Archive for December, 2013

The Year Ahead: 2014

December 31, 2013

The Year Ahead: 2014

This is my annual post where I look ahead to the next year. I’ll make some predictions, but I’ll warn you ahead of time…I don’t always get things right. ;)

First, let’s see how I did with my predictions and speculation for 2013:

Resolution of the Agency Model in the USA

Hit. I did think Apple might settle, and they didn’t, but overall, I was right that it ended.

Another Major Merger Announced

Miss. I thought after Penguin and Random House we’d likely see two more big publishers merge, and it didn’t happen.

Nothing Really Groundbreaking in Hardware

Hit. This year was much more about services.

More Well-Known Publications Going Digital Only

Hit. The Onion and PC World went to digital.

Author Cooperatives

Miss. This still seems like a good idea to me: brand name authors banding together in publishing companies, perhaps luring over their editors…but it didn’t happen.

Direct Distribution from Publishers

Miss, I think. 🙂 I expected traditional publishers to prominently allow you to buy books directly from them…either through their sites or social media. This doesn’t look like it has happened to me.

Book Production Services

Miss, sort of. It’s available on CreateSpace for p-books: Amazon Professional Publishing Services. I’m not sure that wasn’t there before 2013. I thought we’d see it for e-books.

Social Structures from Amazon

Hit, if you count them buying Goodreads.

Account Management Improvement

I’m going to call this mixed. Cloud Collections were intended to be a step in this direction.

Subscription “All you can eat” plans

People besides Amazon did this (Scribd, Oyster). I was thinking Amazon might, so I’ll call this mixed.

Okay, let’s make some guesses about 2014!

Kindle Unlimited: Amazon does an “all you can eat” plan

I think this has become a lot more likely. Amazon already has it for kids, and rumor is that they’ve been talking to publishers about it. They could open it with mostly independently published books, but they would hopefully get HarperCollins or some other tradpub (traditional publisher) to join in. You’d be able to read as many books as you wanted out of a select group. I could see this being discounted with Prime, or available without it. Let’s say… about$20 a month without Prime, $5 with it. Once people become Prime members, they spend a lot more money, so this could work economically.

New lines of hardware from Amazon

Sure, I expect a new Paperwhite, and something new in the tablets. I do think the current line-up of tablets was a success, but they could add a few things. I think it’s more likely that we see some television solution from Amazon (something with Miracast, perhaps, to work with the Fires), than a bunch of radical new tablets obsoleting this year’s. Adding a rear camera to a 7″ tablet, for example. Voice commands could definitely be in the offing. We might see a phone as well. I think it will feel more evolutionary than revolutionary for tablets and EBRs, and then whole new lines, like the TV thing and a phone. In other words, I think they’ll start building off of the Kindle Fire HDX as a hub. It does already interact with non-Fire Kindles, by the way,  through  Whispersync and Cloud Collections, to name two things.

A major  change at Barnes & Noble 

My timelines are sometimes accelerated (I predict something for one year, and it happens the next), but I think it’s time. Does that mean they shutter the stores, like happened with Borders? Not necessarily…but it could mean that there is a major change in ownership or philosophy (they might only carry a few books for example), or, a bankruptcy with a possibility of recovery. Sure, they’ve just given their CFO (Chief Financial Officer) a three-year deal, but I don’t think B&N will look the same after this year. Declining sales and the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) investigation can’t be offset by cutting costs. What about Books-A-Million? They are in challenging times as well. I expect we’ll hear that independent stores have been doing better, though, so the brick-and-mortar bookstore isn’t endangered at this point.

Kobo makes a significantly new EBR

I think Kobo scored with the more expensive, sort of luxury Aura HD EBR (E-Book Reader) this year. I think they may again go for something higher end that puts them in a different niche than Amazon. For example, they could introduce a color non-backlit device. Amazon has probably had the ability to do that, but the cost to the consumer would have been higher than Amazon thinks is viable for their market. Kobo might go with a $200 or $250 luxury EBR with something outstanding like that.

Legal recognition of personal use digitization

This one is out on a limb. 🙂 I think the dismissals of the cases against Google making digital copies without rightsholder permission may open the door for a decision that makes it clearly legal for individuals to digitize their own copies for their own use. This, in turn, may lead to methodologies that make it much easier, perhaps including more services that do it for you. 1DollarScan does it now, but I’m not entirely convinced that they couldn’t be challenged legally, in the case of books not in the public domain. If the Supreme Court, perhaps by refusing to hear a case, made it clear that book digitization for personal use was legal (similar to using time-shifting technology for television), that might really create an industry.

