Archive for the ‘Prime’ Category

Amazon’s sales growth slows, stock up

January 30, 2015

Amazon’s sales growth slows, stock up

Well, this latest financial report wasn’t “Amazon’s unusual business as usual”. :)

Amazon is famous for making lots of sales and little profit (or even taking a loss).

It’s been a model they’ve largely had from the beginning…grow the business over time, and don’t worry about short term returns.

As CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos said years ago, “Market share will never be cheaper than it is now.” That’s from memory, but it should be close.

However…

That was then, this is now…and how much more market share does Amazon need, since marketshare is presumably now much more expensive than it was?

Amazon’s sales growth slowed…but profit increased.

That’s what investors have been waiting to hear.

The stock went up about 2.5% yesterday, which is a considerable reversal of direction (it’s down over 1% for the year so far):

Money.CNN.com graph

Media sales slowed, but it’s important to note that this relative increase in profit doesn’t necessarily mean that Amazon is raising prices on e-books and other consumer goods.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to grow as part of the business…that’s bolstering the bottom line and doesn’t impact what we readers pay.

The slowing in media growth appears to have more to do with video game consoles being released in the previous, comparative period.

I also wonder how

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

figures into media sales. Do the subscription fees count as media, or are they in some other category? My sense is that individual book sales are to some extent being cannibalized by borrows through KU…and it may take a bit to sort out which numbers mean what. It could be that a book is more likely to be read than it was before, but it might not show up in the accounting.

Another important (and interesting) statistic on

the call…you can replay yesterday’s webcast here

transcript from Seeking Alpha…free account required

was that paid Prime memberships increased 53% worldwide last year.

53%!

So, if there had been (and I’m just making this up) 100 million Prime members in 2013, there were 153 million at the end of 2014.

I keep emphasizing that a lot of things Amazon does are designed to get people to become and to stay Prime members, because Prime members not only buy more items (they do), they also buy higher margin physical items (“diapers and windshield wipers”, as I like to say).

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you…consumers focus on the individual transaction, businesses focus on the population of transactions.

In other words, you might wonder how you got such a good deal on something from Amazon…how could they do that without losing money? The answer is, they can lose money on one sale, if it inspires other profit-making sales.

The one thing to which Amazon has to pay super close attention, the one thing they can’t let slip, is their relationship with their customers.

I think in the future, increasingly, we’ll see Amazon sell customers to business.

No, not directly…but Amazon can make its money in the retail sector by getting businesses to pay them for access to their customers.

Not your private information, nothing nefarious like that.

I mean that third party sellers, for example, give Amazon a part of each sale so they can appear on appear on the Amazon website.

As Amazon can increasingly provide happy, trusting (again, not misplaced trust…this isn’t about tricking customers or treating them as a commodity) customers to other businesses, Amazon can turn a profit by charging those businesses, not the customers.

How does Amazon do that?

By following their three tenets: Service, Selection, and Price.

That’s why their public fight with the publisher Hachette was a mistake.

Customers saw it as Amazon preventing them from buying something, or at least, making it difficult to buy something.

Amazon can’t have that. They should drop a product before they are seen as blocking people.

At this point, no big business that needs customers to buy through the internet is going to skip Amazon.

Amazon can make that even more true in the future.

That’s why products like the Amazon Echo are key.

Amazon is becoming the retail infrastructure…I’ve called that their “golden path”.

If Amazon is the way people shop, everything goes through them…and they make money by charging the businesses for access to their customers, not by charging customers more.

Let me explain this a bit more.

One of the things I train at work is time management, and in particular, how it relates to your use of technology.

I tell people that I often hear people talk about the number of “clicks” when discussing how efficient a workflow is.

Clicks don’t matter.

I can come to someone who is using ten clicks to accomplish a task, and show them how to do it in three.

If I go back a month later, the odds are good that they are using ten clicks again.

What do they say if you ask them why?

“It’s how I know how to do it.”

It’s not clicks that matter…it’s decision points.

That’s what takes a long time when you are using a computer…the human being deciding something, choosing which action to take.

Suppose you have a sale you make which sometimes requires printing a receipt and sometimes doesn’t. We’ll say…oh, if the transaction is over $10,000 a receipt has to be printed.

You could have two buttons: one with printing the form, one without.

Alternatively, you could have a single button for that sale, and then choose to print within the next window.

Which is more efficient?

The single button.

Why? When you do have to print, it’s an extra click, right?

It’s because that button is never wrong. You can click (or tap) it when you need a receipt, and when you don’t.

You don’t have to take time deciding which kind of sale it is.

Within the workflow, you will have been exposed to the amount of the sale enough that when you come to that “extra” print click, you won’t really need to think about it.

When you watch the Superbowl this Sunday, think about this: how much of the game is actually playing time, from snap to down?

If it’s typical, it will be something like eleven minutes.

That’s right…eleven minutes for the entire game.

The rest of the time is commercials, play review, Katy Perry…but a  big chunk of the field time is spent in making decisions.

I’ve said to my geeky friends (and I’m a proud geek) that football is the most intellectual of the big sports.

Name another sport where they pause every few seconds to decide what they are going to do. ;)

When people are Monday morning quarterbacking, they never say, “We should have been bigger than them.” It’s always about, “They shouldn’t have gone for it on fourth down,” that sort of thing.

I’ll entertain arguments for baseball, since there are a lot of decisions made there as well (lineups, who is pitching, should they have thrown to second), but I think football is  defensible as the most “thinking” big sport.

What Amazon wants to do is eliminate decision making when you go to purchase something…it shouldn’t be, “Should I shop for this at Amazon?” That should be a given.

Customers will appreciate that efficiency…provided that they trust Amazon and like them.

The Echo, Amazon’s yet-to-be-generally-released “ambient computing” product may become people’s main way to interact with the internet at home. It’s not going to be that right away, but it will take part of that traffic.

Part of it is enough for Amazon to profit, if they can monetize it with the businesses.

Here’s a use case: movie ticket sales.

You could get your phone, open up the phone (hopefully, you have it password protected, or in some other way, identity specific), get to Fandango, look up the movie times, choose to buy it, complete the transaction, and so on.

In the future, with the Echo, it could go like this:

Customer: “Alexa, get me two tickets for the new Avengers movie for this morning.”

Echo: “Done. Just show your phone when you get to the theatre for the 10:30 show.”

Behind the scenes, the Echo would:

  • Know where you are and where you live
  • Know which theatre you like to visit
  • Look up the movie times
  • Know if you qualify for any discounts, and if you prefer to pay more for 3D or digital, or if you need accessibility  accommodations
  • Purchase the tickets for you using your designated payment method (Amazon, of course)
  • Send the “tickets” to your phone
  • Remind you when it was time to leave (based on current traffic, and with a knowledge of how early you like to get there), and provide directions for you if needed

Even if that went through Fandango, Amazon could charge Fandango for that having happened.

Alternatively, Amazon could hypothetically set up a deal with theatres directly, getting a cut for having sold the tickets for them…cutting Fandango out of the picture.

Amazon has the computing power to do that sort of thing…other companies buy computing power from Amazon (that’s the AWS thing), not the other way around.

Oh, and I also figure in the future, you wouldn’t even need to show your phone to anybody. You get there, your phone realizes you are at the theatre, communicates to the theatre itself, which lets you into the building seamlessly. You need your phone (or a wearable…or maybe it can be done through facial recognition or other biometric) to get into the specific theatre showing your movie at your time. The theatre would happily pay for that, too, since it would be cheaper than having a ticket taker (as long as people liked the system well enough that it didn’t impact sales).

That’s being the retail infrastructure.

As the Echo learns you, it would also be able to volunteer things later.

“There’s a new Avengers movie coming out…would you like me to get you tickets?”

Naturally, you could turn off those sorts of notifications…maybe even have to opt in to get them.

But would you?

