Archive for November, 2013

Round up #222: Mark Grist, Paperwhite update

November 19, 2013

Round up #222: Mark Grist, Paperwhite update

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

Major Paperwhite update

Yesterday, I wrote about a major Kindle Fire update.

Today, Amazon announced a big update to the new Kindle Paperwhite (new Kindle Paperwhite at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit by shopping) in this

press release

There are three main features:

  • Goodreads integration
  • Kindle FreeTime
  • Cloud Collections

Goodreads and Cloud Collections were part of the update to the new generation Kindle Fires yesterday, and they already had Kindle FreeTime.

I do have a Kindle Paperwhite expected to arrive today (I was able to get it for $19 in a recent promotion…it replaces one for me which was recently stolen during a home break-in). I’ll be able to look at these more carefully after I get it.  If you want to get it right away and install it yourself, you can go to

Kindle Software Updates page

Here is part of the press release Amazon sent me:

===

Goodreads Integration

Goodreads on Kindle Paperwhite brings together the world’s largest e-reading community and the world’s largest community of book lovers. Join more than 20 million other readers on Goodreads to discover great books and have discussions about what you’re reading. Features of the new Goodreads integration, available exclusively from Amazon, include:

– Share favorite passages with your Goodreads friends without leaving the book.

– See what your friends are reading, read their reviews and discover new books to read.

– When you finish a book, immediately rate it without putting down your Kindle.

– Keep track of all your reading activity—update your “Currently Reading”, “Read”, and “Want to Read” shelves directly from your Kindle. Easily add your Amazon book purchases, print and digital, to your Goodreads account.

Kindle FreeTime

Built-in parental controls have been extended to give parents a simple way to encourage kids to spend more time reading. Parents can set daily reading goals for their kids, hand-select books for their kids to read, and track progress against goals. Children earn achievement badges for hitting reading milestones—for example, reaching and exceeding their daily reading goal, and passing big milestones like “Read 1000 pages”. A progress report keeps parents updated on total time spent reading, number of words looked up, badges earned and books finished.

Cloud Collections

Organize your books, newspapers, and magazines in customized collections for easy reference, and Amazon’s Whispersync technology synchronizes the collections across your Kindle devices and reading apps so they’re available on all of your devices.

===

“I Like a Girl Who Reads”

There is a great video linked in this

Huffington Post article by Sarah Barness

It’s a poem by Mark Grist, and it has to do with what’s attractive…and that isn’t always the physical.

I will warn you that it is NSFW (Not Safe for Work), although you could probably hear it performed on network TV.

Although I’m not a fan of calling adults by words meant for children, I think that the poet is trying to make the point that someone who uses the common vernacular can also be drawn to the intellectual…and that’s important to express.

“How to Open a New Book”

This

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

reproduces a quaint, illustrated explanation from a bookbinder about how to open a new hardback properly.

I must say, I didn’t do it that way. I generally didn’t open the book all the way, the way it is shown here. I sort of peeked into the middle, tilting the book back and forth for each side, so that I didn’t break the spine. I was going to say “never”, but I did open them fully for some things like coffee table books. Novels, though? Not usually…

Bookstore sales buck general retail trend…by going down

For the third month in a row, according to this

Publishers Weekly article

U.S. bookstore sales were down..a lot. 4.5% year over year…we are also down for the whole year so far.

Overall, retail is up…this is particularly a brick-and-mortar (I’m a former manager) bookstore issue.

I do think this may be the last holiday season that we see Barnes & Noble in its current configuration. Amazon is doing more and more for us, and there are independent bookstores that are growing…I just don’t see investors looking at this holiday for B&N thinking that it’s worth keeping up the support.

That could mean that the chain gets sold to someone…or even that we know it will largely close. If the latter is the case, I think we would see one more holiday season out of them, but knowing that it was going.

I have given some ideas earlier about How to save large bookstores, and it’s possible Barnes & Noble will pull a phoenix on this…but you don’t see a lot of phoenixes around. 😉

The Onion goes all digital

I remember seeing a stack of copies of The Onion in a bookstore, just like any other newspaper.

Now, after 25 years, according to this

USA Today story by Roger Yu

it’s going to stop publishing on paper. It’s only been doing that in three cities recently, but this is another example of a major print publication dropping that format to go for all digital.

I also remember the day this blog passed The Onion in the Kindle store! That was exciting for me, and I wish them the best in the future.

“Apple Seeks to Knock Out E-book Class Action Suit”

Legal issues have been part of publishing for a very long time, and there is not indication they are going away any time soon.

They certainly go back more than a century, when the Supreme Court ruled that a store could discount books without the publisher’s permission (creating the “First Sale Doctrine”) in 1908. There was a battle that lasted more than a decade over whether or not Captain Marvel infringed on Superman, which meant the “Big Red Cheese” was off the stands for a long time.

In this

Publishers Weekly article by Andrew Albanese

we learn that Apple is basically arguing that the “class” in class action suits against it for e-book pricing is…I guess, ill-defined is a good way to put it.

