Archive for March, 2014

The Xcanex: a better book digitizer

March 23, 2014

The Xcanex: a better book digitizer

Well, I got a chance today to do some experimenting with my new

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

I’ve digitized entire public domain books before in my work as the Education Director for a non-profit…and it was a lot of work. It could certainly take many hours to do a single book on a flatbed scanner.

That’s, in part, because I didn’t want to destroy the books. Ripping them apart and feeding them into a scanner would have been simple, but part of what I want to do is preserve the paperbooks.

This new device has a very different technique…and it works!

They’ve done a lot of thinking about it.

It works more like a digital camera. It comes with a solid stand, or you can attach it to a laptop (I did the former).

It has a built-in light, and a scanpad (something on which to put the object being scanned).

I would say the interface could be more clearly labeled: it’s not obvious what icon does what. They do, though, give you a manual and there are videos.

There is a learning curve to it…just getting the book positioned correctly, that sort of thing. It’s not that hard, though: there is a nice preview screen on your computer, and I figured it out in a few tries.

How long does it take to finish a page?

Oh…ten seconds or so.

That’s much faster than a flatbed!

You can save the pictures into a single file.

You can take the pictures by doing all of the pages on one side first (all the left pages) and then all the pictures on the other side (just the right pages). It puts them all in order for you. Alternatively, and I tried this, you can take pictures of two pages at once! That, of course, cuts the scanning time roughly in half.

It comes with the AABBYY FineReader Engine 10 OCR. That’s something that converts the words in the scan into text.

While replica books are nice, I’d really like to be able to work the text…find it, copy it easily, and so on.

Does it work?

I’d say yes, quite well, although there were a few problems. I suspect that is in part due to the way I was placing the book for the scan. I probably should flatten the book a bit more (not enough to break the spine, of course). You can hold it with your fingers: one cool feature is that it can digitally remove your fingers!

Here’s a selection…remember, this is one of my first times trying it, and it is with a book being opened to two pages (I think doing one page at a time will give better results:

Something hidden, go and find it. Go
A nd look behind the ranges …
Something lost behind the ranges,
Lost and waiting for you. Go!
— RUDYARD KIPLING
^ SIGHT I THINK NEVER TO FORGET”
YOUNG EXPLORER—he was all of twenty-
five years old—ended once and for all 2,500
years of argument about whether a mysterious, huge man-
like monster lived in Africa. The young man ended (he
quarreling by proving that the animal was real.. He found
it. He put a stop to two-and-one-half thousand years of
bickering about whether a “wild, hairy man” existed or not
by proving that one did. He walked right up to it.
Someone had to be sent to track down the unknown crea-
ture. A skull, completely unknown and unidentifiable, had
reached Philadelphia and Boston. Its skeleton had readied
— and startled — the Royal College of Surgeons in Lon-
don. When another skeleton reached Philadelphia, it was
decided that a search for the animal should begin without
delay, and Paul du Chaillu was at hand. It was 1854.
Paul du Chaillu, a French boy who had become an Amer-
ican citizen, was sent out to Africa to look for the unknown
monster by the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.
Paul’s father had been a trader in Africa, and as a small boy
Paul had spent some time on the continent.

 

This, by the way, is from a book I believe to be in the public domain (having researched it at the Copyright Office’s webpage). I’ve written about the book (by Gardner Soule) here:

A book that changed my life: The Maybe Monsters

I copied it into an e-mail program to send it, then copied it again and pasted here. The lines break in the book the way they do here, except that a full line of the book may not fit above. In other words, there does appear to be a manual line break in my OCR’d text at the end of each line in the book. That would pretty easy to fix in, say, Microsoft Word.

The place right at the beginning where it has a caret (“^”) was a drop cap in the book…there was a large letter “A” which started a few lines of the paragraph. No surprise to me that it didn’t figure that out.

The “The young man ended (he quarreling…” should have been “The young man ended the quarreling…”

Mostly this is impressive! I added the bolding, by the way, to make it look better in the blog.

Saving it as a replica, it would simply look good and include the images from the book.

This device can do a number of things, including serving as a webcam and a videocamera.

I definitely need to work with it more, but this is as close to a “magic book machine” as I’ve seen so far…by leaps and bounds.

You can have the Xcanex automatically take a picture of the page when you stop moving it.

You can also set it to take a picture every five seconds. That might be a challenge to get things in place at the right time, but I think I could do it.

Overall, I’d recommend it (already) for people who want to digitize books.

One word of caution on that. No question, this could be used for illegal purposes, infringing on someone else’s copyright. If you used it to scan an in-copyright book and sold it on the internet, you’d be a pirate.

It’s a little fuzzier to me if you copy an in-copyright book for your own use. I fully expect that to be found to be legal at some point (similar to using a DVR…Digital Video Recorder…to watch a program later). To my knowledge, though, that case law does not exist at this point.

I have mentioned the price yet. Right now, in the USA, it’s $269.11. It’s Prime eligible, so I didn’t pay anything additional for two-day shipping.

Is that worth it?

That’s going to depend on your use case. 🙂

If you used it to copy books, and then sold them or even just got them out of your house, that could make up for it.

