Amazon’s 2015 Q1: Amazon Phase 2 has begun?

July 24, 2015

Amazon’s 2015 Q1: Amazon Phase 2 has begun?

Amazon just celebrated two decades (although you could choose a different “birthdate” if you wanted to do that) with a very successful first (in terms of sales) “Prime Day”.

The company has famously been perceived as being forward-looking…more about the long term than the short term.

One thing that has meant is that they haven’t been making big (or often, any) profits. Investors have been betting that, eventually, profits would happen.

Well, that day is here.

Early today, they did a webcast with their results for the first financial quarter of 2015.

You can listen to a recording of the webcast, and see the slides from the presentation here:

Q2 2015 Amazon.com Inc Earnings Conference Call

Update: here’s the

Seeking Alpha transcipt

If you’d prefer, you can also read the

press release

They headline the press release with sales up 20%, but increasing sales is not a surprise for Amazon.

This is the real story,  in my opinion:

“Net income was $92 million in the second quarter, or $0.19 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $126 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, in second quarter 2014.”

Look at that one again. The net income changed from a loss of $126 million to a gain of $92 million.

From what I can see (and I’m not a financial expert), there wasn’t anything particularly anomalistic. It doesn’t look to me like they couldn’t continue this for any obvious reason.

In terms of what specifically worked well…most of it. ;) If you listen to the Q&A part of the webcast (always the most interesting part…you can jump there with a dropdown at the bottom of the screen), you hear that the investors aren’t that concerned with what we buy as customers. It’s more about efficiency, web services, fulfillment centers, and so on.

The press releases is a bit different and calls out items that are part of front-facing relationship with Amazon.

The third generation of the

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is mentioned.

A big star, though?

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

There are four bullet points related to the Echo and Alexa…which aren’t exactly the same thing. They talk about the Echo device, but they separately mention the Alexa Voice Service. Here’s the big point on that:

  • Amazon opened the Alexa Voice Service to third-party hardware makers, giving them the tools to integrate Alexa into internet-connected devices.

Hypothetically, that means that we could get the Alexa service on other tablets, phones, and other devices.

That, along with the “Alexa Skills Kit” for developers, will, I think, mean that Alexa may become as important to people as answering machines were. You won’t want a home or to stay in a hotel that doesn’t have one (although you may have a portable version on your phone).

Lots of other items get shout-outs…and the

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

was mentioned during Q&A. Yes, the questioner was basically asking if it was dead and should be swept under the rug, but Amazon sidestepped that a little. I noticed that quite a few people bought them on Prime Day. It is my daily use phone, but it isn’t my favorite phone I’ve ever owned (that would be a Samsung). I’ve been trying to think about how they could give it a unique way to connect to the Echo sales. One possibility might be to do some kind of free tethering. I don’t know how that would work, but if the Echo could connect to the internet through the Fire Phone without the tethering plans you might need on other phones, that would make a difference.

The investors appear to be reacting positively.

Is there a conflict between happy investors and happy customers? After all, investors want a company to make money…and that money comes from the customers, who presumably want to hold on to it.

However…I think that many people have the mistaken idea that people never want to spend money.

I like giving money to people who I think deserve it. I want to reward them…that feels good.  :) In fact, I don’t like to feel like I’m taking advantage of somebody. If I got a great deal, but thought it would damage the company…maybe even make them go out of business, I wouldn’t want it.

Yes, there were some complaints about Prime Day on social media. Certainly, there are people who unhappy with Amazon…and it’s possible that percentage will grow.

There are also, though many people who are happy with Amazon.

This doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing ahead for Amazon forever. :) That said, I think Amazon may now think they are going in the right direction (and it may be a direction they’ve planned for decades).

What do you think? As a customer, are you concerned that Amazon may raise prices to increase profitability? Or, do you think that you being happy is one of their assets? They didn’t call out Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) in the press release…what do you think that means? Is it possible this has been part of  plan all along…are is that just part of the Amazon mythology? 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.

We interrupt this story to bring you…SEX!

July 22, 2015

We interrupt this story to bring  you…SEX!

I’ll read books with explicit sex scenes…but I do want to expect them. :)

I think it’s quite strange when I’m reading a story I’m enjoying…a science fiction novel, a mystery, with interesting character development and plot, and suddenly, there is an anatomically specific sex scene.

