Archive for the ‘Polls’ Category

Advice to Amazon #2

January 4, 2016

Advice to Amazon #2

Who am I to offer advice to Amazon, one of the most influential companies in the world?

I’m a customer…like you. :)

I like Amazon. I want them to do well. If I can suggest something that helps them, that’s a win-win.

If they don’t take my advice, that’s fine. They may know things about the situation I don’t know.

I do have an

Advice to Amazon

category on this blog, but I think it’s good to gather some of it together into a post from time to time. That also lets you comment on it. :)

 In my first post in this series

Advice for Amazon #1

I made three suggestions:

  • Do a speed-reading display (that has recently arrived on some Fire tablets, in the for of “Word Runner”)
  • Do a Daltonizer (to change colors to help those with color vision deficiency like me. They haven’t done that yet…still wish they would)
  • Personalized coupons (discounts based on past buying habits…hasn’t happened yet)

Here are some more suggestions/advice:

Suggested feature: friendly names

I have made this suggestion directly to them, and I think it could be great for us and for Amazon!

We would be able to give “friendly names” to items we buy…”Pat’s vitamins”, “Fluffy’s toy”, “Bufo’s floss”, and so on.

One big application for that would be ordering through the

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

It would be so much easier to tell Alexa what to re-order that way.

This would also be “sticky” for Amazon…it would make people much more reluctant to shop somewhere else. In many cases, people probably wouldn’t even remember the actual names of the items.

Suggested event: Amazon event

I think I described this pretty well when I first suggested it, so…

“Amazon could host something in Seattle. They could show off new hardware, have Amazon KDP authors there, have developers of Amazon apps and Alexa Skills, do some international things, maybe show off the Prime Air drones…even Prime Now riders. :) Wow, people would really talk about that! It could also counter some bad publicity, by letting people get behind the curtain a bit, and showing happy employees.”

I’d love to see them do this once a year…and I would totally want to go!

Suggested feature: digitizing service

There is still a lot of content out there which is in the public domain and hasn’t yet been digitized. There are also cases where someone has the rights, but only has paper editions.

Amazon could offer a digitization service.

People would send in something to be digitized, and they would attest that it was either public domain or that they had the rights to it.

Amazon would digitize it (they could invest in hardware/process which would make it relatively easy).

The owner could be required to add something to it to create a new copyright (illustrations, an introduction).

The item then appear in Amazon’s store. The owner gets a cut. Amazon gets a cut…and there is a period (maybe three months) of exclusivity for Amazon to sell it.

This is another one I think could be a very big deal…I think Amazon could do it safely, in terms of reasonably avoiding infringement.

Suggested feature: social playlists

I originally suggested this for Prime music, but it could work for videos and books (especially Kindle Unlimited), too.

Customers create playlists.

Other customers “like” them.

Ones with more likes are more visible.

I don’t think Amazon would even need to compensate the customers for that.

Ideas to producers marketplace

I think Amazon has really tried to get around the traditional content providers (at least to some extent) in the past year.

If you are able to create your own content, Amazon has a way for you to get distribution. You can put your blog into the Kindle store, you can put book into the Kindle store, and so on.

I’d like to see Amazon set something up where producers can connect with people who have ideas…and Amazon takes a cut for facilitating it, and again, could get a short term exclusive for selling.

Let me give you an example.

I have what I think is a good idea for an app (I’ve had it for years).

I think it would sell moderately well…no Angry Birds, but I do think people would like it.

I could write the content…but I’m simply not going to program it.

I used to teach programming, and I could learn it…but I’d rather just write the content, sell it to somebody to develop and distribute, and get royalties.

I’m sure many other people have ideas for apps…or TV series or movies or books.

Amazon wouldn’t work out the deals…that would be between the producer and the person who thought of it.

There would be reviews and ratings of the producers, to help people choose.

This one is a bit tricky, but Amazon could do it, I think.

This idea of “three month exclusivity” would make Amazon very attractive, and keep people visiting. The rights reversion would mean that the items would get to other stores…but as a secondary market.

I’m always curious what you think, and you are more than welcome to comment on this post. I’m also going to do a poll:

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 argument for having both a Fire tablet and a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader)

December 14, 2015

The argument for having both a Fire tablet and a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader)

My most popular post for this week is one that I wrote more than a year and a half ago:

The reading experience: Paperwhite vs. Kindle Fire HDX

It has been consistently popular, and is my top post overall…even though at this point, it refers to two older models.

It’s a comparison between reading on an EBR (E-Book Reader) and a Fire tablet.

When  I wrote it, I assumed its main use would be by people making a choice between one device type and the other.

I think that’s  likely still the case…although I think it’s now more likely to be a question of which additional device to get for someone who already has (at least one) device.

That makes for a simple question: why have two devices?

The arguments against having two are pretty clear:

However, I, like many of my readers (I assume…I’ll ask you later in the post), use a Fire tablet and an EBR…every day.

