Archive for the ‘Public libraries’ Category

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

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:

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


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.

Meanwhile…at the public library

July 20, 2014

Meanwhile…at the public library

I have a lot more to say about Kindle Unlimited (how it affects authors, how to find the audiobooks, my experience in using it), but I don’t like to write too much about the same thing too many posts in a row! I like the blog to be eclectic, so that if something doesn’t appeal to a reader, they don’t have to wait too long to get to something that does. :)

I was inspired to take a look at my public library’s e-book collection again, based on some things I’ve heard in the past couple of days (okay, those comments did tie into KU, but still…). ;)

I haven’t looked at it in a while. I have borrowed a couple of e-books from the library in the past, but it was really to test out how it worked for you readers.

One thing that might be a bit odd is that I deliberately picked unpopular books with no waiting lists.

I did that because I didn’t want to keep someone else from getting the book sooner, when I can afford to buy it myself if I want it.

That doesn’t mean I want to spend money unnecessarily, but my Significant Other had a great insight for me once, and it applies here.

Neither one of us is good at household things. I mean things like heavy gardening, fixing a door…you know, I’m proud of myself if I can get the air filter in for the air conditioner, and I literally have screwdriver scars on my hand. :)

However, I used to still try to do that stuff.

My SO pointed out, though, that there are people who are really good at doing it, like doing it (I’m stressed the whole time)…and it’s how they put food on their family’s table.

Since we can afford to pay somebody (that certainly wasn’t always true, but we both have good day jobs ((knock virtual wood)) and I make some money from writing), and it benefits that person and us (no stress and better results), it makes sense to do it.

Similarly, since I can afford to get e-books outside of the public library, it makes sense for me to leave those available for someone who can’t.

That may surprise some of you…that there is a “supply issue” with e-books at public libraries. You might think they can just let as many people download an e-book as they want.

Actually, they are quite limited…even more so than you are with your individual Amazon account, typically.

Publishers have gotten looser with their restrictions with the public libraries over time, but I’m going to show you what the current state is at my library (which I would say is a good one) for people wanting to get popular e-books.

Before I do, though, here’s how you can check your own library (in most cases).

Go to

That’s the company most public libraries in the USA use for e-books (I’m reasonably sure it’s still most, although some other companies have been making inroads).

You should see a link to “Find your library”, and then you can probably find the e-books from there.

I can’t get too specific after that, because it varies considerably by library.

Here are the most popular fiction books at my library. The lending period can vary, but let’s call it two weeks. I’m going to give you the title, the number of “copies” the library has, the number of people on the wait list, and then I’ll divide the people by the copies to get an estimated wait time. I’ll also take a look to see if it is in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (eligible Prime members can borrow up to a book a month from the KOLL at no additional cost) and if it is in Kindle Unlimited (KU).

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: 14 copies, 36 on waitlist, 36 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: 16 copies, 182 on waitlist, 159 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: 5 copies, 128 on waitlist, 358 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Sycamore Row by John Grisham: 10 copies, 59 on waitlist, 82.6 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline: 3 copies, 46 on waitlist, 214 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: 7 copies, 26 on waitlist, 52 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Inferno by Dan Brown: 9 copies, 83 on waitlist, 129 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James: 14 copies, no waitlist (available now), not KOLL, not KU
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: 5 copies, 51 on waitlist, 178 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Racketeer by John Grisham: 6 copies, 2 on waitlist, 5 days, not KOLL, not KU

You can see, the public library would be a place to get books you can’t get from the KOLL or the KU and get them for free…but you have to be patient.

How many fiction e-books does my public library have? 3,113.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in the USA Kindle store? 842, 979.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in the KOLL? 273,867.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in KU? 197,822.

Certainly, the public library is an important resource. I support their continued existence, and I’m happy for people who make good use of them.

I can also see how they aren’t going to provide a fully satisfactory alternative for many people to getting books (buying them individually ((which is really buying a license)), or through the KOLL or KU) from Amazon.

YLMV (Your Library May Vary). ;)

I have to say, I noticed some good prices on these books while I was checking for this story. A number of them were $4.99…that’s quite a bit lower than I would have guessed.

Here’s a search for

$4.99 literature and fiction books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

sorted by “New and Popular”.

I think a lot of you can find something you like there.


New! 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! :) 

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 #241: messy bookstores, color screens

February 20, 2014

Round up #241: messy bookstores, color screens

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

Just around the corner: a color non-tablet Kindle?

pdurrant made this interesting

MobileRead post

It has to do with noticing new job openings at


a company Amazon bought from Samsung in May of last year.

Why does that matter?

Liquavista makes color screens…for non-backlit devices. I prefer the term “reflective screen”, but I know that confuses some people. You read a reflective screen by the light reflecting off it…the same way you read a p-book (paperbook).

There have been a lot of challenges to bringing a color reflective screen to market. They are likely to cost more, refresh the screen more slowly, and use more battery charge.

The real question is, do people want one?

I think the answer is yes…I believe there would be a market for it.

The trick would be to make that the choice for a reflective screen device at the moderate price level.

Let’s think of it like the frontlighting on a Kindle Paperwhite.

You can get the least expensive Kindle, or you can  move up one step and get a frontlit device.

The market is supporting frontlighting.

If you had another device which was the equivalent of the Paperwhite, but didn’t have a frontlight, and was, say, $20 cheaper, which one would be more popular?

I think that’s harder to say.

If Amazon brings out a color reflective screen device, not as a more expensive upgrade, but as the next generation of device, I think that would be attractive to people.

It wouldn’t replace a tablet…it’s not going to do animation, most likely.

Many people, though, want both: a largely dedicated e-book reader, and a tablet.

I don’t think the vast majority of people would reject color for their EBR…if the costs for it (money, efficiency, and so on) were low.

Color can be useful for textbooks, and especially for magazines…which just aren’t an optimal experience on EBRs now.

We’ll see what happens, but that could really make a splash (which might not be an inappropriate term for “electrowetting” technology). ;)

“Why libraries deserve to be hip”

In this

Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams

the author makes an argument that libraries should be more “fashionable”…

One of the points is that the author likes having the sense that a book has passed through many hands, contrasting that with a Kindle (about which the author says, “…I’m sure someday I’ll get around to getting a Kindle or an iPad”).

My adult kid at one point mentioned the same thing.

It’s an interesting perspective, and one that many people share…but many don’t.

I love that people at another time read the same book…but for me, I don’t need it to be that they read the copy in my hands.

I don’t like finding marginalia, or dog-eared pages, or broken spines.

When I read a hundred year old e-book, I can imagine how it impacted someone a hundred years ago.

However, for me, it’s a bit like Shakespeare. People forget that audiences in Shakespeare’s day weren’t hearing archaic language (to them). If you wanted to experience Shakespeare the way those audiences did, it should be written in your contemporary language…with all the slang, double entendres, and dialectical humor that would be the equivalent of what they understood.

