Archive for the ‘Kindle Worlds’ Category

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

July 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That upped my awareness of

The 100 by Kass Morgan (at AmazonSmile*)

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

It’s also a show on the CW.

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

So, I saw on Netflix on my

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

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

It was worth a try. 🙂

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

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

I had also added it to

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

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

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

If they had been in

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

I would have.  😉

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

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

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

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

What do you think? Are you reading Kindle Worlds? Has that inspired you to read/view the original property…or discouraged you from doing it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

Kindle Worlds check-in March 2016

March 12, 2016

Kindle Worlds check-in March 2016

For me, one of Amazon’s most interesting initiatives is

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

While I see it referred to as “fan fiction”, and I think I’ve actually seen Amazon use that term now, it’s really something different from what has traditionally been called “fanfic”.

This is licensed: Amazon makes a deal with the rightsholder. The rightsholder can put in some guidelines.

Then, anybody (following the guidelines…both the rightsholders, and Amazon’s general Kindle Worlds and content guidelines) can write in the world.

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

We readers get something to read. 🙂 I’m sure, as is the case with anything else, that it isn’t all great. 🙂 We have what is called Sturgeon’s Law, after Theodore Sturgeon, and it’s been quoted a number of ways…however, the thrust of it is that someone said that 90% of science fiction is trash (that might not have been the word used), and Sturgeon responded with something along the lines of “90% of everything is trash”. 🙂

Now, as regular readers know, I feel like I’ve never read a book which wasn’t worth reading. Certainly, some are better than others, and I’ve disagreed with some decisions made (as well as production issues, including proofreading). I think it’s like something I said recently when I was in a web conference that had to do with “dealing with people you don’t like.” I said that I didn’t run into people I didn’t like…just things that people did that I didn’t like. 😉

Kindle Worlds is one of the ways that Amazon has worked on gaining less dependence on the traditional publishers (“tradpubs”) for content…and that seems to be happening.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

The Vampire Diaries (202)
Silo Saga (115)
G.I. JOE (100)
Pretty Little Liars (57)
The World of Kurt Vonnegut (52)
Jack Daniels and Associates (47)
Wayward Pines (47)
Dare To Love (42)
John Rain (41)
Veronica Mars – the TV series (38)
JET (33)
The Lei Crime Series (33)
Harbinger (28)
Hot SEALs (28)
The Perseid Collapse Series (27)
The Foreworld Saga (26)
Miss Fortune Mysteries (25)
The Remingtons (25)
Gossip Girl (23)
Southern Shifters (23)
The Arrangement (19)
The Lizzy Gardner Files (19)
Unity (17)
World of de Wolfe Pack (16)
The 100 (15)
Montana Sky (14)
Codename: Chandler (13)
Game for Love (13)
The Royals of Monterra (13)
Bloodshot (12)
Body Movers (12)
Archer & Armstrong (11)
Four Weddings and a Fiasco (11)
Shadowman (11)
The Abnorm Chronicles (10)
Doublesight (10)
The Omega Team (10)
Ravenswood (10)
Hope Falls (9)
XO Manowar (9)
The Chronos Files (8)
Shadow Ops (8)
Vampire for Hire (7)
Atlantis: The Origin Mystery (6)
The Dead Man (6)
The Callaways (5)
Sand Saga (5)
Muirwood (3)
The Kathleen Turner series (3)
Quantum & Woody (2)
Eternal Warrior (1)
St. Helena Vineyard Series (1)

In terms of the numbers, it’s interesting to me that the top ones are from diverse types of sources…there are book series, TV series, and toys. 🙂

Things have been growing…here are the numbers from when I last checked in (a little over a year ago):

» The Vampire Diaries (173)
» Silo Saga (112)
» G.I. JOE (72)
» Pretty Little Liars (50)
» The World of Kurt Vonnegut (46)
» Wayward Pines (38)
» John Rain (33)
» Harbinger (27)
» Veronica Mars – the TV series (24)
» Gossip Girl (20)
» The Lizzy Gardner Files (18)
» The Foreworld Saga (17)
» The Arrangement (16)
» Unity (16)
» Bloodshot (12)
» Archer & Armstrong (11)
» Body Movers (10)
» Four Weddings and a Fiasco (10)
» Game For Love (10)
» The Abnorm Chronicles (9)
» Dare To Love (9)
» The Perseid Collapse Series (9)
» XO Manowar (8)
» Shadowman (8)
» Ravenswood (6)
» The Dead Man (5)
» Atlantis: The Origin Mystery (4)
» The Chronos Files (4)
» The Callaways (3)
» Eternal Warrior (1)
» The Kathleen Turner Series (1)
» Miss Fortune Mysteries (1)
» Quantum & Woody (1)
» Sand Saga (1)

There are eleven more worlds, so roughly one a month. There have been 29 titles added the most popular world, The Vampire Diaries.

The most popular book is actually quite a bit higher than the one a year ago (when the top was 2,226 ranked…although I’m not convinced that the measuring system is the same)

The Omega Team: Assisting Aimee (Kindle Worlds Novella) (Delta Force Heroes Book 99 (at AmazonSmile*)

at #885 at time of writing.

There are 1,321 titles…when last time there were 785 titles. That’s a 68% increase, and more than one a day.

I would still consider writing something for Kindle Worlds, if something really caught my eye…that’s just not the case for me right now. My inclination is 1960s TV: The Addams Family, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart…that kind of thing. 🙂

One thing that authors need to realize (and which wouldn’t bother me). If you write something in Kindle Worlds, you don’t own any characters you create. That’s similar to writing a script for a TV series…if you create a great character, you can’t start writing novels about that character or use it on another show.

It look like Kindle Worlds is continuing to grow…and my guess is we’ll see that same trend when I look at it again next year. 🙂

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

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

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

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

Checking in on Kindle Worlds

February 10, 2015

Checking in on Kindle Worlds

One of Amazon’s most innovative programs is

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

It took the idea of fan fiction (or “fanfic”), and changed it considerably.

