Archive for March, 2014

Advice for Amazon #1

March 31, 2014

Advice for Amazon #1

I have no doubt that Amazon could give me some good advice. 🙂

However, I also think that they benefit by considering all sorts of ideas. That’s why I have had an

Advice to Amazon

category on this blog.

They also have an e-mail address you can use to send feedback to them:

kindle-feedback@amazon.com

However, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a post, from time to time, to just give them some ideas. If they use them, great…if not, I understand. 🙂 I do think some folks at Amazon read this blog, although I don’t think I have any particular influence with them.

If you like any of these, you are welcome to send them to Amazon as well (in your own words, of course) at the above address.

Suggested feature: Speed-reading display

While I had heard about

Spritz

I was surprised to see the passion behind the desire to have it on the Kindle shown in this

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The basic idea is that you see one word at a time on a screen and it changes very rapidly.

They claim that you could read (and comprehend) 1,000 words a minute this way (as opposed to a more typical 250 wpm).

You can try it yourself on their site (linked above).

I think most people find that they can certainly read it at 500 wpm…I’m not sure what studies there have been for long term retention.

This

The Weekly Wonk article by Annie Murphy Paul

challenges the value of Spritz.

Regardless, I think the demand is there.

Let me say first that this would not currently work on non-Fire Kindles. Not just because you couldn’t install it, but because the refresh speed on the screen technology just isn’t fast enough.

You could, though, do it on a Fire.

I’m proposing that Amazon have it as an option on the Fire.

Why not just have the app in the store?

I assume the app wouldn’t work with a Kindle store book (DRM…Digital Rights Management and all that). Amazon would have to license it, or in some other legal way get an equivalent tech, and have it work with Kindle store books.

I don’t think they would need the publishers’ permission: they wouldn’t be changing the file, just the display, as I understand it.

One would also think that publishers would want people to be able to read their books more quickly (so the customer wants another book sooner), but they are hard to predict. Text-to-speech also considerably speeds up consumption of a book (since you can listen in the car), but some publishers take steps to block that in some books.

Suggested feature: Daltonizer

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it could be a killer app for a certain segment of the population, and would be seen as being community minded.

Again, this would be for the Fire, since it requires color.

There are apps (I have one one my phone) that can shift colors to make them easier for people with color vision deficiency (I have some) to see them.

You’d be surprised how many people that is!

It’s not uncommon that I’ll get an e-mail saying, “We’re doing the green ones, we aren’t doing the red ones, we might do the black ones,” and I can’t tell which is which.

There are also cases where I can’t read the lettering in an Excel cell or on a PowerPoint slide because of the font/fill color combination.

Amazon could include a “Daltonizer” color changer on the Fire. Again, I don’t think any publisher permission would be required. You simply identify your deficiency to the device (the app could test you, if you didn’t know), and it color shifts the display for you.

That would make the decision for some people as to which device to get, and would likely be well-received by some disability advocates.

Suggested strategy: discounts for you

Safeway, the grocery store we used, recently updated their app so it really works for us, and Amazon could do something similar.

The idea is this: you get personalized coupons.

Sure, you see the other coupons, too, but what if you saw something like this?

“10% off the new Janet Evanovich book…you’ve purchased that author’s books in the past”

You would want it to look like it was special for you…different coupons for different people. Obviously, there would be more than one Janet Evanovich fan, but you get the idea.

The price for most people might be $9.99…but you get it for $8.99.

By making the coupons last for a limited time (that’s what Safeway does), Amazon could impact the sales pattern of books.

Publishers might particularly like this. It wouldn’t change the apparent price of the book in the market (they don’t like that…bad comparison for paperbooks), but would encourage purchasing. It could even “manipulate” getting something on the bestseller list.

In fact, that’s one way to go! Amazon could make this a deal with publishers using their Kindle Direct Publishing (like me). The publisher could elect to let Amazon discount the book only for prior purchasers for a certain amount of time.

Amazon could tie that into the KDP Select program…only valid while the book is exclusive to Amazon, perhaps.

This would allow Amazon to really leverage their data.

Would it make customers more loyal?

You betcha!

