Archive for October, 2013

Kindle Countdown Deals

October 31, 2013

Kindle Countdown Deals

Oh, Amazon: how many ways can you save us money? Let me count(down) the deals! 😉

I think the new

Kindle Countdown Deals

announced in this

press release

are going to be very popular!

When you go to one of the books, you see a current price, and a countdown clock as to when that price expires…and to which price it will return after that point.

There are a lot of good books in there! Discounts are also good (the books must be at least a dollar off the digital list price).

This is part of the KDP Select program…which means it is only available to publishers (including those using Kindle Direct Publishing), which in turn means these books are exclusive to Amazon (during their KDP Select enrollment).

Enjoy!

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

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A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2013

A Halloween classic to read aloud

This is one of the classic horror stories.  It was first published in 1843 and written by Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.   The story should be in the public domain everywhere.  As a Halloween treat, you may want to read it to each other out loud.  You can take turns, or one person can read it all.  You could let your Kindle take a turn…but that won’t be the same.  This shows the advantage of free distribution of the classics that e-books facilitates.  Be prepared, though…it’s scary!   It should take about fifteen minutes…hokey Halloween voices optional.  Parents, be advised…this could cause nightmares.

Enjoy?  Or at least…experience.  I now present…

THE TELL-TALE HEART (by Edgar Allan Poe)

TRUE!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief–oh, no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself–“It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder–louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Bonus: Quoth My Kindle

I originally published Quoth My Kindle (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe) in this thread in the Amazon Kindle forum.   It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, The Raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
As I reached to slide to sleep mode, suddenly I found my hand slowed
As if driving up a steep road, driving with a heavy load
“I can’t seem to move it forward, as if some Kowboy had ‘whoa’d,
It’s a fluke and nothing more.”

Suddenly, a wheel was spinning, a face appeared, and it was grinning
I gasped and nearly dropped my m-edge, dropped it on the hardwood floor
I shook my head, I couldn’t take it; wasn’t sure if I would make it
Then that voice: speakers of portent – portent I would know the score
Then the robot quirkily intoned words that shook me to the core
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

“I need sleep!” I firmly stated, yet I found I hesitated
Reading – reading how it drew me like it never had before
So I sat there, pushing buttons, appetite of sev’ral gluttons
Bestsellers, public domain, ’til I think I filled up my brain
“Tis some magazine I’ve never even purchased at the store”
“I need to get up early!” I heard myself again implore
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

My eyes opened and I woke up; knew I dreamt my Kindle spoke up
So I dragged myself off to what had become my bedtime chore,
Although fact is what it did seem, I knew it was just a weird dream
So as I brushed my teeth, I felt safe behind my bathroom door
I kept my head beneath my covers, as I sailed to Morpheus’ shore…
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

For more Edgar Allan Poe, try this search for Poe freebies in the Kindle store. If you want to keep it simple, you can get this collection, which has an interactive table of contents.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  😉

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

Round up #216: Miracast dongle, new NOOK

October 31, 2013

Round up #216: Miracast dongle, new NOOK

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

There’s a new NOOK in town

You know when, sometimes, you see a commercial on TV for an upcoming episode, and you say to yourself, “That show’s still on?”

That’s sort of how I felt when I saw the news on the new NOOK model being introduced. 🙂

Oh, I know intellectually that NOOKs are still out there, that they have their fans, and that they are one of the big competitors for Amazon…certainly, on non-backlit EBRs (E-Book Readers).

It’s just…they’ve been a bit off my radar.

The new nook (I wish they’d make up their minds on capitalization) GlowLight is $119.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook/379003208

Anything really stand out?

Well, they’ve reportedly eliminated full screen flashing when you “turn pages”…that’s nice.

Here’s the

User’s Guide pdf

It does have 4GB of storage: that’s a lot, nowadays.

They also

compare it to the Paperwhite

It does have some advantages: if you don’t want an ad-supported EBR, it’s cheaper (if you don’t mind the ads, and many people like the Special Offers, it’s the same). It’s about an ounce lighter, and does hold a lot more books.

I have to say, though, I didn’t see a page with tech specs (specifications)…they don’t make it easy to see what file formats it will use, for example.

They also push that you can get “personalized recommendations”…that’s highlighted in the

press release

They say (in part):

“The enhanced shopping experience features a new “Now on NOOK” section right on the home screen, giving readers instant access to a curated list of content suggestions from Barnes & Noble booksellers. The new Shop also delivers an array of exclusive personalized lists “Picked Just For You,” which combine the expert knowledge of Barnes & Noble booksellers with rich book data to deliver unparalleled recommendations.

