Round up #267: page 45, Neuromancer deal

Round up #267: page 45, Neuromancer deal

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

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal

In today’s

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

there are two deals which stand out to me.

Neuromancer by William Gibson came out in 1984, and won the Hugo, the Nebula, and Philip K. Dick award…and profoundly influenced geek thinking. You can get it today for $1.99…either for yourself, or maybe delay delivery for an appropriate gift giving occasion. It’s quite possible that even the way you are reading this was influenced by ideas in this book. 4.0 stars out of 5, 813 customer reviews.

The other deal is on twenty Iris Johansen titles for $2.99 each. There are a bunch of Eve Duncan books in this group, and others.

If you want to buy rather than borrow (through Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), these are good deals.

Page 45 status

Humans are great at finding linkages and patterns in things…even if they don’t actually exist. 😉

That has led to all sorts of fortune telling techniques, among other things.

I put together a CD with hundreds of small sound clips from movies and TV, gathered from

which is a great site for that sort of thing. It’s been around since 1995, and is nicely organized. They also comply with rightsholders, and I think that they are within Fair Use with what they do.

I have listened to it many times in the car (before I had text-to-speech…I listen to books, now). I would put it on shuffle, and I called it “The Magic Clip Ball”. One way to “use” it would be to think of a question, and then whatever quotation came up next was the “advice” for you. That was often fun!

My adult kid recently made me aware of a “viral book status”.

To quote:

“Pick up the nearest book to you and turn to page 45. The first sentence describes your love life.”

Now, there are some complications with this for e-book users. All of the books in my Kindle (and I know some of you may have thousands downloaded) are really equidistant from me. If you use a Kindle for this, I’d say the one that is nearest to the front of your Carousel. Of course, you may also not have a page 45…I’d go with location 450 if you don’t.

When I decided to try it just for fun, there was a p-book (paperbook) near me…Monsters by George Eberhart (believe me, if I could have had it as an e-book, I’d prefer it).

The line for me?

“One Man in Canoe Sets Out to Hunt Loch Ness Monster”


I won’t comment on the appropriateness of that for me, but I can see how it might fit some people (making it gender neutral, of course).

Seeking Alpha round-up

I recently created a free account on

Seeking Alpha

and they’ve sent me several interesting articles!

They are well thought-out and researched…I’m impressed!

Why Amazon’s Appstore Could Become As Big As Google Play by “Critical Timing”

This isn’t just pie in the sky, but makes a good argument for the super rapid growth of Amazon’s Appstore. Gee, in three years, will be people be as mad at a phone not having access to the Amazon Appstore as they are now to the Fire Phone and Kindle Fires not having direct access to Google Play? Perhaps, although Amazon seems more likely to me to make the apps available more places…they don’t tend to build walls to keep people from getting their products. Witness all of the Kindle reader apps. Of course, you can’t install a Kindle reader app on a non-tablet NOOK, but that has more to do with apps and that operating system, I believe, than deliberate exclusion. In this case there are apps that will work best with the

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

dynamic perspective (which I call “dy-per”), but outside of that, I think we’ll see the Amazon Appstore continue to expand.

Oh, one comment on the Fire Phone: I now like it a lot, after using it for a while. The easy access to things I’ve done before (such as addresses I’ve mapped) is one reason. One big gap? The voice assistant can’t do as much as Google Now or Siri or Cortana, but that will likely improve with software updates. I also asked Amazon if it had a name, and they said no…that might be a mistake, in terms of brand loyalty.

Reading And Believing In Barnes & Noble by Kevin Donovan

I’ve been seeing articles recently talking up Barnes & Noble as a company, at least for investors. Again, this has graphs and trends to back up its point…and they do consider what Amazon does a potential threat to continued growth.

Speaking of what Amazon does, I expect we’ll get a new hardware announcement before the end of the month. In terms of my personal satisfaction, I don’t know what they would do hardware wise to get me to want to upgrade. I’m quite satisfied with both my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

and my

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

It’s possible they’ll introduce some services in another model that would make it attractive.

However, if a model has something unprecedented, I might get it anyway, so I can tell you about it. 🙂

Back to B&N: do I think they can succeed? I think it’s possible, but I don’t see the path yet.

Why Amazon Has No Profits (And Why It Works) by Benedict Evans

This may be the best article I’ve ever read on Amazon.

Thorough analysis explaining how it works, and what it will need to do to keep working.

Highly recommended!

It also helps explain why, according to this

RTT News article and other sources

Bank of America just gave Amazon a two billion (!) dollar credit facility.

This despite CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Thomas Szkutak of Amazon’s announced departure next year.

