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?
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.
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
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
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.
- 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
- 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:
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.
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