Archive for June, 2016

The latest Tarzan movie still doesn’t get the books right

June 30, 2016

The latest Tarzan movie still doesn’t get the books right

For more than 100 years now, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan has been part of our popular culture.

From humble beginnings in the pulps to hugely successful movies to TV shows and comic books, it would be natural to assume that most people, and content creators, would know the story well.

I was a fan, reading all of the books. I memorized the known words of the language of the Mangani (more on that shortly). I watched the movies, and the Ron Ely TV series (along with other adaptations).

It surprised me a bit recently when it was reported that a parent outside an event for the new movie version

The Legend of Tarzan

which stars Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan, Margot Robbie as Jane Porter (and who also stars as Harley Quinn in my most anticipated movie of the year, August’s Suicide Squad), Christopher Waltz, and Samuel L. Jackson, among others, said that their children didn’t know who Tarzan was.

Particularly during the 1970s, the books were often not present in school libraries, due in large part to concerns that they were racist. They are also violent, but that didn’t seem to be the main issue.

However, the character did continue, including cartoon series during that same decade of the 1970s.

Importantly, in 1972, author Philip José Farmer wrote Tarzan Alive, a biography which presented Tarzan as a real person, and connected the character to many other fictional characters.

In 1984, Greystoke was putatively closer to the books, and in 1999, there was a Disney animated version. The latter, in particular, made it seem odd to me that a child wouldn’t be  familiar with Tarzan, even if they haven’t read or been read the originals.

I haven’t seen the new movie yet, just trailers…but they are enough to point out a significant change from the original books.

The Mangani who raise Tarzan are not gorillas. They aren’t chimpanzees. They aren’t bonobos, who weren’t even recognized as a separate species at the time.

They certainly aren’t orangutans, or other non-African apes.

Actually, they clearly aren’t even apes at all.

They aren’t homo sapiens like us, but they appear to be another species of human.

There were rumors at the time of hairy humans in Africa, although that is undeniably complicated by racial attitudes and what little was known about gorillas.

Given their language and social structure, you are closer thinking that Tarzan was raised by the African equivalent of Bigfoot than gorillas.

Of course, Bigfoot isn’t a great analogy either, at least in the popular conception of the North American hairy hominid. Most people don’t think of them as having much of a structured culture, and given their reported sizes, seem pretty far from homo sapiens.

There are several species of humans which are recognized from the fossil history in Africa, and apparently, based on the books, Tarzan was raised by a relict population of one of those.

That makes a lot more sense. That’s not to say that gorillas couldn’t hypothetically raise a homo sapiens…there are many reports of various kinds of feral humans raised by a variety of animal species, but they may end up being unable to walk well, or have difficulty acquiring language.

Tarzan walks (and runs) fully upright, and as for language? The “Jungle Lord” is a thorough polyglot, fluent in several languages. Not the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” stereotype (which lots of people think the character says in the 1932 movie, but is actually something Johnny Weissmuller said referencing the role: This Day in Quotes), but fully fluent.

Tarzan first speaks Mangani, learning language from the adoptive culture. Tarzan also learns to read English to some extent from the books left behind from the English expedition. Tarzan also learns to speak French (not realizing at first that there is a relationship between spoken and written language), several African languages, and more.

If Tarzan had been raised by actual apes, and had no exposure to a human-style symbolic language until after becoming an adult (except for overhearing what locals are speaking), my understanding is that it would be quite difficult to learn one language, let alone several.

Let’s address the tantor (elephant) in the room: are the Tarzan books racist? There are insensitive, to say the least, portrayals in the books. Jane’s nurse in the first book, especially, is going to be offensive to many modern sensibilities.

However, the books do not argue that Tarzan is inherently superior due to a racial advantage. That’s the concept some people have: because Tarzan is white (“Tarzan” means “white skin” in Mangani…Europeans are “Tarmangani”, showing that the Mangani consider themselves and the Tarmangani similar ((“white Mangani”)), as they do the homo sapiens of African descent…Gomangani ((“black Mangani”)). Gorillas, by the way, are “Bolgani”…they don’t have the “man” part, indicating a more distant connection, although presumably, the syllable “man” would be a coincidence with the English word), the British Lord does much better in Africa than the indigenous people.

