Round up #204: Over 100 WSV audiobooks for $0.99 each, Amazon won’t phone home

Round up #204: Over 100 WSV audiobooks for $0.99 each, Amazon won’t phone home

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

“How Google Fights Piracy”

I believe that most people generally want to behave in a way that doesn’t harm others.

I remember talking to my (now adult) kid years ago, explaining why “The good guys always win.” What I said was that the average person wants to help the good guy (oh, I should mention, “guy” has always been a gender neutral term for me). So, if the bad guy is running down the street, the crowd will tend to want to help the good guy intervene or not lose track. If the good guy is running away from the bad guy, the crowd will tend to help the good guy get away.

So, it’s a numbers thing. 😉

There are a lot of things you can say philosophically, of course, and come up with different reasons why good guys tend to come out on top, or give me examples of when that hasn’t happened…but for a little kid, it made sense.

I’ve said here before that the best way to combat piracy (in this case, the distribution of unauthorized copies of a copyrighted book) is to have a legitimate copy of it easily available at a reasonable price.

I’m sure the average Kindle owner looks on Amazon first. If they don’t find the book there, they may Google it…and that’s when they run into pirate copies (perhaps not even realizing that they are pirated).

Well, it’s nice to see that Google agrees with me on that. 🙂

In this

Google PDF

they explain how Google fights piracy.

In their first point, they say

“The best way to battle piracy is with better, more convenient, legitimate alternatives to piracy…”

You may be interested in the rest of the “paper”…including how they work to keep pirate sites out of the top results, and how they “…process copyright removal requests for search results at the rate of four million requests per week with an average turnaround time of less than six hours”

Get audiobooks for use with Whispersync for Voice for ninety-nine cents

Update: Thanks to reader and frequent commenter Tom Semple for pointing out that the below promotion has ended (which happened after I wrote the post…some of my readers were able to take advantage of it).

Amazon’s been really, really promoting audio books lately…which might seem a bit counter-intuitive, since the newly announced Kindle Paperwhite 2 (KP2) doesn’t even have audio capability (so it can’t play them). That’s one reason I think there is an audio-enabled frontlit device coming at some point.

They’ve combined the p-book (paperbook) and audiobook sections at Amazon .com, and added audio samples to the books’ product pages.

Now, they are pushing Whispersync for Voice, which enables you to sight read part of a book, switch to an audiobook and pick up where you left off, then switch back. For more on that, see http://www.amazon.com/wsv.

This promotion includes this page:

Buy a Kindle Book, Then Upgrade with Narration for Just $0.99

You buy an e-book, say, The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger. Then, you can buy an audiobook at a typically greatly reduced price. In this case, Amazon’s price for the audiobook is $15.95, so it’s quite a savings.

Do I do this?

No, not really…I prefer text-to-speech to audiobooks, unless I’ve read the book already (I don’t like the narrator interpreting the characters for me…TTS is software, not a recording). I haven’t tested it recently, but when I had gotten an audiobook to use with WSV (Whispersync for Voice) it appeared to prevent me from using TTS.

I think most people prefer audiobooks to TTS, though, so I did want to let you know about this deal.

This offer is for a limited time, and may not apply in your country.

No Amazon phone this year

Thanks to a reader who sent me a heads-up to this

Bloomberg article by Brad Stone (and it’s been covered other places as well).

I’ve been referring to statements from Amazon’s Director of Communications, Drew Herdener, for about four years.

Herdener says there won’t be an Amazon phone this year…and that when there is one, it won’t be free.

Take that, internet rumor mill! 😉

I have a Collections follower

No, that doesn’t mean a collection agency is after me…darn these multiple-meaning words! 😉

While Amazon hasn’t announced it yet, I do think this has a lot of potential to be a “big thing”.

I’m having some fun just getting started (things have been super busy lately). I have three Collections there right now: A Fortean Education; Seventies Social Sci-Fi; and 1939: The Best Pop Culture Year Ever.

The trick to making this work for me was installing Amazon’s Collect button in Chrome (it doesn’t work in Internet Explorer). That lets me easily add any item to a Collection.

I would have a lot of fun putting together a Collection at the suggestion of a reader, so feel free to do that.

Don’t worry, I’ll be careful not to let this take up too much of my time. 🙂 You come first…

If you have your own Collections there and would like me to follow you, please let me know.

One thing that has been taking some of my time is getting used to my new Galaxy S4. It has some great capabilities! I love that I can just say, “Text [a name] I’m on my way home,” and it does it (with an okay from me). You do have to get its attention, and you can choose your “wake up” phrase for that. I’m using, “Old man in the cave.” I’m guessing some of you know why. 😉

Frank Schaeffer: “Why I’m Risking My New Book by Self-Publishing Even Though I’m a Bestselling Author”

Okay, a lot of this

Huffington Post article

by Frank Schaeffer is plugging a new book, but it does have some good insight on why someone who had been successfully traditionally published would go the indie route. I think you can guess most of them, but one interesting statement is that tradpubs (traditional publishers) are holding on to book rights by keeping the book in print…by making it available in “print on demand”.

In other words, when the author license the rights for a book, the publisher can hold on to those rights (if that’s the deal that was signed) for as long as they keep the book in print (there might be other limitations).

