Archive for January, 2014

AMZN Q4/YoY: sales way up; may raise Prime price

January 30, 2014

AMZN Q4/YoY: sales way up; may raise Prime price

I always find the Amazon financials interesting, and this was no exception.

press release

Looking at Year over Year (YoY…comparing 2013 to 2012), Amazon says

“Net sales increased 22% to $74.45 billion, compared with $61.09 billion in 2012. Excluding the $1.28 billion unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year, net sales grew 24% compared with 2012.”

22%! That’s amazing!

Income was also way up, cash flow was up, and so on…this is a shining report!

During the call, they mentioned that Prime has been $79 a year since its introduction about nine years ago. Shipping costs have greatly increased…but the price hasn’t.

They said they are looking at increasing the annual price of Prime $20 to $40.

You can hear the recording at

http://www.amazon.com/ir

The Q&A (Question and Answer) part of the call is the part I most like to hear…and this time, the vast majority of questions were about the possible Prime increase.

Prime appears to make Amazon a lot of money (through increased sales and loyalty)…why would they risk changing it?

First, I think they are right if they think this won’t lose them a lot of Prime members. Make it $99 a year, and we’d certainly still do it. They could do that (as was suggested by a caller) by making it an installment plan (maybe $25 a quarter). They could also tier the services: allow you to buy the shipping, Prime Video, and KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) separately.

Second, this could be a big chunk of change…and quickly, over the course of a year.

They reportedly have tens of millions of Prime customers. They may not all be full price members, but let’s just say there are ten million, to be very conservative.

Ten million people paying $20 more in a year is a $200 million difference…Amazon could do some very interesting things with an influx of cash like that, even if part of it offsets previous expenses for Amazon for Prime.

The day’s change for Amazon stock? Up 18.81, 4.9%…

Happy ending?

Well, you know Wall Street…at least, you may know it better than me. 😉

In after hours trading, the stock was “tanking”, according to this

USA Today story

You see, although they did really well, they didn’t meet “expectations”. Is that Amazon’s fault…or the fault of the people whose expectations were too high? 😉

Again, interesting stuff…feel free to comment.

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 #237: Bezos goes to college, stealing from yourself

January 30, 2014

Round-up #237: Bezos goes to college, stealing from yourself

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

J’accuse…moi!

One of my readers gave me a heads-up to this one in a private comment:

Wall St. CheatSheet article by Nathanael Arnold

You know those science fiction stories where a robot or computer decides the best way to serve homo sapiens is to protect it from its biggest threat…itself?

Apparently, a “highly automated” system at Digimarc, working on behalf of HarperCollins, has asked Apple to remove from the iTunes store e-books listed there to which HarperCollins has the rights…and which HarperCollins itself put there!

In other words, what is most likely happening here is that the system is looking for the books online, but doesn’t know where they are supposed to be.

That is one way to stop piracy! If you could stop a book from being distributed by anybody at any time in any way, there would be no piracy…or legitimate sales, for that matter. 😉

Thanks to the reader for the heads-up! I think you intended that to be private: if not, let me know and I’ll credit you here.

Amazon expands into…

One of \S/uperman’s powers, according to the old opening was (besides bending steel, etc.) was that the Kryptonian could “…change the course of mighty rivers”.

The Amazon, of course, is one of the mightiest rivers…and its e-tailer namesake is constantly changing its course.

In fact, anybody can change the course of a river: drop a rock in right next to the bank, and the river will flow around it, carving out a new spot.

That’s the way Amazon is…oh, it’s very hard to change where it has already been going (you know, except for online auctions) 😉 , but it keeps going new places.

This year they may, according to this

Forbes article by Erik Kain

and other sources, release an Android game console for under $300.

“A console…really?” That seems to be what a lot of people are saying, given how much gaming is moving to mobile (phones and tablets).

My guess is that, if this happens, it will be far, far more than a gaming console.

Make it Miracast compatible, and it’s everything your Kindle Fire HDX is…on your big screen.

Videos? Sure. Websites? Absolutely. Your music? Check.