The new NOOK GlowLight also brings NOOK Channels™ to the shop experience, offering customers more ways to browse the more than 3 million titles from the world’s largest digital bookstore to expand their passions for the authors and subjects they love…”

Those are good things, and I know a very techie person who really liked a NOOK. It will be interesting to see how this does this holiday season. I think the zeitgeist may have changed from it being “normal and safe” to get something from Barnes & Noble to being “normal and safe” to get something from Amazon…and that getting something from B&N may be a risk, due to their possibly uncertain future.

Pop quiz: what is available from B&N in terms of NOOK hardware?

  • NOOK HD+ tablet starting at $149
  • NOOK HD tablet starting at $129
  • NOOK GlowLight at $119
  • Simple Touch at $79

I try a Miracast dongle for my Kindle Fire HDX

I’ve been trying to wait to see if Amazon introduces a TV solution (I think they will…within two weeks, is my guess), but when

Eight of our Kindles were stolen

this week, that meant we had no TV in one room (we only have two TVs…well, three, if you count an old one that literally serves as a stand for a newer one…yeah, we can be classy like that). 😉 You see, I had been using my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB (well, the LTE model, but I never used the LTE) with the Live Media Player app.

Well, that last generation model had an HDMI out, which means I could run it through that TV with a cable.

My newer Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers doesn’t have an HDMI out: it’s designed to use wireless Miracast, which the TV doesn’t have.

I bought the MOCREO Airplay Miracast HDMI TV Dongle

for $32.19.

Does it work?

Sort of…

First, it has quite a short power cord on it, designed to plug into a USB port on the TV…which this TV (it’s a few years old, but is HD) doesn’t have. So, it took a bit of stringing things together to get power to it (it needs to be plugged into power to work, but a powered USB might run it).

Second, there were no instructions. It worked pretty easily, though: plug it into the HDMI port on the TV, and that was about it.

I had the TV set to receive HDMI in already. I just had to tell the Kindle Fire HDX to find it:

Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

Really, it was easier than Bluetooth pairing.

However…

The sound and the video were out of sync…way out of sync. The sound on the TV was running at the same speed as on the Fire (I only heard it through the TV, the same way it would work if you had something plugged into the headphone jack).

When I watched a Prime video, the video was a couple of minutes behind!

It seemed like the more data intense it was, the more the lag. Angry Birds Star Wars was more like thirty seconds behind. The e-mail app? Less than ten.

I Maydayed it, and the rep could see that my wi-fi was somewhat erratic, and suggested that might be it.

That means I’ll try more testing. Maybe try it closer to the router, and I do have a different router I can try. I might also try it at work. If it works with a better signal, I could try a wi-fi extender (but I don’t think those are cheap…if anybody can recommend one, I’d appreciate it).

If that’s the only issue, then this is a good solution. If it’s not, it’s not. 😉

NPR: “Brick-And-Mortar Bookstores Play The Print Card Against Amazon”

In this

NPR article by Lynn Neary

the basic assertion is that Larry Kirshbaum recently left as the head of

Amazon Publishing

because many brick-and-mortar stores refused to carry books published by Amazon, making that an unsuccessful venture.

As I wrote about a year ago, that drives me crazy! I speak as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager…you’re just shooting yourself in the foot doing that. I would love to see brick-and-mortar bookstores stick around, and I think some will…but not with that kind of move.

Get comps when you review on Amazon

In another good

NPR article

Lisa Chow writes about top Amazon reviewers getting lots of stuff for free.

I really didn’t know that!

I mean, you aren’t even really supposed to write about e-books if you were given them as compensation for writing a review. That’s not quite what is happening here, but I sure would like to know if a review is written by someone who was given that $500 item!

As a blogger, I’m required to reveal when I got a comp (free) copy of something if I review it (that doesn’t usually happen, by the way).

Does put an interesting spin on things…probably really motivates some people to write reviews that will get good responses. I guess that could be a good thing…

What do you think? Is the NOOK as relevant as it was a year ago? Do you mind that some Amazon reviewers get free things to review? Are brick-and-mortars hurting Amazon by not carrying its paperbooks? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Kindle Matchbook has launched!

October 29, 2013

Kindle Matchbook has launched!