In fanfic, the works are unauthorized (although some rightsholders approve the idea, within limits, including J.K. Rowling). The authors are generally not compensated, and the rightsholders do not control the works.

Fanfic is not a profession, although some great work has been produced in it.

In Kindle Worlds, Amazon licenses a property from the rightsholder.

The rightsholder can set certain rules about the world.

Anybody can then write within that world. Amazon gets a cut, the rightsholder gets a cut, the author gets a cut.

Hypothetically, you could make your living writing Kindle Worlds stories…and it would all be legal.

You would not own the stories or the characters you create, and you just need to be aware of that going into it.

That’s not that different from writing, say, an episode for a TV series.

If you create Harry Mudd on Star Trek,  you can’t stop the series from using the character again…however they want.

That’s just part of the deal…you play in their sandbox, but they own the toys. 😉

I think there is a lot of opportunity still available to Amazon with Kindle Worlds.

I keep looking for licenses for older properties: The Addams Family, Man from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, and so on.

That seems like a real way for rightsholders to both create a new revenue stream, and to possibly revitalize a franchise.

They do have G.I. Joe, and I do think we’ll see more.

Here are the current Kindle Worlds and their title counts:

  • The Vampire Diaries (173)
  • Silo Saga (112)
  • G.I. JOE (72)
  • Pretty Little Liars (50)
  • The World of Kurt Vonnegut (46)
  • Wayward Pines (38)
  • John Rain (33)
  • Harbinger (27)
  • Veronica Mars – the TV series (24)
  • Gossip Girl (20)
  • The Lizzy Gardner Files (18)
  • The Foreworld Saga (17)
  • The Arrangement (16)
  • Unity (16)
  • Bloodshot (12)
  • Archer & Armstrong (11)
  • Body Movers (10)
  • Four Weddings and a Fiasco (10)
  • Game For Love (10)
  • The Abnorm Chronicles (9)
  • Dare To Love (9)
  • The Perseid Collapse Series (9)
  • XO Manowar (8)
  • Shadowman (8)
  • Ravenswood (6)
  • The Dead Man (5)
  • Atlantis: The Origin Mystery (4)
  • The Chronos Files (4)
  • The Callaways (3)
  • Eternal Warrior (1)
  • The Kathleen Turner Series (1)
  • Miss Fortune Mysteries (1)
  • Quantum & Woody (1)
  • Sand Saga (1)

In terms of amount of product, the top world by far is The Vampire Diaries, based on a TV series based on a book series.

When I checked in about a year ago, the numbers I had were these:

  • The Vampire Diaries (113)
  • Silo Saga (70)
  • Pretty Little Liars (36)
  • The World of Kurt Vonnegut (34)
  • Harbinger (25)
  • John Rain (19)
  • Gossip Girl (18)
  • Wayward Pines (13)
  • The Foreworld Saga (11)
  • Archer & Armstrong (10)
  • Bloodshot (10)
  • Unity (9)
  • Shadowman (5)
  • XO Manowar (5)
  • The Dead Man (3)

You can tell that the number of Worlds has grown, and generally, the number of titles within the worlds has grown.

The licensed comics, perhaps not unexpectedly, seem to have the fewest titles…there are a lot more people who write prose books than do comics, and they can do them more quickly.

Contemporary works do quite well: Hugh Howey’s Wool series has had a lot of interest.

I recently read a book

Snapshot: Power, Sex & Revenge (at AmazonSmile*) (available through Kindle Unlimited)

which I thought was a great case of world building. I e-mailed the author and recommended they contact Kindle Worlds to see about licensing it.

That certainly doesn’t mean Amazon would do it. If I was this author, though, I wouldn’t worry too much about a “signing fee”. I think the stream of income it might create would help support the author’s writing, as well as it being great to see what some other people would do with it. My Goodreads review of the book is here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1182097453

The #1 book that comes up in a “New and Popular” search of the 785 titles is

Dare To Love Series: Daring Attraction (Kindle Worlds) (at AmazonSmile*)

is ranked #2,226 paid in the USA Kindle store…a very respectable showing. That’s certainly in the top one percent.

While it still doesn’t feel to me like Kindle Worlds has really broken into the mainstream, I think the program is a solid success for Amazon at this point.

What do you think? Do you read Kindle Worlds books? Do you worry that a less well-written book would “spoil” your feelings for the originals? What Kindle Worlds would you like to see…and would you write in one? Are you a rightsholder that has tried to get a property into Kindle Worlds? If so, what was the experience like? 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!

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.

Romancing the Tomes: four new Kindle Worlds open

June 26, 2014

Romancing the Tomes: four new Kindle Worlds open

Amazon sent me this

press release

announcing the addition of four new worlds to

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

That’s the Amazon-created platform that licenses works from the copyright holders, and then allows anybody to write within those worlds (and within certain guidelines). Amazon gets a cut, the rightsholder gets a cut, and the author gets a cut.

It’s commonly conflated with fan fiction (fanfic), although they really aren’t the same thing. Fanfic is unauthorized, and typically non-commercial. This is commercial publishing, just like other books for sale at Amazon, and expressly authorized (without review by the publisher of each individual work).

I was just thinking about KW the other day, kind of wondering how it was going. There are a lot of properties I would like to see them get, and I would certainly consider writing in some of those.

