Archive for the ‘Goodreads’ Category

Goodreads introduces Goodreads Deals

May 18, 2016

Goodreads introduces Goodreads Deals

Goodreads is the leading social reading site. Amazon bought it about three years ago

Amazon buys Goodreads

and there were concerns that it would become Amazon-centric and hopes that it could use the power of Amazon for readers.

Amazon doesn’t tend to be heavy handed when it acquires a company. I would guess that many people didn’t realize for some time that Amazon had acquired IMDb.com, which I use regularly (it’s a movie/TV reference site).

I would say that’s been the case with Goodreads as well. Yes, you got integration with Amazon, where you could import your Amazon-purchased books to your Goodreads shelves. Sure, we see some Amazon ads. However, when you go to an individual book’s page, there are links to buy it at all these places:

  • Audible
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Apple iBooks
  • Google Play
  • Abebooks
  • Book Depository
  • Indigo
  • Half.com
  • Alibris
  • Better World Books
  • IndieBound

Amazon is listed separately and first, but they haven’t stopped people from using Goodreads to discover books to buy at specific competitors (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBooks…).

That’s why I use it as one of my top links in

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip 

for books not in the public domain. For a public domain book (one not under copyright protection), I’ll first link to somewhere you can read it legally for free (I usually use ManyBooks). If it’s under copyright protection, my first link is to WorldCat, so someone can find it in the public library…I’m trying to make access to the books, movies, TV shows, radio sows, and so on, at TMCGTT as frictionless as possible. If somebody wants to buy it, I don’t link directly to a page like the book’s  product page at Amazon, where the primary purpose is to sell you the book. I do link to the Goodreads page, where buying it is an option, but not the focus.

Well, Goodreads just announced a new discounting program:

Goodreads deals announcement blogpost by Annarose Mclaughlin

This is only for U.S. members at this point (I know that may be disappointing for my readers around the world, but it may expand in the future), but I’m looking forward to seeing what discounts are available!

One part is based on books on your Want to Read list, and on authors you follow. These are personalized coupons. I have to say, if they work as well as our Safeway coupons work, I’m in! Our Safeway app regularly saves us significant money on items we buy regularly.

I do think it’s interesting that it doesn’t say it will be based on books you say you have read. I think that may be a mistake: as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you that significant part of our business was people buying books they already owned as gifts for other people. I’ve bought some books many times to give away. However, since it does work for authors you are following, that’s another way to go.

The second part isn’t based on you specifically: you sign up for discounts in specific genres. They will add to these, but they are starting with these genres:

  • Bestsellers
  • Romance
  • Mystery & Thrillers
  • Fantasy & Sci-Fi

“Bestsellers” isn’t exactly a genre, but we’ll let that slide. 🙂

Those will come as daily e-mails.

That means that Goodreads is now directly competing with sites like BookGorilla and BookBub.

When I signed up, it was interesting that I could configure it for deals from any of five sources (and by default, all five were selected):

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook
  • Google Play
  • Kobo

For me, I left it on the default with everything selected. That’s so I can get more information about what’s happening in the industry, and report things to you.

The first deal which was sent to me, within about a minute of signing up, was impressive:

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

This Alice Sebold book was a huge bestseller…and the price is $2.99.

I did check: that’s the same price you see if you go to the book through the Amazon website…it’s not an exclusive coupon, from what I can see, but notification of a sale. Not surprisingly, the sale price was good from all five of the stores…price matching can do that, as can the Agency Model.

By the way, I often have put books on my Want to Read shelf which I already own (but haven’t yet read). This wasn’t one of those, but I don’t know if that will impact the offers I see or not (I’m guessing not).

This seems like something that  makes sense for most readers to do.

What if you are a publisher?

Here’s the

Goodreads blog post, again by Annarose Mclaughlin

on that.

You can nominate an e-book deal by e-mailing advertising-inquiry@goodreads.com.

I think that, generally, Goodreads will find the deals on their own…but it’s also possible that publishers will be able to pay a fee to have a deal included. The blogpost says, “We’ll announce pricing soon. Stay tuned.”