My intuition is that they won’t prevail in getting the case dismissed, and that (if they don’t settle…they didn’t in the Department of Justice case, but did in the European Union) will have a trial in maybe May of 2014.

What do you think? Will Barnes & Noble exist, largely as we know it today, into 2015? How much does whether or not a person read affect how you feel about them…both as a friend and a potential partner? Stating a more simple (and narrow) version of that, is reading sexy? Did you try to keep a book in the same condition it was when you bought it, or did you curl the cover under, dogmark pages, and make marginalia? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting 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. 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.

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Big Kindle Fire update is here!

November 18, 2013

Big Kindle Fire update is here!

IMPORTANT NOTE: FIX FOR UPDATE PROBLEM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST.

Note: this post has been considerably updated as I have been working with the new version.

This is the big one!

Amazon announced a “mid-November” update to the new Kindle Fire operating system when it released the new generation of devices.

This one brings a lot of significant new features, which I will list for you shortly.

First, I know some of you are super anxious to get it, so here is the

Kindle Software Updates page

If you are willing to wait until it shows up on its own (which might take weeks), you can certainly do that.

Otherwise, you go to that page and select your model. The ones affected by this update (in all their memory storage/special offer/4G or not configurations) are the:

This update is just for the models with the new operating system. Some of it might possibly get to older models, and the Cloud Collections part will affect other devices.

Here is the

press release

Update: here are the features mentioned at the update page:

  • Find and share books with Goodreads: Goodreads on Kindle lets you connect with the Goodreads community to follow friends and see what they are reading, and share and rate books on your Kindle Fire. Bufo’s comment: this is an app, located on your Apps tab. It has the letter “g” on it. You’ll need to be connected to wi-fi to use it. You can create a new account, or connect to an existing account. I entered my Goodreads e-mail address and password, and then I was given a screen to enter books from Amazon (both physical and e-books). You have to indicate whether you “Want to Read”, are “Currently Reading”, or have “Read” the book. You can also rate it. I could also choose “Readers to Follow”. You are given a choice to “Add Freinds from Facebook”. Tap the menu (three horizontal lines in your top left corner) to see more. You can also get to your Kindle library from the menu.
  • Organize your content with Cloud CollectionsOrganize your content library into collections like “Favorite Books” and “Sports Apps” that are synchronized with compatible Kindle devices and reading apps. Bufo’s comment: “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second) a book on your Books tab (either in the Cloud or On Device), and you’ll get a chance to “Add to Collection”. Collections showed up from other devices here, and I could create a New Collection. I could also add to a Collection from the Carousel. It worked with e-books and apps (haven’t tested other content).
  • Watch movies and TV shows on another device with Second ScreenFling movies and TV shows from your Kindle Fire to your 2013 Samsung Smart TV or PlayStation 3 using Second Screen. Bufo’s comment: not tested yet. Here is the Second Screen help page
  • Learn more about books with Smart LookupWith the Smart Lookup feature, you can quickly look up words in the dictionary or Wikipedia or translate text in a book. Bufo’s comment:  highlight  text in a book. I did that with “The Breakfast Club”. It brought up “cards”, sort of like you see with Google Now. The first one was Wikipedia information and a link to go to Wikipedia. Swiping to my left, I got the Bing translator (in Spanish: “El Club del desayuno”). I tried a single word, and the first card was a dictionary. Swiping got me to Wikipedia, and then to the translator. The translator even has the option to speak it out loud for you (at least it did in Spanish). There was a toolbar that allowed highlighting in different colors, adding a note, sharing, starting text-to-speech (it’s a play button), and searching
  • Print from Your Kindle FirePrint Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, photos, e-mails, calendar events, and contact information from your Kindle Fire to a printer that supports mobile printing. Bufo’s comment: not testted yet
  • Free up storage space with 1-Tap ArchiveWith 1-Tap Archive, your Kindle Fire groups all content that has not been used recently so you can move it to the Cloud with just one tap. Bufo’s comment: Home – Swipe Down – Settings – Device – Storage.  Note: check te results carefully: it may want to archive a lot of things you don’t want archived.
  • Enhanced enterprise featuresManage security certificates and connect to your company’s Wi-Fi network—whether you’re at home or at work—with remote VPN capabilities. Bufo’s comment: not tested yet.
  • Set alarms and view additional time zones with the Clock appUse the all-new Clock app to check the date and time, set an alarm clock, and more. Bufo’s comment: another app, with a lot of options! If you tap the menu, you can set it to Alarms, Nightstand, Stopwatch, or Timer. Update: love this app! There are many choices for sounds for the alarm (including a rooster!). Some of the sounds create a doppler sort of effect, like the sound is moving from one side to the other. The nightstand mode has a cool, futuristic clock (no hands, just arcs). I tested it: you would need to have it plugged in to go overnight. Even with the brightness all the way down (which would be fine in a dark room), twenty minutes of running took about 3% of the battery charge. I could set up multiple timezones (although the choices of specific cities were limited) and see more than one at once, if I wanted. That will be nice when our adult kid is in Europe.

