Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

Round up #151: 5 reviews a week, don’t pay as you exit

December 6, 2016

Round up #151: 5 reviews a week, don’t pay as you exit

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

Check this out…or rather, don’t and just walk out

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I managed a couple of other types of stores, too.

This is truly revolutionary! Sure, Amazon does revolutionary things, but this is not online…it’s in a physical store.

What is it?

It’s called “Amazon Go”. It’s a new store concept…and the first one is opening in Seattle in 2017, so it’s not just a concept.

You have an app on your SmartPhone. As you walk into the store, you scan your phone while passing through a turnstile (sort of like some mass transit systems). Then, you just take what you want off the shelves, and you walk out.

That’s right…you don’t check out, you don’t pay, you don’t even scan your phone again on the way out.

Your Amazon account is charged.

That’s all a quantum leap change…we haven’t been gradually moving towards this, it’s a revolution, not an evolution

Watch this video:

YouTube

Note that is uses computer vision, among other things…it’s not just RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or UPC (Universal Product Code) tags.

We do see an Amazon employee restocking the shelf, although that could largely be done by robots. You want some employees, though, at this point…for one thing, to answer questions (the app could probably help with that, perhaps in the future as an Alexa-enabled app, or by having Alexa-enabled devices in the store). The other major thing would be to discourage shoplifting…no doubt, people will try to run into the store (hopping the turnstile, perhaps) and grab and go.

This is brilliant for Amazon for several reasons.

Everybody who goes in there pays through Amazon.

I think customers will like it…a lot.

Customers will also have a lowered awareness of how much they are spending. I’ve seen people in front of me in line at a grocery store look at the total and put something back…not going to happen here.

This first store will have grocery type items, including prepared meals…not, I would presume, fresh produce, although I suppose that could be done.

Amazon could eventually expand this, especially at the holiday season. I see clothing being particularly appropriate here, so people could try on the clothes.

Amazon…always innovating, and increasingly, offline.

Specialty Best Books lists

Here are some links to specialty Best Books lists from The Guardian:

Note that this is a British news source, but that has affected availability less in recent years, I believe.

こんにちは, Dash buttons!

Do you know why Microsoft Word won out over WordPerfect?

I was active at the time in computing, and I remember it pretty well.

WordPerfect was, I think most serious word processors agreed, better.

However, we did everything with keyboard shortcuts…we didn’t have mice and menus, for the most part (it worked with them quite a bit later). Some of you will remember plastic trays you put around your keyboard that listed the shortcuts…you might have had several of them.

Microsoft brought in this “menu” thing. People laughed: the only people who used a word processing program were superior typists, and they weren’t going to want to take their fingers off the home row to pick up a mouse and go to a menu.

Well, of course, what happened was that lots of people who weren’t good typists started using word-processing…and if you were a bad typist, that was better.

Microsoft won because they provided multiple ways to do the same thing. They didn’t eliminate keyboard shortcuts…they added another modality.

I bring that up because some people may wonder why Amazon does

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

when they have the beauty of voice shopping with the Alexa-enabled devices, including the original

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

With a Dash button, it does one thing. It orders a specific product, whenever you push a button.

Those are two very different approaches…and Amazon is making them both work, and apparently they are both selling well.

The USA Kindle store now has 226 Dash buttons…and when you buy one for $4.99, you get a $4.99 credit on your first purchase (so it is effectively free).

Well, Amazon just introduced the Dash button to Amazon.jp (the Japanese store):

Dash buttons in Amazon.jp

They are starting with 16, but I think it will be a success there, too.🙂

“Winner Wonderland”: win an Echo Dot and a whole lot more from C/NET

You could win an

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

and a whole lot of other home automation hardware in the

Winner Wonderland giveaway at C/NET

You do have to agree to get the e-mail newsletter (you can drop out), but this is a good giveaway. There’s a giveaway each day through December 15th, 2016.

“BANNED BOOKS AND BLOCKBUSTERS”

This

New Yorker article by Louis Menand

is one of the best articles on publishing I’ve read in quite some time…although, I will warn you that there is an “obscenity” early on in it (what some people call the “c word”…it can be used as an insulting term for women, and refers to part of the female anatomy, which is how it is used in the quotation appearing in the article). As regular readers know, I don’t use obscenities in my “real life”, and when I write in this blog, I typically censor them (even something like “H*ll”). However, I do not object to their use by others, and have used them when quoting something.

It’s important for this story, which gives real insight into the history of obscenity laws and the first amendment, and how they have affected publishing.

I found it insightful and edifying, and it’s relatively long.

If you can get past that word in this context, and some other discussions of what obscenity means (and potentially objectionable language), I recommend the article.

For a previous post of mine about judging books from older times by current standards, see

The Chronological Cultural Context Conundrum

That may not be exactly the issue here…both of these books use the “n word”, but in the latter especially, it’s used for a purpose, and the purpose is certainly arguably intended to be instructive.

Microsoft may challenge the Echo…through computers

The Echo really realized the home assistant market, but there are now multiple competitors…which is a good thing. Competition drives innovation, after all.

This

Engadget post by Jon Fingas

discusses rumors that Microsoft may turn Windows PCs into Cortana-powered home automation centers. Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant, like Alexa or Siri.

It’s an interesting idea and makes a lot of sense to me.

We don’t know if this is real, or what it would eventually be able to do…but I don’t see any great barrier to this. It might particularly apply in businesses…I use our

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

at work, but that’s not very subtle.😉 I’m not doing anything wrong listening to music on it and such, but I think it can distract people that it is there in a different way than a feature of Windows 10 would do. When I say that, I’m picturing the office having smart home technology which would tie to it, by the way.

Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird pulled from school district due to parent complaint

This kind of thing happens…a parent complains about a book, and it gets pulled from a school or school district, sometimes to be restored later:

Huffington Post article by Claire Fallon

The complaint was over the use of the “n word”. I’ve seen the parent (I think it was the complaining parent) comment, and the thought was that the word being in a book give it an imprimatur and children will feel okay using it.

As I’ve seen this story in multiple places, there is a tendency to tie it into current political events…I wouldn’t say I’m seeing something here that rules that in or out. After all, there is a Banned Books Week every year…

Amazon continues to go after “fake reviews”

A reader sent me a heads up to this

Washington Post article by Gene Marks

that asserts that there is a new Amazon review policy. I’ve written about Amazon’s customer reviews quite a bit…a powerful tool, but one that has been…vulnerable to at least attempts at manipulation.

According to this, the new policy is that an individual can only write up to five non-verified purchase reviews per week.

That will stop people who are “review factories”. They get paid (in cash and products) for writing those reviews…and they may use software or a team of people to do it.

They can still try to make a number of accounts, I suppose, but this does put a hurdle on the track.

