Archive for the ‘Legal Actions’ Category

Round up #284: nicer readers, one book for world leaders

February 7, 2015

Round up #284: nicer readers, one book for world leaders

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

Hotfile settles with major publishers

I think that the amount of e-book piracy has likely gone down over time.

One issue is that one of the reasons people gave for when it would be okay to “pirate” (copy without authorization a book under copyright protection) a book is if the book was otherwise not available as an e-book.

With so many more books now available (the USA Kindle store has gone from about 80,000 to over three million in fewer than seven years), that motivation is less there.

Also, I think infringers are simply more likely to settle.

I apparently got an infringing site to stop the practice, by alerting the right people.

In another case, I apparently got a book removed from the Kindle store, again, for infringing on my copyright.

Pirate Bay was down (although it’s back up)…one of the very biggest of the sites where a lot of infringing is alleged to happen.

Hotfile was another site like that, and they are in the process of setting with publisher (after having settled over music previously).

My sense is that people are also much more aware that they will lose in court…so they settle out of court, which is faster.

For more information:

torrentfreak.com post by Ernesto

Kobo QOTD: one book for politicians

Kobo does a “Question of the Day” (QOTD), and today’s was intriguing but an easy one for me.

The question

https://twitter.com/kobo/status/563345822939480064

was simple:

“If you could require all the world leaders to read one book, what would it be?”

Several people suggested

1984 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I could understand that. Of course, there would be the risk that a politician would see its dystopian theme as a blueprint, not a warning. ;)

My first thought is that I would want them to read many books, not just one…and books with opposing points of view from diverse authors.

However, that’s not in the rules…and rules can be fun. :)

Some people doubt that…but it’s the rules that make a game a game.

Many years ago, a sibling and I playtested a game on the Alaska Oil Pipeline….no, we weren’t on the pipeline, it was an educational board game about it. ;)

It was okay, but there were two cards we recommended they remove.

You rolled a die and moved around a board. You landed on spaces and drew a card from a pile.

One card said, “You lose.”

Obviously, that’s a bad card in an educational game…or any other game. Who would want to be ahead in a game, and draw that card?

However, there was another card that said, “You win,” which we felt was equally bad.

Suppose you draw that card on your first turn? Whee, what a fun game…not really.

So, I’ll play the game by the rules.

Oh, I’ll mention one more game first we played in high school…pretty sure I invented the rules, but I’m not positive.

We called it “hyperspace chess”. You played against another player with two chess sets (two full sets of pieces, two boards).

The four middle center squares were “hyperspace squares”. On your turn, your move could be to “jump” a piece on one of those squares onto the equivalent space on the other board.

If there happened to be a piece on that exact square, you took it, but that was quite uncommon.

To win, you had to checkmate your opponent on either board, not on both.

I think that worked very well! Some people would get so caught up with jumping pieces that they would be surprised by a mate on a board with very few pieces on it.

I’ve also been told that it is good training for traditional chess, since those four squares are considered key in some parts of the game.

I have a (different from above) sibling who was a ranked chess player (and has written for Chess Life, the chess equivalent of Sports Illustrated), and I can play at level that I want to be able to do everything…where it isn’t  embarrassing. ;) Yep, I’ll lose to a tournament player, but I won’t have looked clueless doing it.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, a book for world leaders to read.

I’d go with

The Book of the D*mned (at AmazonSmile*)

by Charles Fort (I’m also really hoping Mark Zuckerberg picks that one for the reading thing going on at Facebook).

First, it’s going to be in the public domain…probably everywhere. Nice to show an efficient spending strategy. ;)

Second, it shows the interconnectedness of things, and how so often divisions between items are artificial.

Third, it’s been massively attacked at times, and I think generally with a misunderstanding of it (it’s not anti-science, for example).

Outside of that, I might recommmend…

The Human Zoo (at AmazonSmile*) by Desmond Morris

Ooh, and then there’s

Thinking, Fast and Slow (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by Daniel Kahneman

and…timeout. Rules. Just pick one. Got it. ;)

Is Amazon going to face a Customer Service challenge with the Echo?

Serious readers tend to be nicer people.

I don’t know that for a fact, although I’ve seen some research that suggests they are at least more empathetic.

I see that reflected in the Amazon Kindle forums. Yes, there are  occasional disagreements there, and they can be strong and strongly worded (even ad hominem at times). Most of the time, though, people are tolerant of other ideas, and when they do disagree, they at least do so on the basis of ideas and evidence.

Not always, but the balance of the time.

On the other hand, and I want to be careful about how I say this, the Amazon Echo threads that I’m reading in the Kindle forum (there won’t be an Echo forum until the Echo is generally released…it will appear on the Echo’s product page), seem more…”internety”. ;)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a thread in the forum where so many people are asked by other forum members to leave!

I think readers tend to welcome the exchange of ideas…it may be that gadgeteers are less inclined to do so.

After you’ve spent a considerable amount for one brand of gadget, you may not want to hear about another brand.

There has been a lot of…scratch that, let me say that there has been a sort of unwelcomeness for posters who favor Apple products over Amazon products in the thread.

Some of the response has been erudite and logically reasoned…some of it has been playground level name calling, or so it seems to me.

One of the things I like best about Amazon is that they allow divergence of opinion on their forums.

Somebody can go in and say, “Amazon stinks!” and it isn’t against the rules.

There are rules, by the way (there we are…back to rules), but Amazon only loosely enforces them. Here, here is one of the main threads on the Echo if you want to look for yourself:

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile*)

The guidelines specifically mention not posting things which are “inflammatory” or “spiteful” or that “denigrate” others.

Let me also be very clear: many of the people in the Echo threads have also been well spoken, tolerant, and helpful.

It’s just that I see a higher percentage of…what might be considered more typical of online forums.

I think this may prove to be a challenge to Amazon’s vaunted Customer Service. They must need to deal with it with other non-book products, I guess, but if the Echo is as successful as I think it is likely to be, they may end up dealing with more hostile and dogmatic customers.

Hopefully, I’m wrong about that. :) I know how many people are both serious readers and likely to buy Echoes (and to be nice and smart about them in their questions).

My Echo is on order…still not expected before the end of May, though.

When I do have one, so I’m in a better position to answer questions for you, feel free to ask them here. I haven’t commented much in the Kindle forum Echo threads, except where I knew answers from the online documentation or from Amazon.

The one place I had a bit of an exchange was with someone over copyright law and reposting comments made in the thread, but that just went a few posts and was over. :)

Amazon going more brick-and-mortar?