Amazon’s new program

Kindle Matchbook

which allows people who bought some p-books (paperbooks) through Amazon to buy e-book versions at a reduced price (down to free, in some cases, and not more than $2.99), is now live!

They said it would happen in October: it did. 🙂

You go to the above page, and you can click a link to see which books qualify for you (you’ll need to log in again)

When I clicked on it myself, there were (drum roll…) seven titles, each of them at $2.99.

It does make me wish I’d bought more books at Amazon, rather than Borders and Barnes & Noble, since the mid-1990s. 😉

They average 69% off of the current Kindle price, which is certainly a good deal.

I’m likely to buy a couple of them, because I want the convenience of having them be searchable and immediately available.

The first one I bought is

Motivating the “What’s In It For Me” Workforce: Manage Across the Generational Divide and Increase Profits
by Cam Marston

That has a lot of good insight into how different generations in the American workplace behave, and how it can be hard sometimes for one to understand the other.

Oh, this is interesting! If I want to gift the book, it is the normal Kindle price ($15.48 in this case). It’s weird to see a different “Buy” price and “Gift” price. I suspect some people are going to click “Gift” without realizing it.

In terms of publishers, mine broke down to:

  • Wiley
  • Adventures Unlimited
  • Minotaur
  • Avon
  • Chronicle
  • Down East
  • Newmarket

It appears that every time you visit your qualifying titles page, it recalculates the list. That makes sense (you could have bought something in-between), although it does slow things down a bit.

They are listed in reverse chronological order (most recent purchase first).

You do not need a hardware Kindle to take advantage of this: a free Kindle reading app is fine.

There is a notification on a p-book’s product page if it qualifies. When I went to the e-book product page for one I owned, it said:

Kindle MatchBook: $2.99 because you’ve purchased the print edition.
You Save: $7.00 (70%)

Here is a list of all of the

Kindle Matchbook titles

As I write this, there are 74,214 (I’ll keep an eye on this in the future, to see if it expands). Update: there are actually fewer this (Wednesday) morning, with 74,185. That’s not a lot fewer, but it is a bit odd.

Yes! I was curious about this. If you go to the product page for an e-book where you didn’t get the p-book from Amazon, and it is part of the program, it will tell you what you would pay if you buy the p-book first. I saw a ninety-nine cent Kindle title on the list, for example. Clicking on it, I saw

“If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for FREE. Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.”

I’ll look more at the participating publishers, but I know many of you have been waiting for this, so I’m going to publish this post now, and update it later.

Enjoy!

Thanks, Amazon!

Update: here’s a search in order of “most reviewed”:

Kindle Matchbook titles by most reviewed

I thought that might give me some insight into the publishers.

I saw a book there where I have bought the e-book and not the p-book…no mention of Kindle Matchbook on the page, which makes some sense. You can’t get a discounted p-book when you bought the e-book, just the other way around. No real reason to alert somebody to something if they can’t take advantage of it. 😉 I would see the information if I wasn’t logged in as myself.

Here are the publishers of the top ten by most reviewed:

  • Broad Reach
  • HarperCollins
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Frontline
  • HarperCollins
  • Montlake (Amazon)
  • AmazonEncore (Amazon)
  • Independent
  • HarperCollins
  • Solis Press

HarperCollins is a Big 5 (used to be Big 6, but Random House and Penguin merged) publisher.

Update: here are the

Kindle Matchbook Program Details

Some people have asked about used books. The details say

“Kindle MatchBook offers do not apply to used books, books sold by other sellers, and books not enrolled in the Kindle MatchBook program.”

Also, you only get one shot at buying the book at the reduced price. If you buy it at the reduced price, and cancel or return it, that reduced price is not available to you for a future purchase of the same title.

Let’s get a sense of how many are available to my readers:

Update: here is the

press release

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

Eight of our Kindles stolen

October 28, 2013

Eight of our Kindles stolen

I came home from work today, and on entering the house, I could see things were awry.

There were things on the floor that should be there…including a “letter sorter” that held some of our Kindles: it was empty.

I went back out (not touching anything, except to re-lock the front door…I had unlocked it, and there was an stuck in it when I got there, so I knew they hadn’t gone in that way), called my Significant Other, who called the police.

The house was tossed, but not vandalized. They didn’t take a lot of stuff (like this desktop computer), or the TVs.

They did, however, take eight of our Kindles (including three Kindle Fires).

We were only using two of those actively: PowPow (Kindle Paperwhite 2) and Vulcan (Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE).