B of A can see money in Amazon’s future…

A KOLL of lump

Last month was the first month since it’s been available that I did not borrow a book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). It wasn’t by choice. Despite contacting Amazon, I could not figure out a way to do it…and I’m pretty good at figuring things out. 😉

You see, I’m both an eligible Prime member and a member of Kindle Unlimited…and even when a book was available in both, it would only let me borrow it as part of the KOLL.

Fortunately, we don’t have Prime just to borrow books, and this is not that big a deal for me (since as noted, I can borrow books through KU instead). It does feel like a bit of a loss, though.

What do you think? Did you get an intriguing “page 45” result? Do you know of other similar things to do with books and insight? Will B&N survive…and perhaps even thrive? Did you already have an opinion on Neuromancer? 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.

17 Responses to “Round up #267: page 45, Neuromancer deal”

  1. Zebras Says:

    Like my “stripper name,” my Page 45 result was extremely boring. Yours was a perfect result for many a person! And very funny to boot.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      My stripper name (name of your first pet as the first name, street where you grew up as the last name) works pretty well. Yes, I did think the one I got was funny…glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    LOL! I actually had a paper book within arms reach. Mutts, a collection of the first Mutt’s comics by Patrick McDonnel. (The comic strip is celebrating 20 years this week and has been rerunning some of those early strips to commemorate.) Page 45 shows Earl, a small dog, out in a blizzard. He’s thinking to himself, “It was one of those winter storms where you lose your bearings; where you lose yourself…and then you howl just to curse the darkness only to hear back the howl of a cold, heartless wind.” Nailed it!

  3. liz Says:

    OK, I took your “page 45 challenge” (haha). First book: “The information above is believed to be accurate and represents the best information currently available to us.” Hmm, well, it is in a chapter concerning MSDSes, so I guess that’s understandable. But it doesn’t work for this challenge. On to book 2: “At higher levels of salt, only specialized haliophilic bacteria can survive.” Ugh! Time for book 3: “Whatever mechanism within you is responsible for adrenaline, it has never been so sleek and polished, so keenly poised to pump out a warning squirt of adrenal fluid. Even asleep, you are a coiled spring.” Thank you, Bill Bryson, I finally have something worth sharing! 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, liz!

      Your third one is great, but I do think your second one can also work very well for some people. If you replace “salt” with “affection”, I think you can see the metaphor…

  4. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Did you see this one in yesterday’s comics?

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Fire Phone
    You’ve undoubtedly seen today’s Amazon PR announcing the Fire Phone for $0.99 on a two year contract. This is a good news/bad news development. On the bad side, it just reinforces the view that the FP was dead on arrival in the marketplace, and that it hasn’t been selling well. Further bad comes from those who paid $199 just a few weeks ago to get the phone. These folks are going to feel ripped off. Apple faced an issue like this a few years back when Steve Jobs dramatically reduced the price of an iPhone less than a year after announcement — I forget the details, but I believe Apple made some kind of offer in amelioration.

    On the good news side, this is a very attractive price — one wonders what the phone’s reception might have been had it been introduced at this price. I do wonder who instigated the reduction: AT&T or Amazon, and I wonder what effect this will have on sales going into the holidays. I further wonder what might happen if the price reduction does not boost sales all that much …

    There have been several articles of late about how the carriers are moving away from subsidized phones completely — to a model based on zero down, but pay around $27/month for a top end phone for two years. Total two year outlay with this model is about the same as that with the subsidized two year phone plans.

    The Fire Phone deal going with this latter unsubsidized approach is $18.75 for two years.

    For myself, this presents a possible dilemma. I’m on a two year contract with AT&T for my Windows phone which is done around Thanksgiving. My plan was to go from one phone to two: the latest Windows flagship (whatever that might be in November :grin), and a Fire Phone. I was planning to get both at the end of November, and buy them both outright unlocked. That Fire Phone subsidized price looks mighty attractive though (:grin).

    The carriers are also simplifying their plans from a phone perspective — doing away with “minutes” and offering unlimited voice and text for a flat rate — increasingly they are seeing their revenue coming from data which they are hoping to convert to usage-based pricing instead of flat rates with data caps.

    Amazon App Store
    The Seeking Alpha article on app stores points up the fact that total store app counts are not a particularly meaningful metric. They come at this from a store financial, and app developer financials point of view. That’s not how the public and device reviewers look at things. App store counts are frequently used to help customers make device purchasing decisions.

    Thankfully, some tech reviewers are beginning to realize that it is not the app count per se that matters, but whether the apps YOU need are available. This gets dicey if a reviewer works for a large enterprise that has standardized on apps from a particular store (typically Google or Apple) to do daily work tasks — this can lead to extremely negative reviews of devices that don’t fall into the preferred app store bucket.