They could use this not just with authors, but with things like genres. That could encourage you to buy, say, an alternate history book from a different author and/or publisher…and Amazon could get a deal from the publisher for that reason (sort of advertising supported).

I really think this would work!

They could also let you put it on a Wishlist (Safeway lets you put the discount on your card), and make that public…again, with the discount for, perhaps, a limited time.

I think this would be an excellent use of big data by Amazon, and exactly a way to swing purchasers to tighten the bond.

I’m always curious what you think, though, so as part of this feature, I’m going to include a poll:

If you have additional suggestions, or comments on these, feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

===

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. Last weekend to recommend one of the current nominees to get the 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.

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KDD: Agatha Christie

March 30, 2014

KDD: Agatha Christie

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deal‘s (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of five Agatha Christie books for $1.99 each.

The books are:

  • Death on the Nile (I would consider this one of the best known books…it’s a Hercule Poirot, and was adapted with Peter Ustinov): 4.5 out of 5 stars, 133 customer reviews
  • The Body in the Library (Miss Marple): 4.3 stars, 181 reviews
  • Cards on the Table (another Poirot): 4.4 stars, 80 reviews
  • The Man in the Brown Suit: 4.3 stars, 82 reviews
  • 4:50 from Paddington (Miss Marple) 4.4 stars, 188 reviews

Enjoy!

===

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. Last weekend to recommend one of the current nominees to get the 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.

Kindle Big Deal: more than 500 books, up to 85% off

March 29, 2014

Kindle Big Deal: more than 500 books, up to 85% off

This deal just goes through Sunday (tomorrow, March 30th). As always, check the price before you click that Buy button…these prices may not be valid in your country, and books go on and off the sale.

I’m going to highlight some of the books that caught my eye, but here’s the complete list:

The Big Deal: Kindle Books Up to 85% Off (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End (at AmazonSmile)
by Jennifer Worth
4.7 out of 5 stars, 295 customer reviews
women’s studies, biographies & memoirs
$1.99 at time of writing

This is the book in the popular trilogy which is the basis for the TV series.

Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority (at AmazonSmile)
by Tom Burrell
4.7 stars, 120 reviews
political and social studies, race relations
$2.99

Sounds like an interesting book to get people to reconsider their paradigms…the author is described as an “advertising visionary”.

Magnificent Devices 4-Book Bundle (at AmazonSmile)
by Shelley Adina
4.7 stars, 89 reviews
steampunk
$1.99 at time of writing

Yep…four novels in a well-reviewed steampunk series for $1.99! This might be a good indie to buy, so you don’t give your refund money (from the recent settlement) back to one of the publishers who overcharged you!

Manning: A Father, His Sons and a Football Legacy (at AmazonSmile)
by Archie & Patton Manning, with John Underwood
4.7 stars, 83 reviews
football
$2.99 at time of writing

Believe it or not, there are people who love football more than books. 😉 However, a lot of football fans also read..and this might make a good gift. Remember that you can delay the delivery of a Kindle book gift until an appropriate occasion.

Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy (at AmazonSmile)
by Robert Scoble, Shel Israel
4.6 stars, 219 reviews
business and management
$1.99

This sounds like it might be an important book, and I just bought it. It takes a look at how tech in the future might affect business…and that, of course, affects everyone.

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (at AmazonSmile)
by Loung Ung
4.5 stars, 279 reviews
history, biographies and memoirs
$2.99

Among the Shrouded (at AmazonSmile)
by Amalie Jahn
4.7 stars, 47 reviews
mystery, paranormal

Sounds like an interesting premise, and the reviews are good.

A Dog Named Boo: The Underdog with a Heart of Gold (at AmazonSmile)
by Lisa J. Edwards
4.6 stars, 103 reviews
pets & animal care, essays
$1.99

From Harlequin Nonfiction…not one of the settling publishers, by the way.

Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey (at AmazonSmile)
by Betty DeGeneres
4.6 stars, 67 reviews
family relationships, parent & adult child
$1.99 at time of writing

Betty is Ellen’s parent…and we don’t make journeys alone. Might be a good gift for a fan of the show.