Kindle Worlds expands

I’m going to guess that Kindle Worlds gets at least three more major licenses during 2014. I think the Kurt Vonnegut thing will point the way. Once it looks like that has been a success and hasn’t hurt the market for the canonical works, others will join in.

Those are a few things I see…we’ll check back next year and see how I did. 😉 What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post. Amazon can be counted on for something surprising…for example, what companies/websites do you think they’ll buy next year?

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! Limited time special offer on Kindle Fire at 5:30 PM Pacific: Sodastream for $20

December 31, 2013

Heads up! Limited time special offer on Kindle Fire at 5:30 PM Pacific: Sodastream for $20

This is one of those super limited time offers. It’s the Sodastream for $20…you make soda and sparkling water at home with it. I think it’s the one priced $99.97 right now, so you save about 80%! I’m not linking to it, because going to it on Amazon’s website is not going to be how you get the deal, and I don’t want to confuse people.

You must have a Kindle Fire, and you’ll see the link on your “screen saver” or by going to Offers from the homescreen. There will be a “Learn more” link or something like that once it shows up. That will have a countdown clock. Hover over that clock, and click it as soon as you can. If you have any control over the network you are using, I think that matters…faster is better. 🙂

I’m hoping some of you see this and manage to snag one. The history on these has been that they sell out in seconds. Again, I would approach this like buying a lottery ticket: the odds that you are going to “win” are quite small, but I think it is fun to try. 🙂

Here is information on the program:

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

Good luck! I’d appreciate hearing if you get 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. 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.

The Year in E-Books 2013

December 30, 2013

The Year in E-Books 2013

I’m going to look at some of the big things that happened this year (so far…you never know what Amazon will do in the last days of the year). If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category. For a more numerical comparison between 2013 and previous years, I’ll be doing my Annual Snapshot in the next several days.

New programs from Amazon

This year has seen the biggest innovation not in hardware, or even in software, but in programs from Amazon.

While they are much more than that, you can think of them as ideas. It’s not even so much the implementation of them, but new ways of doing things.

  • Kindle Matchbook (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): people had been talking about something like this since the Kindle was first introduced. You can get a reduced price (sometimes free) e-book if you bought certain p-books (paperbooks) from Amazon. One major publisher (HarperCollins) was onboard at the beginning. Has it worked? Well, it launched with about 75,000 titles, and there are almost 100,000 titles now. My impression is that the concept was well-received by customers, although they may have been a bit disappointed as to how many titles were available to them…in a poll I conducted, almost 60% of respondents had 1 to 10 titles on their list. For more information, see Kindle Matchbook has launched!
  • Kindle First (at AmazonSmile): Amazon Prime members can select one of a small set (it’s been four each month so far) of upcoming books…for free. This is yet another perk for Prime members. No way to judge the success of this, really, but why not? More information: Round up #217: Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, Kindle First
  • Kindle Worlds (at AmazonSmile): I think Amazon has started doing what Disney was known for doing…looking around for what is working, and then stepping into that market…hard. In this case, the success was “fanfic” (fan fiction), although Amazon is doing it differently. They license the properties from the rightsholders, and then anybody can write works in it (following certain guidelines), and the author, the rightsholder, and Amazon all get cuts. The most popular title is in the top 20,000 at the Kindle store right now (top 1 percent, roughly), so this seems to be working. More information: Kindle Worlds: Amazon mainstreams fanfic
  • Kindle Countdown Deals (at AmazonSmile): this is yet another way that Amazon gives us discounted books. These Kindle books go on sale for a limited time, and there is a countdown clock as to when they will go back up. There are about 2,500 titles in the program right now. This may be working: the most popular book in it right now is #218 paid in the Kindle store, and has nearly 900 reviews: More information: Kindle Countdown Deals
  • AmazonSource: this program encourages bookstores and, importantly, other brick-and-mortar stores, to sell Kindles and Kindle books. I get the impression that there was a widespread enrollment, although I don’t know. More information: Amazon saves brick-and-mortars? AmazonSource
  • AmazonSmile: this may be the biggest move for Amazon. They created a mirror site, where shopping is just like shopping at Amazon.com…except that you pick a non-profit, and half a percent of your purchase price of eligible items goes to support that charity. My guess is that we are going to hear some very positive news out of this within Q1 of 2014, especially from smaller, more obscure non-profits. More information: Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

Legal Actions: The Defeat of the Agency Model

There is a reason why there are lawyers who specialize in intellectual property. The publishing business is, well, a business…and legal actions are a part of that.

