Archive for the ‘Brick-and-mortar bookstores’ Category

Round up #302: BAM goes private, Dr. Lao

July 14, 2015

Round up #302: BAM goes private, Dr. Lao

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

You can now send books to multiple devices at the same time

We are now starting to get more robust content management at

Manage Your Content and Devices (aka Manage Your Kindle) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I just noticed a big step forward!

When you go to a book and choose the action of “Deliver”, you get checkboxes for all of the compatible devices registered to your account. So, you can check several devices and deliver the same book all at once**!

That’s a nice change.

There is no limit to the number of devices you can have registered to an account (although you can’t do it for commercial purposes).

That’s great for a family. Suppose you get

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

when it is published tomorrow.

It’s certainly possible that several people on your account may want to start reading it right away (it’s going to be hard to avoid spoilers), and this makes it easier.

I should point out that while you could have a thousand devices registered to the account, usually only six of those devices can have the same book at the same time…if the number of “simultaneous devices licenses” is different from that (some books have fewer licenses, some are unlimited), it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page. This one doesn’t say anything so it’s six.

Nice to see things are still improving!

The Anderson family is buying back Books-A-Million

The second biggest USA bookstore chain is Books-A-Million…they are staying open late for Go Set a Watchman (see above), which is what you want a physical bookstore to do (I’m a former bricks-and-mortar bookstore manager).

It’s been public, but the original family is buying it back.

AL.com article by Kelly Poe

That’s not a bad thing, or an indication of trouble. My intuition is that customers won’t see much of a difference, at least for a while…we’ll see, though.

How big a deal is it to buy the second largest bookstore chain?

$21 million.

Amazon probably sneezes $21 million. ;)

Still, I think there is a place for physical bookstores, and I think many people think of BAM as having more…personality than Barnes & Noble. I’m more confident in genre specific, experience heavy stores making it, but if I had to choose between BAM and B&N keeping a bookstore chain going for the next five years, I think I’d go with BAM. I think B&N has a much bigger name and will continue to exist in some form (certainly online)…and let’s just say they may be happy that “books” isn’t part of their name…

Amazon’s Q2 2015 financials will be announced on July 23rd

It feels to me like Amazon is in a bit of a transition.

Yes, it’s a huge company, and those are hard to turn in a new direction…but Amazon’s direction has been intended to evolve for a long time. It’s not a case of them suddenly deciding to do something else, I think…but of reaching a point they intended.

I’ll be listening in particular to hear if they say anything about

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

and the

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

The former (Amazon’s subser, subscription “all you can read” service) has been around long enough to start giving us some real data.

The latter hasn’t…but interest may be becoming clear.

A recommendation: The Circus of Dr. Lao

I was looking at my main Wish List, and I do have a few books on there that I’ve read before…and which I still own in p-book (paperbooks).

Why would I want a book I already own?

In some cases, it’s because I want it for reference…looking things up in an e-book is a whole lot easier than looking it up in a p-book.

I generally don’t re-read books, although I’ve been doing that with the original (Wizard of) Oz books.

One of the main reasons I want to have them…is so other people can read them. :) We have a “guest Kindle”, and I would love to have Dr. Lao be one of the books available to people while they are here.

A while back, Amazon tried a thing where you could create lists of Amazon products and write comments about them, similar to what they do with movies and TV shows (and actors and such) at

IMDb.com

Well, I’d done a few lists…and when that feature apparently failed, they converted those lists to Wish Lists.

One of my lists was “(re)make this”, which was a list of things I thought should be made or remade into movies or TV shows.

This is what I said about Dr. Lao:

“This is a wonderfully sardonic book which has been cited by writers (including Ray Bradbury) as an inspiration for them. A circus comes to a small town in Arizona, and people don’t see what they want to see, but what they need to see. The glossary in the back is a marvel. It was adapted in an Oscar-nominate​d 1964 version (it also won a special Oscar for William Tuttle for make-up), and I do like that version…but it had a certain George Pal (the director) glossiness. Returning to the source material and amping up the unpleasantness could make for a new cult favorite movie.”

No question that this is relatively expensive (over $10), and it’s not in KU. However, you might want to add it to your Wish List, so someone else buys it for you…or track it at

eReaderIQ

where they will let you know (for free) if it drops in price an amount you choose.

It will also be interesting to see what they do on

Prime Day (at AmazonSmile*)

on Wednesday.

I could even imagine them doing a 10% off on any e-book…although the Agency Model might mess with that…they’d have to be careful about how they do it.

What do you think? Will BAM stick around? Are you ever reluctant to recommend a book because of what it costs? Do you buy books just to loan them to other people? 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!

*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! :) 

** I just wanted to say that, while I wouldn’t have used it, I figured some people thought of “one fell swoop” in this context. Well, originally, and still the way I use it, a “fell” swoop was a bad thing. It’s when a bird of prey swoops down and gets more than one prey animal at a time, like two mice. In the old days, “fell” was a synonym for evil, and that’s what it means here (from Macbeth by the way).

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.

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

June 27, 2015

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

Barnes & Noble just had a financial year end on May 2nd, and they have released the numbers.

There are some interesting indicators here, although I don’t claim to be an expert at this stuff.

Oh, that doesn’t mean that they were growing…overall, consolidated revenue year over year was down 4.9%.

However…

I think they may be making some smart moves.

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I have said all along that physical bookstores can survive, and some of them can thrive.

It’s pretty simple.

They can’t beat online in selection…you’d have to have a giant “back room”, and that would cost too much in rent (one of three major factors you are fighting: rent;  salaries; and “shrinkage”, which is shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

They can’t beat online in price…the overhead is much higher in a physical store…and it keeps getting higher.

So, what’s left?

Service and the shopping experience.

People have to want to knowingly pay more for your books, because they like you.

B&N is, for the second year, doing a “Get Pop-Cultured” event throughout July.

It mostly celebrates geeky things: Star Wars, time travel (including Doctor Who and Outlander), and manga. I thought it was more appropriate to cover it in one of my other blogs, so you can see more details here:

Geek out in July at Barnes & Noble

As a proud geek and with that bookstore manager experience, I can tell you: it looks to like they’ve put together some great IRL (In Real Life) events! People who go to them probably won’t want that branch to close.

