Archive for August, 2013

Amazon makes an announcement about e-book settlement pay-outs

August 31, 2013

Amazon makes an announcement about e-book settlement pay-outs

In this

Kindle Forum Announcement

Amazon gave more information on the e-book pay-outs from the settlements between publishers and most US states (Minnesota chose not to participate…they may be pursuing something separately).

This is not the Apple Agency Model court case: we’ll likely hear more about that one next week, but it’s not likely that one results in direct payments to customers (which this one does).

Amazon says in part that the amouts are :

“… estimated that it will range from $0.73 to $3.82 for every eligible Kindle book that was purchased. To be eligible, customers must have a U.S. billing address and must have purchased a Kindle book published by Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin or Macmillan between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.”

This is higher than previously announced, because two more publishers had settled since the first estimates were made.

Random House isn’t part of this, because they didn’t join the Agency Model when everybody else did…they joined it later. The concern here is an alleged conspiracy, not the Agency Model iteslf. You can’t be a conspiracy by yourself. 🙂

You don’t need to do anything, and it isn’t quite all finalized yet (the next big date is December, 2013…and then there could be appeals, although since the publishers have already agreed to this, I think appeals are unlikely). The total pay-out is something like $165 million.

You can see more information here:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements

I also see a lot of people confused about this, and think that Amazon is being punished. The money is being sent to you by Amazon, but they didn’t do this…the publishers did, and appear to have forced the Agency Model on Amazon, according to that Apple trial. Think of it like your local store giving you a manufacturer’s rebate…the store gives you the money, but it comes from the manufacturer.

Update: thanks to reader jjhitt for letting me know I had a broken link…should be fixed now. I’m away from my normal resources, which is making things a bit more complicated.

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

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Eddiecoms #7: “…regardless of how healthy your inner-ear dysfunction was inherited”

August 31, 2013

Eddiecoms #7: 

This is one in a series of posts about what I call “Eddiecoms”. You can see more detail about what these are in earlier posts on the topic, but it boils down to this. These are ads intended to promote something, disguised (often not very well…my favorite one was a post by someone listed as “Similar Internet Site”) as comments on something I’ve posted. I test a comment in a couple of ways before deciding it is an Eddiecom, including doing a Google search for the same wording. When I do use Google, I’ll sometimes find hundreds of instances of the same comment on different blogs, ones which are often unrelated in topic.

This may be my favorite one so far:

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But regardless of how healthy your inner-ear dysfunction was inherited, chances are he is no longer in love with each other.
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to have fuller and younger looking lips without the
plastic surgery. But since most of them were synthetic, what they turned out to be was doing more harm to the body than aging itself.

This free game brought in 30 million users a month to wrestle bears, snakes
and other animals who try to steal crops.

Then they use their email address and try to guess their passwords or use ‘brute force’
hacking programs to automatically try common phrases used for passwords.
You can create your own mafia syndicate by recruiting your Facebook friends and using reward points to hire extra
mafia members. Who knows, you might just find your old high school sweetheart.
” If that does not work, they then suggest, “If you are still experiencing issues,
try uninstalling the [deleted] Toolbar and reinstalling the [deleted].

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

Round up #201:

August 30, 2013

Round up #201:

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

Special note: I’m away from my normal resources right now, but have been able to jump on a computer for a short time. I hope you are enjoying the posts which I wrote ahead of this period. I may be somewhat less responsive than usual for a few more days, but I’ll do what I can. 🙂 I’m doing most things with my Kindle Fire and a Bluetooth keyboard, but copying and pasting is more difficult there than on a PC, as is working with multiple tabs in the browser.

24 great deals “for students” in Kindle Daily Deal

This is the main reason I trekked (not that far actually) to a computer this morning.

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal includes one ostensibly for students, but I think just about everyone will find something they like.

As always, check prices before you click or tap that “Buy” button…these deals may not be available in your territory, and it’s possible for books to move in and out of the list.

Some that I noticed:

  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
  • A Fatal Inversion by Ruth Rendell
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

As you can see, it’s quite a mix. I think they picked books they thought (no doubt through datamining, perhaps through Amazon Student) which books they thought would appeal to college students, not just ones that might be specific to college interests.

Hola, Mexico!

Amazon has both opened a Mexican Kindle store and opened up Mexico to Kindle Direct Publishing users.

press release on Kindle Mexico store
press release on Kindle Mexico KDP

Mexican customers will also be able to buy Kindles in Gandhi stores (brick-and-mortar).

Mexico has a rich literary history…their copyright term is longer than ours, last time I checked.

This may also mean more Spanish language books in the US Kindle store.

Headlines:

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

A book that changed my life: The Maybe Monsters

August 30, 2013

A book that changed my life: The Maybe Monsters

I’ve read thousands of books in my life.

They’ve all changed me in some way. Just as the air you breath and the food you eat has an impact on your body, the books you read have an impact on how you think and how you see the world.

Some books, though, have had a much larger effect on me. In some cases, they have not only affected me themselves, but led me to other books, and even changed the way I spend my time and the people I have met.

One of the most important of these, and one of the earliest, was

The Maybe Monsters

by Gardner Soule.

