Archive for October, 2014

A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2014

A Halloween classic to read aloud

This is one of the classic horror stories.  It was first published in 1843 and written by Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.   The story should be in the public domain everywhere.  As a Halloween treat, you may want to read it to each other out loud.  You can take turns, or one person can read it all.  You could let your Kindle take a turn…but that won’t be the same.  This shows the advantage of free distribution of the classics that e-books facilitates.  Be prepared, though…it’s scary!   It should take about fifteen minutes…hokey Halloween voices optional.  Parents, be advised…this could cause nightmares.

Enjoy?  Or at least…experience.  I now present…

THE TELL-TALE HEART (by Edgar Allan Poe)

TRUE!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief–oh, no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself–“It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder–louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Bonus: Quoth My Kindle

I originally published Quoth My Kindle (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe) in this thread in the Amazon Kindle forum.   It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, The Raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
As I reached to slide to sleep mode, suddenly I found my hand slowed
As if driving up a steep road, driving with a heavy load
“I can’t seem to move it forward, as if some Kowboy had ‘whoa’d,
It’s a fluke and nothing more.”

Suddenly, a wheel was spinning, a face appeared, and it was grinning
I gasped and nearly dropped my m-edge, dropped it on the hardwood floor
I shook my head, I couldn’t take it; wasn’t sure if I would make it
Then that voice: speakers of portent – portent I would know the score
Then the robot quirkily intoned words that shook me to the core
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

“I need sleep!” I firmly stated, yet I found I hesitated
Reading – reading how it drew me like it never had before
So I sat there, pushing buttons, appetite of sev’ral gluttons
Bestsellers, public domain, ’til I think I filled up my brain
“Tis some magazine I’ve never even purchased at the store”
“I need to get up early!” I heard myself again implore
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

My eyes opened and I woke up; knew I dreamt my Kindle spoke up
So I dragged myself off to what had become my bedtime chore,
Although fact is what it did seem, I knew it was just a weird dream
So as I brushed my teeth, I felt safe behind my bathroom door
I kept my head beneath my covers, as I sailed to Morpheus’ shore…
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

For more Edgar Allan Poe, try this search (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for Poe freebies in the Kindle store. If you want to keep it simple, you can get this collection (at AmazonSmile*), which has an interactive table of contents.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  😉

 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.

Short stories

October 31, 2014

Short stories

I’m much more likely to read novels than short stories…but I do like both.

They are obviously very different sorts of works, and some authors are only good at one or the other.

What’s the strength of a short story?

To me, it’s often that it is so…direct. In a great short story, there isn’t a lot of wasted time. Not a lot of exposition, or secondary plot lines. You are involved, and you know you are going somewhere.

That’s another thing: short stories often give you less description…more suggestion than exposition. You build the rest of it yourself. They don’t have to tell you hair color, and height, and all of that. If a cop yells, “Drop it!” they don’t take the time to tell you what the officer had for breakfast.

Similarly, you don’t need to build up to a whole situation. In some cases, we are just dropped right into the middle of the action.

With a novel, you usually want it to be logical and organic…think of a novel like a three course meal, and a short story like a candy bar. 😉 They are both good, but the latter can be much more intense.

The USA Kindle store actually has multiple “aisles” devoted to short stories.

Literature & Fiction: Classics: Short Stories (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for example, has 2,114 at the time of writing…and 122 of those are eligible through

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

That latter option opens up new possibilities. You see, with KU, you could borrow an anthology, read just the short story you wanted, return it, borrow another book, and so on. It wouldn’t surprise me if people start putting together “playlists” of short stories they recommend.

I’m not quite ready for that tonight, though. 😉

I can talk about some of my favorite short stories.

Before I do that, let me mention a little bit about getting into short stories in the Kindle store.

Generally, there are two terms you might hear: anthologies and collections. People don’t always follow these definitions (there are no regulatory bodies in literature), but traditionally, it goes like this:

  • An anthology is a group of short stories by different authors. They are often put together around a theme…for example, I’ve read an anthology about cats in space. Often, the theme is chosen and existing stories are brought together…and maybe a couple of new ones are written just for the book. Another common type of anthology is “Best Stories of 2014”, or things along those lines. Again, different authors, and the theme being the year in which they are released
  • A collection, on the other hand, is usually all the work of one author. There might be a collection of short stories by Mark Twain or Edgar Allan Poe

The third thing, and one really enabled by the electronic format, is that the Kindle store title might have just one short story in it. I often see complaints from people that they think they’ve overpaid in that case…they paid ninety-nine cents for ten “pages” of story.

You’ll find all three types in the USA Kindle store.

In the case of anthologies, one of the best things to do is get familiar with who the editors are. The editors choose the stories, and that’s often the most important thing. Groff Conklin and Gardner Dozois come to mind for me as two I like.

Anthologies and collections both often draw on magazine work. In the heyday of the pulps, some authors were highly prolific. They were paid by the word, and they wrote in multiple genres (often under multiple names), making a living. That doesn’t mean it was “hack” work: there was some  tremendously  imaginative work done under those circumstances. I think working under a deadline is often beneficial…even if it can cause problems in other circumstances.