Actually, the Tarzan books are quite critical of the British aristocracy. Tarzan isn’t better than Africans by virtue of European descent; Tarzan is better than Europeans by virtue of being raised in Africa in nature, away from Western civilization.

Tarzan finds the violence within Mangani society, and with other species, more honest than the exploitative Europeans, who claim to be civilized, but behave much worse (in Tarzan’s view) than the other animals.

The movie certainly may be an enjoyable adventure, and it may present this view of Tarzan’s (other works have shown Tarzan’s distaste for European culture). Without portraying the Mangani as human, though, it can’t really be accurate to the books.

I don’t know that we’ll ever get type of Tarzan movie, in the mainstream. To suggest that there are other humans in Africa today than homo sapiens clearly would have to be handled very carefully.

If you choose to read the original books, expect to find things that are jarring, including racist portrayals (note that the books are also critical of European ethnicities and others), sexist characters, and serious violence. Part of that is the time in which they were written…see my post from more than six years ago,

The Chronological Cultural Context Conundrum

Don’t expect the main message, though, to be one of Caucasian superiority. Tarzan doesn’t have many non-Mangani human associates (the relationship with Jane is very deep, but that’s different), but they do include Muviro and others.

I’ll probably see the movie eventually, but I’ll be prepared for it to not be like the books.

What do you think? Did you read Tarzan as a child? Should children read the Tarzan books today? If so, is there context they should be given first or during it? If you have a close connection with children, how do you deal with them reading older books which presents ideas and events which can be considered offensive today? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

Page Flip redesigned, improved and coming to EBRs, Fire tablets, and reader apps

June 28, 2016

Page Flip redesigned, improved and coming to EBRs, Fire tablets, and reader apps

Amazon is not showing any indications of a wavering commitment to EBRs (E-Book Readers) and e-books!

You may see stories about e-book sales declining, but I think those may be based on a too small dataset (getting reports from the big traditional publishers, and missing not only indies ((independent publishers)) but Amazon’s own publishing).

They’ve recently announced a new EBR

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which I wrote about here:

New Kindle EBR with text-to-speech via Bluetooth!

This has a giant innovation, which may come to other models: it will connect via Bluetooth to play audio. It can’t play audio on the device itself, but Bluetooth speakers/headsets can be pretty inexpensive. I use a pair of Arctic brand headphones, no longer available, with our Fire TV.  However, I also have Bluetooth speakers, the Amazon Echo, Dot, and Tap, and those should all work with it.

That new Kindle will also export your notes in a new way…another big improvement, nearly nine years in the making. 😉

Their latest innovation, announced today in this

press release

is a great improvement on the Page Flip we’ve had on newer EBRs (E-Book Readers). It is coming as a wireless update to EBRs (I would be sure about all of the current generation…don’t know how far back it will go), Fire tablets, and the free Kindle reader apps for iOS and Android.

They wrote me personally and were nice enough to share links to some animations that show how it works on a

tablet
iPhone
EBR

Not surprisingly, not exactly the same on the three type of devices, but I think it is good on all of them!

With the current Page Flip (on, for example, the current Paperwhite), you can flip back and forth in the book while maintaining your current spot in the book.

The new version shows you several pages at once in “thumbnails” (small representations):

Page Flip on a Kindle

Page Flip on a Kindle

This will make it much easier to navigate to graphs and other images. It’s possible this will turn the tide on the reluctance some students have had in using e-textbooks. It will also work well in things like cookbooks and encyclopedias…you could flip ahead to find a picture of a red panda, for example…maybe not as quickly, but more easily than you could with a p-book (paperbook).

They’ve done a help page, which also embeds a cute ad for it, with a sort of duel between a kid with a p-book and an adult with an e-book:

Page Flip feature page (at AmazonSmile*)

Throughout the short history of the Kindle (not even a decade yet), Amazon has continued to make our devices better after we’ve bought them, at no additional cost to us. Certainly, not every feature comes to every model ever made (in some cases, that wouldn’t be feasible technically) and there have been a few reversals (not to the device you already own, generally, but Bluetooth restores TTS…text-to-speech…access to books which has been absent from EBRs for soe time), but overall, onwards and upwards. 🙂

You should just receive the update “over-the-air” if you leave your device connected to wireless…it won’t necessarily happen in the next day, of course. When connected to wireless, be aware that you are using more battery charge…I sometimes leave by EBRs plugged in overnight.

