Archive for November, 2013

A Kindle for the guest room

November 30, 2013

A Kindle for the guest room

When I went on vacation, I took books with me.

For that matter, when I went to the grocery store, I took books (plural) with me. 😉

However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate having books to read when I visited someone. Like many people, I read every day…but there is definitely something cool about reading a book you don’t own, provided by someone else.

When people come to my house, my floor to ceiling library is one of my favorite things to show them…but honestly, it may concern some people. 🙂 It certainly can be a bit intimidating, especially to the casual reader. Things are categorized and alphabetized, and it’s obvious that some of the books are old and fragile (more than a century old, in some cases).

With the popularization of e-books, things are different.

You can read an e-book with no risk of degradation, so borrowing one should feel a lot safer.

Also, let’s face it: some people are going to prefer to read e-books. There are the advantages for those with print challenges, for one thing, like the ability to increase the text size.

We know we have a guest expected to visit us in late December (in addition to our adult kid). I wanted to provide books…that person is going to be here for close to two weeks, and it’s hard to carry that many books.

So, we are setting up a Kindle for the guest room.

I was a bit surprised to see other people mention that they had a “guest Kindle”, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

It does open up some questions, though. I thought I’d take this post to give you tips and guidance on how to set up a Kindle for guests to use.

We have a

new generation Kindle Paperwhite
at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

that neither of us are using as our main reader, and we are going to dedicate it to this purpose (it can be a loaner for people as well). I’m going to tailor this to that device, but a lot of the advice I am giving you would work with other Kindles as well. In this post, I’m not going to be talking about the Kindle Fire: for me, this idea is really about books.

The first thing you need to decide is how much access you want the guest to have. I do want to give them access to all of the books on the account…that’s part of the fun for me. 🙂 I like being able to share literally thousands of books (we have over 4,000 items in our Kindle Cloud/archives…that’s not half as many paperbooks as I have…but it’s growing). You might not want that. You might have books that you don’t want people to know that you read (or even that you own).

I’m going to describe how I did it first, giving access to all of the books in our Cloud, but I’ll also tell you how to limit it to books of your choice.

However, I don’t want the person buying more books on the account. It’s not just that I don’t know this person very well, but it’s that the money would come out of our payment methods. Even if the person wanted to pay us back for buying more books, that just complicates things by bringing money into it.

My goal? Give the person access to the books on our account, but not the ability to get new books on the account.

Before I do that, though, I should mention the set up. We did register the device to our Amazon account, and connect it to our wi-fi network (this one doesn’t have 3G). If you are going to use a used Kindle for this purpose, you might want to reset it to factory defaults first. That’s not something you do lightly: it wipes everything off the device that you’ve done to it, including deleting wi-fi networks and personal files. For a guest device, that might make sense, though. I may do that after each time someone is here. To do that: Home – Menu – Settings – Menu – Reset Device.

The next step is to allow access to your Cloud, but not to the Kindle store:

Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Parental Controls

Under Parental Controls, tap “Restrictions”.

The first time you do this, you’ll need to enter a password. Make sure you can remember this password. Write it down somewhere secret, if you need to do that.

At this point, you have four options:

  • Web Browser
  • Kindle Store
  • Cloud
  • Goodreads on Kindle

I don’t mind if the person goes on the web, but you can turn that off if you want. I did turn off the Kindle Store. I left on the Cloud (so they can download books we’ve already “bought” on the account). I left Goodreads on Kindle turned on at this point…I may turn it off, though. I’m not sure if that allows the person to rate books and such.

The two key ones: store off, Cloud on.

Now, my guest has access to all of the books in the Cloud, but can’t buy new ones from Amazon.

Easy enough, right? 🙂

Putting on the Parental Controls, by the way, stops someone from deregistering the device, or resetting it to factory defaults.

I’ve gotten some freebies I think the person may like. This visitor also speaks German as their first language (although they are fluent in English and Spanish). I’m going to set the interface to German, just as a courtesy:

Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Language and Dictionaries

If you haven’t done it yet, you may also want to review what Cloud Collections you have (for more information, see Understanding Cloud Collections). I’ve created one just for books in German, so that will make it easier for our guest to find them.

Now, suppose you don’t want your guest to know that you have certain books…is that possible?


With the latest update, we got Kindle FreeTime on the Paperwhite. That will let you to just choose certain books to be available (and visible) on the device.

Home – Menu – Kindle FreeTime

Similar to Parental Controls, you’ll have to enter a password to make changes here. You need to set up a profile (you’ll be asked to choose a birthdate…and, I think unnecessarily, a gender). You then check the books to which you want the guest to have access. That’s it: just those books will be available. You then tap “Start”, and just those books will show.

To get out of Kindle FreeTime, tap the menu in your top right corner: you’ll need to enter your password again.

One more use case: what if somebody simply forgot (or lost/had stolen/or it failed) their Kindle, and they want to access their own books?

In that case, they would register the “guest Kindle” to their own account for the duration of their trip. Thanks to Cloud Collections, all of their normal Collections would be available to them.

That’s about it.

Oh, one thing: we have “Whispersync” turned off on our account. My Significant Other and I are sometimes reading the same book at the same time, and we don’t want it to try to sync our reading position. If one person is reading on multiple devices (a Kindle and a phone, for example), Whispersync makes sense. If two people are reading on their own devices, it probably doesn’t. To turn that off, go to

and click or tap

Whispersync Device Synchronization

Now, you can share your love of reading with your guests!

If you have any questions, or thoughts about this for me or my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  

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.


2013 ILMK Holiday Gift Guide

November 29, 2013

2013 ILMK Holiday Gift Guide

As we enter into the biggest shopping period of the year, there are a lot of choices to make.

You want to get people gifts that make them happy…and make you happy, too. 🙂

That means something that is a good value, both in what they get out of it and what you have to put into it to get it.