The way I remember it was being in elementary school (maybe 5th grade or so), and finding this book in the school library.

I think I was always into animals, and while I don’t recommend it, we did have exotics when I was growing up (a wallaroo, an armadillo, herptiles, a squirrel monkey…).

I was definitely into reading about animals (and still enjoy that). I’ve read Gerald Durrell, and I would bet that some of you also enjoyed Capyboppy by Bill Peet.

This book, though, was different.

It’s cover was an odd amalgam of animals. Some looked familiar, but some definitely did not. There was something that looked like a dragon, and a lion with spots, and what might be a cross between a seal and a kangaroo.

MaybeMonsters

Those certainly looked like fantasy creatures…but this book was in non-fiction! It was in the Science Survey series, along with books on archaeology, chemistry, and electricity.

That seemed odd to me, and intriguing.

Just inside was an introductory paragraph:

“Today in just about every large metropolitan zoo in the world you will find a live  specimen  of a creature which less than a century ago was considered fictitious. Ever since the days of Saint George, and possibly a few centuries before, some men have  believed  in dragons and monsters, and other men have scoffed at reports of dragons and monsters. The  subjects  of this book are one real dragon and a number of “maybe monsters”. Some (and it may be stretching  imagination  to call them “monsters”) are no longer fictitious; they have been proven to exist. Others, such as the Abominable Snowman and the Loch Ness monster, are creatures whose existence is not yet totally proved or disproved.”

My family was quite science oriented. I tended to believe that what scientists said was true. We were also readers, and certainly, we expressed our opinions…even at that age, I wasn’t a “follow the leader” thinker.

However, this book was different. It wasn’t written in a particularly sensationalistic way…this wasn’t the National Enquirer. It simply presented the idea to me  that the common scientific wisdom might be wrong. It made me think that scientists (and by extension, other authority figures) might not make their decisions and declarations just based on science…that they might (gasp) have personalities and prejudices that might influence what they said and what I heard from them. I came to realize the shocking truth…

Scientists were people!

As people, of course, they could be wrong.

Being perhaps a ten years old, that was pretty mind-blowing.

It certainly didn’t make me abandon science. Quite the opposite: it was important that the book wasn’t saying that the scientists were wrong, just suggesting to me that they could be.

The idea of science was strengthened in my mind. There are no scientific facts…only theories. A true scientist doesn’t emotionally cling to something that they previously thought was true, or exclude evidence that contradicts what seems to have happened before. A scientist likes it when someone challenges a hypothesis that they themselves have put forward…and proves it wrong.

That’s what science is all about: truth matters, not tradition.

That one book from the school library led me to many others. I read Fate magazine regularly. I got all the books I could on “fringe” topics…it became unlikely that I would go into a used bookstore and find a single book on UFOs that I didn’t own.

Now, from past experience, I know that some people might…be concerned about my interests. I think it’s important to note that I wasn’t a “true believer” in any of it, nor a Skeptic (and the capital “S” is intentional). I became fascinated with the people who so adamantly rejected the possibilities…as much as those who accepted it without question.

I lectured on critical thinking. I thought a lot (and still do) about how people come to conclusions.

I liked Charles Fort, who gets incorrectly labeled as anti-science, in my opinion. Fort was anti-institutionalism, against what I call “true disbelievers” and “true believers” both. As self-labeled Fortean John A. Keel (who I also read ) put it, “Belief is the enemy.”

“Enemy”, for me, is too strong a word…if it suggests that it is believers external to yourself that are the threat. I don’t think that’s what Keel means…I’m certainly not anti-religious. I think it’s the idea that when you believe in something in a question of fact (not of morality…that’s different), then it limits you.

I eventually appeared on television and radio, wrote a column for Fate, and appeared in Strange magazine. I was on the board of a 501(c)3 non-profit, OPUS (The Organization for Paranormal Understanding and Support).I served as the Education Director, and I worked to keep my part of it non-advocatory. It was in this role that I digitized a couple of books, which are freely available to the public through that site.

After a while, that just all became too much time, and not under my control enough. If you are going to go on TV, it takes time away from the family. I value my time with my family, as regular readers know, and prioritize it highly. I stepped off the Board, and stopped trying to get on TV and radio (although I’ve done the latter a couple of times in the past four years).

All of this, because of a book in a school library.

I do spend a lot of time now writing this blog. 🙂 However, I can do that early in the morning, or late at night, or when my Significant Other is at the gym (our adult child no longer lives with us). I’m home, not out on the road.

Thank you, Gardner Soule, for changing my life! Thank you also, school librarian who purchased this book!

I believe that The Maybe Monsters is in the public domain (no longer under copyright protection). It was first published in the USA in 1963, which means you can check on line for copyright renewals…and there wasn’t one (although some of Soule’s other books show there). At some point, I hope to digitize the entire book and make it available online, but for now, let me just give you the table of contents and one chapter.

Those of you who are interested in the technical aspects might want to know how I accomplished the digitization. I’ve been considering getting a new, faster scanner, and better OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. I think we are going to see continuing, rapid advancement in that technology over the next few years. That doesn’t mean I’ll wait, but this didn’t seem like the right time.

