Archive for January, 2018

February 2018 Kindle book releases

January 31, 2018

February 2018 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 “over 8000” (all numbers at time of writing) titles listed as being released in the USA Kindle Store in January 2017 (more than last month, but I can’t say exactly how much more):

February 2018 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, “over 1,000” (don’t like these imprecise numbers…I ran them in two different browsers) 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…but I think that may have stopped, or at least substantially reduced from major publishers:

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks . Amazon doesn’t do these by popularity any more, they do them by featured…and this month, they are on top again…marking five months in a row. 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!

  •  Out of the Darkness by Heather Graham
  • The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim and Kevin Behr
  • One Child by Torey Hayden
  • The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One 1929-1964: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SF Hall of Fame) by Robert Silverberg
  • Confessions of an Adoptive Parent: Hope and Help from the Trenches of Foster Care and Adoption by Mike Berry
  • “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman and Ralph Leighton
  • Merton’s Palace of Nowhere by James Finley and Henri J. M. Nouwen
  • Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ (Revised Edition) by Giulia Enders and Jill Enders
  • The Pride of Jared MacKade by Nora Roberts
  • Murder on a Midsummer Night (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Book 17) by Kerry Greenwood
  • What the Valley Knows by Heather Christie (KU)
  • Murder on the Brewster Flats: A Gus LeGarde Mystery (LeGarde Mysteries Book 12) by Aaron Paul Lazar (KU)
  • Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class by Michelle Tea
  • I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski: 20th Anniversary by Ben Peskoe and Bill Green (foreword by Jeff Bridges)
  • A Study in Scarlet (AmazonClassics Edition) by Arthur Conan Doyle (this is worth noting because the AmazonClassics imprint now lists over 100 titles…it’s the new version of Amazon’s free public domain titles, although these editions may have new copyrights because of additional material…not sure about that)
  • Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
  • Maze: The Waking of Grey Grimm by Tony Bertauski
  • Table for Five by Susan Wiggs
  • The Man Within (Feline Breeds Book 2) by Lora Leigh
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Illustrated edition by J.K. Rowling and Newt Scamander
  • Travel as a Political Act (Rick Steves) by Rick Steves
  • Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild
  • Same Time, Next Year (The Manning Family) by Debbie Macomber
  • Lightning Strikes: Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla by John F. Wasik
  • The Autism Job Club: The Neurodiverse Workforce in the New Normal of Employment by Michael Bernick and Richard Holden
  • Words That Built a Nation: Voices of Democracy that Have Shaped America’s History by Marilyn Miller and Ellen Scordato
  • The Boggart Fights Back by Susan Cooper

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 February 2018 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!


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! :) 

** A Kindle 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.

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Today’s KDD: “Up to 80% off select Most Wished For reads on Kindle”

January 28, 2018

Today’s KDD: “Up to 80% off select Most Wished For reads on Kindle”

Today’s

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

is “Up to 80% off select Most Wished For reads on Kindle”.

There are some really good deals here on well-known authors!

Check the price before you click/tap/eye gaze these books, because the prices certainly may not apply where you are (geographically or chronologically). You can buy the books at these reduced prices and either delay the gift delivery until the appropriate occasion, or send them to yourself, print them out, and give them whenever you want.

Here are some of the about fifty titles that stand out to me:

  • Sting by Sandra Brown | 4.4 out of 5 stars | 1300 customer reviews
  • The Cuckoo’s Nest by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) | 4.1 stars | 10,450 reviews (if you want to start Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series, this is the first one…and it’s $2.99 at time of writing)
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport | 4.6 stars | 645 reviews (I’ve read about this one…I’m usually a very good rapid switcher, and can work on several things at the same time)
  • Flood Tide by Clive Cussler | 4.6 stars | 463 reviews
  • The Last Man by David Baldacci | 4.6 stars | 6122 reviews
  • The 16th Seduction by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro | 4.6 stars | 1843 reviews
  • The Letter by Kathryn Hughes | 4.5 stars | 4869 reviews
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace | 3.9 stars | 1252 reviews
  • Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie | 4.3 stars | 285 reviews
  • Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Stephen Kotler and Jamie Wheal | 4.2 stars | 241 reviews
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi | 3.9 stars | 1498 reviews
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving | 4.4 stars | 2819 reviews
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | 4.4 stars | 663 reviews
  • In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney | 4.3 stars | 179 reviews (also available through Kindle Unlimited)

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.

