Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

Round up #141: Goodreads Deals on Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, Jeff says…

May 20, 2016

Round up #141: Goodreads Deals on Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, Jeff says…

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

Quick round-up on Alexa

Most of my Alexa/Echo coverage has moved to my

The Measured Circle blog

(although I do alert people here when I post something there), but there are enough developments that I’m just going to mention a couple of things here.

First, for those of you with the

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

or

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

there is an update coming which will finally give us some Alexa playback control. It will open apps (like Hulu) or play Amazon Video content (including Amazon add-ons, like Showtime). That doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to ask your Echo (or Tap or Dot…we use all three) to do it…but you can ask your Fire TV. You could do that with a voice remote, or through the free Fire TV app on your Smartphone.

Another thing is that Google yesterday announced “Google Home”, which is a direct Echo competitor.

The Verge article by Dieter Bohn

It’s supposed to come out later this year, but no pricing yet.

As a daily Echo/Alexa user, I think this is a good thing. Competition drives innovation, right?

It will apparently have pluses and minuses compared to the Echo. It will likely handle multiple speakers better, and it is supposed to communicate with your Chromecast (Echo does not communicate with your Fire TV, as I noted above…although I can control mine by having our Echo communicate through IFTTT (If This Then That) to our Harmony remote). The multiple speaker thing can be funny…I have our Echo set to use Celsius (which I use) and our Echo Dot (in a different room) set to Fahrenheit (which my Significant Other prefers). It can be amusing when they both hear me when I ask what the weather is, so we get competing units of measure.😉 On the other hand, Google is choosing not to open development easily to third-parties (which Amazon has done)…so you probably won’t be able to call an Uber, order Domino’s, do your Capital One banking (all of which you can do with the Echo), or control as many different brands of home automation. That may drive Amazon to encourage even more third-party apps…and I’m happy with that!

Jeff Bezos speaks

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, (Chief Executive Officer), has had some things to say in public lately.

“We’re definitely going to open additional stores, how many we don’t know yet….”

According to this

CNET article by Stephen Shankland

and other sources, Amazon plans to open more brick-and-mortar locations.

I’m reluctant to call them “stores”, although Bezos does.

I’m a former retail manager…a bookstore, a game store, and a “nature” store.

As a simple definition, most people would say that a store is “a place that sells you stuff”.:)

Amazon does have a bookstore in Seattle which sells you books…I consider that one a store. However, their college locations are more like showrooms (with Wi-Fi).

I don’t think it’s going to be that common that people walk into an Amazon store (especially without already knowing what they want), pay for something, and walk out with it.

This is exciting, though! When they open a San Francisco “pop up store” (not a permanent location), I’d be interested in seeing it…we live not too far away.

Also, Jeff Bezos said:

“…a company like Amazon deserves to be scrutinized and criticized. I have no worries about that.”

Washington Post story by Paul Farhi

There is also a seven minute video there.

You might be wondering what might have Jeff Bezos worried, because that’s sort of implicit in the statement.

I flip the stories into the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard, and you can read the article to which I’ve linked, but I think I won’t name which Presidential candidate here right now. Quite simply, one of the two frontrunners has explicitly expressed concerns about Amazon (and about Jeff Bezos’ ownership of the Washington Post). Interestingly, Bezos has made the decision to respond publicly.

Current Goodreads Deals

Yesterday, I wrote a piece

Goodreads introduces Goodreads Deals

These seem to me like great deals! I’ve included all the options I could, so I should be seeing everything available to the general public (but individuals may see additional deals, based on what is on their shelves at Goodreads and which authors they follow.

I may be conditioned by the Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), but I was thinking these deals would only last a day…they are lasting longer than that. On reflection, that makes sense…a publisher might have a sale for a week, and it could show up here.

These are the books (in order of most customer ratings first) they’ve told me about at time of writing. The prices could change any time, and they may not apply in your country, so check the price before click or tap that Buy button. If you can buy the at these prices, remember that you can also give them as gifts! You could buy it today, and specify delivery on the appropriate gift giving occasion. Some of these are quite well-known, and would likely be well-received. If someone getting an e-book gift already has it as a Kindle book, they can get store credit.

  • Angels and Demons by Dan Brown | 3.83 stars out of 5 with 1,752,960 customer ratings at the time they sent me the e-mail | $1.99
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold | 3.75 stars | 1,484,094 customer ratings  | $2.99
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | 4.14 stars with 430,134 customer ratings | $1.99
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman | 4.1 stars with 409,503 customer ratings | $2.99
  • Misery by Stephen King | 4.07 stars with 300,372 customer ratings | $1.99
  • Before I Fall  by Lauren Oliver | 3.92 stars | 188,519 ratings  | $2.99
  • Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout | 4.25 stars | 149,651 ratings | $0.99
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson | 3.73 stars | 136,311 ratings | $2.99
  • The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver | 4.17 stars with a 109,586 customer ratings | $1.99
  • The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter | 3.84 stars with 42,435 ratings  | $0.99
  •  The Pact by Karina Halle | 3.94 stars | 15,583 ratings| $0.99
  • Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey | 3.9 stars | 4,743 ratings| $0.99

Enjoy!

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

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

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #140: Megapacks in KU, B&N’s future?

May 11, 2016

Round up #140: Megapacks in KU, B&N’s future?

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

Barnes & Noble’s  “Investor Day Conference”

There is an intriguing press release from Barnes & Noble to announce a June 23rd webcast (beginning at 9:00 AM) the morning after they release financials…which they will do after the market close. My guess is this is something really major…it could be that they are being sold, broken up, or shutting down a major operation. While this blog is “I Love My Kindle”, I have had readers who were NOOK users (as well as people I’ve known “in real life”). I don’t know what this will mean for NOOK (they’ve been inconsistent in capitalization) owners. My intuition is that someone will continue to service NOOK book accounts, a least for a while.

