…see my review at Wicked, Oz, and reimagining public domain works), and in turn, the inspiration for the novel, this has been a popular book…although the world depicted is quite cruel and there are passages which definitely makes this not a young adult book, despite how you might see it categorized (in my opinion).
I’d make this another legacy title. It’s from 1946, and is a non-fiction account which deals with the author’s time in Auschwitz…and how the psychological responses of the prisoners can inform our own lives.
People are buying more and more from Amazon…and Amazon is paying more and more to make that happen.
The question and answer period, which starts at about nine minutes and thirty seconds into the forty-two minute recording, is always the most interesting part to me.
It’s a chance for them to hint at future developments, and give us some perspective on how they feel and what they want to present.
It’s got to be incredibly nerve-wracking. When you are acquiring the skills to become a good CFO (Chief Financial Officer), I wonder if public speaking is taught right along with accounting. 🙂
I do think it should be taught in many places. For example, I believe teachers in public schools should practice (with professional guidance) dealing with the media following a major disruptive event (whether that comes from weather or an event of human violence). As somebody who speaks in front of people quite often (and enjoys it, unlike most people), I can see how it adds to the stress for both them and for families.
In this case, it was pretty clear to me that they were told to emphasize “customer experience”. That came up in most of the answers, I would guess.
Certainly, it’s very important….probably more important online than in brick-and-mortars. A physical bookstore (I’m a former manager) can have some advantages because of its physicality: where is it located, how big is it, that sort of thing.
Websites, now, don’t tend to stand out because of their resources…they are all fast enough. It has to do now with how it “feels” to use them. That could have to do with things like search results and recommendations.
Service also has to do with ease of returning things, just as one example. You can “return” any Kindle store book within seven days of purchase for a refund. You can even do it yourself at
I checked Kobo recently: all sales are final. That’s also how it has been at Sony and Barnes & Noble: no e-book returns ever.
You can also return a Kindle within thirty days. If the Kindle is performing as advertised, you would be expected to pay the return postage, but that seems reasonable.
“Customer experience” seemed in part, though, to be used as a justification for not making money. As a customer, that’s fine with me. 😉 Keep spending more money than you are taking in to make me happy, as long as you still have enough money to stick around and be successful.
As an investor? I don’t think I’d like it as much (I’m not an Amazon stockholder).
Another interesting “here’s why we aren’t making money” mantra was “investment mode”.
That phrase came up several times as well, including in conjunction with China.
“Investment mode” means that they are spending money now to hypothetically make money in the future. A brick-and-mortar might do that by buying a building. Amazon does it by buying customers.
“Not making money”, by the way, is a bit of dramatic way to put it…not making more money is more accurate. 😉
I also felt that the areas of questioning were telling. People used to ask about the Kindle business a lot…they didn’t really understand it, it was too new. Now, that seemed normal, an accepted and expected part of the business.
That’s Amazon’s grocery delivery business, currently available in Seattle and Los Angeles.
Investors want Amazon to compete with brick-and-mortars of all types, I think. We’re back to what I reference as “diapers and windshield wipers”. Tellingly, a question about competitors came up…and the response had to do with customers driving past competitors on the way to work. Amazon is clearly winning in online retailing. Oh, it’s not that people don’t buy from other places (eBay, for example), but the wide-open opportunities are in competing with “Main Street”.
They indicated that they were pleased with Prime, and they touted book exclusives (one of the reasons behind Kindle Worlds).
A quick scan of headlines shows that people are concerned about Amazon overspending, and about European weakness.
Um…being concerned about Amazon spending a lot would be a bit like investing in a chicken and being concerned because it is laying eggs. 😉 At this point, it kind of goes with the territory…
I think most investors realize that, though. When Amazon announces something new and cool, the “dandelion investors” (I just made that up for ones that are easily blown this way and that by the wind) will invest again…and the “oak investors” will just stick around.
Bonus story: Amazon introduces The Kindle Singles Interviews
I always appreciate it when Amazon sends me a heads-up on a new press release or business move, and this one I got from them yesterday:
I can see interviews being a good subject matter for Kindle Singles. You don’t want those to be too short, but it’s going to be pretty unlikely to have 150 “pages” of interview with one person.
We’ll see how it goes…
What do you think? Is the Kindle business now part of the norm for Amazon? Is there going to come a point (there hasn’t so far) when they have to change their business practices to make a profit? Are they just laying a twenty-year plan where they’ll have all the market share…and then raise the prices? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
My guess is that it will. From what I’m reading, I don’t think you need an app specifically for Chromecast on your device. I think the Netflix app on our Kindle Fires might work with it.
