Archive for the ‘News’ Category

February 2016 Kindle book releases

January 22, 2016

February 2016 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it. We have largely returned to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 5,405 (at time of writing) February releases in the USA Kindle store:

2016 February USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 837 are in

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

That’s a higher percentage…there are 317 fewer books overall, but 90 more KU.

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same. This time, we are back to them dominating the top…although Identical Disaster by C.M.  Owens breaks the streak by being the third one listed.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay, books!

  • The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler (KU)
  • The Billionaire’s Touch (The Sinclairs Book 3) by J. S. Scott (KU)
  • Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg
  • Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’ve Got Henchmen by Richard Roberts (KU)
  • Lightning Lingers (Lightning Strikes Book 2) by Barbara Freethy
  • Over You (A Mr. Darcy Valentine’s Romance Novel) by H.M. Ward and L.G. Castillo
  • The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
  • A Shade of Vampire 23: A Flight of Souls by Bella Forrest KU
  • Will’s True Wish (True Gentlemen) by Grace Burrowes
  • My New Teacher and Me! by (“Weird”) Al Yankovic and Wes Hargis
  • The Secret Language of Sisters by Luanne Rice
  • The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
  • Social Media Made Me Rich: Here’s How it Can do the Same for You by Matthew Loop
  • Gladstone’s Games to Go: Verbal Volleys, Coin Contests, Dot Deuls, and Other Games for Boredom-Free Days by Jim Gladstone
  • Brotherhood in Death: In Death by J. D. Robb
  • The Book of the Beast (The Secret Books of Paradys) by Tanith Lee
  • The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace by Pedram Shojai
  • The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers by Joseph Hickman and Jesse Ventura
  • Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life In Music by Dave Stewart and Mick Jagger
  • Cometh the Hour (Clifton Chronicles) by Jeffrey Archer
  • Elephant Complex: Travels in Sri Lanka by John Gimlette
  • Jane and the Waterloo Map (Being a Jane Austen Mystery) by Stephanie Barron
  • How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman
  • Land of Shadows: A Medieval Mystery (Medieval Mysteries Book 12) by Priscilla Royal
  • Baseball Prospectus 2016 by Sam Miller and Jason Wojciechowski
  • Calamity (The Reckoners) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Starflight by Melissa Landers
  • Dining at The Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea by Jeff Stanford and Joan Stanford
  • Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
  • Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner and David Fisher
  • Blood In Her Veins: Nineteen Stories From the World of Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter
  • The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do About It by David A Carbonell and Sally M. Winston

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! :) 

** A Kindle/Fire 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.

n 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.

January 2016 Kindle book releases

December 26, 2015

January 2016 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it. We have largely returned to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 5,722 (at time of writing) January releases in the USA Kindle store:

January 2016 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 747 are in

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

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same. This time, the top four are Kindle First picks…when last time they weren’t.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me:you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay, books!

