Archive for August, 2014

B&N & B-A-M

August 31, 2014

B&N & B-A-M

What happens in the brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) is going to affect us Kindleers.

Right now, the publishers are still more interested in what happens in the bookstores than what happens online, although that is going to change.

If (as?) the bookstores become less of a market factor, the power of Amazon (and other e-tailers) will grow in negotiations with publishers…or at least, with tradpubs (traditional publishers).

When you are looking at the bookstore chains that are still operating in the USA, you look first at Barnes & Noble, and then at Books-A-Million.

That made this

24/7 Wall St. article by Douglas A. McIntyre

interesting, especially its title: “Barnes & Noble Shares Outperform Amazon”.

Now, the share price doesn’t tell the whole story of a company…but it is one measure of performance.

This short excerpt may make you take notice:

“Since the start of 2014, Barnes & Noble’s shares have advanced over 50%, while Amazon’s have fallen 20%.”

However, we are really talking about different scales. Barnes & Nobles’ current share price is $23.86…Amazon’s is $339.04.

Still, that article makes the point that investors may really be pressuring Amazon to start making more profit, which could mean a raise in prices and/or more fights with suppliers to try to keep costs down.

When you look back over five years instead of just one year, Amazon is crushing B&N…but this recent trend is not insignificant.

As for Books-A-Million, its recent financials sent the stock down.

I think this

Seeking Alpha article by Josh Arnold

offers a thoughtful perspective and a good analysis (note: you will need to complete a free registration to read the entire article).

Bottom line: Arnold does not view this stock as a good investment, and sees a bleak future for the company.

I read quite a bit of news on bookstores, and my sense is that some smaller, independent stores with unique “personalities” are doing quite well. What I call the “dinostores” (the big stores where the main attraction is the size of the selection) aren’t.

I’ll give my advice again to bookstore owners: you have to make the experience such that your customers will willingly and knowingly (and cheerfully) pay more to buy a book at your store than they would at Amazon, because they want to support you.

People will support customer service, they will support expertise, they will support a pleasant and unusual experience while shopping…and they may support you because of your “story”.

You won’t beat Amazon on price or selection…and beat your expenses.

It’s pretty simple: if you can’t tell me why people will pay more to shop at your store than at Amazon, you are going to have a tough time making it. If you can, and you are right, your future is bright.

What do you think? Do you shop at the dinostores? Are there other stores that you do patronize? Are you wondering why I didn’t mention Half Price Books? Well, I can answer that…it’s a privately held company, so I don’t have comparable stock price information. 😉 Tell me about a store (not necessarily a bookstore) where you wanted to give them extra money over the price you knew you could get somewhere else…and why that was the case. You can share your thoughts with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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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Free today: The Kindle Kollection

August 30, 2014

Free today: The Kindle Kollection

In honor of ILMK’s 5th anniversary on August 28th, I was giving away my books…but I couldn’t do one of them that day, due to the condition of the program that you can’t make them free on the first or last day of enrollment.

So, one of them is free today (Saturday) instead!

The Kindle Kollection: Three Early Books about the Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

This one combines the three below into one volume:

* ILMK! (I Love My Kindle): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor
* Free Books for Your Kindle
* Frequently Asked Kindle Questions

Note that these are older books, and a lot of it will be obsolete…but I do think the first one, in particular, still has some fun. 🙂

As always, verify before you buy…check the price, because it may not be free in your country.

Enjoy!

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.

The rise of “old adult” meh-topian fiction

August 29, 2014

The rise of “old adult” meh-topian fiction

Note: this is a work of humor. The “meh-topian” books listed below do not actually exist…so far. 😉

There’s an old kid in town.

After years of domination by “young adult” dystopian fiction, in bookstores, on bestseller lists, and at the movies, readers are turning to a new genre which focuses on “silver heroes”…adults over fifty.

The surprising success of Ann T. Delouvian’s “The World Isn’t Perfect…So What?” (soon to be a CBS miniseries) has shone a light on what has been a growing trend.

TWIPSW focuses on Myrtle and Dirk, who live in a future society ruled by an ambitious under twenty-five year old elite…and pretty much ignore them.

Even though it’s against the law, Myrkle (as their fans never call them), have a lawn, cats, and a library of paper books.

“I was just tired of all these books where the main characters rush around changing the world,” said Delouvian (who is of a certain age herself). “I mean, really, what’s the big deal? Nothing’s perfect…I liked the idea of people who just went on with their lives, whatever was happening.”

At first, the book’s main audience was older readers (it was a darling of book clubs that actually met in person), but the industry really took notice when it became clear that younger people were reading it as well.

