Archive for the ‘blogs)’ Category

Kindle blogs at Amazon.com

January 14, 2017

Kindle blogs at Amazon.com

It’s been quite a while since I posted about

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

Oh, I track how many there are every month, as part of the Snapshots, but I think I last wrote about the top ten blogs in late 2014.

You can get a free trial subscription for 14 days, and you can choose to subscribe. For example, subscribing to this blog is $0.99 a month. I’m thankful for my subscribers! Some of them have been with me since the beginning, back in 2009, and it definitely makes a difference. Thanks, subscribers!

Okay, here are the top ten (out of 15,985) at time of writing:

  1. Free Kindle Books and Tips by Michael Gallagher
  2. The New York Times – Latest News
  3. Free Books OnKindle
  4. Huffington Post
  5. Free books for Kindle
  6. Two Minute Conservative
  7. Taki’s Magazine
  8. LRC Blog
  9. National Review: Articles
  10. Kindle Nation Daily

12. I Love My Kindle

Looking through the next blogs, there are actually several blogs that appear to be at least focused on free books for your Kindle. I can’t argue about that too much, since that was the title of my first book. 😉

Michael Gallagher’s blog was also #1 in 2014…and had been the previous time as well.

Some of these look new to me.

It’s worth noting Stephen Windwalker’s Kindle Nation Daily: I believe it may be the longest-lived Kindle-focused blog at Amazon.com.

In terms of ratings/reviews, Michael Gallagher does have 3.9 stars out of 5 with 162 customer reviews, which is quite good. I’m proud that ILMK has 4.2 stars with 41 reviews. It’s the only blog in the top twenty with at least 10 reviews and 4 or more stars.

In terms of my other two blogs:

221B Blog Street (the adventures of Holmes and Watson…one chapter at a time!) (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s highest listing is #726 in Arts & Entertainment Kindle blogs. 🙂

It does have a perfect 5-star rating…but with only two reviews.

I never expected it to be very popular, but I really like that it recreates in  a sense the way that Holmes & Watson were originally published…serialized. I only do the public domain stories, and do them in order…once chapter or short story a day.

When I’ve gone through the set, I do publish my Holmes parody, which is four posts. I’m proud of that one, too. 🙂 I wanted to submit it for an Edgar, but I think I was too late that year. It’s a modernized Holmes & Watson…and I did do it before the Cumberbatch version. 🙂

It’s not hard for me to do (I just have to keep cycling the publication dates of the posts…two weeks takes me maybe five minutes), and there are some people who like it.

The Measured Circle

Nobody’s ever reviewed TMC at Amazon.com, but I do get comments and retweets, so I know it is read at to some extent.

I really like doing it: it’s eclectic. I’d say the main focus has become geeky entertainment. I do also write about robotics and other tech there from time to time, and I’m about to start writing more often about Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality.

It’s also the branding and heart of  The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project. They’ve really been improving The History Project (having major backers doesn’t hurt, I’m sure), and I do think there’s a possibility it could “break” this year. I’ve been working on it, too.

It’s highest ranking is #98 in Kindle Blogs – Humor & Satire…and #306 in Kindle Blogs – Arts & Entertainment, putting it considerably above 221B Blog Street.

I’ll mention one more:

A Kindle World

That’s Andrys Basten’s blog, 4.1 stars with 10 reviews.

Andrys has done some of the best writing about the Kindle, with surprising technical information and insightful thoughts.

A paid subscription to a Kindle store blog means that you can have it delivered to your EBR (E-Book Reader) automatically…I think some of my readers read their blogs before they get out of bed or at night before sleeping.

That’s it! If you have any blogs to suggest to me and my readers, or other thoughts you would like to share, feel free to comment on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle 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.

 

 

So, you want to be a blogger…

May 8, 2016

So, you want to be a blogger…

I recently had a conversation with somebody who was considering starting a blog, and that has come up from time to time.

