Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

Comic Con inspired bargains

July 23, 2014

Comic Con inspired bargains

Tonight is the preview night for

San Diego Comic Con (SDCC)

which is one of the biggest pop culture events of the year.

In fact, it’s big enough that companies tie into it with merchandise/content sales…and not just on comics.

The con itself certainly goes beyond comic books/graphic novels. Some old timers complain that it has become too much about movies and TV…even ones that aren’t even especially geeky (and I use that adjective as a proud geek).

Authors of text-based books (you know…what many people just call “books”) 😉 also appear: Diana Gabaldon, Robin Hobb, Jim Butcher, and more. Even the publishers (Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House) have panels.

So, through this weekend, we’ll be able to find bargains…even if they don’t specifically say they are there because of Comic Con, that may be the case.

For example, one of today’s Kindle Daily Deals is

Batman Day graphic novels sale (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This is Batman’s 75th anniversary year..the Dark Knight (or Caped Crusader…depends a bit on your perspective) debuted in what is sometimes considered the best pop culture year, 1939.

Batman (along with Superman) certainly seems to have taken some inspiration from Doc Savage (Doc was a wealthy crimefighter with specialized vehicles and equipment…including a “utility vest”, which arguably became Batman’s utility belt), but that’s another story. 🙂

There have been some Batman graphic novels that are really considered classic by Batman fans…and yes, they are included here for $2.99 each.

That includes:

  • Batman: The Dark Knight by Frank Miller
  • Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

If you’ve never read a graphic novel, I’d recommend The Dark Knight…and warn you ahead of time, those two in particular are not written for children.

Amazon is also giving us

Batman Eternal #1 (at AmazonSmile)

for free!

You need to enter a promotional code (BATMAN75) first…you can see all the details here:

Batman Eternal #1 promo detail page (at AmazonSmile)

I suspect we’ll see more related specials over the next few days in the

Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile)

Another place at Amazon where we’ll see savings through the weekend, and these may be explicitly SDCC deals, is

The Geek Boutique (at AmazonSmile)

One more thing before I leave Amazon. Here’s a link for

Prime Video Comic-Con Favorites (at AmazonSmile)

If you are an eligible Prime member, you can watch these at no additional cost…and there are 227 results at time of writing.

Let’s move off of Amazon for a minute to go to Marvel.

Marvel has “Marvel Unlimited”, which you can think of as similar to Kindle Unlimited…just for digital Marvel comics.

Normally, that’s $9.99 a month. It includes a lot of comics…typically, you can expect that when a Marvel comic is six months past its publication date, it may appear here.

As a special tie-in to SDCC, though, you can get the first month for $0.99!

You can have 12 comics out at a time (KU allows ten titles).

You can get more information on it here:

http://marvel.com/mu?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=AcquisitionEmail&utm_content=072314EMSubscribeNow&utm_campaign=SDCC14

The necessary app isn’t in the Amazon Appstore, but you could get it at

1Mobile

Amazon allows us to install apps from “unknown sources” on our Kindle Fires, but you have to make the call. Since the app won’t have been reviewed by Amazon to make sure it is safe and that it works on the KFire, you take responsibility for that.

This is one where I would feel comfortable getting it, and I have gotten things for my KFire from 1Mobile before.

You can count on bargains from other geeky sites, too, like

ThinkGeek.com

and

SuperHeroStuff.com

Enjoy!

Bonus story:

In a

press release

today, Amazon announced that it has added hundreds of thousands of songs to Prime Music (at AmazonSmile)…and hundreds of playlists.

That’s the no additional cost streaming music for eligible Amazon Prime members.

In my recent post

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2014

I didn’t talk about using Prime Music, but I have used it sporadically…I sometimes write with it on, for example.

It looks like Prime Music has been quite successful. Adding hundreds of thousands of songs to it is great! I haven’t been terribly impressed with their playlists, although it is nice to have fifty songs of one genre play with one selection. I’m just not sure that I’m seeing genuine creativity n how songs are grouped together in the playlists. I some cases, they seem a bit more like…search results, rather than curated music lists.

For example, the press release mentions one called “Fire for Your Fire”, and describes it as “Odes to all things fire make perfect listening on your Fire Phone or Kindle Fire”. I’m guessing that it’s just a bunch of songs with “fire” in the title, although I’m not seeing it yet on the site.

Curation seems to be better at Songza, but this is new for Amazon. One thing they could do is let customers share playlists, then have people “like” them…and with enough likes, a playlist moves up into a better discovery spot. That would create social engagement, and probably result in better playlists.

New! 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.

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Amazon buys comiXology

April 11, 2014

Amazon buys comiXology

I used to read a magazine called Psychotronic Video (no longer going, I believe). I remember them having proudly put on the cover, “Still not a part of AOL-Time-Warner.” 😉

Well, nowadays, it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone say, “Still not a part of Amazon” with the same intent.

In this

press release

Amazon triumphantly announced that it acquiring

comiXology (at AmazonSmile)

a very popular and successful app for digital comics.

