Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

Round up #297: Bookcon, Alexa plays a game

May 24, 2015

Round up #297: Bookcon, Alexa plays a game

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

Copy text on the Kindle Fire HDX

When did this happen?

People have often asked about copying text from a Kindle book. They want to paste it somewhere else…an e-mail, a Word document, that kind of thing.

The answer in the past has usually been to highlight it in the book, then go to

https://kindle.amazon.com

From there, you could copy and paste.

Not very convenient.

I was just highlighting something in a book I was reading on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

by “long pressing” (hold your finger or stylus on something on the screen for about a second) and dragging ove what I wanted, when I was that one of the choices was to “copy”.

When I tapped the copy button, it told me it was copied to the clipboard.

The “clipboard” is what Microsoft calls the place where something is temporarily stored when you copy something and then paste it somewhere else.

Back before we had Windows, I created something similar for myself…I called it the “bucket”, but the idea was the same. :)

I could then go to the native e-mail program, start a new message, and long press again to paste.

I was also able to paste it into a new document in

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Well, this will make things a lot more convenient! It also makes the Fire tablet a much more capable device for work and school.

I am on version 9.8_1– of the Amazon Kindle app.

When I copied on Kindle for PC, it would give me a citation (identify the source of the book), but I’m actually glad this one doesn’t do that. :) I wouldn’t mind having the option of the either one of the two…

A game you can play with your Amazon Echo

Back when the Amazon Kindle was first introduced in 2007, one question we would get was whether or not it played games.

It did, actually…I wrote about that back in 2010:

It’s the games Kindles play

There was a hidden version of “Minesweeper”.

Certainly, you may want to use your EBR (E-Book Reader) only for, you know, reading, but I think it’s nice to have the option. ;)

I’m guessing that the

Amazon Echo

Amazon’s “ambient computing” device (you talk to it…it does stuff) is going to have a general release in early July. That’s based on them not taking invitations any more, on it saying it is in stock on July 8th, and on them asking for video testimonials for it.

I’m sure people will ask if you can play games with it.

I asked mine it if played games, and it didn’t have an answer.

However, I tried:

“Alexa, scissors, paper, rock.”

Alexa responded with: “OK, let’s play. 3… 2… 1… scissors!”

Each time I ask, it responds with one of the three play options…and I don’t know which one it will choose.

In case you don’t know:

  • scissors cuts (wins over) paper
  • paper covers (wins over) rock
  • rock smashes (wins over) scissors

If you both “throw” the same choice, no one wins.

Have fun!

Oh, and for those of you who were curious…Alexa did not respond to the Big Bang Theory variant, “scissors, paper, rock, lizard, Spock”. ;)

Update: thanks to regular reader and commenter Phink for giving me the proper order to say the sequence…it should be “rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock”.  Then the Echo played the game! I’d never played it that way before, and interestingly, we both threw Spock. :) I also didn’t know that it had originated before the Big Bang Theory, with Sam Kass and Karen Bryla. Thanks, Phink!

For more conversations I have had with the Echo, see

Alexa says

Yes, I did reference WarGames, and say, “Alexa, shall we play a game?” ;) That didn’t get me much, but when I said, “Alexa, play global thermonuclear war,” the Echo responded, “I’d rather play chess.”

We bought a new computer…

…and we didn’t buy it from Amazon.

Honestly, I really wanted it to buy it from Amazon…not least because I could buy it at

http://smile.amazon.com

and get Amazon to donate some money to my designated non-profit (fifty cents per $100 I spend).

I also have credit at Amazon from doing our taxes through Turbotax (you can get a bonus on your refund if you take part of it as an Amazon gift card), and we have Prime, for free shipping.

Add it that I just like Amazon :) and there’s usually no good reason to buy something big anywhere else.

In this case, though, I get e-mails from TigerDirect (I’ve used them in the past).

We’d already pretty much decided on a Lenova laptop.

Some of you may remember that we bought an Asus two-in-one not too long ago (it converts from a tablet to a laptop by means of a detachable keyboard).

The problem with that one?

The keyboard is really too small.

I type pretty well, and typing is what often moves me from using my Fire to something else.

I just can’t do it comfortably enough on that Asus.

It’s still a valuable device for us, and I use it in addition to a desktop we’ve had for many years…and that is, well, let’s call it geriatric. ;)

This laptop (I’m using it now) is more of a replacement for the desktop, eventually.

TigerDirect had Lenovo G50s for about $100 less than Amazon…and more memory.

I tried to get one once, and it sold out to quickly.

So, when one came up again, I went for it.

Earlier, I had pointed out to my Significant Other that getting one from Amazon would be free shipping…and my SO asked, perfectly reasonably, “Will the shipping be $100?” ;)

Nope…the shipping was about $9.

Just made sense to go with TigerDirect in this case.

I did install the Kindle app on it…you knew I was going to get back to the Kindle eventually, right? ;)

The Kindle app for Windows 8.1 does look beautiful! I’m not often impressed with the graphic design of an app, but I was with this one.

The one negative right offhand was that

Creepy Archives Volume 1 (Creepy Archives Box Set) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

wouldn’t open, and told me it wasn’t compatible with this version of the Kindle app.

I’d already read it, but I just thought it would look good on this big screen. :)

“A Podcaster’s Passion for Ebooks”

This is a great

article by Len Edgerly

who does The Kindle Chronicles podcast (I’ve appeared on it, but not for years).

Len has been reporting on Kindles and e-books longer than I have, and brings an informed and compassionate viewpoint (a rare combination).

I enjoyed this piece, and I think you will, too.

HuffPost: “8 Books to Read Over A Long Holiday Weekend”

I know the weekend’s more than half over, but you weren’t going to read just one book, right? ;)

Huffington Post Oprah Winfrey Network article

I think it’s an interesting set of choices…always a tough thing to do.

Bookcon is next week

I’ve mentioned before (although I’m not sure that I’ve done it in the blog) that I find it interesting that we have great celebrations for movies and TV, and not much for books.

I do understand that: reading is a very intimate activity, and so is writing.

However…

Authors seem to me to have become more pop culture friendly in the past decade or so.

Also, I think that authors have become more of a brand name…more associate with the movies based on their books.

I would guess that most even casual moviegoers know John Green and Nicholas Sparks, in addition to knowing Stephen King.

This is the second year of

Bookcon

which is done by the same people who do New York Comic Con, among other things.

I think they are doing a good job!

It looks exciting, it looks fun…it looks “now”!

Sure, the literati might not approve of it. Mindy Kaling and Nick Offerman might not be put at a literary tea with Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse…but why not? It would make for one interesting conversation. ;)

Check out their site…gee, I wonder if there will be cosplay as literary characters?

What do you think? Did you plan out a book (or more) to read this weekend? Are you going to Bookcon? Is it okay to make books pop culture, or should they be “elevated”? Do you ever copy text from a Kindle book to something else? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

I Love My Kindle | Fun and information about the Kindle and the world of e-books

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 #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

May 16, 2015

Round up #296: #givebooks, Echo general release imminent?

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

“Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying”

I’m a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I follow the world of e-books quite closely.

I’ve long said that independent bookstores have a place in the future.

There are a few caveats to that.

People have to like the experience of going there so much that they are willing to pay more money than they would pay at Amazon (or Costco, to name a couple of alternatives) just to support you.

