Archive for the ‘Round-ups’ Category

Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

March 4, 2015

Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

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

National PTA Family Reading Experience powered by Kindle

Amazon sent me an e-mail about this one, and it is fascinating!

March is National Reading Month, and while I’d like to see a lot more adults reading a lot more books, the focus is mostly on children.

The National PTA (Parent Teacher Association) has a program called the Family Reading Experience…and Amazon and the Kindle are quite involved in it:

http://www.pta.org/familyreading

In fact, I was intrigued by how involved.

This isn’t just a passive “throw some money at the problem”.

EBRs (E-Book Readers) are touted on the infographic about what encourages children to read.

Perhaps more interesting was this video, linked on the PTA page:

National PTA Family Reading Experience Engages Families in Literacy (video)

I’ve never seen a better recommendation for the Kindle as a positive force for literacy.

Recently, Amazon has gotten particularly good at promoting non-Fire Kindles for use for kids…see this page:

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

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

While sailing on the sea of commerce, Barnes & Noble has been struggling to stay afloat.

They’ve certainly been trying different things, and they aren’t sunk yet.

That’s despite the NOOK, which has been a drag on their sales for some time.

We had heard that they were going to separate the NOOK business into a separate business…throw the anchor overboard.

Well, now, as reported in this

Slate post by Alison Griswold

and other sources, they’ve decided to throw the boat overboard and keep the anchor. ;)

What do I mean by that?

They are going to spinoff the Barnes & Noble Education business (the college bookstores, mostly) into its own publicly traded business.

press release

Why would they do that, when the college businesses have been the part of the three part business (college, NOOK, and retail) that is doing well? Is it because Amazon has started to move more into the college bookstore business, and there are other challengers? I don’t think so.

They way they are doing it, it is a boon to stockholders (who get stock in the new company), and that’s a good thing right now. Since they made the announcement, the stock has jumped more than 7%.

Second, well…I think it’s possible that they may want to dump the losing parts and keep that one.

Yep, sell off the bookstores…I could see that happening.

As to the NOOK…I don’t see them getting out of the e-book business, but they might get out of the branded hardware business.

Speaking of which…

They’ve also completely revamped their NOOK for Android app:

press release

Shopping will be easier (I do find that clunky even in Amazon’s Kindle store on a Fire), and you’ll be able to set up profiles and individual shelves.

I could see this kind of strategy continuing to work for the near future.

Sell books on other people’s devices, and work on the user interface so it’s enjoyable and efficient.

What’s next? A replicator under your bed?

Amazon’s already got physical delivery down to one hour (at least in Manhattan).

Amazon announces Prime Now: delivery in an hour

They’ve talked about using drones (although there are still regulatory hurdles on that).

Now, according to this

Wall Street Journal post by Greg Bensinger

and other sources, Amazon has applied for patents related to 3D printing items for customers…even from inside delivery trucks.

At this point, 3D printing is limited as to what it can produce (plastics work well…food has been done), and it takes a while to make something.

Still, I can just imagine electric Amazon trucks that just consistently cruise around neighborhoods. You’d get quite used to them. After all, electric vehicles are quiet…I drive a hybrid, and when I’m in electric vehicle mode, I still sometimes really surprise pedestrians.

A small plastic piece breaks on your printer (assuming you would still use a printer). You order it from Amazon (perhaps using your Amazon Echo).

The truck (it could even be an autonomous, self-driven vehicle) “prints” that piece and delivers it to you.

Now, would it be able to do that faster than Prime Now?

I’m guessing no.

However, as a former brick and mortar bookstore manager (and I managed a couple of other types of stores as well), the idea of not having to stock rarely ordered items is very exciting…and economically valuable.

In the bookstore, we’d had this old, yellowed, crunchy, single copy of a paperback on the shelf for years.

When somebody finally bought it, the inventory system wanted to order another one to replace. :)

That’s a place where human override was important.

We had likely lost money on that sale.

Remember that we were paying rent for the space under that book for all that time.

From time to time, employees probably had to straighten up (“merchandise”) that shelf.

If this was a book we could have returned for credit, we would have done that…but not every publisher allows it.

I could have thrown it away or donated it somewhere, I suppose, but I have faith in books. :)

This is years away, certainly.

I can also envision homes having an Amazon 3D printer in them. You order it, Amazon charges you what is basically a licensing fee for the design and maybe for the raw material (although I could see customers providing that), and it prints right then and there.

Actually, that could work quite well. You could even hold up an item to a visual scanner, and if Amazon had the deal with the “rightsholder” for that item, it could reproduce it for you.

There’s got to be some good way to tie this into gaming and toys…because that’s where innovation often happens first.

Naturally, some people may also relate this to POD (Print On Demand) for paper books…and that could work also.

What do you think? If Barnes & Noble continues as a digital enterprise, when would you buy a NOOK book rather than a Kindle book? Should the PTA have partnered with a specific company? It’s National Reading Month…why not recommend a book you think would help a child become a lifelong reader? 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.

 

Round up #286: new Dr. Seuss, kindlereunion

February 20, 2015

Round up #286: new Dr. Seuss, kindlereunion

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

Mayday saves the day!

I have said many times that I consider Amazon’s nearly instant onscreen tech help for some Fire devices to be one of the greatest Customer Service innovations in years.

It was proven for me again yesterday.

Two “third party” apps on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

wanted updates, and I did it.

You can install apps from places outside Amazon…contrary to what you might hear, Amazon is quite open to you using “competitors'” products. It’s a simple settings change, to allow installation of apps from “unknown sources”.

Naturally, you assume the risk for doing that…the apps will not have been vetted by Amazon to make sure they work and won’t damage your tablet.

I only do it with very few apps, where I trust the studios.

In this case, it was Zinio, which I use to read Fortean Times (which Amazon does not carry), and Maxthon, which is my browser of choice.

Well, after the updates, neither of them would launch!

They appeared to be on the device, but when I would try to open them, they just wouldn’t.

I tried a few troubleshooting things on my own:

  • I tried restarting the device
  • I tried opening them both from the Carousel and from the Apps tab
  • I tried clearing the cache and force stopping them
  • I tried uninstalling and reinstalling Maxthon
  • I finally cleared the data on Maxthon…that’s not too bad with that program, since my “favorites” are all stored on their server. The only thing I lost was my “Quick Access” choices…that’s not hard to fix
  • I downloaded Maxthon fresh from their website

Since none of that worked, I called Mayday.

At first, it was clearly baffling.

Some things would indicate it was on the device, some wouldn’t. For example, there was an icon on the Carousel (with an exclamation point on it…a trouble indicator). It showed on the Cloud tab, not on the device tab. Now, an item can be on the Carousel and not be downloaded, but things were just weird.

Finally, the Mayday rep suggesting syncing with Amazon. I hadn’t thought of that…since Zinio isn’t stored in Amazon’s Cloud. I did get Maxthon from there at some point, when it was available.

That did it!

Don’t ask me why, but after a simple sync, they were both fine.

I’m going to go with what’s called the Engineer’s Law or the Law of Pragmatism: “If it works, it’s true.” ;)

I think Mayday is great for people who are not techies, but even for someone who is quite knowledgeable like me, it can be terrific.

