Round up #203: DoJ v. AGs, textbooks too much?

Round up #203: DoJ v. AGs, textbooks too much?

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

Science fiction Grandmaster Frederik Pohl reported dead

I wouldn’t try to introduce someone to science by having them read Frederik Pohl. Pohl’s books were intended for fans of the genre…even if they weren’t designed to play into their expectations.

Beyond such influential works as Jem, The Space Merchants, and the Heechee saga, Pohl affected science fiction in many other ways.

As an agent, Pohl not only sold Isaac Asimov’s first novel, Pebble in the Sky to Doubleday, but helped issue in the New Wave in the 1970s, by convincing Bantam to take chances with experimental/groundbreaking works like The Female Man and Dhalgren.

As an editor, Pohl guided Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories, Galaxy, and if (sic).

Pohl also collaborated with several authors, including notably: Cyril M. Konbluth; Jack Williamson; and Arthur C. Clarke.

I was sorry to hear of Frederik Pohl’s passing, and hope to see more of the author’s works available for the Kindle in the future.

New York Times obituary by Gerald Jonas

I also want to note the passing of A.C. Crispin, the author of a number of important novels expanding well-known universes, including the original Star Trek, Star Wars, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Additionally, Crispin was a founder of the Writer Beware blog of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA).

I bought a new phone

Regular readers may know that I’ve had a Samsung Captivate phone for some time, and I have liked it (yes, it has the Kindle app on it, although I don’t use that very much).

Well, when I was in Boston recently, it suddenly became pretty unreliable. My adult kid thought it might be the humidity, but it didn’t recover when we got home. I’ve had it a couple of years, so I figured it was time to get a new phone.

I was going to wait to see if Amazon introduced a “Kindle phone” (I hope that they wouldn’t name one that, but expect that they would)…but in thinking about it, my guess is that Amazon will do something low end and cheap. They can’t step in and compete with the top of the lines easily, but I do think people might be interested in an inexpensive, less featured phone that tied into Amazon.

I could have waited until Tuesday to see what Apple is announcing (sounds like it might be a new iPhone with fingerprint detection). However, I still have a bad taste in my mouth from what they did to the e-book market when they were introducing the iPad. They’ve now been found guilty (they will appeal) in a price-fixing conspiracy. It didn’t feel to me (subjectively, of course), like they were doing to make more money for themselves. It felt to me like they didn’t care if anybody bought any books ever again, as long as that hurt Amazon. No, I don’t think that’s what the evidence clearly shows…there are people at Apple who love books, but I think we can say they were okay with them becoming more difficult to get (by raising the prices).

I went with the Galaxy S4.

It’s a considerable step up from the Captivate, and has some cutting edge features I wanted to try. It does quite a bit with voice input, it has gestural input (I can wave my hand over some things and scroll without touching the screen), and facial recognition for “eye gestures” (it can tell when I’m looking at the screen).

I haven’t done much with it yet…still exploring. Yes, I put the Kindle app on this one, too. 🙂

I can tell right away that it’s easier for some things, and that’s the way EBRs (E-Book Readers) will also evolve. It took a few steps on my Captivate to navigate…tap Maps, enter the address, ask for directions,..a bit clunky. Now, I can literally say, “Hi, Galaxy. Navigate to 1313 Mockingbird Lane” (or wherever) and that starts it.

I was figuring on paying about $200 for it, plus accessories, but I bought it yesterday because I was at Costco and it was $130, including a bunch of accessories…hard to resist (even though I’m pretty good at resisting purchases).

I’ll probably buy a book about the Galaxy S4…if you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate that. I want a book like that to get into the tips and tricks and unusual stuff…I can handle the basics. 🙂

Oh, and I’ll reinforce that I like the Maxthon browser, which I use on my Kindle Fire, my PC, and my phone. I just downloaded it, signed in…and in seconds, had all my bookmarks back and ready to go. Nice! It’s not the most stable browser out there, but I like the easy to use Cloud/syncing features. Silk won’t become my main browser until I can use it on more devices and sync easily.

A textbook case of consumer price inflation

Thanks to Joe Wikert for the heads-up on this amazing

Bloomberg Chart of the Day

by Michelle Jamrisko & Ilan Kolet.

It shows the price changes (as a percentage) for textbooks and “recreational books” since December 2001…as well as the general consumer price index.

During that time, recreational book prices fell 1.2%. If you look at the chart, you can see that those prices went up a bit after the Kindle was introduced, but have been coming down since about 2011.


