Archive for June, 2017

July 2017 Kindle book releases

June 30, 2017

July 2017 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 7,351 titles listed as being released in the USA Kindle Store in June 2017 (149 more than last month):

July 2017 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 1,390 (142 more than last time…so the percentage is increasing) 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 doesn’t do these by popularity any more, they do them by featured…and this month, those aren’t Kindle First books, which repeats the trend from the past couple of months.

Some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list (five of the top ten, so half). 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!

  • Battleborn (The Brother’s Creed Book 2) by Joshua C. Chadd (KU)
  • Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake Series Book 1) by Rachel Caine
  • The Hug Store by Rick Morrison, Sonal Goyal (illustrator)
  • The Man of Legends by Kenneth Johnson
  • Obedience to Authority (Perennial Classics) by Stanley Milgram
  • Remember Us: My Journey from the Shtetl through the Holocaust by Martin Small and Vic Shayne
  • Introvert Doodles: An Illustrated Look at Introvert Life in an Extrovert World by Maureen Marzi Wilson
  • Garfield: Life to the Fullest: His 34th Book by Jim Davis
  • Break Your Self Help Addiction: The 5 Keys to Total Personal Freedom by Brian D. Ridgway [Um…this is a self help book about how to stop using self help books, right? I might have a suggestion… 😉 Just kidding, it’s probably a valuable way to reach that audience)
  • Cuba: This Moment, Exactly So by Lorne Resnick and Brian Andreas
  • Down by the River (A Grace Valley Novel) by Robyn Carr
  • The Darkest Promise (Lords of the Underworld) by Gena Showalter
  • Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake Series Book 1) by Rachel Caine
  • The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young
  • Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Star Trek: Vulcan by Insight Editions
  • Race in American Film: Voices and Visions that Shaped a Nation [3 volumes] by Daniel Bernardi and Michael Green
  • Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium by Graham A. Judd and Walter S. Judd
  • The Big Awesome Book of Hand & Chalk Lettering by Dina Rodriguez
  • A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly

That’s only a small fraction, and just ones that caught my eye. If you have other books being released to the USA Kindle store in July 2017 to suggest for me and my readers, you can do so by commenting on this post. If you are directly connected to the book (the author, the publisher) that’s okay…just identify yourself as such and make your comment in your own words (not as an ad).

Enjoy!

 

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!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

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Prime Day is July 11th…and 40% off Kindle Unlimited is available now

June 29, 2017

Prime Day is July 11th…and 40% off Kindle Unlimited is available now

In this

Amazon press release

they announce the third annual

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

This is an Amazon-created mid-year “holiday” which has been very successful for them. It has great deals for people who are

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

members.

Some deals are short-lived…but some are starting now (even though we are more than ten days away).

This is a case where you can save a lot of money, but do have to watch your impulse control. 😉 Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a bargain…if you aren’t really going to use it. That said, we have saved a lot of money on things we would have bought anyway.

Saving up to 40% off on

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

is one great example!

You can order right now, and you can give it as a gift.

  • 6 months is $44.95 versus $59.94 (these are USA prices)
  • 12 months is $80.32 versus $119.88
  • 24 month is $143.86 versus $239.76

This is what Amazon says about restrictions:

Kindle Unlimited offer is limited to one per account. This offer is available to Prime Members only and is a limited-time deal starting at 12:00 am PST 6/29/2017. Customers who have purchased multiple prepaid plans that are currently associated with their Amazon accounts are not eligible. For existing monthly Kindle Unlimited subscribers who redeem this offer, automatic renewals will be temporarily suspended for the duration of the prepaid subscription purchased and will automatically restart at its conclusion. You may gift a subscription purchased via this offer. If a gifted subscription is returned, your refund will equal the amount you paid for the subscription, subject to applicable refund policies

I’m not quite sure what that “multiple prepaid plans” exclusion means…I’ll have to check. We have one plan associated with our account, but we have purchased it more than once. My guess is we can get the discount, but I’ll confirm.

