Archive for October, 2016

Today’s KDD: “Today only, up to 80% off top-rated mysteries & thrillers”

October 30, 2016

Today’s KDD: “Today only, up to 80% off top-rated mysteries & thrillers”

Today’s

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

is “…up to 80% off top-rated mysteries & thrillers”.

This is a good selection, with some well-known titles. These prices are today only, and may not apply in your country, so check the price before you click or tap that Buy button. Remember also that you can buy these books on sale and either delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or print a gift out so you can wrap it and give it when you want.

Titles include:

  • The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty
  • Ghost Story by Peter Straub
  • Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
  • The Beginning of the End (Apocalypse Z Book 1) by Manel Loureiro
  • Dark Days (Apocalypse Z Book 2) by Manel Loureiro
  • The Wrath of the Just (Apocalypse Z Book 3) by Manel Loureiro
  • Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder Book 1) by Linda Castillo
  • X (Kinsey Millhone Book 24) by Sue Grafton (this is a book in the “alphabet mysteries”, but I guess they didn’t want to do “X is for X-ray”) 😉
  • Welcome to Night Vale: A Joseph Fink
  • The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
  • The Widow by Fiona Barton
  • After Anna by Alex Lake
  • Liar’s Key (Sharpe & Donovan) by Carla Neggers
  • The Girl in the Glass by James Hayman
  • Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
  • A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George
  • NOS4A2: A Novel by Joe Hill
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • Raven Black: Book One of the Shetland Island Quartet by Ann Cleeves
  • Waking the Dead (Cafferty & Quinn Novels Book 2) by Heather Graham
  • MEG: Primal Waters by Steve Alten (the first of these books will be a Jason Statham movie in 2018)
  • The Ghosts of Belfast (The Belfast Novels Book 1) by Stuart Neville (and others in this series)
  • Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry
  • Bitten: A Novel (Otherworld Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong
  • The Tomb (Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack Book 1) by F. Paul Wilson
  • Necroscope by Brian Lumley
  • A Mad Zombie Party (The White Rabbit Chronicles) by Gena Showalter
  • Blade Vol. 1: Undead Again: Undead Again v. 1… by Marc Guggenheim (Marvel graphic novel)
  • Stephen King’s The Stand Vol. 1: Captain Trips… by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa  (graphic novel…and others in this series)
  • George Romero’s Empire of the Dead: Act One by George Romero (George Romero follows my TMCGTT Twitter feed…which for me, is one of the coolest things ever!)

Those aren’t quite all of them…if you see another one you’d recommend to me or my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

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! 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.

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Shakeup at the Copyright Office: publishers express concern

October 30, 2016

Shakeup at the Copyright Office: publishers express concern

I’ve written quite a bit about copyright, and it’s definitely an interest of mine.

All readers are affected by it. We’ve had some lively discussions about copyright in this blog.

Well, there was recently a major shakeup at the Copyright Office.

Now, to be clear, I think it’s an institution that could use some changes…I doubt very many people are satisfied with it the way it is. It definitely needs modernization (we should be able to easily go online and see if any book is in the public domain ((not under copyright protection)); that just seems obvious nowadays).

It would be nice if they would make definitive statements about policies…many of them seem deliberately fuzzy, leaving it up to the courts.

That said, though, what happened recently was a shock, and the “content industry” (books, music, and so on) seems generally dismayed and concerned.

Maria Pallante had been the Register of Copyrights since 2011, and had made some changes seen as favorable to content producers.

The new Librarian of Congress (been there less than two months), Carla Hayden, reassigned Pallante to a senior advisor position at the LoC…and Pallante declined and left.

Among the groups issuing a

statement of concern

is the Authors Guild.

It’s hard to tell exactly what this means.

There is talk about separating the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress (it’s currently under that organization), and perhaps this was a move in that direction.

There are rumors that this was done at the, um, suggestion of Google or other tech groups.

You see, there have been…differing points of view between content producers and tech companies. Tech companies benefit by making as much content available to their customers as easily as possible. They’d love to make it free and fully searchable and perhaps modifiable. They typically don’t make the money by selling the actual content…they sell advertising, and they may sell devices and network access. They don’t sell by the piece, most of the time.