So, I did it by brute force. 🙂 I literally retyped what you are going to read below. I type pretty quickly, and I’m more accurate than the OCR I’ve used in the past, which means I don’t have to spend as much time proofreading when i type it. I have a scanner, but it takes too long per page, and too long to change each page, and it requires some dexterity to move the book around to the right positions…I didn’t want to risk damaging the book (even though what I own would be considered a reading copy…it’s not in mint condition, by any stretch).

Here’s the table of contents…I’m just going to type that, not try to match the formatting:

  1. “A Sight I Think Never to Forget”
  2. Loch Ness MOnster
  3. Australian Tiger-Cat
  4. Nandi Bear
  5. Komodo Dragon
  6. “Red-Haired Men of the Woods”
  7. Abominable Snowman
  8. Gigantic Octopus
  9. Spotted Lion
  10. Sasquatch, Monster of the Northwest
  11. Tatzelworm
  12. Pacarana, the Terrible Mouse
  13. Sea Serpents
  14. Alive, After 300 Million Years!
  15. They Call Him “Moon-gwa”
  16. How to Catch a Monster

I’m going to go with the fourth chapter, because I know it impressed me at the time. Again, I’m not going to follow the formatting: for example, the book doesn’t have blank lines between paragraphs, and indents each one. That, though, is harder to type…and harder to read online. Everything else, though, should be pretty much the way I read it:

===

Chapter 4: Nandi Bear

IT WAS in East Africa in 1905 when Geoffrey Williams was the first European to see the  mysterious Nandi bear. The most mysterious thing about it then was that no bear has ever been known to exist in tropical Africa. The most mysterious thing about it today is that no bear has yet been proven to inhabit tropical Africa.

But people keep seeing the Nandi bear.

Williams was on a safari in a tableland in Kenya (home of most reports of the Nandi bear) at a  place  with the strange name of Uasin Gishu.

Williams said:

We were marching when we saw the beast…sitting up on its haunches not more than 30 yards away. It’s attitude was just that of a bear at the zoo asking for buns, and I should say it must have been nearly five feet high.

The grass had all been burnt off some weeks earlier and so the animal was clearly visible. I  snatched  my rifle and took a snap shot at it as it was disappearing among the rocks, and, though I missed, it stopped and turned its head around to look at us…

The head was long and pointed and exactly like those of a bear, as indeed was the whole animal.

There is a saying in Africa. What’s hit is history, but what’s missed is mystery. The Nandi bear remains a mystery.

Williams knew no bears were supposed to live in equatorial Africa. (The Uasin Gishu is on the equator). So, thinking no one would believe him, he delayed telling his story for seven years, until 1912.

After the bear he saw had taken its look at him, Williams explained, it simply ambled away.

What happened to Williams has been happening to men in equatorial Africa ever since. Dozens of them have seen the Nandi bear. It always gets away. It has never been caught or identified.

Gerald Durrell, who has written a number of the best-read books about animals of our time, says the Nandi bear has become “perhaps the most famous — or as one should say, infamous — of Africa’s unknown monsters.”

N. E. F. Corbett, the District Commissioner of Eldoret, had a close brush with the Nandi Bear. He was fishing on the Sirgoi River. He said later:

To my surprise, I walked right into the beast. It was evidently drinking and was just below me, only a yard or so away. I heard something going away and it shambled  across  the stream into the bush…I am certain that it was a beast I have never seen before.

The annoying thing was that I had been past exactly the same place half an hour before with my gun after a duck, and when I returned, I had nothing but a fishing-rod.

Captain William Hitchens of the Intelligence and Administrative Services of East Africa reported in 1927 what he believed was the scream of the Nandi bear.

The African jungle is not necessarily a quiet place at night. It is often, in fact, a pandemonium. Bill Hitchens knew its sounds.

I have heard a dozen lions roaring in a stampede-chorus not 20 yards away. I have heard a maddened cow-elephant trumpeting.  I have heard a trapped leopard make the silent night for miles around a rocking agony with screaming, snarling roads.

These are only the beginning. The small tree hyrax by itself makes sleep impossible — it starts with deep growls, goes into a raucous call, changes to wild yells, and ends with a piercing shriek. The hyena too gives voice to a medley of revolting and hideous sounds. There is a growling noise, believe to emanate from a snake. There is a  sound  like a steamship whistle whose maker no one has yet identified. Just before daylight, a troop of chimpanzees will break into full cry.

On the trail of a Nandi bear, Hitchens was resting in his tent. Then, he reported:

The most awful howl I have ever heard split the night. The sheer demoniac horror of it froze me still. Never have I heard, nor do I wish to hear again, such a howl.

Hitchens had brushed smooth a sandy path near his tent so that any animal’s tracks would show. He found some:

Huge footprints, four times as big as a man’s, showing the imprint of three huge clawed toes, with trefoil [three-lobed] marks like a lion’s pad where the soles of the feet pressed down. But no lion, not even the giant 9 feet 41/2 inches long which fell to Getekonot, my hunter, at Ussure, ever boasted such a paw as that of the monster which had made that terrifying spoor.