Macmillan became the last of the publishers to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice over the Agency Model’s use in raising e-book prices. Apple chose to fight on, and Judge Denise Cote eventually ruled against the technology giant. A separate action brought by states Attorneys general also prevailed, which will result in payments to e-book purchasers. There are still some loose ends to tie up, and Apple could appeal (and regardless, the Agency Model could return in the future), but this does feel like the end of an era.

Another important decision was made, arguably to the benefit of e-book readers, that Google’s scanning of p-books in libraries falls under Fair Use. It had taken years for that one finish, and it was good to see Judge Denny Chin make a ruling.

The shifting EBR (E-Book Reader) landscape

Sony, which had led the way with EBRs in the USA, quietly effectively withdrew from the market. Kobo, on the other hand, introduced the well-received Aura HD. Amazon updated the Paperwhite, and Barnes & Noble revamped the NOOK line…but the latter was a drag on the already vulnerable chain.

Tablets showed very strong growth, although I think support of non-backlit devices will continue at Amazon in 2014.

Update problems

There was a lot of buzz in the Kindle community about some updates that got a backlash. Cloud Collections were something people had wanted for a long time, but the way they were implemented on the Paperwhite seemed confusing and clunky to many. Similarly, an update to the new Kindle Fires apparently caused connectivity problems and freezing, at least for some. We look forward to solutions to these issues in the coming weeks.

Books about Jeff Bezos and Amazon were in the zeitgeist

Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos has become much more visible, and that has led to more coverage.

Three of the big books were:

There was a bit of controversy when the first of those books got its first 1-star review…and it was from Mackenzie Bezos, Jeff Bezos’ Significant Other.

The success of these books, and the buzz they got outside the immediate Kindle community, suggested to me a generally higher awareness of the topic. I think Apple losing in court had something to do with it becoming of broader interest. That buzziness in turn probably contributed to all the coverage of Jeff Bezos announcing in an interview with Charlie Rose a possible “deliver by drone” program in a few years.

Those were some of my highlights for what was overall a very positive year. Feel free to share others, or your reactions to these, with me and my readers 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. 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.

Gift cards and your Kindle

December 29, 2013

Gift cards and your Kindle

There’s a pretty good chance you got an Amazon gift card recently (see my post, Really last minute gifts: e-books and gift cards for more on giving cards).

You might be wondering how you can use it…I’ve seen lots of confusion about it in the Amazon Kindle Forum. In this post, I’ll explain how it works.

The first thing to know is that your gift card isn’t just for a specific Kindle on your account, or for a specific product.

Some people are confused by the fact that Amazon lets you buy a gift card with a picture of a Kindle on it. That doesn’t mean the amount can only be used for Kindle purchases: any gift card balance you have on your account can be used for any eligible item.

So, could a grandparent give you a gift card intending you to get

and it ends up being spent on paper towels?

Sure…it could even happen by accident.

What you do is apply the gift card balance to your account…the whole account. Then, when you use 1-click to buy something, it draws from any available gift card balance until there is none left (and then it goes back to the payment method which your account has set up for 1-click).

While you can only use 1-click to buy Kindle books, you can also use it to buy other things.

If you don’t use 1-click to buy the paper towels, you’ll be given the choice whether or not to use the gift card balance. If you use 1-click, it automatically goes to the gift card…letting you choose whether or not to use the gift card would add clicks, and it wouldn’t be 1-click any more. 🙂

I’m sure this has happened a lot. Somebody gets a gift card, intends to use it for a specific purpose, and it gets used up by more mundane purchases before the person realizes it.

That’s one reason why it is a good thing that you can gift a specific Kindle book from the book’s Amazon product page! Do that, and the person has a choice to get a gift card instead, but it arrives ready to be used just for that one book.

So, that’s the first big thing: your gift card isn’t “siloed” away from other purchases.

Oh, something which is siloed:

Amazon Coins

You can gift those, and they can only be used for apps and for in-app purchases.

The other thing is that not everything can be purchased with a gift card.

Here are the

For example, you can’t use a gift card to buy more gift cards…I guess that is like using one of your three wishes to wish for more wishes. 😉

One important one which does not appear on this page is about subscription items (blogs, magazines, newspapers). Weirdly, it used to explicitly say that it was prohibited. I alerted Amazon to the fact that it doesn’t have that prohibition in Help any more, and they confirmed for me that it is still prohibited to use your gift card for a subscription. Hopefully, they will update the page.

