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Microsoft to kill their e-books (again), compensate purchasers

April 4, 2019

Microsoft to kill their e-books (again), compensate purchasers

Sigh.

I always try to see both sides (or how ever many sides there are), and I’ll try to find it in this move of Microsoft’s…but my initial response to Microsoft shutting down their e-book business (and refunding purchases) is dismay.

Not surprise, I should say…after all, Microsoft did the same thing with their .lit books, as I wrote about here:

The next chapter in Microsoft and e-books

Not the same way, exactly.

According to the

Microsoft FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions

from July 1st, 2019, people who purchased e-books from Microsoft will no longer be able to access them.

They will compensate the purchase price…but seriously, is the value of a book the same as the list price? I can’t think of a book which I didn’t value more than the money I paid for it. What happens if the price of the book went up since you purchased it? What if the book has “gone out of print”, become digitally unavailable legally…the money won’t bring the book back.

I have often said that I think it is more that my descendants will have access to my e-books than my p-books (paperbooks)…part of my thinking was that if a company went out of business, either some other company would buy the licenses and keep it going, or the proprietary format would not have a market way to access it, meaning that (perhaps…I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but I’ve read quite a bit on copyright), it would be legal to convert your files to access them.

This isn’t that situation, and these folks will actually lose access to their books.

It’s a bit like years ago when I was working for a company and it went under. I was the training manager. I had one of my trainers preparing for a medical procedure. They went in after the shutdown, and were told that the insurance had been canceled.

I first thought they could get COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act), which you can usually do when you leave a company…it’s expensive, but you can do it.

However, the company canceled the insurance right before they went under…so we didn’t have insurance, so there was nothing to continue.

They hadn’t needed to do that, and it certainly created problems for some of us.

This feels like that, but that’s probably not a fair comparison. Again, Microsoft is compensating people.

Interestingly, you also, of course, lose your notes. If you made notes in your books prior to the announcement (you can’t jump in and do it now), you get an additional $25.

If I had Microsoft books, I’d be trying very hard right now to copy my notes…I write things that are worth a lot more than $25 to me.

I also think it’s important that this is a major company, not some small company that failed.

I’ll undoubtedly come around to some way to feel okay with what Microsoft is doing, but I’m not there now.

How about you? What do you think? Do you have Microsoft books? Did you have .lit books? Do you worry this could happen with Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* 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.

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AFD News: Amazon Symphony launches, a “marketplace for businesses”

April 1, 2019

AFD News: Amazon Symphony launches, a “marketplace for businesses”

April 1, 2019 (AFD News)

by Augustus R. Egett

Amazon (AMZN) launched a new service today, intended to help businesses find merger opportunities.

Similar to online dating services, a company which is looking to make an acquisition, or one which is hoping to find a financial partner, posts a listing at Amazon’s site.

If a listing looks attractive, the company can send a message, and negotiations can begin.

There are a variety of plans being offered:

 

  • A flat rate plan: this is based on the size of the assets being offered
  • A percentage plan: no money is paid up front, but Amazon is given a percentage of the new company, which can be compensated as stock or as a percentage of gross income
  • One of the more unusual plans opens it up for crowdfunding. Amazon Prime members are able to pledge money in exchange for special benefits, determined by the companies

Additionally, Amazon will offer legal and other services at an additional cost.

“Amazon Symphony enabled us to find the perfect partner when we wanted to expand out pet grooming business to include pet walking and sitting services,” said Mr. Merill of Patti’s Pet Parlor.

“We had no idea how to handle the legal aspects of our merger, and Amazon was able to handle all of that,” according to a postcard we received from Bob’s Buggy Whips about their recent merger with the Carolina Carbon Paper Company.

“It’s like Tinder for corporations,” according to We Work in Our PJs.

“Thanks to Amazon Symphony, we now own pretty much all the entertainment in the world…it was well worth the exclusive third party rights Amazon got,” said Mary Kane of D (formerly known as Disney/Fox/Time/Warner/Sony/Blumhouse/Universal/Paramount/Lionsgate/MGM…)

“This has a much better risk/benefit ratio than what we were doing previously,” enthused Alexander the Great.

In perhaps the most unexpected turn of events, Amazon announced that it had acquired itself for three gazillion dollars, and would officially be known as Amazon Oroboros (although it would continue to do business under the name of Amazon).

Finally, Arbor Day was acquired by…April Fools Day! 


This is, of course, my annual April Fools Day joke! I was thinking about the Disney acquisition of Fox, and wanted to do something with that. I could see Amazon finding some way to facilitate that, in the same way that I say they want to be the “Infrastructure of the Internet”. By the way, while I would change it at this point, this was my tweet from December 15, 2017 when the Disney/Fox acquisition was first sparking real speculation:

“My crossover: Rocket Raccoon steals the Banzai Institute’s time machine, robs Mos Eisley, accidentally creating a history where Dr. Doom is President. Link Hogthrob teams with Riff Raff, using Seth Brundle tech, to set things right.”

