Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

New! Collection management comes to MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices)

October 13, 2016

New! Collection management comes to MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices)

Thanks to a reader who let me know in a private e-mail (if you want credit in the blog, just let me know) about a new development!

It’s something people have wanted for years…or at least, it’s a step in that direction.

There was a banner at

MYCD (Manage Your Content and Devices), formerly MYK (Manage Your Kindle)> (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

saying,

“Cloud Collection Management is launched. Cloud Collections can be created, edited, and shared from the Manage Your Content and Devices page.”

I’ve had a chance to check it out, and it’s going to be useful, but it may not be everything people expect (but what is?).😉

A little overview on Collections first…

“Collections” are sort of like folders on a computer or a phone. They are organizational tools. You can “put” books (and some other items) “into” these Collections.

The Collection is not the books, though. You can delete the Collection without losing the books.

Originally (once we eventually got them), the Collection just lived on one device. You created it on your Kindle (nowadays, that might also be a Fire device), and it was just there…it didn’t exist on another device on your account. You could import them, but that was a bit tricky.

Then, Amazon introduced “Cloud Collections” in 2013…I wrote about them in some depth here:

Understanding Cloud Collections

Those were visible from any compatible devices on your account…and I use them a lot. I have a Collection which is the “Guest Bookshelf”, and I’ve used that on multiple devices. I have one for apps which is “Bufo Morning”…that goes from one Fire to another.

What we haven’t been able to do, though, is actually create, rename, or delete Collections from the cloud (Amazon’s central account management system).

Well, you can now!

When you are on MYCD, you can switch where it says “Show” in your top left corner to be Collections.

From there, you’ll see your Collections, including how many items (it says “Books”, but some of mine don’t contain books) are in them. Depending on how they are sorted, you’ll get a modified date or created date. You can sort by those (either newest to oldest or oldest to newest) or alphabetical (A-Z or Z-A).

In an Actions column, you can delete or rename the Collection.

You can also use checkboxes to select Collections, and then bulk delete (you’ll see the button after you select at least one).

Those are nice…it will allow us to easily delete unused Collections. Many people experimented quite a bit at the beginning, so this is a good opportunity to clean up.

There are two big things it can not do that people want.

It won’t tell you which books (and other items) are downloaded to which devices.

You can’t move books into and out of Collections.

So, you can’t work on the items in the Collections here, but you can work on the Collections themselves.

Update: thanks to regular readers and commenters Edward Boyhan and Ann Von Hagel for pointing out that you can, in fact, move books in and out of Collections at MYCD now!

I was looking at the Collections selection, thinking that I would be able to choose a Collection and move things in and out of it. That’s an option on your device. It works, though, the other way.

You set the “View” selection to Books. Then, if a given book in at least one Collection, you’ll see that indicated with the number of Collections of which it is a part. There is a dropdown, and you can select a Collection. If you select the Collection in that dropdown, you then get to see all of the books in the Collection. That’s great! I hadn’t realized you’d be able to see them there. From there, just as you can in the Books view, you can click the Actions ellipsis (…) and choose to add or remove from Collections.

One interesting thing there: when I added one to a Collection on MYCD, I could then remove it from there. When I got to the Collection with the method I described in the previous paragraph, where I selected the Collection from the dropdown in the Books view, it was showing me it was in a Collection…but didn’t give me the option to remove the book from a Collection. I may have to experiment with that more…it might be that MYCD doesn’t give you the remove option unless it was added there.

When you choose to add a book to a Collection at MYCD, you get the option to create a new Collection in situ…that’s also a nice feature!

I just did that…very simple, pretty much just typing in a new name. It was smart enough to add the book to the new Collection, without having to take an extra step. I added a few books to that Collection, then checked on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX…and the Collection was immediately there (I was connected to Wi-Fi, but did not have to tell it to sync).

That means that (unless I’m missing it), the only big thing I’m not seeing is on which devices the books/Collections reside currently.

Thanks, Ann and Edward!

This is a beginning…I’m sure there will be more coming in the future. They do have a content management system for enterprises (companies and schools and such) called Whispercast, but this is unrelated to that.

The other thing they’ve added to MYCD that I noted was that they’ve added Prime Reading

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

to the choice of items to review.

As long as we have Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), I don’t think we’ll ever see anything in that section in my family…just in KU. People who don’t have KU will see their Prime Reading borrows there.

What do you think? If you have any questions or th0ughts, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

October 11, 2016

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

Q. I’ve been hearing a lot about Prime Reading (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): what is it?

A. It’s a new benefit for people who have Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It lets Prime members read books from a special selection of books at no additional cost.

Q. No additional cost to what?

A. To their Prime memberships. Prime members typically pay $99 a year for a number of benefits, including free two-day shipping on many items, a vast music library, and videos.

Q. How do I know if I’m a Prime member?

A. You can check by going to “Your Account” at the top of any Amazon page and choosing “Your Prime Membership”.

Q. So, if I’m a Prime member, I can now read books free?

A. Some books, yes. When it was introduced there were 1,014 titles in Prime Reading (at AmazonSmile*) and that’s still the case now.

Q. What kind of books are they? Will I have heard of them?

A. Some of them for sure, if you already are a reader…and some you’ve probably heard of even if you don’t follow books that much. That includes the first Harry Potter book, for example, and The Man in the High Castle.

Q. Like the TV show?

A. Right, yes…the TV show is based on that book. There are also a lot of books you probably haven’t heard of before. There are also some graphic novels and comic strip collections.