Round up #168: an ad with Jeff, two authors to follow

January 27, 2018

Round up #168: an ad with Jeff, two authors to follow

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

Rough week…

I tweeted about this, but I haven’t addressed it here.

There’s a good reason for that…

I’ve been as sick as I’ve been in years this week. I very rarely take a sick day…and not because I soldier through, but because (knock wood) I don’t get sick very often. I work in a healthcare organization, and I’m really careful…I’ve had doctors compliment me on my hygiene. 🙂 I clean my hands a lot, I don’t touch elevator buttons (I use my cane’s handle, usually)…that sort of thing. I did get a flu shot: I would get one even if it wasn’t legally required for me (well, you have the option to wear a mask if you decline the shot).

None of that makes you totally virus-proof, though, although it does help.

I was sick on Monday at work…and didn’t get back there the whole rest of the week! I did see my doctor. It turned out I had a secondary infection as well as a virus, and the second one is treatable with antibiotics.

I’m not a clinician, but news reports suggest that those secondary infections have been a real problem this year…people don’t realize that they get something which is treatable after they determine that they had something which wasn’t (at least, not with a medication except for symptoms).

I would love to have gotten a lot more writing done, but I’ve been quite out of it. Our dogs have been my role models: I’ve been sleeping (or at least in bed) most of the day. 🙂 I haven’t even been reading a whole lot, but I have been some. It works for me to leave on the TV, and just sort of drift in and out of consciousness. 🙂

I have, though, been able to write a bit…so the Bookish Birthdays have gotten out, and so have the tweets on “On This Date in Geeky History”. I’m feeling better but not well today…this was the first day since Monday that I did my normal morning routine: ate my usual breakfast, did my usual exercise. The dogs were happy…dogs love ritual.

My poor Significant Other has started coughing,  but we are hoping it doesn’t develop into something like this. Once you retire, you can’t take a sick day. 😉

I’m hoping I’m up long enough this time to include some interesting stories!

Thanks to people who have tweeted good wishes! I really, really want to be back at work on Monday…I do like my job!

Two very different authors to follow on Twitter

It’s interesting. I see a lot of tweets, although a lot of my random exposure (as opposed to having subscribed) comes in my morning

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

read.

By the way, Flipboard…what a brilliant app! There are many ways to get news (loosely defined), and I am a data junkie. I watch 24 hour and non-24 news, I read, and so on. Interior (only) to my family, we have a quite intense discussion on politics, and I do stay on top of all of that. I’ve tried different things, but Flipboard works the best for me…and reading is my preferred input method.

Some authors have good tweet feeds, but there are two (who are quite different) I want to mention here.

David Brin @DavidBrin at TMCGTT

is a well-established science fiction author, a Hugo and Nebula winner.

Brin is also a futurist…I’m surprised that more news shows aren’t interviewing David Brin about privacy issues, including voice assistants. Even though it was written a long time ago, The Transparent Society

Review: The Transparent Society

is still one of the best books on the topic.

I like Brin’s feed because it so often contains exactly what I want science to be: that “oh, wow!” moment of wonder at the world. Now, I have to also say…it does include politics. I try not to do politics here at all (if I report a story that has to do with something the government is doing, it’s because of how it affects the topics relevant to this blog), so I thought I’d give you the heads up.

The most recent post at the time I write this is (without being uncritically convinced) is about a report that raptors (birds, not “dinosaurs”…I call them that myself, and it sometimes confuses people) perhaps deliberately using fire to flush prey. Within ten posts, there is one specifically about books: SFF pairings for Black Mirror episodes.

I’ve been pleased to see the recent rise of anthology TV series again, hearkening back to the classic days of The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. I may write a post about that in my

The Measured Circle blog

although there are several possible blog topics in my hopper already.

David Brin: iconic, science-focused, and with a multi-faceted feed.

The other author I’ve been really noticing is

Mike Wells @MikeWellsAuthor

I haven’t actually read any of Mike’s many books yet, although following the author, you can often get one free. In fact, at time of writing, you can get an omnibus of books 1,2,3 in the

Lust, Money & Murder series for free. Note: I am not “taking responsibility” for this link, which means feel free to download it. 🙂 Amazon has this weird thing that if too high a percentage of the books people get through your links are free, they don’t pay you “advertising fees” on the others. Not a problem if I just give you a straight up link.