KindleReunion.com

Sometimes, I get comments on very old posts…so most people will never see them.

In most cases, they are fake comments…what I call Eddiecoms.

I got one recently on one of my most popular posts

What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen

It recommended the use of a site called KindleReunion.com.

I thought it was worth sharing my response with a wider audience:

“I appreciate the suggestion, and I checked out the site.

That seems unsafe to me.

One of the main reasons someone steals something like a Kindle is to get personal information and in other ways take advantage of the person who lost it.

kindlereunion arranges a connection between a Kindle loser and an apparent finder…and it seems to me they share your e-mail address.

You put in your serial number and an e-mail address as a loser. Another person, who is a finder, puts in a serial number and their e-mail address. The site says

“Once the system finds a match, both parties will receive an e-mail so they can arrange the exchange of the Kindle.”

So, here’s the scenario:

You are at the airport, and someone steals your Kindle while you are going through Security.

Naturally, you have it password protected and you deregister it and have it blacklisted (as indicated in the post on which you commented).

They enter the serial number as a finder.

kindlereunion (and my intuition is that their heart is in the right place) e-mails you both (after you enter as a finder), and connects you two.

The thief then has a number of ways to go.

“I’m on the other side of the country. Why don’t I just mail it to you? What’s your address?”

“Let’s meet and I can give it to you.”

“I’d send it to you, but I don’t have the cash to mail it. See, I put in an airport locker, but I lost the key. They want $40 to replace the key before they’ll give it to me.”

You can probably imagine a lot of other scenarios…

That’s why a recovery service like ReturnMe maybe worth it…it protects your personal information. TrackItBack, unfortunately, is out of business at this point (it’s been about five years since I wrote that post).”

A new Dr. Seuss

Following on the heels of the announcement of a never before published Harper Lee novel (written before To Kill A Mockingbird…I would consider it an early draft which was massively revised, based on what I’ve heard):

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

comes the news that we are going to get a new Dr. Seuss picturebook!

It’s coming in August, and while a Kindle edition is not yet available for pre-order, my guess is that one will show up soon. I’ll link to the page for one you can pre-order, and eventually, a Kindle edition is likely to be linked on that page:

What Pet Should I Get? (at AmazonSmile*)

I’m not hearing a lot of controversy about this one, like there has been about Go Set a Watchman (some people worry that Harper Lee doesn’t fully understand or approve of what is happening…my guess at this point is that is unlikely), but the provenance on this one is very different as laid out in this

USA Today story by Maria Puente

ILMK Flipboard Magazine passes The Measured Circle

Just since my most recent

Update on my free Flipboard magazines: 1000s of ILMK readers!

the free ILMK Flipboard magazine has caught up to and passed the The Measured Circle Flipboard magazine!

ILMK has 2800 viewers and The Measured Circle has 2621.

I would guess that by the next time I give an update, there will also have been 100,000 “flips” in ILMK.

I don’t know that the recent update to the Flipboard PC browser version mattered to that…but I suspect it will help with getting readers.

Recently, one of my relatives wanted to start getting ILMK on a tablet, but didn’t want to get other news stories (as you do with Flipboard). I installed the free

gReader app (at AmazonSmile*)

I also tested it out myself…seems to work fine for the simple purpose of reading blogs.

Adding subscriptions was a snap, and you download for offline reading, share, and use a white on black viewing mode, if you want.

Now, I’m always very grateful to people who subscribe to this blog through the Kindle store. That ninety-nine cents a month (well, my cut is about thirty cents) is honestly one of the things which makes the blog possible…thanks, subscribers!

However, Amazon still doesn’t make the blogs available to tablet users. I’m sure some of my readers are still paying the ninety-nine cents a month just to support me, and reading the blog on a Fire.

If they do that, I want to give them a good experience.

I do love Flipboard, but if all you want to do is read blogs, well, gReader seems like a good way to go.

What do you think? Are you excited for a new Dr. Seuss? Have you had a great Mayday story? Did you lose a Kindle…and then have the finder return it? 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 #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

February 13, 2015

Round up #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

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

Kindle Unlimited launches in Mexico and Canada

As a publisher (I only publish my own works…which I would guess is true of most Kindle Direct Publishing authors) who has books in

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

Amazon just informed me that KU is expanding to Canada and Mexico!

That’s exciting…I like having it very much. It’s an “all you can read” plan, $9.99 a month in the USA. Here’s the link for the information page

Kindle Unlimited in Mexico

where it is 129 pesos a month, and for

Kindle Unlimited Canada

where it is $9.99 (Canadian) a month.

Chri

Echo videos from Phink, one of my readers

One of my regular readers and commenters, Phink, recently got an Amazon Echo, Amazon’s ambient computing device. It’s an always on voice input device which plays music, answers all kinds of questions, and more.

Phink has posted what I think are a couple of the best videos I’ve seen so far about the Echo. They aren’t really reviews, they are demonstrations of what the device can do. If you are interested in the Echo, I think they are definitely worth watching to see what your experience might be like.

I appreciate Phink sharing these! I’ll be happy to write about the Echo, but my delivery date still says between May 27th and July 2nd.

Publishers Weekly: No Panic Over 15 Percent Drop in Christian Fiction Sales

Christian fiction has been a strong category of seller, but from 2013 to 2014, according to this

Publishers Weekly article by Ann Byle

sales dropped 15%. The article goes on to say why the publishers aren’t worried about that…I guess they have faith. ;)

Video news

I thought I’d group a couple of things together here…a mini-round up. ;)

First, this is just odd to me, but Amazon Studios is working with Sid and Marty Krofft to do a reimagined pilot of one of their series. The Kroffts were really gonzo “kids’ show” producers in the 1970s, although they did a lot more than that.

So, what gets the reboot? The most popular H.R. Pufnstuf? The wacky Lidsville? Electra Woman and Dyna Girl? Nope…Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. This may take a lot of reimagining…Sigmund’s parents were parodies of Archie Bunker and Phyllis Diller, and I just don’t think that’s going to fly with today’s audiences. Hoping they stick with the Johnny Whitaker theme song, though. :)

press release

Second, Fire TV, which is both the

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

and the

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

have added a bunch of apps, including the much talked about Sling TV (which may enable some people to drop cable…by paying for a much more focused package), TED (great, though-provoking lectures…this one is free), and Fox Sports GO.

press release

Only 40% of 17 year olds read at least one a week for fun

I do think that e-books have enabled and encourage a lot of people to read more, but stats like the ones in this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post by Ola Kowalczyk

are troubling.

It’s nothing particularly new…as kids get older, fewer of them report reading for fun.

Part of that may be that they have to read so much more for school…a high schooler presumably has a lot more assigned reading than a nine-year old. If they are enjoying that reading, it would probably still not be reported as “reading for pleasure”.

What’s troubling is the decline across age groups since 1984.

It’s possible that there was a big decline (let’s see…video games, maybe?) for a while, and that e-books are, in fact, increasing reading.

Still, the Common Sense Media data reported on here (and shown in an infographic) is not especially encouraging. On the good side, more than a quarter of homes have an EBR (E-Book Reader…they mention Kindles and NOOKs. That would not include tables, like the Kindle Fire).