Q. And it doesn’t cost me anything to read them?

A. Not if you are a Prime member.

Q. Do I get to keep them? Can I give them as gifts?

A. No, this is just the ability to read them. Think of it like Netflix for books. People have been using that term for a while for different things, but this is really quite a bit like that. You have a certain selection of media, you can enjoy them, but you don’t own them and you can’t give them away.

Q. Okay, I get that.

A. Another thing that is like Netflix is that this is a rotating selection. There will be different books, probably every month, which is the way Netflix does it. I expect we’ll see stories about which books are coming into Prime Reading and going out of it, just like we do with Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.

Q. I don’t read a book very quickly. What happens if I’m not done with it and they take it out of Prime Reading?

A. You can still finish it. You can hang on to a book as long as you are a Prime member. If you stop being a Prime member, you lose access.

Q. How many books can I have? Can my family members read them?

A. There is no limit to the number of books you can borrow, although you can only have ten at a time. If you return one of those ten, though, you can get another one. As to family members, yes, if they can read books on your account they can read these.

Q. That means that if my three kids are reading Harry Potter, I have seven more books for the adults in my family?

A. Actually, if three people are reading the same book, that only counts as one book. Your three kids could read Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and you’d still have nine more books to go.

Q. Wait, so my Significant Other and I can read the same book at the same time and it only counts as one book?

A. That’s right. You can talk about it with each other…even race to finish it, if you want. The number of people who can read the same book at the same time is set by the publisher; unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon product page, which you can see before you download it, that number of “simultaneous device licenses” is six.

Q. That sounds pretty good. I have somebody on my account who never reads books, though…any benefit for them?

A. Yes! Prime Reading includes magazines, and really well-known magazines: People, GQ, Vogue,  Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated…

Q. We read those!

A. A lot of people do…they are some of the most popular magazines.

Q. I’ve got a kid who is a geek and a bookworm. Are there weird magazines in there too?

A. Not really. This selection, both books and magazines, is mostly more mainstream choices. Think of it as like what you would see in an airport bookstore.

Q. I get it. Oh, are videogames part of this?

A. No, but Amazon did introduce Twitch Prime, which does have videogames. To use Prime Reading, you have to be a Prime member…that means you do have access to music, TV shows, movies, and games, just not part of this program.

Q. How about Audible? I listen to books on my commute.

A. Not exactly, but if an e-book has an audiobook and is set up for Whispersync for Voice, you can listen to that audiobook as part of this. Right now, there are about 350…just about a third.

Q. How much does that cost? Some of those audiobooks are expensive!

A. It’s part of the deal…it doesn’t cost anything more.

Q. That’s going to save me a lot of money!

A. Prime’s an investment, but yes, it can save you a lot of money.

Q. I’ve heard about the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library? Is this the same thing?

A. No, that program required you to own a hardware Kindle, and you could only borrow one book a month. It did require a Prime membership.

Q. Hardware Kindle?

A. A Kindle e-book reader or a Fire. You can use Prime Reading with a free Kindle reading app…and those are available for lots of devices, including iPhones  and iPads.

Q. Why would anybody use that Lending Library thing, then?

A. There are a lot more books there, about a million and half versus a thousand. That’s where there are more books your geek kid may like. Outside of that, I don’t see a real advantage to it. I’m thinking that the Lending Library may be going away.

Q. What about those million books, then? Would nobody be able to borrow them?

A. They are available through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). That’s a separate program. People pay, usually $9.99 a month for access to those books. Outside of that, it works just like Prime Reading…the ten book at a time limit, for example.

Q. I don’t think I’d need that if I have these thousand books as part of Prime.

A. Maybe not. That will be the case for a lot of people. For people who want a lot more choices, though, KU will be worth the price.

Q. If they have Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading, can they have twenty books out at once?

A. No. I confirmed that specifically with Amazon. Getting a book through Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited counts towards your limit of ten. In fact, I don’t think there’s a way to say whether the borrow if from KU or Prime Reading.

Q. Well, they are paying more for Kindle Unlimited,  so it seems like they should get more.

A. They do…they have more choices, just not more borrows. Think of Prime Reading as free access to a small part of Kindle Unlimited.

Q. Okay. Doesn’t seem worth it to me to pay that extra ten bucks a month.

A. It might not be for you, but some other people will think it’s a good deal.

Q. I can see that. One more question: why doesn’t Amazon just do this with all the books?

A. They have to pay the publishers, and they have to have permission.

Q. Oh, I have a cousin who wrote a book…can they do this to get more money?

A. It’s a very small group of books, and it sounds like it has been invitation only.**

Q. Alright, I’ll ask my cousin. Why would Amazon do this at all, then, if it costs them money and they don’t get anything more for it?

A. To make people more likely to stay with Prime. Prime members spend a lot with Amazon and they often spend it on higher profit items. There isn’t a lot of profit with e-books, not like with some physical items.

Q. That makes sense.

A. Do you have any other questions?

Q. Not right now. I guess I’ll check it out.

===

Readers, if you have other questions or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

**There has been some very interesting public discussion about indies (independent publishers) and Prime reading. There have been rumors of “signing bonuses” (like an advance in traditional publishing) and then similar payments to KU. Here’s a forum thread on it: https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=1069009&#1069009

Wiki me this, Amazon

August 12, 2016

Wiki me this, Amazon

Amazon devices are deeply integrated with Wikipedia.

It’s an interesting strategy. Amazon has, in the past, been criticized for being a “walled garden”, but I’ve never really felt that they were overly restrictive with their devices accessing other producers’ content.

For example, we’ve always been able to get the Netflix app on Fire tablets, despite Netflix and Amazon’s Prime video being direct competitors.