I’m not seeing it for manual download yet at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile*)

but I would guess it will show up there eventually.

I’m looking forward to getting it…thanks, Amazon!

Bonus deal:

Today’s

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

includes The Color Purple (at AmazonSmile*) by Alice Walker for $2.99. The Pulitzer Prize/National Book Award winner is perhaps even more popular right now, with a successful Broadway musical. This is also a good opportunity to buy it as a gift, since you can get it at this price and delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion. Remember to check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…the sale may not apply in your country, for one thing.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

Introducing Amazon Inspire: new free educational resource

June 27, 2016

Introducing Amazon Inspire: new free educational resource

School books used to be strongly associated with McGraw-Hill.

ALM used to do a lot of foreign language learning materials.

Amazon has been involved in schools for some time, but what they announced in this

press release

has the potential to have the e-tailer deeply integrated into primary school learning in the USA for decades.

I’m sure some people will have a knee-jerk reaction to that, but this is not Amazon writing textbooks for profit or to shape public opinion in its favor. It is essentially a curriculum sharing program…and it is free.

I’m a trainer (for the most part) in my “day job”, and there are similarities in a minor way with what I do and what happens in school districts across the country.

We have a number of smaller geographical area groups within my area, Northern California.

We logically cover a lot of the same things. One of the tools we use (but only one) is job aids, where we created a document which someone can use to follow step by step how to complete a process.

There is no point in, say, twenty of these being created independently from scratch to cover the same process. Probably 90% of the job aid content would be the same.

We have worked (and are still working) on having an efficient curriculum sharing system. If one of us creates something, it is made available to the others of us in different areas…who can modify it for local needs if they need to do that.

That problem of parallel development is vastly multiplied when you look at American school districts.

We aren’t particularly talking about textbooks here: those will continue to be produced by professional publishers and authors.

Let’s say the topic is, oh, Gutenberg. While there will be a lot of different approaches to the importance of what Gutenberg did, the basic narrative and issues are going to be the same. It could greatly enhance the teaching of that topic if a teacher in San Francisco had access to what a teacher in Atlanta had written, and vice versa.

However, you want that access to be efficient. You want a robust infrastructure, searchability, and you want it to be friendly to students with disabilities.

You also want it to be affordable, ideally free.

That’s the mission of

AmazonInspire

It’s in the early stages, and they are encouraging the involvement of educators in its evolution.

I think this is going to be big, although there are some difficulties in implementation. Textbooks are often charged with prejudice, both by what they include and what they exclude. There will be a much bigger scrutiny of Amazon, even if they are just really the platform here. Some people aren’t comfortable with Coca-Cola providing services for school lunches, even if all they provide is water.

This is going to be interesting to watch…

Bonus deal: my sibling’s book One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is ninety-nine cents right now…I don’t know why or for how long. 🙂

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

Today’s KDD: “20 New York Times best sellers are up to 80% off”

June 25, 2016

Today’s KDD: “20 New York Times best sellers are up to 80% off”

Today’s

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

has some well-known books and well-known authors at really great prices!

When people think of discounted e-books, I sometimes see them complaining that they are only from indies (independent publishers). First, let me say that many indies are great books!

Second, well, it just isn’t always true. Today’s list will make that point…and a simple refutation to someone would be to say five words: “The Hunt for Red October” which is $1.99 in this sale.

As always, check the price before you click or tap that Buy button. The prices may not apply in your country, and it’s possible you’ll be reading this post after the sale has ended.

These can also make great gifts! Remember that you can buy the book at the sale price and delay the delivery until the proper gift-giving  occasion…these can make great small gifts, or a way to celebrate a vacation.

Books  in the sale include:

  • The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy | $1.99
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett | $1.99 | 4.7 stars out of 5 | 9,472 customer reviews
  • The Big Short by Michael Lewis
  • Memory Man by David Baldacci
  • The Murder House by James Patterson
  • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  • The Stranger by Harlan Coben
  • Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • Daring Greatly by Brenet Brown
  • The Witness by Sandra Brown
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • Winer by Marisa Meyer
  • Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (this one created quite a buzz when the e-book was first released at, as I recall, $19.99…in this sale, it is $1.99)
  • Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseni
  • George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade
  • The Big Burn by Timothy Egan

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

Barnes & Noble financials: NOOK sales continue to tank, so the stock…

June 24, 2016

Barnes & Noble financials: NOOK sales continue to tank, so the stock…

I freely say that I’m no expert on stocks. How the investors react to financials is often a mystery to me.

