Archive for the ‘Discovery’ Category

“I found it through ILMK” 2016

December 20, 2016

“I found it through ILMK” 2016

There is no longer a challenge in having enough to read.

The issue is in having things that you want to read.

One of the things I want for this blog, I Love My Kindle (ILMK), is for it to help people with discovery. That’s discovery both of books and of devices. It could be that it is a book of which you’ve never heard, or (and I would guess this is more common) a sale on a book.

The interchange I have with commenters on this blog is one of my favorite things about it…that covers a wide range of topics, but I do especially like it when someone says I helped them find something!

I thought this year, for the first time, I’d go back through the comments and share some where ILMK readers said they found something through it. That may help others. It might help you find gifts or items for yourself. Note that prices mentioned may certainly not be the same for you now. The commenters may be responding to a one-day sale I reported, or the item may have the same price in your country (and indeed, may not be available there). Discovery just leads you to the encounter…what you do there is up to you. 🙂

“Got my iClever speaker today and as you said, it works great. Thanks for that tip!”
—Karen Salmons, December 4
Item: iClever BoostSound Portable IP65 Waterproof Outdoor/Shower Bluetooth Speaker with 12hr Playtime (at AmazonSmile*)

“Thanks for the heads up. I’ve been meaning to read “The Fireman” By Joe Hill. I was pleasantly surprised to see it in the list. Grabbed it.”
–Genre Book Reviews, November 28
Item: The Fireman (at Amazonsmile*)

“One of the books I picked up about a month ago was “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a family and Culture in Crisis” which had been on my wish list for awhile. You featured it when Amazon had a daily deal for memoirs. I can really identify with the family history of having grandparents move out of Appalachia to a factory town. While telling the story of his life, he gives insight to what has happened to our country as the economy has shifted away from factory jobs leaving behind many, many towns where no comparable paying jobs moved in to replace them. It is currently in the running for best memoir & autobiography at Goodreads.”
–Lady Galaxy, November 22
Item: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (at AmazonSmile*)

“Well, I just ordered “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” by Scott Adams, which you listed above, so that’s one! I’m sure there were others.”
–rogerknights, November 20
Item: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big (at AmazonSmile*)

“Have to say, among most reviews I went through online, yours is detailed and well explained. Thank you so much! Paperwhite it is for me!🙂”
–JC, October 16
Item: All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

  • “I passed on the Dot the last time it was offered, and am getting one this time They are preparing for construction next door, and are digging constantly, so we have to keep the windows shut, air conditioning running, and two air purifiers running, and I notice my SO turning up living room Echo super loud probably to listen from our bedroom, so this is an affordable way to add Alexa to our bedroom, if he finds the sound too tinny for the small amounts of time he would listen in there, I will invest in a speaker.”
    –Zebras, November 15
  • “Although I recently sold my Dot I still quickly ordered a 6 pack of the 2nd gen Dot’s. I am giving them away for Christmas to our adult kids and one Grandchild. That is only four total but since I could use four why not just get a six pack. I’m not really sure what I’ll do with the other two. I love the speaker you linked above. Is the sound good? I might order that and keep one of the new Dot’s myself for the sole purpose of listening to music or audiobooks while in the shower in the mornings.”
    –Phink, November 15
    Item: All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
    Item: iClever BoostSound Portable IP65 Waterproof Outdoor/Shower Bluetooth Speaker with 12hr Playtime (at AmazonSmile*)
  • “I did already buy a copy, so I don’t need a copy for myself. If you have extras, I would certainly gift a copy to a friend who’s a passionate reader of mysteries on kindle, and this book seems right up her alley. I’m very happy for your sibling’s impressive awards.”
    –Amy, August 26
  • “Bufo, thank you and your sister Kris. I received my link to Amazon, downloaded “One Murder More” and have been eagerly devouring it. As I read, I find myself trying to “figure it out” which to me indicates a high degree of involvement. The book is very enjoyable and I look forward to many more in this series and/or written by Kris. In addition to the plot, characters and descriptive language, I really appreciate the quality of the writing. A book with language errors really annoys me. This one is very well written, extra enjoyable. [Okay, yes, I confess. I was a teacher. But mostly French. Writing and lit my last six years.]”
    –Barbara Berry, August 16
  • “I already have the book and enjoyed reading it very much, so I just want to say “congratulations!””
    –Lady Galaxy, August 16
  • “Kris, I loved the book! Can’t wait to see wbat Maren is up to in the next novel.”
    –Jennifer Martin, July 3

Item: One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) [This is worth explaining a bit. My sibling wrote a first novel, and I mentioned it, and then we did a giveaway when it won a major award. I’m assuming anybody who wrote about it heard about it through ILMK. 🙂 I should point out that it’s sold pretty well, so that may not be the case. I’m also not including people who hadn’t indicated that they had already read it).

“Thanks to you, I just bought “The Mystery Monsters” ($1.27 used paperback). I has only one review, titled, “You haven’t lived until you’ve read this.”

“The Mystery Monsters” is $196, used hardback.”
–rogerknights, July 2
Item: The Mystery Monsters (at AmazonSmile*)

  • “I wanted to thank you for the heads up regarding the sale of books from McFarland Publishing. As a result I have purchased a few of their e-books: “Television Horror Movie Hosts”, “Universal Horror, The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931-1946”, “Keep Watching the Skies!, American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties”, “A History of the Doc Savage Adventures”, “Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937 to 2012”, and “The Heritage of Heinlein, A Critical Reading of the Fiction”. Good reading ahead🙂”
    –John Aga, June 10
  • “OH this is awesome. Thanks for the heads-up! These are texts that can be priced to the point that they may not be affordable at all, not in any great quantity.$3.99 is shockingly low for some of these books. Good for gifts, as you note, although I agree with you that these are generally best for tablets, not a general e-reader.The first book that caught my attention is: Oscar Wilde in Quotation: 3,100 Insults, Anecdotes and Aphorisms, Topically Arranged with Attributions I will definitely be getting this one for myself.In your list, the one on Heinlein caught my attention; I’m going to take a look and see if that’s for me.I am now off to comb through these pages. Thank you!”

