Archive for January, 2016

I’m going to be interviewed on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles this week

January 30, 2016

I’m going to be interviewed on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles this week

I’m honored, and excited, to be interviewed by Len Edgerly for The Kindle Chronicles podcast!

The Kindle Chronicles

I’ve described it this way: “It’s a brilliant podcast about the Kindle…gentle, insightful, and with really major guests.”

I’ve been on the show before, but it’s been years. I was very pleased to get an e-mail from Len, asking if I would do the interview this Tuesday (February 2) for broadcast on this Friday (February 5). Of course, things could interfere, but that’s the plan. 🙂 These are my previous appearances:

I’ve mentioned TKC in the blog before, most extensively in this post back in 2011:

Review: The Kindle Chronicles podcast

Another reason it came up here more recently? Listening to it on our

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

which I wrote about here:

Round up #295: greedy readers, living tree book

That’s the easiest way! If you have an Echo, just say, “Alexa, play The Kindle Chronicles podcast on Tunein”. You might be able to say it in a simpler way, but that’s what I’ve used.  🙂

What are we going to discuss?

I don’t know yet…and I don’t think Len has finalized the topics, either.

That’s one reason I asked Len if I could let you know now.

I’m curious what you would want to hear me asked and answer.

I suggested some topics as possibilities:

  • The Amazon Echo and books
  • Copyright reform and the argument for permanent copyright
  • Blogging through the Kindle store
  • I’m always happy to discuss text-to-speech 🙂

However, as I’ve told my co-workers, I love chaos. 😉 I’m a trainer, and I get a real adrenaline rush walking into a classroom or meeting and not knowing what I’m going to be expected to do. That doesn’t mean I don’t like preparation! I like that, too, but I love it when I need to hyper-focus on the other people and have my mind going at top speed. Hey, years ago, I was in an impov troupe…same idea.

This is a rare opportunity, though, and like love, the internet is forever. 😉 I really value the ideas and insights of you, the readers of ILMK. The comments I get, and the discussions we have, are one of my favorite things about doing this.

So, any suggestions for the podcast? I think if you make them by, oh, Sunday early evening, they could perhaps have influence on the Tuesday recording.

If you’d rather send your thoughts directly to Len, this is the address on the website:

podchronicles@gmail.com

I certainly view this as an opportunity for growth, and you might send Len a more insightful topic or question than you would want to share with me and my readers.

I also thought I’d take this piece to address another topic…how I write.

I write quite a bit…when I started, I told myself I’d average a thousand words a day in this blog. By traditional word counts, that’s about four pages of a book.

That’s ambitious, but I’m confident I’ve maintained that over the life of the blog (which began on August 28, 2009).

I usually write at least two posts in a 48 hour period (I sometimes go 24 hours without publishing a post). This will be my 3,008th post in this blog.

Some obvious questions: how do I come up with topics? When do I write? Do I re-write? Where is writing in my priority list?

I’ll take the last one first.

I’d have to say it goes family (and I use that term pretty broadly), my day job, and then writing. If it was better for my family that I left my job, I would. If I have to do something for work which prevents me from writing for that day, I will.

However, I do love the writing! I’ve always had some kind of creative outlet, and writing has usually been part of it. My Significant Other has finally gotten me to consider eventually retiring. One way that would work for me is that it would mean more writing (it would then become my second priority). I’m now trying to take one writing day a month…using a PTO (Paid Time Off) day for that.

I write in the morning or in the evening during the week, usually. While I think of myself as constitutionally a night person, I now wake up quite early (most people would consider it unreasonably early). For years, I would go to sleep at 9 (after my night owl years) and get up at 5 AM…the “recommended” eight hours sleep.

Maybe a year or two ago, that changed…and I normally wake up between 2 AM and 3AM. That means I get about five hours sleep a night. I talked to my doctor about it. I’m not having negative impacts that I can see. In my job, if I had cognitive decline, I’d know it right away. I don’t fall asleep during the day. I might fall asleep in the hour before I plan to go to sleep (my SO laughs because it may happen while I actually am exercising, and it can happen while I’m writing, sitting up with my hands on the keyboard). It seems okay to me that I’m sleepy when it is about time to go to sleep…that’s the way it should work, right?

My doctor thinks it is not unhealthy at this point.

I don’t usually write during breaks or at lunch at work. I do review comments and might do a short answer during a break, and I might answer an e-mail, but I’m more likely to exercise.

That’s been a big change since I started the blog! My baseline for exercise is ninety minutes a day, but it’s usually more than that.

My Kindle/Fires have been part of my getting in the best shape I’ve been in for decades. That’s because I used an app:

Review: MyFitnessPal

I didn’t start using it without first checking with a Registered Dietician at work, though.

Over about two years, I lost about forty pounds in a healthy way (I work for a healthcare company,  so I have a lot of information available to me). I’m not losing more weight, but I still plan to get into better shape.

While I’m working out, I may be reading when I can…especially

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

I can do that while doing “floor work” or some of my other personally designed routine…I have my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7 on a shelf during part of it.

Flipboard brings me around to how I get ideas about what to write.

I don’t plan out carefully what I’m going to say before I write. That also goes for when I write fiction, which surprises some people.

When I started writing

Doctor Watson’s Blog

of which I’m quite proud, I didn’t know what the answer to the mystery was. Even when I was foreshadowing, I wasn’t sure where it was going.

Right now, I’m writing pretty much stream of consciousness.

When I started writing this post, I didn’t know I would include the “How I write” part. “How I write” was what I had planned to write this morning…but then it occurred to me to ask you about the podcast. When I’d written that, it seemed too short…so I decided to keep going on this. 🙂

Yes, the word count drives me to write longer pieces…which is why it’s there. I’m not padding the word count: I’m not avoiding contractions, for example. I think it helps me give enough context and explanation. There are times people criticize me for too much explanation, but I think that tends to be people who are particularly sharp, quick, and knowledgeable of the topics. I’m also writing for people who aren’t techie and aren’t (or at least haven’t been) serious readers. I want somebody who stumbles into this blog with a question to feel included. I think intelligent people are often also empathetic, and understand why I try to be clear and helpful for those with less fluency in e-books and publishing.