  • Feverborn: A Fever Novel by Karen Marie Moning
  • Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time omnibus by Scott and David Tipton (and others)
  • The Great Train Massacre: Matt Jensen The Last Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
  • We Need Silence to Find Out What We Think: Selected Essays by Shirley Hazzard
  • Pulitzer’s Gold: A Century of Public Service Journalism by Roy J. Harris
  • Building a Recommendation Engine with Scala by Ansari, Saleem A.
  • Scandalous Behavior (A Stone Barrington Novel) by Stuart Woods
  • The Chicken and the Quetzal: Incommensurate Ontologies and Portable Values in Guatemala’s Cloud Forest by Paul Kockelman
  • Batman: Gotham City’s Guardian (Backstories) by Matthew Manning
  • The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing by Roy Peter Clark
  • Perry Rhodan Lemuria 4: The First Immortal by Leo Lukas
  • The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux, Second Edition by James O. Gump
  • L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels by James D. Stein
  • The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics by Casey Brienza
  • The Power Of Soft: How to get what you want without being a **** by Hilary Gallo
  • Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin
  • The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (Postmillennial Pop) by Ramzi Fawaz
  • Missing Woman (The Albert Samson Mysteries) by Michael Z. Lewin
  • Innovation the Cleveland Clinic Way: Powering Transformation by Putting Ideas to Work by Thomas Graham
  • A Pocket Full of Lies (Star Trek: Voyager) by Kirsten Beyer
  • Blood and Steel: Throne of the Caesars: Book II by Harry Sidebottom
  • The Movie Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained) by DK
  • NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by Johnny Anonymous
  • Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me by Vaughn Bode
  • Dog Soldiers: Love, loyalty and sacrifice on the front line by Isabel George
  • Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives by David M. Levy
  • Keeper of the Stars (A King’s Meadow Romance Book 3) by Robin Lee Hatcher
  • How To Be Great: From Cleopatra to Churchill – Lessons from History’s Greatest Leaders by James Adonis
  • What Is a World?: On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature by Pheng Cheah
  • Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World by Al Pittampalli
  • Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics by Rick Shenkman
  • Scarlet Widow by Graham Masterton
  • DeForest Kelley Up Close and Personal: A Harvest of Memories from the Fan Who Knew Him Best by Kristine Smith
  • Spice Yourself Slim: Harness the power of spices for health, wellbeing and weight-loss by Kalpna Woolf
  • National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, 8th edition by National Geographic and Phil Schermeister
  • Paddington at Large by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum
  • My Time With The Kings: A Reporter’s Recollections of Martin, Coretta and the Civil Rights Movement by Kathryn Johnson
  • Warriors of the Storm: A Novel (Saxon Tales) by Bernard Cornwell
  • The Case of the Fickle Mermaid: A Brothers Grimm Mystery (Brothers Grimm Mysteries) by P. J. Brackston
  • Sage’s Eyes (Forbidden) by V.C. Andrews
  • The Time of Their Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Book Publishers, Their Editors, and Authors by Al Silverman
  • Pugs of the Frozen North (A Not-So-Impossible Tale) by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
  • Lanny Budd novels by Upton Sinclair
  • Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye by Michael Shermer
  • The Gilded Age of Sport: 1945-1960 by Herbert Warren Wind
  • The Bands of Mourning: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson
  • Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain by Douglas Fields
  • A Geek in Thailand: Discovering the Land of Golden Buddhas, Pad Thai and Kickboxing by Kenneth Barrett
  • Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
  • Doom of the Dragon (Dragonships of Vindras) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  • UFO Hunters Book Two by William J. Birnes
  • The Regulators by Stephen King (and a bunch of others by King, including Cujo, Firestarter…even Thinner)
  • Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
  • Be You. Do Good.: Having the Guts to Pursue What Makes You Come AliveJan 12, 2016 | Kindle eBook
    by Jonathan David Golden and Bob Goffe You. Do Good.: Having the Guts to Pursue What Makes You Come Alive by Jonathan David Golden and Bob Goff
  • Warriors 1 by Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin
  • The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime by Gin Sander
  • NeuroLogic: The Brain’s Hidden Rationale Behind Our Irrational Behavior by Eliezer Sternberg
  • NYPD Red 4 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
  • John J. Nance novels
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George and John Schoenherr
  • Stephen Becker novels
  • Next Generation Paper Airplanes: (Downloadable Material Included) by Sam Ita
  • The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz (basis for the 1977 movie)
  • Max Shulman novels (including Dobie Gillis)
  • Ringo Starr And The Beatles Beat (Part Two) by Alex Cain and Terry McCusker
  • Once a Crooked Man by David McCallum (yes, that David McCallum, the actor)
  • The Book of the Month: Sixty Years of Books in American Life by Al Silverman
  • When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History’s Unknown Chapters by Giles Milton
  • Teen Frankenstein: High School Horror by Chandler Baker
  • Harlequin Heartwarming January 2016 Box Set: When Love Matters Most\A Boy to Remember\The Missing Twin\Under the…by Kate James and Cynthia Thomason
  • What Decade Do You Belong In? (Best Quiz Ever) by Brooke Rowe
  • Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author by Herman Wouk
  • The World’s Your Stage: How Performing Artists Can Make a Living While Still Doing What They Love by William Baker and Warren C. Gibson
  • Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science by John Gribbin and Michael White
  • This Census-Taker by China Mieville
  • Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature by Meredith Maran
  • Better Call Saul: The World According to Saul Goodman by David Stubbs
  • Hollow City: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs
  • Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling
  • Trouble’s Child by Mildred Pitts Walter
  • The Mammoth Book of Kaiju by Sean Wallace
  • Barbie Spy Squad Big Golden Book (Barbie Spy Squad) by Mary Tillworth
  • All the Conspirators by Christopher Isherwood
  • Geek Girl: Picture Perfect by Holly Smale
  • Does the Yeti Exist? (Top Secret!) by Nick Hunter
  • Kingdom Come: An Elizabeth Harris Mystery by Jane Jensen
  • Study Hall of Justice (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1) by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen
  • The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny by Justin Hill and Wang Dulu
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
  • Pawn’s Gambit: And Other Stratagems by Timothy Zahn
  • The Jack Reacher Field Manual: An Unofficial Companion to Lee Child’s Reacher Novels by George Beahm
  • Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Timbuktu: The Missing Years by Vasudev Murthy
  • Earnest by Kristin Von Kreisler
  • Choose Your Own Misery: The Office Adventure by Mike MacDonald and Jilly Gagnon

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! :) 

** A Kindle/Fire 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.

n 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.

Delivery by Amazon

December 5, 2015

Delivery by Amazon

Amazon continues to expand its investment in being the infrastructure of the internet…which includes how things ordered on the internet get around in the real world.