I can already mirror my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

on my TV using the

NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile)

and while it isn’t super cheap (it’s around $50), it’s a lot less than $300.

My guess is that an Amazon set-top box would bring more than mirroring. It would likely bring a significantly interesting interface, with a lot of curation (suggesting things for you).

It would have to sync with Amazon, of course, and seamlessly with your Fire.

It could have Mayday on it! That could make it hugely attractive.

With the way Amazon has done things in the past, it’s possible that it would have some desired software ability that would be more exclusive to it originally. For example, I could see it being the way to manage your Collections in your Cloud initially. It could let you drag and drop books from one Collection to another, with the argument being that the big screen makes it more possible somehow.

Yes, some people who didn’t get that would be upset…but they likely wouldn’t lose sales because of it.

Interface would be an interesting question. Would it have gesture detection? Would they make hardware joysticks for it?

Would it do text-to-speech? You know, I haven’t tried that with my Push2TV! If that worked, I would definitely use it with the louder speakers while doing things in the house. I’ll let you know…

Pre-release update (yes, I checked this before I actually published the post): Eureka! I can use my Push2TV to display the text from my Kindle Fire HDX while my TV plays the text-to-speech! Putting the KFHDX into landscape mode makes the print quite large, but it means I can listen while doing things that take my eyes away from the screen. That may sound super-bookwormy to some of you, but I will definitely use this. It also won’t hurt to have some of the images in the books on the big screen…and mirroring allows that. You could pause on a map to take the time to examine it carefully, or a graph in a non-fiction book. Seeing some images more than life-size will also be entertaining. This is the sort of  serendipitous find I make when writing these posts that really makes me smile. 🙂

Update: this also means that we can read our Kindle Fires hands-free with “autoturn”, something people have wanted for a long time, while, for example, exercising or knitting. We’ve been able to turn down the volume on Kindles with text-to-speech (which “turns the pages”) for some time, but because we have variable speed (which can get quite fast) on the KFHDX, it will work better. This means that I can exercise with my KFHDX mirrored through the TV, the sound turned off, the TTS speed cranked up, and read while I work out…a whole new world! 😉

Amazon is also possibly going to expand into point-of-sales processing, according to this

CNET News article by Desiree Everts DeNunzio

and other sources.

This could actually be a very big deal. It’s not just that it would compete with Square, that little gadget that you see stuck on a cellphone or tablet to process your credit card (although it would do that, too).

I could see this going a lot more than that.

Picture this scenario:

You are shopping in a brick-and-mortar hardware store. A knowledgeable employee has helped you pick the right set of blinds for your guest room. That employee checks you out on a Kindle Fire…right there in the aisle.

Further more, you need some hardware to mount the blinds, and the store is out of it (or just doesn’t carry it). The store orders it from Amazon for you, it will arrive in a day or two (or maybe the same day, in the future, via drone), and the store gets a commission…or Amazon knocks off part of the processing fee for the credit card (which can be significant).

That’s what Amazon could do that other credit card processors can’t: add access to additional products, so the store doesn’t have to have as deep a stock.

That, in turn, could enable Amazon to charge lower processing fees.

Oh, and what if you could choose to pay in the store with your Amazon account? Even if the store doesn’t go through Amazon to fulfill your order, Amazon getting the information about what you are buying (and where) could be a big plus for it…and again, could lower processing fees.

We can already pay with our Amazon accounts at many websites…why not in brick-and-mortars?

There are a lot of interesting possibilities here…

One more potential expansion, which could be really disruptive for a major competitor (at least in one part of Amazon’s many businesses).

According to this

UC Davis News and Information post

the university has entered into a pilot program for students to buy things through Amazon.

University/College sales have been one of the relatively bright areas for Barnes & Noble. If that Amazon river gets diverted into college sales, it could result in a Carthaginian peace for Barnes & Noble and Amazon. 😉 A “Carthaginian peace” (at least in the idiom) is basically when you make peace with your enemy…by destroying them. I actually thought the story had gone that a river was diverted to wipe out what was left of Carthage after the war, but I must be conflating mythologies.