Big update for Kindle for iOS (4.7)

In this

Kindle Forum thread (at AmazonSmile*)

an update for the iOS (Apple mobile…iPhones, iPads) app is announced.

It includes eTextbooks and the “Book Browser” feature that brings you information about the book (new for iPhones).

Flipboard redesigns Flipboard for the web

This is a big improvement!

I’ve written about my free Flipboard magazines here before.

I read it in the

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

app, which I read every morning on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

For my readers who didn’t have Fires, though, I know the experience trying to read them in a browser on a PC wasn’t great.

Well, if you’ve tried it before, check it out again at

https://flipboard.com/

I like what they’ve done it with it: it looks much better, and seems to be less resource intensive.

Hope you enjoyed my birthday! ;)

We had a great time…we went to Point Isabel in Richmond (rated as one of the top ten dog parks in the world)…our dogs love it there! We also get about an hour walk, two or three miles. I went to doctor yesterday for an annual check-up, and to the DMV to renew my license. When I did the DMV thing, I realized that my weight is down about 55 pounds since I last did a driver’s license! I’m down about 40 pound in the last two years, thanks to the free app I reviewed here:

Review: MyFitnessPal

Well, that, and a lot of work. :) I figure another year and I’ll be in good shape.

Then we tried a new restaurant, and the food was good.

After that, we saw The Theory of Everything. That’s one of the Best Picture nominees we hadn’t seen. I thought it was good, and was glad I had done my personal

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

predictions before I saw it. When you think a movie is good, it can skew your predictions…you tend to think the Academy will like it better than you might if you had not seen it.

I also got a book…always a good thing! I’ll wait until I’ve read a bit before I say anything about it, and I’ll likely do a Goodreads review.

Hope it was a great day for you, too!

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 #284: nicer readers, one book for world leaders

February 7, 2015

Round up #284: nicer readers, one book for world leaders

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

Hotfile settles with major publishers

I think that the amount of e-book piracy has likely gone down over time.

One issue is that one of the reasons people gave for when it would be okay to “pirate” (copy without authorization a book under copyright protection) a book is if the book was otherwise not available as an e-book.

With so many more books now available (the USA Kindle store has gone from about 80,000 to over three million in fewer than seven years), that motivation is less there.

Also, I think infringers are simply more likely to settle.

I apparently got an infringing site to stop the practice, by alerting the right people.

In another case, I apparently got a book removed from the Kindle store, again, for infringing on my copyright.

Pirate Bay was down (although it’s back up)…one of the very biggest of the sites where a lot of infringing is alleged to happen.

Hotfile was another site like that, and they are in the process of setting with publisher (after having settled over music previously).

My sense is that people are also much more aware that they will lose in court…so they settle out of court, which is faster.

For more information:

torrentfreak.com post by Ernesto

Kobo QOTD: one book for politicians

Kobo does a “Question of the Day” (QOTD), and today’s was intriguing but an easy one for me.

The question

https://twitter.com/kobo/status/563345822939480064

was simple:

“If you could require all the world leaders to read one book, what would it be?”

Several people suggested

1984 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and I could understand that. Of course, there would be the risk that a politician would see its dystopian theme as a blueprint, not a warning. ;)

My first thought is that I would want them to read many books, not just one…and books with opposing points of view from diverse authors.

However, that’s not in the rules…and rules can be fun. :)

Some people doubt that…but it’s the rules that make a game a game.

Many years ago, a sibling and I playtested a game on the Alaska Oil Pipeline….no, we weren’t on the pipeline, it was an educational board game about it. ;)

It was okay, but there were two cards we recommended they remove.

You rolled a die and moved around a board. You landed on spaces and drew a card from a pile.

One card said, “You lose.”

Obviously, that’s a bad card in an educational game…or any other game. Who would want to be ahead in a game, and draw that card?

However, there was another card that said, “You win,” which we felt was equally bad.

Suppose you draw that card on your first turn? Whee, what a fun game…not really.

So, I’ll play the game by the rules.

Oh, I’ll mention one more game first we played in high school…pretty sure I invented the rules, but I’m not positive.

We called it “hyperspace chess”. You played against another player with two chess sets (two full sets of pieces, two boards).

The four middle center squares were “hyperspace squares”. On your turn, your move could be to “jump” a piece on one of those squares onto the equivalent space on the other board.

If there happened to be a piece on that exact square, you took it, but that was quite uncommon.

To win, you had to checkmate your opponent on either board, not on both.

I think that worked very well! Some people would get so caught up with jumping pieces that they would be surprised by a mate on a board with very few pieces on it.

I’ve also been told that it is good training for traditional chess, since those four squares are considered key in some parts of the game.

I have a (different from above) sibling who was a ranked chess player (and has written for Chess Life, the chess equivalent of Sports Illustrated), and I can play at level that I want to be able to do everything…where it isn’t  embarrassing. ;) Yep, I’ll lose to a tournament player, but I won’t have looked clueless doing it.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, a book for world leaders to read.

I’d go with

The Book of the D*mned (at AmazonSmile*)

by Charles Fort (I’m also really hoping Mark Zuckerberg picks that one for the reading thing going on at Facebook).

First, it’s going to be in the public domain…probably everywhere. Nice to show an efficient spending strategy. ;)

Second, it shows the interconnectedness of things, and how so often divisions between items are artificial.

Third, it’s been massively attacked at times, and I think generally with a misunderstanding of it (it’s not anti-science, for example).

Outside of that, I might recommmend…

The Human Zoo (at AmazonSmile*) by Desmond Morris

Ooh, and then there’s

Thinking, Fast and Slow (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by Daniel Kahneman

and…timeout. Rules. Just pick one. Got it. ;)

Is Amazon going to face a Customer Service challenge with the Echo?

Serious readers tend to be nicer people.

I don’t know that for a fact, although I’ve seen some research that suggests they are at least more empathetic.

I see that reflected in the Amazon Kindle forums. Yes, there are  occasional disagreements there, and they can be strong and strongly worded (even ad hominem at times). Most of the time, though, people are tolerant of other ideas, and when they do disagree, they at least do so on the basis of ideas and evidence.

Not always, but the balance of the time.

On the other hand, and I want to be careful about how I say this, the Amazon Echo threads that I’m reading in the Kindle forum (there won’t be an Echo forum until the Echo is generally released…it will appear on the Echo’s product page), seem more…”internety”. ;)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a thread in the forum where so many people are asked by other forum members to leave!

I think readers tend to welcome the exchange of ideas…it may be that gadgeteers are less inclined to do so.

After you’ve spent a considerable amount for one brand of gadget, you may not want to hear about another brand.

There has been a lot of…scratch that, let me say that there has been a sort of unwelcomeness for posters who favor Apple products over Amazon products in the thread.

Some of the response has been erudite and logically reasoned…some of it has been playground level name calling, or so it seems to me.

One of the things I like best about Amazon is that they allow divergence of opinion on their forums.

Somebody can go in and say, “Amazon stinks!” and it isn’t against the rules.