Next let me make some specific recommendations:

  • The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells is one of my absolute favorites
  • The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
  • The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
  • A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle (and picked by Doyle as one of the author’s favorite Sherlock Holmes stories…it features Irene Adler)
  • The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
  • The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe (I’ll be running that as my annual Halloween read-aloud)
  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Oracle of the Dog by G.K. Chesterton (a Father Brown mystery)

Those are just ten…there are many, many more. I’d be happy to hear your suggestions…and yes, I’ve already read The Platypus of Doom by Arthur Byron Cover. 😉 That was is arguably a novellette, but I’m willing to be flexible with length definitions. I’m fine with using the Nebula Award definitions:

  1.  Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
  2.  Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
  3.  Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
  4.  Novel: 40,000 words or more.

http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/rules/

and including anything significantly under a novel. 🙂

What do you think? Do you read short stories? Do you ever just read one at a time? What are your favorites? Do you have a favorite anthology (I’d have to put Apeman, Spaceman edited by Harry Harrison and and Leon E. Stover up there for me)? What really makes a short story work for you? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

 

Fire TV Stick: new orders expected to deliver in 2015

October 30, 2014

Fire TV Stick: new orders expected to deliver in 2015

I warned people not to wait!

Amazon’s newest piece of hardware, the

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

how has an expected delivery date of January 1, 2015 for new orders from Amazon.com. Gee, if  you haven’t gotten your New Year’s Day gift, you can still just make it.  If you need it for an event before that, it doesn’t look like you’ll make it (although there might be a strong secondary market for it, depending on how things go.

This is just a quick note…I’m having some dental work done early tomorrow, and they suggest I take one of the “anti-anxiety” meds the night before, which I have done. It doesn’t seem to be impacting me yet, but I may not notice….and this entry may get really weird (which the whole blog can be, but this should be noticeable.

I will say that I don’t see the Voice Remote in the top 100…no surprise there.

Have to head off to bed…I should be good to write something tomorrow night.

Update: everything went fine. 🙂 SQUEAMISH ALERT (in case hearing about this might make you go “ewww”). 😉 I had a root canal. This is the second one I’ve had recently, and they were sort of connected. While I’m not a big person for taking medications (I don’t drink alcohol, for example…I only drink water), I’m not opposed. In both cases, my endodontist had me take Halcion…and for me, it works great! I actually don’t remember the procedure happening at all. I remember being at the office, but there is a memory gap. The negative is that my Significant Other has to drive me to (I take it an hour before I go) and after. No pain involved. It’s a lot less stressful for me than a teeth cleaning! I did sleep some afterwards (and I’m not a daytime napper), but I’m ready now to get back into the swing of things on the computer! I’m even pretty sure that this paragraph isn’t complete medication-induced gibberish. 😉

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.

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.

November 2014 Kindle book releases

October 29, 2014

November 2014 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it.

For the most part, we are back to Amazon selling the books…which means they can guarantee the price.

If we see a return of the Agency Model next year (the rumor is that’s happening with Simon & Schuster), we’ll be back to that non-guarantee situation.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 5,964 (at time of writing) November releases in the USA Kindle store:

November 2014 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

One interesting thing before I get into some individual titles: the first four (sorted by new and popular) are the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month!

Since Prime members can already be reading one of these (even though they aren’t officially released until October) at no additional cost, you can see how that would drive up their popularity as compared to actual pre-orders. The top four being Kindle First was also true the last time I did one of these.

The other thing is that there are some Kindle Unlimited titles way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay…books!

  • The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 9) by Jeff Kinney (Nov 4, 2014)
  • MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins (Nov 18, 2014)
  • So, Anyway… by John Cleese (Nov 4, 2014)
  • The Enduring Flame Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory (Nov 4, 2014)
  • Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One by Rickey Vincent and George Clinton (Nov 4, 2014)
  • The Perry Mason Book: A Comprehensive Guide to America’s Favorite Defender of Justice by Jim Davidson (Nov 15, 2014)
  • Not Quite Forever (Not Quite series) by Catherine Bybee (Nov 4, 2014)
  • The Science of Interstellar by Kip Thorne and Christopher Nolan (Nov 7, 2014)
  • Alpha Billionaire 3 (Alpha Billionaire, Part Three) (Alpha Billionaire series) by Helen Cooper (Nov 6, 2014)
  • Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda and Alan Smith (Nov 26, 2014)
  • Knowledge Is Beautiful: Impossible Ideas, Invisible Patterns, Hidden Connections–Visualized by David McCandless (Nov 25, 2014)
  • The Void (Witching Savannah Book 3) by J. D. Horn (Nov 18, 2014)
  • Highland Heroes: Three Scottish Medieval Romances by Claire Delacroix and Deborah Cooke (Nov 24, 2014)
  • The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish, & Market Your Book by David Gaughran, Joanna Penn, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (Nov 3, 2014)
  • Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner (Nov 25, 2014)
  • No Land’s Man by Aasif Mandvi (Nov 4, 2014)
    Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film “The Imitation Game” by Andrew Hodges and Douglas Hofstadter (Nov 16, 2014)
  • Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door by Brian Krebs (Nov 18, 2014)
    Christmas Cozy (Zoe Donovan Mystery Book 11) by Kathi Daley (Nov 1, 2014)
  • Twilight Midnight Sun: Edward’s version of The Twilight Saga by E. Cullen (Nov 30, 2014)
  • Out Of This World (Wildlings Book 3) by Charles de Lint (Nov 4, 2014)
  • Lowball: A Wild Cards Mosaic Novel by George R. R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass (Nov 4, 2014)
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin: Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales by Russell Brand and Chris Riddell (Nov 11, 2014)
  • The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert by Frank Herbert (Nov 18, 2014)
  • Tarkin: Star Wars (Star Wars: Jedi Academy Trilogy) by James Luceno (Nov 4, 2014)