Now, those aren’t really tied into books, although there are books for all of those. They aren’t pretending that those days are about books. During the call, Mike Huseby, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) said as reported in this

financial call transcript from Seeking Alpha

“Beyond books, our toys and games and gift merchants continue to curate and impressive selection of products that appeal to our customer base as reflected in the growth of these departments, which continue to outperform other categories. Toys and games in particular grew 16% on top of the 12% increase of a year ago.”

That’s clearly part of their future. The margin on those physical items is much higher, and there can be a very different experience in buying a game or toy in person (I also used to manage a game store).

That doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned books, even if their regular bookstore core sales did drop a bit.

One of the events, on July 13th, will feature readings of all of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

They say

“The read-a-thon will feature a variety of special guest readers, including authors and local celebrities…”

Note that it is  “local celebrities”…that’s important, and part of the formula for success. Here in the Bay Area, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the Golden State Warriors get involved, for example.

The next day will see the release of what will be one of the big books of the year

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

the first time published related novel to TKaM.

Okay, the obvious question for this blog: what about the NOOK?

It was terrible.

Device and accessory sales were down fully two-thirds for the year: 66.7%.

Digital content sales dropped more slowly, which makes sense…down 27.8% for the year.

Why does it make sense?

Even though people are largely away from buying NOOK devices, people who still have them continue to buy books for them.

As the devices fail over the next five years or so (or get lost/stolen or become severely outdated), those e-book sales and others will also decline.

Personally, I don’t expect NOOK hardware to come back strong. The e-books might find a market on other devices and other delivery systems.

The college bookstore sales (excluding new branches) were up 0.1% for the year…but  Amazon has started into that market, so that’s dicey at best.

You can read the

press release

for more details.

My guess? The NOOK disappears eventually, B&N stores stick around but morph into being less about books and more about other merchandise and events. That may be a threat to comic book stores…

In this

CNN Money chart

investors seem unimpressed…the stock was down 2.98% over the past five days.

What do you think? Will B&N survive as a brick-and-mortar? Can they transform into a Big Bang Theory friendly business…and should they? Will books continue to be part of their brick-and-mortar business…in a way bigger than they are in your typical comic book store? Will you go to their events (maybe James Patterson day on the 26th)? Whither the NOOK? Are you over B&N or would you be sorry to see them go? 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!

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 #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

May 16, 2015

Round up #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

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

“Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying”

I’m a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I follow the world of e-books quite closely.

I’ve long said that independent bookstores have a place in the future.

There are a few caveats to that.

People have to like the experience of going there so much that they are willing to pay more money than they would pay at Amazon (or Costco, to name a couple of alternatives) just to support you.

That’s right: they have to willingly pay more.

Do people do that?

Sure!

We have to get our fence replaced.

Its’ been falling down for some time…oh, not literally falling, but leaning and in bad shape.

It doesn’t help that our two little terriers want to look out and see people…so they keep pulling a plank out of it.

Yep, the pair we call collectively “Butterscotch Chaos” (I say that’s their “band name”…and my Significant Other and I are roadies) actually can remove the plank.

They could easily jump through at that point, but they don’t.

Still, it’s not good to have a plank out, and I tried to get it to stay where they couldn’t do it.

I’m not at all handy, but I figured I could nail it to the two planks next to it.

You guessed…three planks out. :)

At any rate, we need it replaced.

We are going to pay a company more than we might somewhere else, because we have used them before and like the people.

For one thing, they were totally cool with the idea of putting in a “dog window”…in fact, they said they had done it before!

We like them: we are willing to reward them for doing a good job and, quite simply, for being nice. My guess is that we will actually pay maybe a couple thousand more dollars than the cheapest other bid we’d be able to find (they are also doing a lot of yard clean-up…removing baby trees, trimming hedges, that kind of thing).

That’s what independent bookstores have to do.

They can’t beat Amazon on selection.

They can’t beat Amazon on price.

They have to win on service and on shopping experience…with an emphasis on the latter.

This

The Daily Beast article by Joanna Scutts

talks about the state of independent bookstores in the USA today, and specifically, about this year’s first “Independent Bookstore Day”.

There are several success stories in the article, and this quote from Samantha Schoech of Independent Bookstore Day:

“In reality more bookstores have opened than closed in the last couple of years in the U.S.”

I think generic bookstores (large chains, the “dinostores”) may be doomed (or at least, books will become a minority of what they sell), but bookstores with personality? They can survive.

Amazon readying general Echo release?

I’ve noted that the

Amazon Echo

product page is now indicating an in-stock date of July 10th (less than two months away).

They’ve shown in-stock dates before without it resulting in a general release…but they also aren’t doing the invitation route any more, so there really isn’t much of a reason to say it is “in-stock” for that group.

I just got an e-mail which seems like another strong indicator to me that it is releasing soon.

I was invited to make a video testimonial about my experiences with the Echo.

People who do have to have availability for an in-person interview from May 29th to June 1st.

The only likely reason I can see to collect video testimonials is to use them to promote the product (that’s made clear in the e-mail).

You aren’t likely to be promoting what you aren’t selling. :)

By the way, I decided to go ahead and publish an embryonic page I’m making, called

Alexa says

If you are curious about the Echo’s conversational abilities, that should help. :)

I’m guessing that before release we may see: the ability to play Audible audiobooks you own (that could be a licensing issue); the ability to control a Fire TV (and, less likely, a Fire TV stick); and possibly multiple alarms (maybe even recurring alarms, which would be nice).

There are quite a few other things we could see:

  • They could admit that you can text with it (you can do that now using If This Then That, but it’s definitely a workaround…you have to add something to your To Do or Shopping List)
  • Text-to-speech for books. One easier implementation I could see would be to parallel the “Alexa, tell me a joke” format. You could say, “Alexa, read me a story,” and it could give you a public domain short story. I think it’s less likely that we see text-to-speech with books you own that are not in the public domain, but maybe eventually
  • Movie times. Amazon owns IMDb which does that, so that makes it more likely
  • Shopping for non-Prime items
  • Shopping for items you haven’t bought before
  • Ad hoc travel times…you give it a destination verbally. Right now, you have to put in one route in the app
  • Firefly: Amazon’s song/video recognition. It wouldn’t be the visual recognition of objects, of course

Those just some things.

