Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Google’s new move: good for readers, bad for Amazon?

October 18, 2017

Google’s new move: good for readers, bad for Amazon?

Amazon and Google don’t exactly walk through the consumer wonderland hand-in-hand. 😉

While Amazon has never been the walled garden some suggest (for example, the e-tailer had the Netflix app in the Appstore and available on their tablets from the beginning, when it directly competes with Prime Video), there’s been a clear division for people who use both companies (as I do).

Amazon tablets can’t use Google Play directly. That’s a real limitation, and my sense is that it is Google’s decision, not Amazon’s.

They compete in music, appstores…and books.

On the latter, I don’t think Google has hurt Amazon much…the percentage of e-books that people own which they purchased from Google (not just found free public domain books) has to be tiny compared with Amazon.

However…

Google has a new search result tool which could make some difference.

I (and apparently others) had missed, or missed the significance of, an announcement from Google about a month ago. I’m grateful to this

Lifehacker article by Nick Douglas

for the heads up.

When you search for a book title on Google, it now tells you which public libraries have the book available near you…and you can borrow it right there (if you have a “library card”). On a mobile device, you tap, “Get book” (then “Borrow ebook”, but you might be able to see the latter without tapping), on a laptop/desktop, you should see the options, probably on your right.

I’ve been testing it out, and it’s clearly inconsistent at this point. It doesn’t happen for lots of books, but that may just be because they’d rather not show negative findings. Still, it apparently only searches Overdrive, which is the predominant e-book server for individuals using public libraries for e-books, but it isn’t the only one.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say postulate that when people search for a book title with Google, they’ll be able to borrow the book from the public library if it’s available.

What would that mean?

Before I speculate, here’s a link you can try:

search for “It Stephen King”

 

First, this does have the potential to hurt sales at Amazon…but only for a particular segment of customers/readers. Traditional publishers (at least some of them) were pretty reluctant to have e-books in public libraries, initially…part of the argument was that the e-books didn’t wear out like p-books (paperbooks) do, so libraries wouldn’t have to replace them as often. There were some strong restrictions, if the books were available at all. This would seem to play into those fears.

That said, my guess would be that most people who are using Google to search for a book are looking for a free one. Not all of them are particular about the books being legal, either. It’s not difficult to scan a p-book and make a PDF out of it, then put it up online. There are a lot of reasons people do that…they aren’t all trying to make money, although some do by having advertising on the site hosting the downloads.

If someone wants to buy an e-book, my bet would be that the vast majority of them go to Amazon (or Barnes & Noble, if they have a Nook), or perhaps iTunes.

It is possible that people search for an e-book and don’t find a free copy, then they push further.

I would think this would affect bestsellers, more than smaller market or older titles. Google searching for a book feels to me (and I freely admit, much of this post is speculation) like it is more likely to be used by a “casual reader” than by a “serious reader” (I define the latter as reading fifty books or more a year).

I think the impact will be small.

Second, Amazon could lose all income from selling e-books…and it wouldn’t make much difference to their bottom line. It’s no longer a big part of t

Right now, the Google search includes buying the book…but not at Amazon. 🙂 Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and Kobo all showed for me on the search for “It”. I doubt that pulls that much from Amazon’s sales.

I think it hurts Amazon a small amount, and considerably helps some readers. I usually don’t borrow e-books from the public library. I can afford books to read, including being a happy member of

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

and there is “scarcity” for public library e-books, although a lot of people find that counter-intuitive. A library can’t just copy the file for everybody who wants it; there are legal licensing issues.

That may change for me: I’ve mentioned that we have a life change coming up, and now we have more of a timeline for it. My Significant Other is voluntarily leaving a job, and we aren’t quite sure what will happen after that (we’ve done the math…we’ll be okay). If money got a lot tighter, and there was a book I really wanted to read and the public library was the only way to get it, I don’t have any hesitation or see a negative to it. It’s just not my habit now.

Now, some of you may wonder about how this is different from this

Chrome extension tells you if that Kindle book is in your public library

that I wrote about previously.

When I go to a book’s Amazon product page in Chrome, I automatically see if it’s available at the public library…and yes, that’s similar.

It’s also different, though, because people who are at Amazon are already likely to get books from Amazon. It’s convenient to keep it altogether: if I could have every single payment I ever make for anything go through Amazon, I would. To use the extension, people have to also first install the extension…a much smaller slice than the people who just search with Google.

One more group I want to mention: does this help or hurt authors? Many of my readers are authors, so that’s obviously a concern.

Authors may not get as much for each library borrow as they get for a book sold, but that’s going to depend on contract.

The reason why this helps is that it may replace, to some extent, people getting pirated copies (for which authors get nothing).

I believe that the vast majority of people would rather do something that is legal, and something that would benefit the author, than something that wouldn’t.

If somebody searched for It, and could borrow it easily from the public library or get a PDF from an iffy source, I think they’d go with the library…even though they don’t end up owning the book. Ownership is arguably less important to people than it used to be.

Well, those are my thoughts on this, and there is a lot of speculation and presumption in this piece. What do you think? When would you search for a book with Google as opposed to just going to Amazon? Would you rather own a PDF of uncertain provenance, or borrow an e-book from a library for a couple of weeks? Will this make any real difference to Amazon? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


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

All aboard 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.

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Managing your applications

August 16, 2017

Managing your applications

There’s an old joke about Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Lee Iacocca (Chrysler) sitting next to each other at a charity event.

Gates: “You know, if the car industry was like the computer industry, cars would cost $1000 and get 100 miles to the gallon.”

Iacocca: “Yeah, but who wants a car that crashes three times a day?” ;

Well, our hardware has gotten a lot more reliable…I haven’t seen the infamous BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) in some time, and most of our devices work pretty reliably. I’d say one exception is our Wink hub, which needs to be unplugged maybe once a week so it can reset, and our

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

which resets itself multiple times a week (interestingly, our Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) almost never does that).

