Round up #146: get a free Echo or Fire Tablet with a subscription, big Fall books

Round up #146: get a free Echo or Fire Tablet with a subscription, big Fall books

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

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

B&N announced their financials for the 1st quarter. Overall, it was bad…and the NOOK was worse.

According to CNN Money


the stock has been down for three straight days (although today was bad for the stock market overall).

The media response wasn’t better than the investors’ response. For example, there is this one:

Barnes & Noble reeling as Amazon eats its lunch by Paul R. La Monica in CNN

When people commented on the NOOK, it was pretty much that it was time to give up on it.

GOODEREADER had a more sophisticated take on it:

Barnes and Noble Nook Leadership is in Turmoil by Michael Kozlowski

According to this press release

sales declined 6.6%…and “NOOK sales, which include digital content, devices and accessories, declined 24.5%”.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I was…intrigued by some comments on the call…you can read

Seeking Alpha’s transcript

although you may need to do a free registration to read the whole thing.

Leonard Riggio, who really built what we now know as Barnes & Noble was on the call as CEO, although that’s apparently a stopgap position.

It’s not often that you hear “terrible” and “…worse I have ever experienced in 50 years I have been in this industry” on a financial call!

I am unconvinced that, as Riggio suggests, there has been a downturn in sales because of the Presidential election which will reverse itself in time for this year’s holiday season.

Riggio says: “…we look forward to a great holiday series, which will begin this year in the post-election period when I expect what I call this retail malaise to be over.”

I would expect the election to be driving up sales, not down. I doubt very many people are going to say, “I would buy a book, but I’ll watch the debate instead”. Some people will read books about the candidates and the election who don’t read books at other times.

And reversing in time for the holiday sales? The election is November 8th. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is November 25th. Regardless of result, I don’t expect the country to be in a jubilant, confident mood that quickly after this divided an election.

I have respect for Riggio…but I think this will be a tough holiday season for books at Barnes & Noble.

We bought a computer…actually, we bought two

While our now adult kid has been happy with a Lenovo, and a lot of people are, I haven’t loved ours. I type pretty quickly (I’ve been tested in the 90s WPM…Words Per Minute, although I’m not that fast now), and I’ve just never liked the keyboard. I don’t think it was picking up my keystrokes quickly enough.

My Significant Other also really needed a new computer…the plan was that I’d replace the Lenovo, and my SO would use it (it’s been decent except for the keyboard).

We really prefer buying things from Amazon, but I needed hands on to make this decision. I’d tried a few at Costco, but the key arrangement was bizarre. In particular, some of them put the backspace pretty much out of reach without leaving the home row…that doesn’t work for me.

So, it was off to Best Buy.

They were very helpful, and not too pushy.

I ended up with an ASUS for myself, which I’m using right now…and it’s a world of difference. I paid more for it than I had originally thought (about $900).

My SO also loved a Vulcan…and that was under $200!

It’s already helping put more words into this post…just what you wanted, right? 😉

“Alexa, show me Star Trek”

Yesterday, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, not only with a post on The Measured Circle blog:

Star Trek: its 50 year mission…to boldly keep on going

but by watching the first aired episode, The Man Trap (although it was in the remastered version).

Alexa voice search has been on the

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


Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

for a while, but a new update rolling out now is bringing it to over 75 apps, including Netflix and Hulu.

You also will be able to control the playback using your voice.

Unfortunately, the

Voice Remote for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile*)

has probably been the least reliable piece of technology I’ve ever owned. Every one of them I’ve had has broken fairly quickly, without abuse. It’s not just the batteries, by the way. That’s been the only disappointing part of the Fire TV experience for me.

Fortunately, you can do Alexa voice control on the Fire TV by using the free Fire TV app on your SmartPhone.

Note that this doesn’t mean that you can directly control your Fire TV with your Echo…I keep hoping for that. I do have my Echo set up to work with my

Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*))

through IFTTT, but that’s a considerable investment and isn’t easy to do technically.

Scarlett Johansson and Tim Curry will read to you

Speaking of the Echo (and we use all three of that family…an Echo, a Tap, and a Dot), Amazon is letting you listen to Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland read by Scarlett Johansson and Journey to the Center of the Earth read by Tim Curry for free through your Echo during September.

Just say, “Alexa, read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from Audible” or “Alexa, read Journey to the Center of the Earth from Audible”.

Nice benefit!

Get a free Echo with a Princeton Review subscription

If you subscribe to Princeton Review Study Course for the SAT, Princeton Review Study Course for ACT, or Princeton Review Homework Help, you get a free Echo!

Education & Learning (at AmazonSmile*)

Now, that’s not cheap…the Homework Help is $399 for a year, but if you are subscribing any way…

Another “device with subscription” offer?

Subscribe to

Texture for 6 months (at AmazonSmile*)

for $89.95 and get a free Fire tablet.

With Texture you have unimited access to over 175 magazines, including many well-known ones…and that includes back issues and downloads.

The app only has a 3.6 star rating in customer reviews out of a possible five. Looking at the reviews, it seems to me that if it works for you, it’s well worth it. Some people don’t like the formatting, and some people had trouble getting it to work at all.

You can cancel within seven days (you won’t get the tablet, of course), so it might be worth testing. The terms are reasonable: your subscription will work on both Android and Apple, and can be shared between five devices.