The Echo is also a “hive mind”…it connects everybody through the web.

It might notify you (maybe only if you ask it for “What’s happening?” or say, “Alexa, I’m bored.”) that a movie was playing which people who went to The Avengers’ last movie had ranked with a very positive RottenTomatoes score (and RottenTomatoes would pay for that…or again, Amazon could eventually buy RottenTomatoes or cut them out of the process by fulfilling that role).

At this point, I would guess that nothing makes you default to Amazon more than being a Prime member. Your shipping is commonly free and fast for physical items, and you have music and video with a good selection. They could still get something better going for e-books…the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) doesn’t really cut it as a reason to have Prime. I think we could see some deal with Kindle Unlimited and Prime this year…

So, bottom line: Amazon’s bottom line was better. :) Prime is the key for the retail part, and AWS (Amazon Web Services) is an important part of the infrastructure part (as may be Kiva robots for fulfillment).

Amazon just needs to keep their eye on one thing.

Happy, trusting customers are their number one product.

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

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

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

Round up #282: KDP EDU, sale on Prime

January 24, 2015

Round up #282: KDP EDU, sale on Prime

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

Amazon Prime on sale for $72 on Saturday January 24th only

It’s a big deal that one of Amazon’s original TV series, Transparent, won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical series.

Big enough that Amazon is celebrating…in two ways.

On Saturday (January 24th), non-Prime members can watch all ten episodes for free…binge watch!

If they decide to become Prime members (or if anybody wants to become a new Prime member), they can do so for $72 for the first year, instead of $99.

Why $72?

It was the 72nd Golden Globes. Gee, too bad it didn’t win the first year…it would have only cost a dollar! ;) Oh, wait, in 1943, they didn’t have an award for TV series…or, pretty much, TVs. The first year for TV comedy was 1969, and The Governor and J.J. beat The Carol Burnett Show, Love American Style, Laugh In, and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour…the Globes: always picking the shows with lasting value. ;)

If you want to take advantage of either or both of these deals, you can go here:

http://www.amazon.com/TransparentPrime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Getting people to sign up for Prime is exactly why Amazon is spending money making these sorts of TV series…and this year, they’ll also be making theatrical movies.

Renewal will be at the usual rate. I don’t see any plus here for current members, but we already get rewards enough. :)

If you’ve been on the fence about Prime, now’s the time…

Speaking of a 24 hour deal…James Patterson’s exploding book

I totally misunderstood this story until I really read it.

I’d heard that James Patterson was making a book which would “explode” after 24 hours.

I thought that was a clever gimmick. I figured it was an e-book that would corrupt the file, so it couldn’t be read. That way, you’d have to binge read it, and then you couldn’t share it with anybody (even by sharing your device).

No, this is something different.

According to this

The Independent article by Adam Sherwin

the book will actually literally explode…apparently, with a bomb squad in attendance.

What’s that going to cost you?

About $300,000.

Okay, probably not you. ;)

You also get a stay in a hotel, an expensive dinner, and solid gold binoculars.

Does this author know how to market or what?

This story is getting tons of publicity for

Private Vegas (at AmazonSmile*)

which you can pre-order right now for delivery on January 26th.

What a clever marketing scheme! If nobody pays $300,000 for it, Patterson will still have gotten a lot of benefit (in terms of publicity) from the coverage.

Two big tech stories which might affect us readers

While Google has been readying the virtual reality device Oculus Rift, Microsoft just opened a huge new door with its announcement of an augmented reality device (coming soon), the Hololens.

It’s kinda sorta related to Windows 10, which is going to be massively different from Windows 8.x (they are skipping the number nine…that’s how different it is!). For one thing, W10 will have Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant.

I think I may need to explain the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality before I tell you how this could be used for readers.

In virtual reality, you are submerged in a simulated world. In the case of the Oculus Rift, you wear a helmet like device. Everywhere you look, you see the simulation…and nothing else. You don’t see the real world.

I don’t think that has much application for readers, although I suppose it might. You could project the words in front of you, or read an intangible book, but I think that would be a lot of work to go through just to read something.

With augmented reality, you see both the illusion and the real world…simulated items appear in place with what is really around you.

The Hololens, which will be more like goggles, are like sunglasses…you can see through them.

I’ve used AR (Augmented Reality) apps on my phones…they are processed through the phone’s camera.

I’ve tagged little flying robots when I was walking on the Golden Gate bridge, and I can read signs that are automatically translated for me.

That second one is Word Lens, and Google is just integrating it into their translation services. You look through your camera at a sign in, say, Spanish, and you can read it in English.

It’s not hard to do, but I find you do have to hold it pretty steady.

That would be one possible use for the Hololens and books. You could pick up a book in one language, and instead, you would see the words in a language of your choosing. As you turned the page, it would be aware of it and translate the next page.

Another possibility, as I mentioned to regular reader and commenter Edward Boyhan, is that they could satisfy both people who “like the feel of a book in their hands” and people who want the convenience of e-books.

You could have a blank p-book (paperbook). The Hololens could make it appear that there were words on the pages…and it could be different books at different times.

Another thing it could do: give you dictionary look-up in a p-book. Hold your finger on a word in that fifty-year old paperback you have, and it detects the gesture and displays a definition. Yes, the Hololens will detect gestures…giving you Minority Report-like powers.

I think this is a year we may be looking at life-changing technologies being introduced…much more than last year. The Hololens, the Amazon Echo, and the Oculus Rift…things won’t be the same.

The other big technology for us is wireless transmission  of power.

I’m not talking about setting your Kindle/Fire down on a pad…that’s not a practical way to use it.

I’m talking about sitting on the couch for a marathon reading session…and having your device charge at the same time. Carry your Kindle with you while you go to the kitchen and cook (you do that now, right?) and it will still be charging while it in range.

No consciously charging your tablet every night!

This is something that I said was

Tech we still need

back in 2010.

The other two things I mentioned?

Self-driving cars (which are here, but not marketized yet), and mass knock out (no closer, as far as I know).

Wireless transmission of power does look like it is finally really going to be here!

In this

The Seattle Times article by Jeff Gelles (which may have been in The Philadelphia Enquirer first)

they talk about three different companies which are close to having this in our homes.

I think it will happen within the next couple of years, although you are likely to need some sort of receiver on your gadget, so it wont just work with everything.

It may also not work with something that requires a lot of power, like a washing machine…but you don’t tend to move those around very much so it’s not such a big deal.

Much more important for our mobile gadgets.

The future is almost here…but by definition, that’s always true. ;)

Kindle Textbook Creator

Amazon is expanding its independent publishing platform in what might turn out to be a really significant way, as noted in this press release:

Amazon Launches Kindle Textbook Creator

You upload a PDF, and you can have these features:

  • Multi-Color Highlighting—Highlight and categorize key concepts for easy reference.
  • Notebook—Capture key passages, images and bookmarks and automatically add them to the notebook. Students can add their own notes and easily access them from one location.
  • Flashcards—Create flashcards and study important terms, concepts, and definitions in each chapter with a simple, easy-to-use interface.
  • Dictionary—Find definitions and Wikipedia information for difficult terms to improve retention.
  • Buy Once, Read Everywhere—Read eTextbooks on the most popular devices students use, including Fire tablets, iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and smartphones, Mac, and PC.

Note that non-Fires aren’t included on this list, since they can’t do everything on that list…but this could be big!

You can get up to a 70% royalty, like other KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) books. This is called KDP EDU:

https://kdp.amazon.com/edu

I have relatives who have written textbooks. I don’t know that I immediately see this for something like a high school class, but I can see it for people who want to market textbooks to the broader market…or, perhaps more significantly, professors who want to make books for their students (who may or may not be physically present in their classes).

