Authors are nice people

April 21, 2016

Authors are nice people

I originally considered a more “click-bait” title for this post: “Are authors nice?” I decided not to do that, because from my own experience, some certainly are.

It’s interesting…writing is, generally, a non-social activity. Most writers, I’m sure, write in isolation…maybe with the door closed. We see fictional representations of authors’ families knowing not to “disturb” them while they are writing. Those stories are written by, well, authors, so you would think they would know.ūüėČ

I can write with my Significant Other in the room, typically, but it can really bring me out of the flow if I get asked a question.

Fiction authors can “create their own friends”.ūüėČ Of course it isn’t the same, but it’s a complete misunderstanding that authors completely control their characters. For characters to be effective, they need to have character…which includes them “refusing” to do something out of character.

It seems very likely that some authors become authors in part because they are uncomfortable with flesh and blood people. They aren’t comfortable socially, but they are still instinctively driven to explore social situations.

Some authors appear to fit that stereotype, perhaps becoming virtual recluses (J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Pynchon…).

It’s different for contemporary authors. In today’s social media climate, many authors communicate regularly with fans, and are much more open. Amanda Hocking comes immediately to mind…one of my favorite Twitter feeds (although there hasn’t been as much textual content recently, it seems).

There have always been nice authors, though.:) Writing fiction (and even much of non-fiction) requires empathy…you have to understand how people feel.

I’ve had¬† a few experiences where authors were kind to me, and I wanted to share them with you.

I want to be clear here: these three experiences had nothing to do with me being a writer. In each of these cases, I can guarantee you the authors were already established…and had no idea who I was.:) I was just part of the public…I say that to eliminate any possibility that they were being nice to me because of what small influence I may currently have as a blogger.

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

I’ve been interested in “cryptozoology” since I read Gardner Soule’s The Maybe Monsters when I was in elementary school. That led to an interest in all sorts of things “Fortean”, and in critical thinking and why people believe what they believe.

Loren Coleman is a titan of the field, having written several truly significant and bestselling books. The author appears on television shows and radio.

Importantly, Coleman is also dedicated to public service, and is famously generous with other interested people (well-known and not)…not always the case in that topic (or in many others, of course). One example? Creation of the

International Museum of Cryptozoology

which is currently being expanded in Maine. Loren is often there in person, speaking to schoolkids and adults alike.

The museum didn’t exist many, many years ago when I started an online presence which I called “Weird World”.

It turned out that Loren Coleman had already used the name for (as I recall) a TV pilot which didn’t go to series.

It would have been easy for an established author like that to simply make me, at the time a “nobody”, stop using the name.

Instead, Loren gave me permission to use it.

That wasn’t necessary. That didn’t give Loren Coleman any advantage. It was just an act of creative generosity.

I did start calling it “Bufo’s Weird World” to differentiate it, but I’ve never forgotten that act of unnecessary kindness.

Forrest Ackerman (at AmazonSmile* )

“Uncle Forry” was a science fiction fan from the 1930s. Forry is credited with having been the first “cosplayer” (wearing a costume to one of the very first science fiction conventions), coined the term “sci-fi”, and was most legendarily the editor of “Famous Monsters of Filmland”. I’m sure my love of puns comes in part from “4E”, although Oz and Alice helped as well.

There are many prominent filmmakers today who credit Forry and Famous Monsters for inspiring and encouraging them.

I was young and at a World Con. I had a ride to the airport…so I spent the remainder of my money on the last day in the “Dealer’s Room”.

Then my ride left without me.

I had no way to get to the airport. I didn’t have credit cards…I had nothing at that point.

I saw Forry across the room (I was a Famous Monsters subscriber).

I had some Super 8 rolls of film I hadn’t shot yet.

Not sure what to do, I went over to Forry and asked if this celebrity wanted to buy some of my unexposed rolls.:)

Naturally, Forry asked me why, and I explained my dilemma.

“Uncle Forry” gave me ten dollars.

No way to know I wasn’t scamming. No way to know I’d actually use it to get to the airport. Just out of…humanity.

Years later, I happened to see Forry Ackerman at another convention…and returned that $10.

Perhaps most heartwarming to me, Forry said, “Oh, you were that [person].” I was surprised that I was remembered…it had certainly been a few years.

Sort of like Loren Coleman, Forry had a museum…the family house.:) It was called the “Ackermansion”, and strangers would be taken through to see thing like a real Bela Lugosi Dracula cape, or an armature from King Kong.

The irreplaceable¬† collection was eventually broken up and sold off…something that can still spontaneously strike me with sadness. That’s right…out of nowhere, I can be sad about a garage sale. I think they may regret it now, but I’ve always been¬† disappointed that one of the millionaire “monster kids” of the 1960s who became huge successes in later decades, didn’t buy it and keep it together.

Michael R. Hicks (at AmazonSmile*)

This situation is a bit more modern, and perhaps different…but I’m still very grateful.

When I wrote my first book for the Kindle store, I didn’t know much about formatting an e-book. I’d taught computer programming, so I do know tech, but each technology is its own thing.

