Round up #276: PRH on subsers, Boehner blocks

Round up #276: PRH on subsers, Boehner blocks

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

No Active Content for the Voyage?

This question had come up before, but according to this

post in The Digital Reader by Nate Hoffelder

Amazon is not planning to add Active Content for the

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

their flagship model.

Hoffelder reports having been told by Amazon that their “…focus is on building the best purpose-built reading devices.”

I suppose I can understand as a goal, but Active Content is one of those really non-intrusive things. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t. Games have been on the Kindles since the very first one in 2007 (although the games on that one were hidden…I played Minesweeper on mine, though). It’s an interesting decision.

There are over 1,500 customer reviews for

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

in the USA Kindle store, with an average rating of 4.3 stars (out of 5). There have been ten reviews at time of writing in November 2014…and almost all of them were five stars.

It’s currently ranked #2,397 free in the Kindle store…out of 64,497, making it in the top 4% of sellers.

My guess is that this really has more to do with associated expenses (adapting the Amazon published ones for new models, customer service) than it really has to do with what customers say. However, I have had e-mail exchanges with the person listed by Hoffelder, and that person has always seemed nice and knowledgeable to me…so I’m sure there is some evidence for what the rep says.

$80 worth of apps free through Saturday 11/15

While I probably do more reading on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

than I do anything else (counting text-to-speech as reading…which I do), it certainly isn’t a “purpose-built reading device”.

I’m sure some people would argue that Amazon is turning away from Active Content to encourage people to buy Fires…but I think they’d be happiest if people had both. 😉

For those of you who do use a Fire and want apps, Amazon has a promotion going on through today (Saturday) with $80 worth of apps being given away. They are calling it an

App Toolbox (at AmazonSmile*)

Note that not all of these will work on a Fire tablet (the ones that don’t may work on the Fire Phone, if you are one of the rarities like me who owns one). 😉

Titles include:

  • Office Calculator Pro: 4.4 stars, 172 reviews
  • MathsApp Graphing Calculator: 4.4 stars, 63 reviews
  • EasyTether: 4.3 stars, 861 reviews
  • Open Document Reader: 5.0 stars, 3 reviews
  • Oxford Dictionary of English: 3.5 stars, 8 reviews…normally $24.99

and twelve more.

Amazon and others advocate for Equal Collection Legislation

It’s been a while since I’ve written about this issue, but it’s back in the news.

Congress is considering a bill which would mean that sales tax would be collected on online purchases in a way similar to how it is collected now in brick and mortar stores.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both support the current legislation, along with many other entities.


National Retail Federation

has sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, urging passage. Unfortunately, every link on their website to that letter is failing for me…they may be overwhelmed because of the coverage.

Why does this matter now?

If the current bill isn’t passed before the new Congress takes over in January of 2015, it’s dead…and they have to start all over (again).

It might surprise you that Amazon and B&N are on the same side on this.

Amazon has argued for it before. They don’t want there to be lots of different rules about how this happens all over the country: they want one clear sales tax collection policy (not rate, policy) at the national level.

This (and previous bills) bill is not about people owing more taxes, but it would certainly mean that many people pay more.

Check the sales tax category (linked at the end of this post) for more information, but essentially, what happens now is that many people are supposed to pay tax on things they buy on the internet…and they don’t. Every year, my family adds more when we pay our State taxes for those uncollected taxes…it would be far easier if they just collected them at the time of purchase.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to track your in-store purchases yourself to figure out what sales tax you owed?

Amazon has repeatedly said that when they are in situations where sales tax is collected on their purchases, it doesn’t hurt their market share.

I believe that. Oh, that’s not to say that some people might buy very expensive items from Amazon to avoid having sales tax collected. Of course, they might be quite surprised if they ever get audited…not having paid that will not get you invited to the IRS offices for tea. 😉 It might get you invited somewhere else less pleasant, though…

According to this

The Hill article by Bernie Becker

Speaker Boehner is blocking the bill, despite some significant bipartisan support.

It’s worth noting that not every state would collect sales tax on e-books anyway (California doesn’t, when they are delivered electronically…at least, that’s how it was last time I looked), but this still could affect Kindleers.

PRH C.E.O. doesn’t like subsers

Generally, I’ve found Random House to be pretty forward thinking…but this

The Bookseller article by Benedicte Page

makes me question that.

C.E.O. (Chief Executive Officer) Tom Weldon of Penguin Random House makes several statements.