That’s right: they have to willingly pay more.

Do people do that?

Sure!

We have to get our fence replaced.

Its’ been falling down for some time…oh, not literally falling, but leaning and in bad shape.

It doesn’t help that our two little terriers want to look out and see people…so they keep pulling a plank out of it.

Yep, the pair we call collectively “Butterscotch Chaos” (I say that’s their “band name”…and my Significant Other and I are roadies) actually can remove the plank.

They could easily jump through at that point, but they don’t.

Still, it’s not good to have a plank out, and I tried to get it to stay where they couldn’t do it.

I’m not at all handy, but I figured I could nail it to the two planks next to it.

You guessed…three planks out. :)

At any rate, we need it replaced.

We are going to pay a company more than we might somewhere else, because we have used them before and like the people.

For one thing, they were totally cool with the idea of putting in a “dog window”…in fact, they said they had done it before!

We like them: we are willing to reward them for doing a good job and, quite simply, for being nice. My guess is that we will actually pay maybe a couple thousand more dollars than the cheapest other bid we’d be able to find (they are also doing a lot of yard clean-up…removing baby trees, trimming hedges, that kind of thing).

That’s what independent bookstores have to do.

They can’t beat Amazon on selection.

They can’t beat Amazon on price.

They have to win on service and on shopping experience…with an emphasis on the latter.

This

The Daily Beast article by Joanna Scutts

talks about the state of independent bookstores in the USA today, and specifically, about this year’s first “Independent Bookstore Day”.

There are several success stories in the article, and this quote from Samantha Schoech of Independent Bookstore Day:

“In reality more bookstores have opened than closed in the last couple of years in the U.S.”

I think generic bookstores (large chains, the “dinostores”) may be doomed (or at least, books will become a minority of what they sell), but bookstores with personality? They can survive.

Amazon readying general Echo release?

I’ve noted that the

Amazon Echo

product page is now indicating an in-stock date of July 10th (less than two months away).

They’ve shown in-stock dates before without it resulting in a general release…but they also aren’t doing the invitation route any more, so there really isn’t much of a reason to say it is “in-stock” for that group.

I just got an e-mail which seems like another strong indicator to me that it is releasing soon.

I was invited to make a video testimonial about my experiences with the Echo.

People who do have to have availability for an in-person interview from May 29th to June 1st.

The only likely reason I can see to collect video testimonials is to use them to promote the product (that’s made clear in the e-mail).

You aren’t likely to be promoting what you aren’t selling. :)

By the way, I decided to go ahead and publish an embryonic page I’m making, called

Alexa says

If you are curious about the Echo’s conversational abilities, that should help. :)

I’m guessing that before release we may see: the ability to play Audible audiobooks you own (that could be a licensing issue); the ability to control a Fire TV (and, less likely, a Fire TV stick); and possibly multiple alarms (maybe even recurring alarms, which would be nice).

There are quite a few other things we could see:

  • They could admit that you can text with it (you can do that now using If This Then That, but it’s definitely a workaround…you have to add something to your To Do or Shopping List)
  • Text-to-speech for books. One easier implementation I could see would be to parallel the “Alexa, tell me a joke” format. You could say, “Alexa, read me a story,” and it could give you a public domain short story. I think it’s less likely that we see text-to-speech with books you own that are not in the public domain, but maybe eventually
  • Movie times. Amazon owns IMDb which does that, so that makes it more likely
  • Shopping for non-Prime items
  • Shopping for items you haven’t bought before
  • Ad hoc travel times…you give it a destination verbally. Right now, you have to put in one route in the app
  • Firefly: Amazon’s song/video recognition. It wouldn’t be the visual recognition of objects, of course

Those just some things.

We could also see some very interesting third party apps.

Something I don’t expect is new Echo hardware before the end of the year. Some people think that will happen: I think it’s unnecessary. I think the hardware as it is is good enough for a first release…and that’s what we’ll have this year.

I also think they may limit the shopping part of it to Prime members, initially. That’s simpler, for one thing, but it’s also an inducement to get Prime.

Over $110 in free apps

I’m glad I started with a book story, because I just did an Echo story and now I’m going to one about apps.

That’s not the normal plan, but it just worked out that way today.

I have to do this one soon, because it is a limited time thing…in fact, it ends tomorrow (Saturday, May 16th).

Amazon is giving away a bunch of normally paid apps.

They do this from time to time…and there are usually some good ones in there. :)

I pretty much get all the ones I don’t have. With apps, you can just store them in the Cloud, if you want: you don’t need to take up any memory on your device unless you want to use one.

Titles include:

  • Star Traders 4X Empires Elite
  • Bike Race Pro by Top Free Games
  • Bloons TD 5
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD (Fire Edition)
  • Highrise Word Heroes+
  • Cooking Dash Deluxe
  • SUPER WHY ABC Adventures: Alphabet
  • ShutterFolio
  • Rebuild
  • Time Mysteries 2: The Ancient Spectres (Full)
  • Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere
  • Empress of the Deep: The Darkest Secret (Full)
  • Mini Golf Mundo
  • Star Command
  • Angry Birds Seasons (Ad-Free)
  • Sorcery! 3
  • True Booster | Speed Cleaner
  • Smart Office 2
  • Photo Studio
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3
  • Game of Thrones
  • Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson
  • Genius Scan+
  • G-Stomper VA-Beast Synthesizer
  • Language Coach

and quite a few more!

The display of this is a little weird…I’m not seeing an easy way to get them all on one page, but it’s definitely worth exploring. They appear to almost all be four stars (out of five) and up, and some have more than a thousand customer reviews.

Little Free Library Book Drive on Saturday, May 16th

We have a Little Free Library in our neighborhood.

I think these are really cool!

It’s just a little birdhouse sort of thing that people build and put outside.

Other people put free books in there, and you can take whatever books you want.

Saturday is their third anniversary as a non-profit, and they are doing a book drive, specifically for children’s books:

http://littlefreelibrary.org/this-began-because-of-my-mom/

If you post a picture of yourself dropping off books with the hashtag, #givebooks, you might win something…but that’s clearly not the main reason to do this. :)

I don’t usually give away my books, but I may look for something (or maybe buy something to give).

I won’t take a picture, though. Same reason I won’t do one of those video testimonials.

I’ve been on TV in the past, and used to go out and do more public stuff (radio and such).

Now, I like that we can be known on the internet for what we think and how we say it, rather than who we are physically.

That just means I don’t tend to promote myself as a physical identity, and that includes being in pictures. :) There is at least one photo labeled as being of me on the web which isn’t, so even if you do look me up, it’s not reliable.

If you want to post your picture doing this, or do a video testimonial for the Echo, though, I whole-heartedly endorse that! I love to see my readers get out there…those who want to do that. I also love my readers who prefer, like me on this blog, to be incorporeal. ;)

Update: thanks to reader Susan Cassidy for a comment which helped improve 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 #295: greedy readers, living tree book

May 13, 2015

Round up #295: greedy readers, living tree book

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

Piers Anthony for the Kindle

Piers Anthony is one of the most popular fantasy writers.

Many people have read the Xanth books, which some liken to the Oz series. Certainly, a love of puns is a commonality. ;)

There are 206 (!) titles listed on

Piers Anthony Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and 78 in Kindle editions (including books in the uber-popular Xanth series, the Incarnations of Immortality series, and the Bio of a Space Tyrant series).