According to this

Business Insider story by Jillian D’Onfro

and other sources, Amazon is buying thousands of trailers…the big part of the trucks you see on the freeway that attach to the “tractor”.

That means you are going to see that familiar Amazon smile on the road with you (and, in the picture in that BI story, something that cleverly looks like the tape they put on packages). Yep, the new speed limit might be 65 smiles per hour. ;)

Now, these trucks probably aren’t going to be delivering directly to your house (they are too big for that)…they are likely to be taking things to and from the fulfillment centers.

For now, other companies will be providing the tractors…but I would certainly think that Amazon is looking at doing it all, warehouse to home, in the not too distant future. Once self-driving cars are fully licensed in the USA (which I think, unfortunately, may be some time after some other parts of the world have reaped the benefits of safer, more efficient transportation), I would absolutely expect Amazon to be one of the companies investigating that fully.

That puts Amazon on the roads.

I also think Amazon is going to be on the sidewalks. :)

I’ve been seeing stories recently about delivery robots, including the Starship:

Wired UK story by James Temperton

The story asserts that the last mile of delivery is the most expensive, which makes some sense. It’s a bit like landing a plane: that’s the hard part. There are things to avoid, and a lot more starts and stops.

The idea is that a truck gets your package close, then a little robot rolls out (sort of like the Chariot on Lost in Space leaving the Jupiter II), and brings the package to your door.

Is that less expensive than a human being doing it?

Probably…a human being has a lot of expenses outside of that block or two…sick pay, vacation pay, and so on.

Even if the robot was marginally more expensive, they would have a big cool factor…and that’s important in this scenario.

Then, of course, there is the air…and Amazon’s proposed drone program.

The biggest thing holding that up (besides propellers) ;) , clearly, is regulation.

This is an interesting

Forbes story by Ryan Mac

about Amazon’s patent for their “sense and avoid” system for drones.

While people could presumably still shoot them down (that has happened with other drones), they might be able to avoid birds, which could be a real issue. Now that is a demo video I would want to see! Picture a big raptor, like an eagle, diving after an Amazon drone while it autonomously avoids the attack!

Step aside, Millenium Falcon! ;)

Oh, and while we are talking about videos, Amazon released this

YouTube video

The performance that they show for their drone is so advanced that they have the words “ACTUAL FLIGHT FOOTAGE NOT SIMULATED” on the screen for most of the flight footage.

Let’s see…land, air, and Jeff Bezos is sending rockets to space…the only thing we’re missing is Maritime Prime! ;)

Gee, would that mean that one day Amazon would have to worry about pirates of the non-digital kind?

Let me just wrap this up by pointing out that Amazon already does a lot of fulfillment for third party vendors. If I was at FedEx of UPS, I’d be worried about Amazon getting on the road and in the air…but I’m guessing they’ve been worried about that for some time.

Eventually, we may see Target’s packages delivered by Amazon…

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.

Scientific study compares bedtime reading risk from iPad, iPhone, PW1

November 17, 2015

Scientific study compares bedtime reading risk from iPad, iPhone, PW1

Oh, I’m very interested in your feedback on this one!

I’ve written many times about the difference between how a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

or other frontlit device (the Voyage, and some other EBRs…E-Book Readers) versus how a backlit tablet, like the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*)

or other backlit devices (the other Fires, a SmartPhone, a computer, a TV, and so on)

work, in terms of lighting.

On a backlit device, the lighting is behind the screen: what you see is between your eye and the light source.

On a frontlit device, the light is on the same side of the screen that you are. A light is pointed at the screen and bounces off…the same way that you can read when using a desk lamp, or the sun.

I find the Paperwhite and Voyage to be the most comfortable reading experience I’ve had…including paper.

A lot of people are concerned about how reading on a screen may be affecting their sleep habits. They have heard about “blue light” keeping them up at night, by messing with your biological system (perhaps they have heard that melatonin is involved).

I’ve always believed that the Paperwhite was not as bad…that reading on my Fire in bed would be more likely to keep me awake than reading on my Voyage.

Well, there’s now been a scientific study which produces some interesting and specific data…but I’m not sure I follow or agree with their conclusions:

Bigger, Brighter, Bluer-Better? Current light-emitting devices – adverse sleep properties and preventative strategies by Paul Gringras, Benita Middleton, Debra J. Skene, and Victoria L. Revell in Frontiers of Public Health

They tested the light emissions from an iPad, an iPhone, and a Paperwhite first gen. You can read the specifics of the models…I want to encourage you to look at the original report.

Here is a sort excerpt from the results:

“All the LE devices shared very similar enhanced short-wavelength peaks when displaying text. This included the output from the backlit Kindle Paperwhite device.”