While users haven’t been able to use the Google Play store, and the NOOK e-books app hasn’t been in the Amazon Appstore compatible for Amazon tablets, we’ve also had a specific software menu choice to allow installation of apps from sources outside of Amazon…not something you commonly see on tablets. I’ve never known for sure if it’s Amazon that excludes Google Play, or Google Play which excludes Amazon tablets from being compatible directly with Google Play.

Wikipedia, though, has been a resource for us on Fire devices and on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) for years.

In fact, there’s clearly been a special relationship. When you couldn’t browse to just any old website you wanted, you could still get Wikipedia entries from look up within an e-book on a Kindle Touch (for example).

I took a look, and I didn’t see anything that says there is an actual deal between the two…does Amazon have a contract with Wikipedia, or do they just smooth the path to them?

It makes some sense that Amazon likes Wikipedia, a user-edited encyclopedia. Amazon has been very much about the crowd…I would guess that Amazon user reviews have a bigger impact on perhaps the majority of e-book titles’ sales than mainstream, traditional media reviews.

If you highlight two words together on a

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

(or other current EBRs  or a Fire device), it will do a Wikipedia lookup.

I think less well known is that you can use Wikipedia with the Echo family of devices. For an

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

or

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

or

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

(I use all three regularly), you can say, “Alexa**, Wikipedia Doc Savage” and Alexa will read you the start of the entry. If that’s not enough, Alexa can read more.

I  think this is a good thing.

Yes, Wikipedia can be manipulated for a short time by people with nefarious intent…or given false information unintentionally. However, I find these problems tend to get straightened out quite quickly.

For me, as an optimist and generally someone with a good opinion of humanity🙂 , it is evidence of the majority wanting to do good rather than bad. Imperfect evidence (not everyone edits Wikipedia, of course), but an indicator. When one person does something “bad”, other people on Wikipedia want to fix it and make it right.

I’m not saying that Wikipedia is an equally good source to cite for a paper as, say, an encyclopedia with editors and fact checkers. I do consult it quite often myself. I’ll often try to confirm the information, although that can be difficult…there’s a pretty good chance that a secondary web source has gotten the information from Wikipedia.😉

So, I would say, don’t be afraid to use Wikipedia on your Alexa devices on Fires/Kindles…lots of interesting, crowdsourced information is available to you.

What do you think? How reliable  do you consider Wikipedia to be? Do you use it on Alexa devices/Echoes/Fires? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

** With the Tap, you don’t say, “Alexa”…you “tap” a button to ask a question

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.

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition

March 22, 2016

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition

Q. Amazon really wants me to update my Kindle! I’ve gotten e-mails, a postcard through the mail, even a phone call. I’ve had my Kindle for more than five years, and there have been a bunch of updates, but they’ve never done this before. What’s up?

A. This is a different kind of an update. Updates in the past have generally either been “bug fixes”, where you don’t really see a change but things work better, or they bring new features, like Cloud Collections or the Family Library. In some cases, features have gone away on the Kindle with an update, but what’s happening here is that something external is changing and your Kindle needs to be up to date to work with it. If your Kindle isn’t up to date, it’s not going to be able to connect wirelessly with Amazon. That means you won’t be able to shop from your Kindle itself, or download books from it that you’ve already bought on your account. Amazon doesn’t want to deal with upset customers who wake up in the morning, try to get something perhaps for a morning commute or worse, for a vacation, and not be able to connect without knowing why. That’s bad for the relationship between Amazon and the customer, and it’s expensive to have them call Customer Service to get it fixed.

Q. Why is Amazon changing that connection thing? Is it just to make me buy a new Kindle? I’ve heard it’s so that I have to see ads and recommendations on my homescreen…I like things the way they are.

A. Amazon isn’t the one changing it. They just need to make sure their devices can use an internet protocol which is changing. While they would probably be happy if you bought a new Kindle and if you saw their recommendations, this change doesn’t mean you have to do it either. The vast majority of devices are probably already updated. When your device connects to Amazon’s servers, it generally automatically updates. Even if you have an older device, it’s likely to have updated to a compatible version some time ago. If it hasn’t, turn on the wireless and it should update, although that doesn’t necessarily happen right away (it can sometimes be days, but that’s usually when they are rolling out a new release, not the case this time). You can also download the update to your computer and transfer it to your device using a USB cable. You can see all the information about it here: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) including a link to get the software to update it. In terms of the ads and recommendations, it’s important to note that there isn’t simply an update that makes your Kindle compatible: you are updating the newest version of the operating system, and on some devices, that does come with a new homescreen view. The view has covers and “reading lists”. However, although it’s a bit buried, you can go back to the style that just has the book listings without the covers: Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Personalize Your Kindle – Advanced Options – Home Screen View – (turn off) Home Screen View: Display recommended content from store and enable learning lists.

Q. So, does the new update give me those Special Offers I hear about?

A. No, there’s no connection with that. If you aren’t subscribed to Special Offers, you still won’t be. If you are subscribed you still will be.

Q. What happens if I don’t update? Is my Kindle a brick?

A. No. You can still use it. You just won’t be able to connect to Amazon wirelessly with it. It’s possible to download books, either new purchases or from your Archive/Cloud, to your computer and transfer via USB cable. However, your Kindle will presumably not be able to get future updates.