There are works already in these Worlds (in order of most works to fewest):

  • The Vampire Diaries (142)
  • Silo Saga (94)
  • The World of Kurt Vonnegut (42)
  • Pretty Little Liars (41)
  • G.I. JOE (33)
  • Harbinger (27)
  • John Rain (27)
  • Wayward Pines (22)
  • Gossip Girl (19)
  • Veronica Mars – the TV series (16)
  • Unity (15)
  • The Foreworld Saga (13)
  • Bloodshot (12)
  • Archer & Armstrong (11)
  • Shadowman (7)
  • XO Manowar (7)
  • The Abnorm Chronicles (5)
  • The Lizzy Gardner Files (5)
  • Ravenswood (4)
  • The Dead Man (4)
  • Eternal Warrior (1)
  • Game For Love (1)
  • Quantum & Woody (1)
  • The Callaways (1)

These are the new worlds, according to the press release (at least one is represented above):

  • Barbara Freethy’s The Callaways—The hit series from the best-selling Kindle Direct Publishing author of all-time on Amazon
  • Bella Andre’s Game for Love—The sizzling series about the superstars women lust after from the New York Times best-selling author
  • H.M. Ward’s The Arrangement—The steamy, sexy New York Times best-selling new adult romance series with over a million copies sold
  • Lucy Kevin’s Four Weddings and a Fiasco—The sweet, contemporary romance series from the USA Today best-selling author

In terms of how well they are doing, here are the bestsellers:

Kindle Worlds bestsellers (at AmazonSmile)

The bestselling one is in one of the new worlds, Game for Love, and doesn’t have an overall rank yet.

The second bestselling one is in the John Rain world, and it is ranked 21,428. That’s actually very high: top ten percent.

While Amazon has to think about where it spends its money, I think we’ll see more Kindle Worlds licensing announcements this year and next.

Rightsholders have to consider: if Amazon is going to have difficult relationships with publishers (such as the one evidenced by what I call the “Hachazon War”…Hachette and Amazon), they may want to make sure they are on the Amazon publishing ship as it sets sail.

This new group, all romance authors, is an interesting one.

It looks to me like these series were all published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, although it is hard to be sure.

That should be good news to some of the authors who read this blog. It’s been one of the questions: my guess is that there are many authors who would like to license their books to Kindle Worlds, and it hasn’t happened yet.

The license costs Amazon money, of course, and at this point, they need to still be impressing people with the selections.

That doesn’t mean that every individual title has to be excellent…the way this is done, there is no way to guarantee that.

However, they do (presumably) want to attract big name Worlds. I want them to get things like The Addams Family and The Man from U.N.C.L.E…., media tie-ins. Sure, I’d love for them to get Star Trek and Harry Potter and such, but I think these other properties are underserved in publishing.

To do that, it has to look like a “real thing”, and that requires recognizable names.

I wouldn’t say that all four of these authors are known to the majority of the public (although Barbara Freethy would be recognized by many serious readers).

They are, though, all successful.

I think these new books show a bit of a shift.

Getting Kurt Vonnegut was a brilliant move, and these new ones show that they aren’t just trying to woo the media elite, but the “working authors”…and that’s a good thing.

Amazon=innovation, and Kindle Worlds is definitely part of that.

What do you think? Are you interested in Kindle Worlds? What Worlds would you especially like to read…and is there a World that would get you to write something? Is Amazon strengthening its market position in a way that it will become less dependent on tradpubs (traditional publishers)…and if so, what will that mean for future negotiations and Kindle store availability? 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! :) 

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.

Protecting the brand?

February 6, 2014

Protecting the brand

Yesterday, I wrote about Amazon’s

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

licensing new properties, including G.I. Joe.

Now, in this interesting

Seattle Times article by Jay Greene

which talks about Amazon’s publishing efforts generally, and how they affect the publishing world (I recommend you read it), we get a bit more detail on the deal…and something really stood out to me. According to the article:

“Hasbro is putting few restrictions on authors. Writers can’t produce pieces that are sexually explicit, racist or sexist. Given that G.I. Joe is a military figure, violence is expected.

“Gritty is OK, but gratuitous is not,” Kelly said.

And Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, R.I., deep in Boston Red Sox country, threw in one other restriction: G.I. Joe’s comrade, Snake Eyes, cannot be a portrayed (sic) as a fan of the New York Yankees.”

Banned: sexually explicit, racist, sexist…Yankees fan?

Yep. 🙂

I think that last one is quite amusing.

I know a little about G.I. Joe (I like to know a little about everything), but I’m not quite clear: why Snake Eyes specifically? Would it be okay to show another Joe as a Yankees fan? How about a bad guy? 😉

I think their other restrictions are reasonable, although all of that gets to be interesting. The snippet in this report doesn’t mention a number of other protected groups…profanity also isn’t mentioned. That might, arguably, make for a more realistic military unit.

So, that gets to my point in this post.

Some companies (Disney, famously), are very protective of their characters and properties. Disney went after cartoonist Dan O’Neill (of the marvelous Odd Bodkins strips) for a comic strip which they felt crossed the line. It depicted Mickey and Minnie doing things that were…um, NSFW (Not Safe For Walt). 😉 Disney won.

On the other hand, some have been much more relaxed about it, even explicitly allowing fan fiction (although sometimes with guidelines).

When it comes to Kindle Worlds, that has to be on the minds of the rightsholders. Will allowing people fairly free rein with the stories dilute (and possibly diminish) the consumers’ perception of the characters/world?

I think that’s unlikely.

First, I think that many people may see this as another medium. People don’t judge books by the movies or TV shows…or at least, many people don’t. We are talking about serious readers here, for the most part: the ones who know who the publishers are. I think that they will probably be aware that a Kindle Worlds book is something different…and not assume that, say, Kurt Vonnegut is a lousy writer because they read a Kindle World Vonnegut book that wasn’t up to their standards.

Second, bringing in new creative perspectives has often been a contributor to the longevity of a character, I believe.

We can see this when a property is adapted, and something is added or changed during the adaptation, and then that finds it way back into the original medium…or just simply becomes part of the public mythology about the character.

I believe that companies that allow that to happen strengthen their properties, rather than weaken them.