I’m happy to give you what advice I can. I think I can reasonably say that I’m a successful blogger, although there are certainly people with more readers, and even more people who make more money at it. I’m not big on monetization: I have a full time job, so this isn’t paying the bills. I do want to make a certain amount to justify the time and energize I spend on it, and I do that. The subscribers (thanks, subscribers!), some of whom have been with me more than half a decade, really make it possible.

ILMK has been one of the top-selling blogs in the USA Kindle store almost from the beginning, although the audience of people who pay for a blog subscription is relatively small. I always like to recall the day I passed the Huffington Post and The Onion on the same day, and I’ve stayed above them since. Obviously, they have more readers and make money than I do.

For me, it’s not about making money…and that’s the first thing I’d say to anybody thinking about starting a blog…or any other project (I’ve taught project management). You need to decide how you’ll be able to tell it’s a success. That’s how you know where to put your energies.

  • Are you doing it to make money?
  • Are you doing it to promote a cause?
  • Are you doing it to improve your writing skills through practice?
  • Are you doing it because…you just have to do something creative?
  • Are you doing it to help people?
  • Are you using it to promote something else you are doing?

There could be other motivations, and it’s up to you what they are and how you will measure them. You can have more than one motivation.

For example, if you say you are doing it to help people (that’s one of my motivations), how will you know you’ve helped somebody? One way I can tell that is through the comments.

Once you’ve made that decision, you want to think about how much time, and perhaps more importantly, how much social energy you want to spend on it. I blog, but I don’t really do Facebook, because I don’t have the social energy left over for the latter. You can do the blog itself for free…I don’t pay for my WordPress.com blogs.  I could pay for a more robust blog,  but this one suits my purposes. It’s those energy and time costs that you need to consider.

Oh, and you need to decide on a subject area…but most people know that already.

At this point, you know what you want to do, how you’ll know if it’s a success or not, and how much time you are going to spend.

You are just about ready to start writing…but I do want you to think about how you are going to deal with comments. Will you allow them at all? I do…one of my favorite parts of the blog is the comments I get, especially when people respectfully disagree with me. I’ve learned a lot that way! Will you moderate them (review them before they are published)? If you don’t, you’ll have a lot of ads…I get (and reject) them every week.

Okay, start writing. 🙂 I recommend that you write two weeks worth of the blog before you publish your first post. If you figure you are posting one post a day, write fourteen posts before you put the first one up. Two weeks is enough of a buffer so you won’t fall behind. If something else sparks you while you are in the middle of the fourteen, that’s fine…write  about that. You just don’t want to feel the pressure in the beginning, while you are finding your footing.

Part of writing the blog is thinking about the content. Will you just write articles yourself? Will you do interviews? Will you have guest writers? There are a lot of possibilities.

Now, pick a platform. As I mentioned, I use WordPress…it’s pretty simple to use,  and seems to work reasonably well and reliably. It’s been around for a long (knock virtual wood), which suggests stability for the future.

Perhaps part of that decision: if you are going to monetize it, how will you do that? Will you take paid advertising (like Google AdSense, or other ads)? I’ve chosen not to do that….if you ever see ads on the website, WordPress put them there, not me. 🙂 Will you do paid subscriptions, perhaps through Amazon (that works well for me)? Will you ask for donations? Will you be an Amazon Associate, so you can get paid when people follow links from your blog and then buy something?

You’ll also have to decide how you will promote the blog. Social media? If you don’t have a Twitter account, will you start one? Will your blog have a Facebook page? Are you going to promote the blog by offering your expertise…if so, where?

Once the blog is running, how will you evaluate how it is doing and make adjustments in order to improve it? You’ll get stats…you’ll probably get so many of them that you can become addicted just to looking at them. I don’t pay much attention to those…I do look from time to time. If I was trying to make my living just on my blogs, I’d pay more attention to it. I do poll my readers from time to time…that helps.