There have been a couple of stories lately suggesting that Amazon may get into ventures which involve four walls, a roof, and a floor.

One of them is the bankruptcy of Radio Shack.

Amazon has been mentioned as a possible buyer…I wrote about that last year, before the current events:

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

I still don’t see it as a particularly good idea…I’m not clear on the value for Amazon.

One argument is that Amazon has more and more hardware, and they might sell more Fire TVs, Fire Phones, Echoes, and the like, if there was a place people could physically examine them.

Yes, I suppose that’s possible…but enough more to justify the expenses of brick and mortar? I’m a former bookstore manager, and I just find that a challenge for Amazon. When you take into account the theft issues, the rent, and so on…I don’t see it.

Now, having a place to pick up things you order online, with perhaps some impulse items, but no browsing?

That I can see.

Amazon does it with lockers now, and as a reader sent me in a private e-mail (and other sources indicate), Amazon is moving into it on college campuses.

Indy Star article by Joseph Paul

Those are “staffed” college stores…there are sales clerks there.

Human sales clerks, by the way…not robots (yet).

That makes some sense, and should make Barnes & Noble worried.

You can order something online, and pick it up at the store.

Lots of college students (this is starting at Purdue, and expansion is planned) have difficulty with boxes being delivered to their living spaces. This is safe and relatively easy.

I would hope, again, that it isn’t a browsing place…you go there to get what you’ve already ordered, so it can be small, have fewer people on staff, and a lot less shrinkage (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

In terms of experience with the hardware, I think it would make more sense for Amazon to set up virtual experiences or simulator booths of some kind in other stores.

When Amazon releases its virtual (or augmented) reality device (there, I said it…and that’s just wild, spur of the moment speculation), or before that, with Hololens and Oculus Rift, you could get quite a good sense of how the Fire TV works, or where the Echo would sit in your house.

A simulator “room” (I’m picturing something like the size of a TARDIS…just the outside, of course) ;) in a store would work well, too. You would go in, and they’d have the remote for a Fire TV or an Echo, and you could try it against a remote presence of the device. You much more have to do hands on with a tablet or phone, but you could do that, too, without a lot of space.

If you were in Manhattan using Prime Now, you could probably order it there and it might beat you home. ;) Well, somebody has to be home to get Prime Now, but you get the idea.

Amazon actually having stores the size of a Radio Shack, though, where people go in without a clear plan of purchase? Seems unlikely to work to me.

What do you think?

Are book people nicer? Is doing Customer Service for serious readers easier than doing it for the average person? What book would you recommend world leaders read? Is piracy on the decline? 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.

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

December 17, 2014

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

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

Mass market paperback sales down 30%…in one year

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

e-book sales continued to gain on printed books.

I’ve written before about how e-books have largely taken over the market niche of mass market paperbacks, seen as the inexpensive way to get books.

The growth for e-book sales isn’t as meteoric as it was. For adult trade books (the ones you buy in bookstores…not textbooks…that’s also where the 30% drop happened in mass market paperbacks), they grew half a percent year over year. Still, that’s growth…where other formats saw losses.

Children’s books (including Young Adult) seem to be compensating, meaning growth for the year.

Worth noting: the market share for e-books for adult trade is about half what it is for children’s books. That’s something else I’ve observed before: I think adults currently like to give physical books to kids, but I think in ten to twenty years, that will have changed considerably.

Could Apple win its e-book case on appeal?

Well, well, well.

It looks like it is possible (some even think likely) that Apple will win its appeal of its conviction in the Department of Justice’s e-book case. There is a lot of buzz on this: here is one article

SF Gate article

Essentially, they argue that Judge Denise Cote blew it, and misinterpreted the law.

What happens if Apple does win?

It doesn’t invalidate anything else that’s already happened, as I understand it. The other publishers which have settled gave up the right to appeal (again, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my lay understanding of them making the agreement). The states’ Attorneys General case is also separate.

An Apple attorney made an interesting argument that the prices went up after the Apple deal because Amazon had been using its monopolistic power to keep prices low.

For me, that’s why the appeal might fail. Typically, anti-trust law is used to protect consumers, not producers (like publishers). I’m not sure a court is going to find that a monopoly which is making things better for consumers is doing something wrong…not that I’m saying Amazon was a monopoly in e-books (just really, really big).

We’ll keep an eye on this.

“…the book is back”

The book never went away. :)

Oh, in some segments it shed its corporeal body and became a being of light (digital, at least), but the book has always been there…and I my strong guess is that more people are reading books now than they were five years ago.

The headline quote, though, is from this interesting

The Guardian article by Robert McCrum

and is attributed to James Daunt, Chief Executive of the Waterstones bookstore chain in the UK.

I supposed one could say the business leader is “undaunted”, but that could get me in trouble in China. ;)

I recommend the article. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so perhaps it’s a bit more in my wheelhouse, but I think anyone might find it intriguing.

Waterstones has stabilized, and may see growth.

We can’t say the same thing about Barnes & Noble at this point.

I wonder if chain bookstores are going to be more likely to thrive outside the USA?

Digital adoption in many countries is actually higher than in the US…but that doesn’t necessarily go for e-books. The last I heard, the Japanese were slow to adopt them, for example.

Bestselling doesn’t mean most completed

Kobo has released (although I’ve looked, and can’t seem to find the full report) data on which books are bestselling for them in 2014…and which ones are completed the most.

That might be creepy, but yes, an e-book platform can typically tell how far you’ve read into a book (at least up to your last sync).

After all, how else could Amazon let you sync to the “farthest page read”?

According to this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

fewer than half of the people (44%) who start reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winner

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

finish it.

The article suggests that might be because of the length, but they also note that only 28% of readers of Solomon Northrup’s

Twelve Years A Slave (at AmazonSmile*)

finish it, and that’s about a quarter the length of Goldfinch.

I suspect it has more to do with people who aren’t serious readers getting those bestselling books, and often as gifts.

A lot of books are given as gifts. You can see how someone might give Northrup’s book as a gift to someone who loved the movie. That recipient might intend to read all of it, but just might not have the habit (and skill) of reading a book to start to finish.

Does it take skill?

I think so. I think those of us who read a lot have a lot of skills in finding the time and opportunity to do it!

Like a lot of things, you need to practice to be a great reader…many people can read, but not many people can average several books a month.

I also think people buy some of those bestsellers aspirationally: they’d like to read the book, they think they would be a better person if they read the book…the reality just overwhelms the intent.

I guess I’m saying that bestselling books are more likely than micromarket books to be started by someone who just isn’t likely to finish any book.