It doesn’t feel like it belongs there:  like it’s an ad for sex. ;)

The old saying is that sex sells, but these sorts of incongruous sex congress interludes have the opposite effect on me.

They often aren’t even sexy…it’s so step by step, it reads like instructions on how to put together a piece of furniture. ;)

Again, my biggest problem with them is that they just don’t belong there. It would be just as bad if you were reading a Western and got three pages of string theory (wait…I think Michael Crichton might have actually done that once…just kidding).

I was recently speaking with an author who had a related story. This author wrote a novel, and the publisher said it needed a sex scene. The author suggested that wasn’t a good idea…and the publisher offered to hire a ghost writer for it!

The book was published without it, and honestly, I think people would have liked the book a lot less with one of these “coitus insertus” bits.

While there are undeniably people who seek out a book to read because it has sex, I just can’t see a lot of people saying, “You know, I loved that novel…but it would have been better with a sex scene in it.”

I don’t know what the answer is to  it. Books don’t have a rating system, like movies or videogames, and I don’t really want them to have one. It’s not even about rating the overall level…I just want to know ahead of time if the author (perhaps under the influence of an editor/publisher) is going to take a “dirty detour”.

I should be clear: editors and publishers often greatly improve a book…the recent example of

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

which was reportedly an early draft of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

appears to be the exemplar of editorial improvement.

What do you think? Are you bothered by these sorts of sex scenes? Are there other types of incongruous scenes which bother you? Are they less likely in tradpubs (traditionally published) books than in indies (independently published books)? Would you want to be warned…if so, how and by whom? 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.

Amazon’s “Quick Fixes” for Kindle

July 21, 2015

Amazon’s “Quick Fixes” for Kindle

While  I think Amazon’s Kindle Support is marvelous, and that the on-screen help on some Fire models (including the Fire phone) called Mayday is one of the great advancements in Customer Service in my lifetime, I don’t think the Amazon Help pages are that impressive.

I always find it a bit hard to get to what I want…and when I get there, the information can be…skimpy.

I find it much more effective to actually speak with someone at Amazon, by going to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and using the

Contact Us

button to have them call me.

You do have the advantage of asking me ;) but sometimes, I even do “ask myself”. I’ve been writing this blog for close to six years, and I can’t always remember what I’ve said, especially in regards to older Kindle models  I don’t use any more. So, on occasion, I do go the blog and search for things…things which I wrote.

However, I do want to mention this Kindle Help page to you:

Quick Fixes for Your Kindle (at AmazonSmile*)

It applies to the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite 2nd Generation, Kindle Paperwhite (7th Generation), and Kindle (7th Generation).

The help topics are:

Restart Your Kindle
Battery Won’t Stay Charged
Can’t Connect to Wi-Fi
Forgot Kindle Passcode
Content Won’t Download
Content Won’t Sync
Book Won’t Open
Reset Your Kindle

Let’s just take the “Forgot Kindle Password” topic. Amazon says

  1. Tap the passcode field to bring up the onscreen keyboard.
  2. Type 111222777, and then tap OK. Your Kindle will restart.

This will wipe everything off the Kindle…but if you can’ remember your passcode you’ll have do something.

I’ll admit: I don’t always remember that  number offhand, and restarting hasn’t been the same on every model (we had to use a paperclip to push a button, after sliding the back cover off a Kindle 1).

Amazon has very highly rated Customer Service…and they certainly have enough options that you should be able to get help when you need it.

You know, if you don’t want to wait for my answer. ;)

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.

 

August 2015 Kindle book releases

July 20, 2015

August 2015 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it. We have started to return to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 4,984 (at time of writing…more than 200 more than last month) August releases in the USA Kindle store:

August 2015 USA Kindle Store Releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 788 (114 more than last month) are in

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

about 16% (almost 3% fewer than last month).

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

In the past several  months, the top four had been the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same. Yes, the top book is a Kindle First book, but they aren’t the top four. It’s an interesting choice, on Amazon’s part. I like curation, generally, but I think of Amazon’s book search results based on impartial data, but that’s not the case any more.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay…books!