David Steinberger, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of comiXology, also made the

announcement

(in very positive tones, by the way) on their site.

I expect you are going to quickly see a lot of moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth over this.

comiXology has been a leading digital distributor for both DC and Marvel comics, and also a great many other brands.

They always have freebies, and you can read them on different platforms.

I used to read comics more than I do now, but I’ll still occasionally dip a toe in the pulpy pool. 😉

I’ve read them on a Kindle Fire, using the app I linked above.

As a customer, I think this is a good combination. Amazon does not tend to go in and make a lot of changes to the way something is run…although you do start seeing integration.

After they bought IMDb (the Internet Movie Database), which is a site I use frequently, we did get a connection between the two. The IMDb app came on the Fires, and the IMDb information powers X-Ray for Video.

I do think we’ll start seeing comiXology as one of the installed apps when you buy a Fire…and there may be some connections on the comiXology app to getting things at Amazon.

I do not think this means comiXology leaves its successful perch at iTunes. Amazon doesn’t tend to pull their apps out of their competitors…you can get a Kindle reading app at iTunes, for example.

I think people will be concerned about it not because it takes anything away from comiXology, like independence, but just because it gives Amazon more power.

Hm…I suppose this could help comics show up on the

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

That mght actually be a good match: I can imagine several kids reading a comic together, displayed on a TV.

I don’t think this gives Amazon any more adaptation rights…comiXology is a distributor, not a publisher.

One thing that might happen is that if Kindle Worlds starts doing comic books (they’ve indicated that is coming), you might see them distributed through comiXology as well.

Well, since we are talking about comics, and I know some of you are interested in my tastes, let me talk a little bit about my experience with comic books.

I was more of DC fan (Superman/Batman) than a Marvel fan (Spider-Man/the X-men) when I was a kid. I used to say, “I don’t want my superheroes to have acne.” 😉

What I meant by that was, when I was reading them in the “Silver Age”, Dc heroes were symbols. They generally didn’t deal with real world issues, like paying the rent and relationship problems.

Marvel heroes were much solidly in the real world. They lived in actual cities: New York rather than “Metropolis”.

That’s a matter of taste, but I think it was partially driven by my optimistic nature.

Superman’s enemies were often funny. Mr. Mxyzptlk was an “imp” from the 5th dimension. Bizarro was goofy. We even had the unpredictable red kryptonite, which might turn Superman into a giant ant or something (that actually happened…well, you know, “comic book actually”).

While the Marvel heroes might seem equally ridiculous at first glance, they really hurt people.

Later, I guess I can say I became more “comicspolitan”, and stopped “taking sides”.

My favorite comic book character was the original DC Animal Man. Again, silly: this character could “absorb” characteristics of animals which were in range: hop like a rabbit, that kind of thing.

I know there’s been a “reimagining”, but I liked the whimsy of the original.

I also liked The Inferior Five, Dial H for Hero, the Metal Men, the Challengers of the Unknown…and was a big fan of Herbie (Popnecker, not the Love Bug…although I liked those movies, too) (I wish Herbie would become available in a digital format).

One more serious sequence I did really like was when Green Arrow took Green Lantern across America…that one did deal with more realistic issues (in addition to not so realistic ones).

I also read Harvey comics, Archie comics, and others.

Oh, and I really thought that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns crossed genres…even if you didn’t like comics, you might like that one.

There came a point when I just stopped reading them much…digital got me back into reading them every once in a while.

Eventually, as adults, we decided to sell many of the comics we had kept.

I used to be amused when someone would say, “If my mom hadn’t thrown out my comics, I’d be rich.” I would say to them, “If everybody’s moms hadn’t thrown out their comics, they wouldn’t be worth anything.”

Then, I read this book:

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (at AmazonSmile)

I had heard the author, David Hadju, being interviewed on the radio. This was back in 2008. I had a Kindle, and wanted to read it on that, but it wasn’t available in that format at the time. I wrote to the publisher, they said they would look into it…and lo and behold, it was released in Kindle format!

It’s a great history, and explains clearly how it wasn’t just negligence that caused the demise of all those copies: it was a deliberate campaign against comic books by one person. There were actual mass (comic) book burnings at schools!

I recommend Ten-Cent Plague…good stuff.

Anyway, as we were getting ready to sell our comics, I can give you a good example of one of my siblings’ unusual abilities (we have some…odd things in our family). 😉

This particular sibling has the classic eidetic memory: remembers everything that they have ever seen.

I picked up an obscure comic, and said, “I remember this guy.”

My sibling said, “On the seventh page in the third panel, he says this…”

I checked: correct, of course.

That was after having read the comic book once…decades earlier.

Well, enough about me and mine: how about you? Do you comiXology now? If you do, how do you feel about this purchase? If not, and it shows up on a device you own, would you try it out? Were you strongly a DC fan or a Marvel fan? Any obscure comics you loved? Any current ones you might recommend? What else should Amazon buy? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

March 9, 2014

Round up #243: 100 comics for $10, understanding the new Cloud Collections

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

KDD: “Books That Inspired Our Passion for Reading, $2.99 or Less [each]”

One of today’s Kindle Daily Deal‘s (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of twenty specific books for $2.99 or less each.