That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t read Shakespeare in the original! Absolutely not…I loved getting some education in Shakespeare, so that I could recognize what six “feet” in a line instead of five meant, for example.

It’s just that…revering the object on which the play (or book) is written is not the same experience as people had when it was new. For them, it was like watching television is for us today (well, Shakespeare often was more exclusive than that, especially what were essentially commissioned works, but you get the idea).

Public libraries are great, and p-books are great…but should they be fashionable? I think that might go against their special status. Libraries do not equal reading…there is a lot more to them than that, and reading a current book for pleasure may be best done for many people on an e-book. Libraries serve in part as a place of honor for books…and it makes sense to me that history there is more important than fashion.

“In praise of neat and tidy bookshops”

In a related case of variant perceptions, this

Book Riot post by Peter Damien

criticizes messy bookstores (including used bookstores).

For myself, I like my bookshelves in my floor-to-ceiling library (in my home) to be very organized…but I do have books stacked horizontally on top of other books. The shelves of mass market paperbacks may also be two or three books deep, when possible.

They are, though, in alphabetical order and organized by category, typically.

I like order…people see that as an indicator of certain psychological conditions, and I don’t dispute that. I don’t have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)…it doesn’t interfere with my life, but I do like things in order.

For example, I was once in a videostore for, oh, a good forty-five minutes or so. Finally, one of the employees trepidatiously approached me, and asked me what I was doing.

Me: “I’m alphabetizing the shelves.”

Videostore employee: “They’re already alphabetized.”

Me: “Well, all the “A”s are on the same shelf, but they aren’t alphabetical within A.”

Yep…I was going through the whole store, putting the shelves in order…and having the best time!

What makes it not compulsive is that I could stop any time (they didn’t ask me to stop, by the way). It’s just fun! :)

That said, you might imagine I, like Peter Damien, would disdain disorganized bookstores.

Not at all…

It’s one of the attractions for me of a used bookstore (this is not the same for me in a new bookstore, by the way).

I want it to feel like I’ve made an  archaeological discovery…a lost city in the middle of the Fawcettian jungles…and I might stumble on a treasure no one has seen in decades.

Yes, I guess that’s sort of weird…but I do like it like that, and my guess is that some other people do.

I mean, some people like the dusty-musty smell in a used bookstore. Due to allergies, I’m really not one of those, but I want a sense of adventure and serendipity.

What do you think? Should your bookstores be neat? Should your libraries by trendy? Would you want a color reflective screen device, if performance and cost were roughly equivalent to a grayscale one? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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 #206: tracking Collections impact for Associates, ILMK Reader Hero 2 in the news again

September 19, 2013

Round up #206: tracking Collections impact for Associates, ILMK Reader Hero 2 in the news again

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

RH2 back in the news

Tyler Weaver was named our ILMK Reader Hero #2 on August 24th.


A long-sleeved t-shirt with the above design is on its way to Tyler at this time.

Congratulations again to Tyler whose dedication to reading can give us all hope for the future.

There have been further developments in the story, as reported in this

New York Daily News story by Carol Kuruvilla

To summarize, Tyler had been winning the local library’s summer reading contest for years. The Library Director, Marie Gandron, essentially asked Tyler to stop competing, and was planning to convert the event from a competition to a random draw.

Lita Casey, a Librarian Aide, expressed concerns about the decision, indicating a feeling that changing the rules would not encourage reading in children.

Following that, Casey was terminated.

While apparently no reason for the termination was given, this is an excerpt from the article:

I worked there for 28 years without a complaint,” said Casey. “I have to believe it was related to the whole reading controversy.

It is easy to imagine the impact this might have on Tyler, a nine-year old who called Lita “Gram”. At nine, many people begin to understand the impact of their actions on the world, and can judge cause and effect based on what they do and who they are very strongly.

I’m hoping that the small gift of the t-shirt helps Tyler feel good about being a Reader Hero.

There is a poll in this earlier post

ILMK Reader Hero #2: Tyler Weaver

where you can express your support for Tyler. Please consider doing so…I think the best thing in this case is to emphasize the positive.

Bargains with and without Special Offers

While there was a lot of concern expressed when Amazon introduced ad-supported Kindles, the versions with ads have been consistently more popular than those without since the option existed, and you can see that’s still the case:

Amazon Electronics Bestsellers

“Of course,” some will respond, “that’s not because people like the ads. It’s because the Kindles are cheaper with the ads.”

Well, they are cheaper because the advertisers help subsidize the cost of your device. I often see people express it as “buying out of the ads”, but really, the first one with ads lowered the price…it isn’t that not having ads raises the price. Whoops, I’m back to that positive/negative thing again. ;) The standard price is without Special Offers, and with Special Offers is a discounted price.

However, I do think some people like seeing some of the ads. For example, there is an offer right now that lets you get up to thirty Kindle books for $1 each. There are books in the Muirwood series by Jeff Wheeler, and other authors include Lee Goldberg, Scott Nicholson, and L. J. Sellers. It looks to me like the non-Special Offer prices go as high a $4.99.

If you have a Special Offers Kindle, it should appear eventually on your screen, or you can check the Offers listed on your device. On a non-Fire Kindle, check Home-Menu. On a Fire, swipe to your left on the homescreen.

What happens if you don’t have a Special Offers Kindle?

There are always plenty of bargains in the Kindle store, but thanks to Books on the Knob for the heads up on this

AmazonLocal deal

I am a member of AmazonLocal (it’s free), but weirdly, I didn’t see this deal when I looked on the national page, or at Amazon.

This is a voucher you redeem (it looks like Books on the Knob may get some credit, which is fine with me…they deserve it) for the ability to choose any of 40 books for $1 each. There seems to be quite a bit of overlap between the Special Offers and AmazonLocal deals, but they aren’t quite the same. Interesting…

Reactions to Collections in the Kindle for iOS app

I wrote yesterday about a new version of the Kindle for iOS (mobile Apple devices) app, which includes Collections (a way to create categories of e-books on your device).

I wasn’t surprised to see people who don’t have an iOS device express concerns that Apple products got this highly-desired improvement before Amazon’s own device, the Kindle Fire.  I was a tad surprised to see the name-calling about those Apple devices from some quarters, but that happens.

I think in this case that it came to iOS first partially because iOS was getting a big software update (and new devices), so it makes sense that resources were being applied to that segment.

More interesting to me was people who did get it saying that it showed them Collections from all of their devices as options…even ones they were no longer using.

That is what you would see if you went to import another device’s collections on your non-Kindle Fire, but it is interesting that it worked that way in an app.

It may mean that we are heading towards better integration of Collections, and perhaps centralized management…which might mean Collections at

That would be the kind of software innovation I was picturing possibly happening this year…although it sounds like Page Flip (the ability to look ahead in the book without actually going there may be pretty cool).

Changes to Manage Your Devices on MYK

Speaking of MYK, here’s something that seems to me to be more challenging than it was before.