Update: the press release talks about a lot more than the update page does. I’m excited to try the dictation! That’s speech-to-text (the opposite of text-to-speech): it converts what you say into text. English will be available offline, and more languages available when online. This may also open the door to voice commands for the Fire, which is one area where I really wanted to see improvement.

Here are the additional features mentioned in the press release:

  • Cloud Collections helps you organize your books, newspapers, magazines, and apps in customized collections for easy reference, and Amazon’s Whispersync technology synchronizes the collections across your Kindle devices and reading apps so they’re available on all of your devices. Bufo’s comment: see above
  • Voice dictation converts your speech to text—available in all languages when online; offline support available in US English. Bufo’s comment: you’ll new see a microphone button to your left of the comma (at least that’s where I’m seeing it) on your keyboard. Tap that, pause a second, and then say something. It seems to work quite well. You can say some punctuation, like “exclamation point” and “smiley face”. I’ve done a bit of testing: I’m impressed!
  • 1-Tap archive which frees up space on your Kindle Fire by identifying items that have not been recently used and provides a 1-tap option to store them in the Cloud for later retrieval. Bufo’s comment: see above
  • Wireless printing of photos, PDF, e-mails, contacts, calendar and docs. Bufo’s comment: see above
  • New accessibility enhancements that enable blind and visually impaired customers to save a separate accessibility profile for children in Kindle FreeTime, scroll lists automatically when swipe navigating, hear enhanced sound feedback and screen orientation changes announced, and have more control when editing text and navigating web content. Bufo’s comment: not tested yet
  • Dozens more new features, performance and battery life improvements, and bug fixes. Bufo’s comment: as I find things, I’ll add some of them below

Update: I’m working with Kindle Support right now, because you can’t install the update following the directions on the webpage.

Important update: we got it to work! Please feel free to spread this solution around, because it’s a bit weird.

My Windows Explorer would not let me drag and drop on to the Internal Storage drive. After the person helping me, John, got a management team involved, they suggested copying and pasting the file, instead of drag and drop…and that worked!

It’s installing now.

I’ll update this post shortly, but wanted to get this out right away.

Update: lock screen improvements: my lockscreen now shows me the day, date, and time, the battery level…and if I have any new e-mail (in the e-mail app).

Update: battery charge life seems much more robust! I’ve done things which I would think would have run it down significantly without much impact.

Update: very pleased to say that I went to go update my Significant Other’s Kindle Fire HDX manually…and it was all done! It had been plugged in, with wi-fi on. There was a notification explaining that the update had taken place…another nice touch.

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.

Heads up! Special $19 price for Kindle Paperwhite at 1:00 PM Pacific today!

November 17, 2013

Heads up! Special $19 price for Kindle Paperwhite at 1:00 PM Pacific today!

Here’s why you want a Kindle with Special Offers!

I opened the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Standing Polyurethane Origami Case (will only fit Kindle Fire HDX 7″), Purple (Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Standing Polyurethane Origami Case (will only fit Kindle Fire HDX 7″), Purple at AmazonSmile)*  cover on my Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers at AmazonSmile), and there was an alert.

At 1:00 PM Pacific time today, Sunday November 17th, Amazon is selling 5,000 first generation Kindle Paperwhites…for $19!

That’s 84% off!

The deal will only last for 60 minutes, or until sold out (which I think could happen in a very short amount of time).

It’s part of a special program:

Limited Time Special Offers only on Kindle Fire
Limited Time Special Offers only on Kindle Fire at AmazonSmile

You can also sign up for text notifications of the Limited Time Special Offers.

Note that this appears to be only on the Kindle Fire (I would guess any of the current generation, although it might be the first generation as well), not other Kindles. That might have to do with the new operating system.

The first generation Kindle Paperwhite is a great reader. Mine was stolen not too long ago during a household burglary, and I certainly may try to get one. For one thing, we have a guest coming to stay with us at the holidays, and for $19, having one that person can use while they are here on our account? That’s gold! That person will have access to thousands of books…cool!

I don’t see exactly how this will work, although my guess is that we’ll have to get to the deal from our Kindle Fires. It’s the only thing showing up on the lockscreen right now, even if I sleep the device and wake it up again.

So, heads-up! I hope some of you see this and get a bargain! It’s a great gift, too…

I’d appreciate hearing about it if you score one. 😉

* 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.

10 ways Amazon saves us money on e-books

November 16, 2013

10 ways Amazon saves us money on e-books

There’s been a lot less talk lately about the cost of e-books.

Ever since the US Department of Justice prevailed against five publishers (who settled) and Apple (which didn’t), Amazon has been able to discount almost all the e-books in the Kindle store (I have still seen the Agency Model in play with a few books not from the Big 5).