Does it affect people who are legitimately reviewing?

Potentially, although I think not a huge number.

If I was retired, I could see deciding to sit down and write a review for every one of the Doc Savage paperbacks, for example, and that might be writing more than ten a week. They wouldn’t show as “verified purchases” at Amazon, since I bought them before Amazon existed.🙂

However, older books don’t tend to have very many reviews, so I don’t think that sort of Before Amazon bulk reviewing happens much.

Thanks for the heads up, reader!

What do you think? How should schools handle parent challenges to books…and how should they handle “objectionable words”? What do you think of the Amazon Go store? How about a computer that did home automation? Do you like Cortana? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

This post was improved through a comment from Edward Boyhan.

* 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 #150: cast Harry Potter spells at Amazon, tradpubs rebound

November 15, 2016

Round up #150:Round up #150: cast Harry Potter spells at Amazon, tradpubs rebound

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

“55 Books to Read this Fall”

This is a nice slideshow of some of the big name books for the fall. It comes from Entertainment Weekly, to which I have been subscribing for a very long time.

Entertainment Weekly article published by Tina Jordan and Isabella Biedenharn

Definitely interesting books…how about this graphic novel from Margaret Atwood?

Angel Catbird Volume 1 (Graphic Novel) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

“Your brain on books, or the benefits of reading (infographic)”

EBOOK FRIENDLY post by Ola Kolwalczyk

Always a good topic.😉 This one is particularly science-based with nice links.

Amazon Music Unlimited comes to the UK

The Verge post by James Vincent

While USA Amazon customers may get things first sometimes, Amazon is truly an international company. I’m not subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited, but I’m sure many people will. I’ve been using the richer language interface to Prime music, though…I wanted some music for work, and asked for “happy jazz”…and it delivered nicely.

Speaking of Britain, this is a nice

The Guardian article by Darien Graham-Smith

with beginner’s tips for the

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

Tradpubs rebound

While there was a lot of concern for traditional publishers (which I call “tradpubs”) that they were doomed with the rise of e-books and the supposed declined of reading, that doesn’t seem to be the case, or at least not a straight linear decline. According to this

Publishers Weekly post by Jim Milliot

there was a notable increasing trend in this year’s third quarter…despite, by the way, a downward trend in e-book sales for tradpubs. As I’ve written before, I don’t think that means fewer e-books are being read…just that customers may be migrating way from tradpubs as their source for e-books.

Amazon must refund in-app purchases by kids

According to this

New York Daily News article and other sources

Amazon has to refund purchases made by kids inside apps (“in-app purchases”). Amazon isn’t often found legally at fault in terms of consumer practices, and it’s worth noting that Apple and Google were also earlier found to have done the same thing, and that all three have taken steps to remedy the situation.

Bookstore bans Wi-Fi to encourage people to read books while in the store

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager…and I would not have done this.

ABC7New reports about Wind City Books’ policy in this

article

The store encourages customers to “live like it’s 1993” and says that “EMAILS CAN WAIT”.

I understand the concept…but it seems to be a very backward concept of how people use mobile devices. E-mail is hardly as important to people on the road as texting, and it blocks people off from many sources that benefit those with disabilities, among other things. Quite simply, you could put people at considerable risk.

I don’t doubt their motives…although blocking Wi-Fi perhaps benefits the store by making it more difficult to use the retailer for “showrooming”, where people look at books in a store and then buy them online.

I could see giving people the option of a Wi-Fi free zone for a reading room, but doing it in a store is different.

Black Friday is next week

Lots of people seem to feel like Thanksgiving snuck up on this year…I suspect people have been very distracted by the news lately.

I’m not seeing all that much about Kindle deals (although they will be there), but I am seeing rumors of the Echo for $139.99 and the All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for $39.99 as Early Bird sales at Best Buy.

If you have an Echo family product, you can just ask Alexa, “What are your deals?” to get exclusive deals. That’s something I’ve wanted from the beginning for Alexa, and it does seem to be pretty impressive.

Amazon does have its own deals on Kindle and other devices right now, as part of the countdown to Black Friday. Check out

Countdown to Black Friday (at AmazonSmile*)

Harry Potter spells at Amazon

Finally, just for fun (and promoting the Fantastic Beasts movie), try typing these Harry Potter spell words into the searchbox at Amazon.com:

  • incendio
  • aguamenti
  • orchideous
  • reducto
  • lumos

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

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

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

Round up #149: I’m on TKC tomorrow, Brits write about USA libraries

October 21, 2016

Round up #149: I’m on TKC tomorrow, Brits write about USA libraries

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

I’ll be on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles this Friday 10/21

I’ve recorded an interview with Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

for podcast this Friday!

I’m always honored to be on that show, and it’s a great experience. Len has interviewed many important people, including Jeff Bezos, and the shows are always enhanced by the host’s understanding, wisdom, and compassion.

I had some audio issues (totally not Len’s fault), but I’m hopeful that some technical magic may help cut down on the impact. As usual, I probably talked more than Len expected, so I’m counting on editing. I’ll probably do a post annotating the discussion after the show.

If you have an

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

device (and that includes Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*), Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*), Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) ((you don’t need the voice remote…you can use the free Fire TV app), and Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)), you can listen to it by asking the device to “Play The Kindle Chronicles on Tune-in”. It officially goes up on Friday, but I’m not sure when…should be available on Saturday for sure.

Took a Trip without an Echo

Another personal story (more newsy stuff to follow). Our two dogs took my Significant Other and me down to Pacific Grove near Carmel for a couple of days this weekend.🙂 They love going down there…and so do we! The Carmel beach is leash-free, and there’s a sort of hidden (there’s no sign visible from the street driving by) little old growth forest area in Pacific Grove, called the Rip Van Winkle Open Space, which is also leash-free.

elf-tree

We were looking for a quiet couple of days (we only spent two nights there), with a lot of walking and healthy food (we brought our own…literally the only thing we bought down there was that my SO had a latte).

Quiet meant…no Alexa! I could have brought our Tap, but my SO really isn’t fond of Alexa. I think it’s correct to say that it’s harder to ask for a light to be turned on than to flip a switch, and understanding is imperfect. I have a lot of fun with Alexa, and find the imperfections charming, but I get it. We also didn’t watch any TV…I had considered bringing the Fire TV Stick, and we probably would have used it…but just as well.

That doesn’t mean I was Amazon techless! I didn’t bring a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader), but did have my trusty (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX, and got quite a bit of reading done. I finished

Keep Watching the Skies by Bill Warren (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I really enjoyed that comprehensive encyclopedia of science fiction movies released in the USA in the 1950s! I’ve seen almost all of them (a few were real obscurities; some were…um, not appropriate for me at the time). In print, it’s over 1,000 pages, and I didn’t use text-to-speech, because I wanted to see the photos from the movies and the poster reproductions.🙂 I’m glad I could buy it for $3.99 during that sale I told you about back then…it’s $14.74 in Kindle format at the time of writing.