I didn’t know how to do an Active Table of Content (AToC), where you can click/tap and go to a chapter.

As I recall, Michael Hicks answer my question at what was then Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform), now Kindle Direct Publishing.

Again, no selfish reason to do that for Michael Hicks…it was just being kind.

Out of that kindness, I did read the In Her Name book…which is what converted me to reading on a Kindle. It was a great book (the series as since been…reconstructed, so that particular volume isn’t available that way).

In all three of these cases, it was simply an author being nice to a stranger…proof for me that (at least some) authors are nice.:)

What do you think? Do you have stories of authors being nice to you? Feel free to share them with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

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

*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.

 

 

Echo and Tap on sale today only

April 20, 2016

Echo and Tap on sale today only

Amazon was #1 in the Reputation Institute’s U.S. Reptrak 100 report (they often finish at the top of these sorts of things…which is great!) and to celebrate, they are doing a 1 day sale (they’ve done that before, too).

The

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is $153.71 (normally $179.99)

and

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*) $111.01 (regularly $129.99)

This is probably only in the USA, and they say it is only for today.

We use our Echo every day, and I’m surprised, but I use the Tap every day at work.

The Dot, by the way, is not on sale.

I’m going to get this post out right now so my readers on the East Coast have a better chance of seeing it. I may add to it, though.

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

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

*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.

R&D presentation at Be-Leaf-Er

April 19, 2016

R&D presentation at Be-Leaf-Er

Scene: a parallel universe. Johannes Gutenberg’s family was killed in the uprising in 1411, and movable type and the inventor’s other innovations did not see realization in that period. Movies were introduced 100 years ahead of our time, and visual media became the main way of communicating ideas. Reading and writing existed, of course, but it wasn’t the way anybody did business. Nikola Tesla, working in an unlikely in our world ongoing partnership with Thomas Edison, made motion picture cameras with sound household items by the start of the 20th Century. At the dawn of the 21st Century, a new technology arrived which was able to¬†mass produce many pages of the written word bound together, and the paper book as¬†part of¬†pop culture was born. Each book was expensive…an individual copy of a novel could cost $100. Since the Industrial Revolution had still happened, and there was no special demand for paper, there aren’t forests designated for publishing the way there are in our reality. One company, Be-Leaf-Er, has dominated the nascent paperbook market. They did this in part by trying something about which there had been a great deal of skepticism: original works, rather than adaptations of movies. “No one will want to spend hours reading a story unless they are already familiar with it,” was a common objection. Books went from being twenty-page movie summaries to something more closely resembling the novels we know on our Earth. As we join our story, the R&D (Research¬†& Development) Department is about to unveil their latest generation of the paperbook…

In a small conference room at Be-Leaf-Er headquarters, “Flicks”, the Vice President of Engineering, is smiling broadly and nearly bouncing up and down, even though seated at the table. Nikoleen Eddson, CEO, is watching a video on a small screen which has automatically popped up from the tabletop. Also present is Marketing Chief, Greene Bawkes.

Nikoleen:¬† “Okay, Flicks. I’ve watched your report…I’m anxious to see the actual item.”

Flicks: “Do I just show it to you, or should there be some sort of protocol…?”

Greene: “This isn’t a sales pitch, Flicks. I want to see what your team’s been whispering about for the past six months.”

Nikoleen: “Actually, Greene, I wouldn’t say this isn’t a sales pitch…”

Flicks swallows nervously

Greene: “Oh, come on, Niki…we’re already committed. If you didn’t think we were going to do it, you shouldn’t have teased it in that vidnail.”

Nikoleen: “I still want to be sold. I’m going to get a lot of questions about this…I have to be enthusiastic.”

Greene: “Just get on with it, Flicks.”

Flicks: “Well, here it is…the Sliver.”

Greene: “We’re not calling it that…it’s not a very pleasant thought, is it? It’s the Whisper.”

Flicks: “Um…okay, here’s the Whisper.”

Flicks hands the Whisper over to Nikoleen

Nikoleen: “I don’t…whoa, what just happened?”

Flicks: “You rotated the spine. I’m really proud of my team on that one. See, if you go from sitting up to laying down, you can turn the¬†spine so you can keep the text perpendicular to the wall in any position.”

Nikoleen: “I’ve never seen anything like that. That is cool.”

Greene: “Why is that better than tilting your head? Who lays down and keeps their head in the same position it was in when they were sitting up?”

Flicks: “Well, they never could before…maybe now they will.”

Greene: “Keep going…what else does it do?”

Flicks: “I’m sure you can tell, CEO Eddson.”

Nikoleen: “I don’t see it. Bawkes, you try it.”

Bawkes takes the Whisper and feels the pages carefully

Bawkes: “Are the pages waterproof? People have really been wanting that.”

Flicks: “Nope.”

Nikoleen: “Stain proof? Washable?”

Flicks:¬† “No, they are still paper. It is the pages, though. Give up?”

Nikoleen: “Just tell us, Flicks.”