What do you think? Will you sign up? What genres would you like to see? Will you look at books for stores you don’t use? Would you want to see books you’ve already read included (I’ve suggested on the comments page that they allow us to indicate on each of our shelves if we want the used for Goodreads Deals or not. That would also allow people to have a shelf specifically for that purpose…and they might add books to that  during the holidays). What does this mean for Bookgorilla, Bookbub,  eReaderIQ, and others? Would you use it for gifts, or more for yourself? Does it change your engagement with Goodreads (it will mine, because I’ll follow more authors…hey, I’d probably follow all of them).  😉 How do you feel about them including non-Amazon stores? 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!

*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.

Most popular Goodreads reviewers in the USA

August 11, 2015

Most popular Goodreads reviewers in the USA

I’m always looking for new paths to discovery of books to read.

After all, the challenge nowadays isn’t just finding books…it’s choosing them.

It used to be entirely possible that I would have read every book in, say, the science fiction section of my local bookstore…and I’d have to wait for them to get more.

The way it is today, the USA Kindle store averages more than 1,000 books added a day. My record is reading 3 1/2 novels in a day…I clearly can’t keep up. 🙂

The future is about curation: about finding someone (or conceivably, some other mechanism, like software or an aggregator of the opinions of a bunch of readers/reviewers) with whom you tend to agree.

Oh, or finding people with whom you consistently disagree. 🙂 That’s often been how I work with movie reviewers…I know some whose tastes are different from mine…if they don’t like something, I probably will.

One source for reviews is Goodreads, the social reading site (owned by Amazon).

You can “follow” someone’s reviews, so you find out when they post new ones.

Here’s the Goodreads page for the most popular reviewers in the USA:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/best_reviewers

You can, by the way, choose other countries (I have readers around the world).

The most popular reviewer this week (you can also pick other timeframes, including all time) is karen from Woodside, NY.

karen (sic) has 1,102 votes  this week…which doesn’t  seem like that many to me, given the number of users Goodreads has.

Looking at recent activity, karen is reading some books which might interest me.

For example, the first book I see is

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attackat Amazonsmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping* by Andrew Shaffer

Even though it’s from Random House, I hadn’t heard of it…that’s the discovery part.

I wouldn’t pay $9.99 for it…but, after I check it out a bit more, I might add it to my wish list. It has a 4.8 stars rating (out of 5) with 85 customer reviews, which is quite good.

I do like that sort of movie (although I tend to prefer movies which sincerely tried to be good, and weren’t), and I’ve liked books like The Worst Case Scenario survival series.

I have to admit, I would have to overcome my unreasonable reaction to karen’s use of all small case all the time (even the word “i”). However, I know that’s an emotional reaction, and shouldn’t affect my assessment of the content. For some people with certain disabilities, using the shift key is a challenge, and it could be that…although that isn’t my intuition.

Interestingly, Felicia Day, an actor and writer I enjoy (if you haven’t seen The Guild series, I recommend it…you’ll know quickly whether or  not it  is your cup of geekery), is #4 on the list.

I would have guessed that the list might be dominated by celebrities, but on reflection, I can see a strong reason why it might not be.

The most followed list is, but this one is based on the number of votes someone’s reviews get.

Celebrities, I assume, are probably not the ones who write the most reviews…and I think that’s probably a big factor.

karen has 2,022 reviews on Goodreads, and joined in April of 2007. Well, if we just call that 100 months, that’s an average of about 20 reviews a month…maybe one every one and a half days.

Felicia Day has written 560 reviews since December of 2007…a bit more than a quarter of the reviews.

Celebrities may simply be too busy, or may need to focus their creative output in potentially more revenue-generating places than Goodreads.

I understand that.

I’d love to write a review at Goodreads for every book I read, but I just don’t have the time and creative energy to do that.

I do some reviews there…you can follow me, if you like:

I have eight followers right now. 🙂

Totally understandable…I wouldn’t say I’m a great “citizen” of the Goodreads community. I only have so much time and energy, and I don’t prioritize it very highly. It’s a bit like Facebook: I know it would take a lot out of me if I started being active there, so I haven’t. I have a page, but it’s as stealth as I can possibly make it. I just have it so I can see pictures my adult kid posts. 🙂

I think it may be worth you taking a look at the top reviewers to see if there is one whose tastes align with yours.

I also do see quite a few books in my “friends” feed on Goodreads…I have a lot more friends than followers, although not so many of those, either.

How about you? Do you find things to read on Goodreads? If so, what mechanism there for you works the best? If not, how do you do book discovery? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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 #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

March 9, 2015

Round up #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

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

Want to  move up your Echo delivery date? Here’s how!