Amazon Video Direct

Amazon is doing to the video market what it did to the e-book market, and going directly after YouTube at the same time. They’ve already got Prime Video, which they recently gave a monthly option, at less than the typical Netflix subscription. They’ve included add-on options, so you can get major video sources, including Showtime and Starz, by paying more to add them to your Prime Video (and there are free channels as well). Amazon’s add-on subscriptions page (at AmazonSmile*) The new service, announced in this press release is a major initiative. Content creators can set up an account and reach Amazon Prime and other Amazon members…and get compensated in four different ways:

  • Included in Prime Video at no additional charge to tens of millions of Prime members
  • Available as an add-on subscription through the Streaming Partners Program
  • Offered as a one-time rental price or a one-time purchase price
  • Available to all Amazon customers ad-supported

This flexibility is going to attract mainstream studios, YouTube creators, and hobbyists alike. Amazon makes promotion, distribution, and payment easy. In some ways, this parallels their successful Kindle Direct Publishing program: one way to get paid is through a pool, just like KDP. You’ll get Amazon’s powerful infrastructure, which will, for one thing, give you analytics. Yes, Amazon gets a cut…but I think many creators will accept that they deserve one. In addition to people who may migrate from YouTube, I think you’ll see brand new content…including channels geared specifically to books and to Amazon devices (I would think, for example, that Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles could do this effectively. While I’ve been on the show ((TKC 392 KINDLE BLOGGER BUFO CALVIN)), I’m not connected with TKC). I’d be interested to see Amazon connected this to Goodreads,  which they also own. Importantly, this is not just for the USA: Germany, Austria, UK, and Japan will also be part of the distribution. The last one may be particularly big, of course, but they all have markets for video. If you are interested in making content available, start here: https://videodirect.amazon.com/home/landing and for more information, see this page: https://videodirect.amazon.com/home/help

 

I’m not adding this to my own list of activities right now…I’m stretched thin as it is, especially with getting The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip up to speed. I could consider it in the future…I probably wouldn’t appear in videos, but I could see doing “how tos” or book/media commentaries. I haven’t seen anything about an exclusivity requirement, but I’ve asked for a clarification on that.

Get Alexa on your iPhone (or other IOS device) for $4.99

Up until now, the least expensive way to get Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service (the personality of the Amazon Echo( (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*))) was to buy the Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for about $35. Now, you can get Alexa on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (there might be version requirements, of course) for $4.99! I’ve done it myself with my work iPhone (I’m allowed to install non-work apps on it…I pay for them myself, of course):

Lexi at iTunes

I’ve been testing it for the last day or so. You log into your Amazon account…and it knows your Alexa settings! I was quite pleased that it could, with no set up, control the same home automation our Echo, Amazon Tap, and Echo Dot can do. It knew my calendar, and did my Flash Briefing. The one thing it didn’t do was play Prime Music…I have an iPhone 5S, so maybe that’s different on a 6. I really, really want this on my Galaxy S7 Edge, but not yet. This shows it can be done, and what I’m hoping is that Amazon makes it part of the free Alexa app. Oh, one thing: it isn’t always listening (Siri can be set to do that). I launch the Lexi app, and hold and press on the screen to talk to it. Congratulations to Thaddeus Ternes and Bluetoo Ventures for a valuable addition to the AVS family!

Update: I asked it to read me an Audible book, and it said it was going to do so…but it didn’t after at least a minute.

The Megapacks are in Kindle Unlimited

The Megapack series are curated collections: H. Beam Piper (I happen to be reading some Little Fuzzy right now); dragons; “girl detectives”; and so on. They are typically ninety-nine cents…but they are also available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers at no additional cost: Megapacks in KU My experience with them is that their quality control is pretty good, and the curation is thoughtful. These are often going to be public domain works, but those can be my favorites.:) Customer rating averages are usually 4.0 or higher out of 5. Another argument for KU…sure, you could get often get these works for free, but I find it worth it for someone else to have done that work for me…especially if I don’t have to pay anything extra for beyond my KU $9.99 a month.

What do you think? Is Barnes & Noble done? Are they moving into an exciting new phase? Are the physical bookstores at risk…and if so, how would you feel if they closed or changed significantly away from books? What has your impression been of the Megapacks, if you’ve read one?

 

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

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

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #139: Paperwhite on sale for under $100, Google settlement case over

April 25, 2016

Round up #139: Paperwhite on sale for under $100, Google settlement case over

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

The Google settlement is settled

I’m not convinced that everybody likes reading about the legal cases around e-books. I do try to keep things eclectic, so if you don’t like reading one topic, one you do like will come up pretty quickly.

I was happy to see the end of the Apple case not too long  ago, with the Supreme Court declining to hear the case, meaning that Apple lost in the case brought against it (and five big publishers, but they’d already settled) over the use of the Agency Model in e-book pricing.

Another case which has gone on for many years it the one with Google scanning books. The case against them was brought in part through legal action of the Authors Guild…and that’s one of the raison d’êtres for the AG. They legally defend authors’ rights.

Well, in this case, the Supreme Court declining to hear the case means that Google’s scanning of books  is “Fair Use”, so they can keep doing it.

New York Times article by Adam Liptak and Alexandra Alter

Fair Use is a very tricky area of the copyright. Copyright is deliberately fuzzy…which I do find frustrating. Someone can do something, believing that’s  it’s allowed under Fair Use, and have it ruled not Fair Use. Similarly, a rightsholder may think something is not Fair Use (which is what happened here), and have it ruled Fair Use.

Those are the two cases that were really outstanding…I’m sure there will be more in the future.:)

I’ve gone from a Fire Phone to a Galaxy S7 Edge and…

I’m one of the few people who paid close to $200 for an Amazon Fire Phone when it was first released. It was, simply, not a success for Amazon.

It had some cool features, certainly…people were often impressed by the “dynamic perspective”, where it had a bunch of cameras that could tell the position of your head, and would change what you were seeing as you moved your face.

However, I didn’t like it as much as my old Galaxy S4.

Well, I wasn’t that disappointed when it finally died. The touch screen stopped working…not  much you can do with a modern phone without a touchscreen.

I debated a few options…I’m allowed at work to use my company iPhone as a personal phone, too. That would save some money, but we need to keep the account for another phone on the account, and dropping one phone from a plan like that doesn’t save you that much money. Besides, I like having two phones.:) I joke about it, saying that my pockets can call each other.😉

Another choice would have been to see if the touchscreen could be fixed…but that would probably have been $150. If I’d loved the phone, I might have considered that, but…

The third option was to buy a new phone…which we did. The Galaxy S7 had been getting great reviews.

I’ve had it for about a week…and I do love it! Some features may be on other contemporary SmartPhones, not sure. The camera is great: I’m very impressed that it pretty much autofocuses instantly. They’ve also clearly thought about  user interface: one example is that there is a still button and a video button both visible  in the camera…you don’t have to switch modes.

It’s also got very robust multitasking…I’d say it may be easier to switch between programs than it is on my Windows 10 laptop. I can also have two apps showing at the same time.

Battery life is very good. I can keep a clock showing on the screen all night…and it only takes about 3% of the battery charge.

As to the edge feature (you can rub the phone, lightly, while it’s off, and notifications appear on the edge…sort  of like Aladdin’s lamp), it is kind of gimmicky, but can be useful.

