Round up #284: nicer readers, one book for world leaders

Round up #284: nicer readers, one book for world leaders

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

Hotfile settles with major publishers

I think that the amount of e-book piracy has likely gone down over time.

One issue is that one of the reasons people gave for when it would be okay to “pirate” (copy without authorization a book under copyright protection) a book is if the book was otherwise not available as an e-book.

With so many more books now available (the USA Kindle store has gone from about 80,000 to over three million in fewer than seven years), that motivation is less there.

Also, I think infringers are simply more likely to settle.

I apparently got an infringing site to stop the practice, by alerting the right people.

In another case, I apparently got a book removed from the Kindle store, again, for infringing on my copyright.

Pirate Bay was down (although it’s back up)…one of the very biggest of the sites where a lot of infringing is alleged to happen.

Hotfile was another site like that, and they are in the process of setting with publisher (after having settled over music previously).

My sense is that people are also much more aware that they will lose in court…so they settle out of court, which is faster.

For more information: post by Ernesto

Kobo QOTD: one book for politicians

Kobo does a “Question of the Day” (QOTD), and today’s was intriguing but an easy one for me.

The question

was simple:

“If you could require all the world leaders to read one book, what would it be?”

Several people suggested

1984 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I could understand that. Of course, there would be the risk that a politician would see its dystopian theme as a blueprint, not a warning. 😉

My first thought is that I would want them to read many books, not just one…and books with opposing points of view from diverse authors.

However, that’s not in the rules…and rules can be fun. 🙂

Some people doubt that…but it’s the rules that make a game a game.

Many years ago, a sibling and I playtested a game on the Alaska Oil Pipeline….no, we weren’t on the pipeline, it was an educational board game about it. 😉

It was okay, but there were two cards we recommended they remove.

You rolled a die and moved around a board. You landed on spaces and drew a card from a pile.

One card said, “You lose.”

Obviously, that’s a bad card in an educational game…or any other game. Who would want to be ahead in a game, and draw that card?

However, there was another card that said, “You win,” which we felt was equally bad.

Suppose you draw that card on your first turn? Whee, what a fun game…not really.

So, I’ll play the game by the rules.

Oh, I’ll mention one more game first we played in high school…pretty sure I invented the rules, but I’m not positive.

We called it “hyperspace chess”. You played against another player with two chess sets (two full sets of pieces, two boards).

The four middle center squares were “hyperspace squares”. On your turn, your move could be to “jump” a piece on one of those squares onto the equivalent space on the other board.

If there happened to be a piece on that exact square, you took it, but that was quite uncommon.

To win, you had to checkmate your opponent on either board, not on both.

I think that worked very well! Some people would get so caught up with jumping pieces that they would be surprised by a mate on a board with very few pieces on it.

I’ve also been told that it is good training for traditional chess, since those four squares are considered key in some parts of the game.

I have a (different from above) sibling who was a ranked chess player (and has written for Chess Life, the chess equivalent of Sports Illustrated), and I can play at level that I want to be able to do everything…where it isn’t  embarrassing. 😉 Yep, I’ll lose to a tournament player, but I won’t have looked clueless doing it.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, a book for world leaders to read.

I’d go with

The Book of the D*mned (at AmazonSmile*)

by Charles Fort (I’m also really hoping Mark Zuckerberg picks that one for the reading thing going on at Facebook).

First, it’s going to be in the public domain…probably everywhere. Nice to show an efficient spending strategy. 😉

Second, it shows the interconnectedness of things, and how so often divisions between items are artificial.

Third, it’s been massively attacked at times, and I think generally with a misunderstanding of it (it’s not anti-science, for example).

Outside of that, I might recommmend…

The Human Zoo (at AmazonSmile*) by Desmond Morris

Ooh, and then there’s

Thinking, Fast and Slow (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by Daniel Kahneman

and…timeout. Rules. Just pick one. Got it. 😉

Is Amazon going to face a Customer Service challenge with the Echo?

Serious readers tend to be nicer people.

I don’t know that for a fact, although I’ve seen some research that suggests they are at least more empathetic.

I see that reflected in the Amazon Kindle forums. Yes, there are  occasional disagreements there, and they can be strong and strongly worded (even ad hominem at times). Most of the time, though, people are tolerant of other ideas, and when they do disagree, they at least do so on the basis of ideas and evidence.

Not always, but the balance of the time.

On the other hand, and I want to be careful about how I say this, the Amazon Echo threads that I’m reading in the Kindle forum (there won’t be an Echo forum until the Echo is generally released…it will appear on the Echo’s product page), seem more…”internety”. 😉

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a thread in the forum where so many people are asked by other forum members to leave!

