Archive for May, 2014

Free books disappear from the USA Kindle store: tens of thousands gone

May 31, 2014

Free books disappear from the USA Kindle store: tens of thousands gone

Important update: it now appears that this may be the result of a technical glitch. See my later post Snapshot: June 1 2014 for more information.

One of the best things about the Kindle store for me has been the thousands of free public domain books available directly from there.

Even though you can get many from other sources, like

Project Gutenberg

there is a real advantage in having them as part of my Kindle library, with all of the Kindle service advantages (such as storing my annotations for me for free, Whispersync, and so on).

I track the number of free books each month, but this

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

got me to check today, and the results shocked me.

I’m hoping this is just some temporary glitch, but the count I get right now is 1,352 free books in the USA Kindle store (including public domain). It’s 436 without public domain.

Compare that to the numbers as I have tracked them previously:

Free books (including public domain)

May 1, 2014: 59,957
April 1, 2014: 57,945
March 1, 2014: 58,588
February 1, 2014: 57,648
January 1, 2014: 56,793
December 1, 2013: 57,311
November 1, 2013: 58,238
October 1, 2013: 56,199
September 1, 2013: 57,547
August 1, 2013: 56,113
July 1, 2013: 55,068
June 1, 2013: 55,811
May 1, 2013: 54,033
April 1, 2013: 55,670
March 1, 2013: 54,946
February 1, 2013: 54,567
January 1, 2013: 54,538
December 1, 2012: 50,869
November 1, 2012: 50,938
October 1, 2012: 50,982
September 1, 2012: 52,601
August 1, 2012: 51,680
July 1: 53,728
June 1: 50,470
May 1: 48,904
April 1: 49,826
March 1: 51,860
February 1: 48,207
January 1, 2012: 46,201
December 1: 43,757
November 1: 42,657
October 1, 2011: 42,710
September 1, 2011: 39,540
August 1, 2011: 38,936
July 1, 2011: 38,627
June 1, 2011: 37,415
May 1, 2011: 36,481
April 1, 2011: 33,469
March 1, 2011: 15,931
February 1, 2011: 15,947
January 1, 2011: 16,758
December 1, 2010: 16,708
November 1, 2010: 16,703
October 1, 2010: 16,702
September 1, 2010: 16,726
August 1, 2010: 20,634
July 1, 2010: 20,628
June 1, 2010: 20,590
May 1, 2010: 20,601
April 1, 2010: 20,619
March 1, 2010: 20,143
February 1, 2010: 19788
January 1, 2010: 19,802
December 1, 2009: 19,895
November 1, 2009: 18,547
October 1, 2009: 7,428
February 28, 2009: 7,401

Free books (without public domain)

May 1, 2014: 13,191
April 1, 2014: 11,864
March 1, 2014: 12,500
February 1, 2014: 11,568
January 1, 2014: 11,091
December 1, 2013: 11,455
November 1, 2013: 11,262
October 1, 2013: 9,726
September 1, 2013: 10,794
August 1, 2013: 9,816
July 1, 2013: 8,921
June 1, 2013: 9,582
May 1, 2013: 7,807
April 1, 2013: 7,761
March 1, 2013: 7,710
February 1, 2013: 7,404
January 1, 2013: 7,261
December 1, 2012: 7,089
November 1, 2012: 7,186
October 1, 2012: 7,259
September 1, 2012: 8,701
August 1, 2012: 7,829
July 1, 2012: 9,660
June 1, 2012: 6,715
May 1, 2012: 5,195
April 1, 2012: 5,622
March 1, 2012: 8,356
February 1, 2012: 6,109
January 1, 2012: 4,102
December 1, 2011: 2,007
November 1, 2011: 1,681
October 1, 2011: 1,449
September 1, 2011: 1,283
August 1, 2011: 1,046
July 1, 2011: 883
June 1, 2011: 707
May 1, 2011: 20,984
April 1, 2011: 17,832
March 1, 2011: 241
February 1, 2011: 240
January 1, 2011: 230
December 1, 2010: 183
November 1, 2010: 171
October 1, 2010: 161
September 1, 2010: 143
August 1, 2010: 621 (125 without Amazon Breakthrough nominees)
July 1, 2010: 599 (102 without Amazon Breakthrough nominees)
June 1, 2010: 559 (63 without Amazon Breakthrough nominees)
May 1, 2010: 556 (57 without Amazon Breakthrough nominees)
April 1, 2010: 560 (59 without Amazon Breakthrough nominees)
March 1, 2010: 67
February 1, 2010: 52
January 1, 2010: 53
December 1, 2009: 84
November 1, 2009: 64
October 1, 2009: 67

I’ll check this again in the morning…virtual fingers crossed that they are back by then.

Update: checking it again this morning, it is even worse. I get 1,245 free books, 327 without public domain.

If this is deliberate, why would Amazon do it?

Well, offering free books does cost them something. Processing orders and storing files isn’t much (for someone like Amazon), but it does count. Customer service is expensive, and free books must generate some questions.

One could also argue that people will get free books instead of paying for books…I’ve certainly read free books when I might have read paid ones. For me, though, I would say that was more about the book than the fact it was free. I have also paid for books (public domain collections) which I could have gotten for free.

I’m going to keep my eye on this. Perhaps there is something transitional going on with file delivery. Hm…I suppose another possibility is that the free books are going to be made available just for Prime members, as yet another advantage of Prime. Maybe they are going to be made into part of a subser (subscription service) offered by Amazon.