The screen is big, which can be both a plus and a minus. For the first time, I can actually see myself reading a book on my phone in the Kindle app. The app does not have text-to-speech, but does have Amazon’s speed reading feature, Wor Runner. It also does do white text on a black background (often my preference), although there is also a soothing black on a sort of mint green that’s appealing.

Another nice thing there is a “notification” of the book I was reading on the homescreen of the phone…I can go directly to the book when I wake up the phone!

Another cool thing which some other phones have, I think: it will let me sign into some websites using a fingerprint…easier than passwords and usernames.:)

The last thing: this has made me abandon the Amazon Appstore on my SmartPhone. When they stopped having a Free App of the Day, even though it was to give us the superior Amazon Underground, it eventually (after months) trained me to stop looking at the appstore every day. On this phone, I’m using Google Play (which does have a lot more apps). One app I’m loving is FxGuru…it lets you put very sophisticated CGI effects into real video…our dogs “encountered” a T Rex at the dog park today, for example. I used to be a hobbyist with Super 8mm film, and did some special effects there. I’m amazed at how smart these effects are…the T Rex, for example, appears to know where the ground is…it doesn’t float up in the air. That app is not in the Amazon Appstore.

400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death

For some reason, there have been lots of articles about the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. I doubt that Shakespeare  can be lauded enough, but you don’t usually see a lot of honor paid based on when someone died (rather than when they were born).

I’ve done some Shakespeare in my day, and was fortunate enough to get some Shakespearean analysis education as a result.

Many people have heard of iambic pentameter…that’s a line of five sets of two beats: daDum daDum daDum daDum DaDum. It’s not that hard when you get the feel of it:  I’ve actually improvised in iambic pentameter.:) I was doing a show, and an understudy was on with me. The understudy, unfortunately, didn’t know the part very well. The other actor had a cue line for us to exit the stage, and didn’t know it and sort of panicked and didn’t remember that we were supposed to go. I said, “I think the time has come for us to leave.” That’s iambic pentameter.:)

People tend to think of Shakespeare as stuffy, but that wasn’t the case at all. Once you understand the slang and such, is that some of the shows are quite lowbrow and slapstick…and “naughty”. I recommend

Shakespeare’s Bawdy (Routledge Classics) (at Amazon Smile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Shakespeare can seem very modern. The most amazing thing to me, though, is the versatility. If Shakespeare were alive today, the bard would have TV screenwriting credits on Two Broke Girls, Game of Thrones, The History Channel, and House of Cards.😉

Item available “Exclusively for Prime members”

Amazon really wants people to be Prime members!

We think of us getting advantages for being Prime members…but there may now be major disadvantages to not being one.

According to this

Gizmodo article by Andrew Liptak…hm, related to Andrew above

and other sources, really popular items may only be available to purchase if you are a Prime member…the DVD of The King’s Speech is one that I’ve confirmed, and Grand Theft Auto V was mentioned (but I didn’t see the information there).

According to the article, Amazon confirms it…and points out that people can do a one-month membership for free. Of course, you can’t keep getting the free month whenever you want…you’d eventually have to join to get some items directly from Amazon (third-party sellers may still sell it to you through Amazon).

Kindle EBRs on sale

It’s a limited time sale, but three Kindle EBR (E-Book Readers…non-Fires) are on sale right now. I’m going to copy in what I said when they were on sale for the same prices back in November of last year (it was a good sale then and it’s a good sale now):

Kindle, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $59.99 (down from $79.99) | 4.2 stars out of 5 | 12,244 customer reviews

The $20 off also means you could get it without the Special Offers ($79.99, down from $99.99) for the same price you would normally pay for an ad-supported model.

This is the entry level model, and it’s a good one. Here are some of the differences between this and the Paperwhite (which I’ll link below):

  • No frontlighting, so you read it like you would a p-book
  • Fewer pixels per inch (167 versus 300), so the image isn’t as sharp (but I would say sharp enough for most casual reading…you might notice it with images, like graphs)
  • Available only in wi-fi…no wi-fi and 3G option (for more money)
  • A bit less heavy, a bit thicker

Kindle for Kids Bundle with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Kid-Friendly Blue Cover (at AmazonSmile*) $79.99 (down from $99.99) | 4.0 stars | 61 reviews

This is like the above, but includes a ruggedized cover and an extended warranty…since each of those costs $20, this is a big savings, even without the discount.

Certainly something to consider for a gift.

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99 (down from $119.99) | 4.5 stars | 7,313 reviews

The Paperwhite (this is the latest generation) is a great model Kindle! I’d say it may be my favorite (price and everything taken into account), with the Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) being second…well, wait, lack of TTS makes that a tighter battle. For sight-reading, it’s my favorite. :)

What do you think? Is it smart for Amazon to restrict the purchase of certain items to Prime members? How do you feel about the Google settlement…and where Fair Use will go in the future? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

Round up #138: an easier way to KU, hearing voices

February 27, 2016

Round up #138: an easier way to KU, hearing voices

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

Presidential frontrunner respects Jeff Bezos, but “…they’re gonna have such problems”

re/code post by Dawn Chmielewski (with 27 second video clip)

 Hearing voices when you read

“But a man’s mind is so alone, shut up inside the bones of the skull.”
–Lew Alton
The Sword of Aldones
written by Marion Zimmer Bradley
collected in The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This

Mysterious Universe post by Paul Seaburn

referenced (and linked) a study by Ruvanee Vilhauer, published in Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches.

The study (although I would consider it more of an analysis) looked at online conversation about hearing voices when you read.

I think I’ve told this story before, but it’s specifically relevant, so it probably bears repeating.

I was reading a book which my Significant Other had already read. My SO mentioned having a problem with the book, because when reading it, my SO heard a character in the voice of the actor Darren McGavin.

I said something like, “What do you mean?”

My SO said that was the voice that they heard.

Me: “You hear voices when you read?”
My SO: “You DON’T hear voices when you read?”

😉

We both thought the other one was…um…unusual.

I had no idea people actually heard voices when they read.

In my work as a trainer, I was able to ask a lot of people…and it was about 15% of the people who were like me.

Well, that was unscientific…and honestly, so is this “study”, but it’s very interesting anecdotally.

I assumed that people heard character voices, based on my SO, but apparently, some people hear their own voices (and others hear other things).

I should be clear that, despite the nature of the publication, it is not suggested that hearing (or not hearing) voices is pathological.:)

Fascinating stuff! I recommend it.

HuffPo: “When a Publishing Expert Opens a Bookstore”

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to run a bookstore?

I’ve done it myself (as a manager, but not an owner, of a brick-and-mortar).

As you can probably guess, it was fun.:)

However, there is a lot more to it than just the fun part of helping connect people to books.