Interestingly, there are 49 available through

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

including some well-known ones (Chthon, and yes, some Xanth).

Piers Anthony is a fun read! If you haven’t tried it, and you are looking for something light for the summer (or the Memorial Day weekend), this is a good bet. I would also guess Anthony has made readers out of many children.

An interesting consequence of having the Echo: listening to more audio

I consider myself a content omnivore, consuming lots of different media.

In the car, I usually listen to text-to-speech (TTS) on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

However, I used to listen to other types of audio a lot more: talk radio, old time radio, and music.

Having the

Amazon Echo

has meant that I’ve started to listen to audio at home again. For example, I’ve had it play the talk radio station to which I used to listen. I still don’t like the amount of ads, and I pick my times so I tend to get news, but it’s nice to have the local information.

I’ve also had it play me

The Kindle Chronicles

by Len Edgerly.

Review: The Kindle Chronicles podcast

It’s a brilliant podcast about the Kindle…gentle, insightful, and with really major guests.

I’ve been on it a couple of times, although I did make a slip of the tongue once which I suspect has kept me off the guest list since. ;)

Regardless, I highly recommend it…but wasn’t much of a podcast listener. Too much work to download a podcast and listen to it.

Being able to just say, “Alexa, The Kindle Chronicles podcast on Tunein,” and have it start playing is great! No charge, no booting up…I can easily start it during my exercise routine.

Living tree book

One TLA (Three Letter Acronym…we geeks even have an acronym for acronyms) ;) you may see in Kindle discussions is DTB…which stands for “Dead Tree Book” meaning a paperbook. I prefer the term “p-book”, since it gives parity to “e-book” (although nobody seems to use “a-book” for audiobook).

There are some ecological challenges with e-books, certainly, but I many are uncomfortable with the harvesting of trees that happens for most p-books.

Now, there is a p-book you can plant…and it becomes a tree!

This

Huffington Post article by Kimberly Yam

has a video of it.

You can get it from Amazon:

MI PAPA ESTUVO EN LA SELVA (at AmazonSmile*)

Gee, for some reason, you can physically plant isn’t available as an e-book. ;)

More reading, more money

Do you think Gordon Gekko, the fictional character who famously said, “Greed is good,” stopped reading for fun by the age of 17?

No way!

Okay, “fun” might have meant The Art of War and The Prince, but still. ;)

This is a great infographic (and introduction):

Reading Among Teenagers is Declining

from EBOOK FRIENDLY and the ever-reliable Piotr Kowalczyk.

It’s about the

BookUp program

from the National Book Foundation.

That’s a free program to get children reading more.

The numbers may be truly startling.

If I told you that one out of four children had stopped reading for fun by the age of 17, you might just say, “See? That’s what all this technology and SmartPhones has done to us!”

I think you’d be right to be worried…but we’re just getting started.

Well, that’s the number from thirty years ago.

The number today?

Fifty percent!

Half of kids aren’t reading for fun by the age of seventeen.

Part of it may be not seeing it as an economic benefit…when it clearly is.

Sure, it may be that kids who read more or who have lots of books in the home may have other benefits as well…they don’t say if they’ve controlled for that.

However, since you can get books for free (from the public library…and tens of thousands of e-books are free), it’s hard to argue that it isn’t worth a try.

I’ll just quote one thing:

“Reading for pleasure increases GPA more than required school reading.”

I’m not quite sure how you would come to that conclusion: where is the control group that didn’t have required school reading?

Regardless, I think that reading for fun makes people more empathetic (there are studies which support that), and I think that can be helpful in advancing in the work place.

Books Aren’t Dangerous

This seems like a great campaign, but I’ll caution you, I don’t know the bona fides of it yet.

http://booksarentdangerous.com/

According the site (with details to follow later), you post (this is on Tumblr, so I assume you have to do it on Tumblr) a picture of yourself holding a book that changed your life (or that you would recommend) with the hashtag, #booksarentdangerous.

When you do that

“For every picture posted, a book will be donated to an underserved school or library.”

This goes from May 12th-May 26th.

I’ll point out that there isn’t a cost to do this (outside of the exposure), and whether books actually get donated or not, you could positively impact other people.

I only see four posts so far, and only three of them during the program…I’ll check back on it to see if it increases. I’d love to not only see more schools getting books, but to see what books people post.

What do you think? What’s your favorite Piers Anthony book/series? If you read an author first in Kindle Unlimited, have you then gone on to buy books by that author? I’ve suggested before that I think e-books are increasing reading, but the infographic cited above refutes that…which way do you think it is going? What’s the right motivation to get kids to read? What’s the societal impact if kids are indeed not reading books as much? 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 #294: 100% royalty rate, Kickstarter goal reached

May 10, 2015

Round up #294: 100% royalty rate, Kickstarter goal reached

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

Book project funded!

I recently wrote about one of my sibling’s Kickstarter campaign to fund a new book (A Problem Solving Graphic Novel Guide for General Physics). I’m happy to announce that the goal has now been reached!

If you did (or you do…even though they’ve reached the goal, the project goes through May 23rd) pledge at least $5, you should be getting the Kindle version of the book in September.

Thanks for at least taking a look!

I know these authors! page

I’m hoping to make public the “I know these authors!” page on the ILMK blogsite soon. If I do know you (see the post linked above as “recently wrote” for what I mean by that), please remind me and if possible, give me a link to your Amazon Author Central page, so I can include you.

Day 3 of the Amazon Echo

On Thursday, I wrote about my

Amazon Echo: first impressions and menu map

I’ve been using it since, and thought I’d give a few more impressions and anecdotes:

  • I am impressed with its conversational abilities, although they are still quite limited. I tried, “Alexa, to be or not to be?” Alexa replied, “That is the question.” I’m glad that a joke wasn’t made out of that one. I asked, “Alexa, who’s the fairest of them all?” and got a great response: “Famed is thy beauty, Majesty. But hold, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee.” Hm…actually, I believe that’s from the Disney movie. I thought it might be from a public domain source
  • If you plan on getting one when they become publicly available, I’d start adding Prime music to your library now (if you are a Prime member). That’s free to do, and it makes it much easier for the Echo to play it. Add Prime Playlists, Prime Stations, individual songs, whatever. No charge for that (beyond your annual Prime membership). You might be tempted to add everything ;) but that might actually make it harder for the Echo to find what you want. I haven’t quite figured out what it does if there are two different songs with the same name, for example…does it pick one, or give me a choice? Prime Music (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
  • Whether you have an Echo or not, you may find this Prime playlist interesting (if you are a Prime member): Echo Favorites (at AmazonSmile*). It’s “regularly updated” with the songs most listened to on the Echo. It’s a fascinating list! Sure, you have Uptown Funk and All About That Bass, but there is also Chopin and Beethoven! I’m sure some people might find that jarring, but I like it as an eclectic mix
  • I did take the Echo to work, even though I figured I wouldn’t be able to get it on the guest wi-fi network there (you have to acknowledge terms, and there really isn’t a way to do that). What worked really well was that when I plugged it back into power at home, it just worked on my home wi-fi network again. I didn’t have to select it or anything…nice!
  • The app (I have it on my Fire Phone, but I assume it is basically the same on an iPhone, Android, and so on) has a lot of cool information! For example, you can go to the menu (three horizontal lines), choose Now Playing, and then tap “History”. Looks to me like is going back to the first song I played! I can play a song right from there, create a new station, or buy the song (as opposed to listening to it as part of our Prime membership)
  • I’ve sent one real piece of feedback through the app (Menu-General Feedback), and got a response quite quickly. I said this: “I am enjoying our new Echo very much. I did want to make a suggestion which would make it feel much more natural. You could introduce the option to put it into conversation mode. Once there, you would not have to say “Alexa” to get it to pay attention to what you said..That would continue until you took it out of conversation mode, or until it was quiet for a certain period of time. For example, that would allow you to ask a question, get an answer, and then say thank you and get a response without having to say “Alexa, thank you.” Getting it into conversation mode could be accomplished with a natural language sentence, like “Alexa, let’s talk.” As you know, the remote already works that way…you don’t have to say Alexa.”
  • To clarify something (thanks for commenting, readers): all you really need to use the Echo is a wi-fi network. To set it up, you’ll need either an app you download (to your Android phone or tablet, iPhone, iPad)) or the ability to use a browser on your computer. I would say you pretty much need the app to do many functions (for example, you can’t delete an item from to the To Do List from your Echo, I believe), but you don’t need any other connectivity than w-fi. The Bluetooth lets you do additional things, but you don’t need to set up anything in your house to make that work
  • I’m still thinking this is one of the really big tech stories of the year (after it gets released to the general public…I’m guessing mid-July), and that it’s a talked about gift at the holidays (not forgetting the Apple Watch, of course). I hope they can have enough available!

