Omnivoracious: the Amazon Book Review…and an update on Kindle Scout

March 18, 2015

Omnivoracious: the Amazon Book Review…and an update on Kindle Scout

Amazon has quite a number of free

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

I’ve mentioned those before, and I do subscribe to a bunch…looking at that page (in my top right corner), it’s twenty-nine! You can also unsubscribe at the link I gave you above.

For example, there are 19 in the Kindle section…you can subscribe to find out about the Kindle First books, books for kids of different age ranges, science fiction and fantasy: it’s a wide variety of choices.

I do, of course, list the Kindle First books in this blog, too, if you don’t want to get more e-mail. ;)

One of the nicer ones which Kindle readers might enjoy isn’t in the Kindle category, though.

In fact, it’s not even in the “Books” category (which was the second place I tried, after Kindle).

It’s under blogs (those are blogs created by Amazon). It’s called Omnivoracious, and it’s their “Amazon Book Review”.

Well, what prompted this post was finding that they’ve done quite a nice looking website for that blog, too!

http://www.omnivoracious.com/

Recent articles included:

  • The Polls are Open: Children’s Choice Book Awards
  • Sarah Says: I’m Format Agnostic…And Maybe You Should Be Too. I particularly enjoyed that piece, talking about how you can like p-books (paperbooks) and e-books
  • Indie Titles Perfect for the Big Screen
  • YA Wednesday: If You Were a Superhero…

You can just browse through the articles in reverse chronological order (most recent first), if you want.

However, the menu has a lot of great ways to get to what you want…and I suspect some people won’t even realize that those three colorful horizontal lines are a menu! They sort of look like a logo.

Anyway, if you click or tap that, in addition to being able to search (by title, author, or “other”…any search will search all of them), you get these choices:

  • LISTS + REVIEWS
  • Best Books
  • Literature + Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Kids + Young Adult
  • Mystery, Thriller + Suspense
  • Science Fiction + Fantasy
  • Comics + Graphic Novels
  • Romance
  • Eating + Drinking
  • AUTHORS
  • Interviews
  • Guest Essays
  • NEWS + FEATURES
  • News
  • Features
  • EDITORS
  • Sara Nelson
  • Neal Thompson
  • Erin Kodicek
  • Chris Schluep
  • Seira Wilson
  • Jon Foro
  • OMNIVORACIOUS, THE AMAZON BOOK REVIEW
  • Subscribe
  • Feeds
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Hey, I’m going to make this easier for you…well, for some of you…on the other hand you might just want to make your own choices and…

What I was going to say is I see a way to flip the articles I especially like into my free

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

If you read that, you’ll get the ones that really catch my eye. I do it in the

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

app, which I read every morning on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile*)

but they’ve also recently improved the browser interface.

For people who just see Amazon as this soulless retailing machine (and those folks are out there), it’s nice to see something like this, which shows that there are actual booklovers at Amazon…and that presumably, they are valued enough to be paid (in money and time) to write about books. ;)

Bonus update: thanks to author The Behrg, who I interviewed here:

An ILMK interview with The Behrg, author of the Kindle Scout winner Housebroken

I know that there is now an Amazon “aisle” for Kindle Scout books:

Kindle Scout aisle (at AmazonSmile)

That’s Amazon’s “reader advised” program, where readers try samples of full books, and recommend which ones they would like to see Amazon publish. I’ve written about it a few times before, and it will be very interesting to see how it does…for readers, for authors, and for Amazon.

There are nineteen titles there right now…and all of them are available through

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

except the ones that are on pre-order (which you can also do now).

You can certainly buy them, but if you a KU member, this looks like a new interesting resource. I’m not sure how the authors are compensated in this case for borrows through KU…is it the same as publishers who use Kindle Direct Publishing?

Taking a look at the one at the top in the default “New and Popular” sort, they seem to be doing well!

The number one is

The Game Master (at AmazonSmile*)

by William Bernhardt.

That’s remarkably ranked #791 paid in the Kindle store…that’s very solidly in the the top 1%, since there are over three million titles!

It’s also ranked 4.7 stars out of 5, with eleven customer reviews…and none of them under three stars.

Congratulations, William Bernhardt!

Interestingly, Bernhardt is not a first time novelist, like The Behrg…far from it. According to the bio on the book’s Amazon product page, Bernhardt has published thirty books, including the Ben Kincaid novels…and NBC is developing a miniseries based on one of them.

What’s interesting to me there is that many people may assume that Kindle Scout is designed for unknown authors, but successful authors (who presumably know the business), may find the terms lucrative enough to go through this program also.

That’s got to worry the tradpubs (traditional publishers) a bit, although publishing one book through Kindle Scout doesn’t mean they don’t want to do other books through tradpubs…this is a very new system.

If this works for Amazon, it’s another reason to use KU…and I would guess they are all available through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library as well, so that could be another boost for Amazon Prime…which I think is a very important strategy piece for Amazon.

I’ll keep my eye on how this develops…

What do you think? Will Kindle Scout succeed? Do you read Omnivoracious? Do the books tempt you towards KU…or reinforce your decision to be a KU member? 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!

* 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.

Irish edition books in the USA Kindle store

March 17, 2015

Irish edition books in the USA Kindle store

I pay some attention to the number books in languages other than English in the USA Kindle store.

It’s possible my  curiosity about that is enhanced because our adult kid is a linguist.:)

Still, it sometimes seems strange to me which languages have more books.

I decided to take a look at how many books said they were “Irish editions”:

Kindle Store : Kindle eBooks : Foreign Languages : Other Languages : Irish : (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Turned out there was a grand total of…16.

There are 106 “Swahili edition” books.

There are over 133,000 “Spanish edition” books.

Interesting…

I went to Amazon.co.uk (the United Kingdom store) and there were 131 results.

That brings up a question I see a lot on the Amazon Kindle forums: “Why can’t I buy books from Amazon.co.uk?” or one of the other sites.

People don’t see the reason why they shouldn’t be able to buy e-books from any of the sites…they can buy p-books (paperbooks) from the UK site, for example.

Well, it has to do with copyright…and with how digital sales are evaluated.

Most (but not quite all) countries in the world recognize in some way the ability of an author to control the use of their created works (within certain limitations).

The author traditionally then licenses the works to publishers, who sell it to the public.

Those rights are normally licensed by format and by market (which could be an individual country, but might be more).

So, it could be that Publisher A licensed the e-book rights for XYZ book in England, and Publisher B licensed the e-book rights for that same book, XYZ, for the USA.

If Publisher A crosses the territories and sells the book in the USA, they’ve violated the agreement…and could be in big trouble.

“But,” you say, “you mentioned people buying p-books intended for Britain in the USA…how does that work?”

Basically, the p-book sale is considered to have taken place where the store is. The store might need an export license, but they could send it to you.

Remember that the publisher didn’t sell the book to someone in the USA…the store did. The publisher did not sell it outside of their licensed market.

With e-books, though, the sale is generally considered to have taken place where the purchaser is.

If a publisher who is supposed to be selling to England sells an e-book to someone in the USA, they’ve crossed territories.

That’s the main difference between e-books and p-books on this.

How do they know where you live?

They might judge it on where your credit card is processed. They can do it other ways, and yes, sometimes they are wrong about it.

You can change your country setting at

http://wwww.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

under Settings.

I wouldn’t do that unless you are actually living in that other country, though. I wouldn’t want to be committing fraud by misrepresenting where I was. They could likely figure that out if nothing else matches the country in which you say you live.

Another issue can be “public domain”. Not all countries have the same copyright term. A book which is in the public domain (owned by the public…not under copyright protection) in Australia (like George Orwell’s 1984) may not be in the USA. That particular book created quite a problem for Amazon, when a version intended for Australia was accidentally made available to Americans…and then Amazon took it back from people.

I think their intentions were good, and they compensated people more than they had originally paid for it (and they promised never t do it again). There are people who are still soured on Amazon over it, though, so you can imagine what it might be like if Amazon didn’t make good faith efforts to sell the books in the proper markets.

I do think the selling of global rights is becoming much more common (even though it might cost the publisher more initially), so this may become less of an issue over time.

Bain sult as!

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

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

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

 

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2015

March 15, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2015

This is one in a series of posts which I write about once a year. I do this primarily to give my readers some ideas they might use to get more out of their devices. I also think it’s interesting to go back and look at the previous ones, to see how much things have changed…and it’s always a lot.

I have to say, though, I’m surprised how much it is the same this time as last time. I did it last year pre-Fire Phone, and that does affect it. I’m doing it this year pre-Amazon Echo (I could have mine within a couple of weeks), so I wanted to get this done before that new device changes things.

I usually wake up between about 2:00 and 3:30 AM. That’s hours before I need to go to work, but I get a lot of things done (including writing) during that time.