Big, big thanks to E S who, in this

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

suggested a way to speed up your

Amazon Echo

estimated delivery date!

It worked for me, and others have said it worked for them, too.

Don’t know if it will continue to work, or if it will work for everybody, but I wanted to share it.

The Echo is Amazon’s ambient computing device…it’s alway on (it plugs into the wall), you talk to it, and it does stuff. 😉 That’s, you know, the technical description.

It’s not on general sale, yet. You have to ask for an invitation, and you have to be an Amazon Prime member.

When I got my acceptance to my delivery date (a long time after asking for an invitation), it was months in the future.

Until I tried this trick, it was not until the end of May at the earliest…and possibly into July! =:o

Now, it’s between March 25th and April 9th…more than two months earlier, and maybe three!

How do you do it?

Go to

http://www.amazon.com

or

http://smile.amazon.com/

Click or tap on

Your Account

then go to

Your Orders.

Find your Echo order…there is a searchbox, if you need it.

Click or tap

Order Details

Click or tap

Change Shipping Speed

Don’t worry, you aren’t actually going to change it.

When your choices come up, just confirm your current shipping speed.

That’s all it took for me!

I’m very excited about the Echo! They keep making improvements (it recently started doing some sports scores), and it seems to have quite a “personality”.

The general estimated shipping time has dropped from four to six months to two to three months.

That portends, perhaps, a summer release, although that might just still be for these pre-release orders.

Thanks, E S!

Speaking of AmazonSmile…

From what I can tell, about 25% of the activity driven by this site is at AmazonSmile, as opposed to Amazon.com.

I hope to keep seeing that increase.

All you have to is shop at

http://smile.amazon.com/

and designate a non-profit to benefit from what you are doing.

That’s it.

Everything else is the same: same credit card information, addresses, wish lists…it’s really seamless.

When you buy items (not all items, but a lot), your designated non-profit (which you can change…easily…whenever you want and repeatedly) gets half a percent. Spend $100, and the group gets fifty cents.

Amazon is actually donating it, so they get the tax benefit…but that also means everything is super easy.

There are over 6,000 organizations listed when I search for the word “literacy”, for example.

I used to be on the board of a non-profit…believe me, every little bit helps.

Just something to consider…

Goodreads app update

On my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

the Goodreads on Kindle app just updated to 1.5.0.

Goodreads is a very popular social reading site, which Amazon owns.

They have been improving the way it interacts with our devices, and this was another step forward.

I think I’m finally getting into the habit of using Goodreads, although I still don’t do it all the time.

I’d found out from my readers that my posting reviews here wasn’t one of their favorite things, so I now post them at Goodreads:

Follow Bufo’s reviews on Goodreads

I am putting some effort into those, and have written things with which I’ve been satisfied. 😉

I’ve also gotten some nice feedback, which I appreciate.

I can’t say I’m seeing a lot of functional differences at this point, but it does seem to look a bit nicer, and it’s running quite smoothly.

Before there was Chappie, there was…Tik Tok

Chappie did not have a really big opening this weekend…I probably over “invested” in the movie in my

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

game. 🙂

Still, so many things go back to the Oz series (I’m a big fan), and there was a regular robot character in them.

Tik Tok was truly a robot…a manufactured item. Dorothy or other people would wind up the “device”…they could separately wind up speech, action, and thinking.

Yes, just like humans, Tik Tok was capable of speaking and acting without thinking first. 😉

Tik Tok, though, was artificially intelligent…as much a character as anybody else.

As Dorothy engraved on Tik Tok, the mechanism was:

SMITH & TINKER’S
Patent Double-Action, Extra-Responsive,
Thought-Creating, Perfect-Talking
MECHANICAL MAN
Fitted with our Special Clockwork Attachment.
Thinks, Speaks, Acts, and Does Everything but Live.

Sure, the word “robot” comes from the play R.U.R., and Isaac Asimov created the all important three laws of robotics…but like many other things, Oz was exploring the issues of the technology and the sociology of it at the turn of the 20th Century.

Even older kids like having books read to them

I still like it when somebody reads out loud to me!

Thanks to

EBOOK FRIENDLY

for the heads up on this fascinating report:

http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/

Scholastic publishes the Harry Potter books in the USA. They are very reader friendly…when we talk about the Big Five publishers not doing things (like being part of Kindle Unlimited), Scholastic isn’t part of that…despite having some very popular books.