One more interesting thing: this time, we can filter for books which will be in Kindle Unlimited! I may do a separate listing for those later, but here is the link for the 987 titles at time of writing:

Kindle Unlimited books being released in November 2014 in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

What I do is keep an Amazon wish list for Kindle Unlimited books I may want to read. That makes it easy for me to pick a new one when I want. 🙂 If you do that, you will just need to check to make sure it is still in KU when you go to borrow it…some books will go in and out of that list. Indie publishers, for one thing, can change that.

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.

New! Fire TV stick…$19 for Prime members for 2 days only

October 27, 2014

New! Fire TV stick…$19 for Prime members for 2 days only

More on this later, but I think a quick sell out is a real possibility.

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

$19 for Prime members for two days (limit two**) otherwise $39. Should be a great holiday gift!

Don’t wait!

Update: I’m glad I told people not to wait! **They’ve already changed it so that Prime members can only get one on that deal, instead of two…and I do think it could still sell out (although they might get more before the holidays). I ordered my two at about 10:48 AM…and my delivery date is December 4th (being released on November 19th). Another one of my readers said they had a December 16th delivery date.

So, why the frenzy, and what is it, anyway?

It’s a “stick” (about the size of a finger…like a “thumb drive”) that you plug into your TV’s HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) port. Modern TVs will pretty much all have them (some may have several).

It also looks to me like it needs to be plugged into power…the HDMI port won’t power it, but that’s not a big deal.

Once you have done that, you connect it to the internet…and then the fun begins. 🙂

It’s similar to the

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

which I use every day.

It puts content on your TV…Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu+, and more.

It’s interesting to me that it comes with a free month of Netflix (probably not for existing members) in addition to the free month of Amazon Prime.

It even has that Kindle-like 30 day return policy…no risk, pretty much (you would pay return postage, I assume).

So, think about it: you could really cut the cord (stop using cable), at least for movies and TV shows that aren’t local without a lot of expense.

Now how much would you pay? But wait, there’s more! 😉

You want music? It has music…Prime music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeart radio, tunein radio…and more.

Convinced? No?

What about games? These aren’t console games, but more like mobile games…and again, there are a lot…hundreds: including Flappy Birds Family and You Don’t Know Jack.

Okay, okay…you need a bit more of a push?

How about anything you have on your tablet or phone?

Yep, you can mirror your tablet or SmartPhone (that will include iOS, although not quite yet). That’s how I’ll probably use it most. I’ll take it to work, where we tend to have HDMI equipped TVs in meeting rooms. Slip in the stick, plug it in, and mirror a PowerPoint from my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I’m good to know. No lugging around big projectors which cost thousands of dollars…and aren’t that sharp anyway. I do think I could use my

AAXA P4 P4X Pico Projector, 125 Lumens, Pocket Size (at AmazonSmile*)

with it, but that projector just isn’t that bright. I use it at works sometimes, but the conditions have to be right…the TV will be better.

Personal photos, personal videos, all of that…shared with family and friends on the big screen.

Okay, an obvious question: why get this and not the very popular Google Chromecast, which is $4 less than the normal price of $39?

Some reasons:

  • The hardware is better! Four times the flash storage (8GB versus 2GB), twice the memory (1GB versus 512MB)
  • A remote control!
  • Voice search! (either by app, or you can buy the voice remote separately. I’m guessing that the voice remote that came with my Fire TV will work with it
  • Dual band wi-fi!
  • An available (purchase separately) game controller!
  • ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction)! I love this on my Fire TV…it guesses what I will want to watch next (like the next episode in a TV series, and pre-loads it. It seems silly to feel like waiting ten seconds to watch something is too long, but you can really feel the BAM!
  • Because Amazon! 😉

As one of my readers Edward Boyhan pointed out, the timing is interesting. Here we had a disappointing (for many investors) financial report from Amazon, and all these cries of caution that Amazon was investing in too much…and then this happens. If they can keep it in stock, I think this is going to be one of the big sellers of this holiday season.

It’s already passed Google Chromecast to be the top-selling electronic at Amazon!

I’m very excited to get it, and I think it will live up to people’s expectations, for the most part.

Oh, and one more thing…if this is so good, why bother to buy the Fire TV?

The regular Fire TV (I don’t want to call it the “big one”…it’s not that big, it’s like a mass market paperback, but thinner) has even more memory and performance, better games, an included voice remote, and better integration (audio out, for example, to go with a home theatre system).