I know what time it is because I have my

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

set up next to the bed as a clock. I use the built-in clock app, set in nightstand mode. There is no problem at all in reading that in the dark, although it would be quite dim (it’s lit in red) in a normally lit room…there are other clock options for other situations. The battery will have gone down about 40% (or somewhat less) since I went to bed.

They changed the clock app since last year, and I have to say, I don’t like the change as well. Weirdly, the time moves around on the display…it’s not always in the same part of the screen. Also, the minutes are in small writing. When I’m looking at a nightstand clock, I want it to be as easy to read as possible (so I don’t have to wake up all the way to figure out what it says), and this does make that harder…tolerable, but harder.

It’s in the

Origami case (at AmazonSmile*)

from Amazon, in a configuration that makes it stand up. I did think that case was expensive (it’s $44.99 right now…$5 less than I paid for it in October of 2013..and $5 more than it was last year when I did one of these), but I have to say, it’s held up very well and I do use its features.

I pick it up facing me, so it won’t bother my Significant Other (it wouldn’t anyway, but I’m just being cautious) and head for the bathroom.

The two dogs we have now (Elf and Patty) don’t get up when I do that: they can be incredibly active for an hour or so at a time…but they also sleep better than most humans. ;)

I have a Cloud Collection with my morning apps. I’ll prop the Fire on the towel bar, and start with the

ABC7 News San Francisco (at AmazonSmile)

That’s the free app from my local station. I check that first in case there is anything that’s going to mess up traffic, but it is quite well designed. For one thing, I can flip articles from there into my

free Flipboard magazines

and e-mail articles easily to people if I want.

For another, they always have a text version of the story…I never have to launch a video to find out what is happening in the article. CNN (see below) doesn’t do that.

Oh, I should mention: before I start using the apps, I turn the wireless back on (I leave it off at night to save battery), increase the brightness from the lowest possible setting to about 25%, and turn off the orientation lock (I don’t like the clock flipping around while I’m carrying the Fire to the bathroom). I do all that by swiping down from the top.

After that, and while I’m doing some other morning tasks, it’s on to the

CNN Breaking US & World News (at AmazonSmile)

app. Again, I can flip and e-mail from there. I typically read the following sections:

  • Home
  • Featured
  • World
  • Entertainment
  • Tech
  • Health

I won’t finish all that before I head for the kitchen, dogs thumping on to the floor and “shaking it out” (I hear the dog tags jingle) to follow me. Well, we don’t go to the kitchen first: we all go outside for a bit. I start my morning exercise there. I do about 45 minutes, twice a day…as the baseline. I track that with the free

Review: MyFitnessPal

app. Over the course of more than a year, I’ve lost more than forty pounds. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, and eating wasn’t really the issue for me: it was doing regular exercise. This app has kept me on track with that, entering my food and my activity. I haven’t lost a lot more weight since last year, but I have gotten into better shape.

We come back in and I feed the dogs. I eat a small bag of almonds myself (Trader Joe’s sells these “handful” size bags), a slice of Veggie Go pepper jack cheese, and half a spinach bolani (yes, I’m  a creature of habit), then back to finish the exercise. I set the Fire up on the entertainment unit and keep reading while I work out. That’s not always convenient: I can only really change the pages between reps or sets (I’m doing my own brand of calisthenics, really…I walk with a cane, so I need to come up with things that will work and still burn the calories).

I’ll run out of CNN before I run out of exercise, usually, so it’s on to my morning

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

read. Again, this is a free app. I highly recommend it: you can customize what you see, and it very much fills the void of having a morning newspaper. I flip articles from into my magazines also.

Somewhere in here, I finish the exercise, and make and eat breakfast…still reading Flipboard usually.

I also have CNN on the TV…with the sound muted during some of this. There are exercises where I just can’t read my Fire…so at least I can read a news crawl. ;)

Update: since last year, we bought an inexpensive Element TV (that’s a brand I like…not super fancy, but it works). It has a really cool feature: you can set it so that when you mute it, closed captioning automatically comes on, then goes off again when you unmute. I suppose I could get bluetooth headphones and listen to the audio, but, I like reading. ;) I also like at least two things happening at once, and the captioning, the crawl, and the video (as a combination) works for me.

In between exercise sets, I turn on my

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

That’s not only my cellphone…it’s our house phone, too. Yep, we don’t have a landline…haven’t had one for years. I do turn it off at night, but my Significant Other has a phone on…in an emergency, someone could reach us.

I don’t like my Fire Phone as well as I liked my Galaxy S3 (which I gave up for this), but it does work and has some cool features. They have also improved it, and I think they’ll continue to do so.

After Flipboard, it’s on to the

WordPress (at AmazonSmile)

app. That’s where I’m going to approve your comments.

I honestly like to have seen the news myself first, before I get comments on it. That gives me a better perspective, and often makes it easy for me to make a valuable reply. I love it when a reader gives me a heads-up for something which I haven’t seen yet!

I’m not quite writing replies, yet, unless something urgent arises. If that happens, or if big enough news was revealed in the free apps, I’ll go to…a desktop. Yep, an actual desktop computer. While the built-in dictation app on the Fire works remarkably well (easily translating my spoken words into text), it’s faster for me to type on a full-sized keyboard.

New since last year?

The Washington Post (at AmazonSmile*)

I got that free for having a Kindle Fire tablet. I’m honestly not sure I’ll renew it when the time comes to pay for it. It has some interesting things, and I do look through it all every day, but I’m not sure I’d miss it. I can flip things from there, though, so that’s been nice (book reviews on the weekend, for example). It also has some clunkiness. The worst thing, and I know this is a small thing, is that the back button doesn’t work as I would expect it to work. When I have the table of contents open, I can tap and go to a story. The default view is two stories on the screen, which is too small for me, so I tap a single story to enlarge it. When I use the Fire’s back button, it doesn’t take me back to the table of contents…it makes it two stories again. If I remember to go to the table of contents instead of back, I’m fine, but that goes against the back button habit…and that habit is part of Amazon’s own operating system.

I also now go to the

IMDb Movies & TV (at AmazonSmile*)

They’ve improved the app, and I can flip stories from there into my Flipboard magazines.

Next is the Maxthon browser. I’m pretty sure I got that from Amazon originally, but it isn’t currently available for the KFHDX. It is my favorite browser, and the one I also usually use on the desktop (I’m using it right now). I believe you can get it at 1Mobile for the Fire. I like the privacy mode (Silk now has one, by the way), and I like how it syncs my favorites easily between devices. I also have Chrome, Dolphin, and Silk available to me on my Fire, but don’t use them much.

I hit some favorites in Maxthon:

  • I go Amazon and get the free app of the day (almost every time)
  • I check the Kindle Daily Deals
  • I check BoxOfficeMojo
  • I check my Flipboard magazines reader counts (I now have thousands of readers for them)

One more morning stop: the built-in e-mail app on my Fire, where I check my incoming e-mail. Again, I won’t tend to respond there, but it’s a great place to read the mail.

Now, let me point out: I’ve been reading the Fire for over an hour at this point…and it’s all been free items.

Then, it’s usually on to the desktop to write. I may have the Fire open alongside that, but usually not. At this point, it’s charging. It doesn’t take it very long to charge to 100%…I don’t think it’s an hour. I use the

Pwr+® 6.5 Ft AC Adapter 2.1A Rapid Charger (at AmazonSmile)

I like it a lot! I broke one (not the device’s fault…the Fire slipped off the arm of the couch and slid between the arm and the cushion: that, not unreasonably, bent the jack) and replaced it.

If I have more time to read before I leave, it may be sight-reading a book (some times borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, or now, from Kindle Unlimited). I may also read Fortean Times using the Zinio app, which you get from the Zinio site. I pay for that, and I may have paid for the book I’m reading (or I’m reading it because of Prime or Kindle Unlimited…that’s no additional cost, but there has been a cost). I also do read books I’ve gotten for free. Oh, and I also read

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Magazine (at AmazonSmile)

I’m not averse to paying for content…it is nice that a lot of what I like is available for free to me. :)

Heading off to work (and my commute varies, since I go to different places…it can be an hour), it’s text-to-speech in the car, so more book time. :)

I have my Fire with me all the time at work. I can sometimes get by with that rather than with my laptop: I work in cramped spaces sometimes, and it’s a relief.

I use

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile)

sometimes (which I got as a Free App of the Day) to do viewing and light-editing of Microsoft Office files), and I use

ColorNote Notepad Notes (at AmazonSmile)

(yet another free app) to make quick notes, often using the dictation feature again (speech-to-text).

I have Evernote, but I’ve never gotten into it, for some reason.

Mainly, though, I’m reading at breaks and at lunch. :) I am not normally connected to wireless, so I use my phone to approve comments and check things.

When I get home, I turn airplane mode back off, and it’s back to e-mail, checking the web, and reading.