    Even though the Amazon Fire devices use Android, it is a forked version, which means that the Google app store will not work for Fire devices. Some apps can be gotten from third party app stores, but this introduces a layer (admittedly small) of complexity into things.

    Further, most want access to the core Google apps (Gmail, G+, YouTube, Docs, etc) — those are NOT available from Amazon or 3rd party app stores, and never will be. These apps require a login to Google as part of their initialization sequences — that requires a whole bunch of Google servicing software stacks that are not part of stock Android, and are not free to the likes of Amazon.

    Google apps “appear” to be “free”: the price you “pay” is giving Google access to your usage information which they capture via the logon requirement. That info capture is fundamental to Google’s ad-supported business model. Even if Amazon could technically provide a way for Google apps to logon to Google from the Fire devices, that will never happen because that same info capture is a part of Amazon’s business model.

    The point is no matter how many apps are in the Amazon app store, it will always be found wanting by a significant portion of the reviewer community due to the lack of native Google or Apple apps.

    Another aspect of the app store phenomenon beyond the provision of app functionality is the notion of curation — it’s not just is an app available, but does it adhere to certain appstore standards. Apple is the most strict here. Curation can prevent junk, scam, and adware apps from finding their way onto one’s devices. This is an issue that has recently come to bite Microsoft in the rear. As the app counts in their two stores have climbed, it has turned out that there are a lot of scam, adware, and even malware apps in their stores — they are just beginning a process of stricter curation.

    One hopes that the Amazon store will avoid this trap as they grow.

    Barnes & Noble
    I’m not sure that anything can save Barnes&Nobel in the long term. BN consists of three businesses: college bookstores, mass market bookstores, and the nook. All three are facing challenges.

    College textbook pricing is going through the roof: pushing more and more students away from their on-campus bookstore to other venues (including the Amazon rental store).

    The mass market stores are facing more and more pressure from Amazon who can beat them on price and selection. Also as the publishers respond to Amazon as well by developing direct to customer internet channels, this puts BN increasingly into competition with their suppliers. Diversifying away from books is one possibility — you can see this already in the stores, but some non-book businesses like the CD/DVD music and video stuff is dying everywhere (not just at BN) as consumers turn to downloads and streaming for their music and video content.

    The Nook is a fundamentally different kind of business requiring big upfront investments in design, engineering, and supply chains. BN has had some creditable products, but they have struggled to gain traction. Now they are attempting to offload the upfront costs by entering into a co-branding arrangement with Samsung — why not just buy the device from Samsung direct? What’s the value in having the Nook name on the device?

    I’m a Prime member; not a KU subscriber. Ever since the advent of KU, I have been unable to borrow via KOLL — all attempts to do so lead to an invite to subscribe to KU. I’m way past the 1 month limitation on my last borrow. This is not a priority for me, or I would be talking to customer support. Since KOLL debuted, I’ve borrowed maybe three books (:grin). I wish they would figure out a way to merge the two with some benefit for Prime members (a reduced KU rate for Prime members???).

    Kindle Product Refresh
    There have been various Kindle product discounts offered over the past few weeks that have the earmarks of inventory clearance. Frankly, I would be shocked (I tell you shocked!) if they did not refresh the whole Kindle line going into the 2014 holiday season. I have checked: there have been zero leaks of any kind from anywhere about upcoming Kindle products. The most I’ve seen are some articles talking about “want to have” wishlists.

    Amazon is a bit like Apple in that they don’t particularly provide new S/W features retrofitted to older devices. So each year’s H/W announcements typically come with a slew of new S/W features that in some cases outweigh the bells and whistles of new H/W (is a higher resolution Kindle Fire display going to impress all that much over the already excellent display on last year’s HDX?). So I’m hoping for some interesting S/W, and perhaps something on the Liquavista front.

    My KF 8.9 is two years old, and it is perfect for my use case — nevertheless I probably will upgrade (unless of course Amazon doesn’t refresh — in which case I’ll be lying on my kitchen floor in shock :grin).

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    So I just finished reading the Seeking Alpha “Amazon’s No Profits” article, and I have to agree with you: this is far and away the best explanation of what Amazon is trying to do.

    I have many friends who see Amazon as this evil behemoth. They have so many misconceptions — I try to make many of the points that this article does, but it falls mainly on deaf ears. As a case in point they are surprised to learn that Walmart is 8 times the size of Amazon, or that books represents substantially less than 20% of their revenues.