“I mean, I spent one summer learning how to shoot a bow and arrow, you know, and I was always, like, rebelling against conformity and stuff. It was just so tiring! Even when you know magic, like Hermione, it seems like there’s always all this pressure! When do you get to just chill? That’s why I’m a TWIPser…Myrtle just seems so cool.”
–Lizzie Mac Patel, 13 years old

“Old Adult” fiction is defined by a satisfaction with life as it is. That doesn’t mean that the characters think the world is wonderful: just that’s it is okay. That’s what the term “meh-topian” means: it’s not great, like a utopia, or terrible, like a dystopia…a meh-topia is just somewhere in the middle.

“That’s the way it is with real life, right? It isn’t always these extremes. Not every decision has to be life and death, and it doesn’t all have to be about choices. Myrtle and Dirk have settled down. She doesn’t have to go back and forth on a hormonal teeter totter between this beau and that beau. They’ve already found each other,” explained Delouvian.

Even younger authors have started to get in on the market. Amanda Tweeting, wunderkind symbol for the success of independently published young adult works, has written short stories starring Margaret Beasley. Tweeting writes these under a different name (Gerri Atrix), so as not to confuse her base. In Beasley’s world, a plague killed off almost all the young people: only those who had sat within six feet of an old cathode ray tube TV have an immunity, apparently due to a mutation caused by the radiation. Margaret and her friends adapt to the new conditions, without children and “those nice young people” around.

While the market for adventurous, romantic tales of high adventure seems secure, it may be safe to say that “Old Adult” fiction will be a big part of the literary landscape in the future…and if it’s not, that’s okay with it.

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

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

5 years of ILMK

August 28, 2014

5 years of ILMK

August 28, 2009: the I Love My Kindle blog begins with this post:

Oh…um, Hi!

It has been an amazing journey…a five year mission indeed!

I would guess I’ve written something like the equivalent of forty 200 page books…you know,not quite Stephen King speed, but up there. 😉

While I’m certainly proud of a lot of what I’ve written, I have to say that one of the best parts (and one that I didn’t really anticipate) is the interactions I’ve had with my readers. There are many people who regularly read and comment on this blog, and I’ve had some very thoughtful discussions with them. I really appreciate it when they disagree with me (respectfully, as is almost always the case), and when they point out ways the blog could be better (including typos and other errors or omissions).

This blog would not be what it is (one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store), and I wouldn’t be what I am, without  them.

Thank you.

Thanks also go to those who subscribe through the Kindle store…that’s part of what it makes it possible for me to devote this much time and energy to writing I Love My Kindle! Thanks, subscribers!

More thanks to people who follow links on this blog…it may be to buy something from Amazon (including gift cards) or to be exposed to something I’ve suggested. The latter lets me help  out people and organizations I find interesting.

Let me also thank those of you who read the blog, but haven’t yet followed a link or subscribed. You never have to do either to be part of the energy that feeds this galloping Pegasus of literary pixels! 😉

In order to make my thanks a bit more tangible, I’ve made as many of my Kindle store books free as I could for August 28th!

Please check that a title is free for you before buying it.

I have asked Amazon to make them free on August 28, but I can’t say exactly when it will happen. I think they may also only be free to customers in the USA.

So, you can click on the titles before, but please make sure it is free when you click the 1-click buy button.

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When this one was first published in December of 2012, it was the number one bestselling book of quotations at Amazon…including paper! That didn’t last long, but it was fun while it did. :)

Love Your First Generation Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet (at AmazonSmile)

This one has been a bestseller. It was written before the Kindle Fire HDs and HDXs, so it doesn’t match up exactly with those. If you do have the first generation Fire, though, I think you’ll find it useful.

The Kindle Kollection: Three Early Books about the Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

This one combines the three below into one volume:

* ILMK! (I Love My Kindle): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor
* Free Books for Your Kindle
* Frequently Asked Kindle Questions

Note: especially check the price on this one. I was having trouble getting the book to be free, and I’m not sure it took. If it didn’t, I’ll offer it free later, and let you know.

Update: the issue was that you can’t a book free under this promotion program on the first day or the last day of its enrollment period. I have now made it free for Saturday, August 30th…but again, verify before you buy. 🙂

ILMK! (I Love My Kindle!): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor (Revised Edition)(at AmazonSmile)

This has some fun stuff…and other things that are out of date. If you want The Happy Little Bookworm, this one has it. :)

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 (at AmazonSmile)

This is the first 101 posts in this blog. :) I did 101 posts so I wouldn’t cut off Doctor Watson’s Blog: A Kindle Abandoned (which is a four-part story). I’m coming up on the five year anniversary of the blog, and I’m considering doing a “best of” book. I’d include the posts that are less time-dependent, I think…if you have any opinions on ones that you remember, feel free to let me know.

Remember, double-check that they are  free to make sure before buying. Since they are also in Kindle Unlimited, you may see a zero price showing, but it won’t be zero near the Buy button.

Enjoy!

I’d also like to ask you for a favor.

I plan to put together a book of the best of the first five years of this blog, and I hope to have  it done for the holiday season.

I know some of you have been with me from the beginning, and certainly, others who have joined us later have been quite involved.