At any rate, free delivery with the Amazon Student Prime program could mean that you don’t have to pay $10 for a Post-Its pad while you are in college any more.

This is just a pilot program, but if it works well…it could knock the last sturdy leg out from under Barnes & Noble’s three-legged (retail, digital, college) stool.

Marcus Books fundraiser this Saturday

I’ve written before about attempts to save Marcus Books in San Francisco from closing. It’s an historic bookstore…and there was an effort to get it officially designated as such.

Now, according to this

SF Weekly post by Jessica Nemire

there will be a fundraiser this Saturday, February 1st.

Here is more information about the event:

Keep It Lit’

You can also donate directly through the Marcus Books website:

MarcusBookstores.com

What do you think? Would you buy a set-top box from Amazon, or are you about gadget-ed out? What would it have to have? Are traditional publishers too concerned about piracy? Are bookstores any more entitled to efforts to save them than any other kind of store? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* 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.

Non-English books in the USA Kindle store

January 29, 2014

Non-English books in the USA Kindle store

Amazon has more sites than just Amazon.com:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom

However, you can’t just buy e-books from those other sites if you want to do that.

A lot of people complain about that in the Amazon Kindle forums, but there is a good reason behind it (at least, with laws set up the way they are now).

Authors traditionally license the rights to sell their books to publishers. They normally license them by format (someone who licenses the rights for the hardback doesn’t automatically get the e-book rights or the audiobook rights) and by territory. The latter might be an individual country, but it could be a lot more than that (all of Africa, perhaps)…just depends on what is worked out.

If the publisher who licensed the right to sell a book in France sells it to somebody in the USA, they could be in serious trouble. That’s particularly true if a different publisher licensed the USA.

A lot of people counter that with the ability to buy paperbooks from other Amazon sites, but that’s quite different. With a paperbook, the store buys it from the publisher first, then sells it to the customer. If the store is able to export it, that’s fine…that’s not where the publisher sold it.

With an e-book, the sale doesn’t happen until the customer buys it…the store didn’t buy it first. The sale is basically considered to have taken place where the customer is (although it’s a tad trickier than that).

So, while the German site has over two and a half million books (many of which, I am guessing, are in German), that doesn’t mean all those same books are available to customers using Amazon.com.

I checked the state of foreign language books at Amazon.com back in November of 2009.

Kindle spoken here

These were some figures I got then:

I got those results by searching for the language followed by the word “Edition”. For example, I would have searched for “French Edition”.

Amazon has since expanded the way it lists foreign language books. This is what it says now:

  • Spanish (80,230)
  • German (142,958)
  • French (40,986)
  • Italian (31,324)
  • Japanese (17,538)
  • Portuguese (19,382)
  • Chinese (2,895)
  • Afrikaans (1,716)
  • Russian (260)
  • Other Languages (5,722)

Now, just to give a more consistent comparison, I’ll search for “German Edition”. Doing it that way, I got 143,043…not that far off, and it might have some false positives.

So, honestly, we can say that the numbers have exploded! There are about seventy-five times as many German books, just to stick with one language!

If we compare that to the overall growth rate of the USA Kindle store, this is much, much higher. I recorded the titles in store count on December 1, 2009 as 385,484. On January 1 of 2014, I recorded 2,351,290. While that is a lot of growth (there are about six times as many books…more than doubling every year), it’s not even a tenth the rate of German book growth.

My search for “Swahili Edition” gives me 104 versus 5…more than twenty times as many.

I think that the number of books where companies get global licenses has also greatly increased, and that may have something to do with it. It costs the company more initially, or at least I would assume that’s the case, but can certainly be worth it.

Here’s a link to

Foreign Languages in the USA Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

  • Genießen Sie!
  • Disfrute!
  • Kufurahia!
  • Amusez-vous!
  • Enjoy!

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* 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.

10 Books Tumblrs

January 28, 2014

10 Books Tumblrs

Tumblr is a “microblogging” site. Many of them post pictures, sometimes with captions, although you can actually post text.

I thought I’d just take a look for Tumbrs by searching for “Books Tumblr” on Google.

