Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

March 4, 2015

Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

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

National PTA Family Reading Experience powered by Kindle

Amazon sent me an e-mail about this one, and it is fascinating!

March is National Reading Month, and while I’d like to see a lot more adults reading a lot more books, the focus is mostly on children.

The National PTA (Parent Teacher Association) has a program called the Family Reading Experience…and Amazon and the Kindle are quite involved in it:

http://www.pta.org/familyreading

In fact, I was intrigued by how involved.

This isn’t just a passive “throw some money at the problem”.

EBRs (E-Book Readers) are touted on the infographic about what encourages children to read.

Perhaps more interesting was this video, linked on the PTA page:

National PTA Family Reading Experience Engages Families in Literacy (video)

I’ve never seen a better recommendation for the Kindle as a positive force for literacy.

Recently, Amazon has gotten particularly good at promoting non-Fire Kindles for use for kids…see this page:

http://www.amazon.com/KindleforKids (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

While sailing on the sea of commerce, Barnes & Noble has been struggling to stay afloat.

They’ve certainly been trying different things, and they aren’t sunk yet.

That’s despite the NOOK, which has been a drag on their sales for some time.

We had heard that they were going to separate the NOOK business into a separate business…throw the anchor overboard.

Well, now, as reported in this

Slate post by Alison Griswold

and other sources, they’ve decided to throw the boat overboard and keep the anchor. ;)

What do I mean by that?

They are going to spinoff the Barnes & Noble Education business (the college bookstores, mostly) into its own publicly traded business.

press release

Why would they do that, when the college businesses have been the part of the three part business (college, NOOK, and retail) that is doing well? Is it because Amazon has started to move more into the college bookstore business, and there are other challengers? I don’t think so.

They way they are doing it, it is a boon to stockholders (who get stock in the new company), and that’s a good thing right now. Since they made the announcement, the stock has jumped more than 7%.

Second, well…I think it’s possible that they may want to dump the losing parts and keep that one.

Yep, sell off the bookstores…I could see that happening.

As to the NOOK…I don’t see them getting out of the e-book business, but they might get out of the branded hardware business.

Speaking of which…

They’ve also completely revamped their NOOK for Android app:

press release

Shopping will be easier (I do find that clunky even in Amazon’s Kindle store on a Fire), and you’ll be able to set up profiles and individual shelves.

I could see this kind of strategy continuing to work for the near future.

Sell books on other people’s devices, and work on the user interface so it’s enjoyable and efficient.

What’s next? A replicator under your bed?

Amazon’s already got physical delivery down to one hour (at least in Manhattan).

Amazon announces Prime Now: delivery in an hour

They’ve talked about using drones (although there are still regulatory hurdles on that).

Now, according to this

Wall Street Journal post by Greg Bensinger

and other sources, Amazon has applied for patents related to 3D printing items for customers…even from inside delivery trucks.

At this point, 3D printing is limited as to what it can produce (plastics work well…food has been done), and it takes a while to make something.

Still, I can just imagine electric Amazon trucks that just consistently cruise around neighborhoods. You’d get quite used to them. After all, electric vehicles are quiet…I drive a hybrid, and when I’m in electric vehicle mode, I still sometimes really surprise pedestrians.

A small plastic piece breaks on your printer (assuming you would still use a printer). You order it from Amazon (perhaps using your Amazon Echo).

The truck (it could even be an autonomous, self-driven vehicle) “prints” that piece and delivers it to you.

Now, would it be able to do that faster than Prime Now?

I’m guessing no.

However, as a former brick and mortar bookstore manager (and I managed a couple of other types of stores as well), the idea of not having to stock rarely ordered items is very exciting…and economically valuable.

In the bookstore, we’d had this old, yellowed, crunchy, single copy of a paperback on the shelf for years.

When somebody finally bought it, the inventory system wanted to order another one to replace. :)

That’s a place where human override was important.

We had likely lost money on that sale.

Remember that we were paying rent for the space under that book for all that time.

From time to time, employees probably had to straighten up (“merchandise”) that shelf.

If this was a book we could have returned for credit, we would have done that…but not every publisher allows it.

I could have thrown it away or donated it somewhere, I suppose, but I have faith in books. :)

This is years away, certainly.

I can also envision homes having an Amazon 3D printer in them. You order it, Amazon charges you what is basically a licensing fee for the design and maybe for the raw material (although I could see customers providing that), and it prints right then and there.

Actually, that could work quite well. You could even hold up an item to a visual scanner, and if Amazon had the deal with the “rightsholder” for that item, it could reproduce it for you.

There’s got to be some good way to tie this into gaming and toys…because that’s where innovation often happens first.

Naturally, some people may also relate this to POD (Print On Demand) for paper books…and that could work also.

What do you think? If Barnes & Noble continues as a digital enterprise, when would you buy a NOOK book rather than a Kindle book? Should the PTA have partnered with a specific company? It’s National Reading Month…why not recommend a book you think would help a child become a lifelong reader? 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! :) 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 #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

February 13, 2015

Round up #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

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

Kindle Unlimited launches in Mexico and Canada

As a publisher (I only publish my own works…which I would guess is true of most Kindle Direct Publishing authors) who has books in

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

Amazon just informed me that KU is expanding to Canada and Mexico!