There are rules, by the way (there we are…back to rules), but Amazon only loosely enforces them. Here, here is one of the main threads on the Echo if you want to look for yourself:

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile*)

The guidelines specifically mention not posting things which are “inflammatory” or “spiteful” or that “denigrate” others.

Let me also be very clear: many of the people in the Echo threads have also been well spoken, tolerant, and helpful.

It’s just that I see a higher percentage of…what might be considered more typical of online forums.

I think this may prove to be a challenge to Amazon’s vaunted Customer Service. They must need to deal with it with other non-book products, I guess, but if the Echo is as successful as I think it is likely to be, they may end up dealing with more hostile and dogmatic customers.

Hopefully, I’m wrong about that. :) I know how many people are both serious readers and likely to buy Echoes (and to be nice and smart about them in their questions).

My Echo is on order…still not expected before the end of May, though.

When I do have one, so I’m in a better position to answer questions for you, feel free to ask them here. I haven’t commented much in the Kindle forum Echo threads, except where I knew answers from the online documentation or from Amazon.

The one place I had a bit of an exchange was with someone over copyright law and reposting comments made in the thread, but that just went a few posts and was over. :)

Amazon going more brick-and-mortar?

There have been a couple of stories lately suggesting that Amazon may get into ventures which involve four walls, a roof, and a floor.

One of them is the bankruptcy of Radio Shack.

Amazon has been mentioned as a possible buyer…I wrote about that last year, before the current events:

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

I still don’t see it as a particularly good idea…I’m not clear on the value for Amazon.

One argument is that Amazon has more and more hardware, and they might sell more Fire TVs, Fire Phones, Echoes, and the like, if there was a place people could physically examine them.

Yes, I suppose that’s possible…but enough more to justify the expenses of brick and mortar? I’m a former bookstore manager, and I just find that a challenge for Amazon. When you take into account the theft issues, the rent, and so on…I don’t see it.

Now, having a place to pick up things you order online, with perhaps some impulse items, but no browsing?

That I can see.

Amazon does it with lockers now, and as a reader sent me in a private e-mail (and other sources indicate), Amazon is moving into it on college campuses.

Indy Star article by Joseph Paul

Those are “staffed” college stores…there are sales clerks there.

Human sales clerks, by the way…not robots (yet).

That makes some sense, and should make Barnes & Noble worried.

You can order something online, and pick it up at the store.

Lots of college students (this is starting at Purdue, and expansion is planned) have difficulty with boxes being delivered to their living spaces. This is safe and relatively easy.

I would hope, again, that it isn’t a browsing place…you go there to get what you’ve already ordered, so it can be small, have fewer people on staff, and a lot less shrinkage (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

In terms of experience with the hardware, I think it would make more sense for Amazon to set up virtual experiences or simulator booths of some kind in other stores.

When Amazon releases its virtual (or augmented) reality device (there, I said it…and that’s just wild, spur of the moment speculation), or before that, with Hololens and Oculus Rift, you could get quite a good sense of how the Fire TV works, or where the Echo would sit in your house.

A simulator “room” (I’m picturing something like the size of a TARDIS…just the outside, of course) ;) in a store would work well, too. You would go in, and they’d have the remote for a Fire TV or an Echo, and you could try it against a remote presence of the device. You much more have to do hands on with a tablet or phone, but you could do that, too, without a lot of space.

If you were in Manhattan using Prime Now, you could probably order it there and it might beat you home. ;) Well, somebody has to be home to get Prime Now, but you get the idea.

Amazon actually having stores the size of a Radio Shack, though, where people go in without a clear plan of purchase? Seems unlikely to work to me.

What do you think?

Are book people nicer? Is doing Customer Service for serious readers easier than doing it for the average person? What book would you recommend world leaders read? Is piracy on the decline? 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 #283: discount on covers, Echo plays Simon Says

January 31, 2015

Round up #283: discount on covers, Echo plays Simon Says

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

New features for Echo, Fire Phone

I’m one of the few people who bought an

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

when it first came out for $199.

People treat it like it is Amazon’s Edsel (a famous flop from Ford), and yes, Amazon blamed it for a big loss in the financial report before yesterday’s.

However…

It’s still being updated, and Amazon said they are “working through” the inventory.

I don’t think they are done with the Fire Phone.

Sure, they’ve given us new lockscreens…and those are cool things that use their “dynamic perspective” (which I like to call “dy-per”) ;) to look 3D. As you move your head, you can see different things. I have to say, it’s quite hard to get people to hold the phone still and move their heads to experience it…that’s not natural for people. Some of those are even little movies…as short as Vines, perhaps, but cool. That’s not really a new feature, though.

The voice assistant giving you directions?

Yes, that’s new. We didn’t have it when the phone came out, but it was recently added.

I tested it today, and said, “Directions home”…worked just fine.

That’s something else I want to mention: dictation on the phone, and, I think, on my

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

has gotten a lot better lately. It’s always been pretty good, but the voice recognition has improved, I believe. I’ve even noticed it capitalizing things.

I suspect that may be a benefit from the

Amazon Echo

Part of the big feature of the Amazon Echo (Amazon’s yet-t0-be-generally-released ambient computing device) is it’s ability to carry on a conversation with you.

The voice recognition utilizes a hive mind (individuals contributing to and  benefiting  from a central source)…and so does voice recognition on the Fire Phone.

If you aren’t connected to wireless, voice recognition isn’t the same…I’m not even sure it works.

Now, it’s possible the voice recognition on the Fire Phone is actually powered by Google (the Fire Operating System is a “forked” version of Android), but I suspect it may not be. After all, Amazon bought Ivona (a text-to-speech and voice recognition company) about two years ago.

Nice to see my Fire Phone getting updates…and I think there is more to come.

The Echo has not even been released generally yet, so updates and new features make perfect sense. You can only buy one at this point if you ask for an invitation and get one…and my delivery date is estimated between May 27th and July 2nd!

One of my readers was nice enough to share an Amazon e-mail with me in a private e-mail (if you’d to be credited by name, just let me know).

Amazon announced to new features for this reader’s Echo. You can now control iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify by voice. You start it playing on a paired phone or tablet, then you can say, “Alexa, play” or pause, stop, next, or previous.

While that may not seem at first like that big of an addition, it’s important to note that this is more functionality with non-Amazon apps…showing that they aren’t trying to make this a “walled garden” as people like to say.

Second, and more interesting to me, is a “Simon Says” feature. You can say, “Alexa, Simon it’s time to go to bed,” and Alexa says, “It’s time to go to bed.”

Maybe that just sounds like a novelty, but I can see how it could be really useful.

You can use the remote to do it from another room…and I’m guessing you might be able to use the companion app (available for iOS and Android) to do it from elsewhere.

Of course, you could use it for playing tricks on your family members (Amazon even hints at that).

When I taught Advanced Excel class many years ago, I would set up a prank for the instructors to use on April Fool’s Day.

When you clicked in a particular spot, a message box would appear that would say,

“System crash imminent”

Click on that OK button, and it would say

“Radiation hazard”

Click again and get

“Your car has been towed”

One last click and get, “April Fools!”