Content producers want to be compensated, and their payment plans are most often based on piece sales. That may be changing, with subscription services like

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

It’s important to note that Hayden’s term is for ten years…and is quite powerful.

This move certainly suggests that we are going to see a distinctive term with significant changes. My guess is that there will be reader-friendly policies…but ones that might not be as favorable for the content producers and distributors.

In the long term, that might be bad for readers…although that’s hard to say. If, and that’s a big if, the brand name authors of today can’t make a living the way they do now, it’s safe to say that they won’t all adapt successfully to a new paradigm (that’s happened with every big intellectual property change…silent movies, for example). Fragmentation of the industry, where many books are published by the authors, would also change things.

Solving the “orphan books” problem would matter…those are books which are under copyright, but not in print, and where no one can be found to authorize a new edition.

Saying definitively that we can digitize a print book which we have purchased and which is under copyright for our own use (without explicit authorization) would create an entirely new industry.

Whatever it is, it will likely affect what you will be reading ten years from now.

The Associate Register, Karyn Temple Claggettm is temporarily in charge, and they are searching for another Register.

Here are a few links:

What do you think? Is this change a good thing? How would you like to see copyright reformed? Do you worry that an independent Copyright Office might be less reader-friendly than the current situation (under the Library or Congress)? 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!

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.

Amazon’s Q3 financials: overwhelmingly up…and the stock went down

October 28, 2016

Amazon’s Q3 financials: overwhelmingly up…and the stock went down

You gotta love investors: for them, every silver lining has a cloud. 😉

I’m just kidding…I would never pretend to be qualified to judge investors. I’m definitely a layperson there. I would much rather have a reliable 3% than take a shot at 10% or nothing. I love playing games, and I can be a risktaker there. When my family goes to the racetrack for holidays (which we do), I actually follow a risky strategy. We all just bet essentially a minimum ($5 a race) and we split winnings. I bet some long shots…and might win one long shot out of eight races (but win maybe $30).  I’m typically close to break even at the end of the day (but we definitely come out ahead socially, with all the time to talk to family we may not see that often). Our now adult kid had a system growing up that would win virtually every race…but small amounts. We usually come out pretty close between the two of us. Family finances, though? I want predictability and reliability, not great for at stock player.

It feels to me, though, like some investors are like some managers (and I’ve trained managers). They suspect that everyone is hiding negative things, and if they get the slightest hint that something is bad, they assume they’ve uncovered previously hidden mass failure/corruption.

Amazon announced their third quarter financials yesterday:

Generally, things were very good. Sales year over year (comparing this quarter in 2016 to the same quarter in 2015…y/y) were up 29%. Net income more than tripled.

Yes, in the international segment, net income was down, while sales were up…I believe that’s largely due to investment in India.

Amazon invests…a lot. During an investment phase, you spend more money, with the intent to make more money as a result (that’s basically what investment means). Amazon is always in an investment phase somewhere. After more than a decade, that is now paying off in North America. They’ve made very few investments which didn’t pay off eventually (the Fire Phone being a notable exception, as well as an early auction site…but those are more than matched by successful investments).

According to this

CNN Money graph

the stock lost value yesterday…although it is up more than 20% for the year.

The stock loss may be more of a reaction to Amazon not doing as well as people expected…that’s what the blogosphere says.

As what should probably be the Amazon Investors webpage motto would say: “Give it time.” 😉

Now, the press release did something the conference call didn’t do this time (which was interesting)…it bragged about Amazon’s developments.

This short excerpt had one of the most intriguing parts for me:

“Alexa may be Amazon’s most loved invention yet — literally — with over 250,000 marriage proposals from customers and counting,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “And she’s just getting better. Because Alexa’s brain is in the cloud, we can easily and continuously add to her capabilities and make her more useful — wait until you see some of the surprises the team is working on now.”

A quarter of a million people have proposed marriage…to an artificial intelligence construct. 🙂 People have loved their cars…but I don’t think “marriage” best describes that relationship. 😉 Marriage implies a component of intellectual and emotional exchange, and demonstrates that people think of Alexa as a “social actor”.

Those surprises? There are two directions: more capabilities and more access to capabilities. I think we’ll see both…Alexa in more places, and more things it can do. They’ve just directly connected the

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

I need to test that out yet, to see if it has more capabilities than what I do now going through IFTTT (If This Then That).

