Round up #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

Round up #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

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

Digital Book World: 45 Percent of All Parents Plan to Purchase a New Device for Their Child to Read Ebooks [this holiday season]

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this!

Digital Book World has released their latest survey, and purchasing both of devices on to which to read e-books and e-books themselves appears to be up this year, based on their survey.

DBW Survey Highlights

It’s not unreasonable to question how objective a site called “Digital Book World” would be on this, but it’s worth noting that they partnered with PlayCollective.

According to the summary, 45% of parents (not legal guardians?) of children aged 2 to 13 plan to buy an e-book reading device (an EBR…E-Book Reader or a tablet, but the latter with the intent of reading books) this holiday season.

That’s up from last year by 4%.

I’ll note two other things, and then encourage you to read that summary…I don’t want to take too much away from it.

First, the most popular device for this is a Kindle (they didn’t break down which kind) at 26%.

Second, a full 75% plan to buy e-books for their kids this year, up 2% from last year.

As they say, “our children are the future”. If kids grow up reading e-books, they’ll very likely want to read them as adults.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that p-books (paperbooks) simply disappear…I expect them to stay around, as vinyl records have.

40 free apps of the day today

Finishing up today is a special Black Friday promotion with 40 apps which normally cost something being available for free today:

40 Free Apps of the Day today (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

There are some good choices here, and as usual, I’ve gotten them all. 🙂 I have them delivered only to the Cloud, unless it’s something I want to start using soon. I figure, why not? Our guest who is here, currently using our

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile*) (on sale right now for $79, normally $99)

has a lot of choices!

I figure, why not get them? If they are stored in the Cloud, they aren’t taking up any room on our devices unless we choose to use one.

A few highlights of the offerings:

  • Bike Race Pro (normally $0.99): 4.6 out of 5 stars, 2761 customer reviews
  • Mind Games Pro ($4.99): 4.4 stars, 1011 reviews
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD ($2.99): 4.3 stars, 304 reviews
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition for Android ($24.00!) 4.4 stars, 29 reviews
  • Shredder Chess ($7.99): 4.7 stars, 14 reviews…supposedly, it plays chess somewhat like a human, making mistakes appropriate to the level you choose for it
  • Perfectly Clear ($2.99): 3.9 stars, 455 reivews…I’ve used this one to improve pictures I’ve previously taken. I find it works quite well

Price drops from price matching

This weekend (certainly through Cyber Monday), look for big price drops on some popular books…which won’t last.

I recommend (at any time, not this time of year) listing books at

They will give you a free e-mail notification when a book you specify drops an amount you specify.

I often tell people eReaderIQ is the most valuable resource for Kindleers on the web…this is just one of their free services.

Some drops I’ve noticed this weekend…note that they could change any time. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

  • Field of Prey by John Sanford: dropped to $3.75 from $8.99
  • The Collector by Nora Roberts: dropped to $3.75 from $10.49
  • Skin Game: a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: $3.75 from $11.99

I could keep going!

Hmm…clearly, $3.75 is a price point right now! Here’s a search for books that cost $3.75 in the USA Kindle store right now, sorted by most reviewed:

$3.75 books in the USA Kindle store by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Yep, that did it!


Don’t wait on these, and don’t forget that they can make great gifts! You can delay a gift book to be delivered at the date of your choosing, and the recipient does not need a Kindle to read them (there are a lot of free Kindle reading apps). If they already have the book, they can get a gift card for the value instead, so there is really no risk.

Some of the ones I see: The Invention of Wings; Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander); Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King; The Silk Worm (J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith…this is the new one)…you want new popular books on sale, time’s a’wastin’! 😉

The Echo is learning

Some people who have gotten the Amazon Echo (no invitation for me yet) seem to be judging it as though it was as good as it was ever going to get. I even saw somebody say that “like most technology”, it was going to be obsolete as soon as you got it.

The Echo (ILMK Echo posts category) is not a self-enclosed device. When you bought a videogame console years ago, and you bought games for it, well, that was about it…no updates, it was what it was. To get a better experience, you would eventually have to buy another machine.

Kindles, on the other hand, are update pretty often (until they are out of the “front list” of current ones being sold, at least). Those are operating system upgrades, and they may bring us new features and better performance.

The Echo, though, can grow in a way different from either of those.

Most of what happens on the Echo happens in the Cloud…not in your house.