I’m still hoping for it to just be some sort of goof (maybe even in the search  algorithm, although I’m searching the same way I always do) or something that is temporary.

Update: I thought of one way to test the “glitch” hypothesis. I searched for other price points: if they didn’t show a similar decline, it seemed less likely to me that it was a problem with the search.

$1.99 on May 1: 86,497 | $1.99 today: 21,738

$9.99 on May 1: 278,815 | $9.99 today: 33,304

Both of those massive reductions. Was the overall count also lower?

Overall on May 1: 2,576,533 | Overall today: 2,598,629

The overall appears to have grown not  inappropriately. Either this is an overall glitch in the search, or they are doing some odd removals.

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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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What happens if Amazon and Hachette can’t agree?

May 30, 2014

What happens if Amazon and Hachette can’t agree?

It isn’t personal.

Hachette (a publisher) and Amazon (a retailer) are in the midst of a turbulent negotiation. It’s like Godzilla battling Mothra…and unfortunately, in that scenario,we readers are Tokyo.

Businesses famously fight and fight and fight and then settle things up and go back to business as usual. It’s not personal…there is nothing that fundamentally stops them from making money together.

Except sometimes, they don’t.

What if this is one of those times?

What if Hachette, which may be trying to bring back the Agency Model in September (when their legal prohibition ends), and Amazon, which wants control over consumer pricing, just finally have to stop working with each other?

A little over three years ago, I wrote

A Tale of Two Middles

I looked at the two “middles” between authors and readers: publishers and retailers. I even specifically compared Hachette and Amazon:

“How many people know Amazon versus knowing Hachette?  Familiarity is important online…you’ve got to trust the people from whom you buy.  Amazon has been cust0mer-facing for more than a decade…publishers are just really learning that.”

In the past three years have we gotten to the point where the tradpubs (traditional publishers) and Amazon don’t need each other?

Let’s postulate that Amazon and Hachette can’t work it out…and Amazon stops carrying Hachette books.

What would happen for Hachette?

Hachette would need to find another way to sell those books: Amazon is clearly a huge hunk of sales. They could, of course, hypothetically reconfigure in a way that they need to sell fewer books…take fewer risks in publishing choices, come up with alternate funding streams (licensing the backlist to subsers ((subscription servicers))), charge more for each book…there are ways. Let’s assume, though, that they want to continue to sell a lot of books.

They can work through other retailers…but that might be like running from one room to another during an earthquake. It might not exactly be a safe harbor.

The other choice is that they sell directly…which is what I was discussing three years ago.

I think that is a much stronger possibility than it was.

Initially, consumers were insecure about buying e-books: now, they aren’t as much. It’s familiar: they might buy from a publisher (which they know less well) rather than going with Amazon.

“Social selling” is another big possibility. Similar to Amazon Associates, the publisher could directly compensate anyone that sells their books (within certain structures). So, you e-mail your sibling about a $4.99 book, they buy it from your link, you get $0.50. That 90% “keep” for the publisher is much better than what they get from Amazon now, even taking into account the costs of sale.

Multiply that many times over with social media, like Twitter, Goodreads (owned by Amazon), and so on.

Do we trust Amazon more than we trust our friends?

Would we feel better about our friends getting a little cash than Amazon getting it?

What if it was a non-profit? That might do even more for the sales.

No reason for a publisher like Hachette not to make the file “platform agnostic”…they could make a book file like an MP3, where it could be read on pretty much any device.

It would cost publishers quite a bit to set something like this up…I think readers would insist on cloud storage of their books, like they get from Amazon, but I think it’s entirely doable. As discovery becomes decentralized, Amazon becomes less important.

What would happen for Amazon?

Amazon would need to have customers make a bigger mental shift than Hachette would, in part because I think customers have a more well-formed conception of Amazon.

When the Kindle was first released in 2007, Amazon had a goal of “every book ever published…”

They’d have to drop that as a marketing point.

If they didn’t have some of the big books, they’d be under more obligation to make other books matter just as much. That might be books they publish themselves, but it could be other titles as well. That’s exactly one of the tactics they are trying during the Hachazon War: they are putting ads on the Hachette books’ product pages recommending alternate books which are cheaper or better reviewed.

If that is successful, it means Amazon doesn’t need those publishers’ books…although the tradpubs would definitely be leading discovery at first (people would go look for the new J.K. Rowling before bouncing to another choice).

Another possibility is that Amazon keeps providing the books to their customers…but doesn’t sell them itself.

I think that might have been missed as one of the most important things Amazon said in their recent Hachazon War statement:

“If you do need one of the affected titles quickly, we regret the inconvenience and encourage you to purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors.” [emphasis added]
Announcement Hachette/Amazon Business Interruption (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s right: somebody can buy that Hachette book from Barnes & Noble and then sell it to through Amazon…and Amazon charges for the service.

Third-party selling is very important to Amazon, and a good way for them to make money. Naturally, that only works with physical books at this point, and you might expect it to mean higher prices…but it is a way for Amazon to keep being a place where you can get the books. If a way to sell used e-books ever does come to fruition, that would also really feed this.

The third option for Amazon is to stop carrying a broad array of books.

While Amazon was originally positioned as an online bookstore, those days are gone. They are certainly still seen as a bookseller, but they are so much more. They could get out of the book retailing business and still have a very substantial business model (including web services and “fulfillment services”).

They might still sell Amazon published books (Amazon traditionally published and Amazon as a publishing platform for independent authors) in that scenario.

Both companies have viable alternatives to the publisher/retailer relationship.