I’m always leery when people ask what the “best” something is. People and use cases are different: what would be best for one person might not be best for another.

You might be the only person on your Amazon account…or you might share it with a hundred people.

You might just read on one device…or you might switch between your EBR (E-Book Reader), phone, and tablet.

You might live in a place where you have wi-fi everywhere you go…or where the only hope of connecting is 3G/4G.

You might be interested in watching movies on your high-tech gadget…or just want to settle in with a good book.

That said, I’m going to make some suggestions for things which I think would be good. If you think otherwise, or have more questions, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Kindle Devices

There are two distinct lines of hardware called “Kindles” (you can see my comparison of all of the models here).

One of them is the Fire line. Those are multifunctional tablets. Yes, you can read on them (I do that daily), but they are really well suited to multimedia, like watching videos and playing games.

The other line is the one with dedicated reading devices. They are great for reading books: you can read easily inside or outside, and battery charge life is measured in weeks, not hours.

Many people own both.

If you want to get something for a reader, I recommend the Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light (Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). The Paperwhite line is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had…including paper. It has frontlighting, which means that the light shines at the screen, not in your eyes. It can do some fancy things, but it doesn’t need to do them. It’s currently $119 with Special Offers (those are ads which reduce the price of purchase), or $139 if you aren’t willing to let advertisers subsidize the purchase. It also comes in a model that does both wi-fi and 3G (at AmazonSmile)…for $70 more. Having 3G available can make the device a bit easier to use, because you don’t have to know your wi-fi network password at home…you don’t even need to have wi-fi at home. Where I live, there is plenty of wi-fi available outside of my house (Starbucks, Whole Foods, and so on), and I have no problem entering a wi-fi password.

Alternatives: the less expensive ($69) “Mindle” (at AmazonSmile), which doesn’t have a touchscreen or a light, and the Kindle DX (at AmazonSmile) ($239), which has a much larger screen, but a lot older technology. Other older models may also be available, especially refurbished or on the secondary market.

In terms of the tablets, I went with personally and would recommend the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile). It’s the latest generation, and has the incredible Mayday feature. You tap a button on the screen, accept the connection, and get live tech help on your screen…24 hours a day…typically within fifteen seconds…who can take over your device (only if you want) and fix things for you…for free! It’s probably the greatest innovation in Customer Service in decades. You can give a Kindle Fire HDX to a non-techie relative, and as long as you get it on the network for them, you won’t have to be tech support. 😉 This one is not going to sit in a drawer because somebody can’t figure it out. You can finally actually get e-mails from all your relatives, regardless of their tech ability…that’s a good thing, right? 😉 It’s $229 in its least expensive configuration. Why would you spend more? To get more memory (if somebody is going to store several videos on it at the same time, that’s important), and to get 4G (so you can connect more easily in more places…but that will require a monthly payment for a data plan). There’s also a larger model with a back-facing camera (so you can take pictures with it more easily).

Alternatives: Kindle Fire HD 7″ (at AmazonSmile) ($139)…no camera and no Mayday.

Kindle Accessories

What do you get to go with a Kindle? Maybe somebody already has one, or you want to get a gift to go along with one you or somebody else is giving.

The one that I would consider to be important to have is a cover, and there are many options for that.

New this year (directly from Amazon) are customizable covers (both for Fires and non-Fires: (at AmazonSmile). You can upload your own image to be printed on the cover, which makes a really unique gift. Even if someone already has a cover, this is a great way to go.

Alternatives: there are many cover choices (and skins and sleeves), but we like a relatively inexpensive brand called Fintie. They have fun colors and patterns, and come for both Fires and non-Fires.

Going from the aesthetic to the practical, power supplies make good gifts. Sure, Kindles come with some way to charge them, but in some cases, it’s just by USB (which is much slower than by wall. The other thing is that I use more than one: I keep one with me at work, and I have more than one at home.

This is less of an issue for non-Fires, because they stay charged for so long. For Fires, though, your gift recipient may be doing some power intensive things (like playing games or watching movies)…and may want to use it plugged into the wall.

I recently got this one: Pwr+® Extra Long 6.5 Ft Cord 2A Rapid Charger Ac Adapter Micro-usb Power Supply Cord (at AmazonSmile). It’s a good home cord. It seems to charge my Fire quite quickly, and I like having the longer cord (you can even use your Fire as a nightstand clock…it has a mode for that). The prongs don’t collapse, though, so I don’t like it as well for travel.

Do you have someone who is a world traveler on your list? Fortunately, all Kindles are “universal voltage”, which means that you don’t have to have a power converter. However, you do have to have an adapter, so it can fit in the wall outlets (which are different in different places), unless you plan to charge just by USB. Amazon has the Kindle PowerFast International Charging Kit (for accelerated charging in over 200 countries) (at AmazonSmile). This is a power supply with twist-on adapters.

Are you thinking about headphones? Not all Kindles have sound (the Paperwhites don’t), and only some of the Fires have Bluetooth (all of the current generation Fires do, the HDXs and the new HD). The ones that can do headphones have a 3.5mm jack, which is pretty much the standard for mobile devices (if it says it will work for an iPod/iPad, it will work for these Kindles).

Here is something a little out of the box. For people who have the HDX, they can use it to “mirror” their screens to a TV (some other devices do this, too…my Galaxy S4 phone does). That means you can display what is on your Fire HDX on your TV. However, many TVs do not have the necessary Miracast wireless capability. If it’s a modern TV, it is likely to have an HDMI port. I bought the Netgear Push2TV which is about $50. Before you buy that, read my post on it: A Miracast adapter that works with the Kindle Fire HDX. It isn’t perfect, and I did have to update it (which wasn’t super easy), but I do use it every day now.