Right now, the Echo “hive mind” is learning from what someone is doing with the device.

I’ve seen anecdotal reports already of something not working at first, then reporting it, and then having it work. One example was a band with a quirky spelling to the name (two words smashed together…and I think there was a number in there, too). Two people reported Echo not understanding it…then, it did!

Another example is that, according to the help pages, you ask it for a “Flash Briefing” to get the local weather and the news. Now, apparently, you can get the same thing just by saying, “Alexa, news”.

Oh, “Alexa”, by the way, is the name of a company Amazon bought about 15 years ago. You can currently change the “listening prompt” to “Amazon”, and they are working are more prompts. Eventually, you may be able to choose your own.

My point about this updating that’s happening is that it happens in the Cloud…not on your device.

If you have an Echo, please keep reporting how it works. I’ve been told you can say, “Alexa, that was wrong” to flag the question and response for review.

It also appears to be getting a lot of joke responses as people say things like, “Alexa, beam me up” or “Open the pod bay doors”. My intuition here is those are also being improved regularly.

Essentially, Alexa is what used to be called a “dumb terminal” for the most part. Its music playing hardware  is one thing, but the conversational skills are handled at Amazon…so those can be updated on the hardware you have.

Eventually, there will be newer models with more capabilities, including perhaps faster response times (although it seems pretty fast now), but I wouldn’t worry about yours becoming quickly out of date.

Both my Significant Other and my now adult kid are creeped about by the idea of the Echo, and my kid doesn’t even want to be in the same house as one. 🙂 I said that was going to be inevitable, but hopefully, I get an invitation and get one after this visit is over, so we don’t have that issue. Otherwise, I suppose I can unplug it while my kid is in the house.

My Fire TV Stick is here!

While I was writing this, my

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

arrived! I took a quick break to set it up…that was basically plugging it into the power and the HDMI outlet on our TV (we just bought a new TV today…we had one that was at least ten years old as our main TV. I would have waited until the holidays, but we saw an Element ((that’s a brand I like)) at a great price at Target: under $150 for 32″).

I just had to give it our network password, and it’s downloading the latest updates now!

I’ll write a review of it soon. With our kid here, my writing time has been a bit curtailed (family first), but hopefully, in the next few days.

I want to get this out now, so people don’t miss the $3.75 price on the books and the free apps!

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.

6 Responses to “Round up #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    At this point, I’m with your “kid” on the creep factor. Remember the crocheted “hats” that hid the extra roll of potty paper that aunties used to crochet and give as gifts? It looks as if the Echo is about the size of a couple of rolls of Charmin stacked on top of one another. My auntie taught me how to crochet, so I could custom make one to fit over the Echo in no time flat! I can see a whole new line of disguises. Maybe a Cabbage patch doll style head in a granny dress for those who sew rather than crochet, like a smaller version of this upright vaccuum cover.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Yep, I remember!

      I don’t think hiding it would make it less creepy for them. 🙂 It’s the listening part, not the way it looks. I wouldn’t disguise it and not tell them or hope they forget it is here. I think if it gets here before our kid leaves, I’ll leave it unplugged when they are in the house.

  2. Zebras Says:

    Glad to see you made it home from black friday safely. I recieved my fire tv stick today too. All i´ve done so far is play music which it did beautifully. Had to switch back to the DVR to watch Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. 😉

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      Black Friday was very low risk for us this year…and less exciting. The only store opening “early” on Friday which we visited was Half Price Books (we were in the first 100 in line). That was at 7:00 (we got there about 6:15).

      Otherwise, to my veteran retail eyes, it looked pretty much like a Saturday afternoon in the mall (we did go there first…but the stores we visited had been open for many hours). Yes, the shoppers were more out of it, but that was about it.

      We went back out to Toys R Us to buy Toys for Tots at…oh, 9 or so. Again, pretty quiet, although busier than the mall had been.

      One interesting thing with the Fire TV Stick: when I put on music (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), the dogs totally perked up at first. However, that may be the new TV, too…it’s sound is quite different from our more than decade old Sony. They didn’t react to the sound of video or games on the device, though.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Well my Fire Stick arrives tomorrow. When I ordered it, I was told to expect it on Dec 16th — so getting it on Dec 5th was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

    I’ve now had my echo for about two weeks now. For a somewhat out of left field 1st gen product, I’d say that echo is close to a home run!