One last thought: how will you make your writing good enough for what you want to do? I do get asked that one, although not always phrased that way. The most important thing about being a writer is writing. 🙂 You become a better basketball player by playing a lot. You become a better writer by writing a lot. However, the second most important thing is reading. Writers read, it’s that simple. That doesn’t mean you are going to copy what someone else is doing, but you may find rhythms of speech that you like, and you’ll recognize what makes you feel good when you read it.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Writing a blog, especially a daily one, isn’t like writing a book. That would be like comparing your casual conversation to your doctoral dissertation. 😉 They are two different types of communication. Some people may spend a week when writing a book on one page…and I write the equivalent of something like four pages a day. Naturally, it won’t be as polished…but for many blogs, that’s part of the charm. It’s more like a conversation than a lecture, and readers like feeling the spontaneity and emotion.

Well, I hope that helps! Blogging is a big part of my life, and helps fulfill it. I think it makes me a better person, which helps with my relationships, both at home and at work. When I help someone, that makes me feel good…and that’s a good influence on how I treat others. 🙂

If you have more questions about blogging, or comments about what I’ve said (you may be wiser on part of this than I am), 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 our new 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.

Omnivoracious: the Amazon Book Review…and an update on Kindle Scout

March 18, 2015

Omnivoracious: the Amazon Book Review…and an update on Kindle Scout

Amazon has quite a number of free

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

I’ve mentioned those before, and I do subscribe to a bunch…looking at that page (in my top right corner), it’s twenty-nine! You can also unsubscribe at the link I gave you above.

For example, there are 19 in the Kindle section…you can subscribe to find out about the Kindle First books, books for kids of different age ranges, science fiction and fantasy: it’s a wide variety of choices.

I do, of course, list the Kindle First books in this blog, too, if you don’t want to get more e-mail. 😉

One of the nicer ones which Kindle readers might enjoy isn’t in the Kindle category, though.

In fact, it’s not even in the “Books” category (which was the second place I tried, after Kindle).

It’s under blogs (those are blogs created by Amazon). It’s called Omnivoracious, and it’s their “Amazon Book Review”.

Well, what prompted this post was finding that they’ve done quite a nice looking website for that blog, too!

http://www.omnivoracious.com/

Recent articles included:

  • The Polls are Open: Children’s Choice Book Awards
  • Sarah Says: I’m Format Agnostic…And Maybe You Should Be Too. I particularly enjoyed that piece, talking about how you can like p-books (paperbooks) and e-books
  • Indie Titles Perfect for the Big Screen
  • YA Wednesday: If You Were a Superhero…

You can just browse through the articles in reverse chronological order (most recent first), if you want.

However, the menu has a lot of great ways to get to what you want…and I suspect some people won’t even realize that those three colorful horizontal lines are a menu! They sort of look like a logo.

Anyway, if you click or tap that, in addition to being able to search (by title, author, or “other”…any search will search all of them), you get these choices:

  • LISTS + REVIEWS
  • Best Books
  • Literature + Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Kids + Young Adult
  • Mystery, Thriller + Suspense
  • Science Fiction + Fantasy
  • Comics + Graphic Novels
  • Romance
  • Eating + Drinking
  • AUTHORS
  • Interviews
  • Guest Essays
  • NEWS + FEATURES
  • News
  • Features
  • EDITORS
  • Sara Nelson
  • Neal Thompson
  • Erin Kodicek
  • Chris Schluep
  • Seira Wilson
  • Jon Foro
  • OMNIVORACIOUS, THE AMAZON BOOK REVIEW
  • Subscribe
  • Feeds
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Hey, I’m going to make this easier for you…well, for some of you…on the other hand you might just want to make your own choices and…

What I was going to say is I see a way to flip the articles I especially like into my free

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

If you read that, you’ll get the ones that really catch my eye. I do it in the

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

app, which I read every morning on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile*)

but they’ve also recently improved the browser interface.