However, I take action on our applications quite often: I would guess every day.

I recently got a question from a reader about Amazon’s native web browser on Fire tablets, Silk. This person never used Silk, but it was spontaneously showing undesired content. I explained a way to do something which was likely to help, and it looks like it did.

That got me thinking that a post like this probably made sense.

While this definitely applies to my readers who use Fire tablets and Fire TVs, it also applies to people who use the Kindle reading app on other devices.

Exactly how you get into the settings to do this varies a bit by device, but you typically get to your settings (it may be a Settings Gear, which some people think looks like a sun) and then go to Applications.

There are basically four things you can do:

  • Force stop (or more colloquially, “kill” the app)
  • Clear the cache
  • Clear the data
  • Uninstall

Force stop (no, it has nothing to do with Star Wars 😉 ) means to turn it off. This can be effective. When my CNNGO app gets stuck, force stopping it will fix it. It’s like restarting your hardware, or flipping a light switch off and then back on (the latter when you re-open the application).

The risk is quite low on this one. Conceivably, you could be in the middle of something and lose that progress, but that’s about it. On an iPhone, when it is unlocked, double push (push-push) your home button. You’ll see all of your open apps. Find the Kindle app, for example, and swipe it up towards the top of the screen.

Clear the cache means to remove what is being stored in temporary memory. Think of your app as your kitchen table: the cache is what you put on the table…food, or in our case, usually mail and packages. 🙂 This can be an issue for you. If you were halfway through a video on YouTube and clear the cache, it won’t remember you were watching it. Video apps, like Hulu and Netflix, store how far you were into a video in the cloud, so it will usually still remember. However, everything will need to reload, so it may take longer to start watching a show.

Clearing the data is a strong action, and you should use it with caution. If you have set up your account in an app, and you clear the data, you’ll have to set up that account again. The data are the kitchen table itself: clear the data, and you’ll need the build the kitchen table again. My reader didn’t use the Silk app, so clearing the data was fine. For someone who used daily, clearing the data can mean a lot of work. If you clear the data, think of it as if you just downloaded the app for the first time.

Uninstalling the app removes the app from the device. For apps you got from the Amazon Appstore, they will still be in the cloud where you can download them again. It may also say that you are going to remove it from the device. If you don’t want to own it at all any more, you would do that in your cloud typically, not on your device.

That’s about it. 🙂 I have to force stop more than one app a day, I’d say.

Update: I meant to mention that if you have “active content” on a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader…not a tablet), you don’t have the same kind of controls. You can remove them from the device, which can help, but you don’t have the force stop, clear cache, clear data options. Also, with some things, like browsers, you may have additional granularity: removing “form data” (which autofills things like your address), cookies (little programs installed on your device to let the internet identify you…it’s why sites like Amazon can know who you are without you logging into the site each time), history (a listing of where you’ve been…the cache stores the actual data temporarily, the history just says where the data was found)…those will all be wiped out if you clear the data.

Hope that helps…

Bonus story: Amazon Instant Pickup means you can get your order…in two minutes! In this

press release

Amazon explains the new program, which you can see here:

Amazon Instant Pickup (at AmazonSmile*)

In five cities now (“… fully staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and College Park, Md.”) with more to come, people can order drinks, snacks, and electronics, including especially some Amazon devices in the Amazon shopping app and pick up the item(s).

You also have to be an

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

member…and especially Prime for students, which is really where the marketing focus is on this.

Barnes & Noble’s college stores may take a further hit from this…

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

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

*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 you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

The land of the free (and the no additional cost): 20 things to read/watch/hear

July 4, 2017

The land of the free (and the no additional cost): 20 things to read/watch/hear

Today (July 4th) is the 241st “birthday” of the United States of America.

I wanted to do something to observe that, but also tie it into something that would be fun and helpful for my readers. To celebrate the “Land of the Free”, I thought I’d list 20 things that are available through Amazon that are free or no additional cost.

By “no additional cost”, I mean that you may already be paying something for a subscription (I’ll explain that below), but reading/watching/hearing these will not cost you anything over that amount.

Some things are simply free to anybody who has an Amazon account…I’ll designate those as “free to all”.

I would guess that the majority of my readers have

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

You may have gotten it mainly for the free shipping, in which case the ability to borrow these items really will seem free. However, it’s possible that the Prime Video, or Prime Music, or

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

has influenced your decision to get or keep Prime.

I’ll mark that as AP for “Amazon Prime”.

People typically pay $99 a year for Prime.

While there are other possibilities (including the KOLL: Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), I’m only going to use one more designation in this listing: KU, for

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

The typical price for KU (Amazon’s book “subser”…subscription service) is $9.99 a month (although it is on sale right now for “Prime Day”).

Anything in Prime Reading is, I believe, also in KU.

Please note that these are free or no additional cost at the time of writing (and I’m starting writing this on July 3rd Pacific Time), and that may have changed by the time you see it. Please check the price before you click, tap, or eye gaze (the last in Virtual/Augmented Reality) that Buy button.

Finally, what are the criteria for conclusion? Just stuff that catches my eye. 🙂 I’m often surprised at what is available this way. I’ve thought about it: could someone be culturally literate in the USA only through Amazon FONAC (Free Or No Additional Cost)? Well, until they have the 1977 Star Wars, the answer is no. 😉 However, there are some classics here that everybody knows.

