Archive for the ‘Legal Actions’ Category

Round up #304: One Murder More giveaway, swarming Amazon

August 22, 2015

Round up #304: One Murder More giveaway, swarming Amazon

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

Amazon under attack

I know, I know…Amazon is always under attack. ;) That’s what happens when you are a leader, and when you position yourself in the market as doing things differently.

You could also say it was predictable that there would be a bigger pushback when Amazon started making a profit. When they aren’t, you can say your company is smarter than they are and that they don’t have to do things like Amazon. If they can be “different” and make a profit, that can be a problem for a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of another company.

Whats been happening?

There is still a huge buzz around the article I discussed here:

New York Times describes Amazon as a “Bruising Workplace”; Bezos responds

I’ve seen lots of things, even an article comparing Jeff Bezos to Chairman Mao (not the usual despotic leader you see referenced on the internet…maybe they are just trying to avoid getting a ticked under Godwin’s Law). ;)

Then, there is Authors United, a group formed during the Hachazon War (the negotiations between Amazon and the publisher Hachette), which includes some really well-known authors (Nora Roberts, Scott Turow…).

According to this

The Digital Reader article by Nate Hoffelder

and other sources, the group has sent a letter to the USA’s Department of Justice (DoJ) asking them to investigate Amazon for anti-trust activities.

Interestingly, the letter is on the Authors Guild website, not the Authors United one:

https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/a-call-to-investigate-amazon/

The Authors Guild has fought with Amazon before…and with other people. One of its major functions is legal advocacy.

The DoJ, of course, went after Apple and five of the major publishers over e-book pricing…and at the time, some people accused them of being influenced by Amazon to do so.

The DoJ will look at the documentation.

As I understand it, it isn’t enough to dominate a market…it will have to be more than that for action from the DoJ.

Then there were comments from Washington Congressperson Suzan DelBene, when she and Nancy Pelosi visited Amazon, just days after the New York Times article.

They were actually there because Amazon supports an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) bill…they were on the same side.

However, they both had to address the “brutal” article.

DelBene said:

“I’ve supported legislation on family leave, access to childcare, equal pay for equal work,” DelBene said. “Again it’s about making sure people don’t have to make decisions on taking care of their family and going to work, or being sick and going to work, so these are policy issues we’ve been talking about a long time.”

Neither legislator directly accused Amazon or confirmed the report…but they weren’t refuting them, either.

You know who isn’t attacking Amazon?

Customers and investors. :)

The New York Times article came out August 15th.

The stock rose slightly on the 17th (the next trading day), and dropped only slightly the next two days. Yes, it went down quite a bit Thursday and Friday…but the whole market did.

I can’t present good stats on customers not changing their buying habits because of it…we’ll see what happens at Amazon’s next financials. I haven’t seen a lot of negative social media coming from regular buyers of Amazon…

I’ve changed Alexa!

Yes, my

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

coverage has largely moved to my other blog, The Measured Circle

Amazon Echo category at The Measured Circle

although I do link to the articles from here.

However, I was really excited about this, and wanted to share with you…this blog is part of the context. :)

I started a hashtag: #TeachAlexa, where I suggest questions (or comments) and answers (or responses) that Alexa should know.

Amazon responded to one of my postings in their Twitter feed…and Alexa knows it now!

Q. “It’s a bird…it’s a plane..”

A. “It’s Superman.”

Someone has already posted a video online of the exchange. :)

How is this blog part of the context?

I don’t think Amazon has ever mentioned ILMK in a tweet. I don’t think I’m owed that, although ILMK has been one of the most popular blogs in the USA Kindle store for years.

Honestly, I was blown away by the mention!

More writing days?

I really need to start taking more PTO (Paid Time Off) days to write! I’m still earning more vacation days a year than I take, and that’s going to build up too much…eventually, I’ll max out.

I’ve been saying I’ll take a day a month without my Significant Other here, so I can get some more writing done. Things have been super busy…I’m keeping up, but barely.

We’ll see…I’m a pretty disciplined person, but it’s hard for me to take PTO.

Australian parents’ group protests Amazon giving kids books

Sigh.

In Australia, Amazon is giving a choice of a book rather than a toy with a Happy Meal.

According to this

Los Angeles Times article by Michael Schaub

The Parents’ Jury is asking regulators to stop the practice.

You know, because it’s better for kids to get toys than books?

I suppose it’s nice that they think books are so tempting to kids…

National Foundation of the Blind protests Amazon

Amazon has an interesting relationship with disability issues.

In some ways, they have been a quantum leap forward. Including text-to-speech on the Kindle 2 (at no additional price) was big.

Allowing publishers to block  it (after they complained) may have been unavoidable, but was a step backwards.

Amazon does do a plug-in that allows screen reader software to read the books even if the publisher blocks the access…another step forward. There is a link to download it on this page, along with additional information about accessibility:

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

Then, there was the Kindle DX.

Amazon had introduced the larger screen EBR (E-Book Reader), with an announcement that included deals with major textbook publishers.