I can humbly say that I have more expertise on bookstores and book sales. I’m the former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I’ve been covering the world of e-books in this blog for close to seven years, averaging more than a post a day and more than 1,000 words a post, I believe.

Barnes & Noble, the largest remaining physical bookstore chain in the USA, reported their financials for the fiscal year:

press release

None of it was a reason to celebrate, and the NOOK sales (both devices and content) continued their freefall…dropping 27.4% year over year. The press release helpfully explains that it is due “…primarily to lower device and content sales.”

Yep.

Now, that doesn’t automatically mean that Amazon is crushing them. I think that in devices, the NOOK is simply an anchor for them right now. Amazon’s devices continue to sell well, from what we can see. My intuition is that Kobo is doing reasonably well. People are reading on phones and tablets, and  I suspect that audiobooks and text-to-speech use is going to spike  in the next few years, with them becoming one of the colors in people’s audio palette. People who rarely sight read books may listen to books more, increasing their exposure to literature.

In terms of NOOK content: that is largely traditional published e-books, and that part of the market is likely dropping over all. A much larger part of Amazon’s e-book sales than NOOK book sales comes from indies (independent publishers…often just the author) and from the company’s own publishing.

However, if NOOK hardware becomes largely a legacy thing (no new development), that will drag down NOOK book sales, even though you can read them on other devices. Serious readers are likely to want the option for an EBR (E-Book Reader)…I think Amazon’s newer version of its least expensive model, which has Bluetooth so you can listen to audio, is going to do quite well. I wrote about it yesterday:

New Kindle EBR with text-to-speech via Bluetooth!

Without that option for NOOK books, and since you can’t read NOOK books on a Kindle EBR, that’s going to be a problem.

Overall, the B&N bookstores, not counting the impact of the NOOK on them, actually slightly increased.

Barnes & Noble stock, as you can see in this

Money/CNN graph

dropped on the 22nd, the day of the announcement, but more than recovered on the 23rd.

Just about everything will drop today, because of reaction to the Brexit (British Exit from the European Union) referendum vote. The UK voted to leave the EU. This will have a big impact, at least in the short term.

Amazon, by the way, is a much more international company than Barnes & Noble, and is therefore safer when any market is affected…I would say, honestly, even when all markets are affected.  It’s a bit like having a robust gene  pool versus a narrow one. Purebred dogs tend to have more and more serious health problems than those with a robust background.

I know I have NOOK users amongst my readers. My guess is that your prior purchases will continue to be available to you…that someone will buy and service the accounts if B&N were to stop doing NOOKs and NOOK books. I think the NOOK hardware is nearly dead. B&N as a company can survive, although they will become decreasingly focused on books…we already see them looking more intently at food and beverage sales, and they do toys, games, shirts, that sort of thing.

How does this affect publishing overall?

One key change is that publishers are decreasingly getting pre-sale money. With an e-book, the publisher does not get paid until the book is purchased…and it’s often some time after that. With a p-book (paperbook), we would pay them for the books before we sold them. If they didn’t sell, we could generally return them for future purchase credit.

That’s  a very different economic model, and it will create a different strategy.

If you knew you had a blockbuster bestseller coming, like the new Harry Potter book, you could count on using the money from that to invest in prestige books which would have a smaller market. Pre-sales means that the money comes in over a longer period of time…it has the sales period, plus the pre-sales period.

With e-books, by the way, when you pre-order them Amazon and the publisher don’t get the money until the book is sent to you…not on the day you order it.

Paper publishers will become more risk averse. They will do fewer prestige books, try fewer new authors…unless the latter prove they have a market through independent publishing first.

On the other hand, that will increase indie publishing of new author and prestige books, with less competition.

One remedy to the loss of pre-sales from brick-and-mortar sales can be crowdfunding. While some crowdfunding waits to  collect the money until the product is released, much of it is intended to create development capital.

I’ve had great times in brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble bookstores (although I didn’t get good customer service online). I love bookstores: I used to spend at least five days a week in one. 😉 I have to say, though, that even though I love books more than I love bookstores, I think the bookstore experience is not at risk. I think indie bookstores, and destination/experience stores, can do very well in the next five years.

