Archive for the ‘Polls’ Category

Wrap up: Prime Day 2017

July 15, 2017

Wrap up: Prime Day 2017

I found that this year, after the third

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

on July 11th, the buzz was generally positive. People at work knew about it, asked me about, and smiled about it. I know some of them saved some real money…some with my help, some without it.

In this

press release

Amazon gives us some of the statistics.

While I have no doubt that there was really significant growth, Amazon doesn’t make it easy to tell. They compare this year’s 30 hour Prime Day to “…the same 30 hours last year”. Was that July 10th at 6:00 Pacific to July 11th at midnight (not Prime Day to Prime Day)? Seems like it…

When we look at the amount of participation, we have to note that there were more countries participating this year, and there were probably a lot more

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

in the USA going into it as well.

Those caveats out of the way…

These are two of the big stats, in this short excerpt from the press release:

“More new members joined Prime on July 11 than on any single day in Amazon history. Tens of millions of Prime members made a purchase on Prime Day 2017, more than 50 percent higher than the prior year.”

Getting and keeping Prime members? That’s an important part of Amazon’s retail strategy (which is only one of Amazon’s revenue streams).

They are also right to tout the growth for third-party sellers.

Now, in terms of what sold, no question that Amazon devices dominated, with the

All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

on sale for $34.99 ($15 off) leading the way.

They also gave us the bestsellers (outside of Amazon devices) from each Amazon site, and they are interesting to compare!

One surprise for me for the USA was that they list one of the

23andMe DNA tests (at AmazonSmile*)

as one of the bestsellers.

You can tell looking at this that people did buy expensive items (they might have bought inexpensive ones, too), which is good…bigger cash savings for the same percentage.

That’s what people did generally…what about you, my readers?

We’ll start with a poll I already had up in a post where I tried to help you find bargains. If you already answered it there, you can answer it again to add other choices…just don’t put the same one in you already did. 🙂 I did it this way because I posted it before Prime Day was over, and I figured your circumstances might change. I also added one option (about Kindle Unlimited) at the suggestion of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy:

I also said I would add a poll about how much you saved. When you answer this, count money you saved on the 40% off Kindle Unlimited deal, or other deals which were on the Prime Day page before Prime Day officially started. Oh, and I’d combine all the money from one account (even if more than one person was shopping on that account), and, I suppose, if you shopped on more than one personal account on Prime Day, I’d combine those, too:

I’ll be interested to see how many people saved more than the normal Prime membership cost!

One last thing: the most downloaded

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

book was

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (at
AmazonSmile*
)

It’s well-reviewed and one of the most read books, and it was published by one of Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints, Thomas & Mercer.

Well, that was fun this year! I’m looking forward to next year!

Have anything to add? What was the weirdest thing you bought during this year’s Prime Day event? Did you find Prime Day uninteresting? 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 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 you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

 

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Is reading fiction useless?

May 29, 2017

Is reading fiction useless?

In this

Medium post

Charles Chu provides an interesting perspective (I found it well written…I recommend it).

I think many people have had this experience: being told at some point that they should “grow up” and stop reading fiction.

Chu’s response is what many of ours would have been (or was):

“Books were a beautiful thing, my only source of joy in a gray world I did not understand — a world full of bullies where I ate lunch alone.”

That never happened in my family, and never would have, and for that I am grateful. Books were considered as essential as food, water, clothes, and shelter.

I remember there being some discussion at some point about reading at the dinner table…but we weren’t stopped from doing it.

For geeks like me, the derision we got from other people (like teachers and friends) might not have been for fiction all together…but for fantasy and science fiction. “Serious” fiction might have been fine, but vampires and robots? Silly.

Sure, I heard that…but I was also lucky enough to have a great teacher (Mrs. Church) who taught an elective science fiction class. We studied it, read it, and even published a “magazine” (I might not be writing this today without that experience…or, perhaps, not writing it as well). 😉

The argument is that reading fiction is just entertainment…a “waste of time”. If you are going to read something, people say, read non-fiction, which has a practical use.

That’s not what I believe, and that’s not what the data I’ve seen suggests. Reading fiction has many practical benefits, and one of the most important is improved empathy.

However, even without demonstrable benefits like that, I believe there is a benefit in “wasting time”.

Let me illustrate. 🙂

I not only read more than the average person, and many people would feel like I have more knowledge than most people in a lot of areas (also due in part to reading), I also watch a lot of TV. I have it on as I’m writing this, for example (and not something “high-faluting”…it’s an old season of American Gladiators).

I like to say that I like 19th Century literature and 1960s TV…and I don’t really see why one is more respected than the other.

I had somebody say to me once, “You’d get more done if you didn’t watch so much TV.”

I didn’t believe it, but I am a data driven person. So, I didn’t watch television…for a year.

I tried to reasonably measure what I got done, and I got nothing more done.

How could that be?

Two things.

I never watch TV without doing something else at the same time…write, read, fold laundry, eat, exercise: it is literally multitasking.

The other thing is that television aids my transitions. I could switch my thought process from work to home more quickly by watching TV.