Choosing the posts for the “best of” book is going to  be a challenge. My natural tendency is…to put in too many. 😉

What I’d like you to do, if you are so inclined, is to let me know which posts stand out to you. You don’t need to give me any times or dates…just comment on this post and say something like, “I liked the Star Trek parody,” or “I’m still thinking about the permanent copyright post.” That would help me in choosing.

If you want me to keep your comment private (posts may have affected some of you in ways you’d rather not share with the rest of my readers), please let me know at the top of your comment.

Also, although I’d like to include comments to the posts, I think it’s better if I don’t put those in the book (that wasn’t where people intended them to go when they wrote them). I plan to link to the posts, and people will be able to see your comments that way. When the book is published (and I’ll let you know when) there will be a forum on the Amazon product page for it, and of course, you’ll have the opportunity to do a review (again, only if you want to do that). It will be part of Kindle Unlimited…borrowing it is fine with me. 😉

So again, thank you for half a decade of ILMK! I look forward to our time together in the future.

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 Amazon making us better people?

August 26, 2014

Is Amazon making us better people?

Stay with me on this one.

Amazon’s reputation has recently taken a major hit, or perhaps I should say, they’ve gotten a new reputation.

We’ve always felt like Amazon was socially awkward with its customers. It would sometimes do or say clunky things, like removing an illegal book from our Kindles without asking us (which they then more than compensated people for having done it, and mea culpad all over the place).

We’ve known they were secretive, not revealing numbers of books or devices sold.

Recently, though, they’ve gotten a reputation for acting with evil intent. They sent out an e-mail

Amazon’s “Important Kindle request” for KDP authors

which clearly misrepresented George Orwell (ironically, the author involved in the book removal above), quoting out of context to use, well, Orwellian double-speak to rally people against their “enemy” in the Hachazon War (publisher Hachette).

It’s very hard to believe that it was simply an error, and that the person who wrote the e-mail didn’t know it was the opposite of what Orwell would have intended to say. I do, by the way, find it likely that people higher up in the organization didn’t know what was happening with that e-mail…I don’t believe Jeff Bezos would have signed off on the strategy.

I think the fact that it was pretty much unprecedented in that way was part of what has made it so impactful for so many people.

I always look for the good in the “bad”…that’s just my nature.

I had to say to myself: what is good about Amazon placing hurdles in between readers and the books they want (which has been one of their tactics in the Hachazon War)?

What if, by denying customers the “People Magazine books” they want to read, they get people to read things they wouldn’t?

Suppose people always ate steak and potatoes, and you took it off the menu and offered them a variety of food from other cultures instead. Would that make them appreciate those other cultures more?

If we assume that Amazon has a goal of cultural change (and that is not a safe assumption), they seem to have a primary strategy: when it comes to reading, quantity is more important than quality.

I have sympathy for that concept.

I would rather somebody read ten books of questionable quality from ten different points of view than read one book which “everybody agrees is a great book”.

I think that reading always puts you in someone else’s cognitive and emotional shoes**…even if it might do it very imperfectly. I also believe that tends to make you more understanding of other people’s positions.

Now, of course, this is largely the opposite of what you’ll get in school. Tell a teacher that you read twenty comic books or ten science fiction “popcorn books” instead of reading To Kill a Mockingbird or Romeo and Juliet, and they won’t think you’ve helped your development.

I can also see that…if you always read comic books or science fiction adventure.

I think for me, the key is to read different things, diverse things.

Arthur C. Clarke supposedly said, “Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.”

Well, I’ve always felt is should be that politicians read all three…and romance, and non-fiction, and children’s books, and…

Amazon’s models encourage that.

If you join

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

you can read from a choice of close to 700,000 titles.

I guarantee you that there are ones there that come from a viewpoint different from yours.

There are also books which have been imperfectly edited and/or proofread.

You also won’t have many of the books I called “People Magazine” books above…the ones you’d read about in that publication.

Let’s say someone would have read the new J.K. Rowling…and instead, reads five other books. We’ll further say that none of them are as good as Rowling’s writing…but they present a variety of perspectives on the world (and the people in it).

Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? Would that make them a better person at the end of it…or might it just turn people off reading?

I think we are going to see this trend growing. Less quality control, more quantity focus.

Of course, one can argue the other side…and I love to argue both sides. One of my favorite things we did when I was a professional actor way back when was they had us improv a scene where we were on a talk show, taking two diametrically opposed positions as characters. Then (and we didn’t know this was going to happen), they had us switch roles and positions and keep going.

In high school, we were going to do a debate. I chose to debate in favor of drunk driving…even though I didn’t drink then, don’t drink now, and believe alcohol does more damage in the United States than any other drug.

I actually won that debate. One of the points, as I recall, was something like they said that, oh, forty percent of driving accidents involved alcohol. I said in rebuttal that meant that 60% didn’t…so you were safer driving drunk than not drunk.