We could also see some very interesting third party apps.

Something I don’t expect is new Echo hardware before the end of the year. Some people think that will happen: I think it’s unnecessary. I think the hardware as it is is good enough for a first release…and that’s what we’ll have this year.

I also think they may limit the shopping part of it to Prime members, initially. That’s simpler, for one thing, but it’s also an inducement to get Prime.

Over $110 in free apps

I’m glad I started with a book story, because I just did an Echo story and now I’m going to one about apps.

That’s not the normal plan, but it just worked out that way today.

I have to do this one soon, because it is a limited time thing…in fact, it ends tomorrow (Saturday, May 16th).

Amazon is giving away a bunch of normally paid apps.

They do this from time to time…and there are usually some good ones in there. :)

I pretty much get all the ones I don’t have. With apps, you can just store them in the Cloud, if you want: you don’t need to take up any memory on your device unless you want to use one.

Titles include:

  • Star Traders 4X Empires Elite
  • Bike Race Pro by Top Free Games
  • Bloons TD 5
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD (Fire Edition)
  • Highrise Word Heroes+
  • Cooking Dash Deluxe
  • SUPER WHY ABC Adventures: Alphabet
  • ShutterFolio
  • Rebuild
  • Time Mysteries 2: The Ancient Spectres (Full)
  • Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere
  • Empress of the Deep: The Darkest Secret (Full)
  • Mini Golf Mundo
  • Star Command
  • Angry Birds Seasons (Ad-Free)
  • Sorcery! 3
  • True Booster | Speed Cleaner
  • Smart Office 2
  • Photo Studio
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3
  • Game of Thrones
  • Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson
  • Genius Scan+
  • G-Stomper VA-Beast Synthesizer
  • Language Coach

and quite a few more!

The display of this is a little weird…I’m not seeing an easy way to get them all on one page, but it’s definitely worth exploring. They appear to almost all be four stars (out of five) and up, and some have more than a thousand customer reviews.

Little Free Library Book Drive on Saturday, May 16th

We have a Little Free Library in our neighborhood.

I think these are really cool!

It’s just a little birdhouse sort of thing that people build and put outside.

Other people put free books in there, and you can take whatever books you want.

Saturday is their third anniversary as a non-profit, and they are doing a book drive, specifically for children’s books:

http://littlefreelibrary.org/this-began-because-of-my-mom/

If you post a picture of yourself dropping off books with the hashtag, #givebooks, you might win something…but that’s clearly not the main reason to do this. :)

I don’t usually give away my books, but I may look for something (or maybe buy something to give).

I won’t take a picture, though. Same reason I won’t do one of those video testimonials.

I’ve been on TV in the past, and used to go out and do more public stuff (radio and such).

Now, I like that we can be known on the internet for what we think and how we say it, rather than who we are physically.

That just means I don’t tend to promote myself as a physical identity, and that includes being in pictures. :) There is at least one photo labeled as being of me on the web which isn’t, so even if you do look me up, it’s not reliable.

If you want to post your picture doing this, or do a video testimonial for the Echo, though, I whole-heartedly endorse that! I love to see my readers get out there…those who want to do that. I also love my readers who prefer, like me on this blog, to be incorporeal. ;)

Update: thanks to reader Susan Cassidy for a comment which helped improve this post.

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

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.

A bookstore just for indies

April 28, 2015

A bookstore just for indies

I’ve seen a lot of bookstores in my time.

From a mega-used-bookstore in San Francisco’s Tenderloin (Albatross) to tiny-hole-in-the-walls that specialize in just one genre to dinostore chainstores, I’ve spent a big chunk of my life in them.

Of course, I’ve got a bit of an advantage there: I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore. :)

One thing I haven’t seen a lot in bookstores, though?

Independently published books.

Oh, I would have authors bring them to me in the bookstore and want us to carry them, but it just didn’t make sense.

One of the first things I would ask them was something like, “If I wanted one hundred more copies here tomorrow, could you do that?” The answer was universally “no”.

In a bookstore, you need that flexibility.

You are fighting three main things in a physical bookstore: rent; salaries; and “shrinkage” (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

If something is hot (maybe because the author appears on a local talk show) you need copies…now. Not a week from now, but right away.

Those indie (independently published) authors would sometimes want me to take a book on consignment.

That would mean that I wouldn’t pay anything for it unless it sold.

That seemed to think that would mean that I couldn’t lose anything by having their book on my shelf.

Well, I would.

I still had to pay for the rent. If that book didn’t sell for a week, I paid the rent for that space for nothing.

I still had to pay for salaries. My employees had to shelve the book, merchandise it (make it look neat…people don’t always put books back carefully), dust them, sell them, handle returns…the combination would of the last two would be particularly costly (and not just in money…if a customer really didn’t like the book, it could hurt our relationship).

There was still the risk of shoplifting (shockingly common in bookstores, at least in those days) and damage.

They also didn’t get that the traditional publishers generally guaranteed me I could sell the book. If I didn’t sell it, I could return it for credit. That’s not how consignment functions, but it can be pretty equivalent in terms of risk.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to carry indies…it just didn’t make economic sense.

That’s why I’m impressed with the idea reported in this

Publishers Weekly story by Judith Rosen

It’s about the

Gulf Coast Bookstore

which has a different business model.

What happens is that authors “rent a shelf” for three months for $60 (plus a $15 set up fee).

The authors get 100% of the sale price of the book.

It’s sort of like…having a “chair” in a beauty salon. :)

I think it’s a cool idea, and it’s a bookstore I would like to visit.

I’m guessing that the owners have figured out their “nut”, what they have to make to make a profit.

Since they are fully booked at this point, I’m guessing they are doing okay. :)

For that to continue, though, they’ll need to keep the shelves rented…and that’s going to depend on the success of the indies.

