Archive for December, 2018

The Year Ahead: 2019

December 31, 2018

The Year Ahead: 2019

This is my annual post where I look ahead to the next year. I’ll make some predictions, but I’ll warn you ahead of time…I don’t always get things right. ;)

Taking a look at last year’s post, I did well:

The Year Ahead: 2018

Amazon VAM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality…XR)

Hit. Part of what I said was “It might be through an experience (which is what apps for VAM are called), or it might be through some sort of VAM browser system that lets us watch it like we would on a computer.” We got the latter, as I reported in this post on July 29th:

Round up #177: Project Vesta, Amazon financials

We can now watch Prime Video in VR “like we would on a computer”.

Amazon opens a localized site for the Middle East

Hit. I mentioned the Arabic language as being important, and Amazon announced a big Arabic initiative on June 25th: press release . While they didn’t actually open an Amazon-branded site for the Middle East for Kindle they made them officially available through souq.com, as reported in this Tech Radar post by Abbas Ali | press release on Arabic language. That puts Kindles into the United Arab Emirates

Amazon curtails personal documents for Kindle

Miss (yay!). I don’t think I’ve seen anything significant on this.

Still, two out of three ain’t bad. 😉

Those were my major announcements: now, let’s take a look at my speculations (which I don’t count in my lookback, since those feel much more uncertain…but they often still come out okay).

  • “Amazon announces several frontrunners for its new headquarters (HQ2). They include deep South and East Coast cities, and at least one in Canada. We may not know officially by the end of 2018 which one will “win”…my guess is that it will be an East Coast city, like Boston…” | I’d say I was reasonably close on that…they picked New York and northern Virginia
  • “More deals are announced for Alexa in cars” Hit, including Echo Auto (at AmazonSmile*)
  • “Alexa experience creators are given new ways to monetize…and advertising is even a possibility”. Hit. CNBC story by Lauren Hirsch and Michelle Castillo
  • “Jeff Bezos may start focusing on something other than Amazon. I don’t see that as a retirement, certainly, but maybe a big charity initiative and a reduction of time on “day to day” Amazon duties. Speculation begins on someone stepping more into the general CEO role…and diversity is a positive part of the story” | I think this is a miss
  • “Amazon might buy a pharmacy chain…” | Hit. They bought PillPack, which is close enough press release 
  • “Amazon does something notable in Africa” | Hit. They opened AWS Data Centers press release
  • “As to Kindles…I proposed that the cycle might be one evolutionary year (2017 was that) alternating with a revolutionary one, which would mean we’d get a new model in 2018. I’m not sure about that, though. Won’t surprise me if at least one of the models is retired in 2018…I could most likely see that being the Voyage, but I don’t think the Oasis has been a sales hit.” | I’m taking this as a hit, but I’d listen to arguments. The newest Paperwhite is a new model, with waterproofing…although it doesn’t have a new name. The Voyage is essentially retired, not being offered new from Amazon
  • “How about…Amazon entering the education game? By that I mean that they offer classes you can take through them. Not to replace a college, but on specific topics…maybe publishing, maybe programming for Alexa, perhaps some other not-specifically Amazon related things (like English as a Second Language)” | Hit, although I’m not positive they didn’t have this before Amazon Courses
  • “For Kindle capabilities: I imagine the translation features getting a big enhancement. I think globalization is a focus for Amazon (as it may increasingly be for some other companies)” | Miss, although they did do a big thing with translating books into English for World Book Day press release
  • “I also have a vague sense of Amazon doing something in transportation, something that makes the news. Autonomous delivery vehicles could certainly be one, as could much more delivery for other companies. I don’t know if ride-sharing is a space I’d enter, but they possibly could” | They bought a bunch of delivery airplanes, but I’ll call that a miss.

Overall, that was a great year!

Okay, let’s mess up my average with some new predictions. 😉 I’ll do three major ones, and ten speculations as I did last year:

Alexa gets the ability to send books to your devices

Alexa can play music and show us videos…why not books? My guess is that this might come in the form of a Goodreads (which Amazon owns) Alexa skill, although you wouldn’t have to enable it. You could say things like, “Alexa, buy the latest Stephen King book and send it to Bufo’s Kindle”. It would confirm what it was and that you wanted it. It could make recommendations, based on what’s happening with your Goodreads page (or more generically if you didn’t have one). It could tie into AmazonCharts: “Alexa, what books are hot?” There are a lot of possibilities here…you might hear Stephen King’s voice recommending something, for example. It could certainly help with management of your Kindle library…”Your Content and Devices” has never been that friendly an interface. The key point on this one: that Alexa can send e-books to your device

Amazon opens more brick-and-mortars, including an Amazon Go cashierless store for the public near the HQs

Amazon now has a number of brick-and-mortar operations, including the 4-Star stores (My trip to an Amazon 4-Star Store), AmazonBooks (The new Amazon Books opened in Walnut Creek California today…and I was there!), and Amazon Experience Centers. I think, in a sense like EPCOT was originally intended to be, Amazon may open centers near their headquarters (Seattle, New York City, Northern Virginia). You could experience the future of Amazon products there, and test new things…like an Amazon Go store. Tourists could go there. It would be a great Public Relations move for those new HQs (which will need to work hard on good PR). If there is a Go store open to the public near an HQ, I’ll count this as a hit next year

While not calling it HQ3, Amazon announces more localized complexes

There are Amazon presences in a lot of states, especially Fulfillment Centers, but I think they’ll do more with offices…or at least, we’ll become aware of more. This could also be outside the USA. I expect to see an article where someone points out how this is like the HQ search

Okay, speculations!