Prime Suspect (at AmazonSmile)
by Laura La Plante
4.4 stars, 25 reviews
mystery, British detectives
$1.99

The inspiration for the TV series…

SuperSense (at AmazonSmile)
by Bruce M. Hood
4.2 stars, 32 reviews
psychology and counseling, parapsychology
$3.79

This book purports to show the science behind why people believe in the “unbelievable”…I’d be interested in the author’s take on it.

Believe me…that’s just the tip of the bookberg! 😉  If others stand out to you (from Spider-Man to history and more), feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Enjoy!

===

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. (Last weekend before recommendations close!)

===

* 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 #247: Amazon announcement, win a book scanner

March 29, 2014

Round up #247: Amazon announcement, win a book scanner

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

Win an Xcanex book scanner

I’ve written about my

piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s a remarkable device for digitizing your public domain books (and lots of other things.

Well, they are currently them away!

They are in Round 4 of what is basically an essay contest. You say why you want one, and they pick a winner (the current contest ends April 4th, but they may keep going after that. You enter here:

http://www.piqximaging.com/

I paid over $250 for mine…I did enter the contest, but with the intent to donate it to a non-profit if I win.

Amazon announces…something to do with video

This coming Wednesday, April 2nd, at 11:00 AM Eastern, Amazon is going to announce something. According to the invitation, as shown in this

Droid Life post

it will involve “…AN UPDATE ON OUR VIDEO BUSINESS.”

That could be several things.

Amusingly, I see a lot of news reports referring to a “set-top box”.

I find that amusing not because I don’t think they will introduce video hardware, but because it is already an obsolete term.

The

Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player
(at AmazonSmile)

isn’t a set-top box…it doesn’t go on top of the set (there isn’t much of a top to many TV sets any more any…some of them just hang on the wall and are thin). It plugs into the HDMI port, typically on the side of it.

I know that being techie, but I always find it funny which words catch on and get used even when they don’t fit the situation.

I would expect them to introduce hardware here. I’m hoping for a Chromecast type stick (something small) that pairs super well with my

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

That would mean it would have Miracast capability, most likely. I actually don’t need that right now, since my only TV that has an HDMI already has a

NETGEAR Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter – Miracast and WiDi (PTV3000) (at AmazonSmile)

which works well enough.

It would, though, give us more options in buying a future TV. Hm…I wonder if that might work for me at a hotel, as well? I’m guessing it would.

That would make enough news, especially if it was cheap enough to rival the $35 Chromecast.

Amazon is good at announcing more than what most people expect, though.

They may also announce something to do with video content.

This

The Wall Street Journal post by Greg Bensinger

created quite a buzz, suggesting Amazon might be doing a free (advertising supported) streaming music and video service.

Doink! Doink! Doink!

What’s that? The sounds of the jaws of cable operators hitting the floor. 😉

Amazon has denied that since the report came out.

However, I could see them doing a few interesting things.

One would be to give us in the USA a model like they recently did with LoveFilm in Europe.

In addition to Prime, give a possibility to subscribe to video only for a monthly fee.

I’d also love to see them crack the live TV thing, but I’m not quite sure how. I’d like to be able to see some shows live. They could partner with somebody to do exclusive video…maybe The Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos recently bought?

On my

I can see news stories for free. They come from web-type sources, and they aren’t as slick as cable, but I could see dropping cable and making do with them.

Another way to go would be to do something like Kindle FreeTime through it. Create “channels” of videos for a monthly fee, and use profiles…you could make it work with all ready created FreeTime profiles, for that matter.

I do expect strong integration with the Kindle Fires, whatever they do.

“You can’t buy that! The great e-book royalty war”

This

Salon post by Laura Miller

does a nice job explaining the difficulties in getting some older (but not public domain books) into e-book form. I’ve written about this before, but it’s a bit complicated.

Essentially, rights are considered to remain with the author in most cases, unless that author licenses them.

For books published prior to about 2005, contracts usually didn’t mention e-books…meaning that the e-book rights would stay with the author.

There has been a lot of debate about some clauses, and a judge recently (narrowly) ruled that Open Road did not have the right to procure e-book rights to

Julie of the Wolves (at AmazonSmile)

by Jean Craighead George.

That’s a little scary…I like there to be competition for e-book editions. However, it’s less scary than it used to be, because it used to be that large tradpubs (traditional publishers) didn’t have much interest in e-book editions. If they had the rights, we might not have the books.

