Share your opinion: one week to go!

Share your opinion: one week to go!

What do you think has happened (to you and the world) “Because of the Kindle”? Let me know by Sunday, November 12th, and you may be in my next book, “Because of the Kindle” when I publish it for the November 19th tenth anniversary of the Kindle. I’ve written about it before, and I’ve gotten some great thoughts from readers (thanks, readers!):

I’d definitely like more, though, and your opinions and insights may be different from everybody else’s. Even if they aren’t it’s not bad if two or more people reinforce the same thought.

I’m making progress, although there is a long way to go. I’ve been deferring some other things until I get it done…and that has to be in the next two weeks. 🙂

I have Monday, November 13th off from my “day job” (because I’m working on Saturday the 18th). That’s the day I’ll get it ready for publication, so I’ll insert the BotK comments I’ve gotten from other people then.

I decided to do the book largely chronologically, so it’s going to include the ILMK E-Books timeline, and then I’m inserting articles from the blog where they go chronologically. Not all of them: just ones that…tie into the impact of the Kindle, or that mark Kindle changes, at least in my opinion. I had been working on a “best of the first five years” of this blog that I never got done, and this will replace that.

I’m also writing new opinion pieces, now that I have hindsight. 😉

I don’t quite know what that mix will be, how much will be old, and how much will be new. It depends on how wordy I get on the new stuff…

I sort of randomly figured I’d like about 20 percent of the book to be other people’s ideas. Despite the fact that I’ve started almost every paragraph in this post with “I” 😉 , I really don’t think I have all the answers. This blog is so much stronger because of all the great commenters I have, and that would also be true of the book.

I don’t expect this to be a big hit book or anything…it’ll be a ninety-nine center, and I do think it will get read. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s read by some “influencers”. What you say could make a difference in how things go from here…

Share a memory, or think about what will get people thinking…make predictions, or reflect on the past, up to you. Just complete the thought, “Because of the Kindle…” Make it a one-liner or a treatise. Give me several, of you like.

You’ll continue to have all rights to use what you’ve written wherever you want. I’ll have the right to publish it in the book, and in other ILMK (I Love My Kindle) collections and writings. We won’t have to ask each other permission ahead of time. 🙂

It will be done without compensation, but I’m happy to link to a website that is yours and related in some way…either entirely a personal site, or one that covers related topics. I’ll have to make the call about whether to do the link or not…I just don’t want it to be used for, say, political purposes.

I plan to use 20% of any royalties I earn to do giveaways on ILMK. 🙂 Might not be much, but you never know.

So, what do you think? “Because of the Kindle…”

You can comment on this post, if you like…that will work.

You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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.




16 Responses to “Share your opinion: one week to go!”

  1. Phink Says:

    Because of the Kindle I can read without worrying about pain.

    I had a motorcycle wreck on April 28, 2003 at 37 years old. It took my right leg and almost all the strength of my left hand and right thumb. I almost lost my left hand but I wound up keeping it and while looking normal it has a lot of damage inside.

    A traditional printed book was difficult for me to hold because my left hand is so easily irritated. I have hurt my hand before by simply scratching with it or even pointing. Not all times but sometimes I’ll do something that takes very little effort and still hurt it. At that point I can expect pain to continue for anywhere from a few seconds to hours.

    When I was holding a book, even in my lap, it was a touchy thing. Just holding the pages down so they would not flip over was something I had to put thought into in order to try to prevent my hand from hurting. It seemed to me as much about luck as anything else sometimes. I think this was one thing that made me lose interest in reading. By the time the Kindle came out I was an every once in a while reader. The Kindle re-energized my love for reading and my left hand thanks Amazon for it.

  2. Phink Says:

    Some might find this odd but even with the kindle, as light as it is, can be difficult to hold sometimes with my left hand. Most times it’s not a problem but it can be. I switch hands a lot but try not to hold it in my left hand very long out of fear it might start hurting.

  3. Jennifer Martin Says:

    Because of the Kindle, I finally have more books than I can possibly ever read! I’ve been forced by fixed income to limit book buying, and in gathering the free books I have found so many good authors.

  4. Jennifer Martin Says:

    To continue my post of last night, (I hit post before I was ready) I have bad vision problems, plus arthritis in my hands, so I really could not read much, it was such a struggle. Very depressed because reading was such a huge part of my life. The Kindle changed all that! Great big fonts, and much easier to hold. I went back to reading wifh a vengeance, making up for lost time, and haven’t slowed down. I am 75 now, and I would have to say that the Kindle has made more difference in my life than anything else I can think of.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jennifer!

