Archive for the ‘Subscription services’ Category

Round up #255: authors’ insults, HBO ruh-roh

May 22, 2014

Round up #255: authors’ insults, HBO ruh-roh

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

Simon & Schuster joins Oyster

I’ve written before about testing out Scribd, one of the big subsers. That’s what I call subscription services…the “all you can read” plans for e-books.

They aren’t all “all” you can read, but the basic idea is that you pay a flat fee, and then can select from e-books to read at no additional cost.

Amazon does that, in quite a limited way, with the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). Eligible Prime members with a hardware Kindle can borrow up to a book a calendar month as part of their $99 a year Prime membership.

Amazon also does it with Kindle FreeTime, but that’s for kids.

Simon & Schuster joining Oyster is a big deal, even if it just for their backlist (books that are at least a year old, basically).

This

The Next Web article by Josh Ong

talks about the addition (Oyster already has HarperCollins), and has this interesting line:

“As it gains traction, Oyster could represent a viable alternative to Amazon, which has secured a dominant position in the ebook space.”

The very big presumption there is that Amazon doesn’t take them head on.

My guess is that Amazon does just that: starts a subser for adults this year, and I’d be very surprised if they aren’t working industriously on it as I type this.

When might it happen?

I think they may tie it into a hardware announcement.

Now, in recent years, Kindle hardware announcements have come late in the year, that wasn’t always true. The DX, for example, was introduced on a May 6, and the Kindle DX Graphite on a July 1st.

I think a great time to launch a subser would be as we go into summer reading…subsers are not really gift items (although I assume they could be gifted), so waiting for the holidays isn’t necessary.

Yes, I could see that happening: perhaps in conjunction with a new Paperwhite, and then hold off on a tablet announcement until that prime shopping season in October or so.

Oh, and there may be a phone announcement too, but I don’t see this being tied to a phone.

Could it be tied into Prime? Absolutely. Not limited to Prime, necessarily, but an advantage for Prime owners (a strong discount, perhaps). Prime is the game, I think, for a lot of the retail business for Amazon.

We shall see…

In the mean time, this

Oyster blog post

points out that this adds Stephen King and Hemingway. The blog, by the way, is poorly punctuated (“Im”, “youre”), but a blog is different from a book in that regard. Still, when it is a commercial tool to promote your service to literary types, it might be better to proofread it a bit more carefully…

To be fair, the “Im” is, I think, quoting Hemingway, so perhaps Papa had it wrong…but there are no quotation marks and no “sic”.

Nebula Award Winners

The Nebulas have just been awarded, and I’ll let this

The Mary Sue post by Becky Chambers

point out something that all of the fiction winners have in common. It’s an inherent characteristic, and I don’t really like to make a point of those…although I do it sometimes. 🙂

The article also has links to some of the stories which you can read for free online.

The Nebulas are awarded by the

SFWA…Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

If you are interested in earlier winners as well, you can shop at

Amazon’s Nebula Winners Kindle store page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

“Mommy, why is that vampire naked?”

It’s a big deal that Amazon just added some of HBO’s backlist to Prime streaming.

Now, Prime members can watch older seasons of True Blood and Rome, for example, at no additional cost.

I’m not sure that everybody is aware that those series include nudity and sexual content.

Knowledgeable Prime Video users are probably aware of

https://www.amazon.com/video/settings

where you can centrally set content restrictions based on ratings.

You can require a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to watch video in these categories, as one setting: R, NC-17, TV-MA, Unrated, Not rated.

You can even be specific as to which devices have the restriction, and which don’t. That means that if the adults want to watch True Blood freely, they can…while the kids can’t get into it on their Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*) (or Rokus, for that matter) without knowing the PIN.

Yay!

However…

You know where that doesn’t work?

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

Yes, as far as I can tell (and I’ve asked Amazon), you can block purchasing on a Fire TV, but can’t block content based on ratings.

That seems like a considerable weakness, compared to the Roku!

There is no question to me that the Fire TV is intended as a family device…there are a lot of kid-friendly apps, for example.

Hopefully, they get something out soon that allows the blocking…although I wonder if it is technical, since it doesn’t work on the XBOX either.

Summing up: you can block purchasing on the Fire TV by changing a setting on the Fire TV itself, but you can’t block content based on ratings.

HuffPo interactive chart with authors insulting each other

While I am capable of very cutting remarks, I don’t tend to insult others publicly. My Significant Other knows I have fun doing it in a joking way to the television at home, but I don’t really desire to hurt actual people. I like Jeopardy, for example, and will make comments about the people on the show. I’ve even suggested that we do a t-shirt that says, “It looks like you’ll be going first in Double Jeopardy.” 😉

Writers, of course, can be very creative with words (gee, I wonder why?) 😉 so their insults about each other can be quite entertaining…

This

Huffington Post interactive chart by Jan Diehm

lets you click on links between authors to see those not so bon mots…

What do you think? If Amazon offered a subser with tradpubbed (traditionally published) books which were a year old or more, would that affect your purchasing of new releases? Are there any literary awards which prompt you to read specific books? Have you ever tried to read all of a category of award winners? Do you have fun insulting other people in public? Or, perhaps, are you like me, and are more likely to make self-deprecating comments? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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The Scribd reading experience

February 22, 2014

The Scribd reading experience

I recently wrote about Scribd now having a

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

app for their “all you can read” for $8.99 a month subser (subscription service).