  • X (Kinsey Millhone Book 24) by Sue Grafton
  • Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes (A Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide) by Rick Riordan and John Rocco
  • Herculean (Cerberus Group Book 1) by Jeremy Robinson and Sean Ellis
  • Invisible by Jennifer Rothschild
  • Fool’s Quest: Book II of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb
  • Immortal Guardians (Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 1) by Eliot Schrefer
  • The End of All Things (Old Man’s War Book 6) by John Scalzi
  • The Phoenix of Destiny (Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy) by Geronimo Stilton
  • The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
  • The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
  • Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Applied Minds: How Engineers Think by Guru Madhavan
  • Wind/Pinball: Two novels by Haruki Murakami and Ted Goossen
  • Edge of Darkness by Christine Feehan and Maggie Shayne
  • Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism by Slavoj Zizek
  • Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
  • The Thinker’s Thesaurus: Sophisticated Alternatives to Common Words (Expanded Third Edition) by Peter E. Meltzer
  • Coming of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlante
  • The Murderer’s Daughter: A Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
  • Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad
  • Iron Wolf: A Novel by Dale Brown
  • Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books by Michael Dirda
  • Irona 700 by Dave Duncan
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
  • New Methods for Crochet Socks by Rohn Strong
  • NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
  • We Install: And Other Stories by Harry Turtledove
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove
  • Latest Readings by Clive James
  • Midnight on the Mississippi (Secrets of the South Mysteries) by Mary Ellis
  • Dragonbane (Dark-Hunter Novels Book 19) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Frodo’s Journey: Discover the Hidden Meaning of The Lord of the Rings by Joseph Pearce
  • Of Goats & Governors: Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories by Steve Flowers and Edwin Bridges
  • The Making of a Navy SEAL: My Story of Surviving the Toughest Challenge and Training the Best by Brandon Webb and John David Mann
  • The State We’re In: Maine Stories by Ann Beattie
  • Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then & Now by Amanda Jones
  • Archie 1000 Page Comics Jam (Archie 1000 Page Digests) by Archie Superstars
  • May Sarton: A Self-Portrait by May Sarton
  • Windows 10: The Personal Trainer (The Personal Trainer for Technology) by William Stanek
  • What Color Is Your Parachute? 2016: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles
  • Horror Show by Greg Kihn
  • The Face That Changed It All: A Memoir by Beverly Johnson and André Leon Talley
  • The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
  • Death at Hungerford Stairs: Charles Dickens & Superintendent Jones InvestigateAug 15, 2015 | Kindle eBook
    by J C Briggs

Well, again…quite the mix! It’s particularly interesting to see some famous “backlist” novels: Never Cry Wolf and The Bell Jar. There were also quite a few Ellery Queen books and Mr. Moto books.

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! :) 

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.

Why are e-book sales declining? 5 possible reasons

July 18, 2015

Why are e-book sales declining? 5 possible reasons

According to this

Publishers Weekly post by Jim Milliot

which is reporting on figures released by the AAP (Association of American Publishers), e-book sales were

“…down 2.5% and 36.6% in the adult and children’s/young adult categories, respectively”

That’s right…not just slowed growth, but actual decline.

I have expected e-books sales to continue to grow for some time yet, eventually becoming more than fifty percent of unit sales.

I still think that’s likely.

These figures, then, come as a bit of a surprise to me.

Let me give you five possibilities as to why this might be the case:

1. Other e-book sales, which aren’t being measured here, have grown: I think this is highly likely. The AAP doesn’t typically include independent publishers using platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. I fall into that category (I only have published books I’ve written, but if you make your book available to the public, you are a publisher), and they don’t ask me. I think it may be like what I refer to as “indieployment”. Unemployment figures get lamented, and certainly, for people who want to work and can’t find work, that’s a bad thing. However, I think some of the people being counted as unemployed are making a living outside of the traditional system, and that includes authors who publish their books themselves. My guess is that there are enough people making a living (and a significant portion of them happily…at least as happily as they would as employees of a company) in creative endeavors, selling things on eBay, being Uber drivers, is inflating the number. If readers are increasingly moving away from traditionally published books to independently published books, I would expect the AAP’s figures to decline.

2. Subsers are cutting into sales: it’s hard to tell how much this is having an impact, because the AAP supposedly is able to measure some of this impact. Still, I think people who use subscription services, like

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

Oyster, and Scribd, probably don’t get measured with the same weight as those who purchase. Amazon having entered that market makes measurement perhaps even less likely, since they are notoriously tight-lipped about things like sales figures.