It’s a reasonable price point…but the authors/publishers also have to do the restocking. I’m assuming for most authors/publishers they’ll have someone else (maybe a relative) do that…you can’t do the “hustling” as an indie author if you have to go to the store every day to “face” the books (turn the covers so they face the customers, when there is room).

There’s more to the article, which shows that the owners have thought about this, and how to keep the store interesting. I recommend you read it.

I have to say, though, I don’t think I would enjoy managing a store like this.

I liked curating the collection. I liked recommending specific books to people. I liked the excitement of juggling what was on the shelves…moving something over here, putting this with that, see that constant shuffle of titles, and watching some rise to the top.

Still, I can see a market for shelf-rental locations like this.

One thing I didn’t like?

I couldn’t see a way to buy the books online from the store.

I get that it changes the nature of the relationship a bit to do that, but I don’t see a reason why that couldn’t have a more traditional set up with the bookstore getting a cut of each book sold. You could still make it that the publisher has to fulfill the orders…the bookstore would just provide a link to the books, and get…well, it would be an advertising fee, really.

Seems like that might be an additional factor which would make it more dynamic.

Bonus deal: three Fire tablets on sale

Amazon’s having a limited time sale right now on three Fire tablets:

I’ve seen people describe this as a Mothers’ Day sale…although buying the kids’ edition for your Mom seems…atypical. ;)

These are good prices. The Fire 7 is the larger of the current models, and has a front camera and a rear camera (which mine doesn’t). However, mine does have Mayday (the almost instant onscreen tech help), and the Fire 7 doesn’t. That could be an important feature if your mother isn’t comfortable with technology. Many Moms are, of course, but some aren’t.

The Kids’ edition might be a good gift as we are going into the summer. It’s ruggedized…if you are going on a trip, that might be important. It could also make a great graduation gift…not from high school, but younger. :)

I don’t know how long these prices will last, but enjoy!

What do you think? Would you go to a bookstore just of indies? Do you think those will succeed? If you are an author and/or publisher, would you want to try that? Do you see a franchise opportunity here? 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.

Barnes & Noble gives you a reason to go to a store…500K signed copies

November 25, 2014

Barnes & Noble gives you a reason to go to a store…500K signed copies

While Amazon could hypothetically do this online, and Barnes & Noble could have made the books available online (but didn’t), this is a bold move.

According to this

press release

Barnes & Noble will have 500,000 copies of books signed by 100 authors (including Neil Gaiman, Amy Poehler, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Anne Rice) available just to instore customers.

That’s not a lot of them per store: on average, 5,000 per author (but it may not have an even distribution) and they have about 700 stores (assuming the college stores don’t get any). That comes out to about seven copies per store per title, again assuming they were evenly distributed (which they won’t be).

Bottom line: I would expect the big names to sell out within the first hour.

You can see all the authors and books here:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/black-friday-weekend-signed-editions/379004363

Again, I think this is a clever move…although I suspect we’ll see many of them for sale on Amazon afterwards from third-party sellers. That and eBay and such.

They will make good gifts: there is something special about an autographed copy, and while there are technological ways to do that with an e-book, it isn’t the same.

Unlike some people, I’m not convinced this is B&N’s last holiday season as a brick-and-mortar (I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager). They are making some effective moves into things other than books, and there is more profit in the toys and games (I also managed a game store at one point).

Continuing to compete with Amazon on books? That’s a significant challenge. Staying in business as a main street retailer? That’s a possibility.

Once the Amazon Echo gets more integrated with shopping (especially outside of Amazon), that will give all brick-and-mortars more of a challenge.

Imagine this:

“Alexa, can you buy a signed copy of Gone Girl and send it to my cousin Pat?”

Alexa: “Sure. I can have it there in three days for twenty-five dollars or in two days for $30.”

“Okay, go ahead.”

If that happened, would you care where the Echo got it? Probably not. As I picture it, that store would pay Amazon a cut for arranging the sale, keeping your price low.

That’s what Amazon wants, in my opinion: to become the infrastructure of consumerism.

For this Black Friday, though, I think the promotion will work for Barnes & Noble…at least for that first hour. I suspect we’ll hear that Amazon won the season, though.

What do you think? Do you have any signed copies? I have one signed by Kirk Alyn (the serial’s Superman), who signed it for me at a convention. It’s a bit of a surprise to me how valuable that seems to me. Do you think this will extend to other sales for B&N on Friday (when these become available)? What will B&N look like in the holiday season of 2015? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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 #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

September 30, 2014

Round up #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

Attacking Amazon

Rage is all the rage right now. ;)

Even though I expect the

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

to do very well, and we are getting the Family Library (sharing books across accounts…although, presumably, in a limited fashion), and I bet we are going to get more cool services from Amazon in 2014 (expanding Firefly, the “real world recognition” software from Amazon is part of that…I find I’m using it pretty often to identify an actor on a TV episode, and to enter food into MyFitnessPal (at AmazonSmile*)), this is year where Amazon has been under attack…and I expect some of those aggressions are going to leave a mark (at least for a while).

Four years ago, I was writing about how super agent Andrew Wiley was in conflict with Random House over Wiley bringing e-book versions exclusively to Amazon.

Wylie riles

Now, Wylie has this to say:

If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.”

I guess it’s a good thing Random House got Wylie to back down…wouldn’t have wanted to see the poor thing get caught up in such a den of iniquity. ;)

Just kidding: I’m sure Andrew Wylie would say that Amazon isn’t the same place it was four years ago…and that Random House didn’t make the agent change any plans.

Then there is this

Salon article by Jim Hightower

which three ups Wylie by giving us “4 ways Amazon’s ruthless practices are crushing local economies”.

Hightower says:

“Amazon is insidious, far more dangerous and destructive to our culture’s essential values than Walmart ever dreamed of being.”

You see? It’s not just our literary culture, it’s our culture’s essential values.

I say it’s time to get the pitchforks and torches and storm the castle! Oh, we don’t have any pitchforks and torches? Here, I’ll 1-click some…we’ll be ready in two days. ;)

The 10 commandments of a book lover

The ever reliable EBOOK FRIENDLY has this

article by Ola Kowalczyk

with an image by Brittany Foster of ten commandments of a book lover.