That’s something they used to commonly do before the Agency Model stopped it.

Even through the dark days, Amazon managed to discount other books…but now, it’s back to being much broader.

Here are ten of the ways that Amazon saves us money on e-books:

1. Free Books

There are two real types of free books in the Kindle store. One are the public domain books, which are not under copyright protection. Amazon likely did not digitize these originally (that was probably done by Gutenberg.org), but by making editions available through the Kindle store, we get the Kindle service advantages (like backing up and syncing our annotations).

The other ones are books that are free promotionally: the publisher chooses has the rights, but chooses to give them away. Amazon encourages that by allowing publishers who are part of the KDP Select program to make their books free for a limited time. Amazon does that even though it costs them more to handle the administration of it.

2. Kindle Daily Deals
Kindle Daily Deals at AmazonSmile (support a non-profit)

Every day, Amazon has books which are at a reduced price for that day only. With all of these deals, check the price before you click the Buy button, because it may not apply in your country.

3. Kindle Monthly Deals $3.99 or less
Kindle Monthly Deals $3.99 or less at AmazonSmile

100 or more books, often on a big discount.

4. Kindle Countdown Deals
Kindle Countdown Deals at AmazonSmile

Thousands of books discounted for a limited time, with a countdown clock to tell you when the deal will end.

5. Kindle Matchbook
Kindle Matchbook at AmazonSmile

Discounted e-books from a list of over 80,000 when you have previously purchased the p-book (paperbook) from Amazon.

6. Kindle First
Kindle First at AmazonSmile

Pre-publication books for eligible Prime members at no additional cost.

7. Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL)

Eligible Prime members can borrow up to a book a month (from more than 100,000 choices) at no additional cost. You have to have a hardware Kindle (Fires count), and you have to borrow the book from your device (which is why I’m not linking here).

8. Special Offers

Book deals are sometimes part of the Special Offers which show up on the Kindles of people who have chosen to get a discount for buying an ad-supported model.

9. AmazonLocal

This free service often includes book deals.

10. Price-matching

If you see a lower price advertised at another site (or in a store), you can click or tap a link on the book’s Amazon product page to tell them about a lower price. You have to give them the details, and it isn’t guaranteed that they will lower the price…but it seems pretty likely. I’ve done it, and have seen a book come down in price.

In addition to those ten, Amazon discounts many other Kindle books which are not part of a special program.

Enjoy!

* 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.

Google FTW! Judge Chin rules

November 14, 2013

Google FTW! Judge Chin rules

Thanks to reader Evan for the heads-up on this!

I first wrote about the Google settlement more than four years ago (and it actually started back in 2005), and it’s been ongoing (off and on, at least) since then.

Now, according to this

Reuters article by Jonathan Stempel

and other sources, Judge Chin has now ruled that Google’s scanning of copyrighted works, and subsequent specific use of them, falls under Fair Use.

Here is the actual

opinion in PDF

I’m looking forward to reading it, but I wanted to give you a chance to see it right away.

Skimming it, and particularly the argument that what Google did is “transformative”, lets me give you a quick, preliminary sum up now:

  • What Google did transforms the works
  • It doesn’t replace the original works
  • It’s good for society
  • It doesn’t show harm, and probably helps copyright holders

Again, that’s just preliminary…I’ll read through the whole thing when I can.

The Authors Guild is likely to appeal this dismissal of the case (legal advocacy is one of the main things they do).

I think this might have far-reaching implications in terms of making things (indexes, snippets) available on line without the rightsholders’ permission, but we’ll see…

* FTW = “For The Win” (internet slang)

Update: I’ve now read through it. Judge Chin’s point by point analysis of the Fair Use application to this (and that’s the key…every point is supposed to be satisfied in Fair Use) will be the crux of any appeal, I think. Some of it feels a bit subjective to me, and that’s one of the frustrating things about copyright. It isn’t usually a simple mathematical answer…it’s fuzzy.

I could see this being used to further the idea that people can digitize their own p-books (paperbooks) for their own use. Judge Chin seems to make the point that if you already own the book, you aren’t infringing on the copyright if you make another copy for your own use. Judge Chin says:

“…the scans do not replace the books. While partner libraries have the ability to download a scan of a book from their collections, they owned the books already — they provided the original book to Google to scan. Nor is it likely that someone would take the time and energy to input countless searches to try and get enough snippets to comprise an entire book. Not only is that not possible as certain pages and snippets are blacklisted, the individual would have to have a copy of the book in his possession already to be able to piece the different snippets together in coherent fashion.”

This seems to suggest to me that when you own the p-book, you can create an e-book copy for  your own use without interfering with the market for the book. That might seem obvious, but it would be great to have that established in precedent. This doesn’t do that,but it might be cited by someone trying to establish home digitizing for personal use as Fair Use.

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 #221: PODBAM!, customizable covers

November 14, 2013

Round up #221: PODBAM!, customizable covers

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

Now you can judge a Kindle by its cover

In this

press release

Amazon announces a new ability to customize your Kindle cover. You can upload a picture, and get it printed on an Origami cover (or some other options).