Since the Kindle content is backed up at Amazon, that part is not that big a deal.

The most awkward part is going to be missing the Kindle Fire, since that’s how we were watching TV in one room (using the HDMI out…which isn’t available on my Kindle Fire HDX, which I had with me).

We may have to try buying a Miracast “dongle”, although we were hoping to wait to see what Amazon announces (if anything).

So, my process was to contact Kindle Support at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

I chatted with them, because we were using the phones to call credit card companies (that appears to be what they were trying to find).

It was a little disconcerting, because the person was giving me wrong information:

D—:Hello. My name is D—. I’ll be glad to help you today.
I’m sorry to hear that your Kindle was stolen. Let me take care of this for you.
Me:After you take care of it, will the information still be on the account, so I can report the serial numbers to the police?
D—:Nope. After we have deactivated and deregistered your devices, it can no longer be use by another person l as your account cannot be accessed.
Me:Yes, understood, but will the serial numbers still show in Manage Your Kindle?
D—:Serial number does not show in Manage your Kindle.
Me:It does, actually. I can see it right now.
D—:Only the registered name but not the serial number. May I know the name of the
Kindle I need to deactivate please?
Me:Since I can see those serial numbers, and you think they aren’t there, I think I’d better record them before you do anything. I need that information for the police.

The serial numbers do show. I ended up copying and pasting them for the rep.

After they were deregistered, that information was gone from MYK.

If any of them do show up, we can contact Amazon and re-register.

I did have

Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile

which allowed me to send a remote lock command, and would have located the device if the web connection was on (it hasn’t been…the last shown location was close enough to our house that that’s where it had been seen).

Again, this could have been much worse, and I’m not too stressed about it. I pointed out to the police officer that they weren’t literate thieves, since they didn’t steal my Oz books (probably more than $500 worth of books in an easily handled and sold grouping). Looks like they actually didn’t go into the library at all, which is why my 2007 Kindle was still here.

I think it was probably just random identity thieves. They were relatively polite, not breaking things unreasonably (although there was some damage from where they entered, and one window screen was pulled out.

We’ve always had dogs (which are a good thief deterrent), but haven’t had them for about six months…I suppose that might have made a difference.

Hopefully, this information might be helpful for those of you out there. If it happens to you, one of my most popular things is this:

What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen

Update: I’m seen (accurately) as a generally positive, optimistic person, so I’m thinking some of you might be curious about how I feel about this.

Sure, I wish it hadn’t happened.

I have to say, though, that I don’t think of the people who did it as bad (or less) human than I am.  I don’t like the action, of course, and we’d like to get our stuff back. In the sympathy I’ve gotten on it (thanks to readers who have offered that), there have been some dehumanizing terms used for them, and that’s honestly not how I feel. I think Jean Valjean from Les Misérables: I really don’t know what their motivations may have been. There are some selfish, “bad” reasons to have done this, absolutely, but it could also have been done for some other sorts of reasons (not necessarily well thought out).

They could have made things much worse, and I do feel like they were making some effort not to be destructive simply for its own sake. Not to take worthless keepsakes, that sort of thing.

I don’t have any great emotional desire to see them punished. I wouldn’t like for them to do this to someone else (although that’s probably pretty likely…this doesn’t look like amateurs to me), but I don’t especially want to see them “hurt” for doing it.

It is affecting us psychologically, somewhat, and that might get worse. I knew it was illogical this morning, but I was emotionally thinking that there might be someone inside the next room when I got up this morning.

I want to especially thank a reader, Oldie Suzanne, for the suggestion to put a freeze on our credit. For $10 for each of the big three credit agencies, you can stop additional credit from being opened in your name (unless you provide a PIN ((Personal Identification Number))). That’s making me more at ease this morning. You can track your existing credit pretty well, but if somebody opens a new credit card at a new address in your name, you won’t know about it until charges hit your account.

This looked like a good resource with links to all three agencies:

http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clark-howard/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/nFbL/

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

Round up #215: So long, Sony, and tradpubs won’t guarantee print?

October 28, 2013

Round up #215: So long, Sony, and tradpubs won’t guarantee print?

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

Oh…your question isn’t about Adobe Flash

A poster, with a likely intent to be funny and an apparently fictitious name, asked an interesting question in this

Amazon Kindle Forum thread

While the post used an arguably offensive reference (in which you refer to an adult as a child, in order to diminish their status), it posits this significant question:

What happens if someone behaves inappropriately with a Mayday rep? Specially, “flashes” that person?