I don’t agree with all of these, but I think it’s a fun graphic…and I wanted something fun after the first story.

I’ll just list one to whet your appetite:

“Thou shalt have more book covered surfaces in thine residence than not.”

Banned Books Week

Last week was Banned Books Week

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

and I realized I didn’t write anything about it.

Well, I could say that I did and it was censored, but that wouldn’t be true. ;)

I have written about it in years past, and I think readers know…I would always err on the side of openness. I would rather that someone reads something they “shouldn’t” than that ten people aren’t allowed to read something they should.

I believe that you want people exposed to ideas that you don’t like. It’s the only way they can judge them…you don’t want to be sprung on them when they aren’t expecting it.

For me, I’d say, “Let the hate speakers speak.” I don’t like it…I’m even thinking I was too harsh on Andrew Wylie in the first story (even it was in fun). However, hateful ideas are a bit like vampires…sunlight destroys them. If somebody thinks that all of x group should be hurt in some way, I want to know that before they do it…not after. I want the power of laughter and rational thinking to be unleashed. I want to give their opponents an opportunity to challenge the ideas in open forum.

There is an argument for age appropriateness for me. My feeling is that once your sense of right and wrong is reasonably established, a book advocating “evil” things won’t make you evil…but you may be open to a book advocating “good” things, which can make you a better person.

I’m always surprised, though, when families don’t want their children exposed to ideas different from theirs (I’m not talking about porn, here, but philosophical differences). It always makes me think that you must not consider your ideas to be very strong, or your child to have much respect for you.

I wanted our child to choose our ideas because the kid agreed with them…not because there was no other choice offered. We don’t agree on everything now that our kid is an adult, of course, but some of our fundamentals are the same…and we can accept the differences.

If you’ve never seen differences, how can you possibly accept them?

My First Bookstore

This

Huffington Post article by Celeste Ng

is an interesting remembrance, and comparison of the bookstore experiences of our youths with those of being a parent.

I don’t remember which was my first bookstore…because there have been so many.

I would go into a bookstore and spend hours there (and no, I’m not talking about when I managed one). ;)

I think I remember most dusty, cramped, used bookstores…there was such a hope there that you would discover a long lost treasure, a book that might change your world.

Oh, I haven’t told you this before…and it’s one of the weirder things in my life.

There was a comic book/science fiction store I would visit. On more than one occasion, I swear I would arrive there before I left.

I even demonstrated that to people. We’d leave the house at, say, 3:15, and get there at 3:05 (I think the trip should have been about twenty minutes, as I recall).

It made sense in a sci fi way, but I couldn’t quite explain it.

I’m sure that will surprise some of you, because I think I sometimes come across as very scientifically based…and this certainly doesn’t fit in with science. :)

My best weird story like that was in high school.

I had a history teacher I liked…we got along well. I remember asking if I could teach the causes of the Civil War one day, and was allowed to do that…it went very well.

So, one Friday, this teacher told a joke in our class: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” Yes, they do…fruit flies like all kinds of fruit. :)

I thought that was funny, and repeated it to friends.

Monday morning, the teach told the same joke. The teacher looked and me and said, “You’re not laughing.”

I said, “I thought it was funny on Friday.”

The teacher denied telling it on Friday…and the rest of the class denied hearing it. I was thinking they must have forgotten it, and then the teacher said, “It was in Herb Caen this morning.”

Herb Caen was a famous San Francisco area columnist, and I checked…sure enough, it was there Monday morning, and not Friday (I’m not sure I have the particulars right, but the basic story is right).

The people to whom I’d told it Friday? They remembered me telling it to them…and telling them I’d heard it in that teacher’s class.

Interesting that it was that joke…seems apropos.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite childhood bookstore? What made it special? Will Amazon shrug off the criticism? Will it drive them to give us more practical benefits…or eventually crush them or cause them to raise prices? What if you couldn’t take your child to a bookstore…would spending time online with them looking at books be similar? Would going to a public library be the same? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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.

B&N & B-A-M

August 31, 2014

B&N & B-A-M

What happens in the brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) is going to affect us Kindleers.

Right now, the publishers are still more interested in what happens in the bookstores than what happens online, although that is going to change.

If (as?) the bookstores become less of a market factor, the power of Amazon (and other e-tailers) will grow in negotiations with publishers…or at least, with tradpubs (traditional publishers).

When you are looking at the bookstore chains that are still operating in the USA, you look first at Barnes & Noble, and then at Books-A-Million.

That made this

24/7 Wall St. article by Douglas A. McIntyre

interesting, especially its title: “Barnes & Noble Shares Outperform Amazon”.

Now, the share price doesn’t tell the whole story of a company…but it is one measure of performance.

This short excerpt may make you take notice:

“Since the start of 2014, Barnes & Noble’s shares have advanced over 50%, while Amazon’s have fallen 20%.”

However, we are really talking about different scales. Barnes & Nobles’ current share price is $23.86…Amazon’s is $339.04.

Still, that article makes the point that investors may really be pressuring Amazon to start making more profit, which could mean a raise in prices and/or more fights with suppliers to try to keep costs down.

When you look back over five years instead of just one year, Amazon is crushing B&N…but this recent trend is not insignificant.

As for Books-A-Million, its recent financials sent the stock down.

I think this

Seeking Alpha article by Josh Arnold

offers a thoughtful perspective and a good analysis (note: you will need to complete a free registration to read the entire article).

Bottom line: Arnold does not view this stock as a good investment, and sees a bleak future for the company.

I read quite a bit of news on bookstores, and my sense is that some smaller, independent stores with unique “personalities” are doing quite well. What I call the “dinostores” (the big stores where the main attraction is the size of the selection) aren’t.

I’ll give my advice again to bookstore owners: you have to make the experience such that your customers will willingly and knowingly (and cheerfully) pay more to buy a book at your store than they would at Amazon, because they want to support you.

People will support customer service, they will support expertise, they will support a pleasant and unusual experience while shopping…and they may support you because of your “story”.

You won’t beat Amazon on price or selection…and beat your expenses.