They do say it explicitly on another page:

“You can use an Amazon Gift Card, Gift Certificate, or Promotional Certificate to purchase Kindle devices, books and accessories. Any available balance will be used for your Kindle store purchase before your credit or debit card is charged. Your Gift Card balance cannot be used to pay for subscription content from the Kindle store.”

Why isn’t that okay?

With a subscription, they need something they can bill in future months, too…not just the first time. Let’s say you get something which is $10 a month, and you could pay for it with a $10 gift card. What would happen when the $10 came due for the next month’s subscription? They wouldn’t have a way to get the money, so they would have to contact you, which might delay it.

When you buy a subscription with a credit card, there is a much better chance that card can be billed the following month.

That said, it appears that Amazon has made it possible to gift some subscriptions…I believe that is new. When you go to pay for some magazines in the Kindle store, you’ll get an option to gift them to someone.

At least, that’s what I’ve heard: I haven’t seen it yet myself.

My guess is that it works one of two ways: either it works like gifting Prime, where it doesn’t autorenew…or they just continue to bill the gift giver’s payment method.

Those are the key points.

There are links at the top of this page

both to redeem your gift card (apply it to your account) and to check your balance.

If you have any other questions about them, feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

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. 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.

KDD: Calvin & Hobbes, Snoopy

December 28, 2013

KDD: Calvin & Hobbes, Snoopy

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile…support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is described as “comic books for kids”, but this one really isn’t:

While it does star a kid (and a stuffed tiger), it really is for adults. Not in an NSFW (Not Safe for Work) way, but the humor is much better for adults. Think of it sort of like The Simpsons in that way, but much more…existential.

Lots of people loved Calvin & Hobbes, and it has a wry, subtle, philosophical humor…in addition to very broad sight gags. 🙂 There is a Walter Mitty element to it as well, with Calvin imagining himself in situations without the people around him quite understanding what’s going on. This may put a smile on some of your faces: “Spaceman Spiff”. 😉

This collection is only $2.99 on this special…definitely worth it, in my opinion.

It’s worth noting that it says that text-to-speech is not enabled. This is a case where the publisher won’t have done anything to block it: it’s just that the words are part of the images, which the TTS software can’t recognize as words. That’s why that “enabled” language is weird…you don’t have to “enable” a book: what publishers sometimes is block the access.

In this case, I assume nothing was done to block it…it just doesn’t work.

They also have a Peanuts collection:

Even though Peanuts had some adult humor, this new collection (not new strips) is geared towards kids. It sounds like it even has activities designed for children, but that you still get the originals.

Both of these aren’t really comic books, but comic strips. The difference is that a strip would appear in, say, a newspaper. It might appear daily during the week, and commonly, there would be a full color strip on Sundays. A comic book is a stand-alone publication, and can contain several longer stories.

Typically, no real plot in a comic strip…four panels in a day is pretty common.

I do highly recommend both of these…even if you wouldn’t read them yourself, someone on your account may want to do that.

It’s worth noting that the Calvin & Hobbes one is not available for a non-Fire hardware Kindle, but the Snoopy one is.

These could also be great gifts…yes, I give gifts all year round. 😉

Enjoy!

Oh, as always, these prices may not apply in your country or may have changed before you read this post. Check the price before you click that “Buy” button.

* 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.

AmazonSmile: an extra $5 to your chosen non-profit

December 27, 2013

AmazonSmile: an extra $5 to your chosen non-profit

It’s really felt great this year to know that I’m benefiting a non-profit of my choice when I shop at Amazon’s mirror site, AmazonSmile! I wrote about the program on November 3:

Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

and have been linking to items both on AmazonSmile and on the main site.

Well, Amazon has added something exciting!

Through the end of the year, Amazon will donate an extra $5 to your non-profit of choice when you buy an eligible item. The details are here:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1001922881&ref=aseyli&ref_=pe_629340_103668340

For small non-profits, that could make a huge difference.

To make it to a $5 donation otherwise, at half a percent, a supporter would need to buy $1,000 of eligible items at AmazonSmile. Even better, this $5 is on top of the normal donation Amazon makes.

They have set a cap on this extra $5 program: $1,000,000 in donations…my guess is that they could hit that. They only need 200,000 people to buy from AmazonSmile during that period (it doesn’t matter how much the purchase is, I think), and I believe many of my readers routinely shop at AmazonSmile. There’s no real reason not to do it regularly, once you have decided to do it at all.