That’s exciting…I like having it very much. It’s an “all you can read” plan, $9.99 a month in the USA. Here’s the link for the information page

Kindle Unlimited in Mexico

where it is 129 pesos a month, and for

Kindle Unlimited Canada

where it is $9.99 (Canadian) a month.

Chri

Echo videos from Phink, one of my readers

One of my regular readers and commenters, Phink, recently got an Amazon Echo, Amazon’s ambient computing device. It’s an always on voice input device which plays music, answers all kinds of questions, and more.

Phink has posted what I think are a couple of the best videos I’ve seen so far about the Echo. They aren’t really reviews, they are demonstrations of what the device can do. If you are interested in the Echo, I think they are definitely worth watching to see what your experience might be like.

I appreciate Phink sharing these! I’ll be happy to write about the Echo, but my delivery date still says between May 27th and July 2nd.

Publishers Weekly: No Panic Over 15 Percent Drop in Christian Fiction Sales

Christian fiction has been a strong category of seller, but from 2013 to 2014, according to this

Publishers Weekly article by Ann Byle

sales dropped 15%. The article goes on to say why the publishers aren’t worried about that…I guess they have faith. ;)

Video news

I thought I’d group a couple of things together here…a mini-round up. ;)

First, this is just odd to me, but Amazon Studios is working with Sid and Marty Krofft to do a reimagined pilot of one of their series. The Kroffts were really gonzo “kids’ show” producers in the 1970s, although they did a lot more than that.

So, what gets the reboot? The most popular H.R. Pufnstuf? The wacky Lidsville? Electra Woman and Dyna Girl? Nope…Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. This may take a lot of reimagining…Sigmund’s parents were parodies of Archie Bunker and Phyllis Diller, and I just don’t think that’s going to fly with today’s audiences. Hoping they stick with the Johnny Whitaker theme song, though. :)

press release

Second, Fire TV, which is both the

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

and the

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

have added a bunch of apps, including the much talked about Sling TV (which may enable some people to drop cable…by paying for a much more focused package), TED (great, though-provoking lectures…this one is free), and Fox Sports GO.

press release

Only 40% of 17 year olds read at least one a week for fun

I do think that e-books have enabled and encourage a lot of people to read more, but stats like the ones in this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post by Ola Kowalczyk

are troubling.

It’s nothing particularly new…as kids get older, fewer of them report reading for fun.

Part of that may be that they have to read so much more for school…a high schooler presumably has a lot more assigned reading than a nine-year old. If they are enjoying that reading, it would probably still not be reported as “reading for pleasure”.

What’s troubling is the decline across age groups since 1984.

It’s possible that there was a big decline (let’s see…video games, maybe?) for a while, and that e-books are, in fact, increasing reading.

Still, the Common Sense Media data reported on here (and shown in an infographic) is not especially encouraging. On the good side, more than a quarter of homes have an EBR (E-Book Reader…they mention Kindles and NOOKs. That would not include tables, like the Kindle Fire).

Big update for Kindle for iOS (4.7)

In this

Kindle Forum thread (at AmazonSmile*)

an update for the iOS (Apple mobile…iPhones, iPads) app is announced.

It includes eTextbooks and the “Book Browser” feature that brings you information about the book (new for iPhones).

Flipboard redesigns Flipboard for the web

This is a big improvement!

I’ve written about my free Flipboard magazines here before.

I read 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 (at AmazonSmile*)

For my readers who didn’t have Fires, though, I know the experience trying to read them in a browser on a PC wasn’t great.

Well, if you’ve tried it before, check it out again at

https://flipboard.com/

I like what they’ve done it with it: it looks much better, and seems to be less resource intensive.

Hope you enjoyed my birthday! ;)

We had a great time…we went to Point Isabel in Richmond (rated as one of the top ten dog parks in the world)…our dogs love it there! We also get about an hour walk, two or three miles. I went to doctor yesterday for an annual check-up, and to the DMV to renew my license. When I did the DMV thing, I realized that my weight is down about 55 pounds since I last did a driver’s license! I’m down about 40 pound in the last two years, thanks to the free app I reviewed here:

Review: MyFitnessPal

Well, that, and a lot of work. :) I figure another year and I’ll be in good shape.

Then we tried a new restaurant, and the food was good.

After that, we saw The Theory of Everything. That’s one of the Best Picture nominees we hadn’t seen. I thought it was good, and was glad I had done my personal

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

predictions before I saw it. When you think a movie is good, it can skew your predictions…you tend to think the Academy will like it better than you might if you had not seen it.

I also got a book…always a good thing! I’ll wait until I’ve read a bit before I say anything about it, and I’ll likely do a Goodreads review.

Hope it was a great day for you, too!

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.

 

Books as a vaccine against hate

February 8, 2015

Books as a vaccine against hate

There has been a lot of discussion recently about people who choose not to vaccinate their children.

That doesn’t seem like a particularly complicated issue to me.

I should say first, I’m not a clinician, although I have worked with them for more than a decade.

This is the way that vaccines generally work, as I understand it.

You are exposed to a version of a disease. That version might be dead, or it might be greatly weakened.

Your body develops antibodies against that disease.

It needs to know that the threat is, analyze it, and blueprint something to go against it…that’s why the vaccine exposes the person to it, but in a generally harmless version.

There is a great deal of evidence that the concept works.

There are people who are unusually at risk from the vaccine…just as there are people who are unusually at risk going into a school or a mall.

For example, a child might have a tremendously compromised immune system. Most kids do fine going to school with other children around them. They get exposed to diseases, but are able to cope with that.

