Round up #180: Alexa’s birthday sale, local B&N change

Round up #180: Alexa’s birthday sale, local B&N change

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

A Barnes & Noble near us is going to…


Weren’t expecting that, were you? 😉

I first heard about this on

which we find to be a very mixed bag for us. Sometimes, it seems essential: I think it’s particularly effective for lost pets. It’s a localized social network, where you are hypothetically only speaking to your neighbors (which can be pretty broadly defined). Someone may post that they’ve seen (or found…or lost) a dog or cat, and it seems like the situation is often resolved in mere minutes.

On the other hand, we sometimes see things there which…don’t reflect our concerns. That might be something seen as suspicious activity which we don’t view as that. Local police departments may also post on Nextdoor (around the country), and that can be helpful.

Anyway, someone posted a story about Barnes & Noble opening a new store in our area, and there were positive reactions to it.

It’s going into a fairly new, destination shopping center, The Veranda:

Barnes & Noble at The Veranda

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager (and I did other retail), I get the positioning of this center. It’s intended to feel upscale, to be a somewhat luxury experience. You have to do something to compete with the convenience and often better prices shopping online. I have said before in this blog that you need people to be willing to spend more money at your store because they want to help you.

Some people also want to spend more money so they can show that they can do it, of course. 😉

This shopping center has a fancy movie theatre: it has a full bar and food service to your theatre seat.

My Significant Other and I (we like to go to the movies) went there once; we aren’t likely to go again.

First, those two advantage don’t help us much: we are teetotaling healthy-eating vegetarians. However, that wasn’t the issue. You can book your seats ahead of time, but when we got there, I couldn’t really use that seat due to a disability. That can happen…it could have been marked more clearly online, but I anticipated that the theatre would have ramps rather than stairs, which many places I visit do.

It was that they didn’t seem to be concerned about it, particularly…they weren’t dismissive, it was more like they didn’t know what they were supposed to do. It was an easy problem to fix (there were lots of empty seats), but they seemed confused by anything out of the ordinary.

For the Barnes & Noble to succeed, they are going to need to focus on customer experience. People will need to want to go there, be willing to spend more money than they would online (and less conveniently), and be satisfied when they leave.

That could happen, and I certainly wish them luck…

Happy birthday, Alexa! 

Amazon’s talktec Alexa recently turned four (!) years old, and they are celebrating with a sale.

I didn’t exclamation point that sale, because we are heading into a season with a lot of sales, and I wouldn’t say this one is really standing out to me. It’s always nice to save money, of course, but I suspect there may the same and bigger opportunities now that we are into Black Friday month.

Here’s the

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

You can buy the 2nd gen

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

for $10 off ($29.99). A better deal? You can get four of them for $99.96…making the only about $25 apiece. Do you need four of them? Well, don’t forget…these can make good gifts. 🙂

Some other discounts:

  • Fire TV Stick 4K & Echo Dot for $79.98
  • 2 Fire TV Stick 4Ks for $10 off with code TWOPACK
  • 2nd gen Echo for $79.99 ($20 off)
  • Echo Spot (my favorite) for $99.99 ($30 off)
  • Fire HD 8 and Show Mode Charging Dock $109.98 ($20 off)

These prices reportedly go through November 6th.

Alexa Election Skills

There are several skills in the Alexa store that tie into the election. Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk politics! I do vote in every election, and talk politics thoroughly with very view people. However, publicly, I make a real effort not to bring it into it…I think that would interfere with some people enjoyment of this blog and the information they get out of it.

Alexa, though, is becoming more and more part of our lives and society. I tried a skill suggested to me (LiveBallot): it wanted to know for which candidates I was going to vote! I had activated that one, but I won’t use it. I appreciated that it had recorded statements from some candidates, but what I really want is results…and not just from candidates, but on propositions.

Here’s a search for

Election skills in the USA Alexa Appstore (at AmazonSmile*)

Hopefully, you’ll find something that helps you there, whatever you decide to do (or not to do).

Amazon Black Friday deals per ZDNet

Thanks to a reader who alerted me to this

ZDNet article by Elyse Betters-Picaro

which purports to be based on information given to them by Amazon about the latter’s Black Friday deals.

Intuitively, this feels pretty solid, but Amazon hasn’t announced them.

While they list sales before Thursday, November 22nd, the ones they list that day certainly are attractive!

I don’t want to take too much away from their scoop…I’ll point out the new Paperwhite for $40 off ($79.99) and the Echo Spot for $89.99 (also $40 off). Oh, and when you buy an Echo device, they say you can get an Amazon Smart Plug for $5.

I’ll be keeping my eye on prices as they get officially announced!

Thanks, reader!

Any thoughts on any of these stories? Would you feel okay telling Alexa for whom you were voting? Do you ever not tell Alexa things you think are too private? Will a new Barnes & Noble be able to make it in today’s environment? Are you planning to give Alexa devices for the holidays? 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! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

2 Responses to “Round up #180: Alexa’s birthday sale, local B&N change”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I won’t even tell my relatives who I vote for. I fear they would disown me. Luckily, our granny always cautioned us not to talk religion or politics. Granny was a wise woman. But she’d probably disown me, too, if she knew I was a_______.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I don’t normally tell anybody (even my Significant Other) my voting choices…not out of concern for a reaction, but because it feels to me like it should be private. I do discuss religion and politics within the family, but not the specifics. This year, though, my SO and I both voted by mail, and we went through the choices together (it was a particularly complex ballot in California). We did tell each other some of the choices we made…

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