If you’ve been curious about Amazon’s Music Unlimited, Prime Members can get four months for $0.99 each…if you are a new MU subscriber.

It’s not all going to be subsers (subscription services), of course! I’ll be mentioning more about it, and I’m sure my readers will contribute to the group wisdom, too. For now, I recommend you check out Amazon’s own

Prime Day Insider guide (at AmazonSmile*)

for what to do to make sure you are ready.

Prime Day is officially July 11th, but it is starting before that…for example, in Eastern time in the USA, it starts at 9:00 PM Eastern (so, 6:00 PM Pacific) on July 10th.

Happy savings!

Update: somehow, I thought it was starting at midnight Pacific, but that was incorrect and I’ve updated this post.

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!

* 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! :) 

Echo Show: first impressions

June 29, 2017

Echo Show: first impressions

Well, our

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

is here!

There’s no question that when you set it up, it’s a cool…thing. 🙂 I say that, because it isn’t really obvious what it is at first. It’s sort of like the first Kindle back in 2007, or I suppose a television set in 1948. It does something for sure, and it’s clear that something is futuristic and pretty unprecedented…but just how you’ll use it, and how it will fit into your life, is a bit of a mystery. You have no doubt that it will fit into it, even become important…but for now, the right reaction seems to be a half smile and bemusement.

Let’s back up a little, and talk about unboxing it and setting it up.

I had been very impressed when our Dash Wand arrived…the packaging was great! I was hoping for a repeat of that, but it take me some effort to get it out of the box. There was a slip cover that didn’t want to slip off (and I didn’t want to tear it), and several pieces of tape to remove. No big deal, but not the exemplary experience of the Wand.

Out of the box, it was simple. Just plug it in, and follow the instructions. It does have a touchscreen and as far as I could tell, I did have to use it…Alexa does most of her processing in the cloud, so I’m sure it needs to be connected before it can carry on a conversation. I did have to enter my wi-fi password: nowadays, Amazon devices generally already know mine, so I don’t have to do that…I think it may not have known who I was until we were into the set up, but then I feel like it should have been able to do my password. Oh, and it needed to update the software before it would work…that took maybe fifteen minutes.

It’s shape is kind of a wedge…not entirely unlike the original Kindle, but it makes sense for this to be able to stand up easily. Unfortunately, that does mean that when you turn on the video monitor, it may not show you someone sitting on the couch, for example, depending on where it is…you might see the above them instead.

The video display area is about the size of a 7″ tablet, like a Kindle Fire…then there are maybe four inches of non-display below that. The whole thing would be about the right size to be a trivet for a salad plate. It’s not very deep, but you couldn’t really hang it on a wall.

The screen quality looked great to me! The colors in the introductory video were nicely muted, but vibrant colors were clearly possible. The sound is good, and can get quite loud.

The screen has a background picture, and then rotates through useful information, like what is on my calendar and the weather, as well as some news.

It understood me pretty much like an original Echo. I did ask it to show me “otter videos” and it came up with “odd or videos”, which believe me, weren’t the same thing. 😉

The only “ad” I saw was a suggestion that I get Amazon’s unlimited music package, which I don’t want at this point.

When I asked it who an actor was, it did show me a picture of the actor. I asked for Brussels sprouts recipes, and it could show me a video. When selecting from choices, you can say a number.

I asked it to take a picture, and it did, and then uploaded it to Prime videos. There were several modes for that.

I did the “drop in” thing from the Alexa app on my phone to the Show in the same room. Unfortunately, that created quite a bit of feedback…and I had to say a few different things to get it to stop. Drop in is just a way to initiate a call (a videocall, in this case), and have no action necessary on the other end for it to start. I could have stopped the video, if I wanted to do that. However, if I want to see our dogs during the day (and if I can get it to show them how low they will be), that would work well.

It could control our lights, shows us the weather, and so on, just like our Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap.