What do you think? Does James Patterson being such a marketer affect the way you assess the quality of the books? Would you worry about power going wirelessly through you (my Significant Other has mentioned that)? Is there a market for independently published e-textbooks? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

Round up #274: the adventure of the standing ruling, infringer down

November 5, 2014

Round up #274: the adventure of the standing ruling, infringer down

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

Infringing site taken down

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that a site was reproducing all of the posts in this blog…every day..verbatim…without permission.

One of my readers, Clint Bradford, suggested I use

http://www.whois.com/

to find out who the host was, to report the infringement.

That didn’t work exactly, because the company it said was hosting it wasn’t actually the right one.  It identified GoDaddy, and that company was nice enough to give me the accurate name, lunarpages.

After informing lunarpages, within days, the site was down.

To me, this is a story about the good in the world.

The website was infringing…that’s not good, although it could have been done out of ignorance.

I first notified Google AdSense, and they apparently pulled their ads…thanks, Google!

Then Clint helped me…thanks, Clint!

Then GoDaddy helped me…thanks, GoDaddy! They weren’t under any obligation to do that.

Then lunarpages helped me…thanks, lunarpages!

On balance, there was a lot more good in this sequence than bad…and that’s the assessment I generally make of the world. :)

Fire TV $15 off

I use our

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

every day, and it’s on sale right now for $84 instead of $99. They’ve been putting it on sale on and off, and there may be more sales before the holidays…although I don’t think this specific sale will be continuous until then.

You can get that one right away, unlike the

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

which is currently expected to arrive for consumers placing new orders after January 16, 2015. I’m glad I recommended that people jump on the chance to buy it…and lots of people did do so!

These two devices will work well with the new Prime benefit announced today in this

press release

With Prime photos, Prime members get unlimited Cloud storage of their photos…and can view them easily on many devices.

That is a really nice additional benefit: we now have shipping; Prime video; Prime music; the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library; and early access to Lightning deals.

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Sherlock Holmes case

I’ve written before about a legal fight going on over the copyright status of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a bit tricky. In the USA, most of the original Holmes stories are clearly in the public domain. There are a few stories, though, that are not. The estate essentially argued that, when people write fiction about Holmes, it is likely influenced (and some cases, specifically so) by those still under protection works…so that new unauthorized may be infringing.

The Supreme Court declined to review a lower court ruling saying that wasn’t the case…making it okay to write new Holmes works without obtaining permission or paying royalties, but keeps the ten stories which were under protection in that condition.

In other words, you can go ahead and write a new Holmes story…

Fun image

EBOOK FRIENDLY is especially good at finding clever e-book related images, and I thank them for the heads up on this one:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/132996995221820561/

Star Libraries

This is a fascinating

Library Journal article by Ray Lyons & Keith Curry Lance

It analyzes libraries in some very intriguing ways. One thing is that people are now trying to measure the impact a given library has on the community…the article says specifically:

Outcomes are an entirely different matter. They are changes experienced by library users—changes in knowledge, skills, attitude, behavior, status, or condition.

One of the stats they give us is circulation per capita…and the library listed with the highest is in Avalon, New Jersey, with a very high 121.6. The next one only has 95.5, so you can see it is a stand-out.

Why your favorite author’s next book isn’t finished

This

Buzzfeed article by Arianna Rebolini

reports on a survey of authors by Stop Procrastinating about what distracts them from writing.

23% said “videos of animal internet celebrities”, while 4% said…sex.

Hm… ;)

What do you think? If you are a writer, what keeps you from writing? I hope reading is on that list! After all, that’s probably one of the best fuels for the literary engine. Are you satisfied with the outcome of the infringing site being taken down…or do you think that was too harsh or not harsh enough? Do you think libraries should be measured by their impacts…or should they simply stand as a public good with no performance evaluation? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

More than just music

June 17, 2014

More than just music

I’ve been super pleased with our new benefit as Prime members

Prime Music (my post on it)

I’ve been using it a lot.

I’ve listened to several playlists, including while helping my Significant Other set up a new office at work.

We also had the instance when someone started singing a little of

Hanky Panky by Tommy Roe (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I was able to (quickly and for free) start playing it.

However, I like lots of different kinds of content…and that includes audio which isn’t music.

I started checking out Prime for non-music choices…and found quite a few interesting things!

Years (years!) ago, I had a vinyl record, designed to be played at 16 2/3rds RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). Most of you know 33 1/3rd, and 45, and 78…but I doubt many of you had 16 2/3rds!

The advantage? You could put a lot of content on a side.

The disadvantage? It didn’t sound very good.

However, that lack of “high fidelity” was fine…for speeches.

Yes, it was an album of great speeches…Winston Churchill, that kind of thing.

So, I was pleased to also find speeches available as part of Prime “Music”.

For example, there was this one:

Speeches By Martin Luther King: The Ultimate Collection (at AmazonSmile)

There are 32 speeches on the album, although you can also get them individually.

I can certainly this being of use to teachers, but I would also just listen to them in the car.

They don’t seem to have a separate category for speeches, but from the MLK album, I could tell they were under soundtracks. This search seems to work okay, although there are a lot of things in it which aren’t actually speeches (tracks from the score of The King’s Speech show up, for one thing):

Speech in Soundtracks in Prime Music (at AmazonSmile)

Another thing which isn’t music which you can utilize at no additional cost through Prime Music?

Language instruction.

After all, you’ll never be able to read every book in the world if you can’t read all of its languages, right? ;)

Here’s one possibility:

Learn in Your Car: Spanish – Level 1 (at AmazonSmile)

Language instruction (which doesn’t work as a search term, by the way) is under Miscellaneous…but I haven’t found a good refinement. If you search for “Learn Japanese” or “Learn German”, you are likely to find a few.

Another category of record where I had a bunch of vinyl?

Sound Effects (at AmazonSmile)

That search found me seventy albums…and 4,349 “songs”!

I could just sit and listen to the sound effects from the original Star Trek all day. ;)

I haven’t investigated it enough yet to know for sure, but I think you can only play Prime “Music” in the app…so you couldn’t export these for, say, a ringtone. Still, I would literally just listen to sound effect while driving, and Halloween ones could be nice at that holiday.

One big content warning: I did accidentally stumble across sexually explicit sound effect tracks and albums! I just wouldn’t have expected that, and I thought I’d give you the alert, in case your kids are exploring the sound effects (which would otherwise be fun for them).

This category was a gold mine for non-music options!

Poetry, Spoken Word, and Interviews (at AmazonSmile)

Here are some of the things I noticed:

  • John Wayne, speaking “America, Why I Love Her”
  • Dramatized Bibles
  • Abbott & Costello’s Who’s On First? routine (used to drive my Significant Other crazy that our kid at about five years old would do this routine with me) ;)
  • Sleep Meditation with Deepak Chopra
  • NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) and hypnosis selections
  • Old Time Radio Commercials (okay, a lot of these are jingles, and therefore music…but not Boris Karloff’s Greetings to Station Owners!)
  • Alec Guinness performing Macbeth (again, might be useful in the classroom)
  • Allen Ginsberg reading The End
  • Tonsils by Bill Cosby (quite a few tracks, but this is one I particularly remember)
  • There are some great cuts on 100 of the Greatest Comedy Skits (not sure they are all safe for work, though). You might want to try “Little Blue Riding Hood” by Stan Freberg. Note (and update): I didn’t realize that not all of the cuts on this album are Prime Music, but many of them are

Enjoy!

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

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* 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.

Amazon adds Prime Music…for one device at a time

June 12, 2014

 Amazon adds Prime Music…for one device** at a time

Amazon has added another benefit to Prime…Prime Music! It’s a steaming (and, importantly, download) music service with a million songs. Eligible Prime members can listen to this music at no additional cost.

Here is the

press release

I’m listening to it right now on my PC (using a playlist…there are many of those), since I don’t seem to have it on my

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

My device did update on June 6th to 13.3.2.3.2, so I’m surprised I don’t have it yet.