Some footprints led to the forest. Here, “searching with our hearts in our mouths every day for a week and more we found and lost and found them.” But Hitchens and his men caught no Nandi bear.

Sometimes when  man meets the Nandi bear, one of the two of them fails to walk away. It isn’t the bear. Many Africans have been found killed, their skulls crushed as though by a giant claw. This is not the way a lion or leopard, both common in Africa, attack. A big cat leaps for a man’s neck, snaps it in his jaws.

Wrote C. R. S. Pitman, a game warden: “Anyone who has lived in a Nandi bear atmosphere cannot doubt the reality of the dread the brute inspires.”

Reports of the mysterious animal keep coming in over the years. In 1936, George Sandart, on the rise of the Congo-Nile watershed, saw a strange creature:

The apparent absence of a tail, the shape of the head, the large snout, the little round ears, the slope of the back, the relatively long legs, everything about the animal reminded me of a bear. But a bear in Africa…

A native story, hard to believe, was that the Nandi bear had killed a rhinoceros. Easier to believe, it is also said to kill sheep, goats, cattle.

Charles T. Stoneham, a big-game hunter, searched for the Nandi bear. Instead of finding it, he found more tales from people living in its territory: “Men told me it came down to the villages at night and murdered the inhabitants in their huts.” Another of its tricks is supposed to be to lie along a low branch till someone comes by, then with a blow of a great claw to rip open the man’s head.

When the Magadi railway was being built, the Nandi bear’s footprints were spotted. Then, an engineer, G. W. Hickes, sighted the creature itself:

At first I saw it nearly broadside on: it looked about as high as a lion…with very shaggy long hair. It was short and thick-set in the body…and had a short neck and stumpy nose… It did not turn around to look at me, but loped off…I could not at all think what animal it was, and it was only after I actually past that I realized it must be the strange beast of which we had all heard…

I have been in Africa — East, South, and West…during a considerable part of the last 18 years, and I can not think of any animal I have not seen in its wild state, but I have never before seen anything like this beast.

What could the Nandi bear be? As men have struggled to identify it over the past 50 years, they have called it a huge hyena, a lion, a leopard, a large ratel (honey badger), a baboon, a gorilla, an aardvark (the African burrowing anteater or earth-pig).

All of these animals may, of course, have been mistaken for the Nandi bear. But that they are not the Nandi bear seems clear from the following evidence. Hyenas travel in packs, and are not likely to attack men. The aardvark never eats animals or human beings; it lives on ants and termites. The gorilla avoids man, is too timid to fight him except under the rarest circumstances. There are no known baboons as large as the Nandi bear. Lions and leopards leave different footprints and attack by different methods. The ratel looks like a small bear, but scientists believer its diet is more likely insects, small animals and chickens, rather than larger prey.

It could be a chimpanzee. Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen reported that the East Africans themselves believed it was:

When King Edward was crowned, five men of the King’s African  Rifles  were sent home for the celebrations. One of these, Massud Effendi, speaks good English and told me that one of the five men was a Nandi; on being taken to the zoo they were introduced to a chimpanzee, when the Nandi shouted with delight: “There is the Nandi bear.” Whenever I have asked a Nandi to trace the outline of this “bear” it is always shown in an erect position. 

It could be a bear. If it is, it will be the first known bear in Africa except only a few that crossed from Europe, near Gibraltar, but, so far as is known, reached only as far as Spanish Morocco. If it is, it will not be the first big bear to be discovered in this country [Bufo’s note: “century”?]. The 1,600-pound Alaskan Kodiak bear, largest of them all except possibly the polar bear, was identified around 1900.

It could be — this is perhaps the most exciting possibility of all — a chalicothere. A chalicothere is a supposedly extinct animal. It was a member of the same order as the horse, rhinoceros, and tapir. The bones of the chalicothere have been found west of Kenya in the Nandi bear section of Africa, on the banks of Lake Albert — and these bones, as prehistoric bones go, are not very old.

A reconstruction of the chalicothere shows it was something like the hyena in shape and size, but like a bear in its head and ears. But the most amazing detail about the chalicothere is that instead of hooves, it had claws.

Such an animal, the size of a huge hyena or horse, equipped with claws like the hooks a longshoreman uses to lift heavy boxes, makes quite a picture in your imagination. If it exists today, it must be one of the most formidable beasts in the jungle.

Could the chalicothere have survived until the present time? There is no reason some of the animals might not have survived.

The jungle alone, in the Nandi bear-chalicothere region, is enough to show that they could have. The jungle might keep such animals hidden for centuries. Much of it actually is, for men, simply  impenetrable, and therefore has no human population. The jungle is a thick vegetable tangle, a dense undergrowth that can only be  hacked  through with billhooks. All this undergrowth is full of brambles and creepers and tree fern thickets (some tree ferns 20 feet high) with countless fallen thorny trunks and branches lying in all directions. An hour or two of trying to get  through  this jungle will wear a man out, and then he has not gone very far. But can a large animal pass  through  the jungle  where  a man cannot? The answer is yes. A gorilla can move through the most tangled vegetation, and leave practically no trace.

