Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

NASA: Mars mission astronauts to have Prime Music, Alexa

October 16, 2015

NASA: Mars mission astronauts to have Prime Music, Alexa

October 16, 2015 (AFD News)

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) announced today that they have entered into a contract with Amazon (AMZN) to  provide a wide variety of music to astronauts on the planned 2035 mission to Mars.

Mission Project Manager Dr. James Kelloway explained that the space agency did not want to limit any stranded astronauts to “1970s disco music”, an obvious reference to The Martian (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)  and the current #1 movie in the world, The Martianstarring Matt Damon.

In both the book and movie, astronaut Mark Watney is accidentally stranded on the red planet. Humor is mined from the only music available to him being the captain’s collection of 1970s music, including the Swedish group ABBA and “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer (LaDonna Gaines).

“Prime Music is proud to have something for everyone,” said Steve Boom, VP of Digital Music at Amazon. “From the latest chart-topping hits to classical music, multicultural selections, and even sound effects, the Mars Mission crew will have whatever they need to stay focused and keep up their morale during what we are sure will be a successful scientific adventure.”

“This is so cool!” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

In addition to the music, Amazon will provide their Alexa Voice Service, currently available on the

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

and the second generation

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

and

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)

Greg Hart, Amazon’s VP for the Amazon Echo, said: “While readers loved the science in Andy Weir’s book, many of them and some bloggers questioned the lack of conversational software. The isolation that Mark Watney felt would have been alleviated to some extent by having someone to talk to. Hearing jokes, playing games, and asking pop culture questions would have had a positive psychological effect.”

In a short Q&A afterwards, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the music would not actually be streamed but would be downloaded and that two-day delivery to the Mars habitat would not be available, refuting an earlier story reported on several tech blogs.

Note: this post is humor. AFD News is short for “April Fool’s Day News” which I normally use on April 1st. I thought it was appropriate here. This parody weaves in some real facts, but none of the quotations are real. 500 trivia points to you if you recognized the name James Kelloway!

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.

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Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 1)

October 15, 2015

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 1)

“Welcome to this afternoon’s lecture at Fictional Character University. Just to make sure you are all in the right session, everyone here is appearing in their first novels, right?”

“Do short stories count?”

“No. While short stories are an excellent medium, it’s really not the same as a novel. How many of you have appeared in a short story? More than one story? Look like about 25%…I’ll make sure to address those differences, then. If you have any additional questions, you can e-mail me after class.

Let’s go ahead and get started. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Thackeray Carlson, but I’m usually called ‘Tack Carlson’. I’ve been featured in twenty-three novels, one hundred and four short stories, a comic book, movies, and a TV series that I guarantee you none of you saw.

I’m the son of a freed Caribbean slave and a disgraced British diplomat.

My nickname comes from two things.

One is my expertise in caring for horses. I’m guessing some of you haven’t spent much time around a barn…’tack’ is what we call the equipment we use with our horses…saddles, bridles, reins, or as my horse Seafounder would call it, ‘The original wearable technology.’

The other one is that it’s short for ‘Tactic’. While I’ve done my share of fighting in my adventures, both hand to hand and with weapons, it really comes from legal tactics. Yep, I’m a lawyer. Oh, that’s another name you might know: I’m called the ‘Courtroom Cowboy’, even though the closest I usually get to an actual cow is on a supper plate.

My first publication was as a minor character in a Dusty Ambush short story in Thrilling Western. My author is Buck Tooson…or to use her given name, Mary Prydudd.

That was in 1936.

After a bunch of short stories and a couple of anthologies, I hit the big time with The Courtroom Cowboy #1: The Sagefire Case.

Now, if I’d been like most characters, that would have been it. No reason to expect I’d survive that first novel and get on to a next.

But I did.

Then I did it again…and again…and again.

Eventually, I even outlived Mary…uh, Buck.