As I’ve written before (I’m saying that a lot this time! I guess that happens after more than five years of writing the same blog), I always finish every book I read…eventually.

I know that’s not true for many of you…you feel like you are wasting your time if you keep reading a book you don’t like. There are other books to read.

I understand that attitude…it’s just sort of the principal of the thing for me.

For example, I just finished reading a book…and I gave it one star in my

Goodreads revies

something I’ve never done before. According to Goodreads, that means I “didn’t like it”. Well, that’s true…despite thinking that it was well-written in some ways, I was offended by it. That’s not easy to do: I’m not somebody who is easily offended.

I have to say, though, that I was sorry when a commenter said they had deleted it unread based on my review.

I don’t want to hurt the author with the review…but I did want to give my honest opinion of it.

I read the whole book. Others might like it (it has an average of over three stars out of five at Goodreads, and 3.5 stars at Amazon).

I know, I know: I haven’t named the book here. When I polled my readers, book reviews by me weren’t one of their favorite parts of this blog, so I started doing them at Goodreads. I think naming the book here might have a bigger impact on it…if you are curious, you can read the review at the link above.

At any rate, I’m not surprised that the bestselling books are not the most finished. :)

What do you think? Are mass market books doomed? Are bookstores saved? Are you more likely to finish a book you bought for yourself than a book someone else gave you? Will Apple win on appeal? Should they? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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! :) 

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 #268: KU and KOLL, Apple check?

September 11, 2014

Round up #268: KU and KOLL, Apple check?

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

Thanks to the readers who have inspired some of today’s stories!

Borrowing from the KOLL when you are a KU member

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Tom Semple for this!

It’s still not quite a solution, but it does give me more information to give Amazon…they are supposedly still trying to figure it out.

I am an eligible Prime member, so I should be able to borrow a book a calendar month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). I could do it (and did do it…every single month) before I became a member of

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

Since, then, I’ve been unable to borrow a book through the KOLL, at least as far as I knew. When I went to a book in the KOLL, it would only let me borrow it through KU.

Not a huge deal…but it did mean that I had effectively lost a benefit of Prime.

Well, Tom suggested a specific book which is part of the KOLL and not part of KU. Those are going to be few and far between, I think. The book is one which I do think is excellent, but which I won’t link (and I don’t think it’s necessary to mention it for the sake of this story). I’m not linking it because the publisher has chosen to block text-to-speech access in the Kindle edition…I read it in paper, years ago.

On that one, I do get the option to borrow it through the KOLL.

That’s definitely not the way it is supposed to work…I should be able to borrow books that are in both populations either way, at least some of the time.

Still, useful info…thanks, Tom!

Did Amazon drop the price on the Fire Phone because of the Apple announcement?

I recently wrote about Amazon’s

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

being reduced over 99% from about $200 to about $1 (both with a two-year contract).

A reader, Stephen, asked (perhaps rhetorically) if the price drop was because of Apple’s recent announcement (of two new iPhones and the Apple Watch).

I actually think it’s pretty unlikely that was the specific impetus.

This announcement doesn’t change the landscape much. Apple already had a better phone, as far as many people were concerned. While the new iPhones have some improvements, I can’t say that this announcement was something Amazon hadn’t anticipated when they initially priced the phone.

I’m happy for Apple that the announcement was generally well received…and it’s good for Amazon to healthy competitors.

However, I don’t think the Fire Phone was intended as a direct competitor to a top of the line iPhone…Amazon doesn’t need to knock the iPhone out to keep the Fire Phone viable…that’s not their target market space.

Also, Amazon made their announcement before Apple made theirs…

Apple Settlement: you may get a check

Lady Galaxy, regular reader and prolific (and most welcome) commenter, copied and pasted an e-mail purporting to be from Amazon about an Apple settlement.

I also received that e-mail, and will post that for you here. Lady Galaxy had asked if that was legal: yes, my understanding is that unless someone tells you that an e-mail is private, you have the right to publish it. IANAL (I Am Not a Lawyer), but I think that’s right.

The e-mail appears to be legitimate, and other news sources have reported it as such.

Here is most of it:

Dear Kindle Customer,

We previously emailed you about Settlements between several eBook publishers, State Attorneys General and private plaintiffs. On March 25, 2014, Amazon made credits from the proceeds of those publishers’ Settlements available to eligible customers. You can learn more about those publishers’ Settlements by clicking here.

The Attorneys General and private plaintiffs have now settled similar claims against Apple Inc. The court where those claims are pending has directed us to send the following legal notice to you to advise you of your rights in the Apple Settlement. If you have any questions about this notice, or your legal rights, please visit the E-book Lawsuits website or call the phone number listed at the end of this notice. Amazon’s customer service will not be able to answer questions about your legal rights in the Apple Settlement.

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

==========================================================

Notice ID Number: [deleted]

Legal Notice
Benefits from E-books Settlement with Apple
Para una notificación en Español, llamar o visitar nuestro website.
Records indicate that you are eligible for a payment from a Settlement reached by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs with Apple Inc. (“Apple”). The Apple Settlement resolves Plaintiffs’ claims for money damages against Apple in antitrust lawsuits about the price of electronic books (“E-books”). Amazon has not been sued in these cases. It is providing this notice as a service to its customers.

What the Apple Settlement Provides
The Apple Settlement provides for three possible outcomes, depending on the decision of an appeal of the District Court’s July 10, 2013 finding that Apple violated the antitrust laws (“Liability Finding”). First, if the Court’s Liability Finding is upheld, Apple will pay $400 million to Eligible Consumers. Second, if the Liability Finding is sent back to the District Court for further consideration of whether Apple violated the antitrust laws, Apple will pay $50 million to Eligible Consumers. Third, if the Liability Finding is reversed, Apple will make no payments.

If Apple is required to pay Eligible Consumers under either of the first two options and if the Court approves the Apple Settlement, you will receive an automatic credit to your customer account. The credit can be used for the purchase of products or services sold by Amazon. The amount of your payment, if any, will be determined based on the qualifying E-book purchases identified by Amazon in your customer account.

How to Receive your Benefit
If Apple is required to make a payment to Eligible Consumers, you do not need to do anything to receive your credit unless you change your email address. (If you do change your email address, you should update your Amazon profile or visitwww.EbookLawsuits.com and click on the “Update Your Contact Information” link.) Because you are pre-qualified, your credit will be applied to your account by Amazon automatically, and you will receive another email letting you know when it’s available. If you bought E-books from more than one retailer, you may receive other notices with different instructions on how to receive a payment.