I have the now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX and a

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

I use them in two different ways.

I would actually say that over time, the EBRs have become more reading focused (and therefore have diverged more from the tablets)…or at least, more sight-reading focused.

The newer ones don’t do audio at all, so no music. Unfortunately, that also means no audiobooks, and no text-to-speech (TTS), which is software that will read text out loud to you (I typically use that for hours every week in the car), although publishers can block TTS access (and some do on some titles, but I think it is not as common as it used to be).

They also don’t do “active content”, a special type of EBR game (and some were utilities).

The Voyage (and the 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*))

have lights that shine towards the screen, not towards your eyes. You read from the light bouncing off the screen…the same way you read a paperbook. It’s the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had…including paper.

I read it in bed before falling asleep…a tablet wouldn’t be as good for that for me. I haven’t tried the new “Blue Shade” functionality, which might make a tablet better than it is now for bedtime reading…it’s a selling point for the

Fire HD 8 Reader’s Edition (Fire HD 8 Reader’s Edition)

Still, I doubt that would be as comfortable…and it’s nice to only have to charge my Voyage every two or three weeks.

I have to say, though, it stays in my headboard except when I’m actively reading it (or charging it).

When I go out, I only take my Fire.

I want my Fire for other things…although I especially want it for that TTS. I do sight read on it as well…for example, at lunch, I may do a bit of exercise in my office and I do like reading while I do that. ;)

I also use my Fire for my morning

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

read (it takes the place of what used to be a newspaper). In fact, here is part of my morning routine, which would only work on the tablet:

  • I check my local news station app, ABC7 San Francisco (especially well designed, I’d say)
  • I check the CNN app
  • I check Flipboard
  • I check my WordPress app (in case comments came in while I was asleep)
  • I use my favorite browser, Maxthon, to check the Amazon Appstore, the Kindle Daily Deal, and usually BoxOfficeMojo
  • I check the IMDb app for news, although I will have seen some of the stories in Flipboard
  • I turn on the family room light

Some other things that I couldn’t do on the Voyage:

  • I read Entertainment Weekly with a Kindle subscription
  • I read Fortean Times in my Zinio app (which I got from the Zinio site…not available directly from the Amazon Appstore, but Amazon allows us to install apps from other sources
  • I shop :)
  • I use the clock app for a nightstand clock (and sometimes when I’m addressing a group)
  • I check the weather (although I usually use our Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for that))
  • I check my Google calendar
  • I play music (most often for other people)
  • I print to a wireless printer (I use PrinterShare Mobile Print ((at AmazonSmile*)…it costs about $10, but I got it for free at some point)
  • I check e-mail
  • I read documents, including PDFs…and I’ve used it for PowerPoints
  • I go to other websites

As you can probably tell, if I was only going to have one at this point, it would be a Fire tablet. I use it in many ways, and the reading on it is okay.

I do like reading on the Voyage better…and fortunately, you don’t need to have only one type. :)

One last point: when the first Kindle EBR was released, it cost nearly $400. Now, eight years later, you can get both a tablet and an EBR for less than half of that…

Now let’s find out about you. :)

I’m interested here in what you use, not just what you own. It’s also okay with me on this if you use a different brand…say, an iPad instead of a Fire.

Oh, and I’m fully cognizant of the fact that you might use something else…a phone, a laptop, and so on. :) Picking “neither” in the poll isn’t meant to suggest you aren’t reading (or consuming other content).

Have other comments about this? Want to share your experiences? 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! :) 

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.

Why don’t people write reviews of Kindle books?

December 8, 2015

Why don’t people write reviews of Kindle books?

I wrote last year about a neat trick I’d found:

New search tip: sort by Most Reviews

Recently, a reader, jubunam, noted that Mockingjay had fewer than 20,000 reviews, and wanted to know why.

It’s a reasonable question.

Back in 2012, it was being reported that 9 million copies of the book had been sold…and it’s continued to sell well since.

Not only has it sold, but it has been a popular title in

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

and presumably, many more people have read it than copies/licenses have been sold.

That’s true even with Kindle books (although reviews combine formats…paper and electronic reviews both  show up on both).

If I “buy the book” from the USA Kindle store (really, I license the reading rights), many people on my account could have read it…and with p-books, it’s been big in the used book market and checked out of public libraries (at least, that would be my assumption).

So, I think we can reasonably say that fewer than 1% of people who read Mockingjay posted a review on Amazon.

My guess would be that the percentage of readers posting reviews is typically much higher on one with fewer sales, especially indies (independently published books).

My sibling’s book,

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

has 63 customer reviews (with an average of 4.7 stars out of 5) at the time of writing…and I’ll say confidently that it hasn’t sold 63,000 copies/licenses. :)

So, I think since writing a review is so rare, it’s like a green sheep. The question becomes not, “Why are other sheep white?” but, “Why is that sheep green?” ;)

The question is, why do people write a review?