      Great that it’s worked so well for you! Hard for me to imagine not being able to read…

  5. Phink Says:

    Because of the Kindle for the first time in my life I have come to realize that unless a Cullen bites me at some point then I will die someday with dozens of books on my ‘to be read’ list.

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    So my internet went on walkabout yesterday, so I wrote this in Notepad. It’s probably good that I was without internet — it let me focus on this without interruption. This is the first of two planned posts on this subject.

    The first thing that occurred to me before I dealt with “Because of the Kindle”, was that I needed to deal with “Because of Your post” first. 😜

    It made me want to know when I got my first Kindle (a KDX). Going to my account’s order query page, I learned that I placed the order on Nov 13th, 2009. So while the Kindle is approaching its 10th anniversary, I am nearing my personal 8th. With that question out of the way, I wondered how long I had been dealing with Amazon? The order query again told me that my first order on my current account was sometime in 2005.

    I was initially disconcerted because I can remember buying technical books from Amazon sometime in the 1990’s. Then I remembered that my current account is tied to an email address that I only created sometime in 2002. Amazon accounts can be keyed to an email address, or a phone number. I didn’t start using that 2002 email address with any frequency until I moved from NH to FL in 2004. I spent about 30 nanoseconds deciding whether to investigate what email addresses, and phone numbers I had while I lived in NH from 1992 to 2004 (I got to FL just in time for the two big 2004 hurricanes :grin), and decided not. ✔

    But it did get me to thinking about internet-mediated email in general. When I left NYC in 1992, dedicated word-processors, secretaries (and even the occasional Selectric typewriter) were still things. For most of the 90’s, Email was usually intra-company based on dedicated servers from Novell, Banyan, Microsoft, etc. Although, by the end of the decade, I remember having email conversations with friends in Hong Kong during the transition from UK to PRC control.

    It occurred to me that technology change is mostly gradual — hardly noticeable; much like the transitions in men’s fashion from the late 50’s/early 60’s to late 60’s/early 70’s to the complete disappearance of bellbottoms by the early 80’s :mrgreen:. Today, the only men I see in work-a-day situations routinely wearing jacket and tie are politicians (:grin). Most corporate executives (especially in technology) will wear a jacket and a dress shirt open at the collar. I amuse myself these days by categorizing public figures (men) by whether they tie their ties using a full Windsor, half Windsor, or some other kind of knot (I’m a full Windsor man myself :grin).

    Anyhow, in 2007 I was still running my technology consultancy. I was spending between $3,000-5,000 per year on books — mostly technical and professional titles; but maybe 15-20% of that total went for “entertainment” (mostly all fiction) paperback and hardcover titles. Almost all of the fiction titles were purchased at Brick & Mortar stores; the technical books came from Brick & Mortar, Amazon, and the publishers directly.

    In 2007 I was vaguely aware of the Kindle announcement, but I remember thinking that “Kindle” was an odd name for the device, and because it seemed to be targeted at the mass market segment, it would be of little interest to my customers. Further, the reviews of the initial Kindle weren’t exactly glowing.

    In 2009 Amazon made several Kindle announcements. They highlighted PDF support, interest in textbooks, and the education market. They highlighted the KDX as an ideal device for these kinds of titles. I looked at eBook pricing of some technical titles, and the discounts were quite large (this was before agency pricing). Further, in my business, I was often printing out interesting technical articles on paper. I was going through a case to a case and a half of paper a month. I figured a KDX all in (with sleeve and screen protector) would run me about $500. I figured I could put together some kind of “Print to PDF” facility, eliminate a lot of the paper expense, and with the technical book discounts (as well as the more modest fiction discounts), I figured I’d recover the cost of the KDX in less than a year — so I bought one.

    In the event, neither of my initial considerations turned out as expected. The KDX was not an ideal reader for technical books in PDF format for a number of reasons. First, the contrast and resolution on the KDX was not all that great; second the absence of color makes the technical book reading experience not pleasant; third there are physical sizes embedded in PDF’s targeting a presumed output page size. If you want to scale the PDF larger, no problem; however, if your device screen is smaller than the embedded size, the PDF is converted into an image that is then displayed on the device. For almost all technical books that I was interested in, the KDX screen was too small, and an image display along with the other two issues leads to a virtually unreadable experience. Some of those same size issues meant that “Print to PDF” often required a lot of manual intervention. All of these issues were eventually nicely dealt with on the Kindle Fire 8.9 devices (and the just recently released Fire HD 10 tablet).