It’s pretty simple: if you can’t tell me why people will pay more to shop at your store than at Amazon, you are going to have a tough time making it. If you can, and you are right, your future is bright.

What do you think? Do you shop at the dinostores? Are there other stores that you do patronize? Are you wondering why I didn’t mention Half Price Books? Well, I can answer that…it’s a privately held company, so I don’t have comparable stock price information. ;) Tell me about a store (not necessarily a bookstore) where you wanted to give them extra money over the price you knew you could get somewhere else…and why that was the case. You can share your thoughts with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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 #252: new Star Wars novels, losing out on magazine access?

May 4, 2014

Round up #252: new Star Wars novels, losing out on magazine access?

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

Amazon.com editor, Jeopardy champ…bookstore owner

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I had a publisher’s rep who would come into the store who was a five-time (that’s as far as you could go back then) Jeopardy champ.

We’d have some fun with trivia…I could certainly hold my own.

When I was watching an episode recently, I missed one question…the entire game. :)

People often ask why I don’t go on Jeopardy myself. Well, I know enough to know that a lot of us has to do with the buzzer. There are many times when all three people appear to know the answer…but one person rules the buzzer and wins the game.

There’s not good way to judge your buzzer skill before spending your own money to do the audition process (which might entail multiple trips, at a cost of thousands of dollars).

Do I think I’d be good on the buzzer? Well, I’m a former conga drummer, and I’ve been tested at typing in the 90s (words per minute), so my guess is I’d be pretty good.

However, I also always say you could run into somebody who is a Jeopardy playing mutant (like Ken Jennings). Clearly, I’m joking, but the suggestion is that you might have an opponent who is exceptionally good at Jeopardy…and perhaps flawed at others of life’s  endeavors. ;)

One thing I would guess is true of all substantial Jeopardy champions, though.

I would bet they are all readers.

That’s why it’s not too much of a surprise to me that this

MyNorthwest.com article by Zak Burns

reports that Tom Nissley is buying a bookstore, partially with Jeopardy winnings.

Running and/or owning a bookstore isn’t easy. Many years ago, someone we knew asked me to speak with their adult kid who was planning to open a bookstore…you know, share my sage advice. :)

By the time I’d gotten done explain the realities of the business, including the ten percent “shrinkage” (damage/employee theft/shoplifting) factor, my listener decided not to do it.

I think that might have surprised the parents…they just expected some sort of pep talk, I think, and a few tips.

I never felt like I “crushed the dream”…I just told about the reality. Dreams and realities can co-exist…as long as they both realize they are living in the same house. ;)

Did the name “Tom Nissley” sound familiar? Another interesting part of this is that Tom Nissley was a books editor at Amazon for ten years, and started their Omnivoracious books blog.

Add up the add-ons

Marge Holz, one of my readers, pointed something out to me about add-on items and Amazon.

According to Marge, and confirmed by this

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

you can do an order entirely of add-on items. A lot of people haven’t liked add-ons, because it seemed odd that you couldn’t just buy it if you wanted to do that.

According to the page:

“Include the Add-on Item in an order that includes $25 or more of items shipped by Amazon.com (including items sold by other sellers and shipped by Amazon). This order can include a mix of Add-on Items and other items shipped by Amazon, or be entirely made up of Add-on Items.

That does make it a lot easier to get them.

While I’m not seeing a place at Amazon that has only add-on items, I did try this search through Google:

===

site:www.amazon.com “This item is available because of the Add-on program”

===

That seemed to work pretty well…you could add a more specific name to the search, like “battery”, and find them that way. I’m sure there are tons of  false positive (search results that really don’t match up), but it still might be helpful.

Thanks, Marge!

Managing your Amazon Instant Video lists centrally

One thing I really like about my

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

is that you can remove items from “Recently Watched”, similar to removing them from the Carousel on a Kindle Fire, like my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

Well, after I had removed some things from the Fire, I was a bit surprised to see them still on the Recent list on our Roku!

I’m noticing some of that: you manage the Fire on the Fire, again a bit similar to managing a Kindle…it doesn’t necessarily affect the central storage.

So, I chatted with Amazon support…and got a great answer!

You can go to this page:

Amazon Instant Video Lists (at AmazonSmile*)

and remove things from history!

Who knew?

You can also see a list of “what’s up next”…those appear to be the next episodes/season of TV series you’ve watched, and movies you haven’t finished. I assume that’s what informs the Fire’s ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) feature. That’s what lets a video start with no buffering.

You can also remove things from there, if you want.

I don’t think you can remove from the recently watched on Netflix.

This, by the way, is an example to me of one of those great features Amazon has…but they don’t promote it or let you know about it very well. I see the same questions over and over again in the Amazon Kindle forums, in part because Amazon just doesn’t communicate to consumers as well as they could (in my opinion).

Access to Kindle edition of some magazines ending on KF1s?

There are understandably some upset Amazon customers in this

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile)

What’s being reported (and my intuition is that this is accurate) is that people who were getting a Kindle edition of a magazine to which they had a print subscription are no longer able to access it…on Kindle Fire 1st generations.

That would certainly feel like a takeaway!

I had a subscription like that on my KF1. We subscribed to the paper edition of Entertainment Weekly. We were then able to get the Kindle edition for free. We eventually got them to stop sending the paper edition.

Not too long ago, on March 21st, I wrote about how the magazine app had been converted to a newsstand subscription…and how that was better.

However, it appears that the newsstand edition we’re receiving may not be compatible with first gen Kindle Fires (I read it on a Kindle Fire HDX).

I don’t quite get that, though. I checked, and I’m not finding the EW app in the Amazon Appstore any more.

However, the subscription is available…and it says it is compatible with:

  • Kindle Fire Tablets
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″
  • Kindle Fire HDX
  • Kindle Fire HD(2nd Generation)
  • Kindle Fire HD(1st Generation)
  • Kindle Fire(2nd Generation)
  • Kindle Fire(1st Generation)

If they simply eliminated the app, why can’t people get the newsstand subscription on the KF1s, if it actually is compatible?