Here are some examples (at least, this is how the stories go that I’ve heard):

  • Superman’s ability to fly was added for the Fleischer cartoons…they thought it was both easier to animate and more dramatic
  • Kryptonite was added by the Superman radio show…so the actor playing Superman could take a break (otherwise, what prevents Superman from being in the story?)
  • The snowstorm in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie is not based on the original book, but on a 1902 musical (the original solution to the problem, and I’m avoiding spoilers, would have been quite hard to do on stage)
  • The Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t green in the Oz books: that was done for the 1939 movie, in part because they were playing with the new technicolor options. In Wicked, the “fact” that the witch is green is central to the story…presumably, the author didn’t realize that was sourced from the movie, not the public domain works
  • Sherlock Holmes doesn’t say, “Elementary, my dear Watson” in the original stories. Holmes gets quite close to it, using both “Elementary” and “My dear Watson” within paragraphs of each other in The Hound of the Baskervilles. It does appear (with an extra “elementary” at the end in a 1929 movie version. I believe it might first have been used in a satirical way in The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
  • Alfred (Bruce Wayne’s butler) being thin and having a mustache came from casting for a film adaptation. Similarly, the Batcave first appeared in a serial, and later became part of the comics
  • Sulu’s first name on Star Trek of “Hikaru” originally appeared in an authorized novel by Vonda McIntyre, and later was used on screen in a movie

Those are just a few examples. I think the characters are richer because the owner saw a good idea and used it. They recognized the value of an outside input.

That doesn’t mean, I believe, that they should allow infringement (even though that might lead to “beneficial mutations”). However, Kindle Worlds is not infringement: it’s authorized. By allowing outsiders to introduce new elements there, the characters can be enriched.

It’s important to note that the authors of Kindle Worlds stories don’t control new elements they introduce for the characters. Quite a few people have been upset about that, but it’s not so different from the examples I’ve given above (with the exception, perhaps, of the Holmes one).

The Fleischers couldn’t very well have said, “Is it okay if we make Superman fly?” and then tried to stop DC from using a flying Superman in its comics…or asked for a royalty when they did.

My advice to rightsholders is that it is safe to put your worlds into Kindle Worlds, and may turn out to be a very good thing.

What do you think? Is it a risk to license your characters to Kindle Worlds? Are readers sophisticated enough not to judge the original “canonical” works by KW? Conversely, should rightsholders freely allow fan fiction (outside of Kindle Worlds)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

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 #238: Yo, Joe! Adobe obsoleting some EBRs

February 5, 2014

Round up #238: Yo, Joe! Adobe obsoleting some EBRs

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

Bloomberg: “Apple Inc. (AAPL) faces as much as $840 million in state and consumer antitrust claims related to electronic-book deals”

According to this

Bloomberg article by Patricia Hurtado and Christie Smythe

Apple may end up owing close a billion dollars in the State attorneys general e-book price-fixing case.

Apple is appealing.

However, to put that in perspective, that is more than PG&E’s entire profits for 2013 (Fortune listing).

There was another hearing on Tuesday about a separate case, the DoJ (Department of Justice) case.

As a result of that case, there was a monitor appointed to keep an eye on Apple. Apple has complained about it, and this hearing was about that.

According to this

Fortune article by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

it looks like the monitor may stay in place, but with new rules.

A real American fanfic?

Okay, Kindle Worlds isn’t really fanfic (fan fiction), but it made for a fun headline. 😉

According to this

press release

Amazon has licensed seven more “Worlds” for

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

One in particular stands out to me, and gives me hope for some exciting opportunities in the future.

That’s G.I. Joe.

Yes, they mostly mention characters from the 1980s (and forward…including the recent movies,  presumably, although purely movie characters might not end up being part of this), but this is still a licensing of a “nostalgia brand”.

If this does well (and I suspect it might), that might lead to licensing of more properties which I have suggested before, like The Addams Family and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

The other new licenses:

  • Veronica Mars: this is the popular TV series, and soon to be Kickstarter-funded movie. Interestingly, Amazon’s Prime Instant Video has the exclusive streaming rights right now, and I think that probably played into the deal
  • Ravenswood: Kindle Worlds already had Pretty Little Liars…they pick up the spin-off
  • The Abnorm Chronicles, from the Marcus Sakey novel, Brilliance (at AmazonSmile)
  • The Lizzy Gardner Files, from the Theresa Ragan book series (at AmazonSmile)
  • Quantum and Woody, and Eternal Warrior, adding to the Valient Entertainment comics worlds

They join (with the number of KW titles so far):

  • The Vampire Diaries (113)
  • Silo Saga (70)
  • Pretty Little Liars (36)
  • The World of Kurt Vonnegut (34)
  • Harbinger (25)
  • John Rain (19)
  • Gossip Girl (18)
  • Wayward Pines (13)
  • The Foreworld Saga (11)
  • Archer & Armstrong (10)
  • Bloodshot (10)
  • Unity (9)
  • Shadowman (5)
  • XO Manowar (5)
  • The Dead Man (3)

Update on  Give a Kid a Kindle

Nominations for a child to receive a free Kindle from me have been open for more than a month, and we have one so far:

[Nominee #1] is a ninth grade student who comes to class every day with a stack of books. [Nominee #1] seems to read very rapidly, perhaps a book a day, and [Nominee #1] checks out stacks of library books so that [Nominee #1] has enough to read. [Nominee #1] would benefit from a Kindle because [Nominee #1] could read free classics and not have to carry around a stack any longer!

The ability to recommend one (or more) of the nominees will begin on March 1st, and nominations will continue through March 31st, with the Kindle being award in April.

I’m hoping to get more nominations…I suspect there may be a significant uptick when recommending is available, and I think there may be a rush of entries towards the end.

I’d appreciate you letting people know about the opportunity.

I also appreciate that people have offered to help in some way with the giveaway (either through money or through contributing a Kindle), but I need to keep this simple, so there are no tax or legal complications. I want to be able to continue to do this in the future.

If you know of a child to nominate, you can do so at

Give a Kid a Kindle

Kindle Fire wi-fi connection wonky again

For quite a while, it seemed as though the problems I was having with my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile)

staying connected has somehow resolved themselves.

However, in the past few days, they are back. I need to toggle wi-fi on and off pretty often…at least several times a day.

My sense is that an update to the KFHDXs is imminent. I ran into someone who said they were told that an update was coming to fix a text-to-speech problem. For some people, on at least some books, the TTS stops at the end of each chapter. That wasn’t true before,but I have experienced it. That can be a problem: my drives are certainly sometime more than a chapter long, so having it stop part way is…inconvenient.