Flicks: “You’ll love this, Bawkes! The pages are 20% thinner then they were before!”

Bawkes: “Thinner? I’ve looked at something like 47,000 customer vids…no one ever said the pages were too thick.”

Flicks:¬† “But…this was really hard to do! We managed to maintain the tensile strength…I think we’ve even improved it with a multidirectional grain which resists tearing. No more paper cuts and the book is two percent lighter!”

Nikoleen: “I thought you said twenty percent.”

Flicks: “The pages are 20% thinner, but most of the weight of the book is in the spine. The rotating spine added some weight, but we not only compensated for that we improved on the overall strain on our customers.”

Nikoleen: “Bawkes, have people complained about the weight?”

Bawkes: “A few…statistically insignificant. Not as many as complain that they can’t find the volume buttons.”

Flicks looks crestfallen

Bawkes: “I can tell you some things I do hear about. People don’t like that you took away the index and the table of contents…are those back?”

Flicks: “They would add to the weight.”

Bawkes: “Niki, have you given any more thought to letting people read it out loud?”

Nikoleen: “It’s not worth fighting with the modios about it…they are worried that if we let people read it out loud, they’ll start acting it out and turn it into something you share with other people, like your kids. They don’t want the competition.”

Bawkes: “That doesn’t give us much to work with.”

Nikoleen: “Relax, Flicks…you’re not in trouble. It’s as much my fault as yours. Next time, Bawkes, I want you working with the design team from the beginning. I want you sharing with them what you hear from our customers. I take responsibility for this…I’m the leader, it was up to me to guide this process. The question is, what do we do now? Flicks, how does the production cost compare to the Twigless?”

Flicks: “It’s a lot less! We can produce them for about 63% the cost.”

Nikoleen: “Maybe if we introduce it as a budget model…”

Bawkes: “No way! We’re going to raise the price! Tack a hundred bucks onto it…making people think it’s really special! I mean, it is…unique. Yeah, we can do something with that. It’s like those weird Blur Shoes or the Ergo-Fork. They’re expensive because…they take more work to make, not because they work better.”

Nikoleen: “Bawkes, I like it. Start working on a press vid. Put some sculptors in it…they get paid a lot of money for what’s basically a hunk of rock. They’ll get it. Yeah, it’s a work of art…”

Flicks: “CEO Eddson?”

Nikoleen: “Yes, Flicks?”

Flicks: “Do you want to look at our folding pen now?”

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

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

*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 reportedly offering Prime month-to-month, and separate Prime video only option

April 18, 2016

Amazon reportedly offering Prime month-to-month, and separate Prime video only option

More to follow, but Amazon is reportedly offering month to month membership to Prime starting Monday morning, $10 99 per month. There would also be a separate $8.99 a month Prime video only option. That would compete directly with Netflix and Hulu. This may be very popular, especially around the holidays. The annual membership would still be available and that would make it at a considerable savings over month-to-month.

Update: I’m surprised that there hasn’t been an Amazon press release on this yet, but I’ve been able to see the terms by logging out of Amazon, then going to Amazon Prime, and following the workflow as though I wanted more information on the thirty-day free trial.

That means this is real…and it’s really significant.

There are now three plans:

  • $8.99 a month for just Prime Video
  • $10.99 a month for full-featured Prime
  • $99.00 for a year of full-featured Prime (a roughly 25% discount)

The $8.99 a month means that Prime Video is going head-to-head against Netflix (which ranges from $7.99 without HD or Ultra HD and only screening on one screen at once to $9.99 for Standard ((which is reported the most popular)) which includes HD and screening on two screens at once to Premium for $11.99, which has Ultra HD and screening on up to four screens) and Hulu (which $7.99 with commercials, $11.99 without them).

We subscribe to, and use, all three.

While much of the reporting has been about the Prime Video only option, the month-to-month Prime seems like it could also have a very large impact.

It’s a big plus for Amazon if people buy a month and then stick with it.

It’s not so good if people cancel their annual memberships (or don’t renew them), and then only subscribe to it during heavily shipping periods, like the holidays or back to school.

Prime membership has been like a gym membership for Amazon: they sell potential, not actual use.ūüėČ Some people may go months without using their Prime membersips…which means Amazon gets the money that month for nothing. Arguably, though, Amazon is covered that way for the heavy shipping months.

I checked the

Give the Gift of Prime (at AmazonSmile*)

page, and at this point, you can still only give the annual membership.

I would give one month memberships, if I could. It’s perfect for co-workers, for example. I think I can say I would give many more one-month memberships to

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

though. Hard for me to imagine a much better $9.99 gift for a child than unlimited access to over a million books!

What do you think? Is the month to month Prime Video a challenge to Netflix? Hulu (I think this is¬†less the case…for us, Hulu is more about current TV shows)?¬†Would you subscribe and subscribe repeatedly to Prime to only use it when you need to do a lot of shipping? Will people who subscribe month to month just tend to stay with it…perhaps earning Amazon more money than the annual membership they’ve been selling? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

*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.