Item: There are a bunch here. 🙂 This was a big sale on McFarland publishing books, and I also bought several of them myself

Thanks to my readers for letting me know that I helped them find books/devices!

I also appreciate it when readers recommend books/items…I’ve read some great things myself that way.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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’s “2016 Top-Selling New Releases”

December 8, 2016

Amazon’s “2016 Top-Selling New Releases”

I recently asked a question in a meeting at work about “aggregate curation”, and I could tell the speaker didn’t quite get it. 🙂

We were talking about interaction with the public online. It’s fascinating to me that many people seem to think that the “Wisdom of the Crowd” is going to be superior to the experts. When I’ve helped people on the Amazon forums, they may ask something like, “Does anyone know how…?” The answer is quite often, “Yes. Contact Amazon.”

I think Amazon makes it quite obvious about how to contact them. There is, for example, a Help link at the top of every page in the Kindle store.

Still, some people think the crowd, people like them, are a better bet to answer questions than the company itself.

I would guess that a lot of that is the general suspicion of authority. After all, Amazon clearly has a motivation to have people make purchases, so mightn’t they be more likely to recommend replacing a device than someone who has no financial stake in your decision? Sure…although I would argue that Amazon has a bigger interest in keeping you as a happy customer (their most important “product”) than making an individual sale.

I see this in a lot of things…some people would rather go with “People with your medical condition opted for this treatment most often” than what their doctors suggest.

That’s not to say that I’m not interested in what the aggregate of Amazon customers think! I do look at customer reviews at Amazon, and I have considered items more strongly when Amazon told me either that people who bought one product also bought another, or that people who had visited this page most often bought this other product.

This time of year, there are a lot of “Best of” books listed being released. Quite often, that’s a single reviewer making recommendations.

Amazon has things like that…but they also have released their

Best-Selling New Releases list (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

In terms of the list itself, they haven’t separated out Kindle sales this year…and those might be quite different. Amazon says:

“List counts only first editions published in 2016 and includes paid units in print and Kindle”

“Paid units” presumably means that borrows don’t count…meaning that

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

might not affect it. Not sure on that, though.

The top overall are “frontlist” books, generally from brand name authors. The top five are:

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne
  2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  3. The Whistler by John Grisham
  4. The Last Mile by David Baldacci
  5. Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard

Interestingly, that puts two non-fiction books in the top five (#2 and #5).

They also have top twenty lists for Kids & Young Adults, Most Wished For, and Most Gifted.

I also find it intriguing that Most Wished For and Most Gifted aren’t a one for one correspondence. 😉 Obviously, book gifters don’t always give people what they want. That could be because they don’t know (Amazon does have a pretty easy Wish List program you can share with specific people), or they want to get them something different (some givers love to surprise people, or want to illuminate new pathways). It may also be because people use the Wish Lists as a way to manage their own shopping (or just for general reference), and those books aren’t really what they want for gifts.

Something that stands out to me on that page: open obscenities (sh*tty, bullsh*t). Since these are hypothetically facts about what is most wished for or gifted, they have to list them…but I’m surprised there isn’t a family/work friendly version of the page. Ordinarily, I don’t think you’d expect to be looking at a list of very popular books to purchase online at work and run afoul of HR. 😉

Amazon does have a regular place where you can see best-selling Kindle e-books (for the USA) for the year so far…and, for that matter, for previous years:

Amazon Best Sellers of 2016 (So Far) (at AmazonSmile*)

That list is quite different, and part of that is that they use different parameters. The “so far” list includes books released in previous years…sometimes decades earlier.

I would guess that all of the top 20 for the year Amazon listed appear on the top 100 “so far” list. One thing that does stand out, though, is that there are cheaper and independently published books on the “so far” list. The number 2 is a ninety-nine cent title from “Bookouture”, The Girl in the Ice: A gripping serial killer thriller (Detective Erika Foster Book 1) by Robert Bryndza. There are also almost 7,000 customer reviews for The Girl in the Ice at time of writing.

“Best-selling” is one example of aggregate curation. It’s not something that experts think, or something that even an individual reader would put together as a “best” list. People certainly buy books that they don’t think were the best books of the year…or that they even liked all that much. 😉

I’m planning to do some writing before the end of the year, as I usually do, looking back at the year (and looking ahead). I don’t want to promise too much, but I am taking an extra PTO (Paid Time Off) day for writing after our adult kid visits for almost a week (during the visit, I may write less than usual…we’ll see). I’m considering a couple of ways to surface the “wisdom of the crowd” for ILMK readers…

Thanks to Amazon for the press release on this list! One thing they noted there: more than half of the top 20 books are part of a series…people like series in movies and books (and TV, of course). 🙂

Any thoughts on the bestsellers list? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

This post was improved through a comment from Edward Boyhan.

* 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 #151: 5 reviews a week, don’t pay as you exit

December 6, 2016

Round up #151: 5 reviews a week, don’t pay as you exit

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

Check this out…or rather, don’t and just walk out

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I managed a couple of other types of stores, too.

This is truly revolutionary! Sure, Amazon does revolutionary things, but this is not online…it’s in a physical store.

What is it?

It’s called “Amazon Go”. It’s a new store concept…and the first one is opening in Seattle in 2017, so it’s not just a concept.

You have an app on your SmartPhone. As you walk into the store, you scan your phone while passing through a turnstile (sort of like some mass transit systems). Then, you just take what you want off the shelves, and you walk out.

