Round up #144: Prime Air, read more live longer?

Round up #144: Prime Air, read more live longer?

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

Publishing Perspectives: “Sisters in Crime on Diversity: Multiculturalism, They Wrote”

I found this

Publishing Perspective post by Porter Anderson


It’s about a recent report from

Sisters in Crime (SinC)

about diversity within their group of mystery writers.

The whole question of diversity is an interesting one…and one that’s been in the news repeatedly recently.

Do people of similar nature (gender, ethnic background, sexual preference) have similar perspectives? More importantly, do they lack perspectives that people of different (diverse) natures would have?

If someone believes that’s true, than finding out that a group of content creators or “influencers” being less diverse than the general population means that the works produced by that group underrepresent perspectives in society.

This survey (which is available at the SinC website) compared self-reported categorization of the membership with census data (with the exception of LGBT ((Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender…although it is generally used in a more inclusive manner than that, including those who identify as “gender fluid”, or example)) identification, which used another comparison study).

All of the groups were underrepresented by the authors under this methodology except for two.

SinC members (the survey was sent to 3,400 members; SinC is in fifty states) were reported as 93% “White, non-Hispanic”, compared to 62% of the general population…half again as many.

LGBT self-reported at 6%, compared to 3.8%…158% (somewhat higher than the above).

One more, and then I’ll recommend you read the study. I was surprised that people with a disability were underrepresented. I would expect writers with disabilities to be overrepresented…a person can write for a living with limited mobility. I can certainly see how someone who had a change in mobility status would choose to be the writer they perhaps always wanted to be. I’ve walked with a cane for maybe a few years now…it does make doing my day job marginally more difficult. Perhaps being a successful writer nowadays may require a lot of travel, to go to book festivals and such…I know my sibling, author of

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

does travel to those sorts of events frequently.

HDXter, the work horse

When I was a kid, you figured that you bought household appliance and it would last for generations of devices, but human generations. 🙂 It was entirely possible that you would get your grandparents’ vacuum cleaner or refrigerator to use.

While the term had been around for a few decades, it was really in the 1950s that “planned obsolescence” became a popular concept. The basic idea is that companies would intentionally design their products so that the consumer would want to replace it, probably with a newer model from the same company.

Car companies have understood that.

Apple’s phone business has arguably depended on it.

It’s funny, but emotionally, when I buy a Kindle  or a Fire tablet, I feel (not think) that I will have and use it for decades.

Oh, I expect to buy new models when they come up, but that is largely to write about them for you, my readers. I’ve certainly bought them because I’ve been curious about a new feature, but I  expect the old ones to still be around and be part of my life (if I don’t give them away).

Regular readers may remember we had a break-in a few years ago and had a bunch of our Kindles/Fires taken:

Eight of our Kindles stolen

However, I have and use daily a Kindle Fire HDX (now discontinued). HDXter (“H-Dexter”) is the Kindle/Fire I use the most…it’s the one that comes to work with me, the one that does text-to-speech in the car. I use a Voyage and a Paperwhite at home as well, but HDXter has served me incredibly well.

It’s been in Amazon’s own Origami cover, and yes, it’s been dropped or fallen a few times.

Updates have affected it, which is nice…I got the new Page Flip version, for example, which is brilliant.

I have one of the current gen Fires, but I like HDXter better at this point:  it fits my needs.

Reading is life

“Serious readers” may feel like we get to live more by reading books, but one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, linked me to this

New York Times article by Bryan Thomas

which reports on a study that says that regular readers literally live longer.

Here’s the key in a short excerpt:

“Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die. Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.”

They reportedly controlled for other factors (readers may be disproportionately part of other groups with average longer life expectancy, including women and those of greater financial means, for example).

There may be a number of reasons for that…it may reduce stress, acting as a form of meditation. I think empathetic people tend  to be more emotionally fit, and there have been other studies which suggest that readers tend to be more empathetic.

“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Amazon!”

While Amazon’s drone delivery program isn’t happening in the USA yet (it will likely happen in other countries first, due to our approval process moving more slowly), Amazon has launched Prime Air…and it’s a cargo jet!

You can see pictures of it in this

GeekWire post by Alan Boyle

Amazon would clearly like to be able to control the delivery process from store to door. They also are using “Amazon Flex” drivers, sort of like Uber for Amazon package deliveries, for those final miles (they recently delivered the hardback version of the new Harry Potter book between midnight and 2:00 AM…creating some speculation, including here, that it might be some other secret product launch…it wasn’t).

I pity folks at package delivery companies who have based their business projections on how much Amazon was going to use them. It’s a tiny percentage at this point, I’m sure, but if Amazon expands control of self-delivery, it could even cause layoffs at those companies, I would guess.

Stock prices of traditional publishers are…

…doing just fine, thank you.

You might guess that publishers are in trouble…I’ve reported on the rise of indies. However, that’s one of the things about being professional companies with a long history: they understand how to make money, even if how they do it isn’t as “sexy” as just selling more copies of books.


Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

has a nice look at stock prices, showing that their PWSI (Publishers Weekly Stock Index) has gone up a lot faster than the Dow Jones Industrials.