People are going to tend to believe Alexa, so if she said it was time to go to bed, I think young kids would be more likely to do it than if a legal guardian said it.

At this point, it’s a one way communication…you talk through Alexa, but you can’t hear back anything that is being said.

You can see how it could have a practical application. You use the app (again, I’m not sure if that’s possible…I’d appreciate it if someone with an Echo could check) to say, “Honey, it’s me…I’m running late.” That’s easier for the person to get in a text…depending on how you have things set up and how often they check texts. ;)

They are making more improvements. I suspect eventually you’ll be able to have it remember a phrase you say to use for an alarm, and there is a lot more coming from the Echo, I believe.

Oh, and in another improvement from Amazon, reader Tania Marshall pointed out to me that the Washington Post app now does text-to-speech! That had been one of my comments about it when it was first released…but I’m glad it’s there now.

10% discount for ILMK readers at Queen Of Cases

https://queenofcases.com/

which makes really interesting hard cases for tablets and other devices is offering a discount code for readers of this blog.

Use the promo code

ilmk10

to get 10% of your order. They make cases for the Kindle Fire tablets, the Kindle Keyboard (AKA Kindle 3), the Kindle Touch, and the Kindle 4th generation.

Please be prepared to be specific as to which Kindle you have…if you need help figuring that out, let me know. :)

You may find this page of mine helpful:

Which Kindle do you have?

Enjoy the discount! I think these could make really nice gifts. They can do a custom case from any picture. They also have a sixty day return policy!

Let me clear, I haven’t tried one of these myself, but I appreciate them reaching out to me for your benefit…and they did it very nicely, I might add. :) Nothing pushy…

“When Authors Reboot a Series”

Jessica Pryde has an interesting

BOOKRIOT article

talking about authors “rebooting” a series…returning it to after a gap.

We’re not just talking a year…it can be a decade or even more.

Certainly, there are series where I wanted more…but thinking about being able to get back into the same “head space” after all that time…

Most likely, the author changed in a decade…won’t that affect the book?

Sure…and why not?

Characters in series do tend to evolve over time…and not just when they are aging like the Harry Potter protagonists. ;)

I actually think it can be more likely that another author picking up on a series can more closely replicate the feel of the original than the original author!

What do you think? Have you ever picked up a reboot and thought it was a considerable improvement over the previous books? Have you ever kinda sorta wished they had left it alone? Which series continued by other authors have been just as good or better (I might go with Ruth Plumly Thompson following on L. Frank Baum with the Oz series for one)? 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 #282: KDP EDU, sale on Prime

January 24, 2015

Round up #282: KDP EDU, sale on Prime

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

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

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

Big enough that Amazon is celebrating…in two ways.

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

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

Why $72?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I totally misunderstood this story until I really read it.

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

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

No, this is something different.

According to this

The Independent article by Adam Sherwin

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

What’s that going to cost you?

About $300,000.

Okay, probably not you. ;)

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

Does this author know how to market or what?

This story is getting tons of publicity for

Private Vegas (at AmazonSmile*)

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

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

Two big tech stories which might affect us readers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No consciously charging your tablet every night!

This is something that I said was

Tech we still need

back in 2010.

The other two things I mentioned?

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

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

In this

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

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

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

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

Much more important for our mobile gadgets.

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

Kindle Textbook Creator

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

Amazon Launches Kindle Textbook Creator

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

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

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

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

https://kdp.amazon.com/edu

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

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

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

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

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

Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

January 7, 2015

Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

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

Hugh Howey: Where Do We Go From Here?

There have been a lot of posts looking at publishing in 2014 and where it might go in 2015 (I’ve done them myself).

Author Hugh Howey (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) has one of the most interesting reviews in this

blog post

Howey was in the news, even in the mainstream, as one of the leading author defenders of Amazon during what I call the Hachazon War (the dispute between the retailer Amazon and the publisher Hachette). That can be a difficult position: everyone understands when you are a defender of the weak, but they can be less sympathetic to a defender of the strong.

That particular issue is an example of why this is a strong article. Howey says:

“2014 was the year the first of the major publishers was able to resume its squabble with Amazon over the price of ebooks. Hachette drew the short straw…”

Yep…all of the traditional publishers were going to negotiate with Amazon this year, and it happened to be Hachette that got into the public over the fight. It wasn’t necessarily something intrinsic to Hachette, something that made them different from the rest of the Big 5. It was even more public than the dispute Amazon had with Macmillan some time back.

I strongly recommend the article, for some of the best observations on issues including subsers (subscription services).

I will say that Howey doesn’t answer the title question, but that doesn’t lessen the value of this piece.

Well done, Hugh!

Dish will offer Sling TV on Fire TV and Fire TV Stick

There is a lot of buzz over Dish Network’s announcement of a new service…one pretty good analysis is this

Washington Post article by Brian Fung

but there have been many.

In this

press release

Dish calls it a “game changer”, and it’s certainly an interesting move.

For $20 a month, users will get the following networks (initially):

ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN

The big one, in terms of draw, is ESPN: live sports without a cable contract (there is no contract for Sling TV).

They will also offer “add-on packs”:

  • “Kids Extra” add-on with Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV for $5
  • “News & Info Extra” add-on with HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV

A “Sports Extra” add-on pack is also coming.

I’ve mentioned before that we are largely using a

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

and a

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

for our TVs at this point, and are looking at dropping cable video altogether.

One channel I would really miss if we did that was CNN, which is part of this…but I don’t think we’d pay $20 for it at this point.

For under $20, we have both Netflix and Hulu+, and that works pretty well.

However, many people will buy Sling TV for the sports…and they are really trying to attract the New Millennial generation (born roughly from 1982 through 2004, but different people define it differently). Adult Swim is probably also a draw for them.

One thing this doesn’t have is the big four broadcast networks. You can get quite a bit of that through Hulu+, but not live. Oh, and you do have ads on Hulu+ (but not on Netflix).

CBS has “All Access” for $6 a month, although it isn’t everything.

The perfect “cord cutting” solution isn’t here yet, but it seems clear that more flexibility in TV programming options is coming.

John Scalzi on Kindle Unlimited

One of my readers, Peter Willard, alerted me to this

blog post by John Scalzi

Scalzi is a good writer. We have seen things differently in the past, and that is still the case here, but I think it is worth reading the article.

This is not a flat condemnation of

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

as one might guess. I do think it will be good for some authors (many, actually), not good for others…just like any other distribution channel.

One place where we disagree is this statement by Scalzi:

“That said, the thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited “payment from a pot” plan is the fact that it and any other plan like itabsolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one’s payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.”

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, that’s a bizarre concept. One author’s sales don’t affect another author’s sales because there is such a large pool of money?

That certainly wasn’t my personal experience, or my perception of what my customers thought.

Customers generally had only so much money they could spend (although they might exceed it, of course). Certainly, there were a lot of people not spending much money on books, and they are hypothetically a potential audience, but I don’t think that’s what Scalzi is suggesting.

Let’s say there were ten alternate history books available in my store. Customers chose which one or two to buy, usually…they didn’t buy all ten. That wasn’t because that customer didn’t want to read all ten: it was because they had to be selective due to budgetary restraints.