I can tell you that it looks like people tend to buy the expensive items at AmazonSmile. Yesterday, for example, ILMK readers (I don’t see who buys what) spent about twice as much at AmazonSmile as they did at the regular Amazon site…but bought four times as many items as the regular site.

On second thought, that might have to do with which items are eligible…maybe the more expensive items are more likely to be eligible? Certainly possible.

Regardless, it makes sense to buy everything you can from AmazonSmile if you are comfortable with the program (I am). When I was a retailer, one of my owners was fond of telling us “It’s a game of inches.” In other words, like football, a bunch of little things are more important than the big things. You can gain more than nine yards, but still be an inch short.

When I help people with time management (and I’ve had some real success in that area this year), I always tell them you are looking for little things you do a lot where you can save three seconds. People are proudest to show me something where they saved, say, five minutes. I’ll ask them how often they do that complex task, and it’s usually pretty rare…maybe it’s an end of the month thing. At the same time, I can show them how to save three seconds every time they do something that they do 100 times a day…and that’s five minutes right there. 🙂

My guess is that Amazon is tremendously upping their charitable donations through AmazonSmile, and I’m happy to support my non-profits that way.

Shop ’til you help! 🙂

http://Smile.Amazon.com

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 (at AmazonSmile) 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 #230: deals, T-rexes, and the Strand

December 27, 2013

Round up #230: deals, T-rexes, and the Strand

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

AmazonLocal deals: e-books, accessories, Audible

I saw an interesting comment from someone on the

recently. They didn’t think having Special Offers on your Kindle was worth it anymore, because the good deals on things like Kindle books were available through

AmazonLocal

Well, I’m guessing that person doesn’t have a Kindle Fire. 🙂

We get those

that save ridiculous amounts of money, if you are lucky enough to get one (they sell out in seconds, or have so far).

This holiday season, we saved enough in my household to buy a Paperwhite with those deals…and not just one of those ones we got for $19! 😉

That said, there are great AmazonLocal deals, and to me, it makes sense to open a free account there. Right now, there are three in particular that caught my eye:

  • 100 selected Kindle books for $0.99 each (you can buy as many as you want of them). The authors include Ed McBain, Max Brand, and the Hangman’s Daughter series
  • Half off select Kindle accessories, including covers and speakers
  • Three months of Audible audiobooks (you can pick one book a month) for $0.95 per month, instead of $14.95. You don’t have to be an Audible (owned by Amazon) member like this to buy Audible books, but some folks like it this way

As is typical with AmazonLocal, you get a coupon, and then redeem it. There is a limited time to get these coupons…but I think you have a week on all of them yet.

A deal not from Amazon

I usually do report on deals from Amazon and not as often from other places. I figure we all have Amazon in common, and are comfortable with them, for one thing.

In this case, I’m going to mention something from another company where I have shopped, PulseTV.

They do big sales on items, which don’t tend to be available for very long (I assume it is a close-out place, mostly). I’ve found the service to be fine.

In this case, it is:

USB Talking Classics

For $19.99, you get 100 audiobooks for $19.99 (they give you more of a discount when you order more than one…that’s typical for them).

These are in MP3 format, which means you could listen to them on a Kindle device which has sound. You’d have to transfer them yourself.

The titles are all public domain (not under copyright protection) books, but I think it is a pretty good group. You can see the list here:

titles list PDF

I haven’t heard these…as regular readers know, I actually prefer text-to-speech to audiobooks (I don’t like the actors/author interpreting the characters for me). That’s different if I’ve read the book, though…then it is more like going to a movie based on a book (and I’m fine with that).

Let’s see, at quick glance…I would certainly guess I’ve read more than half of these (Edgar Rice Burroughs and William Shakespeare? Check.). Some of these are not novel length…I see at least one poem.

Still, if you like audiobooks, this seems like a good deal.

Great holiday season for Amazon, but…

I always look forward to Amazon’s funny stats on the holiday sales, and they didn’t disappoint in this

press release

Just a couple of examples:

  • Amazon customers purchased enough youth archery kits to outfit every resident of Katniss Everdeen’s hometown, District 12, four times over
  • The number of “Star Trek Into Darkness” Blu-ray combo packs purchased would span the distance of 25 Star Trek Enterprise space ships
  • If the Nylabone Dinosaur Chew Toys purchased during this holiday season were stacked on top of each other, they would be the height of more than 950 T-Rex dinosaurs

Wouldn’t you just love to be in the room when they are figuring out those comparisons?