What features DO you want in an EBR (E-Book reader)?

April 18, 2016

What features DO you want in an EBR (E-Book reader)?

Amazon recently announced an 8th generation of Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers), releasing April 27th.

Customers have expressed a lot of disappointment. I suspect some of that might be that the Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) made a rare tweet ahead of time, raising expectations.

My intuition is that this new device, the Kindle Oasis, won’t be the bestselling Kindle model a year from now.

That doesn’t sour me on Amazon…they take big swings, and those aren’t always going to be home runs.

I also do think that Amazon listens to its customers…eventually.ūüėČ They are undoubtedly already working on the next devices.

When I’ve taught project management, I’ve pointed out that you can have the most influence in the early stages of a project.

At my work, we tend to introduce something in stages…first in one place, then add another, add another, and so on until everywhere has it.

The people in the first pilot location have the most influence. If place #1 likes something, you aren’t going to take it away when you add place #2. If place #1 doesn’t like something, it may be removed.

The last place to “go live” has the least influence…but starts from the best place with the most mature product. If everybody hated an optional function, it probably won’t make it to the last place…

I wanted, then, to give you a chance to indicate what possible new features for Kindle EBRs you would like. That could help influence Amazon’s development plans.

You also e-mail directly to

kindle-feedback@amazon.com

I’m going to describe some possible features. You can say if you would like them, wouldn’t like them, don’t care, or don’t know. I am grouping some things together: I don’t want to give you poll fatigue by having too many separate ones.ūüėČ

Based on the aggregate votes, that can give some indications for what it might make sense to spend the time and energy on development to implement.

Waterproof/Water resistant

What it is: current Kindle EBRs are not “water resistant”. Adding this hardware change would improve that

Why people want it: reading in the bath or at the beach. Walking in the rain

How likely is it: Kobo and NOOK already have it. It’s clearly possible

What would be the negatives: could cost more, be heavier (this appears to be the case with the Kobo), be thicker

My take: I would want this, although I don’t consider it crucial. I carry a Ziploc in my “utility vest” for my device in case it rains, which I would rather not do. One of the key things, though, is that it really does feel like Amazon is behind the others on this…a feature which was requested before anybody had it, and which has practical benefits

Text-to-Speech/Audiobooks/Music

What it is: the ability to play a variety of audio files, and TTS (which isn’t a file, but is streaming)

Why people want it:¬† it’s another way to experience a book. It can be helpful for those with print challenges, but also can just be convenient (in the car, for example). It can be combined with sight reading during “immersion reading”

How likely is it: we had it before…it can be done

What would be the negatives: might cost more, might not fit in a super thin device, could add technical issues, maybe more support calls to Amazon, and some publishers block TTS access…which isn’t apparent if you can’t do it at all, takes more battery charge

My take: not having this on an EBR is a deficit. When Amazon stopped offering any EBR that had it, I was¬†disappointed. In part, that’s for me: I do use it a lot. However, I can listen to it on a tablet (and I do). I feel like it’s more important for those with print challenges

More control over how text is displayed

What it is: more fonts, more font sizes, justification, line spacing…user control over how text displays

Why people want it: in part, it’s aesthetics…but people with different visual capabilities and mental processing can benefit from making choices

How likely is it: this is mostly just a matter of degrees and restoring what we had in the past

What would be the negatives:  possibly take up slightly more storage on the device. Might be confusing for some people to have more options

My take: this is less of a personal concern (I’m not very visual), but I really understand the value to people. It’s amazing how little things can make a difference…putting two spaces after a period, as you may have learned it school, can be difficult for people with dyslexia when they are reading online, for example

Color display

What it is: a non-backlit screen with color

Why people want it: partially esthetics, but it’s also valuable for graphs

How likely is it: Amazon bought Liquavista, which can do this, a while ago. It’s possible

What would be the negatives: more expensive, more battery charge use, might not meet expectations

My take: I have some color vision deficiency, so this would not benefit me as much as it would some people. Just for myself, it wouldn’t be worth sacrificing performance…but I would be curious, and I know other people want it

Active Content

What is it: games and utilities

Why people want it: it’s fun.:) It can also be practical, with things like lists and calendars

How likely is it: we had it for several generations…it can be done

What would be the negatives: most likely takes up more memory than e-books. May not be compatible with different models of Kindles on an account. Might cause technical issues. Some people see them as distractions on a purpose-built reading device.  Comparisons to games and apps now readily available on phones and tablets

My take: I always enjoyed this.:) It was great to see what could be done with such a limited platform…it brought out some real creativity!

Those are some of the main ones I’ve seen mentioned. Bluetooth (with audio capabilities on the device, of course) came up. A flexible device, so you could fold it or roll it up was discussed some time ago, and it is possible. People use to really care about EPUB compatibility, but I don’t hear that as much any more.

What do you think? Other features you’d like to see? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

*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 Kindle Oasis: Amazon’s breakthough in snark generation

April 16, 2016

The Kindle Oasis: Amazon’s breakthough in snark generation

Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is strikingly different from previous models…and not just in its shape, but in the online reaction to it.