An immunocompromised child might be unable to fight off those same diseases, so going to school is an unusual risk.

In extreme cases, those children might become “bubble children”, and live at home in a specially designed protective facility. Fortunately, nowadays, they may be able to “attend” school through the use of a telepresence robot. The child stays at home in the “clean” environment, and steers a robot from classroom to classroom. The robot has a screen and sensors, so the child can both see and be seen.

A child with a medical condition like might have a very strong contraindication for the same vaccine which would be beneficial for the majority of children.

Some people choose not to vaccinate their children for other reasons…religious reasons, for example.

If you think that the government should make decisions based on your religion, you may then think that the guardians of the child have the right not to vaccinate.

If that’s the case, it also seems reasonable to say that the unvaccinated child should not be in a position to expose other children.

That unvaccinated child could be a carrier of a disease (they might have the disease and be able to spread it without showing symptoms or being noticeably affected themselves). It’s possible that there is an immunocompromised child in the classroom who has not yet been diagnosed. Even a disease which would generally be survivable might be fatal to that child.

If someone is unvaccinated, it’s a risk to have them around other people, depending in part on the contagious nature of the disease. I would feel differently if the vaccine mitigated the risk of a noncontagious condition than if it did the same for a contagious one.

I understand the controversy and the emotional desire to protect your children evidenced by both sides.

I see a parallel to reading books.

Many people want to protect their children from ideas which they consider dangerous.

We talk every year about “banned books”: books which have been challenged by individuals or groups, to get them removed from school and public libraries.

There are typically reasons given. I created a pie chart of those when I wrote about Banned Books week for 2013:

Should any books be banned? Banned Books Week 2013

In my case, I want my child (who is now an adult) and other people to read ideas with which I disagree.

I think it’s much better that someone gets exposed to the ideas in the form of a book, where it is a more controlled situation than in a personal interaction. It’s much easier to set a book aside and think about it and look at contradicting ideas than it is to do that during a face to face conversation.

I’d never thought of it this way before, but it is like getting a vaccination.

By being exposed to the ideas, you can develop a defense against them (if that’s the way you go). That defense can be used when encountering it in an active situation.

I’m sure many of my readers have done that. “Actually, I’ve read such and such, and that’s not what it says.” Alternatively, “I’ve read about that: how do you answer this question?”

That seems like a similar mechanism to getting a vaccine.

Arguably, there might be people who shouldn’t be exposed to a particular idea because of an unusual  susceptibility…like the immunocompromised children above.

It might not make sense for someone to read a book with a glorified suicide (MINOR SPOILER ALERT, I’M NOT SAYING WHO OR IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES: Romeo and Juliet comes to mind END SPOILER ALERT) if they are actively diagnosed with suicidal tendencies and being treated for it.

Let’s take this analogy one step further.

If books are a vaccine against hate, is there a “herd immunity”? If more people read something hateful and develop a mental/emotional defense against it, would that tend to protect the community?

My guess is that it would.

If, say, 95% of the people in a town have already read and rejected an idea, and a person espousing that idea comes to town, I think the idea would be less likely to be able to “infect” the town successfully.

Does that mean that “protecting” your child against ideas with which you disagree is potentially putting the community at risk?

I think that’s a possibility.

For children, the guardians are part of building the “idealogical immune system”. Being open to discussing a book with your child is a great way for them to develop a response to something.

My inclination is always towards openness in terms of reading choices. If my child chose to read a book by a hate group, I would hope (and expect) that we would discuss it. That discussion would help a child build that “blueprint” of an antibody, which could then be used later in the event of a full-blown confrontation.

One last thing.

As I’m writing this, one of my challenges is thinking of what would be these dangerous ideas. I think that’s individual, and difficult to determine…so I would let a child read as many different ideas as possible: especially ones which contradict my own.

Note: there are books which are produced through harming people. For me, that’s a different thing. It is the production of the book which is the problem, and you may not choose to support that methodology. I completely understand that, and find it a reasonable position.

What do you think?

We are talking about ideas here…is preventing exposure to an idea a good thing? Under what circumstances? Do you seek out books to read which contradict your own beliefs? 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.

Kindle Daily Deal: 125 books for “kids of all ages” for $1.99 each

December 26, 2014

Kindle Daily Deal: 125 books for “kids of all ages” for $1.99 each

Today’s

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

are a great introduction to those daily bargains for those who might just be starting their Kindle journey (or perhaps I should say “Voyage”) ;), and present veteran Kindleers with some cool options.

As one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, put it:

“…Lots of great selections to start out a library for kids who got Kindles for Christmas.”

That’s true…but I have to say, that lots of adults read the books that are classified as “children’s books” as well. My tendency is to think of children’s books as ones which include that younger group, but don’t exclude the older one.

You should never be ashamed of what you read…assuming it’s legal and such. :)

Please check the price before you click or tap that “Buy” button. These prices may not apply in your country (I have readers all over the world), and they are only good today. Books can also go in and out of deals like this, although with the KDD (Kindle Daily Deal), that’s unlikely, from what I’ve seen.

Before I get to the ones they have listed as for “children of all ages”, let me point out a few others:

  • The original Ian Fleming James Bond books (now published as e-books by Amazon) are $1.99 each…not for children ;)
  • They have 43 (at time of writing) “top-rated romances” on sale. Top-rated doesn’t necessarily mean “best known”, but they can be a good opportunity to expand your horizons and discover new authors

I think it’s also worth noting that all of the above are part of

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

meaning that members (and you may have just started a free month) can read them at no additional cost.

