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

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.


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:

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.

5 Responses to “Round-up #237: Bezos goes to college, stealing from yourself”

  1. loneybaloney Says:

    My experience with both reading and listening to text to speech at the same time on my Kindle HDX 7 inch — after the first few pages, they don’t stay in sync.I don’t know what the text is doing (probably buffering ahead would be my guess) but it is in a completely different place than the audio. My old 1st generation Fire stayed in the sync (or at least it used to, haven’t tried it recently) but the HDX does not. I practice listening to train my brain to understand the signals from my cochlear implants and frequently buy the Kindle/Audible pairings (and not all of them automatically sync! but that’s a different confusion). If I want to use the HDX to listen to text to speech and read, I have to use a different Kindle for the text and flip the pages myself. If you have found a way to overcome this problem or have had a different experience, please share. Or if I misunderstood you. It may be purely subjective, but I think the HDX sounds better so I’d prefer to use it for my audio practice. Anyway, would like to “hear” more about this. Thanks.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, loneybaloney!

      Is that true for a lot of books?

      I haven’t noticed it, but I’m not usually sight-reading and listening at the same time…I’m most often doing it with the cover closed. When I get out of the car, I routinely flip it back a “page”…I sometimes lose the last bit over the noises the back-up camera system makes. I can say that it’s usually in about the right place.

      I just let my Kindle Fire HDX 7” do TTS for a while…and at the end, the visual text and the TTS were in the same place.

      I do think I have more problems with a really, really large file, and some formatting appears to confuse it. The latter, though, usually causes the TTS to stop.

      I’ll try and pay more attention to it for you.

      Edited to add: you said you were listening to TTS before with a 1st Gen Fire? In that case, you would have been using a separate app (I used DroidTalker): it didn’t have built-in access. That may certainly have behaved differently.

      Edited again to add: Oh! You might be talking about Whispersync for Voice, rather than text-to-speech! That’s the one where you have a separate audio recording, rather than software reading. I haven’t really used that, so can’t comment on the difference in quality on different models.

  2. liz Says:

    When I first read about the set-top console above, I raised my eyebrows and wondered what the heck Amazon is thinking – that’s an odd branch to go down! But if it’s got the Miracast (+ more) support, that would probably make it worth buying. I don’t have a Miracast relay device yet … almost bought the Push2TV when they were on sale last year, but I keep hoping Amazon comes up with their own device.

    I’d really have to have a full Roku replacement before I’d consider adding a Miracast device to my TV, since I am very limited on HDMI connections on my TV/stereo. But something that would expand on what my Roku provides would be something to think about!

    I can’t remember if you had replaced the Roku with the HDX/Push2TV combo, but I suspect that even though I could run Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. through apps, it’s not quite as good as picking up a Roku remote and hitting a button. So a device that has that built in (like the Roku) plus Miracast and other things would be pretty cool.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Liz!

      I actually use both the Roku and the Netgear mirroring. I use the Roku more often. In one room thats how I watch the news on TV.

      However, I do use the Netgear and will be using it more now that I have figured out I can use text to speech through it. 🙂

  3. NOOK revenues down more than 50% | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] stores. It looks like they are doing better with non-book items in college stores…but as I wrote about at the end of January, Amazon has a pilot program which may challenge B&N in that area as […]

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