Before I was a manager, I (perhaps not surprisingly) worked for managers.:)

I liked my first one, but I wouldn’t say that person was extraordinarily good. We did fine, I just don’t think that was the ultimate role for that person. I will say, though, I liked my job interview:

Manager: “Hi, I’ve looked at your resumé. Do you like The Three Stooges?”

Me: “Yes.”

Manager: “You’re hired.”

:)

That’s paraphrased, but pretty much the way it went…just that one question.

I assume what I’d written showed that I had the minimum level of competency, and that there wasn’t much more of a concern (except perhaps team culture, which might have been connected to the Stooges question).

I think my second boss, though, was one of the best bosses I have ever had (still).

One of my favorite things was when another employee complained about having to straighten up an “end cap”.

The end cap goes, logically enough, on the end of the bookshelves which form an aisle. They are usually carefully “merchandised” (displayed), with a lot of books “faced” (with their covers showing, rather than their spines).

They get messed up easily…some people are not at all careful about how they put books back on the shelf in a store, sometimes even just laying them down horizontally.

My co-worker said something about not liking doing the end caps.

Our boss said (approximately), “That’s why we call it ‘work’. If you liked doing everything, we’d call it ‘fun’, and I wouldn’t have to pay you to be here.”:)

Merchandising does take some time…so does inventory, receiving, returning, balancing the drawer, and so on. The most challenging thing, perhaps, is the high amount of shoplifting in book (since it is so easy to sell a stolen book). That can discourage people.

This

Huffington Post interview by Fauzia Burke with Lynn Rosen

shows that even someone very familiar with the publishing industry can be surprised by the actual frontline experience.

“Can you use ‘Kindle’ in a sentence?”

I was listening to Len Edgerly’s

The Kindle Chronicles

on our

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

“Alexa, play The Kindle Chronicles on TuneIn.”

and heard the host talk about Amazon’s Kindle sponsoring this year’s Scripps Spelling Bee (thanks for the heads-up, Len!).

Here’s the

press release

I think this is a big deal, so I was surprised that Amazon didn’t send me a press release, and that they don’t have one yet on Amazon.com (this PR is from Scripps).

This spelling bee gets national media coverage…so tying in the Kindle to that is prestigious.

It also gives, perhaps, an imprimatur from the literati.😉

According to the press release, it won’t be like just slapping your name on a stadium…the Kindle will be an active part of the contest. They say:

“Kindle offers technology that will be used by the Scripps National Spelling Bee in building its word lists for school-level study materials. Vocabulary Builder compiles an easy-to-access list from words readers explore through the dictionary option. Readers can use these lists to quiz themselves with flashcards and instantly see words in context until they have mastered them. With Word Wise, short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words to help readers take on more challenging books. These enhancements provide for an improved reading experience that leads to greater comprehension, a stronger vocabulary and a better, uninterrupted reading experience for young readers.”

“View My Kindle Unlimited Books”

This was super nice when I was recently in the Kindle store on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7!

When I went to the

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

part of the store, there was a banner at the top that said, “View My Kindle Unlimited Books”

Tapping on that, it explained the system (that we can have ten out at a time), told me how many we had (9), and listed them…with a “Return this book” link.

That’s a lot simpler than how it was before, where we didn’t see them until we went to borrow one, and there were a couple of steps to it.

I haven’t seen that on the website on my laptop yet (that’s how I usually look for KU books), but it’s a nice improvement on the tablet.

What do you think? Do you watch the Scripps Spelling Bee? What do you think of Amazon sponsoring it? Do you hear a voice when you read? The character’s, yours, or someone else’s? Have you ever wondered about running a bookstore? Have any questions about that? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Round up #137: Brick and mortar bookstore sales up, chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

February 14, 2016

Round up #137: Brick and mortar bookstore sales up, chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

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

Netpop is doing an Echo survey and giving away 10 $50 Amazon Gift Certificates

I moved most of my coverage of the

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

to another blog of mine, The Measure Circle

It seems more appropriate there, but when I did, I told readers of this blog that I would link them to interesting posts I make about it there. The Echo does, after all, read books with text-to-speech and play audiobooks, and quite a few of my readers of this blog have them.

This is also a chance that you could win one of ten $50 Amazon gift certificates…and we could all use that.:)

Here’s the information:

Netpop is conducting a survey about the Echo with a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

You can see the details there, but I also want to thank Netpop for how responsive they were to a concern of mine. That is customer service!

If you win one of the gift certificates, I’d appreciate hearing about it.:)

For the first time since the Kindle was released, brick-and-mortar bookstore sales rise

The Kindle was released in 2007.

According to this Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

the U.S Census Bureau has reported a drop in brick-and-mortar bookstore sales (I’m a former manager of one) every year since…until 2015.

Last year, bookstore sales rose.

While the post suggests that may be due to rising p-book (paperbook) sales and declining e-book sales, that doesn’t prove that people are abandoning e-books for print.

First, brick-and-mortar bookstore sales and p-book sales are decreasingly a one-to-one correlation. Barnes & Noble regularly touts how well their non-book sales are doing (games, toys, shirts, that kind of thing…I assume coffee counts). My guess is that’s contributing to their rise.

Second, I’ve mentioned before that e-book sales may be increasingly a shadow event…they may not be tracked by organizations that are reporting a slowing or decline in e-book sales. Yes, the Big Five (top US trade publishers) have reported declining e-book sales…but if people are buying more e-books from indies (independent publishers), there may not have been a decline overall.

I’m happy to see the increase…but I just caution about building a narrative that e-books are failing and people are returning to paper in mass numbers.

I expect some bookstores to thrive in the next ten years…but I also expect the percentage of books read as e-books versus p-books to also increase during that time.

Books I got for my birthday

It was fun to give away my books in my annual birthday promotion!

Happy my birthday, 2016!

I love giving things away!

However, yes, it’s nice to get things as well.😉

My adult kid gave me eight (!) books in the

The Science Fiction MEGAPACK® (at AmazonSmile*)

series from Wildside.

Each book is an anthology of stories by a variety of authors, some well-known, some not as much. Many of the stories are, I believe, public domain, and some are not.

Authors in the first volume include Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Philip K. Dick, just to name a few.

I’m really looking forward to reading these! I’ve already started, partially with text-to-speech in the car. My family knows that’s a habit of mine from when I was a kid…I at least briefly “use” every gift I get within a day or so. When we were kids, we were encouraged to do that so we could write honest thank you notes to everyone.:) I don’t write paper thank you notes any more, but I still try to thank people.

My Significant Other got me a p-book, but as a collector’s item.:) As regular readers know, I’m a big Oz fan, and have 100+ year old versions of the original L. Frank Baum books.