I do think that Amazon opened the door to this sort of speculation a bit through the nature of the commercials. It’s hard not to describe the caller’s action as flirtatious (although the tech rep behaves professionally).

The first answer to the question is that, while you can see the tech rep, they can’t see you (by default). I’m sure many calls will be made with the caller in a state of dishabille which wouldn’t happen at your local Genius Bar. 😉 It will be fine to call Mayday while you are in the bathtub, for example, which may happen.

However, there are a lot of ways someone could behave inappropriately, even perhaps criminally…I’m hoping Amazon has made some preparations for this (both procedurally and in training for the Mayday reps).

One issue is that the Mayday rep can see what is on your screen. Someone could call (arguably legitimately) because their streaming porn has frozen on the screen. In that case, the tech rep would see the pornographic images. I don’t think the customer would be in trouble in that case, but Amazon hypothetically could be if that risk is not explained to the reps.

More troublesome would be the customer using the built-in camera to show video of themselves while the Mayday rep was on the screen. If that video consisted of “lewd and lascivious” behavior, which could be combined with threats, there could be an issue.

In that case, I would imagine that the customer could be criminally liable (and the call might be recorded…customers are warned about that).

Even if there wasn’t legal action taken, Amazon could, hypothetically, drop that person as a customer. That is not something that they do lightly, but it is something they have reportedly done in the past. One of the things that would happen, in that case, is that you would not have access to content stored in your Amazon archives/Cloud.

Again, my hope here is that Amazon has provided training for the reps in how to react in those situations, and has protocols already in place for what the company will do. If they don’t have that, they are opening themselves up for employee legal action.

Things in business are never as simple as they might seem at first, but it is possible to consider the ramifications of your actions and prepare for them.

Four…three…two…one…Matchbook!

The countdown to the launch of

Kindle Matchbook

Kindle Matchbook continues, with quite a few Kindle Forum posts asking when it is going to happen. That indicates significant interest.

Well, “countdown” isn’t accurate, because you can’t have a countdown without knowing where the end point is. 😉

Amazon has said that the program, which allows the discounted purchase of some e-books when you have purchased the p-book (paperbook) from Amazon in the past, will launch “in October”.

Counting today, there are four days left.

It could happen any time (I have it open in a browser tab, and keep refreshing). Tuesday is possible: that’s a big day for announcements and releases in publishing.

On the other hand, they could definitely do a “soft launch”, not really making a big announcement right away. This might place some stresses on Amazon’s systems, depending on how many people take how much advantage of it right away. It might be better if it happened in dribs and drabs first, so they can almost pilot it and see how it works. It wouldn’t surprise me if people get e-mails giving them access, and that those are staged, prior to a full launch (I would expect the latter to be before November 1st, though).

The other thing is that it is to Amazon’s advantage to have a lot of well-known books in there initially, and at the best possible prices, to get the most publicity out of it. They may be negotiating right up to the last minute.

As I said before, whether a book is in the program or not is really up to Amazon, not the publisher. Amazon may be trying to get the publishers to agree to accept less money for the books in exchange for them being in the program, and that may take some real arguing.

We’ll see it before November 1st, unless something really goes wrong…but there are reasons you could see it today in an e-mail, or that no one would see it before Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween…

Amazon has a lot going on for one of my favorite holidays. 🙂 There are temporary categories which appear, and this is one of them:

Children’s Halloween Books

There are many Kindle editions listed there, although they aren’t necessarily on sale.

For that matter, they have a whole

Halloween Shop

sponsored by Hershey’s.

Isn’t it interesting that Amazon has a store section “sponsored” by another business? That certainly doesn’t mean that only Hershey’s products are available in it (there are movies, decor, music, and more…yes, including candy, but not just Hershey’s candy…although the latter does have a 30% discount deal, and yes, you can get it by Halloween). Hershey’s is paying Amazon money to be mentioned on their site…even though it may drive business to competitors. Oh, and I do like that you can select “vegetarian” as a filter. 🙂

Publishers Weekly: “For Major Pubs, Will Print No Longer Be the Norm?”

This is an interesting

Publishers Weekly article by Rachel Deahl

The basic premise of the article is that traditional publishers may no longer guarantee a print edition when a book is signed. The publisher will make that determination.

While they weren’t able to really back it up with any proof that it is happening, it appeared to be a concern of agents.