For accessories, there are also styluses, stands, screen protectors (I don’t use the last one)…a lot of possibilities.


Brand new this year is the ability to gift Amazon Prime to people. For $79 a year, they get free two-day shipping on many items at Amazon. It amazes me how much we use that! For Kindle owners, though, there are other advantages. You can borrow up to a book a month (from a list of over 100,000 titles…many of them are from small publishers, but there are some well-known books as well) at no additional cost. You can also get a pre-publication book for free…this is new, and the first month we had four choices. For people with Fires, or with other ways to watch Amazon Instant Video, you also get access to tens of thousands of videos at no extra cost. These include TV shows like Under the Dome and Downton Abbey, and many movies, including popular, fairly recent movies like Skyfall and Thor.

Amazon Prime (One Year Membership)
at AmazonSmile


You can gift most e-books in the Kindle store. You can’t do it if they are free, and there are geographic restrictions. To gift a book, go to it on Amazon…you’ll see a “Give as a Gift” button under the Buy button. You even specify a future date for it to be delivered, and include a message. So, if you see one go on sale (quite likely), you can buy it at the low price and have it delivered on the gift-giving occasion. I mention sale books quite often in this blog.

Gift Cards

Unfortunately, you can’t gift all kinds of content (in particular, instant videos and apps come to mind). It’s also hard to know exactly what somebody wants. No problem: you can give Amazon Gift Cards (at AmazonSmile). You have lots of options: electronic, gift box, animation featuring you (from Jib Jab), your own photographs…you can also make a suggestion with the card, but the person doesn’t have to use it for that. For example,  you could suggest somebody get a sweater, and they could pick the right size and color (or get something entirely different). You can set the amount as low as fifteen cents (!) and as high as $2,000. These are so much more flexible and fun than they used to be, and every Kindle owner will make use of it! Note: even though some gift cards have designs that have to do with a Kindle or even specifically a Kindle Fire, all Amazon gift cards can be used for any eligible item. Some items can not be bought with gift cards, like periodical subscriptions (they have to have something they can bill each month).

Amazon Wish Lists

One other thing (added to the post). Many people have Amazon Wish Lists. This can be the best way to see what people really want…even if you don’t get something directly from the list (and you can’t always…see Gift Cards above), you could see the types of items they like.

They can send you a link, or the list may be searchable. You can search for lists here:

Amazon Wish Lists


Those are some suggestions: hope you and yours have great times together…that’s the best gift of all. 🙂

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. 🙂 Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

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 Fire 8.9″ HD 4G 32GB from QVC for $249.95

November 29, 2013

Kindle Fire 8.9″ HD 4G 32GB from QVC for $279.95

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy for the heads-up on this!

QVC (Quality, Value, Convenience) has last year’s Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ with 4G and 32GB of memory for $249.95.

I don’t know where QVC gets their retail value listings…this one says $959.99, and I can’t see any configuration that would get you there.

However, this is still a great deal! If it has Special Offers on it, I would expect this model to sell for $399…so this is about $150 off.

This one does not have the latest generation of the operating system, so for one thing, no Mayday button (the free on screen tech help). However, it does have an HDMI out jack, which a lot of people want. With a cable (which you would buy separately), that lets you connect your Fire to your TV (if it has an HDMI in…most modern TVs do).

I had one like this that was stolen in a home break-in. I was using it as my primary tablet for quite a while, and using it to run TV in one room. I do llike my HDX better (it’s lighter, for one thing…it also speech-to-text dictation so you can talk and it types…that’s a great feature on a tablet), but this is a good device and a good price on it.

Thanks again to Lady Galaxy for the heads-up!

Update: bonus deal!


Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal at AmazonSmile…support a non-profit of your choice by shopping

is any of 25 movie-related titles for $1.99 each. There are some great titles here, and they definitely might make good gifts! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe…The Pianist…Running with Scissors: there are many kinds of movies, and many kinds of books here.

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 DX $70 off

November 28, 2013

Kindle DX $70 off

It was way back in 2009 (remember those long-forgotten days?) when Amazon introduced the Kindle DX, a large-screen (9.7″) version of their Kindle 2.

One of its intended uses was in colleges (a deal with textbook makers was announced at the same time), but it ran into a problem when there were concerns expressed about its use for those with print challenges, since they couldn’t use the search features.

It definitely has had its fans over the years.

It was discontinued, but then returned to the line-up.

Today, Amazon is discounting it $70…making it $169.

This is a great price for it, although you have to take into account its advantages and disadvantages.

The first, obvious thing is that the software, at its core, is four years (and then some) old.

It also has no wi-fi access…only 3G (which is free, though).

On the plus side, it has text-to-speech (even though it only does English and is a couple of generations back for Kindles), and is estimated to hold about 3,500 books.

If you’ve always wanted a Kindle DX (no lighting, long battery life, big screen), this is a good opportunity:

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.

Round up #224: free comics, B&N BF deals

November 27, 2013

Round up #224: free comics, B&N BF deals

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

Barnes & Noble announces Black Friday NOOK deals

You want a deal?

In this

press release

Barnes & Noble announces really low prices on some of their hardware…and more. Their low prices on NOOK books will likely drive low prices on Kindle books, since Amazon does typically price match where possible on those.

Interestingly, you can get these deals online, in addition to in the stores.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • NOOK Simple Touch (not lit): $39
  • NOOK HD tablet: $79
  • 50% off hundreds of bestselling titles (you’ll be able to get them for the NOOK here starting on Black Friday…and again, look for them in the Kindle store)
  • Buy $75 in B&N gift cards, get another $10 B&N gift card

Meanwhile, at Books-A-Million…

I reported yesterday on the big drop in Barnes & Noble sales. Well, the second largest bookstore chain in the USA is also down.

Publishers Weekly article

Same store sales fell 8.5%…that’s bad.