Alexa still needs to control my

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

directly through the Echo…although they gave it a lot more voice control through its own voice control.

One thing that won’t be a surprise is a social chatbot…that’s the goal of the current

Alexa Prize competition

although we won’t see the results of that for more than a year.

In the press release, Amazon did talk about e-books and reading devices…that’s a good thing. 🙂

Of course, the retail segment is just a part of what Amazon does…there may have been more concern about competitors to AWS (Amazon Web Services); that came up in one of the questions.

I’m sure many of you are wiser about the stock market than I am: what do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers 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! 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.

 

What’s scarier: supernatural horror or science fiction horror?

October 26, 2016

What’s scarier: supernatural horror or science fiction horror?

Literature can take us to impossible places…and they aren’t all feel-good fairy lands.

In fact, some of them are scary…very, very scary. I have no doubt that the vast majority of “impossible” fiction contains an element of fear-generation. Fear suggests risk, and risk is the very (rapidly beating) heart of drama.

I’m leaving purely psychological horror out of this discussion. If you read a book about a person whose cruelty is within known human behavior, who doesn’t use extra-reality techniques, it isn’t an impossible fiction…horrifying, yes, and by definition horror, but not what I consider small “f” fantasy or what I consider geeky**.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of impossible horror fiction.

In one, the thing that creates fear is presented as being based on science. We the readers are to believe that it could at some point happen within the “laws” of physics (and other science). It could be an alien invader, like the Martians in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. It might be from experiments in biochemistry, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau. It may be a social dystopia in the future (anything set in the future is by definition impossible for the reader), or artificial intelligence, or a new disease.

In the other, the thing that creates the fear is “supernatural”. It’s not based on science. It’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Jacob Marley in Charles’ Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s not something that is just waiting to be invented.

They both can be scary. While it might seem like science fiction horror would be scarier, because it could happen in the real world, there are two things arguing against that.

One is that something that is created by science can hypothetically be fought by science. The tools that create it are here…the weapons to stop it must be as well. What can be made can be unmade…at least, the possibility exists.

The other thing is that many people believe in the supernatural. They may call it different things, and their beliefs may vary wildly and they may be accepting of one type of the supernatural and condemning of another.

Roughly one third to one half of Americans believe in ghosts, according to polls. Does that change ghost stories into science fiction? There are science fiction ghost stories, where the ghosts are explained by science. However, belief in non-science based ghosts is clearly sizeable. It’s possible, again based on polls, that more people believe in ghosts than in the Big Bang theory.

Interestingly, supernatural doesn’t usually mean without rules. The rules can be very clearly defined…we certainly see that in vampire literature, even though the rules may not be the same from one vampire “world” to another. Can a vampire enter a home without being asked? Can they walk around in the daytime? Do they have to sleep in a coffin with some of their native soil? No…and yes. 🙂 Depends on the book.

I think it could be argued that supernatural systems can have more precision in their rules. The real world is messy…it’s much harder to define a rule in reality than it is in fiction.

Perhaps supernatural horror is scarier if you don’t believe in the supernatural…and science fiction horror is scarier if you do believe in science. 🙂

There’s another whole subset that uses science to create the beings we know from the supernatural. One that I enjoyed was

World Enough, and Time by James Kahn (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but there are many.

For me, bad science fiction is still in the science fiction category. By that, I mean science fiction based on bad science…if someone said, “I combined aspirin and lemonade and it created an invisibility formula because it blocked out visible wavelengths,” that’s not going to happen based on commonly accepted science, but it’s suggested that it happens based on known science, not on magic. That makes it “bad science” fiction, as far as I’m concerned.

It’s not a big deal to me: I don’t clearly separate science fiction from the supernatural, although I know it’s a passionate argument for many. I’m a “lumper” not a “splitter”. I look for elements that justify that something is fantasy, not that it isn’t.

It’s much harder to find a “classical” author who hasn’t written any “impossible” fiction than many of the literati might want you to believe. Dickens, Shakespeare, Jack London, on and on.