They’ve more than doubled in price.


Something is going to happen with that, one way or another…or the textbook industry will see people abandoning them for other alternatives.

The DoJ didn’t arrange the money you may be getting from Amazon

There is a lot of confusion in this

Amazon Kindle forum thread

even by people I see who are typically well-informed and comment clearly and intelligently.

Thanks, American legal system! 😉

There are two separate legal things happening regarding the publishers (and Apple, in one case) and the Agency Model.

They are quite different, actually, but people are confusing the two of them…and dragging in other unrelated things as well.

Let me break it down, and see if I can help clear it up a bit.

The state Attorneys General settlement

Most of the states in the USA pooled their resources, and their Attorneys General went after publishers for hurting consumers by raising e-book prices.

The AGs got a settlement…the publishers agreed to terms.

Those terms include that consumers who purchased certain types of books will get money back.

Those are the payments.

Apple wasn’t involved with that suit.

Amazon wasn’t found accused of anything, but they know who bought the books, so they are distributing the money.

For more information on that one, see

Comments about that really show people’s cynicism. One commenter thought that we consumers wouldn’t see any money for a while, because this would be appealed.

It won’t be. That’s the whole thing with a settlement. You avoid going to court and getting a judgement against you (which you could appeal), by agreeing to terms. Assuming the judge approves the deal you worked out with the other side, that’s the end of it.

The other cynical thing was several people talking about how it’s the lawyers that are making all the money.

Um…these are Attorneys General, not private sector lawyers. They get their salaries. 🙂 They might get bonuses, and those salaries might not be small, but this isn’t a case of some firm racking up millions in legal fees and getting their client pennies.

See? The world is a better place than you thought…I’m just going to assume that you are happy now, and move on. 😉

This case? It’s about compensation.

The Department of Justice versus Apple

This one is something entirely different. It was the Federal Department of Justice going after five publishers and Apple for having committed a crime. This isn’t about compensation: it is about a conviction and punishment (or at least, remedying the situation).

In this one, the publishers also all settled, but the settlements (in which they do not have to admit wrong-doing…that’s part of what corporations want. They may in part have to do with matters of insurance, but I’m not sure about that) change the way they do business to prevent the sort of conspiracy from happening again.

Apple did not settle: they fought the accusation in court…and lost.

The Department of Justice then proposed a number of remedies. One was that Apple would not have been able to prevent Amazon (and other companies) from having a “Buy” button on apps sold through Apple’s Appstore (at least, preventing it if Apple doesn’t get a cut).

Judge Cote rejected that proposal…which makes sense to me. That limitation is really unconnected to the price-fixing conspiracy.

We won’t end up with something out of this one that results in consumers getting money back.

Hope that helps…

Boston Volunteers

My adult kid works with the Boston Volunteers…so consider this a brief plug. 🙂 I think it’s worth checking out their Facebook page…

My Amazon Collections

I recently wrote about a new “social marketing” feature at Amazon, where customers can create their own “Collections” for things at Amazon, somewhat like the Lists you can create at (Amazon owned) for movies and TV related things.

I expect Amazon to announce this before long, and I do think it might be a big thing. For me, it’s a fun idea. I’ve started to do just a bit with it, and I think I might add more as time goes on.

If you’d like to “follow” my lists, you can do that at

My collections on

Hmm…that’s not going to be a high priority for me (family comes first , followed by my day job and writing), but if you want to ask me to create a Collection, that might be fun!

This is a key element: as far as I’ve seen, Kindle books don’t have the “Add to Collection” button. However, in Chrome (not in Internet Explorer), you can add an Amazon “Collect” button to the favorites bar…they you can collect anything on any page.

Bonus bargains: bundles search

One way to get a lot of reading for a little money is to buy “bundles”, which means that there is more than one book put together in a single file. In other words, you are buying what we would have called an “omnibus” when I ran a brick-and-mortar store. They can be a bit tough to find, but I think this search may help you:

search for Complete Collection

You might be able to find several books together for ninety-nine cents. Some bundles cost more than that, of course, but they often are still a bargain when you break it out by book.

What do you think? Is there an Amazon Collection you’d like me to make? It doesn’t have to be just books, of course. Do you have a favorite Frederik Pohl book? Ar you, like a lot of people, champing at the bit to see how much money you get from the AG’s settlement…or is it no big deal? What is going to be the future of textbook publishing…will teachers just use other free web materials (including YouTube) to teach? Want to convince me that I should consider an iPhone next time around? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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


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