It used to be that when we went to that MYK page above and then clicked or tapped

Manage Your Devices

we would see them all on the page, sort of like search results on Amazon.

Now, they are in a stripe at the top, and you have to use a chevron (like an arrow without the stick), at least on a PC,  to jump through, six devices/apps at a time. We have thirty apps and devices currently registered, and this seems harder.  When you do click, the screen seems quite bare…a lot of white space…and doesn’t seem as intuitive.

I thought maybe it was done to be more mobile friendly, so I visited MYK in my Maxthon browser on my Kindle Fire. I couldn’t swipe the stripe to see more devices/apps…I still had to tap the chevron.

By the way, one reason we have so many apps/devices (there is no limit to the number you can have registered to your account) is that there are many duplicates for some of the apps…for example, even though I only have it on one PC, there are several installations. I think that happens when the app updates. I’ll go through at some point and remove the clones. What I’ll do is rename them at MYK so I can tell which one is which on my device, and then deregister the ones I don’t need.

For Amazon Associates: tracking your Collections’ impact

I’m having quite a bit of fun creating my Collections on I’m being careful not to prioritize it too much, and the build up is slow. However, I am, I think, making them pretty interesting…I’m writing an overall description, and descriptions for each item (although I am sometimes adding items and then adding the descriptions later.

So far, I have

  • A Fortean Education
  • Seventies Social Sci-Fi
  • 1939: The Best Pop Culture Year Ever
  • (re)Make This

I am still interested in requests…it would be fun for me to put together a Collection based on a request somebody had. :)

Anyway, I’ve been communicating with Amazon some on this. It’s clearly just getting going, and they are looking for input. As someone who has taught Project Management, I know you have the most opportunity to shape the future of something in the beginning of it.

I created a document I told them they could distribute to Associates freely and without attribution to me. I know some of my readers are Associates, and I thought you might find it helpful:


How to Track Advertising Fees Generated by Your Collections on Amazon
Amazon has recently added a new feature which allows customers to create public Collections of purchasable items (movies, books, music, apps, and more) that can be viewed by other visitors to You can name the Collections, add items to them, and describe both the Collection and each individual item.
As an Associate, you’ll want to know if having the Collections is resulting in any more advertising fees for you.
Since the Collections are on Amazon, your direct product links won’t generate any advertising revenue for you there.
However, you can link to your Collections page from your website or blog, just as you would with any other page link.
In order to know how that is impacting your advertising fees, you’ll need to create a separate Tracking ID, and use that for your Collections link.
First, log into your Associates site.
Then click or tap the
Account Settings
link at the top of the page.
Next, click or tap the
Manage your tracking IDs
Click or tap the
Add Tracking ID 
This is where you’ll create the Tracking ID for your Collections link. You’ll need something no one else has used yet: you might want to use your initials or name and “collections” (for example, Jeff Bezos might use jbcollections or bezoscollections). What you use is up to you, but it can’t duplicate what someone else has already chosen.
If the one you pick is available, you will get a “Congratulations” message, and a button that will return you to your list of Tracking IDs.
Now, go to your Collections page on Amazon, if you are using the Associates Site Stripe. That will make this (and linking to other pages at Amazon) easier. For more information on the Site Stripe, see
Click or tap
Link to this page
in your top left corner of the screen.
Where it says
Tracking ID
in your top left corner of the input box which has appeared, use the dropdown to select the Tracking ID you just created.
You can use the link which will be created for you on your website or blog, and when people click or tap it and make a qualifying purchase, you’ll get your advertising fees.
To see how much you have earned, go to your Amazon Associates page. Under
Tracking ID Summary
That will show you how much each of your Tracking IDs has earned. If you want to have more granularity (“Did the link on my sidebar generate more interest than the link in my post?”) you can create a separate Tracking ID for each channel you want to analyze.
You can use Tracking IDs for a number of purposes (tracking a specific webpage or promotion you’ve done, for example), and this one will show how much having those Amazon Collections is helping you. 
If you aren’t an Associate, it can be fun just to create the Collections, of course. I do think Amazon will eventually announce this (before the holiday buying season, and that it could be a big deal.
What do you think? How do you feel when somebody else gets something you don’t get? Should Amazon always bring things to the Fire before they bring them to the iPad? What would you think if it turned out that the Special Offers you were getting on your Kindle were also available to AmazonLocal members? Would you feel like you were looking at ads without getting an advantage? Have you created any Collections on Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. Also, I would appreciate you considering responding to the poll for Tyler Weaver…up to you, of course, but I do think it could have a positive impact.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #200: Bookshelfies, my new hero

August 24, 2013

Round up #200: Bookshelfies, my new hero

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

Special note: 200! I’m glad to have done hundreds of these since the first one back on October 18th of 2009. :) They can be challenging, but in a very different way from an analytical or opinion piece. It can be hard here to choose what to include and what not to include. I appreciate, though, that I often get comments on them, and I know it is a popular feature (they were the third most popular category of posts the last time I polled you readers). Thanks for the support!


Okay, time traveler from five years ago, let me first explain a couple of things. ;)

A “selfie” is a picture you take of yourself.

Tumblr is a blogging site where people post pictures, sometimes with small captions.

Ready? Good. ;)

is a Tumblr blog where people take pictures of themselves in front of their p-book (paperbook) filled bookshelves. They often then list some of the books, sometimes including links to purchase them at Amazon.

It’s a cool idea, although somewhat corrupted for me by the fact that many of them seem to be done for commercial purposes. I suspect it was much “purer” originally, but has gone beyond that.

Still, it’s worth seeing.

Would I do it? Nope, because I like to let people keep their personal characteristics off the web, if they want, and you’d learn some significant things about me from a picture of me. :) By the way, there is at least one picture that says it’s of me on the internet, but it’s not. Can’t always believe what you read…even on the web. ;)

I like the idea of showing off bookshelves, though. Maybe I’ll do that for this blog at some point…but it would take a lot of pictures to do it justice!

Lawrence Tabak: “Goodbye Old Friends: On Selling My Books”

In this

The Millions essay

Lawrence Tabak has a moving and insightful piece on selling your p-books (paperbooks).

I still can’t imagine that. Giving them away? Maybe, just maybe…but selling them? That seems very hard to me.

I have bought multiple copies of some books to have ones to give away, but that’s different. Outside of that, I haven’t gotten rid of books. I imagine that, if I could digitize them, I could donate them. I want access to them myself, but I also really want them preserved. I have some that would certainly be seen as ephemera, and I feel like, if I don’t preserve them, they are likely to be lost to the world. That’s probably an egotistic fantasy, but it does make me feel heroic. I mean, it’s that or be Batman, and Ben Affleck just got that gig. ;)

I recommend the article.

Guardian: “Amazon Kindle: why I finally went over to the dark side”

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the heads-up on this

Guardian article by Charlotte Harper

It’s always been pretty simple for me: the more you love books, the more you love e-books.