I have to warn you that Tumblr is also famous for having NSFW (Not Safe For Work) material, and it’s possible that will show up in this list. I will have looked a bit at the Tumblrs I list (in order to pick ten that I think are interesting), but they don’t all post those sorts of things every day. 🙂

The Reblog Book Club

This is an official Tumblr blog. It’s pretty much what you would imagine, with a modern social media twist. They pick a book for people to read, and then they discuss it…but there could be hashtags involved. 🙂

Nose in a Book

A lot of pictures, and some reviews…

Go Book Yourself

I like this one: information dense, with writing, pictures, cartoons, and quotations.

Tumblr Book News

As the name implies…more newsy, including book deals

Bookfessions

Great little sayings about their feelings from booklovers…I could really understand a lot of these!

Everybody Reading Books

Lots of pictures of people reading books…and more!

Confessions of a Book Addict

A lot more text than many of these…

Library Journal

For me, this has a surprising amount of pop culture…but a lot about books.

NPR Books

National Public Radio on books…

And finally, for a classic internet type Tumblr:

The Literary Cat

Mostly pictures of cats with books (and at least one cat with a Kindle).

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.

Why aren’t you reading?

January 26, 2014

Why aren’t you reading?

Do you ever find yourself wondering why you aren’t reading?

You know, you’re doing something, like stirring the oatmeal, and you think to yourself, “Why aren’t you reading?”

That exact experience happened to me today: I was stirring a pot of oatmeal, reading the news crawl on the TV with the sound off (my Significant Other wasn’t out yet), and feeling like it would have been better if I’d set my Kindle up nearby so I could read a book at the same time.

That, despite the fact that I have to keep my eye on the oatmeal at that stage: I’d certainly be flicking my eyes back and forth, and not getting a lot of reading done.

Still, I thought, it would have been better than nothing.

But is “not reading” the same as “nothing”?

Clearly not. There are a lot of valuable things in my life besides reading. 😉

However…

I have to say,  I never feel guilty about having been reading. I also watch videos (TV, movie), although I’m often reading at the same time. I feel like I would have to justify having watched ten episodes of a mediocre TV show in a day…I don’t feel like one has to justify “binge reading” in the same way one does “binge watching”.

We have a new dog (we’ve had Elf* for a couple of months), and the three of us were walking up to the dog park (about a mile away). I didn’t read on the way up, which I would have done years ago if it was just me walking a dog.

Part of that is because I use a cane when I walk, now, and I have to keep looking where I put it: it w0uld not be a good thing to have that cane not provide solid support. That means that, even if I had my Kindle in my other hand, I wouldn’t have “eyes free” to see it. I could listen to text-to-speech, but that would take a major social element away from the walk.

Text-to-speech, though, has been a wonderful thing in the car! I like to say that I now feel like driving isn’t “wasted non-reading time”. 😉

It’s fascinating to me that so many people put reading on such an exalted plane: what can you do that is better for yourself and for the world than read?

However, it’s also clear that many people (perhaps more), don’t feel that way. “You shouldn’t read at the table.” “You should go outside and play”. “You should put down that book and meet people.” “You shouldn’t read while you are riding your bike”…well, that last one might have an argument. 😉 I knew somebody who smacked into the back of a parked truck, because they were riding a bike and reading at the same time.

Why do we feel like this?

Reading is the purest interaction we can have with another person’s mind…unencumbered by our perceptions of their physicality.

I’m sure that it’s true that people who read widely are more tolerant of others.

That doesn’t mean that reading is all you should do, of course…there are a lot of wonderful things to be done.

Reading, though? Never a wrong thing…

Bonus deal:

Gold Box Deal of the Day: Top-Rated Kindle Books: Novels, Nonfiction, and More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This is a great selection! There are 75 books from HarperCollins (I think they are all from HC), which is one of the five largest trade publishers in the USA…and they appear to each be $1.99!

Looking over the list, I’m struck by the amount of interesting non-fiction.

Remember that you can buy a book as a gift, and delay delivery until the appropriate occasion…this might be a good chance to get some small gifts for later.