I’ve been trying it for about an hour or so, and my first impression? Clearly, it’s going to be important. It’s also going to get a lot better than it is now, but it’s already a good thing. It’s a bit like being told you have a super power, but not knowing how to use it. 😉

I’ll work with it more tomorrow, so I’ll have more to say. In the mean time, here’s the

Amazon Echo Show help pages (at AmazonSmile*)

This is what’s there:

LEARN MORE

Let me and my readers know if you have specific questions, or tips and tricks (or just thoughts) you want to share by commenting on this post.

Important update: I’ve add a new

Things to do and things to know about the Amazon Echo Show page

and yes, that’s intended to be a little rhyme. 😉

I’m just going to throw factoids in there, and encourage you to comment on it with things you would suggest should be added (and once I’ve approved them, they can be seen as comments whether or not I add them to the page. I will review them, because I do get spam comments on this blog). I’ve barely started it, but my guess is that I’ll have more than 100 in there before the end of the weekend. Probably most useful when searched, however you are able to search a webpage on your device.

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!

* 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! :) 

Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far

June 27, 2017

Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far

Amazon was born from the womb of the computer age, employs and releases cutting edge technology, but is, and has always been, at it heart…human.

That statement may surprise some people. Sure, you may have gotten an e-mail response which didn’t seem to understand your question, or you got recommendations for things you already own.

However, it’s clear that humans make most of the important creative decisions. Titles are featured, not through algorithms, but through feeling.

There is a team (and that’s different from a group) of Amazon editors. In the recently announced

Best Books of the Year So Far (at AmazonSmile:benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

they describe a bit of the process: “Then we face off in a monthly Best Books selection meeting to champion the books we think will resonate most with readers.”

Sounds like fun. 🙂

It also sounds like one of those things that would be great to do once…for charity…as long as nothing went wrong. You know, like being an auctioneer or a starship captain. 😉

Reading for work has to be different from reading for fun. There have to be times when something you support just doesn’t get the same reaction from your team or higher ups.

That said, it still must be a great job!

In my day job, I’m a trainer, and I like to tell people that trainers wake up in the morning and say, “Oh boy, I get to go to work today!” That’s really true…a day I work is a good day. I suspect that’s true for the Amazon Editors, too.

So, what have these oh so human beings chosen as the Best Books of the Year So Far?

They have a general category of the top twenty, and then twenty more each in additional categories:

  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20
  • Biographies & Memoirs
  • Business & Leadership
  • Children’s Books
  • Comics & Graphic Novels
  • Cookbooks, Food & Wine
  • History
  • Humor & Entertainment
  • Literature & Fiction
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
  • Nonfiction
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Teens & Young Adults

When I’m looking at lists like this, what do I hope they’ll do for me?

Discovery.

I hope I’ll read about some book I didn’t know existed which really appeals to me.

I also want context and insight. While I’m careful to separate

The art and the artist

there can be more to a book than just the words. Is it unique, or at least a fresh approach? How does it tie into what already exists? Are there circumstances of its creation which inform it in such a way that there is more meaning “between the lines”?

Looking at their top 20…

They are generally what I call “People Magazine” books, books you would have seen mentioned in that magazine. Almost all of them are priced over $9.99 (some well over: one is $17.99 at time of writing, and another is $17.99). A notable exception is The Impossible Fortress** by Jason Rekulak which is only $2.99 at time of writing.

They also all look like they are selling pretty well, or have done so.

That doesn’t feel like a lot of discovery to me.

Now, let me be clear: for me, popular doesn’t equal less worthy. 🙂 I consume mainstream movies, TV shows, and books…although I also certainly like indies (independently published books or released video, and so on). Is it likely to me that all of the best books are mainstream? No, not really…but I would expect that some of them are. 😉

Those are just the featured choices, though.

I would expect that the categories would give me more discovery, and that they would also tend to champion more of the outsider…and that does seem to be the case.