For people who just see Amazon as this soulless retailing machine (and those folks are out there), it’s nice to see something like this, which shows that there are actual booklovers at Amazon…and that presumably, they are valued enough to be paid (in money and time) to write about books. 😉

Bonus update: thanks to author The Behrg, who I interviewed here:

An ILMK interview with The Behrg, author of the Kindle Scout winner Housebroken

I know that there is now an Amazon “aisle” for Kindle Scout books:

Kindle Scout aisle (at AmazonSmile)

That’s Amazon’s “reader advised” program, where readers try samples of full books, and recommend which ones they would like to see Amazon publish. I’ve written about it a few times before, and it will be very interesting to see how it does…for readers, for authors, and for Amazon.

There are nineteen titles there right now…and all of them are available through

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

except the ones that are on pre-order (which you can also do now).

You can certainly buy them, but if you a KU member, this looks like a new interesting resource. I’m not sure how the authors are compensated in this case for borrows through KU…is it the same as publishers who use Kindle Direct Publishing?

Taking a look at the one at the top in the default “New and Popular” sort, they seem to be doing well!

The number one is

The Game Master (at AmazonSmile*)

by William Bernhardt.

That’s remarkably ranked #791 paid in the Kindle store…that’s very solidly in the the top 1%, since there are over three million titles!

It’s also ranked 4.7 stars out of 5, with eleven customer reviews…and none of them under three stars.

Congratulations, William Bernhardt!

Interestingly, Bernhardt is not a first time novelist, like The Behrg…far from it. According to the bio on the book’s Amazon product page, Bernhardt has published thirty books, including the Ben Kincaid novels…and NBC is developing a miniseries based on one of them.

What’s interesting to me there is that many people may assume that Kindle Scout is designed for unknown authors, but successful authors (who presumably know the business), may find the terms lucrative enough to go through this program also.

That’s got to worry the tradpubs (traditional publishers) a bit, although publishing one book through Kindle Scout doesn’t mean they don’t want to do other books through tradpubs…this is a very new system.

If this works for Amazon, it’s another reason to use KU…and I would guess they are all available through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library as well, so that could be another boost for Amazon Prime…which I think is a very important strategy piece for Amazon.

I’ll keep my eye on how this develops…

What do you think? Will Kindle Scout succeed? Do you read Omnivoracious? Do the books tempt you towards KU…or reinforce your decision to be a KU member? 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!

* 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.

Top 10 blogs in the USA Kindle store

September 29, 2014

Top 10 blogs in the USA Kindle store

I last reported on the top ten blogs in the USA Kindle store in July of last year…and I’m a bit surprised at how much they are the same as they were.

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me too much…I don’t think this is particularly a dynamic and growing part of the Kindle store.

For me personally, it’s a very important part of my life! I’m thankful for my subscribers (thanks, subscribers!) every day. I (or I should say, “we”, since you are part of what makes this possible) have been doing ILMK for over five years now, and it is certainly my biggest creative focus.

I can’t say, though, that it is much of Amazon’s marketing or technical focus. You still can’t subscribe to blogs directly through Amazon on their tablets (or phone, for that matter)…and I don’t think there is any particular technical reason why they couldn’t do that.

I think strategically, they may just figure that blogs are a low profit item for them..but come on, when has Amazon ever cared about profit? 😉

It makes me wonder how much the EBR (E-Book Reader) market is growing, in terms of new people entering it. How many people are buying their very first EBRs?

My guess is that we bloggers in the Kindle store are largely coasting on the people who have already subscribed.

The new Kindle device product pages don’t even mentions blogs.

I’m not complaining about any of this. 🙂 I really enjoy writing this blog, and I enjoy the communication I get with readers out of it. I do feel like I’m often helping people, and that’s the best feeling for me.