If Apple is required to make a payment to Eligible Consumers, you also will have the option to receive a check instead of your credit. You can request a check by calling 1-866-686-9333, or going to the Apple Settlement website listed below, and clicking on the Check Request Option link on or before October 31, 2014. Be sure to reference the Settlement ID number found at the top of this email. Customers who received a check from the earlier E-books settlements do not have to re-submit a check request for the Apple Settlement. However, if your mailing address changes before you receive your check, please visit www.EbookLawsuits.com and click on the “Update Your Contact Information” link to update your mailing address.

Your Other Rights
You can choose to exclude yourself from the Apple Settlement and keep your right to sue Apple on your own. If you exclude yourself, you can’t receive any benefits from the Apple Settlement. Your written Exclusion Form must be postmarked by October 31, 2014.

If you don’t exclude yourself, you can submit objections about the Apple Settlement. Your written objections must be postmarked by October 31, 2014.

Please visit the Apple Settlement website below for detailed information on how to submit a valid Exclusion Form or objection.

The Court will hold a hearing on November 21, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. to consider whether to approve the Apple Settlement. You or your own lawyer may ask to appear and speak at the hearing. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so please check the website below for additional information.

For more information:
Call 1-866-686-9333 or Visit www.EbookLawsuits.com

==========================================================

(c) 2014 Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Amazon.com, 410 Terry Avenue N., Seattle, WA 98109-5210.

Reference: [deleted]

Notice that it says you don’t need to do anything. That’s what I’d do at this point, unless you feel like you need to go to one of the sites indicated to do something. Before you do that, I would verify with Kindle Support that this is real:

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*)

What do you think? Was Amazon lowering the Fire Phone’s price in response to the anticipated (at that point) Apple announcement? Is it an act of desperation because of possibly low sales, or had they perhaps always intended to drop the price like that? How important is the KOLL to you, if you are a Prime member? Why do you think Amazon sent out that e-mail (if they did), before there was anything definitive to announce? Could it have been an attempt to tarnish Apple following their big announcement? Do you think Amazon has a hardware release on the horizon? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post…and thanks again to the commenters who inspired today’s stories!

 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! :) 

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

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

 

Settlement pay-outs are here

March 25, 2014

Settlement pay-outs are here

I just got this e-mail from Amazon:

===

eBooks Antitrust Settlement Information

Dear Bufo Calvin,

Good news! You are entitled to a credit of $11.20 for some of your past Kindle book purchases. The credit results from legal settlements reached with publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks.

You don’t have to do anything to claim your credit, we have already added your credit to your Amazon account. We will automatically apply your available credit to your next purchase of a Kindle book or print book sold by Amazon.com, regardless of publisher. The credit applied to your purchase will appear in your order summary. If your account does not reflect this credit, please contact Amazon’s customer service.

For more information about the settlements, please visit Information for eBooks Antitrust Settlement (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) [link added to e-mail]

Your credit is valid for one year and will expire after 03/31/2015. If you have not used your credit, we will send you another email 90 days before it expires to remind you that it is still available.

Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

===

That’s more than I expected, since I didn’t think we bought that many books under the Agency Model, but it’s still nice. :)

Here is the breakdown:

Category Non-Minnesota Minnesota
NY Times Bestsellers $3.17 $3.93
Other Books $0.73 $0.94

Check your e-mail: you may have one, too. However, it’s worth noting that you don’t need to check anything: the credit will apply automatically when you buy a Kindle store book or a paperbook from Amazon.

A few notes:

  • This has nothing to do with Amazon having done anything wrong. I’m sure a lot of people will think, because they are being notified about the credit from Amazon, that Amazon is being forced to pay them for something. Amazon is simply the conduit for getting you the money that the publishers are being forced (well, agreed) to pay out for their actions
  • This is also unconnected to the US Department of Justice legal action against the publishers and Apple (Apple is appealing the decision against them). This is a separate legal action, brought by the Attorneys General of most of the US States and some US territories
  • This specific pay out is for Amazon customers. Customers who bought qualifying e-books from other sources are entitled to the settlement…but the mechanism for getting it may not be as easy as this

Here are Amazon’s FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on it:

Customer FAQ for Attorneys General E-book Settlements (at AmazonSmile)

and here is the general page for the settlement (not just Amazon):

https://ebooksagsettlements.com/

The short story on what made this happen:

Amazon transformed the e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle in 2007 and its own e-book store.

Amazon priced many (it was never promised to be all e-books) bestsellers and recent releases at$9.99, sometimes taking a loss on a sale.

The publishers didn’t like that. One of their concerns was “price value perception”…that the customers would get the idea that a book (paper or e-book) should cost $9.99, and that that would hurt their p-book business.

The publishers, prompted by Apple (according to the DoJ case) instituted a new pricing model, where the publishers set the prices customers paid (“the Agency Model”).

The Attorneys General sued on behalf of the customers, saying that this resulted in higher prices.

The publishers involved settled, agreeing to pay the customers back.

Now, I think one of the most interesting things here is that you can use this credit to buy books from any publisher.

That’s something to consider.

If you take your settlement and use it to buy books from a publisher which wasn’t part of this (an independently published book, perhaps…or, you know, ten of them!), that is really making a statement to the ones who did participate (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin…and all of their various imprints).

I am an independent publisher like that, in a very minor way (I’ve only published my own works through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing). I also am not particularly mad at the tradpubs (traditional publishers) who settled.

However, I can certainly see indies using this for advertising: in fact, I think I’ll suggest that over at

The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

after I finish alerting you. :)

I’m going to suggest an ad like, “Don’t give them your money back”.

It’s nice to see this chapter closed…enjoy your books!

What do you think? Did you get an e-mail? Was it more or less or about what you expected? Are you going to spend the money any differently (perhaps splurging on a more expensive book) than you normally would?  Is this a fair result, or should have there been bigger (or smaller) penalties? 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.

===

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

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

Round up #243: under $50 Kindle, blogs on Fire

March 4, 2014

Round up #243: under $50 Kindle, blogs on Fire

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

Mindle under $50, Paperwhite under $100

“Today only” per Amazon, two popular models of the Kindle are $20 off:

Kindle, 6″ E Ink Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (Black) (what I call the “Mindle” (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the

Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile)

That brings the least expensive version of the Kindle down to $49, and the least expensive Paperwhite down to $99.

The twenty dollar discount still applies if you decide not to let advertisers support your purchase (if you get it without Special Offers), it’s still $20 less than it would have been. For some people, this basically means that they’ll get the “ad-free” version for the price they would normally pay for the one with ads.

