Archive for the ‘Polls’ Category

In which format do you read the most books?

September 17, 2016

In which format do you read the most books?

Recently, I wrote about an annual Pew study on reading habits:

Did Pew just find that nearly twice as many paperbooks are read as e-books?

My concern, as well as that of some of my commenters, is that the interpretation that p-books (paperbooks) were about twice as popular as e-books wasn’t really borne out by the data.

The key thing was that each reader was treated as a data point…which is a disconnect with the number of books read in each medium (since many readers read more than one book a year).

So, I thought I’d ask you.

Now, I know my readers aren’t typical…thank goodness.😉 I would expect the readers of a blog called “I Love My Kindle” to skew more towards e-books, of course.

However, I would also expect them to buy and read a disproportionately high number of books as well, compared to the average person.

That’s the point…if what we are looking at is number of books, “serious readers” read a lot more…but there are also a lot fewer of them than “casual readers”.

I think the results here will be interesting, even if they aren’t typical of the country (or the world) as a whole.

Let’s get started:

Obviously, I haven’t asked every possible question.🙂 Feel free to make additional points by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Paperback or e-book: which costs more?

July 31, 2016

Paperback or e-book: which costs more?

I recently wrote about how the AAP (Association of American Publishers) was reporting lower e-book sales, and how I thought that didn’t indicate that people were reading fewer e-books overall:

E-book sales are dropping…off the radar

One of my readers, Wildsubnet, commented that tradpubs (traditional publishers) charging more for Kindle books than for paperbacks might be having an impact.

That’s an analysis I haven’t done in a while, so I thought it was worth a look.🙂

What I did was look at the bestselling paperbacks at Amazon.com, although that really sorts now by “Featured” (that’s likely to get more tradpubs)

Featured paperback books at Amazon.com (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Before I do, though, let me address the situation a bit more.

From very early on, people would bring up (in the Amazon Kindle forums, for example), this idea that e-books should cost less than p-books (paperbooks). They often based it on the idea that it didn’t cost a publisher anything to put out an e-book, and that the natural materials cost was less.

The first one was based on a couple of ideas that didn’t tend to be true. One was that the publisher already had the e-book rights if they had the p-book rights, which was very often not the case. Another was that all it took was scanning the book if they didn’t already have a digital copy…in reality, the formatting is considerable. It also leaves out royalties for the author for the e-book.

The second one assumes that the list price of a book is set primarily to cover the cost of production…specifically, the cost of the “parts”. That’s actually quite a small part of the cost…there are legal costs, marketing, editing, proofreading, cover artist, lay-out, and so on.

When I would go to check, there were usually a few reasons why an e-book might be more than the p-book:

  • It was a case of Amazon discounting the p-book more…the publisher had set the price of the e-book lower, but Amazon had discounted the p-book more deeply
  • The comparison was to a p-book which had not yet been released…it was on pre-order
  • The p-book was used or remaindered

I can eliminate the second two when I look. I’ll also try to pick just from the Big 5 US trade publishers…although smaller publishers could also be included in the AAP survey.

Okay, here are the top ten that fit those parameters:

Rank Paper List Paperback Kindle Diff Comp to List
1  $      16.00  $         9.89  $  11.99  $ (2.10)  $           (4.01)
2  $      16.00  $         9.52  $  11.99  $ (2.47)  $           (4.01)
5  $      15.99  $         9.39  $    8.04  $   1.35  $           (7.95)
6  $      20.00  $       12.00  $  12.99  $ (0.99)  $           (7.01)
7  $      15.99  $       10.53  $  13.99  $ (3.46)  $           (2.00)
8  $        9.95  $         5.81  $    9.95  $ (4.14)  $                  –
9  $      14.99  $         8.99  $    7.99  $   1.00  $           (7.00)
10  $      16.00  $         9.60  $  11.99  $ (2.39)  $           (4.01)
12  $      16.00  $         9.40  $    9.99  $ (0.59)  $           (6.01)
13  $      16.99  $       10.19  $  11.99  $ (1.80)  $           (5.00)

“Diff” compares the Kindle price to the paperback price…a negative number (in parentheses) means that the Kindle book costs more…which is the case in 8 out of 10 here. There are negative savings. In the last column, a bigger number means more  savings with the Kindle  book compared to the print list  price. Every Kindle book is lower than the print list price.