Oh, I’m sure there’s no surprise that there is some pushback on it…there has probably been some pushback on every model.

As soon as this is officially released on April 27, there will undoubtedly be a number of 1-star reviews, just based on the price (which is considerably higher than recent models, although not as high as the introductory price of the first model in 2007). Others will mention the lack of certain features people had speculated might be included: a return to text-to-speech and other audio capabilities; a color screen; the inability to buy it without an animal-leather cover; and so on.

I will say that this Kindle seems to me to be representative of “engineer’s dream syndrome”. I just made that up:) but what I mean is this: I doubt that Amazon was getting many complaints about the thickness of the Voyage or the battery charge life. The same is true of the Paperwhite.

Engineers have a dream of making things thinner and making the battery last long enough for a trip to the moon. It’s a great dream: it’s engineering for its own sake, and it could certainly open up possibilities currently undreamt. However, I really don’t think it’s what the reading public wanted.

In Jeff Bezos’ letter to stockholders this year, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) said

I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins.”

We wouldn’t have the original Kindle without that willingness. We wouldn’t have the

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

which I think is a game changing smart appliance.

I don’t think this is a Fire Phone level error (I bought the Fire Phone when it was first released for about $200), but I don’t think it’s going to be their bestselling Kindle model.

I’d seen some thoughts about that, but then I found something interesting.

On the official Amazon product page, there are no reviews yet, of course. People, though, have found a way to game the system.

You see, customers can ask questions about products, and other customers can answer them.

It makes sense that Q&As can happen before the release of the product. There may be questions prior to purchase.

Just like funny reviews, which Amazon has embraced and promoted (see, for example, the reviews on the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt (at AmazonSmile*)), people are using the Q&As for the Oasis to write some really funny and creative material.

Funny, creative…but also critical of the product.

I don’t have permission to reproduce them, but check them out.

Let me describe the first one (sorted by “most helpful”)¬†a bit.

The question is deliberately written in a way to criticize the high price.

The first response at time of writing has¬†a very high 559 votes at time of writing…and there are 868 answers.

The second most “helpful” question may be a serious one about text-to-speech…with a very snarky answer at the top.

The third question listed appears to be a genuine one objecting to the animal-leather requirement…I’m honestly surprised one is that high, although it’s the reason I won’t buy one myself. There are 862 answers to that question at time of writing…I looked at the first several, and they also would have preferred some other option.

The fourth question was about the adaptive lighting on the Voyage…and the first answer is that it isn’t available on the Oasis.

I think it’s great that Amazon offers this Q&A, but I don’t think they anticipated this.

I’ll be very interested to see both the reviews and the sales ranking after release…

I’ve read through the owner’s guide now: the interface seemed very much like the current 7th gen models. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to hear them.

What do you think? Is this snarksplosion indicative of the general reaction the Oasis will get, or is it just a place for people to have fun? Will the Oasis be a hit? It may do well in holiday sales, so let’s put it this way…a year after it is released, how will its sales rank compare to the Voyage, Paperwhite, and current entry level Kindle? Will Amazon discontinue any of the other models before the holidays? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

*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.

Take the Geek Time Trip to…The Jungle Book

April 15, 2016

Take the Geek Time Trip to…The Jungle Book

The latest version of The Jungle Book, a mixed live action/CGI (Computer Generated Images) version from Disney with a voice cast including Bill Murray as Baloo, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken as King Louie, opens in the USA (and Canada, China, the UK, and others) tomorrow.

Of course, it all goes back to a book.:)

It’s a long road back to the 1894 release of the original book by Rudyard Kipling…a Disney musical animated movie, an anime, a sequel by Kipling, a non-Kipling sequel, videogames, and more.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain how you could use my

 The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project

to learn more about the beginning…and even read it for free.

Before I do, I want to get this oldie out of the way:

Q. “Do you like Kipling?”

A. “I don’t know…I’ve never kippled.”

ūüėČ

The History Project is in a growth phase. They’ve been getting more funding and more partners…for example, the AP (Associated Press) recently partnered with THP.

TMCGTT is also just starting. I’ve been “retrofitting” early entries I did to make them a lot more useful. I’m happy with what I’ve done, although there is a lot more to do (and there will always be more). I’m looking forward to future features from THP, especially in the area of collaboration. Even though that’s the case, I’d be happy to get a collaborator or two at this point. If you are interested, let me know.

I bring that up because one of the things they don’t have at this point is a global searchbox. You can’t go to THP and just search for all of the references to “The Jungle Book”. I’m sure that will come in the future, though.