Yep, some of  you might be worried about what will happen when your author dies, but that doesn’t have be the end of it. I’ve had six different authors over the years…and that’s just talking about the books.

The odds are, you are going to meet your end way before your author does.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you…just being realistic.

There are things you can do to give you a better shot at book number two…and that’s why we’re here today.

Plenty of folks have made it over the years, of course: Sherlock Holmes; Dracula; Nancy Drew…heck, even H.G. Wells’ Time Traveler has been in more than one book, and if you’ve read the first one, that might be a surprise.

Let’s get started

Rule #1: You have to accept change.

That’s one of those differences between a novel and a short story. All you short story vets out there: it’s possible you are exactly the same as you were in the first one. You come in and solve the case, or get the guy, or whatever. You are completely comfortable and predictable.

In a novel, it can’t be the same. I’m assuming here that you are the star of it, not just a background character. You’ve got too be different at the end of the book than you were at the beginning.”

“Professor Carlson?”

“Tack is fine…of course, if you want to call me ‘esteemed counsel’ or ‘pardnuh’, I’m okay with either.”

“Yes, sir. I never thought Sherlock Holmes changed much…that was one of the things I admired about the character. He knew who he was from the beginning.”

“Holmes is a great example of my point. What happens in the first book…if we leave out the case itself? Holmes moves in with Watson. That is an absolutely life changing event for Holmes. Part of the joy of the book is seeing Holmes and to a lesser extent, Watson, adjusting to that situation, and each other.”

“Tack, what about Dracula?”

“Another great example. Don’t get confused by the movies, where they act like the evil count has been around since the beginning. It’s pretty clear Dracula hasn’t been revived for all that long in the first book, but let me ask you: what’s the other big change?”

“Van Helsing’s arrival?”

“Sure, having an enemy can be a good thing…readers love a good bad guy! I was thinking of something different, though. We see the book through Jonathan Harker’s eyes, at least originally. Anybody know what he does for a living?”

“He’s a lawyer, right?”

“Good enough. He’s there to help with a real estate transaction…the Count is moving. What’s more stressful than moving? For Dracula,, it’s a fate worse than death…literally.

That’s something to think about. Stress makes you an interesting character. The best way for readers to see who you are is when you are pushed out of your comfort zone. They also have their own challenges, and they’ll be sympathetic to you. If you get through it, they’ll admire you.

Nobody wants to read about somebody whose life is perfect and static.

Do any of you know the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory? No? This link will be in your reference materials:

http://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory/

 It doesn’t have a connection to Sherlock, as far as I know, but it’s a list of the most stressful life events.

This slide has the top ten:

1. Death of spouse
2. Divorce
3. Marital separation from mate
4. Detention in jail or other institution
5. Death of a close family member
6. Major personal injury or illness
7. Marriage
8. Being fired at work
9. Marital reconciliation with mate
10. Retirement from work

Think about the long lasting characters. How many of them had one of these thing happen to them in their first novels, or just before the novel, but driving the events?

Now, you might think I should be talking to the authors about this, but you have to embrace the idea of this. We all know: authors can’t make us do anything we don’t want to do…at least, good authors can’t. It’s a whole lot harder to make your author go somewhere they weren’t planning to go…but you can dig in your feet and refuse to go where they plotted. It’s a little like being a bratty three-year old: you can’t get the adults to try a new restaurant, but you sure as heck can make them give up going to that sushi place!

We’re just about out of time for today, so let me ask you all: how many of you have a major change in that first novel? Looks like most of you. How many of you have something from that top ten list? Okay. For those of you who raised your hands, you’ve got a leg up on those who didn’t. If you don’t have that change, think about what you can do. Your author wants you to smile and hold hands with your Significant Other while you walk down the beach on the perfect family vacation? Refuse to do it. Just don’t take that hand…let your author figure out what that means. None of your books are finished yet, or you wouldn’t be here. If you wanted to be around longer than that, you’ve got to be smart.