Here’s an example from science fiction (a category where I have a bit more expertise than most, even though I knew it a lot better decades ago):

Battle Hill Bolero (Bone Street Rumba) from Daniel José Older (at AmazonSmile*)

Older is a New York Times bestselling author, but I would guess the average reader probably doesn’t know it.

There are only twelve reviews (with a 4.7 average).

It’s the third book out of three, but appearing on this list will perhaps encourage people to read Older who might not otherwise have done so, which is one of the real values of a list like this.

I do recommend that you look at the

Best nonfiction of 2017 so far (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s where you are more likely to have discovery. While non-fiction books can certainly be bestsellers and get media coverage, they have to break through before that happens. More fiction seems to get more coverage. There is a lot of variety here: space, cowboys, the future, murders, and dictionaries.

Now, I know some of you don’t read non-fiction, and that’s up to you. I get that reading can be escapism, and the relationship with a book is so intimate that encountering something there which you might encounter without that safe distancing can be particularly…unnerving. However, for me, not reading non-fiction would be like saying I’m only going to be friends with characters on my TV. 😉

As always, a fascinating list! I appreciate that Amazon lets their human employees have their say. 😉

What do you think? Any books on this you’d particularly recommend? Any books not on this list which you would say are some of the best of 2017 so far? 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 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! :) 
** I didn’t link to this book because the publisher, Simon & Schuster, has chosen to block text-to-speech access. I think purchasing books where that decision has been made is a personal choice, but I choose not to link to them mysef.

 

Harry Potter (sung to the tune of Alouette) in honor of #HarryPotter20

June 27, 2017

Harry Potter (sung to the tune of Alouette) in honor of #HarryPotter20

Harry Potta
I read Harry Potta
‘Cause you gotta
When you are a kid
And even if you’re not a nerd
They’ll make you love the written word
Written word! Not a nerd!
Accio-oh!

Harry Potta
Musta sold a lotta
Copies of those great big giant books!
And if you thought you knew the score
There’s plenty more at Pottermore!
Knew the score! Pottermore!
Written word! Not a nerd!
Accio-oh!

That was groovy
Then I saw the movie
And the sequel
And then I saw six more!
Another one has been released
And that one’s a fantastic beast!
Been released! Fantastic beast!
Knew the score! Pottermore
Written word! Not a nerd!
Accio-oh!

There’s fan fiction
Without an interdiction
If you don’t publish, and you keep it clean!
We’ll turn that field into a pitch
So we can play some real quidditch!
Make a pitch! Real quidditch!
Been released! Fantastic beast!
Knew the score! Pottermore
Written word! Not a nerd!
Accio-oh!

Don’t be down-hearted
We’ve still just barely started
Cursed Child has conquered the West End
I can’t afford to take that trip
So I’ll just sit and read the script!
Read the script! Make that trip!
Make a pitch! Real Quidditch!
Been released! Fantastic beast!
Knew the score! Pottermore
Written word! Not a nerd!
Accio-oh!

Harry Potter
We love Harry Potter
So we gotta
Tip our hats to Jo!


Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for the marvelous gift and fantastic world you’ve given to us and to generations to come! You’ve let us see things that have never been seen before, and for some of us, that includes aspects of ourselves.

Congratulations on twenty years of Harry Potter!

The Harry Potter books are available to read at no additional cost through

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

 

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!

* 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! :) 

Today’s KDD: “Up to 80% off select New York Time best sellers”

June 25, 2017

Today’s KDD: “Up to 80% off select New York Time best sellers”

Today’s

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

is an excellent group! Many of these are what we might have called “window books” when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore: the books you put in the window to attract people into the store. That doesn’t meant that these are current bestsellers, but I would bet that most of my readers have heard of some of these books and even more of the authors.

These prices are good for today, but may not apply in your market: check the price before you click/tap/eye gaze that Buy button (the last in virtual/augmented reality).