Always check the price before you click that Buy button: books can move in and out of a deal, and this deal may not apply in your country.

Enjoy!

Update: by request from one of my regular readers, Harold Delk, here is a picture of Elf:

Elf

Elf weighs about 12 pounds, and is quite long. The vet said that Elf looks like a Dandie Dinmont terrier (mix), and while that would be a bit odd circumstantially, much of it does match (except without the usual fur). My Significant Other has decided that Elf is a mix between a terrier and a Slinky Dog…a “Slinkier”. 😉

What do you think? Do you have a good example of when you suddenly thought to yourself that “…this would be better if I was reading?” Where is the weirdest place where you’ve been reading a book, the one that would most shock non-readers? Have you ever read a book on a roller coaster? Does your hand feel empty without a book in it? If you were a reader growing up, how did that affect other people’s perception of you? 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. 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.

woot! deal: Kindle Touch for $54.99

January 25, 2014

woot! deal: Kindle Touch for $54.99

Thanks to readers Brian and D. Knight for the heads-up on this!

woot! (owned by Amazon) has a deal today (while it lasts) on  a refurbished Kindle Touch for $54.99 (plus shipping).

http://tech.woot.com/offers/kindle-touch-wireless-reading-device-6

woot! deals tend to sell-out (I was a little surprised this one hadn’t yet), so I wouldn’t wait if you want one (or more…you can get up to 3).

This is the forerunner of the Kindle Paperwhite. It doesn’t have a built-in light…but it does have sound (which includes text-to-speech).

That makes this model particularly attractive to some people…I typically listen to TTS for hours a week in the car.

It has a four out of five star average on Amazon, with 8,358 reviews at time of writing. The Paperwhite does have a higher average: 4.4 stars.

If you were to buy a refurb on Amazon right now, it’s $79, so this is about a $25 savings.

Thanks for the heads-up!

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.

Golden anniversary: books published in 1964

January 25, 2014

Golden anniversary: books published in 1964

For some of you, prepare to feel old. 😉

Can you believe that 1964 was fifty years ago? Well, yes, I’m sure some of you can. 🙂

I thought I’d take a quick look at some books published in 1964. While 1964 is a particularly great year for TV, as I mentioned in

Ends in 4: geeky anniversaries in 2014

in my The Measured Circle blog, there are also books that should bring back fond memories.

Oh, and in case you are curious, under current copyright laws, books first published in the USA in 1964, which followed all the rules (proper copyright notice, renewals when possible), will fall into the public domain in the United States on January 1, 2060…so in 46 years, you should be able to read them for free. 😉

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Ian Fleming
4.6 out of 5 stars, 149 customer reviews
$5.38 at time of writing

While Ian Fleming was still writing about James Bond (You Only Live Twice was also published this year), this kids’ book about a flying car was a hit…and would have been, even without the big screen adaptation.

The Deep Blue Good-by: A Travis McGee Novel (at AmazonSmile)
by John D. McDonald
4.4 stars, 135 reviews
$9.99 at time of writing

This one launched the Travis McGee series, although the story goes that the publisher wanted three novels ready to go before publishing the first one…so three were published in 1964.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (at AmazonSmile)
by Roald Dahl
4.6 stars, 679 reviews
$5.42 at time of writing

What a year it was to be a kid…and a reader!

Arrow of God (at AmazonSmile)
by Chinua Achebe
4.3 stars, 23 reviews
$9.99 at time of writing

It’s the second book of the “African Trilogy”, following After Things Fell Apart.

Games People Play (at AmazonSmile)
by Eric Berne
3.9 stars, 41 reviews
$5.38 at time of writing

Oh, yes, this had a big impact when it was released! It’s pop psychology.

The Giving Tree (at AmazonSmile)
by Shel Silverstein
4.3 stars, 1,100 reviews
$10.67 at time of writing (note: this is a pre-order, with the Kindle version to be published February 18)

I still think of Shel Silverstein first as a sort of counter culture musician, but people have loved this book for five decades. Note: this is one of the cases where I believe to text-to-speech access wasn’t blocked, but is unavailable because the text is part of the images.