It’s probably worth noting that I use the

Safeway (at AmazonSmile)

We do seem to save a lot of money with it (it’s free)…and it lets us know what savings it has on things we have bought before. That’s very convenient!

As a nightly thing, I switch to the

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

for actually reading in bed before going to sleep. I’m usually asleep by 9:00…I get about four or six hours sleep a night. Just three years ago, I regularly got eight hours (9:00 PM to 5:00 AM), but I don’t know if it’s the lost weight or just getting older, but I don’t need that much any more. I wake up naturally…no alarm. I did talk to my doctor about the relatively short sleeping period…seems to have no ill effects at this point.

Something which has changed a lot since last year: the amount that I use our

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

and we have also gotten a

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

In the bedroom, we’ve “cut the cable”…well, we hadn’t had a cable in there for years, really.

All of the content there is through the Amazon Fire TV.

During the morning routine or at night, I usually first go to

YouTube (at AmazonSmile*)

I want to see what is trending…I often enjoy that, and it keeps me pop culture current. ;) I will sometimes search for something, but not that often.

We also now pay for

Hulu Plus (at AmazonSmile*)

I’ve never had such a steep learning curve with a TV-related product! It’s quite odd and different from most other things. I’m used to being able to catch up on a program whenever I want, either by watching it on demand from Comcast, or recorded on our Tivo. With Hulu, they only keep a handful of the most recent episodes of really popular shows, from what I can tell.

Dropping cable altogether and just using the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick would be less convenient than Tivo with Comcast for that sort of thing, but could work.

Right now, I watch current shows (Gotham, The Walking Dead) on the Tivo, and go through older shows (The Time Tunnel, My Living Doll) on Hulu.

I also watch

Watchup (at AmazonSmile*)

which I find to be a pretty good news video app, including clips from well-known sources. It also can do some coverage of more offbeat things. I could probably improve its choices for me, but it only gives you three seconds to vote thumbs up or thumbs down on a video…if I’m getting dressed or brushing my teeth, that’s not enough time.

I don’t watch it every day, but I do watch

BBC News for Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

I do like that perspective, but I like the shorter more variable news segments better on Watchup for the times I’m watching.

Although, in writing this post, I just checked to see if BBC News is available for the Fire TV Stick (it wasn’t for the last of the Day in the Life posts), and it is! Hm…it’s possible with that I could drop CNN in the family room (if it will do the closed captioning…might not).

We are going to look at cutting the relatively small cable package we have now, but it might not save us much: it’s bundled with our internet, and we don’t have anything fancy. If we dropped it, I’d say the biggest loss would be Ellen…I watch every episode, usually while exercising. I can adjust, though. ;) I’m not aware of a legal place to watch it on demand, which seems odd.

Although the

TED app (at Amazon Smile*)

and Netflix are both in my Recents, I haven’t watched them recently.

Interesting for me to note…Prime Video isn’t even in my recents. I was watching that quite a bit last year. I do still use Prime Video sometimes: I’ve downloaded Warehouse 13 episodes to watch at lunch at work (while I exercise, sometimes…yeah, I guess I’m exercising quite a bit).

Let’s see what else I use on the Fire:

Oh, I use

AccuWeather (at AmazonSmile)

every day…consider that part of the morning routine. I didn’t think of it at first, because I don’t invoke it: it’s in my notifications. I find it to be pretty accurate…and again, it’s free. I have it set in centigrade: I decided to convert to that a while back. I have trouble thinking of the temperatures in Fahrenheit now, so it’s nice that it has the option. Centigrade is just simpler: zero is literally freezing, ten is cold, twenty is fine for most people, thirty is hot. That’s rule of thumb, but works pretty well.

I tend to use the calendar on my phone, rather than on my KFHDX, but I will check an app which is no longer available. It shows my Google calendar: I could do that in the built-in calendar app, but this one had a nicer format.

I also suggest you use

Clean Master (at AmazonSmile*)

I use it more than once a week to clean up junk files on my Fire, and it seems to work very well. Guess how much it costs? ;) Nothing…

I also use

Fandango Movies – Times & Tickets (at AmazonSmile)

on the weekend (not to purchase tickets, just to get times), and without thinking about it I use

Battery Doctor (at AmazonSmile)

The only reason I even notice it is it places a little tone when the Fire is 100% charged: nice to be able to hear it when I’m working on the desktop.

Finally, I use Prime Music from time to time…I’ve listened to playlists, and I have tried and enjoyed some of the new stations. That’s not super common, though…maybe when I’m writing. It’s text-to-speech in the car, and usually video when exercising.

As to the Fire Phone…

I check my e-mail and the comments on this blog quite often. I also have written blogposts on it (using the dictation feature), although that’s not as good as having a keyboard.

I don’t tend to do that on my Fire tablet when I’m out, because I’m not always connected to wi-fi.

Others I use on the Fire Phone:

  • the built-in calendar: shows my Google calendar appointments nicely
  • maps: they’ve made that work quite well, I’d say better than what I had on the Galaxy
  • texting…every day, with my Significant Other usually. It’s likely to be a quick text, dictated, when I’m leaving work (that varies)
  • photos: I love that photos I take on my phone or just available on our Fire TV and Fire TV Stick with no effort!
  • the phone…I’m hoping they’ll eventually let us use the Echo to make phone calls and send texts, perhaps through a Fire Phone (and maybe through other brands eventually)
  • IMDb news
  • Maxthon
  • MyFitnessPal
  • the built-in notes app
  • alarms
  • an app for my medical provider
  • Magic Bubbles (at AmazonSmile*)…that’s an augmented reality app. AR overlays something virtual on the real world…in this case, I can blow on a virtual bubble wand, and bubbles float across the room (apparently). I can pop them, if I want. It intrigues me that that is the only “game” I’m using much at all. In addition to managing a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I used to manage a gamestore…I would have though I played more :)

Whew!

Now, some of you may look at all that and worry that I don’t get enough time “unplugged” (even when I read, I’m doing it on a screen…not technically plugged in, but I think that counts).

One thing I really like is we’ve been going to a great dog park near us, usually both weekend days. We drive about half an hour to get there, but it’s been ranked as one of the best dog parks in the world. I think it’s very natural feeling for our dogs to rove over two or three miles with us (we have to zig zag through the park, which is huge, to get that much…but not back and forth over the exact same path) with it being familiar territory. They are super happy there! We like the walk…even with the cane, I walk pretty well (my SO says I’m much faster with the cane than I was without it), and I enjoy that. We see birds, and I keep looking for a marine mammal…no luck yet, but I’ve heard it has happened there.

I’ll check in with this again next year…and we’ll see if the Echo has replaced any of my app use. Oh, for those of you who use audiobooks (I prefer TTS…I don’t like the actor/author interpreting the characters for me, unless I’ve already read the book), there is now an Audible streaming service:

http://audible.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4304/~/the-audible-cloud-player

Yes, you can listen to your Audible audiobooks in a browser!

I mention that here because that might mean that Audible books will come to the Echo, which I’d like to see…er, hear. ;)

If you have questions about this, or thoughts about your Kindle (and other Amazon devices) in your daily life, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

The Big Deal: Kindle books up to 85% off through March 29th

March 15, 2015

The Big Deal: Kindle books up to 85% off through March 29th

Amazon saves us money on e-books in so many ways, but I do think it’s fun when they do the Big Deal. It’s over 400 books (431 at time of writing).

The Big Deal: Kindle Books Up to 85% Off (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

These are typically e-books which are genuinely on sale…they aren’t just cheap to begin with. :)

When the sale is over, they tend to go back up in price…although they may be reduced again later, of course.

Remember, as always, that you can buy e-books as gifts and delay the delivery until the appropriate date. You can also print out the gift and just hold on to it, so you have something to wrap. ;) In that case, you don’t really need to specify to whom it goes, so these can also be good “emergency gifts” (we always keep a few of those around).

Do check the price before you click or tap that “Buy button”…these prices may not apply in your country (and I have readers in a lot of countries) :) and I think it’s possible for books to go in and out of the set.

One more thing: some of these books are also available through

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

as part of the $9.99 monthly membership. It feels to me like Amazon sometimes uses the sales to promote KU, although there are now enough KU books that it may just be coincidence. On the other hand, they may be able to more freely discount the books which are in KU, so that may be part of it as well.

Here are some that caught my eye:

Crossroads
by Wm. Paul Young
4.5 stars out of 5 | 1,451 customer reviews
$2.99 at time of writing

That’s a very high review rating, but this is a faith-based book…and I’ve mentioned before that I think they tend to have higher scores. Don’t know why that is: they could actually be better, or could be that the audience for them is more generous with stars (which could be for different reasons). Still, that many reviews makes it impressive. Oh, and this is published by Hachette, so Big 5 publishers are part of this sale.