The question may no longer be who needs the other company more…but whether or not they need each other at all.

What do you think? What would you do if you couldn’t get Hachette’s books from Amazon? Would you get them somewhere else? What if you could buy e-books from the publisher which would work on your Kindle? Would you be more likely to buy a book from a friend than from a store? Do you ever make buying decisions because it helps a non-profit? If Hachette and Amazon “break up”, would the other Big Five publishers follow…or might Random Penguin, for example, stick with Amazon (in the way that Random House did not go with everybody else on the Agency Model back in 2010)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal:

Save $79 by getting the Kindle Fire HDX and the Fire TV bundle!

Amazon Fire TV & Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Wi-Fi 16GB with Special Offers (at Amazon Smile)

That’s $249…for both of them!

I very often use my KFHDX together with my Fire TV…one can almost be considered an accessory for the other.

The key thing is that the KFHDX mirrors very nicely to the Fire TV. Anything on my KFHDX can be displayed on through my Fire TV.

For one thing, that means that any video I can watch on my Kindle Fire I can watch on my TV…even if the app I am using would stop working if I connected an HDMI cable (which at least used to be the case with the Xfinity app). You could watch HBO GO that way.

I can watch videos from websites on my TV, by pulling them up on my Kindle Fire and mirroring to my TV.

This is definitely a good deal…so good that they are limiting it to one to a customer, and making it for a limited time only.

Already have one or the other? You could always give the duplicate as a gift…

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard! (many articles on the Hachazon War from different perspectives)

* 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.

Series for the Summer 2014

May 29, 2014

Series for the Summer 2014

When did summer become the best season for entertainment?

Certainly, we can point to Jaws (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) in 1975 for redefining summer movies.

Television…in the summer?

You bet!

Some of the real “event TV” happens during the summer now…it’s no longer just re-runs while kids hypothetically play…what’s that called again? Oh, yeah, “outside”. 😉 This summer includes Under the Dome, Extant, True Blood, and…um…Sharknado 2!

What about books?

Well, there are traditionally the “beach reads”, but typically, you can run through one of those pretty quickly…that’s hardly a whole season’s worth.

What I thought I’d do in this post is propose some series you could read.

Our now adult kid always created their own “project” for the summer, and that makes some sense to me. Whether you are actually on a different schedule or not, summer (however you define it) does seem to feel different.

For many people, including movie theatres, summer starts with the Memorial Day weekend and ends with the Labor Day weekend.

Let’s make this easy and call it twelve weeks.

At first, I wanted to just include series here that were “finished”, so you could feel a sense of accomplishment…but “over” isn’t really over any more. Oh, you could try and define it as just by the original author, and that might work…but even ignoring fanfic (unauthorized fan written fiction) and Kindle Worlds (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), there can always be official books added to a series (until it falls into the public domain, where pretty much nothing is official).

I also won’t tell you that some of these series don’t get worse as you go along. 😉 For me, it’s more about spending the summer in a different world, with a different set of people to know…and hey, if you’ve ever spent a summer with a group, you know that doesn’t always go smoothly the whole time. 😉

I also debated a bit with myself over whether to favor omnibus editions (several books in one purchase) or individual titles. Certainly, omnibuses are easier to buy, and on a Kindle, no harder to carry with you than an individual book.  However, some people may balk at paying $50 at once, rather than, say, $8…and it’s a bit harder to navigate and annotate an omnibus. Another big advantage for the omnibus, as far as I’m concerned, is that they may not block text-to-speech access when at least some of the individual titles do. I suspect that’s because the individual e-book may be seen as a sales threat to the audiobook (although my guess has always been that that isn’t true)…and the omnibus typically doesn’t also have an audiobook edition (can you imagine the file size of a six book audiobook?).

What I decided to do is link to the omnibus, where available. One reason for that? Getting a sample of an omnibus gets you a lot more…in some cases, it might even get you the entire first book for free. From there, you might feel obligated to buy the book…but you’ll certainly have a better sense of whether or not you want to devote your summer to this series. Some of these books also have a “series page” at Amazon, and I may also link to that.

Oh, that’s a good point! There’s no reason you can’t be reading more than the series in the next few months, although I know a lot of you get very linear like that. I like to skip around, reading many books at the same time, although I did read three and a half novels of a single series in one day once (that’s my record). 🙂

Here are a few suggestions:

The Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
2000 – Present
15 novels to date: other material includes a TV series, short stories, graphic novels, audiobooks (often read by James Marsters), and a role-playing game
First book: 4.2 out of five stars, 1,077 customer reviews
Most recent book: 4.9 stars, 195 reviews

The Dresden Files Book Series page at Amazon (at AmazonSmile)

The Dresden Files Collection 1-6 (at AmazonSmile)

Series novels (in order):

  1. Storm Front
  2. Fool Moon
  3. Grave Peril
  4. Summer Knight
  5. Death Masks
  6. Blood Rites
  7. Dead Beat
  8. Proven Guilty
  9. White Night
  10. Small Favor
  11. Turn Coat
  12. Changes
  13. Ghost Story
  14. Cold Days
  15. Skin Game

Harry Dresden is a wizard. Not the pointy-hatted, white horse riding kind, but the driving a beat-up Volkswagen, looking for the next paycheck, late on the rent in Chicago kind. Harry is charmingly self-deprecating…and the criticism isn’t all undeserved (although the magic is real, and can be impressive).The books are funny and well-written, and importantly (although you wouldn’t want to say it to Harry’s face) Harry is noble.

Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon
1991 – Present
7 novels to date with another one due out in June: other material includes a Starz TV series set to debut on August 9
First book: 4.4 stars, 4,112 reviews
Most recent book: 4.1 stars, 1,316 reviews

Outlander Book Series page at Amazon (at AmazonSmile)

The Outlander Series 7-Book Bundle (at AmazonSmile)

Series novels (in order):

  1. Outlander
  2. Dragonfly in Amber
  3. Voyager
  4. Drums of Autumn
  5. The Fiery Cross
  6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
  7. An Echo in the Bone
  8. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (due June 10)

These are time travelling historical romances…after the success of these, I’m guessing that your local brick-and-mortar bookstore may have a shelf labeled that. 😉 This may be a buzzy TV series, so you might want to read them before that.

Tom Sawyer series
Mark Twain
1876 – 1896
Four books: other material includes myriad adaptations
First book: 4.2 stars, 507 reviews
Most recent book: 4.2 stars, 31 reviews

Tom Sawyer series page at Amazon (at AmazonSmile)

The Complete Series of Tom Sawyer: Classic Annotated and Illustrated Edition (at AmazonSmile)

Series books (in order):

  1. Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  3. Tom Sawyer Abroad
  4. Tom Sawyer, Detective

While you certainly might have read two of these, I’m guessing most of you haven’t read all four of them recently.

I picked an omnibus that was inexpensive ($2.99), but seems decent…for one thing, it includes the original illustrations (at least, from what I’ve seen in the sample), and has additional materials. It’s worth noting that you can get each of these for free legally, but an omnibus can be convenient.

There are three possibilities…there are so many other possibilities, I think I’ll let you suggest them in your comments. 🙂

What do you think? Do you read different books in the summer? Have you ever set yourself a summer reading goal? What are your favorite book series? What’s the most books you’ve read in a series (for me, it’s the 181 original Doc Savage “adventures”…although I’ve read other Doc novels, too)? How do you define a “book series”? Do you always read them in order? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Additional note: I have a personal commitment going on that may slow down my response to your comments. It should not prevent me from posting, though.

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.

Maya Angelou reported dead

May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou reported dead

It is with sadness that I report the apparent passing of

Maya Angelou (at AmazonSmile)

Maya Angelou writes with an unusual combination of strength and gentleness. Injustice is called out, but the response is not in fighting it…rather, it is in being unbroken by it.

If you are moved by this to buy some of Maya Angelou’s works, please consider doing so through AmazonSmile, and designating a Maya Angelou related charity (so they can benefit from your purchases). You can always change your designation to a different non-profit later, if you like.

For example, there is the See Forever Foundation, which runs the Maya Angelou Schools.

This page also lists some other causes Maya Angelou supported:

Look To the Stars

Here is a suggestion for you. It isn’t the best known, but may feel particularly connected right now:

Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (at AmazonSmile)

The audiobook, read by Angelou herself, is available through Whispersync for Voice. The sample on that page is quite long, and worth hearing this morning.

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.

Is the Hachazon War over?

May 28, 2014

Is the Hachazon War over?

Update: according to Amazon, the answer is no. After I wrote this, I saw that Amazon has posted a statement on this issue in the Kindle forum:

Announcement Hachette/Amazon Business Interruption (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Before I address the content, let me first say that I think it is a very good thing that they have said something.

Amazon often keeps things quite private…famously, they don’t release sales figures for Kindle devices or e-books (except sometimes), for example.

This

Reuters blog post by Jack Shafer

does not express a unique position:

“If Amazon thinks I don’t care about its silence, it’s wrong. I take it personally that the company doesn’t think it owes me even a half-baked explanation for why I can’t buy some books from it.”

Now that Amazon has ended that silence, what did they say?

When we negotiate with suppliers, we are doing so on behalf of customers. Negotiating for acceptable terms is an essential business practice that is critical to keeping service and value high for customers in the medium and long term.”

It is an intriguingly “high road” post. Where Hachette’s public statements seemed to suggest they were baffled by what could be seen as Amazon’s bad behavior, Amazon defends Hachette:

Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives.”

I think Amazon makes a mistake in the post in explaining what a tiny part of their business this is. People extrapolate from the specific to the general, not the other way around. In other words, they will assume that a broader class has the same characteristics as an individual case they know well. You can tell someone that 99% of snakes never bite anyone, but if they’ve been bitten by one snake once, that’s going to matter more to them.

What solution does Amazon suggest?

 If you do need one of the affected titles quickly, we regret the inconvenience and encourage you to purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors.”

When I wrote what follows on Tuesday night, I suggested that it looked like maybe things were getting better in the Hachazon War. Amazon suggests in the post that they don’t see it that way:

Even more unfortunate, though we remain hopeful and are working hard to come to a resolution as soon as possible, we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.”

Looking at it again this morning, I’m seeing about the same results as I did last night…so my optimistic thought that I was perhaps seeing an indicator that the dispute was ending is not being validated.

What follows is my original post:

===

Interestingly, some of the books which were previously affected by the Hachette/Amazon dispute appear to be unaffected today.

In this search for

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

one of the big Hachette imprints, I’m seeing some which had been…made inconvenient, no longer having that issue.

For example, you can get Robin Roberts’ book right away now.

Now, I’m still seeing some which are affected…J.K. Rowling’s next book (writing as Robert Galbraith) still says you can sign up to be notified when it is available.

My guess is that they may be just updating everything after an agreement…let’s take a look at it again in the morning.

This has been a messy, messy disagreement, with a lot of bad public relations out of it (on both sides, but I would say I saw a lot more people not liking Amazon’s tactics).