That’s changed…the market value of e-books is much clearer than it was five years ago.

Still, the article points out that tradpubs are tending to stick to what can be seen as a somewhat low royalty rate…certainly, much lower than independently publishing through Amazon (where you can get 70%).

That may drive some authors away from them…they have to watch this carefully, or they could trip over their own feet.

Getting into a goodreads rhythm

Okay, I’m starting to use goodreads more effectively.

When I finish a book, I mark it as finished…and write a review.

For example, I just wrote this one

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/882763732

on

What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine (at AmazonSmile)

by Danielle Ofri.

Polls of my readers here have shown me that reviews are not people’s favorite posts in ILMK…but I know people do like to read them at goodreads (that’s how they capitalize the site on the site, by the way).

I thought that review came out pretty well. 🙂

Several of you have become my “friends” there…I think you do that on my profile page:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3037617-bufo-calvin

I am finding it interesting to see what my “friends” are saying…what they are reading and such.

I’m still a goodreads novice, but I’m finding this level of involvement fun, and worth the time.

What do you think? Do you wish I would write reviews here? What would you do with an Xcanex if you won one? What do you think Amazon will announce on Thursday…and do you care? 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. (Last weekend before recommendations close!)

===

* 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.

 

Heads up! Limited time deal on video game at 1 o’clock Pacific

March 27, 2014

Heads up! Limited time deal on videogame at 1 o’clock Pacific

I am on my phone so I need to be brief. If you have a Kindle Fire check the special offers for a deal that starts at 1 o’clock p.m. Pacific on a soccer videogame.

Update:

This one was the XBOX 360 version (I think) of the FIFA 14 videogame…currently sold by Amazon for $39.96 (but list priced at $59.99), it was $14…about 77% off (if I have the right figures).

These are special limited time offers, which are only available to Kindle Fire owners.

What happens is you can get a text to alert you to an upcoming deal (details in the links below). You don’t get much warning…maybe an hour (about half an hour in this case).

The deal also appears on the sleep screen of your Fire, and you can find it under Offers on the homescreen (all the way at the end).

Then, you say you want to “learn more”. You’ll get to a screen with a countdown clock. As soon as the clock gets to zero, you need to click to have a chance to get it.

They have typically been selling out in seconds. In this case, I wasn’t in a place where I had a wi-fi connection…although this is one I would have liked to have gotten to have to give as a gift at the holidays.

Here is information on the program:

As I’ve written before, I look at these LTOs (Limited Time Offers) sort of like buying a lottery ticket: I don’t expect to get one (win), but its exciting if I do! Of course, the “ticket” doesn’t cost me anything.

These LTOs are one of the best arguments for having Special Offers…and yes, a good argument for having a  Fire (at AmazonSmile)!

Did you get one? Do you have any other comment on this? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

A router solved my Kindle Fire connection problems

March 27, 2014

A router solved my Kindle Fire connection problems

Big thanks to reader and commenter Glenn Starrett!

Following an update, my

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

which had been connecting really well to my home wi-fi, started dropping wi-fi…a lot.

I would toggle the wi-fi on and off many times a day…that would cause it to reconnect.

Now, I’m logical enough not to have said it was purely cause and effect…that the update created that issue.

However, it did seem pretty likely. Amazon had specifically changed connection protocols (to make it compatible with more systems).

I did have a relatively new router from Comcast/Xfinity…but I had that before the Fire update, and it hadn’t been an issue.

My best guess is that it was a combination of the newish router and the update.

The router may not work well with current gen(eration) devices. My Rokus have also had problems with it, but our Kindle Paperwhites don’t.

The Kindle Fire update may have essentially turned it from an older gen device into a newer one…which then made it drop off.

Glenn suggested a router to me, which had solved similar problems for Glenn:

Linksys E2500 (N600) Advanced Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N Router (at AmazonSmile)

Yes, that was a $70 investment…if it didn’t work for me (and YMMV…Your Mileage May Vary is the rule with routers…the physical configuration of your house can matter, among other things), I would have considered returning it.