Now, on to those 125 “children’s books”! These are some of the stand-outs to me:

  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin: a fantasy classic, 4.1 stars out of 5, 624 customer reviews…first in a series. Also in Kindle Unlimited (KU)
  • Lois Lowry books: Number the Stars (KU), Gossamer (KU)
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Newberry winner)
  • Farewell to Manzanar (KU) by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston: a non-fiction treasure which has been widely lauded about the Japanese internment camps in the USA…or rather, one person’s experience in one
  • Sleep Like a Tiger (KU) by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski: Caldecott Medal picture book (note: text-to-speech is not enabled on this title, but I assume that it is due to the text being part of the image and therefore inaccessible to the software, not because the access was blocked by the publisher)
  • Catherine, Called Birdy (KU) by Karen Cushman
  • An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (KU) by Jim Murphy (Newbery honoree)
  • Sing Down the Moon (KU) by Scott O’Dell
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virgina Lee Burton (some of us may remember being read this by Captain Kangaroo)
  • Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
  • Curious George by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey: a part of childhood
  • The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (KU) by Barry Lyga
  • Yes, She Can! Women’s Sports Pioneers by Glenn Stout
  • Mary Poppins in the Park (KU) by P.L. Travers and Mary Shepard…not the first of the series about the magical nanny, but part of it

Enjoy!

Join over a thousand 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 #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

November 30, 2014

Round up #277: $3.75 book sale, 75% of parents are gifting e-books to their kids this holiday season

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

Digital Book World: 45 Percent of All Parents Plan to Purchase a New Device for Their Child to Read Ebooks [this holiday season]

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this!

Digital Book World has released their latest survey, and purchasing both of devices on to which to read e-books and e-books themselves appears to be up this year, based on their survey.

DBW Survey Highlights

It’s not unreasonable to question how objective a site called “Digital Book World” would be on this, but it’s worth noting that they partnered with PlayCollective.

According to the summary, 45% of parents (not legal guardians?) of children aged 2 to 13 plan to buy an e-book reading device (an EBR…E-Book Reader or a tablet, but the latter with the intent of reading books) this holiday season.

That’s up from last year by 4%.

I’ll note two other things, and then encourage you to read that summary…I don’t want to take too much away from it.

First, the most popular device for this is a Kindle (they didn’t break down which kind) at 26%.

Second, a full 75% plan to buy e-books for their kids this year, up 2% from last year.

As they say, “our children are the future”. If kids grow up reading e-books, they’ll very likely want to read them as adults.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that p-books (paperbooks) simply disappear…I expect them to stay around, as vinyl records have.

40 free apps of the day today

Finishing up today is a special Black Friday promotion with 40 apps which normally cost something being available for free today:

40 Free Apps of the Day today (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

There are some good choices here, and as usual, I’ve gotten them all. :) I have them delivered only to the Cloud, unless it’s something I want to start using soon. I figure, why not? Our guest who is here, currently using our

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile*) (on sale right now for $79, normally $99)

has a lot of choices!

I figure, why not get them? If they are stored in the Cloud, they aren’t taking up any room on our devices unless we choose to use one.

A few highlights of the offerings:

  • Bike Race Pro (normally $0.99): 4.6 out of 5 stars, 2761 customer reviews
  • Mind Games Pro ($4.99): 4.4 stars, 1011 reviews
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD ($2.99): 4.3 stars, 304 reviews
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition for Android ($24.00!) 4.4 stars, 29 reviews
  • Shredder Chess ($7.99): 4.7 stars, 14 reviews…supposedly, it plays chess somewhat like a human, making mistakes appropriate to the level you choose for it
  • Perfectly Clear ($2.99): 3.9 stars, 455 reivews…I’ve used this one to improve pictures I’ve previously taken. I find it works quite well

Price drops from price matching

This weekend (certainly through Cyber Monday), look for big price drops on some popular books…which won’t last.

I recommend (at any time, not this time of year) listing books at

eReaderIQ.com

They will give you a free e-mail notification when a book you specify drops an amount you specify.

I often tell people eReaderIQ is the most valuable resource for Kindleers on the web…this is just one of their free services.

Some drops I’ve noticed this weekend…note that they could change any time. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

  • Field of Prey by John Sanford: dropped to $3.75 from $8.99
  • The Collector by Nora Roberts: dropped to $3.75 from $10.49
  • Skin Game: a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: $3.75 from $11.99

I could keep going!

Hmm…clearly, $3.75 is a price point right now! Here’s a search for books that cost $3.75 in the USA Kindle store right now, sorted by most reviewed:

$3.75 books in the USA Kindle store by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Yep, that did it!

Wow!

Don’t wait on these, and don’t forget that they can make great gifts! You can delay a gift book to be delivered at the date of your choosing, and the recipient does not need a Kindle to read them (there are a lot of free Kindle reading apps). If they already have the book, they can get a gift card for the value instead, so there is really no risk.

Some of the ones I see: The Invention of Wings; Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander); Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King; The Silk Worm (J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith…this is the new one)…you want new popular books on sale, time’s a’wastin’! ;)

The Echo is learning

Some people who have gotten the Amazon Echo (no invitation for me yet) seem to be judging it as though it was as good as it was ever going to get. I even saw somebody say that “like most technology”, it was going to be obsolete as soon as you got it.