I don’t see how that means that if they bought Author A’s book it didn’t affect whether or not they bought Author B’s book.

Yes, there is a difference with Kindle Unlimited…although, I’d say it’s less about one author being chosen over another than traditional publishing is.

Take those ten alternate history books, and say they are all in KU.

It seems much more likely to me that a KU member will read all ten…or at least, will read at least 10% (the payment threshold) of all ten.

Why not? It doesn’t make a difference in what they pay if they read one or ten…unlike traditional publishing.

However, the more borrows there are, the lower the individual payment.

If the pool of funds is one million dollars, and there are a million borrows that month, each borrow gets $1.

What this does do, I suppose, is mean that it is a benefit for authors/publishers if people read less. That’s new. If there were only 100,000 borrows, each borrow would be worth $10, not $1.

For traditional publishing, the more somebody buys to read, the more money is going to authors/publishers…not necessarily more to a specific author or publisher, but more altogether.

With KU, the more people read, the less goes to individuals, although the pot is the same.

That is, of course, unless Amazon raises the pot.

That’s what I think may happen…if KU proves to be a good way to get people to become and stay Prime members, or in other ways integrate more deeply with Amazon.

That’s where the money is from consumers: “diapers and windshield wipers”, not e-books.

I also think Amazon is going to make an increasing amount of money from suppliers.

I could even see a scenario where they charge big publishers to be in KU or to have their books featured in it, as another revenue stream.

Interesting times…

Marc Brown’s Arthur e-books on Kindle for the first time

Seven of Marc Brown’s Arthur the Aardvark children’s books are available on Kindle for the first time.

Arthur in the Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile*)

These are very popular books which have been around for years…you may also be familiar with the TV series.

Note that text-to-speech is unavailable on these books…not, I believe, because it has been blocked by the publisher (in which case I  would not be linking), but because these are picture books and the text is part of the image, inaccessible to the TTS software.

Yes, they are available through Kindle Unlimited.

Bonus deal: I know this is late in the day, but Amazon is continuing to offer many more than four titles in the

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

They have “15 First-In-Series Mysteries and Thrillers, $1.99 or Less Each”, and there are some good titles there. I added Eric Van Lustbader’s The Ninja to my Kindle Unlimited wishlist. :)

Amazon Echo update

More invitations have been going out, but nothing for me yet. Still waiting patiently. :)

What do you think? Are authors talking more about the publishing business because they are becoming more in control of it with the additional power of indie e-distribution? Do authors generally want other authors to succeed, thinking a rising tide raises all boats, or is there competition for readers? Do you choose between similar books when you buy? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Round up #280: great Kindle Daily Deals, end of the golden indie era?

December 28, 2014

Round up #280: great Kindle Daily Deals, end of the golden indie era?

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

An Amazon night

Well, it certainly felt like an Amazon night on the 24th!

Our now adult kid was flying in from the Boston area to see us here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I mirrored my

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

screen on our TV, using a

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile*)

That meant that anything that was on the Fire screen appeared on the TV.

I was running the free

FlightView Free (at AmazonSmile*)

which I’d gotten from the Amazon Appstore, to show the progress of the flight.

Oh, and we were listening to the Holiday Classics Prime radio station (which was also coming through the TV, since I was mirroring the Fire).

All I would have needed was an Amazon TV (they don’t exist…yet) ;) for it to be complete!

I assume next year I’ll just be asking an Amazon Echo what the flight status is…and within a couple of years, the Echo will just volunteer information if the flight is delayed or ahead of time. :)

 Today’s Kindle Daily Deals: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Walking Dead, Jeffrey Archer, Rosemary’s Baby…and Sophie’s Choice

Amazon is continuing the great post-holiday deals on books! People who just got their first Kindles/Fires are likely getting sucked into the universe but fast!

Ooh, wait…I need to get myself back on track after the use of that idiom…shouldn’t that be “but quickly?” Okay, okay…geek out over. ;)

There are also a lot more than four titles…it’s much closer to forty!

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

Some of the titles (check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…you might be seeing this after it is over, or it might apply in your country, and I do have readers around the world):

  • The first four prose (not graphic) novels in The Walking Dead series ($1.99 each). Again, these are not the comics, but highly rated novels by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. The first one, for example, is 4.3 stars out of five with 740 customer reviews. I gave one as a small gift to someone
  • The first eight ($1.99 each) in the super popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney (some are also in Kindle Unlimited…KU)
  • Sand Omnibus by Hugh Howey
  • The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer
  • Solo by Jack Higgins
  • Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  • Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
  • Three books ($1.99 each) in Jasinda Wilder’s Into You romance series

Those are just some of the Kindle Daily Deals today, which are just a tiny fraction of the bargains at Amazon. Check out

Kindle Book Deals (at AmazonSmile*)

for more.

Interesting! I didn’t see this listed there, and it disappeared from the KDD page (it wasn’t one of the KDDs…just appeared there) after I saw it.

They are having a big sale on graphic novels right now, although they don’t all actually fit that category. For example, they have the reprints of Creepy and Eerie, two 1960s horror comic mags.

I did do a search that seems to be turning up the ones on sale:

Graphic Novels for $3.99 (at AmazonSmile*)

These are good uses for gift cards you got, or gift items you exchanged for credit…and you could actually start getting gifts for next year now! :) You can delay them for the appropriate date, or send them to yourself and print them out. When you do the latter, you don’t even need an e-mail address for them, or really, to specify who will get it. There is a gift claim code, which is all the recipient really needs besides the website which is

http://www.amazon.com/acceptgift

H.M. Ward says Kindle Unlimited cut income by 75%

This is an interesting

New York Times article by David Streitfeld

The article is talking more generally about how independent authors are upset with Amazon. That’s a bit different from the recent side-taking in the Hachazon War (what I call the dispute between the publisher Hachette and the retailer Amazon, which is now resolved). In that case, it tended to be tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors siding with the publisher, and indies perhaps siding with Amazon.

One concern that is mentioned is with

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

which I’ve written about a couple of times recently.

That’s Amazon’s “subser” (that’s what I call a subscription service). For $9.99 a month (you can generally get the first month free), customers can read books from a set group (which is over 800,000 titles at the time of writing).

The author/publisher is paid out of a pool when a book is borrowed and at least ten percent of it is read.

The article lists $1.39 per borrow in November.

Indie authors using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing can get 70% of their cover price (although the books need to be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 to get that).

Even a $2.99 book would get over $2 in royalties…higher than you get with KU.

However, it’s worth noting that a $0.99 book would have gotten about twice as much in November.

I think subsers are here to stay and will grow. Just as tradpubs have had to adjust to the digital world, indies may need to adjust to the subser world.

One strategy suggested in the article: shorter books. Instead of one 1,000 page book, ten 100 page books might get a lot more income. In the case of a subser, people may not be upset to read a short book…not necessarily a novel (although that could work), but I can certainly see it in non-fiction.

Instead of writing a comprehensive book on 1960s science fiction TV shows, you write one for each show.

For novels, you do a chunk of the book…and have a link at the end of it to take you to where you borrow (or buy) the next in the series, so it’s pretty fluid. KU members can borrow up to ten books at a time (and an unlimited number per month). They could borrow your five books which make up one story at one time, making it simple enough to read, even without wi-fi or 4G access.