I have expressed my unease with more than one outlet refusing to carry books when the disagreement is with the supplier or publisher of that book…as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager myself, I understand making a principled stand not to carry something, or an economic decision that it won’t sell…but trying to go after a business partner (and Hachette and Amazon do work together…that’s what I mean by partners, not anything legally organizational) by doing something that broadly inconveniences your customers doesn’t seem like good business to me.

Customers don’t generally understand the deep reasons why you don’t have something and someone else has it sooner and/or cheaper…they just know you don’t have it when they want it.

Hoping this is over!

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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: Fire LTO. 256 GB drive at 530 Pacific

May 27, 2014

Amazon: Upcoming Limited-Time Special Offer on Kindle Fire: 256 GB Solid State Drive for $49. Deal starts at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT.

Update: sorry I had to be really brief on this one! Not only was I on my phone, but I was in a place where I couldn’t speak out loud…so I couldn’t use speech-to-text! That really limited my ability to input the information. In fact, all I did was copy and paste the text I got (see below) into the post. I was really in the middle of something…

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.

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.

One more thing: I’ve had a couple of readers say that they never even saw the offer. As far as I know, these go out to every eligible Kindle Fire in the USA. A few possibilities occur to me:

  • They either bought a Kindle Fire without Special Offers, or bought out of the offers later. You have to be subscribed to those in order to get these deals
  • They weren’t connected to wireless in time for it to update
  • They didn’t check the Offers tab (I don’t always see it on the sleep screen)

It might not have been any of those, but those three would have done it.

===

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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 #256: 40% off any Zinio mag, $1.99 Brave New World

May 26, 2014

Round up #256: 40% off any Zinio mag, $1.99 Brave New World

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

KDD: Brave New World & BNW Revisited, $1.99 each

One of today’s

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

is one of the really classic dystopias, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for $1.99. They also have what isn’t really a sequel, but a sort of progress report on how much the real world had come to resemble the fictional one, Brave New World Revisited.

This is nice, too: you can get the audiobook of BNW also for $1.99 (if you buy the e-book)…and it is read by Michael York.

Oh, and BNW is currently in the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)…might be a nice borrow some month, if it stays there.

As always, check the price before you click that “Buy” button…might not apply in your country.

$1.99 Memorial Day Sale

Amazon has 50 books in its

$1.99 Memorial Day Sale (at AmazonSmile)

It’s worth checking these out. There are books in Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series (Amazon publishes the e-books), for one thing. 🙂

40% off any subscription from Zinio for Memorial Day

I subscribe to Fortean Times through Zinio, and read it in the Zinio app on my  Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). I went to Zinio initially because Amazon didn’t have FT, but I do like the interface.

Through May 27th, they are having a 40% off any subscription sale. You need to enter the code MAY50 at check-out to get the discount.

Zinio

Military books in the Kindle store

I thought I’d give you a few links to military books (fiction and not) in the Kindle store, in honor of Memorial Day:

War fiction (at AmazonSmile)
Military Science Fiction (at AmazonSmile)
Military Romance (at AmazonSmile)
Military Thrillers (at AmazonSmile)
Military History (non-fiction) (at AmazonSmile
Military Science (non-fiction) (at AmazonSmile)

Enjoy!

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.

New Manage Your Kindle page

May 25, 2014

New Manage Your Kindle page

Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle page has some wonderful features to it.

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

It has been one of the features that shows what Amazon does best when it connects with its customers…although it has certainly had challenges and people have wanted it to do more.

Some of the great things we could do there:

  • “Return” a Kindle book for a refund within seven days of purchase
  • Reset the last page read
  • Send items to different devices on the account
  • Manage whether a device was subscribed to Special Offers
  • Change the display name of a device

I’ve written about changes to it several times…they rolled out a change that allowed mass actions not too long ago, then rolled it back in again. 😉

Right now, I have a new version available to me…in Silk on my  Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

It’s not available to me in Maxthon on my desktop or Google Chrome on my desktop.

My guess is that they are testing it out (again). You might have it, you might not. It’s possible that clearing cookies and/or signing in and out of your account might help. If you want to see it, I’d try different browsers and devices if you have them.

What’s different?

I’d say one big stand out is that there appears to be a single scrolling page, rather than fifteen items at a time. Many people complain when they take an action on an item, and then it takes them back to the beginning of the list. That won’t happen here, since you can do mass actions.

By mass actions, I mean that you tap or click a checkbox next to each item, and then you can choose to deliver or delete all of those at once.

That “deliver” option is something that people really want. When they get a new device (app or hardware Kindle), they could send a bunch of the books on the account to it at the same time.

I’d be a bit careful, though, particularly with a non-Fire Kindle. If you send 500 books at once, you could “overwhelm” the device…unless they’ve figured out how to deliver it in “buckets” rather than as a firehose.

With whatever device you put it on, there will be indexing** which has to take place. If you put, oh, 100 books on your device, I’d leave it plugged and not turned off (asleep is fine) so the device can finish all that up.

It now has three tabs: Your Content, Your Devices, Settings

I like that better than the old side navigation: it seems clearer.

“Your Content” defaulted to Books, and then I could choose

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Audiobooks
  • Music
  • Apps
  • Instant Video
  • Docs
  • Active Content
  • Dictionaries & User Guides
  • Pending Deliveries

Hm…I see that “Loans” is gone. Oh, I see! There is a dropdown next to the one that I listed above. In that one, you can choose

  • All
  • Purchases
  • Rentals
  • Loans
  • Borrows

Selecting “Borrows” did not show my any of my Kindle Owners’ Lending Library borrows, except for the current one. It did show me public library borrows.