Naturally, I think this is a very positive thing for Prime members (only currently in the USA and Puerto Rico)…it’s more for no more cost.

However, I do look for questions people will have and comments they’ll make.

Looking quickly over the Help pages, I found this:

About Prime Music and Multiple Devices (at AmazonSmile)

As I read this, you can only steam Prime Music to one device on the account at a time**. That’s going to bother a lot of people, who have many devices on the account. If you are already streaming music and you try to do it on another device on the account, the Help page says:

In this case, the device that first notices that Prime Music is already playing on another device pops up a message asking if you want to start playback on that first device, and stop playback on the other device. If you stop playback on the second device, your personal playlist will remain paused, and won’t continue playing either your owned music or Prime Music.

I mentioned you can download the music: you can do that for up to four devices concurrently. So, if you plan ahead, you can have music on more devices…but people will find it inconvenient if, say, one sibling is streaming music for friends, and another wants to listen in their room…and music (even purchased music) on the device basically locks up.

I’ll have to research this more, but I certainly expect to use Prime Music.

In the mean time, here’s the main page:

About Prime Music (at AmazonSmile)

Oh, one more thing for now…there already is a Prime Music, although it is for the Russian market.

http://www.primemusic.ru/

It won’t surprise me if people find that one accidentally looking for Amazon’s, which is at the link above (http://www.primemusic.com).

Will this replace streaming services for some people? Yes…they don’t have all the contemporary music, but I think we may increasingly see people who are satisfied with the “backlist” in all media. There will be people who want and are willing to pay more for the latest buzzy content, but there will be others who are fine with music/books/videos which are six months or a year old. Eventually, I think that may have a real impact on the content industries and how they approach new releases.

Feel free to share your experiences and questions with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Update: I’ve had a number of comments on this, and can give a quick response.

The Kindle Fire HDX is going to get an update which will make this appear on it (under Music, as I understand it). Some of you might have it; some (like me) may not have it yet.

I have been able to listen to music on my Samsung (Galaxy S4) and on my PC from the service while doing other things.

I’ll work more with this and post more about it later on. Generally, I’ve been pleased with the selection: I found the Beatles, Billy Joel…and a playlist of swing music which included In the Mood. That works for me…I showed it to someone else who was pleased with the contemporary music, even if it isn’t what we used to call the “Top 40″.

Update: okay, now my KFHDX has updated.

First, you can tell, because when you open the Music tab, you’ll see this:

Screenshot_2014-06-12-17-43-18

I didn’t do anything special to get the Music folder to update to that. I had already tried syncing, restarting, and such, and none of that seemed to matter. It is an update to the app, not to the system. I didn’t see anyway to force the update.

Once it’s updated, you can tap the menu (three horizontal lines in your top left corner of the screen, and you’ll see Prime Music and Prime Playlists.

In Prime Music, you’ll see a lot of suggestions, from individual songs to Prime Playlists and more. Just to give you a sense of what’s available, here is the list of the albums showing on the home screen for me:

  • Random Access Memories (Daft Punk, 2013)
  • The Heist [Explicit] (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis 2012)
  • Greatest Hits (Journey, 1988)
  • Unorthodox Jukebox (Bruno Mars, 2012)
  • Uncaged (Zac Brown Band, 2012)
  • All the Little Lights [Explicit] (Passenger, 2012)
  • The Lumineers (The Lumineers, 2012)
  • Love in the Future (John Legend, 2013)

I think I’m going to tend to use Prime Playlists more often…that’s more like Songza, which is (or was?) my music app of choice.

If you tap where it says All Playlists at the top, you can choose first to either see Categories (default) or Genres. Under Categories, you have:

  • All Playlists
  • Recommended For You
  • Moods & Activities
  • Artists

The recommendations seemed okay for now…right now, I’m listening to “Crushing it: Classic Rock for Ruling”. It’s starting with Eye of the Tiger by Survivor…and yes, the lyrics automatically show up on on the screen (you can hide that if you want).

As far as I can tell, you do need to add a playlist to your library before you can play it. I haven’t downloaded it, and that’s not necessary to listen to it when you have a connection.

Going to Moods & Activities, you get the categories of

  • Happy & Upbeat
  • Rlaxes & Laid Back
  • Work, Study & Reading
  • Energetic & Fast Temp
  • Hard & Heavy
  • Party Time & Entertaining
  • Family & Fun

I checked Family & Fun: one Playlist was Kids’ Classics, which ranged from Tom Smothers singing Helping to Julie Andrews with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to Rubber Duckie by Ernie (from Sesame Street).

Switching to Genres, I get

  • Alternative Rock
  • Blues
  • Broadway & Vocalists
  • Children’s Music
  • Christian
  • Classic Rock
  • Classical
  • Country
  • Dance & Electronic
  • Folk
  • Hard Rock & Metal
  • International
  • Jazz
  • Latin Music
  • Miscellaneous
  • New Age
  • Opera & Vocal
  • Pop
  • R&B
  • Rap & Hip-Hop
  • Rock
  • Soundtracks

You can also search for individual songs and albums…when you search at the top of the screen, click the dropdown under Search Results, and choose Filter, then Prime Music only.

Prime Music is also obvious: instead of having a price, it has an Add button.

Once I’ve added a Playlist on my Fire, it’s also available on my Galaxy S4 SmartPhone (in the menu under Library and Playlists).

As a test, I downloaded a playlist to my phone, and tried to play it with Airplane Mode on…no problem. Both devices were playing at the same time at first…so I had Working for the Weekend (Loverboy) in one ear, and I Put a Spell On You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins) in the other (from the Halloween Party Soundtrack playlist) in the other. While I do like it like that (yes, I really am a “multi-tasker”) ;) it was interesting. It stopped playing on my Fire, and maybe a minute later, it told me it was “Unable to stream your song at this time…Please try again later.” It also told me “Song Not Available”.

I then started a Playlist I had previously downloaded to the Fire (not from Prime Music), and as it said above, it wouldn’t play at first…but then it did start playing in twenty seconds or so.

Overall…cool!

If you have questions let me know.

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

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* 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.

Amazon raises Prime about a nickel a day

March 13, 2014

Amazon raises Prime about a nickel a day

As Amazon had said it might do, the e-tailer has raised the price of its Prime service in the USA.

On your next renewal, instead of $79, it will be $99:

Amazon Prime and Amazon Student Prime Membership Fee Changes (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That is, of course, if you renew.

Let’s get that out of the way first:

I do think some people will drop it, but more on what they see as the principle of the thing. After all, it’s really not that big a raise. As I headlined this post, it’s about a nickel (and a half) a day, a dollar sixty-seven a month. This is the first raise in nine years. On average, it’s gone up about $2.22 a year. ;)

Is it possible that $20 a year is enough to push it out of the range of some people? Maybe…I’d guess most people with Prime aren’t skating that close to the edge of economic security.

I think it may also result in some increase in Prime (not a net increase, necessarily) memberships. I could see someone gifting Prime to somebody now whatn the recipient didn’t have Prime at all before. $99 is just a…more gifty price. :)

We weren’t Prime members for a long time, but we’ll definitely renew…and love it. Not love it more, of course, but still love it.

We use all of the Prime benefits.

The two-day free shipping on many items

We use this one much more than we ever thought we would. It’s often cheaper (and certainly, a lot more convenient) to get it through Prime in the middle of the week than to wait and go to a store, hunting around for something.

Here’s a good example.

We recently bought our adult kid this:

Reebok Kettlebell (20-Pounds, Medium Grey) (at AmazonSmile)

It’s an exercise weight.

Can you imagine what that would have cost to ship…and how long it would have taken to get there? Let’s say we went to a store and found a store that had it. Then, we put it in a large “if it fits, it ships” box from the Post Office. That would have been a bear! I think it would have gone in the $17.45 box.