Unlike B&N, which managed to improve profitability by cutting costs, BAM saw it’s third quarter loss more than double YOY (Year Over Year) from $2.8 million to $7.1 million.

While this is actually a bit better than last quarter, it’s still not good. For those of you concerned about the literary culture being affected by the loss of dinostores (large, generalized bookstores) I’m not sure you’ll be heartened by their dependence on Duck Dynasty merchandise and Doctor Who toy tie-ins. 😉

The digital comic book spinner rack…and these are free!

Amazon has a special deal through December 2nd where you can get up to eight DC (Superman, Batman…not Marvel) digital comics for free.

8 Free Comics from DC

They work on Kindle Fires, Paperwhites, in reader apps (including iPad), in the Cloud reader…even older versions of the Kindle (including the Touch and the Keyboard). Yes, they’ll look better in color, but you can read them in the others.

There are some fun choices here, including Batman ’66 (the Adam West version), Vampire Diaries, and Smallville.

I’m getting them all…why not?

What about Kindles on Black Friday?

Amazon’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals will come fast and furious, changing as often as every ten minutes. We don’t know exactly what will be in those…I expect to keep checking. 🙂

Here is their

Black Friday Deals Week
Black Friday Deals Week at AmazonSmile (benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping…shop ’til you help)

which has links to Gold Box deals and more.

In terms of other stores, here is the search for “Kindle” at my favorite Black Friday site,

Be careful as you look at those to check what model is involved. Some of the discounted prices are for last year’s models. For the current models, what I’m tending to see is an incentive when you buy (like a gift card to the store). Best Buy does show the Mindle for $49.99 ($20 off).

The ads at aren’t official…but they tend to be accurate.


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.

NOOK segment sales drop 32%

November 26, 2013

NOOK segment sales drop 32%

Losing a third of something is really significant.

Picture these:

Moe, Larry…and no Curly.

Snap, Crackle…and no Pop.

Life, liberty…and no pursuit of happiness.

Well, that last one might eventually apply to Barnes & Noble and digital content/devices. 😉

In this

press release

Barnes & Noble reports their second quarter financial results, and it is sort of the Bizarro world version of Amazon’s.

Amazon’s sales continue to skyrocket, while we don’t see earnings/profit increasing much.

Barnes & Noble’s earnings increased 13.7% YoY (year over year…comparing this year to last year) which might sound like a good thing. If you do it in a sustainable way, great.

They say that they “improved margins” and reduced expenses. Sure, that’s good, and congratulations.


You still have to make money. You still have to sell stuff.

I mean, you could say, “We saved a lot of money on our groceries last month.” “Gee, how did you do that?” “We didn’t eat anything…” 😉

Obviously, that would ignore the side of the equation that justifies why you spend money in the first place.

Very simply, Barnes & Noble needs to keep selling things to have the income side be stable. You might be able to cut expenses faster than your sales are dropping for a while, but that can only go so far. Closing stores and reducing staff will cut your expenses, but eventually, you won’t be keeping your customers happen and you’ll hit that tipping point where the purchasing falls off a cliff.

In this case, B&N says (in this short excerpt from the press release):

The NOOK segment, which consists of the company’s digital business (including digital content, devices and accessories), reported revenues of $109 million for the quarter, decreasing 32.2% from a year ago.  Digital content sales were $57 million for the quarter, a decline of 21.2% compared to a year ago, due to lower average selling prices and lower device unit sales.  Device and accessories sales were $51 million for the quarter, a decrease of 41.3% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume and lower average selling prices.

Despite the sales decline, NOOK EBITDA losses decreased $6 million as compared to a year ago to $45 million on lower device markdowns and reduced expenses.”

Notice that their digital content sales were down significantly, but not nearly as much as the hardware/accessory sales.

I started this post talking about the roughly one third loss in the NOOK segment, but I could have just gone straight to the roughly two fifths drop in device/accessory sales.

They are both important, though.

One possible strategy for B&N is to essentially drop the hardware sales, and work on getting their reader apps in more places. They are trying that. In this

press release

they say

“Barnes & Noble Teams Up with Samsung to Make NOOK® the Only Reading App on the New Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids”

They are making the point that it has parental controls, that it is “…compliant with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).”

However, they better hurry up. You can’t lose 20% in your digital content sales in one year and hope to turn that around very quickly.

They could, hypothetically, manage a NOOK turnaround if other elements compensated for the expense.  Amazon could lose money on all of its hardware and all of its e-books, and still…well, not make money, because they don’t do much of that, but be fine. 😉

In the past, the College stores have been good performers for Barnes & Noble.

This time, they are down 4.6% YoY.

How about the bookstores, where we have probably all spent happy times in the past?

Down 7.5%.

Looking at the core bookstore figures, so ignoring the reduction in sales from store closures, online sales, and the NOOK segment, looks to me to be down 3.7%.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, it’s important to note that being down 3.7% doesn’t mean you have 96.3% to go. You can’t go to zero. It could be that you would fail with a reduction of 10%, if your expenses were high enough…and that wouldn’t be super high.

While B&N has reduced expenses, overall, you can’t figure that retail space rent and salaries are going to decrease in the next five years.

I hate to say it, but I don’t see much in here that looks very positive.

Why do I hate to say it?

I may love my Kindle, but that doesn’t mean I  have anything against the NOOK devices. There are a lot of people who own them, and I’d like to see them continue to be supported.

There’s also the competition issue. Kindle versus NOOK brought us some improvements. Having a healthy competitor is good for the consumer.

Yes, the Kobo Aura may be driving improvements. There are rumors, as reported in this

TechCrunch article by Matthew Panzarino

that there will be a new Paperwhite in Q2 (the second quarter) of 2014, with a better screen, better fonts, and a light sensor for automatic adjustment.