The reviews looked good, besides what Glenn had said. Sure, there were 1-star reviews, but I always look at those to see why. They sometimes are encountering problems that I don’t expect to have or expect to be able to overcome…and sometimes they are irrelevant to the function of the product. In this case, they weren’t a barrier.

I 1-clicked, and it got here quickly.

Set up, which can be challenging, wasn’t particularly hard.

It did come with a CD which was necessary to do the set-up. Fortunately, our old desktop has a CD drive, and I could use that. If I’d already transitioned completely to  our

ASUS Transformer Book T100TA-C1-GR 10.1-Inch Detachable 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop (at AmazonSmile)

that CD wouldn’t have helped…I would have had to have seen if I could download the set-up files from the website.

Outside of that, set-up was really a breeze. It did take some time (fifteen minutes or so), but it was largely hands-off.

For the most part, the software was user friendly…you wouldn’t need superior technical expertise to get it going.

I set it up yesterday afternoon.

Since then, I haven’t had to toggle the wireless on my Fire once!

Knock virtual wood, it seems to be working well.

As far as the Rokus (we have two of the same model)

I could see the speed difference in downloading videos (from Netflix, Amazon, or its own news videos).

With the old Arris router (and I really appreciated that Glenn identified the specific brand as a possible issue…gave the suggestion a lot more credibility) from Xfinity, the Roku would sometimes simply give up and not start something. So far, not an issue.

Now, do I still want Amazon to release an update for the Fire? Sure…people shouldn’t need to buy a $70 device to have consistent connections. I’m guessing, though, that it might be a case of giving it some backwards compatibility, or special compatibility with Comcast.

If Amazon does release its own TV solution next month, which I think is likely based on the rumors, that might make some difference here…but you’ll still need some kind of wireless connection for your devices.

Oh, a couple of other nice functionalities for the Linksys. You can set parental controls (again, easy guided set-up), and it has a “guest functionality”, with an easy password your guests can use while they are there.

At this point, based on what I’ve seen in less than a day’s use, I’d recommend it strongly. 🙂

Thanks again, Glenn!

===

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 #246: Amazon AFD, $5 extra at AmazonSmile

March 27, 2014

Round up #246: Amazon AFD, $5 extra at AmazonSmile

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

Extra $5 donation from AmazonSmile if you buy by 3/31

Wow!

This is a lot extra!

Normally, when you buy any eligible item at AmazonSmile, your chosen non-profit gets half of one percent of the purchase price.

Spend $100, and they get fifty cents.

With this bonus, it’s the equivalent of you spending $1000!

Here are the details:

  • One donation per customer.
  • Limited time offer. You must complete a purchase at smile.amazon.com including one or more items eligible for an AmazonSmile donation between 12:00 a.m. (PT) March 24, 2014 and 11:59 p.m. (PT) March 31, 2014. In addition, this promotion will expire after aggregate donations have reached $1 million.
  • The $5 donation will be made through the AmazonSmile program at smile.amazon.com under the same terms and at the same time as other donations made through the program, and will be in addition to the 0.5% donation made on the purchase price of your eligible item(s).
  • Offer valid for customers located and with billing addresses in the United States.
  • Offer may not be combined with other offers.
  • Amazon reserves the right to modify or cancel the offer at any time.
  • Offer is non-transferable and may not be resold.
  • If any of the products related to this promotion are returned, the donation will not be made.
  • If you violate any of the Terms and Conditions, the promotion will be invalid.
  • Void where prohibited.

Note that they will stop when they hit $1,000,000…so you’d better get shopping! 🙂

I already bought something, so my chosen non-profit has benefited.

For more information on AmazonSmile (including how to get your qualified non-profit into the program), see:

Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

Don’t Give Them Your Money Back

I suggested that some indies might want to promote using your overcharges from tradpubs (traditional publishers) settlement money to buy indie books…so you aren’t giving the money right back to the people who took too much in the first place. 🙂

Well, I did write about it here:

E-book settlements are here: “Don’t give them your money back”

and based on the comments, it seems to be getting some traction…Facebook, Twitter, that kind of thing. 🙂

You might be asking yourself, how can I find indie books to buy, if I want to do this?

Well, Amazon does have a storefront for

Kindle indie books (at AmazonSmile)

You can probably find something…they have gotten better at discovery on that page. They have top-rated, bestselling, new, and featured books, for one thing.