Of course, that was ridiculous, and I knew it. There are mechanical factors and other issues, but they didn’t respond, so I got that point.

So, one response to what I’m saying about Amazon’s subser (subscription service) is that people will also feel it’s more reasonable to simply abandon an “unpleasant” book…since it costs nothing to do so. If you spent $20 for a controversial book, you might feel like you’d better read the whole thing. If you get part way into a Kindle Unlimited book and hit a concept you don’t like, you could just dump it and go to something with which you are more familiar.

Anyway, my basic suggestion here (and I want to hear your responses): Amazon is encouraging people to read a greater variety of works by, in part, denying them easy access to blockbuster mainstream titles…and that will make them better people by having them exposed to a more diverse set of viewpoints. It will also make society better, by having less homogenization in what is read.

What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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 forget who said it, but I love this line: “Never criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes…because that way, if they get mad, they’ll be a mile away and barefoot.”

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.

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 2)

August 25, 2014

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 2)

This is a continuation of a recent post

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 1)

in which I list and talk about the books I currently have downloaded to my Kindles. For more information on this, see that first post linked above.

Wild and Untamed Thing: Richard O’Brien – the LOST interview (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)
by Phil South
5 stars out of 5, 1 customer review
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
not yet started

It’s been about forty (!) years since The Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released in the USA. When I first saw it, there was just a handful of people in the audience, and the whole audience immersion part of it hadn’t happened yet. I’d had it recommended to me by someone who knew my fondness for the Universal Horror movies of the 1930s and 1940s (and to which it pays homage). It was fascinating to see the development of the “cult” over the years, as I went back to see it many times. It went from people spontaneously shouting at the screen, to ritualized mass repetition of the same audience-spoken lines…often with the original meaning diluted. My Significant Other, by the way, had never seen it when we met…and in fact, jokingly suggested that as an epitaph: “Here lies — — who never saw Rocky Horror”. 😉 When I was looking to get to the maximum ten simultaneous borrows for

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

so I could test something, I happened to stumble across this one. It made sense: it’s a transcription of an interview with the creator (and one of the stars) of Rocky Horror, first as a stage show, then on-screen. I look forward to reading it.

This is a case where the publisher will make a lot more money because I borrowed it through KU than if I had bought it, since it is priced at $0.99. The publisher (which could be just the author) would get about $0.35 if I bought it…and while we don’t have the exact figure yet (it’s based on a pool of money which is divided dependent on the number of borrows there are), it is likely to be upwards of $2.

Flying Saucer to the Center of Your Mind: Selected Writings of John A. Keel (at AmazonSmile*)
by John A. Keel (edited by Andrew Colvin…no relation, and not spelled the same) 😉
4.5 stars, eleven reviews
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
not yet started

Ah, John Keel…it’s a bit hard to describe this writer, and how big the influence of Keel’s books has been (not just on me, but on many people). Keel was the clear inspiration for Carl Kolchak on The Night Stalker, and of Alva Keel in the lamentably short-lived Miracles TV series (at AmazonSmile*). Keel brings this odd synergy of ordinariness in the midst of “high strangeness”. Just as in the Darren McGavin performance, Keel comes across as no superhero, or Sherlock Holmesian genius, yet encounters Mothman and the Men-in-Black (and popularized both). Keel’s greatest book (which became a New York Times bestseller) The Mothman Prophecies (at AmazonSmile*), and several others, are available in the Kindle store…but the classics aren’t available through Kindle Unlimited. This book collects articles by Keel: I suspect I will have read some of them, however, many of the magazines which would have carried Keel were not widely available (even to someone like me who collected a lot of “Forteana”). Thanks, e-books!

THE ROAD TO LOCH NESS (The Kodiak Books) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Lee Murphy
5 stars out of 5, three customer reviews
not yet started

While this book is available through Kindle Unlimited, I got it when it was recently free (and I flipped that information into the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard, so I’m guessing some of my readers did as well). Murphy writes a series of novels involving cryptids (reported animals not recognized by science, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster), starring George Kodiak. I’ve read one of them…not burning to read another one, but I probably will eventually. 🙂

Batman Eternal (2014- ) #1 (at AmazonSmile*)
by Scott Snyder, James Tunion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Jason Fabok
4.1 stars, 68 customer reviews
gotten as a freebie
7%

I don’t read many comics nowadays, although I used to read them a lot. I had told you about this freebie when San Diego Comic Con was starting this year, so I assume some of you got it as well.

Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less (at AmazonSmile*)
by S.J. Scott
3.9 stars, 212 customer reviews
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
completed

This is one of those books I borrowed to be reading something that ties into work (I actually report that regularly to my boss, as part of “personal/professional development”). It’s not bad: very bite size, and the structure of how to build habits is more significant than the habits themselves…which is important.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (the one I have isn’t available any more, so no linking)
by Lewis Carroll
4.2 stars, 1672 reviews
gotten as a freebie
51% right now, but I’ve finished it

I keep this one on my Kindles to demo stuff for people. It’s in the public domain, so there aren’t any copyright concerns (if you used text-to-speech in a public setting with a book under copyright protection, for example, you could be infringing on the public performance right). Since I’m not really reading it currently, I don’t care if they leave it in a different place in the book, so it works well to just let somebody play with it. 🙂

The Rise of the Humans: How to outsmart the digital deluge (at AmazonSmile*)
by Dave Coplin
2.7 stars, 3 customer reviews
not yet started
gotten as a freebie

This is another one I got to read as a “work book”. Haven’t started it yet. The low ratings aren’t encouraging me, but I’ll likely try it eventually.

To be continued…

Bonus deal

My apologies that this is so late: I know some of you may miss it. On the other hand, that’s always true, since I have readers around the world…even if the deal is good in their countries (which is often not the case), the timezones would cause problems as to when the deal was available.

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals is five Sookie Stackhouse novels (including the first one) for $1.99 each. You can buy as many as you want of the five, paying $1.99 for each one. This is clearly a tie-in to the finale of the True Blood series, which is based on these books (but the story lines really diverged).

I would have gotten it out sooner, but my Significant Other is an Insurance Claims Manager, and had to go into the office to deal with the earthquake in Napa, which through off the timing. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area (although not that near Napa), and really felt it this morning, but there wasn’t any damage here.

Hopefully, some of you can take advantage of this.

These books are not currently available through Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Enjoy!

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 #265: Signs of the tomes, WorldReader.org

August 23, 2014

Round up #265: Signs of the tomes, WorldReader.org

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

CNN writes about WorldReader.org

I’ve been writing about

WorldReader.org

for years, and I was happy to see them recently get a nice story on CNN:

CNN article by Katie Linendoll

WorldReader is a non-profit (you can donate at the above link) which gets Kindles and e-books to children in difficult circumstances (this article focuses on Africa). They also can help them with electricity and satellite internet.

There are great pictures heading the article, and a good perspective on why this is so important.

First, let me say: reading matters. It helps to read about people who are like you (they do make a real effort in that direction) and people who aren’t. It broadens your horizons, and gives you mental tools which can help you succeed.

So, why not give kids in remote villages paperbooks?

The biggest thing is getting them there. We have friends who say they will never help us move again, because of all the p-books (paperbooks) I own. My books would hardly be enough to keep a school going very long, even though I have something like ten thousand. Most of my books are mass market paperbacks, which are relatively small and easy to transport. It would be a very different story with ten thousand hardbacks.

Another thing is that p-books simply don’t last that long, especially in very humid climates. Most people really degrade p-books when they read them: it’s typically a snap to be able to tell if a copy of a p-book has been read before: the spine will show it, and the pages may have wrinkles and folds.

An e-book isn’t decayed when read.

I found the article heartwarming, and strongly recommend it.

Author backs Amazon: claims it is the best hope for publishing

There have been so many takes on what I call the “Hachazon War”, the dispute between Amazon (a bookseller) and Hachette (a publisher). It’s much more than that, of course…this is really a battle over the future of publishing.

Oh, the future won’t be decided just here…these things go back and forth.

I think it’s important to realize that this isn’t just a price negotiation…there are some basic questions at stake.

It comes down to this: is the current model of traditional publishing the way things will go in the future?

Steve Cohen in the Wall Street Journal

argues that it isn’t…and that the current model is unsustainable.

Cohen says, “I think Amazon is far more likely to come up with innovations that may save book publishing, which is in desperate need of being saved.”

I think we’ve seen a pretty clear split: authors who have been succeeding in the status quo want to maintain it. Authors who have not are interested in change.

In both cases, that might be short-sighted. An indie might eventually get picked up by a tradpub (traditional publisher) and benefit from the current model. The current model could fail, leaving authors who depended on it stranded.

Ideally, author would know how to make it both systems, and there are those “hybrids” who currently both indie publish and are tradpubbed.

The article has some interesting stats, and is worth reading.

“Help me, Jeff-Bezos Kenobi…you’re my only hope.” 😉

Buzzfeed: 13 Clever Signs that Will Make You Want to Buy a Book

This

Buzzfeed article by Aaron Calvin (no relation, as far as I know

reproduces bookstore “signage”…and those can be quite clever.

You should go to see the pictures…I love the one that explains why every book is actually…well, let’s just say science fiction technology, and let you discover why. 😉

The Book-Lovers’ Anthology from 1911

The always reliable EBOOK FRIENDLY

has this

article by Piotr Kowalczyk

about a book which is in the public domain from 1911 about the love of books. They link to sources there.

Sex sells…but not always enough

There is mythology out there that the one absolutely sure business is selling sex, but it just doesn’t work that way.