I’ll make a comment about each one…even though some of them probably don’t need anything. I’ve either already read/seen/heard them, or there’s some reason to suggest them:

Here we go:

  1. Movie (AP): Star Trek Beyond (the latest movie in the Star Trek series, it was the 16th highest grossing movie in the USA in 2016. We have Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu, and it feels to me like video streaming is becoming the paperback of the movies…popular releases come out a year later in a smaller, cheaper format) | without Prime (buying not borrowing): $9.99
  2. Book (AP): Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (I know, I know…I mention this probably every time I talk about Prime Reading/KU, but it’s amazing! The book just celebrated twenty years since the original publication of the British edition ((with a slightly different title, and some changes to language)), and I believe this series will be read 100 years from now, as The Wizard of Oz series is still read today) | without Prime: $8.99 (the other original books are also available FONAC)
  3. Book (AP): She Can Run (She Can Series, Book 1) by Melinda Leigh (ranked 152 paid in the Kindle store at time of writing, with 4.3 stars out of 5 and 1,470 reviews…this is the first book of six by a bestselling romance author) | $4.99 to buy
  4. Book (free to all): Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle (simply brilliant, and Holmes is a very contemporary character, even today. I wrote my own Holmes parody in this blog…A Kindle Abandoned)…I also publish these one short story or chapter a day in 221B Blog Street, but this way, you could binge it 😉
  5. Movie (AP): The Wizard of Oz (1939) (Yes, this is the Judy Garland version…”Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more…”) | $9.99 to buy in SD
  6. Magazine (AP): Entertainment Weekly (June 16, 2017 issue) (the Mary Poppins remake is the cover story) | $4.99 for the current issue (not this one)…and they have an incredible deal of $10 for a one-year subscription right now!
  7. Album (AP): Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) | (hottest ticket in town!)
  8. Album (AP): Rumors (Fleetwood Mack): (released in 1977, it’s one of the best selling albums of all time, and includes “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way”)
  9. TV Series/Movies (AP) : Star Trek: The Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, the original crew/Next Gen movies, the Animated Series, Enterprise…it might not quite be a five year mission to watch all of these, but it would take a long time!
  10. Book (free to all): The Complete Works of Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility…)
  11. Album (AP): Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (and Abbey Road and the White Album and…)
  12. Book (AP): Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman (New York Times bestselling non-fiction)
  13. TV series (AP): Orphan Black (intense fandom is around this series, and remarkable acting performances. Note that the first episode…um, includes a Not Safe For Work scene that might otherwise surprise viewers)
  14. Movies (AP): 2016’s Best Picture Oscar nominees (Moonlight which won, Manchester by the Sea)
  15. Magazine (AP): National Geographic (June 1 issue)
  16. Most read books per Amazon Charts (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) (AP): The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan, Beach Lawyer by Avery Duff, Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner (note that this is not in order, but they are all in the top 20 right now…Harry Potter books are also in that group)
  17. Nostalgic “kids” TV/movie shorts (AP) (Cartoon Classics, The Best of the Three Stooges in Color…I’m not a fan of “colorizing” black and white movies but this is a good set of five including Disorder in the Court…note also that there may be things in the cartoons and the Stooges which are not considered politically correct today)
  18. Movies (AP): recent smaller highly-rated movies (Mr. Holmes, What We Do in the Shadows, Captain Fantastic)
  19. Music playlist (AP): Echo Favorites (this is sort of like the Most Read Chart for Echo listeners…it’s overwhelmingly contemporary, but not necessarily this week…and outside of that, somewhat eclectic, which I like: Girl Crush, Fight Song, All About That Bass, Ask Me How I Know, Chandelier…interesting what people ask to hear, and I wonder how much of it is sort of a personal soundtrack, asking for a particular song to fit a particular moment)
  20. Kindle Singles (AP) (when I think about summer reading, one of the things I consider is reading short pieces, like magazine articles…there are 101 Kindle Singles listed right now in Prime Reading)

Well, that’s twenty! I actually considered doing 241 when I started this, and while that would have been easy, it would have taken a long time to do and a long time for you to read! I feel like I’m leaving out so many things! Feel free to make more suggestions to me and my readers by commenting on this post. I notice I didn’t do any that were KU and not Prime Reading…maybe next year. 🙂 Here are some links to help you with more discovery:

Enjoy your Fourth!

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

All aboard 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! :) 

Amazon redoes Kindle notes

June 12, 2017

Amazon redoes Kindle notes

“I’ll make a note of it.”
–Jerome “Curly Howard” Horwitz

We are coming up on the ten year anniversary of the release of the Kindle.

You might think they had it all figured out by now…nope. 🙂

One of the areas that has seemed clunky has been dealing with the notes and highlights you can make in Kindle books.

Now, I need to say first that I love data (both entry and retrieval). 🙂 I go back to Personal Pearl, Foxpro, and beyond. I always remember teaching a database class to a group, and I was explaining how fields and records work, and I said something like, “Remember when you used to play with those little plastic boxes that you put 3 x 5 cards into when you were a kid? You know, with the alphabet cards that stuck up…and no?” That was true, though…I really did play with those. I think they were supposed to be for recipes and such, but I would write down animal species and sort them, that sort of thing.

I still do quite a bit with data…for example, my timelines at the History Project are really about data entry and retrieval.

So, would I care about good data retrieval with quotes from books? Absolutely! After all, I actually wrote a book of quotations:

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which, when it was released was (very briefly) the #1 book of quotations in any format at Amazon.

I also know most people haven’t loved it, but I loved doing it. It actually primarily came out of one of those plastic boxes with 3×5 cards…typed mostly on a typewriter.

You can imagine that I was excited that I could just highlight a quotation in a book and have it easily retrievable!

Well, that didn’t really turn out to be the case.

For years, we’ve been going to

https://kindle.amazon.com/

I wrote about some changes they made back in 2010:

Changes at Kindle.Amazon.com

Still, I haven’t been able to just go in and pull out a bunch of quotations and have them sourced with the book, the author, preferably the character…and do it with a simple export.

It’s always been copy and paste, one quotation at a time (to have any chance to use them).

They are making a change.