Kindle Unlimited keeps growing

Just saying…I think we’ll have one million titles in Kindle Unlimited for the USA market before July 4th (might be as early as June 1st, but that’s pushing it).

100% royalty rate

Yep…read that one again.

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Calvin Reid (obviously no relation, but I could take that as an attractive imperative) ;)

Gatekeeper Press gives independently-published authors 100% of the sale price of the book.

How do they make money?

By charging for services…for example, proofreading is $6.50 per 1,000 words.

This seems to be a legitimate business: they’ve been mentioned in the mainstream media (according to the site), and generally, it looks good when I look at the site.

Searching for “Gatekeeper” as a publisher, I found 38 results at Amazon. I found one ranked at 391,164 in the Kindle store…really, that’s pretty good. It’s in about the top 12%.

If you are an indie, I would consider this as one of your options. It may be worth it to pay someone to improve the quality of your book, if what you really want is sales and not just to communicate.

An infographic of pen names

I sometimes have people assume that Bufo Calvin is a pen name. It’s my real name…on my driver’s license, how the IRS knows me, all of that. :)

This

infographic at Electric Literature–WHODUNIT: A HISTORY OF NOMS DE PLUME

has some really interesting things to say about pen names…who, how much, and why. I’m not sure I buy all of the “whys”, but it’s still an interesting bit of work. They credit another site…but when I click on the link, I’m just taken to a place to buy toner (the ink for printers and such) as far as I can tell. I didn’t dig around that other site much…I’d just view it on the Electric Lit site.

What do you think? Are you okay with authors using different pen names for different sorts of works? Is that just legitimate marketing, or do you feel it is deceptive? Did you pledge for my sibling’s book? Have you ever supported another Kickstarter project for a book? Oh, and I can’t forget my other sibling’s book coming out June 1st…One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). Currently ranked in the 500,000s at time of writing, I do think it will do reasonably well when it is released…getting some good blurbs. :) If I know you, please remind me soon…thanks!

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 #293: the future of dystopias, do I know you?

May 5, 2015

Round up #293: the future of dystopias, do I know you?

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

Do I know you?

I recently mentioned that I have one sibling with a mystery novel being released on June 1st:

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

I have another sibling who already has published books, and is doing a

Kickstarter campaign (through May 23)

to publish a new one (A Problem Solving Graphic Novel Guide for General Physics…a $5 pledge gets you a Kindle edition…you only pay if they get enough pledges to publish it).

Well, that got me thinking: I really know a lot of people who have published books!

Both my parents have.

Other relatives have.

My coworkers have.

People with whom I served on a non-profit have.

E-quaintances (people I only know electronically…I’ve never met them In Real Life) have.

If I expand the net to include people I’ve met but don’t really know personally…yow!

I do want to support them, but I don’t want to bug you about them in the blog.

So, I decided to create a page (still under construction) on the ILMK blogsite dedicated to them.

Here’s where I’d like your help:

If I know you (even only electronically, as mentioned above), and you have a book (even out of print) listed at Amazon, please remind me! You can comment on this post and ask me to keep it private, if you like.

I’m sure I’ll accidentally omit people…or, I’ll take so long trying to think of everybody that I’ll never get the page posted. ;)

For everybody, I’ll let you know when the page is up (I may add to it over time, of course), in case you are interested.

Amazon Echo adds IFTTT support

This

CNET article by Ry Crist

does a good job of explaining the new capabilities added to

the Amazon Echo

By the way, it now says it will be in stock on July 8, 2015…at $199. Prime members, if they were given an invitation to buy one after asking for them, were able to get it for $99 originally. Mine is supposed to be coming May 21st. Update: I got an e-mail this morning that my Echo will now be here May 8th (Friday)! I have to admit, I’ll believe it more when I see that is has shipped…but that should be within the next day or so.

What IFTTT does is allow you to link apps and things together, based on “triggers”. In other words, you say that when I do this in this thing, do that in this other thing. That’s the initialism: IFTTT=If This Then That.

It makes the Echo much more practical…and many more options will be coming! One interesting one: when you say something to the Echo, it will send a text of those words to a specific person. It’s cheating, a bit, and definitely a work around: it uses the Shopping List. Still, interesting.

Ruth Rendell has reportedly died

Ruth Rendell (at AmazonSmile*)

(AKA Barbara Vine) was a popular and, yes, beloved author of more than sixty books (more than twenty just in the Inspector Wexford series).

Some of them are available at no additional cost to subscribers in

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

including

  • A Dark Adapted Eye
  • The Fatal Inversion
  • King Solomon’s Carpet

Dark Corners is scheduled for publication on December 1st of this year.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…over and over and over again

This

NPR article by Jason Heller

looks at the current and future state of post-Apocalyptic fiction.

Do I think it will stick around as a genre?

Sure!

I mean, it goes back to Jack London (and beyond).

I’ve written about the genre before…this one is from 2012:

Don’t dys the topia

Some people clearly like to imagine the world becoming worse…well, an optimist like me figures its because people like fantasy. ;)

Actually, in most dystopias, it’s about people overcoming the circumstances (and often overturning the status quo), which is a hopeful vision, right?

What do you think? Do you read dystopias? Do you read utopias? Why do people like dystopias…because they think the world is getting worse, or because they think that ultimately, good and joy will triumph? Are they meant as warnings, or thinly veiled criticisms…or all of the above? Will you pay $199 for an Echo? If someone had never read Ruth Rendell, is there one you’d recommend? 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 #292: literally embarrassed, hey kid stop reading!

April 27, 2015

Round up #292: literally embarrassed, hey kid stop reading!

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

It’s not as dangerous as not reading on the bus!