This is National Reading Month (um, gee, isn’t that every month? No? Okay, then.). 😉 In honor of that, Amazon has discounted these books (for today)…and there are definitely some good ones on the list!

  • The Alchemist
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • American Gods
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Tales of the City
  • The Natural
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • The Complete Stories (Flannery O’Connor)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Kane and Abel
  • The Good Earth
  • Old Yeller
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8
  • Cryptonomicon
  • Miss Marple, the Complete Short Stories
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast
  • [Ray] Bradbury Stories
  • Native Son
  • Sophie’s World
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall

You know how you say you are going to wait until those really great, well-known books go on sale? That’s now. 😉

As a reminder, you can buy these as a gift and delay the delivery until the appropriate  occasion. For example, do you know a kid who would enjoy Sarah, Plain and Tall? You can order it now and pick a delivery date in December…

One of my regular readers, Lady Galaxy, suggested I might buy a couple to add to our Guest Bookshelf (see On our guest Kindle for a listing of the books we have on our Guest Kindle). A few people, I think wisely, suggested the list could use some more short story anthologies or collections.

Understanding the new Cloud Collections

Overwhelmingly, I’m seeing a positive reaction to the recent update to the Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation.

However, I’m still seeing a lot of confusion, even among very sophisticated users, about how Cloud Collections work now.

I have to say, this does show that Amazon could explain these things better. I like that they have the Kindle Forum Pros (I’m one of those…we volunteer our time to help people), but their Help Pages could be more scenario based, in my opinion. They don’t tend to say, “You want to do this…here’s how”). They will tell you steps to do, but not tell you why you would do them.

I’m going to share something I posted elsewhere…this is based on our KPW1 (Kindle Paperwhite 1st generation): I think it’s the same on the KPW2.

There are really three key things:

1. You can set a Collection so that it either appears in Collections view only, or in all views [note: you do this by selecting “Collections” in the menu to your right of where it says, ,”On Device”]

2. There is a menu for the filter (what will be displayed on your home screen). You can choose: All Items; Books; Periodicals; Docs; Collections; or Active Content [note: that’s the same menu as above]

3. There is another menu, similar to what we had before for sorting (the order in which the items you have chosen to display in the second step will show). You can use: Recent; Title; Author; or Collection [that’s the last menu on that row, to your right from the menu above]

Here’s my own example:

I created a Collection called “Guest Bookshelf” (this Kindle is one we use for guests). I can add books to it from the Paperwhite or from my Kindle Fire HDX (I find the latter easier).

That is the only Collection which is starred (“Show in All Views”) on this device.

I have it set to show “All Items” in the filter. It shows that Collection, plus active content, the Vocabulary Builder, a blog…just a few things that I have on it.

I have it sorted by “Collection”, meaning that the books in the Guest Bookshelf show inside that Collection (which appears at the top of the homepage) and not outside it.

That’s exactly what I want. 🙂

I think for most people, the set up is:

Switch the filter to Collections, and star the Collections you would like to show.

Switch the filter to All Items.

Switch the sort to Collection.

Now, I do understand that some people want more functionality. Right now, the count of items in a Collection doesn’t change if you are on the Cloud tab or the Device tab. In other words, if you have a Romance Cloud Collection, you can’t tell how many of those books are actually on this device without opening the Collection. Even then, it doesn’t show a count…they just look different (books not on the device are faded).

Let me know if you have more questions…

A tip on connecting with the Push2TV

I’ve written before about using my Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile) with the NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile) to “mirror” everything on my tablet’s screen to my TV.

That works very well! I use it quite a bit.

I started running into an issue where it wasn’t always finding the Push2TV…in other words, it wouldn’t make the connection so that I could watch.

I figured out a minor thing, but it seems to make a big difference (that’s the way it often works, right? Big problems solved with a small change).

The trick seems to be to start the Fire looking first:

Swipe down from the top – Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

then activate your Push2TV, rather than the other way around.

Sequencing is often the key with technology.

I assume what happens is that the Push2TV sends it’s “here I am” signal right away: if the Fire isn’t looking for it when it is broadcast, it misses it.

Comixology Submit started bundle: 100 books for $10!

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this!

Celebrating SXSW (South by Southwest),

Comics (at AmazonSmile)

is offering a bundle of 100 of their Comixology Submit titles…for $10!

That offer is only good through Sunday (March 10). This is a savings of 97%, and will give you some good indie (independently published) comics. Think of it like Kindle Direct Publishing for comic books.

You can read this through the free app you can get for your Kindle Fire (see above), and read it other places (including Android devices, iPads and iPhones, and Windows 8).