I think there are a few main reasons.

One is to support the book. That would seem like the most obvious one…you like the book, you want others  to read it, you write a review.

There is also the flipside: you want to warn people about what you think is a bad book.

You may also want to support the author or the publisher. This might not be the best book from that author/publisher, but you want to promote them more generally. I see this in reviews, “If you want to read a great book by so-and-so, read ‘X’…this is a good book, but not the best.” Similarly, if it’s a publisher with personality, you may want to promote them.

People write reviews to support (or oppose) a cause as well. The book is a symbol of something for you, and you take the advantage of the platform to voice your opinion.

Reviews may be written to support or oppose something that’s less of a cause, more of a policy…like the price of books, or the lack of the ability to lend a book.

Some people just like to write. ;) Book reviews are one form of expression, and they are one that people see. On Amazon, you can get feedback on your reviews. You can have your review show up as a “most useful” review, for example.

There are people who see writing reviews as a kind of fame.

People also write reviews so that publishers will send them other books to review.

Some reviews are written because people have a financial interest in the book, or otherwise personally gain from the book selling. Those aren’t supposed to happen, and Amazon has gone after people who sell good reviews on Amazon (“For $5, I’ll give your book a 5-star review”).

For some people, it becomes a habit. They review every book they read.

I think those are probably the main reasons.

I’d say the main reason people don’t write reviews is…inertia, basically. It takes an effort to write a review, and if you do nothing, the net result is that you haven’t written one. That’s the default.

Let’s do a quick poll:

What do you think? Are there other reasons people write reviews? Do the number of reviews on a book influence you? Why have you or haven’t you written a review? 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.

WSJ: “E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts”…but…

September 6, 2015

WSJ: “E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts”…but…

I’ve mentioned several times before in this blog that I think Jeffrey Trachtenberg is the best mainstream reporter covering e-books.

I’ve been pleased with the reporter’s depth of knowledge and understanding on what can be a complex issue. Many mainstreamers have sometimes lacked that.

The latest article is getting a lot of play:

E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts

Note that this could be behind a paywall…it took a couple of shots at it for me to be able to read it.

The thrust of the article is the possibility that tradpubs (traditional publishers), which have recently raised e-book prices with the return of the Agency Model through new deals with Amazon have seen a decline in e-book revenues.

The latter is true for the ones which have reported…they’ve all seen at the least a lack of growth.

However…

Even though one event followed the other, that doesn’t necessarily mean cause and effect.

It’s often hard to prove specific cause and effect, especially when it involves human behavior (in this case, book purchasing).

My concern with the hypothesis that raised prices following the new contracts caused consumers to buy fewer tradpub books is that this isn’t the first time prices have been raised.

I track them regularly.

The New York Times fiction hardback equivalent bestsellers are almost always going to be traditionally published.

Here are my figures on it, from my most recent reading on September 1st going back for each 1st of the month. I’ll go back to November 1st of 2014, which is right after it was announced that Simon & Schuster and Amazon…that should give us some information from before and after the price changes, since the prices don’t change right after the agreement is reached:

  • September 2015: Average: $12.84 (+$1.33) 3 titles under $10
  • Average; $11.51 (-$0.62) 6 titles under $10
  • July 2015: Average: $12.13 (+$0.16) 5 titles under $10
  • Average: $11.97 (+$1.69) 5 titles under $10
  • Average: $10.28 (-$1.40) 10 titles under $10
  • Average: $11.68 (+$0.57) 4 titles under $10
  • Average: $11.11 (+$1.34) 7 titles under $10
  • Average: $9.77 (+$0.11) 11 titles under $10
  • January 2015: Average: $9.66 (+$0.09) 9 titles under $10
  • Average: $9.57 (-$0.65) 9 titles under $10
  • Average: $10.22 (-$0.86) 6 titles under $10

As you can see, prices haven’t been rising consistently, although they have been  up.

My guess is that there are several factors at play…higher prices might be one of them, but I don’t think it’s a primary factor.

My guess is that one driver may be

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

 

While Kindle Unlimited (Amazon’s subser…subscription service, an “all you can read for a flat fee” way to borrow books to read) launched in July of 2014, it was in July of this year that Amazon did Prime Day and offered Kindle Unlimited to Prime members at a considerable discount.

Those people, in particular, are people who are willing to spend money on books. With the Prime Day deal, they paid at least $44.95 for a multiple month pre-paid plan.

As a happy KU member since the beginning, I can tell you…I feel some…duty to get KU books rather than spending additional money on new books.

I think that KU members may, to some significant degree  (I’m just speculating here) be people who bought a lot of tradpub books, and now are buying fewer.

As I mentioned recently, Simon & Schuster did put a couple of books into KU.

My guess?

Tradpubs may need to really rethink staying out of KU.