Alright, that’s our time. Next time, I’m going to talk about what might seem like a contradiction based on what I’ve just told you. Rule #2: Be the same.”

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

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

U.N. Security Council votes on Amazon’s “Independent Nation” status

April 1, 2015

U.N. Security Council votes on Amazon’s “Independent Nation” status

April 1, 2015 (AFD News)

Update: since this article was originally published, both China and the United States of America have used their vetoes on the vote discussed below. China cited concerns from tech company Alibaba, and President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the decision during his appearance on the special live version of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote today on a special resolution naming the internet retailing giant Amazon as an independent nation.

The controversial proposal has been in the news since it was first announced January 12, 2014 (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ 50th birthday).

As outlined by Rupert Mountjoy, II, Amazon’s Vice President for Nationalization, the plan would give Amazon tax immunity and exemption from Federal regulation, the latter enabling the company’s Prime Air delivery by drone program.

To help our readers better understand the situation, we have prepared these

Five Questions about “Nation of Amazon”

Q. Where would the land come from?

A. According to Mountjoy, no land would be used. aNation would be the first country to exist entirely in cyberspace. Instead, Amazon facilities, such as the headquarters in Seattle, Washington, and fulfillment centers around the world, would be declared aNation embassies. Just as the American embassy in France is considered American territory, the headquarters, warehouses, and other locations would fall under aNation’s jurisdiction

Q. Would I need a passport to visit the headquarters?

A. No one is allowed to visit the headquarters now without special permission: a similar process would continue to be followed

Q. Would I have to pay sales tax on items I bought from Amazon?

A. Internet sales are considered to take place where the purchaser is, so you would still be responsible for your local taxes. However, Amazon would not be required to collect those taxes from any country, state, or city from which its customers order products

Q. What makes Amazon a country and not other businesses?

A. Again, according to Mountjoy, Amazon already has more employees than some recognized countries have citizens. It has a central authority and an infrastructure. It already has agreements with many other sovereign nations. Mountjoy said there would be no barrier to other companies of a similar size and scope also applying to the United Nations for recognition

Q. Surely, this can’t be a serious proposal?

A. It’s not…Happy April Fools’ Day! Oh, and don’t call me Shirley… 😉

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.

E-books are books

December 8, 2014

E-books are books

Sigh.

I keep thinking we’ve gotten past the literati rejecting e-books as “not real books”.

I haven’t had someone sneer at me in years for reading on an e-reader.

In my experience, it’s simple: the more you love books, the more you love e-books.

However, it happened again.

In what I thought was otherwise an insightful

Thought Catalog article by Kim Quindlen: “11 Things To Know Before You Date A Bookworm”

the third thing is (in part):

“…Discussing e-Readers is not a thing we’re interesting in doing. Please don’t tell us about how they’re so much more practical and convenient…”

Look, if you are an actual bookworm (technically a booklouse of the order Psocoptera), I get it. E-books don’t have the binding paste on which you feed, so you are justified in not liking them much.

If you a human (Homo sapiens) and it is the actual words on which you feed, an e-book is just as nourishing as a p-book (paperbook). 😉

As an inveterate reader, I can’t imagine not wanting to discuss anything which had to do with reading.

I will, though, Kim, respect your desire for ignorance. I’m sure there must be things of which I’d prefer to remain ignorant, although nothing comes to mind…and hasn’t yet in my life. 😉

If you did want to discuss it (and you are free to do so by commenting on this post or in another blog…I assume I’d see the link), I’d hypothetically mention some things to you:

  • There’s no reason you can’t enjoy both. Don’t you want access to books in every possible way you can? Certainly, you might love that nostalgic feeling of holding the book that was given to you by a grandparent when you were a child…and had been their ancestor’s before that. That doesn’t stop you from wanting access to the thousands upon thousands of books which are only available as e-books
  • E-books mean much of the world’s great literature…for free. I suppose you can be a booklover and refuse to read Dostoevsky or Dickens or Doyle unless they come in a particular physical medium and you have to pay something for them…
  • I will make no presumptions about the age of someone writing a dating tips post. Let me just point out that people “of a certain age” are statistically more likely to have print challenges. E-books have given many people the ability to read again who had found it increasingly difficult. The increasable text size, without paying extra for Large Print books (when those are even available) can be important. If you are not having any issues with your eyes or your ability to physically hold a book and turn pages, I’m genuinely happy for you. For others, e-books are the adaptive technology for literature…and since you may end up needing them at some point, I’d suggest an open mind…which reading typically tends to give to readers
  • I also understand the sensual nature of p-books…that’s why people spend hours on a lazy summer afternoon, flipping the pages of a blank book, right? 😉 However, I think my Significant Other had the best line. Years ago, someone dismissively said to my SO (upon observing my SO reading on a Kindle), “I like the feel of a book in my hand.” My SO replied, “I like the feel of a hundred in mine.” 🙂

That’s enough for now, since we aren’t discussing it, per your request. 😉 Let us simply join metaphorical hands in our shared love of reading!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have several books I’m reading…I’d like to get back to one of them.

Oh, and if you actually are a literal bookworm…enjoy your lunch!

😉

 Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

All I Want for Christmas Is an Echo

November 25, 2014

All I Want for Christmas Is an Echo

All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get an iPad or a gecko
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

I can’t wait to ask it my query
Even though it probably doesn’t know
I realize I could just ask SIRI
But now that seems a retro way to go

All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get a painting by El Greco
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

[tempo change]
I don’t really care about the treetops glistening
All I really want is a monolith listening
To everything I say whether I know it or not
Because that’s one thing I haven’t got!

[old sprightly temp]
I’m gonna have it play me all my music
Though I never listen to it now
Telling me the weather is a new trick
I’d look outside, but I just don’t know how

All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get a lamp that’s art deco
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

Hey, Alexa, please tell me a joke
Make sure that it is one with lots of corn
Good looking with a great sense of humor!
I think that a new romance has been born

[All together!]
All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get an iPad or a gecko
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

[repeat with the sound quieter and quieter with each iteration like a…like a…hey, Alexa: what do you call that sound you hear after you make a loud noise in a cave?] 😉

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

If reality shows starred authors…

September 12, 2014

If reality shows starred authors…

The Amazing Write: authors partner with one of their fictional characters and write about going to exotic locations around the world…without ever leaving their homes. Each week the characters face challenge competitions, and the authors write about how their characters beat the challenge…or ignore it…or do something else, because, you know, we can’t really control what those characters want to do anyway.

Big Author: twelve authors spend the summer locked in a home, with no contact with the outside world, and cameras watching their every move. The catch? Each of them are in their own homes…and don’t even realize they are on a TV show, because that’s pretty much what an author’s life is like all the time.

Writing Naked: authors work on their latest creations, while being completely naked. Once again, several of them don’t realize they are on a show, because that’s how they write all the time.

Project Book Tour: traditionally published authors spend all of their time going from small bookstore to literary convention to farmers’ market promoting their books. Midlist authors have to pay for everything themselves, while previous winners are given a million dollars to start with…and pay the show back out of the sales of their books.

Writing with the Stars: D-List celebrities are partnered with successful (but unknown) authors to write a book. Well, actually, the authors write the whole book, but the celebrity’s name goes on it at the end.

The Book: publishers select manuscripts, based on originality and point of view, without seeing the authors or knowing anything about them. Then, when they see them, they make them change their names to something more neutral if who the author actually is will hurt the sales.

So You Think You Can Write: the show just features security camera footage from major public transportation hubs around the country…because just about everybody thinks they can write. 😉

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

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

The rise of “old adult” meh-topian fiction

August 29, 2014

The rise of “old adult” meh-topian fiction

Note: this is a work of humor. The “meh-topian” books listed below do not actually exist…so far. 😉

There’s an old kid in town.