Will it work with Amazon Instant Video (including Prime streaming)?
Will it display a game while we play it? Not sure. This isn’t true mirroring, like you get with the HDMI cable…that shows you everything that’s on your screen…unless it is blocked by the app (which is the case with some content from Xfinity).
If it’s blocked to an HDMI cable, will it be blocked to this? Not sure.
As you can tell, it is too soon to tell much…but this may be a very big story.
has a video for it, and another announcements. There is a new version of Jelly Bean (an operating system), a new Google Play App…and the new Google Nexus 7 (being introduced July 30th in the USA for $229).
It looks to me like evolutionary change, rather than revolutionary…better sound, better screen. I’m not yet seeing features that are shocking. 🙂
is a nice, lengthy interview with author Martin Amis. I quite enjoyed it…I’d love the bit in which Amis compares different authors to the type of hosts they would be if you appeared in their homes. Amis wants to make things pleasant for the reader…and doesn’t think some authors (and names are named) do. 🙂
It’s been getting some play in the blogosphere, but honestly, I think it depends on a basic intellectual fallacy.
The argument is that Amazon is going to put brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) out of business, and then Amazon is doomed because people depend on the stores to discover books:
“According to survey research by the Codex Group, roughly 60 percent of book sales — print and digital — now occur online. But buyers first discover their books online only about 17 percent of the time. Internet booksellers specifically, including Amazon, account for just 6 percent of discoveries. Where do readers learn about the titles they end up adding to the cart on Amazon? In many cases, at bookstores.”
Um, yes…they depend on bookstores now.
Just as the book sales themselves have shifted to online, the discovery of books can (and has been) shift to being online.
It’s a case of mistaking form for function, and I’ve commented on that before.
It’s like when someone would say, “I want an SD card slot in my Kindle Fire!”
That’s not what they really want. They want the functionality of an SD card slot. If there was another way to easily store and access information, would they really care that it wasn’t that specific technology? I don’t think so.
It would be like saying, “CD players will never be popular because so many people own vinyl records.” The CD players themselves changed the percentage of vinyl records being bought…and Amazon (and other e-book retailers) can change the way people discover books.
They are still looking for the best ways, but it is going to work…someone will really crack it.
It also seems obvious to me: as people buy more books (e-books and p-books…paperbooks) on line, the value of the brick-and-mortar as a showroom will diminish.
Suggesting that Amazon is hurting itself by diminishing book discovery in brick-and-mortars (and therefore diminishing book buying) only works if some other mechanism doesn’t replace it…which seems like an unnecessarily reductive assessment of social behavior.
Australian officials decline to investigate e-book price fixing
Thanks to mobileread (which is one of the most valuable sites about e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers) for the heads up on this
The European Union already dealt with the e-book price fixing issue. The US Department of Justice recently won against Apple over the alleged (now found evident in court) conspiracy (and got the publishers to settle), although there will be appeals.
What about Australia?
Well, Nick Xenophon, and independent Senator there, asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to look into possible misdeeds connected with e-book pricing.
The Commission replied, “…the conduct of concern occurred in the US and we note that conduct is being sanctioned by the regulator in the US”.
Wait, what? 😉
I don’t think the behavior has been sanctioned…since Apple was just found guilty in Federal court. I know the prices for e-books aren’t the same in Australia that they are in the USA (although some of that may have to do with taxes and the like), but I would think that decisions are made in Australia…prices don’t just get set in the USA and then transferred unfiltered to Australia.
The door wasn’t closed, but the case wasn’t opened, either.
Weirdly, to me, they give over the last part of the article to Jon Page, former President of the Australian Booksellers Association, who thinks investigators shouldn’t look at Apple, but just at Amazon. Take a look at the statement yourself, but that seems strange to me…why not look at them both, if you think there’s a problem?
That means that they are used, but they have been inspected, repaired if necessary…and they come with the exact same warranty as new Kindles!
Not only does that mean you can get a Kindle Paperwhite for $104 (although they are out of stock on that one right now), you can also get discontinued models, like the Kindle Touch.
Personally, I would not hesitate to do this…I like a refurbished model, just like I like a used car from a reputable source (we’ve bought from rental agencies on the latter). No, it’s not new…but it goes through more of a check. If a Kindle is a lemon and you buy it new, it doesn’t work. What do you do with it? You send it back…and Amazon assesses it. If it’s unfixable, it’s gone. If it’s fixable, so it works like new…it’s refurbished. You just have to be okay with someone else having tried it first.