I’d make it more diverse now, using some different characters…although I still like the basic idea.

There is actually an Amazon Symphony (I checked a few names), but as it is an actual symphony, I didn’t think this would be confusing.

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!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* 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

.

4 types of writers: professional, aspirational, recreational, advocatory

March 24, 2019

4 types of writers: professional, aspirational, recreational, advocatory

I recently wrote about

The writers community on Twitter

I love that people there will ask advice of other writers, putting it out to the whole group (not just asking someone they know personally).

I find it fascinating that many of the questions amount to, “Should I write this thing?” For example, someone who has written a novel might ask if they should write short stories about the character.

For me, I need to know more about their situation to answer that.

The main issue for me: what is the purpose in their writing?

People write for different reasons, and that affects those sorts of decisions.

I’m not entirely comfortable with the four terms in the title of this post, but I think the categories make sense…I’ll describe what I mean by them.

Professional

A professional writer is dependent on their writing to “put food on the table”. Writing is their job: if they don’t write, they might not be able to pay the rent/mortgage. I’ve never fit that category myself…I’ve always had a “day job” which was by far the largest amount of my income. Yes, it was very exciting to earn enough from my writing that I wouldn’t be poverty level if that was my only income, but I’ve always had the luxury to write what I wanted.

A professional doesn’t have that same choice: they can’t write something which won’t sell or otherwise generate income if it prevents them from writing something which will. I need to be clear: that doesn’t mean that they are artistically inauthentic, but they have to consider the revenue-producing characteristics of the artistic choices they make.

In that case, you write those short stories if they generate income, either directly or by inspiring other sales (they might be given away to followers to generate interest in income-earning works, perhaps).

Aspirational

These writers would like to be professionals, but aren’t yet. They aren’t dependent on their writing for income. Their considerations certainly may hinge on what increases the odds that they become professionals, but they can write things which won’t sell or influence an agent/audience.

I’ve been aspirational in the past, and might become that again after I retire, but I’m not right now. I’m largely free to write what I want, without economic concern.

I do have a lot of concerns about the amount of time and energy I spend on the writing, and I do take into account what my readers want, but that’s a different thing.

Recreational

This is where I am. I write because I want to write. Certainly, the extra income it generates is great (thanks, subscribers!), but if I wasn’t paid at all, I do think I’d keep writing. I might have to reset expectations: I might not commit to writing as often. The writers’ community seems to be mostly aspirational writers (with some professionals), but lots of people write on Twitter who do it for fun.

Advocatory

This the term I like the least, and I considered others (motivational, inspirational, driven). This group writes to change the world; writing is a tool, a means to an end. They have a cause, and they believe writing will help them achieve it. Whether they earned any money from it or not, they would still write. How does this compare to recreational writers? Advocatory writers don’t necessarily enjoy it. I’ve certainly seen this kind of writer…

===

Those are my thoughts on it: what are yours? Do you have a suggestion for the name for the fourth category? Have I left off other kinds of writers? Would you consider a technical writer a professional writer by my definitions? Can someone be more than one at the same time: professional technical writer, aspirational mystery writer, recreational fanfic (fan fiction) writer? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Oh, and one other thing which came up recently: what do you consider the difference between an “author” and a “writer’? I refer to myself as a “writer” or “blogger” on Twitter. For me “author” refers to a completed work: you are the author of a book you’ve published, not the writer of that work. However, you could be a writer all the time, without ever having anything published or completed…

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!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* 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

Amazon introduces a new frontlit Kindle for $89.99

March 21, 2019

Amazon introduces a new frontlit Kindle for $89.99

Amazon announced a refresh yesterday of its least expensive Kindle

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

It can be pre-ordered now in white or black for release on April 10th.

Frontlighting is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve had, including paper. The device (as is the case with the Paperwhite and Oasis Kindle EBRs…E-Book Readers) has a mild light which is pointed at the screen (not at you). The light bounces off the screen…which is the same way you read a paperbook.

It’s exciting to see Amazon introduce a new EBR! This one isn’t waterproof like the more expensive models, but I think it should still be popular. It does, by the way, have Bluetooth, meaning that it can transmit audio to a compatible external speaker.

Here’s the

press release

Right now, it is coming with three months of

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

which is about a $30 value. That’s Amazon’s “all-you-can-read” subscription service (subser).

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!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* 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

You know what else Amazon delivers to your home? Jobs!

March 18, 2019

You know what else Amazon delivers to your home? Jobs!

We were out at the dog park today, and someone expressed dismay to me that Amazon is starting to deliver everything (you know, there’s a reason they call it the “Everything Store”).

I get it. This person specifically expressed concern over all the small, two-person kinds of places that Amazon replaces.