That’s right: they found that the Paperwhite and the iPad had similar outputs in a measurement they suggested would negatively impact your sleep.

Many of the measurements they did were quite different for the iPad and the Paperwhite…about an order of magnitude (ten times) different. However, I guess those aren’t the wavelengths they consider impactful.

They also tested two remediation strategies: one hardware, one software.

The hardware one was for the user to wear goggles that filtered light.

The software one was to have the device go into a “sleep mode”, and shift the colors of the output.

Obviously, asking people to wear goggles to bed would not be an easy cultural  shift. If we could get people to do that sort of thing, they’d be wearing helmets when driving their cars…that would save a lot of lives, from what I’ve heard. :)

The software fix makes more sense to me.

I love that the “nightstand” clock on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″ has red numerals!

I have superior night vision, which may be connected to my color vision deficiency  (“partial colorblindness”). When my Significant Other first met me, the light on my nightstand was a 25 watt red lightbulb…that was plenty for me.

So, I know I’m not typical. :)

I know, though, that a color shift could matter to even me as to how bright a light seems.

I have to say, my Voyage does not seem like it is keeping me up at all. I read a few “pages” in bed, and I’m ready for sleep…well, there is a big nighttime routine before that that is about half an hour, but the Voyage doesn’t seem to keep me up any more than a p-book (paperbook) did…less, I’d say.

My guess is that we may see a mode like this in the future, touted by the device manufacturers. There are all some things that do this, some settings on some computers, some apps.

My sense of the study is that their methodology for gathering the technical data was reasonable, for a small sample.

I’m not sure that that data does, though, cause the problems they suggest. I’d like to see studies with people actually using a frontlit device versus a backlit device and how it affected their sleep.

Oh, that’s one other thing: the study refers to something some of you already noticed…they say the Paperwhite is a backlit device, and it’s not. That doesn’t make me doubt their measurements, but does show a certain…lack of precision.

What do you think? Have you noticed any difference if you switched from a backlit device to a frontlit one when reading before going to sleep? How does it compare to reading with a nightstand light? If you do read the journal article, feel free to tell me and my readers what you think about it 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.

The Sunday Times investigation shows bought reviews on Amazon

October 13, 2015

The Sunday Times investigation shows bought reviews on Amazon

If I say “sock puppet” to you and your first thought is Shari Lewis, I’m happy you are here.

If your response to what I just said is, “What does Shari and her friends, a talking lamb and dog, have to do with puppets?” I’m ecstatic! ;)

For many of us nowadays, we think of sock puppets as fake identities that publishers and authors use to publish positive reviews of their own books.

Another term you may hear is “astroturfing”, although that’s more associated with apparent social movements. You see, instead of something genuinely being a “grass roots” movement, it has been faked by people with an agenda…Astroturf is fake grass.

While we have often suspected that reviews like that are present on Amazon, and some people have had their legitimate reviews removed by Amazon suspecting they are fake (Amazon can remove any review they want….they have no obligation to publish your reviews, although they don’t seem to do it just because a review is bad), there hasn’t been a lot of proof.

Well, a British newspaper, The Sunday Times, decided to test it…as reported in this

The Sunday Times article by Robin Henry

What they did was pretty clever. They wrote a terrible book (on purpose), and then bought 5-star reviews for it…at a price equivalent of about five U.S. dollars.

Personally, I think they overpaid. ;) I doubt most 5-star reviews are going to generate $5 in revenues…but I’m sure it does make some difference, and it would be more effective if the book was more expensive.

I don’t see that the book (Everything Bonsai!) is still for sale on the British Amazon site, but they claim it went to number one in its category.

It’s worth noting that it doesn’t take all that many sales to briefly get to number one: my book of quotations, was the #1 book of quotations in any format on Amazon when it first was released

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but that didn’t last long. It was just an initial bolus of sales…oh, and with no fake reviews to my knowledge! It’s only gotten four reviews in the three years it has been out…and only one of them was 5-star. :)

I think a more disturbing part of this investigation is that the review faker used real people’s identities, which they “harvested from social media”…and that includes children.

I’m assuming that may be criminal (writing good reviews for money probably isn’t), since it’s identity theft, but I don’t know what the laws are in the UK on that…and I’m not even sure if it would be actionable here.

Now, someone paying someone to create fake reviews in order to boost the sales of a book may be committing a crime…fraud. I would guess that the person writing the review would not be guilty of a crime (if they used their own identity, at least), but I’m not a lawyer.

It’s nice to see that this was done, though. It’s the kind of thing many people are quite sure happens, but  not where investigative journalists tend to turn their focus.

It reminds me of when I was managing a bookstore a long time ago, and a big booksellers’ convention was coming to town. The police decided to go after used bookstores buying stolen books prior to the convention (I’m not saying there was a connection between the two, but…).