Certainly, some people were openly disdainful of people with EBRs (E-Book Readers) in the beginning. In my opinion, that’s largely a holdover of the elitism of reading, or rather of owning books. There have been people who see owning books as a sign of superiority. They don’t want the experience to be democratized, anymore than they want everybody to own a Mercedes…it dilutes their special status.

Why else make leatherbound copies of books that cost $100? Why display them, sometimes ostentatiously? I do think there is some class consciousness there, or at least there was in the past and the echoes still remain.

Everybody should have books…and everybody should, in an ideal world, have access to all books. Actually, everybody in an ideal world should read all the books in the world, but that is impractical for several reasons. ;)

In the article (which I recommend), the author admits making a sibling cry by denigrating an early Kindle…saying that the sibling should sell it, essentially because, well, it was evil.

Fortunately, Harper eventually overcame prejudices and learned to love the bomb…er, the Kindle. ;) At least, that’s how I would put it.

Keyboard shortcuts for the Kindle Fire’s Swype keyboard

Who knew?

Okay, maybe if you were using Swype on another device before it appeared on the Kindle Fire, you did, but the techniques on this

Amazon Help Page

were a revelation for me.

The Swype keyboard lets you “type” things by sliding your finger or stylus across the letters. It’s much faster than tapping each one individually, and pretty intuitive.

However, you can do a lot more things…here are some of the best:

  • Select all – Swipe from ?123 to a
  • Copy – Swipe from ?123 to c
  • Cut – Swipe from ?123 to x
  • Paste – Swipe from ?123 to v
  • Insert a period and a space (at the end of a sentence) – Swipe from . to Space bar
  • Bring up the Number keypad – Swipe from ?123 to t

New York Daily News: “Librarian slams 9-year-old for reading too much”


According to this

New York Daily News article by Margaret Eby

the director of the Hudson Falls Public Library in New York asked a 9-year old to stop participating in a reading contest each summer…because the kid won five years in a row.

Wait a minute…this kid first won the summer reading contest at…four years old? Tyler Weaver, you are my new hero. :)

Kindle Fire loses half of its marketshare

Thanks to Alexander Turcic of mobileread

for a heads-up that led me to this

Jumptap graph

of tablet marketshare, 2012 versus 2013.

The big news: only one tablet on the marketshare, dropping from 21.5% of the total to 10.1%.

The NOOK tablets? Increased marketshare more than 1000% (from .1 to 1.2).

It’s worth taking a look at the graph to see what doubled its share to pass the Kindle Fire…

This may change if Amazon introduces a new model, of course. Not that other people won’t also release new ones, but it could shift the balance.

RSK Accessory Store at Amazon

I wanted to make sure to give you an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle) story this time, so here’s a link to the accessory area at Amazon:

Kindle E-Reader Accessories

For example, here’s a cool looking polka-dotted sleeve for $14.99 ($10 off right now) that fits the Paperwhite, Touch, and Mindle. It’s not only a sleeve, it says it has a stand as well. 4.5 stars with 390 reviews…impressive!

BUILT Neoprene Kindle Slim Sleeve Case, Scatter Dot, fits Kindle Paperwhite, Touch, and Kindle

What do you think? Should a child who always wins a reading (or any, for that matter) contest step aside so others can win? Is competitive reading a good idea, or does it devalue the act of reading? Have you done a bookshelfie? You can put a link in your comment, and if it isn’t commercial, I’ll probably approve it. Have you gotten rid of your p-books? If so, did you sell them or give them away or…? Do you have books that you’ll keep, even if you never read them again, because of what they mean to you? Did anybody ever shame you for having a Kindle? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #198: the old-time internet, library mini round up

August 20, 2013

Round up #198: the old-time internet, library mini round up

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

Seth Godin: “The End of Books”

I enjoyed this

blog entry at Typepad by Seth Godin

There are some really good lines, and it’s an interesting look at the shifts in book culture. This short excerpt was one of my favorites:

“READING FOR PLEASURE was largely extinguished by four generations of not-very-good teaching philosophies. By treating a book as homework and a punishment, we’ve raised people to not look forward to reading.”

and it ties neatly into this post, Reading in school, that I did not too long ago.

I recommend that you read it, and I don’t want to give too much away. Godin goes through a list of the challenges, and then suggests that we will overcome them…and I do agree. :)

Has our perception of the internet changed that much since 1997?

Oh, it’s exactly the same…not! Sorry, just trying to get into that 1990s (remember them?) ;) vibe, although yes, Wayne’s World was five years before 1997.


CNET article by Eric Mack

links to an amazing video from 1997 having kids explain how to use the internet, and how cool that is. It’s a long video (almost half an hour),but it’s really camp, like an old cautionary movie from the 1950s.

Open Road gets $11 million

Open Road Media is one of my favorite publishers for e-books. They never block text-to-speech access, they weren’t part of the Agency Model, and they bring us great backlist titles.

That’s why I was pleased to see this

Wall Street Journal post by Jeffrey Trachtenberg

Regular readers know that I think Trachtenberg is one of the most informed mainstream journalist about e-books, and I always look forward to new articles.

These new investments aren’t being primarily used for acquisitions, but for technology improvements…but that counts. :)

The New York Times: “Expecting the Unexpected from Jeff Bezos”

Thanks to a reader who sent me a heads-up to this

New York Times article by David Streitfeld and Christine Haughney

in a private e-mail! Sorry I haven’t replied to you…you’ll always get a faster response (if desired) by commenting on something on the blog. I just check those and get to those faster. I also did see this article other places, but I’d rather you tell me twice than not at all. :)

It’s inspired by Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post, although like a lot of articles, it to some extent treats Bezos and Amazon as the same thing. It’s a lengthy piece, and has some good insight.

I liked this quotation:

“Bezos is fascinated by broken business models. And whatever else you think of newspapers, the business model is broken.”

by Jeff Marcus, a former Amazon employee.

I think it’s worth reading.

I’m not particularly concerned about billionaires buying newspapers. It doesn’t feel that different to me than, say, William Randolph Hearst (not that I’m saying Hearst was a good thing). Unless somebody figures out how to get the Washington Post to make money (and Jeff Bezos hasn’t been proven to be that great at making a profit so far), you want someone who can afford to hemmorhage money….and Bezos can do that for a while. It’s possible that Jeff will find something sustainable, and I really don’t see the Amazon CEO Bigfooting any political stories into the “paper”.

Um…let me think…no!

Thanks to Publishers Lunch for the heads up on this CTV news story,

Should the price of books be regulated?

This article has a two minute video about Quebec debating regulating e-book prices…to keep them higher, basically, to support small bookstores.

You could only give discounts of ten percent for the first nine months the book was in the market (both e-books and paper).

Yes…because raising the prices will clearly help those small bookstores stay in business, when people pirate the books online and steal them from bookstores, and smuggle them in from other places, and switch to reading something else…well, I think you can see where I stand on this. ;)

The issue is being debated now…if you live in Quebec, you might be able to let them know what you think (pro or con).