We Kindle users can be thankful to Kobo for that.

That doesn’t mean that they fill the vacuum if B&N drops out of the hardware race.

There was an old story, supposedly reported in Pravda (the old Soviet era newspaper…which isn’t a direct editorial line to the Pravda that’s around today).

I heard it as the headline being something like, “In international car race, Russian car finishes second from the top, American car is second from the bottom.”

Absolutely true…and the way it goes, they were the only two cars in the race. 😉 Coming in first would make the American car second from the bottom: coming in last would make the Russian car second from the top.

Those relative positions only really matter when we assume there were a lot of cars in the race.

In terms of EBRs (E-Book Readers), we want there to be a lot of cars in the race…

What do you think? Can B&N turn it around? Would you buy a NOOK this holiday season, and feel comfortable that it was a good investment? Will the day come when Amazon could go the way of B&N, and would that mean that buying e-books/EBRs is always a risk? 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.

Round up #223: Deliver to Cloud, Kindle giveaways

November 25, 2013

Round up #223: Deliver to Cloud, Kindle giveaways

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

Win a Kindle (not from me)

Sure, there are going to be some great Kindle deals in the next ten days or so (what with Black Friday and Cyber Monday). I’ll inform you about some of those, I’m sure (and we have some sense of what some of them might be).

Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to win a Kindle?

I figured there might be many people giving away Kindles right now…and a quick Google search reveals that to be the case.

I want to stress , here, that I do not know if these are legitimate, and I am not associated with them. However, my intuition is that most of them are (my advice to you is that if you don’t feel something is safe, skip it). After all, a Kindle is not that expensive to give away, and it can be life-changing. Kindles give you access to books…many world classics for free, for one thing.

They are also seen as a cool gadget…how often is it that “intellectual” and “cool” go together? 😉 Well, maybe more now than it was a few decades ago, but still…

Note that some of these may end soon! Many of the ones I found through Google had already ended.

Hm…I wonder if the first one and the last one are the same?

It’s interesting to me: it appears that Rafflecopter and ContestBurner are sites which help people do giveaways…and there seem to be many authors/publishers involved.

AmazonLocal: Select Kindle books for $0.99 each

Here’s an AmazonLocal deal:

Select Kindle books for $0.99 each

This is the typical AmazonLocal thing: you go there, and get a free voucher. If you don’t have an AmazonLocal account, you’ll need to establish one…but that’s free, too. 🙂

Then, you apply it…and you can get up to twenty out of a select group of Kindle books for ninety-nine cents each.

There is a Zane Gray, a Max Allan Collins, and Settlers of Catan available. The last one was a popular boardgame, and this is a well-reviewed novel based on it.

Earn Amazon Coins

A reader pointed out a promotion to me in a private comment.

I had noticed it, but as my reader pointed out, it isn’t very obvious how it works.

Part of it seems to just be a Special Offer (it’s accessible through the Offers tab on my Kindle Fire HDX). That’s 250 Amazon Coins when you buy certain apps.

What are Amazon Coins?

It’s Amazon’s own currency, used for apps and in-app purchases.

I have to say, though, that it won’t surprise me if Amazon expands this to other items in the next year or so. Why not? I’m sure Amazon would love to become currency, in addition to everything else it does. 😉

Right now, a coin is equal to a penny: you can spend 499 Amazon Coins to get a $4.99 game, for example.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

That’s 250 Amazon Coins on top of other coins…which you also earn when you buy one of these apps.

Even if you don’t have Special Offers, you can get to 2,214 apps (at time of writing) where you earn coins by purchasing them:

Earn Amazon Coins

Note: it will tell you at the top of the page how many Amazon coins you will earn. When I sorted by price low to high, I found some free games, but they did not say that you would earn any coins (despite being in this category). My guess is that whether you can earn coins or not comes and goes, and they just don’t get out of the category as soon as you stop being able to earn them.

Here’s an example:

Real Steel (based on the Hugh Jackman movie)

You pay $0.99 for it, and you get 30 Amazon coins. You can think of that as spending a net $0.69 for it, if you want.

The best reviewed app in this group?

Relax Melodies Premium: A White Noise Ambience For Sleep, Meditation & Yoga
4.7 stars out of five; 1,255 reviews at time of writing

It’s $2.99, and you earn ninety Amazon Coins.

Deliver to Cloud Only app option

One of the things people have wanted for years for Kindle e-books was to be able to “buy” them without having them delivered to a specific device. They’d like them to go just to the “Cloud”, their online storage at Amazon, so they can download them when they want them.

Well, Amazon recently added a “Cloud only” option when purchasing…but it is for apps.

That actually may seem like a step backwards to some people, although some will appreciate it.

By default, now, the app will deliver to a device…if you don’t want it to do that, you have to switch it in the dropdown to go to “Cloud Only” (this is when shopping on your computer).

I do that constantly.

Apps take up a lot of memory, and I’m very often getting the Free App of the Day (FAotD), and don’t want it on any of the devices at that point. I typically have e-books delivered to our Cloud Reader if I don’t want to use them right away…but delivering them to “Cloud Only” would probably be clearer.

Two glitches?

I’ve been having trouble using the Goodreads on Kindle that came as part of the most recent updates to both the Kindle Fire HDX and the Kindle Paperwhite 2 (I have both).

On the KFHDX, it won’t load my Amazon books (so I can add them to Goodreads) at all, most of the time. I’ve checked with Amazon (starting with Mayday, then getting transferred) and with Goodreads.

Goodreads eventually said that it was a bug, although there was also heavy server traffic due to all the new people getting into Goodreads through Goodreads on Kindle.

On the Paperwhite, it sometimes lets me add a few, and then stops.

I do have a lot of books (thousands), and I suppose that might lower my success rate. If it is working fine for you, or if you’ve experienced this, I’d be interested to hear it. My guess is that, if they added the functionality to the Goodreads website, I could do it there.