Still, for many people, the Fire TV stick will be just fine.

Actually, let me just add one more point…developers, don’t miss the opportunity. It’s simple…”Get on the stick!” (so to speak). 😉

I do think this is going to be big…while being small! 😉

What do you think? Is there something it’s missing for you? It won’t have HBO GO at launch, but if you have that on your tablet or phone, you’ll be okay. The Fire TV didn’t have it at first, either. What does this do to you and iTunes? Probably not much…since you could mirror your iPhone to it. What have I missed here? Did you get one? If your delivery date is later than December 16th, what is it? Will this affect the stock price? What questions do you have? 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! :) 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.

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

Kindle Scout launches: help pick books to be published

October 27, 2014

Kindle Scout launches: help pick books to be published

In this

press release

Amazon announces the official launch (from the readers’ side) of

Kindle Scout

You can visit the above site and select the excerpt of a book to read (for free).

If you like the book, you can “nominate” it for publication.

Each book has thirty days of opportunity.

Amazon will then select books for the e-tailer (although they are much more than that now) to publish…guided by, but not bound by, the nominations.

If a book you nominated is selected, you’ll get it for free after it is published.

You can only have three nominated at a time, but you can switch your nominations.

I looked at it this morning. These books are written and ready for publication, including have covers and blurbs.

That said, there were some that just didn’t appeal to me…I don’t think they would have made it through a traditional publishing selection process, but of course, that’s hard to tell.

On the other hand, some were intriguing.

The interface on the site was easy: I was able to click on an excerpt, very much like I would at Amazon.com.

Two big things stood out to me:

It seems I can only have one excerpt at a time, but it doesn’t appear to say that. Once I got one, I didn’t have the choice to get another…I could “save it for later”.

If that’s the case, that feels a bit…restricting to me. I’m assuming I’ll get through an excerpt in less than a day. I’d rather have a few with me, so I could eat them like popcorn. 😉

The other thing was the lack of publicity or connection from Amazon.com.

I figured it would be splashed on the front page…it wasn’t (at least for me…that’s inconsistent for different customers).

Then I went to the Kindle books storefront…nope, not even a link.

Bottom of the page at Amazon, where there were lots of links? Nothing there.

I’m not quite sure why that is.

They controlled when the Kindle Scout page went live, so they could have waited a day or two to put up links, if they wanted.

If they want a soft launch, where not so many people try it at first to test out the system, they wouldn’t do a press release.

Those are just interesting, and nothing that should stop you from trying it.

My guess is that this is going to be a hit…provided there is good material there.

Good material requires attracting authors…and I think the terms that they have given to authors are good.

It may be, though, that some folks will wait to see what the reaction is before they try it.

There appear to be fifty books right now, but they will add to it daily. The number isn’t immediately obvious, since the same book can appear in more than one of the three categories:

  • Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy

They’ve gone with clearly defined genres, which is a smart idea if the authors themselves may not be well-known. The reader has some idea what they might get.

In terms of the authors, I didn’t see any easily recognizable names at a first scan. I suspect that my change over time, if this is successful.

I don’t see the book at

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

I did choose which device got it when I downloaded my excerpt…but I can’t send it to another one.

I wonder if it’s one book at a time and on only one device?

That seems to be the case…I don’t have an option to try a different one on my desktop or on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There was also no link to Kindle Scout on our

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

so I got to it on that device by using the “experimental browser”.

The books still only had that “save for later” button, so that appears to be it: one book at a time on one device only.

I’ll try to finish that excerpt today, return it, and see if the options to get another return. I’ll update this post.

One last thing for now: the book appeared on my HDX without the cover, looking a PDF would. The cover image was not accessible from the excerpt either (although a cover is a requirement and does appear on the Kindle Scout site).

Other than that, it appeared to function normally: text-to-speech works and  the “long press look up” works.

What do you think? Have you looked at Kindle Scout yet? Have you gotten an excerpt…if so, what did you choose? Have you published to it? How was the experience, and what, if any reports are you getting? 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! :) 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.

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.

Halloween non-fiction

October 27, 2014

Halloween non-fiction

Let me address one question first: should you let children read books which purport to be true stories about the supernatural?

I’m sure it won’t surprise my regular readers if I give a resounding yes. 😉

Obviously, if you “believe” in ghosts, it makes sense for your child to read books about them.

What if you believe that ghosts don’t exist?

My feeling would be that it’s even more important for your child to read books that present the opposition opinion.

You want your kid (if they are interested) to read them with your knowledge…and encourage an open dialogue.

Ideally, you would also read the same book at the same time, and then you could have a full discussion.

Fortunately, the licensing in the Kindle store makes that easy to do. Even if you buy a book (and there are many well-known books on this topic available through Kindle Unlimited as well), you can typically have the book on up to six devices on the same account at the same time…for that one purchase price.

Not everybody agrees with this…even fictional books with supernatural elements are commonly “challenged” in schools and public libraries. Harry Potter is a good example. I think the basic argument is that children can be seduced into evil by reading about  it.