That’s right…you don’t check out, you don’t pay, you don’t even scan your phone again on the way out.

Your Amazon account is charged.

That’s all a quantum leap change…we haven’t been gradually moving towards this, it’s a revolution, not an evolution

Watch this video:

YouTube

Note that is uses computer vision, among other things…it’s not just RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or UPC (Universal Product Code) tags.

We do see an Amazon employee restocking the shelf, although that could largely be done by robots. You want some employees, though, at this point…for one thing, to answer questions (the app could probably help with that, perhaps in the future as an Alexa-enabled app, or by having Alexa-enabled devices in the store). The other major thing would be to discourage shoplifting…no doubt, people will try to run into the store (hopping the turnstile, perhaps) and grab and go.

This is brilliant for Amazon for several reasons.

Everybody who goes in there pays through Amazon.

I think customers will like it…a lot.

Customers will also have a lowered awareness of how much they are spending. I’ve seen people in front of me in line at a grocery store look at the total and put something back…not going to happen here.

This first store will have grocery type items, including prepared meals…not, I would presume, fresh produce, although I suppose that could be done.

Amazon could eventually expand this, especially at the holiday season. I see clothing being particularly appropriate here, so people could try on the clothes.

Amazon…always innovating, and increasingly, offline.

Specialty Best Books lists

Here are some links to specialty Best Books lists from The Guardian:

Note that this is a British news source, but that has affected availability less in recent years, I believe.

こんにちは, Dash buttons!

Do you know why Microsoft Word won out over WordPerfect?

I was active at the time in computing, and I remember it pretty well.

WordPerfect was, I think most serious word processors agreed, better.

However, we did everything with keyboard shortcuts…we didn’t have mice and menus, for the most part (it worked with them quite a bit later). Some of you will remember plastic trays you put around your keyboard that listed the shortcuts…you might have had several of them.

Microsoft brought in this “menu” thing. People laughed: the only people who used a word processing program were superior typists, and they weren’t going to want to take their fingers off the home row to pick up a mouse and go to a menu.

Well, of course, what happened was that lots of people who weren’t good typists started using word-processing…and if you were a bad typist, that was better.

Microsoft won because they provided multiple ways to do the same thing. They didn’t eliminate keyboard shortcuts…they added another modality.

I bring that up because some people may wonder why Amazon does

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

when they have the beauty of voice shopping with the Alexa-enabled devices, including the original

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

With a Dash button, it does one thing. It orders a specific product, whenever you push a button.

Those are two very different approaches…and Amazon is making them both work, and apparently they are both selling well.

The USA Kindle store now has 226 Dash buttons…and when you buy one for $4.99, you get a $4.99 credit on your first purchase (so it is effectively free).

Well, Amazon just introduced the Dash button to Amazon.jp (the Japanese store):

Dash buttons in Amazon.jp

They are starting with 16, but I think it will be a success there, too. 🙂

“Winner Wonderland”: win an Echo Dot and a whole lot more from C/NET

You could win an

All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a whole lot of other home automation hardware in the

Winner Wonderland giveaway at C/NET

You do have to agree to get the e-mail newsletter (you can drop out), but this is a good giveaway. There’s a giveaway each day through December 15th, 2016.

“BANNED BOOKS AND BLOCKBUSTERS”

This

New Yorker article by Louis Menand

is one of the best articles on publishing I’ve read in quite some time…although, I will warn you that there is an “obscenity” early on in it (what some people call the “c word”…it can be used as an insulting term for women, and refers to part of the female anatomy, which is how it is used in the quotation appearing in the article). As regular readers know, I don’t use obscenities in my “real life”, and when I write in this blog, I typically censor them (even something like “H*ll”). However, I do not object to their use by others, and have used them when quoting something.

It’s important for this story, which gives real insight into the history of obscenity laws and the first amendment, and how they have affected publishing.

I found it insightful and edifying, and it’s relatively long.

If you can get past that word in this context, and some other discussions of what obscenity means (and potentially objectionable language), I recommend the article.

For a previous post of mine about judging books from older times by current standards, see

The Chronological Cultural Context Conundrum

That may not be exactly the issue here…both of these books use the “n word”, but in the latter especially, it’s used for a purpose, and the purpose is certainly arguably intended to be instructive.

Microsoft may challenge the Echo…through computers

The Echo really realized the home assistant market, but there are now multiple competitors…which is a good thing. Competition drives innovation, after all.

This

Engadget post by Jon Fingas

discusses rumors that Microsoft may turn Windows PCs into Cortana-powered home automation centers. Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant, like Alexa or Siri.

It’s an interesting idea and makes a lot of sense to me.

We don’t know if this is real, or what it would eventually be able to do…but I don’t see any great barrier to this. It might particularly apply in businesses…I use our

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

at work, but that’s not very subtle. 😉 I’m not doing anything wrong listening to music on it and such, but I think it can distract people that it is there in a different way than a feature of Windows 10 would do. When I say that, I’m picturing the office having smart home technology which would tie to it, by the way.

Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird pulled from school district due to parent complaint

This kind of thing happens…a parent complains about a book, and it gets pulled from a school or school district, sometimes to be restored later:

Huffington Post article by Claire Fallon

The complaint was over the use of the “n word”. I’ve seen the parent (I think it was the complaining parent) comment, and the thought was that the word being in a book give it an imprimatur and children will feel okay using it.

As I’ve seen this story in multiple places, there is a tendency to tie it into current political events…I wouldn’t say I’m seeing something here that rules that in or out. After all, there is a Banned Books Week every year…

Amazon continues to go after “fake reviews”

A reader sent me a heads up to this

Washington Post article by Gene Marks

that asserts that there is a new Amazon review policy. I’ve written about Amazon’s customer reviews quite a bit…a powerful tool, but one that has been…vulnerable to at least attempts at manipulation.