    OTOH, I decided to go cold turkey with entertainment titles. In the 8 years that I have had kindles, I have been in Brick & Mortar bookstores exactly 3 times, and they were to look at maps. Initially, there were only a few hundred thousand titles in the Amazon Kindle store, so I was buying books from Amazon, and several other sources. I was also buying a lot directly from publishers. Two SF imprints that I used a lot in the early days were Baen, and Tor. Eventually, almost anything I could want to read was available in the Amazon store.

    Reduced search time has been a big issue for me. Not having to spend half a day driving to and browsing B&M stores, I can get what I want in minutes. Even the time spent searching sources other than Amazon in the early days proved too much such that today I only buy from the Amazon store. I still buy the occasional tech PDF direct from publishers, but since I’ve retired, that’s not very often.

    My initial KDX purchase also came with a one-year membership in Amazon Prime (a $50 value back then). That first year I didn’t make all that much use of it, but over the years my shopping on Amazon has grown to the point that the only B&M shopping I do on a regular basis is at the supermarket and Home Depot. Every time I head out to a local big box store to find some household item, after 3 hours of not finding exactly what I want, I hit myself upside the head, and say why am I doing this — I should’ve stayed home and used Amazon.

    I eventually retired the KDX, and got a Kindle Touch for fiction, and a couple of years later I got a Kindle Fire 8.9, and one year after that a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (for technical books and large format magazines). I recently just got a Fire HD10 to replace the Fire HDX 8.9 (which has a damaged screen). On the fiction side, I moved from the KT to a PW2 to a PW3 to the Oasis that I use today.

    So to conclude this section “Because of the Kindle” my whole book buying experience is totally changed. I routinely read 200 fiction titles a year, and over time the mix has changed from mostly Big 5 titles to where today 80% of what I read are either indies or non-big-five imprints.

    Amazon has made it really easy for me to keep track of my favorite authors. I can “follow” them, and Amazon will alert me when new titles are coming (often a year in advance) that I can pre-order. New books, like music and movies on CD/DVD’s, are released (according to Hollywood rules) on Tuesdays — so Mondays at midnight I sometimes have the enjoyable experience of a new book or three downloading onto my Oasis. I currently have 6 titles on pre-order with delivery dates from 11/14/17 to 3/20/18.

    Not only has the kindle changed my book buying behavior, but indirectly it has transformed my whole shopping experience. Amazon is now always my first shopping choice.

    I must also say that I’ve had a few occasions to use Amazon’s customer service offerings, and those experiences have gone far to cement me as a big Amazon fan.

    I’ll deal with my thoughts on the broader implications of the Kindle, publishing technology, and Amazon’s media businesses in a separate post

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Really interesting! The Kindle bookstore launched with under 100,000 titles, but by the time you got one, that sounds about right. I’ll be listing those numbers, although the gap between when it started and when I started ILMK, while not large, will require a bit of research to get the right numbers…fortunately,’s Wayback Machine will help.

      I also appreciate your specific reaction to the KDX for technical books! I tend to think of the KDX’s lack of adoption being due in part to the accessibility concerns, but not meeting the technical and textbook expectations is a good point.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Oh, and what to you think of the HD10? I know it’s faster and sharper than the smaller HD, but I’m concerned that it’s too big.

      Do you know if it mirrors out? I don’t mirror from my tablet as often as from my phone, but it would be nice to know…

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Well, I wrote a longish response (I thought to this), but I don’t see it here. I’m not going to rewrite it — maybe it appeared on some other post? Or your internet interruption lost it?

        Anyhow, I compared the 2017 Fire HD 10 to the Fire HD 8.9, and the Fire HDX 8.9. The Fire HDX is a far better device than the Fire HD 10 in almost every way. Mine has an expanding battery that has caused to screen to buckle badly — it’s still usable, but that battery scares me — I’ll probably throw it out.

        The HD 10 is most like the HD 8.9 (which preceded the HDX) in size, weight, screen resolution, etc. The HD 10 has two advantages over the 8.9 tablets: hands-free Alexa support, and a micro SD slot that can support up to 256 GB
        The cameras are pathetic (2 MP and VGA).

        I’ve been using mine to binge watch video, and to read email. I haven’t configured hands-free Alexa yet, but on my Moto X4 hands-free Alexa is as good as the Echo Dot.

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        OH, and I checked the Fire HD 10 (2017) does not support mirroring (the HDX does). There do appear to be some apps in the store that claim to do it, but I’m not sure how useful they would be.

  7. Edward Boyhan Says:

    This my second post on this. I want to address the impact of the Kindle from four perspectives: on the publishing industry, on the book-selling business. in Amazon’s own businesses, and miscellaneous other thoughts.