There is also a group of Skeptics (with a capital “S”) who worry about children being confused by unscientific ideas. For me, though, it would be a great opportunity to foster critical thinking. I would think for most kids we are looking at about eight years old an up for these discussions, but it would go something like this: “Why might that not be true?” That’s a core of critical thinking (and I’ve done a lecture on critical thinking before)…what are the other possibilities?

Does this mean I think every child should read non-fiction books on ghosts and such?

Nope.

If a kid isn’t interested, or is scared, I wouldn’t push it. What I’m looking at here is a kid who self-selects to read something…and whether or not a guardian should veto it.

Again, that’s just my opinion: feel free to offer your own by commenting on this post.

Last thing before I point out some books: these aren’t just for kids. 🙂 I read books on these topics now. I’m fascinated with how people come to conclusions, and reading advocatory books on all sides helps illustrate that.

Okay, here we go…

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*
by Hans Holzer
Kindle Unlimited (KU)

Holzer really popularized the idea of “ghost hunting”. An urbane and witty writer with more than 100 books published, that included being a New York Times bestselling author. This book is a series of short articles on investigations Holzer made. This is simple: either Holzer is lying, or there is very strong evidence here for something paranormal. Holzer couldn’t have been hoaxed in some of these situations without things being very, very complicated. While the book never gets explicit, there is some…I’d say racy material, but it isn’t really that. You might have to explain to a nine-year old why adults would go to a club to paint a partially naked woman, for example…although the accounting of that is written in good taste.

Monsters Among Us (at AmazonSmile*)
by Brad Steiger
KU

Steiger is another super prolific writer. This book is again one of short articles, although with a bit more structure as it covers different topics. For example, there is that Hollow Earth stuff…

Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic (at AmazonSmile*)
by Isaac Bonewits
not KU

This one isn’t scary…it looks at magic and breaks it down into engineering like laws. I’m going to from memory here, but there is something like the “law of similarity” (if it seems the same, it is the same…that’s why you can make a replica of something and use it to affect the real thing) and something like the “law of contagion” (the more intimate contact something has with a person, the more of their “essence” it picks up. In other words, if you want to cast a spell on somebody, their fingernail might be better than a spoon they touched once at a restaurant).

Strange Creatures From Time and Space (at AmazonSmile*)
by John A. Keel
KU

Keel was highly influential, and brought a sort of hard-headed, blue collar approach to the paranormal (Keel was, to me, the clear inspiration for Kolchak, the “night stalker”). While many people’s favorite is The Mothman Prophecies, this is a fun, wide-ranging book. One minor warning: Keel isn’t always what would now be considered to be “politically correct”. That might also be a topic for conversation with a young person reading the book…

Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (at AmazonSmile*)
by Joe Nickell
not KU

Nickell is one of those capital “S” Skeptics, but unlike some of them, doesn’t come across as vitriolic. If you want a kid who is leaning towards belief to get the other side, Nickell is a good choice.

There are a lot of choices…here’s one of the main categories:

Kindle eBooks : Religion & Spirituality : Occult (at AmazonSmle*)

Be aware that some of the books in there may be fiction…publishers get to choose their categories, and they don’t always make the categorizations that you or I might make. In some cases, it’s for marketing purposes, in others, it’s just not knowing which one to pick.

If you have questions about any specific titles, feel free to ask me. If you have any other comments for me or my readers, I look forward to those. Perhaps you think children should be protected from occult books, or you don’t want them to be led astray. Maybe you have other books you’d like to recommend (advocatory for the paranormal, or skeptical)…either way, happy Halloween! 🙂

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.

Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

October 25, 2014

Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

I’m going to the World Series game today!

I’m also a lover of books.

I wanted to tie those two together…and since I’m going as a San Francisco fan (we live in the area, but not actually in the City), I thought I’d do a post pointing out some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s literary highlights…and other little cultural nuggets.

First, though, let me say a bit about baseball. I certainly can’t claim to be the Giants’ biggest fan. I don’t watch every game throughout the year, but I do keep casual track of it and tune in when we get to the post-season. Now, some people would say that’s not unlike the Giants themselves, but that wouldn’t be fair. 😉

I’ll be wearing a cap from the 2000 season, celebrating Pac Bell Park (now AT&T). Somewhere around the house, I have a “Croix de Candlestick”, the “medal” we got for surviving a game in that  park. 🙂 We did go to see Matt Cain pitch in one of our recent World Series (yes, that’s right…we have multiple recent World Series. Somewhat like Star Trek movies, even years/numbers have been good for us). 😉

We didn’t buy the tickets to the games, though ($500 apiece is about what you would expect when they first go on sale). My parents generously buy tickets for the family to go…there will probably be twelve of us there today (including them).

My Significant Other’s father was offered a pitching contract with the Seals (who were in San Francisco before the Giants). It was at the same time he became a plumber, though, and the money was the same (this was some time ago). The family blames my SO’s older sibling, who was in the womb at the time…and that was the deciding factor. 🙂

So, yes, I’m a Giants fan…but if you think that they are a bigger part of your life than they are of mine, you are probably right.