This is an autographed copy of

Dorothy of Oz (at AmazonSmile*)

by Roger S. Baum, a great-grandson of the original author, L. Frank Baum.

I’m going to get the Kindle version I just linked, so I can read it while keeping the other one in great shape.:)

Here’s one place Amazon’s X-ray for Books would come in handy!

I though the infographic in this

post by Ola Kowalczyk in EBOOK Friendly

was great fun for me!

It’s fifteen books with lots of named characters.

The Stand (at AmazonSmile*) by Stephen King

for example, has 463 named characters, according to this, and 1,344 pages…that’s almost one named character every three pages!

“18 Reasons Why Reading Is Just Like Exercising” at Book Bub

I know Book Bub as a place to get free e-books..I hadn’t realized it had become such a pop culture website full of listicles!

I enjoyed this:

18 Reasons Why Reading Is Just Like Exercising

I actually do exercise quite a bit (my baseline is ninety minutes a day), but I really appreciated these! Some are available as shirts or e-cards…

Lee Child on Amazon brick-and-mortar bookstores

I recently wrote

Rumor: is Amazon planning to open hundreds of brick-and-mortars?

I talked about what I thought it might really mean, and some possibilities for what I called “Amazon showrooms” might contain.

I thought this

The Guardian article by Lee Child

was…interesting. Child, a bestselling author, has voiced an opposition opinion to some of Amazon’s decisions in the past.

Honestly, this is an opinion piece…and I don’t want to say too much about it. It’s worth reading…I’ll just say we don’t see things the same way.:)

I did want to point out one thing…it’s a technique I’ve taught people myself.

I have trained trainers (and I’m a trainer myself).

One thing that comes up for trainers is credibility.

You can’t really get someone to adopt the behaviors you want if they don’t believe you know your subject.

There are a lot of little things you can do, but one is to use precise numbers.

When I taught Excel years ago, I would sometimes use this: “Does anybody know how many rows there are in Excel? 65,556.”

That’s not true any more, by the way, but just by doing that, I convinced people I knew Excel well.

Child says, “So now, rumour has it, Amazon plans to open another 299 physical bookstores (it already has one, in Seattle).”

299…a precise number, therefore increasing credibility.

I think the what set off the original broad coverage was this quotation

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400…”

reported in a

Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger

I did a quick search, and I’m not seeing another source for a precise number of 299.

I know that is, perhaps, nitpicky.:) I’m not trying to argue the number…I’m pointing out that using any specific number when one isn’t known can be an intentional rhetorical technique.

I’m sure many of you will find the article worth reading.

What do you think? Do you find it confusing when books have lots of named characters? What do you think of Lee Child’s article? Why are bookstore sales reversing the downward trend? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Round up #136: E-book sales down per AAP, 100 essential non-fiction books

January 28, 2016

Round up #136: E-book sales down per AAP, 100 essential non-fiction books

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

Amazon’s 4th Quarter 2015 Earnings Conference Call Thursday at 2:00 PM Pacific

People are excited about this one…and it should be telling. Yes, the stock market has been having a rough time, but my intuition is that investors will like this. I won’t be able to listen to it live tomorrow, but I’ll get to it as soon as I reasonably can.

If you’d like to listen to the conference call, you can do it here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5215069

Oops!

One of my regular readers and commenters, Man in the Middle, recommended this article to me on copyright:

Freedom of Expression and Morality Based Impediments to the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights by Mark J. Randazza

It is a very interesting paper, discussing the effect of countries disqualifying a work from copyright protection if it is “immoral” (or illegal…they don’t say anything about fattening).😉

Content-wise, I can say I think I’m more along the European concepts of copyright than American.

So, the “oops” here was that I told Man that I planned to listen to it using text-to-speech (TTS) in the car on a commute.

It’s a PDF, and I planned to listen to it using the free app,

ezPDF Reader PDF Annotate Form (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I downloaded the PDF (portable document file), e-mailed it to myself, got in the car…and it wouldn’t open in EZ PDF! Quite odd…I’d never had that happen before. I tried a few different options, but with the limited time I had (I was off to work) I switched to

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

which my Significant Other had borrowed through

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

My SO said “enjoyed” wasn’t the right word (it’s not a happy book), but thought it was good.

So, that was okay, but I was a bit puzzled. EZ PDF couldn’t locate it on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX.

Then I realized what had happened.

Instead of e-mailing it as an attachment to myself (which I would then download to my KF), I had e-mailed it directly to the Kindle…which causes it to be converted.

It the text-to-speech (TTS) on my Kindle Fire worked with PDFs, or with the converted PDF, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Just a mistake on my part.:)

Amazon’s first Superbowl ad

Amazon has never bought a Superbowl ad before, but they have and it has been posted here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y-4pGhRxek

What is it for? Amazon Prime? The Fire tablets? The Kindle Voyage? Fire TV?

Nope, it’s for the

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

The Echo, which I cover most extensively in another blog of mine, The Measured Circle

does do sports, but Superbowl ads aren’t really about sports.

I’ll let you watch it, if you want, but I’ll say this: it has two celebrities…and it massively under uses the Echo.:) Somebody is writing down a list, which the Echo could remember them, and sync between devices.

I’ve finally gotten my SO to start using an Echo shopping list with me…we can each add things to it (either through the Echo verbally, or on our phones directly) and we can both see what’s on it and cross things off.

Works pretty well.:)

Lot of Echo news and rumors…I’ll be writing something in The Measured Circle pretty soon, and I’ll link to it here. One thing: we are about to be able to say that it has “hundreds of Skills” (like apps) available for it.

It’s been busy at work, though, and I’m working on another big project I hope to reveal in mid-February. Last night, I literally fell asleep while writing this post.:) It was right about when it was time for me to go to bed anyway, but that was…interesting.😉 It’s one reason my SO is starting to convince me that I might want to retire some day…I want more time for writing!

AAP report doesn’t split out mass market paperbacks from trade paperbacks

This report from the AAP (Association of American Publishers) was a particularly interesting one:

http://publishers.org/news/aap-statshot-publisher-net-revenue-book-sales-declines-20-through-third-quarter-2015

It says that revenue from book sales was down 2% in the first three quarters of 2015. E-book sales were down over 11%.

Why would that be?

There would be a number of factors, but as I’ve been noting in some of my analysis, Amazon’s bestselling e-books don’t tend to come from the kinds of publishers who would be part of the AAP.

They come from indies (independents), but also from Amazon’s own traditional publishing imprints. I assume they aren’t part of the AAP, although I don’t know that for sure.

Intriguing to me was that they didn’t separate out mass market paperbacks (the small ones I think most people still of as a paperback…about the size of your hand) and trade paperbacks, which are larger…they tend to be about the same height as a hardback novel/popular non-fiction.