Update: Orphan Black on Prime

I meant to mention this one (and gee, this has become a really multimedia post! I started with books, I’ve done comics, and now video). Amazon Prime has recently added

Orphan Black (at AmazonSmile)

It’s a science fiction series from last year where there was a lot of mainstream push that the lead actor should have been nominated for an Emmy…you don’t usually see that.

The performance by Tatiana Maslany is extraordinary. I want to leave you the discovery of what is happening, but I would guess you’ll be impressed. There are other good things to the series as well…might make a good binge watch (ten episodes). With Prime, you can watch them at no additional cost.

A content advisory: this ran on BBC America (and Space in Canada), and they don’t have the same restrictions that you might expect from a USA network show. There are sexual situations and nudity.

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #224: free comics, B&N BF deals

November 27, 2013

Round up #224: free comics, B&N BF deals

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

Barnes & Noble announces Black Friday NOOK deals

You want a deal?

In this

press release

Barnes & Noble announces really low prices on some of their hardware…and more. Their low prices on NOOK books will likely drive low prices on Kindle books, since Amazon does typically price match where possible on those.

Interestingly, you can get these deals online, in addition to in the stores.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • NOOK Simple Touch (not lit): $39
  • NOOK HD tablet: $79
  • 50% off hundreds of bestselling titles (you’ll be able to get them for the NOOK here starting on Black Friday…and again, look for them in the Kindle store)
  • Buy $75 in B&N gift cards, get another $10 B&N gift card

Meanwhile, at Books-A-Million…

I reported yesterday on the big drop in Barnes & Noble sales. Well, the second largest bookstore chain in the USA is also down.

Publishers Weekly article

Same store sales fell 8.5%…that’s bad.

Unlike B&N, which managed to improve profitability by cutting costs, BAM saw it’s third quarter loss more than double YOY (Year Over Year) from $2.8 million to $7.1 million.

While this is actually a bit better than last quarter, it’s still not good. For those of you concerned about the literary culture being affected by the loss of dinostores (large, generalized bookstores) I’m not sure you’ll be heartened by their dependence on Duck Dynasty merchandise and Doctor Who toy tie-ins. 😉

The digital comic book spinner rack…and these are free!

Amazon has a special deal through December 2nd where you can get up to eight DC (Superman, Batman…not Marvel) digital comics for free.

8 Free Comics from DC

They work on Kindle Fires, Paperwhites, in reader apps (including iPad), in the Cloud reader…even older versions of the Kindle (including the Touch and the Keyboard). Yes, they’ll look better in color, but you can read them in the others.

There are some fun choices here, including Batman ’66 (the Adam West version), Vampire Diaries, and Smallville.

I’m getting them all…why not?

What about Kindles on Black Friday?

Amazon’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals will come fast and furious, changing as often as every ten minutes. We don’t know exactly what will be in those…I expect to keep checking. 🙂

Here is their

Black Friday Deals Week
Black Friday Deals Week at AmazonSmile (benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping…shop ’til you help)

which has links to Gold Box deals and more.

In terms of other stores, here is the search for “Kindle” at my favorite Black Friday site, BFads.net:

http://bfads.net/Search/kindle

Be careful as you look at those to check what model is involved. Some of the discounted prices are for last year’s models. For the current models, what I’m tending to see is an incentive when you buy (like a gift card to the store). Best Buy does show the Mindle for $49.99 ($20 off).

The ads at BFads.net aren’t official…but they tend to be accurate.

Enjoy!

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 #205: Best OCR, comics & KFHD on sale

September 16, 2013

Round up #205: Best OCR, comics & KFHD on sale

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

Wanna buy a supervillain…cheap?

Right now, Amazon is having a

DC Comic Villains Sale

DC publishes Batman, Superman, and the Flash, among many others, and really has some of the coolest villains.

These are modern comics from current talents (Grant Morrison, Paul Dini, Gail Simone…).

Each one is ninety-nine cents. I’m guessing these would not be good for young kids, but I haven’t read any of these specific ones.

While I’m sure these would look better on a Kindle Fire (color can be important in comics), the “Only available on these devices” list is more robust than one might think:

  • Kindle
  • Kindle Touch
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Kindle Cloud Reader
  • Kindle Keyboard
  • Kindle for iPad
  • Kindle for Android
  • Kindle Fire (may or may not include 1st generation Kindle Fire; please check deliver to dropdown)

The Paperwhite, the Touch, the Mindle, and the Kindle Keyboard are all capable of showing comics effectively. Unfortunately, the Kindle DX, which is one generation farther back than the Kindle Keyboard, doesn’t have good software for it…unfortunate, because I think the larger size might be more effective.

This is a limited time sale, and might end at any point. As always, check the price before you click that “Buy” button.

Kindle Fire HD 7″ on sale again for $159…same as non-HD

While it seems pretty likely that a new Kindle Fire is coming soon (there have been supposed leaked pictures and stats), this is a good deal:

Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

It’s $159…the same as the non-HD.

I would consider this Amazon’s primary tablet right now…there are two larger versions (with and without 4G), and a less expensive one.