After years of domination by “young adult” dystopian fiction, in bookstores, on bestseller lists, and at the movies, readers are turning to a new genre which focuses on “silver heroes”…adults over fifty.

The surprising success of Ann T. Delouvian’s “The World Isn’t Perfect…So What?” (soon to be a CBS miniseries) has shone a light on what has been a growing trend.

TWIPSW focuses on Myrtle and Dirk, who live in a future society ruled by an ambitious under twenty-five year old elite…and pretty much ignore them.

Even though it’s against the law, Myrkle (as their fans never call them), have a lawn, cats, and a library of paper books.

“I was just tired of all these books where the main characters rush around changing the world,” said Delouvian (who is of a certain age herself). “I mean, really, what’s the big deal? Nothing’s perfect…I liked the idea of people who just went on with their lives, whatever was happening.”

At first, the book’s main audience was older readers (it was a darling of book clubs that actually met in person), but the industry really took notice when it became clear that younger people were reading it as well.

“I mean, I spent one summer learning how to shoot a bow and arrow, you know, and I was always, like, rebelling against conformity and stuff. It was just so tiring! Even when you know magic, like Hermione, it seems like there’s always all this pressure! When do you get to just chill? That’s why I’m a TWIPser…Myrtle just seems so cool.”
–Lizzie Mac Patel, 13 years old

“Old Adult” fiction is defined by a satisfaction with life as it is. That doesn’t mean that the characters think the world is wonderful: just that’s it is okay. That’s what the term “meh-topian” means: it’s not great, like a utopia, or terrible, like a dystopia…a meh-topia is just somewhere in the middle.

“That’s the way it is with real life, right? It isn’t always these extremes. Not every decision has to be life and death, and it doesn’t all have to be about choices. Myrtle and Dirk have settled down. She doesn’t have to go back and forth on a hormonal teeter totter between this beau and that beau. They’ve already found each other,” explained Delouvian.

Even younger authors have started to get in on the market. Amanda Tweeting, wunderkind symbol for the success of independently published young adult works, has written short stories starring Margaret Beasley. Tweeting writes these under a different name (Gerri Atrix), so as not to confuse her base. In Beasley’s world, a plague killed off almost all the young people: only those who had sat within six feet of an old cathode ray tube TV have an immunity, apparently due to a mutation caused by the radiation. Margaret and her friends adapt to the new conditions, without children and “those nice young people” around.

While the market for adventurous, romantic tales of high adventure seems secure, it may be safe to say that “Old Adult” fiction will be a big part of the literary landscape in the future…and if it’s not, that’s okay with it.

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

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

Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

July 22, 2014

Round up #262: $100 off Kindle Fire, update for Kindle Paperwhite

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

Kindle Paperwhite 2 update 5.4.5

Amazon has released a new update for the KPW2:

Update 5.4.5 for Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile* Benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You can wait and it will eventually happen on its own (that can be weeks), or you can go to the above link and update manually

It brings three main changes:

  • Sync on Your Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile): honestly, I’m not quite clear what the difference is here. I usually don’t bounce between devices when reading, and since my Significant Other and I may be reading the same book at the same time (so we can talk about it afterwards), we have Whispersync turned off. I’m not clear on what this is doing now that it didn’t do before. One interesting thing, though. I’ve always recommended that people return to Home after a reading session if they may need to sync, and the video on this page recommends the same thing
  • “When viewing a PDF in pan-and-zoom mode, you will now see a small preview window in the margin of the screen”: this one sounds helpful!
  • Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile): for those of us who answer questions on the official Amazon forums, there is a tendency (which can be avoided, with effort) to develop canned responses. One thing has always been about where you find sample in the Cloud. We would say they weren’t stored in the Cloud: I’ve likened it to getting a free sample at Costco…there’s no record of that in your account, either. 😉 One reason is that it lessens costs to not do the processing of the transaction and the storage of the sample. Well, now, when you buy a p-book (paperbook), you can often choose to “Start Reading Now”, and you get the sample of the e-book on your Kindle (so you can read while the p-book is on the way). Those samples (and only those samples), are going to be available in the Cloud: Read While Your Book Ships (at AmazonSmile)

Video: “When the Words Stop”

Thanks to EBOOK FRIENDLY for the heads up on this great video!