Well, I should say, “…a new to Amazon ability”. It’s been possible to have custom covers/sleeves made at third party sites for some time (I had one years ago that my adult kid had done for me), and these are being done by those other companies from what I’ve seen, and being sold through Amazon. I’ve seen ones both from CafePress and DecalGirl.

It’s pretty simple.

You go to

www.amazon.com/kindlecreateyourown

or, if you want to support a non-profit while shopping*, to

smile.amazon.com/kindlecreateyourown

You pick your device (the HDXs, the new HD, the Paperwhite ((both generations use the same cover)), the Touch), the underlying color of the cover (you may be covering only one side), and the type of cover (mostly Origami now, Marware coming in the future, from what I saw).

You pick from existing library images, or upload your own…and that’s about it.

The cost?

The same as without the personalization!

Why not do this? Here’s a great idea for a gift: buy the cover through AmazonSmile, support your gift recipient’s favorite non-profit (you can switch to it just for that one purchase), and upload an image that says something like, “I support XYZ”. The recipient gets a nice cover, gets to make a statement, and Amazon donates to that non-profit (for a $50 cover, they get twenty-five cents).

I just have one problem with this so far, and I asked Amazon about it when they sent me the press release.

The release says,

“… a library of hundreds of images, logos, designs and patterns—including popular comic, movie and television show graphics from Peanuts, National Geographic, Breaking Bad, Star Trek, and more.”

I haven’t found any of those brand name image options, and I’ve checked quite a few of the choices.

For some people, of course, there will be an irony here: Amazon doesn’t generally let us change the sleep pictures/screensavers/wallpaper on our devices. 🙂 That’s different, and would be complicated for people who have Special Offers on their devices, but this is a nice option.

Buy a Kindle Fire HD, get a $15 gift card today only

If you buy a

Kindle Fire HD 7″

Kindle Fire HD 7″ and support a non-profit through AmazonSmile

today (Thursday, November 14) only, you get a $15 Amazon gift card for free! Do make sure you see that banner on the page before you click…this certainly might not apply in your country (I know I have readers around the world).

It applies to any of the configurations of this model, so you could get a Kindle Fire with the new Mojito operating system for $124, effectively.

By the way, I’ve also seen a story today that you could get $40 off, but when I’ve tested that links, that doesn’t seem to be working. It might be for only certain people, or it may have been withdrawn.

BAM! goes POD

This one will particularly appeal to my reader, Roger Knights, who has advocated for the idea of Print-On-Demand (POD) in bookstores…we’ve had some lively discussions about that.

Well, Books-A-Million, now the second largest bookstore chain in the USA, has just announced in this

press release

that they are going to start installing the Espresso Book Machines in their stores (two at this time, one in Maine and one in Alabama).

What does that mean?

A customer can select a book from about seven million titles, and a machine prints the book for them right then.

One concern in the past has been the selection of books, but it looks like that has been solved. They say,

“These titles are available through partnerships with Google, Lightning Source, Harper Collins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan, McGraw Hill, and others, and includes content from publishers like Random House, W.W. Norton, and Simon & Schuster.”

That probably won’t mean every book from those publishers, of course, but it might be a great way to do the backlist.

How long does it take?

It happens “within minutes”, and produces a bookstore quality paperback.

How much does it cost?

Hmm…it says they are priced according to length, but I’m not seeing what the prices would actually be.

Still, this is an exciting option for people who still want p-books. I was really expecting us to see them in other kinds of stores, retailers of more general interest (is that like Rodents of Unusual Size?).

Score one for Roger! 😉

How much is that Penguin in the galley?

You know how Amazon recently introduced Kindle First (Kindle First and support a non-profit), where eligible Prime members can get an Amazon published book before it is released at no additional cost?

Penguin has something similar.

First to Read

You can sign up (through Facebook, if you want, but you can do it without that), and then request upcoming books (just like Kindle First, from a very specific short list)…for free.

Although, I have to say, it’s a bit weird and complicated.

I signed up for it today, and it kept kicking me out (I had to switch to Chrome from Maxthon).

There was a particular book I wanted to get…and it didn’t show up in all the places I could see choices.

There are appear to be a limited number of “copies” available, and there seems to be some sort of lottery for who gets them.

You get points, and you might be able to spend them to guarantee that you get a copy…but none of that was spelled out easily for me.

Overall, I’m happy that a publisher is trying this…but it really shows you what Amazon has figured out about making things simple!

Yes, we pay $79 a year for Prime…but in terms of Kindle First, getting a book is super easy.

This “First to Read” was a bit complicated and frustrating, certainly by comparison.

Still, you know…free books. 😉

* 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.

Aussie awesomeness! Amazon opens a localized Kindle site

November 12, 2013

Aussie awesomeness! Amazon opens a localized Kindle site

Good on ya, Amazon!