The Echo (ILMK Echo posts category) is not a self-enclosed device. When you bought a videogame console years ago, and you bought games for it, well, that was about it…no updates, it was what it was. To get a better experience, you would eventually have to buy another machine.

Kindles, on the other hand, are update pretty often (until they are out of the “front list” of current ones being sold, at least). Those are operating system upgrades, and they may bring us new features and better performance.

The Echo, though, can grow in a way different from either of those.

Most of what happens on the Echo happens in the Cloud…not in your house.

Right now, the Echo “hive mind” is learning from what someone is doing with the device.

I’ve seen anecdotal reports already of something not working at first, then reporting it, and then having it work. One example was a band with a quirky spelling to the name (two words smashed together…and I think there was a number in there, too). Two people reported Echo not understanding it…then, it did!

Another example is that, according to the help pages, you ask it for a “Flash Briefing” to get the local weather and the news. Now, apparently, you can get the same thing just by saying, “Alexa, news”.

Oh, “Alexa”, by the way, is the name of a company Amazon bought about 15 years ago. You can currently change the “listening prompt” to “Amazon”, and they are working are more prompts. Eventually, you may be able to choose your own.

My point about this updating that’s happening is that it happens in the Cloud…not on your device.

If you have an Echo, please keep reporting how it works. I’ve been told you can say, “Alexa, that was wrong” to flag the question and response for review.

It also appears to be getting a lot of joke responses as people say things like, “Alexa, beam me up” or “Open the pod bay doors”. My intuition here is those are also being improved regularly.

Essentially, Alexa is what used to be called a “dumb terminal” for the most part. Its music playing hardware  is one thing, but the conversational skills are handled at Amazon…so those can be updated on the hardware you have.

Eventually, there will be newer models with more capabilities, including perhaps faster response times (although it seems pretty fast now), but I wouldn’t worry about yours becoming quickly out of date.

Both my Significant Other and my now adult kid are creeped about by the idea of the Echo, and my kid doesn’t even want to be in the same house as one. :) I said that was going to be inevitable, but hopefully, I get an invitation and get one after this visit is over, so we don’t have that issue. Otherwise, I suppose I can unplug it while my kid is in the house.

My Fire TV Stick is here!

While I was writing this, my

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

arrived! I took a quick break to set it up…that was basically plugging it into the power and the HDMI outlet on our TV (we just bought a new TV today…we had one that was at least ten years old as our main TV. I would have waited until the holidays, but we saw an Element ((that’s a brand I like)) at a great price at Target: under $150 for 32″).

I just had to give it our network password, and it’s downloading the latest updates now!

I’ll write a review of it soon. With our kid here, my writing time has been a bit curtailed (family first), but hopefully, in the next few days.

I want to get this out now, so people don’t miss the $3.75 price on the books and the free apps!

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! :) 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.

The 10 most reviewed Young Adult Kindle titles on Amazon.com

November 23, 2014

The 10 most reviewed Young Adult titles on Amazon.com

The first of the two movies adapting the last of the Hunger Games novels by Suzanne Collins looks like it will have the biggest opening of the year so far:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 at IMDb

I thought I’d take a look at what are the most reviewed Young Adult titles in the Kindle store at Amazon.com.

I like using the “most reviewed” sort…it tends to give me books which have had a significant impact (although I think it is skewed towards more recent books…people don’t tend to write a review of a book they read decades ago, even if they loved it). “Bestselling” is much more volatile.

I’ll say first, you might be surprised at what is categorized as Young Adult. I believe Amazon doesn’t do that, that the publisher does (I know that’s true with independently published books using Amazons Kindle Direct Publishing). Publishers often do it for marketing reasons (I’ve seen the same book categorized as fiction and non-fiction), and with Young Adult being such a hot category right now, they may define something as that largely to help the sales.

Okay, let’s take a look:

#1: The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien
book 2 of the Lord of the Rings trilogy
4.6 out of 5 stars
6,431 customer reviews at the time of writing
Available through Kindle Unlimited (KU)

#2: The Two Return of the King
by J.R.R. Tolkien
book 3 of the Lord of the Rings trilogy
4.6 out of 5 stars
6,431 customer reviews at the time of writing
Available through Kindle Unlimited (KU)

Hm…the exact same number of reviews and rankings suggests that they are perhaps consolidating the reviews of LotR (Lord of the Rings).

#3 The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
4.5 stars
6,263 reviews
Not KU

#4 The Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
4.3 stars
5,887 reviews
KU

#5 The Host
by Stephenie Meyer
book 1 in The Host series
4.4 stars
5,570 reviews
not KU

#6 Animal Farm
by George Orwell
4.5 stars
5,282 reviews
KU

#7 The Divergent Series complete collection
by Veronica Roth
4.3 stars
5,142 reviews
not KU

#8 The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
book 1 in the Maze Runner series
4.3 stars
4,739 reviews
not KU

#9 If I Stay
by Gayle Forman
book 1 in the If I Stay series
4.2 stars
4,459 reviews
not KU

#10 Ready Player Run
by Ernest Cline
4.6 stars
4,084 reviews

Interesting!

I’ve read The Lord of Rings, the Life of Pi, and Animal Form…I’m impressed with a forty  percent  match up.