I’m in the midst of the free trial (and have almost finished a book on it), and I thought I’d give you some feedback on how it is as a reader.

My general impression is that it is a good, bare bones reader.

It’s interesting to me how I am missing some things which I never had with a p-book (paperbook), though, and which I do use when reading in the Kindle application on my Fire or on one of our non-Fire readers.

Especially noticeable to me are the lack of:

  • Text-to-speech. At this point, that by itself will keep me from renewing. While I have a philosophical objection to publishers blocking text-to-speech, I don’t think it’s necessary for every device or app to have it. It is impractical for me not to have it, though. I use it often in the car, and I almost feel like I only have half the book without it
  • Dictionary look-up. I don’t use that all that often, but there is no kind of look-up (web or otherwise) that I can see
  • Highlighting. I’ve held my finger on the screen several times not thinking about it, wanting to highlight a passage. That might be because it was an interesting quotation, or because there was a minor error (this book is well proof-read) about which I might want to notify the publisher
  • Bookmarking
  • Notes

You have the text on the “page”…that’s about it.

Even “long pressing” a picture didn’t seem to do anything…I don’t think it has a zoom function.

On the good side, there are controls over the appearance of that text, and navigation controls.

I think my favorite feature is one that the Kindle doesn’t have: “pages left in chapter”. Rather than pages, that’s actually a reference to the number of screens that are left…and if I change the text size, the number adjusts. Interestingly, that’s the most useful measure I’ve found…the amount of time I have left in a chapter just doesn’t seem to be very accurate. I often leave my Kindle open on a screen while I do things, and I think that might be throwing it off.

Speaking of increasing the text size, you do get some good controls there. Tapping in the middle of the page invokes some controls.

One looks like a book, and brings up the Table of Contents (in at least the book I am reading now, you can use it for navigation).

In your bottom right, there is an Aa button, similar to Amazon. Tapping that, I can increase or decrease the text size (there appear to be fourteen options), choose from Default, Sans-serif, or Serif typefaces, and choose white, black, or sepia backgrounds. I’ve been reading the default text on a black background, and it is crisp.

You have the ability to download the book to the device, so you can read offline. That is an icon in your bottom right that looks like a cloud with down arrow on it.

At the top of the screen (after you tap the page), there is a library symbol (three books), with which you can add it to or take it away from your “favorites”. There is a sharing symbol, which lets you like it on Scribd, e-mail it, or “other”. I haven’t played around with that much…e-mailing it would be information about the book, presumably.

So, I would describe it as being all about the reading, without the ability to annotate (or listen to TTS).

Would I pay the $8.99 if they had TTS? Maybe…my Significant Other hasn’t really checked it out enough yet to give me the impression of a less techy user.

The book I’m reading, by the way, is

Crash: When UFOs Fall From the Sky: A History of Famous Incidents, Conspiracies, and Cover-Ups (at AmazonSmile)

by Kevin Randle. Randle is going through all sorts of reported UFO crashes, and generally dismisses them for various reasons, or simply lists them without endorsing them.

The author is a recognized expert on the Roswell Incident and has been seen as an advocate of the reality of an extraordinary event there.

It’s interesting, therefore, that even though this is what we used to call a “seed catalog” type listing, it certainly doesn’t come across as the work of a simple true believer.

Randle writes more about some of the cases, including Shag Harbor and Kecksburg. I would describe the writing as largely intentionally dispassionate, which isn’t all that common (from Skeptics or true believers) in this field. I find that refreshing, although some of the customer reviews on Amazon describe it as “boring”. 😉

I also want to mention that I’ve started to look into

Entitle

another e-book subser, recently promoted on the Ellen Degeneres show.

It’s a very different concept, much more like Amazon’s own Audible.

You pay a flat rate a month, and can get a certain number of e-books.

For example, you can pay $9.99 a month and get two books. That’s pretty much how it works: about $5 per book, with a strict limit as to how many books you get.

However, you do own the books. If you stop paying, you still get them…so, in a way, it’s like getting an AmazonLocal coupon.

The selection seems very impressive, and they do have a free trial.

The books use the Adobe DRM (Digital Rights Management) system, but they do have an app for a Kindle Fire (hm…I wonder if that app would allow you to read other Adobe DRM books on your Fire?).