As to San Francisco and books…I should say why I’m including the whole Bay Area (and even here, we debate about what “the Bay Area” includes). Out here, we are inclusive. San Francisco spills down the peninsula like an overflowing soy latte, but the community pride also goes South  to San Jose (and beyond), East to Oakland (and beyond), and North to Marin (and beyond). Some people (especially those outside the Bay Area) hated the baseball caps which are split down the middle…half for the Giants, and half for the Oakland A’s. They yell at us: “Pick a side! You can’t have two teams!”

In the Bay Area, you can…we don’t judge your lifestyle. 😉

Now, of course, if you are from L.A. and are a Dodgers fan, that’s different. 😉 Even with that, we might say we hate the Dodgers…but for the most part, S.F. fans will welcome Dodgers fans to the game. In a meeting at work yesterday, there was a lot of Giants  paraphernalia…but when one of our team members shouted, “Go, Royals!” it wasn’t a dicey moment. We laughed…and knew that person came here from that area.

A native San Franciscan is a rare thing (my SO is one), and that’s a virtuous circle: we both welcome outsiders and are influenced by them.

Here, then, are some literary San Francisco facts (and I use the  term “facts” loosely) as well as some other cultural factoids to help you enjoy the games:

  • We usually call it San Francisco, but it is also commonly called just “The City”, even though San Jose (about 45 minutes South) has a bigger population. Some people are adamant that it not be called “Frisco”, but others defend the name. The late columnist Herb Caen even wrote a book called Don’t Call it Frisco (not available for Kindle)
  • Bay Area authors (they don’t have to have been born here…but they may have, or may have moved here, or just written about here) include: Scott Adams (Dilbert); Isabelle Allende; Peter Beagle; Michael Chabon; Dave Eggers; Allen Ginsberg; Dashiell Hammett; Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket); Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner); Shirley Jackson (The Lottery); Jack Kerouac; Maxine Hong Kingston; Fritz Leiber; Jack London; Armistead Maupin; Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts); Amy Tan; Walter Tevis; Mark Twain; Alice Walker; and Laurence Yep
  • One way we can tell if a TV series, movie, or book which is set in San Francisco actually has its origins in Los Angeles (or somewhere else) is that we don’t say the word “the” before the numbers of our freeways (although again, we aren’t completely dogmatic about it). For example, we wouldn’t say, “I took the 4, then headed South on the 680”. We would just say, “I took 4, then headed South on 680”. I’m not entirely sure why…that “the” doesn’t seem unreasonable. I wonder if all of the Russian influence we have around here has something to do with it…they stereotypically find using English articles a challenge
  • One big literary convention in the area is LitQuake…we consider earthquakes part of our heritage, and don’t hide the fact that they happen. The vast majority of earthquakes don’t cause any (or much) damage…those can be kind of fun. The biggest ones can be tragic disasters, but those are rare. A lot more people are killed and a lot more damage is done on the East Coast each year by the cold than earthquakes do out here
  • Speaking of which, we like to say that we do have four seasons here…we just have them all in one day 😉
  • There used to be a three-story tall used bookstore in the City, called Albatross Books. That was a destination for me…even though it was in the Tenderloin, a dangerous part of town. The Bay Area has many famous bookstores…and not just in San Francisco proper (although “San Francisco proper” seems like an oxymoron). 😉 Berkeley has several (Moe’s, Dark Carnival, Pegasus), but I couldn’t mention bookstores in the area without mentioning Kepler’s in Menlo Park. I used to go there quite often. We respect bookstores here: we even have a plaque honoring the opening of the first one in San Francisco (in 1849). In fact, we are good at honoring books and authors generally…after all, one of the big tourist attractions in Oakland (right across the bay) is Jack London Square
  • I’m pretty sure that AT&T Park must have been one of the few places in the world where you could get both edamame (soybeans…a popular snack in Japanese ballparks) and Krispy Kreme donuts 😉
  • There are so many books set in San Francisco, that a search for “books set in San Francisco” on Google results in more than 100 million hits. I like the Buzzfeed list, but there are also lists from Goodreads (now owned by Amazon) and Wikipedia
  • We call our (partly) underground train system BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Again, we don’t say “the BART”…just BART. “I took BART to the game”, not “I took the BART”. Strangely, though, we don’t say, “I took bus to the game”, but “I took the bus to the game.” Isn’t English fun? 😉

Well, there you go! That’s just a small taste of both San Francisco and literary San Francisco! You never know what is going to happen a San Francisco game…and we are really looking forward to it.

Update: SPOILER ALERT (if, somehow, you are interested in the World Series and haven’t heard about or watched last night’s game yet, you might want to skip this until you have). It was a great game! Actually, the spoiler alert may be  unnecessary, because I won’t say too much about what actually happened. It was, though, typical Giants. 😉 I just wanted to say that the crowd bore out what I said. We were in the bleachers, and of course, the vast majority of people around us were Giants fans. There were, though, Royals fans, all dressed up to support their team. Sure, people sometimes turned around when they cheered…but never with animosity.

Update: Oh, I wanted to mention…I am loud out there in the stands. 😉 When they say “Make Noise”, I do. 🙂 One “call” I haven’t ever gotten to catch on, but I keep hoping it will. It’s when Posey is at bat. One person would call out, “Who ya gonna call?” and the crowd response is, “Go, Buster!” Feel free during the next three games…and hopefully, for some time after that.