On the drive home, which was more than two hours, we streamed a Prime station on my Galaxy S7 Edge (not the exploding Note…I still like Samsung).

When I got home, I was eager to talk to Alexa again, but it was a great trip!

British readers write about their favorite American public libraries

I love this

Guardian article by Tom Stevens and Guardian readers

There are photographs and very personal short anecdotes.

Public libraries are one of the most important institutions that exist, in my opinion. They can change the world, by bringing it (and more than it) to the smallest towns and the biggest minds.

Is there a difference in the concept of British and American libraries? Interesting to me that they are so interested in the architecture…on the other hand, our libraries are relatively modern…not centuries old.😉

A picture is worth a thousand words…but is a book worth two thousand dollars?😉

The

Franklin Book Fair

is happening now, and

David Hockney

introduced a book (not yet available through Amazon) with a list price of two thousand Euros (about $2,200, I believe).It’s an art book, and comes with its own stand.

There will be 10,000 copies…gee, I wonder what the Kindle edition will cost?😉 Just kidding, this one probably won’t be released in e-book form.

Who owns a book’s characters’ unstated lives?

There is a fascinating issue raised in this

L.A. Times article by Michael Schaub

A reader brought up the idea to author S.E. Hinton that two of the male characters in

The Outsiders (at AmazonSmile*)

might have romantic feelings for each other.

The author said definitively that they didn’t and that they weren’t gay.

There was Twitter pushback on that…that Hinton was taking something away from readers.

When I write fictional characters, I don’t feel like I know everything about them. It’s sort of like they only show me so much. I can’t control everything they do, and they often surprise me.

That said, if someone gave a character of mine a secret life that conflicted with what I thought…hm, would I be offended? I think I’d probably be amused.

Look at how Shakespeare has been interpreted in so many ways. That shows, in part, the universality of the writing…and of the character’s feelings.

This is kind of a tough one for me. I feel like Hinton has the perfect right to say that the characters weren’t written as gay, and that the author doesn’t feel like they are gay…in the author’s mind. Letting readers think what they want about the characters seems fine to me.

Brand name authors writing e-book singles

This

USA Today article by Jocelyn McClurg

points out an interesting trend of brand name authors writing short pieces…either short prequels to novels, or short stand-alone stories.

This is something I thought authors like that might independently, but that’s not what is discussed. I also thought publishers might put those sorts of books into

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

Take a look at the

Kindle Singles bestsellers in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

There are some brand name authors here and in KU!

  • #7 and #10 are by Stephanie Bond
  • #9 is on Robert Dugoni
  • #15 is an Outlander work by Diana Gabaldon
  • #18 and #20 are by Melinda Leigh

Enjoy!

What do you think? Is it okay for readers and authors to have different ideas about the characters? Do you travel with an Echo? Do you have fond memories of specific libraries? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #147: focus on audio

September 21, 2016

Round up #147: focus on audio

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

Interesting results in my recent polls

I recently polled my readers about books and formats

In which format do you read the most books?

and was intrigued and educated by some of the results.

Let me first state, as I assume is apparent, that this is not at all a scientific survey. I do love the scientific method, and I like to look at methodology, but this is simply self-reporting of a small and undeniably unusual group of respondents…my readers.😉

First, when I look at this question: “In which formats have you read a book in the past 12 months?” e-books are fewer than half of the responses. Pretty evenly split, actually, were paperbooks and audiobooks. I would say I have underestimated the amount of audiobooks for my readers. Regular readers know I’m not a big consumer of audiobooks myself, although I can see the attraction. In terms of the industry, electronic versions of audiobooks have been one of the bright spots for some time.

Second, my readers report reading a lot more e-books than p-books (paperbooks). That’s part of what started that post. Pew had suggested that p-books were twice as popular as e-books…not with my readers. About 30% of the respondents said they read about 1 e-book a week (25-52), the most popular answer. The second most popular response (28%) was that they had read more than 52 e-books in the past 12 months. For p-books, the most popular response was about one per season (1 to 4 in the past 12 months) at 40%. The second one was “none” at 38%.

In terms of paperbook formats, more people were reading mass market paperbacks (the smaller ones) than I might have guessed…that’s a segment that’s been rapidly declining in market share, pretty much supplanted by e-books. My guess here is that many of those read are ones that my readers already owned, rather than new ones that they purchased recently.

I left off a couple of options in the poll (that happens), and they both related to early generation technology. One was listening to audiobooks on EBRs (E-Book Readers). Amazon had eliminated audio from EBRs some time back…but people certainly were listening on older gen Kindle EBRs. Another one was listening to audiobooks on CDs. I probably should also have included the original popular version, “books on tape”…audiocassettes.

Speaking of how my readers play their audiobooks, that was a lively topic in the comments on the blog recently. I naively was thinking that not having the recent

New Prime benefit: Audible Channels for Prime

available for Amazon’s own Fire Tablets at this point (I expect it to come later) might have been because Amazon figured that not that many people listen to audiobooks on tablets who don’t have a SmartPhone option.

That was silly of me: after all, I generally listen to text-to-speech (TTS), which is my preference, on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7 in the car. For one thing, I’d say the tablet generally has better battery charge life doing the same sorts of functions as the phone does. I haven’t really tested that recently, though.

For my readers, it went like this:

What do you use to play your audiobooks?

  • A SmartPhone 28.3% (45 votes)
  • A tablet 23.9% (38 votes)
  • I don’t listen to audiobooks 16.98% (27 votes)
  • An Echo device 16.35% (26 votes)
  • An MP3 player 10.06% (16 votes)
  • A laptop 3.14% (5 votes)
  • A desktop 1.26% (2 votes)
  • A smart watch 0% (0 votes)
  • A TV streamer (Chromecast, Fire TV) 0% (0 votes)
  • Total Votes: 159

A SmatPhone was highest, which is what I would have guessed. Next a tablet…and then I’m glad I included Echo devices! I’ve done that…listened to some of Dracula read by Tim Curry and Alan Cumming (and others) (at AmazonSmile*). I thought there might be some SmartWatch users…I’ve suggested Amazon could create a wearable for audiobooks, TTS, and so on. I also thought some might have used a TV streamer…Fire TV is so popular! However, how you would do it isn’t that obvious…they don’t have a category for it on the Fire TV homescreen, for example. One way to do it would be to listen to audiobooks on YouTube…they do have an app for YouTube, and there are a lot of audiobook videos there. You can also use the Alexa functionality to listen to your Audible books…I’ve tried that with Dracula, too. Audiobooks on TV seems like a great way to go to me…particularly the family listening to something together, or just while you were doing chores. An Echo device can do that, sure, but I assume more people have TVs at this point than Echo devices.😉

Anyway, interesting information…thanks for answering!