I say “get them out of your house”, because you are paying to keep books there. We have a floor-to-ceiling library, so it’s more obvious for us. You are likely either

  • paying rent for the space the bookshelves/boxes are taking up
  • paying property tax for the space the bookshelves/boxes are taking up

Another possibility (which I may do) is to scan public domain books, add additional material which both creates a new copyright and makes them acceptable to Amazon, and then you could sell them there.

That would be entirely legal…if they are in the public domain (not under copyright protection.

Oh, and the Xcanex can also be used for magazines, pictures, newspaper clippings, business cards…all sorts of things.

I may suggest to the non-profit for which I volunteered that they try to get one: Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaigns might work well.

There may be better devices in the future…but there are books dying now. Xcanex may help save them.

Do you have other questions about the Xcanex? Have you used one yourself? Do you know of an alternative scanner you like? 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.

 

KDD: Series starter sale

March 22, 2014

KDD: Series starter sale

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

Series include (ratings shown on for the book being offered, not the entire series):

  • Lost Love by Karen Kingsbury (4.4 stars, 87 customer reviews)
  • Moonlighters by Terri Blackstock (4.7 stars, 277 reviews)
  • The End by Tim LaHaye (Left Behind) and Craig Parshall (3.9 stars, 166 reviews)
  • Hope Beach by Colleen Coble (4.4 stars, 397 reviews)
  • Mia Quinn mysteries by Lis Wiehl (4.4 stars, 212 reviews)
  • Shipshewana Amish by Vannetta Chapman (4.7 stars, 130 reviews)

These series have some things in common: all the ones I checked were from faith-based imprints (Thomas Nelson, Zondervan) of HarperCollins.

This deal brings up some interesting things in my mind.

First, I want to mention that we’ve had discussion here before about whether or not I should identify something as faith-based. For some people, that’s clearly a plus. For others, it’s clearly a negative.

You don’t have to be of the specific religion featured to prefer faith-based fiction. Some people like them simply because they tend to be less graphic, both in terms of violence and sexuality (although the former isn’t always true). They may also be less likely to use profanity, although it can be a bit nuanced: there are some faith-based thrillers that can be pretty shocking.

Other people want to know because they want to avoid them. Some folks feel like they are proselytizing in disguise (although it isn’t much a disguise…generally, it would be like my wearing a “Hello, My Name is Bufo” name tag on top of a Halloween costume). 😉 Others think that they may not be as well-written, both because of the constraints placed by writing for a specific audience, and because writing for an audience like that means you are a fish in a smaller pond, where the competition isn’t as fierce.

The same charges, of course, could be leveled at a number of genres: romance; science fiction; mystery; and so on. When something is categorized by the publisher as a “Christian mystery”, does that double the possible effects?

The second thing that came to me is series starters generally.

It used to be that publishing a first novel in a series was a considerable risk, as was publishing any novel (back in the paperbook days). While the cost differential between producing a p-book and an e-book may not be that high for a tradpub (traditional publisher), there was certainly a question of limited shelf space in the stores.

That limited space (and I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager) meant that book had to justify itself with continuing sales, and had to do it quickly. Why? We were paying rent on the space under that book: every day it sat there meant less money we would make on the eventual sale of it.

Shelf space is not an issue with e-books.

E-books also have a much shorter production cycle than p-books. There are authors who crank out an e-book every couple of months (some a lot faster), when in the p-book world, publishers tend to limit you to one a year (that happened to Stephen King, which is why he published under a pseudonym that even the publisher didn’t know, as I understand the Richard Bachman story).

So, if

Dune (at AmazonSmile)

hadn’t been popular, we wouldn’t have gotten the sequels.

Now, though, a publisher might have ten books ready to go when the first one is released.

Some even release them all at once, allowing for “binge reading” (and beating out Netflix to the model).

If you want to make a sale to a tradpub for a young adult book, for example, you may do a lot better if you already have a trilogy you can deliver.

The old larger economic risk model also explains to some extent why a first book may be quite different from the rest of the series, and why the first one may vary from the later ones on whether or not is available in e-book form.

The author, unless already a brand name, doesn’t have much negotiating power with the first book.

If that book becomes a success, the author can then negotiate with more people, get an experienced editor (which can be a big plus)…you know, get more resources provided for a “proven property”.

People find it odd, but the first book in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series (the original Wizard of Oz books) is probably my least favorite.

It’s a lot harsher (there are a whole lot of deaths ((or at least bodily destructions)) in the book…more than 100).

In later books, it is impossible to kill someone in Oz (definitely impossible to kill someone who belongs to Oz…there are sometimes debates about whether or not visitors also get that immunity). The books become more fun, sillier…and for me, a lot more enjoyable. They are also more consistent.

If the first book hadn’t been a smash, though, there probably never would have been a second (and on up to a fourteenth).

What do you think? Is there a series where you like the first book the least? Has e-publishing changed the dynamics on series? Are you more willing to get a novel if you know it is part of a series? Would you ever start a series not at the first book (I do not like to do that, unless they are clearly stand-alones)? 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.

Round up #245: trade-in a Sony and get an extra $20, Patty

March 21, 2014

Round up #245: trade-in a Sony and get an extra $20, Patty

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

I got some stuff 🙂

I’ve recently gotten a couple of gadgets which may enable me to effectively digitize public domain books.

I’ve done that in the past when I was the Education Director for a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation.