For example, they would have undercover people in the bookstores (one bookstore in particular). Reportedly, the bookstore bought boxes of books which still had shipping labels for other stores on them (as if the seller had stolen them from in front of the store). I remember there being something like the store owner just yelling out in the store, “I need ten copies of the new Stephen King: anybody want to steal them for me?”

Used bookstores were supposed to ID people when they bought books, but I think that was rare in practice.

Shoplifting was a big problem in my store, as it was in all bookstores. My goal for “shrinkage” (shoplifting,, employee theft, and loss due to damage) was 8%. If almost one in ten of my books simply disappeared, unaccounted for, I was pretty close to the goal.

Anyway…

What do you think? Is this going to change anything at Amazon? Should it? How do you take fake reviews into account when looking at a book? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Has Kindle e-book development stagnated?

October 13, 2015

Has Kindle e-book development stagnated?

Thanks to a reader (if you’d like to be credited in the blog, just let me know) who alerted me in a private e-mail to this intriguing essay in Aeon:

Digital books stagnate in closed, dull systems, while printed books are shareable, lovely and enduring. What comes next? by Craig Mod

It’s well written, and both deeply researched in some areas and based on personal experience. I recommend reading it.

That said, I don’t have the same assessment of the situation that the author does.

The basic premise is this:

” As our hardware has grown more powerful and our screens more capable, our book-reading software has largely stagnated.”

One explanation given:

“It seems as though Amazon has been disincentivised to stake out bold explorations by effectively winning a monopoly (deservedly, in many ways) on the market.”

I think the first question we have to ask is if this is limited just to EBRs (E-Book Readers)…that is, not tablets like the Fire. We are continuing to see development on the tablets, including Amazon’s new Word Runner featured. That’s even available on the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $49.99

It shows you a book one word at a time, in the middle of the screen. There’s a lot more to it than that, but it should greatly increase your reading speed. You can read more about that here:

The new feature I most want to try on Fire tablets

That’s a recent innovation which Amazon arguably didn’t have to do…and it certainly isn’t stagnant.

It was, perhaps, to respond to the competition of Spritz, which does a similar thing.

The fact that there is competition, though, tends to refute the premise of Mod’s essay.

What about those EBRs? Does there continue to be development there? I do want to say that I assume the author is only talking about EBRs. The article mentions “backlit” Kindles, but I think that may be confusion with the Paperwhite’s (and later the Voyage’s) frontlighting…many people confuse those two.

We’ve gotten some typography changes recently, and we got Page Flip (a way to look ahead in the book without losing your place) not that long ago.

Those don’t feel as amazing as some of the earlier things we got…but should we expect that?

One reason why some people consider paper books one of the greatest technological innovations is how little they have had to change since our basic form factor came into being.

Sure, paperbacks were a change, starting in the 1930s…but they weren’t radically different from hardbacks. They certainly weren’t more different from hardbacks than the Voyage is from the first generation (2007) model.

For more on the history of books, see the

ILMK E-books Timeline

Maybe Kindle books have changed that much in the past few years…because they already do pretty much what we want them to do.

That’s not to say that the system can’t be improved!

We continue to make progress…but I do think, for example, that we could still have much better management of the books on the Amazon website. It would be nice to be able to see which books are on which devices, for example.

The author of the essay has a couple of suggestions, and I do think they are intriguing.

However, I also suspect the author’s desires aren’t the same as those of the majority readers.

Look, I’m weird…and I know it. ;)

My Significant Other got me one of my favorite t-shirts. It says, “Nobody’s Target Market”.

I’m not sure, though, that Craig Mod has quite that same sense of self awareness.

Mod is very into book design. So into it that a great story in the article is about Mod buying a travel guidebook because of the way it was constructed…even with no intent to use it.

I don’t think most people care that much.

That doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate a great design, but my guess is that the majority of people are happy to be able to get right into the text of a book…they don’t need the sensual experience of drawing a beautifully crafted volume being drawn from an equally painstakingly designed slipcase.

Now, would I rather have my Kindle books start at the cover, rather than Chapter 1? Yes, I’d like that option.

I don’t miss the physicality of a p-book (paperbook), though.

I love owning 100 year old books, sure…I have several of those. I feel like I am in a special presence when I see a vintage book.

For my day to day reading? Give me an invulnerable digital file with increasable text, please.

I was a bit amused to be reading the article through the medium of text-to-speech in my car, after using the “Send to Kindle” extension for Google Chrome (which then let me use my Kindle Fire HDX 7).

That’s a big improvement for me.

Do I think that e-books wipeout p-books?

Nope…vinyl is still around for records, despite its relative inefficiency.

My best guess is that it is not an unreasonable model for the future for publishing: the vast majority of reading being done on e-books, with p-books being what they were before mass manufacturing: luxury items.

We aren’t close to that, yet.