Well, let’s take a look at the list:

1. (last time: #1) Free Kindle Books and Tips (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Gallagher
4.4 out of 5 stars, 161 customer reviews

2. (last time: #2) The New York Times – Latest News (at AmazonSmile*)
3.3 stars, 121 reviews

3. (last time: #3) Free books OnKindle — bestsellers, top movers, new (at AmazonSmile*)
2.6 stars, 20 reviews

4. (last time: #5): Huffington Post (at AmazonSmile*)
2.9 stars, 36 reviews

5. (last time: #4): Free books for Kindle at AmazonSmile*
3.5 stars, 29 reviews

6. (last time: #8): National Review Online: Articles (at AmazonSmile*)
4.2 stars, 13 reviews

7. (last time: #6): Kindle Nation Daily (at AmazonSmile*)
by Stephen Windwalker
3.6 stars, 41 reviews

8. (new to the top ten) Free Kindle Games (at AmazonSmile*)
by Wendy Boswell
1.9 stars, 39 reviews

9. (last time: #7) I Love My Kindle (at AmazonSmile*)
by Bufo Calvin (that’s me, folks)
4.5 stars, 39 reviews

10. (new to the top ten): National Catholic Register: News & Blogs Feed (at AmazonSmile*)
4.1 stars, ten reviews

As you can see, the top three are unchanged, in terms of title or rank. Only two out of the ten are new to the top ten. There has been a bit of shuffling, but it’s really much of a muchness.

I’m very proud to have the highest star-rating out of these bestsellers! I know I don’t please everybody every day, but I think there are a couple of strengths.

One is the amount of output, honestly. 🙂 I told myself that I’d average a 1,000 words a day in this blog, and I do that. I think that people appreciate the sheer volume. 🙂

Also, I really strive to keep it eclectic…to cover different types of things. I want it to be that at least every few days, you feel like you are getting your money’s worth (if you are a subscriber…your time’s worth for everybody else). I can’t always avoid it, but I try not to write the same sort of thing two days in a row.

For example, I know some people don’t like the “mathy” posts. I know others don’t like the humor posts. Still others aren’t really interested in reading about devices other than the EBRs (the non-Fire Kindles).

Hopefully, what happens is that somebody might see one that is “meh” to them, and the next day or the day after, see something that they particularly like.

I’m pretty confident those aren’t the only two reasons, but I do think they are something which sets this blog apart from a lot of the other excellent blogs out there.

Well, there’s the list! I’ll probably check in on this in another year or so…

As always, I’m interested in what you think. Are you reading blogs on your EBR as much as you used to do? Why do you think there are some blogs in the top ten which are so poorly reviewed? Before blogs, did you read fanzines? I know, not quite the same thing, but I think there is a line of evolution there. Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Update: I also noticed something interesting when looking at the blogs. Amazon has a listing for hot new blogs…and erotica certainly seems to be a significant part of that. I’m warning you ahead of time: the listing contains images that are NSFW (Not Safe for Work), featuring nudity.

Hot New Releases in Kindle Blogs NSFW (at AmazonSmile*)

One of these blogs’ images (without nudity, but with what would certainly have been considered a  risqué  shot at one time) appeared on the blog store homepage.

Amazon runs into people concerned about that from time to time. There are some pretty explicit images that can appear when you are shopping at Amazon. There used to be a way to turn off images entirely when using Google, which was a sort of workaround, but I’m sure that is still available…and it doesn’t stop explicit text, of course.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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 #243: under $50 Kindle, blogs on Fire

March 4, 2014

Round up #243: under $50 Kindle, blogs on Fire

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

Mindle under $50, Paperwhite under $100

“Today only” per Amazon, two popular models of the Kindle are $20 off:

Kindle, 6″ E Ink Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (Black) (what I call the “Mindle” (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the

Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

That brings the least expensive version of the Kindle down to $49, and the least expensive Paperwhite down to $99.

The twenty dollar discount still applies if you decide not to let advertisers support your purchase (if you get it without Special Offers), it’s still $20 less than it would have been. For some people, this basically means that they’ll get the “ad-free” version for the price they would normally pay for the one with ads.

It does not apply to the Paperwhite 3G.

According to Amazon, this is to celebrate National Reading Month.

This offer may not apply in your country (I have readers around the world…which is so cool!), so check the price before you buy.

This is a good deal! Having a “guest room Kindle” worked out very well for us, and you might consider that.