I’ve listed freebies in the past in this blog from the publisher Ellora’s Cave, which specializes in…um…let’s go with erotic romance.

Well, they’ve recently had to lay some people off (and I am not going to comment on that phrase in this context) ;), due to a big drop in sales…that is only happening at Amazon.

They don’t know why.

It’s interesting to speculate. Amazon does get pressure to not carry erotica, or to make it not appear in search results.

Is it possible the e-tailer has done something which reduces the visibility and discoverablity of Ellora’s Cave, therefore reducing the sales?

Perhaps…but that’s pure speculation.

It could also be that there is increased competition from indies (independent publishers). I took a look, and the books do not appear to be in Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

That’s an interesting question (even though KU has only been around a month and isn’t likely to have had this sort of impact on this company yet).

Could it be that small tradpubs are going to be most hurt by new models?

The larger tradpubs are often part of media conglomerates, and simply have more reserves (including the brand name authors). They may be able to batten down the hatches and get through some changes.

Indies clearly benefit from new models, like KU. Many publisher will make more money when there are books are borrowed than they would if they were sold.

The smaller tradpubs, which at first benefited from the more open distribution of e-books, may find that if they are not super discoverable, people who are willing to with a non-tradpub will simply take the ones they find, rather than digging around.

That would be an important turn of events, and perhaps an unfortunate one.

Authors might end up with two choices: go with a huge tradpub, or go it on your own.

Going it “on your own” doesn’t mean that you don’t have an editor and other resources…it does mean you might have to pay for them yourself.

We’ll have to see what happens going forward.

What do you think? Is Amazon the best hope for authors…let’s say ten years from now? Are smaller tradpubs especially at risk? What’s the best bookstore sign you ever saw? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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.

Books on my Kindles #2 (part 1)

August 22, 2014

Books on my Kindles #2

Books on my Kindles is a series of posts where I list what books I currently have on my devices.

This listing is quite a bit different from the last one.

One reason for that is

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

I normally only keep about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices at a time. I like to keep my devices lean if I can: I do think they run better. So, even though I could hypothetically have over 5,000 e-books on my

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

for example, I normally don’t carry more than I need with me (and being an inveterate book lover who reads multiple books at a time, “need” means ten or so). 🙂

I was testing something with KU, though, and needed to get to the limit…so I borrowed ten books. I didn’t have to download them all to my Fire, but I think I did.

The other big thing, as I mentioned last time, is that this is kind of hard for me to do. I know people judge people by what they read…both in good ways and in bad. This particular grouping (I did not manipulate them before writing the post) leans pretty heavily in the geeky direction. I am a proud geek, but I also mention on here that I’m an eclectic reader. This grouping won’t look much like that: it seems like much of a muchness, as I glance at it at first. Still, as a bit of a random snapshot, I’ll go with what’s here. There are too many to really list in one post, so I’ll take a few to go through them.

Not counting the dictionaries that come with the device, magazines, items filed under Docs rather than Books, here are the first of the 37 Kindle store titles in descending order of most recent (most recent first):

The City on the Edge of Forever (at AmazonSmile*)
by Harlan Ellison
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
47% complete

I borrowed this one Wednesday morning, because a couple of my readers (Allie D., jjhitt) and I have been talking about Harlan Ellison after I recently listed a Kindle Daily Deal with Hugo Award winning and nominated books.

There’s a lot of controversy over Ellison’s script (and pre-scripts) for The City on the Edge of Forever, which became an episode of the original Star Trek…and cited by various sources as one of the best.

As regular readers know, I’m not fond of vituperation, and Ellison certainly isn’t hesitant about it.

Ellison’s version of the events does sound…plausible, for the most part, with appropriate details. The way the author describes it and characterizes other people does make me less sympathetic, though.

One interesting point: Ellison (and other sources which can be seen) quote Gene Roddenberry as saying, “He had my Scotty selling drugs…” The script and treatments are in the book, and that’s not it.

However, Ellison also says, “Geezus bleeding Kee-rist on a crutch! Scotty doesn’t even appear in the g*ddam script!” (I added the asterisk, even though the author left out the “n”).

Perhaps not in the script, but in the first version in the book, there are a few references to the “SCOTTISH ENGINEERING OFFICER”, who participates in a court martial with Kirk, Spock, and “THE MEDIC”.

That isn’t in one of the actual script versions, and it isn’t Scotty by name…and, most importantly, that’s not “selling drugs”, but I think it’s not unreasonable for someone to think Scotty was in Ellison’s story based on that.

At this point in reading it, I’d say that Ellison wrote well, and not inexpertly for the medium…but the feel is certainly not Star Trek (it lacks the optimism about the future), and the characterizations aren’t on target (although they improve in successive versions which are in the book).