According to this, the new policy is that an individual can only write up to five non-verified purchase reviews per week.

That will stop people who are “review factories”. They get paid (in cash and products) for writing those reviews…and they may use software or a team of people to do it.

They can still try to make a number of accounts, I suppose, but this does put a hurdle on the track.

Does it affect people who are legitimately reviewing?

Potentially, although I think not a huge number.

If I was retired, I could see deciding to sit down and write a review for every one of the Doc Savage paperbacks, for example, and that might be writing more than ten a week. They wouldn’t show as “verified purchases” at Amazon, since I bought them before Amazon existed. 🙂

However, older books don’t tend to have very many reviews, so I don’t think that sort of Before Amazon bulk reviewing happens much.

Thanks for the heads up, reader!

What do you think? How should schools handle parent challenges to books…and how should they handle “objectionable words”? What do you think of the Amazon Go store? How about a computer that did home automation? Do you like Cortana? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

This post was improved through a comment from Edward Boyhan.

* 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’s new review filters

November 19, 2016

Amazon’s new review filters

There has been lots of discussion about review at Amazon…people paying for reviews, “sock puppets” (where an author essentially tells other people what to say to get good reviews and comments), and so on.

I’ve written about the subject some here, and I was pleased when regular reader and commenter pointed out a recent change.

It might at first seem like the change that was noted might not be good, but Amazon is giving you a lot of options now…they just didn’t make it obvious that they did it, so it might…mislead you a bit if you thought it was still going to work the same way.

The change you might initially notice is that you click to read the reviews on a product page…and not enough reviews appear to be there.

That’s because the new default is to only show you “verified purchasers”. That clearly can cut down on “fake reviews”…if the account has to have purchased the item, it makes it harder to sock puppet accounts (and certainly, more expensive).

For example, let’s look at the recent John Grisham book

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

They used to just show you the reviews, and you could pick most helpful or jump to critical or particular star ratings (I used to look at the one stars, for example, to see if I disagreed with the reasons).

Now, you get a lot more choices.

At time of writing, there were 1,312 customer reviews, with an average of 4.1 stars out of 5.

Top customer reviews show first…those are the ones voted most helpful, whether they are positive or negative. In this case, 118 voted for a 3 star review, then the next one was 53 people voting for a two star review.

On the other side of the page were the ten most recent reviews.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

There used to be a link that takes you to all of the reviews…now, it (and it is labeled this way) you first see verified purchaser reviews only.

Whoops, the numbers changed while I was writing this! So, there are 1,338 reviews now, and 1,211 of them are verified…that means not quite ten percent of them are not verified. There is a link right there to see all reviews if you want.

There is a sort option which defaults to Top, and you can choose to sort by most recent.

Then, there are three more controls:

  • Verified Purchasers or All Reviewers
  • 5 star only or 4 star only or 3 star only or 2 star only or 1 star only…or all critical or all positive
  • Finally, I could choose to see All Formats or just the Kindle format (I was on the Kindle format page)

That’s interesting! 1,211 reviews were available for all formats, and the Kindle format was 1,096…again, about 90.5 percent of them are Kindle. My guess is that’s largely a result of it being very easy to write Kindle reviews…they encourage you to do it every time you finish a Kindle book. If you read a hardback, you’d have to remember to go to Amazon and write the review.

This means that we could actually compare the different formats…so it may be possible to tell if the Kindle format is less well-received than the hardback. That used to happen sometimes, because it might have been less well-formatted. I think that’s less true now.

For example, 632 of the Kindle only reviews are 5 star out of 1,167 (all reviewers, not just verified). That’s 54%.

Switching over to the hardback format, 48 of the hardback only are 5 stars, out of 119…which is about 40%. That means a lot more Kindleers rated it 5 star than hardback readers.

Flipping to 1 star reviews, that’s 12 of the 119 for the hardback: about 10%. For the Kindle version, 48 out of 1,167, about 4%. Definitely seems like people like the Kindle version better. Now, does that mean it is better, or perhaps that Kindleers are less critical? Perhaps less expensive books are reviewed more highly, although the difference here is under $2.50 (worth noting that the Kindle book is under $15, and the hardback (after the discounts) isn’t.

Overall, I think this is a very good thing! It gives us more information, and more options…and I do thank Lady Galaxy for helping people go into it with eyes open!

What do you think? Do you like the new changes? Do you think you’ll use them? Feel free to tell me any readers by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

Round up #148: review rules tighten, Google announcement

October 6, 2016

Round up #148: review rules tighten, Google announcement

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

Here comes Google!

Sure, Google is everywhere…especially up in my business. 😉 I really like my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (even though I have to keep explaining to people that it’s not the Note, which is the one that’s blowing up…and I don’t mean it’s making a lot in sales, it is literally blowing up on some people…or at least, burning up), but I admit I find it a bit creepy when it has a list of places I’ve parked, and asks me if I want to add photos for some place I’ve been. Note that that isn’t Samsung, it’s Google…and I know I could change settings, but I have found it useful sometimes. I don’t have to be completely comfortable with everything which helps me. 🙂

What I mean by my headline here is that Google just make some very big hardware announcements, which do impact Amazon fans.

I’ll say first that the actual announcement venue looked…cheesy, I guess. You can see video here:

YouTube search

The chairs weren’t matched, speakers were dressed very casually, and the audio wasn’t always in sync with the speaker, at least from what I saw. Tech announcements are often very slick, sometimes too slick…but outside of the giant projector screen, this looked like it was hastily done in a warehouse. I suspect that was on purpose, to make it more…approachable.

Amazon doesn’t make its own Fire Phone any more (I was one of the few who had one, until it failed), but I will say that Google’s new Pixel (a brand they’ve used for other hardware) sounds awesome! One point for all devices in the future: they claim to be able to charge your phone for seven hours of use…in fifteen minutes.