  • Amazon reveals Alexa’s ability to speak more languages in the USA. This is tied into the program they’ve been doing where you can speak to Alexa in a foreign language. We probably get the option to choose another language, like Spanish, but they mention that it has some capabilities in a language which is not a top-ten language in terms of the number of speakers in the world
  • Amazon does something with Max Headroom, tying into 1980s nostalgia 😉
  • The Justice Department officially investigates Amazon as a monopoly or at least for unfair trade practices
  • Amazon invests in some kind of book preservation organization…they work with them to make public domain books available to the public for free (through the Kindle store, but available elsewhere). They may also be helping with preserving non-public-domain books with authorization
  • There are some Alexa-enabled wearables now, but something bigger happens with that…an Alexa watch or something like that. For this to be a hit, it needs to be mentioned in an Amazon press release
  • There are over 10,000 Alexa-enabled devices by year’s end
  • Amazon starts or partners with an existing Microsoft Teams/Slack type service. It’s designed for business, and ties into screened Amazon devices (tablets, Echo Shows). It’s designed so you can do instant video calls with coworkers, and might have text chat as well
  • Amazon starts a podcasting platform
  • Amazon does some sort of easy video publishing platform…probably through Echos and/tablets. “Alexa, make a video”. That lets you then publish that video for other people…maybe just friends and family, but also for the public. There may be some way to monetize it, but that might not happen the first year
  • I’m not confident in this one, but an Amazon-branded robot may still happen in 2019 😉
  • Bonus: we’ll get a major story about Amazon’s healthcare initiative, but that seems inevitable, so I won’t count it as a speculation…

What do you think? Any predictions and/or speculations for Amazon in 2019? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Some of you are already into 2019, so…Happy New Year!

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

 

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Happy bookish birthdays (December 31) to…

December 31, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 31) to…

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

Happy bookish birthdays (December 30) to…

December 30, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 30) to…

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

The Year in E-Books 2018

December 30, 2018

The Year in E-Books 2018

Every year, I look both backward and forward. This is my annual post, looking at what happened this year. If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category.

In looking back over 2018, there are two things which really stood out.

One was how Amazon has really moved into the Spanish-language market.

They’ve had e-books in Spanish for some time, but this year feels like a watershed moment.

On September 6th, Amazon announced that FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited were getting Spanish versions

press release

Now, it’s important to note that this isn’t a separate subscription: it’s Spanish-language embedded in the current Kindle FreeTime Unlimited.

What they are doing is not only giving substantively more Spanish content (including videos), but providing a Spanish user interface for the parents.

On October 23rd, they announced that Alexa and the Echo were coming to Spain (and France):

press release

press release in Spanish | comunicado de prensa

When they did this, they didn’t just take the existing Alexa assistant and translate it to Spanish…they tried to be culturally relevant to that country.

A couple of weeks later, they came to Mexico:

press release

Again, that’s tailored to Mexico; it isn’t just the same as the version for Spain.

That’s a lot of investment in Spanish-language customers!

The other big thing was Alexa everywhere. That does impact e-books: Alexa can read your Kindle books with text-to-speech enabled, and can fetch your Audible books and play those.

I do that in the car, and that was one of the big announcements.

Echo Auto (by invitation only at this point) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Now, I already have Alexa in my car…because I have my SmartPhone. I have the free Alexa app on my phone, and I can get to her through the Amazon Shopping app.

Having the Echo Auto will be a game changer. I currently have to open up the app, and tap something every time I want to give a command. That should all become unnecessary (well, the app may need to be open in the background): it will be true ambient computing. They are also working hard to get it to integrate with many more things than my phone does…for example, the phone can’t play TuneIn, but I think they’ll get that done for Echo Auto (when it is eventually released).

I suspect the new ability of Alexa to read and let you interact with your e-mail is part of that drive (so to speak). I was going into work, and was able to deal with most of my e-mail on the way into the office! That was great. I request a read receipt for some things, and I tend not to delete them when I’m sight-reading them…but it was easy to do through Alexa. I dealt with my e-mail better through Alexa than through my computer.

Alexa is almost always with me, because of the phone…it would be a rare thing for me to be more than a meter away from being able to talk to Alexa, even at work.

Not all Alexa-connected devices can read my e-books…our Alexa microwave can’t.

Hands on…no, hands off…um, let’s see: “Voice on” with the Alexa Microwave

Still, Alexa will be as ubiquitous as the computer on Captain Kirk’s Enterprise. That means I can have a book read to me whenever, wherever…and it will become more intimate than a speaker before too long.

Spanish and Alexa glowed like shining beacons, but there were other developments as well.