How do libraries get funding in this day and age?

Surveys overwhelmingly show that people like public libraries and think they are important.

So, naturally, cities, counties, and states fund them, right?

Not always.


NPR article and recording by Neda Ulaby

For example, in Vermont (according to the article)

“…once a year the town librarian has to go to a town meeting and make a case for funding for next year.”

Many libraries depend on donations to stay open. Some people leave them books or money in their wills.

Well, at least very rich people don’t own the libraries, am I right? ;) Just kidding, lots of rich people do donate to libraries, and sometimes get things named after them there. That’s okay with me.

In Santa Clara, California (a town I know pretty well), upset citizens are demanding that a long-delayed library open, according to this

USA Today article by Melanie Eversley

There appears to be a bit of a legal mess which has resulted in a library being build, but no books.

Let’s stick with public libraries for one more story:

Demand for e-books is draining library budgets

That Sun Sentinel (Florida) article by Lisa J. Huriash gives you a really good local perspective on how expensive e-books are for libraries. They can’t just pay $9.99 for an e-book from Amazon. You can’t use e-books you get from the Kindle store for commercial purposes, and libraries basically fall under that (even though it isn’t exactly commerce). The article cites a price of $70 – $80 for a James Patterson novel.

Maybe equally interesting to many will be the observation of how many senior citizens are using e-books. Heidi Burnett, the library manager of Oakland Park, is quoted as saying,

“We are helping a lot of senior citizens coming in with their various devices — Kindles, iPads, on Nooks, on their tablets, on their laptops — and they are vitally interested in that…”

Early surveys indicated that Kindles were used disproportionately by people over 50, and that made sense. Those are the serious readers, the people who could afford the devices, and the ones that benefited most from increasable font sizes and the lightness of the devices compared to paperbooks (p-books).

The youngest Baby Boomers are in their mid-50s, after all, and that’s the generation that largely invented home electronics. Steve Jobs would have been 58, for example.

I think the average age has probably significantly dropped, especially with the marketing of tablets to kids…at least, the age of e-book readers has probably dropped on average. In the beginning, though, when a device cost hundreds of dollars, it seemed to skew older.

I sometimes have a hard time getting people to realize that at work. When I train people, the New Millenials (who, shockingly to me, are getting to be thirty years old, at least some of them) can be harder to teach technology than people in their fifties.


The New Millenials have grown up with largely smoothly functioning technology. Some of them don’t want to put up with it when something doesn’t work smoothly the first time. A Baby Boomer gets it when you have to click somewhere, then click somewhere else, then click on the first place again to get it to work because it is glitchy. If a button doesn’t do it what it says it will do, some New Millenials just want to move on. Not all of them, of course, and it’s not an unreasonable attitude to have…it can just make it more challenging.

What do you think? Is government limiting discounts on books a good idea? Were you aware that has been tried before in other places? Is your public library reliably publicly funded? What will survive from our book culture of ten years ago? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #194: Detroit libraries, Kindle Fire updates now available from Amazon

August 9, 2013

Round up #194: Detroit libraries, Kindle Fire updates now available from Amazon

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

Barbara Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels) has died

The mystery novels under the name Elizabeth Peters (including the Amelia Peabody books) have been very popular…as have been the books of Barbara Michaels, including the Georgetown series.  Those were both pennames for Barbara Mertz, who also wrote non-fiction about Egypt under her real name,

Barbara Mertz has reportedly died at the age of 85.

CBS News article

Update for Kindle Fires now available at Amazon

I wrote recently about being worried about my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB updating to the 8.4.5 version, which was breaking Flash video in non-Amazon browsers.

I updated that post when I had heard that 8.4.6 was out there, and that it didn’t have the same problem.

Well, my Kindle Fire did update last night…and I’m happy to report that Flash video is working fine in Maxthon (my preferred browser). In fact, it seems like it is working better, but it’s too soon to really tell that.

If your Kindle Fire hasn’t updated, it likely will soon now. You can also get the update from

Kindle Software Updates

and install it manually (they have instructions there on it).

Since it’s on that page, we also know what they tell us it does. :)

  • You can now choose Brazilian Portuguese for your device language (Home – swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Language…that brings us to eleven languages and variants)
  • You can download new keyboard languages (Home – swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Keyboard – Download Keyboard Languages). That’s a fascinating change! There are thirty-seven languages there, and even with a linguist in the family, I can’t tell you what they all are (since they are listed in their languages. They do include Russian and Tagalog, Hinglish and Magyar…quite a few choices. While this will greatly expand the usability of the Kindle Fire, this ability to download the languages is what’s intriguing me. That suggest to me that we could possibly get the same thing with accents and languages for text-to-speech…not that we don’t likeSeptember Day‘s Salli, of course, but more choices there could again expand the language accessibility. Could this also suggest a launch of a Fire in even more countries? Well, last I heard, it was already available for 170 countries, so maybe not
  • Multicolor highlights (highlight something in a book with your finger or stylus, and you’ll now be given four different highlighting colors from which to choose)
  • Share notes & highlights from a Print Replica textbook. The particularly interesting piece here is that you’ll be able to share them via e-mail…that could be the start of something big for Amazon. Not just e-mailing, of course, but texting (in the future). I frequently e-mail stories to family members from my morning Flipboard read. I know e-mail isn’t the choice method of communication for many New Millenials (which is why I’m also thinking texting, in the future), but tweeting and Facebook updates don’t work for everybody either

All in all, I’m happy Amazon fixed the problem with Flash before posting the updates.

Update: here are screenshots of the keyboard languages available for download, and some best guesses (not all mine…my adult kid who is a linguist helped, as did someone else) as to what they are. If you can correct any of them, I’d appreciate it:






Bahasa Indonesia
Bahasa Malaysia
Catala – Catalan
Cestina – Czech
Dansk – Danish
Eesti – Estonian
Euskara – Basque
Galego – Galician (spoken in Spain and some other countries)
Hinglish – Hindi/English hybrid (although I believe some other languages are involved)
Islanski – Icelandic
Latviesu – Latvian
Lietuviskai – Lithuanian
Magyar – Hungarian
Nederlands – Dutch
Norsk – Norwegian
Polski = Polish
Portugues europeu – European Portuguese
Pу́сски;й – Russian
Romana – Romanian
Shqipe – Albanian
Slovencina – Slovak
Slovenscina – Slovak
Suomi – Finnish
Svenska – Swedish
Tagalog – Phillipino
Tiếng Việt – Vietnamese
Türkçe – Turkish
ελληνικ;ά – Greek
Казаk – Kazak
Україн;ська – Ukranian
Белару;скі – Belorussina or White Russian

Two varieties of Chinese (I’m assuming Cantonese and Mandarin)
I know there can be cultural sensitivities in some of these identifications…if there is something you think should be corrected there, please let me know. No offense is intended, and I freely admit I might be ignorant of some of the issues.