I’ve seen many threads in the Amazon Kindle forums complaining about Kindle e-book prices and availability in Australia.

Well, according to this

press release

Amazon has just opened a localized Australian Kindle store at

http://www.amazon.com.au/

You’ll now have your own Kindle Daily Deal, local authors, and local curation.

Hm…looking at it, though, the prices for some books are still a lot higher than they are in the USA.

Other books, though, are reasonably priced.

The Paperwhite is available in Australia, and Amazon says:

“All new Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX now on sale in Australia
Amazon also announced that the new Kindle Fire HD is available starting today at a suggested retail price of AU$189 at Dick Smith and Big W stores. The 7” Kindle Fire HDX will be available starting November 26 at a suggested retail price of AU$329 and the 8.9” Kindle Fire HDX will be available starting December 10 at a suggested retail price of AU$479. Read the press release about the new Kindle Fire HDX at amazon.com.au/hdx-press-release.”

You are opening with over two million titles…by contrast, when the USA store opened in 2007, we didn’t have 100,00.

Australians have enjoyed having shorter copyright terms (which meant that some books are legally available free because they are in the public domain in Australia, when they aren’t in the public domain in the USA), and now you have your own Kindle store, too. 🙂

I know I have Australian readers…enjoy!

By the way, I don’t see any mention yet of which countries’ residents can use this site (localized sites sometimes cover more than one country). No mention of New Zealand that I’ve seen, but I haven’t dug very deep yet.

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 Spectrum: stories your way

November 12, 2013

Kindle Spectrum: stories your way

Note: this is a work of humor. THERE IS NO Kindle Spectrum PROGRAM. It is a work of fiction intended to bring a smile to your day.

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Kindle Spectrum: stories your way

Amazon.com announces a new program allowing customers to seamlessly switch between modes while enjoying their favorite works of fiction

Launches in Q1 2014 with three titles

SEATTLE–(SILLINESS WIRE)–Dec. 17, 2013– (NASDAQ: AMZN)–Amazon.com today announced Kindle Spectrum. This new program will allow customers to switch between different media mid-story, so they can experience it in the way that best suits them at the time.

“At Amazon, we love books, but we also love movies, music, and apps. With Kindle Spectrum, you’ll be able to have all those great experiences with the same story,” said Ahmni Vohr, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “Books are wonderful, but it isn’t always convenient to read, and it’s hard to share. With Kindle Spectrum, you can read one chapter, and then watch the next scene as a movie on your TV* to share with your family. Then you can go right back to reading when you don’t want to disturb your loved ones.”

“I’m excited to be able to bring a musical dimension to classic literature,” said famed composer John Williams (Star Wars, Jaws). Williams’ score for War of the Worlds will be part of the first Kindle Spectrum title released.

Customers enjoying the Kindle Spectrum edition of War of the Worlds can read the classic text by H.G. Wells, watch the 1953 movie starring Gene Barry**, listen to a brand new music suite by John Williams***, view an interpretative dance choreographed by Mia Michaels (So You Think You Can Dance), hear the Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast, explore through a section in a role playing game by app studio PopCap, or see the story enacted by traditional Balinese shadow puppets.

“There is really no limit to what Kindle Spectrum can do,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “Our customers love all types of content, and we are looking forward to working with creators to give them a full range of options.”

The first three Kindle Spectrum titles, announced for the first quarter of 2014, are:

  • War of the Worlds
  • Romeo & Juliet
  • The Odyssey

Rightsholders interested in participating should contact Kindle Spectrum. Independent creators can publish elements in any format through the KSP (Kindle Spectrum Publishing) program.

* Watch on TV option only available with some devices
** Movies only available to eligible Amazon Prime members
*** New music is unrelated to the score produced by Mr. Williams for the 2005 Tom Cruise adaptation, which we are pretending doesn’t exist

About Amazon

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. In fact, we’re so big, we can sell you pretty much anything you want: movies, books, music, clothes, food, server space, human antibodies, quarks, unobtanium, and magical rings. If you don’t want us to sell your stuff, that’s up to you…but good luck with that. Our customers love us, and people keep investing in us even though we just spend all their money buying cool stuff to give to our Prime members. We’re all about the love, baby.

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Just to reiterate, this is a work of humor. 😉 All names used are used in a fictitious way, for the sake of parody. I hope you consider it a compliment…and I actually did enjoy the 2005 War of the Worlds movie. 🙂

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 #220: Wish & Win sweepstakes, B&N holiday sale

November 11, 2013

Round up #220: Wish & Win sweepstakes, B&N holiday sale

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

Smiles on Sundays

In this

press release

Amazon announces that they have made a deal with the US Post Office for Sunday deliveries, starting in Los Angeles and New York now, and expanding to “…a large portion of the U.S. population” in 2014.

That may seem strange to some people, since the USPS has been wanting to drop Saturday delivery. However, that Saturday delivery thing is all about first class mail, which is not the profit driver. This would be about packages, which is where the USPS can make money.