I haven’t tested this all much, yet, but I thought I’d let you know. 🙂

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

* 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 #235: Little Free Library, “Buy It Now” public library button

January 19, 2014

Round up #235: Little Free Library, “Buy It Now” public library button

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

Bloomberg: “Amazon Will Probably Dominate Books-by-Subscription, Too”

In my annual post predicting the coming year in e-books

The Year Ahead: 2014

I said that I thought Amazon would do a subscription service for adults this year…a way to pay for e-books by the month or year, rather than paying for each e-book separately.

On January 12th, I wrote this one:

Could this kill e-book sales?

where I coined the term “subser” for “subscription service”, and went into the idea in more depth.

Well, three days later, BloombergBusinessweek ran this

article by Joshua Brustein

Thanks to the reader who sent me a heads-up for that article in a private e-mail! I don’t get to my e-mail very quickly, as opposed to comments made on this blog, but I’ll eventually get back to you on your other questions. 🙂 To answer one point, my subser post wasn’t inspired by Bloomberg’s…and, even though I was first, I’d be pretty sure theirs wasn’t inspired by mine. 😉

The article (which is worth reading) looks at the idea of subsers, and how we can expect Amazon to “Bigfoot it” and dominate there. That’s my guess as well…

Library “Buy It Now” button

Another reader sent me a private e-mail to alert me to this

GOOD E READER article by Michael Kozlowski

I suspect some of you will have a strong reaction to what is said in the story.

The basic idea is this:

Simon & Schuster is expanding a pilot program to fifteen public libraries that will allow patrons there to borrow the publishers’ e-books.

I’ve written about that issue in the past…that publishers don’t freely allow public libraries to loan their books, and even when they do, there may be significant restrictions.

Well, this deal comes with an interesting stipulation.

The libraries must have “Buy It Now” button on their websites.

You go to the library’s website to borrow a book, and where you would do that, there is also a choice to buy it.

Why would you buy it when you are about to borrow it for free?

It’s very common that popular e-books have long waiting lists at public libraries, for one thing. If you saw you were number twelve in line, and you figured the book is out for two weeks at a time, you’d have to wait about six weeks to get it.

I know some of you are wondering why you have to wait for an e-book: can’t the library just make a copy for you?

Nope: their licenses restrict how many people can have a copy at a time…and that restriction may be only one patron for each license you purchase (and that license can be many times more expensive than a regular customer would pay to get the book from Amazon).

What’s that sound I hear? Is it skin crawling? 😉 Yep…I do understand if some of you are not happy about commerce getting into the public library…which you may pay for with your property taxes or through a bond measure.

I don’t like it being a condition of having the books…if it was more voluntary, I’d understand.

This is happening, in part, through a program from Overdrive called

LibraryBIN (Buy It Now)

You can buy books through that website, and part of your purchase price goes to your public library…at least, it does if you got to the site from your library.

Public libraries are facing a lot of challenges, and I can understand looking at creative solutions. There isn’t anything here that forces the public to buy, and the only “advertising” is for the book itself.

Still…

Little Free Libraries

One thing that comes up sometimes is what to do with your p-books (paperbooks) when you have switched to e-books.

Well, the majority of people who read e-books also read p-books, from what I understand. I don’t…not for new books. I do go and consult my old p-books sometimes, and I haven’t parted with them. Many people want to do that, though, and that seems reasonable.

One thing you might be wanting to do is to share your books with someone who might not otherwise have them.

An interesting idea recently appeared near us, and there are reportedly more than 10,000 of them around.

It’s a little thing that sort of looks like a glass-fronted birdhouse (if you were trying to house an emperor penguin…it’s about a meter tall, I’d say).

There are books in there…and you can leave one or take one (we left one).

It’s part of an organization called

Little Free Library

They are working to get these Little Free Libraries all over the place.

I do think this is a great thing! You can donate to support it (it is tax-deductible) at the website I linked above.

You can also see a map there with locations…perhaps there is one in your neighborhood!

MYK changes still rolling out

I recently wrote about some

Major changes to MYK: bulk actions

That’s the Manage Your Kindle page from Amazon.

It’s weird: I’ve only seen it in Silk on my Kindle Fire, even though I’ve checked in another browser on that device, and three browsers on my desktop.

I’ve logged out and logged back in…that didn’t make it appear.

Amazon has indicated that, when a change like this occurs, it could take a week or so before pretty much everybody gets it. I think that’s because you are hitting different servers, and they may not update all the servers at once (it’s probably better policy not to do that, in case something goes wrong).

I’ve also heard that people are seeing different things, and that those things are changing, so this may certainly be a work in progress.

I’ll report back on it when it seems to be more stable and more available. 🙂

What do you think? Is it okay with you that there would be a “Buy It Now” button on your public library’s website? If you don’t like it, is it better to have that or not have the books from a major publisher? Have  you seen a Little Free Library? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Speaking of which: I really appreciate it when readers give me links to stories! The best way to do it is to comment on the blog: I review that most often. If you want your comment to be private (so I don’t post it publicly), please let me know at the beginning of your comment.

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

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


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