Q. Does the update cost anything?

A. No. Like all Kindle updates so far, it’s free.

Q. I bought the Kindle and I bought the books. How can Amazon take them away from me? Don’t I own them?

A. Yes, you own the device and you bought licenses for the books. This doesn’t impact the books: you could read them on other devices on your account which have been updated, or in free Kindle reading apps. Your device will continue to do what it has done before…it’s just that a step between that device and Amazon servers will no longer work.

Q. You are saying this isn’t Amazon doing this: does that mean I’ll have to update non-Amazon devices I own?

A. If they aren’t compatible with the new protocol (which I believe goes into effect January 1st, 2017…Amazon is just getting a bit ahead on this to give people a chance to update before it’s suddenly necessary), then either you’ll have to update them or they won’t connect. Hopefully, other companies will have updates available, but it’s possible you have devices where that won’t be the case (some companies have gotten out of the EBR…E-Book Reader business). Early Kindles have lasted an unusually long time for some people, compared to some types of devices. There have been Kindles in use for more than eight years. That probably means that more people may be using, soon to be unable to connect Kindles, than, say, tablets.

Q. I guess this might be a good time to update to a new model of Kindle. Can I get a trade-in?

A. There is a trade-in program at (but it’s not exactly by) Amazon. Amazon Trade-In Program (at AmazonSmile*).

Q. Okay, I’ll guess I’ll do the update. How do I know if my device needs it?

A. Go to this page: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It lists models, and what the necessary version of the software is so you can see if you already have it. If you don’t, you can go from that page to where to get it. You could also just turn your wireless on and leave your device on for a day or so to see if it updates. You can plug it in when you aren’t reading it so it has enough power.

Q. What if I need more help?

A. Feel free to ask me (and my readers) by commenting on this post. You can also contact Amazon through http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*). I usually have them call me (that normally happens in seconds, and I’m speaking to someone with in a minute, and I have generally found them friendly and helpful.

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

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

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

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.

Upcoming deadlines

March 15, 2016

Upcoming  deadlines

“Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…”
–Changes by David Bowie

There are a few dates happening soon that mark changes around Kindles and e-books, so I thought I would round them up here and what (if anything) you need to do about it.

Tuesday, March 15th: B&N shuts down the NOOK bookstore

Barnes & Noble is shutting down the UK (I have readers around the world) NOOK bookstore.

After that, you won’t be able to buy NOOK books in the UK through their store, or through the Android app, or through your devices.

You’ll have until the end of May 2016  to migrate the books you’ve already bought.

For more information:

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: NOOK books out of UK, financials are “in the groove” (of vinyl records)

Wednesday, March 16th: Shelfari transitions to Goodreads

If you’ve been a Shelfari user, Amazon has decided to merge it with Goodreads (Amazon owns both).

If you do have a Shelfari account, and you want to keep the data, you need to sign in and then chose to transition to Goodreads and/or download your information in a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, which can be imported into Excel and other spreadsheets.

For more information, see

Amazon shutters Shelfari

Tuesday, March 22nd: update needed to older Kindles to access Amazon wirelessly

Amazon has announced a

Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This only affects some older Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…not the Fire tablets) which have not been updated.

If you don’t update your device, you won’t be able to get to Amazon wirelessly on that Kindle: no shopping in the store; no downloading from your Cloud/archives; I assume no blog/magazine/newspaper delivery.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Edward Boyhan, suggested that this is in preparation for the obsoleting of the SHA1 (Secure Hash Algorithm) algorithm in 2017…that’s the techie stuff, but that makes sense to me, also based on what Amazon has said.

An important note: when you do the update which my best guess is technically necessary, you’ll get all the rest of the update, too.🙂 That includes a new homescreen, which has a lot of recommendations on it…not everybody likes that.

Fortunately, although it’s pretty buried, you can go back to the old look:

Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Personalize Your Kindle – Advanced Options – Home Screen View – (turn off) Home Screen View: Display recommended content from store and enable learning lists

I’m waiting for confirmation from Amazon, but I would expect that you could still buy books for the device or download from the Cloud/archives…by downloading to your computer, and then transferring using a USB cable.

For more information, including a link to which devices are affected, see

Update your Kindle or lose access on it to your Cloud, the store, and other Kindle services

Have any questions? Any other deadlines (Kindle/e-book/Amazon related…I know there are others)😉 for my readers and me? Feel free to let us know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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.

5 useful Amazon Kindle Help Pages

March 8, 2016

5 useful Amazon Kindle Help Pages

Amazon has been working on their Help Pages, and I do think they’ve made some improvements. The pages now tend to have clearer step by steps, videos, and the rules which might impact what you are trying to do. If you don’t find the answer you need, feel free to ask or you can go to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

There are several ways to contact them, but I usually have them call me. My phone will ring in seconds and I’m typically speaking to someone in under a minute.

Okay, here are some useful pages:

Borrow Books from a Public Library (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Manage Newsstand Subscription Settings (at AmazonSmile*)

Quick Fix: Slow or Frozen Screen (at AmazonSmile*)

Return Kindle E-books (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon FreeTime Web Browser FAQs (at AmazonSmile*)

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

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

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

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.

Kindle EBR update 5.7.2 menu map

February 14, 2016

Kindle EBR update 5.7.2 menu map

Despite a near disastrous update to our sixth generation Kindle Paperwhite, I was able to get the new software version working. This is a significant update, affecting the current EBRs (E-Book Readers):

While there are different versions of the update (for example, different ones for the eligible versions of the Paperwhite), I think the end result is essentially the same. It makes sense to me that, where possible, Amazon gets that standardized. It can’t be exactly the same…the Paperwhites and Voyage need a screen light adjustment, the unlit “Kindle” least expensive model doesn’t. My guess is that this menu map will be helpful for anybody who can get the update.