Sure, it might have gotten there pretty quickly that way…but this was at no additional cost, and would ship in two business days.

In fact, I’ll tell you something  embarrassing.

I accidentally changed the billing address rather than the shipping address when we sent it.

We got one at our house by accident.

We realized what happened…and with Prime, could still get one there in time for the birthday (just a few days away at that point).

We decided to keep the second one for ourselves…influenced by how much it would have cost to send it back to Amazon!

How about you?

We rarely pay extra for 1-day shipping under Prime, but I think we have done it. That extra varies now, but it’s typically a few dollars.

The Prime videos

Not so long ago, I would have labeled this section “The Prime streaming videos”, but with the latest Kindle Fires, you can download videos in this group.

We use this a lot…or at least, I do (my Significant Other? Not so much).

I’m watching the first season of

Orphan Black (at AmazonSmile)

currently.

Buying it in HD would cost you $19.99.

“Sure,” you may be thinking, “but you could just have watched on TV.”

Well, I had started to do that…but we cut back on our cable (saving a lot of money), and that meant the loss of BBC America.

I actually had this season on my “holiday wishlist” for my family: I did really want to finish it. :)

That can be considered money saved, then.

With the recent passing of Russell Johnson (the Professor), I’ve also been watching the first season of

Gilligan’s Island (at AmazonSmile)

The Professor was a clear geek role model, and I will write something more about the character on my The Measured Circle blog after I’ve gone through it more (I want to pin down the Professor’s capabilities). People jokingly wonder why the Professor could make a particle accelerator out of a coconut, but “…couldn’t fix a two foot hole in a boat”. If you watch the series, you’ll find out…I don’t want to spoil anything, but the boat became completely unrepairable.

I can relate to the Professor. It makes sense that part of the luggage for a “three-hour tour” was a bunch of books (including The History of Tree Surgery ((which the Professor says is “One of my favorites.”))). I assume what was happening was that the passengers had checked out of the hotel, and perhaps had a flight later that day. They had all of their luggage with them for the tour…and I used to always travel with a suitcase just for books.

Oh, and it was interesting, in light of recent pop culture, to hear Thurston Howell III refer to himself as “The Wolf of Wall Street”. But I digress… ;)

I can’t say I would have bought that season of that series for $29.99…but having a lot of things to watch may logically mean that I’m not paying for other things to watch. Would we have cut back on cable without Prime? Possibly…but it would have been less likely.

Amazon keeps adding exclusives (Orphan Black is one, as far a subscription streaming goes) to Prime video. I’m not sure how many people get Prime just for that purpose…I’m guessing not many, but that may be changing. If you did, it would be in line with Netflix: $99 a year is $8.25 a month, approximately.

How about you and Prime videos?

The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

I also use this every month.

I’m currently reading

Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond (at AmazonSmile)

It’s $5.99, and I probably would not have bought it at that price. I do find it an interesting read (although uneven..it’s an anthology) as a “no additional cost” book. It’s also important to note that you are only borrowing the book, so you don’t get the same value for it as if you bought it.

The KOLL (which requires you to own a hardware Kindle in addition to being an eligible Prime member) has books from James Bond to Harry Potter…but not everything in-between. ;) There are an increasing number of books, however, they don’t tend to be those “People Magazine books” (that’s what I call books which you would read about in that periodical).

If these books weren’t part of our Prime membership, I might not be looking at them…even for free. It’s not that there aren’t good books, there are, but I feel a certain…duty to get a KOLL book each month, since we pay for Prime.

Do you use the KOLL?

Kindle First

The latest Prime benefit is

Kindle First (at Amazon Smile)

This one gives you a free book (to own, not to borrow) from a handful each month. We’ve used this every time…but I haven’t read one of them yet. :)

Have you gotten Kindle First books?

Amazon Student is going from $39 a year to $49 a year…it’s still about 50% of the standard rate.

Intriguingly, Amazon Mom still has the old price…I think they just haven’t updated it yet:

“Extending Benefits after the 3-Month Free Period

At the end of the free period, Amazon Mom members will automatically continue receiving the Mom benefits plus additional Amazon Prime benefits for $79 a year.”

Join Amazon Mom and Enjoy (at AmazonSmile)

Bottom line? Yes, this is a raise in prices, and you’ll see some strong responses against that. Some people fear that Amazon has just been biding its time until it is such a big market player that they will hike prices all over the place, and they may see this as evidence that is happening. I don’t think that’s the case…Amazon has three pillars: Service, Selection, and Price. If they jeopardize those in a truly significant way (and I don’t think this is…it’s so small since they’ve introduced the program), they risk their customers’ loyalty. That’s what kills the megabusinesses, and honestly, at this point, I think Amazon is too smart to do that.

Of course, you may have a different opinion (which is something I enjoy, when done respectfully). Maybe you just joined prime, so for you, this is a 25% jump in one year. Do you think people will drop Prime in droves? Is this no big deal? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

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

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

Round up #242: Prime prices to rise in the UK, Gold Box deal on Kindle books

February 22, 2014

Round up #242: Prime prices to rise in the UK, Gold Box deal on Kindle books 

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

Gold Box Kindle book sale, today only

Gold Box Deals can be all kinds of things, but sometimes they are on e-books. That’s the case today:

Gold Box Deal of the Day: 50 Top-Rated Kindle Fiction Books, $1.99 Each (at AmazonSmile*)

There are some well-known books in there (top-rated doesn’t always equal well-known), including books by Louis L’Amour. There’s a pretty good variety: I’d recommend you take a look.

Updates for both generations of Kindle Fire happening?

While they aren’t available for manual download yet, from what I can see, and they haven’t been announced, I’m seeing people on the Amazon Kindle Forums talk about new updates for Kindle Fires…and it may be for all generations and models.

They wouldn’t be the same updates for the different gens, and they wouldn’t have the same features, most likely.

What I really want is a bug fix for my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When I first got it, the wi-fi connection was great.

After an update that brought more enterprise network capability to it (I’m not saying that was the cause, but it might be), I usually have to toggle wireless on and off…many times a day. I’ve never counted, but I would guess I’ve done it ten times today already…and that’s with having taken the dog to the dog park for a couple of hours. ;)

I’ll keep you informed: if you’ve been updated recently, I’d like to hear about it.

When they are available for manual download, they will be at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile)

Amazon set-top box coming in March of this year?

I’ve written before about how I think a TV gadget of some kind may be coming from Amazon this year, and this

Re/code (formerly AllThingsD) article by Peter Kafka

has created a buzzstorm.

Many people are reporting it, even though there is nothing official.

I do think this is likely…and that it may include both video content and games.

There are a couple of related stories which strengthen it.

Amazon has been pinning down more exclusive streaming video deals, and that’s going to be a big point for sales.

In this

press release

they announce that Amazon is going to be the “…exclusive online-only subscription home for streaming all past seasons and episodes of the popular MTV series Teen Wolf”.

Teen Wolf has quite a following, and I have watched it. It’s an interesting, very differently-toned adaptation of what was first the comedic Michael J. Fox movie. Don’t worry, though…Styles is still funny. ;)

It surprised me that Amazon would be able to pin that down, taking it away from other services.

I suppose it shouldn’t have, though. The same press release says,

“Prime Instant Video is the exclusive online-only subscription home for PBS series Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, FX drama The Americans, CBS summer blockbuster series Under the Dome and later this summer, Extant. Other hit TV series exclusives include Veronica Mars, Justified, Falling Skies, Grimm, Workaholics, Suits and Covert Affairs. Prime Instant Video also offers an exclusive collection of kids shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. that customers won’t find on any other online-only subscription service, including favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Blue’s Clues, and The Bubble Guppies. “

I’d say the odds are pretty good that most TV consumers have at least heard of some of those.

Pumping up the content exclusives (and the content generally) would be an important thing to do before launching a service/device.