I also don’t significantly rewrite. I will polish a piece…I’ll notice that I left out a word, or had a misspelling, or just wasn’t sufficiently clear. I like to fix those, and I really appreciate it when readers point out issues. Usually, though, there is enough of a flow that it would be hard for me to go in and delete or add a section. I will do that with breaking news (like a new model announcement), sometimes, and indicate that it is an update.

Why was I going to write about how I write?

It just came to me. 🙂

I’ll have an inspiration like that: just a single idea, which gets me started.

As to Flipboard, it’s a news aggregator. That’s a place I’ll see something that will intrigue me, and might lead me to more research. It’s also a great source for my Round-ups, where I do a number of short pieces.

The most common type of post I abandon after starting to write it is the round-up. What happens is I start writing what will be a short piece…but then I flesh it out, and it becomes enough to be its own post.

Do I want to be first with a story?

Sure, that’s fun. I love it when I find something original through analysis and share it.

On a complex topic, though, I may hold off a few days while I research it. I’d rather contribute something to the understanding of the topic than just blurt it out to be the first place you see it…and then you see it five other places pretty much the same way.

If I need to do something in a hurry, I may tweet it…if it’s significant and time sensitive enough (like a big sale), I may do a short sort of interim post in this blog.

I also have some recurring features…for instance:

  • First day of the month, I do my Snapshots
  • Within the first few days of the month, I write about the Kindle monthly deals and the Kindle First books
  • Towards the end of the month, I write about some books being released in the following month
  • Maybe once a year, I do A Day in the Life of a Kindleer
  • At the end of the year, I do The Year Ahead and The Year in E-Books
  • Irregularly, I analyze the bestseller list, and do a post on my Flipboard magazines

Finally, and one of the most important, I sometimes get ideas from you.  It may be a comment that leads us to a discussion, or that just sparks me to write something. More rarely, people specifically ask me to write about something.

There you go! A bit of insight into my writing process…if that prompts you with more ideas for The Kindle Chronicles interview (or you had ideas before I went into the second part of this piece), feel free to share them by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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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Amazon’s 4th quarter financials: wow, these are good!

January 29, 2016

Amazon’s 4th quarter financials: wow, these are good!

Blue Origin isn’t Jeff Bezos’ only company blasting through the stratosphere! 😉

Amazon has their fourth quarter 2015 (covering the holiday season)

press release

out, and you can download slides and listen to today’s conference call about it here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5215069

To listen to the Webex, you’ll need to do a free registration, including a company. You can just put “independent” for the company, if you want.

There are so many positives overall, as well as on the consumer side!

I’ll quote this one for the overall:

“Net income was $596 million, or $1.25 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $241 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, in 2014.”

As to other stats…well, if you want to read some good news, check the press release. 😉

Just some of the consumer side points:

  • Fire TV remains the #1 best-selling streaming media player in the U.S [that means more than Apple TV, more than Chromecast]
  • The $50 Fire tablet has been the #1 best-selling, most gifted, and most wished-for product across all items available on Amazon.comsince its introduction 19 weeks ago
  • In 2015, worldwide paid Prime memberships increased 51% — 47% in the U.S. and even faster outside the U.S.
  • In the fourth quarter, Prime Music streaming hours more than tripled in the U.S. compared with fourth quarter 2014

Not mentioned? Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and e-books.

I’m not worried about that, though. We have to admit it’s a small part of Amazon’s business (even if it did launch their now mighty devices portion).

During the Q&A portion, people asked about AWS (Amazon Web Service) growth slowing (they explained that pretty well, I thought), and how shipping has gotten a bit more expensive for Amazon…but generally, I think the investors who asked questions on the call sounded reasonably pleased.

Greatly increased profits, greatly increased sales, market dominance…so, naturally, the stock dropped after the news. 🙂

No, seriously…it is down:

Financial Times article by Leslie Hook

However, that was after it went up today:

chart at Money.CNN

Investors were disappointed because, while it was great, it wasn’t as great as they expected.

It feels a little bit like a C student coming home with straight As and the parents saying, “You couldn’t have gotten A+s? Go to your room!” 😉

As a consumer, I’m happy with what I see. Low cost devices worked for Amazon…that’s where I think they should be.

What do you think? I have some financial savvy readers…fill me in on insights I’m missing. 🙂 Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus recommendation:

Autumn Angels (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by Arthur Byron Cover

This isn’t for everyone, but if you are a geek, you may really like this Nebula nominated novel. There are so many allusions to characters (in addition to fascinating original ones). Regular readers know I’m a big Doc Savage fan, and “The Lawyer” here is based on Ham Brooks. This is one of those unspoilable books…it’s not about the plot. 🙂 I’m mentioning now because it is available through

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

Amazon’ subser (subscription service). If the concept of wildly disparate geeky characters being together in the same novel sounds intriguing to you, give it a shot. 🙂

Join thousands 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 #136: E-book sales down per AAP, 100 essential non-fiction books

January 28, 2016

Round up #136: E-book sales down per AAP, 100 essential non-fiction books

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

Amazon’s 4th Quarter 2015 Earnings Conference Call Thursday at 2:00 PM Pacific

People are excited about this one…and it should be telling. Yes, the stock market has been having a rough time, but my intuition is that investors will like this. I won’t be able to listen to it live tomorrow, but I’ll get to it as soon as I reasonably can.

If you’d like to listen to the conference call, you can do it here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5215069

Oops!