In my Menu Maps, I go through the interface to find out where things are (there are sometimes new things, and sometimes things move), and give you some context. I’ve found some very interesting things in the past, and I’m curious as to what I’ll see here…so let’s get started!

Oh, one more thing: I did do a factory reset as part of my update, so my previous choices are likely not affecting this much.

Getting through the “sleep screen” seemed the same to me. I saw a Special Offer, I could have tapped on it, I swiped to unlock, and I could have a passcode required.

Once inside, that’s where the changes are first quite visually apparent.

There are “tiles” or sections of information.

At the top, there is

  • The device’s name
  • The wireless strength indicator
  • The battery level indicator
  • A clock

Below that is a toolbar:

  • Home
  • Back
  • Brightness
  • Goodreads
  • Store
  • Search (a magnifying glass)
  • Three dots, which are a menu indicator. Within that menu…

Menu

  • My Library
  • My Reading Lists
  • Kindle Store
  • Goodreads
  • Kindle FreeTime
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Experimental Browser
  • Setting
  • View Special Offers
  • Create New Collection

There was also a tile with “MY LIBRARY>”, and it showed me three recent titles.

There was a tile for “MY READING LISTS>”. That showed me three titles from a Wish List, and noted that there were 99+ more.

A third title showed me  “BOOKS FROM GOODREADS FRIENDS>”, but I know that rotates.

Believe that was an ad (I have one of the more popular ad-supported versions).

Now, working through, starting with the toolbar:

  • The Home button just takes me home…it doesn’t, but the way, rotate the one which was currently “YOUR GOOD READS FRIENDS”
  • The left-facing back arrow doesn’t do anything until you’ve gone somewhere
  • The brightness setting (it looks like a sun…or, unfortunately, a bit like the settings gear we see in many programs) let me choose up to 24 levels of brightness. Basic rule of thumb: the brighter it is where you are reading, the brighter you want your Kindle. Your Kindle is fighting with the sun…in bright light, having your Kindle brighter will make it easier to read. In a dark room, you need less light on your Kindle to read. Tapping that also opened a choice to turn on or off Airplane Mode, to “Sync My Kindle”, and “All Settings”…which unfortunately, did use a very similar, if not identical, “sun” or “gear” symbol. I’ll come back to All Settings later when I cover Settings
  • Goodreads brought up the Goodreads app…which started with showing my personal recommendations. Tapping “Next” let me connect Goodreads to Facebook…I skipped that. Next, I was shown Readers to Follow. Next, I finally got to my information: Updates | Shelves | Recommendations | Friends
  • Store started out by updating my Kindle store experience. I then saw “Recommended for You”, and had a choice of Books | Kindle Select 25 | Today’s Deals | Kindle Unlimited | Editors’ Picks | Best of the Months. Scrolling down, I saw Best Sellers | Recommended For You in Kindle Unlimited  | For You in Science Fiction & Fantasy | For You in (a few genres probably based on my reading habits) | New for You. Scrolling further, I had More to Explore: Recommendations | Monthly Deals | Kindle First | New & Noteworthy | We Suggest | Kindle Singles | Magazines | Newspapers. Hitting the menu while in the store gave me an interesting different set of choices (the menu is “context sensitive”…it changes based  on where you are). They were: Storefront; Books; Kindle Unlimited; Newspapers; Kindle Singles; Magazines; Kindle Owners’ Lending Library; View Wish List; Store Settings; Gift Card Balance. Under Store Settings, I could change my 1-Click Payment Method and Country Settings
  • When I went to Search, I put in “Alice”, and it defaulted to “Search Everywhere”. That found me books in my Cloud (and it would have been on the device) with Alice in the title or in the author’s name, and suggested that it could search for “alice in wonderland” in the store. When I tapped the “Search Everywhere” at the bottom, I got much more nicely arranged search results. It broke it out into My Items (6), Kindle Store (9,221), Goodreads (22,878), Text in Books (0) (there may be a setting to change for that), and Dictionary and Wikipedia

Tapping the menu from the homescreen…

My Library

This one showed me ALL | DOWNLOADED (so I could choose), ALL ITEMS (3,229) with a dropdown (I’ll cover that display option shortly), and a sort choice which defaulted to RECENT.

Below that, by default, I saw the covers of recent books….and I was on page 1 of 539.

Tapping where it says ALL ITEMS, I get  the choices of

  • Grid View or List View | All Items, Books, Periodicals, Docs, Active Content, Collections. Huh…tapping on Active Content actually did show me choices. The Paperwhites haven’t worked with the Active Content. However, tapping on one just gave me an error message showing me that “This item is not compatible with this device”. In the past, I think incompatible items haven’t shown on the device. Does this suggest greater control of Cloud content from the devices?
  • Tapping on Collections (my normal view) showed me my Cloud collections when I was on ALL, and correctly told me I didn’t have any Collections on this device when tapped on DOWNLOADED. Tapping a Cloud Collection’s menu symbol, I as able to Add/Remove Items, Rename, and Delete…without having to download the Collection to this device. That actually concerns me…I’d rather that be only done by people who get to the account settings (they need the username/e-mail and password). Tapping one of the Collections, I could toggle between what was in the Cloud and what was downloaded…that’s something people wanted to be clear, and is quite helpful. As I would anticipate, if I download the Collection, that does not download the books in the Collection

My Reading Lists

Tapping the “>” for My Reading Lists showed me

  • SAMPLES (not just on this device)
  • GOODREADS WANT TO READ
  • AMAZON WISH LIST

and “Find books you want to read with Goodreads”