In the UK and Germany, Amazon just announced a merging of Lovefilm (roughly equivalent to Netflix…Amazon bought it a while back) and Prime, according to this

24/7 Wall St. article by Paul Ausick, via Yahoo! Finance

and other sources.

The price is taking a big jump: in the UK, it’s going up the equivalent of roughly fifty dollars a year, from a close to USA equivalent of about $81 to an equivalent of about $131.

However, people will be able to make some choices about what services they get, affecting the price. The $131 equivalent will be the full platter. You could order just the Prime Instant Video “side dish” for $10 equivalent a month. However, that works out to only $11 less for the year…so, if they could give you installment payments for Prime, who wouldn’t go for the shipping benefits, too?

Will something like this happen in the USA?

Well, we already have Prime Instant Video as part of our Prime price, but yes, Amazon said it might raise prices on Prime in the USA…and I think they will (I’m guessing $20).

This could also clearly tie into a set-top box or other TV gadget.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon is in the midst of its “pilot season” for original works.

press release

Viewer feedback helps determine which pilots become original series on Amazon.

The only one that was interesting to us so far (and much more to me than to my Significant Other) was Chris Carter’s (The X-Files) The After. It was an interesting cast with some intriguing concepts and imagery, although it did feel unfinished, which is often the case with a pilot. Full disclosure: my Significant Other knows a parent of the editor of that episode, and yes, that’s why my SO even watched. ;) I probably would have watched anyway…

Amazon Pilot Season (at AmazonSmile)

Speaking of visual media, I am doing my annual BOPmadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) again. You are all invited to play. :) It’s all free, and the more people we have, the better we usually do as a group. I’m doing it technically a different way this time, using SurveyMonkey, rather than sending out Excel spreadsheets. You can get the information and the links here:

2014 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

Oh, and something else that may tie into a possible Prime price hike for the USA…one of my readers sent me a heads-up (thanks, reader!) in a private e-mail to this

Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger

It suggests that Amazon is looking to make deals with other major retailers. The retailers products would be listed at Amazon, and buyers could use their Amazon accounts and Prime benefits to get them. The other retailer would then pay Amazon.

That would be huge for Amazon! They would really be becoming the “everything store”, and they would know so much more about you. As a consumer, I would think it would be great. It doesn’t quash competition on prices…other retailers could still undercut Amazon’s prices. It just makes it much easier logistically.

That’s putting more and more power in Amazon’s hands, though, and some people won’t like that. If Amazon got hacked, it would expose a lot more data.

Still, overall, I think shoppers will love this…and competitors will submit to it.

Bookstores: more in the USA, fewer in the UK

I suspect some of this has to do with definitions, but this

The Guardian article by Sarah Butler

talks about independent bookstores in the UK dropping to under 1,000…they say

“The number of independent bookshops gracing British high streets has fallen below 1,000 – a third fewer than nine years ago, amid cut-throat competition from supermarkets, Amazon and ebooks.”

At the same time, the ABA (American Booksellers Association), in this

American Bookselling article

lists (with contact information…addresses and websites) 44 stores which were added to the ABA in 2013.

That’s a good sign of vitality in the USA.

Some of these are additional branches of existing stores, but many are not. They also listed a number of stores which changed hands…another reasonably good sign. That means that someone thought the business was worth buying, rather than it just going under.

Check out the list…you might find someone in your neighborhood. ;)

Which books would you add to the “classics” category?

I’ve written before about how I feel about classics…and been a bit challenged on it, too. ;)

This is a fascinating list from Jason Diamond at Flavorwire:

The New Classics: 21 Writers Tell Us Which Books They’d Add to the Canon

My guess is that you’ll see something there that intrigues you…I recommend that you check it out.

Maybe it’s from my years as a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, but I do tend to think that a true classic needs to be in the public domain. :) That’s one thing many people expect when they look for classics…that they aren’t under copyright protection any more (although they pay for copies in a store, of course).

Update on Give a Kid A Kindle

We are about a week a way from when you will be able to recommend nominated children to be the one to get the Kindle which I plan to give away. I’m hoping that once the recommendation process happens, I’ll get more nominees…just because I want more stories exposed (I think that’s good for people to see).

I do have one nominee so far, so at least I know I’ll be giving away a Kindle…

What do you think? What defines a classic book? Would you buy a set-top box from Amazon? Why haven’t more people nominated kids for a free Kindle? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

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

January 3, 2014

What can you do with Amazon Prime?

Did you recently become an Amazon Prime member?

You might have: people who buy a Kindle Fire (at AmazonSmile…support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)  get a free one-month trial. Also, you can now give the gift of Prime:

So, there are probably a lot of people who are just coming into their Prime…so to speak. ;)

The obvious question is: what can you do with Amazon Prime?

There are three main benefits, and I’ll go through them here.

Free two-day shipping on many items

Prime Shipping Information
at AmazonSmile

This was the original attraction of Prime, and it still is, for many people. You pay $79 a year, and then you can have many items shipped at no additional cost and get two-day shipping.

We hadn’t bought Prime when that’s all it was. I would do the calculation, and say, “We didn’t pay anything like $79 last year for shipping.” That was because we would tend to get things with Super Saver Shipping (at the time, you put together a $25 order of eligible items, and shipping was free…although it wasn’t fast), and we used Subscribe and Save for other items.

Super Saver Shipping
at AmazonSmile

Subscribe & Save
at AmazonSmile

We still subscribe to a lot of things, like dog food and vitamins. It just makes sense: you save 15%, you can choose a periodicity for orders, and you can skip an order whenever you want…and shipping is free.

That, though, turned out not to be the best way to compare the situation…the shipping costs we had paid was not the only factor we should have considered.

When we got our first Kindle Fire, we got a month of Prime free. Actually using it, we saw the other big advantages.

The key thing is that you might decide you need something…in a recent case, we need curtains for a room that was going to be used as a guest room. You can have it with two-day shipping, if you can find one that is eligible for Prime. Compare that to going to a store. If you decide on a Monday, you probably aren’t going to go to the store until the weekend. You’ll have to drive there, wait in line…it’s quite a production! You don’t typically even know if they’ll have what you want.

We’ve found we use Prime…a lot. If we were to compare the cost of the shipping that was included with our $79 Prime to what it would cost without Prime, we’d be saving a ton of money. Of course, we wouldn’t have shipped that stuff in two days without Prime…but time is valuable, and those savings count.

You can even get faster shipping for more money. A 1-day shipping upgrade is as low as $2.99. It used to be $3.99 for everything, now it depends on the size and weight of the item.

You can share Prime shipping benefits with other people living at your same address. So, if you have, let’s say, an adult kid living with you with their own Amazon account, they can share your shipping benefit at no additional cost. You can have four additional people (not on your account…everybody on your account gets it automatically) under your shipping benefits.

One caveat: the shipping speed is just that…it’s not the delivery date. We are still often surprised at how quickly we get things, but sometimes, we order something with Prime and it is a week before we get it. Why? It didn’t start shipping for several days. The actual shipping still took two (business) days, but it didn’t start immediately, because it was out of stock, or otherwise unavailable for some reason.

I think the shipping benefits alone are worth it for many people, when you compare the costs (not just the shipping fee…gas, time).

Prime Instant Video

Prime Instant Video
at AmazonSmile

This is the ability to watch movies and TV shows at no additional cost. It’s easy on a Kindle Fire, but you don’t need one, if you have other ways to watch Amazon Instant Video (a Roku, for example).

I would say that people wanting to know how this compares to Netflix is one of the most common questions I see from people considering Prime.

Let’s start out with cost: they are comparable, although Prime is somewhat cheaper (I’m ignoring other Prime benefits in this comparison). $79/12 = $6.58 a month. If we look at streaming only, Netflix is $7.99 a month…and you can get an annual membership for $95.88.