    I will be sending links to this article out to all my disbeliever friends — not with much hope that it’ll change any minds (the Seeking Alpha registration is annoying; likely to lead to lots of email that one doesn’t want, and it’s confusing — seeming to want your detailed financial profile — off-putting, and probably an insurmountable barrier to some of my more techno-phobic friends).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Good, I’m glad you appreciated the article and want to share it!

      I agree that Amazon is widely misunderstood…which is what Jeff Bezos has said that you have to expect to be, if you are taking the long view and innovating.

      No question: registration for Seeking Alpha is annoying! 🙂 They do a lot of things right (like telling us how much authors get paid), but even if the registration is necessary to support ad revenues to pay the authors (which might be the case), it will mean that they are read by a lot fewer people.

  7. Tom Semple Says:

    I would not put much stock in 2013 figures for Amazon Appstore and evidence of its so-called meteoric growth. That would have included not even 3 years of history and so only 2 years of year-over-year results, starting some 6 months before Fire tablets became available, through the launch of the 3rd generation devices. First year, 2011, would have a pretty low number (with only a couple of full months of Fire tablets), and with that as a low benchmark, 200% growth for a couple of years is to be expected. Last year, they achieved this with low priced HD 3rd gen, super HDX specs wMayday, and giving away away lots of Amazon coins. But the Fire market share has peaked, and where will demand for 4th generation devices come from? Overseas perhaps, but, with diminishing returns. People who upgrade to a new Fire already have the apps they want and will purchase fewer going forward. New Fire tablet rumors are at an all time low as well, so even assuming there will be a 4th gen Fire, it seems unlikely to have anything that would spark more than a seasonal spike in sales. So I would not expect 200% growth for 2014.

    Meanwhile for people that already have Android devices and some investment in Google Play apps, there is no way Amazon Appstore is attractive (even if you can easily side load it onto your Android device). There is almost nothing in the Appstore that isn’t price-matched by Google in its store, plenty of apps that are only in Google Play, app updates arrive in GP weeks or months in advance of corresponding updates in the Appstore, and Appstore apps are often not functionally identical to those in Google Play, particularly if they would normally use Google services for something useful (like ChromeCast). Moreover, the Appstore app is another thing you have to remember to update from time to time (or it stops working), and it has to be running for the apps it manages to be able to run. So growth of Appstore is pretty much tied to growth of Fire sales to new users.

    To borrow from KOLL as a KU subscriber, you need to find books that are in the former and not in the latter. There are hundreds of these, but as far as I can tell no way to query for them. If you have not read ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ that is certainly a great selection. Foreign language editions of Harry Potter are available only in KOLL, good for foreign language studies (as I’m attempting myself). But apart from that, KU is far more convenient and has full device/app support, so as far as I’m concerned nothing is lost by not borrowing from KOLL.

    My biggest KU peeve is that I can’t get the ‘free’ KU audiobook companion for books in KU that I have already purchased. But I don’t see dropping my subscription for this reason, and don’t expect to run out of things to read for many months. I’m getting at least $25-30 of ‘purchase value’ for my $9.95/mo. And as you’ve noted it is great for cookbooks, how-to books etc that I would never have burned my KOLL borrow for or purchased outright.

    • Tom Semple Says:

      There’s finally a reason to install Amazon Appstore on Android devices: the Amazon Instant Video app.

      It is not nearly as good an experience as the iOS app (access through the storefront is not very pretty), and you cannot ‘cast’ the screen anywhere (even to FireTV). But it is better than the workarounds that involved finding and installing a dusty old Flash installer.

      • Tom Semple Says:

        I may have been wrong about casting to Fire TV, but at least the product description does not mention it (I have no way to test this myself).

        Also, I think turning the storefront app into a video-playing app is a technically flawed approach (the instant video app is just a plugin for the storefront app). In fact playback was not smooth and it complained frequently about ‘low bandwidth’. I finally gave up trying to watch the movie on my Android tablet and watched the rest on my Fire HD without any issues.

        It should be a single download from Google Play, with Chromecast support (as virtually every other video and music app does).

        As it is, this does not deliver the first-class experience I expect from Amazon. The video team should have just told the appstore and storefront teams to go away, and delivered a video app designed for the Android platform without accepting unrelated requirements.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        I really appreciate that field report! I can’t test it with my Fire Phone, although I do have and use a Fire TV.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        I saw that announcement, but ironically, I can’t test it…because I gave up my Galaxy S4 for a Fire Phone. 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Good analysis of the Appstore!

      I did write a post (sorry I didn’t just directly reply to this…super busy at work) where I talked about GGS. That one has particularly frustrated me that the publisher chooses to block text-to-speech access. You’ve given me some good info to share with Amazon, though, and that might (maybe, possibly) help them fix some problems with the KU implementation.

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