One of my regular readers and commenters, Man in the Middle, recommended this article to me on copyright:

Freedom of Expression and Morality Based Impediments to the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights by Mark J. Randazza

It is a very interesting paper, discussing the effect of countries disqualifying a work from copyright protection if it is “immoral” (or illegal…they don’t say anything about fattening). 😉

Content-wise, I can say I think I’m more along the European concepts of copyright than American.

So, the “oops” here was that I told Man that I planned to listen to it using text-to-speech (TTS) in the car on a commute.

It’s a PDF, and I planned to listen to it using the free app,

ezPDF Reader PDF Annotate Form (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I downloaded the PDF (portable document file), e-mailed it to myself, got in the car…and it wouldn’t open in EZ PDF! Quite odd…I’d never had that happen before. I tried a few different options, but with the limited time I had (I was off to work) I switched to

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

which my Significant Other had borrowed through

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

My SO said “enjoyed” wasn’t the right word (it’s not a happy book), but thought it was good.

So, that was okay, but I was a bit puzzled. EZ PDF couldn’t locate it on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX.

Then I realized what had happened.

Instead of e-mailing it as an attachment to myself (which I would then download to my KF), I had e-mailed it directly to the Kindle…which causes it to be converted.

It the text-to-speech (TTS) on my Kindle Fire worked with PDFs, or with the converted PDF, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Just a mistake on my part. 🙂

Amazon’s first Superbowl ad

Amazon has never bought a Superbowl ad before, but they have and it has been posted here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y-4pGhRxek

What is it for? Amazon Prime? The Fire tablets? The Kindle Voyage? Fire TV?

Nope, it’s for the

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

The Echo, which I cover most extensively in another blog of mine, The Measured Circle

does do sports, but Superbowl ads aren’t really about sports.

I’ll let you watch it, if you want, but I’ll say this: it has two celebrities…and it massively under uses the Echo. 🙂 Somebody is writing down a list, which the Echo could remember them, and sync between devices.

I’ve finally gotten my SO to start using an Echo shopping list with me…we can each add things to it (either through the Echo verbally, or on our phones directly) and we can both see what’s on it and cross things off.

Works pretty well. 🙂

Lot of Echo news and rumors…I’ll be writing something in The Measured Circle pretty soon, and I’ll link to it here. One thing: we are about to be able to say that it has “hundreds of Skills” (like apps) available for it.

It’s been busy at work, though, and I’m working on another big project I hope to reveal in mid-February. Last night, I literally fell asleep while writing this post. 🙂 It was right about when it was time for me to go to bed anyway, but that was…interesting. 😉 It’s one reason my SO is starting to convince me that I might want to retire some day…I want more time for writing!

AAP report doesn’t split out mass market paperbacks from trade paperbacks

This report from the AAP (Association of American Publishers) was a particularly interesting one:

http://publishers.org/news/aap-statshot-publisher-net-revenue-book-sales-declines-20-through-third-quarter-2015

It says that revenue from book sales was down 2% in the first three quarters of 2015. E-book sales were down over 11%.

Why would that be?

There would be a number of factors, but as I’ve been noting in some of my analysis, Amazon’s bestselling e-books don’t tend to come from the kinds of publishers who would be part of the AAP.

They come from indies (independents), but also from Amazon’s own traditional publishing imprints. I assume they aren’t part of the AAP, although I don’t know that for sure.

Intriguing to me was that they didn’t separate out mass market paperbacks (the small ones I think most people still of as a paperback…about the size of your hand) and trade paperbacks, which are larger…they tend to be about the same height as a hardback novel/popular non-fiction.

The MMPs have been crashing in sales…e-books sort of took their niche of being relatively inexpensive and portable. So, the paperback category was up…but my guess is that was trade’s gains overbalancing MMP’s losses.

That’s probably why they didn’t separate this time, but have in the past.

2+2=literature

I love this!

In this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

a study is reported where mathematicians studied novels…and determined that they were not only subject to mathematical analysis, but had pretty specific results. They resembled fractals and multifractals.

I know some of you are running the other way, but I thought it was really cool!

You can suggest: the 100 essential non-fiction books

Still at the Guardian, this

article by Marta Bausells

invites readers to suggest essential non-fiction books. This is tied into Robert McCrum’s new list, although it seems like that list is already finished.

I read a lot of non-fiction (although I read fiction as well…I read a lot of things).

That would be tough for me!

I’d have to really think about it, and what I wanted books on the list to do and be.

My first thoughts are to books which give insight into Homo sapiens, both as a species and individuals.

My first gut reaction would include:

  • The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
  • The Book of the D*amned by Charles Fort
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

However, I then think I’d want my list to be broader…books that gave historical insight (in a different way than Diamond), for example.

Hmm…I’ll have to think about that.

The Independent: “Can we guess how old you are based on the books you have read? Take the quiz”

It was fun to take the quiz in this

The Independent article by Roisin O’Connor

but apparently, at least the answer for me was, “No, you can’t.” 😉 They were way off…at least a third of my age off.

Of course, that makes me a bit happy…I like being atypical. 😉

You can give it a try…let me know if it works for you.

My guess is that it won’t tend to work. A couple of years ago, I wrote

You’re showing your age when you say, “You’re showing your age”

It seems even more true to me now.

What do you think? What are the essential non-fiction books…and what does that mean? Have you been using your Echo for books…audiobooks or text-to-speech? What will be reported in Amazon’s financials call? What would you have done with Amazon’s first Superbowl ad? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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.

 

My favorite Kindle e-book sale is back! KDD is the student deal (338 books up to 90% off each)

January 26, 2016

My favorite Kindle e-book sale is back! KDD is the student deal (338 books up to 90% off each)

Today’s

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

is any of 338 books “for students”, up to 90% off.