Supposedly, customers got e-mails about this…but I don’t seem to have one. 🙂

This is the new site:

https://read.amazon.com/kp/notebook

The old site is accessible until July 3rd.

I do think the new one looks better, and it supposedly looks a lot better on mobile.

However, it seems like a lot of features may be disappearing. Maybe they are going somewhere else, but all I am seeing on the new one is the notes, with no improved way to export them.

That would mean that following people (and being followed) was going away.

My best guess? They think all those features are served by Goodreads, which Amazon owns.

I suppose that’s not too bad. They probably should just integrate your notes into Goodreads, too. 🙂

I do want to say that it’s nice to see Amazon still paying attention to the Kindle experience, and working to improve it.

What do you think? When was the last time you went to that kindle.amazon.com site…if ever? Did you get an e-mail about the change? Do you have a system you like to use for book quotations? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

LAST HOURS TO ENTER! 339 people have entered at time of writing.

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

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

All aboard 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! :) 

Amazon Shopping comes to Fire TV…but you can’t buy Kindle books

June 7, 2017

Amazon Shopping comes to Fire TV…but you can’t buy Kindle books

This was both a very big positive and a disappointment…although that disappointment does bring up what has seemed to me for years to be a simple change Amazon could make.

While they (somewhat surprisingly) didn’t make a big deal about it, the product page for

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

says it was released May 24th. I find that a bit unlikely, since there are only 27 customer reviews at the time of writing (with a 4.3 out of 5 stars average).

This is an app tailored for the Fire TV family:

So, what happens is that you can shop at Amazon…on your TV.

To me, this is actually a big deal.

There are times when my Significant Other and I are sitting on the couch, both looking for basically the same thing at Amazon (we recently had to buy a new vacuum cleaner, for example…the old one broke). I might be on my laptop with it on the arm of the couch, and my SO is on a Kindle Fire.

When one of us finds something, we show our device to the other person…that can be awkward.

If we had the Amazon shopping app up on the Fire, we could easily both look.

It also happens that I see something on a TV show, maybe on the news, but maybe in a documentary or a fiction program, and want to buy it. I might hear about a book, or see some cool toy being demonstrated. 🙂

The book thing brings up my disappointment: I checked several Kindle editions, and it would say, “This item is not available on Fire TV.” I get that you can’t read the book on Fire TV (although that might be nice with a coffee table type book or a kids’ book), but I should be able to buy it that way. I can buy the physical book, just not the e-book.

After all, we can specify a default download device by going to

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

going to Your Devices, finding the device we want, clicking or tapping the Actions ellipsis (…) and setting it as the default.

A book I bought on Fire TV could simply be delivered there.

However, I have always wanted to option to just books I buy put initially into the Amazon Cloud, without specifying a device.

One argument against that might be that they don’t know if you have a compatible device then (although they do know…they would have to look differently)…but why can’t I buy something for which I don’t have a device now, but might have one later?

It might have something to do with the licensing with the publishers, I suppose.

Outside of the Kindle book thing, I think they’ve done a nice job with the implementation.

The first thing you see (the first time you go in, at any rate…it seems to remember where you were) is a number of panels for special features. I saw (in this order…but you might not):

  • Our Guide to Spring Dresses
  • echo dot (capitalized that way)
  • Outdoor Living (looked like it would include what we call “garden dwellers”…and we do buy those)
  • top 100 TOYS
  • It’s Play Time (dog toys…another thing we buy)
  • New Ideas for the Style Star
  • See life from a new perspective (photography drones)
  • Go Explore (gear up)
  • Smart and Secure (Smart Home Devices)
  • Outdoor Entertaining
  • Discover Peg and Awl
  • Treat your pet
  • TECH toys
  • Yard Prep & Gardening (we recently bought a pole saw)
  • 10 Key Men’s Pieces for Spring (Amazon Fashion)
  • Star Wars Vehicles
  • The Everyday Men’s Suit
  • Snap, Print, Share
  • Capture different (GoPros)
  • PAMPER YOUR SKIN
  • Fill your home with music (wireless and Bluetooth speakers)
  • Music the way it was meant to sound (Bluetooth headphones…I’ve bought a couple of cheap pairs)
  • Pools & Leisure
  • Amazon’s Choice (musical instruments)
  • 1970’s INSPIRED BEAUTY
  • Desktops for all your needs
  • Laptops for all your needs
  • LIQUID EYELINER
  • LUXURY MEN’S GROOMING

This certainly seems to me like it is based on our previous purchases (and browsing), but it might be a massive coincidence…if somebody gets a chance to check to see if they see the same panels, I’d appreciate you letting me know.

Beyond those featured sales, there are two more discovery options.

One is Search. It’s a “click a letter”style, oddly: this seems like a great place for speech recognition. However, if they do port this over to Virtual Reality, it would work well for that (clicking by “eye gazing”, perhaps).

The other one, and this very useful and the work around for the Kindle books, is our Amazon “wish lists”…although, only the ones we’ve made public (but public by invitation). I also get that…they say it is for privacy, and that makes sense, since otherwise, anybody with access to the TV could see it. You might have a wish list for the gifts you’ve already bought for the season, for one thing.

There was also a Settings choice in the top navigation…you couldn’t really set anything there, but it did have the legal terms. The version number of the app is 1.0.0.0, and they gave a feedback e-mail address: feedback-tv@amazon.com. That’s an interesting choice…not “Fire TV”, but just “tv”.

It said, “Hello, Bufo” in my top right corner, and I thought I could perhaps select that to sign in as someone else, but that didn’t appear to be the case. The Fire TV is already signed into an account, and I assume it uses that.

I’m pretty impressed with this, outside of the Kindle book purchase limitation!

Bonus story:

I started writing this one this morning, and then I saw this news. I flipped it into the I Love My Kindle Flipboard magazine, and then not too long afterwards, a reader alerted me via private e-mail (thanks, reader!).