The other thing, and I think this is unrelated, is that I find I need to restart a lot (more than once a day) to connect to wireless. Well, not actually to connect: it continues to show I am connected. Just to be able to anything on it.

I have recently changed my router, but that doesn’t appear to be it, because the same thing happens on other networks.

The mid-November update did add a lot of connection capability, and I’m wondering if there might have been some security added which is kicking me out…like port security at some businesses.

It’s difficult, and I’m hoping it gets fixed.

Again, I’m curious as to whether you have noticed this as well.

If you do have thoughts on any of these stories for me and/or my readers, feel free to comment 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.

Amazon: room for improvement

November 23, 2013

Amazon: room for improvement

Amazon does a lot of things really well.

You want to return something? It’s easy. For an e-book, you can even return it within seven days of purchase your self, just by going to

finding the book there, clicking or tapping “Actions…”, and returning it.

If it’s a physical item, Amazon lets you print out a return label.

You even have thirty days to return a Kindle:

Kindle Return Policies

You want Customer Service?

If you have a new generation Kindle Fire, you have the Mayday service. There has never been an easier way to get Customer Service (and I’ve used it a few times already).

Buying things? Some people would say it is too easy. 😉

Overall, I’d say Amazon is the best retail company I’ve ever used, hands down.


That doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better.

I do believe they want to be better. Amazon is constantly changing and updating things. A lot of the innovation this year has been around new services and savings, more than around new hardware. As an existing customer, that’s how you want it to be. Making what you already own better…at no additional cost? Great.

There are, though, some definite areas for improvement.

I’m going to list a few year. As always, you  can comment on the post to add your own. My hope here is that Amazon is moving in these directions, and is aware of the concerns. If they aren’t, well, this might be like an ant trying to move a rubber tree plant, as the old song goes…but remember, in the song, that plant does move. 🙂

What’s in a name?

The Bard of Avon wasn’t saying that names are irrelevant. Sure, a “rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but the last names that Romeo and Juliet had indicated a lot about them…and that’s where the problems happened.

People assume that, if you name something, you are conveying meaning inherent to that thing. When the name and the meaning don’t align, it’s confusing and offputting.

We can go back to the beginning of the “Kindle”, more than six years ago now.

Many people didn’t like the name. People (properly) associated “kindling” with “burning”…and disrupting the book industry by associating books with burning was not a good thing. Amazon put out something explaining that they meant it like “kindling passion”…getting something started, rather than destroying it. Paperbooks and flames, though? Not a good association.

Okay, that’s just a case of how the name of a thing that people were seeing for the first time was perceived: just a first impression.

People got past that. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are young people who first associate the word “Kindle” with a book-reading device, rather than with burning things.

However, it then started to get confusing.

Rather than naming the next generation Kindle a “Kindle 2″, or something like that (officially, anyway), Kindles have been named…”Kindle”. Now, the current “entry level” Kindle (which I call a “Mindle”) doesn’t have much in common with the 2007 device…but according to Amazon’s naming conventions, they should be identical.

You could, of course, argue that a Ford Mustang is called a Ford Mustang every year, but it’s not…they add the model year to it. I can understand not wanting to name your e-book reading devices with the year, but I think a serial naming sequence (“Kindle 1”, “Kindle 2”) would make sense. If you want to come up with cool names each time, like Apple did by naming operating systems after big cats, that’s fine.

You just shouldn’t have two very different things with the same name.

I had cautioned against it, but they also named the tablet a Kindle…a Kindle Fire. Now, these are two very different lines of hardware, that do different things (although there is a fairly small overlap). People were confused: they were  complaining that the “new Kindle” wasn’t easy to read in bright sunlight. They talked about “upgrading” from a Kindle 3 (or Kindle Keyboard, or whatever they called it) to a Kindle Fire…that’s like upgrading from a baseball bat to an avocado. 😉 They just aren’t in a direct line.

Beyond that ,we have all of Amazon’s uses of the word “Cloud”. You have the Cloud Reader, the Cloud Player, the Cloud which is your archives stored on Amazon…and now, Cloud Collections (which don’t appear at the Manage Your Kindle site…which I think is what many people think of as the “Cloud”).

I’ll suggest a simple guideline, which I used to tell people when I helped them with database design: two things which do different things shouldn’t have the same name. 🙂 I would tell them not to have two “Accept” buttons on the same screen, for example.

Customer Education

In my “day job”, I do a lot of training, and that can certainly involve education (although they aren’t the same…training has do with modifying behavior, which often requires knowledge…education is just knowledge). Amazon, unfortunately, doesn’t do a very good job in letting people know about things.

When a new feature is introduced (like Cloud Collections), I’ll see massive confusion for days…even years. It may be something people would love (at least parts of it), if they knew the intended use…but Amazon never seems to explain that.

I certainly don’t mind (in fact, I enjoy) explaining the features, as I did here:

Understanding Cloud Collections

However, I have to figure it out pretty much by trial and error. I can’t just go on to an Amazon Help Page and get a scenario based explanation. Typically, even the features aren’t explained there.

Somebody at Amazon knows the use cases for all of these features: when they are good, and when they aren’t. If they didn’t, they couldn’t get built.

Maybe the thought is that they’ll be replaced soon anyway, so why spend the time and energy…but that doesn’t make sense to me. Even the basic concepts of what is stored on the device and what is stored at Amazon could be explained better.

I still see people (quite frequently) worrying that if they remove a Kindle store book from a device, they won’t be able to read it again.

Has Amazon ever given people  a simple explanation of Simultaneous Device Licenses?

Before you release a significant update, you should prepare a communication piece that explains the “why” of it. What is the context? What’s the advantage? What adjustments will people need to make? I’ve taught change management, and I always tell people that the first thing you say is what is not going to change.