I used to wake up slowly (I’m not a morning person, even though nowadays, I wake up very early). I used to put on the news, and I figured when I finally understood a story, I was safe to cook. 😉

So, since watching TV doesn’t prevent me from doing other things, and since it shortens transitions, it isn’t a time loss.

If someone suggests to me now that I would get more done if I didn’t watch TV I can say, “I tried that experiment for a year, and it wasn’t true: perhaps you should try watching more TV for a year to see how it affects you.” 🙂

My experience is that it tends to be people who are less intellectual (not necessarily less intelligent, but less interested in thinking) who are less interested in fantasy. Since we’ve been talking TV, let me use a quote from there:

“The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”
–Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner
The Shore Leave episode of Star Trek: The Original Series
screenplay by Theodore Sturgeon

I think reading fiction can serve a purpose to some extent similar to dreaming. Prevent someone by dreaming (by waking them up when they hit REM…Rapid Eye Movement) but still let them get enough sleep, and they may start hallucinating in just a few days (from what I’ve heard). Dreaming clearly serves some useful function (I think it is like defragging a computer disk…you run programs to see if they are working well and useful, and prioritize what is in the “front” of your memory, and what can go to deep storage). Reading fiction is similar: it lets us explore situations before we encounter them, and lets us see things from another perspective.

It both allows you to reset and gives you new and enhanced skills.

That’s my opinion, but I am curious about yours.

As always, you can let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post, but I also wanted to do a poll:


My current Amazon Giveaways

NEW GIVEAWAY TODAY!

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

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/2114e3e0b5fc4832

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.
Start:May 28, 2017 5:20 AM PDT
End:June 4, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂 Congratulations to Gordon H, who one the last OMM giveaway!

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

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

All aboard 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! :) 

 

From here to profanity: to link or not to link

April 5, 2017

From here to profanity: to link or not to link

While the blog will ultimately reflect my sensibilities (and I think that’s really what people want with a blog like this), I do take into account what my readers think.

There’s something where I’m a bit uncertain, and it affects you, so I thought I’d ask. 🙂

It has to do with linking to stories.

This mainly comes into play with my

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

magazines, including the

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

which is effectively a sibling publication to this one.

Regular readers (and people who know me “in real life”) know that I don’t use profanity.

Yes, even if I stub my toe, I just don’t. If I’m suddenly, emotionally mad at somebody (which is very unusual), the worst thing I might say (and only if they can’t hear me) is to maybe question their intelligence (which I know is unfair), or to say something like, “Nice signal, pal!” That’s right…I literally say, “pal”. 🙂

That said, I have no objection to profanity in literature. I don’t want to see anything censored in fiction for sure. I read books, for example, knowing that they will have “the f word” in them.

Here’s my conundrum.

Sometimes, when I link to  an article, it contains a profanity…often without me realizing it first. I don’t read every word of every article before I link (it would take forever…I’ve flipped more than 40,000 articles in the ILMK magazine alone). When I read some of them later, I’ll run across something.

For example, I recently linked to an article by Stephen King. Partway into it, King uses the word “motherf***er”, without the asterisks I used.

I was torn. King is such a popular author, and many of my readers would be interesting in the horrormeister’s opinion. I think some of my readers would not be happy to have that word there, though, and it could even cause them problems if they were reading it at work on work equipment.

I felt like this was an important piece, as it commented on the current political situation. Also, people who are familiar with King wouldn’t be surprised by the language. I did leave the link**.

In another case, a tech site was writing about new filters (this was for another Flipboard magazine of mine based on another blog of mine,  The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard). I thought it was a great piece…but it used “f**cking” as an adjective. I ended up removing this link, because it seemed like a less important article (that’s subjective, of course), that people would be “hurt less” by not having it included. It was also before the King piece, and I was tending to remove all of the links I noticed.

Then, there’s the question of just what counts as profanity. I now hear the “s word” pretty often on television (although it might be basic cable rather than over the air, so regulations are different). The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) cares about context…they are more lenient with the “f word” as an adjective than as a verb. Somebody on a talk show would be more likely to get away with “We’re all f**ked” than with “I f**ked so-and-so”. I remember them not levying a fine on an award show when somebody said it in celebration

I also get concerned sometimes about sexual content…nudity, for example. If there is a naked dorsal view of someone in a photograph…should that be a link killer? What about if they are talking about human sexual desire? I include health-related articles in The Measured Circle, and that sometimes happens there.

I suppose some people would also prefer that I don’t link to anything that expresses an opinion about the current President (whichever President it is). If Stephen King does it, I consider it an article about Stephen King. I’ve linked to things which are both positive and negative, if the story has to do with an author or possibly another type of celebrity for TMC.

Well, I think that lays out the issue. Let me see what you think:

Well, creating that poll was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done! 🙂

Feel free to make more suggestions to me and my readers by commenting on this post (although I may expurgate some words). Oh, I haven’t said yet…warning on a case by case basis is just not practical.

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! :)

**The Stephen King piece…and now, you’ve been clearly warned 😉

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.

 

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.


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