One of them has to do with keeping e-book royalty rates the same, but the headline item is really about not believing in subsers (subscription services), like Amazon’s

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

In this short excerpt, Weldon is quoted as saying:

“We are not convinced it is what readers want. ‘Eat everything you can’ isn’t a reader’s mindset. In music or film you might want 10,000 songs or films, but I don’t think you want 10,000 books.”

Well, as someone with something like 10,000 paperbooks on my shelves, I beg to differ. 😉

Certainly, it usually takes longer to read a book than it does to listen to a song or watch a movie, so you might think you need access to fewer…but you still need to make the choices as to which ones to consume.

While I think there is a lot future in curation (people, and perhaps software, picking books that you are likely to like), having a variety is important now.

Let’s say you like 1% of the books that are published each year. 10,000 gives you one to enjoy every three days. That’s a pretty good pace.

I think subsers are a big part (but not the only part) of the book market in the next few years, and I suspect Random House may come on board with it. Weldon didn’t rule it out, although the CEO thought they were more likely to succeed in emerging markets. If they did there, that might encourage them to join in more developed markets.

I recommend the article: see what Weldon has to say about PRH selling directly to consumers…I think what’s said there is wise.

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.



7 Responses to “Round up #276: PRH on subsers, Boehner blocks”

  1. hsextant Says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the app, I picked up a couple.

    As far as Weldon’s comments, CEO’s say the darnedest things. I remember another one about 7 years ago predicting the Kindle to be a vast failure because people don’t read anymore.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    No “Every Word” or “Bubble Pop” or “Slingo” on Voyage! That’s a deal breaker. I can’t really concentrate on reading when I’m sitting in a waiting room waiting for my tires to be rotated or the doctor to call me back to be poked and prodded, so I pass the time playing one of my active content games. I was worried that the lack of the 5 way controller meant the end to active content. Bummer!

    I wish something would happen to make it easier to pay sales tax on Amazon purchases. Up until this year, Amazon didn’t collect sales tax on anything. Now they tax some things and not others.It was a lot easier to keep track of when they didn’t tax anything. It’s even more complicated when I order several items on the same order number and tax is collected on some but not others and I’m left to try to figure out which items have already been taxed and which ones haven’t.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Actually, Amazon has always collected sales tax on some things, depending on where you are. In 2010, the Agency Model also meant they started collecting sales on e-books, again, depending on where you are. The e-books being sold under the Agency Model were actually sold by the publisher, and Amazon just acted as the agent in selling them to you. If the publisher had a “nexus” in your state (could be a physical building, could be a sales force), they collected the sales tax…if e-books delivered electronically were taxable in your state.

      You could also be in a state that worked out a deal with Amazon.

      The something that you want to have happen is the bill I mentioned. That would standardize the collection. Oh, and when some items are taxed and some aren’t in the same order? It could be that some items aren’t taxable, and it could be that your order is actually coming from multiple sellers in different locations.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I’m very aware of what’s taxed and what isn’t. Last year, e-books and MP3 downloads weren’t taxable. This year they are. The tax is collected for some of them, not for others. When they’re in separate orders, that’s not a problem, but if you order stuff close together, Amazon will sometimes lump it together into a single order.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I’m curious, and you may have mentioned it before: if you don’t mind sharing, in which state do you live? What is taxable varies by jurisdiction, and I just double-checked for California (where I live): e-books transmitted electronically (without an accompanying physical object) are not subject to sales tax still, as of March 2014:

        “Your sale of electronic data products such as software, data, digital books (eBooks), mobile applications, and digital images is generally not taxable when you transmit the data to your customer over the Internet or by modem. However, if as part of the sale you provide your customer with a printed copy of the electronically transferred information or a backup data copy on a physical storage medium such as a CD-ROM, your entire sale is usually taxable.

        An eBook is an electronic version of a traditional print book that can be read by using a tablet computer or by using an eBook reader. Users can purchase an eBook on diskette or CD, but the most popular method of getting an eBook is to purchase a downloadable file of the eBook without purchasing any physical storage medium. A mobile application, also known as a “mobile app”, is computer software designed for use on a smartphone or tablet computer. The transfer of a downloadable file such as an eBook or an “app” without purchasing any physical storage medium is not a taxable transaction.”

        The mix of taxable and non-taxable may have to do with the structure under which it is sold and who sold it.

  3. Karen Says:

    Bufo, I need an new battery for my Kindle Paperwhite. I looked at the Voyage but to many complaints so I am going to wait until they are fixed. Any suggestions where to get a new battery?



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