3. E-books were a fad: I think this is very unlikely, but it’s something that will occur to a lot of casual observers. One argument for it would be that tablets (including Amazon’s own Fire tablets) have supplanted EBRs (E-Book Readers, like Amazon’s Voyage) over the past few years as reading devices. When you have a tablet, though, you also have other options, like movies and full video games, and that cuts into book purchases. I just don’t see that a lot of people have abandoned e-books in favor of going back to p-books (although p-book sales have been increasing).

4. There were anomalistically popular books which created a false high: brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) made this argument the year after 50 Shades  of Grey. Sales were so extraordinarily high for that book (I could say they were “unbound”, but I think I won’t…spanking good sales, perhaps?) that the following year, even though things were fine, compared unfavorably. I don’t think that’s it, here, and I think certainly this year, sales of the Harper Lee books will make another book boom.

5. More units are being sold at lower prices: it appears to me that this decline is based on total sale amounts, not how many books are being sold. If that’s the case, it would be possible  that people are buying more books, but paying less. If a person bought five books at $9.99 each one year, and ten books at $0.99 each the next year, unit sales would increase while the sales amount would decrease. I’m a bit skeptical about this one…I don’t think prices have dropped significantly in the past year, and New York Times fiction hardback equivalent bestseller prices (I track those in my monthly Snapshots) have increased. I suppose it’s possible that independently published books, which are the majority in the Kindle store, have been going down in price…but I don’t know why the would have, particularly…and I certainly haven’t noticed a one  third drop in children’s/young adult e-book prices.

I’ll sum this up this way: I’m not worried about America’s state of literacy and love of books, or the e-book format’s viability, based on this report. :)

What do you think? Why are these numbers lower? Could it be because book quality has declined? Reading overall has declined? People go so fed up with the legal and contract stuff, like the Hachazon War (the battle between Amazon and publisher Hachette) that they are just giving up on e-books? The numbers are significantly wrong? 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.

Re-read or not re-read…that is the question

July 17, 2015

Re-read or not re-read…that is the question

I’ve mentioned in this blog several times that I’m not a big re-reader of books.

However, I do know that many other people are.

My Significant Other knew somebody who only ever read the same two books: Helter Skelter and Gone with the Wind. They would finish one of them, start the other one, finish that and go back to the first, and so on.

That doesn’t appeal to me personally. I want books to change me. I want to read lots of books…different kinds of books by different people with different viewpoints.

For me, that’s the magic of books.

I will say that I am re-reading a book currently…fourteen books, actually.

I have an omnibus of  the original (Wizard of Oz) books, and I’ve taken to re-reading them before I go to sleep.

It takes me a long time to go to sleep at night…there’s a real process. Reading before I finally fall asleep is part of it.

I often don’t read much at that  time…quite often, not even a whole chapter.

That doesn’t mean I don’t retain it, though.

I’m re-reading them partially because I am writing some things about Oz, and I want to get the details right.

I’m also getting new insights.

Until we had cellphones,  I wouldn’t have realized that there was one in the Oz books!

The Wizard of Oz invented the cellphone

Additionally, I’m at a different  place in my life than the first time I read them…or had them read to me (I was a kid).

So, I’m now open to the idea of re-reading…even though I feel a bit guilty doing it, which I know is silly.

I can see how I’d be more likely to re-read things now, even if I didn’t have a specific purpose. It used to be that I would remember just about everything in a book I read, even years later.

That’s no longer true.

I’ll pretty much remember the general plot, but characters’ names, for example? That doesn’t happen automatically any more.

Thinking about it, it’s also interesting: I have no reluctance at all to re-watch a TV show or a movie. I’ve seen the same episodes of the original Star Trek series many times…even though I could just about write the script from memory.

I’m confident in saying that there are some movies I’ve seen more than a hundred times, and would happily watch again.

Why the difference?

I think part of it is the investment of time. Watching a movie is  a couple of hours…reading a book can be much more than that.

I also don’t expect the visual media to change me the way a book does. The level of engagement is far different…most movies work on my surface emotions…books get deep inside my mind.

Let me ask you a couple of questions. Figure we are talking about novels or short story collection/anthologies…not non-fiction, which is a different kettle of words. ;)

This whole post was inspired by a comment one of my regular readers and commenters, jjhitt, made. jjhitt thought it would be interesting for me to ask you, my readers, which books you re-read…and I am interested in that. I’m also interested in why you re-read…or why you don’t. If the poll isn’t enough for you, 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!