Basing it on reviews, it goes like this:

  • This one: 17,952 at time of writing
  • Non-HD: 10,839
  • 8.9″ non-4G or with 4G: 8,679

By the way, looking at those numbers, you can see what a low percentage of people actually write reviews. There have probably been millions of these sold (although Amazon doesn’t release specific numbers).

Again, this could end at any time.

Jonathan Franzen says that Jeff Bezos is not the antichrist

Jeff: “Um…thanks?”

😉

Note…that’s not a real quotation from Jeff Bezos…I want to be careful to make that clear. 🙂

In this

article in The Guardian

Jonathan Franzen submits a different answer to my optimist/pessimist poll question…or at least, one can draw the conclusion that the author would. 😉

Lest you think that the assessment alluded to in the headline for this story is an endorsement, the full line is

“In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen.”

I’m going to recommend that you read the article, although you may want to be prepared to have it bring you down.

I think Franzen, as others have done, is seeing the world through the lens of the traditionally published author. While the opportunity to have someone else pay you significant money to license it so they can publish it may be diminishing (and I’m not entirely convinced that’s the case), the opportunity for authors to make money is considerably greater than it was before electronic distribution.

Many, many authors are, I’m sure, making more money than they would have in the old curated system. My intuition is that many more authors are making a living as authors, but I don’t have the stats to back that up.

To me, the world looks like it is getting better for authors.

One of the challenges will be for readers to find “better” books to read, of course, but for authors, the picture looks good…in my opinion, of course.

The best OCR I’ve ever used

I’ve been saying I want to get better OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, and a better scanner. That’s so I can digitize public domain works I have.

Well, I’ve found one, and it’s astonishingly good!

What is it?

My new Galaxy S4 phone.

It comes with an app called Optical Reader.

You take a picture of text, and it can convert it for you.

Here is part of the results of a page I did from The Maybe Monsters, a book I believe to be in the public domain:

“tracks
of the two kinds of bears were not the right size, and,
besides, bears leave claw marks that do not appear in the
snowman’s tracks. Furthermore, bears usually remain down
in the valleys.
That left the langur. “The great black-faced monkey of
the Himalayan slopes,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called it,
in “The Adventure of the Creeping Man” in The Case Book
<)/ Sherlock Holmes. “Biggest and most human of climbing
monkeys.’
Again, there was the question of size of the prints. Ship-
ton answered this one:
The tracks measured rather more than 12 inches, which
would suggest that they had been made by a creature
much larger than any langur known to science.
I understand that langur monkeys are vegetarians. Now
while a carnivorous creature might feed upon marmots
and tailless Tibetan rats which inhabit the lower reaches
of these glaciers . . . a vegetarian, other than a grazing
animal, would in these parts be very far from adequate
food supplies.
What in any case is a monkey doing wandering about
in these regions of permanent snow?
Still another argument against the langur is that the langur
travels in groups. The snowman, from his tracks,
walks alone.”

Is it perfect? No, but it’s much better than what I have used before.

From the time I opened the page to the time I had it e-mailed to me? I would guess it was maybe fifteen seconds. I’ll have to time it to be sure, but that’s pretty quick.

Obviously, it’s not recognizing the line spacing between the paragraphs, but that wouldn’t be hard to fix.

The bottom of the page did not come out as well, and I presume the page was a bit bent there or not lit as well. I just did this very spontaneously…just held it up and snapped.

The negative would be having different images for each page, but I may be able to work with that.

I’ll experiment a bit more and let you know, but this is promising. It might work especially well for magazines.

What do you think? Are you interested in unconfirmed stats and images of upcoming hardware? Unless it suggests something radical, I usually prefer to wait to get the official (radical can be a fun idea, even if it doesn’t come to fruition). Do you read comics currently? Did you read them in the past, but stopped? If you could OCR your p-books, what would you do with the p-books afterwards? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Round up #188: bookstore sales down, refurbished Kindle Fire less than $100

July 16, 2013

Round up #188: bookstore sales down, refurbished Kindle Fire less than $100

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

Refurb Kindle Fire for $99.99

This one doesn’t come from Amazon (at least directly?) but is available on eBay. You can get a refurbished Kindle Fire for $99.99:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Amazon-Kindle-Fire-HD-16GB-Wi-Fi-7in-Black-Latest-Model/350830042024?pt=US_Tablets&hash=item51af199ba8

At least, I’m hoping you still can when you see this. 🙂 There is a limited supply, and at time of writing, according to the

LIKEACOUPON page on the deal

2,278 people had already gotten one.

The eBay listing is by

DirectSourceLiquidations

which has an over 99% rating and nearly 500,000 ratings or transactions (I don’t use eBay much, so I’m not sure what that second number measures).

I normally would not recommend buying a Kindle from someone you don’t trust (due to the risk of it being stolen), but that doesn’t seem to be a risk here.

The obvious question, since we are dealing with thousands of devices: is this a suggestion that a new model is coming soon?

I think that’s not an unreasonable interpretation.