In addition to other upcoming features they’ve mentioned (press release), I’m hoping for bug fixes for both of these issues.

Manage Your Kindle update

Speaking of updates, I wrote about changes to Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle page back on January 19th. Well, they are still rolling out…and there has been a lot of negative reaction to them.

Lots of people don’t have the new look yet, or, like me, only have it in some places. Different browsers, different devices…that can all apparently affect it.

Amazon, which is, I think, getting better at communicating with customers, posted this

Amazon Kindle forum announcement

to basically say, hey, if you don’t see it yet, you should eventually.

What speed do you read?

Staples has a fun test you can take at

http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/technology-research-centers/ereaders/speed-reader/

to see how quickly you read, and how that compares to the national average.

It includes comprehension.

I see a considerable flaw in the test.

It uses a particular public domain book (I don’t want to tell you which, so it doesn’t prejudice your test.

I was familiar with the book, which probably made it easier to answer the comprehension questions (I got them all correct).

According to this, my reading speed was 460 words per minute…84% faster than the national average, and somewhat above the average college student.

Again, according to the page, the world speed-reading champion is more than ten times that fast. 🙂

There are a lot of other factors involved (I used a mouse to scroll, for example), but I still think it is fun. You don’t need to sign up, so if you’re curious, I’d recommend this.

GOODEREADER: “Adobe has Killed e-Readers”

According to this

GOODEREADER article by Michael Kozlowski

Adobe is making changes in April that will require an update to a device for it to be able to access Adobe Digital Editions books. The big problem there is that many devices (especially from defunct product lines) won’t get the update:

“Unless thousands of app developers and e-reader companies update their firmware and programming, customers will basically be unable to read books they have legitimately purchased. In effect, Adobe is killing eBooks and e-readers.”

I would presume that, if someone bought a device that had the update, people would still be able to access those books.

Still, this is somewhat ironic for people who were always pushing for Amazon to license EPUB for their Kindles, so that we wouldn’t be “trapped in the walled garden” of Amazon.

Amazon devices, if they had licensed it, would presumably get the update, but I think there is an argument to be made here that companies that benefited directly from people buying books are likely to support those formats and security. Companies that aren’t the book sellers may be less likely to do so.

Following an “industry standard” makes you less dependent on updating your product for your customers…

We’ve seen another issue with Adobe in the last couple of years, when they stopped supporting Flash on new mobile devices…making it require a workaround to get it to work on a Kindle Fire.

My guess is that a lot of people will take the opportunity to migrate to other devices, including Kindles.

What do you think? Will Apple eventually prevail? How’s your Kindle Fire’s wi-fi stability? How did you do on reading speed test? Would you want to write a G.I. Joe story? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* 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 #228: Silk fix, what did Melville make?

December 18, 2013

Round up #228: Silk fix, what did Melville make?

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

Coming in 2014: Give a Kid a Kindle

I’m going to give away a Kindle to a child in 2014 (I hope to do it every quarter), and you’ll be able to help.

You can nominate a child that you know, by commenting on this page:

Give a Kid a Kindle

which I have just made public this morning.

Nominating comments can be made now (see that page for more information), and I will begin displaying those nominations (which may be edited) on the page in January.

Readers will be able to recommend a child for the Kindle in March of 2014, by using a poll which will be on that page.

There is no charitable organization involved in this, and there won’t be any tax write-offs associated with it…it’s just something that I want to do personally (and I’ve discussed with my Significant Other, of course).

I’ve tried to keep this simple. I just want to do something nice. 🙂

I think reading is important, and that readers can (but don’t have to) change the world.

I’d appreciate any comments or suggestions you have for this. I can certainly see some challenges in doing it…

Amazon promises Silk “accordion” fix

It has seemed pretty obvious lately that Amazon needs to do more testing before they release updates.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting free updates with new functionality! It’s just that you don’t want them to make things worse. That’s clearly how some people are feeling about Amazon’s updates…I know of people saying that they are afraid to turn on the wireless, because they don’t want to get a new update.

Recently:

  • A Kindle Fire update appears to have made wireless connections unstable…I have to frequently toggle the wireless on and off now
  • The introduction of Cloud Collections to the Kindle Paperwhite in a recent update has been widely criticized as confusing and unwieldy
  • An update to the Silk browser caused pages to “accordion” as you scrolled, making it impossible to read them

As to the last one, Amazon had now addressed it in this:

Kindle forum thread

They’ve said that a fix has been released, and that the Fire should automatically update within the next few days.

I really appreciate that Amazon employees will go into a public forum and make a statement like that…but it would be better if the problems were discovered pre-release, and fixed.

I’m guessing that when Amazon gets a little distance on all this after the holiday season, they’ll re-evaluate their quality control and testing for updates. That might mean we get them farther apart, but I think that would be worth it.

Hugh Howey writing in the world of Kurt Vonnegut

My feeling is that Kindle Worlds has been a bit slow getting off the ground. This is Amazon’s bold venture to mainstream fanfic (“fan fiction”), in a sense, by licensing properties from the rightsholders and then letting anyone write within those worlds (within certain guidelines), and splitting the royalties.

I’ve been following the forum at the

and after some initial activity, it’s been quite slow.

The bestselling Kindle Worlds books tend not to break the top 10,000 in the Kindle store. That doesn’t mean that can’t be profitable and popular, but my intuition is that Amazon would like more out of the program.

Part of this is chicken or the egg: they may need hits to get people interested in the program, and people need to be interested in the program to write those hit titles.

Well, this title should help.

Hugh Howey (at AmazonSmile) is a best-selling (New York Times and USA Today) science fiction author. I’m reading Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (at AmazonSmile) myself, although it’s not first in line for me (I’m reading a galley copy of something right now, as part a “beta reader”, and then there is always the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library book to finish). My guess is that I’ll finish the five books in the next few months.

Howey is writing a Kindle Worlds’ title in the world of Kurt Vonnegut:

It can be pre-ordered now, for delivery on January 14, 2014.