Is this the same situation it was in the past? Is it because Amazon can freely discount p-books, but not e-books?

Generally, Amazon’s agreements with the biggest publishers are, reportedly, a modified version of the Agency Model. What that means is that Amazon has a limited ability to discount the books.

It still shows that the e-book price is “set by the publisher”, at least when I checked. We no longer see a digital price list.

My guess is that the publishers are setting the price of the e-books relatively high, but not higher than the list price for paper.

Wildsubnet’s comment got me thinking about something else.

I would not buy a p-book instead of an e-book, for me to read, if  it was just a few dollars different. It is simply so much easier for me to read an e-book…I’d skip the book, in most cases.

That’s me, though…let me ask you:

If you don’t see an answer there that works for you, feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

Are e-books good enough?

June 8, 2016

Are e-books good enough?

I found this a very interesting

TELEREAD post by Chris Meadows

In referencing a piece by Jason Illian of Bookshout! about the lack of technical innovation in e-books, Meadows says:

“There’s no consumer demand for better e-books.”

That’s an intriguing postulate, and I wanted to discuss it with you.

I love innovation: I think a lot of people do. My favorite thing in reading a book or watching a TV show or a movie is to be surprised…I like that with my tech, too.

Show me something I’ve never seen before, and I’ll smile.

However…

Most people don’t want change in something which is already working and on which they depend.

I can relate to this with my work.

I’m a trainer (I train technology to medical people…I train other things to them, too, but that’s my main job). I also do “performance improvement”…workflow analysis and optimization, that sort of thing.

People present these formulae for how to improve performance, and I’m amused by one thing which I see taught as a standard technique.

They want you to observe the top performers; see what they are doing which is efficient. Then, you get the moderate and lower performing users to do things that way.

The theory, I assume, is that the top performers have found the best way to do it.

There usually is no best way for everybody.

Since people are different and have different approaches, there are different “best ways”. I’m not a visual person: make me make choices based on icons, and I’ll be slower than making choices based on words. There are other people (probably more people) who will do better with the icons.

The other thing is that top performers with tech are top performers in part because they like change.

If you observe them again three months later, they’ll be doing it a different way. Do you go back and retrain everybody else to do it the new way?

A top performer with tech says,  “What does that button do? What if I do this instead of that?”

The average doctor, nurse, medical assistant, and so on, doesn’t want to intellectually engage with the tech while providing patient care. They want to concentrate on the patient, and have the tech just support them unobtrusively. That includes when they are “charting” (documenting what happened).

Top performers (with tech) tend to have a multi-tasking temperament. They can effectively do one thing while effectively thinking about something else.

You can’t transfer that to someone else.

Many of us feel like we “depend” on books. If we want to read a book and can’t do it, it upsets us. That is, by the way, how I, as a layperson, conceptualize addiction. It’s an addiction if it feels bad if you don’t do it.🙂

E-books, right now, work. I can pick up my device, start reading, and I’m good to go.

After all, that’s how print books worked for centuries. You picked them up and read them and the tech worked.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t really appreciate the innovations that e-books give me over p-books. Being able to carry a bunch of books in my pocket, having the book know where I finished my last reading session, and especially the increasable text size are all great.

If text sizes had been static, though, that wouldn’t have stopped me from reading e-books. I would have had to wear reading glasses, just as I would have with print books, or bought ones with larger text.

It’s true that I don’t buy books where the publisher has blocked text-to-speech access, but that’s an ethical stand, not a personal use one.

There are things that irritate people (the way that some models justify ((align the edges)) of the text, for example), but I doubt that most people feel like the e-books are below a standard acceptable level.

The question is this: why should Amazon (or other retailers, or the publishers) innovate on e-books?

Innovation costs money. It’s not just in the development; it’s in the customer service, which can be quite expensive. You risk people not liking it (ask Microsoft about Clippy the paper clip assistant for Microsoft Office)…if you even just change where a choice is in a menu, you get pushback.

There are strong reasons not to innovate.

Why, then, have we ever gotten innovation?

Competition.

That’s not the only reason…companies also innovate because it is fun, because it supports departments (the engineers you need to deal with changing conditions, say, a new internet standard, also need something to do when those don’t occur…it’s good for their morale, too), and because it gets media attention.