CNN Money story by Julia Horowitz: “Amazon Prime debuts discount for people on government benefits”

Here’s the key point:

“To receive the discounted Amazon Prime membership [$5.99 a month instead of $10.99], buyers will need to have an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. They’ll have to re-register every 12 months, and can do so a total of four times.”

Now, $5.99 still seems like it might be a challenge, but for people at a certain disposable income level, this could be really significant. I didn’t see that you could gift it at that discount, but you could, I suppose, give someone who qualified the money separately.

This is one of those things that Amazon doesn’t have to do. They do get Public Relations benefits out of it, and perhaps, someone who used while receiving benefits might eventually become a full price Prime member (and regardless, might buy things they need at Amazon instead of a brick-and-mortar), but I do think it is nice.

This blog isn’t just about what I think, though. 🙂 I’m curious about what you think: will you shop on your TV? Why does Amazon want us to only buy Kindle books from a device which can read them? What do you think of the discounted Prime for people on benefits? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

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

All aboard 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! :) 

Now you can read your Kindle books in Virtual Reality

May 24, 2017

Now you can read your Kindle books in Virtual Reality

Woo hoo!

Although, I’m sure some of you are saying, “Hoo boy…who cares?” 😉

Absolutely, the number of people who want to read books in virtual reality at this point is probably vanishingly small…even smaller than the e-book market was before the Kindle was released in 2007.

There still aren’t that many people in what I call VAM space (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed&Merged Reality). There will be a lot more before the end of the year (Google’s just announced a very interesting, stand-alone device…no phone, no computer required, but we don’t know the price yet), and within about three years, some people will be in VAM space quite often, I think. In five years, many people will be in it for special uses…I want to credit Robert Scoble and Seth Israel’s book

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

for suggesting this timeline (and they’ve been quite accurate in the past).

Next, they need to also want to read e-books. The number of people who read books at all regularly is quite a minority in itself, so we definitely are talking about an unusual population.

I’ve been wanting to read my Kindle books in VAM space, and I hadn’t found a way. I did find a way to read some other books, but not my purchases from the Kindle store.

Why do I want to do that?

When I’m wearing my

Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

at work (at lunch, or on a break), it is uniquely isolating. It gives me a real sense of being somewhere else, which, while I love my job, can be a good mental reset.

Right now, I may watch Netflix or Hulu, and I do play some games (but gaming is not the majority of my time in VAM space, contrary to what I commonly hear people assume). However, I want to read. 🙂 If I play a game for a bit of a reset, then I may want to spend some time exercising and reading.

I do want to be clear: we aren’t where I want to be yet. I need some way to hands-free change “pages”, so I can read while doing floor work, like crunches. I can watch video that way, but with the current implementation, I tap the side of my head (really my headset) to change a page. That’s not convenient…I still expect Amazon to make a big move into VAM space before the end of the year, and while that’s most likely to be Prime Video at a minimum, a book reading “experience” is also a possibility. Audiobooks/text-to-speech would be another way to go, but in this post, I’m talking about sight reading.

Here’s how it works:

I’m using Samsung Internet on my Gear (my phone, which powers it, is a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge…one generation back, now).

I go to the Kindle Cloud Reader:

https://read.amazon.com/

This next step is what I believe is new, and is what made it work.

I select the menu in my top right corner of the main screen, then select, “Request Computer Version” (you can see the little selector circle…in this app, I tap the side of the headset to choose it…in some apps, I “eye gaze”).

Then, I was able to log into the site…and I could use it like I could on my laptop!

Well, it’s a little clunkier…I can’t go back as easily, but I can still read.

Here’s a shot of my library…I don’t usually show you the book covers, but I feel like these are small enough and the purpose is right for it to fall under Fair Use.

This is a shot of what it looks like reading a book (the public domain title The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs…I watched the Doug McClure movie recently as part of the revived Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’d already seen the movie, which I want so MST3K doesn’t spoil it for me…but I must say, I really like the revival! They are doing a lot more, I think, with the production numbers, which I enjoy):

Now, this is a 360 degree environment…I can look around, even look behind me, but the book is in front of me…like it was on a movie screen, but I find it a comfortable size to read. In fact, I’d love to get more words on the page, so I didn’t have to tap so much. 🙂 Hmm…I may be able to change that, I’ll look. I’m sure Amazon could do something that would advance through the book on its own.

I can change the size of the image…that’s part of Samsung Internet, although it doesn’t change dramatically.

One nice thing is that I can change the “background” (but is it really a background when it surround me?). That could even be a 360 degree picture of my own…maybe Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

will do that. 🙂 We did an interview about VAM space, with an emphasis on Amazon and books…and I know Len makes 360 videos, so probably has images to use.

Again, this is in no way everything I want. When I’m on a plane later this year, I’m assuming I’ll be able to use my headset (I’m traveling domestically…and the headset isn’t powered, but who knows?). I’d plan on reading on my Kindle Fire, too, but I can see switching between games, videos, and books without taking off the headset (I would need to download some books before I go, unless I can connect to wi-fi…that’s what I’ve been doing so far to read, streaming it).

We are on the bottom rungs of the ladder which is the future!

Bonus deal:

I know this is likely to be too late for some of you, but I couldn’t get to this until tonight. Today’s

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

is “Up to 80% off top book club picks by Goodreads on Kindle”. Check them out…there are some good deals!


My current Amazon Giveaways

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

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/398897583537603c

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.
Start:May 20, 2017 5:20 AM PDT
End:May 27, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

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.

 

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Alexa Calling edition

May 11, 2017

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Alexa Calling edition

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. In these posts, I address a topic in question and answer form. I write both the answers and the questions, but I try to address things I have actually seen/heard asked, or anticipate people asking. I am not an Amazon employee, and I will link to official information when possible. While this series refers to “Kindle Questions”, the blog has, since its regular publication starting in August 2009, expanded to cover e-publishing and Amazon generally.