I’m going to jump down in the Menu to

Settings

  • Airplane Mode on or off (that will disable or enable wireless connectivity…having it off saves you battery charge)
  • Wi-Fi Networks: tapping it will give you choices of available networks. Tapping Other will let you get to Advanced, where you can manually enter parameters
  • Registration and Household: adjust Household and Family Library, or Deregister Device (this would be a register choice if the device wasn’t already registered)
  • Device Options: Device Passcode; Parental Controls (Kindle FreeTime | Restrictions to the Experimental Web Browser, Kindle Store, Cloud, and Goodreads)
  • Personalize Your Kindle: Device Name and Personal Info (I put my e-mail address there, in case the device is lost); Device Time; Advanced Options (Home Screen View…this is where you can turn off recommendations; Next in Series; Whispersync for Books; Special Offers…two choices here. One is o turn on or off Special Offer Filtering, which will allow you to hide offers which “may not be suitable for all audiences”, and the other one is to choose whether or not Special Offer Recommendations include personalized offers based on items browsed or purchased); Send-to-Kindle Email)
  • Language and Dictionaries (Language; Keyboard; Dictionaries

When I’m in Settings, and tap the menu, I get

  • Kindle Store
  • Update Your Kindle
  • Restart (you can do this any time)
  • Reset Device (this wipes your device, except for system updates…use with caution)
  • Device Info
  • Legal

Let’s take a look inside a book…

Tapping towards the top center of the book brings up a special toolbar. That includes

  • GO TO (Beginning; Page or Location; Cover; and the Table of Contents. There was a separate tab for Notes…that defaulted to Popular, but I could choose “Yours” or “Public” as well)
  • X-RAY (NOTABLE CLIPS, PEOPLE, TERMS, IMAGES)
  • Aa (Display Settings…FONT, PAGE, READING PROGRESS. There are nine fonts, which defaulted to Bookerly. An Open Dyslexic was also available. There were eight font sizes. Three page option sections had o do with SPACING, MARGINS, and ORIENTATION (no justification choice). READING PROGRESS gave a choice of Location in book, Page in book (if available), Time left in chapter, Time left in book, and None…you can also change that tapping on the display at the bottom of the screen
  • Share (Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter)
  • Notes and bookmarks

The menu in the book gave me

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Settings
  • Notes
  • About This Book
  • About the Authors
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read
  • Word Wises

At the bottom of the screen had the page flip feature, which lets you flip ahead or back without losing your place. I also liked that it showed me the title of the story in this case (chapter title, I would guess), author, location, time left in chapter, and percentage).

Long-pressing a word in the book (holding my finger on it for about a second) brought up

  • Wikipedia (I was wirelessly connected) on a card, which I could swipe to move o
  • Translation
  • Dictionary
  • I also had choices for Highlight | Note | Share | Search | Open Dictionary | and Report Content Error

Let’s go back to the recommendation strip at the bottom of the homescreen. I toggled the device on and off, and saw:

  • More by Isaac Asimov (one of the authors on the book showing as the last book read)
  • BOOKS FROM YOUR GOODREADS FRIENDS
  • RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

My overall impression?

It looks nicer. Access to some choices is easier. There is a lot of emphasis on discovery of books to read…people may see that as ads for things for you to buy, and much of it is…but I appreciate having Kindle Unlimited recommendations, which cost me nothing more.

What do you think? Do you have other questions? Have you found other things? Feel free to share with me and my readers 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.

I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!

February 12, 2016

I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!

Well.

I recently wrote about a

Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

The Kindle Paperwhite I use is an older generation, and wasn’t eligible for this update.

My Significant Other had a 6th generation Kindle Paperwhite which was eligible.

My SO hadn’t used it in some time. I think unexpectedly, my SO now reads on a now discontinue Kindle Fire HDX…which is also a daily device of mine (and one I like very much).

So, I found it, charged it up, went to

February 2016 EBR Update Amazon page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

double-checked that I was getting the right download version for the device, and manually updadoted it (following Amazon’s directions precisely…I generally do that, in part to test how clear their directions are for other people).

It went through the update process, but then…

Just as it would be going to the homescreen (that’s one of the big changes), I got an “Application Error” message box, that told me

“The selected application could not be started. Please try again.”

All I had was a blank screen…still illuminated, but blank.

I restarted  it.

Same thing.

I downloaded the file again from Amazon, went back through the install process.

Same thing.

I couldn’t do anything with it except use the power button to restart it, or put it into USB mode by plugging it into my computer.

Now, I often say how I generally find Amazon’s Kindle Support to be friendly and helpful, and that has been the case.

I went to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*)

That worked in its normal satisfying fashion: my phone rang in seconds, and I was speaking to a person within a minute.

Well, I was with that person on the phone for close to an hour.

While it isn’t my primary job responsibility, I do phone tech support at work. I do think I know something about it, both as a user of phone tech support and to a small extent, as a provider of it.

Generally, Amazon is very, very good on this.

In this case, it could have been improved. They tell us that these calls could be recorded for training purposes. I honestly hope this is one of them.

It’s not just that the problem couldn’t get fixed…hey, sometimes, things are really broken.

It’s that the representative kept forgetting what my actual situation was.

More than once, the rep asked me to go to the settings menu…when I repeatedly responded that I couldn’t get to the menus at all, since all I had was a blank screen (no amount of swiping or restarting would change that).

I was asked if my wi-fi was on: I said I assumed it was. I was asked to verify it: I had to say (again) that I couldn’t get into anything that would enable me to check it.