Don’t Go
by Lisa Scottoline
4.3 stars | 597 reviews
$2.99

Scottoline is a very popular author! Nice to see that here.

Green for Life
by Victoria Boutenko and A. William Menzin, MD
4.4 stars | 485 reviews
$2.51

I’ve been a vegetarian for a very long time. This is a popular book that focuses on “green smoothies”, which is something I don’t do. :) I only drink water…I just found that simplifies things quite a bit, and has some health benefits. I carry a Brita Sport Water Filter Bottle (at AmazonSmile*) with me at work (in my laptop case…away from the computer, just in case, but it hasn’t leaked)…it’s much cheaper than buying bottled water, and I don’t taste anything with it (which I did with some thermoses). I also like that I’m not dealing with all those empties from bottled water.

Tinkers
by Paul Harding
3.5 stars | 402 reviews
$3.99

A Pulitzer Prize winning debut novel…you don’t get to say that very often. :)

Exceptional (book 1 of the Exceptional series)
by Jess Petosa
4.0 stars | 353 reviews
$0.99
Available through Kindle Unlimited (KU)

Young adult dystopian science fiction…well reviewed. If you like doing audiobooks with Whispersync for Voice through KU, that’s available on this one.

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Edward Abbey Series Book 1)
by Edward Abbey
4.5 stars | 335 reviews
$1.99

Also available in the sale: The Monkey Wrench Gang

Ball Four
by Jim Bouton
4.3 stars | 317 reviews
$1.99
KU (with Whispersync for Voice…WFV)

This is classic baseball non-fiction…controversial, but I sold it a lot when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore. This one could be a great gift…and a nice KU read.

Six Days of War
by Michael Oren
4.5 stars | 313 reviews
$2.99

Non-fiction about the Six Day War in the Middle East…the impact of these events is still in the news today.

Moving Target: A Novel (Ali Reynolds Book 9)
by J.A. Jance
4.5 stars | 307 reviews
$4.99

Another very popular author!

Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story
by Steve Hodel
3.3 stars | 277 reviews
$1.99

This book claims to solve the notorious and horrific Black Dahlia murder case…

Guinness World Records 2015
4.7 stars | 277 reviews
$3.99

Another great gift, especially for a curious kid…

A Cry In The Night
by Mary Higgins Clark
4.5 stars | 258 reviews

One of the most popular authors of all time!

A Passage to India
by E.M. Forster
3.9 stars | 221 reviews
$1.99

Probably needs no introduction… :)

‘White Girl Bleed A Lot': The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It
by Colin Flaherty
4.5 stars | 211 reviews
$2.99

Controversial, to say the least.

Who Really Killed Kennedy?: 50 Years Later: Stunning New Revelations About the JFK Assassination
by Jerome Corsi
4.3 stars | 202 reviews
$1.99

The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating
by Autumn Carpenter
4.8 stars | 178 reviews
$2.99

Come on…you watch those shows, right? ;) Very high star average! Another possible gift…

Who Goes There?
by John W. Campbell
4.3 stars | 163 reviews
$1.99

The science fiction classic, inspiration for The Thing (from Another World), John Carpenter’s version, and more.

Linda Goodman’s Love Signs
by Linda Goodman
4.6 stars | 161 reviews
$1.99

Goodman was responsible for some of the mainstreaming of astrology, back in the day.

Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part
by Michael Shurtleff and Bob Fosse
4.7 stars | 146 reviews
$1.99

Got an aspiring actor in your circle? Great gift…this has been the definitive book on auditioning.

Time to start just listing:

  • Secrets from the Past by Barbara Taylor Bradford
  • Undercurrents by Ridley Pearson (KU)
  • Emmett & Gentry Westerns
  • Morgue Drawer series
  • Promised Land by Robert B. Parker (a Spenser for Hire novel)
  • The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
  • Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans by Brian Fagan
  • Secret Santa by Fern Michaels and Marie Bostwick
  • The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges
  • Some of the Kindle Worlds books, including Hugh Howey’s entry in the Kurt Vonnegut universe
  • The Millennials by Thom S. Rainer and Jess W. Rainer
  • Don’t Wake Up the Bear! by Marjorie Dennis Murray and Patricia Wittmann: kids’ picture book, also in KU
  • César: ¡Sí Se Puede! Yes We Can! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and David Diaz
  • Daredevil, Vol. 1: Yellow by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (new Daredevil ((a Marvel superhero)) series coming to Netflix…)
  • The Hope by Herman Wouk
  • No Dawn for Men: A Novel of Ian Fleming, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Nazi Germany by James Lepore and Carlos Davis

I have to say, this may be the best Big Deal yet! Classic backlist, current novels, children’s books, non-fiction…something (or more than one thing) for everyone. ;)

Those were just some of them, of course…if you see another in the deal you want to recommend to my readers, you can comment on this post.

Enjoy!

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

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

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

Amazon launches Write On by Kindle

March 14, 2015

Amazon launches Write On by Kindle

Generally, I write alone.

That’s not just on this blog, when, naturally, I write mostly in stream of consciousness.

I think I can fairly say that I write quickly on here…I told myself when I started (more than five years ago), that I would average a thousand words a day, and I do that.

Even when I’ve written longer things, though, I tend to do it by myself start to finish.

However…

I can collaborate with other people, and I have found that useful and enjoyable.

My Significant Other, for example, writes a holiday parody song for work each year.

I help. :)

That’s one of the things we can do together…moving furniture? Not so much. :) We always have different ideas about how to tip it and turn it and twist it.

Another time I found the collaborative process useful was when I was doing a community access TV show. We actually had writers’ meetings, where we would sort of “pitch” ideas and the other people at the table would give reactions.

Many writers have regular groups like that.

They bounce their material off a certain group of people they know, while honing it for publication.

Then there’s the internet.

That’s a great place to get honest, respectful criticism, right? ;)

Well, actually, you can.

My readers are usually respectful and honest…and are super smart and insightful.

I am often helped by their comments.

When I go other places on the internet, I don’t always see that.

There’s a reason why Jimmy Kimmel can do so many “Mean Tweets” bits.

Write On by Kindle

which Amazon has just taken out of an “invitation only” mode and made it available to the general public, is going to have both valuable feedback for writers, and, well, things that may be less valuable.

Amazon calls it a “story lab”. Essentially what happens is that authors post works, and you can read them for free and make comments.

This is definitely going to be a case of “the devil is in the details”.

You can’t just compare it to

Wattpad

although that’s an obvious predecessor.

Just the fact that it is Amazon makes it different.

It’s going to attract a different audience…and that includes, undoubtedly, some mischief makers.

You can see some reactions in this

Amazon Kindle Forum announcement thread (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The first one amused and perplexed me a bit. It talked about not wanting to be an “unpaid editor”.

Really?

I love being an unpaid editor!

Oh, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t ever want to be paid for editing…I think I’m pretty good at it, the few times I’ve done it. I’ve made some suggestions which I think benefited the final work.

Don’t you read something and wish you could have helped the author before the book was published…and wouldn’t you have done it for free?

I read a Kindle First book which I reviewed on Goodreads, and one element of the book really sunk its value for me. You would not have had to pay me if I’d had the “manuscript” and I could have made that suggestion…just improving the book would have been worth it!

Similarly, I’m reading one now which is really quite good…but could just use a bit of strengthening in one area.

That’s not to minimize the value of professional editors. I often figure I could do a lot of different things well…one time, if nothing went wrong. :) You know, be an auctioneer, for example.

I like to say, “The difference between a professional and an amateur is that the professional knows how to fix the mistakes.” :)

Write On Kindle is a way that you can hypothetically read all you want…for free.

Well, there are only 370 science fiction works at this point, and I think most of those are short stories, so you might run out before you were sated (if that’s even possible in reading). The first one I see has 54,666 words. At the traditional 250 words a page, that’s 218 pages, roughly, so that one would be a novel.

The next one is labeled as “in progress” (the first one was complete), and is about half that.

If you are the kind of person who reads one book at a time (I usually read several), this could be a really nice literary palate  cleanser between books.

As a writer, you’d have to understand how to take the comments. Is there value for you in what they say?

You’d want to be very careful not to just accept that what people say they want is really what they want.

Some people might also just want to knock you down.

On the other hand, you could get some insight that makes your work really, well, work. ;)

Remember those details I mentioned? They are here:

https://writeon.amazon.com/info?ref_=ign_d_tn_lm

The concepts here are pretty good. The author owns the story (and the cover, unless it was created by Amazon). Amazon can use it on Write On by Kindle, but can’t otherwise sell it or distribute it. The author can take it down whenever they want and sell it, if they choose.

People are supposed to be constructive…and not steal stuff. ;)

I just have no idea how Amazon will enforce all that.