The MMPs have been crashing in sales…e-books sort of took their niche of being relatively inexpensive and portable. So, the paperback category was up…but my guess is that was trade’s gains overbalancing MMP’s losses.

That’s probably why they didn’t separate this time, but have in the past.

2+2=literature

I love this!

In this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

a study is reported where mathematicians studied novels…and determined that they were not only subject to mathematical analysis, but had pretty specific results. They resembled fractals and multifractals.

I know some of you are running the other way, but I thought it was really cool!

You can suggest: the 100 essential non-fiction books

Still at the Guardian, this

article by Marta Bausells

invites readers to suggest essential non-fiction books. This is tied into Robert McCrum’s new list, although it seems like that list is already finished.

I read a lot of non-fiction (although I read fiction as well…I read a lot of things).

That would be tough for me!

I’d have to really think about it, and what I wanted books on the list to do and be.

My first thoughts are to books which give insight into Homo sapiens, both as a species and individuals.

My first gut reaction would include:

  • The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
  • The Book of the D*amned by Charles Fort
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

However, I then think I’d want my list to be broader…books that gave historical insight (in a different way than Diamond), for example.

Hmm…I’ll have to think about that.

The Independent: “Can we guess how old you are based on the books you have read? Take the quiz”

It was fun to take the quiz in this

The Independent article by Roisin O’Connor

but apparently, at least the answer for me was, “No, you can’t.”😉 They were way off…at least a third of my age off.

Of course, that makes me a bit happy…I like being atypical.😉

You can give it a try…let me know if it works for you.

My guess is that it won’t tend to work. A couple of years ago, I wrote

You’re showing your age when you say, “You’re showing your age”

It seems even more true to me now.

What do you think? What are the essential non-fiction books…and what does that mean? Have you been using your Echo for books…audiobooks or text-to-speech? What will be reported in Amazon’s financials call? What would you have done with Amazon’s first Superbowl ad? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Round up #315: Big retailer on campus, Kindle indie wins Golden Globe

January 12, 2016

Round up #315: Big retailer on campus, Kindle indie wins Golden Globe

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

From Kindle indie to Golden Globe

Congratulations to Andy Weir!

The adaptation of

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

which was published as a ninety-nine cent Kindle indie (independently published book), after having been given away as a serial, won a Golden Globe this weekend!

That marks a considerable change in the industry.

Now, it is important to point out that it was traditionally published (tradpubbed) in-between, but that demonstrates one model for tradpubs for the future.

They may be able to take fewer chances themselves on unknown authors or offbeat topics, and instead, let indie authors take the (considerably lower) risks. After a book demonstrates having a market, then they can bid for it and get their machines in motion.

It won for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, one of the top two whole movie awards.

There has been quite a bit of commentary about it having competed in the comedy category, but that’s like the categories that show up for books on Amazon…the people behind the property choose where to submit them. This was my tweet on that:

“Don’t be an Earthist, Tim. We don’t judge what you think is funny.” –Martin O’Hara on win at

😉

It’s also likely to get significant Oscar nominations on Thursday.

I want to additionally note that Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle also took top honors. That’s important, because it proves that Transparent wasn’t a fluke…that Amazon is an important player in original video. That affects us as readers because what affects Amazon generally can also impact what they do with regards to books and e-book readers/tablets.

How Amazon is ending Barnes & Noble’s college store business

One of Barnes & Noble’s (relative) bright spots has been their university stores.

They have often been the place on campus to get…well, a lot of things, going beyond books to pens, paper clips, t-shirts, and other items.

As laid out in this

Amazon press release

I think Amazon has really figured out how to disrupt their model.

They started in 2015 but are moving up a bit by opening at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s not to minimize Purdue or UMass (or their other two locations), of course, but it is an “ivy league” location.

Students can order by noon and pick up items the same day in a staffed location.

That’s great, but they are also making it a practical working and social site:

“In addition to mobile-enabled, self-service package pick up, it will be the firstAmazon pickup location to feature communal work spaces with interactive media pods where students can connect their laptops and mobile devices to TV monitors for presentations, brainstorming, studying, and collaborating.”

Gee, are they going to sell coffee and really hurt Barnes & Noble’s core business?😉

No, but they are opening in the dining facility! They won’t need to sell coffee.

They are expanding this to two more universities this year…Berkely and Davis (also in my area).

I think this model could very well in other areas, like business parks. I don’t think you’d see it in shopping malls…but if it is a destination where you are already, I think it could be huge.

Strong rumor: new, portable, cheaper Echo

In this Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger

Amazon to Release Portable Version of Echo Speaker in Coming Weeks

(if the link only shows you part of the story, try pasting the title of the story into Google)

they give some details on a rumored little sibling of the

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

This is now definitely an e-books story, by the way, since the Echo now does text-to-speech in addition to audiobooks.

It would fit into your hand…and would not need to be plugged in to work! It would charge up, and then you could carry it around with you.

You would need to push a button on it to get it to listen to you…the battery drain would reportedly be too much to have it listening all the time.

I would definitely want one!:)

I put this in the “strong rumor” category, because the WSJ is pretty reliable…and they have convincing sounding details (code name: “Fox”).

I’m also looking for Alexa to come to my Ford Fusion, and it sounds like that might be on the way as well.

Oh, and I want Alexa on my phone.:)

See, one of the things they’ve done is make Alexa a central repository for some things for me, like a Shopping List and a To Do. I can read those and manually edit them in the app on my phone…but I can’t talk to Alexa through my phone.

Big things are coming!

Fourth generation Fires are getting updated to Fire OS 5 soon

I was excited to see a notification from Amazon appear on my (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX that it would be updated to Fire OS 5 soon…I have that on our newest generation Fire, and it’s a big improvement.

However, they sent it by mistake.:)

I got a e-mail from Amazon that said in part:

“Recently we sent a message to your Amazon Fire tablets about a software update coming soon. We wanted to clarify that this update is for your 4th generation Fire tablet and will start rolling out in the coming weeks.”

My 7″ HDX is a third generation…they did a 4th generation 8.9″ HDX, the 7″ HDX is a 3rd generation.

You can tell which version you have here:

Which Fire tablet do I have? (at AmazonSmile*)

Update to Kindle for iOS

Amazon sent me some information about a new update for Kindle for iOS (Apple devices):

  • Native Social Sharing –  This feature makes it easier than ever to recommend a book to a friend or chat about a funny quote. Kindle book readers (or senders) can recommend the book or share a quote from the book with whomever they want – one friend, a group of friends, or more. Customers can choose from the apps they use every day to chat with friends like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as email, texting, and more.
  • Parallel downloads – up to 3 books will download at the same time, allowing customers to get to their content faster
  • Audible player adjustments – remove the (X) from the Audible player bar to simplify the CX and align with other platforms”

I think the big one for most people there will be parallel downloads! Currently, you have to wait for one book to download, then the next one starts.