I put the “for students” in quotation marks, because that seems like a very loose definition for me…there is probably something here for just about anyone. After all, hopefully, we are still students of one kind or another, right? 😉

I took a quick look back…it does look like they tend to do this in January. That’s sort of in the middle of a traditional school year, and they don’t need to (ever) clear out stock on e-books, so I’m not sure why…but I’m not going to look a gift course in the mouth. 😉

Remember also that e-books can make great gifts! You can buy them now at the discount, and specify that they be delivered on the appropriate gift giving occasion. You can also have the e-mail sent to yourself, print it out, and wrap it, if you’d rather.

Something I also noticed as I started to look through these: very few, if any, are part of

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

So if I buy any, they are likely to be as gifts…but I may also put some on my wish list.

Here are some that caught my eye:

  • The Associated Press Stylebook 2015 by Associated Press $1.99
  • The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg $1.99
  • Dark Winter: How the Sun Is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell by John L. Casey $2.99
  • The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire by Susan P. Mattern $3.03
  • Rethinking the Sales Force: Redefining Selling to Create and Capture Customer Value by John DeVincentis and Neil Rackham $1.99
  • Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips) by Mignon Fogarty $3.99
  • Practical Electronics for Inventors, Third Edition by Paul Scherz and Simon Monk $1.99
  • Web Scraping with Python: Collecting Data from the Modern Web by Ryan Mitchell $5.49 (and lots of other O’Reilly books)
  • Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman $3.99
  • The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care by Clayton M. Christensen and Jerome H. Grossman M.D. $1.99
  • Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present by Christian Sahner $2.99
  • Python Playground: Geeky Projects for the Curious Programmer by Mahesh Venkitachalam $4.49
  • Hello, Startup: A Programmer’s Guide to Building Products, Technologies, and Teams by Yevgeniy Brikman $6.49
  • The Murder of William of Norwich: The Origins of the Blood Libel in Medieval Europe by E.M. Rose $4.99
  • Principles of Quantum Mechanics, 2nd Edition by R. Shankar $4.84
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War: New Edition by Hew Strachan $5.99
  • To Be Loved by Berry Gordy $2.99 (gift for a music fan?)
  • Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath by Herbert Hoover and George H. Nash $1.99
  • Lucy Stone: An Unapologetic Life by Sally G. McMillen $5.99
  • Most Wanted Particle: The Inside Story of the Hunt for the Higgs, the Heart of the Future of Physics by Jon Butterworth
  • The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust (The Oxford Series…by Lisa Moses Leff $5.99
  • Arianna Huffington Shares the Secrets of Political Blogging Success: Making it in the Political Blogosphere by Tanni Haas $1.99
  • Digital Filmmaking for Beginners A Practical Guide to Video Production by Michael Hughes $1.99
  • Buying the Vote: A History of Campaign Finance Reform by Robert E. Mutch $4.99
  • City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles, 1920-1950 by Valerie J. Matsumoto $4.99
  • The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London by Hannah Greig $3.99
  • The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Genetic Mystery, a Lethal Cancer, and the Improbable Invention of a Lifesaving…by Jessica Wapner and Robert A. Weinberg $2.99
  • Lies They Teach in School: Exposing the Myths Behind 250 Commonly Believed Fallacies by Herb Reich $1.99
  • 101 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius 2/E by Brad Graham (and other Evil Genius books) $1.99
  • The Art of Talking to Anyone: Essential People Skills for Success in Any Situation by Rosalie Maggio $1.99
  • Flicker: Your Brain on MoviesNov 3, 2014 | Kindle eBook
    by Jeffrey Zacks $3.99
  • Aha!: The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World by William B. Irvine $2.99
  • The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca by Emily Wilson $3.99
  • The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why it Had to Be Reborn by Lucio Russo and Silvio (translator) Levy $4.99
  • The Real Truth about Success: What the Top 1% Do Differently, Why They Won’t Tell You, and How You Can Do It…by Garrison Wynn $1.99
  • The Art of Engagement: Bridging the Gap Between People and Possibilities by Jim Haudan $1.99
  • The Conscious Brain: How Attention Engenders Experience (Philosophy of Mind) by Jesse J. Prinz $4.99
  • Proceed, Sergeant Lamb by Robert Graves $1.99
  • Specters of Revolution: Peasant Guerrillas in the Cold War Mexican Countryside by Alexander Avina $4.99
  • The Political Economy of Violence against Women (Oxford Studies in Gender and International Relations) by Jacqui True $4.99
  • Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda will Dismantle America by Brian Sussman $3.99
  • Build Your Own Autonomous NERF Blaster: Programming Mayhem with Processing and Arduino by Bryce Bigger $1.99
  • Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie by Randall Hansen $3.99
  • Survival of the Nicest: How Altruism Made Us Human and Why It Pays to Get Along by Stefan Klein and David Dollenmayer $1.99

Remember that this sale is just for today, and may not apply in your country: check the price before you click or tap that “Buy” button. All price are as of the time of writing.

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

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.

“Could you recommend a book? No, not that one!”

January 25, 2016

“Could you recommend a book? No, not that one!”

You shopped at your local bookstore because, well, it was local. 😉

However, that wasn’t the only reason.

I’m a former manager of a brick and mortar bookstore, and there was a lot more to it than the traditional “location, location, location”.

We didn’t really have the competition of the internet…but there were quite a few bookstores in the area. I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area, and driving twenty minutes is like walking down the hall to most people. 😉 Within twenty minutes, there were probably ten bookstores (counting chains and independents).

What could we do to get people to shop with us?

Well, Amazon sums it up nicely:

  • Selection
  • Service
  • Price

It’s not that easy to increase the selection. The store is only so big, and piling more books into the store doesn’t work very well. For one thing, they won’t be displayed as well. More importantly, some books are going to sit in the store longer..and you are paying for rent every day they are there. The longer a book is in your store, the less profit you make.