I haven’t read the whole report yet, but this was called out:

“When it comes to being read aloud to at home, eight in 10 children (83%) say they love(d) or like(d) it a lot:”

  • 6-8 year olds: 86%
  • 9-11 year olds: 84%
  • 12-14 year olds: 80%
  • 15-17 year olds: 83%

Note that rebound in the last age group!

That’s right…83% of teenagers like it when someone reads out loud to them. My guess is that the percentage is not much lower in adults.

By the way, Scholastic used “read aloud to” as a construction.

That reminds me of an old joke (?) designed to make grammarians cringe:

A ten-year old is sick upstairs.

Wanting to make the child feel better, a parent brings a book to the room to read…one that the child loved at an earlier age.

Feeling as though they are being treated as immature, the child says,

“What did you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to out of up here for?”

😉

What do you think? Do you read out loud to adults? If you are an adult, do you enjoy that…maybe in the car, maybe a Significant Other just reading a passage to you? Do audiobooks or text-to-speech have at all that same feeling for you? Do you use AmazonSmile? If not, care to share the reason why? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Update on Goodreads integration

January 10, 2015

Update on Goodreads integration

When Amazon bought Goodreads (the social reading site) in 2013, there was quite a bit of gnashing of teeth…but also some excitement about how that might make things more convenient.

Slowly, they’ve been bringing Goodreads functionality into the Fires/Kindles, and in a lesser way, making the Goodreads site work with your Kindle books in more ways.

I’ve noticed some big improvements recently, so I thought I’d update you. When an existing feature is improved, not everybody is always aware of it. Even if it pops up to tell you, you might blow past it because you are anxious to get to that next chapter. 😉

Let me talk about it first on my

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

because that’s where I first noticed the improvements. 😉 There’s actually a good reason for that. I usually read with the wireless connected on my Fire, and with it off on my Paperwhite.

When I opened a book for the first time, it offered to add it to my “Now Reading”. That was a nice touch: with one tap, it showed up on Goodreads.

When I tap towards the top middle of the screen in a book, to bring up the toolbar, I get a Goodreads choice. Tapping that lets me update my reading progress (automatically…it knows where I am in the book), and I could add a comment on that if I want. It also shows me a progress bar for where I am in the book…again, that’s nice.

Do note that it will automatically update Facebook and/or Twitter, if you have connected those on your device. I would prefer it not do that, so I uncheck Twitter before updating.

There is also a link so I can View reviews of the book on Goodreads…worked smoothly, with being able to see them in about a second. Since I’m there, I could also rate the book, ask a question about it…and open a Goodreads menu (horizontal lines in your top left corner). That gave me these choices:

  • Updates
  • My Profile
  • Recommendations
  • All Shelved Books
  • Read
  • Want To Read
  • Add Your Amazon Books
  • Friends
  • Following
  • Followers
  • Edit Profile
  • Go to Fire Library

That last one means that, although I can’t download directly from the Goodreads listing, I can simply go to my library and download a book.

One flaw: I added a shelf on Goodreads, but it didn’t seem to show as a shelf when I got to it this way.

When I finish a book, it lets me rate it and review it (both on Amazon and on Goodreads), and write a review. There is an option which lets me choose to update it just on Amazon or just on Goodreads or on both…up to me.

I would say the integration within a book is now good.

There is also the Goodreads app on my Fire. That has all the same menu choices I had from within the book…in fact, it’s pretty clear the book path just took me to the app.

Next, let’s look at it on the

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

The look there is quite different.

When I tap the “g” from within a book, it shows me the book and reviews, but doesn’t give me the choice to update my reading progress.

I can check my Updates, My Shelves, and Friends.

Honestly, the Fire has a better interface on this, in my opinion.

The “app” on the Paperwhite is, again, very similar to what you see from within the book, except that it doesn’t feature that specific book.

Finally, what about from

http://www.goodreads.com

?

Well, you can add books from Amazon to Goodreads, although it didn’t appear to me that it could find all of my Kindle store books.

I don’t see much other functionality relative to Amazon: you can buy a copy, but there isn’t a link that says you can have it delivered to a device if you already have it. However, if you click or tap the “Get a copy: Amazon” button, it takes you to the book’s Amazon product page. From there, you can deliver it to one of your devices if you already own the e-book…or, of course, buy it.