It does not apply to the Paperwhite 3G.

According to Amazon, this is to celebrate National Reading Month.

This offer may not apply in your country (I have readers around the world…which is so cool!), so check the price before you buy.

This is a good deal! Having a “guest room Kindle” worked out very well for us, and you might consider that.

Does this indicate new models are coming soon? Perhaps…there have been rumors of a new Paperwhite. However, unless they release a color version later this year (which I think is a possibility), I doubt the next generation would be so much better that you’d be sorry you got this. It could have some new features, and it could be cheaper…hm, a sound-equipped Paperwhite might make me back off that statement.

Regardless, right here, right now, this is a good price.

Are Kindle store blogs finally coming to the Kindle Fires?

This blog has typically been in the top ten in the USA Kindle store (thanks, subscribers!), although we do sometimes drop to still being in the top twenty.

However, the number of subscribers went down after the introduction of the Fire tablets.

Naturally, that could be because of some factor intrinsic to the blog, but I don’t think that’s the case…my ranking hasn’t changed considerably at the same time that the number of subscribers dropped, suggesting that everybody else at the top was dropping right along with me.

I think one main reason was because you haven’t been able to have your Kindle store blogs delivered to your tablet. If someone switched to mostly using a Fire for reading, I can understand them not wanting to pay for a blog which wasn’t being directly delivered (even if it is only ninety-nine cents a month).

I am sure that some readers have continued to subscribe just to support my efforts, for which I am truly grateful.

Now, a sharp-eyed reader alerted me to something in a private comment (thanks!) which strongly suggests that situation might change!

If you go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle (at AmazonSmile)

and click or tap

Subscription Settings

you’ll see a column for “Deliver future editions to” for each of your subscriptions. There is an “Edit” link, that you can click to choose a device.

Checking those options, our Fires are now listed!

However, if I actually choose a Fire, it says:

“Upgrade Your Device

To start reading I Love My Kindle, you must first install the latest software update for HDXter. Once installed you may deliver this title to your Kindle. For detailed instructions on installing the free update please visit Kindle Support.”

My device is updated. :) It just recently updated to 13.3.2.1, which is the current version.

Since that message is there, that strongly suggests that having the Fires listed is not a mistake…just premature.

Now, it’s possible that they intended to implement it with the last update and didn’t manage it somehow, and that they could abandon it…but I’m going to hold out hope (virtual fingers crossed) that this is coming soon. I hope there is a new update that also addresses the wi-fi instability (I have that) and text-to-speech stopping at some images, both of which appears to have happened after a previous update. There are a lot of things I love about my Fire, but this wi-fi thing does give me friction every time I use the device.

Apple appeals

Apple said that they were going to appeal the decision against them in the DoJ (Department of Justice) action that found them guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices.

Regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy gave me a link to an article with both a summary and the original filing:

Apple Insider post by Mikey Campbell

I waited to post about it (it was filed on February 25th) until I read at least a substantial portion of the filing…I don’t like to go just by what a summary says, and I didn’t think there was any real time pressure (or likely, surprise) here.

The filing says:

“Apple’s entry as an e-book retailer marked the
beginning, not the end, of competition.” [emphasis in the original]

Okay, that’s something you could try to argue. Were there more options from which people could buy e-books after the introduction of iBooks? Yes. Were there more price options? No.

That, for me, is key.

The Agency Model, which came into play at the same time (and the DoJ argues was…led, at least, by Apple) homogenized the prices at the existing retailers, largely eliminating price competition (which has returned, as I showed in a recent post, since the accused publishers all settled with the DoJ).

I’m often surprised by the…pugnacious language in legal filings. I always expect them to be polite and in carefully restrained language. That’s just not the case, often, and shows my own prejudices, rather than the reality. So, I’m not going to claim that this is unusual when Apple says:

“The court repeatedly applied the wrong legal standards, which led it to jump to the false conclusion of a price-fixing conspiracy from Apple’s lawful, unilateral, and procompetitive business activities.”

This next one is an important claim. The accusations included conspiracy. If Apple independently offered the same deal to multiple publishers, and if the publishers independently decided it was a good deal, that’s not a conspiracy. The issue becomes if they worked as a group to set the price the same, as I understand it:

“Apple never met or spoke with more than one publisher at a time.”

Here’s where Apple has an interesting argument:

“At those very first meetings, the court found, Apple “willingly joined” a pre-existing publisher conspiracy. Dkt326.113;
see also

Dkt326.129 (“Apple made a conscious commitment to join a scheme with the Publisher Defendants”).

This finding forms the bedrock of the court’s entire decision, and is demonstrably wrong. The undisputed record reflects that Apple had no prior dealings in the publishing industry and that everything it knew it had gleaned from public sources
— like reports inThe New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
— none of which reported on a conspiracy”

In other words, Apple is arguing that if there was a conspiracy between the publishers, they weren’t part of it.

That is actually a hypothetical possibility.

Apple could have “unilaterally” suggested a deal to each of the publishers.

The publishers could then have consulted with each other (hypothetically conspiring) to take the deal…and even suggested similar terms to Apple.

Could Judge Cote’s decision be overturned on that basis (and on their suggestions of improper use of inadmissibility, and possible prejudice)?

I think that is a possibility.

Would that bring back the Agency Model?

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think so. The publishers settled, and took deals. I believe they’d be bound by the deals, even if Apple successfully got their verdict overturned. The publishers dropped out of the case before the verdict.

I’m not 100% on that, though: if you are a lawyer, I’d be interested to hear what you think on that score.

I also think that the response to the appeal may be strong and definitive, refuting Apple’s allegations.

The beat goes on…

Amazon workers will be heard by Supreme Court

In this

Salon.com article by Andrew Leonard

it is reported that a case brought by Amazon workers is going to be heard by the Supreme Court.

The basic argument is that Amazon warehouse workers have to spend a long time going through Security, and aren’t compensated for that time.

While it might seem obvious (let’s say you have to spend three hours a week at work doing something that your employer requires you to do to have the job) that workers should be paid for that time, it doesn’t work out that way.

Suppose you are required by your employer to park in a certain lot. That lot is fifteen minutes away from your place of employment. When you get there, you clock in…they aren’t going to pay you for your time from the parking lot to the door, even though you basically have no choice.

Whether they should (in an ethical sense) pay you for that time is not the specific legal issue: it’s whether they have to do it.

The article suggests that this Court will not be likely to rule against Amazon.