Craig Mod and I have different ideas about what people tend to value in books, and what the future will bring.

That’s a good thing. :)

Again, I recommend the piece as evocative, thoughtful, and well-written.

Thanks again to my reader for the heads-up!

What do you think? Has Amazon diverted resources from Kindle book development to other things? If they have, is that an opening for someone else to take part of the market? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

October 2015 Kindle book releases

September 24, 2015

October 2015 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it. We have largely returned to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 7,179 (at time of writing…263 more than last month.) October releases in the USA Kindle store:

October 2015 USA Kindle Store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 1,153 (86 more than last month) are in

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

about 1% (about 1% more than last month).

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same. This time, the top four are not the Kindle First picks…when last month they were.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay…books!

  • Departure by A.G. Riddle
  • Man’s Search For Meaning, Gift Edition by Viktor E. Frankl and Harold S. Kushner
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Saga Deluxe Edition by Frank Miller
  • Esperanza Renace by Pam Munoz Ryan and Nuria Molinero
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
  • If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell
  • Salt (The Last Flotilla Book 1) by Colin F. Barnes (KU)
  • The Promise of Provence (Love in Provence Book 1) by Patricia Sands (KU)
  • The Complete Walt Disney World 2016: The Definitive Disney Handbook by Julie Neal and Mike Neal (KU)
  • I Stink! by Kate McMullan and Jim McMullan
  • Motor City Shakedown (A Bright & Fletcher Mystery) by Jonathan Watkins
  • Crisis On Infinite Earths 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
  • How to Ace Calculus: The Streetwise Guide by Colin Adams and Abigail Thompson
  • Kissing Mr. Right by Michelle Major
  • Resilience from the Heart: The Power to Thrive in Life’s Extremes by Gregg Braden
  • A Gift from Bob: How a Street Cat Helped One Man Learn the Meaning of Christmas by James Bowen
  • Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze by Peter Harmsen
  • Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
  • Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life by Thom Shea
  • Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian by A. Douglas Stone
  • How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise by Chris Taylor
  • Quarry by Max Allan Collins
  • Detective by Arthur Hailey
  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (Penguin Christmas Classics) by L. Frank Baum (public domain, so available in other editions for free)
  • Quartet in Autumn: Picador Classic by Barbara Pym and Alexander McCall Smith
  • Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen
  • The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories by Etgar Keret
  • After Alice by Gregory Maguire (author of Wicked)
  • Lassie Come-Home 75th Anniversary Edition by Eric Knight and Marguerite Kirmse
  • Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
  • Stress: Living and Working in a Changing World by George Manning and Kent Curtis
  • Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Betsy Maestro and Loretta Krupinski
  • Flamingo Diner by Sherryl Woods
  • Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen
  • Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics (Princeton Science Library) by A. Zee and Roger Penrose
  • Bridge Builders: How Superb Communicators Get What They Want in Business and in Life by Maria Keckler
  • A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel (Inspector Lynley Book 19) by Elizabeth George

Hm…that turned out to be a seemingly geek heavy selection. :) That’s not intentional on my part…maybe they are becoming more popular? It is more likely I spot those, though. I also noticed more “gift editions”. It’s the season for that, of course…

Enjoy!

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.

September 2015 Kindle book releases

August 23, 2015

September 2015 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it. We have started to return to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 6,916 (at time of writing…1,932 more than last month. That makes sense, though…September is getting into the holiday season as far as book releases go) September releases in the USA Kindle store:

September 2015 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 1,067 (279 more than last month) are in

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

about 15% (about 1% fewer than last month).

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

In the past several  months, the top four had been the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same. Last month, the top four weren’t Kindle First…this time, they are (again). There’s also a link that identifies them as Kindle First books, and will take you to that page. It’s an interesting choice, on Amazon’s part. I like curation, generally, but I think of Amazon’s book search results based on impartial data, but that’s not the case any more.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay…books!

  • The Keeper (Vega Jane, Book 2) by David Baldacci
  • Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Driving Heat (Nikki Heat Book 7) by Richard Castle
  • Archmage (Homecoming) by R. A. Salvatore
  • Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
  • Big Nate: Welcome to My World (AMP! Comics for Kids) by Lincoln Peirce
  • The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney and Jo Beverley
  • Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
  • Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray and Phil Noto
  • The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan by Ian Buruma
  • Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas by Edward Klein
  • Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle: How to Break Free of Negativity and Drama by Doreen Virtue
  • Batman Vol. 7: Endgame by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
  • Sweet Caress by William Boyd
  • Purity: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen
  • Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design by Perry Marshall
  • The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series by David Lagercrantz
  • You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Lifeby Jon Gordon and Mike Smith
  • The Autobiography of James T. Kirk by David A. Goodman
  • Wildest Dreams (Thunder Point series) by Robyn Carr
  • Make Me: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
  • The Bark Before Christmas (A Melanie Travis Mystery Book 18) by Laurien Berenson
  • Cook County ICU: 30 Years of Unforgettable Patients and Odd Cases by Cory Franklin, MD
  • The White Ghost (Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Book 10) by James R. Benn
  • Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner
  • The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes by Lawrence Block
  • Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years by Thomas Mallon
  • The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange
  • The Gifted Puppy Program: 40 Games, Activities, and Exercises to Raise a Brilliant, Happy Dog by Laurie Leach
  • Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse
  • Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them by Nancy Marie Brown
  • Undercover by Danielle Steel
  • The Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science Is Rewriting Their Story by Dimitra Papagianni and Michael A. Morse
  • The Quotable Feynman by Richard P. Feynman and Michelle Feynman