I do recommend reading Trachtenberg’s article, and it may certainly be right. Trachtenberg doesn’t say that the contracts are the cause of the change in e-book revenue for tradpubs. There might be some impact from it, of course…but my thought is that KU may be a big impact, and an increasing one in the future.

Update: I decide to add a couple of polls to this, to get a better sense of your experience. I don’t think my readers are necessarily typical of book buyers generally, but I do think we tend to represent “serious readers” (that doesn’t mean we read serious books, although we might…it’s that we read a lot of books).

In this first poll, note that the question is how many you have purchased, not how many you have read. I’m sure I’ve read more tradpubbed books than I’ve purchased in the past year…partially from reading gifts.

Update: I think this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

will be seen by many as having significant relevance to the growth rate of tradpubbed e-book sales.

It looks at “20 Years of Amazon.com Bookselling”, and it has some interesting nuggets. First, this short excerpt:

“Books were Amazon’s largest product category as recently as 2008, but in 2015 their share of the company’s total revenue—which could hit $100 billion soon—is shrinking.”

The article also has a timeline (showing the remarkable growth, especially in the beginning), and Amazon’s twenty all-time bestselling books.

I have my own timeline which is more e-book focused:

 

What do you thank? Are slowing tradpub e-book sales do to higher prices, KU, both…or something else? 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.

 

What’s in a name? An EBR by any other name would read as sweet

August 28, 2015

What’s in a name? An EBR by any other name would read as sweet

Amazon is good at a lot of things.

Naming items isn’t one of them. ;)

Okay, those are both my opinion…but they are opinions that have been expressed by many people.

Even the name “Kindle”, with its association with fire, seemed an odd choice if you were arguing that you are a champion of books…and especially if you were doing something that some people were going to fear would hurt paper books. Of course, it wasn’t as bad as Barnes & Nobles’ choice of “Nook” for their e-book reader…as I reported that Kindle forum member J. Taylor pointed out way back in 2009:

Flash! Barnes & Noble’s “nook” named after…

That’s a matter of taste, which is important in terms of marketing.

More concerning is when naming has a direct practical impact on customers.

That’s been the case with the least expensive model of the Kindle.

There have been seven generations of Kindles to date…different capabilities, different morphologies…and Amazon almost always refers to that low end model as simply the “Kindle”.

Clearly, that causes a problem for people buying covers, for one thing.

A cover that would fit the Kindle 1 (the 2007 model…we actually got a free cover with that device) won’t fit the current gen(eration).

If, perhaps, Amazon at least put the generation number clearly on the device somehow, that would help.

It’s also a real challenge for people providing support to other Kindle users, like the Kindle Forum Pros (I’m one of those). As the menus change, the step by step help that many people want (and by which they are greatly benefited) becomes difficult if you don’t know which model they have (and they often don’t know, either).

So, and I would say inevitably, the community has adopted its own nicknames for different gens of the lowest priced Kindles.

Since nicknames are unofficial, they have various degrees of adoption…and they strike people different ways.

When the fourth generation of the Kindle was introduced in late 2011, I nicknamed that one the “Mindle” (for “minimum Kindle”…other people said later it was for “Mini Kindle”, which is fine with me). Amazon had referred to the first gen as just a “Kindle” (logical) and the second gen as a “Kindle 2” (that name was actually used in press releases). The third generation went back to just being the “Kindle”, but the community called it the “Kindle 3”. Amazon later renamed that one the “Kindle Keyboard”.

The fourth gen was announced at the same time as the Kindle Touch, and that was when that “Kindle Keyboard” rebranding happened.

There were now three versions of the “Kindle” currently on sale at Amazon.

I nicknamed the lowest cost one the “Mindle” partially to give a short way to differentiate it from the other Kindles.

I’ll admit it: I like making up neologisms. :)

Some of them get used by other people, although that’s not necessarily the point. I do it partially because it is fun for me, and partially specifically for my readers.

Some of them do catch on to some extent. I’ve seen other people use EBR (E-Book Reader) and “tradpub” (traditional publisher). Sometimes, there is a parallel evolution (that’s not that uncommon when doing something creative): I’m certainly not the only person to make up “phablet” to combine “phone” and “tablet” for the larger-screened phones).

I polled my readers, about three years ago, in

Poll Party #1

about their use of terms I’d coined. EBR was by far the most popular.

However…

I’m sure some people detest some of the terms I’ve proposed.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Susan Cassidy, who I respect, recently asked me to stop using the term “Mindle”. Susan reported a psychogenic reaction to it, calling it “…disgustingly cutesy”.

Susan also thought it hadn’t “caught on”. I did check, and it has been used hundreds of times in the Amazon Kindle forum…and very few of those will have been by me. It’s also likely that other people independently came up with the term.

While I will ultimately determine my future use of it, I like to get a sense of what my readers think as well. If many people feel the way Susan does, that would certainly influence my decision.