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.

Prime Day is here! Kindle deals and more

July 15, 2015

Prime Day is here! Kindle deals and more

See yesterday’s post for how to

Get the most out of Prime Day

For the shortcut, go here:

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

I did want to mention some specifics at 6:00 AM Pacific…six hours into Prime Day:

  • 68% claimed: Kindle (the entry level model), as low as $49 ($30 off)
  • 49% claimed: Fire HD7 as low as $79 ($60 off)
  • 89% claimed: Fire HD7 Kids Edition as low as $129 ($60 off)

There are a total of 431 items right now…and there are 705 Upcoming Prime-Exclusive Deals.

I’m seeing some items which have sold out.

If you aren’t a Prime member, you can get a month free and take advantage of these deals.

Update: Amazon has a press release with some figures…yes, surpassing Black Friday. 4000 Echoes sold in 15 minutes…

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150715006488/en/

Update: one of the best deals on Prime Day is

Kindle Unlimited Prime Day (at AmazonSmile*)

This is Amazon’s subser (subscription service…”all you can read” for a flat monthly fee). I’m a happy member of KU, and have been since the beginning.

Today only, Prime members only, can get a pre-paid plan at a significant discount!

These are the prices (in the USA):

  • 6 Months: $59.94 – Now $44.95
  • 12 Months: $119.88 – Now $80.32
  • 24 Months: $239.76 – Now $143.86

That last one works out to about $5.99 a month!

If you are already a member, here is some information for you:

  • Customers who are on a monthly plan and have previously purchased a pre-paid plan that is currently associated with their account and customers who have purchased multiple pre-paid plans that are currently associated with their accounts are not eligible.
  • Existing Kindle Unlimited subscribers with monthly memberships who have not previously purchased a pre-paid plan are eligible for this promotion. For those subscribers who choose to participate, automatic renewals will be temporarily suspended for the duration of the monthly package purchased and will automatically restart at its conclusion

You can gift a KU membership…and this would be a great gift.

For more information on KU (including the more than one million titles in the USA store), see

ILMK Kindle Unlimited posts

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.

Get the most out of Prime Day

July 15, 2015

Get the most out of Prime Day

July 15th (2015), Wednesday, is Amazon’s first

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

Note that it starts at midnight (the middle of the night Tuesday) Pacific time…it might be Wednesday where you are when you get this, and the sale may not have started (I have readers all over the world).

They say it will be bigger than Black Friday (in the USA, the day after Thanksgiving)…and that’s big!

Unfortunately, it’s likely to be so big that some people will feel like they missed out on something…so I wanted to give you some tips to help you.

First, sign up for

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

This sale is just for Prime members (although I suspect that the sales for non-Prime members may be pretty good).

You can sign up for a free month, and cancel without paying anything. Amazon hopes (and I think it’s not unlikely) that you’ll enjoy the benefits so much you decide to stay with it.

With that out of the way…

Financial

Make sure you have your 1-click payment set up the way you want. You might be doing it just with a gift card balance, to budget. If you have a credit/debit card, check that you’ve defaulted it to the right one and that it isn’t expired. You can do that at

Your Account (at AmazonSmile*)

where it says, “Amazon Wallet”.

While you are there, check “Manage Address Book”. My guess is that there is going to be a lot of mail theft on Friday. Do you have your shipments going to a secure location?

What to buy?

Remember that this is a great opportunity to get gifts! Whether they are physical gifts and you are going to store them, or e-books on which you are going to delay delivery until the appropriate time, this will probably be an excellent shopping time.

Put things on your Wish Lists so you can keep track. I’m not sure how quickly you get this notification, but a Wish List item usually tells you when the price is different than when you put it on the list.