I did download that one, and I will get to it when my head is clear again.

Why do I suggest an author I haven’t read?

I did read this

blog post from 2011

and I thought it was brilliant!

It’s called, “Does Bruce Willis Have a Dog?” and shows why authors should use Significant Others as early readers of their work. 😉 Seriously, I thought it was well-written and insightful, and echoed Mark Twain’s advice in some ways.

I think every tweet I’ve seen has been book-related…mostly about Wells’ own books, but not exclusively.

Wells strikes me as very much a contemporary author, with a good sense of social media.

If you do read Twitter, I’d suggest trying following these two…and hey, you might want to try the books, too. 😉

Alexa is getting a lot more conversational

I wasn’t able to talk a whole lot this week, and that was a problem: much of our home is run by Alexa, and I couldn’t get out a communication very well. However, Alexa does understand a whisper, which helped. I’ve said it before, but I do with Alexa could be set to respond by whispering when I whisper. Our dogs understand not to bark if I’m being quiet…you know, unless somebody walks by the house. 🙂

I’ve noticed this as a rising trend.

For example, on one birthday listing, Alexa commented on how cool the birthday celebs were…not just a “seed catalog” listing, but a coherent paragraph.

News is also being broken down by topics in a different way, although the names strike me as a bit off. The entertainment news is called “The Skinny”…which is what CBS news calls theirs. Maybe they are connected, I haven’t checked. The business news is “The Flywheel”…and I can’t see that without thinking of Groucho Marx (Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel”).

Amazon’s advertising has usually been pretty social-media driven, but they have bought big ad play before. There is a teaser ad out there for their Superbowl ad:

Did Alexa Lose Her Voice? (YouTube video)

It actually features Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer)…acting! I like commercials (I know, I know…what doesn’t Bufo like?). My SO and I have gone to the Clio awards several times in years past.

I’ll be looking forward to the full ad, which I’m guessing may be a series of them.

Competition is good

I’m never upset when another company brings a new competitive challenge to Amazon. Competition breeds innovation.

Google is now going to compete with Amazon on audiobooks. The Amazon-owned Audible is giant in that area…may lead to some interesting new features.

I think this another news story probably came as a surprise to many people who think that e-books have maxed out their marketshare:

Sam Rutherford post on Gizmodo

Walmart is partnering with Kobo’s parent, Rakuten.

If this only meant that they were going to sell Kobo EBRs (E-Book Readers) in the stores, no big deal…but they are also going to sell e-books and audiobooks!

That is potentially a big market increase for e-books. It wouldn’t surprise me if Walmart hasn’t liked running out of some super-mega-bestsellers recently, and saw that people could still buy them as e-books.

That fits Walmart’s book-selling habits: having the biggest sellers available, and then gift books. At least, I think that’s the case…haven’t been in a Walmart in years. I think they also used to do genre titles, and that fits e-books as well.

Be interesting to see how this impacts Amazon. There are people who like Kobos better than Kindles, although I’ve always felt that the Amazon services outweighed any possible hardware advantage.

Oh, and Barnes & Noble has revamped its independent publishing platform…it’s no longer called NOOK Press, but will be “Barnes & Noble Press”.

press release at Business Wire

They are offering a 65% royalty rate on e-books over $10. Amazon has used a 70% rate, but only books that align with Amazon’s vision…that allow certain features, and fit a certain price range.

Apple also revamped theirs, and dropped the “i” from “iBooks”, reportedly.

Well, that’s it…I’m about out of steam for now. I’m doing better today, but I’m going to lay down for a while…

Do you have thoughts on any of these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


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.

You could be a publisher in 2019

January 25, 2018

You could be a publisher in 2019

Ever wanted to publish a book?

Generally, books first published in 1923 in the USA are going to fall into the public domain here on January 1, 2019.

Copyright in the USA is complicated (in my opinion, a lot more complicated than it needs to be), but as a rule of thumb, books first published in the USA prior to 1923 are in the public domain now.

That means that the public (you and me and everybody else) owns them. You don’t need to ask anybody’s permission to publish them, and you don’t need to pay anybody. Note: this is rule of thumb. For example, a 1995 translation of a work created in 1921 gets a new copyright, and reproducing that might require permission.