So, I decided to ask you. :)

A somewhat different question is what you would like me to call the current generation least expensive Kindle, this one:

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

Thanks for giving my your opinion…and that “thanks” goes especially to you, Susan!

If you have another suggestion for a name, or if you think the whole question is silly ;) feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

Re-read or not re-read…that is the question

July 17, 2015

Re-read or not re-read…that is the question

I’ve mentioned in this blog several times that I’m not a big re-reader of books.

However, I do know that many other people are.

My Significant Other knew somebody who only ever read the same two books: Helter Skelter and Gone with the Wind. They would finish one of them, start the other one, finish that and go back to the first, and so on.

That doesn’t appeal to me personally. I want books to change me. I want to read lots of books…different kinds of books by different people with different viewpoints.

For me, that’s the magic of books.

I will say that I am re-reading a book currently…fourteen books, actually.

I have an omnibus of  the original (Wizard of Oz) books, and I’ve taken to re-reading them before I go to sleep.

It takes me a long time to go to sleep at night…there’s a real process. Reading before I finally fall asleep is part of it.

I often don’t read much at that  time…quite often, not even a whole chapter.

That doesn’t mean I don’t retain it, though.

I’m re-reading them partially because I am writing some things about Oz, and I want to get the details right.

I’m also getting new insights.

Until we had cellphones,  I wouldn’t have realized that there was one in the Oz books!

The Wizard of Oz invented the cellphone

Additionally, I’m at a different  place in my life than the first time I read them…or had them read to me (I was a kid).

So, I’m now open to the idea of re-reading…even though I feel a bit guilty doing it, which I know is silly.

I can see how I’d be more likely to re-read things now, even if I didn’t have a specific purpose. It used to be that I would remember just about everything in a book I read, even years later.

That’s no longer true.

I’ll pretty much remember the general plot, but characters’ names, for example? That doesn’t happen automatically any more.

Thinking about it, it’s also interesting: I have no reluctance at all to re-watch a TV show or a movie. I’ve seen the same episodes of the original Star Trek series many times…even though I could just about write the script from memory.

I’m confident in saying that there are some movies I’ve seen more than a hundred times, and would happily watch again.

Why the difference?

I think part of it is the investment of time. Watching a movie is  a couple of hours…reading a book can be much more than that.

I also don’t expect the visual media to change me the way a book does. The level of engagement is far different…most movies work on my surface emotions…books get deep inside my mind.

Let me ask you a couple of questions. Figure we are talking about novels or short story collection/anthologies…not non-fiction, which is a different kettle of words. ;)

This whole post was inspired by a comment one of my regular readers and commenters, jjhitt, made. jjhitt thought it would be interesting for me to ask you, my readers, which books you re-read…and I am interested in that. I’m also interested in why you re-read…or why you don’t. If the poll isn’t enough for you, 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! :) 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.

How do you feel about pay per page read?

July 5, 2015

How do you feel about pay per page read?

I recently wrote about Amazon’s new “pay per page read” royalty plan for borrows in

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

and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL):

Pay by the page read: Amazon revolutionizes royalties

While certainly, there has been some pushback on it…in particular, from authors (and in some cases, their agents), who feel like it might radically reduce their royalties.

It will…for some people.

It will also likely increase royalties for other people.

Before the new plan (which went into effect July 1st), all borrows in Kindle Unlimited (from publishers using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing) shared a pool of money, based on the number of borrows.

Whether a title was three hundred pages, or three pages, everybody got the same amount.

The only requirement was that a borrower read 10%  of the titles.

Let’s say the books had the classic 250 words per page.

That three page book had 750 words…so 75 words would be enough for payment (you’ve read twice that many in the post already).

The three hundred page book had 75,000 words…so, 7,500 words (thirty pages) before someone got paid.

It’s different, but making the longer book more valuable seems reasonable to me.

Note also that it’s not just that the book is longer…it’s that the reader actually read more of it, presumably getting more value out of it.

I’ve been trying to come up with analogies for this, to help me understand it. I wanted to know why someone would be passionately opposed to it.

Suppose you wanted one bottled water. Further suppose that you could only buy a six pack.

Does it seem reasonable that the person who drank one bottle and threw away the rest paid the same amount as the person who drank and got value out of the six bottles?

How about at a restaurant?

Would you shop at a restaurant where you always had to pay for a salad, soup, appetizer, main course, and dessert, even if you only wanted the salad?

People do order “prix fixe”, where they pay one price for several courses.

On the other side, I can see the argument that if you order a medium pizza and only eat two slices, the restaurant still had to make the whole pizza…it’s not their fault if you don’t eat the whole thing.

That doesn’t feel quite the same, though…the restaurant used up resources on the pizza. The writer did use resources (time, creative energy), but it’s not limited in the same way.

I want to hear from you, my readers, as to what you think about it. You can certainly make comments on this post, and I’m going to do a poll. Tell me why you don’t like it, or why you do.