The biggest reason, I believe, is competition. For Amazon, that included competition with Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Kobo. We’ve seen that with the Kindle and the NOOK…for example, Barnes & Noble had a frontlit device before Amazon had the Paperwhite. It also, significantly, included competition with p-books…e-books have tried to match p-books competitive advantages, by adding lending, for example (we still don’t have a “used” e-book market, though).

Does any competitor with Amazon on e-books have current features which are so much better that Amazon as to worry about people switching? The only one that comes to my mind is a water resistant EBR (E-Book Reader)…but I don’t think someone with a significant Kindle library would drop it for, say, a Kobo Aura H20. They might have both…

Given the costs associated with e-book format innovation, the question is this: should Amazon devote resources to it?

I thought I’d ask you:

If you have additional comments, feel free to leave them on this post.

Special note: I’d said yesterday I wanted to get another post out last night, but I’d had dental work done yesterday, and it affected me more than I expected.🙂 It’s not bad, but I think it’s still affecting me this morning. My Significant Other is back from helping our now adult kid move, though, so that’s good. 🙂

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

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

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

 

What features DO you want in an EBR (E-Book reader)?

April 18, 2016

What features DO you want in an EBR (E-Book reader)?

Amazon recently announced an 8th generation of Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers), releasing April 27th.

Customers have expressed a lot of disappointment. I suspect some of that might be that the Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) made a rare tweet ahead of time, raising expectations.

My intuition is that this new device, the Kindle Oasis, won’t be the bestselling Kindle model a year from now.

That doesn’t sour me on Amazon…they take big swings, and those aren’t always going to be home runs.

I also do think that Amazon listens to its customers…eventually.😉 They are undoubtedly already working on the next devices.

When I’ve taught project management, I’ve pointed out that you can have the most influence in the early stages of a project.

At my work, we tend to introduce something in stages…first in one place, then add another, add another, and so on until everywhere has it.

The people in the first pilot location have the most influence. If place #1 likes something, you aren’t going to take it away when you add place #2. If place #1 doesn’t like something, it may be removed.

The last place to “go live” has the least influence…but starts from the best place with the most mature product. If everybody hated an optional function, it probably won’t make it to the last place…

I wanted, then, to give you a chance to indicate what possible new features for Kindle EBRs you would like. That could help influence Amazon’s development plans.

You also e-mail directly to

kindle-feedback@amazon.com

I’m going to describe some possible features. You can say if you would like them, wouldn’t like them, don’t care, or don’t know. I am grouping some things together: I don’t want to give you poll fatigue by having too many separate ones.😉

Based on the aggregate votes, that can give some indications for what it might make sense to spend the time and energy on development to implement.

Waterproof/Water resistant

What it is: current Kindle EBRs are not “water resistant”. Adding this hardware change would improve that

Why people want it: reading in the bath or at the beach. Walking in the rain

How likely is it: Kobo and NOOK already have it. It’s clearly possible

What would be the negatives: could cost more, be heavier (this appears to be the case with the Kobo), be thicker

My take: I would want this, although I don’t consider it crucial. I carry a Ziploc in my “utility vest” for my device in case it rains, which I would rather not do. One of the key things, though, is that it really does feel like Amazon is behind the others on this…a feature which was requested before anybody had it, and which has practical benefits

Text-to-Speech/Audiobooks/Music

What it is: the ability to play a variety of audio files, and TTS (which isn’t a file, but is streaming)

Why people want it:  it’s another way to experience a book. It can be helpful for those with print challenges, but also can just be convenient (in the car, for example). It can be combined with sight reading during “immersion reading”

How likely is it: we had it before…it can be done

What would be the negatives: might cost more, might not fit in a super thin device, could add technical issues, maybe more support calls to Amazon, and some publishers block TTS access…which isn’t apparent if you can’t do it at all, takes more battery charge

My take: not having this on an EBR is a deficit. When Amazon stopped offering any EBR that had it, I was disappointed. In part, that’s for me: I do use it a lot. However, I can listen to it on a tablet (and I do). I feel like it’s more important for those with print challenges

More control over how text is displayed

What it is: more fonts, more font sizes, justification, line spacing…user control over how text displays

Why people want it: in part, it’s aesthetics…but people with different visual capabilities and mental processing can benefit from making choices

How likely is it: this is mostly just a matter of degrees and restoring what we had in the past