Well, what do you think? Do you find that horror based on science is scarier or that horror based on the supernatural is…or that it just depends on the book? If it does matter, why? What novel has scared you the most? What would recommend? 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! 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.

** At TMCGTT (The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip ) I consider any “impossible fiction” as geeky. The Lord of the Rings, non-science based, is geeky in my book.

November 2016 Kindle book releases

October 25, 2016

November 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 6,987 titles listed as being released in the USA Kindle Store in November 2016:

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

Of those, by the way, 1,139 (120 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.  Continuing last month’s trend, they aren’t dominant.

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!

  • Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta Book 24) by Patricia Cornwell
  • The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan by Dahr Jamail and Chris Hedges
  • Sherlock: A Study in Pink #6 by Steven Moffat (Author), Jay (Illustrator), Claudia Iannicello (Illustrator)
  • Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by Misuzu Kaneko and Toshikado Hajiri
  • That Voodoo That You Do by Ann Yost
  • When Memory Comes by Saul Friedländer and Claire Messud
  • Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb
  • Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China by Scott Savitt
  • I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb
  • Good Behavior by Blake Crouch
  • Showstoppers!: The Surprising Backstage Stories of Broadway’s Most Remarkable Songs by Gerald Nachman
  • Maigret’s First Case (Inspector Maigret) by Georges Simenon and Ros Schwartz
  • The Collectible LEGO Minifigure: Values, Investments, Profits, Fun Facts, Collector Tips by Ed Maciorowski and Jeff Maciorowski
  • Pieces of Soap: Essays by Stanley Elkin and Sam Lipsyye
  • This Is That: Travel Guide To Canada by This is That and Pat Kelly
  • To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History by Lawrence Levy
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • Shadow of Victory (Honor Harrington Book 19) by David Weber
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

Feel free to suggest other books being released in September 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.

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

All aboard 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! :)

** 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.

Today’s KDD: “80% off select Biographies & Memoirs”

October 23, 2016

Today’s KDD: “80% off select Biographies & Memoirs”

Books are the purest form of telempathy we know, and biographies and memoirs are especially that. Although, in the case of a biography, you are feeling what the author feels about the subject, so that’s a step removed. As to memoirs…one could argue that every work of fiction is to some extent a memoir. 😉

Today’s

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

says it is “80% off select Biographies & Memoirs”. The 80% language is interesting…when a book is $4.99 in the sale, that suggests it is normally about $25. These books are not normally $25 in Kindle editions, although they could have been that in hardback.

Regardless, there are some good/popular titles here, and they are each under $5. Check that price before you click or tap the Buy button…it could change, and may not apply in your country.

These can make great gifts. Remember that you can buy them during the sale, and delay delivery of the e-book until the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or print out the gift and give it (even wrapped) whenever you want.

Books in the sale include:

  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  • A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis…by Linda Thompson
  • Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (a major bestseller and later a movie, one of the best reviewed books I’ve seen with a 4.8 out of 5 star average with 27,130 customer reviews)…$3.99
  • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
  • The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt
  • Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt
  • Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
  • 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  • Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  • Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • First Women by Kate Anderson Brower
  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon
  • Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  • Thomas Jefferson: The ARt of Power by Jon Meacham
  • Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
  • Walk to Beautiful by Mr. Jimmy Wayne
  • The Vegas Diaries by Holly Madison
  • Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
  • Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson, MD
  • American Wife by Tara Kyle
  • My Life with Earth,Wind & Fire by Maurice White
  • Delta Lady: A Memoir by Rita Coolridge
  • Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr
  • Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg

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! 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.

Round up #149: I’m on TKC tomorrow, Brits write about USA libraries

October 21, 2016

Round up #149: I’m on TKC tomorrow, Brits write about USA libraries

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

I’ll be on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles this Friday 10/21

I’ve recorded an interview with Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

for podcast this Friday!

I’m always honored to be on that show, and it’s a great experience. Len has interviewed many important people, including Jeff Bezos, and the shows are always enhanced by the host’s understanding, wisdom, and compassion.

I had some audio issues (totally not Len’s fault), but I’m hopeful that some technical magic may help cut down on the impact. As usual, I probably talked more than Len expected, so I’m counting on editing. I’ll probably do a post annotating the discussion after the show.