With the last major revision of copyright (again, IANAL…I Am Not A Lawyer, this is my lay understanding), many books got 95 years of protection…so for works published in 1923 in the USA, that runs out this year. They lose their protection on January 1, 2019 (the year gets finished regardless of when in the year they were published).

You could publish the books, and you could sell them…even in the Kindle store…with some significant restrictions.

It used to be a problem in the Kindle store: there would be literally hundreds of editions of some public domain works. Many of them were identical, and of course, many of them might also be significantly flawed (even missing parts of the book).

I wrote about a revision Amazon made to the policy back in 2011:

New guidelines for public domain content

and it has been revised again since then.

Essentially, you need to create significant new content (a new translation, illustrations, annotations), creating a new unique copyright. That will make it what Amazon calls “differentiated”. Amazon is under no obligation to publish works, but if you have something that will sell and won’t cause them problems, it’s to their advantage to do so.

This is also not a “get rich quick scheme”. 🙂 For well-known works, there may be one hundred versions of them or more available to people…yours would need to seem to be of value to readers, and they would need to find them. Also, “undifferentiated” versions will be available for free from other sources, so you’ll have that competition.

Still, if you are an expert in something, or a fan, or an artist trying to get known, this is a great opportunity! Being the publisher might mean that you are also the creator, but it doesn’t have to mean that…there have been many great editors of anthologies. I’ve bought anthologies in the past because they were edited by specific people, or published as part of a series I’ve enjoyed.

What books are going to become public domain?

Unfortunately, the Copyright Office doesn’t have online searchable records for 1923. I’ve been hoping they would get that going for many years now, and they still might.

You can have them research it for you

Copyright search

but they can charge you and they are careful to say that it doesn’t prove anything. 🙂

Many public libraries have physical copyright record books you can view (but typically not remove).

For more information, see

Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center

One of the highest profile books I think is covered by this is The Prophet by Kahil Gibran, but there will be many others. One thing I think we’ll really notice is expanded collections for series and authors which were partially published before 1923, but lasted into it. For example, The Cowardly Lion of Oz, by Ruth Plumly Thompson, was published in 1923…we’ll see it added to collections with earlier books.

All of this should make 2019 one of the most interesting ones for public domain books we’ve seen in years! Will you be part of the wave? 😉


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!

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.

Ursula K. Le Guin has reportedly died

January 24, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin has reportedly died

You would be hard-pressed to find another author who was as respected both within the science fiction/fantasy community and in the literary community writ large as

Ursula K. Le Guin (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The San Francisco Bay Area author won multiple Hugos and Nebulas (SF/F awards) and a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation, just to name a few.

While the heroic scope and wonder of the Earthsea cycle could sweep up a young reader, the thoughtfulness of Le Guin’s works made them a challenge to adapt (not that attempts weren’t made).

Le Guin wasn’t thoughtful just in fiction; but was also known as an essayist and speaker, and was outspoken. Le Guin exalted writing, and praised other authors and wrote about the craft and art of writing.

You can find both some of the most famous fiction(The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven), and non-fiction (Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Words ARE My Matter) in the USA Kindle store.

The community and society will miss Le Guin’s varied contributions, and I have no doubt you’ll see many laudatory comments over the next few days from writers (and readers) inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin.


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.

Read the Oscar Nominees 2018

January 23, 2018

Read the Oscar Nominees 2018

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning!

I pay close attention to those, and have done an Oscar Prediction thing for decades. I’ll give you more information about that when we get closer.

It really felt like a tonal shift this year, with more recognition of “younger”, more popular, more genre titles. The Shape of Water and Get Out both got major nominations (for more information on that, see 2017 Oscar Noms in my The Measured Circle blog).

Both of those were original screenplays (by their directors…The Shape of Water was co-written), but there were still a lot of nominees based on books.