After all, hasn’t it always seemed bizarre to you that you can give somebody a letter and, for less than a dollar, they’ll take it to the other side of the country for you…and deliver it right to your recipient’s house?

Since Amazon is making money on many of the products delivered (although not all), the e-tailer is willing to pay for this.

Of course, they plug Prime in the press release…that’s key. This is another reason to make you want to have Prime (order on Friday, have it on Sunday), and that in turn makes you buy those “diapers and windshield wipers”.

Note that you currently may pay more for Saturday delivery with Prime shipping, and I thought that might be even more true with Sundays. However, this

Los Angeles Times article by Tiffany Hsu

says that won’t be the case:

“Members of Amazon’s Prime program have free two-day shipping and, under the new deal, can order items Friday and receive them Sunday. Customers without Prime will pay the standard shipping costs associated with business day delivery.”

This will also expand beyond Amazon, but they’ll have it (again, in L.A. and NYC) for this holiday season.

Wishlist Wish and Win Sweepstakes

In the past, Amazon has done sweepstakes involving using your Wish Lists during the holidays.

Well, something like that is available now…and as we saw recently with their Halloween shop, Amazon has a corporate co-sponsor. This time, it is Sony, bringing you a chance to win $7,300 in Amazon gift cards:

Wish & Win Sweepstakes

You don’t have to use them to buy Sony products but, you know, I’m sure they’d appreciate that. 😉

Additionally, if any of the three winners created (not added to) an Amazon Wish List during this period and put at least one item on it, they get an additional $1,000 in Amazon gift cards.

Amazon does say they may run a “similar” sweepstakes during this period, and that if they do, you have to enter it separately.

They also are trying to keep down the entries here: one entry per e-mail address, and you can’t use multiple e-mail addresses to enter multiple times (without risking disqualification).

Vonnegut nut or Vonnegut virgin…

…it doesn’t matter, because there is a deal for you today! 😉

One of the Kindle Daily Deals today is up to nine Kurt Vonnegut books for $1.99 each.

The big ones are here: Slaughterhouse-5, The Sirens of Titan, as well as some that geek (like me) on your gift list may not have read. 😉

Meanwhile, back at Barnes & Noble…

While Amazon has been announcing amazing programs, including Kindle Matchbook and Kindle First, Barnes & Noble has been planning their big holiday attractions! Drum roll…

They have three press releases out today:

This is a very important holiday season for Barnes & Noble. Well, the holidays are always the most important time of the year for brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager), but investors will really be looking to see what they can do.

The most interesting of these is the “Discovery Friday” thing, a week before Black Friday. They are doing a lot of good deals (in store) that day. B&N members will be able to get the new GlowLight for under $100, and the Simple Touch will be available for (just) under $50.

They’ll also be pushing local involvement, having community authors in a lot of the stores.

You’ll also have the chance to win $1,000 gift cards.

Quite simply, they are pulling out the stops. This comes with a risk: if this doesn’t succeed in a big way, there will be people who lose confidence in B&N as a business in the future.

It does sound like a fun day, though!

Have a click and a smile

Okay, I want your opinion on this one.

We’ve been shopping through AmazonSmile, a new program from Amazon which I explained here:

Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

It feels just like shopping at Amazon, after the initial set-up (which is very simple) of choosing a charity. When you do that, the charity gets half a percent (you spend $100, they get fifty cents) of the purchase price of the items you buy.

It makes me feel good. 🙂

I really like the idea of it. They have such a broad array of non-profits from which to choose (I’ve supported an academic institution associated with a family member). Switching is easy, too: if you wanted to do a Veterans’ organization for today, for example, you could do that.

Here’s the question for you:

I can link to items on AmazonSmile, the same way I link to them at the regular Amazon site.

I’m considering doing that will pretty much all my links.

The positive is that more people would use AmazonSmile, and therefore more non-profits would get support…making me feel like I was doing more good in the world.

The negative is that, only the first time, a person would have to pick a charity (they do make that easy). That might prevent some people from going through to the item. I don’t want to force people to give: that’s up to you. I suppose some people might also be wary of letting Amazon know which charities they support (although I’m not concerned about that). Some people prefer their giving to be entirely anonymous and untrackable. Amazon actually donates the money, but if their system was compromised somehow, your choice of non-profit might be exposed.

I’d like to hear what you think:

Thanks for giving me your opinion on that!

What do you think about the other items in this post? Will you go to Barnes & Noble on “Discovery Friday”? Does it seem innovative enough to you…and do they need to innovate? Do  you think their appeal might be heightened by appearing to be old-fashioned? Does Sunday delivery make you more likely to become (or stay) a Prime member? Do you worry about Amazon knowing who you support? Does Amazon having co-sponsors for promotions make sense to you? 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

USA Kindle Store Bestseller Analysis November 10 2013

November 11, 2013

USA Kindle Store Bestseller Analysis November 10 2013

Good news!