The Company Profile at eBay says they are a, “Liquidation and overstock asset recovery company.”

Amazon could have turned to them, but so could another retailer. I find it interesting that you have the option to buy a GeekSquad warranty for a year. eBayers, is that something you typically see? Or does it suggest a connection to Best Buy?

Solved a problem with my Paperwhite

I was trying to help someone who asked about the SDR folders on a Paperwhite. I went to look at them, and plugged my Paperwhite into my desktop so I could use Windows Explorer to look at what was in them.

The Paperwhite started charging, but wouldn’t go into USB mode.

I restarted the Paperwhite…nope.

This was the same cable and same USB port I had used previously.

I decided to try a different USB port, just in case. When I unplugged the cable from the computer, I realized I didn’t have another port immediately handy, and plugged it back in.

That fixed it!

I think that what happened here is that I had “safely ejected” a device plugged into that cable at some point. The computer is on the floor, and I just leave that USB cable plugged into it all the time, so I don’t have to get down there and plug it in.

The port must have remembered (I almost never turn off this computer…it’s getting on in years, and knock virtual wood, restarting it is always a risk. It’s like having general anesthesia…there is always a small chance you won’t wake up) that the device connected to it had been ejected, and just kept it in that state.

I figured that might knowledge might help somebody out there at some point.

As more of a software person than a hardware person, we always blame the latter. 😉 The old joke goes, “How many software people does it take to screw in a  light bulb? None, we don’t do that…it’s a hardware problem.”

Marvel, DC…and Amazon?

According to this

press release

Amazon is launching a new traditional publishing imprint, and this one is for comics…Jet City Comics. Like other

Amazon imprints

(and that’s a cool new website with perhaps the cheeky name of address of “http://www.apub.com&#8221; (not ePub, see, aPub?), the name comes from Seattle. “Jet City” is a nickname of Seattle, due to Boeing being there (say that three times quickly). It’s the name of an improv troupe, pizza places, veterinary clinics, that kind of thing.

George R. R. Martin and Neal Stephenson are involved.

This is the first offering from the imprint

Symposium #1: A SideQuest Comic (The Foreworld Saga)

and it only has three reviews right now…which aren’t good. Hopefully, that changes over time.

Even if you don’t read comics, this another important step in “disintermediation”, which can’t make publishers happy. Traditionally, artists and writers create comics (often as employees of the publisher…that’s different from book authors, who are usually not employees) for the publisher, the publisher sells them to the retailer, the retailer sells them to the public.

In the case of Jet City, Amazon is both the publisher and the retailer…removing one step between (intermediate) the creator and the reader.

Amazon does take on expenses doing that, but gains a lot of control (and responsibility…you know, with great power, comes…never mind). 😉

I suspect it will be some time before a fan changes “Make mine Marvel!” to “Just Jet City!” 😉

J.K. Rowlingbraith

My Significant Other and I had some discussions about J.K. publishing under a different name. I suggested we might want to read The Cuckoo’s Calling, since we both liked Harry Potter, but my SO didn’t want to get it, because of the deception.

It’s interesting: I generally have no problem with pen names (I use my real name, the one on my driver’s license and with Social Security), but I do generally think it’s fine and even fun.

What bothers me a bit in this case (but on my own, I probably would have still tried a sample of the book at least) is the apparently deliberately misleading author bio. We aren’t told that it is a false bio, just that the name is a pseudonym…which I would have presumed was like the old Dragnet line, “The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”

I would have thought the facts were true about the author, just that it was a different name.

So, I’m wondering…could I use a pen name, and have my bio read, “Dr. Uri Bestinteress is a registered dietician and has lost 107 pounds following the diet in this book. While your results may differ and this book is not intended to treat any disease, Dr. Bestinteress has climbed the world’s seven highest mountains, run three marathons this year, won the Nobel prize…and is Batman.” ? 😉

You know, because I didn’t want my work to be pre-judged by the fact that I haven’t done any of those things…

Using a name and relying on the readers’ own prejudices to influence their buying decisions is one thing. Lying about the facts about the author feels like another.

Stephen King, by the way, is quoted in this

USA Today article by Bob Minzesheimer

as supporting Rowling in this, and I think King’s comments are good. The super successful author who also wrote secretly under a pen name (Richard Bachman) doesn’t talk about the fake bio, but about how freeing it is…and I’m sure that’s the case, and a legitimate desire.

Bookstore sales down 1% in May

According to this

Publishers Weekly article

bookstore sales were down 1% in May, while general retail was up 5%. That’s drawn from this

Census Bureau research

Stores want to say that this is because Fifty Shades of Grey (and the rest of that series) was such an anomalistically successful book last year that the stores got an unnatural bump (hm…I wasn’t intending an allusion to the book’s subject matter there), and that has dissipated this year.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I’ll concede that it could have had an impact…but you are going to have to learn how to ride a success like this (drat! That also reads like an allusion to the book…). 😉 Once you get people into the store, you have to make it a place where they want to come back…not just dash in, buy a book, and dash out.