I can certainly understand publishers wanting that option. These deals can be made some time in advance of the actual publication…and conditions could change enough so that a print edition wouldn’t make sense, when an e-book still would.

Tradpubs’ (traditional publishers’) real power area is still p-books, though: that’s one area where they have distribution and promotion advantages over independents. They have to really regauge to show those same sorts of advantages for e-books. That means, they’ll have to show caution in this, that they don’t let an individual deal overpower the long term goals.

“DISCONTINUED: CONTACT US FOR OTHER OPTIONS”

Sony was ahead of Amazon in getting into the EBR (E-Book Reader) market in the USA…and it appears that they have now abandoned it.

Following a heads-up from

MobileRead

I went to the Sony site. I used a link which used to take me to their EBRs, but it just took me to the first page.

Searching for “e-book”, I only found a gift card for their e-book store, which does still exist at

https://ebookstore.sony.com/

I decided to search for “reader”, and that’s when I found the listings.

All of the EBRs had the language I used for the headline here…they said that they were discontinued (this would be for the USA).

They aren’t the first EBR manufacturer to get out of the market, but they used to be one of the big players (even though they never seemed to me to put much effort behind it).

People liked the product, but you did seem to pay the “Sony tax” for the name (in other words, they were priced higher).

Guess I’ll be pulling the link from the ILMK blogsite to Sony EBRs…

What do you think? Will Amazon see complaints of “hostile working environments” from Mayday reps? Do you consider referring to an adult with a term used for a child offensive, or okay, or does it depend? Did/do you own a Sony EBR? Are you still going to order things online for Halloween? How much are you looking forward to Kindle Matchbook? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Do you qualify? Special deal on Kindles

October 27, 2013

Do you qualify? Special deal on Kindles

Okay, this one is weird, and I can’t see it.

In this

Amazon Kindle forum thread

a poster named Irene reported being able to go to this page (the link was actually posted by someone else):

Kindle Special Deals

and buy a $69 Kindle for $9 (!) following a $60 discount.

When I go there, it says, “We’re sorry. It looks like you’re not eligible to receive this promotion. Please check out some of our other great Kindle offers below.”

There aren’t any offers below. 🙂

I’m just mentioning this because it might benefit someone out there.

If you do qualify, I’d be interested to hear that! It might be that to qualify, you need to have received an e-mail or something, but I’m not sure.

Strange…

Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, oldiesuz, suggested that the offer might only be available to those don’t own Kindles already. That makes some sense to me. I’m sure Amazon makes more than $60 from the typical person owning a Kindle over time. Another regular reader and commenter, cardinalrobbins, urged caution, in case this was an illegitimate deal. That’s always possible, but I did test this in a couple of ways. One of the key things is that if I logged out of Amazon on the “Special Deals” page, it also logged me out on a page I know is legitimately Amazon…that would be difficult to spoof. I would be very surprised to find out that this is a fake, but caution is not unreasonable.

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

Round up #214: Amazon will pay you to get these apps, Gaiman gets it

October 26, 2013

Round up #214: Amazon will pay you to get these apps, Gaiman gets it

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

AmazonLocal deals: e-books, tablets, and Audible subscriptions

AmazonLocal is Amazon’s deal service. You create an account for free, and then they offer limited-time deals. You typically say you want the deal, and then are given a certain amount of time to use it.

Some of the deals are a case of buying something for a discount: pay $15, get $30 worth, that kind of thing.

Others are free vouchers that allow you to buy something at a special price.

There are  three  of the latter right now that might be particularly interesting to readers of this blog.

Free Voucher for Select Kindle Books for $0.99 Each

You can see the books on the

Offer Page (must receive code before using)

This is an impressive set! The thing that ties together is almost all of them have at least 50 ratings, and a 4+ (out of 5 star) average: that’s good. Authors include Louis L’Amour and Ed McBain.

Another deal is

Get 30% Off a 12-Month Subscription to Audible

Not every Kindle can do audiobooks, because not every Kindle has sound (the Paperwhite and the “Mindle”, the lowest priced Kindle, don’t). You also don’t need to have a membership to buy books from Audible: that’s a common misconception. However, as they say, membership has its privileges, and there are many happy Audible (owned by Amazon) members.

The third one I’ve written about previously, and it looks like some of my readers have taken advantage of it, based on comments. There are fewer than three days left to get a 20% off voucher for refurbished Kindle Fires.