Howey’s books are well-reviewed on Amazon, and this announcement has gotten some media play. It’s an interesting mix of inspiration (Slaughterhouse-Five (at AmazonSmile)) (which is only $2.50 at time of writing) and author. Howey had a personal experience with the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, which may certainly inform this piece.

Janet Dailey reported dead

We sold a lot of Janet Dailey (at AmazonSmile) when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore…and we certainly weren’t the only ones.

Reportedly, the author’s books sold something like 300 million copies, certainly making the romance novelist one of the best-selling novelists of any kind.

Amazon lists over 100 Janet Dailey titles in the Kindle store, including at least some of the Americana series (Dailey wrote a novel for each state).

Dailey began writing in the 1970s, and the latest book from the author was published this year.

New York Times article by Paul Vitello

Herman Melville’s Lifetime Literary Earnings

Bibliokept has this nice

post

which shows you how much Herman Melville got paid for writing. While not complete, let’s just say that the figures might be surprising…you do have to remember that we aren’t talking about constant dollars, though. Money went further back then. Still, being an author is rarely one of the best paid occupations.

* 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.

Want to write Slaughterhouse-Six? Kindle Worlds licenses Kurt Vonnegut

August 1, 2013

Want to write Slaughterhouse-Six? Kindle Worlds licenses Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut was one of the unique voices in American literature.

Want to try to imitate it?

Well, you don’t have to try to write in the same style…heck, if you want to make Kilgore Trout (Vonnegut’s fictional science fiction author) into a hard-boiled detective or a kid-friendly cartoon character, go for it.

In a

press release

which Amazon sent me, they have announced having licensed the works of Kurt Vonnegut for Kindle Worlds, their “authorized fanfic” platform (although that’s an imprecise term).

That means, without first getting approval for a specific story, anybody can write a story set in the universe of Kurt Vonnegut’s works and put it up for sale in the Kindle store (provided it follows certain guidelines).

This is extraordinary.

It definitely broadens Kindle Worlds far beyond current pop culture, and I think it’s a good thing…although many will find it controversial.

One person who might have? Kurt Vonnegut.

As I recall, Vonnegut expressed considerable displeasure to Philip José Farmer about the latter having published a novel, Venus on the Half-Shell, under the name of Kilgore Trout.

That’s one of the fascinating things about this story for me.

With whom did Amazon negotiate?

RosettaBooks

They famously won against Random House in court, when the latter tried to claim to have licensed e-book rights for their authors…basically, before e-books were even a consideration.

RosettaBooks, like Open Road Media, recognized the potential of the e-book market before the Big Six US publishers, and made the moves to get those rights.

It’s intriguing to me that whatever they licensed is giving them the right to negotiate for derivative works.

I’m guessing Amazon paid a pretty penny for the Kindle Worlds license for Vonnegut…although spending money does seem like an area of expertise for the e-tailer. 😉

This is likely to help convince other publishers to do the same, but let’s take a quick look at other RosettaBooks properties in the Kindle store (since they might also be candidates for licensing):

RosettaBooks in the Kindle store

  • Arthur C. Clarke
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Richard Matheson (I Am Legend…could definitely make a good Kindle World)
  • Who Goes There? by John W, Campbell (the basis for The Thing…another good bet)
  • Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind…absolutely)
  • Marion Chesney and M.C. Beaton (romance fanfic is big, and could work here…more Poor Relation?)
  • Robert B. Parker (Spenser)
  • Edward Abbey
  • Ed McBain (Fuzz)
  • A Passage to India
  • Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (the basis for Soylent Green…a potentially interesting world)
  • Ben Bova (Mars)
  • Sherryl Woods (Molly DeWitt)
  • Harry Kemelmen (Rabbi Small)

Note that I’m just listing a few…and just because RosettaBooks has the rights to one book by an author doesn’t mean they have the rights to all of the books.

I expect to hear about massive pushback on this in the next couple of days…I’m looking at you, John Scalzi. 😉

However, I also think authors will try it. I think a lot of it might not be good…and a small portion of it might be brilliant.

What do you think? Are you a writer who would want to attempt Vonnegut’s worlds? Are you a reader who would be intrigued to see what would be written…or appalled at the rights being licensed? Feel free to tell me and your readers what you think by commenting on this post. Actually, I think this is worth a poll:

Note: there is a band named Slaughterhouse 6. When I conceived the headline, I was unaware of that, and no connection between my suggesting a fictional fiction with the title Slaughterhouse-Six (spelled out) is intended

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

Round up #187: Smart but poor kids, Pretty Little John Locke Liars

July 14, 2013

Round up #187: Smart but poor kids, Pretty Little John Locke Liars

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

John Locke cracks the Kindle World sales code

John Locke was the first Kindle Direct Publishing author in the “Kindle Million Club” (having sold a million books ((technically, licenses)) in the Kindle store), and the eighth overall.

Now, it looks to me like Locke is the first person to really make a book in Amazon’s http://www.amazon.com/kindleworlds take off in sales.

Locke’s Pretty Little Liars: A Kiss for Luck (Kindle Worlds Short Story) is #125 out of all paid (not free) in the Kindle store right now…and was close to that earlier today.

The next closest book, at time of writing (this is a pretty volatile list) is The Vampire Diaries: Bound By Blood (Kindle Worlds Novella) by J. R Rain…at #6,903.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Locke figured this out…this is an author who knows how to write e-books which sell.

Amazon is probably pretty happy to see it. 🙂

By the way, I’ve been paying attention to (and posting) in the

Kindle Worlds forum

There is a thread there where they ask people what future Kindle Worlds they would like to see licensed.

I’m sure it’s not an easy process…what happens here is that Amazon licenses a property from a rightsholder (like a TV show, or a publisher), and authors can write (and illustrate…there are comics here) new stories in that world (following certain guidelines) without getting additional permission from the rightsholder. The rightsholder and the author both get a royalty…and Amazon makes money (and gets an exclusive title) as well.