Using a flatbed scanner (like a copier), it was a slow, laborious process.

One issue was waiting for the scan bar to move back and forth…that adds up. 🙂

If I was willing to destroy the paper copies (that’s how most scanning companies do it), it would be easier…but I’m not.

I came into a bit of extra money, so I’ve bought something I was considering:

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

What it says it does (and some of it is patented) is quite impressive. I have it, but won’t have a chance to test it until the weekend (it’s been super busy at work). It seems to be quality construction (knock virtual wood), which is good.

It works much more like a digital camera than a copier. It takes a picture of a page.

Okay, that’s better…but here are some of the other things I’m hoping it actually does effectively:

  • It’s supposed to be able to tell when you’ve turned the page and take the picture on its own…at least, I think that’s right
  • It’s supposed to be able to take a picture of two pages at the same time…cutting scanning time roughly in half
  • It can digitally remove your fingers! You can use your fingers (not covering text, of course) to flatten the book or document some (but it doesn’t need to be completely flat), and it recognize that they are fingers and removes them from the image (if you weren’t doing optical character recognition…OCR…but producing something like a replica PDF, that would be a big help)
  • It comes with the ABBY OCR

So, I’ll give you more of a report on that after I’ve tested it.

I’ll be using it with our new

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

Regular readers may remember that I haven’t been using Microsoft Office for a little while (despite a past history of being a certified Excel expert), because I had to “recover” an older desktop, and, well, we didn’t have the Office “key” that would allow us to use it again (that won’t happen to me in the future, hopefully…I now take a picture of the key, and store it in the Cloud).

That meant I definitely wanted something that came with Office (it can be expensive to buy separately)….we considered a Microsoft Surface.

Doing some research, though, I saw people recommending the Asus over the Surface…and it was cheaper (yes, that does matter to us).

Again, haven’t had a chance to explore it much yet. It’s a 2-in-1: that means it has a laptop type keyboard, but the “screen” separates off to become a tablet (it’s touchscreen).

It has Windows 8.1 on it: that’s an adjustment! I was looking for Notepad: who would guess that you would swipe up from the middle of the screen to find it?

On the other hand, having a touchscreen is (now) pretty intuitive.

I’ll let you know about both of these. Being able to take the scanner and the tablet part into our floor-to-ceiling library ought to work quite well.

We got one other thing (tonight): another dog!

Some readers may remember that we got Elf about 5 months ago. Elf is a terrier mutt…my Significant Other thinks Elf is part terrier and part Slinky Dog, so we call Elf a “slinkier”. 😉

Well, the place where we got Elf had another dog online…that looked almost exactly like Elf!

Not only that, they are about the same age…and found as strays not that far apart (not in the same city, but still).

We thought it was possible they were siblings…maybe even littermates.

That’s how much alike they looked in the picture.

We had wanted two dogs all along: I’ve always said that two dogs are easier than one: sometimes, they just want to do doggie stuff you don’t want to do (like roll in the mud).

Well, seeing the new dog, they don’t look as much alike as we thought…the new one is quite a bit smaller, and the hair-type is a bit different.

Everyone, though, is going to think they are related…and they very well may be.

I’ll post some pictures if they ever stand still long enough (they’ve been playing a lot since the first introductions ended).

Update: I call this picture, “I dreamed I was on the back of the couch.” 😉 Elf is on the back, the new dog is on the blanket.

Couch Dream

The new dog is called “Patty”. See, Elf is “Elf” because eleven was that dog’s number when we got there. Elf is German for eleven.

Patty was Number Six…so Patty is after Patrick McGoohan, who starred in one of my favorite series, The Prisoner…as “Number Six”.

Fun stuff…I love my work, but I am looking forward to the weekend! 🙂

Subscription app converted to Newsstand subscription

This was fascinating!

I have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. In the Kindle store, that was an app…which is really not as convenient as Amazon’s normal subscription thing.

Well, I went to read it yesterday…and it told me that it had been converted.

That has some real advantages: the latest issue will automatically download, for one thing, as opposed to me having to go fetch it.

Still, that is an interesting change…and I wonder if they are going to do that with more of the subscription apps.

Trade-in an EBR (E-Book Reader) at Amazon and get a $20 gift card on top of the value

When you trade in electronics at Amazon (it’s actually a third-party buying them, but you go through Amazon), you don’t get anywhere near as much as you might selling it yourself…but it is easy and secure, and that’s worth something.

Well, Amazon has a special deal right now:

Trade In Your Old E-reader for a Gift Card, Plus Get a $20 Instant Credit Toward a New Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

Yep, Amazon says:

“For a limited time, trade in an eligible Nook, Kobo, Sony, Kindle or other e-reader for an Amazon.com Gift Card, plus get a $20 instant credit toward a new Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, or Kindle Paperwhite 3G e-reader”

The trade-in value for Sonys, Kobos, and nooks is only up to $15…but then you do get this $20 on top of it (following the rules). If you had an unused Sony sitting around, getting $35 off a Paperwhite would be a pretty sweet deal…and it would really bring down the cost of a “Mindle”.

Trade in a first-generation Paperwhite…and get up $58.55! That, plus the $20 ($78.55) brings the current gen Paperwhite wi-fi only to…$40.45.

Now, you might not get the highest trade-in, and there isn’t that much difference between the two models after the recent updates, but it’s still an interesting plan.