As usual, you can buy these books at the discount and then delay delivery until an appropriate gift-giving occasion, or even print out a certificate you can wrap (or not) and give whenever you want. If you do small gifts in your family at the holidays, there are some great opportunities here!

Oh, and if you are looking for summer reads for the airplane or the beach, this is a good sale for your consideration!

Title include:

  • The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines | 4.9 stars out of 5 | 3,997 customer reviews (that’s a very high rating!)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • Song of the Lion (A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel) by Anne Hillerman
  • Testimony by Scott Turow
  • Fallout: A V.I. Warshawski Novel by Sara Paretsky
  • The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
  • Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman
  • Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins
  • On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
  • Rather Be the Devil (A Rebus Novel) by Ian Rankin
  • This Life I Live by Rory Feek
  • Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall | 4.8 stars | 2,437 reviews
  • Sunrise Point (Virgin River #19) by Robyn Carr
  • Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo | 4.7 stars | 14,328 reviews
  • Death of Kings (Saxon Tales #6) by Bernard Cornwell
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
  • The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andews | 4.8 stars | 1,482 reviews
  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Daddy’s Girl by Lisa Scottoline
  • Savannah Breeze (Weezie and Bebe) by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Prudence (The Custard Protocol) by Gail Carriger
  • Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
  • The Muse by Jessie Barton
  • The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince by Mayte Garcia
  • Ballerina Body by Misty Copeland
  • The Kings of Cool (a prequel to Savages) by Don Winslow
  • The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
  • Uncovered by Lori Foster
  • Elle & Coach by Stefany Shaheen

That’s not all of them! Enjoy!

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!

* 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! :) 

What will we lose when nothing is lost?

June 23, 2017

What will we lose when nothing is lost?

I guess you could call it “lostalgia”.

No, not missing the Lost TV show (although that use of the term does exist).

I mean a recollection of something you can’t get any more…sometimes something that you may have trouble proving ever existed.

I had that for years for a particular TV show, Norman Corwin Presents, which aired once in the USA back in the early 1970s.

That was a show I enjoyed! It was an anthology series with a sardonic sense of humor, starring what are now Baby Boomer TV icons: Fred “Herman Munster” Gwynne; William “Captain Kirk” Shatner; Michael “Miguelito Loveless” Dunn; David “Ilya Kuryakin” McCallum; and more. They were well written, fantasy/science fiction oriented comments on society.

It didn’t help that I remembered it as “Roger Corman Presents”. 😉 I even wrote to Roger Corman at one point asking about it. Norman Corwin was a well-known radio writer, and I’m sure I didn’t think it was by Roger Corman at the time I watched it.

I would ask people about it, and no one else remembered it (and this was just prior to home video recording).

Eventually, I did find the proof…and there are audio recordings of some of the episodes online.

This concept of lost popular culture applies even more strongly to books.

There were many, many threads in the

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

where people would describe a book they had read and couldn’t remember the title or the author, and they were hoping someone could help them identify it.

Oh, I have a short story like that!

It was a science fiction story, set in the future. SPOILER ALERT: it was still more efficient for humans to do some tasks than robots, like cleaning subway stations (they could better determine what might be valuable and what might be garbage). However, they found the work boring, and would be unhappy. The government offered people an operation which would reduce their IQs, but they could guarantee the person would be happy. Decades later, they realize that society has stagnated, that nothing much new is being invented. What they hadn’t realized is that the people who think their IQ is making them unhappy are the smartest people…so they were the ones opting for the operation. END SPOILER ALERT

I can get some sense of how resonant an article is that I flip into the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard by how many people flip it into their magazines from mine, and how many people like it. A recent

Atlas Obscura post by Sommer Mathis

got a lot of activity!

This wonderful site (full of real world wonder, so it’s a very apt word) asked their readers to tell them about “…the obscure books you read as a kid that have stuck with you, but that hardly anyone else seems to remember“.

The post that had the responses was fascinating! I really recommend it. Would these books be so interesting, though, if everybody remembered them?

