Round up #272: Fire update coming, Mindle Touch questions?

Round up #272: Fire update coming, Mindle Touch questions?

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

I have a Mindle Touch

I plan to write a review by Monday, but I wanted to let you know that Amazon has loaned me a

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

for review.

That’s the new $79 model. I called the old “entry level” model a “Mindle” (for minimum Kindle), and this one has a touchscreen, so…Mindle Touch.

Interestingly, Amazon refers to it in a few places as a 7th generation Kindle.

I’m guessing they are counting it this way:

  1. Kindle 1
  2. Kindle 2
  3. Kindle 3 (AKA Kindle Keyboard)
  4. Mindle
  5. Kindle Touch
  6. Kindle Paperwhite
  7. Mindle Touch

That would make sense to me: the Kindle DX was basically the same software as the Kindle 2…same generation, even though it was a different size.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention it in case you have any questions before I send it back. I’ve never asked them for review copies before, but really, I’m quite satisfied with our Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile*) and our Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) at this point…just didn’t want to buy new ones. After all, I’m apparently one of the very few people to pay close to $200 for the Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) recently…that’s a chunk of budget. 🙂

I’ve also asked for a Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for review…if I get one, I’ll let you know.

Amazon announces Fire OS 4…on my device

I got a letter from Jeff Bezos on my KFHDX7 this morning…I’m assuming many other people did, too. 🙂

It’s alerting me that the devices will be updated (for free) to Fire OS (Operating System) 4 in “the coming weeks”. That will be on the new generation of Fires, but I’m sure won’t be on the first generation.

What is it bringing?

  • Profiles (to the USA, UK, and Germany): every “family member” (Amazon usually doesn’t require proof…you know, like DNA sequencing) 😉 can have a profile, including “individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, page in the book, spot in a movie, and game levels”. This ties in, in a way, with the Family Library which is coming, which will let us share books with people not on our accounts (we don’t know exactly what limitations that will have yet)
  • Office Documents: we’ll get WPS Office, so we can edit Microsoft Office documents (including creating new ones). It’s going to integrate with the Cloud Drive
  • Longer Battery Life: better battery management when sleeping
  • New Weather and Calculator Apps
  • Full-Screen Immersive Mode: apps and games will full the full screen in “immersive mode”
  • Backup & Restore: it will be interesting to see exactly what this done. It doesn’t look to me like it will mirror your entire device (your personal documents, which books you’ve already downloaded from your Amazon account), but can do “device settings, email and wireless configuration, notes, bookmarks, and more…” I never find the transition to a new device very difficult (I don’t keep a lot of content actually on my devices), but this may make it easier. It would be nice to get a new device and already have it on my network without having to enter a password, for example

Did you notice that Family Library wasn’t on the list? I assume that’s because that isn’t part of Fire OS 4, and that it will work with a much wider range of devices. This update could also affect the Fire Phone…and possibly, in some way, Fire TV.

Why send this announcement now, ahead of time? I think, in part, Amazon’s trying to patch its reputation going into the holiday season…and caring for customers with devices already helps them decide to buy newer devices.

Amazon sends more info on their crowd-sourced publishing program

I also got an e-mail from Amazon this week about their upcoming program. It explains it pretty well (and I’ve mentioned it previously). The basic idea is that authors can put up a sample of a complete but unpublished novel, readers “vote” on them, and Amazon will select some for publishing…paying at least a $1,500 advance. We could use a few more details, but I think this may work very well for Amazon…although it isn’t without risk (the main one being that it is seen as being fair). Here’s that e-mail:

Dear Author,

Thanks for subscribing to receive updates on Amazon’s new publishing program! We’re excited to announce that we’ll be opening for submissions in a couple weeks.

We’ll be welcoming submissions for English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller, and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres. Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible.

It only takes 15 minutes to complete a submission. Here are the things that you should prepare to successfully submit your book:

  • Complete, never-before-published manuscript & book cover image – We’re looking for 50,000 words or more in Word format and a book cover image that reflects the essence and uniqueness of your book. Make sure your work is ready for others to read. Only the first pages will be posted to the website (approx. 3,000 words).
  • Book one-liner – A very short pitch (no longer than 45 characters) for your book that will be used on the homepage and throughout the website. Think of examples like “Space opera meets the Middle Ages” or “How far will one woman go to save her family?”
  • Book description- Help readers understand the content and quality of your book. Keep the description to 500 characters or less.
  • Your bio & picture – Give readers a chance to learn more about you. You will also have a chance to answer relevant questions regarding your book and personal story in a short Q&A section.