    “Because of the Kindle” from a publishing industry context prompts the question: why are there publishers anyway?

    Let’s say you’re an established author, and you’ve just written a new book. In the 20th century your manuscript would generally be typed (either by you or someone you paid to type your scribbles). Now, how do you get that pile of foolscap turned into a book that people can buy? The prospective author might attempt to do that on his own, but few would have the financial and personal resources to do so.

    Enter the publisher, an entity that assumes all the expenses and provides all resources necessary to get the book printed, bound, and distributed while assuming all the risk: that once the book is created it will sell in sufficient quantities to recover the initial outlay. For most of the 20th century, book publishing has been a complex, mostly manual, very expensive activity. The advent of the Kindle, (and more importantly the software infrastructure behind it) has put the traditional publishing business model into serious question. The below article (from five years ago) in The Nation goes into the challenges that the Kindle (and eBooks generally) present to traditional publishers, and their seeming inability to respond to them.

    One comment from this article sticks: publishing is a business run by English majors rather than Business majors (:grin). Another thing of interest is that many of the key Amazon statistics mentioned in the article (revenue, headcount, market capitalization, etc.) are almost 10 times smaller than what they are today. Amazon has come a long way in just 5 years.

    The Nation article also refers to the rapid growth of eBook sales which more recently traditional publishers are saying are now declining. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. The most popular genres: romance, science fiction, mysteries, and fantasy are far more popular in eBook formats, and as the following article from Fortune shows these genres are a hotbed of self-publishing which the traditional publishing organizations don’t track. I also think that traditional publishers, recognizing the long-term threat to their survival that eBooks represent, have been continually raising eBook prices to the $13-14 range which makes them less compelling than lower-priced mass market paperbacks.

    Many of us grew up and learned to read print books. I wonder what will happen when kids today wending their ways through the K-12 labyrinth that deal mostly with electronic representations of textbooks rather than the print variety join the book-buying public?

    The Fortune article also talks about some new entities which I call MicroPublishers which offer a menu of services to authors for a fee. It might be just copy editing; it might be accounting services. Maybe an author wants a limited number of print books (say 25) to give to family and friends (my brother did this).

    Let’s look at this from the publishers perspective. First, it’s important to note that for every $1 spent by a customer for a book, only $0.50 flows back to the publisher — the rest goes to wholesalers, distributors, and booksellers. Out of that 50%, he has to pay the author a royalty (typically 10-15%), cover the expenses of preparing and printing the book, and hope that the title sells enough copies to cover production expenses, overhead, royalties, and make a small profit.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, there were a lot of publishers most of them quite small. Each could only afford (and assume the risk for) relatively few titles each year. In any given year only a small fraction will be big hits, and for most books, the shelf life is fairly short. Much of a publishers backlist is consequently allowed to go out of print. Things have improved: the backlist is still Out of Print, but ebook versions are increasingly available — as it’s relatively easy for traditional publishers to provide these.

    From the author’s perspective advances were fairly rare. There used to exist a kind of magazine (all gone now) called the slicks. Magazines such as Life, Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, etc would buy stories for their issues. Authors would get some income from the slicks selling shorter fiction. Some authors would finance the creation of a new book by structuring it as 3 or 4 novella length parts that could be serialized in the slicks.

    What has Amazon done? Well, first by creating an electronic book reader they eliminated the need to create a physical book. Because all of the pBook production is eliminated, and since they can handle all of the distribution, they can afford to offer an author a royalty percentage much greater (70%) than that on offer from a traditional publisher. An author could then price his book at a lower level at a 70% royalty than what he would get at a 15% royalty, and make the same or more with lower priced titles. Demand for books is very price sensitive so he may see far more copies sold at $3.99 that might be sold at a big five eBook price of $11.99 where he only gets a 12% royalty. At $4 and 70% he would get $2.80 per copy; At $12 and 12%, he would get $1.44 per copy. Or to put it another way, he would have to price the book at $23.33 and 12% to make the same that he would with a 70% royalty priced at $4.

    Publishers do things other than preparing a book for sale. They may engage in some marketing of your book. This is generally only done for a very few big-name authors. The most they might do is deliver a list of their upcoming titles to industry newsletters, newspapers, and to booksellers. It would mostly be up to booksellers to market your book. They have limited endcaps, and display spaces — so again unless you are well known, you are not going to get much visibility. Pricing promotions that you as an author might wish to offer to promote your book are not under your control. Another service that a publisher offers is the collection of monies, accounting, sales reports, and a whole raft of other such administrative services that most authors would not want to do for themselves. Amazon apparently offers much more efficient and timely administrative services to their authors than those available from traditional publishers.