Add to the jungle the fact that the Nandi bear is probably rare and that it moves only by night, and you can see why it might not be caught for many years.

Although, like many unknown animals, the Nandi bear has been called a myth and a fairy tale, by today many of the men who know its territory best believe in it. Said A. Blayney Percival in A Game Ranger’s Notebook:

The more I hear, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile this creature with any known species…Time will show, no doubt; meantime I  do no more than state my belief that there is an animal of arboreal and nocturnal habit in the Nandi forests, awaiting discovery, description, and a Latin name.

And Colonel Stevenson Hamilton, who was a warden in the Kruger National Park in South Africa,suggested another reason why there may be a Nandi bear, or chalicothere, or whatever it is, in Africa. His suggestion was that we have much to learn about the animals of Africa.

After his first few years there, Colonel Hamilton said that he was confident he knew all there was to know  about  African wild animals and  their  ways of life. But after forty years of study of the creatures of the veld, mountains, and jungle, he had changed his mind by saying he knew practically nothing about them.

===

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

September 2013 Kindle book releases

August 29, 2013

September 2013 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.

September is often a month when some of the biggest selling (and most prestigious) books of the year are released. The ones that might make great holiday gifts may be released in this month, which would give them time to build up steam in the old paper days…

Note: I’m preparing this ahead of time, and book release dates may change. It’s possible some of these will have already been released (not so likely) or may get delayed.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the September releases in the USA Kindle store:

September 2013 USA Kindle store releases

As usual, I won’t be linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked*.

W is for Wasted (KINSEY MILLHONE MYSTERY)
by Sue Grafton
pre-order for September 10

This is the 23rd in Grafton’s very popular “Alphabet Series” of mysteries.

Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945
by Rana Mitter
pre-order for September 10

Sounds like interesting non-fiction! We don’t often think about this dynamic of World War II.

Never Go Back: A Jack Reacher Novel
by Lee Child
pre-order for September 3

Nobody stops Jack Reacher…not even Tom Cruise. 😉 See, Cruise starred in the Jack Reacher movie, which sort of underperformed and…never mind. 😉

The Essential Atlas: Star Wars
by Daniel Wallace, Jason Fry
pre-order for September 24

This is official (from LucasBooks) and covers the movies, novels, videogames…and importantly, the Clone Wars TV series. For a surprising number of people, that last one is Star Wars to them…they see and fall in love with that before they ever see the movies. Good geek gift. 🙂

Thankless in Death
by J. D. Robb
pre-order for September 17

This is an Eve Dallas mystery…and according to the description, takes place in 2060. Does that make it science fiction as well?

Styxx (Dark-Hunter Novels)
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
pre-order for September 3

I think this is the 23rd (!) novel in the Dark-Hunter series.

The Longest Ride
by Nicholas Sparks
pre-order for September 17

Soon to be a New York Times bestseller…and a movie, I presume? 😉

Steelheart
by Brandon Sanderson
pre-order for September 24

Sanderson is the popular author of the Mistborn series, and worked on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This is a new series, and the description sounds intriguing.

Deadly Heat (Nikki Heat)
by Richard Castle
pre-order for September 17

Fiction by a fictional author…Castle is the eponymous character on the Castle TV series who writes fiction based on a real cop (who is actually a fictional cop on the same TV series). These books have been popular, even given that twisted provenance.

MaddAddam
by Margaret Atwood
pre-order for September 3

The conclusion to the MaddAddams dystopian trilogy…an earlier book in the series was shortlisted for the Booker prize.

The Mayan Secrets (A FARGO ADVENTURE)
by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry
pre-order for September 3

* A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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

It’s ILMK’s 4th birthday!

August 28, 2013

It’s ILMK’s 4th birthday!

The first post in this blog was published on August 28th, 2009.

Last year*, I gave you lots of statistics on the birthday, and I’d like to do that today. However, I have some family things going on for the next few days, and that may make it difficult. I do expect to have some blogging access during this period (so if Amazon announces new hardware, I should still be able to let you know), but it’s going to mostly be my Fire and a Bluetooth keyboard…which is a bit limited compared to a desktop or laptop.

This limitation may particularly be true today. I may have collected the data on the 27th for the most part…what’s one day between friends? 😉

Bad guys, this does not mean our house is empty. 🙂 There isn’t anything bad going on with this, it’s just going to be some very focused time, so don’t worry, readers! 😉

* If you’d like to compare last year’s stats to this year, you can do so here:

https://ilmk.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/its-ilmks-third-birthday/

I know I will. 😉

Now for some statistics:

  • All time views per WordPress: 1,114,304
  • Number of posts: 2,187
  • Number of comments: 11,829
  • Busiest day: December 27, 2010
  • Highest rank in Kindle store blogs & newsfeeds: #1*
  • Days in the top 100: 1,147
  • This morning’s rank: #10

Ten most popular posts/pages:

Top recent commenters (based on the past 1,000 comments):

  • Bufo Calvin
  • Lady Galaxy
  • Edward Boyhan
  • Roger Knights
  • tellthetruth1
  • Zebras
  • jjhitt