EBOOK FRIENDLY: 8 Google search tips for book lovers

This

EBOOK FRIENDLY post by Piotr Kowalczyk

is yet another great and useful post from this superior site!

You’ll see how to find books to read online, rich information about authors, comparison shop prices for e-books, and so on.

Well done!

OPEN CULTURE: Hear 75 Free, Classic Audio Books on Spotify: Austen, Joyce, Bukowski, Kafka, Vonnegut, Poe, Kerouac & More

I was writing about audiobooks above, and, well, who knew? Okay, I don’t want to be naïve again…maybe everybody but me.😉 This

Open Culture post (by Dan Colman?)

list many well-known books read by famous narrators…available for free at Spotify (you need a free account).

These aren’t all public domain (not under copyright protection) books, although many are. Some are read by the author (Langston Hughes, T.S. Elliot, to name two), some by actors (including Alec Guinness, Christopher Lee, and John Gielgud). I would guess there are hundreds of hours of entertainment here.

What happens when an e-book store closes?

I’ve said many times that I am more confident that my e-books will be read by my descendants after I’m gone than that my p-books will be. I’m speaking specifically of my Kindle books…I’m hard-pressed to see a situation in which that valuable an asset would not continue in some way. Either it would become legal for us to break the DRM (Digital Rights Management) because a “decoder” is not commercially available (you would have to download the books first…but I wouldn’t expect Amazon to shutter with no notice), or someone else would “buy the accounts”.

According to this

mobileread post by “chrisridd”

the latter is happening with Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand.

According to the memo posted and reported to have come from the company, there are refunds for some types of content (movies, TV, digital magazines), and you can download your MP3s before the shutdown, but e-books are being transferred to Kobo.

An irritation revisitation

I’m talking a lot about audio in this round-up, so I do want to mention one more thing.

My Significant Other needed a new read, and a reader, Carolyn perreau, had recently recommended Dorothy Abbott’s mysteries. Fortunately, what seemed to be the most popular books were part of

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

Since we’ve been happy members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service) since the launch, we were able to read that at no additional cost.

I sent the first one in a series to my SO’s device, and to mine:

Only The Innocent (at AmazonSmile*)

I was looking forward to listening to in using TTS on my way to and from work the next day…I was going to have a commute which was likely to be a couple of hours.

I was disappointed, because although TTS was enabled, the e-book only wanted to play the audiobook. That was even though I had removed the audiobook which automatically downloaded with the e-book, restarted the device, restarted the Kindle reader, removed the e-book, download it again, etc., etc.🙂

I’ve called Amazon about this a couple of times in the past with different books. I totally understand that most people see the audiobook as a bonus, a big plus. I don’t like to listen to an audiobook unless I’ve already read the book (as I put it, I don’t like the author/actor to interpret the characters for me).

If I could have had TTS on the book, I’d probably be most of the way through it by now (a few days later), if not actually finished.

As it is, I haven’t really started it.

I have books which don’t work well with TTS, so I sight read them…I’ve been reading

Keep Watching the Skies by Bill Warren (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which I’m really enjoying. It’s about 1950s science fiction movies (in the USA). I’ve seen almost all of the movies (I’m about 2/3rds of the way through…I would guess I haven’t seen fewer than ten of them so far…a couple of real rarities, a couple of “adult movies”)) nudies, as they might have been called then)), which simply wouldn’t have been available to me when I was watching most of these), but am getting quite a bit of insight into them.

There are pictures I want to see, so I don’t want to do TTS with that book.

My SO and I enjoy reading the same book at the same time, so we can discuss it afterwards (no spoilers). I’ll say that we read socially, although I won’t deny a touch of competitiveness in it.🙂 I’ve kidded my SO about that saying, “I can be less competitive than you can!”

As it is, I’m sure my SO will finish the book first…and be on to the next one (if this one is enjoyed) before I do.

By the way, in case your thought is this might be a publisher thing…it’s published by Amazon’s own traditional publishing mystery imprint.🙂

Carla Hayden: LoC

I didn’t want to end with a negative, so here’s a nice profile piece on the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden:

The New Yorker post by Daniel. A. Gross

I think Hayden may move the digitization efforts forward in a more focused way, which I would like to see.🙂

What do you think? What would you like the Library of Congress to do in the future? Do you listen to a lot of audiobooks? Do you worry about what will happen to your e-book collection in the future? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 

Round up #146: get a free Echo or Fire Tablet with a subscription, big Fall books

September 10, 2016

Round up #146: get a free Echo or Fire Tablet with a subscription, big Fall books

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

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

B&N announced their financials for the 1st quarter. Overall, it was bad…and the NOOK was worse.

According to CNN Money

graph

the stock has been down for three straight days (although today was bad for the stock market overall).

The media response wasn’t better than the investors’ response. For example, there is this one:

Barnes & Noble reeling as Amazon eats its lunch by Paul R. La Monica in CNN

When people commented on the NOOK, it was pretty much that it was time to give up on it.

GOODEREADER had a more sophisticated take on it:

Barnes and Noble Nook Leadership is in Turmoil by Michael Kozlowski

According to this press release

sales declined 6.6%…and “NOOK sales, which include digital content, devices and accessories, declined 24.5%”.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I was…intrigued by some comments on the call…you can read

Seeking Alpha’s transcript

although you may need to do a free registration to read the whole thing.

Leonard Riggio, who really built what we now know as Barnes & Noble was on the call as CEO, although that’s apparently a stopgap position.

It’s not often that you hear “terrible” and “…worse I have ever experienced in 50 years I have been in this industry” on a financial call!

I am unconvinced that, as Riggio suggests, there has been a downturn in sales because of the Presidential election which will reverse itself in time for this year’s holiday season.

Riggio says: “…we look forward to a great holiday series, which will begin this year in the post-election period when I expect what I call this retail malaise to be over.”

I would expect the election to be driving up sales, not down. I doubt very many people are going to say, “I would buy a book, but I’ll watch the debate instead”. Some people will read books about the candidates and the election who don’t read books at other times.

And reversing in time for the holiday sales? The election is November 8th. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is November 25th. Regardless of result, I don’t expect the country to be in a jubilant, confident mood that quickly after this divided an election.

I have respect for Riggio…but I think this will be a tough holiday season for books at Barnes & Noble.

We bought a computer…actually, we bought two

While our now adult kid has been happy with a Lenovo, and a lot of people are, I haven’t loved ours. I type pretty quickly (I’ve been tested in the 90s WPM…Words Per Minute, although I’m not that fast now), and I’ve just never liked the keyboard. I don’t think it was picking up my keystrokes quickly enough.