What would be the negatives:  possibly take up slightly more storage on the device. Might be confusing for some people to have more options

My take: this is less of a personal concern (I’m not very visual), but I really understand the value to people. It’s amazing how little things can make a difference…putting two spaces after a period, as you may have learned it school, can be difficult for people with dyslexia when they are reading online, for example

Color display

What it is: a non-backlit screen with color

Why people want it: partially esthetics, but it’s also valuable for graphs

How likely is it: Amazon bought Liquavista, which can do this, a while ago. It’s possible

What would be the negatives: more expensive, more battery charge use, might not meet expectations

My take: I have some color vision deficiency, so this would not benefit me as much as it would some people. Just for myself, it wouldn’t be worth sacrificing performance…but I would be curious, and I know other people want it

Active Content

What is it: games and utilities

Why people want it: it’s fun.🙂 It can also be practical, with things like lists and calendars

How likely is it: we had it for several generations…it can be done

What would be the negatives: most likely takes up more memory than e-books. May not be compatible with different models of Kindles on an account. Might cause technical issues. Some people see them as distractions on a purpose-built reading device.  Comparisons to games and apps now readily available on phones and tablets

My take: I always enjoyed this.🙂 It was great to see what could be done with such a limited platform…it brought out some real creativity!

Those are some of the main ones I’ve seen mentioned. Bluetooth (with audio capabilities on the device, of course) came up. A flexible device, so you could fold it or roll it up was discussed some time ago, and it is possible. People use to really care about EPUB compatibility, but I don’t hear that as much any more.

What do you think? Other features you’d like to see? 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!

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

*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.

Recent price drops…and do you still care as much?

April 11, 2016

Recent price drops…and do you still care as much?

Note: my apologies, but I inadvertently left off listing some recent price drops, which I intended to do from the start of this post! You’ll find them towards the end of it.

My Significant Other is a big fan of Fannie Flagg’s writing…although when you say “Fannie Flagg” to me, I still think first of The Match Game.😉

It was interesting to get an e-mail from Amazon announcing a new Fannie Flagg novel:

The Whole Town’s Talking (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Interesting…and then exciting!

Why that progression?

I had to go to Amazon to see if text-to-speech (TTS) access was blocked.

We don’t buy books where the publisher has chosen to insert code into it to block TTS access, as regular readers know. It’s not so much for us, although I typically use it for hours a week. It’s more because I think it disproportionately disadvantages those with print challenges and disabilities.

In fact, my SO wouldn’t have wanted me to mention the book to them if the access was blocked…but it wasn’t!

Others had been, but in writing this post, I see that at least one of them which was blocked no longer is…more good news!

Still, we didn’t pre-order it (it comes out October 25, 2016 in the USA).

What was the issue now?😉

It’s more expensive than we usually pay for an e-book now: $14.99.

That’s not out of range for New York Times hardback-equivalent bestsellers, which this is very likely to be. This was what I recorded in my April 1st Snapshot:

Price Point Analysis of New York Times Hardback Fiction Equivalents

April 1, 2016

14.99 14.99 13.99 9.99 13.99 12.99 13.99 14.99 13.99 14.99
13.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 13.99 10.99 12.99 14.74 11.99

Average: $13.48 (+0.04) 1 title under $10

Three of those were $14.99…and by October, there may be more.

We just don’t usually buy current Big 5 bestsellers for ourselves any more.

As happy members of

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

we pay $9.99 a month (well, we took advantage of being able to get it on sale, when that was possible). That, and gifts, are how we tend to read current books from tradpubs (traditional publishers).

This is a book we’d especially like to read, though…actually, my SO will really want to read it, and I like to read what my SO reads.🙂

What’s the answer?

Listing the book at

eReaderIQ

That way, I’ll get a free e-mail if the price drops an amount I specify. I expect this one may have price drops, because retailers will compete on the price (as much as they can under the current agreements with publishers).

How much would we pay for it?

When a book is more than $2.99, it feels like a luxury.🙂 I think we might pay $9.99 for this one, so I’ll set that as the level.

Well, actually, what I ended up doing, since it looks like more of the books may not have TTS blocked, is tracked Fannie Flagg the author…so I’ll find out if any of the books go down in price. You do that here:

http://www.ereaderiq.com/track/authors/

Again, though, I used to do this much more often. We just aren’t that emoionally tied up in current tradpubs any more.