Does this indicate new models are coming soon? Perhaps…there have been rumors of a new Paperwhite. However, unless they release a color version later this year (which I think is a possibility), I doubt the next generation would be so much better that you’d be sorry you got this. It could have some new features, and it could be cheaper…hm, a sound-equipped Paperwhite might make me back off that statement.

Regardless, right here, right now, this is a good price.

Are Kindle store blogs finally coming to the Kindle Fires?

This blog has typically been in the top ten in the USA Kindle store (thanks, subscribers!), although we do sometimes drop to still being in the top twenty.

However, the number of subscribers went down after the introduction of the Fire tablets.

Naturally, that could be because of some factor intrinsic to the blog, but I don’t think that’s the case…my ranking hasn’t changed considerably at the same time that the number of subscribers dropped, suggesting that everybody else at the top was dropping right along with me.

I think one main reason was because you haven’t been able to have your Kindle store blogs delivered to your tablet. If someone switched to mostly using a Fire for reading, I can understand them not wanting to pay for a blog which wasn’t being directly delivered (even if it is only ninety-nine cents a month).

I am sure that some readers have continued to subscribe just to support my efforts, for which I am truly grateful.

Now, a sharp-eyed reader alerted me to something in a private comment (thanks!) which strongly suggests that situation might change!

If you go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle (at AmazonSmile)

and click or tap

Subscription Settings

you’ll see a column for “Deliver future editions to” for each of your subscriptions. There is an “Edit” link, that you can click to choose a device.

Checking those options, our Fires are now listed!

However, if I actually choose a Fire, it says:

“Upgrade Your Device

To start reading I Love My Kindle, you must first install the latest software update for HDXter. Once installed you may deliver this title to your Kindle. For detailed instructions on installing the free update please visit Kindle Support.”

My device is updated. 🙂 It just recently updated to 13.3.2.1, which is the current version.

Since that message is there, that strongly suggests that having the Fires listed is not a mistake…just premature.

Now, it’s possible that they intended to implement it with the last update and didn’t manage it somehow, and that they could abandon it…but I’m going to hold out hope (virtual fingers crossed) that this is coming soon. I hope there is a new update that also addresses the wi-fi instability (I have that) and text-to-speech stopping at some images, both of which appears to have happened after a previous update. There are a lot of things I love about my Fire, but this wi-fi thing does give me friction every time I use the device.

Apple appeals

Apple said that they were going to appeal the decision against them in the DoJ (Department of Justice) action that found them guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices.

Regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy gave me a link to an article with both a summary and the original filing:

Apple Insider post by Mikey Campbell

I waited to post about it (it was filed on February 25th) until I read at least a substantial portion of the filing…I don’t like to go just by what a summary says, and I didn’t think there was any real time pressure (or likely, surprise) here.

The filing says:

“Apple’s entry as an e-book retailer marked the
beginning, not the end, of competition.” [emphasis in the original]

Okay, that’s something you could try to argue. Were there more options from which people could buy e-books after the introduction of iBooks? Yes. Were there more price options? No.

That, for me, is key.

The Agency Model, which came into play at the same time (and the DoJ argues was…led, at least, by Apple) homogenized the prices at the existing retailers, largely eliminating price competition (which has returned, as I showed in a recent post, since the accused publishers all settled with the DoJ).

I’m often surprised by the…pugnacious language in legal filings. I always expect them to be polite and in carefully restrained language. That’s just not the case, often, and shows my own prejudices, rather than the reality. So, I’m not going to claim that this is unusual when Apple says:

“The court repeatedly applied the wrong legal standards, which led it to jump to the false conclusion of a price-fixing conspiracy from Apple’s lawful, unilateral, and procompetitive business activities.”

This next one is an important claim. The accusations included conspiracy. If Apple independently offered the same deal to multiple publishers, and if the publishers independently decided it was a good deal, that’s not a conspiracy. The issue becomes if they worked as a group to set the price the same, as I understand it:

“Apple never met or spoke with more than one publisher at a time.”