They have a way (on the page above) to assert a copyright…that could certainly be a problem, with plagiarism (not crediting a creator) and infringement. Some people will do it out of ignorance, some willfully.

All in all, this is another interesting experiment by Amazon. I think it may create really bonded communities…readers and/or authors will “meet” in the forums and in commenting on books, and become a community.

That will tie them to Write On by Kindle. Will it also tie them to Amazon? That’s less clear to me.

I suppose Amazon could do that by creating a section of “Previously on Write On by Kindle” books…either on WObK or Amazon.com or both. Not sure that I see that happening.

What do you think?

If you check out Write On by Kindle (and perhaps sign up for free for it), you can tell me and my readers what your experience is like by commenting on this post. Were you already using it before it became publicly available? Hopefully, we’ll hear from both readers and authors. I’d love to get the perspective of publishers and editors (both ones which use WObK and ones which don’t), too!

Amazon never stops moving…that’s one of my favorite things about the company.

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

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

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

Round up #289: $25K Amazon sweepstakes, Amazon forgets something…

March 11, 2015

Round up #289: $25K Amazon sweepstakes, Amazon forgets something…

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

Enter to win a $25,000 Amazon shopping spree

Amazon really wants you to use their shopping app to download apps…even free ones!

To that end, they are doing a

$25,000 Amazon shopping spree sweepstakes (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You fill out an entry form (it’s simple: just your full name and a phone number, and they already had my e-mail address filled in), meet eligibility requirements (at least 18 years old, only in the USA…), and download an app using the Amazon app.

That’s pretty much it.

You have to do it by April 15th, and it’s one entry per person…so I assume that multiple app purchases won’t increase your odds.

$25,000 at Amazon would be nice, right? :) Here are the

Official Rules (at AmazonSmile*)

Let me know if you win! :)

Um…Amazon? You forgot a SmartPhone…your own ;)

Amazon recently sent me an e-mail to do a survey to help them “improve Amazon devices”.

There were some interesting points to the survey: for one thing, they kept identifying EBRs (E-Book Readers) emphatically as “black and white”. Does that mean that they aren’t considering color non-backlit devices? Nah, this is a current state question. Now, I could get pedantic at point that Amazon doesn’t have any black and white devices…grayscale, yes, but not black and white. ;)

When they asked me to rank how I use my tablet (I have a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)), the only place they listed “books” was under audio, which audiobooks to me. One of the main things for which I use my tablet is reading books…intriguing.

The most amusing one, to me, was this one:

“Smartphone – (i.e. iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry) Has all the functions of basic and feature phones and also has the ability to download applications (also known as apps), play videos, navigation, etc.”

That was funny to me, because it didn’t list my

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

:)

Now, yes, I’m probably one of a tiny minority that has Amazon’s SmartPhone, and it is technically a forked version of Android…but it would have been nice to be able to declare that I had an Amazon device in an Amazon survey.

They also used “i.e.” (id est…an explanation) as opposed to “e.g.” (exempli gratia…a set of examples). That suggests that they weren’t just naming a few of them, but defining the term…and they left the Fire Phone out of the definition of Smartphone.

I don’t think they are done with the Fire Phone…I’ve said before that they may tie it into the Amazon Echo (my Echo, according to the estimated delivery date, could be as little as two weeks away).

Of course, if the Fire Phone does succeed, they might have call the new model the “Phoenix”. ;)

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble recently did a webcast to report their Q3 (third quarter 2015…financial years don’t start in January for most companies) earnings. You can read a Seeking Alpha transcript here:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2989706-barnes-and-noble-bks-michael-p-huseby-on-q3-2015-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single

Even though it was arguably good news, with the speed of their slide slowing, investors did not react well, as reported in this

The Motley Fool article by Alex Planes

and other places. It could bounce back pretty quickly…we’ll see.

Better, perhaps, but apparently not good enough.

I like having B&N around as a competitor for Amazon (competition breeds innovation), but they are becoming less of that over time, I think.

One place where they arguably still compete with Amazon is in the EBR market (Kobo may be a more viable…or at least more interesting opponent at this point).

How bad was it for the NOOK this time?

Device sales were down 50.6%!

That’s a slowing of the decline, but losing more than half…what kind of career did Bud Abbott have after Abbott and Costello broke up? ;)

Now, you might be hearing that their retail comparable store sales were up 1.7%, and yes, that’s a good thing.

Don’t count on that meaning that p-books (paperbooks) are making a comeback, though…they accomplished that in part by carrying more non-book items, like games.

Overall, the retail business was down, but hey guys, that’s not our fault: we had fewer stores. ;)

The shining light of the college business, which they are going to separate?

Comp (comparative) sales were down 1%, although they may be flat overall for the year.

Overall? Not looking good for B&N, at least as we knew it as a bookstore.

 The Wildside Press Megapack series

Wildside Press was founded in 1989 by author John Betancourt and Kim Betancourt.

It’s a respected publishing company…which, honestly, you may not realize at first when you run across one of their “Megapacks” in the Kindle store:

Wildside Press Megapack series (at AmazonSmile*)

After all, the titles are ninety-nine cents, and public domain works are clearly involved.

However, while some independently published books may leave something to desire in terms of design or production quality, I would say that what I’ve seen of the Megapacks is up to traditional  publishing standards in that regard.

One of the fun things with curated collections like these is to see what choices they make, how they group them together.

That’s an area where the Megapacks have some stand-out themes!

There are 185 (!) results for “Wildside Press Megapack” in the USA Kindle store, and certainly, there are things you might expect like The Golden Age of Science Fiction and Noir Mysteries.

However, it’s the more unusual themes I find intriguing, whether they are individual (often somewhat obscure to modern audiences) authors, or themes. For example:

  • Victorian Rogues
  • Katherine Mansfield
  • Lady Sleuths
  • Jack London Science Fiction (and fantasy)
  • Mad Scientist
  • Plague, Pestilence & Apocalypse
  • Penny Dreadfuls
  • Occult Detectives
  • Zanthodon (by Lin Carter)
  • Bobbsey Twins
  • Classic Humor
  • Girl Detective
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Selma Lagerlof

I’m not going to pretend that these are luxury editions (there won’t tend to be lengthy forewords or context articles), but if you want something which is affordable and respects the material, this is a good series.

Housebroken now available

Some of you may remember my interview with The Behrg, who had a novel selected by Kindle Scout:

An ILMK interview with The Behrg, author of the Kindle Scout winner Housebroken

That was back on January 2nd, and the book hadn’t been published yet…now it has been:

Housebroken (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s $3.99, also available as part of Kindle Unlimited.

I have no connection with the author, except for the interview we did and some slight correspondence (The Behrg let me know about the book’s release, for example).

What price story?

Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun relating to the movie(s) and play, What Price Glory? ;)

I was speaking with someone about pricing for e-books recently, and thought I’d throw something out to you.

If you see an e-book which is $7.99 in the Kindle store, what do you think about it? How about $4.99? $12.99? What if it was $10.00? You may think the price point doesn’t influence you at all in your pre-opinion of the book, but you would certainly be unusual if that was the case. Does one price make you think the book is likely to be of a higher quality? Traditionally published or independently published? Of course, you get more information after you look at it, but the price is often a first impression. Do you ever search by price? I’d appreciate your feedback.

What do you think? Will Barnes & Noble survive as booksellers? Who was/is your favorite anthology editor? Did you get an e-mail for that Amazon survey? Is there a “micro market” genre you particularly like? I really enjoyed an anthology (Apeman, Spaceman) of anthropological stories years ago…not available for the Kindle (at least legally through Amazon), unfortunately…

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

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

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

The most reviewed books in Kindle Unlimited

March 10, 2015

The most reviewed books in Kindle Unlimited

Don’t let anybody tell you that there aren’t popular books available in

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

That’s Amazon’s $9.99 a month subser (“subscription service”).

Yes, you may not see the most current most popular books in the country…at least, when you are looking at the p-book (paperbook) charts.

The biggest publishers (the “Big 5″) aren’t participating…although I’ve speculated that at least one of them will this year.

That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t books that have been popular!

I thought I’d look at the books with the most reviews…that, I find, tends to give me the most mainstream titles.

I’ll tell you, if I had listed the top ten or twenty or even fifty and asked people what they had in common, I doubt that KU would have come to mind. ;)

If you walked into a brick-and-mortar bookstore and these titles were on the shelf, I don’t think you’d feel like you were in a post-apocalyptic world.

Sure, you might ask where the New York Times bestseller section was, and be told that the store didn’t have one (although at least one book has been in KU while it was a current NYT bestseller).

I suppose it might feel more like one of those little, non-chain bookstores…where it was more about quality and some quirkiness than being what’s happening now.