If you have an

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

device (and that includes Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*), Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*), Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) ((you don’t need the voice remote…you can use the free Fire TV app), and Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)), you can listen to it by asking the device to “Play The Kindle Chronicles on Tune-in”. It officially goes up on Friday, but I’m not sure when…should be available on Saturday for sure.

Took a Trip without an Echo

Another personal story (more newsy stuff to follow). Our two dogs took my Significant Other and me down to Pacific Grove near Carmel for a couple of days this weekend. 🙂 They love going down there…and so do we! The Carmel beach is leash-free, and there’s a sort of hidden (there’s no sign visible from the street driving by) little old growth forest area in Pacific Grove, called the Rip Van Winkle Open Space, which is also leash-free.

elf-tree

We were looking for a quiet couple of days (we only spent two nights there), with a lot of walking and healthy food (we brought our own…literally the only thing we bought down there was that my SO had a latte).

Quiet meant…no Alexa! I could have brought our Tap, but my SO really isn’t fond of Alexa. I think it’s correct to say that it’s harder to ask for a light to be turned on than to flip a switch, and understanding is imperfect. I have a lot of fun with Alexa, and find the imperfections charming, but I get it. We also didn’t watch any TV…I had considered bringing the Fire TV Stick, and we probably would have used it…but just as well.

That doesn’t mean I was Amazon techless! I didn’t bring a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader), but did have my trusty (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX, and got quite a bit of reading done. I finished

Keep Watching the Skies by Bill Warren (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I really enjoyed that comprehensive encyclopedia of science fiction movies released in the USA in the 1950s! I’ve seen almost all of them (a few were real obscurities; some were…um, not appropriate for me at the time). In print, it’s over 1,000 pages, and I didn’t use text-to-speech, because I wanted to see the photos from the movies and the poster reproductions. 🙂 I’m glad I could buy it for $3.99 during that sale I told you about back then…it’s $14.74 in Kindle format at the time of writing.

On the drive home, which was more than two hours, we streamed a Prime station on my Galaxy S7 Edge (not the exploding Note…I still like Samsung).

When I got home, I was eager to talk to Alexa again, but it was a great trip!

British readers write about their favorite American public libraries

I love this

Guardian article by Tom Stevens and Guardian readers

There are photographs and very personal short anecdotes.

Public libraries are one of the most important institutions that exist, in my opinion. They can change the world, by bringing it (and more than it) to the smallest towns and the biggest minds.

Is there a difference in the concept of British and American libraries? Interesting to me that they are so interested in the architecture…on the other hand, our libraries are relatively modern…not centuries old. 😉

A picture is worth a thousand words…but is a book worth two thousand dollars? 😉

The

Franklin Book Fair

is happening now, and

David Hockney

introduced a book (not yet available through Amazon) with a list price of two thousand Euros (about $2,200, I believe).It’s an art book, and comes with its own stand.

There will be 10,000 copies…gee, I wonder what the Kindle edition will cost? 😉 Just kidding, this one probably won’t be released in e-book form.

Who owns a book’s characters’ unstated lives?

There is a fascinating issue raised in this

L.A. Times article by Michael Schaub

A reader brought up the idea to author S.E. Hinton that two of the male characters in

The Outsiders (at AmazonSmile*)

might have romantic feelings for each other.

The author said definitively that they didn’t and that they weren’t gay.

There was Twitter pushback on that…that Hinton was taking something away from readers.

When I write fictional characters, I don’t feel like I know everything about them. It’s sort of like they only show me so much. I can’t control everything they do, and they often surprise me.

That said, if someone gave a character of mine a secret life that conflicted with what I thought…hm, would I be offended? I think I’d probably be amused.

Look at how Shakespeare has been interpreted in so many ways. That shows, in part, the universality of the writing…and of the character’s feelings.

This is kind of a tough one for me. I feel like Hinton has the perfect right to say that the characters weren’t written as gay, and that the author doesn’t feel like they are gay…in the author’s mind. Letting readers think what they want about the characters seems fine to me.

Brand name authors writing e-book singles

This

USA Today article by Jocelyn McClurg

points out an interesting trend of brand name authors writing short pieces…either short prequels to novels, or short stand-alone stories.