We already know some things that will be on sale:

  • Fire TV Stick, fastest selling Amazon device of all time, $15 off
  • Kindle, $30 off
  • Fire HD 7, $60 off
  • Fire HD 7 Kids Edition, $60 off
  • 32-inch LED TV, $75
  • 40-inch 1080p LED TV, $115
  • Brand-name 32-inch Smart HDTV, under $200
  • 50-inch 4K TV bundle, under $1000
  • Bose headphones at the lowest price ever on Amazon
  • Chromebook laptop, only $199
  • Over 50% off two Nikon COOLPIX cameras
  • Highly rated binoculars, under $120
  • Two security camera-kits, $279.99
  • K’NEX 2-in-1 Ferris Wheel Building Set (Amazon Exclusive), $35.99
  • K’NEX Crossfire Chaos Roller Coaster Building Set (Amazon Exclusive), $23.99
  • Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots Optimus Prime Figure (Amazon Exclusive), $9.99
  • iRobot Roomba Pet Vacuum Cleaning Robot, under $300
  • Husqvarna mower, under $300
  • 40 lightning deals on DVDs up to 75% off
  • Up to 50% off any of the Harry Potter books
  • Save more than 70% on the Divergent Series Complete Box Set of books
  • Save up to 70% on select kitchen products from top brands like Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Foodsaver and Thermos
  • Save up to 50% on select tools for the DIY auto enthusiast
  • Connected Car and Scan Tool products starting at 60% off
  • Road-trip-ready automotive products starting at 50% off
  • Save more than 50% on Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain
  • 30% off select clothing, shoes, jewelry, watches & more
  • 60% off Amazon Elements Baby Wipes with code ELEMENTS60
  • Free luxury beauty sample box with $50 purchase of luxury beauty products, with promo code LUXSAMPLES
  • Buy an Amazon.com Gift Card multipack, get $10 in Amazon.com promotional credit
  • Get 25% bonus Amazon Coins when you buy 5,000 or 10,000 Amazon Coins
  • Prime Now will also offer deals in the six cities where the service is offered

That came from this

press release

I’ve seen multiple sources say that the

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

will be $50 off (making it $129.99, without the voice remote).

Stay connected

A lot of these deals may be lightning deals, and only be available for a short time. Checking the website is fine (and you can use that Prime Day link at the top of this post).

You may also want to check:

https://twitter.com/amazon

https://www.facebook.com/Amazon

I’m going to be at work and will certainly miss some things. :) You can check on a phone or tablet, so that’s an option for you.

I would also suggest that you jump on things, because some will certainly sell out. This is Amazon’s first time…they’ll overprice some items and underprice others. They may not have enough stock of certain items.

Oh, and one other tip: Prime Now (delivery in an hour) has to do with where it is going…not where you are.

http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=pn_surl_lp/?node=10481056011

Download that app…oh, and other Amazon apps shopping apps if you don’t have them.

Check movies, music, e-books…search far and wide. :)

Not exactly a tip, but I wanted to mention that some other sites are going to try to compete (like Wal-Mart). If you do shop other places, you might want to look for sales tomorrow.

See something you want to share with me and my readers? Comment on this post (I might do another post tomorrow, too). It won’t appear right away, but I’ll keep checking when I can to moderate them (as I do all comments).

Good luck!

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.

ABA tells DoJ that PDFs “…cannot be displayed on a Kindle”

July 14, 2015

ABA tells DoJ that PDFs “…cannot be displayed on a Kindle”

Yesterday, Authors United reportedly sent a letter to the United States of America’s Department of Justice, presenting reasons why the DoJ should investigate Amazon’s action with regards to bookselling.

You can read that letter, and what is presented as a supporting letter from the American Booksellers Association, here:

American Booksellers Association article by Dave Grogan

While my personal feeling as a reader, writer, micro-publisher (just my own works), and a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, is that Amazon has been good for consumers of books, I’m not a lawyer. It may be that they have done things worthy of investigation. Oh, I can offer my opinion on that, as can you (and anyone), but I can’t be an “expert witness” on the law.

However, I can reasonably provide guidance on a technical statement about the Kindle’s capabilities. I’ve been writing this blog for close to six years, and it is one of the top selling blogs of any kind in the Amazon Kindle store. I’ve written and published books about the Kindle. Amazon made me oen of their “Kindle Forum Pros”. While it could be argued that I am aligned with Amazon (I have gotten money from them, for example, in royalties), and I would expect that to be the case if I was testifying in court, I think my credentials to comment on a general statement of Kindle capabilities are valid.