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Merzenich
borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
6% complete

This one was recommended to me by a physical therapist (who wasn’t treating me…I was training the PT) who thought it might be useful for me. The main point is the idea that the brain can be changed…I’m not far enough into it to judge it well, yet. I like to always be reading something that can relate to my day job, and that’s the one right now…

These are the Voyages – TOS: Season Two (at AmazonSmile*)
by Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn
4% done
borrowed from Kindle Unlimited

I really enjoyed the first one of these! At times, it was a day by day “biography” of the original Star Trek (which is where I got the “other side” view of The City on the Edge of Forever), and quite well done. Again, not really far enough into this one to judge, but I’m enjoying it so far.

These Are The Voyages, TOS, Season One ( Season One Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Marc Cushman
100% done

I just haven’t deleted this one yet, because I still want to write up a review at my Goodreads account:

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

I’ve been doing an okay job of keeping up with that, but things have been super busy lately. I’ll catch up. 🙂

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile*)
by Hans Holzer
50% done

I really like this book! I’ve always enjoyed Holzer, and have suggested elsewhere someone could do a good TV series based on the original “ghost hunter”. This is kind of an emergency book for me…I go to it from time to time between other books, and maybe on a long drive. I always enjoy it.

The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins (at AmazonSmile*)
by Phil Cousineau
100% done

Another one I just need to review. I was disappointed in this one. I love words, and books about words. I just didn’t find it that engaging. It was also weird to read this: “…it’s hard not to hear the echo of Sly and the Family Stone’s funkadelic song ‘Play that funky music right, boy!…'” Um…I don’t think that’s quite the right lyric, which then makes me doubt the scholarship of the rest of the book. It’s also not the right band, from what I know, but I haven’t checked to see if there was a “cover” by Sly. By the way, do you know why they are called “cover” versions? Originally, it was because radio stations and certainly stores didn’t want to play music by African American artists. So, the songs would be re-recorded by Caucasian American artists…putting a more “marketable” face literally on the cover of the record. It always surprises me a bit that many people don’t seem to know that nowadays, and blithely use the term “cover”. It has changed over time, though, and I can accept that it has a different meaning now.

That’s enough for part 1!

Not all of the books will get this much coverage (and I wrote the big introduction in this post), so I think I can do this in…two to three more posts, most likely.

What do you think? Any comments on these books? Do you enjoy somebody being caustic? I can’t deny having liked Simon Cowell. 😉 Do you want to just list the books on your Kindle (or, say, ten of them)? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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.

A new NOOK…sort of

August 21, 2014

A new NOOK…sort of

I last wrote about a new NOOK back at Halloween.

Now, Barnes & Noble announces in this

press release

a new NOOK tablet.

It’s not exactly a NOOK, or at least, not just a NOOK. It’s co-branded with Samsung…it’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK.

I had a Galaxy S4 phone which I really liked, although I gave it up for my

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

which I am starting to like more and more as its easy access to recent activities are becoming more populated. For example, I’ve been driving to places where I need to use GPS. I can easily see my history of searches I’ve done…right from the Carousel. I also like that I get notifications about packages being delivered from Amazon or en route…and I’m made aware of them from the lock screen.

Let’s get back to this new device

Official Page

and the press release.

It’s a 7″ wi-fi only tablet. The screen resolution is 1280 x 800, with 216 ppi.

That’s the same resolution as a

Kindle Fire HD 7″, HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

and I think that’s the best direct comparison.

The NOOK is a lot more expensive.

With Special Offers (which is the more popular configuration), the 8 GB (same size as the NOOK) Kindle Fire HD is $139. Without Special Offers, it’s $154.

The new “Samsunook” 😉 is $179…and that’s after a $20 rebate from the $199 price.

The Samsunook is notably lighter…about 20% lighter (9.74 oz versus 12.2 oz…276g to 345g). It’s also a bit thinner.

The Samsunook has a micro-SD slot. The KFHD doesn’t.

The Samsunook comes with two cameras: 1.3 MP front, 3.0 rear. The KFHD has zero.

The Samsunook directly supports Google Play and ePUB files…the KFHD doesn’t.

Interestingly, I didn’t find the processor speed right away. Online sources suggest it is 1.2 ghz…slower than the KFHD’s 1.5 ghz.

So, yes, the Samsunook has some advantages.

I don’t see any of this making people stand up and cheer, though. I think the most persuasive thing for someone looking for a cheap tablet compared to the Kindle Fires is the presence of the cameras.

They are also saying it comes with $200 worth of content.

The press release says:

“Free with Purchase: $200 in Popular NOOK Content
Barnes & Noble will welcome all Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK customers with more than $200 of free NOOK reading and entertainment content, including three free bestselling eBooks Freakonomics, The Wanderer, and I Am Number Four, and an episode each of three hit TV shows: HBO’s Veep, NBC’s Hannibal, and BBC America’s Orphan Black. As part of the package, magazine lovers can choose up to four 14-day free trial subscriptions from a selection of 12 popular magazines – including Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, US Weekly and more, and also receive the previous 12 issues of each title at no cost. A $5 credit will also help customers get started as they explore the NOOK Store. More detail on the free NOOK content offer can be found at NOOK.com.”