 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.

Amazon’s Q3 financials: net sales up 20%, operating loss half a billion higher

October 24, 2014

Amazon’s Q3 financials: net sales up 20%, operating loss half a billion higher

I think you know the basic story by now.

Amazon is selling more…a lot more.

Amazon is losing more…a lot, lot, lot more.

However…they gained more in sales than they lost in, well, losses.

You can see numbers in this

press release

and you can listen to the webcast here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5171470

Compared to the same quarter last year:

“Net sales increased 20% to $20.58 billion in the third quarter, compared with $17.09 billion in third quarter 2013.”

“Operating loss was $544 million in the third quarter, compared with operating loss of $25 million in third quarter 2013.”

So, net sales were up $3.49 billion, while the operating loss was $.519 billion.

Looking at this, it looks good…but it’s scary to see losses more than twenty times higher.

Looking through the slides, it just looks bad…the “loss” slides are so dramatic!

During the question and answer session, Amazon sounded…resigned to what was happening. The investors asking the questions sounded…concerned. They were looking for something to explain the slide, but to me, not expecting to find it.

The lack of media sales growth seemed to be a particular concern. Amazon was suggesting that a shift from purchasing to renting (textbooks), for example, was a contributing factor. Give me an argument for why that is going to reverse going forward?

I’m listening to the Q&A as I write this, and sometimes, the Amazon representative just seems to trail off when answering a question.

Amazon is undeniably investing a lot of money…launching hardware, licensing content, creating their own content. Is that going to slow down, though? Is it becoming the expected thing for Amazon, and if they stop doing it, will that take some of the shine off the company for the average consumer?

I want to be clear, I’m not especially concerned about Amazon from this report…it’s kind of more of the same, even if the losses are up so much.

They are smart, and I think very focused. I expect Amazon to be around twenty years from now, certainly.

I have more concern with them losing customer goodwill…that’s what they need to have to continue to succeed.

In terms of the highlights in the press release, this stood out to me:

“Amazon Fire TV is now the best-selling streaming box on Amazon for the U.S., U.K., and Germany”

The

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

is a good device: I use mine every day.

The

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

looks to be a hit (they are having to restrict buying) and I think the new

7th generation entry level Kindle: “Mindle Touch” (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

will also do well.

The

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

?

Not so much.

I have one, and I see them advertising them a lot…but it may be a couple of years before we know if it will really get a solid slice of the market.

Amazon mentioned they had $83 million in Fire Phone inventory on hand…that’s not where they want to be. They are giving them away right now (with a plan)…and it sounds like people still aren’t going for it.

The Fire tablets, though, appear to be solid sellers.

All of this is only a small part of Amazon’s business (web services and fulfillment for others are two significant segments)…but a very large part of the public perception of the company.

They did confirm what I’ve been saying…content can be sold at a loss if it makes people Prime members, because Prime members buy what I call “diapers and windshield wipers”…the higher margin physical goods.

Update:

Lots of stories on this, generally negative towards Amazon (with a few exceptions). Here’s a search at Seeking Alpha:

http://seekingalpha.com/search/?q=amazon&avoid_symbol=&sort=date%3Ad&cx=018269914407235029540%3Acdhc2yeo2ko&cof=FORID%3A11%3BNB%3A1&goto_search_tab=

Notably, Seeking Alpha also has a transcript of the call…so you don’t need to listen to it to get the literal content (although the emotional content from hearing it is still interesting:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2592525-amazon-com-amzn-q3-2014-results-earnings-call-transcript?all=true&find=amazon

What do you think of this financial report, and of Amazon’s future in general? Will the stock tank (temporarily) based on these figures? Does Amazon need to change something significant, or is this all according to plan? 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.

Round up #274: Americans’ fear, hardware sales

October 23, 2014

Round up #274: Americans’ fear, hardware sales

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

Hardware sales

There are a lot of sales lately on hardware from Amazon.

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation – 3rd) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

$179…$20 off

This the model I use every day…and I like it well enough that I’m not looking to upgrade to this year’s models (although I’m hoping to get to review them for you).

In fact, I’m watching the World Series right now on mine, using the free

FOX Sports GO (at AmazonSmile*)

app. It looks great, by the way!

I saw some interesting reviews of the app…some may have been written for an earlier version, since it works fine for my Fire HDX. I also saw someone saying that it would kill cable…nope. I had to sign into our cable provider before it would let me watch.

I can also mirror it to my TV, using my Fire TV.

Right now, there is a sale on a bundle of the Fire HDX and the Fire TV:

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

$259

If you think of the FHDX as $179, that makes the Fire TV $80…$20 off. That’s $40 off both!

I like my Fire TV a lot, too…this might be a case of you keeping both (they go together very well, thanks to the mirroring), or giving one or both as gifts at the holidays.

That deal is so good they are limiting it to one to a customer…while it lasts.

The

Amazon Fire Phone, 32GB (AT&T) (at AmazonSmile*)

which isn’t my favorite Amazon device at this point…but it does work as my phone, it’s available for as little as…free (with a plan).