If you are both an author and a reader, please approach the poll as a reader…you can express your writer’s perspective in the comments. :)

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.

Bestselling Kindle authors and social media

April 11, 2015

Bestselling Kindle authors and social media

I recently mentioned that I have a sibling who has a first novel,

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

coming out on June 1st.

We’ve had some discussions along the way, and it’s been interesting to see the process.

One question has been about the amount of involvement in social media, and what kinds.

I can’t claim to be an expert on that, by any means. Yes, this blog is successful (it’s usually one of the top ten blogs of any kind in the USA Kindle store). Sure, I feel like I have a good relationship with my readers. I can also say that my Flipboard magaines, including

 ILMK magazine at Flipboard

are doing well, although I don’t know how they compare to others.

But the more well-known social media outlets? Not so much. ;)

I have 309 followers on

Twitter

I suspect there may be somebody’s left gym sock with more followers than that. ;)

I do have a Facebook account, but it’s totally stealth…as private as I could make it. I only joined Facebook so I could look at things that family members post.

To be clear, I don’t have anything against Facebook…I just don’t have the social energy to spend on it.

I would feel a responsibility to respond to people there, just as I respond to almost every comment made on this blog. What with my family, an often more than full time job, writing (I told myself I’d average at least 1,000 words a day in this blog, and I do that…plus I have another blog where I write more rarely, and I work on books although I haven’t released one in a while), and the Amazon forums (which helps with this blog…and I just like helping people), I simply feel like I couldn’t add another commitment and keep up the standards I want to meet.

Oh, and I do write reviews on

Goodreads

I have a whopping 28 friends there…and seven followers. :)

However, any new (or established, for that matter) author is going to get a lot of advice to be active on social media.

My sibling was understandably excited to tell me about the new eponymous website

http://www.kriscalvin.com/

which is a way to connect with readers.

I don’t have an eponymous website. The closest thing I have to that is

Bufo Calvin’s Amazon Author Central Page

So, the announcement of the website got me curious. What is the social media presence like of the bestselling authors in the USA Kindle store? Are they on Twitter? Instagram? Do they have a blog? A website?

I decided to take a look.

Amazon does rank authors, but that tends to favor authors with a lot of books, and I wanted to see the potential impact on new authors, who might have only one.

I went to the

Bestselling paid books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

and just started checking (in order, from #1 to #5).

Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
publisher: Penguin Random House (PRH)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1325 followers
Twitter: yes @PaulaHWrites 3809 followers
Facebook: yes PaulaHawkinsWriter 955 likes
Website: yes PaulaHawkinsBooks

Comment: there is another Paula Hawkins, a politician, which is probably why the website isn’t just PaulaHawkins.com.

Sejal Badani (Trail of Broken Wings)
publisher: Amazon’s Lake Union
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 2 followers
Twitter: not found
Facebook: not found
Website: not found

Comment: this book is a Kindle First pick (eligible Prime members typically get one Kindle First book a month free…sometimes it has been two, and other people can get it at a reduced rate). Clearly, that’s been a way to sales success in the Kindle store. The book actually isn’t released yet, so it’s possible some of the other elements will be in place by May 1st.

Orest Stelmach (The Altar Girl)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1369 followers
Twitter: yes @oreststelmach 7847 followers
Facebook: not found
Website: yes oreststelmach

Comment: this is also a Kindle First pick.

Melissa F. Olson (Boundary Crossed)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 242 followers
Twitter: yes @melissafolson 2656 followers
Facebook: yes MelissaFOlson 491 likes
Website: yes melissafolson

J.S. Scott (No Ordinary Billionaire)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1552 followers
Twitter: yes @AuthorJSScott 8353 followers
Facebook: yes AuthorJSScott 61894 likes
Website: yes authorjsscott

Comment: that’s a lot of Facebook likes!

Looking at these top five, it’s clear that you don’t need social media to be a bestseller on Amazon…if you are a Kindle First pick. ;)

Excluding that factor, might sense here is that Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon) matters. I don’t have an author page there, and perhaps I should (I’m just on it as a reader).

I’m impressed with how J.S. Scott has done it, in part by creating the reasonable online “handle” of JSSCott. That’s consistently applied, which I think is a good thing…Facebook, the Website, and Twitter all use it.

Everybody in the top five has Amazon Author Central pages…I do think that gives you a legitimacy.

Interestingly, I’m not seeing that having a blog (separate from Twitter or your website) is a big thing. I do think that’s a danger for some writers…that they can put a lot of time and energy into the blog, and not produce books.

Certainly, I thought my focus would be on books, and it’s much more on this blog. I don’t think that’s a problem for me, though. I’m not trying to make a living just doing this, and the blog is fun, is a good creative outlet, and lets me connect with people, which I like.

However, I am starting to try to take a day a month off work as a writing day.