Top views by country since February 25, 2012:

7 Days |30 Days |Quarter |Year |Since February 25, 2012
Country Views
United States 347,733
United Kingdom 35,418
Canada 8,358
Australia 7,994
Germany 3,263
Ireland 2,762
India 2,685
Spain 2,054
Brazil 1,839
New Zealand 1,727
France 1,671
Italy 1,537
Poland 1,437
Philippines 1,338
Japan 1,167
South Africa 1,159
Singapore 1,143
Russian Federation 1,090
Slovakia 990
Czech Republic 955
Mexico 876
Switzerland 859
Hong Kong 858
Saudi Arabia 856
Romania 850
Netherlands 771
Pakistan 715
Israel 670
Taiwan 662
Hungary 617
Thailand 609
Turkey 597
Ukraine 567
Belgium 533
Viet Nam 513
Argentina 505
Norway 494
Malaysia 490
Republic of Korea 482
Sweden 471
Austria 437
Colombia 432
Portugal 427
Trinidad and Tobago 385
Indonesia 370
United Arab Emirates 368
Bulgaria 356
Greece 334
Denmark 326
Finland 311
Chile 288
Dominican Republic 279
Croatia 271
Egypt 219
Venezuela 217
Puerto Rico 207
Costa Rica 203
Iceland 202
Jamaica 200
Slovenia 184
Serbia 175
Bahamas 162
El Salvador 142
Lithuania 140
Peru 140
Barbados 138
Kenya 138
Georgia 125
Bahrain 125
Malta 118
Belarus 111
Ecuador 102
Cyprus 93
Nigeria 93
Latvia 92
Morocco 91
Sri Lanka 89
Estonia 89
Guatemala 84
Bangladesh 77
Qatar 77
Luxembourg 76
Algeria 70
Cambodia 68
Moldova 64
Uruguay 61
Ghana 59
Jordan 58
British Virgin Islands 55
Isle of Man 52
Kuwait 49
Guernsey 49
Lebanon 49
Bosnia and Herzegovina 49
Panama 47
Iraq 45
Armenia 43
Jersey 41
Nepal 40
United Republic of Tanzania 37
Guyana 36
Belize 36
Mongolia 35
Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic 35
Tunisia 34
Azerbaijan 34
Guam 32
Bermuda 32
Albania 32
Cayman Islands 32
Saint Lucia 31
Nicaragua 30
Oman 29
Antigua and Barbuda 29
Bolivia 29
Gibraltar 28
Paraguay 28
Honduras 27
Macao 27
Namibia 27
Ethiopia 26
Botswana 25
Mauritius 25
Zimbabwe 25
Zambia 23
Mozambique 22
Myanmar 22
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 21
Haiti 19
Virgin Islands 19
Afghanistan 19
Uganda 18
Cuba 17
Brunei Darussalam 16
Netherlands Antilles 15
Dominica 14
Sudan 14
Saint Kitts and Nevis 14
Grenada 14
Kyrgyzstan 12
Anguilla 12
Palestinian Territory, Occupied 12
New Caledonia 11
Fiji 11
Suriname 10
China 10
Senegal 10
Aruba 10
Cameroon 9
Maldives 9
Libya 9
Syrian Arab Republic 9
Angola 8
Rwanda 8
Northern Mariana Islands 8
Kazakhstan 8
Benin 7
Yemen 7
Turks and Caicos Islands 7
American Samoa 7
Cape Verde 7
Tajikistan 7
Liberia 7
Monaco 7
Côte d’Ivoire 6
Montenegro 6
French Polynesia 6
Liechtenstein 5
Seychelles 5
Vanuatu 5
Lao People’s Democratic Republic 5
Malawi 4
Andorra 4
Bhutan 4
Réunion 4
Guadeloupe 4
Vatican City 3
Djibouti 3
Papua New Guinea 3
Marshall Islands 3
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) 3
Madagascar 2
Gambia 2
Mali 2
Burkina Faso 2
Micronesia, Federated States of 2
Sierra Leone 2
Palau 2
Eritrea 1
Uzbekistan 1
Martinique 1
Swaziland 1
Equatorial Guinea 1
Faroe Islands 1
Montserrat 1
Solomon Islands 1
Turkmenistan 1

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

Kobo announces new hardware

August 28, 2013

Kobo announces new hardware

Kobo announced new hardware today…although weirdly, it isn’t on their website yet.

Hypothetically available to order today, according to this

CNET review by David Carnoy

and other sources, Kobo will have the Aura available for $149.99.

It’s a frontlit (like the Paperwhite) 6″ capacitative touch screen model.

What I’m reading makes it sounds like they’ve improved the appearance. Also, reportedly, you’ll only see the screen redrawn every 100 screens or so…and battery life still sounds comparable to competitors’ devices.

Certainly, Kobo is a worthy company in the EBR (E-Book Reader) market, even if they aren’t that big here in the USA.

They’d best bask in the spotlight while they can. No wi-fi Paperwhite appears to be available new from Amazon now, although the 3G model is. That strongly suggests to me an announcement soon…it wouldn’t surprise me if it was tomorrow (given Amazon’s history with Wednesday announcements).