Also, many of them have had movies released fairly recently. I’m sure that has an impact on sales.

Again, I like the results I’m getting by adding this

&sort=review-count-rank

to the end of the URL (Uniform or Universal Resource Locator…website address) at the top of the screen. The books are generally ones I recognize. :)

If you want to see more Young Adult books here is the search I did:

Most reviewed Young Adult books in USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There are 92,447 books in that category at the time of writing…I’m sure you can find something. ;) Oh, and 34,234 of them are available through Kindle Unlimited.

What do you think? Are there any books here you would not consider to be Young Adult? Should publishers get to pick categories for marketing reasons, or should there be some objective judgement? What’s your favorite Young Adult title I didn’t mention? What was your age range when you were reading Young Adult books (I still read them now)? 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.

Young Adult books dominate 2014

September 22, 2014

Young Adult books dominate 2014

There used to be a lot of concern expressed that young people didn’t read as, say, Baby Boomers did.

Well, it certainly seems like that has turned around!

Amazon lists the

Bestselling USA Kindle store books of 2014 (so far) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The top tier of that list is dominated by Young Adult books.

Of course, a reasonable argument could be made that maybe it is boomers who are reading these books, and not really young people.

My guess is that it is both…but that young people really are reading more than they did ten years ago.

In part, I credit e-books with that.

One thing is the convenience, sure. Young people are probably more comfortable reading on phones (although the phone screens are getting bigger).

I think another thing may be the way that you don’t have to broadcast what you  are reading…or even that you are reading.

I don’t think I ever hid what I read…but I took some teasing for all the reading I did (it was certainly worth it). ;)

With a tablet or a phone, you could be doing something more “socially acceptable”, and no one would know.

I would hope that, perhaps, reading itself is becoming more socially  acceptable  in tweens and teens…and again, that would be my guess.

Anecdotally, I see young people referencing books.

It may not hurt that a lot of the Young Adult books are also being made into movies, but I don’t think that’s all of it.

Books may sometimes give the island of solitude to which “always connected” people may want to vacation…even if it’s a brief stopover. ;)

Here are the top 20:

Rank Title Author YA? Reviews Stars Movie/TV?
1 The Fault in Our Stars Green Y 31,153 4.7 Y
2 Divergent Roth Y 17,990 4.5 Y
3 The Goldfinch Tartt N 16,064 3.7 N
4 Insurgent Roth Y 11,285 4.5 N
5 Allegiant Roth Y 14,111 3.4 N
6 The Husband’s Secret Moriarty N 11,679 4.3 N
7 Gone Girl Flynn N 22,846 3.8 Y
8 If I Stay Forman Y 3,439 4.2 Y
9 Orphan Train Kline N 9,875 4.6 N
10 The Fixed Trilogy Paige N 4,157 4.6 N
11 The Divergent Series Roth Y 4,598 4.3 Y
12 Sycamore Row Grisham N 14,077 4.5 N
13 The Target Baldacci N 3,276 4.3 N
14 The Rosie Project Simsion N 5,426 4.5 N
15 Outlander Gabaldon N 6,633 4.5 Y
16 Top Secret Twenty-One Evanovich N 2,824 4.3 N
17 The Book Thief Zusak Y 14,016 4.6 Y
18 Unlucky 13 Patterson N 2,584 4.4 N
19 The Maze Runner Dashner Y 3,932 4.3 Y
20 The Invention of Wings Kidd N 6,332 4.6 N

Eight of the top twenty are Young Adult (as I interpret the publisher’s classifications which appear on the book’s Amaozn product page).

That’s not the majority…but Amazon lists 78,844 teen and Young Adult books out of 2,864,659 total at time of writing. That’s only about three percent of the total, so if there was an even distribution, we would expect Young Adult books to be maybe one of the top twenty.

When we look at the rankings, it’s even more obvious. Lower is better when it comes to rankings (being #1 is better than being #20), and the YA titles have an average of 8.4 while the non-YAs have an average of 12.

Let’s say we cut it down to just the top five. In that case, four out of five are YA.

I think that we’ll see a significant change in Kindle bestseller rankings next year, thanks to

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

My guess is that KU (Amazon’s subser…subscription service) is going to noticeably change the market share for Kindle store bestsellers. Maybe not the New York Times bestseller lists (where physical books will still have the biggest impact), but USA Kindle store? Yes, I think that’s likely.

What do you think? Are young people reading more? Could it be that the relative numbers have shifted because older people are perhaps reading less? If we took away the impact of movies on e-b0ok sales, would that cause a big shift? Do you cross the classification boundaries to read Young Adult books when you don’t fall into that demographic? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

Amazon introduces KDP Kids and Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

September 4, 2014

Amazon introduces KDP Kids and Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

I remember when people would argue that children’s (pre-teen) books were always going to be better on paper than in e-book form.

Certainly, tactile input processing is different in children than in adults.

When you look at the Kindle store book bestsellers (as I often do), you don’t see that many books for kids at the top (although it does happen).

Well, looks like Amazon would like to change that.

In this

press release

Amazon announces a new book publishing venture…KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for Kids:

https://kdp.amazon.com/kids

There have pretty much always been independently published kids books in the Kindle store (since it’s been open), but this is something different.

It gives you the tools to make digital pop ups…and apparently, quite easily, based on the blurbs they have.

Of course, the market for fancy illustrated books is really for the

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

rather than the non-Fire Kindles…when you are talking illustrations (and animations) there is no comparison.