What do you think? Will B&N survive? If so, how much will paperbooks play into their strategy? How does Brexit affect publishing and what we read? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

 

New Kindle EBR with text-to-speech via Bluetooth!

June 23, 2016

New Kindle EBR with text-to-speech via Bluetooth!

Big, big news!

Amazon has introduced a new EBR (E-Book Reader…not a backlit tablet) which can do TTS (text-to-speech) via Bluetooth!

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This is extraordinarily good news, as far as I am concerned.

Text-to-speech (software which reads a book out loud to you) has been a big part of my life since it was introduced to the Kindle line with the Kindle 2. I typically listen to it for hours in a week in the car. I actually prefer it to audiobooks (recorded versions of a book, usually read by an actor or the author)…I don’t like the narrator interpreting the characters for me, unless I’ve already read the book, in which case it is like seeing a movie.

This is the new “entry level” Kindle: $79.99 with Special Offers, $99.99 without them.

Yes, you’ll need a Bluetooth speaker of some kind to hear the audio (which also includes navigation audio), but I have plenty of those…even in the car.

It’s a game changer.

Well, honestly, I’ll probably still be using my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX in the car…I use it for other things, and I don’t want to carry an EBR and a tablet with me to work (although I do bring my Amazon Tap Echo device in my laptop case).

Other stats are also good on this: it’s thinner, lighter, and comes in black or white.

It does not have the frontlighting of the Paperwhite, Voyage, or Oasis.

The screen sharpness isn’t as good as those other models either, but this is a good workhorse: great for a guest Kindle, for example.

I would have bought an Oasis, but Amazon will not sell it without an animal leather cover (at least, that was the case the last time I asked them), and I don’t use leather.

It’s possible this Bluetooth TTS will come to the Oasis, by the way.

I think this will be a popular model, although if you don’t care about the text-to-speech, I wouldn’t say that you need to upgrade from the previous version.

Here’s the

User Guide

You can pre-order now for July 7th delivery (I have). 🙂

Nice to see Amazon still innovating on EBRs! They are also answering a concern people have had who want a non-backlit reading device and TTS: thanks, Amazon!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

July 2016 Kindle book releases

June 23, 2016

July 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 5,463 (at time of writing…an even steeper drop than last month’s 733, with 863 fewer titles. This is the second month in a row with the better part of a 1,000 fewer titles):

June USA Kindle book releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 1,021 (25 fewer than last month) are in

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

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 month, in a change, Kindle First books aren’t dominating the top slots..

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.

June is a big release month for books (not unlike movies)…summer vacation is here, and books for “grads and Dads” are also big.

Okay, books!

  • The Arrangement 22 (The Ferro Family) Jul 25, 2016 by H.M. Ward
  • The Black Widow Jul 12, 2016 by Daniel Silva
  • Night and Day: An Eve Duncan Novel July 19, 2016 by Iris Johansen
  • Getting started with Tambour Embroidery (Haute Couture Embroidery Series Book 1) Jul 10, 2016 by Saskia ter Welle
  • A Shade of Vampire 30: A Game of Risk Jul 14, 2016 by Bella Forrest
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition): The Official Script Book of…Jul 31, 2016 by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne
  • Ultimate Physics Jul 11, 2016 by Scientific American Editors
  • The Trial: A BookShot: A Women’s Murder Club Story (BookShots) Jul 5, 2016 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  • The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey Jul 12, 2016 by Chris Colfer
  • Why Politics Sucks: With Just A Few Modest Proposals That Might Make It All Suck A Little Less (Why Everything…Jul 4, 2016 by Steven Womack
  • The Last Woman Standing: A Novel Jul 1, 2016 by Thelma Adams
  • Lowcountry Book Club (A Liz Talbot Mystery 5) Jul 5, 2016 by Susan M. Boyer
  • Murder on the Einstein Express and Other Stories (Science and Fiction) Jul 16, 2016 by Šiljak, Harun
  • Children’s Book of Experiments: 30 Incredible Experiments For Young Scientists Jul 7, 2016 by Jaroslaw Wasilewski
  • We are Big Data: The Future of the Information Society Jul 23, 2016 by Sander Klous and Nart Wielaard
  • 1000 Terrible Ideas for Another Star Wars Movie Jul 9, 2016 by Francisco Cutter and Jeff Rose
  • I’ve Got Sand In All the Wrong Places Jul 12, 2016 by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
  • The High Ground: Imperials 1Jul 5, 2016 | Kindle eBook
    by Melinda Snodgrass

Feel free to suggest other books being released in July in the USA Kindle store. If you are the author, or are otherwise connected with the production or publishing of the book, I’d appreciate you saying so. That won’t stop me from publishing the comment, but it should be in your own words and not an ad.