In this post, I’m going to tell you about those books…in case you want to read the book before (or even after) seeing the movie. 🙂

Call Me By Your Name (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
novel by André Aciman
Oscar nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet); Adapted Screenplay (James Ivory); Original Song: The Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens
4.6 stars out of 5, 768 customer reviews, #356 paid in USA Kindle store
(USA Kindle store) publication date: January 22, 2008

All the Money in the World (AKA Painfully Rich) (at AmazonSmile*)
biography by John Pearson
Oscar nominations: Supporting Actor (Christopher Plummer)
4.1 stars, 74 reviews, #587 paid
publication date: December 1, 2011
Note: on sale at time of writing for $1.99

Mudbound (at AmazonSmile*)
by Hillary Jordan
Oscar nominations: Supporting Actress (Mary J. Blige); Adapted Screenplay (Dee Rees, Virgil Williams); Cinematography (Rachel Morrison); Original Song: Mighty River (Raphael Saadiq, Mary J. Blige, Taura Stinson)
4.5 stars, 851 reviews, #5,131 paid
publication date: March 4, 2008

Molly’s Game (at AmazonSmile*)
memoir by Molly Bloom
Oscar nominations: Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin)
4.4 stars, 231 reviews, #231 paid
publication date: June 24, 2014

The Disaster Artist (at AmazonSmile*)
Humor and entertainment by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
Oscar nominations: Adapted Screenplay (Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber)
4.8 stars, 725 reviews, #8,189
publication date: October 1, 2013

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Blade Runner 2049 “based on characters” (at AmazonSmile*)
novel by Philip K. Dick
Oscar nominations: Cinematography (Roger Deakins); Sound Mixing (Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth); Sound Editing (Mark A. Mangini, Theo Green); Visual Effects (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover); Production Design (Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola)
4.3 stars, 1385 review, #7261
publication date: February 26, 2008

Beauty and the Beast (at AmazonSmile*)
fiction by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (note: stats will relate to this edition…this is the credited book, but it won’t have been this edition originally)
Oscar nominations: Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran); Production Design (Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer)
4.4 stars, 45 reviews, #155893
publication date (of this edition): February 4, 2014

Victoria & Abdul
history by Shrabani Basu
Oscar nominations: Costume Design (Consolata Boyle); Makeup and Hairstyling (Daniel Phillips, Loulia Sheppard)
4.0 stars, 55 reviews, #25305
publication date: August 29, 2017

(War for the) Planet of the Apes (at AmazonSmile*)
fiction by Pierre Boulle (don’t expect this to be much like the current set of movies…or the 1960s/1970s one. I always felt he 1968 screenplay by Rod Serling was a considerable improvement over the novel)
Oscar nominations: Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joel Whist)
4.5 stars, 248 reviews, #163748
publication date: April 13, 2011 (the original book was published in France in 1963)

Wonder (at AmazonSmile*)
fiction by R.J. Palacio
Oscar nominations: Makeup and Hairstyling (Arjen Tuiten)
4.9 stars, 12034 reviews, #472
publication date: February 14, 2012

Revolting Rhymes (at AmazonSmile*)
poetry by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Oscar nominations: Animated Short (Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer)
4.4 stars, 109 reviews, #405,210
publication date: September 13, 2016

(The Story of) Ferdinand (at AmazonSmile*)
children’s book by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
Oscar nominations: Animated Feature (Carlos Saldanha)
4.7 stars, 1,416 reviews, #19450
publication date: June 30 1977 (original publication 1936)

The Boss Baby (at AmazonSmile*)
children’s book by Marla Frazee
Oscar nominations: Animated Feature (Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito)
4.7 stars, 187 reviews, #273739
publication date: November 14, 2011


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.

Your annual Prime membership just became a lot more valuable

January 20, 2018

Your annual Prime membership just became a lot more valuable

The pessimist says, “The glass is half empty.” The optimist says, “I have a glass? Cool!” 😉

I know, I know…my headline is one of the very few positive things you’ll see about Amazon raising the month to month

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

price from $10.99 to $12.99 in the USA. If you pay that way for 12 months, it goes from $131.88 to $155.88, an annual increase of $24.

However, they are not raising the annual subscription cost. That stays at $99…meaning that you are now saving $24 more per year.

Interestingly, you can gift three months of Prime for $39…which is actually more expensive than buying it month by month for three months, which would be $38.97.

The discounted student price also goes up a dollar a month (half as much, but about the same percentage) from $5.49 to $6.49.

The month to month Prime video cost, $8.99, is not going up.

The monthly Prime option has only been around for a couple of years, but sure, this will affect some people.

I do want to make sure to say that this

Recode article by Jason Del Rey

is being credited for first noticing it.

My guess on what this means?