The person with whom I was speaking was in what was probably a group chat, asking other Amazon employees questions. I have no problem with that: I do that myself. We can’t all know it all, and it’s great sometimes to have shared wisdom on a perhaps unusual circumstance (I’m sure many people have update sixth generation Paperwhites with no problem.

One creative solution was to rename the downloaded “bin” file, which is the update.

Unfortunately, that didn’t fix it, but it was a nice try.

I was asked if I had modified this Paperwhite: nope, this one is for my Significant Other, and I really, really don’t mess with those. I want unmodified ones precisely so I can have the typical user experience in situations like this.

Finally, after more than 45 minutes, I was transferred to someone who was actually an expert in this.

Within ten minutes, the verdict was, yes, it was broken.🙂

I was out of warranty…so they offered me a discount on the purchase of a future device.

How much of a discount?

It seemed like $10 or $15, depending on the price of the device…and that they would send me an e-mail with the information.

I haven’t gotten an e-mail, as far as I can tell (I checked my spam folder, besides my inbox).

I’ve never had that happen from Amazon before, either…where they said I would get an e-mail, and I didn’t.

My Significant Other came home while I was on the second call, and could tell I was frustrated.

I almost never get frustrated, so that was a bit shocking.🙂

I think I was still civil, although I was probably shorter with the second person than I should have been.

Bottom line: I do think I probably did as instructed by Amazon, and I do think it made the device unable to perform. Amazon could have, I think, handled my Customer Service experience better…and that is very atypical of my experiences with them in the past. I’m guessing (hoping?) it was just a fluke.

I’m letting you know, in part to say that perhaps manually updating your sixth generation Paperwhite may not be advised.

One additional point, and this is interesting.

I was getting the Special Offers “screensaver” before it would go to a blank screen when I swipe. Yes, I know, I know…the only thing working on the Paperwhite was the ad.😉

However, it occurred to me that maybe I would bypass the broken application if I had it go to the offer instead.

I tried that this morning…and it worked!

From there, I could try getting to settings (not that I can do much there now), but that is only the store settings.

There was a “Home” button I could reach though…and I tapped it.

It took me to a “slideshow” about my update!

Hey, I just got through the slideshow…and I’m on the new homescreen!

I tested to see if that would persist by restarting it…and it failed with the same white screen and error message.

When I toggled the device on and off (using the power button), I got the Special Offers screen again…and by going through that special deal, I once again was able to get to the Homescreen!

I’ll let Amazon know about this “back door” method. That doesn’t fix the Paperwhite, but at least it is usable again.

I also want to mention that I did try downloading the other generation Paperwhite updates…and in each case, it correctly identified them with messages that they were the incorrect versions, so I know I had the right one initially…I was confident in that, but I wanted to test.

Hm…it is quite slow, so since I now have access to the menus, I’m trying to reset it to factory defaults to see what happens.

Okay, having gone through the reset, it does seem to work, and it tells me it is at the current version (5.7.2). I do have the new homescreen experience. One more test: I’ll restart it and see if it gives me that blank screen…

Well! So far, it all seems to work! I need to test it more, but virtual fingers crossed. Oh, and I did just put a passcode on it to test to see if that feature might have been what was broken, but that also worked.

I’ll contact Amazon directly and know about this…I will also offer them their discount back…presuming I actually get it.😉 I now feel great that I solved the problem! Not great about the Customer Service call, but it’s hard to keep an optimist down for long.😉

Bonus deals:

Today’s

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

includes ten books in the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters by $1.99 each. A number of these are also available through

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

Another deal, no doubt related to St. Valentine’s Day (although it goes through March 3rd) is

99 Romances for $0.99 each (at AmazonSmile*)

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.

 

eReaderIQ: the best resource for Kindleers on the web

February 1, 2016

eReaderIQ: the best resource for Kindleers on the web

Remember when Johnny 5, the artificially intelligent robot in

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

wanted “more input”?

Well, nobody would ask for that now!

We all have almost endless amounts of data available to us.

What we want is to make sense of it.

For example, there are over four million titles in the USA Kindle store.

Every one of those titles has several pieces of data on its Amazon product page…just a few of those include: price; publisher; whether the text-to-speech access is available; and is it a book you can get as part of Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)?

Let’s say you wanted to know when a particular book became half off.

You’d have to check the website every day to see when the price went down.

What if you were trying to track one hundred books?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pay somebody to track all of them for you, and let you know when it got to where you wanted?

What if it was free?

Well, it is at

eReaderIQ.com

You can give them a list of books…even import an Amazon Wish List. You then set your alert point, and they’ll send you an e-mail when it is reached.

What’s the catch?

There really isn’t one.

Ideally, you buy the book from the link they send you….I assume they get a percentage as Amazon Associates.

They are additionally supported through advertising (on the website) and donations.

I also use their Price Drops page to see what has dropped which I’m not tracking…and what the most clicked offers are. I particularly like that you can choose to see ones which are also in paper, and set a price boundary…letting me find traditionally published books for people who aren’t as comfortable with indies (independently published book).

The Price Drop feature is just one of the services at eRI.

You can also see current freebies, and books under $1.

Another good one is to see which books have been recently Kindleized. Even with four million titles, there are many more published titles which are not yet available through the USA Kindle store.

If you want, you can even be notified when a book’s price drops for an author you choose.

The most tracked authors include:

  • James Patterson
  • Jim Butcher
  • Jeaniene Frost
  • George R.R. Martin
  • Stephen King

I think you’ll find the site easy to use and intuitive.