This does mean that people won’t see the foreign language dictionaries Amazon provides so that the Kindle can do look-up in different languages, unless they switch something: we get questions about those pretty much every day in the Kindle forums.

I checked “Pending Deliveries”. It appears to me that I should be able to cancel the pending delivery, although it isn’t actually letting me select the checkbox.

If we can do that, it would be great! I have accidentally ordered a book to be sent to a device we no longer have, for example…in the past, that has just kept sitting there under Pending Deliveries…forever, as far as I can tell.

It also tells me for which device it is pending, and when it was ordered.

If the checkbox worked, this would be a feature I would definitely use.

Choosing “Music”, by the way, takes you somewhere else…haven’t checked that yet.

I went back to displaying books, and checked the actions. That one was:

  • Deliver
  • Delete
  • Download & transfer via USB
  • Clear furthest page read…
  • Loan this title

There were also links for the Order Details and Manage Kindle FreeTime Content.

The sort options for the items were

  • Title: A-Z
  • Titles: Z-A
  • Author: A-Z
  • Author: Z-A
  • Purchase Date: Oldest-Newest
  • Purchase Date: Newest-Oldest (default)

Going to “Your Devices”, it looks pretty much like it does now (a ribbon across the top), but we do have more actions!

On my Kindle Fire HDX, I now do have:

  • Deregister
  • Remote Alarm
  • Find My Device
  • Remote Factory Reset

In the old version on Maxthon, I don’t have any of the last three.

In the old version on Chrome, I only Deregister and Remote Alarm.

I just tested the “Find My Device”: it did show within a couple of blocks were it is. I could tell, for example, if it was at home or at work.

It didn’t find my exact address…but neither does my SmartPhone.

The fact that we can remote a factory reset will mean that more companies will allow the use of Kindle Fires, since it helps protect company data.

Obviously, I had to have my Fire connected to the wireless (this is not a 4G model), and you have to have allowed this. For more on this, see my post

New “Find My Kindle” device setting on HDX

from a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, this could mean that one family member could “spy” on another family member (by locating them, not listening to them or seeing them), if things were set up that way. It doesn’t have to be family members, of course: it could be bosses checking up on employees.

Under Settings, we have…whoops, it failed to load! I got a message suggesting I refresh the page, and if that doesn’t work to call customer service (they actually gave a phone number for that). I don’t recommend calling “cold”…start at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile)

and what devices you have.

Refreshing the page did it. Then I had:

  • Kindle Payment Settings
  • Country Settings
  • Subscription Settings
  • Kindle FreeTime Settings
  • Device Synchronization
  • Automatic Book Update
  • Language Optimized Storefront
  • Personal Document Settings
  • Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings
  • Personal Document Archiving
  • Whispernet Delivery Options
  • Approved Personal Document E-Mail List
  • Personal Document Service Charges
  • Manage Whispercast Membership
  • Your AmazonLocal Vouchers

Overall, I think this version is a massive improvement! Assuming it works reasonably well, this is the kind of thing I like Amazon to do. 🙂

It would be nice, as a future improvement, if we could manage Cloud Collections here, but that doesn’t dim the brightness of this one for me.

Thanks, Amazon!

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

** I recently answered a question for somebody in an Amazon Kindle forum who wanted to know (in a non-technical manner) what indexing and syncing were. I thought it would be useful to post it here as well:

…indexing is somewhat similar to what is done when an index is created for a paperbook.

The Kindle “reads” the book, noting the location of specific words. For example, it might create a file like this:

cat: location 5, location 17, location 35
dog: location 5, location 40, location 93

I’m using that format as an illustrator: it wouldn’t really look like that.

Then, when you look up a word, it can find it very quickly.

The initial indexing, as you can imagine, takes the device some work to do and takes some energy…again, just as it would with a paperbook.

Note: I’m not suggesting that the Kindle indexes as well as a human would…humans can create indices based on concepts, and the Kindle just does it based on words (although it does skip some words, like “the” and “and”).

“Sync” is short for “synchronize”, which basically means “to make the same”.

Your device (Kindle or app) displays some items which you have downloaded from a central storage area. The latter is called the “Cloud” or your “Archive”.

Let’s suppose you have a Kindle on the account, and your Significant Other has a SmartPhone on the same account.

Your Significant Other buys a book using the SmartPhone.

The SmartPhone knows about it, and so does the Cloud…but your Kindle doesn’t know about it until it “syncs” with the Cloud. That doesn’t mean it will automatically download the book, just that it will have knowledge of it being available on the account.

Another example of syncing is for reading progress. Let’s say you are reading a book both on your Kindle and on a SmartPhone.

You read to “page” 100 on your Kindle.

When you sync with Amazon, you tell the Cloud that you are on page 100.

When you open the book on your SmartPhone, it can sync with Amazon and open the book right to where you left off.

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.

New: Goodreads Ask the Author

May 25, 2014

New: Goodreads Ask the Author

Here’s something new from Goodreads (which Amazon bought) that I think many of you might enjoy!

You can now ask an author a question directly through the social reading site, and if they answer it, you’ll be notified and it will be posted. That’s explained in this

Goodreads blog post

Certainly, there have been ways to ask authors questions before. I get asked them, from time to time, in my

Amazon Author Central site (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I do check mine frequently, but although every author with an Amazon Author Central site has their own forum, I think many of them never answer questions there.