Google Home is a direct competitor to Amazon’s

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

Google Home is considerably cheaper than the standard Echo…but more than twice as expensive as the

All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which ships in two weeks.

Google Home may do search better. It may understand your speech better (I’m very impressed with “OK Google”‘s speech recognition…soon to be Google Assistant, as I understand it). It will have Google Translate capability, although that’s quirky. Alexa (the “parse-onality” of the Echo) has some translation skills (skills are like apps for your phone) as well.

It will do some of the things that our Echo devices do…but it won’t do some of the things we like the best. I don’t expect it to be able to reorder Amazon products. I don’t think it’s going to read my Kindle books with text-to-speech (or play Audible audiobooks). It might do those things through apps, but we’ll see.

Competition stimulates innovation, so I’m more than fine with this. I suspect the microphones aren’t as good, but that’s just a guess…still, places where it is better will encourage Amazon to make the Echo better.

I don’t see it as a threat…I see it as a spur. 🙂

Of course, you have to be comfortable with Google having a device in your home which could hypothetically literally listen to every time you flush the toilet. 😉

A more direct impact on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and Fire devices is

Google Wi-Fi

It’s a cute little hub, looking a bit like the Echo Dot. If it makes Wi-Fi coverage in a home better, that might be a help.

I tried the Amazon locker again, and it was…

great! When I wrote this

I had my first experience with an Amazon locker and it was…

it had been very frustrating. The concept is really good: I order from Amazon, and they deliver it to a locker at a Safeway near us. We’ve had mail theft, so this is secure and convenient. I get a code, put it in the locker bank screen, and get my item.

The first time, the touchscreen wouldn’t work…can’t do much without it.

This time, it did…so this was a good experience.

Amazon changes review rules…no freebies in exchange for reviews, eligibility to write reviews now tougher

Customer reviews are very important to Amazon…that can make shopping online more informative than shopping in person in a store.

That is, if customers trust the reviews.

I wrote recently that

ZDNet uncovers an apparent massive gaming of the Kindle publishing system

which included manipulated purchasing, but manipulated reviewing has also been a big issue.

Publishers have literally paid people to write reviews for their books…using “Fiver”, for one. That’s not illegal, by the way…there may be some risk of criminal fraud in false reviews, but that’s quite complicated. If I give you a free book if you promise to write a review, that’s not illegal…I haven’t told you what kind of review to write (“wink, wink, nudge, nudge” as Monty Python might say).

One of my readers, Marjorie, commented that Amazon has now said that “freebies for reviews” is not okay…and looking into it, there were some interesting guidelines:

Amazon says that this is not okay: “Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.”

and

“Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”

Community Guidelines (at AmazonSmile*)

and sub-pages.

As I read this, you can give books away, as my sibling did with

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

through this blog (I get no financial benefit from that book…I’m not a publisher of it, or have gotten paid anything for advice I’ve given), and encourage a review (“I’d appreciate a review”) as long as you don’t say that you have to write a review to get a book, or say, “I’d appreciate a good review.”

Another interesting line:

“To post Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, post on Customer Discussion Forums, or submit content to followers, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum. You do not need to meet this requirement to post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries, or to read content posted by other customers.”

So, gift card purchases don’t count…and you can’t just buy a book and write a review of it, if you’ve never bought anything else from Amazon. That might cut back on some “sockpuppetry”, specifically where someone might set up a bunch of accounts just to buy their own book and write positive reviews.

Overall, I’m okay with this. I don’t mind the reviews getting a bit more filtered. I suppose it could be argued that this will make the reviews tend to be better, since it will have to be Amazon customers who write the reviews…but I think Amazon likes having negative reviews of items, too. While it might cut down on sales, it probably also cuts down on returns and bad feelings, and that’s quite important.

What do you think? Thinking of trying Google Home? Is it a risk for the Echo? Does the amount of time it takes to charge your devices bother you? Are you concerned that the new review rules will end up skewing the reviews towards the positive? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

So, that worked: how Kindle Worlds got me to watch The 100

July 23, 2016

So, that worked: how Kindle Worlds got me to watch The 100

A lot of people wondered why mainstream rightsholders would license properties to Amazon’s

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

This innovative programsees Amazon act effectively as the bridge between people who own the rights to intellectually property (like a movie, TV show, or book series) and writers who would like to create new stories in those worlds.

The rightsholder gets a cut, the author gets a cut, and Amazon gets a cut.

The rightsholder is able to put up guidelines, but they don’t approve the individual works.

Certainly, you can see how there could be some risk there. There’s nothing that prevents an author from writing a poor story, or one that is distinctly non-canonical (creating a romance between two characters when there isn’t one in the real series, or killing major characters). It’s possible a reader will encounter a KW version first, and then decide not to read the others.

I think that’s not very likely, though. I think most people will understand that KW is not official…still, the risk isn’t zero.

For Disney, a company famously (some would say overzealously) protective of their characters, I don’t think they’ll tend to take that risk. That’s why, even though the Marvel Universe and Star Wars are amongst the most requested properties, my best guess is that we aren’t going to get those.

Some companies, though, perhaps with younger-skewing audiences, seem to believe that “fanfic” (fan fiction) and other forms of fan engagement can be beneficial to a brand. This isn’t traditional fanfic, but it’s in the same neighborhood, even if not living on the same street. 😉

That additional engagement can have a synergistic effect. Someone who reads a KW work may buy the main series…or another form of licensed content.

That happened with me recently…actually, I didn’t even read the KW books, I just noticed they existed.

That upped my awareness of

The 100 by Kass Morgan (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s a young adult, post-apocalyptic science fiction series.

It’s also a show on the CW.