I’ll be looking forward to that coming to other Kindle platforms!

What do you think? Would a place to pick up Amazon packages, and to use multimedia and wi-fi, work in an office park? Why would someone shop at a B&N university store if this was available? Have you tried text-to-speech on yur Echo yet (by the way, I expect that to come to the Fire TV family soon)? Does it bug you that Apple mobile devices get some features before other devices? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #314: Discovery Zone, A Truth Worth Tellin’

December 19, 2015

Round up #314: Discovery Zone, A Truth Worth Tellin’

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

This is how Kindle Unlimited should work

I read a good book recently.

Now, that shouldn’t be a rare thing.:) I often say I’ve never read a bad book, and I do believe that. I think I’ve gotten something good out of every book I’ve read…although there have been parts of books I haven’t liked and certainly, there have been some with massive flaws.

That doesn’t mean I’m uncritically accepting, or think that all books are equal.😉

It was refreshing to read a novel that I felt had a strong voice, good plotting, and wasn’t gimmicky.

That book was

A Truth Worth Tellin’ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Toni Teepell

This isn’t a case where I know the author at all, or had even heard of the book.

What happened was that my Significant Other wanted a new book to read (especially on the treadmill).

We are happy members of

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

Amazon’s subser (subscription service). People pay $9.99 a month (although there have been discounts for longer subscriptions) for an “all you can read” service. You can have up to ten books out at a time, and multiple people on the account can be reading a book at the same time.

We like to do that.:)

If we both read the same book, we can then talk about it later…it’s a social thing.

I looked for a book, and I started by looking for Southern fiction. That’s something my SO particularly likes…both more serious, like Pat Conroy, and funny, like Fannie Flagg.

I think I searched for “Southern fiction” in Kindle Unlimited, then limited it to Contemporary Fiction, and then sorted by average customer review.

I skipped what appeared to be romance (I read that sometimes, but it’s not my SO’s preference)…the publishers pick the classifications, by the way.

Then, the cover of A Truth Worth Tellin’ caught my eye…and it currently has 18 customer reviews, all 5-star.

I don’t want to build this up too much,😉 but that was a good rating…so we tried it.

It is, in a sense, a bit old-fashioned. By that I just mean that it isn’t saying, “Hey, look at how I’m disrupting the traditional novel by adding graphic sex, non-linear storytelling, and characters you hate!”😉 I’d say it could have been written in the 1950s…not in a bad way.:)

It was interesting: I didn’t even look at the price of it until I started writing this post. It’s $4.99.

I’m hoping that some of you read it and enjoy it…both for your benefit and for the author’s.

When people criticize KU, they tend to bring up the alleged lack of well-known novels (although there are actually a lot of famous books, they don’t tend to be current bestsellers). A Truth Worth Telllin’ (a first novel) exemplifies the argument for KU as discovery for lesser known novels.

And of course, if you borrow it, read a bit of it, and don’t share my opinion, you can just move on to another book…

Why Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an argument for permanent copyright

More than five years ago, I published what may be my most controversial post:

Should copyright be permanent?

In it, I explored the idea of making copyright permanent in exchange for greater Fair Use provisions.

In other words, an author and the author’s estate would continue to control the commercial use of a creation (which might, of course, include having licensed it to a publisher) in perpetuity, but the work could be used for educational and research purposes generally without compensation.

That’s the simplified version.

There are reasonable arguments on both sides.

One thing I hear from people is that a work staying in copyright deprives society of a common culture…that te world (or, at least the USA) should own works like Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland.

Well, I have to point out: is Star Wars any less of our shared culture than Romeo and Juliet?

Do people know “May the Force be with you” less than they know “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

Do they talk about Star Wars less than they do about Shakespeare? Are fewer kids named after Star Wars characters and actors than Romeo & Juliet ones? Well, okay, there are a lot of Romeos out there…but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many Lukes and Leias born in early 1978.😉 There also aren’t that many Mercutios…

You might guess it’s because Star Wars is more contemporary…but, based on the original copyright terms in the USA, it would have been in  the public domain by now (the original term was 14 years, renewable once for a total of 28, if the author was still alive…not as probable then as it is now).

Three quick tips

  • On a touchscreen device, “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on something for about a second) for more options
  • Menus often look like three horizontal lines on top of each other
  • To get help, you can go to http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

Help other readers find books

Just a reminder about

ILMK Readers’ Recommendations: book discovery zone

There will be many people new to KU in the next couple of weeks, especially since you can

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

You can help them out by going to the Book Discovery Zone and “voting” in the polls to endorse books, and by narratively suggesting books I can add.

Skipping the Flip(board)

Ooh, this was tough for me!

I skipped my morning

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

read this morning, although I will do it later today.

Why?

To avoid Star Wars spoilers.:)

My favorite thing in entertainment is to be surprised, and it can be hard to do. For that reason, I really don’t like spoilers, myself…and I also think they are…well, when done intentionally, I would consider them morally wrong.

Let me be clear: I don’t mean when you accidentally reveal a twist in a story, or when you do it without thinking about it.

I mean when people do it intentionally.

I read an article recently where the writer recalled standing outside of a movie in the Star Wars franchise, shouting the twist at people before they entered the theatre.

To me, it’s a form of intellectual bullying. That’s not to minimize traditional bullying. I think, though, it comes from similar impulses. You are using your superior power (knowledge, in this case), to take something away from someone else.

I love discussing movies (and books), but only when everybody present wants to do that.

I also think there is no statute of limitations on spoilers.

I believe that a nine-year old reading The Wizard of Oz in 2015 has the right to the same experience of the book as a nine-year old reading it in 1900 had.

I’ve been very pleased to see that mainstream media, and much of social media, has recognized the value of avoiding spoilers with regards to SW: TFA.

However, Flipboard (at least the way I have it configured) contains many non-traditional sources, and I’m guessing there will be spoilers in it this morning.

We are seeing the movie at 11:25 this morning…so I’ll read Flipboard after we’ve seen it.😉

Jeff Bezos is one of Barbara Walters Most Fascinating People of 2015

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) has had an interesting year: space news, an attack on the Amazon work culture, and an explicitly political comment.

Here is an

ABC video

of Barbara Walters’ “Most Fascinating People of 2015” segment with Bezos.