That’s what’s intriguing about this new program. According to the blog post, some very well-known authors have already answered questions!

For example, Isabel Allende is shown as having answered something.

Eventually, more than 100,000 authors participating in Goodreads’ Goodreads Author Program will have the option to opt into it. These are the ones that they have listed as available now:

  • Isabel Allende
  • Kevin J. Anderson
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Bella Andre
  • Margaret Atwood
  • David Baldacci
  • Mark Bittman
  • Holly Black
  • Dan Brown
  • Jim Butcher
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Kresley Cole
  • Michael Cunningham
  • Sylvia Day
  • Sarah Dessen
  • Rebecca Donovan
  • Geoff Dyer
  • Susan Ee
  • Warren Ellis
  • Tim Ferriss
  • Joseph Finder
  • Gayle Forman
  • Barbara Freethy
  • Daniel Goleman
  • Lev Grossman
  • Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Kristin Hannah
  • Brian Herbert
  • Khaled Hosseini
  • Hugh Howey
  • Ariana Huffington
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Jeff Kinney
  • Anne Lamott
  • Christina Lauren
  • E. Lockhart
  • Bob Mayer
  • Frances Mayes
  • James McBride
  • Richelle Mead
  • Liane Moriarty
  • JoJo Moyes
  • B.J. Novak
  • James Patterson
  • Michael Pollan
  • Douglas Preston
  • Gretchen Rubin
  • John Scalzi
  • Robin Sloan
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Jeff VanderMeer
  • Ayelet Waldman
  • Jesmyn Ward
  • S.J. Watson

There are some really heavy hitters there! I would guess that most of you have read books by at least one of these authors…I’ve read several.

Now, to be clear, there is nothing to say that they will answer your question, but it seems to be worth a shot. There are links in the blog post I listed above, or the question box also appears on their Goodreads author page.

They also announced in this May 21st blog post that they are adding a Reader Q&A feature. Basically, it’s like the forum that each book has on its Amazon product page, but a bit more sophisticated. It’s rolling out: you may not have it yet. They say:

Once Reader Q&A is activated for you, you’ll find a new Reader Q&A section on every book page, just below your friends’ reviews. When other readers start responding to a question, Goodreads members can click “like” on the answers they find most interesting, and the best ones will rise to the top. 

To try out Reader Q&A, go to the book page for your favorite book or a book you’ve just read and submit a question for the Goodreads community. You can also look for questions to answer! If Reader Q&A is not yet showing for you, it will be coming shortly!”

It doesn’t appear to me that I have it yet.

All in all, this seems like a good thing. 🙂

One obvious question for me: aren’t they sort of duplicating things from Amazon to Goodreads?

There’s not reason not to do that, I suppose. You could have discovery in both places.

What would make more sense to me, though, is to embed the Q&As from Goodreads on the Amazon Author Central pages. I understand if Amazon wants to drive traffic to Goodreads, and that would help do it.

It seems…a bit muddled to have an author forum at Amazon and an author Q&A at Goodreads. The same question, for example, might be asked in both places…or might not be, and then how would know where to look?

I think Amazon will need to integrate Goodreads, Shelfari, and the Amazon store more in the future (although I could see them merging Shelfari and Goodreads, perhaps…they each have their own advantages, but the materials aren’t mutually incompatible).

Just as people want to be able to “buy once, read everywhere”, I think people want to be able to access information about books and authors by entering through whichever door is most convenient for them.

That’s not a criticism, though: just a room for future improvement.

I haven’t joined the Goodreads Author program at this point: I’m pretty careful about the commitments I make in terms of time and social energy. I think I will look more into it. In terms of my creative  endeavors, readers of this blog come first (I put more energy into writing this blog than I do into writing books, currently). I don’t want to risk doing something that would jeopardize that.

Still, have fun with this new program from Amazon’s Goodreads! Let me know if you have any cool exchanges with anybody. 🙂

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.

What’s happening to Amazon’s core principles?

May 24, 2014

What’s happening to Amazon’s core principles?

I have loved Amazon.

There has never been a company with which I have had a better relationship, and I can’t imagine another one that is out there right now which would be as good.

However, for the first time, I’m getting a little concerned about the future.

I’ve staked a lot on having an ongoing connection to Amazon. I’ve said before that I think it is more likely that my descendants will have access to my Kindle books than to my paperbooks.

One reason I thought that is that Amazon has three core principles:

  • Price
  • Service
  • Selection

Jeff Bezos has mentioned how those three are the same all over the world. While delivery methods might be different in different countries, you aren’t going to find someone who says, “I wish you had fewer choices that cost me more and got them to me more slowly.”

Recently, though, Amazon has done some things which seem to me to be moving away from those principles…and that concerns me.

Let’s start with one particularly clear example.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, alerted me to this…and I had flipped a couple of articles about it into my

Free ILMK magazine at Flipboard

Here’s one that gives an interesting perspective:

The Bookseller post by Sarah Shaffi

I’ve already written about an apparent dispute between Amazon and the publisher Hachette:

Is Amazon delaying Hachette books?

but this new development seems a clearcut violation of the three principles.

The story is that Amazon is removing the ability to pre-order some Hachette Kindle books, including J.K. Rowling’s (writing as Robert Galbraith) next novel.

Well, at this point, I don’t see that novel listed at all in Kindle format…and you can’t pre-order the hardback (that may be a change since the article was written). It simply says the hardback is unavailable, and that you can sign up to be e-mailed when it is.