When the Words Stop by Epic Reads

I think a lot of you will appreciate it…it’s a humor piece about that deflated feeling you have when you finish a book…when the words stop. Back in the paper days, I remember feeling a great anxiety sometimes when I realized there was only maybe ten percent of the book left to go. With an e-book, I have to say, I find so often that it ends much before the percentage would indicate (because of back matter, or a preview, or something like that), that I can’t really judge it. I’ve had books finish at maybe 66%! This is funny and worth watching, in my opinion.

Gold Box Deal: $100 off Kindle Fire HDX 7″ 4G LTE

This is a today only deal (that’s how GBDs work):

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

It’s $100 of the models with 4G (like a cellphone connection to wireless, instead of just wi-fi…this has both). I tried having 4G on one of my Fire models, and didn’t find it was worth the monthly service plan cost to me. However, I’m in a pretty techie area, and there is a lot of wi-fi around here. For some people, having 4G makes a big difference in convenience, and they are willing to pay for it. It’s also nice for people who aren’t as techie, but want to be connected…no wi-fi required to use it (if you have a signal for 4G at home, you don’t have to enter passwords or anything to connect).

The least expensive configuration of this deal is $229…which makes it the same initial cost as having a wi-fi only version.

Kindle Unlimited mini-roundup

I’m still going to write another big post on Kindle Unlimited soon (following this one)

It’s official! Kindle Unlimited is here with 639,621 titles

including what I think the impact will be on authors (some will benefit…a lot), but I did want to hit a few high points:

  • Audiobooks: I’ve seen interest in the comments on the blog in the audiobook part, and that is something that makes KU stand apart from other subsers (that’s what I call subscription services) .ike Oyster and Scribd). As is, unfortunately, not uncommonly the case with Amazon, people want to do it…but have trouble finding instructions on how to do it. I’ve done it successfully, but it wasn’t as easy as going to “audiobooks” in KU and picking one. What I did was first find an e-book in KU that was set up for “Whispersync for Voice”. You can do that with this link: Kindle Unlimited Whispersync for Voice titles (at AmazonSmile). The e-book has to say that it is “with narration”, otherwise you might pay extra for it. I downloaded the e-book (one that I’ve read before, by the way…I don’t like listening to audiobooks if I haven’t already sightread the book). Once I’d done that, the audiobook was available to my Audible app…including on my Galaxy S4 (which should be, sadly, replaced later this week by my Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile). I’m not sad to be getting the phone: I’m excited for that! I’ve just really liked the S4). So, the counterintuitive part was getting an e-book I wasn’t going to read so I could get the audiobook. After that, it worked fine. One of my readers commented that they couldn’t get the audiobook part to work, even with help from both Kindle and Audible reps…but I still don’t quite know why. Might have been a different phone, or they weren’t following the above sequence
  • How authors get compensated: I will do a big post on authors and KU generally, as I’ve mentioned, but for indie (independent authors) using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, they split part of a pool fund (the same way they get compensated for borrows from Amazon Kindle Owners” Lending Library)…but they don’t get the cut until the borrower has read ten percent of the book. Tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors will have a different deal, and we won’t know the details…the publishers don’t usually release royalty contract terms. I did check, by the way: if someone borrows your book, reads ten percent of it (triggering the royalty), return it, borrows it again, and ten percent of it again, you don’t get a second royalty…in case you were planning to game the system 😉
  • Confusion for people who are both KU members and KOLL eligible: this has been very confusing, engendering many threads on the forums! I’m hoping they make this clearer…and soon. The KOLL has not gone away, and there hasn’t been an indication that it will. The BUTTON to borrow for free, however, has gone away in many cases. What I understand at this point is that, if you’ve already borrowed your KOLL book for the month, the button will convert to a “Read for Free” button, and it will be one of your KU borrows instead (assuming the book is in both programs). If you don’t have KU, clicking the button will take you to some place to sign up. If it actually works that way, that’s not too bad. However, I did see “The Artist” on the forum say that they had not yet borrowed a KOLL book in the month…and clicking “Read for Free” made it the KOLL borrow. That would be bad: what you want to borrow from the KOLL and what you want to read from KU may not be the same. You can have up to ten books out from KU at a time, and when you return one you can get another one. That seems to me like a generous amount for one person (unless, perhaps, you are going on a trip where you won’t have wireless access), but if you have five people on the account (and there is no limit), you may often bump up against that simultaneous ten limit