Here’s a link to

Kindle Unlimited sorted by most reviews (at AmazonSmile*)

which, by the way, has 891,998 titles at the time of writing…more than ten times what the USA Kindle store had when it first opened. ;)

  1. The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins | 4.6 stars out of 5 | 23,323 customer reviews
  2. Mockingjay (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins | 4.3 stars | 18,767 reviews…this third book in the series most ties into the most recent movie, which, I think, explains why it beats the number two book in the series.
  3. Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins | 4.7 stars | 15,877
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, Book 1) by J.K. Rowling | 4.8 stars | 10,060 reviews
  5. Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (Libro 1) (Spanish Edition) by J.K. Rowling | 4.8 stars | 10,060 reviews (happy to have one in a non-English language towards the top…but it seems like a bit of cheating to have the same review count. A translation is not the same as the original; it even gets a separate copyright)
  6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Japanese Edition) by J.K. Rowling | 4.8 stars | 10,060 reviews (I will say, though, when I’ve wanted to learn a foreign language, I found two things particularly good…comic books, and the phone book ((yes, it’s been a while)) ;) In the phone book, I would go to the Yellow Pages…those often seemed to have pretty natural language, with pictures, of fairly common items)
  7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, Book 3) by J.K. Rowling | 4.7 stars | 9,652 reviews
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, Book 7) by J.K. Rowling | 4.7 stars | 9,652 reviews (Book 3 and Book 7 have the exact same numbers of reviews? That seems suspicious to me…and this doesn’t appear to be an omnibus edition)
  9. The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller (The Origin Mystery, Book 1) by A.G. Riddle | 4.2 stars | 9,240 reviews (I’m guessing this is the first one many of you didn’t know, but it’s popular)
  10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.7 stars | 7,780 reviews
  11. The Giver (Giver Quartet, Book 1) by Lois Lowry | 4.3 stars | 7,772 reviews (old or new, books that get labeled as “Young Adult”, appropriately or not, have a lot of reviews here. I’m guessing that has something to do with the demographics of people who tend to write reviews on Amazon, but I don’t know)
  12. War Brides by Helen Bryan | 4.2 stars | 7,253 reviews (one of these things is not like the others) ;)
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, Book 5) by J.K. Rowling | 4.5 stars | 7,073 reviews
  14. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume by J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.7 stars | 6,780 reviews (if I was getting something from KU and could get an omnibus edition, I would tend to do that…it takes up fewer of your maximum number of borrows you have at one time)
  15. The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.7 stars | 6,870 reviews (see, something is rotten in the state of Amazon. ;) The odds that an individual book would have the same of reviews (as long as it is a substantial number) as one of the books in the series seem as low as Khazad-dûm ;)

Looks like at this point, we can say that there are three series to rule them all…The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.

There are lot of other books in Kindle Unlimited, but these have all crossed over from serious readers to the mainstream…

Enjoy!

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

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

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

Round up #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

March 9, 2015

Round up #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

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

Want to  move up your Echo delivery date? Here’s how!

Big, big thanks to E S who, in this

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

suggested a way to speed up your

Amazon Echo

estimated delivery date!

It worked for me, and others have said it worked for them, too.

Don’t know if it will continue to work, or if it will work for everybody, but I wanted to share it.

The Echo is Amazon’s ambient computing device…it’s alway on (it plugs into the wall), you talk to it, and it does stuff. ;) That’s, you know, the technical description.

It’s not on general sale, yet. You have to ask for an invitation, and you have to be an Amazon Prime member.

When I got my acceptance to my delivery date (a long time after asking for an invitation), it was months in the future.

Until I tried this trick, it was not until the end of May at the earliest…and possibly into July! =:o

Now, it’s between March 25th and April 9th…more than two months earlier, and maybe three!

How do you do it?

Go to

http://www.amazon.com

or

http://smile.amazon.com/

Click or tap on

Your Account

then go to

Your Orders.

Find your Echo order…there is a searchbox, if you need it.

Click or tap

Order Details

Click or tap

Change Shipping Speed

Don’t worry, you aren’t actually going to change it.

When your choices come up, just confirm your current shipping speed.

That’s all it took for me!

I’m very excited about the Echo! They keep making improvements (it recently started doing some sports scores), and it seems to have quite a “personality”.

The general estimated shipping time has dropped from four to six months to two to three months.

That portends, perhaps, a summer release, although that might just still be for these pre-release orders.

Thanks, E S!

Speaking of AmazonSmile…

From what I can tell, about 25% of the activity driven by this site is at AmazonSmile, as opposed to Amazon.com.

I hope to keep seeing that increase.

All you have to is shop at

http://smile.amazon.com/

and designate a non-profit to benefit from what you are doing.

That’s it.

Everything else is the same: same credit card information, addresses, wish lists…it’s really seamless.

When you buy items (not all items, but a lot), your designated non-profit (which you can change…easily…whenever you want and repeatedly) gets half a percent. Spend $100, and the group gets fifty cents.

Amazon is actually donating it, so they get the tax benefit…but that also means everything is super easy.

There are over 6,000 organizations listed when I search for the word “literacy”, for example.

I used to be on the board of a non-profit…believe me, every little bit helps.

Just something to consider…

Goodreads app update

On my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

the Goodreads on Kindle app just updated to 1.5.0.

Goodreads is a very popular social reading site, which Amazon owns.

They have been improving the way it interacts with our devices, and this was another step forward.

I think I’m finally getting into the habit of using Goodreads, although I still don’t do it all the time.

I’d found out from my readers that my posting reviews here wasn’t one of their favorite things, so I now post them at Goodreads:

Follow Bufo’s reviews on Goodreads

I am putting some effort into those, and have written things with which I’ve been satisfied. ;)

I’ve also gotten some nice feedback, which I appreciate.

I can’t say I’m seeing a lot of functional differences at this point, but it does seem to look a bit nicer, and it’s running quite smoothly.

Before there was Chappie, there was…Tik Tok

Chappie did not have a really big opening this weekend…I probably over “invested” in the movie in my

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

game. :)

Still, so many things go back to the Oz series (I’m a big fan), and there was a regular robot character in them.

Tik Tok was truly a robot…a manufactured item. Dorothy or other people would wind up the “device”…they could separately wind up speech, action, and thinking.

Yes, just like humans, Tik Tok was capable of speaking and acting without thinking first. ;)

Tik Tok, though, was artificially intelligent…as much a character as anybody else.

As Dorothy engraved on Tik Tok, the mechanism was:

SMITH & TINKER’S
Patent Double-Action, Extra-Responsive,
Thought-Creating, Perfect-Talking
MECHANICAL MAN
Fitted with our Special Clockwork Attachment.
Thinks, Speaks, Acts, and Does Everything but Live.

Sure, the word “robot” comes from the play R.U.R., and Isaac Asimov created the all important three laws of robotics…but like many other things, Oz was exploring the issues of the technology and the sociology of it at the turn of the 20th Century.

Even older kids like having books read to them

I still like it when somebody reads out loud to me!

Thanks to

EBOOK FRIENDLY

for the heads up on this fascinating report:

http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/

Scholastic publishes the Harry Potter books in the USA. They are very reader friendly…when we talk about the Big Five publishers not doing things (like being part of Kindle Unlimited), Scholastic isn’t part of that…despite having some very popular books.

I haven’t read the whole report yet, but this was called out:

“When it comes to being read aloud to at home, eight in 10 children (83%) say they love(d) or like(d) it a lot:”

  • 6-8 year olds: 86%
  • 9-11 year olds: 84%
  • 12-14 year olds: 80%
  • 15-17 year olds: 83%

Note that rebound in the last age group!

That’s right…83% of teenagers like it when someone reads out loud to them. My guess is that the percentage is not much lower in adults.

By the way, Scholastic used “read aloud to” as a construction.

That reminds me of an old joke (?) designed to make grammarians cringe:

A ten-year old is sick upstairs.

Wanting to make the child feel better, a parent brings a book to the room to read…one that the child loved at an earlier age.

Feeling as though they are being treated as immature, the child says,

“What did you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to out of up here for?”

;)

What do you think? Do you read out loud to adults? If you are an adult, do you enjoy that…maybe in the car, maybe a Significant Other just reading a passage to you? Do audiobooks or text-to-speech have at all that same feeling for you? Do you use AmazonSmile? If not, care to share the reason why? 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!

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

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

 

Categories in ILMK

March 8, 2015

Categories in ILMK

I realized after a recent post that, while I use categories in this blog to identify the nature of posts, I haven’t ever explained that to the readers.

That can cause some confusion. In that post, I was offering my opinion about something, and a reader reasonably took it as me offering something I could prove.

That happens to me in real life, too. :)

People tend to believe me…that’s valuable for me as a trainer, and I’m sure I’ve gotten positive reinforcement for ways of communicating that suggest that I am a credible source of information.