The ABA letter, as shown in the above article, says in this short excerpt:

“3. Closed Kindle E-book System: Unlike other e-readers, Kindle e-readers and the Kindle app are configured to allow readers to only read books sold by Amazon and using its proprietary format. E-pub and PDF formats, which are industry standard formats widely read on other devices, cannot be displayed on a Kindle, further enhancing and perpetuating the retailer’s 65 percent e-book market share. – See more at: http://www.bookweb.org/news/authors-aba-doj-investigate-amazon%E2%80%99s-abuse-its-dominance-book-market#Authors United Letter”

Since the Kindle 2 in 2009, Kindles have been able to display PDFs.

If I were writing a letter to the Department of Justice, I’d be very careful and precise in my assertion of facts.

In terms of the rest of the content of the letters, I think my biggest skepticism is with the suggestion that Amazon has been a net negative for the “…free flow of ideas in our society…” (as the Authors United letter has it).

Was it really easier to get your ideas into society before Amazon greatly grew the e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle?

Let’s say that someone believes that, oh, kittens telepathically control the volume level  of the commercials you watch on TV.

I’m deliberately creating something that I’ve never heard anybody say, and that I think would be unlikely to appeal to a wide swath of the book-buying public. Popular ideas, which can be projected to sell large amounts, are never going to have the barrier to publication that unpopular ideas are going to have…there is money to be made.

In the primarily p-book (paperbook) world, it would have been very difficult to make a book about the  KTCH (Kitten Telepathy Commercials Hypothesis) easily available to people. A mainstream publisher would be unlikely to publish it. Without a mainstream publisher, it would have been very hard to get the book into bookstores (believe me, when I managed a store, people would occasionally try to get me to carry a self-published book…wasn’t going to happen, primarily for a number of logistical reasons).

Now, the book can be made available with the same distribution options as the latest blockbuster from a brand name author.

Not only that, the book will be available more inexpensively. Many people will have the ability to read it with paying no additional cost over their Prime membership, or as part of their

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

membership.

The author/publisher can even make it available for free on at least a few days in certain programs.

I don’t see how that doesn’t make ideas flow more freely.

Yes, it’s possible that Amazon’s publishing guidelines may keep some books out of availability through the Kindle store. Those platform guidelines don’t exclude a whole lot, although some types of books may be excluded. If Amazon chooses not to have them, though, my guess is that they are the same sorts of books that most brick-and-mortar bookstores would not have carried. “Underground” distribution options still exist…just as they did before the Kindle.

Importantly, the book could be distributed as a text file…and that could be read on most Kindle devices/apps, with the same technology as Kindle store books. An author might not make money on a book without Amazon, but the idea could get out there. Could one argue that people will be less likely to put their ideas out into the market if they have  to use one distributor (and whatever terms that distributor uses) to make a living? That’s possible…but in terms of the sorts of society-benefiting ideas being implied by the letters, I think authors would distribute them even if they couldn’t make a living doing just that.

I guess the bottom line for me is that I’d be okay with an investigation of Amazon in terms of bookselling. I think there wouldn’t be any broad negative findings. It could be possible that certain policies might need to change (some of their exclusivity/most favored nation** clauses, perhaps), but establishing the legality of their efforts which have made it easier for authors to make books available, and for readers to obtain those books, would be valuable.

What do you think? Should the DoJ investigate Amazon? Are the authors and publishers working together a case of “odd bedfellows”? Do you think Amazon has been good or bad…or both…for readers/consumers? 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.

** A “most favored nation” (MFN) clause basically requires that a supplier not offer a better deal to a distributor’s competitors than it does to the distributor. For example, it could be that a publisher can’t give a book away for free while it charges Amazon for it. While many companies do that, it always feels like restraint of trade to me…I think it’s reasonable to pay a supplier extra money for exclusive distribution, I don’t think one distributor should set the contract requirements between a supplier and another distributor.

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 #302: BAM goes private, Dr. Lao

July 14, 2015

Round up #302: BAM goes private, Dr. Lao

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

You can now send books to multiple devices at the same time

We are now starting to get more robust content management at

Manage Your Content and Devices (aka Manage Your Kindle) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I just noticed a big step forward!

When you go to a book and choose the action of “Deliver”, you get checkboxes for all of the compatible devices registered to your account. So, you can check several devices and deliver the same book all at once**!

That’s a nice change.

There is no limit to the number of devices you can have registered to an account (although you can’t do it for commercial purposes).

That’s great for a family. Suppose you get

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

when it is published tomorrow.