Q. I heard Amazon introduced some new gadget yesterday, and that it has something to do with calling…maybe video calling. What’s up?

A. Amazon introduced the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the fourth type of device in the Echo family. It follows the original Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), and the Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*). The new device does have a screen, a 7″ screen similar to some tablets.

Q. And one of the things that’s new is that this Echo Show can make phone calls?

A. That is new, but all of the Echo devices (with the exception of the Tap) will soon be able to make phone calls. People will even be able to make phone calls with the Alexa app, which is available for both iPhones and Android phones. That’s all part of a new service called Alexa Calling and Messaging (at AmazonSmile*).

Q. It’s a phone calling service? What does that cost?

A. It’s a free service.

Q. You mean I can dump my phone bill and just use this and save all that money?

A. Not exactly. The phone calls require wi-fi, and while some cities have it free in public places, and some businesses, like hotels and Starbucks may offer it, you generally are paying for it somewhere. 

Q. I pay for my internet service, is that what you mean?

A. Yes. You might be paying a cable company, for example, for your internet, and then you have a wi-fi modem hooked into that, which broadcasts the signal. 

Q. But I wouldn’t have to pay the phone part of my bill? I could just pay for internet and maybe TV?

A. That could work in your home. However, it only works with people with a compatible Echo device or the Alexa app. The Alexa app is free, but not everybody has it.

Q. I can’t just call any old phone number?

A. No. The person you are calling has to have the Alexa app, and they have to be in your contacts on your phone.

Q. Wait, I still need a phone?

A. The app is going to be on your phone. Also, it needs a phone number when you set it up, although it doesn’t use the phone when you make the call…you can do calls with your phone turned off.

Q. Why does it need my phone number, then?

A. It’s part of the set up. Amazon says, “…this feature can use phone data but doesn’t use text messages and minutes from your cell phone plan.”

Q. So it uses my data plan?

A. Apparently, yes.

Q. It sounds a little more limited than I might have thought.

A. Its capabilities may expand, but right now, it is limited to people who have an Amazon account, the Alexa app, and a cell phone number. It is also currently limited to customers in the USA. 

Q. And they need to be in my phone’s contacts?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay…how do I make a call?

A. With an Echo device, you just say, “Alexa, call [contact name].” With the Alexa app, you tap the Conversation icon (which looks like a word balloon in a comic book), then tap Contacts, then tap the Call icon (which looks like a phone handset).

Q. Can the other person answer by voice?

A. Yes. Instead of the blue or red/orange rings we see, the light will be green. Alexa will announce who is calling, and the person you are calling can either say, “Answer”, or “Ignore”.

Q. What if I don’t want to get calls at all for a while?

A. There is a “Do Not Disturb” option. You can turn it on by voice by saying, “Alexa, don’t disturb me.” To get messages and phone call again, you can say, “Alexa, turn off Do Not Disturb”. To turn it on or off using the app, go to Menu-Settings- select your device-Do Not Disturb. You can turn it on and off, and you can schedule a daily “quiet time”. It can be on for one device at the same time it is off for other devices.

Q. I use my Echo for alarms and we use a Dot to set timers in the kitchen: will Do Not Disturb make those not work?

A. No, it only affects calls and messages through Alexa.

Q. You’ve mentioned messages a couple of times: are those text messages?

A. You can speak them, and your recipient will hear them…like a voicemail.

Q. Oh, I meant to ask: do they hear my phone call, and, I guess the messages, in my voice or in Alexa’s?

A. It’s your voice. In the Alexa app, there is a “play” button for them to hear your message. It also transcribes your message, but just like a cell phone, that can make mistakes. You can edit it before you send it.

Q. We could communicate silently, then, like if one of us is at work?

A. Yes.

Q. The written messages are in the app?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I delete them?

A. You can swipe them away on an iPhone. On an Android device, tap and hold the Conversation (not an individual message) and you’ll get a trash can icon at the top of the screen. By the way, if you tap and hold an individual message, the phone icon at the top will change to a two page symbol. Tap that, and you will copy the message. You can  then paste it into another app, like a text message.

Q. Do I say the punctuation, like I would on my phone?

A. Remember that if you are sending a voice message, the person would hear you say, “Period. New paragraph”. You can use the dictation feature on your phone’s keyboard, but be careful about which is which.

Q. And I can also use this with the screen on the…Echo Show to do videocalls, like Facetime?

A. Yes. 

Q. Can I do videocalls on my Fire tablet or my Fire TV? They have Alexa.

A. Not at this time. They are not supported for Alexa Calling.

Q. How about through the Alexa app…phone to phone?

A. Reportedly, yes, but ILMK has not tested that yet. I will test it and update this post.

Q. Speaking of testing, can I test out the system to see how it works?

A. Yes. You should have a conversation from yourself (the message will have Amazon’s text). You can tap the phone icon there to call your Echo. Your Alexa app has to first update to the new version (2.0.1050.1 on my Galaxy S7 Edge), and you have to have signed up for it.

Q. Anything else?

A. There is also a “drop-in” feature on the Echo Show (but not, apparently, on the Alexa app). You name specific people who can use it, and they can videocall you. You have ten seconds to reject the call, or to request audio only. Otherwise, the caller can see you, or at least the room where your Echo Show is. Do Not Disturb would presumably stop that, but this feature is on the Echo Show which has not yet been released (it is suppose to be released on June 28th of this year), and we don’t have full documentation. The testing that we’ve done so far has been with the app.

Q. That kind of sounds creepy.

A. It’s not going to be for everyone, even though you have control over it. It could be a great monitor for seniors or those with mobility challenges…or to check on your pets during the day. Amazon also says, “Amazon Customer Service is not able to see or review your messages, voice messages, calls, or contacts.” 