Price may also be hard to affect very strongly. Lowering your price is going to lower your profit. Yes, we would compete on prices on bestsellers (for example), but that’s a segment where people actually would compare prices. Most people weren’t comparing prices on the vast majority of books. That’s one reason stores really don’t like “showrooming”, which is relatively new. “Customers” use their SmartPhones or tablets to compare prices, and may buy the book somewhere else (even ordering it online).

The place it was easiest for us to compete was on service.

Certainly, that included product knowledge.

I recommended (not required) that my employees read a book from every section in the store, and I did actually do that myself.

That helps…and one thing with which it helps is recommending a book.

I think that, traditionally, that’s something people associate with bookstores…being able  to ask for a recommendation.

It’s pretty tricky, as you can imagine. I was always amused when somebody would ask for a recommendation just based on age an gender…as though all people of the same age and gender liked the same books. 🙂

Being able to recommend books (and other items) which you would like is one of the most sought after and researched tools for internet e-tailers.

There are different approaches to that.

I heard somebody from Pandora and somebody from Netflix discussing this on the radio years ago.

At Netflix, they looked at your viewing habits versus other people’s. If what you rated highly matched what ten other people rated highly, and those ten people all rated a movie which you hadn’t indicated you had seen highly, it would make sense to recommend it to you.

Amazon does that with “people who bought this also bought…”

In that situation, you don’t care why people like it…there isn’t any analysis of that.

The Pandora approach was quite different.

Music experts would determine the “musical DNA” of a song. That might range from factors like “sad” and “happy” but also thing like “jangly guitars”.

I suspect Amazon uses a combination of these two.

Recently, I’ve noticed that Amazon’s recommendations for me appear to be getting better…that might be illusion (I’m a very small sample of one), and it’s pretty subjective…but it wouldn’t surprise me if they have made progress.

A great recommendation engine would really tend to make you stay with a company…I think most people would realize that if they went to a new company, it wouldn’t know them as well.

With e-books from the Kindle store which you read on your device, they can get can get quite a bit of information…they can tell if you finish a book, for example. Definitely, rating books is taken into account.

I think the improvement in recommendations (if it actually exists) might come from my being a happy

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

member. I think they can probably tell quite a bit from what I browse, and how far I read into a book (and how quickly).

However, they still sometimes get it quite wrong…it might even be amusingly so.

They can recommend items to me which would upset me…as a simple example, I’m a vegetarian and I don’t smoke…I don’t want them to recommend cigars or steak to me. 🙂

You can actually help them make better recommendations for you.

On any Amazon page, you will usually see at the top a link for Your Account, and within that for Your Recommendations.

At the top of that screen, you’ll see a choice for

Improve Your Recommendations

Note: Amazon always careful to say that not everything is in the same place for everybody, but this should be on this page.

On that page, you can “Edit Your Collections”

  • Items you’ve purchased
  • Videos you’ve watched
  • Items you’ve marked “I own it”
  • Items you’ve rated
  • Items you’ve marked “Not interested”
  • Items you’ve marked as gifts

Within this, you can rate the products, say it was a gift, or most importantly, “remove from recommendations”.

Not every one of those categories has the same choices…you can go to “Videos you’ve watched” and “remove this from watched videos”.

So, if you were just curious and clicked on a title that, um, might be embarrassing if someone else in the house knew about it, you could remove it from your watched videos.

I’ve had people say that they haven’t seen that big of an impact from editing their recommendations, but I think it’s worth a try.

Hope that helps!

If you have any comments  on recommendations, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. What was the best recommendation you got from Amazon? What was the funniest? I’m curious…

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

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.

EBRs beyond Amazon: January 2016

January 23, 2016

EBRs beyond Amazon: January 2016

When the Amazon Kindle was first introduced in November of 2007, there were already more than ten devices dedicated to reading e-books in the US market…it’s just that none of them were doing much here. 🙂 Even Sony, which was a powerhouse in the consumer electronics market, had them…and that included with a non-backlit screen.

Amazon revolutionized the market with their $400 device…having an E Ink screen was important, but there were really two other things which moved it from a techie, niche device to a more mainstream one (at least among readers).

One was the ability to wirelessly download books. Having to cable your device to a computer to get a book was a considerable hurdle to many people.

The other one was…that it was Amazon. 🙂 Now, there was intense skepticism among tech writers that Amazon could successfully introduced hardware, but there wasn’t any skepticism among readers that Amazon could sell them books.

Before the Kindle, the e-book market was techies.

With the Kindle, the e-book market was readers.

Over time, I’ve written about a number of non-Amazon devices…and they aren’t all still around.

I leave the links on the website, even though some of them don’t go anywhere, partially to preserve the list historically. For those of you using screen readers, and even those without, I know it can be difficult to click on a broken link. I’ll go through and re-label those or do something with them to explain the situation.

Here are the links (again, some of these may not go anywhere):

So, in the USA, for non-backlit EBRs (which is part of how I define an EBR now), it’s largely the Kindle, the nook, and the Kobos.

Part of that may be that people have transitioned reading e-books to tablets…you can get a tablet cheaper than an EBR, and have color, text-to-speech, audiobooks, and animation (for enhanced e-books). The sight-reading experience for me is better on a non-backlit device (I usually read on two different ones a day), but because of text-to-speech, I’d say most of my reading is on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX. That’s not just because of using TTS…since that’s my device that does TTS and I usually use that for hours every weekday, it’s the device I carry with me. When I do sight-read at work, it’s on my Kindle Fire.

Okay, let’s take a look at what is available currently (not used or refurbished) from those three companies.

Amazon

I read on a Paperwhite and a Voyage (two different rooms), and like them both.

The basic Kindle above doesn’t have a light.

The Voyage has a different way to change pages than the Paperwhite.

We may get a new model or more from Amazon this year…I’ve predicted they’ll do a “waterproof” one.