They do talk about great sales for Kindle Fires and Kindle non-Fires…including this stat:

  • Cyber Monday holiday shopping weekend was the best ever for Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers

However, when they listed the best-selling items, although they did tell us that the

were the best-selling tablets for Amazon. That should include tablets from other companies, and the

they did not tell us which non-Fire Kindle was the bestseller. It makes the non-backlit models seem  slighted, a bit, to me, although I do think Amazon will continue to support and promote that line of hardware in 2014.

Mayday’s amazing day

I’ve written several times about Mayday, Amazon’s free onscreen tech help on the Kindle Fire HDX line. I think it’s the greatest innovation in Customer Service in some time.

Along with other people, I was wondering how it would go for them on December 25th. Would they be overwhelmed? How close would they be to the fifteen second response time which is their stated goal (but not a guarantee)?

Well, according to this

press release

they weren’t that close to it…they were way under!

The average response time on Christmas Day was nine seconds!

It probably usually takes you nine seconds just to push zero to speak to an operator. 😉 Well, not quite, but that’s still fast.

The press release has some funny stuff:

  • A young girl got a Kindle Fire HDX for Christmas. She was playing around with it and accidentally tapped the Mayday button—when she saw the Tech Advisor, she just screamed “MOOOOOOMMM!”, not having expected a person to pop up on the screen. Her parents could be heard laughing in the background
  • A group of carolers called in and sang to the team—they wanted to thank the Tech Advisors for their work and spread some holiday cheer

If you were proposing something like Mayday to your Customer Service department, they would be listing these sorts of things as reasons not to do it…and Amazon celebrated them! That says something about Amazon…and something that we, as customers, like.

Meanwhile…in the brick-and-mortars

So, with all of this success (even without all that much profit yet, based on their financials) at Amazon, how are the brick-and-mortar bookstores doing?

It was nice to hear about a tweet from the Strand, a famous store in New York. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and made a special trip to visit it when I was there: I proudly have a cap with their name on it. 🙂

They tweeted that December 23rd had been the biggest sales day in their history…and that’s a history that goes back eighty-six years! For some perspective, that’s before mass market paperbacks even really existed.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the day that the most books were bought, since books used to be a lot cheaper. It is, though, remarkable, and my Strand cap is off to them. 😉

* 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.

Welcome to your Kindle…and ILMK (2013)

December 26, 2013

Welcome to your Kindle…and ILMK (2013)

Did you just get a new Kindle? A Kindle Fire, a Paperwhite, or another model?

If so, welcome!

I’m guessing quite a few people are finding this blog for the first time because of that.

On behalf of me, and my readers (some of whom have been here August of 2009), “We welcome you most e-gally!” (And there’s nothing we must verify legally!).

Sorry, that was a riff on the Wizard of Oz. 😉

Actually, if you feel like you need an apology for puns and whimsical humor, well, this might not be the right place for you…although, on second thought, it still might. 🙂

You see, I write a lot (I told myself I’d average at least 1,000 words a day in this blog, and I do that easily) about Kindles and the world of e-books generally.

Sure, I tell you about things that are on sale and about giveaways.

I also, though, will tell you give you tips and tricks about using your Kindle/Kindle app, as well as give you the news and the stories behind the news.

I encourage you to ask me questions: answering questions is one of the most fun things in life for me.

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I’ve been dealing with technology since the punchcard days (if you aren’t sure what a punchcard machine is…well, I was going to say, “Ask your grandfather”, but it’s probably easier to just ask your phone.) 😉 I think that combination gives me a pretty good background to write about technological books.

Okay, enough about me. 😉 Oh, that’s another thing: I do sometimes write a bit about my life, but this really isn’t one of those diary/confessional sort of blogs.

I try to keep it eclectic. It’s rare that I write two posts in a row (and I usually publish one a day…sometimes more, rarely it might be a day and a half or so) that are really similar.

I’ve been very busy with the holidays, but I’ll be getting back on schedule and you’ll start seeing posts. I plan to write about gift cards and your Kindle, AmazonPrime, and frequently asked questions this season…probably all of those in the next few days. Then there are the year-end posts: a look backwards and a look ahead.