This is something I thought authors like that might independently, but that’s not what is discussed. I also thought publishers might put those sorts of books into

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

Take a look at the

Kindle Singles bestsellers in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

There are some brand name authors here and in KU!

  • #7 and #10 are by Stephanie Bond
  • #9 is on Robert Dugoni
  • #15 is an Outlander work by Diana Gabaldon
  • #18 and #20 are by Melinda Leigh

Enjoy!

What do you think? Is it okay for readers and authors to have different ideas about the characters? Do you travel with an Echo? Do you have fond memories of specific libraries? 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! 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.

Amazon’s three plan strategy for customers

October 19, 2016

Amazon’s three plan strategy for customers

Amazon is clearly moving into a new era, and they’ve come up with an interesting new plan for customers (or purchasers, for those who prefer alliteration) 😉 …or rather, perhaps it is three plans.

They are extending this through the different types of content…and let’s take a look at them.

The three plans are this:

  1. Pay by the item (Piece): these people have Amazon accounts (I’m not counting “no account” as a plan), but make decisions one item at a time. When they want to watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a song, they are willing to pay for it that point
  2. Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) members (Prime): they pay (typically) $99 a year, and want to get the most out of it. They certainly may pay for individual items, too, but are generally pretty satisfied with the selection
  3. Premium payers: they may have Prime (Premium), but they will pay more for even more stuff. 🙂 They’ll lay out more money for other subscriptions

Let’s take a look at how this works for e-books first:

“Pay by the item” folks just buy e-books when they want them. They aren’t Prime members at all…if they pay $0.99 for a book or $9.99, that’s what they pay.

The Amazon Prime members, which Amazon just started really serving with Prime Reading

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

have access to a rotating set of about 1,000 titles.

For people who will pay more for the most options, they subscribe to

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

perhaps on top of Prime (which is what we do). That gives them close to one and a half million titles.

Amazon also just introduced

Amazon Music Unlimited (at AmazonSmile)

which sets up a similar system for music.

Some people will buy music as they want it.

Others will be Prime members, and will be satisfied with Prime music, which has about 2 million titles (although rumor has it that some songs have moved from Prime Music to the Premium Amazon Music…causing some previously created playlists to have gaps).

Amazon Music Unlimited has “tens of millions” of songs…and you can download music. There are more than 41 million digital songs at Amazon, so this may not be all of them (that will depend in part on the deals they strike with rightsholders), but it will be most of them.

Prime members can pay an additional $7.99 a month (or $79 for the year), non-Prime members by $9.99 (and they don’t show a discounted annual option), and Echo owners can get it at $3.99 a month (for a single Echo device…$14.99 or $149 a month, in the upcoming Family plan).

What about games?

Yet another recent addition for Prime members (see the pattern?) 😉 is Twitch Prime. People can buy games one at a time, take what comes with Prime, or subscribe ($4.99 a month, with other options).

With video, you get pay by the piece, Prime, or pay for additional content through Streaming Partners subscriptions:

Amazon unplugs cable…and recent e-book price drops

It’s an interesting strategy, and I can see it being successful.

For us, we were Piece buyers for a long time. I was, I would say, relatively slow to subscribe to Prime. At the time, the one big advantage was free shipping in two days on many items, and I would do the calculations and think it wasn’t worth it. I was underestimating the convenience factor, and then Prime added all of these other perks!

When Kindle Unlimited was released, we went for it…and have been happy with that. What was available for Prime members then, the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) was just so limited (one book a calendar month), that after a while, I didn’t even pay attention to it. We went from Piece to Premium…but there wasn’t much of a Prime choice. Now that there is, we are staying with Premium (keeping our KU subscription), because, well, I read weird books. 😉 Those tend to be in KU, but not in Prime Reading.

I like music, but feel adequately served by Prime Music. At this point, I don’t see becoming a Premium music family…and we don’t play videogames much (my Significant Other plays Candy/Soda Crush and Scrabble, but I think that’s about it). We’ve been Prime music consumers, and now, even though we’ll probably never use, we are Prime videogame consumers

Let me just ask this for e-books…which one of the types of purchasers are you/the people on your account?

What do you think? What makes your decision (if anything) to pay for a premium subscription? Do you like the recent additions to Prime? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Note: this post was updated when the short names for the three plans occurred to me, and to add more content and the poll to it.