Here’s how you could get to where you could read The Jungle Book:

  1. Go to https://www.thehistoryproject.com/projects/view/1433 on a tablet, SmartPhone, or computer (the website is, I think, too sophisticated for a Kindle EBR…E-Book Reader)
  2. Since there are so many images, it may take some time to load
  3. It currently defaults to “Memories”…click or tap “Timeline”. I can understand why people like seeing the images first, but the Timeline is a much simpler view, and therefore, easier to search
  4. I¬† think you’ll find it easiest if you click or tap “Show All¬† Events”, but you can also just navigate to 1894. When you find “The Jungle Book published >”, click or tap on it

The “>”¬† is my symbol to tell you that there is content you can get to easily in that entry. In this case, it’s a book you can read. In other cases, it might be a movie you can watch, a radio show to which you can listen, and (I haven’t actually done one of these yet) a videogame you can play.

I only put the symbol there if there is a free version available through a link in the entry that does not require a membership.

When you get to The Jungle Book, you’ll also see an image of the original cover. As regular readers know, I’m quite careful about copyright. I make an effort to find out if an image is in the public domain (not under copyright protection) before I put it in TMCGTT. If I’m really not sure, you’ll see a placeholder image instead…text I format.

You’ll generally see a location in entries. Those also appear on a map on the “all events” view.

Next, you’ll see a description. This is what’s there so far for The Jungle Book (reformatted to work in this blog):

===

Fuzzy date: year known

read online or download at Manybooks

at Archive.org

find at public library with Worldcat

at ISFDB.org

at Goodreads

at Wikia

at Wikipedia

YouTube search

Twitter search

Timestream ripples:

* sequels
** The Second Jungle Book
** Just So Stories
** The Third Jungle Book (not by Kipling)
* movies
** 1942 with Sabu
** 1967 Disney animated version
** 1994 Disney live version with Jason Scott Lee
** 2016 Disney live action/CGI version with all star voice cast
** 2018 Andy Serkis version
* comics
* anime

===

There certainly could be more information about The Jungle Book,¬† but that’s a lot!

The order of the links goes roughly like this:

First, the most easily accessible ways to get to the content itself. I don’t, by the way, link simply to a place to buy something. For books, I do link to Goodreads which in turn has the links, but TMCGTT is not¬†a direct money-making project for me.

Generally, for books in the public domain, I start with ManyBooks.net. On a computer (including most tables), you can read the book online. You can also download the book, then send it/transfer it to your Kindle. This is in the USA…there may not be a free version where you live.

I like the¬†ManyBooks interface..I think it’s easy to use and well thought out.

In the case, the book is also available at Archive.org.

Next level? Searching public libraries. You probably need a library card, but you may have one already.:)

As we get down to references (as opposed to the book itself), the flow tends to be from more specific (where there will be fewer entries, probably) to more general. The ISFDB is the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. That’s more specific than Goodreads, which is more specific than Wikipedia.

You probably know most of these. I was surprised at how much book-related content YouTube has…there may be book reviews, for one thing, and audiobooks (which may also be available at Archive.org). The Twitter search tends to find pictures of book covers, which is cool.:) I think it may be people selling the copies…and that likely falls under Fair Use.

You might not know Wikia…anybody can start a Wiki there, and they tend to be pretty fan-focused.

Since a new movie is about to be released, much of what you find may relate to that movie…but I do try to narrow it down.

In the future, I would want to add entries for each of the movies and each of the book sequels. That’s where collaborators could come in handy, in addition to them contributing their own items I haven’t entered yet.

Those would be connected through “tags”, which are also on this page. There is a “tag cloud” on the All Events view.

Tags for The Jungle Book include right now:

  • literature
  • short stories
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • The Jungle Book
  • talking animals
  • ferals

Most of those are practical. I like finding odder trends (for one thing, in the early Twentieth Century, there were a number of stories about “bodiless heads”…living heads which don’t have, and may never have had, a body (which is why they are “bodiless” rather than “disembodied).

Ferals (humans, generally, that have “gone wild”) include not only Mowgi, but Tarzan, of course. There are significant differences, but the similarities are clear. So, did The Jungle Book inspire Tarzan, or did Tarzan inspire The Jungle Book? Which came first…the Lord of the Apes or the Man Cub? As you’ll be able to see from the timeline, it’s The Jungle Book…which is part of why the timeline part is fun and enlightening.

There you go! I hope that helps explain The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip more…and since I ported the links over to this post, you don’t even need to go there this time to start reading The Jungle Book now.

If you have any questions or comments for me and my readers about TMCGTT, feel free to comment on this post. If you do go to The History Project, I think it would help for you to share your experience and your ideas with them at

hello@thehistoryproject.com

Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

Kindle Oasis is available for preorder for April 27

April 13, 2016

Kindle Oasis is available for preorder for April 27

Update: I posted this earlier today in a somewhat fragmentary manner, due to some technical issues (dead Fire Phone, flat tire in one car, and the other car was already in the shop). I’m going to clean it up, and add a bit more.

First, here is a link to the User’s Guide:

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/customerdocumentation/EW/Kindle+Oasis+Users+Guide+-+en_US.pdf

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but that will answer a lot of questions.

Second, I generally would be surprised if this is a big hit and becomes the most popular Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) model. Amazon doesn’t have a great track record with luxury versions. The Fire Phone was a flop (although I had one for some time), and was introduced at about $200. The original large screen Kindle was never the most popular, although that had some other factors. The Voyage hasn’t been as popular as the Paperwhite.