I think this variety is part of what has kept this blog in the top ten most popular USA Kindle store blogs for years (although I’ll sometimes slip to the second ten). That’s also due in large part to my subscribers, and I thank them very much! The Kindle store is based on paid subscribers…you can subscribe to have the blog automatically delivered to your non-Fire Kindle. Why would anybody pay to have a blog delivered? Two main reasons, I think. One is the convenience: you wake up in the morning (or check before going to bed…whatever works for you), and it’s there. You don’t have to go to a website to read it. The other one is, well, to support me. 🙂

Actually, there is something I do in the blog: polls. Let me do a quick poll, here, and then I’ll give you some tips.

You can comment on this post if you have other reasons, or want to say why you don’t pay to subscribe. I’m assuming you read it, since otherwise, how would you find this poll? 😉

On to a couple of stories!

$5 credit for downloading through Amazon Appstore app

I guess Amazon finally started listening to their investors, and realized that discounting so much might not make sense…so they are giving away store credit instead. Won’t that make the investors happy? 😉

It’s an interesting deal, only available through December 28 (Saturday).

Here’s the key thing: you need to download/update the Amazon Appstore and download an app (even a free one)…but not on a Kindle Fire.

Once you’ve downloaded the app (it can be a free one), you’ll be sent a confirmation e-mail.

This is an Amazon store credit, and it is good on “eligible digital items”…but hey, why not do this?

There are lots of apps to download…good ones, too!

Here’s a listing of almost 80,000 free Amazon Appstore apps:

Yep…Candy Crush, Angry Birds Star Wars II, and many, many more!

Not every app is available for every device, but it will let you know if it’s available for yours. Remember, you need to do this through the Amazon Appstore app on your Android device, but not a Kindle Fire. Just use the above links to help you pick something. 😉 Then, go to the app and order.

Apps are not available in every country, and prices could vary. The key thing with Amazon is to check the price before you click that “Buy” button.

Getting discounted Kindle books from Amazon

There are tens of thousands of free books directly from the Kindle store. Many of them are not under copyright protection, but there are always a lot that are. In fact, the titles change frequently.

However, there are also discounted e-books. Check out this post for

10 ways Amazon saves us money on e-books

for links and information.

Well, that should get you started. 😉

A few general tips about Kindles and e-books:

  • Prices change frequently…they might change several times in one day. If you see something which you think is a fair price for a book, go for it. It could go up, it could go down
  • There are typically new Kindle models every year…again, I’d say if you think the price is fair, go for it. Kindle prices won’t go up, typically, but models do get discontinued
  • When you buy e-books (or other digital content) from Amazon, it’s easiest to think of them as belonging to the account, not to the individual device. Amazon automatically backs them up for you, and you can download them again to other devices on the account

Again, feel free to ask me (and my readers) for help, but Amazon has highly-rated Customer Service for a good reason. You can reach them at

Tap or click the

Contact Us

button. My favorite thing is to have them call me…my phone usually rings in seconds, and I’m talking to somebody within a minute.

If you have a Kindle Fire HDX, you can go to your homescreen, swipe down from the top, and tap Mayday. One more tap to okay the connection, and a live person will appear on your screen in under fifteen seconds (usually). They can’t see you, by the way. They can take over your device to fix things, or draw on the screen to show you how. I think it’s one of the biggest innovations in Customer Service in a very long time.

One more thing: there is a thriving Kindle customer community, provided for us free by Amazon. I’m what they call a “Kindle Forum Pro”: Amazon recognizes some of us as being particularly helpful, but we are just customers. It’s a great place to ask questions (although so is the official Customer Service), and can be really fun, too. 🙂

Once again, welcome!

* 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.

1 more code: $30 off HDX, get it by Christmas

December 22, 2013

1 more code: $30 off HDX, get it by Christmas

Wow! I’d be afraid to suggest that this is the last discount of the holiday season for buying Kindle hardware, because Amazon keeps coming up with new ones!

In this case, you can get $30 off on a Kindle Fire HDX (bringing the 7″ with Special Offers under $200), and you’ll get it by Christmas!

Amazon says:

“$30 off Kindle Fire HDX 7″ and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9”

Enter promotional code SANTAHDX at checkout.

Limit one discount per customer, while supplies last. U.S. customers only. Discount valid on all versions of Kindle Fire HDX 7″ and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″tablets sold and shipped by Amazon Digital Services. It does not apply to the same products sold by other sellers. Amazon reserves the right to cancel the promotion at any time. Promo code applies to the lowest priced qualifying item and may not be combined with other offers. If you return items purchased using a promo code, we will subtract the value of the discount from your return credit. Offer expires December 23, 9 PM PST. Offer not valid with 1-Click ordering. Void where prohibited.”

These are the devices:

Remember that 1-click will not work on this, because you need to enter a  code (SANTAHDX).