Here’s where Apple has an interesting argument:

“At those very first meetings, the court found, Apple “willingly joined” a pre-existing publisher conspiracy. Dkt326.113;
see also

Dkt326.129 (“Apple made a conscious commitment to join a scheme with the Publisher Defendants”).

This finding forms the bedrock of the court’s entire decision, and is demonstrably wrong. The undisputed record reflects that Apple had no prior dealings in the publishing industry and that everything it knew it had gleaned from public sources
— like reports inThe New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
— none of which reported on a conspiracy”

In other words, Apple is arguing that if there was a conspiracy between the publishers, they weren’t part of it.

That is actually a hypothetical possibility.

Apple could have “unilaterally” suggested a deal to each of the publishers.

The publishers could then have consulted with each other (hypothetically conspiring) to take the deal…and even suggested similar terms to Apple.

Could Judge Cote’s decision be overturned on that basis (and on their suggestions of improper use of inadmissibility, and possible prejudice)?

I think that is a possibility.

Would that bring back the Agency Model?

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think so. The publishers settled, and took deals. I believe they’d be bound by the deals, even if Apple successfully got their verdict overturned. The publishers dropped out of the case before the verdict.

I’m not 100% on that, though: if you are a lawyer, I’d be interested to hear what you think on that score.

I also think that the response to the appeal may be strong and definitive, refuting Apple’s allegations.

The beat goes on…

Amazon workers will be heard by Supreme Court

In this

Salon.com article by Andrew Leonard

it is reported that a case brought by Amazon workers is going to be heard by the Supreme Court.

The basic argument is that Amazon warehouse workers have to spend a long time going through Security, and aren’t compensated for that time.

While it might seem obvious (let’s say you have to spend three hours a week at work doing something that your employer requires you to do to have the job) that workers should be paid for that time, it doesn’t work out that way.

Suppose you are required by your employer to park in a certain lot. That lot is fifteen minutes away from your place of employment. When you get there, you clock in…they aren’t going to pay you for your time from the parking lot to the door, even though you basically have no choice.

Whether they should (in an ethical sense) pay you for that time is not the specific legal issue: it’s whether they have to do it.

The article suggests that this Court will not be likely to rule against Amazon.

If they did, I think it would just accelerate Amazon’s use of robots (they own a robot company that does this sort of thing) in the warehouses.

They might have to (in the worst case for them scenario) pay back wages to a lot of people…and then they might just say, “Fine, people are too expensive,” and get rid of a lot of staff.

Amazon has been touting the number of jobs they’ve been creating, but there is a real debate about the quality of those jobs.

What do you think? If Amazon is proven to be treating their employees unfairly at some point, and if they don’t rectify it, would that affect your shopping? Will Apple win on appeal? Would you subscribe through the Kindle store to blogs on your Fire? Would you switch the delivery of a current subscription? What new feature could Amazon release on a non-Fire Kindle that would make you want to upgrade? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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 #172: Z-Pass, International Fire & Appstore

May 23, 2013

Round up #172: Z-Pass, International Fire & Appstore

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

There’s some good stuff this time…let’s get started!

Wait a minute…I guess I do want to set the world on Fire

Amazon sent me two press releases today, and these are big news (especially for my readers around the world)!

Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9” Now Available for Pre-Order for Customers in over 170 Countries Around the World, Shipping June 13

Amazon Appstore for Android Now Open in Nearly 200 Countries Worldwide

First, it means that the

Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB

are available for order in many places around the world (but not all…while Amazon would undoubtedly like to sell everywhere in the world, and beyond if possible, it’s difficult to make the necessary arrangements in some countries, notably the Middle East).

It does not appear to include the 4G model,or the standard definition Kindle  Fire 2nd Generation.

Oh, but you can get the 32 GB versions.

It doesn’t look to me like you’ll be able to do Amazon Instant Video on them…and I’m curious about, say, Netflix.

You can do e-books, music, audiobooks, magazines…and apps.