What do you think? Does the false bio feel any different to you from the pseudonym? Will Amazon’s comic imprint make an impact in the notoriously difficult comic book market? Will Amazon introduce a sub $100 tablet this year…available new? Any insight for me on eBay, based on my questions above? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #176: free Superman comic, NOOK loses PC & Mac apps

June 9, 2013

Round up #176: free Superman comic, NOOK loses PC & Mac apps

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

NOOK loses PC & Mac apps

Thanks to “Mooncat” in the Amazon Kindle forum for the heads up on this

TeleRead article

which I have confirmed.

The

Barnes & Noble page for NOOK apps

no longer lists apps for Windows (except Windows 8) or Macs.

Their free apps are now:

  • iPad
  • Android Tablet
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • Windows 8 Tablet
  • iPhone (&iPod touch)
  • Android SmartPhones
  • Windows 8 PC
  • NOOK for Web

Compare that to

Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps:

  • iPad
  • Android Tablet
  • Windows 8 Tablet
  • iPhone (& iPod touch)
  • Android SmartPhones
  • Windows 8 PC
  • Kindle Cloud Reader
  • Windows Phone
  • Blackberry
  • Mac
  • Windows 7, XP, & Vista

This is one of those things where you just want to say, “You did what now?” 😉

It seems like a weird move, especially with Microsoft having put all the money into the NOOK line that it has. Why no Windows phone? Why drop support for the kinds of Windows PCs that are typically running in schools and businesses (I’m guessing most of those haven’t gone to Windows 8 yet)?

It’s just one of those odd moves. Okay, sure, there may be Customer Service costs connected with them, but it may not be much. You’ve moved away from institutional support, which is one place where the money is. Yes, they could use the NOOK for Web support (similar to the Kindle Cloud Reader), but that’s really not the same.

Maybe this is preparatory for some move by Microsoft that provides some alternative to the NOOK reader?

Get a free digital Superman comic by signing up for an Amazon newsletter

With Man of Steel opening June 14th, and getting some buzz, Amazon is giving away the digital version of the recent Superman comic reboot:

Sign Up for the Amazon Comics Newsletter and Get a Free Digital Comic

Actually, DC rebooted a bunch of things with the “New 52”. You can see the details on this deal above, but it goes through July 21st and is just for first time subscribers to the Amazon Delivers Comics newsletter.

Honestly, I have serious doubts about the movie, but as always, hope it’s good. 🙂

For those of you not familiar with modern comics, this one, by George Pérez, is not really written for younger children.

Oh, and while this will look better on a Fire (partially due to the color), it’s not limited to the tablets. It’s available for these devices:

  • Kindle (what I call the “Mindle”)
  • Kindle Touch
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Kindle Fire
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Kindle Cloud Reader
  • Kindle for Windows 8
  • Kindle Keyboard
  • Kindle for iPad
  • Kindle for Android

\S/

No more recently delivered list at MYK

We used to be able to go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

and see which items went to which Kindles recently. That appears to have been removed. That will complicate things for some people with many people on their account…and there is no limit to the number of devices which can be registered to an account.

I’m thinking this might be because of

Whispercast

which is Amazon’s relatively new way to manage multiple Kindles. I still intend to sign up for it myself at some point to test it out. They just may be trying to migrate people to that service.

“The Princess has stopped.”

I see (and answer) a lot of the same questions, over and over again, in the Kindle forums. I don’t mind that: I know that even though I’ve seen it a thousand times, the person wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t new to them.

However, it is still fun when I see something that is new to me. 😉

In this

Amazon Kindle forum thread

a poster reported (and even provided a link to) an error message on a Kindle Fire that said

The Princess has stopped.

Somehow, that just seems like a great line…like something destined to become an internet meme. 😉

You could use it when someone complains about something having been taken away from them. It would suggest that providing it was a sort of gift from royalty, and that gift has now ended.

Complaint: “Barnes & Noble took away the NOOK for Mac app!”

Response: “The Princess has stopped.”

Complaint: “I can’t see which device got which Kindle book any more!”

Response: “The Princess has stopped.”

😉

I suggested it might be an app that has failed…the poster doesn’t have the situation resolved at the time of writing.

Kindle hardware now available through Amazon in China

This is a huge (although not unanticipated) move by Amazon!

Kindle hardware (both RSKs…Reflective Screen Kindles, and Fires) are available through

http://www.amazon.cn

I think the key thing here is the presence of the RSKs. There are certainly competitors for tablets in China, and there are EBRs (E-Book Readers), but the Paperwhite may be able to really grab some marketshare.

There are 1,322 reviews for the Paperwhite at the time of writing, with an average of 4.7 out of 5.

It’s interesting to read those reviews, although using Google translate can be challenging. They do seem to be generally positive.

The price is ¥ 849.00…about $138.47 at time of writing.

The Kindle Fire HD is ¥ 1499.00…about $244.48.

It didn’t look to me like they had videos, but they had apps, including local apps…there has already been an appstore there.