If you’d rather go with a well-known book, but still want to avoid the publishers that overcharged, you could get books published by Amazon. Amazon wasn’t (and wouldn’t have been) part of raising those prices.

For example, there are the

Thomas & Mercer (at AmazonSmile)

Those are mystery and suspense and include the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming and the 87th Precinct books by Ed McBain.

Books traditionally published by Amazon like that are often relatively inexpensive, and typically have the special features from Amazon (text-to-speech, lending, and so on).

I can tell you: the publishers who agreed to settle after being charged with overcharging (basically) would not be happy if you spent that money with Amazon! 😉

The next holiday is the Fourth of July…April Fool!

My first retail job (I eventually managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, among other things) was in a “joke shop” called The House of Humor.

I was really there as a make-up expert at Halloween. I did special effects type make-up in the theatre, so I could serve as an advisor to people (and a retail clerk).

Things would get crazy when I worked there at Halloween! We literally might have a line of 300 people waiting to get into the store.

They would come in ten at a time…and get five minutes to shop!

During that time, I would help them pick latex masks, costumes, and make-up…and we’d get them rung up and out right afterwards (they got five minutes, but they were in the store longer than that).

What fun that was!

One interesting thing that most people didn’t realize is that we had to order the “good” Halloween masks…in March. It takes a very long time for them to create the Don Post quality masks.

That’s why we’d always be out of something hot…

A few examples:

  • Darth Vader (almost nobody thought Star Wars was going to be a big success before it was released)
  • Miss Piggy
  • Coneheads

On the last one, it was actually possible to make something, if you were crafty enough, with liquid latex and a plastic football.

We were also happy that Howard the Duck (at AmazonSmile) could be sold as, you know, a duck. 😉 That one did look good on paper in March, having George Lucas, Lea Thompson (hot from back to the future), and Thomas Dolby involved (and based on a Marvel comic…although that wasn’t as big a selling point back then as it is now).

I also remember one “oh oh” for somebody. This poor businessperson came into the store, with an “only slightly” faded red clown nose (drawn on with greasepaint), red cheeks, and red lips. You see, the person had taken greasepaint and drawn directly on their skin…not a good idea with red, especially (red stains the most). That person had a big presentation to do…and all I could really suggest was cover-up at that point.

We also sold all sorts of gags, including things like spaghetti forks (with a crank) (at AmazonSmile) and X-ray Spex (at AmazonSmile).

Well, if you want to get those sorts of things (or books about practical jokes), this year you can go to

Amazon’s April Fool’s Day store (at AmazonSmile)

It’s an interesting collection, including things like we sold, but also clothing, books, and gift cards for comedy clubs.

What do you think? Are you doing anything special with the money you got from the settlement? One of my readers got almost $100 back…how did you do? Do you have a great makeup/mask/costume story? Are you part of an organization that’s been helped by AmazonSmile? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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* 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.

Settlement pay-outs are here

March 25, 2014

Settlement pay-outs are here

I just got this e-mail from Amazon:

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eBooks Antitrust Settlement Information

Dear Bufo Calvin,

Good news! You are entitled to a credit of $11.20 for some of your past Kindle book purchases. The credit results from legal settlements reached with publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks.

You don’t have to do anything to claim your credit, we have already added your credit to your Amazon account. We will automatically apply your available credit to your next purchase of a Kindle book or print book sold by Amazon.com, regardless of publisher. The credit applied to your purchase will appear in your order summary. If your account does not reflect this credit, please contact Amazon’s customer service.

For more information about the settlements, please visit Information for eBooks Antitrust Settlement (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) [link added to e-mail]

Your credit is valid for one year and will expire after 03/31/2015. If you have not used your credit, we will send you another email 90 days before it expires to remind you that it is still available.

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

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That’s more than I expected, since I didn’t think we bought that many books under the Agency Model, but it’s still nice. 🙂

Here is the breakdown:

Category Non-Minnesota Minnesota
NY Times Bestsellers $3.17 $3.93
Other Books $0.73 $0.94

Check your e-mail: you may have one, too. However, it’s worth noting that you don’t need to check anything: the credit will apply automatically when you buy a Kindle store book or a paperbook from Amazon.