I think more people will switch to annual memberships than drop Prime completely, which would make it a net positive for Amazon. No question, they’ll lose some, but the “stickiness” improvement of annual memberships will be worth it.

I don’t think it suggests any systemic problem with Prime, or a likely increase in the annual fee in the near future.

Perhaps they found that people with month to month plans don’t change their buying habits as much in comparison to non-members (and annual plans) as they anticipated.

If I was Amazon, I’d consider “surge” pricing for month to month. In December, you could probably charge $25. In October, discount it under $10…it’s a big advantage to a company like Amazon if people buy holiday gifts early.

Big purchase (and video watching) months, charge more. Slow months, charge less.

At the same time, keep the annual fee to $99, even though some expenses are likely to go up.

I don’t like the student price going up, just sort of philosophically, but it looks like the discount for those on government assistance is staying the same.

What about you? What do you think? Does this affect your perception of Prime? Why do you think Amazon did it, and how do you think it will affect them? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Oh, and my guess is that more of my readers are annual subscribers, but I don’t want to make that assumption with no data, so here’s a poll:

Interesting! When I was creating options for the poll, I looked for what used to be called “Amazon Mom”, but that doesn’t appear to exist any more. There is “Amazon Family”, which gives you extra discounts on things like diaper, but it didn’t look like a lower monthly or annual payment.


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.

AI outscores humans on a reading comprehension test

January 18, 2018

AI outscores humans on a reading comprehension test

Are we going to start adding SAT scores to your phone/computer’s tech specs? 😉

There has been a lot of coverage lately about two AIs (Artificial Intelligence programs) which outscored humans on a reading comprehension test.

While it has perhaps been overstated,as indicated in this

The Verge article by James Vincent

I still think this is important.

Basically, what happened was that two different AIs read articles, and then answered questions about them. Humans did the same thing with the same articles, and were just out-edged in the (very high for both) percentage of correct answers.

This is impressive, although it’s not “The Singularity”, when AI changes everything.

One big issue is that these are the very top of the line AIs…and where the humans rank among humans is unknown, since they just used people found through

Amazon Mechanical Turk

They could be the best of the best (our adult kid makes some money through AMT, and would undoubtedly score exceptionally high in reading comprehension), but they could be average or otherwise.

There also might be a question of motivation. The AI would presumably be focused in some way in turning in the best possible score, and the Turkers might just have done what they thought would be acceptable to the requester.

Before we go further, I also want to say that some extraordinarily intelligent people don’t do really well on reading comprehension tests. Why? A test assumes there is one correct answer; intelligent people can often see multiple correct answers. My kid (and I) are good test takers. That requires not just intelligence, but empathy: you have to be able to figure out what answer the person who writes the question wants, not just what is the correct answer.

I explained that to our kid early on…don’t give the right answer, give the one they want. Then, feel free to add a note explaining why another answer might be as good as better, but you don’t need to prove the teacher wrong. The game for grades isn’t purely intellectual excellence…

It’s why some people with delusions, or even just confidence in unconventional wisdom, are very intelligent. You need to be pretty smart to come up with challenges to the question…if you believe cats are capable of speaking, but just don’t choose to do so, you are going to have to explain why the consensus understanding of brain function and speech organ anatomy is wrong.

Looking at the types of questions asked, they do require parsing natural language. They don’t require inference of…emotional content.

For example, if a statement was, “Batman has the Batmobile to drive,” and the question was, “What car does Batman use?”, the AI might be able to answer that, and most English-literate humans would. It doesn’t have the answer flatly stated, but you can figure it out with additional knowledge (which the AI has).

If it said, “Batman drives the Batmobile; the Joker has the Jokermobile”, the AI could probably figure out the answer to the question, “Who drives the Jokermobile?”

That’s a big improvement over where we were even five years ago!

However, it would be a bigger challenge if a story included someone saying, “Get out! I never want to see you again!”, and then you asked the AI to identify who was mad at whom.

AIs are getting better at that sort of thing too, though. I talk about the development of “artificial empathy” being essential in us having really effective conversational tech. I have a great, free, Microsoft app on my work phone (Seeing AI), which will tell me a few possible emotional states when I take a picture of someone. It’s intended for people with visual challenges…lots of fun for everyone, though, and worth getting (I’d have it on my Android personal phone if it was available…haven’t checked recently).