Look, I’ve read pretty much everywhere in my life. Okay, no, I don’t read when I’m driving a car (but I do listen to text-to-speech). However, planes, trains, and automobiles (as a passenger)? Absolutely!

I did have a friend who got stitches once…riding a bicyble and reading a book. Glanced up from the book, and hit a parked truck.

Still, this

Galleycat story by Dianna Dilworth

really gets my goat!

It’s about a schoolbus driver in Canada who has asked an eight-year old to stop reading on the bus!

Never, ever, ask someone to stop reading…especially children.

The bus driver apparently thinks it is dangerous.  According to the story, “The bus driver claims that other students might want to see what she is reading and stand up or that she might get hurt herself if the corner of the book pokes her in the eye.”

Puh-lease!

I hope to Hemingway that other students want to see what the student is reading! Maybe they’ll start reading themselves. :)

As to getting “poked in the eye”…um, what is this kid doing, reading the book sideways? I would guess every one of my readers had gotten a book in the face at some point (falling asleep, for example), and it’s never a corner.

Nobody else has other “pokey” things? Maybe not…don’t want to presume.

When I was in school, we had some ridiculous safety rules passed. You couldn’t bring troll dolls to school…because you might choke on the hair. Mind you, these were at least fourth graders. You couldn’t wear the big Batman buttons (Bang! Pow!) because you might get poked by the pin back (okay, that’s possible…but not likely). You couldn’t bring

Clackers

(two balls connected by string that you rhythmically swung into each) because they might shatter.

Yes, yes, those things could happen…but really, we all felt they were denied because they were distracting, not because they were unsafe. I mean, we had a jungle gym and monkey bars, right? They weren’t all that concerned about our safety. ;)

Oh, you don’t often see me get riled up like this, and I’m smiling while I’m writing it, even though I think it’s a serious issue.

I shall meditate this evening on how I can frame it for myself that the bus driver has a legitimate point…but I’m not there yet. :)

Oh, and I remember Dr. Dean Edell (I think it was) talking about distracted driving rules…I think it was banning even hands free cellphone calls. The doctor made the point that we would save a ton of lives each year if we made people wear crash helmets in cars, the way we do on motorcycles, but that’s not going to happen. That doesn’t meant that talking on a cellphone is good…it obviously raises distraction levels…as does talking to another person in the car and listening to the radio…

This me, soapbox…getting off now. :)

Fire TV vs. Fire TV Stick…round two

Not too long, I wrote about our

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

working noticeably better than our

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

One of my regular readers, Tom Semple, suggested that it might have to do with the placement of the devices in the house.

Well, with a recent update, the Fire TV can connect with Bluetooth headphones…and the Fire TV Stick can’t (at least, it doesn’t have the choice in the same place).

That got me to switch the to devices…putting the Fire TV in the family room. That’s where I work out in the morning, and I’ve been watching CNN while I do that on closed captioning…at least, the part where I can’t do it while reading on my

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

I figured having Bluetooth headphones and listening to news apps would work better.

I’d never used Bluetooth headphones, by the way. I chose a second product from Arctic. I’d recently bought the

ARCTIC Breeze Mobile USB-Powered 92mm Portable Fan, Portable Cooling Solution, Quiet Fan – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for $7.99.

My office at work is stuffy, and this has been a wonderful thing…and it’s quiet enough that I can have it on during conference calls or while on a Webex.

So, I thought I’d try their

ARCTIC P324 BT (Black) – Bluetooth (V4.0) Headset with Neckband – Headphones with integrated Microphone – Perfect for Sport (at AmazonSmile*)

Again, that’s relatively inexpensive, but I’m pleased. I can’t tell yet how durable they will be, but both the fan and the headphones are serviceable. I’m not a fan of earbuds, and even though my Significant Other said these over-the-ear models made me look like Princess Leia ;) I like them.

It’s also a little weird getting used to how they go on your head (not over the top of your head, but across the back of them), but they seem to stay even when I’m moving around. The range was pretty good, too…and it really surprised me that someone could hear me okay when making a phone call. The microphone is on the earpiece…not sticking out in front by my mouth.

Listening to music on Bluetooth headphones from your Fire would be nice, too.

Anyway… :)

Having switched the two devices, it still seems to me like the Fire TV is much better than the Fire TV Stick, although the latter is also a good device. The Fire TV is faster in loading something (like Hulu or Netflix), and doesn’t have the performance issues I get sometimes with the stick. They are both worth the price, in my opinion…but the Fire TV is worth the higher price. ;)

Imagine how much more embarrassing it would be if they were reading on the bus! ;)

This is an interesting

World Book Day infographic reproduced in a Publishing Perspectives article by Hannah Johnson

As regular readers know, I’m not that visually oriented, but there were some interesting statistics here.

One was that 18% of children 8-11 said they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we can conclude that 82% would be proud. It could be that a large percentage are neutral on it…perhaps because many of them don’t read, but I hope that’s not the case.

Another interesting assertion was that children with more than 500 books in their homes had language skills on average two years ahead of kids with fewer than ten books in their homes. Gee, I wonder how having hundreds of thousands of books available to you through the Kindle store impacts it? Do they read at super genius level? ;) Seriously, even without paying for Kindle Unlimited (which would get you access to nearly a million (945,365 at time of writing in the USA) books, there are more than 50,000 free books you can own. I do think that opportunity probably makes a difference.

Cute Kobo cartoon

I thought this one from Kobo was cute:

https://twitter.com/kobo/status/592090412728233984/photo/1

What do you think? Is it dangerous to be reading a book on a school bus? What should the parents do in that situation, if anything? Convince me that the school bus driver has a legitimate concern…please. :) What about reading at the dinner table? That was always okay in my house growing up…at least, I like to remember it that way. :) We also had to say how our day was, so we did interact. Were you ever embarrassed to be seen reading when you were a kid? 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 #291: HarperCollins/Amazon deal, $20 off Paperwhite

April 14, 2015

Round up #291: HarperCollins/Amazon deal, $20 off Paperwhite

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

Book collecting: how has the presence of e-books affected it?

I’ll admit to being surprised by this

Wall Street Journal post by Steven Rosenbush

I have collectible books…oh, not books worth thousands of dollars, but I’ve paid $100 for a single book.

I’ve also “collected” all of a single series, although that’s not quite the same thing.

What would I guess would have happened to the collectible book market in the past few years?

I thought prices would have gone up.

My intuition is that people will see the rise in e-books as meaning that there will be fewer p-books (paperbooks) to collect in the future. Lessening supply with the same demand could mean a rise in prices.

I also figured there would be an “endangered species” mentality. Falsely, I think, there was this sense that p-books were simply going to disappear.

Remember that p-books decay. Different quality p-books (in terms of materials used and production methods) decay at different rates, but pages can become brittle with age.

If they are actually (gasp!) read, the situation is even worse for them.

I’ve had people surprised that I could read a mass market paperback and still have it look like new at the end, and that’s not how it is with most people. The spines get broken, people “dog ear” pages, things get spilled on them,they get exposed to the elements…people tout p-books as one of the great technological innovations of all time, and that’s reasonable…but they aren’t invulnerable.

If we stopped making p-books, the world supply of them would dwindle over time, and I thought that would be the collectors’ collective vision.

Nope, according to this article, the business has been stable.

To me, that’s a bad omen for the future of p-books.