Enjoy!

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.

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

August 18, 2015

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

A couple of my readers called my attention to this

New York Times article by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld

I had seen that it existed but it’s quite lengthy, and it took me until today to read it all.

In the meantime, I had even seen it referenced in the “news crawl” on a 24 hour news channel.

The article is entitled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace”.

Amazon has faced accusations of being an unsafe workplace (in particular, heat issues in warehouses), but this doesn’t claim that Amazon is doing anything illegal (at least not directly: they reference the heat issue, but didn’t investigate it).

It does claim that the company is…unempathetic. It says, essentially, that coworkers can criticize their teammates…without being identified to the accused.

It describes what could be interpreted as a harmfully competitive environment.

Jeff Bezos has responded, as referenced in this

CNN Money article by David Goldman

and other places, including this

GeekWire article by John Cook

which reproduces Bezos’ memo.

Having read both, I have a few takeaways:

  • Based on the articles, Amazon isn’t doing things that are illegal
  • It’s hard to work at Amazon…definitely challenging
  • It’s possible that some managers at Amazon have treated some  employees without compassion
  • If that is the case, it troubles me that Jeff Bezos says that isn’t the Amazon that Bezos know. If it as indicated (the NYT claims to have spoken with 100 employees and ex-employees), it would trouble me that Bezos woudn’t  know
  • Some of the good things which have come out of Amazon have happened because of their unconventional policies
  • Update: looking at more responses, I also want to say that part of the reaction to this might be people assuming that what is reported is specific to Amazon, when it might be much wider spread. It may be seen as unique to Amazon, when it could actually be a broad indictment of not uncommon corporate behavior. That’s not to say that Amazon doesn’t do some things differently…it does. However, it may be that it just does some things more effectively than some others. Many companies would like to cull their lowest performers every year…Amazon might just be better at it
  • Update: the biggest concern for many people here will be the stories of unempathetic treatment…that after someone has had a family tragedy, they are punished for lowered performance during that period. I can tell you that that is not the case where I work: I’ve coworkers out for long periods due to personal challenges, and be supported and welcomed back by management. Again, though, it’s not illegal (and it may not be  unusual) to judge someone’s performance regardless of extenuating circumstances, as long as the law if followed in terms of family leave and such. In my opinion, not illegal…but not necessarily wise, either

I’ve been a successful manager, and I would not lead my team using the techniques alleged. It was always a big thing to me (and still is) that the team works together.

I don’t like competition within the team…I think it is counter productive.

Let me give you an example.

I was managing trainers, who are naturally inclined to want to help other people (it’s what we do for a living).

We had evaluations from students.

When I became manager, there had been a bonus for the person with the highest evaluation average.

That seemed like a bad thing to me.

To have the highest average doesn’t mean that you have to improve what you are doing. If you could make everyone else do worse, that would be enough.

Again, trainers wouldn’t do that consciously: but would they work after hours to help someone else improve their scores? It would be hard to justify taking the time away from their families, if it could also cost those families money.

I proposed a change, which was accepted…and seemed to really help.

We changed it to say that if the team reached an overall average goal, we randomly selected someone who had made a minimum score to receive the bonus.

You couldn’t get the bonus twice, until everybody on the team had won it once.

In other words, you needed to  make sure everybody on the team did well to have a chance at a bonus. If they did, you would eventually get a bonus…even if your score wasn’t the highest that week.

Every Microsoft certified training center in the USA (might have been North America) had to use the same evaluation system with Microsoft…I think it was thousands of teams.

We were sometimes #1, usually top ten.

That thinking was alien to the sales manager…sales teams usually rely on competition. I greatly credit that sales manager for recognizing the value of my suggestion for my team.

What is alleged (not proven…but my guess is that the article’s authors are reporting accurately what they had heard) isn’t what I would want in my company, and isn’t what has worked for me. My guess is that it would produce some  good results…and suppress others.  I don’t think it would be illegal…just, for me, ill advised.

My intuition is that Jeff Bezos wouldn’t have known about it…that it would have been something that developed in a loosely supervised, decentralized company, where the people in Seattle might not have a firm hand on the corporate culture in New York, for example.