Some news stories I read are already written by AIs, or certainly, selected by them.

What do you think? Does this matter to you? Would it bother you if AIs read as well as people? Consider this: AIs might have prejudices in how they interpret what they read…those could be in-built by the people developing and training the AI, but it could also be something they develop which we don’t even understand or notice. When would you consider a robot (an AI is a robot, as I define it) intelligent…and would that mean they deserve some sort of rights? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Bonus story: just in! Amazon has announced the finalists for their HQ2 (second headquarters):

In alphabetical order:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Newark, NJ
  • Northern Virginia, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Toronto, ON
  • Washington, DC

According to this

press release

that could mean $5 billion and 50,000 jobs to the eventual winner. Toronto being on the list intrigues me…changes regulatory commitments, for one thing. Offhand, I’d like them to go to the place which would get the most economic benefit out of it…

Bonus sale:

If you are a Prime member, there are some limited time specials on Alexa products…the Echo Show is $179.99, instead of $229.99, for example.

Echo and Alexa devices (at AmazonSmile*)


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.

Round up #167: Barnes & Noble hitting new lows, Alexa when you have to go

January 14, 2018

Round up #167: Barnes & Noble hitting new lows, Alexa when you have to go

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

I brought my Echo Spot to work, and it’s…

When Amazon announced new hardware, I said about the Echo Spot (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping):

“Having a small, always available screen is going to make it a big part of people’s lives…”

It has 4.3 stars out of five right now, with 429 customer reviews.

It’s currently ranked #22 bestselling out of all electronics at Amazon.

I brought mine to work (we have an Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) at home), and it’s…one of the coolest things ever! 🙂

I should describe my situation a bit.

I have my own office with a door which closes (and which I can lock). It is small, and the walls are thin enough that we can all hear each other.

I have the little “Magic 8-Ball” looking video screen sort of under my elevated monitor.

I’m able to put it on wi-fi at work (I could use a hotspot on my phone, but there is a public wi-fi network I can use. One thing I find particularly nice: when I log it into the wi-fi network, I have to check a box to acknowledge the terms. That page appears on my Echo Spot’s touchscreen! That means that I don’t need to use my phone at all to get on the network. Oh, by the way: swipe down from the top to find settings.

There is a 3.5mm (standard, like an a SmartPhone) audio jack, so I can just plug headphones in there. That way, I can listen quietly.

I can have it play music, podcasts, and so on.

However, I also do use the videoscreen. I can drop in on the Echo Show at home to check on the dogs. 🙂

When I ask for my Flash Briefing (“Alexa, what’s the news?”) some of it is actually video.

I also have watched videos: I’ve watched some of a Gene Roddenberry series, Andromeda. Now, I need to be clear: none of this interferes with my work. 🙂 For example, I might watch at lunch.

I highly recommend the Spot…and I would think there may be an opportunity to get it for under $100 within the next year (might be a special sale).

“Is this the end of Rico…er, Barnes & Noble?”

Investors weren’t happy with Barnes & Noble’s report of the financial covering the holidays…and while I’m sometimes baffled by the reaction to Amazon financials, this seems reasonable.

  • According to this CNN Money chart, the stock price is down more than 20% this year. I’ve also heard that it is at the lowest price this century…since the mid-1990s
  • Online sales reportedly dropped 4.5%…that’s a bucking a significant general trend of increasing online sales
  • Reportedly, holiday book sales overall grew…meaning that B&N also underperformed compared to that industry

A new CEO apparently hasn’t reassured investors…bottom line, I don’t see anything at this point which shows a path to overcoming these deficits. They may be a target for purchase this year…and I can possibly see foreign investors being interested.

Firefox on Fire TV…a great end around

I noted that having the Firefox browser available on the

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

was a way to get around Google blocking YouTube, and it does that quite nicely. There is already a link to YouTube on the landing page, so it’s just a couple of “clicks”.

However, I just ran into another great use.

I use the Comedy Central app to watch a particular series. Well, I did…now, it asked me to sign into my TV provider. Unfortunately, my provider wasn’t listed, and they said they were trying to sign up more.

I thought I might end up watching clips on YouTube, but then it occurred to me that I could just browse to Comedy Central’s site, and they might have full episodes.