Summer Reading Snapshot: libraries and kids across the nation

This is a great

Publishers Weekly article by Karen Springen

which talks with children’s librarians in

  • Cleveland
  • Orlando
  • Cincinnati
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • New York
  • Boston
  • St. Louis
  • Kansas City, Mo
  • Detroit

about their planned Summer events, and what the “Big Reads” are for the kids this Summer.

As we all know, Detroit has had a lot of issues lately. I liked this quotation from Lurine Carter, coordinator of children’s and teen service at the Detroit Public Library:

“Life is very serious, not only in Detroit but all over. We try to relieve their minds. We want the library and the reading to be a pleasant getaway.”

I recommend the article, particularly if you are looking for books for your own kids to read.

Google play making a big…er, play for textbooks

There are so many clear advantages to e-textbooks that it seems inevitable to be that they become the standard format.

  • The weight of paper textbooks, especially when students can’t get to a locker between classes, is genuinely a health issue
  • The increased ability to be accessible (text-to-speech, increasable text size) is important
  • The ability of them to be updated easily over the years
  • The fact that they don’t wear out…which makes renting a really viable option
  • The relatively lower cost
  • Annotation without degradation
  • Search
  • Sharing supplemental material
  • X-ray

That doesn’t mean that getting them to be adopted is easy, but Google is likely to make it a bit more attractive:

Google Play Textbooks

I don’t see that they are bringing any stand-out features that aren’t available in

Kindle eTextbooks

but just the fact that it is Google may influence some schools.

Hearing in the Apple “penalty phase” today

Judge Cote has been ruling incredibly quickly in the Apple e-book price fixing case. That doesn’t mean we will hear something today…but Judge Cote will.

There is a hearing today for the DoJ’s (Department of Justice’s) proposed penalties for Apple, according to this

The Verge article by Greg Sandoval

and other sources. I’ve written before about how far-reaching the DoJ proposal seems to be. The five Agency Model publishers think it’s too much…but they aren’t exactly uninvolved parties (they settled with the DoJ in the same case). Others think it’s appropriate.

It will be very interesting to see what Judge Cote does. I think it’s possible that part of it is approved and part of it isn’t, but we’ll see. I’m not sure if Judge Cote would then send them back to rethink it or what can happen.

Librarians in the Movies

This site was right up my alley!

Librarians in the Movies: an Annotated Filmography by Martin Raish, Brigham YOung University

It’s a pretty extensive list…given my love of books and movies, I did find it fascinating (and I had seen a number of them). It’s not being maintained anymore, but is still interesting. Let’s see…any movies this Summer with librarians in them? Hm…

Have any thoughts about these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down

July 9, 2013

Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down

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

Barnes & Noble CEO steps down

According to this

Press Release from Barnes & Noble

William Lynch, CEO for three years, and architect of the NOOK strategy, has resigned.

This may be seen by stockholders as a positive. The NOOK has been seen as an underperformer, recently, and as I wrote about recently, B&N decided to stop making their tablets on their own.

However, while it might be good for the company overall, it isn’t particularly good for the world of e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers). Competition is good for us: it drives innovation and creates downward price pressure.

If other companies look at this and say, “See? Lynch had to resign because of e-books,” which wouldn’t be a good assessment of the situation, it could still make them more reluctant to commit future resources.

Mini-review: Apocalypse Z

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End
by Manel Loureiro, translated by Pamela Carmell
text-to-speech, lending, and X-ray are all available

I decided to break down and borrow a book from the KOLL (Kindle Owner’s Lending Library) that was under $6.58. ;) Why $6.58? If you take the $79 you pay a year for Prime, then divide it by twelve to get a monthly amount, that’s what you get. We get a lot more value out of Prime than the KOLL, but I was enjoying having it be that what I borrowed from the KOLL over the course of a year was worth more than $79.

I’m glad that I did. :)

Apocalypse Z is a zombie novel, but novel isn’t exactly accurate. It started out as an epistolary blog…we are reading blog entries from a lawyer, as a situation gradually emerges. I’m careful about spoilers, so I don’t want to say too much about the plot.

I will say that, when I read the first entry, I was discouraged. It mixed tenses in a way that wasn’t professional…but I thought that might be the voice of the character, not of the author. As it progressed, the writing became much stronger. Again, I’m not sure if that’s because the character or the author (or the translator)  improved, but either way, I’ll take it. :)

The book is like a whole season of The Walking Dead. I found the feel pretty similar…while some things were perhaps too convenient, it’s generally not unrealistic. I particularly empathized with the main character’s relationship with a pet cat.

I did find the translation to be a bit awkward…sometimes English idiom would be used correctly, sometimes it didn’t seem natural. That said, getting a European perspective on the situation was really nice, and quite different from many American takes. For example, there was this:

“The United States has called up the National Guard. What you see on the satellite channel is amazing — armed troops patrolling New York, Chicago, Boston, and so on. Those Americans are crazy. What’ll that accomplish? Scare the viruses? Are they going to shoot someone? They’re overreacting, as usual.”

Overall, I found it an engaging, fast read. It will be too violent for some, but it isn’t just gore for gore’s sake. It’s much more about how the character reacts than it is about that. I always like to let people know about the use of the “F word”, and that’s here, but not really out of place. I have a lot more trouble with books that just indicate everybody is horrible, and that isn’t the case here. I like that. :)

Job opportunity: Royal Librarian

I have readers all over the world, and it would be so cool if one of them became the Royal Librarian in England!

Telegraph article by Tim Walker

The job doesn’t pay that much (£53,000 a year), but come on! 125,000 titles…at Windsor Castle? I’m not qualified, and I like what I’m doing now, but that’s a dream job for somebody…

Two more fun things to do with your Kindle Fire

I really try to keep a mix of topics in this blog, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to exclude the Fire. Interestingly to me, one of my most popular posts is Fun things to do with your new Kindle Fire HD. I’m going to add a couple of apps to it, and I thought I’d mention them here as well.


Vine (free)

has come to the Amazon Appstore. That’s the app for making and watching six-second videos. Can you actually make a Vine video on a Fire? Yes, but remember that the camera is really designed for Skype and videochatting. The quality of the video isn’t that high…and when you are looking at the screen, the camera is looking at you. That can make it a bit awkward.

I haven’t played with it much. I can tell you that I prefer just watching the random videos on to the way that the app lays them out initially (where you have to scroll to see the next one)…but Vpeeker is, um…unfiltered. ;)

Second, there is

Abalone $1.99

When I managed a brick-and-mortar gamestore, we sold a lot of this…and I’ve had the physical edition of it for years. It is a two-person strategy game, but in this case, you can play against the computer.

One weird thing is that part of the real attraction of the game is the tactile feel of it. You are pushing these big, elegant marbles…and they push other marbles with a satisfying feel and sound. Of course, you don’t get the feel with the app.

