Round up #300: best books, books on buses
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
Wow! This is the 300th round-up! The first one was on October 24th, 2009. Let’s see, that means I have averaged…just about one a week (one every 6.9 days). That seems about right. I have a lot of fun doing them, and they are often a way for me to make a quick mention of something which I can’t (at least at that time) expand into its own post.
There are also times when it lets me let you know about something before I feel like I’ve really explored it. I might hear about something complicated, or controversial, and not be ready to give an evaluation…but still want you to be informed.
Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far
Amazon has announced their
They didn’t just name ten or twenty…here is the list:
- Best Books of the Year So Far
- Amazon Editors’ Top 20 (15)
- Amazon Editors’ Top 20 Children’s Books (20)
- Arts & Photography (20)
- Audiobooks (16)
- Biographies & Memoirs (19)
- Business & Leadership (20)
- Children’s Books (100)
- Comics & Graphic Novels (16)
- Cookbooks, Food & Wine (20)
- Crafts, Hobbies & Home (20)
- Fashion (15)
- History (19)
- Humor & Entertainment (20)
- Kindle Singles (20)
- Literature & Fiction (16)
- Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (19)
- Nonfiction (18)
- Romance (13)
- Science Fiction & Fantasy (17)
- Teens & Young Adults (20)
Their top book overall?
On my Kindle Fire HDX, it’s clear that there has been some (minor?) update to the Amazon Kindle reader. I’m at 9.9, and I’ve noticed a couple of changes.
When I tap the top middle of the page to bring up the menus, a little thumbnail of the cover now appears.
The other thing is that the text-to-speech (something I use every day) play arrow is on the right when it used to be on the left.
Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s all I’ve noticed so far.
The other update was to my
It looked like a system update…but it was showing Voice Input. I’m not noticing any difference, and I did test it with a few things. Still, it’s nice to see the Fire Phone still getting love. ;)
Books on Buses
I love it when adults read, but I do think it’s important and special when people take steps to encourage children to read. According to this
the city of Roanoke, Virginia is doing a summer reading program on city buses.
There will be book bags at the front of the buses.
Parents (hopefully, legal guardians) with children can take a bag. It will have five books in it…and they can even take a book home, sort of like a library. They would bring it back later.
I think that’s great!
This was my favorite part of the whole article, though:
“I love reading books!” children chanted as they stood outside the Roanoke City Main Library Monday.”
The future is bright…
Amazon Echo mini-round up
went on public pre-order yesterday. I will be covering it as part of this blog, but yesterday’s post just on it was an anomaly. :) A few notes…
- The return policy wasn’t on the product page…I was assuming it was thirty days, like Kindles and Fires, but it isn’t. It’s 180 days! That’s right…about six months
- There are now over 20,000 reviews…still average 4.5 stars
- Somebody asked, so I checked: yes, it works with a synthesized voice. That can be important for people with certain challenges who need to use a synthesizer
- I liked that it knew the appropriate response to, “Alexa: Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
- There are still pop culture questions and answers I think it should know…and I may set up something to inform Amazon. For example, I asked it today, “Alexa: who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?” The appropriate answer, of course, is “The Shadow knows…” followed by a maniacal laugh. I think people would really like it when the Echo said something like, “Ha haha haha” for the laugh :)
When is an average not an average?
I have to say, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.
According to this
and other sources, Amazon is changing its review system.
Certainly, the current system is flawed. There have been a lot of problems with…biased reviews, even ones which have apparently been purchased. For example, a company might give you a free copy of a book, if you are willing to write a five star review of it.
Amazon’s approach is going to be to use “machine learning” to put more weight on more popular and more recent reviews.
In terms of moving them up higher on the page, I have no problem with that. We’ve had those “most useful” reviews for a while.
What concerns me is that those weightings will affect the average of stars (which I often report…I did it on the Macdonald book above, for example).
I’m going to guess that the specific algorithm is not going to be revealed…so we will no longer know what 4.5 stars really means.
I’d be okay with it with the option to see either one…unweighted or weighted.
I’d also like to see an option to see the difference between Amazon Verified Purchase reviews and non-verified…that seems like useful data.
However, let’s just make something up. :)
Let’s say (and again, I have no reason to think these are the numbers) that reviews posted in the last week are worth twice as much as older reviews.
A book had five reviews which were all three stars more than a week ago.
Now, the publisher gets five people to put in five star reviews all at once.
The older reviews are worth 15 “points”. The new ones are worth 50 points (five reviews of five stars times two).
That makes the average 6.5 stars…on a scale of 1 to 5. :) Presumably, they’d round down to 5 stars.
It would appear the book had a perfect score, despite earlier mediocre reviews.
Now, it could certainly be argued that the newer reviews may be more valid. What if the publisher updated the book, fixing mistakes, and even adding new material?
I just don’t like that I’ll never know what the average actually means, and that I won’t be comparing apples to apples. They may all use the same algorithm, but one review getting votes as useful (when those votes might actually be because the review is well written) could raise the average on a book over another equally liked book.
What do you think? Do you like the new review system? If not, what should Amazon do about the review system, if anything? How about books on buses? Can you think of other ways for cities to encourage reading…and does the choice of the books by the government concern you? What are your best books published in 2015 so far? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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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.