I do an analysis of the bestsellers in the Kindle store from time to time, and looking at today versus January 7th, the top twenty bestsellers have dropped on average seventy-five cents…from $5.52 to $4.77! That’s about 14%.

Seriously, that’s a lot of money. There were three books in the top twenty over $9.99 in January, and only one right now.

That’s not to say that there aren’t major publishers in the top twenty: there are. Presumably, the end of the Agency Model for e-books for five publishers in the USA (brought about by a legal action by the US Department of Justice) has really lowered those prices by enabling price competition between outlets (and letting Amazon discount, which they do on many things).

Interestingly, if we broaden the comparison to the top fifty, it’s not as big a drop. They were $5.94 in January, $5.52 now. That’s forty-two cents: only about half as much a percentage drop, seven percent.

Here are the current prices for the top fifty:

Rank Publisher Price
1 Random House $6.59
2 Random House $2.90
3 Hachette $6.62
4 Thomas & Mercer $4.99
5 HarperCollins $6.99
6 Penguin $4.79
7 HarperCollins $1.99
8 Macmillan $3.99
9 Penguin $5.99
10 Hachette $7.64
11 Lake Union $4.99
12 Simon & Schuster $6.87
13 Indie $0.99
14 Random House $0.99
15 Indie $0.99
16 Indie $1.49
17 HarperCollins $3.99
18 Hachette $6.62
19 Penguin $11.93
20 Montlake $3.99
21 Simon & Schuster $7.64
22 HMH $7.69
23 Indie $7.47
24 Macmillan $10.91
25 HarperCollins $6.99
26 Scholastic $7.40
27 Indie $0.99
28 Montlake $4.99
29 NYRB $9.99
30 HarperCollins $11.93
31 Hachette $3.63
32 Simon & Schuster $4.74
33 Random House $6.99
34 Penguin $6.59
35 Hyperion $5.99
36 Hachette $7.64
37 Indie $2.99
38 Indie $2.99
39 Grand Harbor $4.99
40 Random House $10.99
41 Penguin $11.99
42 Indie $0.99
43 Random House $2.90
44 Indie $0.99
45 Indie $0.99
46 Scholastic $6.99
47 Penguin $3.99
48 Hachette $7.64
49 Macmillan $5.52
50 Scholastic $5.12

Comparing the features of the books (and I added whether or not they qualify for Kindle Matchbook), I think some of the figures are skewed here. There are a couple of books in the Kindle First program: they are published by Amazon, but have not yet been actually released. They don’t have some features showing (the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, for example), which I fully expect they will have when they are actually released. That makes the number of books in the top twenty with some of these features artificially low.

Rank Publisher Price TTS X-ray Lending KOLL WSV KMB
1 Random House $6.59 Yes Yes No No Yes No
2 Random House $2.90 No Yes Yes No No No
3 Hachette $6.62 Yes Yes No No No No
4 Thomas & Mercer $4.99 Yes Yes Yes No No No
5 HarperCollins $6.99 Yes Yes No No No No
6 Penguin $4.79 Yes Yes No No No No
7 HarperCollins $1.99 Yes Yes No No No No
8 Macmillan $3.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
9 Penguin $5.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
10 Hachette $7.64 Yes Yes No No No No
11 Lake Union $4.99 Yes Yes Yes No No No
12 Simon & Schuster $6.87 No Yes No No No No
13 Indie $0.99 Yes No No No No No
14 Random House $0.99 Yes Yes No No No No
15 Indie $0.99 Yes Yes Yes No No No
16 Indie $1.49 Yes Yes No Yes No No
17 HarperCollins $3.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
18 Hachette $6.62 Yes Yes No No Yes No
19 Penguin $11.93 Yes Yes No No Yes No
20 Montlake $3.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
  • TTS: 85% (January: 85%, November 18 2012: 85%)
  • X-Ray: 95% (January: 95%, November: 90%)
  • Lending: 25% (January: 55%, November: 45%)
  • KOLL: 10% (January: 35%, November 25%…if the two Kindle First books have it after being released, this would jump up to 20%)
  • WSV: 35% (January: 50%, November: 45%…it’s also possible the two Kindle First books will get this. If so, that brings the percentage to 45%)
  • Kindle Matchbook: 5%

In January, I was suggesting that Amazon was making progress in not needing the tradpubs (traditional publishers) as much. I may not have properly counted the impact of the Agency Model in that: with the Agency Model ending, Amazon can discount the tradpubs’ books more now, which may drive them up in the ranking. Lower prices are likely to mean more sales, especially in a case when that makes them more like their independently published competitors.

Five of the top fifty are published by Amazon…that’s down from six in January.

Ten of them are indies: the same as January.

So, the tradpubs have a somewhat better position now than they did in January. I didn’t count the New York Review of Books as an indie…if I did that, it would be the same.

Summing up, I’d say prices having dropped on tradpubs lowered the average price…that’s the biggest message to me in this.

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


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