One more thing (and I don’t know if it could be combined). Some people (including me) can buy a Kindle in 5 installments: you pay 20% up front, than have four more payments of 20% each.

If you are eligible for it, you’ll know…Amazon will splash it on the website for you, for one thing.

Just thought I’d mention it…now, if they would only do that for Prime! 🙂

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.

GBD: 8.9″ KFHD refurb for $129, 7″ prev gen KFHD refurb for $89

March 19, 2014

GBD: 8.9″ KFHD refurb for $129, 7″ prev gen KFHD refurb for $89

Don’t wait!

While I’m writing this, I’m seeing the percentage claimed go up on the lightning deal on the 7″. You must get this from this page:

Gold Box Deals (at AmazonSmile)

In fact, I’m going to get this out quickly to lessen the chances you miss it.

These are refurbs (same warranty as new), and $89 for a tablet is great! This is the previous generation on the 7″…which has the HDMI out that a lot of people like.

It does not have Mayday, or the ability to download Prime videos, among some other things, but it’s a good tablet.

I’d appreciate hearing about it if you get one…or if the lightning deal had run out (so I can see about when that was).

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.

89% of Canadian publishers do e-books

March 19, 2014

89% of Canadian publishers do e-books

…and everybody else is either in the process or planning to do them.

At least, that’s according to this fascinating and information packed

Booknet Canada study

As far as I’m concerned, they asked a lot of the right questions of the right people, and laid it out nicely (many pie charts, and you also get the numbers).

I’m not going to take much away from it (I recommend that you take a look), but I do want to mention a couple of things.

What are the driving forces for e-book production?

  • Increase sales: 74%
  • Accessibility: 72%
  • Customer demand: 68%
  • and weigh down towards the bottom of the list was “Mechanism to reduce costs” at 15%

That one stands out to me to because so many people think it is so much cheaper for publishers to produce e-books than p-books (paperbooks) that the consumer price should be much lower.

Way back when, I remember seeing an analysis that it was 12.5% cheaper, approximately.

People often figure that the tangible items in a process should be the most expensive part, but that’s rarely the case.

We pay humans for their efforts more than we pay the planet. 😉

There’s the author, sure, and the editor and the cover artist and the marketing department, oh, and the legal department and…taxes, and more.

Certainly, it’s likely that the expense of getting a p-book somewhere has gone up in the past four or five years, so the 12.5% might have risen…but e-books are not primarily about cutting production costs for the publisher.

In terms of digital availability of print titles, 19% of the publishers had 100% available. If you look at publishers which have more than half of their p-books available, it’s about 49%.

32% of them had more than 75% of their backlist (titles which have been out for more than six months) in e-book form.

Great strides!

Now, this was something that was consistent through the study, and might be surprising.

Which of the publisher sizes were more likely to have done more in the digital world (higher percentage of books in e-book form, dedicated digital employees, and so on)?

  • Small/Indie
  • Mid-size
  • Large

Let’s see: small, nimble, adaptable, little modern speedboats, or big, lumbering, cruise ships?

Okay, that was misleading…it’s actually the large publishers!

Again, that might make some people shake their heads. That’s not the scenario which has been discussed.

I think the reason is pretty simple.

Doing something new takes money.

Large tradpubs (traditional publishers) have it.

Tradpubs can bring on a new staff of digital experts, experiment, fail, figure it out, go from there…small publishers can’t take those chances.

Let’s look at one more thing: e-book retail distribution.

  • 93% had books listed with Kobo
  • 88% had the Kindle store
  • 76% had Apple
  • 68% had Barnes & Noble
  • 67% had Sony
  • 50% had Google
  • and there were more options listed

Since this is Canada the top few were to be expected…but it intrigues me that they still have so many with Sony, and not as many with Google.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Respondent Profile
  • Dedicated Digital Staff
  • Ebook Production & Conversion
  • Fixed-Layout Ebooks
  • Ebook Bundling
  • Digital 2.0 – Digital Originals, Enhanced Ebooks & Apps
  • Digital Best Practices
  • Digital Creation and Management Tools
  • Digital Asset Management
  • Ebook Sales & Distribution
  • Libraries & Ebooks

The link I gave you above is to a free PDF.

In case you are wondering, I tend to read PDFs on my

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

using

ezPDF Reader PDF (at AmazonSmile)

Why do I use that instead of the Kindle app on the Fire?

Text-to-speech.

I’m usually listening to TTS in the car (I prefer that to the radio or music). The Kindle doesn’t do TTS for PDFs, unfortunately.

It wouldn’t have done me much good on this report, because of all the charts, but I’m used to using that app now. 🙂

That’s one reason that “accessibility” as the second biggest reason for producing e-books interested me.

E-books are much more accessible than p-books for many people.

  • You can increase the text size
  • You can use text-to-speech on most commercial titles (unless the publisher blocks it)
  • You can change colors (white text on a black background helps some people)
  • The device is light, relatively. I had a relative who had someone tear the Harry Potter books into pieces, because they were too heavy to manipulate. Another relative just recently switched to a Paperwhite, due to an inability to push the physical buttons because of a medical condition
  • The Fire even has audio adaptations for some hearing challenges

Hm…here’s a cool idea for an accessibility feature that would help people like me.