Kobo will apparently continue offering the more expensive Aura HD, and their other models (mini, glo, and touch).

They are also introducing three new tablets in their ARC line.

They range from $150 to $400. Let’s go with CNET again with this

post by Eric Franklin

Amazon’s lowest priced tablet is $159…and that might drop if Amazon introduces new hardware soon ($149 is certainly a more attractive price point for a lot of people).

This

TechCrunch article by Ingrid Lunden

has some interesting information on the software/features side.

One is “reading mode”. Essentially, that cuts off all distraction from reading…saving battery charge life and making the “unitaskers” out there happier. 😉

They are also spiffing up the stores, with interest specific stores…kids’ books and magazines, for example.

I’ll stop there, since I don’t want to take too much away from the reporting of others.

Does it make sense to buy a Kobo?

I do think they are an innovative company with an interesting future, even though they may not tend to do anything too wild or out there.

However, I don’t think they can match Amazon in services, including Customer Service.

For example, one of the big attractions for me of the Kindle store is that you can “return” a Kindle store book for a refund within seven days of purchase. You can decide why you want to return it…up to you. Naturally, if you abused the privilege (you bought 100 books in three months and returned every single one, as a hypothetical), you’d hear about it from Amazon and they might drop you as a customer, eventually (that’s about the last thing they ever want to do).

Kobo’s

Terms of Sales

say it quite bluntly: “All Sales (sic) are final.”

That doesn’t make them out of the norm…last I checked, you couldn’t return e-books to Barnes & Noble or Sony, either.

It just makes Amazon extraordinarily good in this.

My guess is that Kobo users are happy with their devices, and that they will continue to come up with tweaks that make the reading experience better. I expect them to be around for quite a while, in part because of their strength outside the USA (I can’t say the same for Barnes & Noble…I would put B&N more in the category of “I think they might…”).

I do think that Amazon offers more in terms of the broad customer experience. Their integration of books with other content, and with physical objects, does make sense to me. Why shop in ten stores if you can shop in one and get better services, prices, and selection?

Amazon just announced something that might become very important in this

press release

The Mobile Associates API (Application Programming Interface) will let app studios add in-app purchasing of physical items, and they’ll get advertising fees, the way Amazon Associates do now.

That may not sound like much to you, but it could really change some things.

An app doesn’t have to be a game (but it could…you could buy cosplay Doctor Who items while playing a Doctor Who game, for example…or any of the many TARDIS items). It could be a store simulation.

You could be using a sporting goods store simulation app, and actually buy the products right there.

Another way Amazon may become your Everything of Choice (gee, maybe I should trademark that) 😉 is by providing its own new wireless way to connect to the internet.

Yep, not wi-fi, not 4G…possibly something different, maybe more accessible, and perhaps free (hard to say at this point).

I think I first saw this story in this

Bloomberg article by Olga Kharif & Danielle Kucera>

and I was also alerted by a reader in a private e-mail (thanks!).

Imagine that Amazon owns its own network…and that it is better than what you are using now.

Oh, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t perhaps let other companies use it…for licensing, fees, of course.

This would be like…Amazon owning the biggest store in town, and then building a brand new, superfast and convenient public transit system.

If other, smaller stores want to have their customers use the hypertransit, they have to pay Amazon.

Interesting…

So, would I buy a Kobo?

I wouldn’t suggest you don’t do that, but you aren’t going to be reading your Kindle store books on one of their readers, although I believe you can install the Kindle app on the tablets.

In other words, I wouldn’t walk away from Amazon for a Kobo…but nobody says you need only one e-book ecosystem.

This is all good new for Kindle users, of course…competition drives innovation and price deflation.

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

Paperwhite wi-fi only with Special Offers out of stock…announcement soon?

August 26, 2013

Paperwhite wi-fi only with Special Offers out of stock…announcement soon?

Interesting!

This morning, the

Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi

is out of stock at Amazon.

You can buy it without Special Offers, and then subscribe to them, if you want…but that doesn’t lower your price, I believe. You can pay to have them removed, but not be compensated for having them added.

While this could just be a temporary fluke, I think the most likely thing is that they have been successfully reducing inventory in advance of an announcement of new hardware.

The 3G model is available.

Stay tuned…

Oh, and Kobo is announcing something tomorrow (August 27). They say they are going to go “beyond the book”:

Kobo photo tweet

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

I’d love to recommend your books, but…

August 26, 2013

I’d love to recommend your books, but…

This is an open letter to two people and a universe.

I think you’ve all done wonderful things, and I’ve gotten great enjoyment from you.

It’s more than that, though: I think you all have made the world a better place.

That’s why I’d love to recommend all of your books to my readers. It’s not just that I think I do have some small influence on sales. It’s because I want to support you and what you do…and what better way to do that than to help others have the great experiences I’ve had?

However…

There is a situation with some of your books. I’m guessing you aren’t even aware of it, or at least, haven’t considered the impact it has.

It has to do with something called text-to-speech.

Text-to-speech is software which can read your books out loud.

It’s not a performance: it’s another way to access the material, like making the text size bigger.