If you are going to change the organizational structure in a business, the first part of introducing that should be, “Nobody is losing their jobs.” I’m putting it bluntly, here, but that’s got to be in the message before you say what is going to change…otherwise, people are just waiting to hear if that is going to happen, and they don’t hear anything else until that is addressed.

Similarly, updates should reassure people first.

Then, they should tell people why changes were made…and what the advantages are.

Lastly, they should tell people how to use the new features.

That’s not the only place we could use more information. It stills stuns me that they don’t list the clipping limit on a book’s Amazon product page. That’s important information: if you can only “clip” ten percent of one edition of a book, but one hundred percent of another, that might affect your buying decision…and satisfaction.

Choose Your Own…pretty much everything

My third one here is going to be the sense I have that Amazon thinks everybody wants the same things…and that, of course, it is easier for Amazon if there isn’t a lot of variety out there.

Sure, if  you let people change their “screensavers”, there is a risk that something goes wrong every once in a while. That might have a Customer Service expense associated with it.

However, people have made the buying decision to get a different device just because they couldn’t have that! There is a bigger expense (or loss) associated with that.

I remember consulting with people who wanted every possible access to Help removed in Microsoft. They didn’t want people finding out how to do things on their own, because it would make it harder to support the technology, since there would be more variety in the field. That seemed counter-productive to me: it would require more tech support for simple things…and simple things are more common.

We don’t get to make decisions about whether we want to upgrade or not. We don’t get to decide about whether we want to have local Collections or Cloud Collections (or ideally, both).

Amazon just makes the change, and we all end up with the same thing.

I’m hoping that, maybe, Amazon has started to recognize this by having customizable covers.

I kind of doubt it, though. All they did there was making something available somebody else had developed.

The corporate philosophy seems to be that everybody is the same…having one color (or maybe two) of a device is fine, having one organization of the menus is fine…okay, they let you change the name of the device, which people love to do, but we could have a lot more flexibility.

Those are three big areas of philosophy where I’d like to see Amazon make a change. I do love Amazon, and am extremely impressed to their adherence to their basic tenets (selection, service, price). I’m not asking for any of those to be compromised: I just see room for improvement.

How about you? Are there philosophical changes you’d like to see made at Amazon (not specific hardware/software changes)? Do you agree with mine, or am I being focused on things that bother me, but don’t bother you? 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. 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.

Fintie covers

November 22, 2013

Fintie covers

Covers for Kindles can be expensive.

I do like my Origami cover, but $50 was a lot for it.

Well, we’ve recently been buying some covers from another brand…Fintie.

We’ve bought them both for Kindle Paperwhites and for Fires.

The price?

As low as $5.99 from what I’ve seen, and under $20!

Another nice thing?

You get your choice of colors…a lot of colors (and patterns). My Significant Other has one in “Giraffe Purple”. Not every color/pattern is available for every device, but still, there’s quite a bit of flexibility here.

They also have (at least the ones we’ve gotten) the autowake/autosleep feature. That’s so nice! It means that you just open the cover to wake up your device, and close it to put it to sleep. You don’t have to worry about where the power button is. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but since the Kindle Fire, for one, can autorotate, it can be confusing.

Check them out:

Definitely worth considering for a gift for the holidays! Of course, you could get one just for fun for yourself…your Kindle deserves a new outfit, right? 😉

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. I recently polled my readers about my linking to AmazonSmile, and while more than two-thirds of the respondents said they would like it or didn’t mind (and about 15% didn’t know), there were enough people who wouldn’t like it that I’m not going to just jump into it and do it for everything. I’m going to try doing both links in this post, and see how hard and/or confusing that is for people. You can let me know how you feel about having both links 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.

Understanding Cloud Collections

November 21, 2013

Understanding Cloud Collections

Amazon has recently updated both the current generation of Kindle Fires (the Kindle HDX models and the new Kindle HD, the $139 model) and the Kindle Paperwhite (second generation) to include a feature called Cloud Collections (it may be coming to other models as well.

First, I’m going to go over what Collections are, and then explain how this works. There has been quite a bit of confusion about it, and some disappointed people. As to the latter point, I think in some ways it is again an example of Amazon not naming something clearly…I do see that as one of Amazon’s few serious deficits. Naming the tablet (Fire) line “Kindles” caused a lot of problems in the beginning, with people wondering why the new “Kindles” were hard to read outside in bright light, or talking about “upgrading” from a Kindle 3 to a Kindle Fire (when they really aren’t the same type of device serving the same purpose). They’ve notoriously named several things just a “Kindle”, from the 2007 model to the current entry level one (which I call a “Mindle”).

Collections are organizational structures for your content. They are not like folders on a PC or a Mac, because they do not actually contain the files. You simply “tag” the files as belonging to a certain classification, and then you can locate the files by looking at that classification.

Deleting the classification (Collection) does not delete the files which are associated with it.

If you think of a file folder with papers in it, and you through out the folder, you would also throw out the papers…that’s how a folder on a PC works.

Think of a Collection as a listing. You have a list of books you’ve read this year on your computer (maybe in an Excel file). If you delete the Excel file, you don’t delete the books. The difference is that the Collection has a link that enables you to open the book, but it is really just a link. Getting rid of the link does not get rid of the book.

Until these updates, we created Collections on a single device, and that Collection only applied to that device. I could have a “To Be Read” Collection on my Kindle, and my Significant Other could have a “To Be Read” Collection on theirs, and there was no confusion.

We could, however, import Collections from one device to another. When we did that, we copied the classification structure from Kindle A to Kindle B.

Again, it didn’t move any of the actual content…just the instructions for which lists should have it.