If they did, I think it would just accelerate Amazon’s use of robots (they own a robot company that does this sort of thing) in the warehouses.

They might have to (in the worst case for them scenario) pay back wages to a lot of people…and then they might just say, “Fine, people are too expensive,” and get rid of a lot of staff.

Amazon has been touting the number of jobs they’ve been creating, but there is a real debate about the quality of those jobs.

What do you think? If Amazon is proven to be treating their employees unfairly at some point, and if they don’t rectify it, would that affect your shopping? Will Apple win on appeal? Would you subscribe through the Kindle store to blogs on your Fire? Would you switch the delivery of a current subscription? What new feature could Amazon release on a non-Fire Kindle that would make you want to upgrade? 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. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

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

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

Round up #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 #226: E-book settlement, B&N investigation

December 11, 2013

Round up #226: E-book settlement, B&N investigation

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

Kindle Fire update in “the coming weeks”

In this

press release

Amazon announces an update coming to the Kindle Fires “… just in time for the holidays”. Of course, they don’t say which holidays. ;)

The PR focuses on some important and interesting changes to Kindle FreeTime, which helps guardians set limits on the use of the tablet. One interesting one is the ability to require a certain amount of “educational” use before you can use it for “entertainment”.

As a trainer, I can tell you that you really can’t have much education without entertainment, but that’s another discussion. ;) I’ve asked people to remember back when they were in elementary school: very few of them recall sitting in the classroom…most of them first remember playing with their friends. Kudos to their teachers if their now adult students do think of that first!

While this is great in and of itself (and they promise more improvements after that for FreeTime), I’m also excited because it’s quite possible (knock virtual wood) that the upgrade will contain bug fixes. As I’ve mentioned (and others have also said they have this issue), my wi-fi won’t stay connected since the last upgrade (Amazon is aware of the problem). I have to toggle Airplane Mode on and off many times a day…virtual fingers crossed that this upgrade might address that as well.

ITYS*: raptors will attack PrimeAircraft

When I wrote about Amazon’s PrimeAir reveal (delivery by small “octocopters”), I said:

“Certainly, dogs would pose a risk, as might bird strikes (perhaps even intentional ones, in the case of a raptor), but I’m not convinced it would be inherently more risky.”

I was pleased to see that this

Slate article by Nicholas Lund

not only agrees with me on the bird risk, but has video to prove it!

Also on the “drone” front (I don’t consider artificially intelligent craft to be “drones”, but I know many people define them as simply craft without humans on board…whether they have remote pilots or not), I saw this news today, and later saw a comment from one of my readers about it:

CNN article by Ann Cabrera

A town called Deer Trail in Colorado is going to vote (it was postponed) on a law allowing residents to shoot down drones.

Quite simply, I’m horrified. :( Even though this is aimed (so to speak) at government drones, there is no question that it would result in commercial drones being shot down as well (and kids’ toys, for that matter). I’m thinking that there would be a lot of mistaken identity (possibly even resulting in bird deaths), even though the bounty (really!) is higher on a complete drone with government markings.

Sure, shoot down the drone delivering a shut-in’s medicine, or the book a poor child saved up for six months to buy. Sure, those are “slippery slope” examples…even just the destruction itself makes me unhappy. This is specifically designed to destroy other people’s property…I think that puts it in a different category than a lot of other questions people might see as related.

On a lighter note…

Amazon Rockets parody on YouTube

My favorite clock is a Kindle

This seems a bit bizarre, but they gave us a new (free) clock app with the last Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers upgrade. Yes, it appears to have caused the wi-fi glitch I mention above, but there were a lot of good things about it. This app is one of them.

I’ve mentioned before that I have some color vision deficiency, and my understanding is that connected to that, I have superior night vision. Any light in a room (or the room next door, or down the hall…) can bother me at night.

We also got a used bedroom set. It’s nice, but it was hard to conveniently plug in a clock, just because of the design.

Well, the clock app on the Fire solves both of those problems. It has a “Nightstand” mode, which has the time (and a postmodern clock design…that one takes some getting used to, but I don’t typically use analog clocks anyway) in red. With the brightness turned down all the way, it’s been the most pleasant clock. I was also a bit worried about running it not plugged in, but it consistently takes about 50% of the charge over night (it hasn’t taken more than fifty). Again, I have the brightness turned down all the way (a big battery charge life saver), and the wi-fi off.

If I wake up in the middle of the night (we have a new dog…yes, in bed with us, so it happens), I can see the time without it seeming too bright.

Oh, while I’m talking about apps for the Fire, let me also mention

This is a goofy free app, but might be great for a little holiday fun. You can use video backgrounds, characters, and objects they supply…or you can add your  own pictures. Then, you animate them in a very simple way and do a voiceover. I found it to be easy to use…for example, the character will automatically flip to face the other direction, depending on how you move. They have licensed images from Pacific Rim. You can share your videos publicly, but that’s up to you.

State e-book settlements approved…pay-outs coming in 2014

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Andrew Albanese

my favorite Federal judge (what…you have one, right? ;) ), Denise Cote, has approved the pay-out plan for the settlements between the States Attorneys General and Macmillan and Penguin (which completes the group).

That was on December 6th, and then there is a thirty day period, and then a bit of time after that…I’d say those of us getting pay-outs will see them…oh, by early February. Amazon told us before that they will show up as credits, and I expect the Smilin’ A (I’ve recently started calling Amazon that…I like it. ;) Feel free to let me know if you like it or not) to be one of the fastest at doing this.

Well, at least B&N hasn’t been in legal troub—uh, oh

Barnes & Noble has been in a bad news factory lately, with a particularly poor quarterly financial report…and I’m afraid to see what this quarter is going to be for them.

They didn’t need anything else to spook investors, but they got it.

According to this

Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

and other sources, Barnes & Noble is under investigation by the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) for questionable accounting practices.

A really healthy company could probably handle that better than one that is walking on such thin financial ice already…share prices are down.

Keep the text by blocking the tip

Just a little tip for you: when you want to listen to text-to-speech in the car, lock your device so it doesn’t auto-rotate. When a Fire autorotates, text-to-speech stops playing. I simply lock my rotation (swiping down from the top, or using the Settings gear, depending on your model) before starting TTS. That way, it doesn’t stop when I set it on the seat for the drive.

What do you think? Is shooting down a drone a legitimate thing to do? Is the the straw that breaks B&N’s back? Do you care about the refund you might get from the settlement? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* I Told You So ;)

** 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! :) NOte: you can select WorldReader.org as the non-profit you support, if you want.