On the other hand, collectors aren’t the same as readers (although there is some overlap). A collector (especially one doing it for investment purposes) sees the book as an object…not as a story. If this physical object was signed by someone, or owned by someone,  or is rare in some way…that all makes it more valuable for a collector, but not particularly for someone just wanting to read the contents.

Regardless, I do think there will continue to be a market for collectible p-books…and I do think we’ll eventually see prices rise, even if it hasn’t happened yet.

Will subsers be the new MMPs?

One of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, said something that got me thinking about the role of subsers (subscription services) in the future.

Let’s say a novel is released today. We’ll say the hardback is list priced (the price the publisher puts on it) at $25, and the e-book is priced at $12.99.

A year from now, the trade paperback comes out at $15.

Does the e-book drop?

Not necessarily.

A year later, the mass market paperback (MMP) comes out at $9.99.

Then, yes, I’d expect the e-book to at least match that price, if not go a bit lower.

However…

There is a possibility that publishers simply stop issuing MMPs for popular novels.

I think it’s a possibility that books come out at a price like $25 (although I’ve suggested before that some new novels could get as high as $50), then maybe drop some after the first year…let’s say $20.

Then, that’s it.

The e-book comes out at perhaps $12.99…and doesn’t drop (except for sales).

Where do “casual readers” get that book? After all, they are a big part of the market.

They get it after it is on the “frontlist” (that would depend on its success, but let’s call it two years for a popular book…I expect to see fewer books altogether, and the ones from tradpubs…traditional publishers…to stay on the New York Times bestseller list longer on average) when it becomes part of a subser, like

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

MMPs were not really released for people who wanted to own a book or gift a book. They were really intended to be read and then to fall apart…which is not that different an experience from reading a book as part of a subser but not owning it.

I’m  just kicking around this idea, but I do think it’s a possibility.

HarperCollins and Amazon reportedly reach a deal

Four down, one to go.

It’s possible that at some point, a tradpub and Amazon will part ways…but today is not that day.

According to this

New York Times article by David Streitfeld

and other sources, Amazon and HarperCollins have reached an agreement which will keep the publisher’s books in the e-tailer’s store.

While these deals don’t really become public, it sounds like all four of the Big 5 who have come to terms (Penguin Random House hasn’t, yet…that doesn’t mean they are fighting, it may just not be time) have pretty much the same thing.

The publisher sets the price (yes, this is the Agency Model), and Amazon can incentivize them to discount the books.

Publishers haven’t yet figured out how to do without Amazon…and  while Amazon is becoming less dependent on tradpubs over time (Amazon published books regularly top their own bestseller lists…in the Kindle store), they are still in business with them big time.

I think that eventually, that business may consist of backlist titles…which could largely be in subsers (see above).

For now (and this is a multiyear deal), things continue.

Amazon Financials on April 23rd

According to this

press release

Amazon will do its next quarterly financials call on April 23rd at 2:30 PM Pacific.

I think this may be a particularly interesting one…they seem to be pushing a bit into a new direction. We’ll see…

Paperwhite 2 $20 off today

The

Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile*)

which is the current model, is $20 off today. That makes it under $100 ($99, to be precise) for the lowest priced configuration.

This is the model of Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) that I use every day.

I like it enough that I chose not to go to the Kindle Voyage…and from everything I’ve heard, I don’t regret that decision at all.

I’m quite happy with both that and my

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

These are both devices which do what they are designed to do very well…I’ve been quite satisfied with them both.

I can contrast that with my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

and our

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

and

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

The Fire Phone is a serviceable phone, but I did like my Galaxy better.

The Amazon Fire TV is good…better than our Roku (which we’ve stopped using). I do expect it to get quite a bit better.

The Fire TV Stick is noticeably not as good as the Fire TV. It takes it much longer to load something, for example, the video stutters quite a bit (it’s on the same network at the Fire TV), and I find I need to restart it every couple of days (by holding in the select and play buttons together for about ten seconds).

The only big thing I see missing in the Paperwhite is sound (especially for text-to-speech, which I use every workday), and for my Kindle Fire HDX, it would be nice to have a rear-facing camera.

I would say this Paperwhite deal is a good one…if you are looking for a gift (they may discount it again for Mothers’ Day), or for a Guest Kindle…or even if you are just ready to replace an older model (keeping in mind the lack of audio), this is a good buy.

What do you think? What’s been your favorite Kindle/Fire model so far? Penguin Random House has always been a bit of an outlier…how will their negotiations with Amazon go? When will a publisher break with Amazon…if ever? What gadgets (including non-Amazon) have you had in your life which achieved the state of satisfying you? 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 #290: bargain bestsellers, e-book marketshare

March 30, 2015

Round up #290: bargain bestsellers, e-book marketshare

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

E-book marketshare of spending rises 25% in 2014

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliott

reporting on a Nielsen Books & Consumers survey, new book spending on e-books in the USA rose to 15% of the total in 2014, as opposed to 12% in 2013…a 25% gain.

That’s right…only fifteen percent.

A bit of a shock, perhaps…and remember, they are zero percent of used book sales, although Amazon has looked into that possibility, as I’ve reported before

Judge rules against ReDigi, making Amazon used e-books more likely

While that 15% is based on spending, not surprising, the number of units is higher. The units are how many books are sold/licensed, versus how much is paid for them. Since, on balance, p-books (paperbooks) cost more than e-books, we would expect their unit share to be higher than their spending share.

Interestingly, though, that share is still only 21%.

Let’s see…21 is forty percent higher than 15, so that could be about right.

There are a lot of very important trends (well, data points…we don’t know if they are really trends yet)…I don’t want to take too much away from the article, so I’m going to recommend you read it.

I’ll just point out a couple of things, and then let you read the details:

  • Online bookselling may be losing marketshare
  • Bookstore chain marketshare is way down
  • EBR (E-Book Readership) was down…both for the NOOK and the Kindle

 Amazon’s change in Cloud Drive plans…how it helps you

I have to say, Amazon does not do a great job of explaining things to people when they introduce a new feature, service, or device.

Part of it is most people’s natural skepticism (I have a genetic abnormality…I’m an optimist). ;) They naturally expect that any change is going to be for the bad.

I’ve taught change management before, and this is the biggest tip I can give you there.

Whenever you announce a change, always tell them what is not changing first.

For example, if you restructure your company, your employees will be so concerned that their jobs are going to be eliminated that they won’t hear anything else you say until you address that.

So, you start out with something like, “First, let me assure you: no one here is having their job eliminated, and no one is getting a pay cut. You will continue to do the same work you’ve been doing, which we really value. What’s happening is that management is changing, and some of you may have a different boss…”

In this case, Amazon could have led (on the page, not necessarily in the press release…maybe in an e-mail) with “We have some exciting new plans available for the Amazon Cloud Drive. This will not affect the free storage customers already get for their Amazon purchases, and will actually increase the storage they get when using Amazon’s Personal Documents service…at no additional cost.  New options include…”

That’s right. I’ve seen many threads in the

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

where people were concerned that either Amazon was going to start charging them for storing their Kindle store purchases, or charge them for any amount of personal documents they are storing using the Personal Documents service.

I have confirmed with Amazon: neither of those are true.