I had an afternoon where I was going to work on some things in the house, and I wanted something to “background binge”…a TV series that will go from episode to episode for me, and not one where I want to necessarily pay attention to every word. I can write, exercise, and do some household chores with the TV on like that…in fact, I do them better. 🙂

So, I saw on Netflix on my

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

that they had The 100 (from the first episode).

It was worth a try. 🙂

It is a bit soapy, and has a cast with a lot of young, traditionally attractive people (in other words, it’s a CW show) ;), but I’ve found that it’s worth watching. There have been some good set pieces, and it has a complex (but not convoluted or overly mythologized) plot. It’s also well designed for binging, with one episode flowing nicely into the next.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have started watching it if I didn’t know it was in KW, which gave it a certain amount of legitimacy.

I had also added it to

 The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project

and when I did that, I could see there was some significant fandom. I typically add links to streaming and public library searches for non-public domain works like this, a link to a Twitter search, Google news search, and so on. Some have a lot; some don’t. I certainly put things in TMCGTT that don’t have much: those are fun, too!

Now, the obvious question: did this get me to read the Kass Morgan books?

If they had been in

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

I would have.  😉

In an exception for books published by Amazon, even the KW books aren’t in Kindle Unlimited…probably, that would complicate things with the rightsholders.

Regardless, it worked: KW got me to view the TV series…and somebody got paid for that.

That’s why I still think we may see some older properties that are harder to monetize: The Addams Family, Get Smart, Lost in Space…I might write in any of those, among many others. Maybe with the new Doc Savage movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, we’ll get that…but they might be too protective and there is a currently licensed book series happening already.

I think it helps a fictional property to be open to new ideas. Superman wouldn’t fly if it wasn’t that the Fleischers requested it, to make it easier to animate in an old cartoon series (when Supes could “leap tall buildings in a single bound”, they had to show take-off and landing, and, well, it’s more dramatic if Superman can hover and change directions).

What do you think? Are you reading Kindle Worlds? Has that inspired you to read/view the original property…or discouraged you from doing it? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

Should Amazon do “On Deck” for books?

June 18, 2016

Should Amazon do “On Deck” for books?

Have you found yourself unexpectedly on a trip and realize you didn’t download a book to read to your Kindle?

Nah, probably not…if you are like most people, you probably have more than 100 on there. 😉

However, you might not have one you particularly want to read.

Amazon recognizes that need for videos, and in a recent

software update for 5th generation Fire tablets (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

those devices got a feature called “On Deck”. The Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) and the original Fire TV have already had something like it.

It downloads a video for you…something it thinks you might want to watch, like the next episode in a series you are watching.

I think this might work very well for books…after all, we read lots of series of books, too. 🙂

The obvious place to do it would be with

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

Based on what you are reading now, Amazon could download another book to your device before you finish, so it’s ready to go. The next book in a series is obvious, but it could also do one based on the same author or the same topic.

You wouldn’t be charged for it…if I was Amazon, I’d make an “On Deck” book not count against your ten borrows at a time you can have from KU.

You’d get one book at a time…if you chose not to read it (indicated by you starting another book), it could be replaced…again, automatically.

You could “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” the choices, but that’s not really necessary…if you read it, it’s a sign they made a good choice.

It also wouldn’t need to cost Amazon much at all. With KU books, the publisher doesn’t get paid the whole royalty just because it is downloaded…it’s based on what you read.

Yep, I think this could be great for many people, including publishers!

Naturally, I would want you to have the option to opt out of it. There are some people who really load up their Kindles, and others where connecting to the network can be an issue.

For people who don’t have KU, it’s trickier.

Amazon could still do it…downloading a free book for you based on what you are reading. However, that could have royalty implications.

No, it’s probably best as an inducement to get people to do KU…at least initially.

Another option would be to let you pre-authorize purchases. You could agree to purchase the next book in a series whenever it is released, or the next book from an author. I think that’s riskier, though…especially the author one. Authors sometimes write books which don’t really match up with the other books…and they might choose to follow a super successful book with a riskier one.

Still, I hope Amazon considers the idea! It helps Amazon and the publishers with discovery and predictability. It helps readers, again with discovery and with convenience.

What do you think? Does it sound like a good idea? Am I missing some reason you wouldn’t like it? 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!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

LitHub’s Book Marks: aggregating book reviews

June 13, 2016

LitHub’s Book Marks: aggregating book reviews

With literally millions of e-books available to us, and on average more than a thousand books a day added to the USA Kindle store, the biggest challenging facing many of us as Kindleers is deciding which books to read.

There have been a lot of attempts to help people with that (I even have a category for Discovery on this blog), and Literary Hub (LitHub) has just introduced a new one called “Book Marks”.

LitHub’s Book Marks

In this

press release

they analogize it to the very popular movie/TV review site

RottenTomatoes

…so, Rotten “Tome-matoes”, perhaps? 😉

I don’t tend to use RottenTomatoes, although I think it’s a good site and I’m usually aware of scores. I’m probably more influenced by the simple summary on Fandango (I tend to use that to check movie times).

Both RottenTomatoes and Fandango give two scores: an aggregate of “professional” reviews and an aggregate of viewer scores.

When I’m picking a movie to see with my Significant Other, I’m probably more influenced by the viewer score. If critics say, “Must go!” and viewers say, “So-so”, my guess tends to be that it is perhaps more technically interesting than viscerally interesting, which may not be as successful for us.

I also like the less well-known

MRQE (Movie Review Query Engine)

I mention all that to show that I have some perspective on review aggregating sites.

I’ve looked at Book Marks.

At this point, it generally wouldn’t be helpful for me.

That may change…but there seem to be very few books, and they appear only to be the current “frontlist” (recently issue popular mainstream titles). The fantasy category, for example, appears to have four titles:

  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  • Arcadia by Iain Pears
  • The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery
  • Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick Dewitt

Their grades range from B to A+.