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

Start looking for your Apple e-book settlement payout

June 21, 2016

Start looking for your Apple e-book settlement payout

Some, perhaps many, of the readers of this blog are going to start seeing payouts from the Department of Justice’s action against Apple for e-book pricing tactics.

This is in addition to a payout you may have received previously. There was more than one legal action (many of the states’ Attorneys General also settled with publishers). The DoJ originally went after 5 of the then Big 6 publishers (not Random House, who initially didn’t go along with the “Agency Model”)…there are only 5 of them left after Penguin and Random House combined (not, unfortunately, using my suggested name of “Random Penguin”). 😉 The publishers settled; Apple fought it and eventually did not prevail (and that might have been affected by the absence on the US Supreme Court).

I’m not seeing anything on Amazon’s site yet, at least about this new payout (the previous payout is on a Help page).  I would expect that we will get e-mails about it.

Here’s the

press release

from Hagens Berman the “…consumer-rights class-action law firm” which worked with the DoJ and Attorneys General in this case.

If you took the payout last time, you should just automatically get it this time (if you are entitled to one).

How much you get depends on what you bought, when you bought it, and where. It could be pretty substantial, though. It’s $6.93 for a qualifying New York Times bestseller and $1.57 for other e-books.

My understanding is that how you use the credit will not be mandated…you won’t have to spend it on e-books, although many of you will. 🙂

I’ll be curious: I’d appreciate it if you comment on this post to let me and my readers know when you get an Amazon e-mail about this.

Oh, and for my readers outside the USA (I have readers all around the world), this doesn’t impact you, since it was a legal action inside the USA.

Enjoy your settlement money! So many options! The Big 5 will probably get a short term benefit from this…but it would be interesting if consumers chose to buy books from other companies, or perhaps they can use the money for

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

and read and discovered a lot of non-Big 5 authors. 😉 Not sure it will even be an option, but that might be a good way to test out KU (if you are comfortable with how authors get paid…I’m sure not all of my readers are).

Update: I’ve gotten my e-mail…I’m pleased with just over $40! Amazon chose to indicate that the e-mail was copyrighted, so I won’t reproduce it for you (if an e-mail is not indicated as private or otherwise protected, my understanding is that the recipient can reproduced it without permission…again, just my understanding of it). The key things are that it shows up as a credit in your account, and although they direct you to the Kindle store, it does appear that it would work for things that a gift card would generally do (not periodicals, but most things). You have one year to use, according to the e-mail, by order of the court. By the time I looked at it, it was gone. 🙂 A Subscribe & Save order (we love that…we “subscribe” to physical items we get regularly, like dog food and toothpaste, and get a 15% discount) and another order took it. So, it did behave like a regular gift card.

Several of my readers have reported their amounts (see the comments)…thanks, readers! They’ve ranged from $1.57 to close to $200.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

eReader IQ loses Amazon funding

June 19, 2016

eReader IQ loses Amazon funding

I have many times in this blog written that I think

eReaderIQ

is the most valuable resource on the web for Kindleers.

I’ve gotten great use out of it myself (and I am not associated it with it except as a customer, although we have had some correspondence), and it has saved me a lot of money.

The free services include:

  • An advanced search for Kindle books (which is much more sophisticated than Amazon’s own search)
  • Notification when a book becomes available in Kindle format
  • Price tracking, and notification when a book drops an amount you specify
  • Author tracking

How has it been able to do all of these things for free for Kindle users…and to improve the service several times in significant ways?

One reason is that the site has been an Amazon Affiliate. That means that when a customer follows a link from the site and purchases something at Amazon (not necessarily that item), eReaderIQ gets a cut…an advertising fee. That does nt raise the price for the customer, or negatively impact the customer at all.