The 7″ is what I chose for my personal tablet, and it has some great features. One of the best is Mayday (that’s also on the 8.9″ HDX), which gets you onscreen, live tech help, typically within 15 seconds. You can finally give a tablet to someone who isn’t tech savvy, and you won’t have to be their technical support. 😉

How many deals has Amazon done on Kindle hardware this season?

Well, enough so that they have a special page just for that!

There are three deals there right now, and they may not be able to be combined. There is this one ($30 off), the ability to buy a Kindle Fire HDX in installments (if you quality), and $50 off a KFHDX with the Amazon.com Rewards Visa card. They also link to Kindle e-book deals.

Why is Amazon discounting the devices so much?

It’s because they enable other sales, especially making you a Prime member. Prime members spend close to $500 more a year at Amazon, from what I’ve heard, and since Prime has great shipping deals, they may spend it on higher profit physical items.

You don’t have to worry about that, though…just enjoy the deals! 😉

* 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 book gifting…how times have changed!

December 21, 2013

Kindle book gifting…how times have changed!

One of the big complaints in the first three years of the Kindle (the device was announced on November 19, 2007) was that Amazon didn’t give us a way to buy Kindle books for people not on our accounts.

After all, giving books is great! When there was a book I really loved in the p-book (paperbook) days, I would sometimes buy several extra copies of it…just so I had them to give to people. 🙂 Okay, yes, I was buying used copies, but still…

Let’s admit it: we not only want to share the joy that we had in reading a book, but sometimes…well, we think a particular book might be…let’s say, “good for someone’s personal development”. 😉 You know what I mean, I’m sure. 😉

Well, three years later, on November 19, 2010, Amazon enabled the gifting of Kindle books.

It’s easy to do: there is a button on the book’s Amazon product page that lets you give it as a gift. You enter the recipient’s e-mail address (it does not have to be the one associated with their Amazon account), add a message, and you can even choose which day you want it to arrive. That lets you take advantage of a sale price when it happens, and still schedule it to be delivered on a birthday or another gift-giving occasion. For more details, see the

There are some limitations. You can’t give a free book (it costs Amazon something to process the transaction…that might be part of it). The book you are gifting may not have been licensed for your recipient’s country…if that happens (or if they simply already have the book), they can request a gift card instead.

You can also have the gift sent to yourself, print it out, and wrap that. 🙂

So, yes, Amazon has made gifting of Kindle books easy.

This year, though, there is something even better!

They aren’t just enabling it…they are encouraging it…with a discount! For a select set of books, you can

Yep…twenty-six books (at time of writing) where you can buy the Kindle book as a gift, then buy the same book for yourself at half off!

For example, buy Brain Rules (which I reviewed early this year:
Review: Brain Rules) for $8.10 (at time of writing) for someone else, and then go back and buy it for yourself for $4.05.

The “how to” is linked above, but it’s not complicated as long as you follow the sequence (first gift for someone else, then go back and buy it for yourself). This is only for a “limited time”, though.

There are some good titles in here, including a Color Purple collection and a James Herriott collection.

Remember, your recipient does not have to have a Kindle…Kindle books can be read in a free Kindle reader app, too. 🙂

Sure, it’s better to give than to receive…but it’s also kind of nice to be able to do both. 😉

Things keep getting better! Enjoy!

Bonus: I thought I’d share with you the document we sent to our “guest Kindle” for the person who will be staying with us soon:

Welcome!

We love books! While you are staying in our home, we wanted to give you access to our Kindle library, and the easiest way to do that is with this guest Kindle. 🙂

Feel free to download books from the Cloud, and to read what you want. You can’t accidentally order anything, and removing a book from this device won’t hurt anything on the account. Don’t worry about removing books, though: after you leave, we’ll wipe everything off the device again.

We think you’ll find the Paperwhite easy to use. Generally, “long press” (hold your finger on it for about a second) something to get more options. The menu icon is three horizontal lines, and you can use a magnifying glass icon to search for something. You don’t need to turn it off: just closing the cover will make it “sleep”.

If you have any questions, please ask!

Enjoy!

I created a Collection with that person’s name on it, and preceded the title of it with three “A”s so it would alphabetize to the top when sorted by Collections. If it was for me, it would be, “AAA Bufo, please read”. That way, we can use the same document for other people…we’ll just delete the Collection each time. This document is the only thing in that Collection.

For more information about guest Kindles, see:

A Kindle for the guest room

* 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.


%d bloggers like this: