Round up #239: Dreamworks makes books, not ninety-nine

Round up #239: Dreamworks makes books, not ninety-nine

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

HuffPo: 11 Reasons to Date a Bookworm

I need to add a twelfth before the link…and then tell you why. 🙂

12. We don’t spoil books for other people…ever 😉

That’s why I had to add that. I have to recommend that you not read this list, unless you’ve: read both Harry Potter (all seven of them) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and The Help (at AmazonSmile); you figure out a way to skip #10; or you don’t care about spoilers.

Honestly, I stopped reading a newspaper forever after a major spoiler. I’d love to leave a comment on the HuffPo letting them know about my concern with this, but they have one of those “you must let us post for you to Twitter or let us publicly identify you with one of these other accounts” things. Oh, well…if you fit one of the three categories above, enjoy the

HuffPo article

.lit me once, shame on you. .lit me twice…

According to this

The Verge article by Tom Warren

Microsoft is looking to hire someone to make “…”a groundbreaking interactive reading app on Windows, which incorporates books, magazines, and comics.”

As I wrote about back in 2011, Microsoft used to have a Microsoft Reader software…and abandoned it that year.

Anybody out there still have books you bought in .lit format?

Anyway, this is probably a good thing…anything that encourages reading is good for the world, right?

NPR: “Romance Novels Sweep Readers Off Their Feet With Predictability”

NPR article

has a fascinating assertion:

“It’s estimated that about 60 percent of all romance novels are e-books, and that’s compared with about 40 percent of trade fiction. I think one thing is that literary fiction does not get along well with e-books and self-publishing because it takes too long to write, and e-books are cheap. So e-books will favor writers who can write schematically, quickly.”

That’s not an estimated of the number of copies/licenses which are sold…just the number of titles, I assume, which would make it easier to make that guess (since titles are public, and sales figures often aren’t).

No surprise here, by the way. Cheap formats, for the reasons indicated above, have often relied on genre writing for their early success. “Penny Dreadfuls”, “Dime Novels”, even mass market paperbacks weren’t likely to draw the brand name literary authors of the day, since the compensation was less (try a penny a word for some writing).

Charge less, pay less…get less known writers. Since you can’t sell the writers as well, you sell the genres, and you make them formulaic so that the reader is reasonably comfortable with what they will get.

Is it a good time to start a publishing imprint?

My feeling?

Absolutely! The walls of the giants’ castles have crumbled, and readers are running everywhere! Certainly, those giants will scoop some of them back up, but they are out in the wild like they haven’t been for decades.

Dreamworks announces in this

press release

that they are going to start a publishing program, with books coming out “… in time for the 2014 holiday season”.

“The in-house staff will produce digital and print books, along with book apps featuring DreamWorks Animation franchises including Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Shrek and the upcoming B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, as well as assets from the DreamWorks Classics portfolio and recent acquisition AwesomenessTV.”

This makes sense to me.

I would assume that these would be sold at Amazon (along with other places), and that it wouldn’t affect the possibility that these might get licensed into Kindle Worlds, that sort of thing.

Who gets hurt by this?

Traditional publishers which have been publishing books based on Dreamworks characters.

Take down the barriers, and it isn’t just the indies (independent publishers…often just authors) who can benefit…

Adobe doesn’t obsolete some EBRs…exactly

I had reported earlier that Adobe was changing its DRM (Digital Rights Management) in a way that might make it difficult for people with some EBRs (E-Book Readers) to read their books.

Now, this

GOODEREADER story by Michael Kozlowski

paints a somewhat rosier picture.

Kozlowski says,

“Although Adobe will not cut old e-readers off, they still won’t be able to read the new eBook formats, once more companies start adopting them.”

I recommend the article for the details.

It appears to me that you’ll be able to read what you already bought, but won’t be able to read newer titles, eventually. It’s a bit like listening to your 8-track tapes: as long as you had a player that worked, you could still do that, but most new artists weren’t releasing in that format.

I always shy away from comparing a physical item like that to a digital format, but because we are talking about DRM, here, there are some similarities…

The return of dualume!

Gee, the last time I wrote about a “dualume” device (my term for one that uses both a backlit screen and a reflective screen…like a Kindle Fire and a non-Fire Kindle) was back in 2012, when Amazon got a patent:

Amazon patents dualume tablet


EBOOK FRIENDLY article by Piotr Kowalczyk

reports that Google has also patented one.


Hey, wait a minute! That’s not what this is. I’ve looked into it a bit more deeply, and it’s actually a device with two reflective screens! My apologies…this isn’t dualume after all.

Why would you do that? Reflective screens, by the way, are ones that you read by the light reflecting off them…the same way you read a paperbook.

Well, it appears that the point is that they could take turns refreshing, and therefore reflect twice as quickly.

I guess I’d have to see it to appreciate it. Right now, I like having a single screen: I don’t need it to mimic a paperbook and have “two pages”. Oddly, I’m at the point now where that feels like it would be awkward to me.

What’s going to work eventually is a two-screen in situ solution: one that can switch back and forth between reflective (for long battery charge life and easy reading in bright light) to backlit (for full animation) in the same physical space. Don’t know how that would be done, but that seems like it will happen eventually.

Connection problems on my Kindle Fire HDX again

Come on, update!

I’m back to having to toggle the wi-fi off and on for my Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile) several times a day.

For along time, it worked great. Then there was an update, and it didn’t. Then, without an update, it started to work again. Now, it’s back to having that issue.

I am expecting an update to the KFHDX soon, with some new features and bug fixes.

I’m actually guessing they may wait until after Valentine’s Day, but that’ just a guess. My thinking there is that the ones that they have ready to go out wouldn’t have the new update, and it may be easier to update them before they sent them out. That’s pure speculation, though. 🙂

A new price point?

This is just a bit odd to me…and cheap, which is a good thing. 😉

When I do my price point analyses, I usually base them on the price ending in .99. That’s a good traditional amount, along with ending in .00.

Right now, there are 773

Kindle store books for $1.39 (at AmazonSmile)

including some rather intriguing traditionally-published ones.

Books on the Knob

one of the long-running blogs covering e-books, really inspired me to check that price point when they recently wrote about books from Angry Robot which are on sale.

Interesting! There are also more than 2,000 books which are $1.29!

I used a random number generator to generate three numbers from 0 to 9, and came up with $6.33.

Checking that price point, I get 157 results.

I’m guessing here that some of this might have to do with discounting by a certain percentage…and some of it might have to with pricing algorithms.

When I managed the brick-and-mortar store, we did have an interesting circumstance. Some people would want to pay us more than the price of the book…one penny more…consistently.


The books were Bibles: and with the discount, and the tax, the price happened to come out to $6.66…

In that case, certain people, because of the number 666, would want to pay us $6.67.

That certainly complicated things! You had to account for those extra pennies in some way.

It was actually easier to let them pay a penny less for it, and take the loss at the end of the day…as long as you accounted for it.

Back to the e-books…I guess any price goes, at this point. Has the psychology of purchasing really changed that much?

What do you think? Is it a good time to get into publishing? Do true bookworms avoid spoilers (while perhaps loving discussing a book with people who have already read it)? Do bookworms make good dates? Are there times when formulas in writing are a good thing? Are you having trouble maintaining a wi-fi connection on your KFHDX? What would be important to you in the next KFHDX update? 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

16 Responses to “Round up #239: Dreamworks makes books, not ninety-nine”

  1. Tuli Reno Says:

    Any possibility I could get you to break rule #12? I want to know why so many reviewers are up in arms about the ending to Gone Girl. I don’t think I want to read the book, but if you know…you have my email address. I’m of two minds about spoilers. Sometimes they don’t really spoil a book. And sometimes they do. However, the one for Gone Girl is one I could live with I think.