However, it’s expensive to stock a slow selling book, in case a store wants it.

According to this, the work-around is to make it available by “print on demand”. You don’t print the book until somebody wants it.

I suspect literary agents are going to get a clarification on that in future negotiations…but in the meanwhile, other authors will see the same attractions that Schaeffer did to controlling the process, and switch over. I mean, they can sign up with Amazon and do print on demand themselves, if they want.

That doesn’t mean that big brand name authors are going to immediately go indie. I’m sure a lot of them feel loyal to their editors and publishers, and they can get nice advances and significant promotion.

Still, some of those midlist authors are going to become brand names…and will they sign with tradpubs then?

What do you think? Do you want to hear news about phones? I do that partially because for some people, that’s where they read e-books. Why do midlist authors need tradpubs at this point? Do you like audiobooks? If you do, who do you like to have read them? The author? A famous actor? A voice professional? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: thanks to regular reader and commenter Zebras for helping me make this post clearer.

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

8 Responses to “Round up #204: Over 100 WSV audiobooks for $0.99 each, Amazon won’t phone home”

  1. Brian Says:

    Audiobooks can go either way with me. I either love them and feel they added elements, drama, and personality that I missed (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress read by Lloyd James), or I loathed them and they almost ruined the book for me (Friday read by Hilary Huber). I should mention that I ALWAYS read them before I listen to them, I like the characters to have my voice first.

    But based upon my Audible account I prefer voice actors. Apparently nearly exclusively (As long as they get it right. 🙂 ….and Lloyd nailed Manny O’Kelly-Davis) which I did not realize until you prompted me to check. Thanks! Now I know what I like! I think?

    I like to hear phone updates, even if I still prefer pure android devices to Amazon’s backlit devices I still like hearing what they are up to.

    Congrats on the S4! I tried to wait for it to come out but my phone died and “forced” me into a Nexus 4. Oh well, the parts of me that aren’t Amazoned are Googlized.

  2. jjhitt Says:

    Wow… that was a lot of fun. I already had many of the free classics listed, but the 99 cent audio versions were welcome.

    Now all I need is a desert island.

  3. Zebras Says:

    I think you meant to say your prefer TTS to Audiobooks in that one paragraph. I prefer TTS when I am sight reading, and want to hear an audiobook in its entirety as it is a performance. For me it would be like stopping a movie and reading a chapter, then skipping ahead in the movie to where I left off. Also when I am sight reading, I’m applying my own performance to the characters in my head, and TTS’s neutrality would enable me to continue that process.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      D’oh! Right you are…thanks, I’ve fixed it now and credited you.

      While I don’t visualize or “hear” the characters when I read, generally, I completely agree with you about the performance aspect. I’ve always equated audiobooks to movies…and that’s not at all what TTS is. Text-to-speech is more like…print in the air, I guess. 🙂

  4. Tom Semple Says:

    I doubt very much there is a front-lit, audio-enabled Kindle in our future. The ideal audiobook device is the size of a smartphone or smaller, something you can take anywhere and use when exercising, preparing a meal, commuting, etc. Kindles (and tablets) are just too large. It might have made some sense four or five years ago when few people had smartphones but now adoption is over 50% and climbing. Whispersync for Voice is targeting smartphone users primarily.

    The audiobook player on Kindle (K2/K3/Kindle Touch) is deficient when compared to almost anything else that plays audiobooks: no way to adjust playback speed, navigate easily to a given chapter, or read along in the text when audiobook is playing. Wireless downloads require storage for the entire audiobook (I have some that are well over 1GB) and inexplicably, uses the highest quality format, which takes the most storage. I’m sure Amazon had usage statistics proving nobody used it (I did so only to see how (poorly) it worked, then went back to using my iPod Touch).

    In terms of TTS, having an TTS library for each supported language (currently two flavors of English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese) would chew up space that most users would prefer to use for storing ebooks. Having a larger storage model is possible (Japan’s new Paperwhite is apparently 4GB – more storage needed for manga?) but they already have 4 PW models and adding an option for audio and additional storage would make 8: too many choices.

    Finally, none of the major competition offers a reflective screen e reader with audio. The last to do so was Sony with the PRS-T1 of two years ago.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Here’s where we clearly have a perceptual difference, and I think that your first paragraph doesn’t take into account how many people use WSV.

      A phone (certainly, a three-inch phone) is too small for me to use for reading comfortably. I see many people commenting that they want to sight read the book and hear the audio at the same time (even with the lines “lighting up” as it is read). While phones are popular for reading, there are many people who want to read on larger devices…and want audiobooks.

      My concern (and I think some other people’s) is more for text-to-speech, although I did cite audiobooks in the post. From what I’m seeing from many people, it’s not even a question of speakers on the device…TTS output to a car sound system or to headphones (or external speakers) might be ideal.

      Looking at the current capabilities is always limiting when we are talking about future possibilities. 🙂

      Amazon offers a reflective screen device with audio currently: the Kindle DX. 🙂

  5. Tom Semple Says:

    BTW the 99 cent promotion is apparently over.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Yes, you are right! I’m glad some people were able to take advantage of it from my post before it ended…

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