My Significant Other also really needed a new computer…the plan was that I’d replace the Lenovo, and my SO would use it (it’s been decent except for the keyboard).

We really prefer buying things from Amazon, but I needed hands on to make this decision. I’d tried a few at Costco, but the key arrangement was bizarre. In particular, some of them put the backspace pretty much out of reach without leaving the home row…that doesn’t work for me.

So, it was off to Best Buy.

They were very helpful, and not too pushy.

I ended up with an ASUS for myself, which I’m using right now…and it’s a world of difference. I paid more for it than I had originally thought (about $900).

My SO also loved a Vulcan…and that was under $200!

It’s already helping put more words into this post…just what you wanted, right?😉

“Alexa, show me Star Trek”

Yesterday, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, not only with a post on The Measured Circle blog:

Star Trek: its 50 year mission…to boldly keep on going

but by watching the first aired episode, The Man Trap (although it was in the remastered version).

Alexa voice search has been on the

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

or

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

for a while, but a new update rolling out now is bringing it to over 75 apps, including Netflix and Hulu.

You also will be able to control the playback using your voice.

Unfortunately, the

Voice Remote for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile*)

has probably been the least reliable piece of technology I’ve ever owned. Every one of them I’ve had has broken fairly quickly, without abuse. It’s not just the batteries, by the way. That’s been the only disappointing part of the Fire TV experience for me.

Fortunately, you can do Alexa voice control on the Fire TV by using the free Fire TV app on your SmartPhone.

Note that this doesn’t mean that you can directly control your Fire TV with your Echo…I keep hoping for that. I do have my Echo set up to work with my

Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*))

through IFTTT, but that’s a considerable investment and isn’t easy to do technically.

Scarlett Johansson and Tim Curry will read to you

Speaking of the Echo (and we use all three of that family…an Echo, a Tap, and a Dot), Amazon is letting you listen to Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland read by Scarlett Johansson and Journey to the Center of the Earth read by Tim Curry for free through your Echo during September.

Just say, “Alexa, read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from Audible” or “Alexa, read Journey to the Center of the Earth from Audible”.

Nice benefit!

Get a free Echo with a Princeton Review subscription

If you subscribe to Princeton Review Study Course for the SAT, Princeton Review Study Course for ACT, or Princeton Review Homework Help, you get a free Echo!

Education & Learning (at AmazonSmile*)

Now, that’s not cheap…the Homework Help is $399 for a year, but if you are subscribing any way…

Another “device with subscription” offer?

Subscribe to

Texture for 6 months (at AmazonSmile*)

for $89.95 and get a free Fire tablet.

With Texture you have unimited access to over 175 magazines, including many well-known ones…and that includes back issues and downloads.

The app only has a 3.6 star rating in customer reviews out of a possible five. Looking at the reviews, it seems to me that if it works for you, it’s well worth it. Some people don’t like the formatting, and some people had trouble getting it to work at all.

You can cancel within seven days (you won’t get the tablet, of course), so it might be worth testing. The terms are reasonable: your subscription will work on both Android and Apple, and can be shared between five devices.

Amazon’s Fall Reading list

We all know there are only four really good seasons for reading books…winter, spring, summer, and fall.😉

Fall is often for more serious books for many people…summer is more for popcorn books. That’s not how I read myself, but that’s the way a lot of people do it.

Amazon’s editors have made recommendations:

Fall reading: the most buzzworthy books of the season

This is where you can do your holiday shopping!

However, while there are 719 hardbacks listed, there are only 42 Kindle editions listed. Still definitely worth a look.

That was a lot of ground in these short pieces. Have opinions on any of them? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: this post was improved because of a comment from regular reader and commenter Harold Delk…thanks, Harold!

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

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

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

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

August 23, 2016

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

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

One Murder More reportedly wins three Silver Falchion awards!

I’m waiting for

Killer Nashville

to post the official results before I do a full post (and celebration), but I thought some of you would be curious: my sibling’s first novel, One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), won three Silver Falchion awards this past weekend! That’s amazing, and puts Kris in good company, including Anne Perry, John Sandford, Dean Koontz, and Sue Grafton.

More to come…

Barnes & Noble loses CEO

In this

press release

Barnes & Nobles announced the “departure” of its Chief Executive Officer, Ronald D. Boire (after not quite a year in the post).

This is being reported both as Boire being fired, and as Boire “stepping down”…but regardless, this is a negative for the Big 5 traditional publishers (who are still reliant on brick and mortar bookstores…I’m a former manager of one). Nobody who is already established in business likes uncertainty, and this is B&N’s third CEO recently.

The press release says that the Board determined Boire wasn’t “a good fit”…and that’s the Board’s fault.

One of my proudest things after I became the training manager at a franchise (where I think we had five owners in seven years…something like that) was that I lengthened the average longevity of my team significantly. When I was hired there, I was told there was a ninety-day “ramp up” period. I asked how many people didn’t get through that period, and I was told two out of three! Sure enough, I was hired with two other people, and I was the only person still there after three months.

That’s just…inefficient hiring, in my opinion.

I’ve hired a lot of people over the years, and I think I’m pretty good at it.

After I was the Training Manager for a year, the average longevity went from under three months to over a years, as I recall…basically, nobody left. Yes, I hired people during that year, but not that many because turnover was low. If I hired them, they stayed.

If the Board hired somebody who wasn’t a good fit, that’s likely to be mostly their fault.

This is odd timing, because we are heading into the most important time of the year…the last three months of the year, in a retail business like this, can easily be 90% of the year’s sales.

Maybe if Boire had made it a full year, the departure would have cost them more?

Replacing the CEO at the end of August is a little bit like replacing your pilot while your plane is at the gate readying for takeoff.😉

However, Leonard Riggio, who was going to retire in a few weeks (Riggio has been a driving force at B&N since buying the company forty-five years ago) is going to take the helm for now.

The publishers may see that as a good thing…they understand Riggio, even if the leadership is only temporary and therefore limited in determining the strategic direction.

I thought this

RetailDive post by Corinne Ruff

had intelligent insight.

B&N has had some good signs recently…none of them said “Books for Sale in Our Stores”, though.😉 The strategy has been to move the stores more into other things (especially the cafes), cut back on the NOOK even more, and try to remake the online presence. Those strategies aren’t likely to change.

MarketWatch: physical bookstores rebounding

In this

MarketWatch article by Trey Williams

they report a clear rebound for brick-and-mortar bookstores in the USA, continuing last year’s reversal of a downward trend which had been in place since 2009. I’m not sure I agree with Whitney Hu of

The Strand Bookstore in New York

a marvelous institution. Hu says in part:

“The recent growth in sales is a result of the waning novelty of e-readers, such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle…”

On the other hand, Hu is more likely to be right than another authority they quote…Ronald D. Boire, the aforementioned outgoing CEO of Barnes & Noble.😉

Are audiobooks cheating?