What about content?

Remember, we are limiting this to streaming…if you include DVDs, Netflix would presumably blow Prime away. However, we aren’t. :)

I have to say “presumably”, because Netflix doesn’t make it easy to figure out how many total videos they have available. I may just be missing it, but I don’t see a way to browse the entire collection. I’ve seen unverified numbers of all kinds on the internet: from 3,000 movies and 20,000 TV episodes to “over 75,000″.

Looking at Amazon, there are 14,675 movies and 2,075 TV seasons (season 1 on Downton Abbey, for example, would count as one of those 2,075) at time of writing. It’s possible that not each of those 2,075 is a season…a TV movie might count as one. The number of episodes in a season has varied considerably…if we figure ten as an average, that might be about 20,000.

Each of them has original content as well, although that’s new to Amazon.

My feeling is that Netflix tends to have more of the recent stuff, although I haven’t analyzed that. Looking at the most popular movies on Prime, I see The Hunger Games, Skyfall, The Avengers…obviously, all big hits. Remember that these are available at no additional cost over your Prime membership.

Could you drop your cable company just for Prime? The main thing you would miss is current TV…but if you can wait a year to see something, that’s not bad. :)

I would also say that Netflix has a more sophisticated interface, although if you first find the video on your computer, Amazon does okay there. They’ve even added the

Amazon Instant Video Finder
at AmazonSmile

Netflix, though, makes it very easy to find what you’ve watched recently…Amazon could certainly improve that.

In Amazon’s favor is X-Ray for Movies. That’s a feature that lets you get information about a movie you are currently watching. For example, you can freeze the movie and get background about the actors in the scene…even find out what other movies an actor is in to watch later. That’s powered by IMDb.com, which I think is the best movie resource on the web…and is owned by Amazon.

Amazon recently added closed captioning, so that is less of an edge for Netflix than it used to be.

Another huge advantage with the current generation of Kindle Fires is that you can download Prime videos (many of them) to watch when you are offline (on a plane, for example). Netflix is designed to be strictly streaming…no downloading.

Download Prime Instant Video Titles
at AmazonSmile

Amazon also has nice

Amazon Instant Video parental controls
at AmazonSmile

This might be new! You can set one of four levels for content…and choose to which devices that limit applies. The content is not just movie ratings, but includes TV ratings. So, you could have a kid’s Fire set to allow G, TV-G, and TV-Y, and have an adult’s where anything goes.

You can’t share your Prime video benefits with someone not on your account, like you can with your shipping benefits. There are also some significant restrictions (this is quoted from Amazon):

  • You can stream up to two titles at the same time using the same Amazon.com account. You can stream the same title to no more than one device at a time.
  • Many Prime Instant Video titles are also available for download on Kindle Fire HD 2nd Generation and Kindle Fire HDX devices. The detail page for each Prime Instant Video title indicates whether the title is available for download. You can download available titles to only two separate devices at one time. If you have already downloaded a title to two devices, you need to delete it from one of them before downloading it to another device. You can have a maximum of 25 total Prime Instant Video titles downloaded at a time across all devices associated with your Amazon.com account. While not all Prime Instant Video titles are available for download, the same videos may be available for rental or purchase from Amazon Instant Video, and rented or purchased titles can be downloaded to compatible devices.

Amazon Instant Video Usage Rules
at AmazonSmile

Is Prime worth it just for video? What I would say is take a look at what you watch, and see how well it matches up with what you like.

Kindle Book Benefits

There are two benefits for Prime members on e-books, and they are really quite different.

Kindle First
at AmazonSmile

With this one, you select one of a select group of not-yet published books. So far (this is new), there have been four each month, and they have all come from Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints. You select the book, you own it**. It follows the same rules as any other e-book on your account: all compatible devices on your account can use it. You can lend them to someone not on your account, according to the normal Kindle lending rules. That means you can lend it once…ever…for fourteen days. While the other person has it, you won’t have access to it. Kindle First books may not all be lendable, but books published by Amazon generally have been.

The other benefit is the

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL)
at AmazonSmile

For this one, you need to not only be an eligible Prime member, you also have to own a hardware Kindle (just a Kindle app isn’t enough…if you have both hardware Kindles and apps on your account, you can only send it to the hardware Kindles).

You can borrow up to one book a calendar month. You don’t own the book: you’ll need to return it before you can borrow the next one (and you’ll have to wait until the next month to do that anyway).

The books are from a specific set, but there were close to half a million titles in there when I checked January 1st…about one out of five of all the USA Kindle store books.

These are mostly independently published, but you do have the traditionally published Amazon books (which include James Bond and the 87th Precinct books). Scholastic, which is a major publisher, also puts books into the KOLL (The Hunger Games, for example), and the Harry Potter books are there, too. I have found something to read every month.

There you go! Those are the benefits to Prime. If you have any other questions, or want to let me or my readers know what you like about Prime, feel free to comment on this post.

Update: I was sort of making this up while I was on a walk with  my family (yeah, I do that…I make up little songs a lot). They had suggested I put it in the blog, and I meant to include it with this post. :)

Addicted to Prime (sung to the tune of Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer)

You hit 1-click,
You’re in the zone.
Some THING comes to your home.
You’re not sure…
You can’t recall
What it could be
No, not at all.

You see the box:
It’s got a smile.
You tear the tape…
It takes a while.
You still can’t see!
So many puffs!
You pull them out…what is this stuff???

Whoa-whoa…you like to think you’ve got it licked this time, whoa yeah!
It’s closer to the truth that you will spend every dime
You know you’re gonna have to face it
You’re addicted to Prime

You watch a film
It’s so obscure.
You face the facts: you need a cure.
You stream and stream
And never stop.
Another show: your mind will pop!
Your mind will pop!
Your eyes are glazed.
Your family is all amazed.
They thought you liked
To read a book
But having Prime is all it took

Whoa-whoa…you like to think you’ve got it licked this time, whoa yeah!
It’s closer to the truth that you will spend every dime
You know you’re gonna have to face it
You’re addicted to Prime

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime

The month is new…
You want a book:
You’re afraid
To take a look.
They’re too weird
Can’t decide!
But they’re free
Can’t let it slide!

Whoa-whoa…you like to think you’ve got it licked this time, whoa yeah!
It’s closer to the truth that you will spend every dime
You know you’re gonna have to face it
You’re addicted to Prime

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime

* 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! :) 

** What you are actually buying is a license to read the book. For more information, see my post,  How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

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.

Downloading Prime Videos

October 11, 2013

Downloading Prime Videos

Note: this post will only practical application for readers who have or will have one of three Kindle Fire models from Amazon (the 2nd generation Kindle Fire HD 7″, the Kindle Fire HDX 7″, and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″). It is possible that it will apply to other models in the future, but there is currently no indication that earlier model Kindle Fires will get this ability. It is dependent on the new operating system, Mojito (Amazon says, “…exclusive new features of Fire OS 3.0 including X-Ray for Music, Second Screen, Prime Instant Video downloads, and the revolutionary new Mayday button.”).  Although it is being advertised along side the other three, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ has not been updated, and does not have the new operating system. Some topics of interest to smaller groups do require a longer post such as this. For example, I do “menu maps” for individual models. I will include something at the end of this post of interest for those who do not have or plan on having Mojito devices, and I’ll do another post pretty quickly. I try to keep the post topics diverse, so that everyone can get something valuable to them out of the blog at least every few days.

When I’m disconnected from the internet, I can get a bit antsy. I refer to it as being “web-blind”. ;)

When your Kindle Fire is disconnected from the web, it’s a very different device. It can’t update the weather for you, or download books…or stream movies.

That last one has made things interesting when I’ve been traveling on planes.

We have

Amazon Prime

in our family.

Yes, we pay Amazon $79 a year…to get stuff from Amazon. :)

We didn’t have it for quite a while, although we had been Amazon customers.