My very strong guess is that the rightsholder is paid a licensing fee…even if no titles are ever written. That’s one reason why you can’t just volunteer your independently published e-book series to be a Kindle World. They may open it up more after it is established, but right now, one of the things it needs is respect…and that will come in part from well-known titles.

Here’s a quick look at what people are suggesting so far:

  • Adventure Time
  • All My Children
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Babylon 5
  • Backstreet Boys
  • Battle Beasts
  • Battlestar Galactica (old, new): 3
  • Ron Perlman/Linda Hamilton Beauty and the Beast  (I suggested this)
  • Better Off Ted
  • Bon Jovi
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: 4
  • Camp Rock
  • Cell (Stephen King)
  • The Circus of Dr. Lao (I suggested this)
  • Conan
  • Criminal Minds
  • CSI
  • Dark Shadows: 3 (I suggested this)
  • Dawson’s Creek
  • DC Universe, Superman, Smallville, Young Justice: 7
  • Defiance (new TV show)
  • Dexter
  • Diablo
  • Dragon Age
  • Dragonlance
  • Dr. Who, Torchwood: 6
  • Dukes of Hazzard
  • David Eddings books: 2
  • The Elder Scrolls: 4
  • Emergency!
  • Eternal Sonata
  • Eureka: 2
  • Everquest, World of Norrath
  • Fable
  • Falling Skies
  • Final Fantasy
  • The Finder: 2
  • Firefly: 3
  • Flash Gordon
  • Friday the 13th (movie series)
  • Game of Thrones, Song of Fire and Ice
  • Jessica Day George (books)
  • General Hospital: 3
  • GI Joe
  • Glee: 2
  • God of War
  • Grimm: 4
  • Shannon Hale (books)
  • Hawaii 5-0 (new)
  • Harry Potter: 5
  • Heroes (TV series): 2
  • High School Musical:
  • House
  • The Hunger Games: 3
  • Infernal (Edward Lee)
  • Inhumanoids (TV series)
  • Invasion (TV series)
  • Jem
  • Jurassic Park
  • Labyrinth
  • Law and Order SVU: 2
  • Gail Carson Levine (books)
  • Life (gee, I’m not sure what this is…the boardgame, real life? If the latter, I don’t think you need to license it) 😉
  • Lobo’s Back
  • Lord of the Rings: 3
  • Lost: 4
  • Lost in Space:
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: 2 (I suggested this)
  • Mandrake the Magician, Lothar: 3
  • Marvel Universe, The Avengers, X-Men: 6
  • M.A.S.K.
  • Masters of the Universe
  • Maximum Ride
  • Mega Man
  • Mike Nomad (I suggested this one)
  • The Mortal Instruments
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Nashville (I assume this is the current TV series, not the Altman movie) 😉
  • NCIS
  • Newsies
  • Nightmare On Elm Street: 2
  • 90210 (new or old): 3
  • Once Upon a Time: 3
  • One Life to Live: 2
  • Outlander
  • Passions
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians
  • The Phantom (The Ghost Who Walks): 2
  • Phantom of the Opera (already in the public domain in the USA)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: 2
  • Popeye
  • Prince of Persia
  • Prince Valiant (I suggested this one)
  • Raum
  • Revenge
  • Rise of the Guardians
  • Roswell
  • Scandal
  • Sherlock (the TV series)
  • Space: 1999:
  • Stargate (SG-1, Atlantis): 4
  • Star Trek: 5 (all series, movies, and books)
  • Star Wars: 3 (all movies and books)
  • Stephanie Plum
  • Steve Roper (I suggested this one)
  • Supernatural (TV series): 5
  • Surface (TV series)
  • Teen Wolf (the MTV series)
  • TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles): 2
  • Thundarr the Barbarian: 2 (I suggested this)
  • Tin Man (Syfy series)
  • Transformers: 2
  • True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse
  • Tron: 2
  • Twilight
  • Ugly Betty
  • Phil Vassar
  • Veronica Mars
  • Warehouse 13: 2
  • Warriors
  • The Witcher
  • The X-Files
  • The Young and the Restless
  • Zelda: 2

Again, none of these have been approved…they are just suggestions from forum members.

I’ve thought of a couple more I will add (Jonny Quest, for one).

Do I think these will make it?

Well, my guess is that Disney will not participate in Kindle Worlds. They are very protective of their characters, even inside their own company. I don’t think they would be comfortable with non-canonical portrayals, even if they were authorized. That would wipe out a large amount of this list, if true: Pirates, Marvel, Star Wars, High School Musical, Camp Rock, Newsies…

Of the others, there are some I think might make it. I think there’s a chance for Mandrake, Flash Gordon, and more of that group. I’m sure they’d like to up the profiles, and wouldn’t mind new stories being told.

Amazon blocks Maxthon from web lookup in books?

My preferred browser on my Kindle Fire is Maxthon, which I think I sideloaded from

http://www.maxthon.com/

I’m just not a big fan of Silk, Amazon’s browser…I find the navigation of tabs and favorites and such clunky. I also have Dolphin, which I probably got from

http://www.1mobile.com/

but I don’t remember for sure.

Even though Amazon allows installing of apps from outside sources, I’m pretty cautious about what I install and where I get it. When you install something, you take responsibility for it…if it damages your Fire, Amazon (reasonably, in my opinion) is not at fault.

Generally, when I do something which requires the web, I’ll be asked which of my three browsers it wants me to use.

When I”m inside a book, though, and “long press” (hold your finger on stylus on it for about a second) a word and choose “More…” and then “Search the Web”, Maxthon is not a choice.

Dolphin is, though. Hm…I suppose I might have gotten Dolphin from the Amazon Appstore, although there isn’t a Fire compatible version there now.

It’s interesting to me that it doesn’t show up there, but does pretty much everywhere else. Could Amazon be blocking outside browsers at that point? I don’t really know, but the functionality caught my eye.

Guardian: economic status affects reading levels even among the “clever”

This

Guardian article

reports a study with some pretty disturbing implications.

Even students who are “clever” who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, are 30 months behind those from wealthier households.