I think readers tend to welcome the exchange of ideas…it may be that gadgeteers are less inclined to do so.

After you’ve spent a considerable amount for one brand of gadget, you may not want to hear about another brand.

There has been a lot of…scratch that, let me say that there has been a sort of unwelcomeness for posters who favor Apple products over Amazon products in the thread.

Some of the response has been erudite and logically reasoned…some of it has been playground level name calling, or so it seems to me.

One of the things I like best about Amazon is that they allow divergence of opinion on their forums.

Somebody can go in and say, “Amazon stinks!” and it isn’t against the rules.

There are rules, by the way (there we are…back to rules), but Amazon only loosely enforces them. Here, here is one of the main threads on the Echo if you want to look for yourself:

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile*)

The guidelines specifically mention not posting things which are “inflammatory” or “spiteful” or that “denigrate” others.

Let me also be very clear: many of the people in the Echo threads have also been well spoken, tolerant, and helpful.

It’s just that I see a higher percentage of…what might be considered more typical of online forums.

I think this may prove to be a challenge to Amazon’s vaunted Customer Service. They must need to deal with it with other non-book products, I guess, but if the Echo is as successful as I think it is likely to be, they may end up dealing with more hostile and dogmatic customers.

Hopefully, I’m wrong about that. 🙂 I know how many people are both serious readers and likely to buy Echoes (and to be nice and smart about them in their questions).

My Echo is on order…still not expected before the end of May, though.

When I do have one, so I’m in a better position to answer questions for you, feel free to ask them here. I haven’t commented much in the Kindle forum Echo threads, except where I knew answers from the online documentation or from Amazon.

The one place I had a bit of an exchange was with someone over copyright law and reposting comments made in the thread, but that just went a few posts and was over. 🙂

Amazon going more brick-and-mortar?

There have been a couple of stories lately suggesting that Amazon may get into ventures which involve four walls, a roof, and a floor.

One of them is the bankruptcy of Radio Shack.

Amazon has been mentioned as a possible buyer…I wrote about that last year, before the current events:

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

I still don’t see it as a particularly good idea…I’m not clear on the value for Amazon.

One argument is that Amazon has more and more hardware, and they might sell more Fire TVs, Fire Phones, Echoes, and the like, if there was a place people could physically examine them.

Yes, I suppose that’s possible…but enough more to justify the expenses of brick and mortar? I’m a former bookstore manager, and I just find that a challenge for Amazon. When you take into account the theft issues, the rent, and so on…I don’t see it.

Now, having a place to pick up things you order online, with perhaps some impulse items, but no browsing?

That I can see.

Amazon does it with lockers now, and as a reader sent me in a private e-mail (and other sources indicate), Amazon is moving into it on college campuses.

Indy Star article by Joseph Paul

Those are “staffed” college stores…there are sales clerks there.

Human sales clerks, by the way…not robots (yet).

That makes some sense, and should make Barnes & Noble worried.

You can order something online, and pick it up at the store.

Lots of college students (this is starting at Purdue, and expansion is planned) have difficulty with boxes being delivered to their living spaces. This is safe and relatively easy.

I would hope, again, that it isn’t a browsing place…you go there to get what you’ve already ordered, so it can be small, have fewer people on staff, and a lot less shrinkage (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

In terms of experience with the hardware, I think it would make more sense for Amazon to set up virtual experiences or simulator booths of some kind in other stores.

When Amazon releases its virtual (or augmented) reality device (there, I said it…and that’s just wild, spur of the moment speculation), or before that, with Hololens and Oculus Rift, you could get quite a good sense of how the Fire TV works, or where the Echo would sit in your house.

A simulator “room” (I’m picturing something like the size of a TARDIS…just the outside, of course) 😉 in a store would work well, too. You would go in, and they’d have the remote for a Fire TV or an Echo, and you could try it against a remote presence of the device. You much more have to do hands on with a tablet or phone, but you could do that, too, without a lot of space.

If you were in Manhattan using Prime Now, you could probably order it there and it might beat you home. 😉 Well, somebody has to be home to get Prime Now, but you get the idea.

Amazon actually having stores the size of a Radio Shack, though, where people go in without a clear plan of purchase? Seems unlikely to work to me.

What do you think?

Are book people nicer? Is doing Customer Service for serious readers easier than doing it for the average person? What book would you recommend world leaders read? Is piracy on the decline? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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.