Amazon’s Fall Reading list

We all know there are only four really good seasons for reading books…winter, spring, summer, and fall. 😉

Fall is often for more serious books for many people…summer is more for popcorn books. That’s not how I read myself, but that’s the way a lot of people do it.

Amazon’s editors have made recommendations:

Fall reading: the most buzzworthy books of the season

This is where you can do your holiday shopping!

However, while there are 719 hardbacks listed, there are only 42 Kindle editions listed. Still definitely worth a look.

That was a lot of ground in these short pieces. Have opinions on any of them? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: this post was improved because of a comment from regular reader and commenter Harold Delk…thanks, Harold!

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! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.


6 Responses to “Round up #146: get a free Echo or Fire Tablet with a subscription, big Fall books”

  1. Alita Says:

    Do you think there is any chance of the dot coming back for sale? Thanks

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Alita!

      Interesting! The way it’s written, it looks like they might be replacing it in a new line-up, but it’s hard to say. We both like our Dot a lot…it seems to hear us better than our Echo. The Tap is on sale right now, but of course, it doesn’t serve the same purpose.

      This is what they say on the page about the Dot:

      “Echo Dot
      by Amazon

      Sold out
      Thank you for your interest in Echo Dot. It is currently sold out. Stay tuned, we’re always up to something new. Explore Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled products like Amazon Tap.”

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    I read this passage a few times trying to make sense of it and then my little light of understanding blinked. “has probably been the last reliable piece of technology I’ve ever owned. Everyone of them I’ve had has broken fairly quickly, without abuse. It’s not just the batteries, by the way. That’s been the only disappointing part of the Fire TV experience for me.” Could it be that “last” was meant to be “least?” The context leads me to believe so.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      Good catch!

      What a difference a letter makes! 😉 Yes, it should have been “least”, and I’ve corrected it in the post. I was on the road, so it was harder to do a more sophisticated edit, but I’ll do that now…to get a thanks to you in it.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    A few things.

    I’m surprised about your comments about the Lenovo keyboard. The Lenovo ThinkPads (very expensive) are reputed to have one of the very best laptop keyboards around. ThinkPads are however, targeted at businesses. I have one Lenovo laptop (not a ThinkPad — rather an Ideapad), but then I’m not much of a typist.

    I tend to prefer voice recognition from Nuance. They’ve just announced a new version 15 with “Deep Learning” 😉 . “Deep Learning” and “Big Data” are the buzzwords du jour, I guess — so I’m not sure whether I’ll upgrade or not.

    ASUS is a good well-respected Taiwanese brand; I’ve never heard of Vulcan (:grin)😝

    A different perspective on Barnes & Noble’s woes. My brother has just written his first SciFi/Fantasy book. He published it on Amazon and Nook. Setting it up on Amazon was easy peasy; the Nook was a PITA. It’s been out for about 8 weeks. On Amazon he’s sold 3500 copies (@$2.99) (he’s gobsmacked — this was just to be a hobby, and something to give to his grand kids — Amazon is also very quick with royalties) , on the Nook he’s gotten the frabulous sales of ONE copy 😦 . Just another indication of how BN is going down the tubes.

    BN is not the only chain retailer in trouble: Books A Million, a regional seller has closed most of their stores in my area of Florida — save for one tiny outlet in a mall in Vero Beach — even there all the books are stacked on the shelves title page out, which is (as I’m sure you know) a way to hide thin inventory.

    In other news: I finally broke down and bought a kindle Oasis (it’ll be here on Wednesday). That represents my fifth kindle to go along with 3 Fire tablets, a Fire TV Stick, a Fire TV, an Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap :mrgreen:

    The only discounts I’ve seen on “Echo” devices have been for the Tap. I haven’t seen any deals for the Echo or the Dot? I see the Tap frequently discounted — I guess it’s not selling well. I, myself, find the Tap less compelling that either the Echo or the Dot.

    I’ve had my Echo since Nov, 2014, and the remote has been fine for me — you probably use yours a lot, mine less so.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I know people (including our adult kid) who like their Lenovos very much, which is why I got one in the first place. With that, it’s not the layout of the keys, as it is in some cases. It’s possible I just have a lemon, and perhaps something I did software-wise impacted its responsiveness, I don’t really know. I just know it was hard to use. 🙂 This ASUS is much better…oh, and it boots up in a fraction of the time.

      Nuance is good, certainly. I’d argue great in some uses. Certainly, many clinicians in my “day job” use Dragon effectively.

      I’ve had ASUS before, and liked it…and I hadn’t heard of Vulcan as a computer brand either. 😉

      Congratulations to your brother! 3,500 is a lot of copies for a first book. Which book is it? The difference in sales there is…suggestive, certainly, even with a sample of one.

      B-a-M has been the second largest trade bookstore chain in the USA since the death of Borders, I believe. They’ve “felt” healthier than B&N to me for some time, but that doesn’t mean everything is good.

      I’d be interested in your opinion of the Oasis. I think people do tend to like it. If Amazon would divorce the purchase from an animal leather cover, I’d be interested.

      Sales on the Echo have certainly happened, and I believe they have on the Dot. The new Dot is ranked #1 and #2 in Kindle Device bestsellers in the USA Kindle store. The Echo is #4, and the Tap is #16…which is still quite good. There are more than 100 items in this category.

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