Q. Speaking of privacy, can I control who uses the feature on my devices?

A. No. Amazon specifically says there is no password protection for it, and points out that anyone can hear the calls in your home.

Q. You know, that quote you had about not being able to see it says, “Amazon Customer Service”: can anybody else at Amazon see it? Could law enforcement get information or videos from Amazon with a warrant?

A. I don’t know that, but it seems possible. There has been a court case involving information from an Echo already. I didn’t see anything that specifically said information would not be stored. 

Q. I guess that’s not that different from my other devices. Any other speculation?

A. Alexa is open to third-party “skill” writers, and the capabilities are constantly expanding. This post is about the calling/messaging service, and one thing it doesn’t do right now is call 911. It wouldn’t be hard for law enforcement to set that up (by having a compatible device, as some of them do with texting now), but that capability may come through an app. Similarly, someone may set up a way to call other people who don’t have the Alexa app or an Echo, perhaps through some forwarding mechanism. One big speculation about Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): Amazon recently introduced the Echo Look. It’s probably not a coincidence that one is the “Look” and the other one is the “Show”. The Look has great cameras, and that could network with the Show to provide augmented reality. The Look would see you, and the Show would show you on the screen in another reality, or a movie, or just an outfit you are considering buying. That’s just speculation, though.


Do you have additional questions or have you found out other cool features or limitations? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


My current Amazon Giveaways

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

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

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/398897583537603c

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.

Start:May 10, 2017 7:44 AM PDT
End:May 17, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂

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.

Amazon Giveaways: so fun I’m running four (update: 5!) right now :)

April 12, 2017

Amazon Giveaways: so fun I’m running four (update: 5!) right now 🙂

It’s been a bit over two years since Amazon introduced

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

The idea is simple. You can give something away through Amazon. Amazon handles everything…determining the winner (according to your choice of method), taking the payment, and delivering the prize(s). If you already buy things from Amazon, it’s pretty painless…in fact, I’ve just done my first real ones and I’m finding it really fun!

Why would you give something away to a stranger?

Mostly, it’s going to be for marketing purposes. However, think of marketing very loosely…you could just be supporting a cause, or even celebrating a birthday (it’s up to you whether or not Amazon lists the giveaway publicly…you could have it be just for people to whom you give a link).

My guess is that quite a few of you would also enjoy doing this…especially authors who might be marketing their own books, but it could be anything. I’m going to give you some information on it first, then I’ll list the four I’m running now.

Amazon “how it works” page for Giveaways (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon Giveaways FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) (at AmazonSmile*)

So, breaking this down…

You go to the Amazon product page of something you want to giveaway. It seems like most things are eligible: I’m doing e-books, but I’m also doing an electronics item. I think it probably parallels what you can give as gifts for specific people: that would mean no apps or subscription items, which is what I find when I check.

There will be a link at the bottom of the page to set up a giveaway…you can search on the page for “giveaway”. 😉

Then, there will be some decisions to make:

How many of the item do you want to giveaway? You can do from one up to fifty (although that may be affected by the type of item). Remember that you’ll be charged for each one. With e-books, you won’t get a refund if they aren’t all claimed. You can either continue the sweepstakes (if that’s what you choose), or gift certificate you can giveaway.

Then you choose a giveaway type:

  • Sweepstakes (at the end of the sweepstakes)
  • Random Instant Win (3 in 9, for example)
  • Lucky Number Instant Win (every third, for example)
  • First-come, First-served

You don’t have to make a requirement for people to enter, but if you do…

  • Follow author on Amazon
  • Follow you (or someone) on Twitter
  • Tweet a message you specify
  • Watch a Video Short (hosted at Amazon)
  • Watch a YouTube Video (can enter after watching for two minutes)
  • Answer a poll

You can see the possibilities here.

I’ve done two follow the authors, one watch a YouTube video, and one follow me on Twitter. 🙂

Then you’ll pick a duration…that is clearly impacted by the item. I’ve seen different durations, I think from up to fifteen days to up to thirty.

The last big choice is whether you want it to be public or not…whether you want Amazon to list it for anybody.

Why wouldn’t you do that?

You could do the giveaway for a party, or for an incentive for people at your work. In that case, you don’t want somebody not involved to get it.

After that, you need to write an intro message, a “thanks for entering” message, and a winner’s message…I think you are required to do all three, although I’m not sure. You also name the giveaway, but in your name (I’ve seen organizational names there), and you can put up an image.

Those parts are creative, so they can be some work.

Once you are finished, it takes a little while for it to go live (oh, and you need to pay for it, of course). The e-books happened quite quickly, the electronics item took a bit longer.

Amazon sends you a link you can share, and it will appear on the

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

page if you said it could be public. Amazon may also alert people through an e-mail to which people can subscribe.

I’ve been astonished at how well it has worked! One of them has been averaging about 500 entries a day!

Here are the ones I’m running right now. I think I’m going to start listing them at the end of all my posts I’m not sure yet if I’m going to do giveaways all the time…they do cost money. I’ll have a better sense if they are justified or not after these first few finish.

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

by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Two winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b079fbab9711319a

Start: Apr 8, 2017 11:39 AM PDT
End: Apr 16, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
    • Follow Robert Scoble on Amazon

Entrants at time of writing: 163


Blitzwolf VR Headset (at AmazonSmile*)

in honor of “Virtually Mike & Nora”

One winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ab8bc9943c50e4f

Start:Apr 8, 2017 1:25 PM PDT
End:Apr 15, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • Watch a YouTube video (on the giveaway page)
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Entrants at time of writing: 163


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

by my sibling, Kris Calvin

Ten winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Start:Apr 8, 2017 12:05 PM PDT
End:Apr 23, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
    • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (I like that it is Amazon and not Twitter…probably less intrusive for most people)

Entrants at time of writing: 1


Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)

by George Takei (in honor of the actor’s 80th birthday on April 20, 2017)

1 winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0a55a7230ccfd4aa

Start:Apr 11, 2017 3:56 PM PDT
End:Apr 21, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter (that’s the Twitter account for my  The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Entrants at time of writing: 64

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Update: I’m also giving away Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle in honor of the beloved children’s author’s 101st birthday 4/12/2017!