Oh, and you can choose between three different Amazon sites: .com, the UK one, and the Canadian one.

Before I mention the feature I use the most, I should mention that I have some correspondence with them, but am otherwise not associated with that site except as a user.

Okay, the one I use the most is the

Advanced Search

Sure, you search by title, author, and genre, but there is a whole more to it than that.

You can set a price range…including zero to zero for free.

You can use Amazon’s categories to search by age group or language.

You can choose to include or exclude public domain (not under copyright protection titles).

You can set a date range for release…during, before, or after a month and year.

You can choose if the books are in Kindle Unlimited, have Whispersync for Voice, and/or if they are Word Wise enabled.

I use quite a few of those options.

One more thing I really like: you can look at the history of prices for a title. On many pages, you’ll see a small price graph: click on that to get a larger version.

Over time, they have continued to improve the site, adding more features and a smoother interface.

Quite simply, you can get a lot more out of your Kindle experience by using eReaderIQ.

Do you have any comments? Questions? How do you use eReaderIQ? What’s the best thing you’ve gotten out of using the site? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Thanks to regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy for suggesting 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.

“Could you recommend a book? No, not that one!”

January 25, 2016

“Could you recommend a book? No, not that one!”

You shopped at your local bookstore because, well, it was local.😉

However, that wasn’t the only reason.

I’m a former manager of a brick and mortar bookstore, and there was a lot more to it than the traditional “location, location, location”.

We didn’t really have the competition of the internet…but there were quite a few bookstores in the area. I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area, and driving twenty minutes is like walking down the hall to most people.😉 Within twenty minutes, there were probably ten bookstores (counting chains and independents).

What could we do to get people to shop with us?

Well, Amazon sums it up nicely:

  • Selection
  • Service
  • Price

It’s not that easy to increase the selection. The store is only so big, and piling more books into the store doesn’t work very well. For one thing, they won’t be displayed as well. More importantly, some books are going to sit in the store longer..and you are paying for rent every day they are there. The longer a book is in your store, the less profit you make.

Price may also be hard to affect very strongly. Lowering your price is going to lower your profit. Yes, we would compete on prices on bestsellers (for example), but that’s a segment where people actually would compare prices. Most people weren’t comparing prices on the vast majority of books. That’s one reason stores really don’t like “showrooming”, which is relatively new. “Customers” use their SmartPhones or tablets to compare prices, and may buy the book somewhere else (even ordering it online).

The place it was easiest for us to compete was on service.

Certainly, that included product knowledge.

I recommended (not required) that my employees read a book from every section in the store, and I did actually do that myself.

That helps…and one thing with which it helps is recommending a book.

I think that, traditionally, that’s something people associate with bookstores…being able  to ask for a recommendation.

It’s pretty tricky, as you can imagine. I was always amused when somebody would ask for a recommendation just based on age an gender…as though all people of the same age and gender liked the same books.🙂

Being able to recommend books (and other items) which you would like is one of the most sought after and researched tools for internet e-tailers.

There are different approaches to that.

I heard somebody from Pandora and somebody from Netflix discussing this on the radio years ago.

At Netflix, they looked at your viewing habits versus other people’s. If what you rated highly matched what ten other people rated highly, and those ten people all rated a movie which you hadn’t indicated you had seen highly, it would make sense to recommend it to you.

Amazon does that with “people who bought this also bought…”

In that situation, you don’t care why people like it…there isn’t any analysis of that.

The Pandora approach was quite different.

Music experts would determine the “musical DNA” of a song. That might range from factors like “sad” and “happy” but also thing like “jangly guitars”.

I suspect Amazon uses a combination of these two.

Recently, I’ve noticed that Amazon’s recommendations for me appear to be getting better…that might be illusion (I’m a very small sample of one), and it’s pretty subjective…but it wouldn’t surprise me if they have made progress.

A great recommendation engine would really tend to make you stay with a company…I think most people would realize that if they went to a new company, it wouldn’t know them as well.

With e-books from the Kindle store which you read on your device, they can get can get quite a bit of information…they can tell if you finish a book, for example. Definitely, rating books is taken into account.

I think the improvement in recommendations (if it actually exists) might come from my being a happy

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

member. I think they can probably tell quite a bit from what I browse, and how far I read into a book (and how quickly).

However, they still sometimes get it quite wrong…it might even be amusingly so.

They can recommend items to me which would upset me…as a simple example, I’m a vegetarian and I don’t smoke…I don’t want them to recommend cigars or steak to me.🙂

You can actually help them make better recommendations for you.

On any Amazon page, you will usually see at the top a link for Your Account, and within that for Your Recommendations.

At the top of that screen, you’ll see a choice for

Improve Your Recommendations

Note: Amazon always careful to say that not everything is in the same place for everybody, but this should be on this page.

On that page, you can “Edit Your Collections”

  • Items you’ve purchased
  • Videos you’ve watched
  • Items you’ve marked “I own it”
  • Items you’ve rated
  • Items you’ve marked “Not interested”
  • Items you’ve marked as gifts

Within this, you can rate the products, say it was a gift, or most importantly, “remove from recommendations”.

Not every one of those categories has the same choices…you can go to “Videos you’ve watched” and “remove this from watched videos”.

So, if you were just curious and clicked on a title that, um, might be embarrassing if someone else in the house knew about it, you could remove it from your watched videos.

I’ve had people say that they haven’t seen that big of an impact from editing their recommendations, but I think it’s worth a try.

Hope that helps!

If you have any comments  on recommendations, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. What was the best recommendation you got from Amazon? What was the funniest? I’m curious…

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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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