Kobo

  • Kobo Touch 2.0 $89.99
  • Kobo Glo HD $129.99
  • Kobo Aura H20 $189.99

Kobos are seen as being quality devices, and I would consider them perhaps the strongest competitor (going into the future) for the Kindle.

Their Touch is $10 more than the basic Kindle (which also has touch), and the Glo is $10 more than the Paperwhite.

The H20, though, is $10 less than the Voyage…and it is “waterproof”.

Also, those prices are compared to the lowest Kindle prices…and some people don’t want to see ads on their devices in order to get them initially at a discount. If you don’t want the ads, the Kobos are cheaper.

nook

  • NOOK (they have been inconsistent on capitalization) GlowLight Plus $129.99

Frontlit, touchscreen, waterproof, and it does DRM ePUB (Digital Rights Management protected) which the Kindles don’t.

So, what would I recommend?

First, I wouldn’t go with the nook, unless you are already heavily invested in nook books. I just don’t think you can count on the company’s future, especially with regard to EBRs. The company name might be around for a long time, and the nook name may be on tablets, but I think it’s a risk. Also, right from the beginning, the customer service for the devices has been markedly superior (both in execution and policies) for the Kindle over the nook. If you already have nooks and want to stay with this, this is a good model with some nice features.

The Kobos are, from what I understand (I’ve never owned one), good devices and their owners like them. I think Kobo is a much more stable company than Barnes & Noble (looking at EBRs for the latter for sure). I don’t think this is a bad choice, but…

I’d go with the Kindles. Again, Amazon’s Customer Service is great on these, and they fit pretty nicely into the Amazon ecosystem, which you may be using for other things. I also like them as devices. 🙂 For most people, I would go with the Paperwhite. Having the light (it’s a frontlight, not a backlight) is really worth it over the least expensive model. The Voyage is a bit nicer, and there’s nothing wrong with going for that. Again, for most people, though, I think they’ll see the Paperwhite as a better value.

If I look at this again two years from now, I’m not convinced we’ll have the nook (it should survive this holiday season, but might be eliminated in 2017), but I do think we’ll have the Kindles and the Kobos. I don’t see somebody else getting into the market right at this point, although that might happen if reflective screen technology gets a lot cheaper. We may also still see some sort of “dualume” screens, that have both reflective and backlit screens, or reflective screens may add color and/or animation as their technology improves.

What do you think? Did/do you own a non-Kindle EBR? How do you feel about it? Have I left off an EBR in the USA? Am I underestimating Barnes & Noble’s future involvement with EBRs? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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.

February 2016 Kindle book releases

January 22, 2016

February 2016 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. We have largely returned to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances.

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 5,405 (at time of writing) February releases in the USA Kindle store:

2016 February USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 837 are in

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

That’s a higher percentage…there are 317 fewer books overall, but 90 more KU.

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

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same. This time, we are back to them dominating the top…although Identical Disaster by C.M.  Owens breaks the streak by being the third one listed.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are 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 God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler (KU)
  • The Billionaire’s Touch (The Sinclairs Book 3) by J. S. Scott (KU)
  • Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
  • Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’ve Got Henchmen by Richard Roberts (KU)
  • Lightning Lingers (Lightning Strikes Book 2) by Barbara Freethy
  • Over You (A Mr. Darcy Valentine’s Romance Novel) by H.M. Ward and L.G. Castillo
  • The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
  • A Shade of Vampire 23: A Flight of Souls by Bella Forrest KU
  • Will’s True Wish (True Gentlemen) by Grace Burrowes
  • My New Teacher and Me! by (“Weird”) Al Yankovic and Wes Hargis
  • The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice
  • The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
  • Social Media Made Me Rich: Here’s How it Can do the Same for You by Matthew Loop
  • Gladstone’s Games to Go: Verbal Volleys, Coin Contests, Dot Deuls, and Other Games for Boredom-Free Days by Jim Gladstone
  • Brotherhood in Death: In Death by J. D. Robb
  • The Book of the Beast (The Secret Books of Paradys) by Tanith Lee
  • The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace by Pedram Shojai
  • The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers by Joseph Hickman and Jesse Ventura
  • Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life In Music by Dave Stewart and Mick Jagger
  • Cometh the Hour (Clifton Chronicles) by Jeffrey Archer
  • Elephant Complex: Travels in Sri Lanka by John Gimlette
  • Jane and the Waterloo Map (Being a Jane Austen Mystery) by Stephanie Barron
  • How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman
  • Land of Shadows: A Medieval Mystery (Medieval Mysteries Book 12) by Priscilla Royal
  • Baseball Prospectus 2016 by Sam Miller and Jason Wojciechowski
  • Calamity (The Reckoners) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Starflight by Melissa Landers
  • Dining at The Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea by Jeff Stanford and Joan Stanford
  • Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
  • Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner and David Fisher
  • Blood In Her Veins: Nineteen Stories From the World of Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter
  • The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do About It by David A Carbonell and Sally M. Winston

Join thousands 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! :) 

** A Kindle/Fire with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books.

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.

n thousands 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.

Amazon shutters Shelfari

January 21, 2016

Amazon shutters Shelfari

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post

Comparing Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing

Amazon owns Goodreads and Shelfari, and has a stake in LibraryThing.

I speculated this:

“…they might shut down Shelfari (another social reading site which Amazon owns), and fold it into Goodreads.”

Well, it’s happening now.

It was announced here:

http://www.shelfari.com/moveToGoodreads/ShelfariAndGoodreads

Goodreads is much bigger, and the vast majority of people won’t be negatively affected.

However, my readers are not “most people”. 😉

It wouldn’t surprise me if some of you are Shelfari users…as am I.