Regular readers know I listen to text-to-speech (software which reads books out loud to you) a lot. It’s typically hours a week in the car. I sight read every day, too…on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX (that’s what does the text-to-speech in the car for me), on a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a

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

depending on where I am in the house (I also read different books in different parts of the house…I’ve always done that).

I will admit, though,  that there has been a slight, nagging thought: is listening to the book somehow “inferior” to sight-reading it?

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with that thought.🙂

This

CNN post by Melissa Dahl

resonated with me…it was the same question.

Fortunately, Dahl was referencing this

blog post by Daniel Willingham

The bio states that Willingham is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.

Willingham addresses the idea of whether or not listening to an audiobook is “cheating”.

I was actually hoping for an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) study showing that what the brain was doing was similar during sight-reading and listening, but the post isn’t that.

It’s talking more about the process, and how it will “mostly” be the same (although there may be an advantage when reading more complex material to sight-reading it, an adult reading a typical novel should be pretty much the same).

It was interesting to me that the article was at least partly what I would consider to be philosophical…questioning the value of defining reading as “work”, something to be more rewarded when you put something more into it.

I do think some “literati” have that attitude: if a book was harder to read, it was better for you and more worthwhile.

I don’t buy that myself.

I think there is value in reading a “popcorn book”, one which reads with little effort. People used to (and some still do) call them “page turners”, although “button masher” became the digital equivalent for a short time (when was they last time you used buttons to “turn the page” on an e-book reader?).

In fact, and maybe I am a bit of a lazy reader in this regard, I tend not to like very “dense” epics…I describe them as when the sentence is better than the paragraph, the paragraph is better than the page, the page is better than the chapter, and the chapter is better than the book.😉

You know the type…I would put The Worm Ouroborus by E.R. Eddison into that category.

Still, it’s nice to know that a professor of psychology has the opinion that listening to an audiobook isn’t cheating.🙂 I intend to comment on the blog post (if the requirements to do so are not overly restrictive) to ask about text-to-speech versus audiobooks…I suspect that the TTS cognitive processing is much more similar to sight-reading than audiobooks are. I’d be interested to hear what the professor thinks about that…and about the fact that I generally don’t experience prosody (hearing voices when you read).🙂

What do you think? Have you thought of listening to books as “cheating”? Will Barnes & Noble continue to have physical bookselling in dedicated brick-and-mortar stores as a major component of their business? If they don’t, what does that mean for tradpubs? Why do you think brick-and-mortar bookstores have been rebounding? Is it because of a decline in e-book use…or maybe it’s coloring books?😉 Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #144: Prime Air, read more live longer?

August 9, 2016

Round up #144: Prime Air, read more live longer?

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

Publishing Perspectives: “Sisters in Crime on Diversity: Multiculturalism, They Wrote”

I found this

Publishing Perspective post by Porter Anderson

intriguing.

It’s about a recent report from

Sisters in Crime (SinC)

about diversity within their group of mystery writers.

The whole question of diversity is an interesting one…and one that’s been in the news repeatedly recently.

Do people of similar nature (gender, ethnic background, sexual preference) have similar perspectives? More importantly, do they lack perspectives that people of different (diverse) natures would have?

If someone believes that’s true, than finding out that a group of content creators or “influencers” being less diverse than the general population means that the works produced by that group underrepresent perspectives in society.

This survey (which is available at the SinC website) compared self-reported categorization of the membership with census data (with the exception of LGBT ((Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender…although it is generally used in a more inclusive manner than that, including those who identify as “gender fluid”, or example)) identification, which used another comparison study).

All of the groups were underrepresented by the authors under this methodology except for two.

SinC members (the survey was sent to 3,400 members; SinC is in fifty states) were reported as 93% “White, non-Hispanic”, compared to 62% of the general population…half again as many.

LGBT self-reported at 6%, compared to 3.8%…158% (somewhat higher than the above).

One more, and then I’ll recommend you read the study. I was surprised that people with a disability were underrepresented. I would expect writers with disabilities to be overrepresented…a person can write for a living with limited mobility. I can certainly see how someone who had a change in mobility status would choose to be the writer they perhaps always wanted to be. I’ve walked with a cane for maybe a few years now…it does make doing my day job marginally more difficult. Perhaps being a successful writer nowadays may require a lot of travel, to go to book festivals and such…I know my sibling, author of

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

does travel to those sorts of events frequently.

HDXter, the work horse

When I was a kid, you figured that you bought household appliance and it would last for generations of devices, but human generations.🙂 It was entirely possible that you would get your grandparents’ vacuum cleaner or refrigerator to use.

While the term had been around for a few decades, it was really in the 1950s that “planned obsolescence” became a popular concept. The basic idea is that companies would intentionally design their products so that the consumer would want to replace it, probably with a newer model from the same company.

Car companies have understood that.

Apple’s phone business has arguably depended on it.

It’s funny, but emotionally, when I buy a Kindle  or a Fire tablet, I feel (not think) that I will have and use it for decades.

Oh, I expect to buy new models when they come up, but that is largely to write about them for you, my readers. I’ve certainly bought them because I’ve been curious about a new feature, but I  expect the old ones to still be around and be part of my life (if I don’t give them away).

Regular readers may remember we had a break-in a few years ago and had a bunch of our Kindles/Fires taken:

Eight of our Kindles stolen

However, I have and use daily a Kindle Fire HDX (now discontinued). HDXter (“H-Dexter”) is the Kindle/Fire I use the most…it’s the one that comes to work with me, the one that does text-to-speech in the car. I use a Voyage and a Paperwhite at home as well, but HDXter has served me incredibly well.

It’s been in Amazon’s own Origami cover, and yes, it’s been dropped or fallen a few times.

Updates have affected it, which is nice…I got the new Page Flip version, for example, which is brilliant.

I have one of the current gen Fires, but I like HDXter better at this point:  it fits my needs.

Reading is life

“Serious readers” may feel like we get to live more by reading books, but one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, linked me to this

New York Times article by Bryan Thomas

which reports on a study that says that regular readers literally live longer.

Here’s the key in a short excerpt:

“Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die. Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.”

They reportedly controlled for other factors (readers may be disproportionately part of other groups with average longer life expectancy, including women and those of greater financial means, for example).

There may be a number of reasons for that…it may reduce stress, acting as a form of meditation. I think empathetic people tend  to be more emotionally fit, and there have been other studies which suggest that readers tend to be more empathetic.

“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Amazon!”