I was very pleased to see a new version of the Paperwhite:

Amazon introduces new thinner, waterproof version of my favorite Kindle, the Paperwhite

Content also still mattered: for one thing, they made a deal with Patricia Cornwell for a new series. You can pre-order the first one for delivery…in about a year. 😉

Quantum (at AmazonSmile)

Interestingly, it looks like it will be available through

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

which is on sale right now. At least, they promote KU on that page in such a way that it looks like you’ll be able to read that book.

They also keep improving independent publishing (at least the technology for it), and it seems to be paying off…several Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors won RITA awards this year. That’s a top award for romance authors.

I want to point out one more thing: KDP authors can now publish in Arabic. Arabic is one of the most spoken languages in the world, and there is a long literary history.

2018 was a good year in e-books…I’ll be making my predictions for 2018 in the next couple of days.

Oh, and I did this last year…I think it’s worth doing again. These are counts when I search the titles of the 2018 Amazon press release archive…AWS (Amazon Web Services) dominates, even though I rarely talk about it here. I’m more concerned with books and consumer gadgets than enterprise, despite how big and successful a part of Amazon it is.

  • tablet=2
  • Kindle=4
  • Fire TV=4
  • Echo=7
  • Alexa=14
  • AWS=46

Have any thoughts on 2018 in e-books/Amazon? 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! :) 

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

Happy bookish birthdays (December 29) to…

December 29, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 29) to…

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

Happy bookish birthdays (December 28) to…

December 28, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 28) to…

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

Happy bookish birthdays (December 27) to…

December 27, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 27) to…

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

Happy bookish birthdays (December 26) to…

December 26, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 26) to…

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

Round up #182: Digital Day, Alexa reads your e-mail (to you)

December 25, 2018

Round up #182: Digital Day, Alexa reads your e-mail (to you)

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

Alexa reads your e-mail (to you)

…and it’s a good thing. 😉 People obviously have privacy concerns about smart devices, and that’s reasonable. After all, there was a widely-reported case recently (in Germany) where Amazon (not Alexa) sent a link to a customer which allowed that person to download over 1,500 recordings…made of another customer.

Washington Post story via Chicago Tribune by Hamza Shaban

While someone sent that to me as a sort of “Ah, ha, told you so!” story, I actually found it quite reassuring. I suspect we hear about major breaches, and this one appears to have been human error…which Amazon has said it has taken steps to limit in the future. I suppose it’s reasonable to be concerned that Amazon had over 1,500 recordings, but Alexa didn’t send it to someone else…a person did. If there was a systemic problem, I think we’d know.

You can also delete your recordings if you want: one way to do that is by going to Settings – Alexa Account – Alexa Privacy in your Alexa app.

I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t be surprised if Alexa was clandestinely reading your e-mail (Google reads your Gmail, but tells you it does…Dragon Naturally Speaking asked me if it could, to be better informed on things like quirky names), but that’s not at all what this new feature does.

You connect your e-mail to Alexa through that Alexa app: Settings-Email & Calendar. It gives you a choice of Google and/or Microsoft (you can have multiple accounts) for e-mail (you can also have Apple or Microsoft for calendars). I’m using it with my Outlook from work.

It will read you your unread e-mail which you have received in the past 24 hours. You can then: read; reply; delete; archive; or next. I’ve used it, and it works really well! At this point, you can’t initiate an e-mail (only respond), but I find it quite useful…and cool. 😉

Echo and Alexa devices (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) (might not work on all devices)

Kindle Unlimited: up to 40% off (including existing members)

I always keep an eye open for a sale on

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

We’ve been happy members since it started…it’s well worth the usual price of about $10 a month (when you buy a two-year membership), what with over a million e-book titles, plus magazines and audiobooks, but at 40% off? That’s about $6 a month! You can buy it as a gift, or extend your own membership…and the latter isn’t always available.

The offers are here:

Kindle Unlimited offers (at AmazonSmile*)

This deal is good through January 1st, 2019 (have you started practicing typing “2019” yet?). 😉 Hm…I also just saw the date of January 11th, but through January 1st for sure.

Your pictures as the screensaver on Fire TVs

Amazon has also added a nice, easy-to-use new feature for the

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

Your device will ask you, but you can set to use your own pictures as your “screensaver”. They made this simple: your Prime Photos app has a Groups choice at the bottom. Each of your Fire TVs that you authorize gets its own group. You just add photos into that, and that’s it. There’s a plus in your bottom right when you are in the group, or in when you are in “Yours”, you can choose Select from your top right corner, tap on the ones you want, then go back to your top right to “Add to Group”. You can add to more than one group at the same time (we use two Fire TVs).

Friday is “Digital Day”

This Friday, December 28 2018, is Amazon’s

Digital Day (at AmazonSmile*)

The sales will start on the 26th, but this

press release

says the biggest deals are on the 28th. These are deals on digital content: e-books, e-magazines, apps, utility software, and so on.

In years past, some of the deals haven’t interested me much, but there have been some good things as well…and you might have gotten Amazon gift cards to spend. 🙂

Comments or questions? 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! :) 

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

Happy bookish birthdays (December 25) to…

December 25, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 25) to…

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


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