We’ll also ask you to review and accept our submission and publishing agreement that grants us a 45-day exclusivity period to post your excerpt and tally nominations. If chosen for publication, you will receive a $1,500 advance, 5-year renewable term, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and Amazon-featured marketing. If not, you automatically get all your rights back at the end of the 45-day exclusivity period.
We’ll send you an email as soon as we’re open for submissions. Looking forward to hearing from you!

I don’t have a book written already that will fit this. I suspect it will have somewhat of a soft start: my guess is that people will write books specifically to try them for this program. Some folks have books sitting around…but how many of them won’t have independently published them already before they heard about this program?

You can contact Amazon about it here:

Put in the subject “Question about Amazon’s new publishing program”.

Amazon still working on the KOLL/KU problem

Amazon’s been getting more information from me about the issue with being both a

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

member and a Prime member eligible to use the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

If you are both (which I am), at least some people (including me) are finding it very difficult to impossible to borrow a KOLL book. All of the books which are in both the KOLL and KU only seem to want me to borrow them through KU. If a book is in the KOLL and not in KU (a quite small number, from what I can tell), then I could do it…but that’s not much of a benefit. It doesn’t bother me that much…I’m not a Prime member because of the KOLL, it’s just a nice perk. Still, it doesn’t seem to be working the way Amazon wants it to work…and it does feel like a bit of a takeaway.

I’ve given them information about my experiences with it…I’ll let you know if they let me know that they’ve figured anything out.

Seeking Alpha round-up

I continue to be impressed with the quality of stories about Amazon at Seeking Alpha. Here are some recent ones:

Update: Fire Phone And Kindle Voyage Developments by Paulo Santos

Santos sees both the Fire Phone and the Kindle Voyage as underperforming, and indicative of Amazon’s customers not being able to be brought to profitable price points.

2 Reasons Why Amazon Will Never Make Money by Shock Exchange

The two reasons? They don’t know how, and they don’t wanna. 😉 They recommend selling the stock.

How Got Into Yet Another Fight, This Time With Greenpeace by Paulo Santos

Santos starts out by apologizing for writing about Amazon so much. 🙂 This one did interest me, though: Amazon has had a rep as being an environmentally conscious company…not someone you would expect Greenpeace to actively target.

However, Santos noticed a massive drop in ratings for the Fire Phone…and thinks it is due to an active 1-star campaign by the non-profit.

I generally like Greenpeace, but this raises an interesting question for me: should you go after a company by rating one of their products at 1-star? What does their policy (with which you disagree…details on that in the article) have to do with the quality of the device? I don’t rate books as 1-star because the publisher chooses to block text-to-speech access…I don’t buy the book, but it doesn’t feel…honest to rate the book 1-star on that basis.

What do you think? What do you want me to check on the Mindle Touch? Is rating a product 1-star because of a policy something with which agree? Does it make a difference that this is an Amazon product, rather rating, say, an e-book not from Amazon 1-star because the price it too high or it isn’t available in your country? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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

18 Responses to “Round up #272: Fire update coming, Mindle Touch questions?”

  1. scottishbookworm Says:

    Speaking of the new Fire OS 4, the new Fire 6″ arrived on my doorstep yesterday with OS 4 Sangria installed.

    I’ve only had a few hours to play around with it, but there are some neat features. The backup you mentioned worked well. The new About the Book feature which you can setup to open as you read the book could be very useful. It tells you brief information at a glance – author, number of books in the series, order in the series etc.

    There are also badges in the Audible app again! Yay!

    GoodReads is more tightly integrated with your being able to add the book to your Want to Read/Currently Reading/Read shelf from within the book. Nice. It will still be even better when they allow you to access your own shelves from within there.

    On the negative side, I have found it quite buggy. The registration process was buggy. I have found apps crashing, necessitating a reboot. Immersion reading isn’t working. I’m sure in a week or so Amazon will release an update that will fix this.

    Profiles are not yet active that I could see, although they’re only available in certain countries.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, scottishbookworm!