Herzog (at AmazonSmile)
by Saul Bellow
3.7 stars, 95 reviews
$7.99 at time of writing

A great example of a mid 1960s novel…complex, cynical, and comedic.

The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain) (at AmazonSmile)
by Lloyd Alexander
4.6 stars, 329 reviews
$4.73 at time of writing

The first of the Prydain novels…

Little Big Man (at AmazonSmile)
by Thomas Berger
4.6 stars, 64 reviews
$9.99 at time of writing

In a sense, deconstructing the Western, it became a movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway.

Last Exit to Brooklyn (at AmazonSmile)
by Hubert Selby
4.1 stars, 96 reviews
$9.99 at time of writing

Harsh? Absolutely. There was, of course, a definite dark side to the 1960s, and popular culture didn’t shy away from it. This book was involved in an obscenity trial in the UK.

There you are…ten books which have stood the test of time, half a century on.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* 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.

Round up #236: demographics, what’s an author?

January 23, 2014

Round up #236: demographics, what’s an author?

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

Give a Kid a Kindle update

I’d like to give a new Kindle to a deserving child, and have set up a way to do that:

Give a Kid a Kindle

So far, though, I don’t have any nominations for a recipient.

I’d appreciate it if you spread the word. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to post something about it in the

Amazon Kindle forum

but I think it might help if one of you wanted to do that.

I’m going to look for more ways to do outreach on it. I think if you checked with your child’s teacher or the local librarian, they might know someone.

Update: we now have our first nominee! I will post nominating comments through January and February and March, and you can support nominees (multiple, if you like) by “recommending” them to get a Kindle using the polls which will appear in March.

A different demographic

I was quite pleased to see a picture on the Mindle (that’s what I call the least expensive Kindle) product page of someone who wasn’t in the New Millennial generation using a Kindle! Even more interestingly, that person wasn’t show interacting with a child or someone in a different age group.

Early on, informal surveys were showing that the majority of adopters of the Kindle were in the “Baby Boomer” and “Greatest Generation” age groups. It makes sense: a non-Fire is more of a book reader than a tech gadget, and older folks may benefit more from things like increasable text sizes and light weight.

Amazon’s ads, though, tended to feature young twenty something hipsters…not unlike many Apple product ads.

So, while I don’t typically call attention to inherent  characteristics  (like age and gender), I do think this is a good thing. 🙂

Hm…the fact that I mentioned that it isn’t an older person interacting with, say, a grandchild reminds me of the Bechdel test. That’s an interesting (and sometimes controversial) test of works of fiction. It’s usually stated something like this:

“Does the work have two named female characters who have a meaningful conversation with each other about something other than a man?”

“Meaningful” isn’t even part of it at

Bechdeltest.com

which tracks current movies. According to that site, a bit more than half the movies meet all three criteria.

That could also apply to books, of course, but I think the percentage of books which would pass the test would be much higher.

Although, I have to say, the last fictional book I read would fail it, I think:

I did enjoy the book: I was impressed with Will Murray’s take on Doc Savage. I suppose one could blame the book’s period setting for failing the test, to some extent, but it’s interesting to consider.

NYT: “Reading Books Is Fundamental”

I think this is a great

opinion piece in the New York Times by Charles M. Blow

Let me just quote the opening:

“The first thing I can remember buying for myself, aside from candy, of course, was not a toy. It was a book.”

I think many of us understand that. The piece goes on to talk about the state of reading today, and what a big difference it can make for people. I highly recommend it, not just for the memoir quality of it, but for the stats included about what groups are reading. It quotes another article that indicates that the number (perhaps the percentage?) of non-book readers in the USA has tripled since 1978. I’ll have to look at that story…if it’s the raw number, the population has gone up a great deal, which could help explain it.

This difference that reading can make to a child is the biggest reason I want to give away a Kindle. Once a child had one, they would have access to many classic books…for free.

The Guardian: “Does digital publishing mean the death of the author?”