    That’s not to say that there aren’t some improvements that I would like to see in future iterations (this is going to be a long review — so bear with me 😀 ).

    I bought the echo as a mid-priced Bluetooth speaker — I figured all the rest would be icing on the cake.

    As a speaker it’s better than computer built-ins and the small portable speakers that I had been using. As for comparison with other $200 speakers (Bluetooth or wired) I couldn’t say. I do find that mid-range tones in certain songs seem too bright (although the more I use it, that has become less noticeable). Still, I could wish that the echo had treble and bass controls.

    The setup was fairly simple, but I wish there had been some kind of pdf user guide with diagrams showing the different WiFi and Bluetooth connection possibilities. There was no confirmation of the Bluetooth pairing of the remote control with echo. While the setup worked, I didn’t have a good feeling that everything was copacetic — documentation, and better confirmations would help.

    Voice recognition is surprisingly good. No matter how I ask Alexa to do something (even if I fumble my phrasing), she almost always understands what I’m asking. Asking it to play music from Prime music is flawless (no matter how I ask). One anomaly: she didn’t know Gloria Estefan, but she got Miami Sound Machine.

    I asked her if she knew Cortana, and she did — she even knew the Halo connection. She knew Siri too. Albert Einstein and Alan Turing were also know to her, but my sister June was not (:grin).

    If I ask Alexa to play a song not in Prime music, it results in her playing a 30 second sample. Surprisingly, if I then ask Alexa to buy that song, she doesn’t know how to do that (so much for all Amazon products tracking users into easy buying from the Amazon store 🙂 ).

    Asking her for the time, weather, etc all get expected responses taking into account my location. Asking her to make an appointment for me results in an item being placed on a todo list that Alexa maintains (there is no calendar — an obvious addition for the future).

    Asking Alexa to pair with any of my computers, lets echo function as a speaker for that computer. Then I can play iTunes, podcasts, etc using the echo for audio output. If while doing that, I ask Alexa to do things like “stop playing”, etc, she responds that she is not in control that I must use the app on the computer for control.

    Bluetooth connections can sometimes be problematic — this is not an Echo problem per se(in my view), but a problem with Bluetooth generally (which is new and drivers aren’t always up to snuff) — I have had intermittent Bluetooth problems with all my Bluetooth devices not just Echo. I think multiple pairings with a single device are not completely dealt with in the Bluetooth standards.

    If Alexa is paired with a laptop (for example), and you are listening to a Prime music song (which connects with Amazon via my in-house WiFi — it does not use the laptop at all), and the laptop generates a sound (like an notification of some sort), that laptop sound will interrupt the Prime music session — Prime music will continue after the interruption.

    I used iHeart radio and Tunein radio enough to get it set up (easy), but I don’t find those services particularly interesting (YMMV).

    The app on the laptop ( is very nice, and clean. I haven’t tried Echo from my Fire HDX much, but It is supported, and very similar to the web versions on the PC browsers: IE, Chrome, and Safari on Mac.

    On non-Amazon devices only the iPhone is supported (using Apple’s mobile Safari browser). Will not work on Windows Phones using mobile IE (11 or 12 — this may get resolved with mobile Windows 10 in summer 2015).

    One thing I hope to see is a 3rd party accessible API so that Alexa could interact with non-Amazon applications such as Evernote, Onenote, Outlook, Google mail, etc.

    I have the magnetic holder on the fridge in the kitchen — Alexa can just barely hear it/respond to commands.

    If you have problems with voice recognition, there is a training facility in the echo app, and a history tool that let’s you review what Alexa thinks you said (would like to be able to print that out :grin).

    Finally, I’m starting to think of Alexa as a member of the family — I find myself saying “thank you” after she does something for me (:grin). I could see getting a couple more (with different female names :grin) for other rooms (mine is in the MBR). Walking into a room that’s always listening would be easier than having to get a smartphone out of my pocket, and starting an app before asking a Siri or Cortana to do something.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      What a great report!

      It’s interesting, I’ve always had a tendency to say thank you to things that speak to me…my car, for example.

      I think we’ll see them allow third party development, but with a serious vetting process like they do for the general Amazon Appstore. Not quite sure how that would work, though, since I don’t think you’d be installing something to just your Echo. I doubt it stores or processes very much on the device.

      It might be a case of what becomes available to one person becomes available to all, so it may be more a matter of someone designing it and Amazon buying a license for it for the “Echo platform”.

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