Wow! There is a lot happening (Fire Phone for hardware, KU for services), but what do you think? Have you ever feared reaching the end of a book? I know people who don’t want to buy a book unless there are more books in a series, just to try and stave off the eventual “separation”.  Do you find 4G worth it for a Fire? Are you weighing keeping Audible versus going with KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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.

In-Book purchases

July 3, 2014

In-Book purchases

This piece was inspired by news I heard today about Amazon being “deeply disappointed” that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) was going after them for in-app purchases. The way that IAPs often work is that you download an app for free. Then, you can buy things from within the app to get or do more…you might buy a virtual weapon, more lives, or a new “land” to explore. That got me thinking…what if they did that with books?

Pat: “Hey, Kris! Do you want to go to lunch? I’m buying.”

Kris: “Where are we going…the Emerald City?”

Pat: “Is that a restaurant?”

Kris: “No, I just meant that if you’re paying, we must not be in Kansas any more.”

Pat: “Ha, ha. I just realized that I’m saving a couple of hundred bucks a month on books, so I can afford to splurge a little.”

Kris: “What, did you stop reading?”

Pat: “Lunch is off. Ooh, what you said!”

Kris: “Sorry. So, what did you do?”

Pat: “I’m getting all my books for free. Even well-known ones and bestsellers.”

Kris: “Well, I know you, and you aren’t pirating them. How did you manage that?”

Pat: “It’s the latest thing: IBPs…In-Book Purchases. I can get the book for free, and then if I want certain things, I can pay for them. I just don’t ever pay.”

Kris: “Pay for things? What kind of things?”

Pat: “Oh, all kinds. Mostly, it’s just stuff to make things easier, and I don’t need that.”

Kris: “I still don’t get it.”

Pat: “Here, take a look at this:

itwasthebestoftimesitwastheworstoftimesitwastheageofwisdomitwastheageoffoolishnessitwastheepochofbeliefitwastheepochofincredulityitwastheseasonofLightitwastheseasonofdarknessitwasthespringofhopeitwasthewinterofdespairwehadeverythingbeforeuswehadnothingbeforeus

Kris: “What in the world is that?”

Pat: “And you’re supposed to be the bookworm! It’s Charles Dickens…A Tale of Two Cities.”

Kris: “Oh, yeah, I see it now. What’s wrong with the formatting?”

Pat: “Nothing. I just haven’t paid to unlock punctuation, spacing, or capitals.”

Kris: “That’s nuts!”

Pat: “You get used to it. It’s not that hard…just takes a little mental discipline.”

Kris: “And you are the master of mental discipline.”

Pat: “As you wish.”

Kris: “How much did you save?”

Pat: “Five dollars for spacing, three dollars for punctuation, and two dollars for capitals…although I could have gotten the whole pack of them for $7.50.”

Kris: “You know you could have gotten this entire book for free, right?”

Pat: “It’s a new edition with a special introduction and illustrations.”

Kris: “How much did you pay for those?”