I run into this phenomenon with what was once a prominent part of pop culture: Captain Kangaroo. On this TV show, the Captain would actually read “us” real books. Nothing fancy…just seeing the pages and hearing it read. This was a shared experience, and while this was only one feature of the show, it meant that kids across the country knew Ping and Mike Mulligan and the cap seller (and the monkeys).

books read aloud on Captain Kangaroo at Goodreads

It wouldn’t surprise me if not 1% of people under 25 recognize the name of Captain Kangaroo…the shows aren’t easily streamable.

There is an article by Bob Fischer in the current

Fortean Times

which I read in the Zinio app on my now discontinued Kindle Fire 3rd generation about an art movement called “hauntology” (they’ve adopted the term from another use), which has nostalgia for British 1970s (or so) kids’ TV, which could be quite creepy and…well, unnerving could be a good word. Fischer reasonably speculates that something like that feeling is less likely with today’s generation…because they will be able to continuously see and read and hear the pop culture of their childhood as they grow up.

It’s hard to imagine the Harry Potter books going out of print and disappearing from the public consciousness the way many popular children’s books of, say, the 1920s or 1950s have done.

Will we lose anything when everybody knows everything?

There is something special about connecting with somebody over something that most people don’t know. Many years ago, I remember someone bringing a friend up to me to sing the theme song from The Patty Duke Show (this was pre-YouTube). I remember somebody happily proclaiming that a sibling could recite the opening from Mr. Terrific. Now, anybody can simply Google those.

That said, much of my interest has been directed to items that are considered to be ephemera (even if their status may have changed over the years). I’ve always wanted everything preserved and made available (legally). I’ve digitized a couple of public domain books as part of my past work with a non-profit, and we put them online.

I think the preservation is more important than the community we get from being out of the mainstream.

I’m interested, though, in what you think. 🙂 Do you have books which you remember, but almost no one else does (for an interesting take on this, see the Dimension 404 episode Chronos)? Should everyone know the same pop culture? 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 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! :) 

Buy a Paperwhite, get six months of Kindle Unlimited free!

June 20, 2017

Buy a Paperwhite, get six months of Kindle Unlimited free!

Thanks to reader and commenter Jay Howard for the heads up on this!

Right now (through this Friday, June 23 at 11:00 PM Pacific), when you buy a

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

(which is the model I generally recommend…I like having the lighted screen and that’s unlike the least expensive model, and while I think the Voyage is incrementally better, it doesn’t seem worth the cost difference for most people. The Oasis can’t be purchased without an animal leather cover, so I haven’t tried it. Amazon also describes the Paperwhite as “Our best-selling Kindle”), you also get six months of

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

for no additional cost. KU is Amazon’s subser (subscription service), where you can borrow up to ten books at a time from a selection of over a million and a half (1,602,203 at time of writing) titles! Six months of KU is normally $59.64 (I’m looking at the USA, which is where this offer applies), so this is a great deal!

Note also that KU will be available to everybody at the account, and typically, a book can be read on six devices at a time at no additional cost (if it is different from that, it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page).

So, if you buy a gift of the PW for someone else on your account, you’ll all get the benefit for six months (benefits include select magazines, by the way)…and then, it’s up to you as to whether you continue or not.

We’ve been happy KU members since it started, although it’s not for everybody. Here are some titles currently available through KU (title availabilities change), in case you haven’t looked:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Orphans of Katrina: Inside the World’s Biggest Animal Rescue. What Really Happened on the Gulf and How You Can Help Save America’s Pets Today by Karen O’Toole
  • Signature Wounds by Kirk Russell
  • The Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams
  • The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten (translated by Christiane Galvani)
  • The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

Those are just a few of the many choices.

Thanks, Jay!

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!

* 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! :) 

Goodreads Giveaways

June 20, 2017

Goodreads Giveaways

How would you like a $14.99 Scott Turow novel for free?