While Amazon’s drone delivery program isn’t happening in the USA yet (it will likely happen in other countries first, due to our approval process moving more slowly), Amazon has launched Prime Air…and it’s a cargo jet!

You can see pictures of it in this

GeekWire post by Alan Boyle

Amazon would clearly like to be able to control the delivery process from store to door. They also are using “Amazon Flex” drivers, sort of like Uber for Amazon package deliveries, for those final miles (they recently delivered the hardback version of the new Harry Potter book between midnight and 2:00 AM…creating some speculation, including here, that it might be some other secret product launch…it wasn’t).

I pity folks at package delivery companies who have based their business projections on how much Amazon was going to use them. It’s a tiny percentage at this point, I’m sure, but if Amazon expands control of self-delivery, it could even cause layoffs at those companies, I would guess.

Stock prices of traditional publishers are…

…doing just fine, thank you.

You might guess that publishers are in trouble…I’ve reported on the rise of indies. However, that’s one of the things about being professional companies with a long history: they understand how to make money, even if how they do it isn’t as “sexy” as just selling more copies of books.

This

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

has a nice look at stock prices, showing that their PWSI (Publishers Weekly Stock Index) has gone up a lot faster than the Dow Jones Industrials.

They break it down by individual companies, and some of the strong players might surprise you…Barnes & Noble (they don’t just include publishers, but B&N has had some “house branded” books before) is up 30.3%…Amazon, by comparison, is up 5.9%. However, it’s a lot easier to rise in percentages when you have a much, much smaller starting number.🙂

What do you think? Are tradpubs gains short term, or can they survive and thrive? Would you rather have Amazon deliver your packages, or UPS/Fed Ex/USPS? Should the author pool reflect the general population? Should reading be part of fitness/longevity plans? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

 

Round up #143: authors in bookstores, Adaptive Studios

July 27, 2016

Round up #143:Round up #143: authors in bookstores, Adaptive Studios

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

My McFarland sale bargains are great…thanks, eReaderIQ!

When I found out that there was a big sale on books from McFarland, I made sure to tell you about them…and I took advantage of it myself.🙂

Well, it’s been long enough that I’m deep into a couple of the books (I normally read several books concurrently), and I’m very pleased!

Keep Watching the Skies by Bill Warren (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is now $17.00…all of the books I’d reported were $3.99 at the time, so I had a $13.01 savings. I can’t tell you I would have bought it if it hadn’t been on a sale, but somebody might have bought it for me.😉

It’s a listing of science fiction movies released in the USA in the 1950s. So far, I’ve seen almost all of them. From reading the book, I’ve sought out a couple and watched them.

Warren does a nice job telling us about the cast and crew outside of this movie, and pointing out trends. That’s what I picture when I think McFarland books: context.

Another one is

A History of the Doc Savage Adventures in Pulps, Paperbacks, Comics, Fanzines, Radio and Film by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter (at AmazonSmile*)

I’m a devoted Doc Savage fan, but I couldn’t tell you the plot of every one of the 181 original adventures…Cotter can.🙂

I didn’t remember how political some of them are. It was interesting that in one novel, after the rise of Adolf Hitler, the USA and Germany (and others) band together, planning to disarm the rest of the world (Russia especially). Doc works against that…hopefully, Shane Black doesn’t portray Doc as a super patriot like Captain America.

That book is $9.99 now, so I saved $6.

Authors in bookstores

I have been in a bookstore (not working there…as a customer) and stumbled upon an author signing books.

It was an odd experience…I felt like I was intruding, like it was a private party between the author and the fans who went to the store to see them.

I did stay and listen, and it was fascinating.

In this BOOK RIOT article by Peter Damien

the writer describes actively avoiding the table in a similar situation.

That’s one thing that’s very hard for some authors…doing the marketing. That is just a very different feel and skill set from writing.

Turning abandoned scripts into books…and then back into movies

Hollywood (which I follow pretty closely) gets a lot of scripts. Some scripts travel around for years, perhaps being loved, but just not getting a deal together for some reason.

Movies cost a lot of money to make…the production budgets alone (not counting marketing) can be $200 million.

Books, on the other hand, are far cheaper to produce.

In this

New York Times article by Alexandra Alter and Brooks Barnes

There company, Adaptive Studios, buy those unattached scripts and turn into books…and if they do well enough, they can then turn the novels into movies.

It’s an interesting, round about path…but I’m not convinced they’ll be able to make outstanding movies. That’s never easy, and remember that these scripts  were generally already seen as difficult challenges.

I wish them luck!

What happens when publishers ignore copyright issues

This is a really interesting article in

Publishing Perspectives by Michael Healy

Healy is the Executive Director (International Relations) of the Copyright Clearance Center.

The article looks at how legal copyright changes in some countries can greatly affect publishers (and that affects readers like us, of course).

Regular readers know that I’m interested in copyright issues, and write about them from time to time in this blog.

I’ll give you a non-book example of a decision about copyright that massively changed an industry…the so-called “Betamax case”, Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. In that case, and in a split decision (you can read about it here) it was determined that consumers using video recording devices to “time shift” TV shows was Fair Use (allowed under copyright).

If the case had gone the other way (and it was close), you wouldn’t have had the giant home video market which developed. Oh, you might still have been able to buy licensed videos…I had bought Super 8MM three minute movie condensations legally. However, the reason people had recorders in their homes was to record shows, of course…which then meant they had something on which to watch those videocassettes.

The article will give you quick looks at some of the issues around the world…I recommend it.

In the USA, we could see big changes with definitive decisions about several issues:

  • “Orphan books”…ones still under copyright, but with no one to speak for them…a decision could be made that makes it legal to publish those without permission
  • Whether or not digitizing your physical copies for your own use is Fair Use…if that was a definitive yes, I think we’d get digitizing devices that were more effective than what we have now
  • Fanfic: if it was clearly ruled that publishers/authors/estates own the rights to what they have published, but not to the characters and situations (unless trademarked), that would be a game changer
  • Copyright terms: might they get longer…or shorter?

Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think about any of these issues by commenting on this post…

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

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

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

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

 

Round up #142: flat rate royalties, eReaderIQ worked for me

June 4, 2016

Round up #142: flat rate royalties,  eReaderIQ worked for me

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

eReaderIQ saved me $25

I frequently recommend

eReaderIQ

to my readers. I think it’s the best resource for Kindle owners on the internet. One of the useful features is that you can list a book there, and get a free e-mail when it goes down an amount you specify.

I listed

Universal Horrors (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shoppin*)
by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas, John Brunas

a long time ago. I was a big fan of Famous Monsters of Filmland and have watched a lot of the old horror movies (Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy) from Universal…multiple times. The book is supposed to be a good history…but the digital list price is $29.99. I’ve had it on my Wish List, and thought I might get it as a gift…but when I got the e-mail from eReaderIQ that it had dropped to $3.99, I bought it.🙂

My Significant Other is out of town for a few days (those are always difficult days) helping our adult kid move, so it was good to have a special book to read.