I mentioned the great pie charts here. One issue is that they use colors (colors that are too close for me…I have some color vision deficiency), without labels on the slices. However, they did put the legend in the same order as the slices, so I can tell which is which.

One thing that is possible, though, is to have an option that adjusts for color vision deficiency.

They could put that on the Kindle as an accessibility option.

I can get apps through the Amazon Appstore now.

For example, this one is free:

DaltonAid (at AmazonSmile)

I can use that to look “through” my phone at something, and it adjust the color for me.

Yes, the app is compatible for the Fire: but I can’t look through my 7″ HDX (the camera only points towards you, primarily for videocalls)…and any way, I couldn’t use an app on the Fire to look at the Fire. 😉

So, there’s a suggestion for you, Amazon. 🙂

What do you think? If you read the report and something else stands out to you, feel free to come back and comment here to tell me and my readers what you think. How do you like to read PDFs on your Kindle? Would it be worth it for Amazon to add a color vision deficiency adjustment option to the Kindle, or would you prefer they not spend the money on development (after all, everything costs something)? Would you guess that Canadian publishing is significantly different from American publishing? I’m all ears…you know, except for the rest of me. 😉

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.

Should books be sold as gender specific?

March 18, 2014

Should books be sold as gender specific?

“What’s a good book for ten-year old girl?”

When I was a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I’d hear variations of that question, with age and gender specificity varying.

That always gave me pause.

It certainly wasn’t enough information.

Think back to when you were ten-years old.

Picture everybody in your class.

Would you have all liked the same book?

I didn’t think so. 😉

That means I would ask another question…

“What does she like?”

Shopper: “I don’t know. It’s for my niece.”

Okay…

It was always possible to suggest a book that pretty much any kid would like…or at least, that the odds would be good.

It struck me as…odd that someone would assume that all kids of one gender and age would like the same book…or at least, that those factors should narrow the choices sufficiently.

Regular readers know that I don’t tend to identify genders here (and other inherent characteristics). I’ll admit that it sometimes makes the writing more challenging, but I don’t identify mine, my Significant Other’s, my adult kid’s, or other people’s (unless they have already).

I chose to eliminate that information from the nominees for

Give a Kid a Kindle

It’s not that I think people should be ashamed of their genders: it’s that I want people to be known for their thoughts on the internet. That’s part of what’s magic about it. 😉

What about in bookstores, though?

Should books be marketed as for “girls” or for “boys”?

There is a group in England that is arguing that they shouldn’t…and it’s gaining quite a bit of support.

Let Books Be Books

It’s an offshoot of “Let Toys Be Toys”, which also argues that toys (be they G.I. Joe or Easy Bake Oven) shouldn’t be sold as “girls’ toys” or “boys’ toys”.

I have to say, from my experience, the issue is probably less with the kids themselves picking books.

I’m sure many a boy has picked up a Beverly Cleary or a girl gotten Choose Your Own Adventure books…even though the store might have marketed them as gender specific.

I think it is more the adults buying them that make choices based on those classifications.

This

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

about the campaign has some nice background.

Lest you think this is just an online petition (although there is one of those), some major retailers and publishers are following it, pledging not to market or label books as for girls or for boys.

I’m sure some people think this is a silly thing to do. After all, aren’t girls and boys different? Don’t they like different things? How is this any different from “chick lit” or “men’s adventure” (I’ve worked in a bookstore that had the latter section)?

For that matter, does something like this mean we shouldn’t label books as “romance” or “science fiction”, so we don’t prejudice the people buying them?

For me, there is a very big difference between labeling a book as “for boys” and labeling one as “mystery”.

It’s that “for” part.

It isn’t saying what the book is…it is saying who should read it.

I’ll decide what I want to read, thank you very much.

I don’t want to be judged by what I read…well, okay, sometimes I might like somebody to be a tiny bit impressed, but that’s about it. 😉

I’ve certainly seen that judgement. I read books that someone might think are not targeted at me. One easy example is kids’ books. If you saw me, you’d know I wasn’t a kid…at least chronologically. 😉

I’ve consumed a lot of kids’ media as an adult.

Oh, let me give you a great story with my Significant Other (I don’t think I’ve told this one on the blog before).

We hadn’t been together that long.

My SO came out and I was watching TV.

SO: “Are you watching cartoons?”

Me: “Yeah.”

There was a pause.

SO: “Japanese cartoons?”

Me (A little more reluctantly): “Yeah.”

SO: “In Japanese?”

Me (more reluctantly): “Yeah.”

SO: “Do you speak Japanese?”

Me (sort of pouting): “No.”

🙂

It was fine (my SO absolutely did not think less of me or hold it against me), but with each answer, I could feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into the geek zone.

Now, I am a proud geek, but there was something about this where it was…yes, I’ll say “embarrassing”.

Why?

Geeks like me, back then, we had seen what we read a lot disparaged by others.

I was always happy to claim somebody who was considered to be a classic writer for the geek community.

Charles Dickens wrote a ghost story (A Christmas Carol).

The Greeks had fantasy characters all over the place.

Jack London wrote science fiction, even a post-apocalyptic tale.

I wanted to show that good writers wrote science fiction and fantasy, too.

I guess I have to agree with the name of the campaign: “Let books be books”…not labels.