Well, organizations, including the National  Federation of the Blind, took legal action against it…because non print challenged students got more benefit from them than print challenged students:

Flash! Arizona State University and blind organizations settle lawsuit

Now, one of my readers, David Goldfield, alerted me to this NFB blog post:

https://nfb.org/blog/vonb-blog/we-must-stop-amazon-fail

The post is…strongly worded.

Here is a short  excerpt:

“…a vote for this deal is an outrageous act of deliberate discrimination against blind students…”

That vote is coming soon…August 26th.

This is a perfect example of one reason I do the round ups. I would want to investigate this more before I would do a full article, but I wanted you to be aware of it before the vote.

Thanks, David!

Giveaway of my sibling’s book

50 copies of my sibling’s book

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

are being given away through Goodreads

One Murder More on Goodreads

It’s only the hardback, but I think some of you might be interested in that. At the time of writing, 288 people are in the drawing…the drawing goes through September 17th.

On Goodreads, its rated 4.13 out of 5 stars with 31 ratings.

On Amazon, it’s 4.8 stars with 52 reviews…quite impressive!

The Kindle version is $4.99 at time of writing.

Good luck!

What do you think? Have any of these accusations changed your opinion of Amazon? Do you think they’ll impact Amazon in the future? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

ABA tells DoJ that PDFs “…cannot be displayed on a Kindle”

July 14, 2015

ABA tells DoJ that PDFs “…cannot be displayed on a Kindle”

Yesterday, Authors United reportedly sent a letter to the United States of America’s Department of Justice, presenting reasons why the DoJ should investigate Amazon’s action with regards to bookselling.

You can read that letter, and what is presented as a supporting letter from the American Booksellers Association, here:

American Booksellers Association article by Dave Grogan

While my personal feeling as a reader, writer, micro-publisher (just my own works), and a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, is that Amazon has been good for consumers of books, I’m not a lawyer. It may be that they have done things worthy of investigation. Oh, I can offer my opinion on that, as can you (and anyone), but I can’t be an “expert witness” on the law.

However, I can reasonably provide guidance on a technical statement about the Kindle’s capabilities. I’ve been writing this blog for close to six years, and it is one of the top selling blogs of any kind in the Amazon Kindle store. I’ve written and published books about the Kindle. Amazon made me oen of their “Kindle Forum Pros”. While it could be argued that I am aligned with Amazon (I have gotten money from them, for example, in royalties), and I would expect that to be the case if I was testifying in court, I think my credentials to comment on a general statement of Kindle capabilities are valid.

The ABA letter, as shown in the above article, says in this short excerpt:

“3. Closed Kindle E-book System: Unlike other e-readers, Kindle e-readers and the Kindle app are configured to allow readers to only read books sold by Amazon and using its proprietary format. E-pub and PDF formats, which are industry standard formats widely read on other devices, cannot be displayed on a Kindle, further enhancing and perpetuating the retailer’s 65 percent e-book market share. – See more at: http://www.bookweb.org/news/authors-aba-doj-investigate-amazon%E2%80%99s-abuse-its-dominance-book-market#Authors United Letter”

Since the Kindle 2 in 2009, Kindles have been able to display PDFs.

If I were writing a letter to the Department of Justice, I’d be very careful and precise in my assertion of facts.

In terms of the rest of the content of the letters, I think my biggest skepticism is with the suggestion that Amazon has been a net negative for the “…free flow of ideas in our society…” (as the Authors United letter has it).

Was it really easier to get your ideas into society before Amazon greatly grew the e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle?

Let’s say that someone believes that, oh, kittens telepathically control the volume level  of the commercials you watch on TV.

I’m deliberately creating something that I’ve never heard anybody say, and that I think would be unlikely to appeal to a wide swath of the book-buying public. Popular ideas, which can be projected to sell large amounts, are never going to have the barrier to publication that unpopular ideas are going to have…there is money to be made.

In the primarily p-book (paperbook) world, it would have been very difficult to make a book about the  KTCH (Kitten Telepathy Commercials Hypothesis) easily available to people. A mainstream publisher would be unlikely to publish it. Without a mainstream publisher, it would have been very hard to get the book into bookstores (believe me, when I managed a store, people would occasionally try to get me to carry a self-published book…wasn’t going to happen, primarily for a number of logistical reasons).

Now, the book can be made available with the same distribution options as the latest blockbuster from a brand name author.

Not only that, the book will be available more inexpensively. Many people will have the ability to read it with paying no additional cost over their Prime membership, or as part of their

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

membership.

The author/publisher can even make it available for free on at least a few days in certain programs.

I don’t see how that doesn’t make ideas flow more freely.

Yes, it’s possible that Amazon’s publishing guidelines may keep some books out of availability through the Kindle store. Those platform guidelines don’t exclude a whole lot, although some types of books may be excluded. If Amazon chooses not to have them, though, my guess is that they are the same sorts of books that most brick-and-mortar bookstores would not have carried. “Underground” distribution options still exist…just as they did before the Kindle.

Importantly, the book could be distributed as a text file…and that could be read on most Kindle devices/apps, with the same technology as Kindle store books. An author might not make money on a book without Amazon, but the idea could get out there. Could one argue that people will be less likely to put their ideas out into the market if they have  to use one distributor (and whatever terms that distributor uses) to make a living? That’s possible…but in terms of the sorts of society-benefiting ideas being implied by the letters, I think authors would distribute them even if they couldn’t make a living doing just that.