That’s still the way it works on devices without Cloud Collections. On my Mindle, I do

Home – Menu – View Archived Items (called “the Cloud” on some devices) – Add Other Device Collections

Then, if I was connected to wi-fi, it would show me devices which had Collections.  That includes devices which have been deregistered. It does include a Kindle for PC installation. I could choose to add Collections from a particular device, but I didn’t get a choice as to which Collections would be added.

If I had e-books on my device which were already in a Collection as defined by that other device, they would be added to the Collection on this device.

Let’s say I’m working with Kindle A.

I import the Collections from Kindle B.

Alice in Wonderland was in a Collection (“Classics”, perhaps) on Kindle B, and the Alice i Wonderland e-b0ok is on Kindle A.

Alice in Wonderland would now be in the Classics Collection on Kindle A.

Note that you had to have the e-books on your device before importing the Collections for this to work.

That’s the way it used to be.

I don’t think a lot of people found that to be convenient.

What people wanted was for the books in their archives/Cloud to be in Collections…so they could choose a book to read more easily, for one thing, without it being stored on their device.

That’s one reason people kept thousands of books on the device (as opposed to in the Cloud/archives). There was no organization in the Cloud/archives.

I usually only keep about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices…so I don’t use Collections that much.

I generally remember what the books are called, and what they are about. That may have some connection to my having been a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, but I think it’s just sort of how my brain works. 🙂

Now, we have Cloud Collections, and those are very different.

Here’s the key thing first: even though they are called “Cloud Collections”, they do not show at

That may change at some point, but they aren’t there now.

What happens is that you can now see all of the Collections from any of your devices on each of your devices. On my Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers, I see Collections that I’ve created on other devices…even deregistered devices.

I can add titles to those Collections from the Fire…and if I do, they will also show on my  new Kindle Paperwhite.

Cloud Collections do not belong to any individual device: they belong to all of the devices.

As soon as I added a Collection on my Fire, it appeared on the Paperwhite. I had both of them connected via wi-fi, of course.

If I delete a Cloud Collection on one device, it is deleted on all of the devices (they do warn you about that). Again, it does not delete the files.

Rename it on one device, and it is renamed on all of the devices.

Initially, this may have caused some  embarrassment. One of the parents might have had a Collection called, “Guilty Pleasures”, or “Don’t Show the Kids”, and those Collections (along with links to their content) would appear on the child’s device (if it has Cloud Collections).

If you’ve had  lot of devices, like we have had, you might get a lot of Collections…I got 18 of them, and again, I haven’t even used Collections much at all.

Certainly, I can see real advantages to this. We could have a Collection called, “Bufo’s Weird Stuff”, and my SO would probably never look at it. 😉 We could have a Collection called, “Bufo’s To Be Read”, and it wouldn’t matter on which device I accessed Collections, I could find it.

Now, let’s talk about how you work with the Collections. I’ll start out with on the Fire.

Go to the Books tab. Tap the menu (three horizontal lines in your top left corner). Tap Collections.

Now, you’ll see all of your Collections from all of your devices, in alphabetical order. You’ll see thumbnails of some of the titles in the Collection (only four will fit).

Tap the Collection, and it will come to the foreground. You may need to scroll to see everything.

Tap the title to read it. If it isn’t on your device yet, it will download to it.

If you want to add titles to the Collection, there is an Add button. You’ll be able to add not just from the e-books already on the device, but from the books in your Cloud (listed alphabetically). That’s thousands of books, in my case, and I didn’t see anyway to search or change the sort order. You can remove a book from a Collection by “long pressing” it (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second), and then you’ll get a Remove button. It appeared to me that you did those one at a time.

Note that you can also remove a book by dragging it out of the Collection. I found that out first when I tested dragging a book from one Collection to another, which does not work…it removes the title instead.

You can rename the Collection by long pressing the name of it when it is in the foreground.

When a Collection is not in the foreground (when you are seeing all of them), you can long press it and add it to Home (just on this device, I presume), or delete the Collection (from all devices).

Adding it to Home makes sense. Here’s a cool tip: you can also drag one item in your Home (not in your Carousel…down at the bottom) on top of another item, and it instantly creates a Collection.

On the Fire, you can also create Collections for apps. You can not mix content types: you can not put an App into a Collection for e-books.

On the Paperwhite, it’s a bit different. You don’t have a Books tab: the Collections appear right on your Homescreen. Tap the Collection, and it opens, similar to what happens on the Fire.

Long press it, and you can Add/Remove Items, Rename This Collection, or Delete This Collection.

Those are the main workflows. 🙂

Again, I can see some real value to this, but Amazon didn’t explain it very well. Many people would have preferred having the option as to which Collections showed up: although it isn’t hard to rename or delete them, so the “Manager” of the account (perhaps an adult) should deal with it on their own device first, if possible (but you can’t control when another device will update over wireless).

I  tested using Parental Controls to turn off access to the Cloud (Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options) on the Paperwhite. The Collections were still displayed, but Cloud items did not show “inside” them.

I also did a quick test with Kindle Freetime on the Paperwhite: with that on, even the names of the Cloud Collections did not show (they did not show at all).

Here is the Amazon Help Page for the HDX (they don’t appear to have the Paperwhite one up yet):

Organize Your Content with Cloud Collection for the HDX

Cloud Collections are also available on the iOS apps (for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch).

That Help Page also has this, and it’s not clear to me:

Import a collection: With Cloud Collections, collections are automatically stored in the Cloud and can be synced between Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HD (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HDX, and Kindle for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch reading apps.

Note: Importing collections from other devices or reading apps to Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HD (2nd Generation), Kindle Fire HDX, and Kindle for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is currently limited to the first time you register the device or reading app.”

I’m not sure what they mean by that one. When you first register a device or reading app, how can it have any Collections? I’ll see if I can find out more about that.

If you have any questions about this, or opinions about it, feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

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