What do you think? I have readers in Australia…do you think action should be taken there to investigate e-book prices? Would you buy a refurbished Kindle, or is it worth more money for a new one? Are you intrigued by Chromecast? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
I spend a lot of time in forums at Amazon. I probably read hundreds of “threads” (that’s a series of comments, or posts, all on the same subject…one person says something first, then other people comment on that and on the comments) every week.
In fact, I probably wouldn’t have this blog or have written the books I have in the Kindle store if it wasn’t for stumbling on to the Kindle forum years ago.
I found the people there helpful and funny, and it became a big part of my life.
I was named by Amazon one of their “Kindle Forum Pros”, which is a way that they recognize people who contribute strongly to the forums. We aren’t paid, and we aren’t Amazon employees…we are just a group of Kindle owners who volunteer to help other people.
I do it mostly because I like to help people…I enjoy it. 🙂
With all those threads read and now several years of experience, I have a pretty good idea of how those forums work.
When people want help, sometimes they get it…and sometimes, they don’t.
I thought I’d give you some of my insight on why that is, especially the latter.
Let me say first, though, that not everybody who posts on a forum wants help. Some people just want to complain, and they just want other people to commiserate with them. They aren’t looking for a fix for anything…they just want other people to tell them they are right.
Other people just want to stir up trouble. They really don’t care what the forum is about: they are just about making people feel bad and get angry, because it gives them a sense of power. They do something, and it provokes a response which they have predicted. The bigger the response, the more they think they have shown their power over others. Online, those people are commonly referred to as “trolls”. I don’t like to use terms which denigrate and dehumanize people, even people who do things I don’t like…so you won’t find me using that term.
What about the people who actually want help? What stops them getting it? That might be the right way to express it, because I think the neutral level is that you will get help. However, I like to approach things more positively, so rather than setting this up as what you might do that won’t get you help, I’m going to explore it by looking at what you can do right.
1. Read the forum first
You want to start out with making sure you are in the right place. I’ve seen people post in the Kindle forum about problems they have with, oh, a guitar they purchased (I’m just making up that example). Take a minute to read a page or two of threads to see what the feel is. If there is a search box, go ahead and search for your topic…at least make sure similar things are being asked and answered
2. Be nice
I’m sometimes surprised by people who don’t seem to realize that they are being insulting. They’ll have a headline, or post a comment, calling Amazon “stupid” or “greedy”…and then be surprised when people who are regular Amazon customers defend the company. It’s like walking up to a table full of diners in a restaurant and saying, “Your friend is ugly…and do you know where the restroom is?” It would take an unusual person to focus on your question at that point. I have to really steel myself not to engage in a case like that…I used to do it, but I’ve gotten pretty good at just paying attention to the question and not the way it is asked. For me, even a jerk deserves my help. 🙂
I’ve alway been proud of my ability to work with difficult people. I always remember that I knew someone (who was somewhat of a public figure) who used to say, “I didn’t come here to make everybody love me. I came here to get the job done.” One time I said, “But wouldn’t it be easier to get the job done if everybody loved you?” The person just sort of blinked and fell silent…that was absolutely a thought which couldn’t be processed. I doubt that person even remembered I said it.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen somebody come in with guns blazing, have people make some defense (often not even an emotional one) of Amazon, and then the first person seems genuinely surprised by the response. They may then also resort to a dehumanizing term, like “fanboys” or assume the commenters are employees of Amazon. Somewhere in the first post, though, there may have been a real question.
3. Be specific
You aren’t typically going to see somebody complain that you put in too much information about your situation. 🙂 I’ve seen posts where the entire thing was something like, “It won’t work.” No mention of what won’t work. 🙂 Writing about a Kindle? Give the model…the solutions often vary. I find that I need to send people to
so they can figure it out, but that’s fine. I could give you three or four different solutions for different model families, but that’s going to be confusing.
Let us know: what is happening; what would you like to have happen; and what you have tried so far.
If there an error message? Tell us what it says, not just “I get an error.”
One of my favorite least useful things is when somebody says, “I’ve been having this problem, and I’ve tried everything.” If you’ve tried everything, by definition, nothing else can be suggested. 🙂 Please tell the forum members what you have tried…a restart, turning it on and off, whatever it might be.