However, this publishing will also let people put age and grade levels on their books, which will help even if it is more text-based.

I’m a bit curious about that: can anybody just pick whatever they want?

Age and grade levels can be very tricky.

When our now adult kid was, oh, six or so, they were reading at a much higher level. The school librarian gave our kid a Goosebumps book…nightmare city! The reading level was more appropriate, but the material wasn’t. That’s what I mean by it being tricky.

There are 163,828 children’s books in the USA Kindle store right now…I suspect we may see that grow pretty rapidly.

I have no question that this is a plus for the authors. I think it will also be a plus for the readers…and since this is part of KDP, it ought to bump up the options for kids using

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

which is Amazon’s $9.99 “all you can read” subser (subscription service).

If Amazon isn’t figuring out a simple way to gift memberships in KU for the holidays, they will really be missing a chance.

This may also sell more Kindle Fires, and possibly the

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

and even the

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

There is a Kindle app for the former and not for the latter…but you could mirror a Kindle Fire to a Fire TV, and they may work out an app for books.

Would you read a book on a TV?

I could certainly see reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or a Dr. Seuss book to a room full of kids!

I don’t think the people at Amazon are anti-p-book (paperbook), but it’s better for their business model to promote e-books. P-book distribution is still largely under the control of tradpubs (traditional publishers) and brick and mortar stores, although e-tailing is probably moving up (and will move up more in a hurry if Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million collapse).

If your kid is reading color, slightly animated e-books on a Kindle Fire through Kindle Unlimited, it really commits you much more deeply to Amazon.

Then, maybe you become a Prime member (free month with that Kindle Fire…free year with that Fire phone). Once you’ve done that, you start buying the higher margin physical items from Amazon (or third parties fulfilled through Amazon) and the big A can start making a profit…without raising e-book prices all that much.

They haven’t been raising the e-book prices generally…except for the New York Times bestseller hardback equivalents, which have shot up an extraordinary amount this year, based on my Snapshots.

Let me ask this, though: do you still have p-books you got as a child? I do. I think a lot of people do…cherished (often “well-used”) parts of youth. That won’t quite be the same with digital kids’ books. ;)

What do you think? Have you always had an idea for a kids’ book…and now you think you might be able to do it? Is there anything that worries you about this? For example, could people with fringe or anti-social ideas use this to reach children? Publishers get to choose their own categories…would someone publish the Kama Sutra (maybe with teddy bears) through KDP Kids? If you could easily gift KU to a kid this holiday season, do you think you would do that? Do books like this pose any threat to the continuance of the non-Fire Kindles? 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 #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

August 17, 2014

Round up #264: monkeying around with the Fire Phone, the 11th book

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

The 11th book

People talk about the “tenth man” in baseball (that means the fans in the stands, who, in addition to the nine players on the field at a time are believed to influence the outcome of the game).

Well, I’ve run into an interesting situation with the “eleventh book”. ;)

I’ve mentioned before, and other readers have brought it up, that since I’ve joined Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s “all you can read” subser (subscription service), I haven’t been able to borrow a book through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). That’s part of my benefits as an eligible Prime member with a hardware Kindle.

I had been borrowing a book every month (that’s the maximum…one a calendar month), and I’ve come to think of it as one of the reasons we have Prime in my family…although certainly not the most important. The “no additional cost” two-day shipping is the main reason, and I use Prime video quite a bit. Prime music is fun, but I haven’t integrated it into my routines yet.

I checked with Amazon, and I published how they told me it should work here:

Kindle Unlimited: how does it affect authors, and what’s the deal with the KOLL?

It just wasn’t working that way for me: even when I was eligible to borrow a book from the KOLL, I wasn’t being given the option to do so on

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

Well, one of my contacts at Amazon suggested I check with Kindle Support: so I used Mayday on my Kindle Fire, and that person knew the answer right away!

When a book is in both the KOLL and KU (there are more books in KU than the KOLL, but just about all the KOLL books are part of KU), and you are a KU member and eligible for the KOLL, it will default to KU…unless you already have the maximum ten books (at a time) out from KU.

Hey…I just tested this by borrowing ten books from KU…and my options didn’t change! I still can’t borrow a book from the KOLL.

I’ll follow up with Amazon: false alarm. :(

I can at least report that when you have ten books borrowed from KU and try to borrow one more, it will offer to return the one you borrowed the longest time ago…or let you pick another one.

Update: I just spent, oh, half an hour or so with Mayday on this. I was passed from my first rep to another one, who then consulted extensively with another person. The best they can tell me at this point is that they are aware of the issue, and they’ll follow up with me when it is solved.

Bookstore sales fall 7.9%

According to this

Publishers Weekly article

the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that bookstore sales are down 7.9% year over year for the first half of 2014.

That’s a huge amount for an industry without a lot of margin (I used to be a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager).

My guess is that there are some small stores doing quite well, and even growing, and that we are seeing this impact mostly from large or “undifferentiated” stores…ones without a specific “personality”.

I think it’s likely that more books are actually being read, thanks to e-books, but physical bookstores have to be destination stores to survive. You have to make people care about you enough that they will willingly pay more money than they would have paid online just to support you. That is entirely doable, but it does take focus and effort.

Entertaining a kid on BART

My Significant Other and I went to see a San Francisco Giants game today (a rare treat…my parents took us). On the way home on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit…that’s sort of our subway system around here), there was a fussy three-year old.