Well, I was concerned when one of my readers, Vince, alerted me to this

announcement at the eReaderIQ site

It says, in part:

“…my Amazon.com affiliate account has been shut down. I depended on Amazon’s affiliate program to monetize this site. The affiliate revenue was enough to allow me to leave my 9 to 5 job a few years ago and devote my time to maintaining this site and to my wife and kids. <snip>…

I will spend this summer trying to find other ways to monetize this site. If my attempts over the next few months do not work, then, and only then, will I look into making eReaderIQ a subscription-based service.

If it does come to that, the site will remain free to browse, and a free tier will be offered for light-duty users with small Watch Lists.”

Clearly, this is a big blow, and the site, which is really a one-person operation as I understand it, is going to do everything it can to continue its excellent service.

Just recently, eRI alerted me to a book that was on sale…and that led me to discover a

McFarland books for $3.99 (at AmazonSmile*)

sale, which I shared with you. I bought books I might not have bought otherwise, certainly, but I probably saved something like $100.

I know many of my readers use eReaderIQ.

What can you do?

I have donated to their site through PayPal…there a link on the page I linked above for the announcement: announcement at the eReaderIQ site

Next, I’m going to wait to see what happens. I would consider a paid subscription, although I’d probably be more likely to do donations from time to time.

Totally up to you what you do…I did want to give you a heads up on it, though.

Now, some of you are undoubtedly wondering what happened.

I don’t know, and I think it’s reasonable that they don’t say exactly.

I’ve always been a little concerned that they might be linking to too many free books for Amazon’s taste. There was a point where Amazon…discouraged that, but it was some time back. A lot of us changed what were doing then so we didn’t exceed Amazon’s guidelines. I don’t know that that is the case here, but it’s a guess.

There are many people and individuals (including non-profits) which earn quite a bit of their money, sometimes their existential income, as Amazon Affiliates. That’s separate from money which comes through AmazonSmile, which makes donations from Amazon to non-profits you designate, based on what you purchase).

I wish eReaderIQ all the best, and hope they can come up with a way to monetize the site and to continue their service to the Kindle community.

Do you have comments about how eReaderIQ has helped you? I think they read this blog.  Hearing those good stories, could  help, even if you don’t donate. Feel free to let me, my readers, and possibly them know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

Should Amazon do “On Deck” for books?

June 18, 2016

Should Amazon do “On Deck” for books?

Have you found yourself unexpectedly on a trip and realize you didn’t download a book to read to your Kindle?

Nah, probably not…if you are like most people, you probably have more than 100 on there. 😉

However, you might not have one you particularly want to read.

Amazon recognizes that need for videos, and in a recent

software update for 5th generation Fire tablets (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

those devices got a feature called “On Deck”. The Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) and the original Fire TV have already had something like it.

It downloads a video for you…something it thinks you might want to watch, like the next episode in a series you are watching.

I think this might work very well for books…after all, we read lots of series of books, too. 🙂

The obvious place to do it would be with

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

Based on what you are reading now, Amazon could download another book to your device before you finish, so it’s ready to go. The next book in a series is obvious, but it could also do one based on the same author or the same topic.

You wouldn’t be charged for it…if I was Amazon, I’d make an “On Deck” book not count against your ten borrows at a time you can have from KU.

You’d get one book at a time…if you chose not to read it (indicated by you starting another book), it could be replaced…again, automatically.

You could “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” the choices, but that’s not really necessary…if you read it, it’s a sign they made a good choice.

It also wouldn’t need to cost Amazon much at all. With KU books, the publisher doesn’t get paid the whole royalty just because it is downloaded…it’s based on what you read.

Yep, I think this could be great for many people, including publishers!

Naturally, I would want you to have the option to opt out of it. There are some people who really load up their Kindles, and others where connecting to the network can be an issue.

For people who don’t have KU, it’s trickier.

Amazon could still do it…downloading a free book for you based on what you are reading. However, that could have royalty implications.

No, it’s probably best as an inducement to get people to do KU…at least initially.

Another option would be to let you pre-authorize purchases. You could agree to purchase the next book in a series whenever it is released, or the next book from an author. I think that’s riskier, though…especially the author one. Authors sometimes write books which don’t really match up with the other books…and they might choose to follow a super successful book with a riskier one.

Still, I hope Amazon considers the idea! It helps Amazon and the publishers with discovery and predictability. It helps readers, again with discovery and with convenience.

What do you think? Does it sound like a good idea? Am I missing some reason you wouldn’t like it? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 


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