That last one is the other announcement, and will be welcome to many people.  The Amazon Appstore is opening in even more countries than the Fire will be available. Does that make sense? Sure, the Appstore is limited to just the Fire as a market. Even where Amazon can’t sell their hardware, they can sell apps for Android SmartPhones (for example).

To celebrate this, the Free App of the Day is the very popular

Fruit Ninja

Some of you may remember Jeff Bezos demonstrating the CEO’s own limited Fruit Ninja skills at the Kindle Fire intro event.

As always, check the price before you get the app…

Enjoy!

Oh, and please let me know your experience with the Amazon Appstore if you are outside the USA and notice any significant restrictions…or advantages.

Lud-in-the Mist: a fantasy classic as a KDD

“Ranulph had always been a dreamy, rather delicate child, and backward for his years. Up to the age of seven, or thereabouts, he had caused his mother much annoyance by his habit, when playing in the garden, of shouting out remarks to an imaginary companion. And he was fond of talking nonsense (according to the ideas of Lud-in-the-Mist, slightly obscene nonsense) about golden cups, and snow-white ladies milking azure cows, and the sound of tinkling bridles at midnight. But children are apt, all the world over, to have nasty little minds; and this type of talk was not uncommon among the children of Lud-in-the-Mist, and, as they nearly always grew out of it, little attention was paid to it.”
–Hope Mirrless
writing in Lud-in-the-Mist
collected in Bufo’s The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations
category:literature
decade: 1920s

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (KDDs) is

Lud-in-the-Mist

by Helen Mirrlees, originally published in 1926 (and, I believe, not in the public domain).

Neil Gaiman and many others have praised it, and I recommend it to you (you can see above, I included it in my book of quotations). The price today is only ninety-nine cents…the digital list price is $12.95.

Borders hoarder? So sorry…

Have you been holding on to a Borders gift card, figuring you would get the value for it in the bankruptcy pay-outs?

Well, you and close to 18 million people with close to a quarter of a billion dollars worth of gift cards should get nothing for them, according to U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter, as reported in this

NPR article

Other debtors will get money, but not consumers.

This District Court is the last stop before you get to the Supreme Court, which may not happen in this case (this judge was upholding a lower court ruling).

It kind of makes you wonder if Judge Denise Cote, who has been great on so many consumer issues that involve e-books, could rule on everything. 😉

Zinio Z-pass: three magazines for $5 a month

As regular readers know, I prefer Zinio’s arrangement on subscriptions to Amazon’s Kindle Newsstand. One of the key things is that they store as many issues as you’ve had for you…unlike Amazon, which does a “rolling seven” (they store the current edition, and six previous ones: you can save them yourself, but just on the current device. Those saved issues aren’t backed up for you by Amazon).

The Zinio app is not in the Amazon Appstore, but you can “sideload” it entirely within the rules at Amazon…the information is here:

http://imgs.zinio.com/faq/kindlefire.html

They have a new deal, called “Z-Pass”. You can get a free trial for it right now (and you can read Zinio mags on other devices like PCs, for those of you without a Fire).

The basic idea is that you pay $5 a month, and you get three magazines, which  you pick out of a list of over 200 eligible titles (and these are big names).

You can add additional magazines…could be $1.50 a month, might be more if they are “premium titles”.

You can swap up to three a month…I think what this means is that you can change which one you will get the following month, not that it is an “all-you-can-eat program”.  Definitely sounds like you aren’t committed to the magazine for a year…so if yo were going to buy a car, for example,  you might get car magazines that month, and travel magazines before you go on vacation.

I’m going to check with my Significant Other, but I do think we may do this.

One more thing to note: the magazine doesn’t appear in your newsstand on your Fire…you get to it through the Zinio app. Even though you sideload it, it does appear on your apps tab and can be added to your Favorites.

Here are the

Z-Pass FAQs

and here is the main

Z-Pass website

where you can see the magazine options.

What do you think? Should consumers have gotten money for their Borders gift cards? Will you use the Amazon Appstore outside of the USA? Do you have Zinio experiences to share? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

 


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