Even when I’ve told people in person that, “I really don’t know, I’m just guessing,” they may report it as fact and tell people it was true because I said it. :)

On the blog, I tend to think people see the category and that it helps them interpret what I am saying. That’s probably foolish, on my part…the categories appear after the post, not before, so it’s really going to be more whatever their expectations are when they start reading it.

Still, I thought it would be useful to share the categories I am currently using, and tell you a bit about them. The number in parentheses is the number of posts

Oh, and the same post might have multiple categories! That’s why some categories appear to have so many posts (like the Amazon Echo). If I write a short piece about something in one of the Roundups, that would show up as one of the posts below…even if it was only a couple of sentences.

  • A Day in the LIfe of a Kindleer(4): I do these posts about once a year, just to share how I personally am using Kindles and other Amazon devices. I’ll basically go through a typical day. I think that tends to help people discover options for them
  • A Kindle Abandoned (4): this is my four-part Sherlock Holmes parody. Honestly, I think it came out quite well
  • A Kindle Carol (3): more fiction…a parody of A Christmas Carol. I’d say it has some of my best just straight up writing. I tend to repost it during the holidays, which also gives me the ability to focus more on my family at that time
  • Accessibility (5): primarily, this has to do with text-to-speech, although I’ve addressed other accessibility issues
  • Accessories (4): covers, stands, that sort of thing
  • Advice (15): this may be tongue in cheek at times, but it’s advice I give
  • Advice to Amazon (14): I understand that at least some Amazon employees read this blog, and I do get sent press releases. Hopefully, I have or will make the Kindle experience better for everyone at some point
  • Agency Model (18): the Agency Model is a pricing strategy wherein the publisher sets the price and Amazon just acts as “the agent”. We may not have seen my last post on this…
  • Amazon Aisles (4): I also have a section of links for these on the blogsite. When you are walking through a physical bookstore (I used to manage one), you go down aisles for different subjects or different categories. These posts have to do with sections of the Amazon website
  • Amazon Echo (13): Amazon’s ambient computing device. I’m supposed to get mine at the end of May…or in July
  • Amazon Financials (9): Quarterly and Annual reports
  • Amazon forums (2): I mentioned Amazon threads in their forums quite a bit…I sometimes actually write about the forum itself, rather than individual thread
  • Amazon Publishing (11): Amazon does a lot of traditional publishing now…this will largely be about that
  • Amazon services (1): hm…the only one in here so far is about Prime Now
  • Amazon statements (1): I’m not sure this one needs its own category, but the intent was to link to actual statements from Amazon
  • Analysis (200): as you can see, one of the most common categories. When I label something as “analysis”, it means I’ve done actual work on it myself, typically crunching numbers. The Snapshots are a sub-category of this. When I’ve done the math, I’m prepared to be challenged on it :)
  • Annual Snapshots (4): once a year summary of the Kindle store
  • Apple (16): the company
  • Apps (40): these apps may have something to do with books, but there may be some other reason I cover oner
  • Audiobooks (11)
  • Author profiles (3)
  • Authors (31)
  • Awards (1): I like awards (I do a big Oscar thing every year)…the only one in there right now has to with the Goodreads (owned by Amazon) Awards
  • Bestseller analysis (13)
  • blogs) (3): need to fix the way this one is displayed! It’s not about my blogs, but about blogs in general (other Kindle blogs, for example)
  • Booklovers (2): individuals who love books
  • Books on my Kindles (5): I go through from time to time and list the books I have on my Kindles at that time
  • Brick-and-mortar bookstores(32): I used to manage one, so I keep track. I think my readers are interested in this
  • Bufo’s books (10): the ones I’ve written
  • Bufo’s Life (33): this blog is, unavoidably, to some extent about me :)
  • Canada (1)
  • Children (17)
  • Cloud Collections (3)
  • Cloud Reader (1)
  • Collections on Amazon (1)
  • Comics (8): as in comic books, viewable on some devices
  • Comparisons (15): this is going to be a comparison between two or more items, such as between different types of Kindles, or a Kindle and other EBRs (E-Book Readers)
  • Copyright (26): this affects what you read to a great extent, and I have a particular interest in it (as a layperson…I’m not a lawyer)
  • Customer Service (2)
  • Digitizing books (5): ways to take paper books and convert them to e-books
  • Discovery (10): how you can find books to read…I think will become increasing important
  • Doctor Watson’s Blog (4): again, the Sherlock Holmes parody. Why have both categories? The other one is a sub-category of this one…I wanted to leave open writing another Doctor Watson’s Blog…I rather enjoyed it
  • Eddiecoms (7): part of the humor category: fake comments that I get that are apparently really ads, and can be quite surreal
  • Excerpts (22): excerpts from public domain books. I’ve heard from my readers that they aren’t big fans of this for the most part, so I don’t do it very often
  • Fiction (47): fiction I’ve written, not that I’ve read :)
  • Fire Phone (10)
  • Fire TV (12)
  • Fire TV stick (6)
  • Flash posts (502): I used to label breaking news posts with “Flash!” in the beginning. Some people got confused with Adobe Flash, and I think I was just hearkening back to an earlier era (like Walter Winchell: “Flash! To Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at see…let’s go to press!” Not sure that’s an actual quotation, by the way…
  • Flipboard magazines (9)
  • Focus on Free (11)
  • Freebie Flashes (204): I used to pretty often send out listings of free books, but there were so many of them, and Amazon changed the rules of promoting free books, that I have pretty much stopped
  • Freedom/censorship (4)
  • Frequently Asked Kindle Questions (8): these are usually extensive question and answer type posts on a particular topic. I haven’t done in a while, but I do think they are valuable
  • Fun (1)
  • Future features (1)
  • Games (57)
  • General (29)
  • Gifts (5): this has to do with giving gifts, the mechanism of that. It used to pretty complicated
  • Give a Kid a Kindle (5): I gave away a Kindle. My sense is that didn’t appeal to my readers all that much. Might do it again at some point
  • Giveaways (39): could be from me, but these are also commonly from other places, and I just like to give you the heads
  • Globalization (14)
  • Goodreads (6): one of Amazon’s social reading sites
  • Google (1)
  • Google settlement (12): this settlement had to with Google scanning books in public libraries, basically…more to it than that
  • Guest Posts (1): not something I’ll do commonly at all, but it could happen again
  • Hachazon War (14): the dispute between the publisher Hachette and Amazon, recently resolved
  • History (1): I’ve done one of these, about when Amazon started doing Special Offers on Kindles
  • Holiday Gift Guides (1)
  • Holidays (27)
  • Humor (82)
  • ILMK (6): this blog…that’s where this one is going
  • Indie (independent) publishing (2)
  • Interviews (3): I enjoy doing these!
  • Jeff Bezos (4)
  • KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) (8)
  • Kindle 3 (9)
  • Kindle 4 (Mindle) (5)
  • Kindle 7 (Mindle Touch) (5)
  • Kindle Community (1)
  • Kindle Convert (2)
  • Kindle DX (3)
  • Kindle Fire (81)
  • Kindle for Android (3)
  • Kindle for iPad (2)
  • Kindle for iPhones and iPod touch (2)
  • Kindle for PC (6)
  • Kindle Key Concepts (1)
  • Kindle Matchbook (3)
  • Kindle Paperwhite (21)
  • Kindle Reader Apps (2)
  • Kindle Scout (1)
  • Kindle Scout (4)
  • Kindle Touch (7)
  • Kindle Unlimited (22)
  • Kindle Voyage (3)
  • Kindle with Special Offers (2)
  • Kindle Worlds (9)
  • Knowledge Check (1): I probably should have just put this under games…
  • Kobo (3)
  • Legal Actions (26)
  • Limited Time Offers (6)
  • Manage Your Kindle (6)
  • Menu Maps (6): when I do a menu map, I go through the options in a device’s menus. I find this to be very instructive for me, and I think useful for my readers. I also like to refer back to them sometimes after an update
  • New models (12)
  • New Owners (7)
  • News (1,101)
  • newspapers (2)
  • nook (60)
  • Observations (4): generally, this should be making an observation about something…not necessarily commenting on it much, although I’m sure I tend to do that
  • Odyssey Editions (4): a publishing imprint
  • One liners (1): people did not like the title of this, although I thought the content was good
  • Opinion (190): that’s my opinion, of course. :) These may be more stream of consciousness, less fact based. Let me rephrase that: more subjective than objective
  • Parodies (13)
  • Personal Documents (1)
  • Pictures (1)
  • Poll Parties (2): this is a subcategory under Polls (see immediately below)
  • Polls (66): I like polling my readers…it isn’t scientific, and I don’t think my readers are typical, but I find it interesting. I think people like doing them
  • Popular Pre-orders (17): I stopped making them particularly popular ones, but I’ve kept that category
  • Prime (13): Amazon Prime
  • Public libraries (20)
  • Publisher Profiles (4)
  • Publishing (1)
  • Purchasing decisions (1)
  • Random public domain freebies (1): there shouldn’t be two categories here…again, I should clean that up
  • Random Public Domain Freebies (3)
  • Random Tips (3)
  • Read the Book First (3): books being made into movies/TV shows
  • Reader Apps (3)
  • Reader Heroes (4): one of my favorite things! We honor someone who honors reading
  • Recent Kindle Releases (17)
  • Recommendations (91)
  • Reposts (6)
  • Reviews (61)
  • Round-ups (287)
  • Sales (234): items on sale
  • Sales Tax (19): the issue of sales tax being collected
  • Smile.Amazon (5): it became known as AmazonSmile, but when it first came out, I named the category after the way the website address works…and I’ve left it that way
  • Snapshots (70): one of the most labor intensive types of posts I do. My Significant Other knows that on the first of the month, I’ve got some writing to do as I do analyses of the Kindle store
  • Social Media (6)
  • Sony (1)
  • Special Offers (7)
  • Splinterviews (2): interviews with myself. :) ILMK is not the first place I’ve used the term “splinterview” for that
  • Subscription Items (magazines (3)
  • Subscription services (7)
  • Ten Most Wanted (1): these are the books people most wanted to see “Kindleized”, based on the watch lists at eReaderIQ
  • Text to speech (12): people sometimes think I write too much about this issue, I know…but it’s an important one to me personally and to some of my readers
  • Textbooks/schools (2)
  • The Year Ahead (4): predictions
  • The Year in E-Books (6)
  • Third party (1): the first two parties are Amazon and its customers…I probably could use this category more, but it’s when someone who isn’t Amazon makes something for use with Kindles and Fires
  • Thoughtabouts (46): I’m typically musing here, and haven’t made up my mind (although I try not to lock myself into an opinion at any time…at least, in real world matters)
  • Tips (177)
  • Traditional Publishers (29)
  • Trivia (3)
  • Uncategorized (31): there really shouldn’t be any of these, but what sometimes happens is the post gets saved before I’ve assigned a category…and it automatically puts the Uncategorized category on it. If I don’t notice that and add another category, it doesn’t take this one away
  • Updates (49): I started putting all of the Version categories below into this
  • Version 2.5 (8)
  • Version 3.1 (1)
  • Watching the Watchers (12): I write about journalists writing about topics of interest to this blog
  • Whispercast (1)
  • Worth a Thousand Words (1): I don’t do a lot of pictures in this blog, unless they are to illustrate something I’m writing. This one was an exception, and I could do more