Well, first, Amazon can be great for small businesses! Is there a cost to doing business through Amazon? Of course. After all, they are providing a service. However, they can reach a lot more people than you can from Main Street…and Amazon is all about infrastructure. Also, a lot of the customer service will go through Amazon…and that can be the most expensive part for a product-distributing or producing business after they’ve sold the product.

I think Amazon is also starting to feel the pressure of how things may go politically in the future. There are multiple paths which could cause problems for Amazon, both from the existing DOJ (Department of Justice) and possible future administrations.

That may…um…encourage them to deal with gray areas and ones which cosmetically look odd.

Recently, for example, Amazon has changed a major, major policy.

They used to prohibit third-party sellers from selling the same products somewhere cheaper than Amazon…which I always found to be iffy. While I’m not an expert on this, it felt like “restraint of trade”, where one retailer determines what a wholesaler can do with another retailer.

According to this

Geek Wire article by Taylor Soper

and other sources, Amazon has stopped making that requirement.

I’m okay with Amazon delivering everything to my house…the more the merrier!

You know what else Amazon delivers to your home?

Jobs!

At time of writing, Amazon has 465 work-from-home (virtual) jobs listed at

https://www.amazon.jobs/en/search?offset=0&result_limit=10&sort=relevant&category_type=Work%20from%20Home&distanceType=Mi&radius=24km&latitude=&longitude=&loc_group_id=&loc_query=&base_query=&city=&country=&region=&county=&query_options=&

The vast majority of the jobs are technical jobs (350 are Amazon Web Services jobs), but nine of them are Customer Service. While there is a lot of skill to Customer Service, it’s not that techie prereq.

If you are looking for a job, or know someone who is, I think it’s worth checking Amazon. My understanding is that at least some of these jobs (after maybe 90 days) are eligible for benefits.

I think we’ll see Amazon doing a lot more with benefits in the future…in part inspired by criticism driving them to try to improve.

What do you think? Would you work for Amazon from home? Is Amazon helping small business, hurting small business…or both? Am I wrong to want everything to come through Amazon? 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 The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* 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

Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles asked a question in the John Delaney Town Hall tonight

March 10, 2019

Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles asked a question in the John Delaney Town Hall tonight

I’ve been on Len Edgerly’s

The Kindle Chronicles

a few times, and it’s always been a good experience. I feel safe in saying it’s the leading Kindle podcast: Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos has been on it.

As my regular readers know, I try to avoid talking about politics in this blog. Sometimes, politics directly impacts e-books, e-publishing, the Kindle, and Amazon, and I may need to mention that (for example, a Presidential candidate just recently announced an idea to break up very large tech companies…including Amazon), but your politics should not affect your comfort level with reading this blog and contributing to the conversation through comments.

Len doesn’t make that solid a demarcation, and I have to say, it was exciting when I heard Len’s name and saw the podcaster ask a question of John Delaney during a CNN town hall tonight.

I don’t want to discuss the question and response, of course, but it was cool to see Len part of this process.

Just to clarify, Len and I have had some correspondence, I’ve been on the show, but the only time we’ve “met” has been in Virtual Reality. 🙂

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!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Happy bookish birthdays (February 21) to…

February 21, 2019

Happy bookish birthdays (February 21) to…

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

Man Booker literary prize loses its main sponsor

January 30, 2019

Man Booker literary prize loses its main sponsor

Literary prizes matter.

Winning one of the major awards has made people’s careers.

That may be more true now than it was 15 years ago. The rise of e-publishing, which democratized getting books to readers, has meant that many more books are in the market. It makes discovery far more complex, and prizes are one way to shine a beacon through the fog of books.

That’s one reason I was brought up short yesterday when I saw the headline on our**

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

that the prestigious Man Booker prize was losing its sponsor.

Well, it’s not the only source of funding, but it is literally the “Man” part, since it is the investment firm the Man Group (involved since 2002) which is ending support after 2019.

It seems pretty likely that funding will come from somewhere…but that could also lead to rule changes.

It was controversial when, in 2013, the prize eligibility rules changed, eliminating a need for submitting authors to be citizens of certain countries…the books had to be in English and published in the UK, but the author could be a citizen of the USA, or Canada, or Cambodia…didn’t matter.

Greatly expanding the eligibility was seen by some as diluting the value of the prize.

A new sponsor might want to refocus the prize. Here is a British perspective on that:

The Guardian article by Alison Flood and Sian Cain

People will be closely watching the

official site

I’m always interested in hearing your opinions, so I’ll give you one main prompt this time: what would happen if Amazon became the primary sponsor? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

** Note: the link is to the current generation of the Echo Show…we have the 1st generation, which is no longer sold new directly from Amazon.

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

I am out of surgery

January 17, 2019

FYI…I am out of surgery, so far so good. 🙂

Happy bookish birthdays (December 26) to…

December 26, 2018

Happy bookish birthdays (December 26) to…

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


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