If that’s the case, and this is all speculation, I think it could be fixed.

None of this makes me any less likely to shop at Amazon. It would be different if what was alleged was illegal.

The presentation in the article is more of people being jerks than being crooks.

I think the article is significant enough  to have an impact…and that’s a good thing.

What do you think?  Do you believe the article? If so, does it change how you feel about being an Amazon customer? Is competition necessary within a team? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: this may be too late for some of you, but two of Amazon’s Fire tablets are $30 off today only:

Update: thanks to two of my regular readers (Harold Delk and Edward Boyhan) and commenters for catching me on a substitution error. I have corrected that error (I had attributed something the NYT did do another (main)streamer…and the two are quite different), which has improved 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.

Perhaps the most ridiculous p to e comparison I’ve ever seen

August 12, 2015

Perhaps the most ridiculous p to e comparison I’ve ever seen

Okay, I’m not prone to use words like “ridiculous” in describing other people’s opinions…and I don’t really think I’m doing that here.

The chart (really more of a table) presented in this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post

hypothetically doesn’t offer an opinion, although it does have some evaluative comments (“incredibly hard”).

What it does is compare a paperbook (p-book) to a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and to an iPad.

It compares price, weight, battery life, pros, and cons.

However…

Notice that I said it compares “a paperbook”.

That’s like comparing an apple to a bushel of oranges. ;)

They list the cost of a p-book at $15.52…and the cost of a Paperwhite at $120.

It would make more sense to compare a bookcase to a Paperwhite.

If we start out saying that a bookcase costs, oh, $100, that’s still not the way to do it.

Even if we discount the free cloud storage (which would be a big mistake), a Paperwhite can hold what would be many bookcases worth of books.

We’ll go with…you want the complete works of Shakespeare, the Harry Potter series, and the top five New York Times hardback fiction equivalent bestsellers…plus a single bookcase or a Paperwhite. We’ll use $100 for the bookcase, $120 for the Paperwhite.

Shakespeare in hardback (that seems to be their comparison): I’m finding new ones for as low as about $25.

Shakespeare in e-book: free

At this point, we are close enough to even. :)

Harry Potter hardback boxed set of the 7: $116.55 (that’s a considerable discount, by the way)

Harry Potter in e-book: $57.54…oh, and you could read them all in a month for $9.99 with

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

but you don’t own them then, so that’s not really a fair comparison.

The e-book choice is about $40 cheaper at this point.

Now, let’s add in the bestsellers:

P-book E-book
$16.07 $13.99
$13.47 $6.99
$15.29 $13.99
$16.70 $11.43
$15.14 $12.99
$76.67 $59.39
 Difference $17.28

I simply don’t think you can reasonably suggest that it is less expensive to have a library of p-books than a library of e-books.

Yes, you can re-sell p-books…but if you don’t, you pay to store them. It’s rent/property taxes/mortgage for the floor under the bookcase. As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I had to always make that calculation…it’s why a slow-selling book couldn’t profitably be kept sitting around in the store…you would eventually have lost money keeping it there.

The pros and cons listed also seem…odd, to me.

I don’t want to take too much away from the chart, so I’ll just mention one.

One of two cons listed under the Papewhite is “…Still not water-proof”.

You know, because p-books do just fine when you drop in the bathtub. ;)

Let me be very clear that the excellent EBOOK FRIENDLY did not create this chart. It appears in an interesting Wall Street Journal article (to which they link), and is reportedly based on the School Library Journal’s 2015 Book Pricing Report.

There are pros and cons to p-books, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and tablets…I just don’t think this chart presents them in a particularly useful way.

Oh, I am going to mention one more thing from the chart.

The iPad is described as “…hard to read on in the sun”.

The use of two prepositions in a row like that can be jarring (what was wrong with, “…hard to read in the sun”?). It reminds me of this old “joke” (it’s not exactly a joke) designed to make grammar purists react the way most people do to fingernails on a blackboard (which, I’ve heard, is so irritating because it is a similar frequency to a monkey’s panic vocalization…you don’t like the sound, because you think a leopard is about to leap into your troop).

A young child is sick upstairs.

A parent, wanting to console the child, brings in a book the child had loved a few years ago…but which the child now thinks they have outgrown.

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

;)

I’ve probably told this one before on this blog, but legendarily, Winston Churchill was upbraided for ending a sentence with a preposition. Churchill knew how to speak to the common people, and made the choice to use accessible language. Churchill’s reported response was, “…that is the sort of grammatical pedantry up with which I will not put.” :)

I would guess all of my readers could come with reasons why e-books can be better than p-books, so let me flip that: give me some arguments why having a library of p-books is better than a library of e-books. You can do that (and share other thoughts) for me and my readers 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.


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