I’d say those are the three main principles. It helps if you aren’t too slangy or jargony. I’m not saying that you need to use completely proper English (that is vanishingly difficult), but you do want people to understand what you are trying to say. I do understand that some people are using adaptive technology because of disabilities…capitalizing something can be very difficult with some of those, and I can be forgiving of that. Personally, I don’t mind some common online abbreviations, as long as people understanding it is a reasonable expectation in context. I’ve mentioned before that I have an irrationally negative reaction to “serial puncs”*…when someone puts in multiple exclamation points or question marks, or both. That’s mostly me, though. I think most people are okay with it…aren’t they???? 😉 I’m able to override that “trigger” for me and still help somebody. I’d also say that patience makes sense. I’ve seen someone post, and then post again two minutes later complaining that no one has answered yet. If you are in a community forum (one populated by people like you, rather than people who are paid to answer your questions), it can take a while sometimes. If you need help right away, you can always contact Kindle Support:
I hope that advice helps. You can always ask questions here, and I’ll try to answer them…but I do think the forums are fun and I’d like you to get the most out of them.
What do you think? Do you have any other important suggestions for people? Do you have a great story about being helped on a forum…or of helping someone else? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
* Hm…is “serial punc” a dehumanizing term? I like the pun, but I’ll have to think about that one
Well, you know how I keep saying that brick-and-mortar bookstore (I’m a former manager of one) need to make it so that people want to shop in their stores? Get people to be consciously willing to spend more money there to support you?
How do you do that?
In my store, we did it through product knowledge, for one thing. I read a book in every section of the store, and encouraged my employees to do the same. I asked (and suggested that they ask) a regular customer in that area for a recommendation.
there was a scientific study (albeit a fairly small one) that tested just that idea.
They pumped a subtle smell of chocolate into a bookstore. They did it at different times of the day (to create controls).
When the chocolate was going, people stayed in sections longer…and bought more (a lot more…any store would be happy with the amount of growth that is reported).
I haven’t read the original paper, but I recommend the article. I thought it was particularly interesting that they had people predict first which genres were associated with chocolate, and which weren’t…and while genres in the former group sold better, so did ones in the latter…just not as much.
I think it would tend to drive me out of the store…but I’ve smelled worse in a bookstore and stayed there. 😉
Buy a NOOK Simple Touch, get a $20 B&N gift card
This one surprises me a bit. Barnes & Noble did discount the NOOK tablets, and then say they were going to stop making them on their own. However, at the same time, they committed to continue making NOOK non-tablets.
Right now, you can get a $20 gift card when you buy a NOOK Simple Touch. Here are the details:
You have to act soon if you want to do this…basically, in the next week.
The question is…do you want to do this? 😉
My Significant Other was in a Barnes & Noble not too long ago, and said that the clerk was really pushy. That was particularly true about re-upping with their membership program, which costs $25 a year.
My SO (nicely at first, I’m sure) explained that it made sense for us to have the card when our adult kid was in college (the only real place to shop on campus was a Barnes & Noble college bookstore), but since that wasn’t the case any more, we weren’t going to renew.
The clerk pushed it, and my SO finally said something like, “Look, I don’t know if you are going to be here in a year…I”m not sure it’s a good investment.”
If I had to bet right now, I think I would bet that the B&N card would still be usable a year from now…but I can see the concern. 😉 We also buy so much from Amazon that we wouldn’t likely to buy enough at B&N to make it worth our while.
Still, it effectively brings the price of a touchscreen non-backlit EBR (E-Book Reader) down to $59 (without a power supply…that’s about $10 more). That compares to the Kindle Paperwhite, at $119 (ad-supported).
This might indicate that new B&N hardware was coming out before too long…we should get some interesting announcements from major players before the end of September.
While I think B&N has made good hardware, I would think one, twice, and three times before I did this…
New NYT app for the Kindle Fire…use free through the end of the month
I’ll admit it: one of my first mental associations with the New York Times now is “paywall”.
I’m not one of those people who think that everything should be free on the web. You’ve got to find some way to run a business, although I’m not convinced paywalls are the model of the future.
You can get the app for free, and use it to read unlimited articles through July 31st.
The least expensive option I saw was $14.99 a month.
It’s possible you’ll be able to use it after July 31st to read ten free articles a month, but I’m not sure.
I tried the app…as my adult kid would say, “meh”. 🙂
They made an app for a multimedia tablet…but it’s very heavily text-based (plain black text on a white background, for the most part).
In the “Books” section, I’d say that about one article in every five or so had a picture. I didn’t see any videos.
The navigation seemed a bit clunky. I couldn’t double tap or pinch and spread to increase font size, although that was an option in the menu.