    Amazon through their KDP offering will give you higher royalties, visibility through the largest bookseller on the planet, and they’ll do all the administrative stuff and reporting for you. Still, copy editing and content suggestions still need to be done. Many indie authors rely on family members and friends for these services. But come on, family and friends do not a sustainable business model make. This is where the MicroPublishers mentioned above come into play

    Before I move on “Because of the Kindle” has given rise to publishers that only do eBooks. For them, the publishing process is much less complex and expensive than for traditional publishers. They don’t have to deal with physical delivery, and they don’t have to take returns! (:grin)

    Enough with publishing!

    Let’s talk about the Kindle’s impact on bookselling. Amazon has had a big impact on bookselling even before the Kindle came around. In 2000 there were over 4000 independent bookstores by 2009 that number had dropped to 1900. Since then that number has increased some to maybe 2400. OTOH Book chains are not doing well. Borders is gone, and both Barnes & Noble and Books A Million have been closing stores. BN is down to around 600 stores from 781 just a couple of years ago. The Kindle provides access to a selection of almost 6 million titles — a number no physical store can match. Bookstores are increasingly selling things other than books (stationary, toys, etc.). Physical bookstores are probably selling the “experience” of a bookstore: a cafe to sit at, people to talk to, etc.

    My guess is that the independent bookseller is probably going after the demographic that only buys a few books per year, whereas the kindle owner reads far more, and appreciates the ability to carry many unread titles on the device. Amazon has started to open brick and mortar bookstores. My guess is that these are intended to compete with the “experience” — they don’t actually stock many titles, and all are shelved cover facing out, which cuts the selection, but improves the browsing experience. Access to kindles (and most other Amazon devices) is provided. My guess is that most book sales are not physical takeouts. The following article gives some good rationales for the Amazon bookstores. A key phrase about Amazon: they’re about”an also not an instead”.

    One minor book selling impact of the Kindle (and eBooks in general) was quick access to titles in languages not spoken in the area where you lived. So if you lived, say in the Middle East, and you wanted to buy an English language title (even from the Amazon bookstore) before the Kindle and eBooks, you would place and pay for your order and you would receive it in a week or two. With the Kindle, you could get it in minutes.

    One area that probably doesn’t get as much attention is the impact the Kindle has had on its own business practices. A couple of Bezos comments (paraphrased): no matter what device you own, no matter when you bought it, you will always be able to use it to read books from the Amazon eBook store. Amazon makes money not when you buy a kindle (or any Amazon device) but when you use it. The following article describes a recent successful attempt to buy and read eBooks on a Kindle 1 — it also describes just how ugly was the UI of that first Kindle.

    When the Kindle was introduced AWS existed in only a very nascent form. The creation of the cloud infrastructure behind the Kindle (particularly the need to store a copy of every book bought by a Kindle owner in Amazon’s cloud) provided the scale that made AWS a viable offering able to grow.

    Bezos has reputedly been adamant that every software development undertaken to support Amazon’s businesses use Service Oriented Architecture principles even when doing so made the task more difficult, and caused delivery dates to slip. This has, however, enabled most past developments to be easily modified to support new endeavors. Almost all of Amazon’s device efforts since that first Kindle have built on that experience, and taught them how to build quality devices that are just good enough at groundbreaking prices. Their latest Fire HD 10 tablet is an example of this with features at $150 that competitors are offering at much higher prices. The following Fire HD 10 article is a somewhat humorous review illustrating this.

    It may only be a slight exaggeration to say that everything Amazon is today owes something to the development of the Kindle and the eBook infrastructure behind it.

    Some final thoughts:

    I wonder longer term whether there are changes coming having to do with copyright, privacy, book ownership, and libraries. We have lived in a world surrounded by physical things; our cultural, societal, legal frameworks are all based on these physical things. Some of those frameworks are ill-suited for a non-physical electronically mediated world. Will those frameworks change? How? The Kindle in a sense has shown us just the very first tentative steps. It allows us to consider non-physical modalities; new kinds of entertainment; new ways of learning.

    Maybe someday we’ll just upload ourselves into the virtual 😀 .

    These two articles provide some insight into Kindle Unlimited — not something I’m interested in or can speak about fyi.

    The following provides a month by month Kindle-related timeline.

    The National is an English Language website located in the Middle East (UAE) offering a couple of interesting views on the advent of the Kindle and its forthcoming 10th anniversary.

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