Happy 101st birthday, Beverly Cleary! (and a giveaway)


If you enter, good luck! I figure I won’t be told who wins, but if you do, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to promote them…and if you are doing a giveaway that relates to the topics of this blog (e-books, Amazon media devices…I’ll make the call), you can mention it in a comment on this post. If you have other thoughts or questions, you can also do that with a comment. 🙂

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.

Chrome extension tells you if that Kindle book is in your public library

March 15, 2017

Chrome extension tells you if that Kindle book is in your public library

Content is king.

People like to say that, and the point of it is, that it doesn’t matter so much what a delivery system is, if you don’t want what it delivers.

You could have the most magnificent home library in the world, with a spiral staircase and sliding ladders, but if the books you have it in are boring to you, you won’t be happy. The floor to ceiling library in our home literally has bookcases in it we bought from Ikea for $5 apiece. They have a section where you can buy beat up, scratched, pre-assembled pieces…and I figured there would be so many books on them (we have something like 10,000 paperbooks in our home) you’d never see the scratches. 🙂

When the

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

was first released, there weren’t a lot of “skills” (the Alexa equivalent of “apps” for a SmartPhone). Now, the

Alexa Skills store on Amazon.com (at AmazonSmile*)

has over 10,000, including some really useful and fun things (banking, trivia, entertainment, big brand names, and cool independents).

I’ve predicted that Amazon will get big into Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality this year. I’ve been using the

Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for just a few months. I’m now convinced that VAMM is ready for PrimeTime. Augmented Reality has had a “killer app” with Pokemon Go, but that was phone-based. Some would argue that we don’t have a killer app to get people to wear head-mounted VAMM yet…but I find watching commercial video to be a big attraction. Both Hulu and Netflix have apps, and they’ve both improved a lot. That’s the killer app for me…much better than watching on my TV at home. Now, Amazon, about Prime Video… 🙂

In terms of internet browsers, my preferred browser is Maxthon…but I am in Google Chrome right now. Why? Extensions. Chrome has some great extensions, which again are like Alexa skills or iPhone apps: little programs which often serve a single purpose. OneTab and Merge All Windows have made Chrome much more attractive for me, but there are some book ones as well.

I told you in January about

A great Google Chrome extension for eReaderIQ

but I want to thank

EBOOK FRIENDLY

for a heads up on a brilliant one called, simply, Library Extension.

I installed it this morning and it works beautifully!

You tell it what your public library is (you can have more than one), and the interface to do that was very simple. It already has the USA selected for me (that might just be the default, or it may have taken something from my browser for location). Then, I just had to tell it my state and county, and it was ready to go!

Then, when I went to a book at Amazon…I tested it with

The Hunger Games (at AmazonSmile)

first.

It took a couple of seconds to tell me that 35 of 56 “copies” were available at my library (those look like p-books), 5 of 8 audiobooks were available, and 0 of 2 e-books. I could then click, tap (or, I presume, eye gaze in virtual reality but I didn’t try that) a borrow button, and I was taken to Overdrive.

There’s no charge for any of this, and this is likely to save some of you a lot of money! I don’t tend to borrow books from our public library, in part because, well, we can afford books, and I don’t want to keep someone of limited means from being able to borrow one because I borrowed it. I love public libraries, and am absolutely fine with anybody borrowing from them…it’s just not something I do much.

Obviously, you won’t have Chrome on your EBR (E-Book Reader), and you might have it on your Fire…but you can borrow the book on your computer and then have it delivered to your EBR.

EBOOK FRIENDLY is really international, and they say, “Currently, the extension supports over 3,200 libraries in seven countries: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the Cayman Islands.”

It’s also worth noting that it works at a number of sites, not just Amazon (including the Amazon-owned Goodreads, but also Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and others).

I’ll be curious about your experiences with it…you can let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. Hopefully, it opens up a lot more possibilities for you!

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.

A great Google Chrome extension for eReaderIQ

January 16, 2017

A great Google Chrome extension for eReaderIQ

I have often referred to

eReaderIQ

as the best resource for Kindleers on the web.

I’m not associated with the site, although we have had e-mail correspondence (just as a user making suggestions).

They have a number of free services:

  • You can track a Kindle store book to see when it drops in price an amount you specify
  • You can track an author
  • You can be notified when a book first becomes available for the Kindle
  • You can search the Kindle store in a much more sophisticated way that Amazon gives you

Well, I was excited to see that there is a new “extension” for the Google Chrome web browser!

This is a free little program that you add to Chrome, and when you are on a Kindle store book page, it brings some of the functionality of eReaderIQ into your Kindle store experience.

My favorite thing is that I can see the price tracking.

It’s possible they’ll give me permission to post a screenshot here (or send me one…I haven’t contacted them yet), but I’d suggest you try it yourself (it’s free).

What this means is that I can see if a book has ever been on sale before, and when. That can help you guess if it might go on sale again…no guarantee, but if it goes on sale periodically, that can be an indicator (as can be if it never goes on sale).

You can also choose to track it right there…very convenient. 🙂

The easiest way to get it is to be in Chrome, and go to

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ereaderiq-integrator/epjfabiijflnfmjjhanhddglfhokheae

Alternatively, go to the Chrome Web Store and search for eReaderIQ (it’s called eReaderIQ Integrator).

Enjoy!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

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

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 The Measured Circle 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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