Overall, I’d say they’ve made great progress on the Fire, some progress on the Paperwhite, and a bit on the Goodreads website. 🙂

What do you think? Do you use the Goodreads functionality on your Fire and/or on your tablet? What’s your experience with it? Is there functionality you would like to see added? If so, what is it? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 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 #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

December 6, 2014

Round up #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

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

Amazon improves author tracking

It’s nice to me to see that Amazon is working on improving the customer experience.

The ability to be notified when a new book is published to the Kindle store from an author you like seems like it would be a no brainer.

The customer is happy, Amazon gets a sale, the publisher is happy, the author is happy…it’s just a question of getting the infrastructure and user experience to be simple and robust enough.

In the past, we’ve had a kind of clunky way of doing it…and I would hear from people that it didn’t really work (they didn’t get notifications).

I don’t know if they’ve fixed the latter part yet, but they now have a much more elegant and sophisticated way to request updates:

Amazon’s Favorite Authors page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

From there, you can just tap an Add Favorite button.

Not only that, but it recommends authors for you, both ones that are similar to what you’ve favorited, and ones that you’ve reviewed positively.

I found that its linkages were very good: when I favorited an author, it made suggestions that made sense. Even in the case of authors I didn’t know, there were book cover thumbnails which made it clear that the connection was logical.

You can search for an author, or choose from popular ones.

You can decide whether or not you want your favorites displayed on your profile.

You can also edit your favorites here: and interestingly, those include books, movies, music, and others.

They also suggest more features are coming to this in the future.

The one suggestion I’m going to make to them first is that they add a place for us to comment on our favorites, which displays on the profile. That would make it much more social.

Ideally, they would make it that if someone went from your favorite on your page and purchased the book, you’d get an advertising fee or other credit of some kind, but I don’t expect that right away.

Almost whole-heartedly recommended a Kindle First book

This is what I recently wrote about this month’s Kindle First books:

Prime members, don’t forget to pick up your

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

You can get one of the four books to own (not borrow) for free…these are books which will be actually released next month. The choices this month are:

  • Marked (Servants of Fate Book 1) by Sarah Fine (romantic fantasy)
  • The Last Passenger
    by Manel Loureiro, Andrés Alfaro (suspense)
  • Fatal Puzzle (Zons Crime Book 1) by Catherine Shepherd, Julia Knobloch (thriller)
  • Guardians of the Night (A Gideon and Sirius Novel) by Alan Russell (mystery)

I’m going with The Last Passenger, and it was an easy choice. Loureiro is the author of the Apocalypse Z books, the first of which is the most reviewed book I listed above. They classify it as a suspense novel, but it involves time travel…one of my favorite subjects.

When I started reading

The Last Passenger (at AmazonSmile*)

I was quite pleased with it. It reminded me of the pulp hero Doc Savage (without a hero like that), and from me, that’s a compliment. 😉 I was already seeing how it would be a good movie.

It was a great high camp set up, had interesting characters including the lead…and it was an excellent translation from the Spanish.

Unfortunately, a character was introduced who is so thunderingly stereotypical in a negative way that now I don’t know if I can even recommend it.

This book was published by AmazonCrossing, which gets books from other countries…so we may not be able to blame the Amazon editor for not saying, “Um, don’t you think you want to tone that down or give that character more depth and complexity?”

I (eventually) finish every book I read, and I’m liking the book except for this one element.

It’s unfortunate, and I do think it’s something an editor could have affected.

Fire TV Stick means cutting the cord

I will write a review comparing the

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

and the

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

(I have and use both), but I thought I’d mention that the Stick may mean that we finally “cut the cord” and eliminate TV services from our cable company (we’ll keep their internet…we have Comcast, and it works well for us).

Interestingly, part of what happened was that we bought a new TV:

32″ TV HDTV LED 720p Element Electronics (at AmazonSmile*)

The Fire TV Stick was coming, and we had a paleolithic Sony TV without an HDMI input. 😉 I mean, seriously, Fred Flintstone would have felt at home with the old one. Both of us were grunting and groaning when we had to move it…and we are reasonably strong.

So, when we saw the Element on sale for under $150 on Black Friday weekend at Target, we got one. We have an Element TV already, and I like it. One thing I like is they are super light…I have taken our old one to work easily for a game night there.

However, our recorded Tivo programs looked quite muddy on it (while the Fire TV Stick looked fine). That might be a matter of recabling the Tivo (we also are using an old one of those).