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

Round up #224: 12 Days of Deals, $20 donations

December 3, 2013

Round up #224: 12 Days of Deals, $20 donations

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

Buy a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ on AmazonSmile and Amazon will donate $20 to a non-profit of your choice

My readers have embraced AmazonSmile, a new program which allows you to benefit the non-profit of your choice by shopping at a special Amazon mirror site. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it feels just like shopping at Amazon (you’ll use the same account).

Amazon donates half a percent of the purchase price of eligible items, and you can change your non-profit whenever you want.

Half a percent isn’t much, of course…spend $100, and your non-profit gets fifty cents. However, every small bit can help (I was formerly on the Board of a non-profit, and you’d be surprised how much difference $10 can make).

Today, Amazon announced a great promotion!

If you buy a

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

or

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

at AmazonSmile through Sunday, December 8th, Amazon will donate $20 to your designated non-profit! That’s in addition to the normal half a percent.

That could really make a difference. If five of these Fires are bought for your preferred organization, that’s more than $100 donated.

I would send this post or the

press release

to any non-profits you support, so they can publicize it with their supporters…I’m going to do that with some I know.

Thanks, Amazon!

Amazon “floats” a “pie in the sky” idea

This may be the most positive (or at least, not negative) publicity Amazon has ever gotten.

In a 60 Minutes

interview

with Charlie Rose (Amazon’s best friend in the media), CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos revealed PrimeAir, an “R&D” (Research and Development) stage idea to have small “octocopters” deliver Amazon packages to your door. This is how it might work:

concept ad

Every major news outlet seems to have carried the story, although I think they were sometimes a bit fuzzy on the reporting.

First, this is not going to happen on “your next order”, as I saw one headline say. It won’t happen before 2015 at the earliest (they need FAA…Federal Aviation Administration approval), and Bezos was indicating it could be years away.

Second, it’s worth being clear that these would not be remotely piloted. You would give them the coordinates (presumably, the small helicopter would read them off a label), and then it would make its own decisions about how to get there.

I have been most amused about people’s immediate concerns about them being shot down: I suspect using the term “drone” had something to do with that. That’s not to say it wouldn’t happen: people have been known to shine lasers at piloted helicopters, a very dangerous practice.

It’s just that other methods also have a risk of robbery.

Suppose, as was suggested, you could place an order online and have the PrimeAir delivery in half an hour (if you live in certain areas near a fulfillment center). I would guess that poses less of a risk of theft (since you’d be waiting for it) than the package being left on your doorstep for eight hours while you are at work. I think it may become fairly easy to catch people actually shooting at microaircraft, as they become more commercially necessary.

It won’t stop entirely: people shoot at UPS trucks, too.

Certainly, dogs would pose a risk, as might bird strikes (perhaps even intentional ones, in the case of a raptor), but I’m not convinced it would be inherently more risky.

It also obviously wouldn’t work with everything…you aren’t going to get a 25 pound bag of dog food that way, since the projected carry limit is five pounds.

The real question for me is why Amazon showed it on a national TV program now.

They usually won’t even tell us what they are releasing next week. For that matter, they sometimes don’t even tell us what is in an update after they’ve released it. ;)

It’s just not typical for them to tease something by years…they are a pretty secretive company.

The most likely thing to me is that it is to use public opinion to sway the FAA and other entities to approve the project. It may also be to force the package delivery companies to develop something similar. How much is Amazon’s business worth to UPS? If Amazon can do, oh, ten percent of its deliveries itself, that would really hurt Brown’s profitability, I would think.

Amazon threatening to disrupt your industry has got to make you seriously consider taking preemptive action.

That sort of move on Amazon and Jeff Bezos’ parts is why this

CNNMoney article by Adrian Covert

makes so much sense. Covert makes the great point that Jeff Bezos is not the “next Steve Jobs”. They are very, very different. Jobs masterminded great hardware, and yes, absolutely influenced how people see and use technology.

For Bezos, hardware is simply one more tool to use in reshaping commercial society.

Jeff Bezos is more like Henry Ford. Ford didn’t just make cars. Ford remade how people make cars…and so many other things. It’s important to note that Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line concept, but saw a practical use for it. Bezos didn’t invent autonomous microaircraft, or even  the use of them for product delivery. It’s figuring out how they can serve Amazon’s three tenets of Service, Selection, and Price that show the genius of Jeff.

“20 Things That Happen When You’re a Book Nerd”

This is a fun

post on BOOKRIOT by Rebecca Joines Schinsky

I agree with quite a few of them, and I’m sure many of you will, too. I really like that it isn’t limited just to p-books (paperbooks). In my experience, the more you love books, the more you love e-books. I mean, you’d read books on soap bubbles, if somebody could figure out a way to do that. ;)

Supreme Court declines to hear internet tax case

Amazon wants a national sales tax policy (not a national sales tax).

They’ve testified in favor of it.

What they don’t want is a bunch of different rules in a bunch of different places, and they don’t want states to simply act on their own, imposing whatever rules they want.

That’s why Amazon challenged New York’s “Amazon Law”. It got up to the doorstep of the Supreme Court, but they declined to hear it.

Bloomberg article by Greg Stohr

That should make a bigger push to get something through Congress.

I’ve written a lot about equal collection legislation before.

There are important constitutional issues here, but it could be resolved by Congress passing a law (it doesn’t require an amendment).

Believe it or not, that actually could happen. ;)

Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals for books

Today is the first day of the second annual 12 Days of Deals for books at Amazon:

These are limited time (and quantity) deals on new and popular books…there are three of them today, and they’ll change each day.

One thing this really drives home for me: how much cheaper Kindle store books can be than the hardback equivalents! The first deal (on as I write this…check the price before you click or tap the Buy button) is for

The Goldfinch
at AmazonSmile

It’s $2.99 as a Kindle book…$8.99 (just about three times as much) as a hardback. As I write this, 17% of the latter have been claimed, with about 3 1/2 hours left to go.

Certainly, they may sell out: many people prefer to give hardbacks as gifts, and (at least among traditionally published books), paper still sells more than digital if we look at all channels.

Still, if you just want to read it, there is a big economic argument to go with e-books.

* 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.

Google FTW! Judge Chin rules

November 14, 2013

Google FTW! Judge Chin rules

Thanks to reader Evan for the heads-up on this!

I first wrote about the Google settlement more than four years ago (and it actually started back in 2005), and it’s been ongoing (off and on, at least) since then.

Now, according to this

Reuters article by Jonathan Stempel

and other sources, Judge Chin has now ruled that Google’s scanning of copyrighted works, and subsequent specific use of them, falls under Fair Use.