      I appreciate that field report! The Profiles say USA, UK, and Germany…so I would guess Scotland would work, but I know that’s been a big issue lately…

      Yes, they often release an update pretty quickly after first shipping…we’ll see what happens.

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    Regarding the KU/KOLL ‘konundrum,’ Amazon could just add ‘borrow for free’ to the few books that are in KOLL under the same terms as KU (I.e. no device restrictions, and no monthly limit), and raise the KU borrowing limit to eleven books for Prime+KU subscribers. So you would transparently have a slightly larger KU selection and an eleventh borrow. Or they could just add the books without the eleventh borrow, I would think, and that would be fine as well.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I suspect the issue with your plans would be the agreements signed with tradpubs (traditional publishers). They could pretty easily take all of the books published through Kindle Direct Publishing and in KDP Select and add them to KU without asking first (they did), but I doubt they could do that with books like Guns, Germs, and Steel (published by W.W. Norton) that you mentioned before. The payment structures are different, given the 10% read threshold on KU.

      The interesting thing to me is that it isn’t working as they want with KDP books, as far as I can tell. I think they’ll figure that out…

  3. dsmallc Says:

    I”ve also seen the Kindle Voyage referred to as 7th Generation kindle.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, dsmallc!

      That makes sense, since they are being released at the same time (similar to the Kindle DX and Kindle 2 not being considered two different generations…they weren’t released at the same time, although it was within a few months. However, the software generations were similar).

      It’s interesting because the cover they sent says it will fit the Kindle 7th Generation…but the Voyage and the Mindle Touch have different dimensions.

  4. hsextant Says:

    I was interested in the Santos commentary on the Voyage. I have no interest in smart phones and as such my thoughts are limited to the Voyage. It strikes me that Santos is probably correct on his analysis of the Voyage, Amazon customers may be a little too dollar conscious for the Voyage to be a grand success. I just bought a Paperwhite 2 last spring. How can I justify replacing a very good Paperwhite with a somewhat better Voyage which costs 80 dollars more? I can speak only for myself, but I do not find that the additional features of the Voyage justify the 80 dollar increase in price. If I was replacing a defunct or stolen Kindle, perhaps, but even then, I would be hard pressed to justify the cost for the additional features. I don’t see Kindles having a techie driven market audience that is going to go wait in lines to get the latest most advanced e-reader.

    Personally I think Amazon missed an opportunity with the Voyage. I have been experimenting with immersion reading on my HDX. Again I can only speak for myself because I don’t follow Kindle trends, but it seems to me that had Amazon included MP3 capability with real controls (not the “experimental” version they had on the Kindle 2) and the ability to do immersion reading (even forgoing the automatic highlighting) it would be a significant value added and a reason for me to sink an extra 80 bucks over and above the Paperwhite. Plus would that not help with their Audible sales?

    I will not be replacing my Paperwhite until it dies, but when it does, if the choices are the existing Paperwhite or the existing Voyage at current price levels I believe I would still go with the Paperwhite. I do like the idea of the bezel buttons and who wouldn’t like less glare and better resolution. As for the automatic screen lighting, I have it on my HDX and seldom use it as I find the levels jumping around rather irritating, although it is nice when sitting in a car on a day where the clouds are passing in front of the sun. As far as it being lighter and thiner, I was quite happy with my Kindle 2 in regards to size and weight. I would buy the Voyage if there was no Paperwhite, but with both units on the market, I don’t know, this it would be difficult to justify the additional 80 bucks for a marginally better unit.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, hxestant!

      Many people (including me) agree that audio would make the Voyage much more attractive.

      I’ve been a regular text-to-speech listener since the Kindle 2. I typically listen to it for hours a week in the car. I’d much rather go through a book that listen to music or talk radio.

      I understand the drawbacks: energy use; speaker(s) making the case more vulnerable; more parts to break; more Customer Service.

      Even without speakers (just a headphone jack), it would make a big difference to me. Other people want to use their Kindles for audiobooks and music.

      One reason I started regularly using my Kindle Fire HDX as my primary device when I was out and about was that the text-to-speech is quite good…much better than what we had on the non-Fire Kindles. I really expect my primary reading device to have TTS on it…and if that means it’s a tablet, so be it.