This is what I asked Amazon about, which was confirmed:

Under the new system:

Non-Prime member/non-Fire owner without a plan:

Unlimited Kindle Personal Docs. They do not count towards a storage limit, because they count for zero.

No other free non-Kindle Personal Doc storage (they used to have some).

Prime member/Fire owner without upgrading:

Unlimited photo storage
Unlimited Kindle Personal Docs storage
5GB of storage for other things, like spreadsheets and presentations

Note that there is a group that has a loss from this change. If someone is not a Prime member and does not have a Fire, they no longer have free storage for things like spreadsheets.

However, the plus that everybody got is no limit on storage of personal documents.

Meanwhile, in the UK

In the first article, I was talking about the USA.

Well, we also have statistics for the UK…and e-books are doing much better there!

According to this

The Bookseller article by Joshua Farrington

e-book sales are 30% of units in the UK, more than a third higher than in the USA.

Not only that, more money was spent online on books (not just e-books) than in stores…for the first time.

The thrust of the article was concern expressed about Amazon’s dominance (particularly by Tim Walker, President of the Booksellers Association.

According to Walker, Amazon has 95% of e-book sales in the UK…and that is “damaging”.

I didn’t see particular evidence that it was…what was cited were problems that other people were having with e-book sales, but that doesn’t mean cause and effect.

Still, I leave it to you to read the article and decide…

Amazon’s Editors’ Picks…find bargains, but not indies

One of the “aisles” Amazon has is called

Amazon’s Editors’ Picks (at AmazonSmile*)

I haven’t looked at it much.

The first thing that struck me was that every book I saw on the front page was from a traditional publisher.

When I’m looking for discovery for books, I’m not looking for the ones which are featured in People Magazine…I want an editor to tell me about something that’s new to me.

That was a bit of a negative.

Then, I was going to do a price analysis to compare them to the overall Kindle store bestsellers…and noticed that some of them are on really good sales!

If you were looking for a gift for somebody who maybe didn’t read 100 books a year, this might be a good place to find a deal.

Some examples:

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: $4.20 (less than half the paperback price)
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: $4.99 ($9.60 in paperback)
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown: $2.99 ($10.20 in paperback)
  • Station Eleven: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel: $2.99 ($12.33 in paperback)

I’m going to keep that in mind when gift giving occasions arise!

What do you think? Is the e-book marketshare growth slowing down? If so, why? Is it temporary? Will we ever get to more than 50% unit sales being e-books in the USA? Why are e-books a bigger force in the UK? 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 #289: $25K Amazon sweepstakes, Amazon forgets something…

March 11, 2015

Round up #289: $25K Amazon sweepstakes, Amazon forgets something…

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

Enter to win a $25,000 Amazon shopping spree

Amazon really wants you to use their shopping app to download apps…even free ones!

To that end, they are doing a

$25,000 Amazon shopping spree sweepstakes (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You fill out an entry form (it’s simple: just your full name and a phone number, and they already had my e-mail address filled in), meet eligibility requirements (at least 18 years old, only in the USA…), and download an app using the Amazon app.

That’s pretty much it.

You have to do it by April 15th, and it’s one entry per person…so I assume that multiple app purchases won’t increase your odds.

$25,000 at Amazon would be nice, right? :) Here are the

Official Rules (at AmazonSmile*)

Let me know if you win! :)

Um…Amazon? You forgot a SmartPhone…your own ;)

Amazon recently sent me an e-mail to do a survey to help them “improve Amazon devices”.

There were some interesting points to the survey: for one thing, they kept identifying EBRs (E-Book Readers) emphatically as “black and white”. Does that mean that they aren’t considering color non-backlit devices? Nah, this is a current state question. Now, I could get pedantic at point that Amazon doesn’t have any black and white devices…grayscale, yes, but not black and white. ;)

When they asked me to rank how I use my tablet (I have a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)), the only place they listed “books” was under audio, which audiobooks to me. One of the main things for which I use my tablet is reading books…intriguing.

The most amusing one, to me, was this one:

“Smartphone – (i.e. iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry) Has all the functions of basic and feature phones and also has the ability to download applications (also known as apps), play videos, navigation, etc.”

That was funny to me, because it didn’t list my

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

:)

Now, yes, I’m probably one of a tiny minority that has Amazon’s SmartPhone, and it is technically a forked version of Android…but it would have been nice to be able to declare that I had an Amazon device in an Amazon survey.

They also used “i.e.” (id est…an explanation) as opposed to “e.g.” (exempli gratia…a set of examples). That suggests that they weren’t just naming a few of them, but defining the term…and they left the Fire Phone out of the definition of Smartphone.

I don’t think they are done with the Fire Phone…I’ve said before that they may tie it into the Amazon Echo (my Echo, according to the estimated delivery date, could be as little as two weeks away).

Of course, if the Fire Phone does succeed, they might have call the new model the “Phoenix”. ;)

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble recently did a webcast to report their Q3 (third quarter 2015…financial years don’t start in January for most companies) earnings. You can read a Seeking Alpha transcript here:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2989706-barnes-and-noble-bks-michael-p-huseby-on-q3-2015-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single

Even though it was arguably good news, with the speed of their slide slowing, investors did not react well, as reported in this

The Motley Fool article by Alex Planes

and other places. It could bounce back pretty quickly…we’ll see.

Better, perhaps, but apparently not good enough.

I like having B&N around as a competitor for Amazon (competition breeds innovation), but they are becoming less of that over time, I think.

One place where they arguably still compete with Amazon is in the EBR market (Kobo may be a more viable…or at least more interesting opponent at this point).

How bad was it for the NOOK this time?

Device sales were down 50.6%!

That’s a slowing of the decline, but losing more than half…what kind of career did Bud Abbott have after Abbott and Costello broke up? ;)

Now, you might be hearing that their retail comparable store sales were up 1.7%, and yes, that’s a good thing.

Don’t count on that meaning that p-books (paperbooks) are making a comeback, though…they accomplished that in part by carrying more non-book items, like games.

Overall, the retail business was down, but hey guys, that’s not our fault: we had fewer stores. ;)

The shining light of the college business, which they are going to separate?

Comp (comparative) sales were down 1%, although they may be flat overall for the year.

Overall? Not looking good for B&N, at least as we knew it as a bookstore.

 The Wildside Press Megapack series

Wildside Press was founded in 1989 by author John Betancourt and Kim Betancourt.

It’s a respected publishing company…which, honestly, you may not realize at first when you run across one of their “Megapacks” in the Kindle store:

Wildside Press Megapack series (at AmazonSmile*)

After all, the titles are ninety-nine cents, and public domain works are clearly involved.

However, while some independently published books may leave something to desire in terms of design or production quality, I would say that what I’ve seen of the Megapacks is up to traditional  publishing standards in that regard.

One of the fun things with curated collections like these is to see what choices they make, how they group them together.

That’s an area where the Megapacks have some stand-out themes!

There are 185 (!) results for “Wildside Press Megapack” in the USA Kindle store, and certainly, there are things you might expect like The Golden Age of Science Fiction and Noir Mysteries.