We’ll see how this goes, but this could be a nice influx of cash (if not profit) for Amazon, which could help Kindle development around the world. It could also mean more Chinese language books in the USA Kindle store, although that doesn’t seem to me to have followed directly with other international expansions.

Three characters walk into a plot…

It’s the second Saturday of the month, and that’s when my post appears in

The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

a blog specifically for authors.

This time, my post is

Three characters walk into a plot

about using public domain characters in Kindle Worlds works (and I describe three particular ones as examples). Even if you aren’t an author, I think you might enjoy that one. 🙂 There has been a bit of a roiling response in comments over the licensing agreement, and whether or not fanfic authors need be concerned about rightsholders coming after them if they put up free unauthorized works involving copyrighted characters.

Well, I like the mix of stories in today’s round-up! If you have any comments (roiling or not), 😉  feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

Do this now: reserve a spot to download Marvel’s free 700

April 9, 2013

Do this now: reserve a spot to download Marvel’s free 700

I don’t often use an imperative like that headline. I usually would have something like, “Here’s something you might want to do that has a lot of advantages, and I see a very small downside to this great opportunity, you know, if it fits your reading habit or those of people who are or might be on your account in the future, but it’s up to you, and I won’t feel bad if you don’t,” but that would make the re-tweeting a bit difficult for people. 😉

One of our “family stories” is when my Significant Other was driving, and I started to make this long statement about “If it were me, we might want to be going south instead of north, and yada yada yada…” and my SO pointedly said, as we traversed the Earth at 65 miles an hour, “Are we going the wrong way?” Me: “Um…yes.” 😉

Seriously, though, this is a similar case of having a very small window to take an action, so I did want to use something that might galvanize you into quick action (See? I have learned…)

Remember when I wrote this one?

Avengers e-ssemble! Marvel gives away 700 e-comic #1s…but only through Tuesday

Well, there system simply couldn’t handle the demand, and I ended up getting none of them.

Now, they’ve figured out a different way to do it…but you must act today, April 9th, by 11:59 PM ET.

You go to this link:

https://promo.marvel.com/

and sign up. If you don’t already have a Marvel account, you can create a free one, and you can also do it through Comixology:

https://promo.comixology.com/

Then, starting Thursday, they’ll send out e-mails with your “personal invitation”. It will give you instructions on how, and more importantly when, to download these free comics.

You’ll be given a 48 hour slot to download as many of them as you want…it will be sort of like a Superhero Supermarket Sweep. 😉

Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t read comic books, so I won’t bother.”

I do understand that feeling. You might also feel like you don’t read digital comics, perhaps because you don’t own a tablet.

When it comes to digital content, you are the curator of your descendants’ libraries.

What you get now on these special deals will be available to people who are now or may be on your account in the future. I certainly get some e-books I’ve already read and probably won’t read again because I want them available to others in the future.

This deal isn’t from Amazon, but I do expect Marvel to be around for the long term (knock virtual wood). They’ve already been around for almost 75 years (starting as Timely Comics), and especially in recent years, have proven to be nimble in adapting to cultural changes. They are now owned by Disney, not necessarily the most nimble, but Disney’s been around for almost 90 years.

Download these free comics, and your kids’ kids could be reading them…when they might cost them a lot more to get if they were buying them new.

I’m pretty quick when I’m using the computer…I’ve downloaded a lot of things in a short period. 🙂 Part of that might come from having been a conga drummer, but I can get into a rhythm with a process.

Hm…48 hours, 700 comics…I think you could get one by averaging a download every four minutes or so, which is doable. 😉 You’ll probably be a lot more selective, though. When this deal was around before, it was a lot of number 1s, even of famous comic lines.

Still, the bottom line for me is that I would go ahead and sign up for this if I were you, even if you don’t end up using it. The opportunity is going to vanish. The only negative I see is setting up the account, if you really-really don’t like giving your information to companies…but I think this is relatively  innocuous.

Enjoy!

Update: I got my e-mail invitation, and was able to put 723 free comics into my cart (and then submit) quite quickly. I did have to click each one, and change pages, but it wasn’t an hour of labor, certainly, and I could do it while I was on a phone call.

The only weird thing was I couldn’t do it through my Marvel account: the invitation came from ComiXology, so I had to do it through them. No big deal, though.

I’m not even sure what I got…it was kind of a head down thing. Still, I did get some I’ll be interested to see: Oz and Barsoom, and some of the really older Marvel comics. I was more of a DC fan, but maybe this will help broaden my perspective…which would be a good thing for them. 🙂

Bonus deal: one of today’s Kindle Daily Deals is

Cryptonomicon

by Neal Stephenson for $1.99 at the time of writing. As always, check the price before you click that “Buy button”, because it could certainly be different in different countries.

It’s an important science fiction book from 1999, but is also more accessible than some science fiction due to its plot structure. Don’t expect laser-toting rocket jockeys (do people still think that? Hm…). There are a number of historical figures in it, but I don’t want to say much more about it.

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


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