What do you think? Anything wrong with marketing books for specific genders? If that’s okay, would it be okay to have a section in a store for people of a particular race? Not one that was fiction by a race, or that race’s “interests”…but labeled as for that race. If one is okay and other one isn’t, I’d be curious to know why? Did you read books where people would think they were intended for another group? Did you do it openly, or did you hide it? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

March 17, 2014

Round up #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

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

Bookstore sales down 6.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly post

bookstore sales in the US dropped 6.7% year over year for January (per the Census Bureau).

At the same time, the overall retail sector rose.

Quite simply, this is not a good sign for bookstores. What changed in 2013 that could be seen as an exceptional accelerant? Borders has been closed for longer than that. E-books aren’t new (and the growth rate for those have slowed).

I suppose that one could argue that they’d been coasting on reserves, but seriously, most bookstores don’t have a year’s worth of reserves.

I think this is a genuine indication that people are going less. I know, I know…no surprise to a lot of folks.

Speaking of that slowing e-book growth rate, this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

has an interesting hypothesis (along with some other intriguing infographic stats…I’d suggest you check out the article).

One of four possible causes given is that the Association of American Publishers (AAP) data, which is what most people use, doesn’t track e-books published by indies.

If the marketshare of indies is growing significantly, that would make it appear to the AAP that the growth rate slowed, when it may not have done so.

Looking at the USA Kindle store bestsellers, there are certainly books from tradpubs (traditional publishers) on there (The Divergent Series Complete Collection ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)) helps with that at the top), but there are also indies. I’ll have to look at that again to see if the sands have shifted.

Margaret Adams on why dystopian fiction is popular

I recommend this

Financial Times article by Margaret Atwood

about people’s fascination with dystopian (negative futures…or at least, negative societies) literature.

Atwood (MaddAddam ((at AmazonSmile))) does a nice job of putting the genre in historical perspective. This isn’t a new phenomenon, bred of economic difficulties for millenials (and the generation after).

As regular readers know, I tend to be optimistic about the future. Take a look at almost anything tangible in our lives and look back, oh, a short two hundred years. Life expectancy? Opportunity for women and minorities? Literacy rates? Infant mortality? I know that some people see a moral decay, but that’s a bit of a different question. Was an individual likely to suffer more physical misfortune two hundred years ago than they were now? Go back three hundred years or forward from my original point one hundred years (to 1914). That’s how I see the trends.

I don’t think dystopian literature becomes more popular, necessarily, when people actually believe the world is getting worse. Wouldn’t one expect that utopian literature might become more popular in fantasy/science fiction at that point, as an escape?

That might be an interesting study…

Classics or not, ya gotta sell ’em

Looks like I might need to get familiar with this site!

In this

Trivia Happy post

The post has what they claim are genuine covers (and I’m leaning towards that being true) of “pulpish” editions of classic books.

The pictures are great!

I also like the copy on this one…which book would you guess this is describing?

“This unusual book may shock you, will make you laugh, and may break your heart — but you will never forget it”

Would you believe…Catcher in the Rye?

nook discontinuing Windows app: Microsoft Consumer Reader to work with that format?

According to this

Redmond Magazine post by Kurt Mackie

Barnes & Noble has filed an amendment to an earlier statement. B&N won’t need to make a nook app for Windows, and will help with the “Microsoft Consumer Reader”.

What is that?

Hopefully, something that will do better than when Microsoft had the .lit format!

This may be something that Microsoft does that gives an app that will read your nook books and your Microsoft Word documents…heck, why not PDFs and text files, too? The astonishing thing is if they could pull anything else proprietary into it…Kobo, Kindle. I can see that as a possibility, believe it or not.

That wouldn’t have Microsoft selling the content, so it wouldn’t hurt there.

Amazon/Kobo could negotiate payments which might make it worthwhile.

Right now, you could have both the Kobo app and the Kindle app on one device…would it be that much worse for the two companies if, instead of two apps, you had one?

I think this is pretty unlikely, but it’s just something that occurred to me…and I don’t think it’s impossible.

What do you think? If Microsoft makes it so you can read nook books on a Surface (or other tablets), is nook hardware doomed? Why do people love dystopias? Do you read them? Are bookstores on an inevitable slide, or will they hit a plateau…and possibly even grow? How much are indies skewing the stats? 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.

I’m using goodreads

March 16, 2014

I’m using goodreads

When Amazon bought goodreads (and that’s how it is capitalized on the site), I was one of those people who wasn’t really using it, but was using Amazon extensively.

Honestly, it was a question of not wanting to divide my attention even more. I already have a family, a full time (and then some) job, write at least an average of 1,000 words a day in this blog, have two other blogs (neither of which takes a lot of time), spend large amounts of time helping out in the Kindle forums as a Kindle Forum Pro, and, oh yeah, write a book every once in a while. 😉

Something has to show real value for me to spend time and energy on it.

As Amazon has integrated goodreads more into the Kindleverse, I’ve gotten into using it a bit.

I’m still no expert, certainly.

I just decided today to make some things more public. I’ve allowed people to follow my reviews, for example. When I’ve polled my readers here about features, reviews have not come out high on the list. Still, I enjoy writing them (and haven’t completely abandoned them here), and I figure somebody might like to see them. 🙂

My understanding is that my reviews have already been showing up on the Goodreads’ page for that book…I don’t think you can stop that. Now, though, someone can elect to “follow” them, and they’ll be notified when I write a new one.

