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

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

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.

2 Responses to “Round up #236: demographics, what’s an author?”

  1. Karen Says:

    Hi Bufo
    I love the idea of giving a child a Kindle and I have thought about donating one to a school or a boys/girls club but once I donate it, the child either has to have a credit card to set up an account and money to buy books or be skilled at getting library ones so I have not done it. How do you plan to get around this? Thanks

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      Actually, you don’t need a credit card to set up an Amazon account, although I believe you need an e-mail address (and someone who is old enough). If they have that, there are typically more than 50,000 free books from Amazon. I’m planning to get a 3G model, so wi-fi shouldn’t be an issue after it knows it is registered (which could be done in a public space).

      Alernatively, the Kindle can be used without being registered to Amazon at all, by getting free books from sources like Project Gutenberg.That might be a case of downloading books when in the public library, or at school (if access isn’t too restricted).

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