    I am re-reading Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books. It’s been a while so it’s almost like reading new books. If I remember the ending, which is like having spoilers, I don’t feel like going on, but I do usually. I’ve discovered a couple which I didn’t care for first time around, but do now.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuli!

      It’s not a spoiler if you ask for it. 🙂 I sometimes read books that I know someone to whom I speaking is not likely to read…so I may ask them if I can share one element of it. If they say yes, that’s fine.

      Spoilers, by definition, spoil something. If you were never going to enjoy it, nothing gets spoiled.

      I haven’t read that book, though, so even if I wanted to tell you, I couldn’t. I may read it some day.

      I should be clear, I love discussing things if there is no spoiling involved! My adult kid and I both recently watched the Benedict Cumberbatch TV series (separately…we didn’t know we were doing it), and had somewhat similar opinions.

      Re-reading…that’s another whole topic! 🙂

      • liz Says:

        Funny, I was going to comment about how I was asked twice to “spoil” the ending to the Harry Potter series. I’m a fairly fast reader, so I finished each book on the weekend it came out. One of my friends at work found out about this after the seventh book came out, and she asked me to tell her what happened. I was initially loath to do this, but she told me repeatedly that she wanted to know the ending, as she wouldn’t be able to “read” the book for a couple of weeks (she always listens to audio books), and she didn’t want to be one of the last to know “did Harry die or not”. So we went into a conference room with a closed door, and I spilled the beans. It was a strange experience!

        Then later on, my Mom asked me to dish out the end of the series as well – she had only watched the movies, and was debating whether to start reading the books (didn’t want to invest time in reading them if the ending wasn’t satisfactory). I again tried to put her off, but she insisted I tell her what happened. Again, very odd.

        I would never want a story “spoiled” if I planned to read it / watch the movie later. I will read a book extremely fast to get to the ending … and then go back and re-read it to make sure I caught all the middle parts. 🙂

        But I can understand getting a spoiler for a story that I never intend to consume, if there’s a controversy about it! (By the way, I haven’t read Gone Girl, so I can’t help either…)

  2. Allie Says:

    Re: “HuffPo: 11 Reasons to Date a Bookworm”:
    I understand the problem with the spoilers, but I think there is a much bigger flaw in this list, due to number 11: “We’re easy to buy gifts for. – Just visit the local bookstore.” ????????????
    That sounds absurd to me. Choosing a book for a true bookworm can be incredibly difficult. So many possibilities – does he/she already own it? Has he/she checked it out from the library? Perhaps your loved one has read the latest review by Michiko Kakutani and already decided NOT to bother with that book. No way to know! It can be nearly impossible to figure out what book to get for someone that consumes books at a high rate.
    An old boyfriend chanced to buy a book for me, but it involved a somewhat elaborate setup and this is not an easily reproduceable scenario. I was wild for anything F. Scott Fitzgerald at the time, and also known to read favorites over and over again – often checking out the same book from the library repeatedly. So I get a phone call saying, “Do you have such-and-such short story? Or this one?” (It was more subtle than that, but you get the idea.) And in this manner, the guy figured out that I did not own “The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald” edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli (it is a great collection, BTW, for any Fitzgerald fans out there!).
    The problem with this method is, it’s specific to a certain type of book; not many would work out the same way. And a key to the effectiveness of this ploy is the fact that it was planned fairly well in advance – it wasn’t the week before Christmas or my birthday or anything.
    The explanation of reason 11 ought to be somewhat different – “We’re easy to buy gifts for.” – “Amazon gift card.”
    Unfortunately, at times a gift card can be too impersonal… in which case, Reason #11 is still seriously flawed.

    • Lady Galaxy Says:

      I agree! I’d much rather have a gift certificate for a book store, preferably Amazon!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Ideally, I want someone else to get me a book I love which I didn’t know existed, but that’s very difficult. Gift cards are good…but I’m also loving reading books people got me at the holidays from my Amazon Wish List! I put books on there in which I’m interested but which I wouldn’t buy for myself for some reason. That works really well…and I had so many on there, that I heard from at least one person that making the choices was creatively similar to having gone to a bookstore and shopped. 😉

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Allie!


