Archive for the ‘Textbooks/schools’ Category

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: (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:

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.


Amazon and eTextbooks

January 8, 2015

Amazon and eTextbooks

The idea of using e-books for textbooks was a very important one when the Kindle was first becoming popular.

The potential for real improvements was there: not only in interactive and more accessible materials, but in reducing the weight that students had to carry from class to class.

When the larger Kindle DX was introduced in 2009, part of the announcement was a partnership with major textbook publishers. Clearly, the thought was that colleges, universities, and others, could start using e-textbooks on a mass basis.

Unfortunately, that effort hit a major snag when there was a challenge to the accessibility of the device. Sure, e-books were better for the print challenged than paperbooks…but the argument was that they were even better for sighted students (who had access to search capabilities, for example, that the print disabled did not have), making their use inequitable.

That stalled the momentum (and may have led to decreased sales for the Kindle DX).

Times, though, have changed.

The Fire tablets are much more disability friendly than the Kindle DX was. They have audible menus, and even “explore by touch” which can tell you what you are touching on the screen.

For more information on the available features, see

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

I was pleased today to get an e-mail from a representative from Amazon, outlining some of the advantages of eTextBooks from Amazon. I was given permission to share it with you:

Hi Bufo –

Hope you’re well!

As Winter Break ends and college students head back to school (with new gadgets in tow), purchasing textbooks for spring semester classes is now top of mind. I thought your readers, especially parents of college-aged students, would be interested in learning about the benefits of going digital this year with Amazon eTexbooks – students can save money, read their textbooks at any time across multiple devices, and take advantage of interactive features to help make studying easier.

With options to rent, buy or try for free (up to 80% off print list for rentals between 30 to 360 days and up to 60% off purchases), eTextbooks give students the flexibility to spend money where they want. Not to mention students can take their entire library wherever they go without lugging physical books around campus – with the free kindle reading app (at AmazonSmile*), students can conveniently access their eTextbooks from any device, including their tablet (Fire, iPad or Android tablets), smartphone (iPhone or Android), PC or Mac.

I’ve outlined some of the study-friendly features students receive when using eTextbooks below, including digital notes for easy reference, multi-color highlighting and Flash Cards to jog your memory after each chapter.  Or, if you’d like to see these features live, check out the Study Smarter Not Harder videos here.

Let me know if you have interest in covering or if you have any questions.


Study Tips Made Easy with eTextbooks

  • Multi-Color Highlighting – Are you one of those students that highlights every sentence in their textbooks? With multi-color highlighting on your eTextbook you can organize categories and sections by color and save all your highlights in Notebook for easy reference
  • Digital Notes — Notebook for eTextbooks displays all your notes, colored highlights, saved images and bookmarks in one place. You can mark and filter your most important concepts to organize when it’s exam time – it’s like a digital scrapbook for your studies. Notebook is available on Fire HD tablets, iPads, and Android tablets
  • Flash Cards – Just finished a chapter and already can’t remember what you read? Flash Cards allow you to quickly review all the terms, concepts and definitions in each chapter with an easy to use interface
  • X-Ray – Get everything you need with a single tap, including definitions, related pages and even relevant content from other sources like YouTube and Wikipedia
  • Swift Navigation — With the swipe of a finger, quickly navigate through pages and chapters of eTextbooks to find the section you are looking for
  • Whispersync Technology — Synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks and annotations across all of your devices so you can always pick up where you left off

Learn more about Amazon’s eTextbooks here (at AmazonSmile*)with details on study tips.

There are other features that can help students (although not necessarily with study, specifically):

  • Onboard dictionaries
  • Wikipedia lookup
  • Web lookup
  • Translation
  • Free public domain books
  • Text-to-speech and those  accessibility features on the Fires

and more.

Teachers can also do some interesting things. They could make public notes available, and students could view them.

There have been fits and starts with schools using eTextBooks. California mandated use of them in some situations (partially because they are so much cheaper). Some schools have issued them to students (and Amazon has donated some., a charity about which I’ve written before, gets them to students in difficult situations where trucking p-books (paperbooks) into the schools might be impractical.

I don’t expect p-textbooks to disappear any time soon, but I do think we will see eTextBooks share of use increase over the next few years.

What do you think? Are you using or have tried to use eTextBooks? If so, what did you think? What was the best thing about doing it, and what were the challenges? Feel free to let me and my readers know 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.

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