I think you can do that (and ask to become my friend?) by going here:

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

I know some of you readers are well-versed in Goodreads. I’d appreciate some advice: will this somehow mean that I have a lot of things to which to attend? Am I going to be approving Friends frequently, for example?

Well, I thought you would want to know. 😉

Here’s how I’m using it:

I do add books to it as I get them, and at some point, I’ll add a lot more of the books I own in paper. That’s not as easy as it seems: I know you can scan barcodes on them, but many of the books I have seem to predate any useful scannable marks. 🙂

I wish there was some other categorization than “want to read”, “read”, and “currently reading” when you add a book. Maybe I can add a shelf of some kind and do that?

When I finish a book, I am marking it as finished and adding a rating and a review.

For me, that’s the sort of addictive part at this point. 🙂 It’s not the writing of the review so much: it’s my natural tendency to be honest and accurate. If I said I was currently reading it, and then I finished it, I want to change it.

Some of the books which say “currently reading” may be ones that I haven’t read in weeks…but which I am still in the process of reading. I have some books into which I just dip from time to time…maybe with text-to-speech during a car ride.

I plan to eventually finish them. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t abandon a book.

No doubt, the “currently reading” status on some of my books will outlast me: gee, do they have a setting for “was reading it, but no longer alive”? 😉

I find the interface, even at the site, to be a bit glitchy (or perhaps it works mechanically and is just not intuitive). For example, there is a listing on the homescreen (on the website) of books I’m reading. Every time I try and update one from there to “read”, I get a red “Error” message. I appear to have to go to my Books first, and do it there.

In terms of the integration with our Kindles, I don’t find I use that very much. I suppose that might change, now. I just accepted my first “Friend” request, and that person’s reading is showing up. That might be interesting.

The “Add Your Amazon Books” only seems to go back so far. If it would add all my books from Amazon (we have over 3,000 Kindle books), that  would  be great…but it doesn’t. It’s a decent help for adding new purchases.

Well, I think what I’ll do at this point is open it up to you. What’s the best thing about Goodreads for you? Do you find it effective on your Kindle? Are there any settings or activities you’d recommend for me? Any warnings? 😉 Feel free to let me know by commenting on this post.

Update: here’s another example of the difficulties I encounter using goodreads..

I recently bought a book, and wanted to add it to my goodreads books. There was a book there with the same ISBN and a similar title…but the entry was very incomplete. The author’s name was incomplete, and the publisher was different.

I first had tried entering it as a new book. It wouldn’t allow that, because the ISBN was different. That’s reasonable: cuts down on duplicate books.

I tried entering it as another edition of the first book, which is probably the case. It had a link for that, but wouldn’t let me do it. It wouldn’t accept it with the same ISBN, of course, but I had clicked “add a new edition”.

I tried editing the details of the first listing: I didn’t have the authority.

I ended up entering it as a book without an ISBN…so now, there are two listings for the book. I left in the note in the decription explaining the situation…hopefully, someone else can fix it.

Bonus deal:

Amazon does “Kindle Countdown Deals”. Those are limited time offers on Kindle books…you can actually see when they will no longer be on sale.

I checked it out quite a bit when it first started happening, but I was having trouble with discovery…I couldn’t find books I wanted.

Well, I’ve done something that seems to help:

Kindle Countdown Deals by average customer review (at AmazonSmile)

This sort will show you the highest rated books first. That can make it easier to find something that you’ll enjoy (and often for ninety-nine cents).

Amazon’s “average customer review” isn’t a simple averaging…there are a lot of books with a single review which is five-stars, but they don’t show up at the top here.

When I look at reviews on Amazon, I do take into account the number of stars…but I also consider the number of reviews. I would have more confidence in a book with a 4.8 rating and a 1,000 reviews than a book with a 5.0 rating (a perfect score) and ten reviews.

That’s not to say that my tastes and the tastes of the majority always match. It’s just that it is easier to manipulate the ratings when there are fewer people involved.

You also have to consider who tends to review books. More recent books are likely to have a lot more reviews than older books. I doubt very many people go back to their favorite books which they read years ago and add a review. I think that’s why you’ll see more reviews on something like The Hunger Games than on, oh, Tom Sawyer.

One other thing (and it’s a big one) about this sort: it’s a great way to find books you can borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library! You’ll see that you can borrow them here, and even choose categories. Remember that you’ll have to actually borrow them from your hardware Kindle, but this at least is a way to find them on your computer. 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.

Heads up! Limited time offer on Marware speakers for $10 starts at 4:00 PM Pacific

March 14, 2014

Heads up! Limited time offer on Marware speakers for $10 starts at 4:00 PM Pacific

Limited time deal. ..check your Kindle Fire for limited time deal on Marware speakers for 10 dollars at 4:00 pm Pacific today. Normally $34.99 (71%) discount, limit 8,400 in this deal.

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 my Significant Other would have been interested in this one. 🙂

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.