If we look at those prices at Amazon…

  • Freakonomics $10.99
  • The Wanderer $4.00
  • I Am Number Four $1.99
  • Veep (HD): $2.99
  • Hannibal (HD): $2.99
  • Orphan Black (HD): $2.99

Let’s see…that’s about $25.

Then there is a $5 credit.

I think they are counting a lot of the money in those back issues. A current single issue of Cosmopolitan is $3.99 at Amazon…so 12 of them would be $47.88 (if you could buy the back issues).

You can also buy a year for $9.99…$0.83 an issue.

So, I’m not that impressed with the $200…but it will sound like a break even to some people.

My opinion?

It’s an okay tablet, not a stand out…people will have to want to have a NOOK to make it work. Fortunately for Samsung, it would be easy to convert it if the B&N branding became a liability or non-existent.

As to that press release…

It has some very interesting statistics, supporting the value of reading. This one in particular stood out:

“Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults state their reading habits have increased over the past three years, and nearly half, over two in five (44 percent), attribute access to an eReader, tablet or smartphone as the reason.”

I’ve been saying that I think the easy availability of e-books has probably increased the number of books being read. Certainly, anecdotally, I’ve heard that from people…they say that they used to read a lot, then it fell off     (sometimes busy lives are mentioned), and after the convenience of having books handy (on EBRs ((E-Book Readers)), tablets, and/or phones), it’s increased again.

However, we have to take that stat in the press release with a grain of salt, since they apparently are counting personal e-mail and social media, among others. I recommend you take a look at the press release…intriguing stuff.

I see some pushback in the comments, thinking it isn’t enough…but that happens with pretty much every new product release. 😉

We’ll see how this affects the stock of both companies…it’s kind of a drop n the bucket for Samsung, but really important for Barnes & Noble.

What does it mean for Kindleers?

Competition is good…but I’m not sure how much competition this is. We could hope that it nudges Amazon towards two cameras on future Kindle Fires…

The KFHDX blows this away, in my opinion…thanks in part to Mayday, the almost instant onscreen tech help. People will like having Google Play on the Samsunook, although you can get a lot of those apps (at least the popular ones) for your Fire through 1mobile and other sources.

What do you think? Do you care about this at all? Does it matter that B&N indicates it will continue to support non-tablet NOOKs? Does the all capital version of the name bug you? 😉 Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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.

Movies, TV shows boost tradpubs

August 19, 2014

Movies, TV shows boost tradpubs

Independently published books are making great strides.

Before the Kindle redefined the e-book market (there was one before that, but it wasn’t much) in 2007, bestseller lists were dominated by books published by traditional publishers (tradpubs).

That’s been changing. There is no longer a need for “book factories”. The rules of marketing have changed considerably. Amazon democratizes discovery, putting indie publishers (which may be just an author) on the same playing field as tradpubs.

You know what hasn’t changed?

Media adaptations.

At this point, a major movie studio or TV network just isn’t as likely to make a deal with an indie.

I’m sure the long history has something to do with it, and yes, there may be a bit of the “old company’s club”. In some cases, there may be direct synergy: the publisher and the studio might both have the same entity as a parent.

This was made obvious to me when I checked the

Kindle paid bestsellers list (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Those the are the ones which aren’t free…there is a separate list for that.

I was sort of thinking I might see just indies for the top ten. I guessed that a lot of indies, which are in

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

might dominate.

Nope…but what does are traditionally published books with movie or TV tie-ins.

Half of the top ten fall into that group!

#1: If I Stay (at AmazonSmile*)
by Gayle Forman
4.3 out of 5 stars, 2328 customer reviews
movie: If I Stay (opening August 22)
published by Penguin

#2: The Giver (Giver Quartet Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Lois Lowry
4.3 stars, 5766 reviews
movie: The Giver (August 15)
publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
available through Kindle Unlimited

#3: Outlander (not linked since the publisher blocks text-to-speech access…but there is an omnibus which is not blocked)
by Diana Gabaldon
4.5 stars, 5200 reviews
TV series: Outlander
publisher: Random House

#7: The Fault in Our Stars (at AmazonSmile*)
by John Green
4.7 stars, 29310 customer reviews
movie: The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)

#8: Where She Went (If I Stay Book 2) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Gayle Forman
4.6 stars, 901 reviews
movies: sequel to book adapted above…it’s safe to say that a movie can help all of the books in a series

At this point, the book to TV or movie market seems like a real lifeline for tradpubs.

Amazon does make TV series, and has adapted books for them…but it will be a while before that could become as important to a book’s sales as having a movie in the movie theatres.

I also think it would be hard for Amazon to go the other way…to be the publishers of movie/TV adaptations. I think that’s more likely, though.

For now, it may be a case of “old media” sticking together…

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! :) 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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