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this

The Guardian post

It brings up an interesting point.

It used to be pretty easy to determine if someone was an “author” or not. If they’d had a book traditionally published, they were considered authors by most people.

When that was really the only way to reach a wide audience, the fact that it had gone through that curation (as arbitrary or unjustified as some of it might seem to people) was an understandable standard.

Now, anybody can publish a book themselves, without too much difficulty.

Are you an author when you’ve done that?

Are you an author if you do that and no one buys it?

Are you an author if your write a book, and give away the e-book for free yourself through your website?

I suppose the important distinction here is between being an author, and being a professional author.

If you make a living just on your writing (I don’t), you’d be a professional author.

I certainly felt like it was something different the first time someone paid me to write something.

However…what if somebody has had New York Times bestsellers, but also has another job…even another job that makes them more money?

What is somebody just hasn’t sold a book…yet?

I’m not sure on this one. My instinct is to say that anybody who writes is an author, but that then becomes a decreasingly valuable label.

Amazon launches a Christian tradpub imprint

Amazon continues its march into traditional publishing territories with this

press release

about Waterfall Press, its new Christian publishing (both fiction and non-fiction) imprint.

Christian books are a significant part of the market, and this is an intriguing move.

It’s being handled through Amazon’s Brilliance Publishing, which I associate with audiobooks…since Amazon also owns Audible, I’m guessing it has had to change its mission somewhat.

Here is a search for

Waterfall Press in the USA Kindle store (at Amazon Smile)

I think that some of the other Christian publishers are going to have to have meetings about this…

What do you think? When do you call someone an author…what are the criteria? Do the inherent characteristics of people in Amazon’s marketing materials matter? Does the Bechdel test matter to you? Do you think e-books will make more people into readers…or fewer? What was the earliest book you remember buying for yourself? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* 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 Big Deal: 500 Kindle books on sale through February 2

January 22, 2014

The Big Deal: 500 Kindle books on sale through February 2

It’s ba-ack!

Amazon periodically does “The Big Deal”, where they will discount over 500 Kindle store books…often with deep discounts (up to 85%).

That’s just one of the ways Amazon makes it cheaper to be a reader:

10 ways Amazon saves us money on e-books

Here’s this one (not one of the ten, because it isn’t available all the time):

This time, it’s actually more than 600!

Believe me, I know…it takes a lot of time to even flip through six hundred books. So, I’m going to list a few for you that caught my eye:

Those are a few of them. 🙂 I’m not done looking through all the choices yet, but enjoy!

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* 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! :) 

** Although you’ll see this one marked as text-to-speech not being enabled, this is one of those cases where the text appears as part of the image: access has not been blocked by the publisher, to my knowledge. These are the original Batman comic books, from what I see

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.

UK gets an “Amazon toolbar”

January 22, 2014

UK gets an “Amazon toolbar”

This might be something which is in beta…which means that I might see and you might not. It can even mean that I see it on one computer and not on another, even using the same browser. That’s similar to the new Manage Your Kindle page (Major changes to MYK: bulk actions)…so far, I’ve only seen it in Silk on my Kindle Fire HDX, despite checking other devices and browsers.

That said, here is the link to the page I’m seeing:

Amazon at Your Fingertips

It requires Internet Explorer 8 or Firefox 3.

These seem to be the main features:

  • Search Amazon
  • Add to Wish List
  • My Amazon (I’m guessing that’s account information, such as tracking your orders and payment information
  • Bestsellers
  • New releases
  • Settings

Intriguingly, according to this

FAQ…Frequently Asked Questions

page, you could use the Settings to reset it so it pointed to another Amazon site…although they don’t specifically mention Amazon.com.

My guess?

They are sort of beta-testing it with the UK, and that we’ll get it in the USA before too long.

If you  test it now, though, and are able to set it to Amazon.com, I’d appreciate you letting me know. 🙂 I’m not using a compatible browser right now, or I’d test it myself.

I think this could be a big hit! There are so many times I go to Amazon to check something, and this might make it a lot easier. That, in turn, may help Amazon make even more sales. 😉

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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