I’d love to compare what I thought about the book to their average…but I haven’t found a book at the site yet that I’ve read.

I checked their A rated one, A Gathering of Shadows.

There were excerpts from reviews (including Entertainment Weekly…I’ve been a subscriber for years). That was nice.

You could comment on the book, which will start getting some reader impressions eventually.

There were links to the reviews, so you could read the whole thing…again, that’s a nice feature.

However, their A grade was based on a total of…four reviews.

Now, it’s understandable that there aren’t very many books when they’ve only been live for about a week.

That shouldn’t, though, affect the number of reviews. The book came out in February, I believe…those professional reviewers should have done reviews by now (if they were going to do that).

That’s not a very big data set.

Searching produced a lot of false negatives. Putting in “Mary Roach”, for example, did find me Grunt…but also 17 books not by that author.

The categories were interesting, and did indicate a “literati” mindset…no category, for “science fiction”, but one for “speculative”. That likely would mean that some more casual readers wouldn’t find it.

There were categories for New Books and Hottest Books.

I didn’t see much way to work with the results… wanted to sort them by the lowest to highest grade, and didn’t see a way to do that. I only saw a couple lower than a B- (and C was as low as I saw).

The site looked reasonably professional in terms of graphic design.

The biggest negative for me was not having older books. I think, like a lot of serious readers, I’m not always (or even primarily) reading frontlist books.

I’d suggest you go ahead and take a look at it and see what you think. You may find it more useful (perhaps especially for gifts, but maybe not). I plan to check back in on it in maybe a month to see how it’s grown.

What I would prefer, rather than a RottenTomatoes, is a site like IMDb.com (owned by Amazon). I want stats about books…I want to do know when it was released, who the editor was, who the cover artist was, and so on. Amazon also owns GoodReads, and they come close to that…but they recently shutdown Shelfari (if you try to go there, it redirects you to Good Reads), which was even more valuable to me in that it included elements of the book (like characters and places).

I do applaud LitHub for trying something new!

If you do go and want to tell me and my readers what you think, feel free to do so by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

Random country #1: Dominican Republic

May 17, 2016

Random country #1: Dominican Republic

I’m always looking for new ways to discover things to read. It really concerns me that I might get set into certain patterns, and miss something which might change my thinking just out of habit.

I’ve done it different ways, but today, I thought I’d pick a random country and see what was in the USA Kindle store for it. Sure, I want to expand my horizons, but I want the convenience of buying from the Kindle store…and doing something I think is illegal or immoral (for me) is not where I’m going to go.

In terms of methodology, I figured I’d go with United Nations member states. That doesn’t cover every country, but does cover quite a few. So, I started with the

United Nations list of member states

from their site.

Next, I used our

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

to give me a random number between one and twenty-six (to get a letter), and then had it give me a random number for the number of countries that started with that letter. That was just a simple way to do it.

The letter was “D” and the number was “6”…which is the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic joined the UN on October 24, 1945…which means it joined in the first year (but wasn’t one of the very first).

For an overview, here is

The Dominican Republic at Wikipedia

Briefly, it is on the same island as Haiti, and has one of the more robust economies in the area.

I’ll admit, I couldn’t name authors from the Dominican Republic right offhand…which fit right in with the idea of checking “random countries”!

I checked a couple of sites outside of Amazon first:

The Latino Author

Dominican Republic Literature at Wikipedia

The latter, not surprisingly, had a much bigger list…including at least one well-known name in the USA, Junot Diaz. It also had links to other online sites.

Next, I wanted to see what Amazon had. That’s part of the point of this for me, to see what shoppers at Amazon would find who were interested in the given country’s literature.

Search for “Dominican Republic” in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I got 343 results, with 80 available through

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

at no additional cost for members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service). I’ve been a happy KU member since they started, so I do always check that. In fact, I basically read e-books I already own (our adult kid just gave me a bunch of science fiction pulp anthologies) or books from KU. I put other books on my wish list for my family. 🙂

Here is the distribution among categories:

Note that the same book may appear in multiple categories (I think up to three).

Hm..nothing is listed as literature, although clearly, many of the books in “Kindle eBooks” are likely to be fiction.

Oh, that’s better! When I clicked “Kindle eBooks” and then expanded, I got more valuable categories:

Checking literature, I found something that very much fit what I would want to read…if it was in KU:

In the Time of the Butterflies (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Julia Alvarez
4.4 stars out of 5 (459 customer reviews)

Alvarez is a native of the Dominican Republic, and wrote How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.

It’s based on real events in history, when “Las Mariposas” (The Butterflies”) who, as siblings, opposed the dictatorial leader Trujillo.

That’s exactly the kind of cultural thing I would think would give me insight into a country’s thoughts and feelings…like an expert American writer fictionalizing Billy the Kid, or an Australian writing about Ned Kelly.

There were six KU  books listed as history for the Dominican Republic, and I would probably read this one if I was going to go visit:

History and Culture of Dominican Republic, Government, Politics Economy, Tourism: Migration, The First Colony
by Uzo Marvin

I’d also look for a humor book, a children’s book, and a science fiction/fantasy book. 🙂 Being me, I’d look for a book on the animals of the country as well.

I suspect I may have some readers with knowledge of the literature of The Dominican Republic, though, so before I keep digging, I thought I’d ask…any recommendations? I’d prefer KU,  of course, but regardless, I’m curious. 🙂 Feel free to make them (or add other thoughts) by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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 #314: Discovery Zone, A Truth Worth Tellin’

December 19, 2015

Round up #314: Discovery Zone, A Truth Worth Tellin’

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

This is how Kindle Unlimited should work

I read a good book recently.