      I think one of the greatest joys in my Significant Other’s life has been getting me a book I really enjoyed…and didn’t already have or know about. 😉 While it’s easy to get me a book I’ll like (I really tend to like them all), finding one that gives me the joy of discovery can be daunting.

      However, I will say that a book is never a bad gift…even if I already have it. 🙂

      Your line about “Amazon gift card” would have worked quite well, I think. 🙂

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Just two comments.

    Over the past year or so my house has moved from a mostly wired network to a mostly wireless one. My house is completely pre-wired for wired in every room. Even though I still prefer wired, most devices these days don’t come with Ethernet connectivity — so WiFi is the only option.

    As this evolution has progressed, I noticed I was having to reboot my router more and more. I also noticed that the number of reachable WiFi networks in my neighborhood had risen from 3 or 4 three years ago to 10-20 today — many with 4 or 5 bars!

    After much analysis and diagnosis, I began to suspect the router — it was running very hot and would occasionally fail to detect the Wlan side of things at all. The router was about 4-5 years old (a very early 11n router).

    About a month ago I replaced it with a well-reviewed modern 11ac router. Since then the WiFi network drops have disappeared completely, and the weakest reception areas of my house have gone from 3 bars to 4-5 bars.

    I suspect that as WiFi usage has exploded, earlier routers may not be able to handle all the contortions they are facing, and that there are limits to what client device updates can do to resolve these issues.

    A long-winded way to suggesting that a router upgrade might help 😀 .

    As to the price point thing and your monthly analyses, I have been meaning to make some suggestions about that report. To me it is far too long and the tables of numbers are overwhelming — I often just skip to the end to get your overall summary of the month.

    I would suggest replacing the tabular presentations of things that vary over time with line graphs as you do for the book counts at the beginning of the report.

    Also I would replace the individual price point analyses with price “bands”. I suggest $0-.99, $1-3.99, $4-5.99, $6-7.99, $8-9.99, and over $10. My buying experience over the last few years suggests that this is mostly how pricing is clumping on the Amazon store.

    I don’t know how you capture the raw numbers, but if they can be gotten into an Excel spreadsheet, then all of what I suggest is quite simple to accomplish. It would make the monthly analysis IMO more useful, and illuminating. (:grin)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      As to the router…I doubt that’s it, for a couple of reasons.

      I have a new router: in fact, the new router caused problems with my older Roku, which led to my replacing it.

      Second, it worked fine with my KFHDX for a while, then didn’t, then did again, then didn’t. 🙂 Also, the other devices in my home (and yes, several run off that router wirelessly) are unaffected…but both of our KFHDXs are.

      As to the numbers…I love seeing the numbers! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a visually-oriented person. I do the line graph in the beginning because other people like that kind of visual representation…but I can understand all the numbers at the bottom much better.

      That used to drive people crazy who worked for me. They would bring me this carefully designed Excel graph, with all the colors and shadings and labels and such, and I’d say, “Can you just give me the numbers?” They’d spent hours on it, but the numbers were more meaningful for me. I remember someone trying to refute that, and they showed me the numbers, and I just immediately pointed at something and said, “This one is too low,” or something like that. That wasn’t obvious to me on the chart, but it was obvious to me in the midst of a hundred numbers or so.

      I wouldn’t replace the analyses I have been doing, so that there can be a consistency of comparison over the years. I have considered adding more (and have added a few). That, of course, would make it even longer. 😉 I suspect those Snapshots are most interesting to me…and perhaps, to industry people who may also review it.

      As to Excel: I’m not currently using it at home (I use it quite a bit at work: years ago, I was a certified Excel expert). When I had to restore a computer, I didn’t have the key for the installation that came on it, and I haven’t convinced myself that it is necessary to pony up for Office again (although I would look for it on another computing solution we buy).