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.

ILMK Reader Hero #5: Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian

October 17, 2016

ILMK Reader Hero #5: Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian

Readers make the world a better place. The I Love My Kindle blog recognizes those extraordinary few who make heroic efforts to expand their minds, their hearts, and their perspectives by engaging with the world’s culture through the experience of literature.

They are our Reader Heroes.

Our readers so far have come from places not always associated with heroism…like most ILMK readers, their lives have presumably been relatively safe.

ILMK Reader Hero #5, known only as Amjad, is a fourteen-year old living in one of the least safe places in the world…war-torn Syria.

Imagine that bombs were falling around you every day. In your neighborhood, homes are often in ruins.

What would be most important to you in that situation?

For some, there was one particular goal. It was a goal that drove them to risk sniper fire, as they risked everything to enter those ruined homes, in quest of a particular kind of treasure. That treasure would be taken to a secret location, literally underground.

What were they after?

Books.

Eventually, according to reports, there were 15,000 books in this subterranean haven.

Amjad became effectively the librarian, spending several hours a day there, reading and caring for the books.

This young teen describes in news stories how reading expanded a frightened mind, how important it was. In a CNN story, the translation of Amjad’s comments includes this:

“I liked the place and I learned by reading. Reading made me happy.”

In that CNN piece by Frederik Pleitgen and Claudia Otto, we learn that, while Amjad had so far survived the war, the library has not. Civilians have been removed from the area. The carefully maintained shelves are now mostly bare, with volumes fallen and in disarray…at least, those not removed by Syrian troops.

Amjad smiles to see the library again on the reporter’s phone.

It was an island of sanity, history, and community in a sea of chaos and destruction.

For months, Amjad, fourteen years old, would make an arduous swim to that island…and once there, would guide other swimmers, dripping with despair, to 15,000 worlds of escape.

Only to swim back, risking life…and would repeat it again and again

There were many heroes in the story of this library, many who dared all to read and to help others read…and not all have survived.

ILMK recognizes Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian, as our fifth Reader Hero.

Readers of ILMK are welcome to express their congratulations to Amjad and to offer support and encouragement by commenting on this post and/or clicking on the poll below.

Related news stories (some include video):

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.

Update on The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip: read public domain geeky content for free

October 16, 2016

Update on The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip: read public domain geeky content for free

If I didn’t like writing, I wouldn’t write.

It’s not how I make my living, although it does provide a nice little supplement for buying gadgets and books. 😉 If I wasn’t making any money from it, I couldn’t devote the time and energy I do to it…I couldn’t justify it to myself.

However, some things are more of a labor of love than others. 😉

One of those is the relatively new

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

It’s something I’m building at

The History Project

The idea is that you can travel to different times in the past to enjoy “geeky” works…watch a TV show or a movie, read a comic book, listen to a radio show…or read a book. I have quite a bit of framing around that. You leave a “time-inal” in a “chrono-craft”, for example. I had fun with the recorded intro there…if you go to the site, you’ll have the option to play it.

I have hope that it will eventually become a popular and useful resource for people, but right now, I’m just about the only person ever looking at it. 🙂 Since it went live on February 29th of this year (somehow, Leap Day seemed particularly appropriate…ask Sam Beckett about the connection) ;), it has had 396 views at time of writing…not even two view a day, and the vast majority of those are me while I am working on it (I would guess upwards of 90%).

There are a few main reasons why I think that popularity breakthrough hasn’t happened yet.

The first is that, while The History Project is a major entity, with significant participation from well-known players, including The New York Times and Jewel, it is still in start-up mode. That means that there has been (and will continue to be) quite a bit of development. I’m using it in a different way than was probably originally intended. Generally, it’s a place for family, friends, and organizations to gather together their own histories (including multimedia items).

I’m using it as a portal, more like a Wikipedia than an Ancestry.com.

I made the choice to generally not put the files on The History Project site, even when I believe they are public domain (not protected by copyright). Instead, I’m linking to other sites that store and display the files. I might change that, but I like supporting the people who have done the work…in some cases, they actually do the digitization and documentation. I’d rather use TMCGTT to direct people to those sites than to simply take the files and re-post them (even if, in the case of original public domain material which has been digitized, that would be legal).