My readers have said (and I agree), that refurbs are a great way to go. You get the same warranty you would on a new one, and honestly, I think the quality control is probably better because they’ve been inspected carefully and individually. If you buy a new one, I think you have a better chance of getting a “lemon”. However, I recognize that a lot of people want new ones (that’s what I buy), but there’s nothing wrong with saving some money (even more with the coupons) if you are comfortable with an equal or better quality refurb.

Amazon will pay you to get these apps

Not only does Amazon give away a lot of things, they sometimes give you a benefit when you buy something.

A common thing used to be that you might get an MP3 credit when you bought certain apps.

Well, today only, from your Fire (go to Apps, then Store, and watch the banner change for the ad), you can six popular apps for free…and with each one, you get 20 Amazon coins.

The Amazon Coins can be used to buy more apps or some in-app purchases.

A coin is worth a penny, basically, but still…that’s up to $1.20 for free, plus the apps.

The apps are:

  • The Room: 4.8 stars out of 5, with 2,567 (!)  customer ratings…I wonder if people are more likely to rate apps, and why? Age appeal, perhaps?
  • Angry Bird Star Wars Premium: 4.2 stars, 1,851
  • Diner Dash Deluxe: 4.0 stars, 210 reviews (the non-deluxe version has thousands of reviews)
  • Toca Builders: 4.4 stars, 31 reviews
  • Fishdom Premium: 4.6 stars, 189 reviews
  • Splashtop Whiteboard: 3.8 stars, 4 reviews (normally $9.99)

I’ve used  a Splashtop app before, and I’ll try this one out (I went ahead and got all of the apps which we didn’t already have. We only had Angry Birds Star Wars…which interestingly meant we couldn’t get the coins for that one). This will give you a whiteboard to use with a computer. You’ll use your Kindle Fire as the interface, and what you do that will appear on the computer over wi-fi.

Speaking of apps, I haven’t mentioned this.

Candy Crush Saga

which is a popular enough app to get in the zeitgeist and become the topic of jokes, has come to the Kindle Fire.

It’s free, and rated 4.7 stars with 3,130 reviews.

My Significant Other has tried it. The weird thing is that you’ll get to the point where you want to play another game, and your choice is either to pay with real money, or wait fifteen minutes…something like that. I think that’s pretty clever!

Gaiman gets it

I thought this was a great

essay by Neil Gaiman in the Guardian

It explains the value of fiction in a way that is both relatable and reliable.

It also makes the excellent point that one of the most important things is that children enjoy reading, so trying to control what they read may be counterproductive. If you read a “good” book, but hate reading it, that doesn’t really help encourage you to read other things.

I’m going to highly recommend the article, and I do want to mention one thing I learned from it:

“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. SF had been disapproved of for a long time. At one point I took a top official aside and asked him what had changed? “It’s simple,” he told me. “The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.”

So, pragmatically, the Chinese may have decided that their population should read science fiction. 🙂

Here’s a question, though, since I always like to look at both sides: science fiction readers may certainly be more imaginative, but are they more productive? Something to consider…some certainly are, but that’s an argument you would get from people who are anti-imagination. “Sure, they may be brilliant, but they don’t put their brilliance to work to help society.”

Amazon did not raise the price for Super Saving Shipping

I reported recently on Amazon raising the minimum for Super Saving Shipping from $25 to $35…but I am seeing a lot of people reacting to that as though the price has been raised.

Free is free…you are paying the same amount for Super Saving Shipping, which is nothing. 😉

The difference is that you have to have an order with a higher minimum value before you get that free shipping.

Hypothetically, that could just mean waiting longer in-between.

There is a sense, here, that we spend money and don’t get something for it if we add things to the purchase. I would hope that isn’t so: that you don’t just add something to the cart and then toss it in the garbage when you gets to your house. 😉

I’ve also seen some hostility expressed about the Amazon Add-on program, where you can buy some items only as part of a minimum $25 order (or maybe, only at what many people see as a reasonable price after you reach that level).

I wanted to poll you about some special programs of Amazon’s:

What do you think? Are science fiction readers “good members of society”, or does society just benefit from their creativeness sometimes? Should adults guide children to “good books”, or let them read what they want? Are you addicted to Candy Crush? If you are an Audible subscriber, what benefits do you think make it worth it? 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. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

Kindle Touch also back on sale!

October 25, 2013

Kindle Touch also back on sale!