They break it down by individual companies, and some of the strong players might surprise you…Barnes & Noble (they don’t just include publishers, but B&N has had some “house branded” books before) is up 30.3%…Amazon, by comparison, is up 5.9%. However, it’s a lot easier to rise in percentages when you have a much, much smaller starting number. 🙂

What do you think? Are tradpubs gains short term, or can they survive and thrive? Would you rather have Amazon deliver your packages, or UPS/Fed Ex/USPS? Should the author pool reflect the general population? Should reading be part of fitness/longevity plans? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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.



10 Responses to “Round up #144: Prime Air, read more live longer?”

  1. alanchurch Says:

    Review the NYT article on readers living longer:this reader comment and others point out an obvious point about the study(which you allude to)

    This is junk science. Non-randomized and non-blinded study without adequate consideration that those who read books might be a selected population who have healthy habits in other ways.

    This is like saying that if those who have a globe of the earth in their house live longer, then it is due to the globe.”

    Correlation does not indicate causation.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, alanchurch!

      I don’t want to spend about $35 for the actual study, so I don’t know enough about the methodology to make a judgment like that in this specific case., although certainly, studies like that happen.

      At the site of the actual study, they say:

      “Cox proportional hazards models were based on survival information up to 12 years after baseline. A dose-response survival advantage was found for book reading by tertile (HRT2 = 0.83, p < 0.001, HRT3 = 0.77, p < 0.001), after adjusting for relevant covariates including age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression."

      I'm not sure if the concern is that those aren't the proper coveriates, if the basis of reporting on those was insufficient, or if the nature of how the questions were asked about reading habits was undisciplined…

      This is the site for the study:

      • alanchurch Says:

        The problem is that with epidemiological studies you can’t really establish causality, no matter how many factors (covariates) you account for. There may always be a variable, or many, which are causative for the dependent variable, in this case longevity. It might be that heavy readers do something(s) and THAT thing or THOSE things are the things that cause longer life. To establish causality you need double- blinded, randomized studies. Very hard to do in this case. People who drink red wine live longer not because they drink red wine but because they make more money, are better educated, and have healthier habits.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, alanchurch!

        Understood. The clear problem for me is the conclusion, or suggested conclusion, that reading will give you a longer life. That’s not a reasonable statement from what I can see, but I’m not seeing an easy invalidation of the correlation evidence. I think they can say that there is a correlation between people who read more and people who live longer…but as you say, not that reading longer is causative.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    My understanding of PrimeAir, Amazon trucking, ships, et al that this is mostly meant to handle two scenarios: overflows at traditional shippers during peak delivery periods like the end of year holidays, and to handle intra Amazon shipping (primarily from fulfillment centers to sortation centers).

    At the present time I don’t think they are going to reduce their dependence on traditional shippers. Although I have noticed a decided change in the “mix” of shippers used — at least here in Florida. They are relying a lot more on USPS (which also offers Sunday deliveries). Small to medium size packages almost always come by USPS; larger packages mostly come via UPS. I hardly see FedEx anymore — I don’t know if that’s a national or a regional trend.

    Based on my reading addiction, I should live to 100 😀 .

    It’s my sense across all authors — not just WIC — that there are more women than men — just another junk science observation :grin.

    In other news: Penguin and Random House are Merging! Yes I know that they have been one company for sometime now. But what many probably don’t know is that in NYC, Penguin is located on lower Broadway in the Tribeca area, while Random House is located (also on Broadway :grin) midtown at Columbus Circle right by the Southwest corner of Central Park. Over the next two years they will be closing the Penguin premises, and collocating all the Penguin staff at an enlarged footprint in the Columbus Circle building (where they will be the only commercial tenant — about half the building is residential condominiums).

    I assume this will result in some staff reductions, and may change the nature of their publishing lists?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Well, it seems to me that, unless the amount of overflows and intra shipping is new, it has to represent a loss to other shipping companies, reducing Amazon’s dependence. I would also guess that unexpected needs (as in overflows) typically happen at higher cost (for faster deliveries), which would amplify it.

      In terms of the consolidating of Random Penguin (the name I wish they’d used), the impact on readers will depend a great deal on how the eliminate. For example, they could choose to shutter an entire imprint, or combine two. My guess is that we will may end up with less diverse offerings.

  3. alanchurch Says:

    To follow up on my last comment- most book clubs are composed of women. Women live longer than men. Therefore belonging to a book club leads to longevity. No, it’s some of the many things that are different about women that leads to their longer life. Many newspapers and medical letters report epidemiological findings as involving causation when they do not. Controlled studies are needed to follow up on the findings of epidemiological studies.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, alanchurch!

      Forteans, of course, never reach a causation conclusion…for true Forteans, that always smacks of being a matter of faith, to say for certain that X causes Y.

      • alanchurch Says:

        Well, yes, that is true of of science as well. Nothing is ever considered to be absolutely true, though far beyond any reasonable doubt is often the case.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, alanchurch!

        Forteans sometimes get a reputation as being anti-science, but I don’t find
        that to be true at all, which is why the same thing is true for both. Anti-scientific establishment, sure, but following classic scientific principles.

        I say that science deals in probabilities…there is no such thing a a “scientific fact”. 🙂

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