If you want 3G+Wi-Fi, no ads, and a wall charger (which is not included), it costs just about $400! That’s a lot of money for an EBR…and you can get an entry level Fire each¬†for all nine members of a baseball team for that price! Oh, I’m assuming you can still get the six-pack for $250 when I say that.

I’m sure some people will buy it and be happy with it…but I don’t see revolutionary features.

Sorry this will not be a very fancy post at this point. I am sitting in my car with a flat tire.:-) My Fire Phone also died yesterday, so that is complicating things.

I wanted you to know though that the Kindle oasis has been released for pre-order today. Here is the press release

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160413005921/en/

It does appear to be what was leaked yesterday. If the only choice is to get it with a leather cover, I will not be getting it.

Update:

I did get a response from Kindle customer service quite quickly, which I appreciate. Due to this situation, I will not be ordering the Kindle Oasis. I have informed Amazon of that fact.

Hello,
Thank you for you interest in purchasing a Kindle Oasis.
I’ve researched and see the Kindle Oasis device comes with leather cover. I’d like to inform you that we have included leather charging cover to boosts battery to last months. Unfortunately, we are unable to ship Kindle Oasis device without the leather cover.
As you don’t use animal leather, I’d suggest you to order the Kindle Oasis device and remove the leather cover once you receive the device.

Please visit the below link to order Kindle Oasis:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00REQKWGA

I’ve checked and see at this time, the option to purchase Kindle Oasis without leather cover isn’t currently available. Although this option isn’t available, I’m forwarding your comments as a feedback to our Kindle team who’ll review your comments very carefully as we continue to plan further improvements to your Kindle experience.
I’ve let the Kindle team know that you don’t use animal leather and always prefer to order Kindle device without leather cover. I have requested the Kindle team to offer this Kindle device without leather cover. They are looking for ways to improve our service and maybe able to introduce this feature soon in future.

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

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

*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.

“Leaked” new Kindle?

April 12, 2016

“Leaked” new Kindle?

In a very unusual move last week, Jeff Bezos tweeted that a new Kindle was coming this week. How rare? It was only the Amazon CEO’s (Chief Executive Officer’s) 32nd tweet since joining Twitter…in 2008 (the year following the end of the year release of the first Kindle). I wrote about it here:

Jeff Bezos tweets: 8th gen Kindle being announced next week

Now, according to this

Business Insider post with pictures by Eugene Kim

the Kindle has been leaked on Amazon’s Chinese-localized website (and then was removed).

This

Reddit thread

has supposed translations…and says that the Amazon Canadian site also leaked it in a comparison table.

First, do I think this is real?

I think that’s very likely. It’s not unbelievable that something gets released early…that happens sometimes, especially when international datelines and time zones¬†can be involved in a global company.

I figure we’ll know for sure today or tomorrow. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, Tuesday was the big release day. Hypothetically, the stores would get messed up over the weekend (which you would have to straighten), and you’d get a bunch of deliveries on Monday (since they couldn’t be delivered on Sunday), so you’d be too busy to pay much attention to new releases.

If these images and translations are reasonably accurate…

The biggest change for most people would be the shape of the device…it’s a wedge, thicker on one side than the other. While people are reporting this as revolutionary, it would be of a return to the 1st gen model, which was also a wedge. I do think having a thicker side to sit in the middle of your palm makes it easier to hold.

It reportedly has Voyage-level pixels.

It reportedly has both a touchscreen and buttons.

Interestingly for me as an ambidexter (“both handed”, rather than right or left), it supposedly rotates the image 180 degrees, so you could flip it (it’s supposed to do it automatically, like a tablet) to use the buttons on either side.

It also is supposed to have more frontlights, which would make the screen perhaps more evenly lit.

Looks like both Wi-Fi and 3G, although it’s possible there would be a Wi-Fi only model as well (the “leak” only shows one model…there could be several).

The big talk is about the “rechargeable” cover. It would attach with magnets, and could give you months of battery life.

If the cover is the big draw, and if the “leak” is correct, I’ll be disappointed. Supposedly, there are three colors of cover…but they are all “real” leather.

Like some other people (admittedly, a small minority), I don’t use leather. I wouldn’t buy a leather cover, so that would let me out of that benefit.

Here are some things which are NOT mentioned (although even if this is real, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t happen):

  • No mention of water resistance
  • No mention of audio…so no text-to-speech
  • No mention of processor speed or more/expandable on-board storage
  • No mention of solar-charging (which was rumored)
  • No price (well, the Canadian site reportedly said $999.99, but that would likely be just a placeholder price)

This would be buzzy, but I think price would have lot to do with how much it would sell.

One more thing: I saw a date of April 14th mentioned. That could make it Wednesday in the USA for pre-orders…which could possibly mean an announcement today.