The suggestion is that schools (this is in the UK) in poorer areas aren’t supporting the smarter children as well, perhaps due to resources.

Certainly, that would be really unfortunate. It would be an understandable consequence…fewer books means less reading which, in my opinion, is going to make someone a less capable reader.

Give everybody easy access to free (public domain is fine, if that’s what can be done) e-books…I honestly think that would really help. They need easy access, no question…but a smart child (I would guess this may really mean more academically inclined) who had tens of thousands of books available would make use of the resource, and would likely improve reading skills.

The recommendations actually sounded to me a bit like the beginnings of a dystopian novel, though. 🙂 They would identify the top ten percent in any schools, and give them extra support.

How those ten percent were identified would be crucial…it’s very hard to fairly measure intelligence, especially on a countrywide basis in schools. Would someone who came from a different culture have an equal chance in the testing, for example?

It also seems to me like trying to “farm” the smart kids. The hypothesis, perhaps, being that the smart kids will return more to society, so they are a better investment. What does that do to resources for kids in the ninety percent? Again, thinking of it as a novel, what happens if the smart kid grows up to be a slacker? Do you make that a crime and/or demand restitution? Interesting idea…might do something with that. 🙂

Salon: “Being a lifelong bookworm may keep you sharp in old age”

This

Salon article by Marina Koren

cites a paper published in Neurology which suggests that reading keeps your mind sharper in old age.

All of you who find that surprising, raise your hands. Go ahead. I’m waiting…no one? Okay, then. 😉

That may be because you are all readers, and already have superior cognitive function and memory…even in your older years.

Take a look at the article…even just reading it may help you remember things better. 🙂

What do you think? Would you write in any particular Kindle Worlds if they were licensed (let’s assume you were happy with the agreement…many fan fiction authors have indicated they aren’t)? Should smarter students be given more resources than ones which don’t test as being as smart? Do you think reading into your old age keeps people sharper? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Brave new (Kindle) Worlds: the KW store opens

June 27, 2013

Brave new (Kindle) Worlds: the KW store opens

Ever since I first wrote about Kindle Worlds, I’ve been looking forward to seeing what the actual implementation of this “authorized and compensated fanfic” program was going to be like: how many titles, who was writing them, and how they would do?

Well, Amazon informed me today that

Kindle Worlds

is up and running!

They said they were going to do it this month, and they made it. 🙂

First, I do like the layout. It looks much like other Kindle storefronts, including sidelinks to authors. It also has two sections for the worlds: one for the new Kindle Worlds titles, and one for the canon (the official works).

There are 56 titles as I write this in 5 worlds:

The Vampire Diaries (24)
Pretty Little Liars (11)
The Foreworld Saga (9)
Gossip Girl (5)
Archer & Armstrong (3)
Shadowman (2)
Harbinger (1)
XO Manowar (1)

Let’s take one book as an example first, both because it caught my eye and because…well, it’s the first book you see on the page. 😉

The Vampire Diaries: Bound By Blood (Kindle Worlds Novella)
J.R. Rain
414KB (123 pages)
TTS, Lending, X-Ray all enabled

The Amazon bestseller rank right now is 176,939. My guess is that will jump up considerably during the day…could certainly make top 50,000. Rain’s bestselling book in the Kindle store right now is ranked #284 at time of writing.

J.R. Rain is a familiar name to me, as I’m sure is the case with many of you…the author claims to have sold over a million e-books.

The books seem to be priced at $1.99 and $0.99 (although Amazon says that they could price the books up to $3.99, I believe).

It’s interesting to me that there are some well-known/successful authors here (including Barbara Freethy). I’ve seen comments from fanfic authors who are very concerned about the licensing agreement…but it appears to me that people who have been in the “writing business” are less concerned. I suspect that’s because they don’t feel as much like they might just have one chance to hit it big with some special piece of writing. I think the ones who have written commercially have a better sense that there are different types of writing, and different markets. Some things you want to hold just for yourself; some can be sold to other people. Sometimes you play by your own rules; sometimes you play by other people’s. Both can be fun. 🙂

Speaking of authors, I really expected there to be something along the lines of the “bible” that TV series do for the Kindle Worlds. That would describe the characters, tell you about the settings, and so on. It’s a way that TV series keep continuity.

Instead, there doesn’t seem to be much of that. Just a short paragraph (at least in the case of the World I checked), and content guidelines.

There was this

Kindle Worlds blog

which had an interesting Q&A with author Barry Eisler and Philip Patrick (who is listed as the “publisher” of Kindle Worlds).

Here’s the

Kindle Worlds for authors site

That has all the extensive, detailed information for authors, including the content restrictions, licensing, and pay structure.

One tidbit there was that the books won’t initially appear in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but should later.

You also have to be 18 or older to participate, and it’s currently just for people with a “…valid U.S. bank account and social security number or tax identification number”.

There is also a

Kindle Worlds forum

I’ve already responded to a thread there, where the official team is asking for suggestions for other worlds.

This is just the first day, but I really feel like this is one of the most innovative things Amazon has done. It has great benefits for them, of course, in giving them exclusive content with a built-in audience. It’s good for the rightsholders and publishers, because they can both raise awareness of properties and perhaps discover new authors (along with the royalties they’ll get, of course). It’s good for the authors, because it gives them another avenue for revenue and creativity.

I expect some pushback on that last one. 🙂 There could be negatives to this…for example, it might cause publishers to make more assertions of their rights for works outside of the program. I think that, generally, though, you’ll be able to keep writing the uncompensated and freely distributed fanfic that you have in the past, if you want to do that. I fully expect some people to do both: write within Kindle Worlds and still write fanfic outside of it.

It’s going to take more time before we really see how this goes. Do feel free to tell me and my readers what you think now, by commenting on this post. Are you excited to read Kindle Worlds stories? Which Kindle Worlds would you like to see? Would you consider writing one? Why are established writers participating? What are the dangers..and are they different for hobby writers, aspiring writers, and professional ones?

I’m going to keep my eye on this…and yes, if they get a World that appeals to me, I might write in it. 🙂

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


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