They did. 🙂

That means we can watch the full episode on our TV, just like we usually would. There is a risk that Comedy Central stops showing full episodes, but that would be a real paradigm shift….for them, and for other sites.

Indie authors: you can now do X-Ray for your books

X-Ray is a great feature, which looks you look up things (characters, for example) in a book. Not just find them, like an index, but you can see the density of references to that character.

Indies (independent authors), certainly in the beginning, didn’t know how to get it for their books.

Kindle Direct Publishing

now lets you do it, and while I haven’t tried it yet, it looks like a pretty easy process.

It can be done automatically for your book, using content from Wikipedia.

However, you can also make your own custom content!

I expect we’ll get some clever things that way.

The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney (at AmazonSmile*)

has a wonderfully sardonic “Catalog”, for example, which is a sort of glossary of items in the book, somewhat like X-Ray without locations. One of the entries:

“COCKROACH: La Cucaracha, the kitchendweller. Decently dressed in brown or black, discreet and humble, he lives in hovels as readily as in grand hotels. He has been with us a long time. He crawled about the middenheaps of the Neanderthal just as well as he now crawls about the middenheaps of the Parisian. He is fit and he survives. He watched the dinosaur and the pterodactyl die, and he saw Babylon flourish.”

It’s important to note that the cockroaches aren’t anthropomorphized or significant at all in the actual main text.

Alexa at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show just ended, and there are always all sorts of strange things there. This year, Alexa was definitely a star.

One major announcement was Alexa Onboard. While the headliner on this is that it will bring Alexa into cars, it has other important implications, as mentioned in this

Voicebot.AI article by Bret Kinsella

Alexa will, for the first time, be able to function significantly without an internet connection. It sounds to me like it may mean that Alexa could still turn my lights on and off if wi-fi was working, even if the internet was down. That would be a giant improvement, and make Alexa much more reliable and therefore perhaps get it into even more places.

Speaking of places…Kohler showed a toilet with Alexa built-in…so you can flush with voice control. My Significant Other doesn’t like using Alexa to turn on and off the lights, as opposed to a light switch. While I get that it’s more hygienic, but I would feel uncomfortable saying, “Alexa, flush.” 🙂 The toilet also plays music, though, so Alexa could help with that…and it’s heated, and it has lights which can change color, and it opens automatically…and it’s only $7,500.

I’ll be fine when I have Alexa in my auggies (augmented/virtual reality glasses, or other perceptive device), so I can talk to Alexa at any time anywhere. 🙂 Sound ridiculous? Vuzix introduced just that at CES:

psfk article by Zack Palm

What do you think? Do you see a path to continued viability for Barnes & Noble? Do you see any reason Amazon would want to buy them…or someone else who might? Would you talk to your toilet? Do you use X-Ray in books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


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.

Pay $50 for a hardback and get it in a week…or $14.99 for the e-book and get it in seconds

January 9, 2018

Pay $50 for a hardback and get it in a week…or $14.99 for the e-book and get it in seconds

It’s unusual that a book gets the amount of public attention that

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is getting.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about the content of the book or why it’s the #1 bestseller at Amazon right now. 😉

My point is this: one of the stories I’ve seen repeatedly is how the book is “sold out”.

Well, yes: if you want the hardback.

If you buy it from Amazon, it’s currently listed at $18.00…with delivery in 2 to 4 weeks.

Other sellers have listed from $65 (arriving as early as January 16) to $12 (arriving as early as February 2nd), plus shipping ($3.99 on the non-Amazon vendors).

On the other hand, you could get the Kindle version right now…and for less money.

You don’t need a Kindle: you could read it on a phone, a tablet, a desktop…

Amazon does prominently put that on the book’s product page: “Usually ships within 2 to 4 weeks. 
Why wait? Try the Kindle Edition instead and start reading now.”

This is somewhat similar to what happened with 1984 last year, although that one was available to Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) members at no additional cost:

1984 is sold out in hardback & paperback at Amazon…but Kindleers can read it for free

There are already 1,407 customer reviews at time of writing (with an average of 4.6 stars out of 5). The listed release date was January 5th…so that would be close to 500 reviews a day. A lot of people are going to try to sway what you’ll think of the book, and in different ways…if you are going to read it at all, that week or more could make a difference in how you approach the book.

I wonder if scarcity events like this will convert more people to reading e-books more often…


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.


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