A few notes:

  • This has nothing to do with Amazon having done anything wrong. I’m sure a lot of people will think, because they are being notified about the credit from Amazon, that Amazon is being forced to pay them for something. Amazon is simply the conduit for getting you the money that the publishers are being forced (well, agreed) to pay out for their actions
  • This is also unconnected to the US Department of Justice legal action against the publishers and Apple (Apple is appealing the decision against them). This is a separate legal action, brought by the Attorneys General of most of the US States and some US territories
  • This specific pay out is for Amazon customers. Customers who bought qualifying e-books from other sources are entitled to the settlement…but the mechanism for getting it may not be as easy as this

Here are Amazon’s FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on it:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements (at AmazonSmile)

and here is the general page for the settlement (not just Amazon):

https://ebooksagsettlements.com/

The short story on what made this happen:

Amazon transformed the e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle in 2007 and its own e-book store.

Amazon priced many (it was never promised to be all e-books) bestsellers and recent releases at$9.99, sometimes taking a loss on a sale.

The publishers didn’t like that. One of their concerns was “price value perception”…that the customers would get the idea that a book (paper or e-book) should cost $9.99, and that that would hurt their p-book business.

The publishers, prompted by Apple (according to the DoJ case) instituted a new pricing model, where the publishers set the prices customers paid (“the Agency Model”).

The Attorneys General sued on behalf of the customers, saying that this resulted in higher prices.

The publishers involved settled, agreeing to pay the customers back.

Now, I think one of the most interesting things here is that you can use this credit to buy books from any publisher.

That’s something to consider.

If you take your settlement and use it to buy books from a publisher which wasn’t part of this (an independently published book, perhaps…or, you know, ten of them!), that is really making a statement to the ones who did participate (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin…and all of their various imprints).

I am an independent publisher like that, in a very minor way (I’ve only published my own works through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing). I also am not particularly mad at the tradpubs (traditional publishers) who settled.

However, I can certainly see indies using this for advertising: in fact, I think I’ll suggest that over at

The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

after I finish alerting you. 🙂

I’m going to suggest an ad like, “Don’t give them your money back”.

It’s nice to see this chapter closed…enjoy your books!

What do you think? Did you get an e-mail? Was it more or less or about what you expected? Are you going to spend the money any differently (perhaps splurging on a more expensive book) than you normally would?  Is this a fair result, or should have there been bigger (or smaller) penalties? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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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.

Free App of the Day: OfficeSuite Professional 7

March 25, 2014

Free App of the Day: OfficeSuite Professional 7

I’m hoping some of you still see this…this is the Free App of the Day for today, March 24th. I believe it will still be available until midnight Pacific time.

This is one that I use myself, quite often:

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s normally $14.99, and today’s it’s free…quite a savings!

What is it?

It’s what I use on my

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

to read (and make small changes to) Microsoft Office files.

It’s compatible with at least some other models of the Fire as well.

My biggest uses?

One is to show people PowerPoints. I’m often doing “over the shoulder” help, and this is the simplest way to show them.

I’ve also edited Excel files on it…just filling in cells. It can do a fair amount of things, but it’s not the full Excel.

The specs include:

“The program supports Microsoft Office 97 to 2010 text documents – DOC and DOCX (open , edit, and save), Microsoft Office 97 to 2010 spreadsheets – XLS and XLSX (open , edit, and save), opening PPT, PPTX, PPS, and PPSX presentations, PDF files viewing, and integration with Google Docs.”

I’ve tried some other Office programs, but this is the one I like the best.

Do check that it is free for you before you click that Buy button…it might not be free in your country, and you may (unfortunately) get to this after it is available for free.

Enjoy!

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

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* 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.

One week left to help a kid get a free Kindle

March 24, 2014

One week left to help a kid get a free Kindle

March 31st will mark the end of the period to recommend which of the kids nominated will get a free Kindle from me:

Give a Kid a Kindle

Thank you to everybody who has made recommendations so far!

A special thank you to the people who nominated children. I know it can be hard to ask for something (even for someone else), but my Significant Other and I are happy to do this.

I truly believe that helping a child get to books makes the world a better place.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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