What do you think? How did Jeff Bezos do on Barbara Walters? What will happen to Amazon after Jeff?  Should people make references to plot twists openly (for example, jokes about maybe the Wizard of Oz in relationship to public figures), or should there be spoiler alerts? Have you discovered any books or authors through KU? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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 #313: what kids’ authors read as kids, lots of sales

December 11, 2015

Round up #313: what kids’ authors read as kids, lots of sales

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

Fire tablet accessories sale

Yes, there will be people getting their first Fire tablets this year (especially the Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) ), but a lot of people already have them.

Not to worry: Amazon is having a sale on

Fire tablet accessories 50% off and more (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There are a lot of cases and covers (including the origami cover, which is my daily use cover…I like it a lot). Check to make sure it is the right generation for the device.

In addition to that, though, they have other things including screen protectors, and some adapters…hypothetically, you could display a 4th Gen Fire on a computer monitor, for example.

Amazon devices are still on sale

While the least expensive Fire tablet is not on sale right now (but remember, it’s only about $50), a lot of Amazon devices are!

Amazon Device deals (at AmazonSmile*)

The one that is ending soon is the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

for $84.99 ($15 off), which ends Saturday (December 12th).

There are tablets on sale, and EBR (E-Book Reader) bundles.

Amazon’s best-selling Kindle books of 2015

I may do a whole post on this, but I thought I’d go ahead and include a link in this round-up:

Amazon’s Best Sellers of 2015 in Kindle Books (at AmazonSmile*)

I think most of you will have heard of most of the top 20.

This is different from what’s linked in this (which is what the post might actually cover…I’m asking for some clarification from Amazon first):

press release

at

http://www.amazon.com/bestsellingbooks2015 (http://www.amazon.com/bestsellingbooks2015

That list only includes books released in 2015…and combines e-books and p-books (paperbooks).

Amazon dominates this part of the literary world…

According to this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

Amazon’s imprint for translated works

AmazonCrossing (at AmazonSmile*)

“…published three times more translated fiction in the US this year than its nearest competitor.”

Yes, this is a British paper, but they are writing about the USA.

They seem to be bucking a trend of possibly declining sales in translated works…which would surprise me.

I would think people would be more interested in reading books from other cultures…but perhaps they are reading them more in the original languages…but maybe not.😉

Some of the

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

have been translated.

Translating books is a real art unto itself…which is part of why a new translation qualifies for a new copyright in the USA.

Children’s books authors’ favorite books they read as children

I loved this

Publishers Weekly article compiled by Diane Roback

It showed the deep and sometimes quirky connection that the authors had with books.

I wonder, though, how different that is from most people.

Their relationship to books feels familiar to me.:)

I wish all children could have that connection to books, but I know it doesn’t happen. Some of it has to do with opportunity, and some of it has to do with family culture.

I do think books are becoming more available to those with less, but I still fantasize about a world where every child reads, and loves, books.

I think that will be increasingly possible because of e-books, but…

Take 25% off any p-book

Amazon has a special promotion where you can take

25% off a p-book (at AmazonSmile*)

…pretty much any p-book (although the most you can get off is $10, but that’s still a lot!).

You enter this code: 25OFFBOOK

The sale ends at December 14, 2015 at 02:59am EST.

I know many of my readers read both e-books and p-books. Honestly, I don’t…I do sometimes pick up one  of the roughly 10,000 p-books I have on shelves in our house to check something, but I don’t read them cover to cover.

It’s just much easier for me to read e-books…easy to carry, easier for my vision.

If I could digitize all the books, I’d donate the ones I could. Some are rare, and should go to someone who will preserve them. Not valuable, for the most part, but rare.

Would I keep any of them?

Maybe…and it’s hard for me to think about getting rid of any of them!:)

8 Most Controversial Novels Ever Published

Open Road may be my favorite publisher right now.

Not only do they publish important backlist titles as e-books, and with features readers want (including text-to-speech access and often, availability through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)), but they clearly love books.

Take a look at this

Open Road article by Jessica Ferri

about controversial books.

I wouldn’t fault this list…I think you’ll generally think that the books on here are reasonable choices. Sure, you can argue most controversial, but this is a list written by someone who understands books.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite translator? How did books affect you as a child? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #312: e-books and public libraries, sharing economy and books

November 24, 2015

Round up #312: e-books and public libraries, sharing economy and books

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

Best Buy to have Fire 7″ for $34.99 on Black Friday

According to this

online ad scan

Best Buy will have the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

for $34.99 ($15 off) on this Friday, Black Friday. Well, it says Black Friday, but their doors open at 5:00 PM on Thanksgiving, then close at 1:00 AM on Friday, then open again at 8:00 AM on Friday. This is a “doorbuster”, so they could run out…and the price may not be available online. This is also unofficial at this point.

We also expect Amazon to have the same device at that price…but we don’t know when or for how long.

Some other unannounced but likely Black Friday deals on Amazon devices (again, unofficial, and may be in limited supply and for a limited time):

  • Wal-Mart, Meijer: Fire TV Stick for $24.99 ($15 off)
  • Best Buy, Staples: Fire TV for $74.99 ($25 off)

Before the Hunger Games: How Young Adult Books First Became a Category

I love stories about how pop culture became pop culture (and how it sometimes disappears, although that’s less likely nowadays).

This is an interesting

Time article by Merrill Fabry

No doubt, the Young Adult category is huge right now…but according to this article, we can really trace it back to 1929 and a New York Public Librarian Mabel Williams. Whenever it seems like it’s always been here, I always like to see where it came from.😉

When the Sharing Economy Comes to Publishing

This

Publishers Weekly opinion piece by Chris Twyman

examines the changes in publishing in a thoughtful and different way.

This isn’t about crowdfunding, but about how feedback can affect the actual writing of a book.

It’s not going to be the only way that things work: I think there will be a heteogeneity of publishing techniques, with traditional publishing still having a piece of it.

Again, check this one out…you’ll care about how your books come to be in the future: it will affect your reading options.

How libraries are meeting patrons [sic] needs in the digital age

Informative statistics in this

EBOOK FRIENDLY article by Ola Kowalczyk

on e-books and digital use and public libraries.

What percentage of public libraries would you guess use “eBooks and audiobooks”? According to this infographic (powered by Overdrive), it’s 95%. They also reported a 20% in the number of e-books and audiobooks  borrowed over 2014**.

National Book Awards for 2015

The National Book Awards have been announced. You can see all the winners, nominees, and long list here:

Official Site

The four winners are:

  • Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson (fiction)
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (non-fiction)
  • Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis (poetry)
  • Challenger Deep by Neil Shusterman (young people’s literature)

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

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

** This paragraph was clarified thanks to a comment from regular reader and commenter alanchurch

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


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