I’d like to be getting more books done.

I remember years ago when my Significant Other asked me what my retirement plan was and I said, “I plan to die at work.” ;) I do like my job that much…as a trainer, I wake up on a weekday and say, “Oh boy, I get to go to work today!” As I’m fond of saying, though, I have a genetic abnormality: I’m an optimist. ;)

My Significant Other would like to retire some day, and I’ve started to get myself into that mindset. One thing that would be attractive to me about that would be writing more.

I would budget part of my time and energy into the social media part (assuming it exists in some semblance of what we have today…not planning to retire soon). I’d also just flat out write more.

I guess the advice I would give writers is to figure that you have a finite amount of time, energy, and creativity. You have to budget it: if a particular bit of social media is an investment where you’ll profit (that might be in more time, more energy, more creativity…or yes, money), then go for it. If not, you don’t need to be there…Amazon could always pick you. ;)

Let’s also do a quick poll:

What do you think? If you are an author, do you feel pressure to be on social media? As a reader, have you ever discovered an author on social media, and then become a reader of their works? Does having, say, a Goodreads Author page give someone more credibility for you? Do you feel like you have become more emotionally invested in an author because of reading their tweets? 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.

Poll Party #6

March 19, 2015

Poll Party #6

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been a year since I threw the last “Poll Party”!

My regular readers know that I really like to hear your opinion. I often ask for it at the end of posts (and I try to give you conversation starters), and I love reading (and responding to) the comments.

I know not everybody wants to, or has the time and energy to, write something like that.

That’s one reason I love the polls we do here. It gives people another way to be heard. Even though we certainly aren’t a scientific sample of the mainstream, I find it interesting to see what we are saying. I suspect we might even be predictive as a group, as far as e-books are concerned, but I don’t really know that.

I like to find a theme for these (although I may throw in some “odd ducks” that don’t really fit).

This time, I wanted to explore the two sides of the Kindle for my readers. No, no, not the screen and the back. ;)

The Kindle is tech and the Kindle is about reading and books.

Those two work for me. I’m really a booklover, and I’ve worked with tech for a long time…although I’m not as much of a hardware person as a lot of people might think.

Yes, I was a Microsoft Certified Professional…I even still have the card I got. That makes me a card-carrying geek…and guarantees me a seat by the kitchen in restaurants. ;)

However, my part of that was more software (including programming) than getting out a…what are those called? Oh, yeah, screwdrivers. Actually, and this is true, I literally have a screwdriver scar from trying to use one of those things, slipping, and digging out enough of a chunk of my hand so that it literally “left a mark” (as in “that’s gonna…”).

I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard! I had a blue and gold macaw for quite a while.

When I first got the macaw, I was reading a book (naturally) on training them. It said that if you pressed a dowel gently against their chests, they had to step up on it, and you could start training them to get used to being carried around, and eventually, used to being on you.

Well, my macaw (“Perry”) was in a large cage at that point…maybe four feet high, with a small door. I reached in, pressed the dowel…and Perry proceeded to run up my arm on to my head! Yes, passing through the little door.

You can’t grab a macaw and force them to do something. First, they can easily break a finger of yours if they want…they can crack Brazil nuts, after all.

Second, they are birds…inherently fragile.

There was simply no way to make Perry go back through the door…the large bird would have to duck, and if it wasn’t voluntary, it wasn’t going to happen.

I got a relative to use the dowel to scoop Perry off my head and on to the top of the cage.

Then, I figured I could take the top off the cage. I unscrewed a couple of screws…and that wore me out. :)

So, I stepped out for a minute.

When I came back, Perry had unscrewed another screw…and was working on an additional one when I saw it!

Yep…holding the screwdriver with one foot, and turning it by mouth.

I know: I’m not as mechanically oriented as a bird…

We say, “How many software people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, we don’t do that…it’s a hardware problem.” :)

A lot of what happens with a Kindle or a Fire tablet (or the Fire TV, or the Fire Phone, or the Amazon Echo) is about software. Not very many people are taking theirs apart (although some do).

For me, that tech element is part of the fun…as, clearly, is the element of books.

I’m curious about you…

On this first one, note that you can make more than one choice…so picking the first two is fine, if that fits you.

I’d pick both of them.

Now, let me ask you a book quantity question:

My answer on that one? More than 10,000. We have one room dedicated as a floor to ceiling library, and the books are on shelves horizontally, vertically, two deep…there are a lot. :)

A quantity question on the techie side…think about your typical day. How many tech gadgets do you use? I would include:

  • A SmartPhone
  • A Kindle
  • A tablet
  • The Amazon Echo
  • A Fire TV (or other TV device)
  • A wearable (including a fitness tracker)
  • A gaming console
  • A desktop computer
  • A laptop computer

and so on…you get the idea. If you use two different ones of the same category, count it as two.

For instance, for me…let’s see.