Technology and culture have shaped the format of books before…I think we could see some influence from this.

I suppose the question is: is the indie author bubble over?

I think not, but I’ll be interested in your comments.

Amazon’s holiday shopping stats

I always love these annual press releases from Amazon!

press release

They not only give us some actual numbers about what happened during the holiday shopping season, they do it with whimsical statistics. :)

The stand-out number is that “…more than 10 million new members worldwide tried Prime for the first time.”

Prime members spend more more often, and I believe they also are more likely to buy the higher profit physical items (“diapers and windshield wipers”).

That’s why Amazon is spending so much on making Prime more attractive and more “sticky” (so people are more likely to stay with it).

Now, some stats:

  • More than a billion photos have been uploaded to Prime Photos for free storage…and that just launched in November! At that rate, there will be more pictures stored there than there are people on the planet by about mid-year! That’s a lot of cats in sweaters…
  • Amazon shipped to 185 countries this holiday…gee, I wonder which 11 countries didn’t get a smiley cardboard box? ;)
  • Prime Now, which is going to expand beyond Manhattan next year, still sounds amazing! I’m going to quote this one in full: “The last Prime Now order that was delivered in time for Christmas included 3 different 12-packs of Bai5, 5 calorie, 100% Natural, Antioxidant Infused Beverage, 18-ounce bottles. Flavor varieties included Costa Rica Clementine, Limu Lemon and Molokai Coconut. The order was placed on December 24 at 10:24pm and was delivered at11:06pm.”
  • The discounts paid off! You thought non-Fire Kindles might be in danger of extinction? I don’t think so…”Fire tablet sales on Amazon.com were up over three times year over year this Black Friday; Kindle e-reader sales on Black Friday grew nearly four times year over year”
  • The most gifted Kindle book was Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand
  • AmazonSmile* is rapidly growing, with millions of dollars having been donated
  • “Amazon customers purchased enough wiper blades for every driver in Mobile, Alabama, the rainiest city in the US.”
  • “The total length of Duck Brand Disney Frozen duct tape purchased by Amazon customers this holiday season could stretch to the top of Disneyland’s Matterhorn more than 729 times”
  • The bestselling tablets were the Fire HD 7, Fire HD 6, and the Fire HDX 7 (the model I use every day)
  • The bestselling Kindle books were: The Burning Room by Michael Connelly; Gray Mountain by John Grisham; and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What do you think? How much did Amazon power your holiday? Are indie authors going to do fine in the future? Is it only certain ones that are going to benefit? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand 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 #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

December 17, 2014

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

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

Mass market paperback sales down 30%…in one year

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

e-book sales continued to gain on printed books.

I’ve written before about how e-books have largely taken over the market niche of mass market paperbacks, seen as the inexpensive way to get books.

The growth for e-book sales isn’t as meteoric as it was. For adult trade books (the ones you buy in bookstores…not textbooks…that’s also where the 30% drop happened in mass market paperbacks), they grew half a percent year over year. Still, that’s growth…where other formats saw losses.

Children’s books (including Young Adult) seem to be compensating, meaning growth for the year.

Worth noting: the market share for e-books for adult trade is about half what it is for children’s books. That’s something else I’ve observed before: I think adults currently like to give physical books to kids, but I think in ten to twenty years, that will have changed considerably.

Could Apple win its e-book case on appeal?

Well, well, well.

It looks like it is possible (some even think likely) that Apple will win its appeal of its conviction in the Department of Justice’s e-book case. There is a lot of buzz on this: here is one article

SF Gate article

Essentially, they argue that Judge Denise Cote blew it, and misinterpreted the law.

What happens if Apple does win?

It doesn’t invalidate anything else that’s already happened, as I understand it. The other publishers which have settled gave up the right to appeal (again, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my lay understanding of them making the agreement). The states’ Attorneys General case is also separate.

An Apple attorney made an interesting argument that the prices went up after the Apple deal because Amazon had been using its monopolistic power to keep prices low.

For me, that’s why the appeal might fail. Typically, anti-trust law is used to protect consumers, not producers (like publishers). I’m not sure a court is going to find that a monopoly which is making things better for consumers is doing something wrong…not that I’m saying Amazon was a monopoly in e-books (just really, really big).

We’ll keep an eye on this.

“…the book is back”

The book never went away. :)

Oh, in some segments it shed its corporeal body and became a being of light (digital, at least), but the book has always been there…and I my strong guess is that more people are reading books now than they were five years ago.

The headline quote, though, is from this interesting

The Guardian article by Robert McCrum

and is attributed to James Daunt, Chief Executive of the Waterstones bookstore chain in the UK.

I supposed one could say the business leader is “undaunted”, but that could get me in trouble in China. ;)

I recommend the article. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so perhaps it’s a bit more in my wheelhouse, but I think anyone might find it intriguing.

Waterstones has stabilized, and may see growth.

We can’t say the same thing about Barnes & Noble at this point.

I wonder if chain bookstores are going to be more likely to thrive outside the USA?

Digital adoption in many countries is actually higher than in the US…but that doesn’t necessarily go for e-books. The last I heard, the Japanese were slow to adopt them, for example.

Bestselling doesn’t mean most completed

Kobo has released (although I’ve looked, and can’t seem to find the full report) data on which books are bestselling for them in 2014…and which ones are completed the most.

That might be creepy, but yes, an e-book platform can typically tell how far you’ve read into a book (at least up to your last sync).

After all, how else could Amazon let you sync to the “farthest page read”?

According to this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

fewer than half of the people (44%) who start reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winner

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

finish it.

The article suggests that might be because of the length, but they also note that only 28% of readers of Solomon Northrup’s

Twelve Years A Slave (at AmazonSmile*)

finish it, and that’s about a quarter the length of Goldfinch.

I suspect it has more to do with people who aren’t serious readers getting those bestselling books, and often as gifts.

A lot of books are given as gifts. You can see how someone might give Northrup’s book as a gift to someone who loved the movie. That recipient might intend to read all of it, but just might not have the habit (and skill) of reading a book to start to finish.

Does it take skill?

I think so. I think those of us who read a lot have a lot of skills in finding the time and opportunity to do it!

Like a lot of things, you need to practice to be a great reader…many people can read, but not many people can average several books a month.

I also think people buy some of those bestsellers aspirationally: they’d like to read the book, they think they would be a better person if they read the book…the reality just overwhelms the intent.

I guess I’m saying that bestselling books are more likely than micromarket books to be started by someone who just isn’t likely to finish any book.

As I’ve written before (I’m saying that a lot this time! I guess that happens after more than five years of writing the same blog), I always finish every book I read…eventually.

I know that’s not true for many of you…you feel like you are wasting your time if you keep reading a book you don’t like. There are other books to read.

I understand that attitude…it’s just sort of the principal of the thing for me.

For example, I just finished reading a book…and I gave it one star in my

Goodreads revies

something I’ve never done before. According to Goodreads, that means I “didn’t like it”. Well, that’s true…despite thinking that it was well-written in some ways, I was offended by it. That’s not easy to do: I’m not somebody who is easily offended.