4 Responses to “Round up #284: nicer readers, one book for world leaders”

  1. Phink Says:

    Speaking of playground name calling in the forums I can relate to that. On February 19th I will celebrate my 6th year as a Kindler. Back then I loved the forums. I’d go to the kindle forum every day and left quite a few comments myself. Then, it started becoming very Sophomoric. Name calling showed up more and more often. Folks would reply with stuff like “well, perhaps we need to get you a book with big pictures and crayons then.” or simply calling people morons or stupid. Now, I have not been there in years so maybe it’s gotten better.

    On another note. I liked the section on rules and games. When we were kids we loved to play horse in the driveway. But we called it “Horse, Arkansas Rules.” We changed the rules. First, if you made a shot you could shot again from the same spot. If you missed it’s as though you never made it. If you made it a second time, than the person behind you had to make it a second time and got a letter for every time they missed. You could go as many as 5 shots. If you took 4 shots and made them all the next guy had to take 4 shots. If he made, lets’ say 3, then the next guy had to shoot 3 times and so on. Also, every player had one force card. It was not actually a card by the way. You could use your force card and make someone attempt a shot again even if they did not want to. This took care of a lot of lucky shots. I loved that game.

    When our three kids were living at home we loved to play sorry. But, we made our own rules. Like poker, the winner of the last round got to call the rules of that round. We played by points. You got 2 points for every piece in home so at the end of the round if you had 2 pieces in home you got 4 points. The rules one could call were 4 corners (if you land on a corner you hop to the opposite corner), keep going (if your card was too big a number to get into the safety zone you were forced to keep going and had to make another trip around the board), entrapment (if you landed on the beginning circle of any color you had to enter their home area and stay there till you drew a 1 or 2), Super Slide (you had to slide even on your own color, which would result sometimes in an extra trip around the board), and a few other rules. We played to 28 points I think it was.

    We also came up with our own version of 8-ball but I’ve rambled enough for one reply LOL.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Those sound like fun variations! Our families might have gotten along when we were kids. 😉

      Monopoly has some of the biggest deviations, from what I’ve seen. In the official rules, you don’t get anything for landing on Free Parking. I would guess that a large percentage of people give you money for that. Some people say you pay the fines into there (like the luxury tax). In our case, we started it with $2,000…it could never have less than that. It did mean we would play one game of Monopoly for days… 😉

      Oh, and we allowed multiple hotels (as many as you could afford on a monopoly, although you did have to build evenly across the properties in the Monopoly)…so a cheap monopoly could actually get you more rent than an expensive one.

      We also loaned each other money, and significantly, allowed “immunities” as part of the deals. “Sell me Park Place, and I’ll give you immunity to paying rent if you land on it for three times”. Again, that tended to lengthen the game…but made for some creative negotiations.

  2. Dictum Says:

    I’m not sure that I agree that the Echo posters, as a group, are less civil than the current Kindle posters generally. I found the Kindle forum as a whole to be more “internety” in recent years, though perhaps things have improved since the time that I largely tuned out. In any event, I suspect that Amazon has had its share of irascible customers . . .

    I am curious about Echo purchasers. My feeling at the time of the Kindle’s introduction was that buyers initially skewed older. At any rate, that seemed to be the case with the posters in the original K1 forum, which was relatively friendly. I guessed that initial Echo purchasers also would skew older: The advantage of an easy “plug in” wi-fi radio/speaker might be more readily apparent to people who did not grow up with wi-fi, and the Echo’s potential for use by the disadvantaged also might be more self-evident to an older group. However, I’m not sure that my guess was accurate.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dictum!

      It’s more of an impression than anything else. I’ve been active in the forums for years, and yes, there has been an ebb and flow in the civility quotient 😉 over time.

      It just seems to me that it was the minority of people in most forum threads that were unwelcoming, and while likely still a minority, it just feels more…accepted in the Echo threads.

      When unscientific polling was done early on, Kindle users definitely skewed older. That was a device which appealed primarily to serious readers, and those tended to be older. The other advantages also fit with some senior needs, including the increasable text size.

      My guess is that the Echo will not find the same demographic to be dominant. I think it will be great for older folks, due to the ease of use. I’m not sure that the music part will have as much appeal (although many seniors listen to music, of course, the idea of a Bluetooth speaker may not be as attractive or familiar).

      My guess would also be that millenials have less concern about being spied on by their devices, but I could be wrong on that. When our adult kid is visiting, I’ve promised to turn off the Echo’s microphone, for my kid’s comfort’s sake. 🙂

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