I always keep apps on my Kindle Fire specifically to entertain kids. :) After clearly gaining permission, I let the kid play with

Fingerpaint Magic (at Amazon Smile*)

That went well…we had a smiling and laughing kid in a short period of time. My SO also pointed out that this three-year old figured out how to start a new drawing, and select a background…much sooner than my SO would have. ;)

After a while, we switched to

Monkey Buddy (at AmazonSmile*)

a free app on my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s an interactive animal…you can think sort of like a Tamagotchi.

It reacts to what you do…stroke the ears, for example, and it gets happy.

It will also take a picture of you when you tap a camera…and then draw on the picture (putting glasses on you, for example), and then discards it (the picture is not saved).

Although a three-year old won’t discover this right away (and this was a bright kid), it will also react to your head movements. Nod your head “yes”, and it gets happy, recognizing it as approval. Shake your head “no”, and it gets sad. It also gets sad if it can’t see you.

I do want to mention something about using the Fire Phone. When I try to demonstrate the dynamic perspective (which I can “dy-per”, just for fun), I will tell someone to move their head to look at the phone to see the effect.

Most people stare steadily at the phone without moving their heads…even after I say it.

I have to point out that it is like you are trying to peek into the side of the phone.

Before the Fire Phone, I hadn’t noticed how rigidly people hold their heads when looking at a phone, but I guess that makes sense with most phones.

51% of kindergarteners through 5th graders prefer to read on a screen over paper

This

EBOOK FRIENDLY article by Ola Kowalczyk

has some interesting facts in an infographic from a survey by TeachHub.com.

The one I’ll point out is preferred reading medium.

37% prefer reading on a tablet (the infographic includes “Kindles” in that, and I would think not just the Kindle Fires), 35% prefer paper, and 14% prefer a computer. 12% preferred someone else reading to them (I’m going to guess they weren’t thinking text-to-speech, but a human being).

That’s extraordinary, and important.

Little kids’ books lagged behind adult and young adult titles in getting into the e-book market. Part of that was they waited for the technology: color, for one thing.

If screens are now the preferred method, bookstore sales may drop a lot more than 7.9% in a few years…

I think we’ll see an impact on the “books as gifts” market this holiday…Amazon should promote very strongly giving Kindle Unlimited (maybe for three months) as a gift this holiday! Not sure exactly the mechanism for that, but we serious readers know how intimidated other people can be in trying to pick out specific books for us. Netflix gifts have been a significant thing for a while: subscriptions to subsers (subscription services) for e-books could be really big.

What do you think? Why do so many kids like to read on computers (that surprised me)? Is it because those kids don’t have “tablets”, perhaps? Are there books that you prefer to read on a computer? Would you let your kid play with a stranger’s phone/tablet/Kindle? Do you keep things with you to entertain kids? Would you give KU as a gift? Are bookstores on the way out, or is it only certain bookstores? 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.

Does high school unmake readers?

August 7, 2014

Does high school unmake readers?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a voracious, insatiable learner.

A really key part of that is reading. You learn, even when you are “reading for fun”. When talking to other people, I have to monitor my language and references, if I want to really communicate with them. Not everyone will understand relating taking a work assignment to the Charge of the Light Brigade, for example.

You would think, then, that I would have loved high school. After all, that’s supposed to be about learning, right?

Certainly, there were parts of it I did love. I had a couple of great teachers. In particular, I was lucky to be able to take a science fiction class with a wonderful teacher.

I remember, though, having an epiphany.

I had noticed (with dismay) that my reading speed had slowed. It hit me as to a possible reason.

In reading for school, they were taking the fun out of it. They were wanting me to constantly analyze what I was reading.

In addition, there was a lot of rote memorization, and not as much about connections. We learned history, to some extent, by learning dates and names, not motivations and relationships.

I believed then (and still do now) that that approach was making me a less effective reader.

Thanks to

EBOOK FRIENDLY

for the heads up on this

Common Sense Media reporton Children, Teens, and Reading

which, unfortunately, confirms that many fewer kids report reading for fun at age 17 than do at age 13.

The report covers a lot of topics, but here’s a statistic that may suggest that school degrades reading for fun: 53% of nine-year olds report reading for fun every day, while only 19% of seventeen-year olds do.

In testing my hypothesis, though, I have to point out that the drop is even greater going from nine to thirteen years old than it is for going from thirteen to seventeen.

So, it might not be just high school…but reading in school generally. :)

Of course, I could just be conflating two things…maybe it’s not the school, maybe it is other factors. Perhaps kids are more social by age seventeen, and may have less time for essentially solitary pursuits. Maybe a significant portion of seventeen-year olds work, or have after school activities.

While I don’t want to take too much away from the report and I do recommend that you read it (and/or look at the infographic, also at the site linked above), I want to mention one more thing.

In 1984, 9% of seventeen-year olds say that they “never” or “hardly ever” read. That number is up to 27% today.

I’m going to have to think about that, to come up with ways that it is a positive. I almost always can find more of a positive than a negative, and I can almost always find both.

Right offhand, though, I can’t think of much that I believe is more valuable than reading…

What do you think? Could the reporting be incorrect in some way…perhaps kids today are more likely to downplay their reading, an misrepresent it on a survey? Could kids be defining reading in a different way? Is it a case of opportunity? In that case, will e-books reverse the trend? 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!

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.


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