I’ve always pictured people in a meeting in Amazon being challenged by any proposal with the three principles. In other words, they would have to justify how the new idea fits at least one of them (without, presumably, throwing the balance off by making the other two much worse).

Does having the book be unavailable help with selection? No, it hurts selection. Selection has to mean “what is available to the customer now”, not what will be available at some point, at least if your competitors have it. I could pre-order that book right now, as a hardback or an e-book, from Barnes & Noble.

Does having the book be unavailable help price? No. It doesn’t offer something at a lower price to fail to offer it at all. I suppose you could argue that the customer isn’t spending the money, but it doesn’t work that way emotionally for people.

Does having the book be unavailable help service? No. If a customer does want the book, they would have to wait to get an e-mail, then click (presumably) on a link in the e-mail…as opposed to just 1-clicking a pre-order button on the book’s product page.

So, if the idea was brought up in a committee, I would have hoped it would be rejected on those grounds.

Now, is it possible that it actually serves the principles in some way we can’t see?

Could it be that Hachette’s terms were so difficult that agreeing to them would have hurt future selection, service, and/or price? Maybe…but if we can’t see it, it’s hard to not feel the loss of the book’s availability…and that can affect customer loyalty. I’ve said before that I think market leaders can lose that position when they overestimate customer loyalty (as opposed to when they underestimate the competition, which is what many people think happens).

According to a book I’m just finishing (I’m in the end matter):

Thinking, Fast and Slow (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

people consider a loss to be much more impactful than a gain. Losing ten dollars hurts more than gaining ten dollars feels good.

This is a loss. We would have to gain something many times as good before we felt that this move on Amazon’s part was a plus for us.

If this was the only such action on Amazon’s part, I could construct some sort of “prospiracy theory” (a prospiracy is the opposite of a conspiracy…a secret plan to do something good) that would explain it.

However, as I wrote in

Kindle New York Times bestsellers shockingly up almost $1 a month so far this year

and as another of my regular readers and commenters, Roger Knights, predicted, prices have been rising rapidly (at least on New York Times bestseller hardback equivalents).

That doesn’t serve the price principle, and I can’t see how it benefits selection (unless the publishers were going to withdraw the books if Amazon didn’t raise the price) or service (you don’t get them any faster or have a better return policy).

Then, and this will seem minor to many, there has been a major overhaul of the

Kindle Help Community (at AmazonSmile)

I have tried and tried to see how the changes are better…but so far (and I’m quite imaginative) I have failed at the task.

I am a “Kindle Forum Pro”. We aren’t Amazon employees, but we have been designated by Amazon as being particularly helpful to other people who use Amazon’s customer forums. That has also been something where I thought Amazon was doing an incredible service. They freely allow criticism of Amazon in these forums, and they allow great speculation and helping of each other. Sure, that can save Amazon some Customer Service cost, but most companies’ forums just aren’t this free.

What changes did they make?

  • You used to be able to tell to which threads you had posted recently…that made it much easier to get back to help someone who asked a question, you asked a clarifying question (such as which model they have) and then they answered it
  • You used to be able to preview the thread without opening it…that was a quick way to tell if the question had already been answered. Now, I have to open each thread just to tell if they need help. I used to love going that forum to help people…I recently mentioned that I now approach it with the same feeling I have going in for a teeth cleaning at the dentist. I still now it’s a good thing, but it’s not comfortable…
  • They took away our Kindle Forum Pro badges (which was something which officially identified us to customers). I was helping people long before I had the badge, and will continue to do without…but for customers, it raises the signal to noise ratio. We certainly see people give answers which are wrong, and sometimes harmful. While we “Pros” didn’t always know everything, we were a pretty reliable source. In a way, I suppose it was like those “Volunteer” vests you sometimes see people wearing at conventions…it lets you know you can trust them, even if they aren’t employees

I know I would have to prove that these actions are different from what Amazon did in the past. After all, Amazon did remove the Macmillan buy buttons back in 2010, when they were fighting the Agency Model. That one, though, really felt like it was about us, the customers. I don’t know what Amazon and Hachette are tussling over, but this one just…feels like it is about Amazon.

Some of you may also bring up the price raise in Prime. That one didn’t bother me much, given the amount of raise and how long it had been since it had been raised before. It’s logical that costs have gone up considerably for Amazon during that time for that part of the business.

Why do I think this is happening?

If Roger (see above) is right, this could certainly be due to pressure to show more of a profit.

I don’t think that Jeff Bezos is short-sighted, though…quite the opposite. It needs to be true that everyone making these sorts of decisions takes the long view…not just Jeff. Jeff may certainly be turning some attention elsewhere, and eventually (hopefully a long time from now…knock virtual wood) someone else will be the CEO.

That’s assuming Amazon outlasts its defining founder.

I think it will.

My (perhaps incurably optimistic) thought is that this is a temporary aberration. Someone is going to glance up at the wall (or on the screensaver, perhaps…I don’t know) and see those three principles displayed:

“Price…Service…Selection…Price…Service…Selection…Price…”

They’ll look at someone else, look at the principles, tilt their head and raise one eyebrow.

I expect a lot of good things in Amazon’s future…as long as they listen to themselves, and follow their three North stars.

I welcome the thoughts you share with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

===

Bonus deal:

This is good at time of writing, but do check. You can

Get 200 Amazon Coins (at AmazonSmile)

for each of these five free apps you license (“buy”). That’s up to $10 worth to spend on apps in the Amazon Appstore and in-app purchases.

If you already have one of these apps (I did), I don’t think you can get the  200 coins for that.

Otherwise, why not? 🙂

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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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