So the question became: could we do without Tivo and the programs it records?

One element of that: Hulu Plus.

We haven’t had it. My Significant Other doesn’t want to watch TV on a mobile device, so Hulu couldn’t be a replacement for us easily until we had a TV that could show it…simply.

The Fire TV Stick and the new TV makes that combination work.

I still have to go through and compare our season passes and see what we can’t do (although mirroring my Kindle Fire HDX or my Fire Phone to the Fire TV Stick might solve some problems, if new episodes are available on network/studio websites…for free, of course) through Hulu to decide.

We aren’t heavy duty TV watchers, I’d say, although I have the CBS app running in the other room and I’m listening to it as I write right now.

Let me revise that: we don’t follow a lot of current TV shows. I watch Survivor live, usually, to avoid spoilers in the apps I use in the morning (Flipboard, CNN, Washington Post). Otherwise, seeing things as they happen is not that important to us…I’d say we could generally wait until the next season.

The exception would be that I have CNN on…a lot. However, I now have some other news apps that could take that place. Watchup, CBS, BBC…oh, I should mention: my BBC news app works on our Fire TV at this point but not on the Fire TV Stick. I assume they’ll work that out.

We’ll probably make the decision this weekend…well, before the next time we pay a cable bill, at any rate (rate…so to speak). 😉

goodreads CHOICE AWARDS 2014

The Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 (I went with their capitalization above) have been announced:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014

First, I have to say: why isn’t there an easy page for this at Amazon in the Kindle store?

There is a page

Goodreads Choice Award Winners (at AmazonSmile*)

but the 2014 ones aren’t there yet as a sub-page…and I didn’t see any link from the main Kindle store.

This is where I’d like a bit more synergy, Amazon. 🙂 As I’ve said before, SMMSA (Sell Me More Stuff, Amazon). 😉

Here are the winners:

Enjoy! These might be safe gifts, as well…there are a lot of Goodreads users, so if you were looking for the mainstream choice, this might be a good way to go. You recipient (and you can delay the delivery until the appropriate date) will have the option to exchange it for a gift card.

What do you think? Have you ever had a situation where you found one element of a book offensive, but liked the rest? What did you do…did you read it? Do you have alternatives to suggest to the Goodreads winners? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 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.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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.

Goodreads Choice Awards 2014: last chance to vote

November 21, 2014

Goodreads Choice Awards 2014: last chance to vote

There have already been over three million votes cast for the Goodreads Choice Awards books of 2014.

You can continue to vote through November 24th, by going here:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014

Even though Amazon bought Goodreads, the books which are finalists don’t match up well with Amazon’s bestsellers or highest rated, which suggest that the opinions are still pretty independent.

One of the key things is that Amazon tends to have a much higher presence of books published by Amazon.

I don’t think it’s because Amazon customers particularly want to buy books published by Amazon…honestly, I would guess that most of the time, people don’t know. I’ve found that very few people (especially when we include casual readers) care about who the publisher is. I’m basing this in part on my experience as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager.

Yes, some people care about some publishers: Penguin Classics; Harlequin; and Black Lizard, for example, are all publishers/imprints with a strong market identity.

Generally, though, I don’t think the average person cares if a book was published by Hachette or HarperCollins…or Amazon.

I think the difference is promotion.

When Amazon offers four books each month for free to Prime members as part of

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

those books shoot to the top of the bestseller lists…and that, I believe, influences their sales over time.

There are ten finalists in each of these twenty categories:

  • Fiction
  • Mystery & Thriller
  • Historical Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Horror
  • Humor
  • Nonfiction
  • Memoir & Autobiography
  • History & Biography
  • Business Books
  • Food & Cookbooks
  • Graphic Novels & Comics
  • Poetry
  • Debut Good Reads Author
  • Young Adult Fiction
  • Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Middle Grade & Children’s
  • Picture Books

Looking at the finalists in science fiction, I don’t think any of them are traditionally published by Amazon.

Take a look at the lists, and if you want, cast your votes. I think we may revisit this after the winners are announced…

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

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

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

Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs

November 14, 2014

Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs

Amazon had told us they were coming, and in this

press release

they announce that new features are available for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…non-Fires).

They will come automatically over-the-air, or you can get them by going to

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

If you do it manually, be careful to pick the update for the right model of Kindle.

Here are the specific models they have announced have the new updates. This doesn’t mean that older models absolutely won’t get them, although that is possible.