I’d say the biggest plus was being able to use text-to-speech with it…although it took me a few guesses to find the pause button (and I’m a pretty good guesser on these things). It was in my bottom right, horizontal lines.
It was nice that when I went to home it kept playing, though. I also have to say that did remember where I was (both in the audio, and visually) when I went to home and then came back.
I might look at it again while it’s free, and if I get ten free articles after that, maybe use it.
Thought you might be interested…
The New Yorker says Barnes & Noble can make it as a bookstore
(and to which I was directed by Publishers Weekly) on the future of Barnes & Noble worth a read.
It’s not just talking about B&N, but about e-books versus p-books (it was nice to see them used my preferred abbreviation there) and the future of the business.
It points out research that says that the vast majority of people prefer reading p-books…and that e-book growth has slowed.
I’ve said for years, though, that I think that the more you love books, the more you love e-books. My guess is that the “serious readers”, the ones who spend much more than the average person on books, are the ones most quickly converting to e-books. If you read every day, voraciously, the advantages of being able to carry one hundred books with you are more important.
If you read a book a couple of times a year, it’s not as big a deal.
People who read casually probably focus more on the experience of reading a book (which may be in some ways symbolic for them) as opposed to the content of the book itself.
That doesn’t mean that I think bookstores (even Barnes & Noble) can’t make it. I’ve written a piece for the end of next month (I’m going to be in a situation of reduced writing opportunities) on how to save the big bookstores. Of course, I might have to write something else if there aren’t any left by then. 😉
Find a sci-fi classic
Every once in a while, I just stumble into some feature in the Kindle store. Today, it was
That’s one way to find some that are on sale, since that tends to push them on to the list (although they may remain there after the price rises again…the list is only calculated once an hour).
I’d say this isn’t a bad bit of curating. I would disagree with some of them being science fiction (Animal Farm, for one), and some of them are public domain, but generally, I think these are noteworthy. The one drawback is that quite a few of them were currently unavailable, and there were duplicate titles (but different editions).
Worth taking a look, though…if you want my assessment of any of the books, let me know (I’ve read many of them).
What do you think? Would chocolate put you in the mood…to buy a book? If you had to recommend one science fiction book for a non-geek to read…is it on that bestseller list? Would you pay $15 a month (about) for the New York Times access? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
I see some of the same sorts of questions in the Amazon Kindle forums over and over again. Many of them stem from the same basic misunderstanding of your relationship with Amazon.
It’s not unreasonable that people have this model in their heads…it’s how it worked for decades.
What I’m going to tell you may be a shift in your paradigm, but believe me, it’s better with the new perspective.
As far as Amazon is concerned, you are not a human being. You are something that is superior, in this situation: you are an account.
I’m an account.
My Significant Other, my adult Kid, and another relative and I are all one account.
Let me explain the difference.
When you buy something from your neighbor, your neighbor sells it to you as a human being. You own it.
When you buy something from Amazon, Amazon sells it to an account. The account owns it.
When I ‘”buy an e-book” (it’s actually a license*) from the Kindle store, our account owns it, not just me.
If I were to pass on, it wouldn’t affect the ownership of the e-book license. Everybody else on the account would still have access to it.
That access doesn’t depend on me as an individual.
The account doesn’t live in our house, or on any of our Kindles. The account lives on Amazon’s servers.
If something happens to one of your Kindles, that does not affect the account’s ownership of the e-book. You can delete a Kindle store book from one Kindle, and it’s still available to the others.
I see people say, “I’m thinking of buying a newer model Kindle. Will I be able to put the books on it from the old Kindle?”
You’ll have access to the books you bought from the Kindle store that you used on the old Kindle…but you won’t go directly from the old Kindle to the new Kindle.
That’s a very common confusion.
Many people think of the file that they downloaded from the Kindle store as if the file is what they bought. It’s as if it was a copy of a p-book (paperbook) they bought in a store. They just have that one thing, and they are responsible for it.
If you bought a copy of a p-book when you lived in one house, and then moved to a new house, you would physically move the p-book from house to house.
That’s how it was with a lot of software you downloaded in the past as well. You’d download the software from a website, and then maybe back it up on floppies or CDs…but if the computer on which the software was installed died, you lost it.
That’s not how it works from the Kindle store.
You buy the right to read that book. It’s that intangible thing, the right…not the file.
Whether you have that same Kindle or not, you still have the right to read the book on…some Kindle registered to the account.
That’s the easiest way to think of it. The account owns the right to read the e-book.