However, it’s the more unusual themes I find intriguing, whether they are individual (often somewhat obscure to modern audiences) authors, or themes. For example:

  • Victorian Rogues
  • Katherine Mansfield
  • Lady Sleuths
  • Jack London Science Fiction (and fantasy)
  • Mad Scientist
  • Plague, Pestilence & Apocalypse
  • Penny Dreadfuls
  • Occult Detectives
  • Zanthodon (by Lin Carter)
  • Bobbsey Twins
  • Classic Humor
  • Girl Detective
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Selma Lagerlof

I’m not going to pretend that these are luxury editions (there won’t tend to be lengthy forewords or context articles), but if you want something which is affordable and respects the material, this is a good series.

Housebroken now available

Some of you may remember my interview with The Behrg, who had a novel selected by Kindle Scout:

An ILMK interview with The Behrg, author of the Kindle Scout winner Housebroken

That was back on January 2nd, and the book hadn’t been published yet…now it has been:

Housebroken (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s $3.99, also available as part of Kindle Unlimited.

I have no connection with the author, except for the interview we did and some slight correspondence (The Behrg let me know about the book’s release, for example).

What price story?

Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun relating to the movie(s) and play, What Price Glory? ;)

I was speaking with someone about pricing for e-books recently, and thought I’d throw something out to you.

If you see an e-book which is $7.99 in the Kindle store, what do you think about it? How about $4.99? $12.99? What if it was $10.00? You may think the price point doesn’t influence you at all in your pre-opinion of the book, but you would certainly be unusual if that was the case. Does one price make you think the book is likely to be of a higher quality? Traditionally published or independently published? Of course, you get more information after you look at it, but the price is often a first impression. Do you ever search by price? I’d appreciate your feedback.

What do you think? Will Barnes & Noble survive as booksellers? Who was/is your favorite anthology editor? Did you get an e-mail for that Amazon survey? Is there a “micro market” genre you particularly like? I really enjoyed an anthology (Apeman, Spaceman) of anthropological stories years ago…not available for the Kindle (at least legally through Amazon), unfortunately…

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! :) 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 #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

March 9, 2015

Round up #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

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

Want to  move up your Echo delivery date? Here’s how!

Big, big thanks to E S who, in this

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

suggested a way to speed up your

Amazon Echo

estimated delivery date!

It worked for me, and others have said it worked for them, too.

Don’t know if it will continue to work, or if it will work for everybody, but I wanted to share it.

The Echo is Amazon’s ambient computing device…it’s alway on (it plugs into the wall), you talk to it, and it does stuff. ;) That’s, you know, the technical description.

It’s not on general sale, yet. You have to ask for an invitation, and you have to be an Amazon Prime member.

When I got my acceptance to my delivery date (a long time after asking for an invitation), it was months in the future.

Until I tried this trick, it was not until the end of May at the earliest…and possibly into July! =:o

Now, it’s between March 25th and April 9th…more than two months earlier, and maybe three!

How do you do it?

Go to

http://www.amazon.com

or

http://smile.amazon.com/

Click or tap on

Your Account

then go to

Your Orders.

Find your Echo order…there is a searchbox, if you need it.

Click or tap

Order Details

Click or tap

Change Shipping Speed

Don’t worry, you aren’t actually going to change it.

When your choices come up, just confirm your current shipping speed.

That’s all it took for me!

I’m very excited about the Echo! They keep making improvements (it recently started doing some sports scores), and it seems to have quite a “personality”.

The general estimated shipping time has dropped from four to six months to two to three months.

That portends, perhaps, a summer release, although that might just still be for these pre-release orders.

Thanks, E S!

Speaking of AmazonSmile…

From what I can tell, about 25% of the activity driven by this site is at AmazonSmile, as opposed to Amazon.com.

I hope to keep seeing that increase.

All you have to is shop at

http://smile.amazon.com/

and designate a non-profit to benefit from what you are doing.

That’s it.

Everything else is the same: same credit card information, addresses, wish lists…it’s really seamless.

When you buy items (not all items, but a lot), your designated non-profit (which you can change…easily…whenever you want and repeatedly) gets half a percent. Spend $100, and the group gets fifty cents.

Amazon is actually donating it, so they get the tax benefit…but that also means everything is super easy.

There are over 6,000 organizations listed when I search for the word “literacy”, for example.

I used to be on the board of a non-profit…believe me, every little bit helps.

Just something to consider…

Goodreads app update

On my

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

the Goodreads on Kindle app just updated to 1.5.0.

Goodreads is a very popular social reading site, which Amazon owns.

They have been improving the way it interacts with our devices, and this was another step forward.

I think I’m finally getting into the habit of using Goodreads, although I still don’t do it all the time.

I’d found out from my readers that my posting reviews here wasn’t one of their favorite things, so I now post them at Goodreads:

Follow Bufo’s reviews on Goodreads

I am putting some effort into those, and have written things with which I’ve been satisfied. ;)

I’ve also gotten some nice feedback, which I appreciate.

I can’t say I’m seeing a lot of functional differences at this point, but it does seem to look a bit nicer, and it’s running quite smoothly.

Before there was Chappie, there was…Tik Tok

Chappie did not have a really big opening this weekend…I probably over “invested” in the movie in my

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

game. :)

Still, so many things go back to the Oz series (I’m a big fan), and there was a regular robot character in them.

Tik Tok was truly a robot…a manufactured item. Dorothy or other people would wind up the “device”…they could separately wind up speech, action, and thinking.

Yes, just like humans, Tik Tok was capable of speaking and acting without thinking first. ;)

Tik Tok, though, was artificially intelligent…as much a character as anybody else.

As Dorothy engraved on Tik Tok, the mechanism was:

SMITH & TINKER’S
Patent Double-Action, Extra-Responsive,
Thought-Creating, Perfect-Talking
MECHANICAL MAN
Fitted with our Special Clockwork Attachment.
Thinks, Speaks, Acts, and Does Everything but Live.

Sure, the word “robot” comes from the play R.U.R., and Isaac Asimov created the all important three laws of robotics…but like many other things, Oz was exploring the issues of the technology and the sociology of it at the turn of the 20th Century.

Even older kids like having books read to them

I still like it when somebody reads out loud to me!

Thanks to

EBOOK FRIENDLY

for the heads up on this fascinating report:

http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/

Scholastic publishes the Harry Potter books in the USA. They are very reader friendly…when we talk about the Big Five publishers not doing things (like being part of Kindle Unlimited), Scholastic isn’t part of that…despite having some very popular books.

I haven’t read the whole report yet, but this was called out:

“When it comes to being read aloud to at home, eight in 10 children (83%) say they love(d) or like(d) it a lot:”

  • 6-8 year olds: 86%
  • 9-11 year olds: 84%
  • 12-14 year olds: 80%
  • 15-17 year olds: 83%

Note that rebound in the last age group!

That’s right…83% of teenagers like it when someone reads out loud to them. My guess is that the percentage is not much lower in adults.

By the way, Scholastic used “read aloud to” as a construction.

That reminds me of an old joke (?) designed to make grammarians cringe:

A ten-year old is sick upstairs.

Wanting to make the child feel better, a parent brings a book to the room to read…one that the child loved at an earlier age.

Feeling as though they are being treated as immature, the child says,

“What did you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to out of up here for?”

;)

What do you think? Do you read out loud to adults? If you are an adult, do you enjoy that…maybe in the car, maybe a Significant Other just reading a passage to you? Do audiobooks or text-to-speech have at all that same feeling for you? Do you use AmazonSmile? If not, care to share the reason why? 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! :) 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.

 


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