In honor of Pi Day: 14 trilogies

March 14, 2014

In honor of Pi Day: 14 trilogies

Today is March 14 (3.14), which is recognized as “Pi Day”. 🙂

http://www.piday.org/

You see, 3.14 (and an infinite number of digits more…I remember as much as 3.14159 offhand) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and March is the third month of the year, so in the USA, we say it is 3/14 today (which, as three fourteenths, would really be 0.2142857), even though in most of the world they put the day before the month (which makes sense: they do “little middle big”…why do we do “middle little big?”), and…never mind. 😉

I wanted to do something connected to it, and three is also a big number in literature…so I figured if I listed fourteen trilogies, that would work.

A “trilogy” of books is three novels (I’m going to stick with fiction) that go together. They often have a throughline arc…the story starts in the first one, develops in the second, and ends in the third…but it doesn’t always work quite that way.

Not surprisingly, the third one is often people’s least favorite. Endings are hard! I remember, when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, somebody asking me what I thought of Stephen King’s

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

I said something like, “The first twelve hundred pages are great…”

😉

Culture does like threes. 🙂 There are the Three Stooges, the Three Fates, the Three Musketeers, and the Three Little Pigs, to name a few…

As I’m picking these, I’m not trying to choose the “best” (always subjective), or even the best-known. I’m going to look for an interesting mix. My main criteria are that they are in the (USA) Kindle store and they don’t block text-to-speech access**. It’s possible that there are more than three books…for example, The Hobbit won’t disqualify The Lord of the Rings, which may be what comes first to many people’s minds in terms of trilogies (and what perhaps inspired quite a few other fantasy/science fiction publishers to plan on trilogies).

One more thing: is it better to get all three in one title, if you can, or get them separately? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. It is sometimes (but not always) cheaper to get an omnibus (“bundle”). However, the file is larger, and documentation can be more confusing. If you highlight something in an omnibus, it tells you it came from that omnibus…not from the individual title. My preference in listing here is going to be the omnibus, when possible…I like the convenience of that.

The Lord of the Rings: One Volume (at AmazonSmile)
by J.R.R. Tolkien
4.6 out of 5 stars, 3,075 customer reviews
Included: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers; The Return of the King
1220 pages listed for paper edition
$10.99 at time of writing

Fifty Shades Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by E.L. James
4.3 stars, 8,716 reviews
Included: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed
1501 pages
$14.99

Gee, there are more then twice as many reviews for this trilogy as for LotR…I guess you could say that, in that category, Fifty Shades has the Lord of the Rings, um, “whipped”. 😉

The Hunger Games Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Suzanne Collins
4.7 stars, 6,993 reviews
Included: The Hunger Games; Catching Fire; Mockingjay
1,187 pages
$17.99

Kristin Lavransdatter (at AmazonSmile)
by Sigrid Undset
4.6 stars, 112 reviews
Included: The Wreath; The Wife; The Cross
1168 pages
$16.14

Undset won a Nobel Prize in literature in 1928, in part on the basis of these historical novels.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Stieg Larsson
4.6 stars, 851 reviews
Included: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Girl Who Played with Fire; The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
570 pages
$24.99

I haven’t read these…are they actually that short?

The Providence Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Jamie McGuire
4.5 stars, 415 reviews
Included: Providence; Requiem; Eden
857 pages
$9.99

Independently published paranormal romance…well-reviewed and inexpensive.

Star Wars: Trilogy (25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition) (at AmazonSmile)
by George Lucas, Donald F. Glut, James Kahn
4.6 stars, 36 reviews
Included: Star Wars: A New Hope; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
870 pages
$11.84

Yes, George Lucas was the credited author on the first novelization of the first (released) Star Wars novel. 🙂

The Century Trilogy (no omnibus available)
by Ken Follett

The New York Trilogy (at AmazonSmile)
by Paul Auster
4.0 stars, 136 reviews
Included: City of Glass; Ghosts; The Locked Room
390 pages
$10.99

Mysteries…sort of. These are a bit more surreal than you might imagine.

The Forsyte Saga (at AmazonSmile)
by John Galsworthy
4.5 stars, 53 reviews
Included: The Man of Property; In Chancery; To Let
912 pages
$8.79

In what may seem rather modern to some, these 1920s novels also have two short stories (“interludes”) which bridge them.

The Divergent Series Complete Collection (at AmazonSmile)
by Veronica Roth
4.3 stars, 590 reviews
Included: Divergent; Insurgent; Allegiant
859 pages
$14.99

The first book is soon to be “a major motion picture”…could possibly be one of the big movies of the year.

His Dark Materials Omnibus (at Amazon Smile)
by Philip Pullman
4.1 stars, 1,315 reviews
Included: The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass
946 pages
$16.06

It’s already been a not-so-major motion picture ;), but that shouldn’t put you off the books.

Henry VI: Parts One, Two, and Three (at AmazonSmile)
by William Shakespeare
5 stars, 1 review (for this edition)
608 pages
$5.98

In case you thought trilogies only went back a few decades…

The Oedipus Trilogy: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone (at AmazonSmile)
by Sophocles
3 stars, 1 review (for this edition)
300 pages
$0.99

In case you thought trilogies only went back a few centuries…

😉

Enjoy!

You may have others you’d like to mention…feel free to do so by commenting on this post. By the way, before it comes up: Douglas Adams calling the Hitchhiker series a “trilogy” was sort of a joke. 😉

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

* 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.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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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