Well, you can enter for a chance to win one at the Goodreads Giveaways:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway?filter=kindle&page=1&sort=ending_soon&utf8=%E2%9C%93

They’ve made entering these giveaways very easy, similar to entering

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

Once you are logged into Goodreads (Amazon’s social reading site…they bought into it a while back), you just click a button to enter into the giveaway, and then acknowledge the terms.

There are thirty-five titles available right now.

I like that they tell you how many people have entered so far. There are 100 “copies” available of each title being given away, and the number of entrants at time of writing ranged from under 200 to at least 1,500.

If you already have an account, I’m not seeing a lot of reasons not to enter. 🙂

Good luck!

All aboard 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! :) 

The largelthiest storket in the world! Why does Amazon want to buy Whole Foods?

June 18, 2017

The largelthiest storket in the world**! Why does Amazon want to buy Whole Foods?

There has been a ton of buzz about the announcement that Amazon wants to buy Whole Food Market…I’ve flipped several stories into the free

 ILMK magazine at Flipboard

and here is a

Google news search

for even more.

Most stories seem to want to present this as Amazon disrupting the grocery business…as they think it did for bookstores and then pretty much for shopping malls after that. I don’t really think that’s it…or at least, not all of it.

First, Amazon is already in the grocery business, especially with

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

Second, Whole Foods Market (WFM) is not really a typical grocery store.

If WFM had disappeared, that wouldn’t have significantly changed the grocery store business, at least as most people imagine it. WFM only has about 500 stores: Albertson’s has close to 2,500.

Now, WFM is not super strong. Back in September, analysts were lowering their estimates, according to this

CNBC article by Sarah Whitten

Whole Foods has just started to experiment with lower price stores…after all, many people jokingly refer to it as “Whole Paycheck”.

So, if the thought is that you wanted to disrupt groceries, you’d buy Albertson’s, right?

This is about other things.

Let’s look at some general reasons why one business buys another business, and how those might apply.

It’s a Profit Center

WFM has been making a profit, but based on my quick research, it’s been much lower than Amazon’s lately…and has been stagnant recently:

Line graph showing increasing gross profit growth for Amazon, flat for WFM

A profit is still a profit (and $5 billion a year isn’t bad), but it doesn’t seem like that would be worth the risk.

They Have Assets You Want

I think this is the primary thing for Amazon…and it’s not about butternut squash. 😉 I think they want the physical buildings. Amazon could rework the back areas to make them much more efficient, which might include the use of their Kiva robots. That would then give them area they could use to facilitate the delivery of other, non-grocery items. There may be some limitations to what you can store near food, but WFM already sells lots of non-food items (including toys at the holidays). It’s tough to buy and establish retail spaces, even if there are a lot of vacancies now. Amazon can suddenly have over 400 mini-fulfillment centers…and ones that are already set up for delivery reception.

I don’t think they’ll change WFM that much initially, as far as customers see. When Amazon takes over a business, they don’t seem to make a lot of visible changes. WFM needs some help, but the basic idea of it is likely to stay the same.

Might they add in things, like the new Amazon Dash Wand? Sure. I think it’s the backrooms and locations they want more, though. That may be informed in part by my experience as a brick-and-mortar retail manager, even though it was now quite some time ago.

You Want Their Reputation/Brand

Yep, that’s probably part of it. Whole Foods was #44 in 2016’s Harris poll of companies’ Reputation Quotient® (RQ®) Summary Report. Amazon was #1, but that wasn’t for groceries specifically. Something that I think is a misconception is that people see Amazon as a budget seller and WFM as a luxury one. However, when you look at AmazonFresh, that’s not competing with Walmart…the prices aren’t particularly low, and the products include fresh produce and brand names. People also pay just to be part of the service.

People who use AmazonFresh probably are more likely to shop at WFM, but I’m just guessing on that.

You Want to Put Them Out of Business

That’s not something that officially happens, I believe, but it sure has happened where a company has bought a competitor and then shuts the competitor down a year or two later. WFM isn’t really a competitor for AmazonFresh, even with my presumed overlap…they are just two very different things. I doubt this is a factor.