Here is the actual

opinion in PDF

I’m looking forward to reading it, but I wanted to give you a chance to see it right away.

Skimming it, and particularly the argument that what Google did is “transformative”, lets me give you a quick, preliminary sum up now:

  • What Google did transforms the works
  • It doesn’t replace the original works
  • It’s good for society
  • It doesn’t show harm, and probably helps copyright holders

Again, that’s just preliminary…I’ll read through the whole thing when I can.

The Authors Guild is likely to appeal this dismissal of the case (legal advocacy is one of the main things they do).

I think this might have far-reaching implications in terms of making things (indexes, snippets) available on line without the rightsholders’ permission, but we’ll see…

* FTW = “For The Win” (internet slang)

Update: I’ve now read through it. Judge Chin’s point by point analysis of the Fair Use application to this (and that’s the key…every point is supposed to be satisfied in Fair Use) will be the crux of any appeal, I think. Some of it feels a bit subjective to me, and that’s one of the frustrating things about copyright. It isn’t usually a simple mathematical answer…it’s fuzzy.

I could see this being used to further the idea that people can digitize their own p-books (paperbooks) for their own use. Judge Chin seems to make the point that if you already own the book, you aren’t infringing on the copyright if you make another copy for your own use. Judge Chin says:

“…the scans do not replace the books. While partner libraries have the ability to download a scan of a book from their collections, they owned the books already — they provided the original book to Google to scan. Nor is it likely that someone would take the time and energy to input countless searches to try and get enough snippets to comprise an entire book. Not only is that not possible as certain pages and snippets are blacklisted, the individual would have to have a copy of the book in his possession already to be able to piece the different snippets together in coherent fashion.”

This seems to suggest to me that when you own the p-book, you can create an e-book copy for  your own use without interfering with the market for the book. That might seem obvious, but it would be great to have that established in precedent. This doesn’t do that,but it might be cited by someone trying to establish home digitizing for personal use as Fair Use.

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 #217: Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, Kindle First

November 1, 2013

Round up #217: Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, Kindle First

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

Prime members get another perk

Still not a Prime member? How about this one?

Kindle First

You can choose one of a select group (this first time, there are four) of books to own (not borrow) for free…the month before it is published! These are books being published by Amazon Publishing.

I fot one: sure, why not? All of these say that will be $4.99 when published, and there are interesting books here. For me, there is sort of no reason not to do that.

Why is Amazon giving Prime members free e-books?

To make more people want to be Prime members, and to retain the ones they have. This is in addition to the one book a month you can borrow at no additional cost.

It’s worth them spending quite a bit of money to get people to become and stay Prime members, because Prime members spend a lot more. Those Prime members also spend it on physical goods (what I shorthand as “diapers and windshield wipers”), where there is more profit typically than on digital goods.

Nothing very tricky about this (although it is only available to U.S. customers), but here is the

Kindle First help page

“Place your trays in the upright position…”

…and keep reading!

Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration put out this

press release

which announces that

“…Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions.”

“Eventually” turned out to be today, at least for Delta.

Airlines need to get approved by the FAA to do this, and they don’t have to do it, but I expect most will.

It’s not quite “read any time you want”, but it does equalize e-books and p-books (paperbooks) for the most part. For example, there is this:

“7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.”

They aren’t separating what they call PEDs (Personal Electronic Devices…Kindles, tablets) from p-books.

This is great!

I don’t really like to buy paper content any more, I really prefer to have it electronically. One reason for that is the increasable text size, but I also don’t like to have it afterwards (how things change!). I also have some concerns about the ecological impact of manufacture and distribution of paper-based goods.

I have, though, bought paper magazines to read on flights, just during take-off and landing (yes, it would be hard for me to go that long without reading something on a plane).

Now, that’s not necessary.

As always, the flight crew can tell you to put it away, and the hard part for them may be enforcing that things are in “airplane mode”…but it will make their jobs otherwise somewhat easier.

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t think there could be any significant risk to an aircraft with a device on in airplane mode (in the modern era), or they wouldn’t let them in the cabin. With this review, that’s been shown to be the case.

Amazon is giving away six Kindle Fire HDXs

In conjunction with the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie, Amazon is running a sweepstakes where there are three winners…each of which gets two Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offerss:

Kindle Fire HDX “Catching Fire” Sweepstakes Official Rules

The top two prizes also include going to the Premiere of the literary adaptation, which is poised to open very well…it’s possible it will be the second biggest US box office weekend of all time (although not necessarily in constant dollars).

Good luck!

Wow! Three good news stories…and the optimists smile and nod knowingly. ;)

Update: Miracast

I thought I’d update this, and just found something since I posted.

The new Kindle Fire HDX does not have an HDMI out, but it has Miracast  capability  (which is a way to wirelessly send what is on your tablet to your HDTV with an HDMI input).

I wrote recently about getting an iPush device to try (for $32.19). It hasn’t been satisfactory, due to a time lag between the audio and the video. You can hear the audio significantly before you see the video…talk about spoilers. ;) You might hear the ending of the movie two minutes before you can see it.

It’s possible improved wi-fi would help, but I do have thirty days to return it and may do that.

The news is that Amazon is now recommending a specific device for this purpose (Miracast mirroring with your Kindle Fire HDX). They are recommending (on this help page: About Wireless Display Methods for Kindle Fire) this one:

NETGEAR Push2TV Wireless Display HDMI Adapter – Miracast and WiDi (PTV3000)

which is $57.53 at time of writing.

I’m going to try it: I should have it Tuesday.

I’ll let you know how it works. One thing: they are making a big point about doing the latest update, which I’ll do.

The reviews are not great at 2.9 out of 5 stars, but this is a good example of where digging a bit deeper into them can help.

My hypothesis was, if the update made a big difference, that the more recent reviews would tend to be better.

It was nice to see the Netgear team answering questions!

The most recent three reviews were a 5, a 4, and a 5.

However, they did go 1, 2, 3 after that, in that order.

Looking at the content, I’m not convinced that I’ll have the same issues as the 1-star…there could be a user factor there in the ability to set it up. That person also is quite negative, which always tends to make me think I won’t have the same experience as the reviewer.

The next thing was to search for reviews that mentioned the Kindle Fire. An October 27th review specifically said, “I don’t miss the HDMI port on my Kindle Fire HDX because the Push2TV works!” That was a 5-star review.

So, I’m not as concerned about the total review average, but again, I’ll be testing this and will report back.

Thanks to Colleen for the heads-up on this!

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


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