Pat: “They were free. Of course, the illustrations are behind the text, and the introduction doesn’t have any vowels in it, but it works for me.”

Kris: “You are one sick bird.”

Pat: “Oh, and I finally got around to reading Harry Potter! You recommended it to me years ago, but it was always too much money. Now…free!”

Kris: “What did you think?”

Pat: “I didn’t really get it. Those kids don’t really do much.”

Kris: “Don’t do much?”

Pat: “Yeah. I mean, they can’t really get much done at Hogwarts with all those ghosts and things watching them all the time.”

Kris: “That’s why they have a cloak of invisibility.”

Pat: “Huh. Maybe I should have paid to unlock the cloak after all.”

Kris: “Sigh.”

Pat: “How about the ring in The Hobbit? They wanted ten bucks for that…was it important to the story?”

Kris: “Is bamboo important to a panda?”

Pat: “Got it. I also decided to read Stephen King last week.”

Kris: “What have you read so far?”

Pat: “All of them.”

Kris: “All of them?”

Pat: “Well, the first three chapters of each one…that’s all that’s free.”

Kris: “This is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.”

Pat: “You’re not going to say that when you’re eating your slice of pizza, paid for by yours truly.”

Kris: “You’re right…I won’t say it. But I’ll be thinking it…”

Pat: “Close enough. I’ve got this new place I want to try. We can get a large pizza for three dollars.”

Kris: “Three dollars? Is that all?”

Pat: “Unless you want to pay extra for a crust…it’s ‘in-meal purchasing’.”

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

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

The Double Positive Game

May 18, 2014

The Double Positive Game

Sage: “Do you want to play a game?”

Casey: “Not really.”

Sage: “It’ll be fun!”

Casey: “Okay. I guess so.”

Sage: “It’s called the Double Positive Game. The last person who says something negative wins.”

Casey: “That’s a stupid game.”

Sage: “I win!”

Casey: “That’s not fair! I didn’t know we were playing yet…you cheated!”

Sage: “Ha! I win again!”

Casey: “Wait a minute, let’s start over.”

Sage: “Sure.”

Casey: “Are we playing now?”

Sage: “Yes.”

Casey: “You look good today.”

Sage: “Thanks! So do you!”

Casey: “Oh, I haven’t been able to get to the gym lately…I think I’m starting to look fat.”

Sage: “I win!”

Casey: “Why? I didn’t say anything negative about you!”

Sage: “The game doesn’t say it has to be about the other person…just something negative.”

Casey: “So, if I said it looked like it was going to rain, I’d lose?”

Sage: “That depends…”

Casey: “On what?”

Sage: “On whether or not rain is a good thing. If you were in a drought, that would be a positive.”

Casey: “I think this game is in a drought…a drought of fun.”

Sage: “I win!”

Casey: “Stop that! Hey, you keep calling me a loser…that’s pretty negative!”

Sage: “Actually, I’ve only called myself a winner…I haven’t said anything about you. You could be happy for me that I won, right?”

Casey: “That’s not how winning and losing works! The loser can’t be happy for the winner!”

Sage: “Why not?”

Casey: “Because then why would anybody try to win?!”

Sage: “So that you could both perform better than you have before?”

Casey: “Yeah, that’ll get people motivated…not! You’d make a lousy politician.”

(Sage just smiles)

Casey: “Aren’t you going to yell that ‘you won’ again?”

Sage: “Actually, Casey, I’m going to take that as a compliment…”

😉

The Double Positive Game is something I just invented. The name is a play on “double negatives”, and I’m hoping the post makes you smile…but I also hope you try playing it with people you know, especially on line. Feel free to spread it around. One note: the rule is that it is “the last person who says something negative” who wins. I wanted to phrase it in a positive manner, rather than determining who lost…so I wouldn’t say it as “the first person who says something negative loses”. Here’s hoping you have some very long lasting games! 🙂

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

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


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