That is a huge convenience for those who have print disabilities or challenges.

Certainly, there may be specialized versions of your books available for those who can certify a print disability. Those books may even be free to them.

It’s not the same, though, as buying them in the Kindle store, the same way most people do.

Buying them in the Kindle store means that those who need that functionality can get it the same day everyone else. They can enjoy the books on an easily portable piece of equipment. Importantly, they can share the book with family members who don’t have the same challenges and are on the same account.

They want to be able to pay your publisher for accessible versions of your books.

How much does it cost to add text-to-speech to your books?

Nothing.

Nothing to you, nothing to your publisher.

Amazon has licensed the necessary software for the devices (the current generation of Kindle Fires, the Kindle DX, and older Kindles models with audio capabilities going back to the Kindle 2).

The retailer has paid for the software for their devices, because they know it helps sales. In addition to those who need to use it, there are those who simply find it convenient. I typically listen to text-to-speech for hours a week in the car. It means that I go through books that much faster, and driving is no longer “wasted non-reading time”. 🙂 Believe me, I’d much rather listen to your book than to music or talk radio.

That’s not why I don’t buy or recommend books with text-to-speech access blocked, though. It’s because I feel it disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, even though I’m sure that’s not your or your publisher’s intent.

Oh, and when I say the access has been blocked, that’s what happens. A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to the device: it doesn’t have to be prepared in any special way. It can be used to read aloud  a child’s school paper, or a friend’s document about a vacation.

The publisher has to insert code into the e-book file to block the access, which I believe they have the legal right to do (as long as at least one accessible version of the book is available…even if  someone has to certify a print disability to get it).

I think that, increasingly, blocking text-to-speech access is becoming rarer. Many of the bestselling books are accessible. Yours could be, too. If you (or your agent) want more information on the issue, you can read my free summary of the situation, or ask me privately by commenting on this post and telling me it is private (I will not then publish your comment).

I do believe it is a personal decision, and I completely understand when my readers choose to buy your books and others with the access blocked. I would love, though, to both read and promote them, but it is my policy not to promote books (even from people I admire) when that feature has been rendered unavailable.

Let me address you each individually.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen, I record your show so I can watch every one. I am a vegetarian, and a lover of animals. I admire how you use your well-deserved celebrity to help those in need. Your support of the differently-abled is clear, when you share  your joy of dance with people in wheelchairs, who you have arranged to have front row seats in your audience: an area that could easily have been filled many times over with other people who want to see you perform.

I’m happy that I can in good conscience recommend My Point…And I Do Have One, which is text-to-speech accessible. I’d like to be able to that with your other books, too.

Loren Coleman

Loren, I think you know how much I appreciate the generosity you show your readers. I recently wrote honest tribute to you in honor of your birthday.

You have so many accessible titles in the Kindle store:

I’d recommend the Tom Slick book to anyone…and I’d like to be comfortable recommending the May Kindle store release as well.

Star Trek

As a universe, Star Trek has embraced people of all different types, including those with vision challenges. Geordi La Forge, of course, had assistive technology, but it goes back further than that.  Even in the original series, a blind character is a main character in one episode, and shown as uniquely capable (truly, a case of being differently abled).

It disappoints me every time I see a Star Trek book on sale or coming out in the future, and it has text-to-speech access blocked. A universe that has such an optimistic view of the future should strive to embrace the Vulcan concept of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations)…introduced in the same episode I mentioned above.

I will continue to support all of you where text-to-speech access is not an issue.  I thank you for what you have done, and what you will do…

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

ILMK Reader Hero #2: Tyler Weaver

August 24, 2013

ILMK Reader Hero #2: Tyler Weaver

Readers make the world a better place. The I Love My Kindle blog recognizes those extraordinary few who make heroic efforts to expand their minds, their hearts, and their perspectives by engaging with the world’s culture through the experience of literature.

They are our Reader Heroes.

Reader Hero #2: Tyler Weaver

Nine-year old Tyler Weaver read 63 books this summer to win an annual contest held by the Hudson Falls Public Library in New York.

This is Tyler’s 5th year in a row winning…which means that Tyler was four-years old for that first win.

Contestants are actually tested on the books, to be sure they have read them…and Tyler has met all of the requirements.

Congratulations to Tyler!

We also commend Tyler’s parent, Katie: younger sibling Jonathan is another frequent reader. Between them, they have borrowed 1,000 books from the library this year, according to this

Post Star article by Meg Haggerty

Thank you, Tyler, for being a Reader Hero!

Readers of ILMK are welcome to express their congratulations to Tyler Weaver and to offer support and encouragement by commenting on this post and/or clicking on the poll below:

We hope to send Tyler a Reader Hero t-shirt in recognition, if arrangements can be made. If you can help with that, comments can be made privately to this post, and any personal information will not be shared with readers. Please indicate that the comment is private.

Update: arrangements have been made for the t-shirt! If anyone would like to design it and send me a bitmap, that would be great. Also, for the reader who offered in a private comment to contribute, I do appreciate that, but I’ll take care of it. I initially thought about doing a public gift card, but I think it’s better that this be a case of recognition rather than remuneration.

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


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