This is a book I’m not going to do with text-to-speech in the car, because of all the pictures I want to see.

I’m about 5% into it, and while it is certainly an important work with good documentation, I’m a bit disappointed. In writing about the Lugosi Dracula (1931, and the one that really kicked off the sound cycle of Universal Horror), the authors adopt the all too common position of “If you were educated like us, you wouldn’t like it.” I want to be fair, so I’ll quote them:

“The flaws inherent in Dracula are so self-evident that they are outlined in nearly every modern-day critique; only Lugosi freaks and the nostalgically inclined still go through the motions of praising and defending the film.”

There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and including it in your writing, of course…that can be done without condemning opposing opinions, though. I may have been old-fashioned in expecting a more neutral tone in a history.

Still, to be clear, I think the book is well worth it. If you need to get a gift now for someone who was a “Monster Kid” or otherwise is a fan of these movies (and Universal is starting them up again, as their own “Cinematic Universe”, a la Marvel), this is a great price! You can delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…it can change any time.

Great illustration of the value of eReaderIQ!

Judging a book by its Amazon-friendly cover

This is an interesting

Wall Street Journal article by Lucy Feldman

talking about how publishers are designing their covers to optimize sales on Amazon (which the article says now sells 45% of the books in the USA).

That means the book has to stand out in a thumbnail…maybe a couple of centimeters (one inch, roughly) tall.

The article has a great illustration with a bunch of current books which have yellow covers.

It makes sense…you could hypothetically have different covers for e-books and p-books (paperbooks), but that would reduce the impact of multiple exposures to the same item (often necessary before someone buys it)…and they aren’t talking about just e-books, but p-books bought on Amazon.

PrimeNow comes to Walnut Creek, CA

Amazon Truck

We don’t live in Walnut Creek (across the Bay from San Francisco and farther east than Oakland), but I do work there sometimes.

This Amazon delivery truck was recently spotted there…probably connected to

PrimeNow

just starting up delivery there.

That means that I could hypothetically be at work, and order, say, a Nylabone chew toy for the dogs and get it within two hours…at no additional cost beyond our Prime membership.

Remarkable!

If we suddenly find out we are going to a party and need a gift, we could have a

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)

in hand in two hours…one hour, if we are willing to pay $7.99 (I haven’t checked, but I assume that’s available in Walnut Creek).

There’s what looks like a weekly 50% off section, and I get $10 back on the first order.

This feels like a game changer…

Kindle for Kids bundle on sale for a limited time

The

Kindle for Kids Bundle with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Blue Kid-Friendly Cover (at AmazonSmile*):

which is the basic Kindle, plus a cover, plus a better warranty than you usually get…and it’s $89.99 right now.

With royalties, is flat where it’s at?

How authors get paid may seem esoteric, but it has a huge impact on what you read.

Not every author makes their living writing…but for the ones that do, how they get paid, and how much they get paid affects not only whether they write at all (or give it up and get a different sort of job/income stream), but what they write.

Back in the pulp days, authors might get a penny a word…and the same pulp magazine wasn’t going to publish five stories from the same author in the same issue.

That meant that authors might write in a wide variety of genres and under a number of different pen names, just to get as much published as they could.

For example, Robert E. Howard, best known for Conan the Barbarian, wrote boxing stories (I’ve read some…bought them with a misleading cove, but I did enjoy them), Westerns, detective stories, comedies…even “spicy” stories.

When an author (often through an agent, traditionally) licenses the rights to a publisher, it’s for a specific format or formats. One publisher might have the hardback rights and another one might have the paperback rights (less common today than it used to be).

E-books are a relatively new format (Amazon turned it from fringe to…somewhat mainstream in late 2007), so new negotiations and new rates are involved.

That’s all been pretty confusing and in flux. What is the right royalty rate for an e-book? Should it be based on the suggested retail price (the list price), on what was actually paid for it, or on the profit? What about an advance…should that be like a hardback?

Oh, a couple of quick term definitions. A royalty is something paid to the author for each book sold (I’m keeping this simple). An advance is something paid by the publisher to the author before the first book is sold. The publisher then keeps the royalties from sales until they equal the advance. That’s usually something for either well-known, “brand name” authors, or perhaps a celebrity who doesn’t usually write books (someone involved in a scandal might get one). The advance may happen before the book is even written…which might allow the author to not have another job while writing it.

Different pay method are being explored and suggested.

This

Publishers Weekly article by Rachel Deahl

looks at the idea of a “flat rate” across formats…authors would get the same rate for a sale, whether it was an e-book or a p-book.

I have a tough time seeing how that would work. Oh, I suppose it could work if it was all based on profit, not list price or sale price. Otherwise, the publisher has different cost burdens for different formats.

Authors would generally not want something to be based on profit, because you effectively have to trust the publisher on that. Many an actor who took a percentage of the box office was surprised when somehow, a blockbuster movie didn’t make any profit.😉 The studio might charge expenses (like sets and costumes) for a whole franchise to a single movie’s costs, for example.

I had something like that happen to me.

I was managing a game store…hadn’t been there long. As the manager, I got a bonus based on the holiday sales. I was doing well…yes, I was working 120 hours a week (I didn’t want to make my assistant managers work 80 hours a week on their salaries, so I opened and closed the store all the time), but my Significant Other and I figured we had a hefty bonus coming.

Well, I could do the math. I said, “What happened?”

Owner: “You bought the bags.”

Me: “I bought the bags?”

Owner: “We have four stores, right? We rotate which store buys for all four stores each quarter. This quarter, your store did…and being the holidays, there were a lot of bags.”

That was a surprise!

Authors and agents don’t want surprises.

In the article, they talk about maybe a 50% royalty rate for e-books.

That brings up the challenge for publishers.

Authors can independently publish through Amazon, and by meeting certain not complicated guidelines, get seventy percent.

That means that publishers certainly don’t have all the power in the relationship.

Amazon’s terms are very clear, generally easy to understand for a newbie. They revolutionized the pay cycle, with authors getting paid more often.

Right now, authors who already have successful relationships with traditional publisher are understandably reluctant to switch away to something which is still developing.

New authors, especially agentless ones, won’t have the same reluctance.

Then there is the whole issue of subsers (subscription services), but that’s a ride to take another time.😉

What do you think? Can traditional publishers continue to offer services to authors which are worth the writers getting lower royalties? If you have PrimeNow in your city, why do you ever go to a store for something it carries? Will we see the end of intricate book covers? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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

 

Round up #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.

 


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