      I’ve been a bit surprised by the initial enthusiasm for the Voyage…like you, I’m not sure that I see the price differential with the Paperwhite as worth it.

      When I polled my readers

      it’s worth noting that about a quarter of them would buy the Voyage in addition to their current Kindles…not replacing one. In a case like that, novelty can be an attraction, even if when it was a choice of just one or the other, they might have gone with the Paperwhite.

      Would having audio on the Voyage increase the Audible sales? I’d have to see the data. I don’t know if that’s going to be a make or break for an Audible shopper: “If I can’t listen to it on my Kindle, even though I can on my tablet, phone, and PC, I won’t buy it.” That could be true…I just haven’t seen anything one way or the other.

      On the other hand, from my own experience only, having TTS really increases the number of books I get. I “consume” books much more quickly through a combination of TTS and sight-reading…which makes me want more content more quickly.

  5. Carolyn perreau Says:

    I don’t feel it’s fair to one star a product because you disagree with a policy. to me it’s apples and oranges. by the way I wrote to you awhile back about owning soooo many books. guess what I am now in he process of moving at least I’m67 so this should be my last move. but my what a headache. so many banana boxes(terrific for books) but I did find a place close (ft wayne) that buys used books and makes every effort to find them good homes and if not at least they will recycle them

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Carolyn!

      Oh, we have friends who say they will never help us move again because of the books. 🙂 At least that’s reached a stasis point, with the switch to e-books instead of p-books (paperbooks). Will I ever get rid of them? What I picture happening is them being donated after my death, handled by our kid. Some of them are rare (not worth a whole lot of money, I think), and should go to specific places to preserve them (beyond the expertise of “good homes”). That may not be the way it works out, of course. 🙂

      I have to say, I don’t quite get the place you are discussing recycling them, as opposed to donating them somewhere, but I’m glad you are concerned about the fate of the books.

  6. Tom Semple Says:

    It’s significant that Amazon is keeping last year’s Fires ‘fresh’, something they haven’t done before, but which is routine on iOS and Android. It enhances the Fire’s value proposition.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Amazon has tended to update their devices…I think until the hardware difference between old and current gets to be too big. For example, the Kindle Fire 1st gen got a considerable update in March of 2012…

      If you mean specifically giving a previous generation model a new generation model feature…that’s happened, although not always.

      • Tom Semple Says:

        I did not mean to imply there were no updates. Amazon certainly adds features, but those have mostly been prior to shipping the next generation devices (except for minor bug fixes and tweaks). But previously none of that involved updating to a newer Fire OS and Android version.

        This will update last year’s Fires to Android Kit Kat, which is ‘current’ for at least a few more weeks, and perhaps these same Fire owners can one day get Android L, which will be the most significant update since Android 4.0, and offers significant performance improvements. While most of this is ‘under the hood’, it should simplify Amazon’s support, and means Fire users can get apps that use the latest and greatest Android features (for example, Full Screen mode is courtesy of Kit Kat).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Oh, an operating system upgrade…yes, I think this might be the first time for that.

  7. Carolyn perreau Says:

    update. 12 more banana boxes packed only one bookcase left. the place that buys back books is hpb half price books. you c a n watch a video that tells the effort they put out to sell the books and they donate one million books per yr to different organizations

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Carolyn!

      Oh, I’m quite familiar with HPB! It’s one of the places we go on Black Friday, and the adult kid of a coworker works in one. 🙂 When you said “recycle”, I assumed you meant it as recycling the materials of the book…not donating it. Donating them is a good thing. 🙂

      When I managed a brick and mortar bookstore, we weren’t allowed to donate “strips” from the major publishers. Major publishers guarantee that you’ll sell a book…if you don’t, you can get credit from them for future purchases.

      Of course, you have to prove you didn’t sell it. With hardbacks, we generally had to box them up and send them back. With paperbacks, you tore off the covers, put those in an envelope, and mailed them back…much cheaper that way.

      The remaining coverless book (a “strip”) couldn’t be sold anywhere or donated. We could, though, contact a publisher and recommend they donate books to an organization in our area. That way, naturally, they got the tax write-off…but it also meant that when we sent the covers back, we weren’t benefiting financially from the strips ourselves.

      I’ve even seen books in used bookstores that say inside, “If you are buying this book without a cover, it was stolen,” or something close to that.

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