There are so many more options that cost less and can be equally satisfying, at least for us. I don’t mind reading older books in KU, or  new indies (independently published books).

How about you? Do you still care as much about when a tradpub books goes on sale as you used to care?

Let’s do a quick poll. If you can’t find a good choice between the options, you can always comment on this post:

The e-book is price considerably lower than the hardback, by the way. The hard-covered is list priced at $28, and Amazon has the pre-order discounted to $22.21.

Huh, that’s interesting! The trade (larger size) paperback is the same price as the hardback…and not discounted. So, you can pre-order it this (from cheapest to most expensive):

  • E-book $14.99
  • Hardback $22.21
  • Trade paperback $28.00
  • Audiobook on CDs $40.00

These prices may (and likely will) change before it is released, and they are just the prices I see now for the USA.

I see that they do have a “Pre-Order Price Guarantee”. When the publisher sells the book, they don’t technically have to do that, but they generally do.

Update: here are some recent price drops…(prices can change at any time and may not apply in your country)

  • The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy from $9.60 to $2.99
  • The Left Behind Collection by Tim LaHaye from $47.39 to $21.99
  • Dragonbane: A Dark-Hunter Novel by Sherrilyn Kenyon from $14.99 to $8.99
  • Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin (I strongly recommend it) from $10.99 to $2.99
  • How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying by Carol Leifer from $18.99 to $2.99

What do you think? Do you care less about  Big 5 books being discounted? Do you think that will be increasingly true? What are the factors which effect that? Will we see popular tradpubbed books go up farther in price? Alternatively, will begin to lower the prices if the sales go down (they’ve generally been having good sales on hardbacks, but it could happen)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

*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.

To your scattered books go

March 20, 2016

To your scattered books go**

One of the big arguments made in favor of limited copyright terms is that books (and other content) become our society’s shared culture.

We all have some awareness of Shakespeare, and Dickens, and the Wizard of Oz.

However…

The ease of publication of digital media is disintegrating that cultural cohesiveness.

I’ve heard of many interesting TV shows…that I’ve never seen.

They are on services I don’t get…or, there are simply too many things for me to watch.

In the old days there were three networks (well, there were four, but how many of you remember Dumont?), and maybe a couple of local channels.

Now, there are hundreds of channels.

In 2006, there were effectively six big publishers of “trade books” (the kind you would buy in a bookstore…not textbooks and such). Yes, there were some others, but those six dominated the market.

Now, there are thousands of publishers (often just the author of a book)…and the output of the now Big 5 (following the merger of Penguin and Random House) is a sliver of what’s published each month.

At least, my guess is that we are fragmenting.😉

I think that going forward, it may be much less likely that you’ll be able to have a conversation with somebody about a book you’ve both read.

I always like to try to test my hypotheses, though…

What I’m going to do here is see how familiar you are with bestsellers.

I’ll start with the current top ten bestsellers in the USA Kindle store, and the current New York Times bestselling hardback fiction.

Then, I’ll jump back to before the Kindle really established the e-book market…we’ll go back to this week in 2006.

After that, I’ll go back ten more years.

Now, I know that it’s not an apples to apples comparison, going back that far. It will be interesting to me if more people have read books on the bestseller list from twenty years ago than from the Kindle store list today.🙂

Hmm…just looking at those lists was interesting! I could tell you what I’ve read, but I think I’ll wait until I see some of your responses.

I can see a lot of challenges to this methodology, naturally…maybe people are less likely to read a book when it first gets on the bestseller list. Maybe hardbacks tend to stay on the list longer.

Let’s go with another poll which will get your impressions:

Something occurred to me. I’m actually a lot more likely to read a book my Significant Other has read now…because we are on the same account. We sometimes read the book at the same time, or if it is in

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

it might not be the same time, but we might both read it.

Before the Kindle, I hadn’t read Janet Evanovich…now I do, because of book sharing. Before that, my SO would read them…and then pass them off to a sibling.

Having read them in the same family, though, isn’t the same as a society’s shared culture.

What do you think? Is the ease of digital publishing breaking up our group literary culture? If so, will that become  more true in the future? What impact might that have on society? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

* 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!

** The post title is a play on To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first book in Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld series.  

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.

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.

 


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