There was debate on the thread about whose fault is was…Amazon’s or the publisher’s.

It seems to me that what may have happened is that a publisher which was giving a free Kindle edition (through an app) now requires you to pay for both the paper edition and the digital if you want both. We’ve only been paying for digital, which would be why we were converted. If you’d been paying for paper and getting the digital as a perk, that may have stopped.

Hopefully, we’ll get something more official than my speculation above.

New Star Wars novels coming

Today is Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with you.”). I wrote a piece about it in another blog of mine, The Measured Circle:

Happy Star Wars Day: the original trilogy is less than 10% of Star Wars

Since Disney bought the property, some things have been up in the air. One issue was Star Wars novels, which tend to get on the New York Times bestseller lists…and having sold 100 million of them would not be an unreasonable guess.

It’s just been announced, as reported in this

Publishers Weekly article

that Disney and Del Rey are doing a new series of adult Star Wars novels. The first of them can be pre-ordered now, for delivery on September 2, 2014:

A New Dawn: Star Wars (at AmazonSmile)

It’s by John Jackson Miller (who has written in the Star Wars universe before). Text-to-speech is not blocked…but I have to say, at $13.99, it’s on the expensive side…

What do you think? Would you buy and open a bookstore in this day and age? Are you affected by the magazine thing…if so, what (if anything) are you going to do about it? Do you buy add-ons? Do you agree with me that Amazon should do a better job of helping customers understand what benefits are available to them through Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

New! 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 #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

April 4, 2014

Round up #248: write your way to a Kindle Fire, “me-colored glasses”

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

“I’m not at Liberty to pay…”

“‘By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,’ Mr. Maffei said in a statement.”
–quoted in a New York Times article by Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman

Flexibility? Yes. Capability? No.

Yes, I’m sure all that money you were giving them was reducing their choices. It’s like a parent saying, “You don’t like my rules? Fine. Then you can just get an apartment on your own and live your own rules. Of course, you might have trouble finding someone who will rent to a ten-year old…”

I don’t really see how to spin this and make it a good thing for B&N, and neither can the stock market…following the announcement, B&N’s stock took a more  precipitous  dive than an Acapulco cliff diver. ;)

CNNMoney graph

That doesn’t mean that they won’t recover…but I would be very interested to hear what people think does mean that Barnes & Noble is going to get back to robust health.

I think this does make the continued existence of Barnes & Noble bookstores as we know them today less likely (and I’m speaking as a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore).

The article was generally pretty good, but I doubt the folks at Books-A-Million liked this statement: “…Barnes & Noble, the nation’s last major bookstore chain”.

 Digitizing your paperbooks will be legal…in the UK

America’s copyright system is often relatively complex compared to many other countries’ systems.

I honestly don’t really expect us to lead on this front.

One could argue that it is due, in part, to us being so successful in creating intellectual property. Most countries in the world consume American media, even if we don’t return the favor in equal proportion. You can also see this in the use of our software.

So, I wasn’t surprised the the UK beat us to saying something that I’ve been hoping would get said here in the USA.

Starting 1 June 2014, it is legal to digitize your paperbooks (turn them into e-books) at home for your own purposes in the UK, according to this

Wired.co.uk article by Olivia Solon

This decision wasn’t specifically about p-books to e-books, but it does cover them (it also covers things like “ripping a CD” to digital).

It doesn’t allow you to do that for other people, but that’s fine. If I knew it was legal here, I’d probably start digitizing a lot more of my books (I do public domain ones now…just started on that with my new Xcanex scanner, although I did it with a flatbed for a non-profit).

I don’t think this is much of a threat to the e-book industry. Not very many people are going to scan a book when they can buy one already done and nicely formatted. I think, as would be the case with me, that it would be books that aren’t available otherwise in most cases. Certainly, some hobbyists might scan the books instead of buying them…but it would be a bit like saying that people who build their own computers are a threat to HP. It just isn’t going to be that large a group.

I hope this inspires a similar decision in the USA…

Amazon Fire TV

My Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile) should be here today. I meant to order it with one-day shipping, but apparently, in my haste (I would afraid they would sell out), didn’t click the button to switch it. That’s okay…I probably won’t really get to explore it until Saturday, and I’ll write more about it then.

Of course, many people don’t wait to explore it before they write about it.  :)

I was…intrigued with all of the 1-star reviews that showed up before almost anybody had the device. The vast majority of those were from people who didn’t have it yet.

1-star reviews for the Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

A lot of the “reviews” (I don’t believe you can actually “review” something until you have viewed it) had to do it with it missing something the poster wanted.

That just seems very self-centered to me. Its like giving Baskin-Robbins a 1-star review because, out of the 33 flavors of ice cream they have, they don’t have Banana-Coconut-Mango…and that’s your favorite! So, it doesn’t matter if their service is excellent, prices are good, and the vast majority of people who go there like their ice creams…the place sucks! :)

Now, that’s not quite a fair comparison…arguably, at $99, Amazon is not a price leader on this (they are comparable to many other devices in the category, although not the the Google Chromecast). It does seem like a very narrow focus…seeing the world through “me-colored glasses”.

One of the most commonly mentioned ones, and one that Amazon even includes in the comparison chart, is

HBO GO (at AmazonSmile)

That also messes up the analogy, because that’s a popular “channel”…it’s more like Baskin-Robbins not having strawberry ice cream. To me, that wouldn’t mean BR should get a 1-star review…there would still be a lot of good in that place, and a 1-star review is as low as you can go at Amazon.

Notice, though, that I have a link for HBO Go? That’s because you can get it in the Amazon Appstore…for your Kindle Fire.

That means that, if you have both a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and an

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile)

you will be able to watch HBO GO through the AFTV, since you can mirror the Fire to it (display what’s on the Fire’s screen on your TV). I assume that will be true: I won’t be testing that specifically, since we don’t have HBO.

The app is free, by the way.

Equally worth noting: no reason to suppose the app won’t get added directly to the AFTV at some point.

I expect AFTV’s 3.1 star average to rise considerably in the next week, once the initial flood of negative reviews by people who don’t have it is countered. Don’t know where it will get, don’t know how good the experience is yet…but I think it has been front-loaded with negativity.