However, I did like the levels of opponent skill you can choose. The beginning level will challenge you as you learn (it doesn’t take long at all to understand the rules…and there are helpful arrows on the screen), but the highest level isn’t a pushover for me (and I’d say I”m a good player). I do usually win on the highest, but it isn’t easy for me to score a shutout.

I’d say a typical child of eight could play it, and on up to adults. You can change difficulties…not just by level, as I mentioned above, but my setting a time limit and changing the number of scores it takes to win.

You can leave a game and come back to it, and that’s nice.

As far as I can tell, though, it doesn’t give you an aggregate score over time (you can’t tell what your win percentage is, or even what your current streak is, unless I’ve just missed it). It doesn’t always properly recognize the move I am doing, although that’s easy enough to fix.

I’d recommend this if you like something that just relies on thinking, not on how quick you can twitch. ;)

7-11 will pay you to watch an ad

Okay, yes, this is another Kindle Fire thing, but I did find it interesting. If you go your Offers on your Fire, you can see it. What happens is that you watch an ad from 7-11…and they give you a $3 credit to buy MP3s from Amazon. It’s tied into their “Slurpee Dance” promotion for July 11th…you know, 7-11 (um, at least in the USA…in most of the world, that would be November 7th). ;)

What age group reads the most p-books?

Which group would you think reads more p-books (paperbooks): those over or under 30 years old?

It may surprise you, but according to this

Pew research report by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell

it’s the younger people.

75% of those surveyed who were between the ages of 16 and 29 (inclusive) had read a p-book in the last year…it was only 64% of those 30 and older.

The article (which I highly recommend) also shows how younger people embrace public libraries. I don’t want to take too much away from it, but I will mention one more. While 75% of the younger group had read a p-book in the past year, only 25% had read an e-book. There was likely a lot of overlap there…the same people might read p-books and e-books, of course. Still, a three to one comparison might seem odd. I do think it’s possible that e-books appeal more to older people than to younger people at this point…some of the key advantages (lighter to hold, increasable font size) aren’t as significant for your typical 25 year old as they are for your typical 75 year old. Not enough data to draw that conclusion, though…that’s just my guess. :)

Still, this information may make a lot of people more hopeful about the future…

What do you think? Is this the beginning (or maybe the middle) of the end for B&N (or at least the NOOK)? Does it surprise you that younger people might read more p-books than those thirty and over? Have you ever played Abalone? Does how much a book costs affect whether or not you borrow it from the KOLL? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting non this post.

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

Digital Public Library launches

April 20, 2013

Digital Public Library launches

I’ve written before (briefly) about the Digital Public Library:

This is an ambitious project to make works available for free online. It is funded partially by the US Federal government through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, although there are many private partners as well.

The DPLA went online yesterday; I wanted to wait to write about it until I’d had a chance to try it out some.

When somebody says “library” to me, I still think primarily of a place to borrow books to read. That’s what I expected here: a super-duper Project Gutenberg, where I could go in and get classic (public domain) books to read. I was particularly looking forward to obscurities that I couldn’t get other places on the web.

I have to say, at this point, I’m a little disappointed in how it met that image of mine.

I put “Tom Sawyer” into the search, and I would have expected The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer Abroad, and Tom Sawyer, Detective to pop up in easily downloadable links. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a lot of commentaries as well.

Instead, the first thing that appears is an image of some sort of metal plaque depicting Mark Twain.

Next came The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as text. I clicked on that, and it gave me a link to the file at

Sure, that would still get me the book…but the DPLA is serving more as a search engine in that case than a library.

I looked back at it: the picture of the medal object also took me to another site…the picture wasn’t stored at the DPLA.

Glancing through the first page of the results, none of them were the other books…they were mostly images.

I could filter for text, and I did.

There were reviews, and a reader’s guide, and a picture of a movie theatre from the 1930s (showing a movie about Tom Sawyer)…basically, ephemera rather than the books themselves.

Now, I’m a big fan of ephemera. I love looking at old things like that…playbills, fanzines, posters. It just isn’t what I expected the main focus to be in a library.

I first tried going there on my Kindle Fire with a different book…and what I got was a PDF. It wouldn’t display online on my Fire, and downloading it didn’t seem to work. That was on a different site. The file for that book is also on, which would have worked better. I wonder if they are trying to find best links, or what the process is.

There are some cool features, which indicate that the future could be much brighter.

On the home screen, you have links for Exhibitions, Map, Timeline, and Apps.

The Exhibitions are special collections. Right now, we have

  • Activism in the U.S.
  • America’s Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal
  • Boston Sports Temples
  • Bread and Roses Strike of 1912: Two Months in Lawrence, Massachusetts, that Changed Labor History
  • History of Survivance: Upper Midwest 19th Century Native American Narratives
  • Indomitable Spirits: Prohibition in the United States
  • This Land Is Your Land: Parks and Public Spaces

I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence that two of the stories have to do with Massachusetts right now, but it might be.

Activism in the U.S. brought a number of sub-topics…and a sub-topic basically got me some text and a slideshow of images. It was a bit like something you would see on many websites, although the images were unusual.

I thought the Map might be fun. Without selecting anything, I was told there were 2,064,314 results. There may be more things in the library which aren’t able to be located geographically in the USA.

I’m in California, and at the initial zoom level, there was a circle (one of 13 total) over California and a bit of Nevada showing 14K (presumably, 14,0000 files). I zoomed in (and panned with my finger), and there were 12K in California, 2K in Nevada. Zooming in didn’t change the numbers, so I tapped the 12K.

As that point, it appeared I could scroll through those 12,000 items. Tapping where it said “California”, then I could see it a bit more manageably…and then umber became 13,254. That’s oddly a mismatch…perhaps the California search includes things about California?

I next used the searchbox for the map, and searched for my town. That gave me 2 results on my Fire…but I couldn’t seem to get them to show up. On my desktop, I got twelve results…and I could see those.

I used the Timeline, and scrolled back to 1939 (an incredible year in pop culture history). They listed 11,221 items. To refine the results, you click the “Show” button (I didn’t find that entirely intuitive).

The order of most results were: image; text; moving image; sound; and physical object. There was a click for more, which added: dataset; collection; software; an interactive resource.

Interactive resource appeared to be the timeline itself, and software told me that there were zero when I got there (but one before I clicked it).

The moving images weren’t actually theatrical movies (there would be ones in the public domain from them), but short subjects, sometimes they might have been from newsreels, sometimes they were more scientific.

Clicking on Federal Theatre at the World’s Fair took me to another site, where it played on my desktop (I didn’t try that one on my Fire).

The Timeline would be a lot more interesting with actual public domain pop culture items in it…I still like it, but I’m a bit geeky about that.

Unfortunately, I have to say that’s generally going to be the appeal here. I was hoping for something that would make a lot more casually consumed media available…books, magazines, movies, radio shows, that sort of thing. Instead, at this point, I’d say this is more of academic interest. That’s still really valuable, and I hope they digitize a lot more. However, it’s a bit like a library that only has a rare books collection, and no popular titles.