The one exception is that I do put some pictures there. I believe that it would likely be Fair Use for me to even take an in-copyright image, like the cover of a book, to post to identify the item…but I’m very cautious about not infringing (I’ve been infringed on myself, but I was sensitive about it before that. I can’t say I’ve never unintentionally made a mistake on that, but I do try). I’ve considered asking publishers for permission to use cover images…just haven’t done it yet, so I use text placeholders instead.

I also link to resources: fan clubs, author sites, Wikipedia, IMDb (for videos), that sort of thing. Oh, and I usually include a search of public libraries for in-copyright items.  I don’t link directly to a place where the primary purpose is to sell you something, although you can jump from a place like Goodreads (where I do link) to selling sites.

So, for TMCGTT, the most important thing is the links.

The way it has been, it takes people a few clicks to get to the links.

In the beta (test version), it’s a list of items, including the “cover image”, the date…and the links immediately visible and available.

That’s going to make this work as a resource…not necessarily a popular resource, but a resource.

It also includes my description, but I’m not reviewing the items or providing much context, intentionally. I don’t want it to be about me.

I’m hoping that at some point, they allow comments from the public, so other people could say what a particular book meant to them, for instance.

They have made it so other people can add items, which is great! I’m really hoping other people become what I call “Timeblazers” and add items…I’ll need to review them, but that’s when it will really expand rapidly. I’ve been able to add a couple a weeks, maybe, but that’s about it.

How do you use it?

Go to

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

and either browse, or look for something specific. Maybe you want to read the original Oz books, for example. There are links there where you can either download it or read it online (that’s going to work on a tablet or a phone, not on an EBR…E-Book Reader, generally).

On a tablet or phone, you can also watch videos or listen to radio shows, and I’m adding more types of content.

That’s about it. 🙂

If you do go and you tell The History Project that you like the new view, that would encourage them to employ it (although I think that’s already the plan…I’m not associated with them except as a user, but they do ask my opinion on things).

After that new view is up, I’m planning to promote it to Entertainment Weekly, The Mary Sue…news sources. One mention would probably make a big difference.

I’ve been a bit surprised that some of the people listed there haven’t retweeted when I tell them they are included (George Romero does follow me, but that was a mention trade, and I heard from a representative of Piers Anthony), especially the ones who are very active on social media. I think that may be because, without the new view, it’s not obvious that people can see news stories about you (by using the linked Google news search or Twitter search) or find profiles of you.

I thought organizations might do it, or companies, just as another way to promote and to claim the recognition…not much so far.

It’s possible that it will come up when I appear on

Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicle

this Friday. That’s the plan, anyway. We will probably mostly talk about Prime Reading and Centralized Collections Management:

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

New! Collection management comes to MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices)

but there may be a mention.

One last point: I don’t make any money directly from TMCGTT (there may be some results from cross-promotion and heightened profile). I don’t get royalties or advertising. It’s fun, and I really do see it as a public service and a way to promote and preserve geeky works, which have traditionally gotten little attention. I’m defining “geeky” here broadly as fantasy/science fiction/supernatural horror works…fiction about things which could not happen in current consensus reality.

Let me leave you with a bit of the framing…

Time travel has been invented, and it’s available for tourists. TMCGTT is a company, like an airline, that takes people on trips. However, time tourists don’t just get to a point in the past and wander around…they go to see a movie or read a book, things like that. Timeblazers are the explorers. They identify these artifacts by exploring through time, carefully following non-interaction rules. They also pilot the chrono-craft and guide the tourists.

Tourists go to a “time-inal” (like an airline terminal) and go on different types of journeys. They choose different “des-time-ations” (destinations…the company is big on branding) which are dates, and might go on a video viewing expedition, a reading expedition, and others.

There are risks, and I could write fiction around this. There are people who need to deal with discontinuities…they might be interesting. Timeblazers could be fun in fiction, too…I can see someone who likes the exploration, but isn’t fond about taking tourists, being a leading character.

If you checked out the site when it first launched, please consider going again to see this new view. I’m interested in what you think about it…feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post, and share with me and/or The History Project what you do like, and what improvements you’d like to see.

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! 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.


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