Meanwhile, you can get a refurb (refurbished) Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ with 4G…for as little as $159!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AFKC9UO/ref=gb1h_rlm_c-3_4282_1b6b5d9c?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_t=701&pf_rd_s=center-new-3&pf_rd_r=109CTB24BCY6KJRT4A18&pf_rd_i=20&pf_rd_p=1952684282

To use the 4G (which is like a cellphone connection…it’s another way to connect to the internet, in addition to the wi-fi it can also do), you’ll need to pay for a dataplan…but$159 for an 8.9″ device is a really good deal.

This is the model that has an HDMI out, so you can show what’s on your tablet on your TV using a cable (if your TV has an HDMI in…most modern TVs will). That’s a plus, in just needing a cable. However, some apps will detect the HDMI cable and refuse to play…the Xfinity app used to do that for me.

The refurbs have the same warranty as new ones.

New 10.1″ NOOK tablet

You think 8.9″ is big?

Barnes & Noble and Samsung have just announced a 10.1″ tablet:

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1

It’s $299.99 (with a $50 rebate), and comes with $200 of NOOK content (they pick, not surprisingly).

Yep, they are still in the game…

A charter for readers’ rights

I have to say, this

CBC article by Jason Proctor

strikes me as truly bizarre.

Certainly, it’s reasonable to write an article setting out what you think should be the rights of readers…I was expecting something to balance what the authors have recently been saying, and what the publishers and retailers say.

This one just has some very odd points.

Before I do that, let me say…the title actually says “reader’s rights”, and maybe that’s appropriate. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be plural, but just this writer’s personal pet peeves. 😉

Second, the photo that they have of a Kindle is the original, 2007 model.  Perhaps Proctor would be a bit less anti-Kindle if the current models were compared to paper?

Maybe not…

I’ll just mention the first complaint: movie tie-in editions. Yep, Proctor doesn’t like it that you can buy a copy of a book with pictures of the actors from the movie on the cover.

I think, perhaps, Jason Proctor doesn’t realize how much movies affect sales of books, and how much they can turn movie watchers into readers. This strikes me as a kind of literati snobbery…if you aren’t a “pure reader”, don’t be a reader at all.

I’d rather encourage everybody to read…and if a movie is a gateway to reading, great! I suspect it wouldn’t have been too hard to find an edition of the book without the movie cover, if you wanted to do that.

You can add your own comments as they build this list at

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/book-lovers-unite-a-plea-for-a-charter-of-reader-s-rights-1.2791581

I might do that, but I’d want to do it in a positive way. Of course, one of mine might be:

1. The right to read any edition of any book, even one with a movie tie-in cover, without having anyone look down on me and try to discourage me from reading 😉

British perspective on USA and book banning

I don’t want to suggest that there is only one British perspective on…well, anything. 🙂 Just like there wouldn’t be only one American perspective on anything.

However, it does say something when a person from outside your group is stating that they are looking at you in that way…as an outsider.

This

The Guardian article by Mary O’Hara

The article looks at books being challenged in America (challenged in libraries, school curricula, that sort of thing) for being “anti-capitalist”.

I’m not sure that it’s a widespread problem, but it happens…remember that this isn’t censorship by the government, but individuals and groups requesting that books be withheld from readers.

I think the article reasonably makes its point: I believe that some people don’t want people reading books which go against “American values”.

I think that attitude is a non-productive one. As I’ve said many times on the blog before, I want people to be exposed to ideas which are the opposite of mine. I don’t want those ideas to slink around freely in the shadows: I want to shine the full light of day on them, and let people see them for what they are.

In the past, industry groups have imposed these sorts of rules on themselves. The old Comics Code Authority included a provision that “…Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”

In the USA, we’ve never applied a standard like that to books. Certainly, Huck Finn wouldn’t have passed a restriction like that, just to name one.

According to this article, this is being applied to non-fiction in addition to fiction.

People often ask on the Amazon Kindle forums how they can tell which books are “R rated”, or something like that.

The answer is simple: none of them.

The movie industry has its own rating system.

The music industry has its own rating system.

The videogame industry has its own rating system.

The book publishing industry does not…and I don’t think it is likely to establish one.

However, just because the publishers aren’t getting together to label books, that doesn’t mean that private groups aren’t doing it.

Those groups may also go after schools and libraries.

I’m not quite sure if the article is suggesting that this is an American flaw…that it is something which wouldn’t happen in the UK.

We have always had different standards. American movies have tended to be more lenient with violence and stricter with sexual content than European movies (and TV).

The Boris Karloff Frankenstein was given an “H certificate” in England…rating it too horrific for those under 16 years of age (this wasn’t universally ((no pun intended)) enforced).

I must say I found it an interesting perspective, and I think you may as well.

What do you think? Are Americans (not the government) more likely to try to block counter-culture material than Britons? The article really focuses on how the block can be against portraying poverty…do we only want our children to read through rose-colored glasses? Does a 10.1 inch tablet interest you…and will the NOOK brand still be around a year from now? Should Amazon bring out a tablet that large? What about an EBR (E-Book Reader) that size? What would you put on a list of “readers’ rights”? 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.


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