Maybe Amazon decided it was almost Halloween, and time to bring some zombie Kindles back from the dead? 😉

Kindle Touch with Special Offers

This is quite similar to my announcement yesterday about the Kindle Keyboard being back on sale, new from Amazon. The page is acting in a similar way, it’s not on the “family stripe”, and if you want it without Special Offers, you can’t get it directly from Amazon (but you could buy out if later, if you want).

It’s priced at $99.

If you do want to benefit a blog or other site when you buy this, you could first get an Amazon Gift Card from a link on the site, then use that to buy the Kindle.

The Touch had also been a popular model: touchscreen and text-to-speech.  4.0 out of 5 stars, 8,095 customer reviews…less than a quarter of the reviews as the Kindle Keyboard, but more than the Mindle (the lowest cost Kindle…that’s just my name for it) or the Kindle DX. A comparison of those different review numbers for different models might be worth doing in another post

Gee, what’s next…the 2007 Kindle 1? 😉

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

Amazon’s 3rd Quarter financials: losing less!

October 25, 2013

Amazon’s 3rd Quarter financials: losing less!

Well, Wall Street will likely be pleased with this financial report from Amazon!

Their sales were way up (24% year over year), which is great…and not a big surprise for Amazon.

The thing is that Amazon has been spending a lot of money “buying” those sales and customers.

Imagine a car dealership. The Sales Manager offers a $100 bonus for the first person to sell three cars that day.

An  hour later, a salesperson claims the prize…because they sold the brand new cars for ten bucks each. 😉

That person had higher sales, but the dealership would have lost money.

Amazon’s been doing that sort of thing.

If you were the Sales Manager, you might want to fire that person. However, maybe the salesperson says, “Look, I sell it for $10 this time, but now the customer loves me. They’ll come back and do all their service here, buy all their parts here…heck, I sold a two hundred dollar jacket to the buyer, and three baseball caps at $25 each! From now on, they’ll buy everything from me…even snacks and bottled water. Just stick with me, and we’ll make money eventually.”

That’s been something like Amazon’s pitch to investors…they are buying customers and marketshare.

At some point, though, the Sales Manager/Investor is going to want to see those losses turning around.

Well, GAAP Operating Income was a loss of $25 million this quarter…versus a loss of $28 million in the third quarter of 2012. The loss was smaller by more than ten percent. At that rate, in ten years, they’d make money in the third quarter. 😉 That’s not a big money quarter usually, so you have to take that into account. If you lose money in the third quarter, but make more money than that in the fourth quarter, you are ahead for the half year.

In terms of the Question and Answer part of the call, which can be the most interesting part, there were definitely some of the same messages. They mentioned that they consider their competitors to include brick-and-mortars (they said you’ll pass them on the way home).

That goes back to what I keep saying about why they spend the money to make Prime a better deal. They talked about something reported in the

press release

that they had signed up millions of new Prime members…in the past 90 days! They also talked about a good retention rate on Prime members.

Prime members buy more physical goods (that’s where Amazon is competing with the brick-and-mortars), and there is more margin in that than in digital goods.

I did think they were a bit more forthcoming with numbers in this call.

Overall, this was a positive report, and I think we’ll see the stock continue to rise tomorrow (it was up today). I don’t claim any special expertise in predicting the stock market, though.

What did they call out as highlights in the press release?

  • The new Kindle Fires
  • Mayday (the “killer app”, in my opinion)
  • The Fires as business devices (some of that is coming in mid-November)
  • The Paperwhite 2 (they aren’t ignoring RSKs…Reflective Screen Kindles, non-Fires)
  • Kindle Matchbook (I keep refreshing the page to see if it’s live yet)
  • The presence in Mexico
  • Amazon Studios’ original material
  • Appstore Developer Select
  • Login and Pay with Amazon
  • Amazon Art
  • All the people they are hiring (seasonal)…70,000
  • The acquisition of TenMarks
  • The presence in India
  • Improvements to Amazon Web Services

Interestingly to me, they also mentioned that they have now deployed (in the past 90 days) 1,382 Kiva robots in three FCs (Fulfillment Centers).

If you’d like to listen to the Conference Call yourself, you can do that at

http://www.amazon.com/ir

One bit of irony: I have now run into the first thing where my Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers couldn’t do something I wanted it to do. What was that? Play Amazon’s own 3rd Quarter Financial Conference Call for me. 😉 I haven’t put Flash Player on it, but every other site I’ve tried has been fine. It just seems ironic that Amazon would seriously tout the new Kindle Fire…and not post the recording in a compatible format…

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


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