What are these new features?

  • Word Wise (at AmazonSmile*) (click links for screenshots): definitions of “difficult words” automatically appear above the words. You can then tap to see more information. You can control how many of these appear by using a slider. This may be particularly useful for children and for those learning English as a second language. It’s not going to be available on every book, but some popular books already have it. I’m sure you’ll be able to turn this off, in case you find it vexatious (annoying) 😉
  • Family Library (at AmazonSmile*): this allows you to share books from one account with a set number of people from another account. This will also only be certain books. This is a huge change, and we’ll have to see how the implementation is
  • Kindle FreeTime Unlimited: this is the subser (“subscription service”. You pay $2.99 a month, and your child gets access to curated content at no additional cost
  • Expanded X-Ray for Books (at AmazonSmile*): X-Ray gives you information about the characters, terms, concepts and more in the book which you are reading. Now you’ll be able to browse the pictures in a book and the meaningful passages as well.
  • Deeper Goodreads Integration (at AmazonSmile*): Amazon owns the immensely popular social reading site. Looking at this, it appears that this will have more of an impact when you are in the Goodreads app/function on your device than when you are reading a book. For example, it doesn’t appear to me that your reading status will automatically update as you read the book (I’d like to see that feature…with an ability to mask it, of course), but you will be able to buy books (not quite yet) directly from the Goodreads function
  • Enhanced Search (at AmazonSmile*): when you search for something, you’ll get results from your library, from the Kindle Store, and from Goodreads
  • About This Book (at AmazonSmile*): it’s unclear to me yet if this will work when you aren’t connected to wi-fi, but it definitely has some things people have talked about since the Kindle 1 in 2007. It will give you series information, author information (and in the screenshot, it shows a way to sign up to be notified when new books by that author are released), “mentioned in this book” (that looks like other books), and contrary to what I said above 🙂 gives you a way to at least update Goodreads with the fact that you are currently reading it

I’ll install this on our Paperwhite 2 and test it out.

One interesting note: the links above for each of the features also include links to the Fires. That doesn’t necessarily mean that every Fire gets every one of these features, or even that any of them do…they may just link to all products on the “Press Resource” pages.

Note that this is Amazon, as they often do, giving us more at no additional cost…thanks, Amazon!

If you’ve checked these out or have questions about them, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this page. Which of these do you think you’ll use? What do you wish they had done which they didn’t (I figured I’d ask the question before people volunteered, as they always do 😉 )?

 

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

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

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

New: Goodreads Ask the Author

May 25, 2014

New: Goodreads Ask the Author

Here’s something new from Goodreads (which Amazon bought) that I think many of you might enjoy!

You can now ask an author a question directly through the social reading site, and if they answer it, you’ll be notified and it will be posted. That’s explained in this

Goodreads blog post

Certainly, there have been ways to ask authors questions before. I get asked them, from time to time, in my

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

I do check mine frequently, but although every author with an Amazon Author Central site has their own forum, I think many of them never answer questions there.

That’s what’s intriguing about this new program. According to the blog post, some very well-known authors have already answered questions!

For example, Isabel Allende is shown as having answered something.

Eventually, more than 100,000 authors participating in Goodreads’ Goodreads Author Program will have the option to opt into it. These are the ones that they have listed as available now:

  • Isabel Allende
  • Kevin J. Anderson
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Bella Andre
  • Margaret Atwood
  • David Baldacci
  • Mark Bittman
  • Holly Black
  • Dan Brown
  • Jim Butcher
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Kresley Cole
  • Michael Cunningham
  • Sylvia Day
  • Sarah Dessen
  • Rebecca Donovan
  • Geoff Dyer
  • Susan Ee
  • Warren Ellis
  • Tim Ferriss
  • Joseph Finder
  • Gayle Forman
  • Barbara Freethy
  • Daniel Goleman
  • Lev Grossman
  • Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Kristin Hannah
  • Brian Herbert
  • Khaled Hosseini
  • Hugh Howey
  • Ariana Huffington
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Jeff Kinney
  • Anne Lamott
  • Christina Lauren
  • E. Lockhart
  • Bob Mayer
  • Frances Mayes
  • James McBride
  • Richelle Mead
  • Liane Moriarty
  • JoJo Moyes
  • B.J. Novak
  • James Patterson
  • Michael Pollan
  • Douglas Preston
  • Gretchen Rubin
  • John Scalzi
  • Robin Sloan
  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Jeff VanderMeer
  • Ayelet Waldman
  • Jesmyn Ward
  • S.J. Watson

There are some really heavy hitters there! I would guess that most of you have read books by at least one of these authors…I’ve read several.