Now, that shouldn’t be a rare thing. 🙂 I often say I’ve never read a bad book, and I do believe that. I think I’ve gotten something good out of every book I’ve read…although there have been parts of books I haven’t liked and certainly, there have been some with massive flaws.

That doesn’t mean I’m uncritically accepting, or think that all books are equal. 😉

It was refreshing to read a novel that I felt had a strong voice, good plotting, and wasn’t gimmicky.

That book was

A Truth Worth Tellin’ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Toni Teepell

This isn’t a case where I know the author at all, or had even heard of the book.

What happened was that my Significant Other wanted a new book to read (especially on the treadmill).

We are happy members of

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

Amazon’s subser (subscription service). People pay $9.99 a month (although there have been discounts for longer subscriptions) for an “all you can read” service. You can have up to ten books out at a time, and multiple people on the account can be reading a book at the same time.

We like to do that. 🙂

If we both read the same book, we can then talk about it later…it’s a social thing.

I looked for a book, and I started by looking for Southern fiction. That’s something my SO particularly likes…both more serious, like Pat Conroy, and funny, like Fannie Flagg.

I think I searched for “Southern fiction” in Kindle Unlimited, then limited it to Contemporary Fiction, and then sorted by average customer review.

I skipped what appeared to be romance (I read that sometimes, but it’s not my SO’s preference)…the publishers pick the classifications, by the way.

Then, the cover of A Truth Worth Tellin’ caught my eye…and it currently has 18 customer reviews, all 5-star.

I don’t want to build this up too much, 😉 but that was a good rating…so we tried it.

It is, in a sense, a bit old-fashioned. By that I just mean that it isn’t saying, “Hey, look at how I’m disrupting the traditional novel by adding graphic sex, non-linear storytelling, and characters you hate!” 😉 I’d say it could have been written in the 1950s…not in a bad way. 🙂

It was interesting: I didn’t even look at the price of it until I started writing this post. It’s $4.99.

I’m hoping that some of you read it and enjoy it…both for your benefit and for the author’s.

When people criticize KU, they tend to bring up the alleged lack of well-known novels (although there are actually a lot of famous books, they don’t tend to be current bestsellers). A Truth Worth Telllin’ (a first novel) exemplifies the argument for KU as discovery for lesser known novels.

And of course, if you borrow it, read a bit of it, and don’t share my opinion, you can just move on to another book…

Why Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an argument for permanent copyright

More than five years ago, I published what may be my most controversial post:

Should copyright be permanent?

In it, I explored the idea of making copyright permanent in exchange for greater Fair Use provisions.

In other words, an author and the author’s estate would continue to control the commercial use of a creation (which might, of course, include having licensed it to a publisher) in perpetuity, but the work could be used for educational and research purposes generally without compensation.

That’s the simplified version.

There are reasonable arguments on both sides.

One thing I hear from people is that a work staying in copyright deprives society of a common culture…that te world (or, at least the USA) should own works like Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland.

Well, I have to point out: is Star Wars any less of our shared culture than Romeo and Juliet?

Do people know “May the Force be with you” less than they know “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

Do they talk about Star Wars less than they do about Shakespeare? Are fewer kids named after Star Wars characters and actors than Romeo & Juliet ones? Well, okay, there are a lot of Romeos out there…but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many Lukes and Leias born in early 1978. 😉 There also aren’t that many Mercutios…

You might guess it’s because Star Wars is more contemporary…but, based on the original copyright terms in the USA, it would have been in  the public domain by now (the original term was 14 years, renewable once for a total of 28, if the author was still alive…not as probable then as it is now).

Three quick tips

  • On a touchscreen device, “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on something for about a second) for more options
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Help other readers find books

Just a reminder about

ILMK Readers’ Recommendations: book discovery zone

There will be many people new to KU in the next couple of weeks, especially since you can

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

You can help them out by going to the Book Discovery Zone and “voting” in the polls to endorse books, and by narratively suggesting books I can add.

Skipping the Flip(board)

Ooh, this was tough for me!

I skipped my morning

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

read this morning, although I will do it later today.

Why?

To avoid Star Wars spoilers. 🙂

My favorite thing in entertainment is to be surprised, and it can be hard to do. For that reason, I really don’t like spoilers, myself…and I also think they are…well, when done intentionally, I would consider them morally wrong.

Let me be clear: I don’t mean when you accidentally reveal a twist in a story, or when you do it without thinking about it.

I mean when people do it intentionally.

I read an article recently where the writer recalled standing outside of a movie in the Star Wars franchise, shouting the twist at people before they entered the theatre.

To me, it’s a form of intellectual bullying. That’s not to minimize traditional bullying. I think, though, it comes from similar impulses. You are using your superior power (knowledge, in this case), to take something away from someone else.

I love discussing movies (and books), but only when everybody present wants to do that.

I also think there is no statute of limitations on spoilers.

I believe that a nine-year old reading The Wizard of Oz in 2015 has the right to the same experience of the book as a nine-year old reading it in 1900 had.

I’ve been very pleased to see that mainstream media, and much of social media, has recognized the value of avoiding spoilers with regards to SW: TFA.

However, Flipboard (at least the way I have it configured) contains many non-traditional sources, and I’m guessing there will be spoilers in it this morning.

We are seeing the movie at 11:25 this morning…so I’ll read Flipboard after we’ve seen it. 😉

Jeff Bezos is one of Barbara Walters Most Fascinating People of 2015

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) has had an interesting year: space news, an attack on the Amazon work culture, and an explicitly political comment.

Here is an

ABC video

of Barbara Walters’ “Most Fascinating People of 2015” segment with Bezos.

What do you think? How did Jeff Bezos do on Barbara Walters? What will happen to Amazon after Jeff?  Should people make references to plot twists openly (for example, jokes about maybe the Wizard of Oz in relationship to public figures), or should there be spoiler alerts? Have you discovered any books or authors through KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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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.


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