I guess the bottom line for me is that I’d be okay with an investigation of Amazon in terms of bookselling. I think there wouldn’t be any broad negative findings. It could be possible that certain policies might need to change (some of their exclusivity/most favored nation** clauses, perhaps), but establishing the legality of their efforts which have made it easier for authors to make books available, and for readers to obtain those books, would be valuable.

What do you think? Should the DoJ investigate Amazon? Are the authors and publishers working together a case of “odd bedfellows”? Do you think Amazon has been good or bad…or both…for readers/consumers? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

** A “most favored nation” (MFN) clause basically requires that a supplier not offer a better deal to a distributor’s competitors than it does to the distributor. For example, it could be that a publisher can’t give a book away for free while it charges Amazon for it. While many companies do that, it always feels like restraint of trade to me…I think it’s reasonable to pay a supplier extra money for exclusive distribution, I don’t think one distributor should set the contract requirements between a supplier and another distributor.

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.

 

Apple’s appeal denied: SCOTUS bound?

July 2, 2015

Apple’s appeal denied: SCOTUS bound?

It says something about the size of your company when you can say that you aren’t really concerned about the nearly half a billion dollar you stand to lose…it’s the principle of the thing. ;)

Quick recap first:

When Apple was going to introduce the iPad, five of the then six biggest USA trade publishers (trade books are the books you would have bought in bookstores…not textbooks and such) switched to the “Agency Model” for e-books. In the Agency Model, the publisher is the official seller of the book (not the retailer, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble)…and the publisher sets the price the customer pays for the book. They offered that as the only arrangement to Amazon, which fought at first, but eventually adopted the model.

The United States Department of Justice went after Apple and the publishers for anti-competitive actions.

The five publishers settled.

Apple took it to court.

Apple lost.

Apple appealed Judge Cote’s decision.

According to this

Yahoo News post by Aaron Pressman

Apple lost this round, in a two-to-one decision.

Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, despite having settled, joined the appeal…essentially arguing that the restrictions placed on Apple also affected them.

I recommend you read the

decision

Here is a key section in a small excerpt:

11 We conclude that the district court’s decision that Apple orchestrated
12  a horizontal conspiracy among the Publisher Defendants to raise ebook prices is
13  amply  supported  and  well‐reasoned,  and  that  the  agreement  unreasonably
14  restrained trade in violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act.  We also conclude that the
15  district  court’s  injunction  is  lawful  and  consistent  with  preventing  future
16  anticompetitive harms.

Continuing, the court is, shall we say, unimpressed with the arguments presented:

17    Significantly,  the  dissent  agrees  that  Apple  intentionally  organized  a
18  conspiracy among the Publisher Defendants to raise ebook prices.  Nonetheless,
1  it  contends that Apple was entitled to do  so because the  conspiracy helped it
2  become an  ebook retailer.   In arriving at this  startling  conclusion — based in
3  large measure on  an  argument that Apple itself did not  assert — the dissent
4  makes two fundamental errors.  The first is to insist that the vertical organizer of
5  a horizontal price‐fixing  conspiracy may  escape  application of the  per se rule.
6  This  conclusion is based on a misreading of Supreme Court precedent, which
7  establishes  precisely  the  opposite.

I have skimmed the entire decision and the dissent, and will probably get through all of it in the next week or so.

The judicial dissent to the decision, to me, doesn’t seem to be defending what Apple did specifically (saying it was a good thing), but arguing that the majority misapplied the law.

Where does it go from here?

Apple could pay about $450 million…consumers would get some money.

Apple could appeal, getting to the Supreme Court…which might, as is argued in the Yahoo piece, decide in Apple’s favor, at least based on the current makeup of the court.

I’m not a legal expert, although I do follow things at the Supreme Court, somewhat. My intuition is that SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) might simply decline to hear the case. I think it depends, to some extent, as to whether the or not the Supreme Court agrees with the dissent in this most recent decision: was the law misapplied.

Otherwise, the bar is pretty high. You appeal a decision asking the higher court to determine if what the lower court did was right…it’s not exactly about your “innocence or guilt”, it’s about the competence of the lower court.

The lower court is, in a way, innocent until proven guilty. When you argue your Supreme Court case, we start with the assumption that the lower court was correct…and the appellants have to  prove it wasn’t.

It’s worth noting that the Agency Model is back. It wasn’t the Agency Model itself (much as I dislike it personally) that was the problem, according to the DOJ: it’s that it was used collectively to control prices.

Why do I dislike the Agency Model?

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so I freely admit that I could be prejudiced…but I want the retailers to compete on prices. I want Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble to set their own prices as a way to affect sales…not have the publisher set the same price for all stores. The new version of the Agency Model at Amazon modifies that a bit, allowing Amazon to do some discounting…but, as a customer, I like stores having pricing as a tool.

What do you think? Will Apple appeal? If they do, will they win? How invested are you in getting money from Apple over e-book pricing? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #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.


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