You Don’t Want Someone Else to Get Them

It would have been hard for most competitors of Amazon to buy WFM…I don’t think this was it.

It Looks Like Fun

I think people underestimate this. In some cases, it might be a childhood dream (not in this case), but it could just be the novelty or the challenge. While I don’t think it’s done foolishly, I do think fun motivates Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin (Bezos’ space company) and Washington Post were partly done for fun, I believe.

What does all this mean we’ll see?

Let me say, I do expect the sale to happen. 🙂 One of my regular readers reasonably challenged me saying that Amazon “may” buy WFM…I just don’t like to say something is inevitable, but I think it’s a very high probability.

I don’t think WFM shoppers will see much of a difference right away. I even think their current deal with Instacart won’t end immediately.

It’s entirely possible that some WFM products will show up quickly after the sale is final in AmazonFresh.

Unless they choose to quit, my guess is that you’ll continue to see the same checkers, baggers, and managers.

Much will be happening in the back, though.

Slowly, changes will come to WFM. Could we see the “checkoutless” store that Amazon has been piloting? Yes, in some places within a few years. By this holiday season, you may start seeing some Amazon hardware in WFMs.

Oh, and you might have drone delivery if it gets approved. 🙂 You could certainly have the Prime Now one hour delivery.

Overall, I think this is a good thing for consumers. I think the sale will happen. I think some grocery startups will get crushed, but that it won’t mean the end of big grocery store chains like Albertson’s.

That’s just what I think…what do you think? 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 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 reader suggested in a direct message that I might want to correct my headline. 🙂 I was going for a joke, combining the slogans of the two stores to show that it was a bit ridiculous. While they both use other things, Whole Foods has called itself, “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” (and got rebuffed when they wanted to change that to “World’s Healthiest”, basically as being unprovable). Amazon was “The World’s Largest Bookstore”. I was combining “Healthiest” and “Largest” to make “Largelthiest” (which I thought might seem paradoxical to some people) and mashing “Store” and “Market”, although therein might have been part of what made it more obscure, because WFM is called a “market” but they used “Grocery Store”. I wanted to combine Amazon’s “Store” and “Supermarket”. My Significant Other would say that’s a classic geek joke (which I make and my SO doesn’t)…it takes you five minutes to explain it. 😉
To illustrate my geek jokes…we have two dogs: the first one we got is named “Elf”. We were in line at the adoption agency (ARF, the baseball player Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation , and someone called out, “Elf!” Turned out we were number 11, and the person explained they were learning German, and “elf” is “eleven” in German. Our now adult kid is fluent in German, and I thought that would be a great dog name if we found a dog who fit it (we did).
When we went back a few months later to get a second dog (we always think having two dogs is easier…sometimes they want to do doggy things you just don’t want to do, like roll in the mud), a person their knew the story of how we named the first dog (you bring the first one to meet the second) was worried and said, “You can’t do that this time.” You see, we were number 6, which is “sechs”  (pronounced “sex”) in German. Yes, it would be a bit odd yelling that in the backyard to call your dog! So, I suggested we name that dog “Patty”.
You see, there was a TV show in the late 1960s called “The Prisoner”, which was a touchstone for geeks like me (I own the DVD set). It was about a spy who quits and ends up on this island which seems like a perfect little resort town…but isn’t. People were intrigued by it like they would be with Lost decades later…and the ending is, shall we say, unique. The main character was called “Number 6”, and was played by…Patrick McGoohan. So our second dog is named “Patty” after Patrick McGoohan.
When we explain that in the dog park, most people are bemused…but there is that rare individual who truly loves it! In fact, one person who knew the show said, “You could have gone the easy way and named the dog ‘Rover'”.
I’d explain that, but it would be another rambling geek joke… 😉
Thanks to my reader for the concern! I always appreciate proofreading feedback!

 


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