Oh, and the name I’m seeing mentioned is the “Kindle Oasis”…although it’s unclear to me if that’s the name for the device or the cover. It makes sense for the case…it would be a way to get a “drink of battery charge” in possibly a charging desert, such as when camping.

I’m likely to buy one, to have one to write about for you. Again, though, I wouldn’t buy the cover if it is leather.

What if you don’t buy one?

A new hardware model often means new service enhancements. It could be that the enhancements don’t come to older models right away, but often come to at least the most recent models within a few months.

I’ll be interested to see what actually gets announced, and I expect to write about it when it does.:)

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

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

*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.

 

Recent price drops…and do you still care as much?

April 11, 2016

Recent price drops…and do you still care as much?

Note: my apologies, but I inadvertently left off listing some recent price drops, which I intended to do from the start of this post! You’ll find them towards the end of it.

My Significant Other is a big fan of Fannie Flagg’s writing…although when you say “Fannie Flagg” to me, I still think first of The Match Game.ūüėČ

It was interesting to get an e-mail from Amazon announcing a new Fannie Flagg novel:

The Whole Town’s Talking (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Interesting…and then exciting!

Why that progression?

I had to go to Amazon to see if text-to-speech (TTS) access was blocked.

We don’t buy books where the publisher has chosen to insert code into it to block TTS access, as regular readers know. It’s not so much for us, although I typically use it for hours a week. It’s more because I think it disproportionately disadvantages those with print challenges and disabilities.

In fact, my SO wouldn’t have wanted me to mention the book to them¬†if the access was blocked…but it wasn’t!

Others had been, but in writing this post, I see that at least one of them which was blocked no longer is…more good news!

Still, we didn’t pre-order it (it comes out October 25, 2016 in the USA).

What was the issue now?ūüėČ

It’s more expensive than we usually pay for an e-book now: $14.99.

That’s not out of range for New York Times hardback-equivalent bestsellers, which this is very likely to be. This was what I recorded in my April 1st Snapshot:

Price Point Analysis of New York Times Hardback Fiction Equivalents

April 1, 2016

14.99 14.99 13.99 9.99 13.99 12.99 13.99 14.99 13.99 14.99
13.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 12.99 13.99 10.99 12.99 14.74 11.99

Average: $13.48 (+0.04) 1 title under $10

Three of those were $14.99…and by October, there may be more.

We just don’t usually buy current¬†Big 5 bestsellers for ourselves any more.

As happy members of

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

we pay $9.99 a month (well, we took advantage of being able to get it on sale, when that was possible). That, and gifts, are how we tend to read current books from tradpubs (traditional publishers).

This is a book we’d especially like to read, though…actually, my SO will really want to read it, and I like to read what my SO reads.:)

What’s the answer?

Listing the book at

eReaderIQ

That way, I’ll get a free e-mail if the price drops an amount I specify. I expect this one may have price drops, because retailers will compete on the price (as much as they can under the current agreements with publishers).

How much would we pay for it?

When a book is more than $2.99, it feels like a luxury.:) I think we might pay $9.99 for this one, so I’ll set that as the level.

Well, actually, what I ended up doing, since it looks like more of the books may not have TTS blocked, is tracked Fannie Flagg the author…so I’ll find out if any of the books go down in price. You do that here:

http://www.ereaderiq.com/track/authors/

Again, though, I used to do this much more often. We just aren’t that emoionally¬†tied up in current¬†tradpubs any more.

There are so many more options that cost less and can be equally satisfying, at least for us. I don’t mind reading older books in KU, or¬† new indies (independently published books).

How about you? Do you still care as much about when a tradpub books goes on sale as you used to care?

Let’s do a quick poll. If you can’t find a good choice between the options, you can always comment on this post:

The e-book is price considerably lower than the hardback, by the way. The hard-covered is list priced at $28, and Amazon has the pre-order discounted to $22.21.

Huh, that’s interesting! The trade (larger size) paperback is the same price as the hardback…and not discounted. So, you can pre-order it this (from cheapest to most expensive):

  • E-book $14.99
  • Hardback $22.21
  • Trade paperback $28.00
  • Audiobook on CDs $40.00

These prices may (and likely will) change before it is released, and they are just the prices I see now for the USA.

I see that they do have a “Pre-Order Price Guarantee”. When the publisher sells the book, they don’t technically have to do that, but they generally do.

Update: here are some recent price drops…(prices can change at any time and may not apply in your country)

  • The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy from $9.60 to $2.99
  • The Left Behind Collection by Tim LaHaye from $47.39 to $21.99
  • Dragonbane:¬†A Dark-Hunter Novel by Sherrilyn Kenyon from $14.99 to $8.99
  • Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin (I strongly recommend it) from $10.99 to $2.99
  • How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying by Carol Leifer from $18.99 to $2.99

What do you think? Do you care less about¬† Big 5 books being discounted? Do you think that will be increasingly true? What are the factors which effect that? Will we see popular tradpubbed books go up farther in price? Alternatively, will begin to lower the prices if the sales go down (they’ve generally been having good sales on hardbacks, but it could happen)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

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


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