Hope that helps explain things about this blog a bit more!

Feel free, though, to ask me questions about posts…it could absolutely be that I haven’t written something clearly enough, and my intent hasn’t gotten across.

Bonus deal: through March 11 (Wednesday), 175 Kindle Books for $1.99 Each (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). There are actually some good books here, and many of them (162 out of 175!) are in Kindle Unlimited

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

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

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

Men’s Interest magazines in the USA Kindle store

March 6, 2015

Men’s Interest magazines in the USA Kindle store

I was looking at the “Special Offers” on my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

I should probably first say something about that. :)

There is often some…imprecision in how people describe Kindles (and Fires) with Special Offers.

You don’t have to pay something to get the ads removed: the ads reduce the cost of the device.

That’s how it was right from the beginning: when Amazon introduced the Special Offers program (just about four years ago…April 11th 2011, to be exact), it reduced the cost of the device by $25.

Basically what happens is that advertisers subsidize your purchase of the device. You agree to see ads (implicitly) in exchange for a lower price.

If you change your mind (or got the device as a gift), you can pay the difference and stop the ads.

However, I’ve gotten a lot of great deals with the Special Offers! That’s particularly true on the Fires, where we sometimes get these massive discount (more than 80% at times) for a very, very short time. It can even be that if you hover over the button and tap it as fast as you can, they can still be sold out.

The models with Special Offers are generally more popular than the ones without them.

People who don’t want them think they may be intrusive…but they are so unintrusive, I often miss something. :)

That’s why I go to Offers to see what is there (it’s all the way on your right on the homescreen).

One of them this time was for

Men’s Interest magazines (at AmazonSmile*)

Well.

That’s always been a weird idea to me, that books and magazines would be sold to people based on the customers’ genders.

Yes, when I managed a brick and mortar bookstore (and this was some time ago) we had a “Men’s Adventure” section.

Notice I always say that I managed the store…I didn’t own it, and that section was there when I took over.

That category was also often printed on the book by the publisher.

I have to be honest: I didn’t notice many women buying books from that section…or men buying Harlequin romances.

I’m sure there were women reading Remo Williams and men reading Iris Johansen, but that fact wasn’t commonly shared by them with everyone in the store. ;)

That was then, though…this is now.

Is there really a marketing advantage for Amazon to put a Special Offer on everyone’s Fires, and suggest that it is more likely to appeal to a minority of people (there are more women than men in the USA…and statistically, they tend to read more and buy more books, I believe)?

I was curious as to what they labeled as “Men’s Interest”.

I should clarify that: most likely, the publishers pick the categories. Amazon creates the categories, though.

Looking at the magazines by bestselling, they go like this:

  1. Sports Illustrated…I know they’ve worked on increasing their female audience. Professional athletics organizations across the country have tried to do that as well
  2. Rolling Stone: I don’t really see popular music as appealing particularly to men!
  3. Maxim: okay, I would guess their readership is primarily male
  4. Popular Science: this particularly concerns me. There is so much effort being done to get women more involved in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). No particular reason this should appeal more to men. I remember there was a controversy years ago with a talking Barbie that used a chip instead of a string. One of things Barbie said was, “Math class is hard.” As I recall, Mattel had to take that one out because of complaints…since Barbie is more likely to be owned by girls than by boys
  5. Men’s Health: I could give you that one…it’s right in the title
  6. Outside Magazine
  7. Outdoor Life: I don’t see either of these as not appealing to women. Of course, you could say that “Men’s Interest” doesn’t mean that it’s not interesting to women, too, but then what would be the point in using the label? I suspect it might be for people who are shopping for men, rather than for the men themselves
  8. Money Magazine: I don’t see any reason for this one. In fact, I’d be surprised if the readership is overwhelmingly male
  9. Backpacker: I wouldn’t say that I even automatically picture backpackers as male. If you say “backpacker” to me, I just don’t have that as a default concept
  10. The Family Handyman…hard to say.

Some of the other topics?

  • Cars
  • Guns
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (really? I would bet that more women read mysteries than men do)
  • Golf
  • Fighting (wrestling, martial arts)
  • Shutterbug…seriously?

I’m not going to pretend to know what marketing works better for Amazon.

If it was my site, though, I don’t think I’d have that category…or a “women’s fiction” category, for that matter.

Generally, I would want to categorize the works by the works themselves, rather than the intended audience (read: “market”).

The exception to that might be children’s books, I suppose. I have to think about that one.

Let me put this out to you:

Have you been helped in purchasing by having something labeled by gender? Did you ever walk into a bookstore, and look for a “man’s section” to buy a gift? If you ran a bookstore (including a website), how would you categorize the books? Have you “felt funny” about buying a book when you clearly weren’t the intended target market? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Update: reader Steve made an interesting comment, which prompted me to check what is listed under “Women’s Interest”. If the same magazines were listed in both places, would that make it more reasonable? My feeling would still be no…for me, it’s about the idea that the magazine will particularly appeal to one gender. Saying it particularly appeals to both genders is saying nothing, except as a “double force” marketing ploy.

A “double force” is a magic trick stratagem (and it is used by con artists as well). Basically, it means that you appear to have a choice in something, but you really don’t.

For example, the magician cuts a deck of cards. The magician then asks you to pick one half. If the magician wants Half A and you pick Half B, the magician says, “Okay, we’ll remove that one.” If you pick Half A, the magician says, “Okay, we’ll use that one.” You felt like you controlled the situation…but you didn’t.

Here are the top ten (at time of writing) magazines listed under Women’s Interest:

  1. Us Weekly
  2. Prevention
  3. Southern Living
  4. Cooking Light
  5. Women’s Health
  6. ShopSmart
  7. More
  8. The Knot
  9. Brides
  10. Women’s Adventure

There are far fewer magazines in the Women’s category than in the Men’s, interestingly enough.

The only magazine that overlaps?

eFiction Magazine (at AmazonSmile*)

Fiction should appeal to both, in my opinion…but I don’t see a reason to label it as both appealing specifically to men and specifically to women. Maybe there should be a “Humans” section? ;) Of course, I wouldn’t want to discriminate against non-humans who read…artificial intelligence, and some dogs (including one that belongs to a sibling of mine…the dog helps with a disability, and can read a few commands), among others. ;)

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

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

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


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