Now, to be clear, there is nothing to say that they will answer your question, but it seems to be worth a shot. There are links in the blog post I listed above, or the question box also appears on their Goodreads author page.

They also announced in this May 21st blog post that they are adding a Reader Q&A feature. Basically, it’s like the forum that each book has on its Amazon product page, but a bit more sophisticated. It’s rolling out: you may not have it yet. They say:

Once Reader Q&A is activated for you, you’ll find a new Reader Q&A section on every book page, just below your friends’ reviews. When other readers start responding to a question, Goodreads members can click “like” on the answers they find most interesting, and the best ones will rise to the top. 

To try out Reader Q&A, go to the book page for your favorite book or a book you’ve just read and submit a question for the Goodreads community. You can also look for questions to answer! If Reader Q&A is not yet showing for you, it will be coming shortly!”

It doesn’t appear to me that I have it yet.

All in all, this seems like a good thing. 🙂

One obvious question for me: aren’t they sort of duplicating things from Amazon to Goodreads?

There’s not reason not to do that, I suppose. You could have discovery in both places.

What would make more sense to me, though, is to embed the Q&As from Goodreads on the Amazon Author Central pages. I understand if Amazon wants to drive traffic to Goodreads, and that would help do it.

It seems…a bit muddled to have an author forum at Amazon and an author Q&A at Goodreads. The same question, for example, might be asked in both places…or might not be, and then how would know where to look?

I think Amazon will need to integrate Goodreads, Shelfari, and the Amazon store more in the future (although I could see them merging Shelfari and Goodreads, perhaps…they each have their own advantages, but the materials aren’t mutually incompatible).

Just as people want to be able to “buy once, read everywhere”, I think people want to be able to access information about books and authors by entering through whichever door is most convenient for them.

That’s not a criticism, though: just a room for future improvement.

I haven’t joined the Goodreads Author program at this point: I’m pretty careful about the commitments I make in terms of time and social energy. I think I will look more into it. In terms of my creative  endeavors, readers of this blog come first (I put more energy into writing this blog than I do into writing books, currently). I don’t want to risk doing something that would jeopardize that.

Still, have fun with this new program from Amazon’s Goodreads! Let me know if you have any cool exchanges with anybody. 🙂

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.

Add Your Amazon Books rolling out to Goodreads website

April 17, 2014

Add Your Amazon Books rolling out to Goodreads website

When Amazon bought Goodreads (a bit over a year ago), one of the advantages people  envisaged  (and certainly, some people thought there might be disadvantages as well) was the ability to easily import your Amazon purchases to your Goodreads shelves.

We did get the ability to do that from some Kindle devices. For example, you have that functionality on the Kindle Paperwhite.

That was fine for people with those devices, but there are lots of Goodreads users who have bought books from Amazon and don’t have Kindles (or at least, those specific devices). The import isn’t just for Kindle editions…it’s for p-books (paperbooks) also.

In this

Goodreads blog post

they announce that Add Your Amazon Books”…will be available in the next few weeks to members in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. ”

Other countries are expected to follow.

After giving you an explanation of what it will be like (it will be on My Books under Tools), they give you a link to where you can go ahead and do it now:

Early Access

They have a Question and Answer section there. I’ve asked this, but don’t have an answer yet:

“This seems to be similar to the functionality on the Kindle devices (for the ones which have it). It is only showing me recently purchased books, and I have something like a thousand which haven’t been imported. My guess is that there might have been a size limit the first time it did the sync, and now it doesn’t go back and re-query, just starts with books after the last sync (yes, I’m a geek). 🙂 Any troubleshooting for it not importing all of the books? Are there books which wouldn’t be imported (ones without ISBNs, perhaps)? Thanks! “

Why do this?

Mainly to “feed” Goodreads. It lets other people see what you are reading (if you choose that), helps you keep track for yourself…and strengthens the algorithms used by the system to make recommendations to you.

For those of you who are already Goodreads users, this simplifies things. If you don’t use Goodreads now (I do…you can follow me. I write a little review there on most books I finish), maybe this will get you to start. 😉

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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