I would do the calculations, and we weren’t spending nearly $79 a year in shipping. We could often wait until we had $25 in one order, and we got a lot of things through

Subscribe & Save

which meant not only free shipping, but 15% off.

It just didn’t seem worth it.

What got us to try it?

Getting the first generation Kindle Fire.

It came with a month free…and during that month, we were hooked.

At this point, I’m still just talking about the free 2-day shipping on many items.

Let me give you a weird example.

We have a collapsible laundry basket. It folds up flat, and then springs open.

I was carrying it, and the second strap on it finally broke (we’d had it for years).

Sure, we could have started looking around on the weekend at Target and such, to see if they had it.

My Significant Other, though, suggested checking Amazon.

They had an equivalent, available through Prime:

Bajer Design& Marketing 5234 Ez Fold’r Laun Basket [Misc.]

It was delivered to our door, before the weekend even got here.

That saves time and effort…and it was probably cheaper than we would have paid if we could have found it in a store.

So, just based on shipping, Prime has been worth that $79 to us.

There are, though, two other substantial benefits to Prime.

One is the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL), which lets you borrow up to a book a month at no additional cost (you do have to also have a hardware Kindle…a Kindle Fire counts).  I do that every month, but I probably wouldn’t have Prime just for that.

The other one is Prime videos.

I used to always say “Prime streaming videos”, because you could only watch them when you were connected and streaming.

Now, though, that’s changing…at least for Kindle Fire devices with the new Mojito operating system (the 2nd generation Kindle Fire HD 7″, the Kindle Fire HDX 7″, and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″).

People with those devices will be able to download the videos, storing them on their devices and watching them without the benefit of an internet connection…on a plane, as I mentioned above, or in the car (not the driver, of course), on a camping trip…wherever.

At least one of my readers is already doing it with the 2nd gen Kindle Fire HD, and I think some people are going to really like this.

My guess is that it wasn’t an easy negotiation for Amazon with the rightsholders.

The license to stream is quite different from the license to download. Those conveniences I cited above are worth money.

The real question: why would people buy a movie or TV show if they can download it without buying it?

The answer is that there are limitations (even disregarding the $79 a year you pay for Prime).

That’s what I’m going to detail in this post:

  • A title can only be downloaded to two devices on your account at a time.  Let’s say you figure you’ll watch Beetlejuice for Halloween. If you download it to your Fire, and your kid downloads it to their Fire, nobody else on the account can download it until one of you deletes it. This, by the way, is actually more flexible than when you are streaming it…you can only stream a given title to one device at a time
  • You can only download 25 titles at a time to all of the devices on your account. That seems like a lot to me, but I can see how a family on a wi-fi free vacation could hit that limit
  • You have a limited time to watch them. Amazon says, ” A typical viewing period is either 48 hours after you start watching the title or 15 or 30 days after the download, whichever is earlier.” That’s one thing that really keeps you from using this as a substitute to owning them. It’s not like a Tivo, where you could hypothetically keep an episode you recorded until the device died. Don’t start watching something until you have time to finish it in the next two days…or you might not get to finish it
  • If you stop being a Prime member, you will not be able to watch Prime videos…even if you’ve downloaded them. That’s different if you bought them or rented them (which isn’t done through Prime). I suspect this may catch some people off guard when they cancel after their first free month. I’ll be many of them will renew pretty quickly if a family member was halfway through a movie (or TV season) and puts the pressure on!
  • Not every video is available for download, and which ones are will keep changing. I’m assuming here that the ones that say they are available for download when renting are probably available for download through Prime if they are Prime available (I’ll test that when I get my Kindle Fire HDX, which is coming in a week…if somebody tests it before then and reports back, great!).

At this point, I don’t see a way to know for sure if a title can be downloaded through Prime. You may have to be on your Mojito device to be able to tell. Every movie and TV show I checked said that purchase rights included downloading…but those may not be the same as Prime downloads. Again, if one of my readers can check back and tell me how they can tell if one is available for download or not to their Kindle Fire HD 7″ 2nd gen, I’d appreciate it.

This is one more way to get you to be a Prime member…which is one more way to get you to buy of those profitable physical goods (diapers and windshield wipers) from Amazon. :)

Bonus deal:

The

The Big Deal

from Amazon has more than 350 books at up to 80% off! There are usually some good bargains when they do these…this one goes through October 27th. Do check the price before you hit that “Buy” button. Books can do in and out of the deal, and this may not apply in your country. I’m going to work my way through those and see what I can find. :) If you see anything that stands out to you, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: thanks to reader Ana for pointing out that the “The Big Deal” link wasn’t working. It’s weird because Amazon provided that link to me. However, I was able to make it work by linking to the second page of the list, rather than the first. At the bottom of the page, you should be able to go back to page 1, so you don’t miss any.

his post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Amazon offers monthly plan for Prime for $7.99?

November 6, 2012

Amazon offers monthly plan for Prime for $7.99?

I’m seeing reports this morning that Amazon is offering a $7.99 monthly plan for Amazon Prime, as opposed to just the $79 annual plan for most people.

I don’t see that on line yet, but I’m going to write this taking that as a postulate.

This would be a mind-blowingly huge change, and one that would make some investors quite unhappy. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the stock dip a tiny bit (and then recover) on the news.

It might not seem like much of a difference. Pay $79 once a year, or $7.99 a month. In fact, the $7.99 a month is higher that the approximately $6.58 you get if you divide $79 by twelve.

However, it would likely make Prime much more expensive for Amazon…and it’s already expensive for them.

Why?

Simple: you don’t buy things consistently across the year. In November and December, people probably purchase a lot more things from Amazon, especially physical items.

If people can sign up for November, renew in December, and then not renew in January, the customers take advantage of free shipping during the expensive months, and then Amazon doesn’t get the $6.58 during months when the customers order little or nothing.

It would be like people paying for a monthly gym membership just in January (when you get all the New Year’s resolutions people) and then not paying the rest of the year…rather than signing up in January for the whole year.

This suggests to me that Prime is working really, really well to inspire purchases on profitable items. Just as Amazon reportedly doesn’t make money on the Kindle Fire HD itself but hypothetically makes it on inspired sales, Amazon could lose money on Prime and make it up on the items purchased.

For investors, though, they would likely see the loss of the guaranteed income spread out over the lean months and of the up front money of the annual fee.

The marketing on this would also suggest going head-to-head with Netflix, rather than emphasizing the free shipping advantage. Prime streaming video at no additional cost can most easily be compared to Netflix.

It’s hard to compare the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) to something else, since the public doesn’t really perceive a direct competitor to it.

Free shipping is going to be a common perk during the holiday season.

So, if they are doing this, it’s about the videos.

I have to presume this would be automatic renewal: doing nothing, and you get charged another $7.99. Maybe the thought is that most people would just let it ride, even though they could cancel.

Once you have Prime for the videos, why not take advantage of the free shipping?

If you are buying what I like to refer to as those “diapers and windshield wipers” from Amazon, would that become a habit for you?

My guess is that, if this is actually happening, it could work out very well for Amazon in the long run…but that some skittish investors wouldn’t see the long term advantage.

We’ll see what happens. If you are seeing the $7.99 per month option, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. It could just have been an experiment or an accidental early leak.

If it does happen, I think Netflix should be worried about it. It could be perceived as “they both have videos” (even though the library is different), but with Amazon, you also get free shipping on other stuff and that ability to borrow a book a month.

Fascinating times…

Update: I’ve now seen the offer on line, although it doesn’t seem to appear in any of the “official places” besides on the join Prime page itself. By signing out of my account,then clicking the Join Prime link at the top of the screen, I could see this under the free month of prime button:

“After your free trial, Amazon Prime is just $7.99/month”

Thanks to Meya, a Kindle Forum Pro, for posting that.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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