I have to say, though, that I was sorry when a commenter said they had deleted it unread based on my review.

I don’t want to hurt the author with the review…but I did want to give my honest opinion of it.

I read the whole book. Others might like it (it has an average of over three stars out of five at Goodreads, and 3.5 stars at Amazon).

I know, I know: I haven’t named the book here. When I polled my readers, book reviews by me weren’t one of their favorite parts of this blog, so I started doing them at Goodreads. I think naming the book here might have a bigger impact on it…if you are curious, you can read the review at the link above.

At any rate, I’m not surprised that the bestselling books are not the most finished. :)

What do you think? Are mass market books doomed? Are bookstores saved? Are you more likely to finish a book you bought for yourself than a book someone else gave you? Will Apple win on appeal? Should they? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand 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 #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

December 6, 2014

Round up #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

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

Amazon improves author tracking

It’s nice to me to see that Amazon is working on improving the customer experience.

The ability to be notified when a new book is published to the Kindle store from an author you like seems like it would be a no brainer.

The customer is happy, Amazon gets a sale, the publisher is happy, the author is happy…it’s just a question of getting the infrastructure and user experience to be simple and robust enough.

In the past, we’ve had a kind of clunky way of doing it…and I would hear from people that it didn’t really work (they didn’t get notifications).

I don’t know if they’ve fixed the latter part yet, but they now have a much more elegant and sophisticated way to request updates:

Amazon’s Favorite Authors page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

From there, you can just tap an Add Favorite button.

Not only that, but it recommends authors for you, both ones that are similar to what you’ve favorited, and ones that you’ve reviewed positively.

I found that its linkages were very good: when I favorited an author, it made suggestions that made sense. Even in the case of authors I didn’t know, there were book cover thumbnails which made it clear that the connection was logical.

You can search for an author, or choose from popular ones.

You can decide whether or not you want your favorites displayed on your profile.

You can also edit your favorites here: and interestingly, those include books, movies, music, and others.

They also suggest more features are coming to this in the future.

The one suggestion I’m going to make to them first is that they add a place for us to comment on our favorites, which displays on the profile. That would make it much more social.

Ideally, they would make it that if someone went from your favorite on your page and purchased the book, you’d get an advertising fee or other credit of some kind, but I don’t expect that right away.

Almost whole-heartedly recommended a Kindle First book

This is what I recently wrote about this month’s Kindle First books:

Prime members, don’t forget to pick up your

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

You can get one of the four books to own (not borrow) for free…these are books which will be actually released next month. The choices this month are:

  • Marked (Servants of Fate Book 1) by Sarah Fine (romantic fantasy)
  • The Last Passenger
    by Manel Loureiro, Andrés Alfaro (suspense)
  • Fatal Puzzle (Zons Crime Book 1) by Catherine Shepherd, Julia Knobloch (thriller)
  • Guardians of the Night (A Gideon and Sirius Novel) by Alan Russell (mystery)

I’m going with The Last Passenger, and it was an easy choice. Loureiro is the author of the Apocalypse Z books, the first of which is the most reviewed book I listed above. They classify it as a suspense novel, but it involves time travel…one of my favorite subjects.

When I started reading

The Last Passenger (at AmazonSmile*)

I was quite pleased with it. It reminded me of the pulp hero Doc Savage (without a hero like that), and from me, that’s a compliment. ;) I was already seeing how it would be a good movie.

It was a great high camp set up, had interesting characters including the lead…and it was an excellent translation from the Spanish.

Unfortunately, a character was introduced who is so thunderingly stereotypical in a negative way that now I don’t know if I can even recommend it.

This book was published by AmazonCrossing, which gets books from other countries…so we may not be able to blame the Amazon editor for not saying, “Um, don’t you think you want to tone that down or give that character more depth and complexity?”

I (eventually) finish every book I read, and I’m liking the book except for this one element.

It’s unfortunate, and I do think it’s something an editor could have affected.

Fire TV Stick means cutting the cord

I will write a review comparing the

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

and the

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

(I have and use both), but I thought I’d mention that the Stick may mean that we finally “cut the cord” and eliminate TV services from our cable company (we’ll keep their internet…we have Comcast, and it works well for us).

Interestingly, part of what happened was that we bought a new TV:

32″ TV HDTV LED 720p Element Electronics (at AmazonSmile*)

The Fire TV Stick was coming, and we had a paleolithic Sony TV without an HDMI input. ;) I mean, seriously, Fred Flintstone would have felt at home with the old one. Both of us were grunting and groaning when we had to move it…and we are reasonably strong.

So, when we saw the Element on sale for under $150 on Black Friday weekend at Target, we got one. We have an Element TV already, and I like it. One thing I like is they are super light…I have taken our old one to work easily for a game night there.

However, our recorded Tivo programs looked quite muddy on it (while the Fire TV Stick looked fine). That might be a matter of recabling the Tivo (we also are using an old one of those).

So the question became: could we do without Tivo and the programs it records?

One element of that: Hulu Plus.

We haven’t had it. My Significant Other doesn’t want to watch TV on a mobile device, so Hulu couldn’t be a replacement for us easily until we had a TV that could show it…simply.

The Fire TV Stick and the new TV makes that combination work.

I still have to go through and compare our season passes and see what we can’t do (although mirroring my Kindle Fire HDX or my Fire Phone to the Fire TV Stick might solve some problems, if new episodes are available on network/studio websites…for free, of course) through Hulu to decide.

We aren’t heavy duty TV watchers, I’d say, although I have the CBS app running in the other room and I’m listening to it as I write right now.

Let me revise that: we don’t follow a lot of current TV shows. I watch Survivor live, usually, to avoid spoilers in the apps I use in the morning (Flipboard, CNN, Washington Post). Otherwise, seeing things as they happen is not that important to us…I’d say we could generally wait until the next season.

The exception would be that I have CNN on…a lot. However, I now have some other news apps that could take that place. Watchup, CBS, BBC…oh, I should mention: my BBC news app works on our Fire TV at this point but not on the Fire TV Stick. I assume they’ll work that out.

We’ll probably make the decision this weekend…well, before the next time we pay a cable bill, at any rate (rate…so to speak). ;)

goodreads CHOICE AWARDS 2014

The Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 (I went with their capitalization above) have been announced:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014

First, I have to say: why isn’t there an easy page for this at Amazon in the Kindle store?

There is a page

Goodreads Choice Award Winners (at AmazonSmile*)

but the 2014 ones aren’t there yet as a sub-page…and I didn’t see any link from the main Kindle store.

This is where I’d like a bit more synergy, Amazon. :) As I’ve said before, SMMSA (Sell Me More Stuff, Amazon). ;)

Here are the winners:

Enjoy! These might be safe gifts, as well…there are a lot of Goodreads users, so if you were looking for the mainstream choice, this might be a good way to go. You recipient (and you can delay the delivery until the appropriate date) will have the option to exchange it for a gift card.

What do you think? Have you ever had a situation where you found one element of a book offensive, but liked the rest? What did you do…did you read it? Do you have alternatives to suggest to the Goodreads winners? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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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