I use my Fire tablet, my Paperwhite, my personal Fire Phone, an iPhone for work, a Fire TV, a Fire TV stick (two different rooms), a Tivo, a laptop computer, a desktop computer, and a two-in-one (a convertible computer that can become a tablet or works like a laptop)…I think I’d say that’s it on a pretty much daily basis. I know you may have to make some guesses as to what counts: that’s up to you. I’m interested in your own impressions of what you do as well as objective reality.

Here’s something which some people might think would help define someone who is “serious” about books.

For me, it’s more than 100 years old. I have some of the original Oz books, for one thing, and I have one volume of the Britannica which is a 19th century edition.

Now, let’s get a sense of your computer history. With this one, I’d like it to be something that was on the computer in its time…not that you used it in a computer museum, or something like that. It should be something that you used practically.

Interesting…I’ve used all of these except one. I never had or regularly worked with a computer which used tape reels…punch cards, the floppies, an optical drive…sure. Some of you might assume everybody has worked with a computer which had an optical drive…it will be intriguing to see what the poll says.

This next one is actually making me nervous just writing it…

I used to joke about being “web blind”, and saying my hands would start shaking. ;) I mentioned that today, but noted that we are almost never web blind (without internet connection) for long at all these days.

I’d hate that I’m going to say this, but I think I’d have to go without the reading. Aarrgghh!

Why do I say that?

With the internet, my writing would proliferate like beetle species during the Triassic period!

On the other hand, I could write and just not publish it for a day. That way, I could read books and write…using a computer, but not connected!

Yep, I change my mind…I’m going without the internet, and submerging into a day of reading and writing…but I do want them both.

Okay, one just for fun:

I think it’s better that I don’t reveal my answers on this one. I will say that I can legitimately say four of these…and often more than once.

Looking forward to what you have to say! If you can’t find answers that fit, feel free to comment on this post…I never seem to be able to design polls where the questions satisfy everybody, and the reasons people give me for that help me make better polls in the future.

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.

Why have you replaced a Kindle?

December 18, 2014

Why have you replaced a Kindle?

I don’t tend to replace my Kindles/Fires…I just add to the group.

In part, that’s because I want to have older ones around for reference, for when people ask me questions.

That plan got a bit derailed when our house was burglarized, and I lost eight of them.

However, a reader, SKC, and I were discussing battery life. Not battery charge life (how long between charges), but that the battery will eventually become unable to be charged. Since a Kindle/Fire** does not have a user replaceable battery (as many modern electronics don’t), it becomes necessary to replace the device (if you still want to have that many devices).

My thought was that I haven’t heard that often about someone replacing a device because the battery died.

It’s more often been because it was lost/stolen, the screen failed, or they wanted something newer.

That’s just my guess, though…I thought it would make sense to do a poll.

Certainly, my readers aren’t typical of the general population, but it would still be informative.

First, let’s define replacing the device as getting another device (or, I suppose, an app) to take the place of one you will no longer have. You aren’t adding to your total number of devices: you are keeping the count the same.

Second, before I do the poll, let me point out that you still have your content (with a couple of exceptions, which I’ll explain).

It’s easiest to think of it as the e-books belonging to the account, not to the device.

When you register a new device to the same account, it has access to the books previously purchased on that account.

What are the exceptions?

There has been some debate about this, but my understanding is that if a book has been removed from the Kindle store by Amazon for legal reasons (such as it being a case of infringement), Amazon can not let people download it from the archives.

They don’t go after copies you’ve already downloaded to your device: having an infringing copy is not illegal (that’s been established by the Supreme Court…it’s not the same as stolen goods), it’s the distribution that’s the problem.

If a book is simply voluntarily removed from the Kindle store and you already bought it, Amazon will still have that one for you to download to new devices. I have one like that.

That’s one case where you wouldn’t have the book to download to a newly registered device if the old device failed.

Second, there is a question of compatibility. The vast majority of e-books from the Kindle store are compatible with all of the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers). However, some may have audio or video which would not be compatible, and then there are “print replica” books which wouldn’t work on the first generation Kindle (the one from 2007), for example.

Another category, not books, is “active content”. Those are games you play on a non-Fire Kindle, and you can imagine that one that works with a touchscreen might not be compatible with an older Kindle without a touchscreen…that sort of thing. Also, currently, active content is not available for the

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

which, as I understand it, is a conscious choice for Amazon.

Okay, so let’s get to the poll. You can pick more than one choice on this:

If they answer you want isn’t there, please let me and my readers  know by commenting on this post.

While we’re here, let me also ask: why have you kept your Kindle/Fire when a new device was released?

Again, feel free to add additional reasons or to just 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! :) 

**Update: regular reader and commenter jjhitt correctly pointed out that the 2007 Kindle had a battery designed to be replaced by the user, and people have replaced the batteries on other models…I should have said, “…modern Kindles/Fires…” or perhaps “…current…”

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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