I’ve written before about my hope that the Federal government might start digitizing lots of stuff in the public domain (they have tons of copies of that stuff at the Library of Congress and making it available for free in universal formats online. That may still happen…but I’m guessing it was easier to get funding for something that is more of a prestige item like this. I’m still going to hold out hopes for dime novels, though. :)

I was going to finish there, but I did a

search for “Tarzan”

Eleven results..three were text, and one of those was book review. The original book wasn’t there (easily obtainable legally on line), and there was an image of a Tarzan lunchbox from the Smithsonian! Again, I do think that’s cool…but not what I expected.

Go ahead and check out the DPLA…feel free to tell me and my readers what you think about it by commenting on this post.

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

Personal Reading Consultants

February 16, 2013

Personal Reading Consultants

It happened again. :)

I thought I had come up with something new, and it turns out it already exists…although, in this case, in quite a different form (that’s not unusual).

I was thinking the other day about just how many books (and other reading material) are available to people.

Right now, just in the USA Kindle store, there are 1,882,850 results under e-books.

How do you choose?

Well, although I consider myself an eclectic reader, not all of these books are going to appeal equally to me.

Step one, I could eliminate any book that blocks text-to-speech access…I just don’t buy those. That’s not going to be all that many, though…I’d be surprised if it’s 20,000 altogether.

That would still leave me with more than 1,850,000.

Step two, we could take out books I already own (although I might re-read some sometimes, it’s not common for me). Figuring both paperbooks and e-books, again, that’s probably not more than 20,000. I may have read more than that over my life, but that’s not the same as owning them.

Still not much of a reduction.

There are topics which might not appeal to me, like certain hobbies interesting. I can’t say I wouldn’t find a book on…1930s hockey players or some kind of actuarial formulae interesting, but they wouldn’t be high on my list.

Oh, we could reasonably eliminate books in languages I don’t read! That would help.

As a vegetarian, I’m also not going to be interested in books on preparing meat dishes…although I do see that on TV a lot as we watch cooking competition shows.

Once we got all of those out of the way, there are still going to be much more than a million books to consider.

Let’s say I spend on average ten seconds evaluating the appeal of a book. Hmm…10,000,000 seconds comes out to something like 115 days (non-stop, no sleep), I think. Of course, during that period, more books are being published (we can figure something like a 1,000 a day to the USA Kindle store).

So far, this is all just very broad strokes…it’s eliminating books I wouldn’t want to read, but it isn’t finding books I would find exceptionally good.

That got me thinking about the publishers’ representatives that would come to the brick-and-mortar bookstore I managed.

Somebody would come in, cull out the books that weren’t selling well, and suggest more for us to buy.

It would, of course, be up to me to finally say yay or nay, but the recommendations were quite valuable.

What if there were people who did that for individuals?

You would pay someone to make book recommendations to you on a regular basis.

I think there might be a real opportunity there.

It’s not just about saving a hundred dollars a month on books (after all, you can “return” any Kindle store book within seven days of purchase for a refund, so money isn’t really a risk).

It’s about saving time.

Time is a super valuable commodity.

I remember having a conversation with somebody years ago about how truck commercials had changed.

They had been largely about the utility of the truck, or the sexiness. You’d see the wheels spinning as it towed a dinosaur out of a ditch or something, or the back of the truck would be full of “beautiful people” in swimsuits going to the beach.

Then, it started to be that you would just see the truck parked on top of mountain.

It didn’t even have to move during the commercial.

The owner would, presumably, just be kicked back, doing nothing (maybe reading, but they wouldn’t show you that…”brains” and pickup trucks? Not a classic combination for advertisers).

The suggestion was that owning the truck would give you leisure time away from it all.

I always finish a book I start reading (even though some are a slog). I have people say to me, “Who has time to read bad books?”

Picture this.

You pay a consultant, say, $50 a month. That person Skypes or calls you once a month, and talks with you for maybe five minutes.

They recommend books to you.

You personally.

Based on what they know about you…maybe through surveys first (like a dating site for books), then through getting to know you.

You love almost every book they recommend to you.

Would that be worth it?

If you had a lot of money and your time was really valuable, it certainly might be. Maybe it would be business books for a CEO…or just novels for a busy person.

I do think this could work.

There could also be cut-rate versions, where you met in a group (a Google hangout, perhaps).

That person could also (with permission of clients) announce (and make available for purchase) books that they have recommended. Would people want to read the same books that, say, Beyoncé was reading, or Nate Silver, or Joss Whedon? Yes, I think they might.

I don’t think this would likely be a business that would make you rich, but I think people could make a living at it.

If they were good, or course.

If they weren’t good, the relationship would end in a hot second…or at least, they wouldn’t pay again next month.

That’s one of the things that would make this much better than reviews in magazines. It’s not just that the recommendation is specifically for you…it’s that, if you don’t like the recommendation, it has a direct impact on the person making the recommendation. The money flow depends on being right.

Let’s take a quick look at the economics.

I’m going to say you can do four client contacts an hour, and you do that six and a half hours a day (I’m giving you a lunch and breaks), and you do that four days a week (you need one day just for research).

Twenty-six clients a day, let’s go with 17 days in a month, so that’s 442 clients (with once a month calls).

442*50=$22,100 a month.

Hey, that’s a pretty nice living!

Of course, finding 442 people who would pay you $50 a month would be a huge challenge.

Still, if you find…100 people who pay you $10 a month, that’s $12,000 a year. That could make a decent side salary.

That doesn’t count having a website and making peripheral sales that way.

Do I think I’d be good at this?

Yes, I’d probably be pretty good. Having been a bookstore manager would help…and that’s one group of people that I could see making this work.

I mentioned that when I looked up the term I was going to use (“Personal Reading Consultant”), I found something that was already in use.

It’s used by libraries for librarians that recommend books:

Library Developments article

It’s in place in several libraries. You give them a list of books (or perhaps movies and TV shows, as the article explains) and a librarian recommends books for you.

That’s not really a proof of concept for my idea, since you don’t pay for the service (directly) or buy the books.

Of course, with mine, the books recommended could be free sometimes, although I think the Personal Reading Consultant could work some things where they got referral fees. My Significant Other pointed out that it might also get you press releases and such from publishers, if you were a known, successful…hm, I need a new term.

“Personal Reading Advisor”? Already being used (although it isn’t actually personal, the way I mean it.

“Royal Book Taster”? ;) That one’s not being used, but doesn’t really fit.

I’ll think about that more, but I hope this idea helps some of you out there. If it starts you on a new path, I’d love to hear about it. If you have reasons why this wouldn’t work, feel free to say so. I do think it would be successful for a small minority of people who tried it…like being a tailor, or…a personal chef or something. A lot more people would think they could do it than actually could, and there would certainly be luck involved. Do you think social media can fill this need for most people…at no expense? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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


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