In terms of the books, they are making the transition pretty easy. There’s a tool where you can merge your Shelfari books with Goodreads, and you can also export the informationy as a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, if you like. With the CSV, you can import them into Excel or many other spreadsheets, if you prefer. You can, of course, do both.

Be aware that the export might take a while…they are saying it could be a couple of days. They plan to complete the transition by March 16th of this year, so you do have some time.

However, I haven’t found anything addressing the continued survival of my favorite part of Shelfari: the “Book Extras” entered by users. This is what I noted about them before:

===

  • Description
  • Ridiculously Simplified Synopsis
  • Summary
  • Characters (35 of them listed)
  • Popular Covers
  • Quotes
  • Settings & Locations
  • Organizations (in the book)
  • First sentence
  • Table of Contents
  • Glossary
  • Themes & Symbolism
  • Series & Lists
  • Authors & Contributors
  • First Edition
  • Awards
  • Classification
  • Notes for Parents
  • Subjects
  • Popular Tags
  • Links to Supplemental Material
  • Movie Connections
  • More Books Like This
  • Books Influenced by This Book
  • Books That Cite This Book
  • Amazon Customers Who Bought This Book Also Bought

There are also sections which are hidden by default: Errata; Books with Additional Background Information; and Books That Influenced This Book. I’m not quite sure why those are hidden. There is a “hide spoilers” checkbox which is selected by default (I really appreciate that!), but unchecking it didn’t make them show up.

===

As a database person, I love that! I contributed a bit to, for example, the A Princess of Mars page.

Goodreads has user-editable character descriptions and settings, but that’s about it…and they aren’t as rich at this point.

I’m going to write to

support@goodreads.com

to see if there are plans to migrate that.

I really hope they do!

While it would increase the size of Goodreads, and therefore might slow down some things (particularly on mobile), I think it would considerably enhance the value of Goodreads…and a lot more people would contribute to the Book Extras.

Heavy, long time users of Shelfari may have greater concerns.

They may be more concerned with what happens with the “Community” features, especially groups. Will those migrate?

Those people may be particularly passionate, however, when we look at actual numbers, they just aren’t that big for a company at the scale of Amazon. This is the “most active” group under genres:

YA Books that Adults Should Read
4868 members | 1575 group books | 8507 discussion posts

I never want to see anything that anybody has written disappear. I honestly emotionally feel that when I put something on the internet, it will be there forever.

Logically, and experientially, I know that’s not true.

I’d put a lot of time and effort into the Sci-Fi Channel’s (now Syfy) community pages years ago…I was pretty proud of some of my writing in certain areas. That got shut down…I tried to save what I could, but some was lost.

For example, I’d written a nice piece on what I call the “Discovered Destiny” genre…where the main character finds out that they have some unusual nature, powers, and responsibility. Harry Potter is an example, but there are lots of them.

I’m going to try to get more information about what will transition here, as I mentioned, and I’ll share it with you if I do.

I completely understand Amazon doing this…that’s why I predicted it. 🙂 It makes more sense to have one site rather than two, even when they are complementary. Like most people, though, I always want the best of both worlds. 🙂

What about LibraryThing?

I think it’s safe for now.

It’s ownership is in a different class, and it has a lot more members than Shelfari did.

I checked and there hasn’t been much news coverage on this…I wanted to make sure you heard about it, so you can take appropriate action.

What do you think? Were you a Shelfari user? Would you care about having the data features I mentioned on Goodreads, or would that make it too busy? When you write something on the internet, do you think it is forever, or ephemeral? If the latter, do you back it up yourself? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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.

“Where is your old release section?”

January 20, 2016

“Where is your old release section?”

For many decades, there has been a basic assumption in retail: “new” matters.

It’s been considered one of the most powerful words you can pick in an ad…or on a package. You’ll see it underlined, in bigger font, with an exclamation point.

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, no question: we promoted new titles.

We put them in the window.

We had “wishing wells” (those carefully arranged essentially circular stacks of one titles with a hole in the middle) of new titles.

Publishers set higher suggested retail prices (“list prices”) for new titles, and even with discounting, you would expect to pay more for a new Stephen King than for one that was ten years old.

I’ve seen people really upset when a thirty year old book was set at, say, $9.99 as an e-book on Amazon.

Certainly, there were some reasonable factors involved.

One was the desire to read something you hadn’t read before. You might have read every Stephen King book published so far…that gives you a higher desire for a new book, and more demand can equal higher prices.

Another one was wanting to avoid spoilers. People were in line at midnight to read the new Harry Potter (or a century earlier, they wanted to be the first to get the new Oz book) in part so they could read it before they heard about some essential plot point.

All of this has meant that a list like the New York Times bestseller list would reliably almost always be comprised of new titles.

What I’ve noticed, though, is that may not still be the case…at least for e-books, and especially for one way of getting them.

As a hypothesis, that make some sense to me.

The USA Kindle store averages more than a 1,000 books added a day. You can’t possibly have read everything out there…so you aren’t caught up. You can no longer read all of the new books in a topic you like…almost regardless of topic.

Similarly, for spoilers, they are just less likely to happen…with this many books available, the plot points of any given novel are less likely to be discussed.

The rise of the indie (independently published) book is yet another point. Tradpubs (traditionally published) books are a tiny minority of the books being published today, but they still dominate the p-books (paperbooks). The paperbook sales are what people see on bestseller lists (at least that’s what most people notice)…and those tend to be the new releases from the tradpubs, just as they have been for a very long time

How important is newness for the USA Kindle bookstore bestsellers? How does it compare to p-book bestsellers in the USA Amazon store?

The place where it really stood out to me (prior to analysis) was in

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

I was looking for a KU book for my Significant Other in a hurry, so I went to the KU storefront…and noticed that the top books were older.

As is my tendency, I didn’t want to just go with my “feel” for it…I decided to do an analysis to see how “newness” might vary between the USA Kindle store, p-books at Amazon.com, and KU.