It’s certainly possible that several people on your account may want to start reading it right away (it’s going to be hard to avoid spoilers), and this makes it easier.

I should point out that while you could have a thousand devices registered to the account, usually only six of those devices can have the same book at the same time…if the number of “simultaneous devices licenses” is different from that (some books have fewer licenses, some are unlimited), it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page. This one doesn’t say anything so it’s six.

Nice to see things are still improving!

The Anderson family is buying back Books-A-Million

The second biggest USA bookstore chain is Books-A-Million…they are staying open late for Go Set a Watchman (see above), which is what you want a physical bookstore to do (I’m a former bricks-and-mortar bookstore manager).

It’s been public, but the original family is buying it back.

AL.com article by Kelly Poe

That’s not a bad thing, or an indication of trouble. My intuition is that customers won’t see much of a difference, at least for a while…we’ll see, though.

How big a deal is it to buy the second largest bookstore chain?

$21 million.

Amazon probably sneezes $21 million. ;)

Still, I think there is a place for physical bookstores, and I think many people think of BAM as having more…personality than Barnes & Noble. I’m more confident in genre specific, experience heavy stores making it, but if I had to choose between BAM and B&N keeping a bookstore chain going for the next five years, I think I’d go with BAM. I think B&N has a much bigger name and will continue to exist in some form (certainly online)…and let’s just say they may be happy that “books” isn’t part of their name…

Amazon’s Q2 2015 financials will be announced on July 23rd

It feels to me like Amazon is in a bit of a transition.

Yes, it’s a huge company, and those are hard to turn in a new direction…but Amazon’s direction has been intended to evolve for a long time. It’s not a case of them suddenly deciding to do something else, I think…but of reaching a point they intended.

I’ll be listening in particular to hear if they say anything about

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

and the

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

The former (Amazon’s subser, subscription “all you can read” service) has been around long enough to start giving us some real data.

The latter hasn’t…but interest may be becoming clear.

A recommendation: The Circus of Dr. Lao

I was looking at my main Wish List, and I do have a few books on there that I’ve read before…and which I still own in p-book (paperbooks).

Why would I want a book I already own?

In some cases, it’s because I want it for reference…looking things up in an e-book is a whole lot easier than looking it up in a p-book.

I generally don’t re-read books, although I’ve been doing that with the original (Wizard of) Oz books.

One of the main reasons I want to have them…is so other people can read them. :) We have a “guest Kindle”, and I would love to have Dr. Lao be one of the books available to people while they are here.

A while back, Amazon tried a thing where you could create lists of Amazon products and write comments about them, similar to what they do with movies and TV shows (and actors and such) at

IMDb.com

Well, I’d done a few lists…and when that feature apparently failed, they converted those lists to Wish Lists.

One of my lists was “(re)make this”, which was a list of things I thought should be made or remade into movies or TV shows.

This is what I said about Dr. Lao:

“This is a wonderfully sardonic book which has been cited by writers (including Ray Bradbury) as an inspiration for them. A circus comes to a small town in Arizona, and people don’t see what they want to see, but what they need to see. The glossary in the back is a marvel. It was adapted in an Oscar-nominate​d 1964 version (it also won a special Oscar for William Tuttle for make-up), and I do like that version…but it had a certain George Pal (the director) glossiness. Returning to the source material and amping up the unpleasantness could make for a new cult favorite movie.”

No question that this is relatively expensive (over $10), and it’s not in KU. However, you might want to add it to your Wish List, so someone else buys it for you…or track it at

eReaderIQ

where they will let you know (for free) if it drops in price an amount you choose.

It will also be interesting to see what they do on

Prime Day (at AmazonSmile*)

on Wednesday.

I could even imagine them doing a 10% off on any e-book…although the Agency Model might mess with that…they’d have to be careful about how they do it.

What do you think? Will BAM stick around? Are you ever reluctant to recommend a book because of what it costs? Do you buy books just to loan them to other people? 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!

*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! :) 

** I just wanted to say that, while I wouldn’t have used it, I figured some people thought of “one fell swoop” in this context. Well, originally, and still the way I use it, a “fell” swoop was a bad thing. It’s when a bird of prey swoops down and gets more than one prey animal at a time, like two mice. In the old days, “fell” was a synonym for evil, and that’s what it means here (from Macbeth by the way).

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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