Not my SO.
Not my adult kid.
Not my Kindle Fire 8.9″.
Not my Kindle Paperwhite.
The account owns it.
Each compatible device registered to the account has access to it.
Now, there are a couple of limitations to understand here.
Let’s talk about that “compatible” part, a couple of sentences above. 🙂
Not everything you get from the Kindle store is compatible with all kinds of devices. This can be true with an e-book, although that’s unusual.
I think it’s easiest to understand when talking about games.
You might buy a license for a game that is designed to be used on a Kindle Paperwhite.
The Paperwhite is a touchscreen device, and that’s how the game will have been designed. “Swipe left to walk”, that sort of thing.
That game is simply not going to work on a device without a touchscreen.
Your account is smart enough to know that, though. When you go to
and try to send an item somewhere, you may see that some of your devices are “grayed out”: you can’t select them for delivery.
That’s because the thing that you licensed is not compatible with that device…it can’t be used there, and the account doesn’t want to send a square peg to a round hole. 🙂
The same thing will happen when you are on your device looking to download a file. If it’s incompatible, it just won’t show up in your Cloud/archived items list on that device.
That explains why what is available might be different on two different devices.
You can see for which devices an item is compatible before you buy it, on the item’s Amazon product page.
The other big thing to understand is that e-books (and some other content) have a limited number of “simultaneous device licenses” (SDLs). That’s how many devices on your account can have a given item licensed at the same time.
Let’s talk about e-books on this one.
Unless it says otherwise on a Kindle store e-book’s Amazon product page, they come with six SDLs.
That means that means that six devices (Kindles, free reader apps) on your account can have the e-book at the same time.
Pretend there are ten Kindles and apps licensed to your account (we have 18 on our account right now…there is no limit on that).
Pretend also that you got a book with the normal six SDLs.
Six of you download the e-book on to six different devices (one for each person) on the account.
The account has six SDLs for that book.
When a seventh person tries to download it, they’ll be told there isn’t a license available.
When one of the first six removes the e-book from their device, and then syncs with Amazon (so Amazon knows it has been removed), that license becomes available again. The seventh person can now download it.
It isn’t that any particular devices own the e-book copy. It doesn’t matter to the publisher (which sets the number of SDLs for each title) which six compatible devices on the account at a time have the e-book…just that no more than six at a time have it.
I think this perspective is harder for people when they are the only ones on an account and they only use one Kindle.
For us, this is such a better arrangement than being four individuals. 🙂
We are more than human beings…we are an account.
There is more to this, and feel free to ask questions by commenting on this post.
* For a better understanding of the difference between the license you buy for an e-book and a copy you buy of a p-book, see
The Big Deal: 500 Kindle books on sale through August 4
The deals just keep on coming!
Whether Amazon is trying to make a point about e-book discounting now that Apple has lost (although they will likely appeal), or we are just back to “business as usual”, there are a lot of good deals happening at Amazon. Every day, you have the Kindle Daily Deals, which has at least four books in it (more today, Saturday, and I’ll highlight that at the end of this post). Every month, you have 100 Kindle Store Books for $3.99 or Less.
I think this is a particularly good set, with a broad selection, ranging from Charles Bukowski to children’s books (and those are arguably two opposite ends of the spectrum).
Here are a few that caught my eye. As always, check the price before you click that Buy button…it may not be the same in your country, and books could move in and out of the deal. Also, there may be some good gifts in here…you can delay them being sent until the appropriate occasion.
Comic book compilation…Deadpool may, at some point, be a big Marvel movie. Note: although this one says text-to-speech is not enabled, I include it because what is happening is that the words are part of images. The publisher has not inserted something into the file to block access (which is the case when they block text-to-speech access in most books), but it is that the software can’t figure it out.
I gifted this one (I didn’t wait for a special day) to a relative, who used to play with a big band (actually, it was the relative’s big band, too). I used to play conga drum, but this oral history of kit drummers will appeal to my relative.
I bought this one, although the cover image meant I had to explain to my Significant Other what it was when it showed up in my SO’s Kindle Fire carousel. 😉 Dent, under the house name of Kenneth Robeson, wrote the vast majority of the Doc Savage novels. If I’m more helpful than some people, it’s do in part to Doc’s ethos…I do believe that. This is not a Doc Savage novel, but I’m looking forward to it.
If the cover of the Dent novel is a bit risqué, this one is definitely NSFW (Not Safe for Work). Block is the best-selling novelist (under more than one name) of crime novels, including those involving Matthew Scudder.
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