  4. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Spoilers generally don’t bother me, except for when TV Guide spoiled what happened at the end of last season of Downton Abbey! I always start out intending to read a book from start to finish, but eventually it reaches a point where I have to know how it ends, so I read the last chapter. Sometimes I go back to the point where I left off and read to the end. Other times, I go back one chapter at a time. One time I downloaded a sample. I knew I didn’t want to read the whole book, but I had to know how it ended, so I bought the book just to read the last chapter. I hated the way it ended, so all I ever read was the sample chapters and the last chapter.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I know a lot of people skip ahead, but I never do that in a novel. I read them in a linear fashion…even though that is sometimes a slog. I always finish them eventually. That, by the way, can be one of the advantages of text-to-speech: a mediocre book in the car is better than no book, and that can get me through some of the slow parts. 😉

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        I never read ahead — to me that would spoil half the fun of reading to begin with. Very very occasionally I’ll find a book so bad that I’m unable to finish it — even then I don’t read ahead.

        For a while there I was using Xray to see the longevity of a character in a story — like if they disappeared from Xray halfway through the book, then maybe I’d know they got killed or something…

        I do use Xray in stories with lots of characters — sometimes a minor character will reappear after a hundred pages or so, and I won’t immediately remember who they are. Before Xray, I would wrack my brains trying to remember, or just keep reading and hope that would jog things — now I just knee-jerk go to Xray.

        I often wonder how the Xray indexing is done. Is it manually done by the author, or is there some automatic process involved? It occasionally (especially in SF novels) will miss important characters. Also the “terms” index just seems lame — indexing generic things like “earth” or “automatic rifle”, and not indexing terms (again in SF) peculiar to the author’s created universe — stuff that might actually be helpful. One thing I’d really like it to do is figure out where an acronym is first mentioned in an unabbreviated form — so one could figure out what the acronym stands for — a process probably beyond what Xray is designed for (:sigh).

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I’m what’s known as a whole to part learner. It’s easier for me to understand the bits and pieces after I’ve seen the big picture. Sometimes when I do manage to read a book start to finish, I find myself confused by the ending and have to go back a second time anyway looking for things I missed the first time around. If I know the ending before I read the whole book, I enjoy the “aha” that comes from knowing the importance of something that seems unimportant at the time. Maybe that’s why I am more likely to read books a second or third time. Strangely enough, that doesn’t happen so much when I’m watching a TV show. I’ve usually picked out the bad guy before the second commercial break. But I still enjoy rewatching and even buy the complete DVD collections of favorite shows.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        It’s amazing how different people can be with learning…and yet, there are many strategies that work.

        I had an interesting discussion with somebody once. We were talking about people learning to train something at work. It seemed obvious to the other person that people should go observe the process in the clinic, then come in for the training about it.

        For me, it was the other way around: I’d much rather have all of the deep knowledge of it first, and then see how that works in practice.

        I suspect the other person was more like you: big picture first, then details. When I train, I do want people to know the purpose behind what we are doing before we do it (that helps a lot of people with retention), but that’s not how I tend to work best. I want to have put the pieces together myself, and then see the end result.

        Maybe that is connected to my love of surprise…

  5. Becky from Iowa Says:

    Just wanted to let you know you’re not alone: my HDX has started needing the reboot again, too. Even though all appears to be well when I check the status of my network connection, I have no internet, so I have to forget and re-read to get it back. I also doubt this is a router issue, because I replaced mine when my COMPUTERS were losing connectivity, as well…and now they dont. Interestingly, this glitch seems to happen only while my Kindle is sitting around, idle. I rarely hang up in the midst of active use. It seems that Sleep Mode may be causing the problem.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Becky!

      I really appreciate you letting me know that…you always wonder if it is your own system (“Is it all about me?”). 🙂

      I can save you some time: rather than rebooting, just go into the settings, and toggle your wi-fi on and off. That seems to fix it for me.

      Sleep mode is an interesting question…my “Display Sleep” setting (under Display & Sounds) is set to “Never”: how about you?

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