Before I actually do this analysis for you, I’m sure one factor might mess it up…the dominance of

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

on the bestseller list.

I’ve asked Amazon if the free books in Kindle First available to Prime members affects their bestseller rankings…I haven’t gotten an answer yet, so I think I may run it with and without them.

Okay, let’s take a look.

I’m only going to look at paid bestsellers, not free ones.

I think I’ll go with the publication date given on the Amazon product page. That will not correlate to the original publication date, but I think makes some sense. When an older book is first published in Kindle format, I think it’s often treated by readers as though it was a new book…even if it was first published in paper half a century or more ago.

USA Kindle store

Rank Months old
1 -1
2 37
3 57
4 4
5 -1
6 -1
7 -1
8 10
9 -1
10 5
Average 10.8

USA Kindle store without pre-publication (Kindle First)

Rank Months old
2 37
3 57
4 4
8 10
10 5
11 3
12 24
13 0
14 0
15 0
Average 14

Most popular in Kindle Unlimited (they don’t give ranking numbers, but this is the order they displayed)

Rank Months old
1 1
2 4
3 8
4 48
5 1
6 48
7 5
8 14
9 29
10 16
Average 17.4

Overall Amazon.com books (may include Kindle format sales)

Rank Months old
1 14
2 60
3 6
4 0
5 0
6 9
7 78
8 6
9 65
10 34
Average 27.2

New York Times fiction hardback bestsellers

NYT Ranking Months old
1 0
2 12
3 20
4 3
5 11
6 3
7 2
8 2
9 6
10 4
Average 6.3

Interesting!

I knew there would be some older books on the New York Times bestseller list, because books can stay on that list for some time.

KU books were somewhat older, but not as much as I had anticipated. I suspect that what I saw before was “featured” titles (which featured Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) rather than “most popular”.

The overall Amazon bestsellers were older than I would have guessed…there were a couple of particularly older ones which pushed those back…and they weren’t popular fiction or non-fiction. I hadn’t counted on that.

I do think backlist (older books), indies, and even public domain will tend to claim more of the market over the next ten years or so, and that subsers (subscription services) may also influence that.

What do you think? What’s your intuitive sense of your own reading? Do you place a higher or lower premium on buying a book to read, or is it about the same? Have you found yourself reading more indies and public domain? This may also have an impact: are you now more likely to buy a book and then read it later (perhaps much later) than when you bought primarily p-books? I do think that has been true for me…I might buy a book on sale (although I tend now to go with KU and books given to me as gifts), and then it would be in the TBR (To Be Read) “pile” for some time. Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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.

A Day of Service (book related)

January 19, 2016

A Day of Service (book related)

As I write this, it is Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day where I am on the West Coast of the USA.

It’s a relatively new holiday at the Federal level…this is the thirtieth anniversary of its observation.

As such, there aren’t a lot of traditions around it. There are sales, and some people have the day off work.

Where I work, as well as a lot of places, this is a “Day of Service”. I was working today, but many of my co-workers will have spent the day volunteering or doing other types of community service. Here’s a

Voice of America article by Alberto Pimiento

about that part of it.

In case you’ve ever wondered what you can do to help others which is book/Kindle related, I thought I’d make a few suggestions.

Read a book for Librivox

Volunteers (no special training needed) record reading public domain (not under copyright protection) books out loud. Those recordings are then made available for free.

You only need to do a chapter at a time, but you can read a whole book if you want.

This isn’t easy, but it is highly impactful!

There are other ways to volunteer at Librivox, if the reading doesn’t seem like something you’d like to do.

https://librivox.org/pages/volunteer-for-librivox/

Story Time at your public library

Your local public library may be happy to have you come in and read to the kids!

I know people have also give demonstrations of using an EBR (E-Book Reader) at libraries…if you are comfortable you could volunteer to do that.

Be a Distributed Proofreader for Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is one of the great cultural organizations. They digitize public domain book and make them available for free.

If you read public domain books (I do) on your Kindle/Fire, they most likely initially came from Project Gutenberg.

One way that people can help is to proofread a file after it has been digitized.

You get a page of the digitized version, and a scan of the original page. Then, you compare them and give notes.

You can volunteer for that here:

http://www.pgdp.net/c/

Projects through Volunteer Match

Volunteer Match will find opportunities for you (and you can also list opportunities).

I just looked for “books” in Chicago (I don’t live there, I just sort of picked it at random), and got six choices…with some very cool options!

These results were all done in person, but the site will also find “virtual” opportunities, which you can do from home…I found 84 opportunities in the Education & Literacy category:

https://www.volunteermatch.org/search?v=true&k=books&sk=&na=&partner=&usafc=&categories=34&submitsearch=Search&advanced=1#k=books&v=true&categories=15&categories=15&s=1&o=relevance&l=Chicago%2C+IL%2C+USA&r=virtual&sk=&na=&partner=&usafc=&categories=15

Looking at it, I do have to say that “virtual” isn’t entirely accurate…some, such as driving a bookvan, were limited to certain locations.

In addition to personal time, there are a number of ways you can donate.

Perhaps you have largely switched to e-books, and have p-books (paperbooks) you can donate. One way t do that would be to set up a

Little Free Library

I’ve written about those before, and I have seen them (and left a book). It’s a little outdoor structure where people can take books you (or other people) have left, and can leave their own.

You can usually donate your books to the public library, where they will commonly sell them at a book sale to raise funds.

You could donate an older Kindle/Fire you have.

You could buy a new Kindle or Fire and donate it…I’ve done that. It’s less expensive than it used to be:

You can shop at

😉 For every $100 you spend on eligible items at Smile.Amazon, the e-tailer will donate half a percent to a non-profit of your choice. There are many, many book-related charities there.

Those are a few ideas; if you have others, just have other ideas, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands 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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