If you don’t have and don’t plan to get an AFTV, does this part of this post matter to you?

A bit…it’s making some changes on the Amazon.com site, and possibly pointing to some interesting strategic shifts.

First, the AFTV appears in the Kindle “family stripe”. That’s the thing at the top of a Kindle’s product page which shows you what other Kindles are available.

If you go to a Kindle Fire’s page, you now see the Kindle Fires…then a “show all device types” illustration, which includes a Fire, a Paperwhite…and an Amazon Fire TV.

I have said many times that I wish they hadn’t named the Fire a “Kindle”, since they are such different devices…I wish they had kept “Kindle” for dedicated EBRs (E-Book Readers).

While I had suggested the “Amazon Current”, I would have been much happier with the “Amazon Fire” rather than the “Kindle Fire”.  It has created a great deal of confusion, with people wondering why they can’t read their “new Kindle” in the sun as well.

This family striping seems to be a step away from branding everything as a “Kindle”, which I think may be a good thing.

Similarly, while the links to

Manage Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

still work, the page is now branded, “Manage Your Content and Devices”.

Students: write your way to a Kindle Fire

I mentioned this briefly, but wanted to call it out more.

Amazon has a nice

student guide

to

Timebound (The Chronos Files) (at AmazonSmile)

One of the elements there is a contest:

This lesson will allow your students to write an account of an American History event as seen through a CHRONOS historian. Students can submit their work here to enter to win one of 5 autographed editions of Timebound. One lucky student will win a Kindle Fire. Submissions must be received by 12/17/2014. For more information on the content visit: http://www.chronosfiles.com/students.html.

This is, in my opinion, a good academic and creative contest. The rules will require some real research, and I see this as a legitimate school exercise.

What do you think? Should I cover the Amazon Fire TV at all in this blog? I do think I will do it some (not a lot), but I’m interested in your opinion. Will the USA follow the UK in legitimizing format shifting? Should they? What would be the impact? Were you ever given an assignment in school with a prompting question? If so, was it valuable? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* 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.

** 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.

Round up #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

March 17, 2014

Round up #244: nook drops Windows app, bookstore sales down

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

Bookstore sales down 6.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly post

bookstore sales in the US dropped 6.7% year over year for January (per the Census Bureau).

At the same time, the overall retail sector rose.

Quite simply, this is not a good sign for bookstores. What changed in 2013 that could be seen as an exceptional accelerant? Borders has been closed for longer than that. E-books aren’t new (and the growth rate for those have slowed).

I suppose that one could argue that they’d been coasting on reserves, but seriously, most bookstores don’t have a year’s worth of reserves.

I think this is a genuine indication that people are going less. I know, I know…no surprise to a lot of folks.

Speaking of that slowing e-book growth rate, this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

has an interesting hypothesis (along with some other intriguing infographic stats…I’d suggest you check out the article).

One of four possible causes given is that the Association of American Publishers (AAP) data, which is what most people use, doesn’t track e-books published by indies.

If the marketshare of indies is growing significantly, that would make it appear to the AAP that the growth rate slowed, when it may not have done so.

Looking at the USA Kindle store bestsellers, there are certainly books from tradpubs (traditional publishers) on there (The Divergent Series Complete Collection ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)) helps with that at the top), but there are also indies. I’ll have to look at that again to see if the sands have shifted.

Margaret Adams on why dystopian fiction is popular

I recommend this

Financial Times article by Margaret Atwood

about people’s fascination with dystopian (negative futures…or at least, negative societies) literature.

Atwood (MaddAddam ((at AmazonSmile))) does a nice job of putting the genre in historical perspective. This isn’t a new phenomenon, bred of economic difficulties for millenials (and the generation after).

As regular readers know, I tend to be optimistic about the future. Take a look at almost anything tangible in our lives and look back, oh, a short two hundred years. Life expectancy? Opportunity for women and minorities? Literacy rates? Infant mortality? I know that some people see a moral decay, but that’s a bit of a different question. Was an individual likely to suffer more physical misfortune two hundred years ago than they were now? Go back three hundred years or forward from my original point one hundred years (to 1914). That’s how I see the trends.

I don’t think dystopian literature becomes more popular, necessarily, when people actually believe the world is getting worse. Wouldn’t one expect that utopian literature might become more popular in fantasy/science fiction at that point, as an escape?

That might be an interesting study…

Classics or not, ya gotta sell ’em

Looks like I might need to get familiar with this site!

In this

Trivia Happy post

The post has what they claim are genuine covers (and I’m leaning towards that being true) of “pulpish” editions of classic books.

The pictures are great!

I also like the copy on this one…which book would you guess this is describing?

“This unusual book may shock you, will make you laugh, and may break your heart — but you will never forget it”

Would you believe…Catcher in the Rye?

nook discontinuing Windows app: Microsoft Consumer Reader to work with that format?

According to this

Redmond Magazine post by Kurt Mackie

Barnes & Noble has filed an amendment to an earlier statement. B&N won’t need to make a nook app for Windows, and will help with the “Microsoft Consumer Reader”.

What is that?

Hopefully, something that will do better than when Microsoft had the .lit format!

This may be something that Microsoft does that gives an app that will read your nook books and your Microsoft Word documents…heck, why not PDFs and text files, too? The astonishing thing is if they could pull anything else proprietary into it…Kobo, Kindle. I can see that as a possibility, believe it or not.

That wouldn’t have Microsoft selling the content, so it wouldn’t hurt there.

Amazon/Kobo could negotiate payments which might make it worthwhile.

Right now, you could have both the Kobo app and the Kindle app on one device…would it be that much worse for the two companies if, instead of two apps, you had one?

I think this is pretty unlikely, but it’s just something that occurred to me…and I don’t think it’s impossible.

What do you think? If Microsoft makes it so you can read nook books on a Surface (or other tablets), is nook hardware doomed? Why do people love dystopias? Do you read them? Are bookstores on an inevitable slide, or will they hit a plateau…and possibly even grow? How much are indies skewing the stats? 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.

===

* 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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,382 other followers

%d bloggers like this: