Today’s KDD: up to 80% off US history books…up to $50 in apps for free

June 27, 2015

Today’s KDD: up to 80% off US history books…up to $50 in apps for free

One of today’s

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

is up to 80% off American history (and other non-fiction) e-books, in honor of Independence Day (which is nex weekend).

There are twenty books in this deal, and some are certainly worth a look!

I like reading non-fiction: in fact, I think if I checked, I’ve probably read more non-fiction books in the past couple of years than fiction ones. I do like to think I’m an eclectic reader, though…that’s just my sense of it, I don’t really analyze my reading patterns.

History?

I read it, but I would guess I’m less likely to read what most people would consider mainstream history than intense looks at narrow topics. For example, one of my favorite books which I read in the few years of having a Kindle was

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (at AmazonSmile*)

about the “culture war” against comic books in the USA in the 1950s.

Was that a history book? Sure, but I doubt it’s a topic that comes up in many high school or college history courses.  ;)

As a Kindle Daily Deal, these prices only apply today, and may not apply in your country (I have readers all over the world…hi, readers!). Always check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

Remember also that you can buy these books today at the reduced price as a gift, and delay the delivery for the appropriate gift-giving occasion.

Some of these titles are also available through

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

at no additional cost to KU members.

Titles in this sale include:

  • We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: la Drang – The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway $3.99 at time of wrig KU
  • The Kennedy Brothers: The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby by Richard D. Mahoney $1.99 KU
  • Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson $1.99
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King $1.99
  • Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy by Ian W. Toll $3.99
  • Founding Mothers by Coke Roberts $2.99
  • The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against  LBJ by Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro $1.99
  • Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden $3.99
  • The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown $1.99
  • Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase to Chase Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson $1.99
  • Paul Revere’s Rie by David Hackett Fischer $3.99
  • Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer $3.99
  • Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears $2.99
  • On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery by Robert W. Poole $1.99
  • The Men Who United the United States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks… $1.99
  • America’s Women by Gail Collins $1.99
  • Coolidge by Amity Shlaes $1.99
  • Bloody Crimes by James L. Swanson  $1.99
  • Bloody Crimes: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis by James L. Swanson  $1.99
  • To H*ll on a Fast Horse:Billy Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase too Justice in the Old West by Mark Lee Gardner $1.99

Enjoy!

Also available, through July 1st:

Over $50 in Paid Apps & Games Free (at AmazonSmile*)

I appreciate that Amazon is not referring to this as a “bundle”, which has been the case in similar sales in the past. You can get as many of these as you want, but you do make individual choices.

I always figure on these, why not? :) I have them go to the Cloud only, so they aren’t taking up any memory on our devices unless we choose to download one. All it takes is the time that it takes me to click or tap on them. :)

Titles include (note: I have updated the list, because it does this weird thing of shuffling the titles when I click on one, and I missed some):

  • Simply Yoga
  • M.A.C.E.
  • Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst  (Full)
  • AirReceiver
  • Mirroring 360 – AirPlay Receiver
  • Crazy Rocket
  • Trouserheart
  • tinyCam Monitor PRO for IP Cam
  • Table Top Racing
  • Exiles
  • AVG Anti-Virus PRO Android Security
  • Airport Mania 2: Wild Trips
  • Weather Live – Detailed Forecasts and Live Weather Conditions
  • Fantastic Four In A Row 2
  • No Gravity
  • The Bard’s Tale
  • Alarm Clock Pro
  • Deep Under the Sky
  • AirPlay&UPnP
  • Endless Skater

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! :) 

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.

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

June 27, 2015

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

Barnes & Noble just had a financial year end on May 2nd, and they have released the numbers.

There are some interesting indicators here, although I don’t claim to be an expert at this stuff.

Oh, that doesn’t mean that they were growing…overall, consolidated revenue year over year was down 4.9%.

However…

I think they may be making some smart moves.

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I have said all along that physical bookstores can survive, and some of them can thrive.

It’s pretty simple.

They can’t beat online in selection…you’d have to have a giant “back room”, and that would cost too much in rent (one of three major factors you are fighting: rent;  salaries; and “shrinkage”, which is shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

They can’t beat online in price…the overhead is much higher in a physical store…and it keeps getting higher.

So, what’s left?

Service and the shopping experience.

People have to want to knowingly pay more for your books, because they like you.

B&N is, for the second year, doing a “Get Pop-Cultured” event throughout July.

It mostly celebrates geeky things: Star Wars, time travel (including Doctor Who and Outlander), and manga. I thought it was more appropriate to cover it in one of my other blogs, so you can see more details here:

Geek out in July at Barnes & Noble

As a proud geek and with that bookstore manager experience, I can tell you: it looks to like they’ve put together some great IRL (In Real Life) events! People who go to them probably won’t want that branch to close.

Now, those aren’t really tied into books, although there are books for all of those. They aren’t pretending that those days are about books. During the call, Mike Huseby, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) said as reported in this

financial call transcript from Seeking Alpha

“Beyond books, our toys and games and gift merchants continue to curate and impressive selection of products that appeal to our customer base as reflected in the growth of these departments, which continue to outperform other categories. Toys and games in particular grew 16% on top of the 12% increase of a year ago.”

That’s clearly part of their future. The margin on those physical items is much higher, and there can be a very different experience in buying a game or toy in person (I also used to manage a game store).

That doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned books, even if their regular bookstore core sales did drop a bit.

One of the events, on July 13th, will feature readings of all of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

They say

“The read-a-thon will feature a variety of special guest readers, including authors and local celebrities…”

Note that it is  “local celebrities”…that’s important, and part of the formula for success. Here in the Bay Area, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the Golden State Warriors get involved, for example.

The next day will see the release of what will be one of the big books of the year

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

the first time published related novel to TKaM.

Okay, the obvious question for this blog: what about the NOOK?

It was terrible.

Device and accessory sales were down fully two-thirds for the year: 66.7%.

Digital content sales dropped more slowly, which makes sense…down 27.8% for the year.

Why does it make sense?

Even though people are largely away from buying NOOK devices, people who still have them continue to buy books for them.

As the devices fail over the next five years or so (or get lost/stolen or become severely outdated), those e-book sales and others will also decline.

Personally, I don’t expect NOOK hardware to come back strong. The e-books might find a market on other devices and other delivery systems.

The college bookstore sales (excluding new branches) were up 0.1% for the year…but  Amazon has started into that market, so that’s dicey at best.

You can read the

press release

for more details.

My guess? The NOOK disappears eventually, B&N stores stick around but morph into being less about books and more about other merchandise and events. That may be a threat to comic book stores…

In this

CNN Money chart

investors seem unimpressed…the stock was down 2.98% over the past five days.

What do you think? Will B&N survive as a brick-and-mortar? Can they transform into a Big Bang Theory friendly business…and should they? Will books continue to be part of their brick-and-mortar business…in a way bigger than they are in your typical comic book store? Will you go to their events (maybe James Patterson day on the 26th)? Whither the NOOK? Are you over B&N or would you be sorry to see them go? 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! :) 

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 Introduces Updated Sharing with Instant Previews for Kindle Books

June 25, 2015

I am just on my phone, so I am going to share this email that Amazon sent to me. I may update this later.

Amazon Introduces Updated Sharing with Instant Previews for Kindle Books

 

Kindle readers can share quotes and recommendations with specific friends, using their favorite mobile apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, texting, and more

 

Friends who receive a share can instantly start reading a free book preview right from their phone, tablet, or PC—no need to sign up, sign in, or install an app 

Start sharing today from the Kindle for Android app, and coming to Kindle e-readers and other devices later this year

 

SEATTLE, WA—June 25, 2015—(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today announced a new Kindle sharing experience that makes it simple for people to have conversations about great books—using the mobile messaging apps they already love, and even with people who have never used Kindle before. Kindle readers could already share quotes and recommendations with all their friends on Facebook or Twitter, and now they can start a conversation with specific people. And clicking on a book recommendation or shared quote now lets people start reading instantly, much like typical links to articles and videos. Here’s how it works:

 

From a Kindle book, easily share quotes, highlights, and recommendations with specific friends.

Share via popular mobile messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as email, texting, and more.

Share today from Kindle for Android, and coming to Kindle e-readers and other devices later this year.

Friends who receive a share can instantly start reading a free book preview right from their phone, tablet, or PC—no need to sign up, sign in, or install an app.

“The perfect quote in a book isn’t always the perfect quote for your whole social network. Now it’s easy to share exactly what you want in a Kindle book with exactly who you want,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “Kindle makes it easy to chat about the books you’re reading, whether it’s making a recommendation or sparking a conversation about a quote you loved. And friends who receive the share can instantly start reading a free sample of the book—no sign-up, no sign-in, and no app to install.”

To learn more about the new sharing features announced today, visit http://www.amazon.com/bettersharing (http://www.amazon.com/at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*).

Update: I’ve tested this…it’s easy, and works well.

One of the biggest applications I can see for this is authors using it to promote their work…

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.

Censorship, free speech, and the (non)selling of symbols

June 25, 2015

Censorship, free speech, and the (non)selling of symbols

Amazon, along with several other retailers, is reportedly no longer going to carry items with the “Confederate flag” on them.

This is one of many articles on it:

CNN article by MJ Lee

This is a more complex issue than it might appear at first, and lands squarely in the middle of a topic we’ve discussed before.

Let’s talk about this in more general terms, rather than in the specific of this issue. That’s an important thing to do, especially for something involving a public entity. What may seem obvious to some people in one case then becomes a precedent for other cases where it may appear to be less clear cut.

First, First Amendment free speech of the publisher/product manufacturer is not involved. The First Amendment to the US Constitution has to do with what the government can do. It doesn’t have to do with what your friends, family…or employer can do.

An employer has the right to tell you that you can’t talk about politics with the customers. The government can’t tell you that you can’t talk politics with your social circle, but that’s entirely different.

Similarly, the government telling you that you couldn’t display a symbol or publish a book on a topic would be an infringement of the First Amendment…a bookstore refusing to carry books that promoted murder )or supported civil rights) can do that.

So, Amazon has the right to not carry books on pretty much any basis.

As a customer, you also have the right not to shop at a store that carries certain items…or refuses to carry them.

Amazon has other items it chooses not to carry…while carrying other controversial ones.

Snopes, which is a wonderful resource for checking out urban legends has even addressed a story that Amazon pulled Confederate flags, but not ISIS flags:

Snopes article by Kim LaCapria

As readers, it’s important to note that books are usually treated quite differently than visual depictions. Pornography prosecutions are going to go after videos or magazines with pictures far more often than text erotica.

I just did a quick search for

Confederate flag in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

Right off the bat, there are visual depictions of the symbol on book cover images…even though Amazon has supposedly removed sales of items with such displays.

Books are, as I would have expected, apparently being treated as a different class.

Even if you wish you would never see that particular flag again, you have to think about how you would like to achieve that goal. Do you want the government to ban it? Do you want stores to choose not to carry it? Do you want people to elect, on an individual basis, not to show it publicly? Privately?

Extend this to other symbols…the swastika might be a choice of some, perhaps necessitating cover changes to books like

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (at AmazonSmile*)

For some of you, that may seem like a slippery slope argument…and I’ll keep sliding for a moment. ;) If banning the symbol makes sense, does banning writing about the symbol make sense? Should you ban pro-Confederate non-fiction? What about fiction? Are books required to condemn the Confederacy if they are going to write about the “War Between the States”, “American Civil War”, or “War of Yankee Aggression”? You’ll see all three terms used in the USA, by the way, in part depending on where you are.

That’s not going to happen…not by the government.

However, industry groups have had “moral codes”.

The Comics Code Authority, for example had some very specific rules:

“3. Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”

“5. Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates the desire for emulation.

6. In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.”

http://www.comicartville.com/comicscode.htm

Imagine if those rules applied to modern television…

Remember that the Comics Code applied to publishing…and while some of it has to do with what is drawn, the above examples and many others have to do with the narrative.

My personal philosophy on this?

Let me give you an analogy.

I would prefer that people never started smoking cigarettes…that the product never existed.

I have a very bad reaction to cigarette smoke, and someone I know with asthma has had to go to the Emergency Department from unexpected exposure.

Would I pass a law banning cigarette smoking?

No.

What I would want is that everyone simply stops smoking or selling cigarettes. I know that won’t happen, at least not for a very long time.

Now, smoking in public is an issue for me, because there are clear public health impacts. I understand laws about that. I’d equate it to you not being able to drive your car on the sidewalk…but its fine with me if you want to drive your own car into the side of your own unoccupied house

Some people are going to equate displaying what they see as a symbol of hate with smoking in public. They think the exposure to the idea is psychologically/morally harmful in the same way that second hand smoke is physically harmful.

To that, I would say, “Show me the science”.

If it can be reasonably shown that exposure to an idea (visually or textually represented) in public is a threat to public safety (the classic example of yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre), then it makes sense to me for the government to regulate it. Not destroy it entirely, but removing the public safety threat.

If an error is going to be made due to fuzzy results, I’m going to tend to lean in favor of intellectual freedom.

Could someone argue that reading Gone with the Wind or Tarzan makes someone racist? I suppose, but in order for action to be taken, I’d want there to be very solid evidence of that public impact, and then only take actions against what  I would assume to be a narrow set of circumstances. I’ve read Tarzan, and certainly recognize the racial depiction of Jane’s maid…but I don’t think that made me any less tolerant. I would guess that recognizing it actually may have contributed to me being more tolerant. There are studies that suggest that reading makes you more tolerant, not less.

I realize that this a controversial topic, and debated even writing this piece…but I’m very interested in what you think. Should Amazon be compelled not to carry certain works? Should the e-tailer make that choice, or should they leave it up to market forces? Why are books treated differently from visual depictions? Does consuming media change people’s morals and behavior…and if so, for both good and bad? I do think I have  benefited from modeling my behavior to some extent on fiction (I think I’m a much better person for wanting to follow certain ideas of Doc Savage…although I do think those books have been reasonably challenged for ethnic/racial depictions). 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.

 

Round up #300: best books, books on buses

June 25, 2015

Round up #300: best books, books on buses

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

That’s right…300!

Wow! This is the 300th round-up! The first one was on October 24th, 2009. Let’s see, that means I have averaged…just about one a week (one every 6.9 days). That seems about right. I have a lot of fun doing them, and they are often a way for me to make a quick mention of something which I can’t (at least at that time) expand into its own post.

There are also times when it lets me let you know about something before I feel like I’ve really explored it. I might hear about something complicated, or controversial, and not be ready to give an evaluation…but still want you to be informed.

Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far

Amazon has announced their

Best Books of the Year So Far (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They didn’t just name ten or twenty…here is the list:

  • Best Books of the Year So Far
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 (15)
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 Children’s Books (20)
  • Arts & Photography (20)
  • Audiobooks (16)
  • Biographies & Memoirs (19)
  • Business & Leadership (20)
  • Children’s Books (100)
  • Comics & Graphic Novels (16)
  • Cookbooks, Food & Wine (20)
  • Crafts, Hobbies & Home (20)
  • Fashion (15)
  • History (19)
  • Humor & Entertainment (20)
  • Kindle Singles (20)
  • Literature & Fiction (16)
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (19)
  • Nonfiction (18)
  • Romance (13)
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy (17)
  • Teens & Young Adults (20)

Their top book overall?

H is for Hawk (at AmazonSmile*)
by Helen Macdonald
4.2 stars out of 5 | 384 customer reviews

Two updates

On my Kindle Fire HDX, it’s clear that there has been some (minor?) update to the Amazon Kindle reader. I’m at 9.9, and I’ve noticed a couple of changes.

When I tap the top middle of the page to bring up the menus, a little thumbnail of the cover now appears.

The other thing is that the text-to-speech (something I use every day) play arrow is on the right when it used to be on the left.

Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s all I’ve noticed so far.

The other update was to my

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

It looked like a system update…but it was showing Voice Input. I’m not noticing any difference, and I did test it with a few things. Still, it’s nice to see the Fire Phone still getting love. ;)

Books on Buses

I love it when adults read, but I do think it’s important and special when people take steps to encourage children to read. According to this

WDBJ7 by Jean Jadhon

the city of Roanoke, Virginia is doing a summer reading program on city buses.

There will be book bags at the front of the buses.

Parents (hopefully, legal guardians) with children can take a bag. It will have five books in it…and they can even take a book home, sort of like a library. They would bring it back later.

I think that’s great!

This was my favorite part of the whole article, though:

“I love reading books!” children chanted as they stood outside the Roanoke City Main Library Monday.”

:)

The future is bright…

Amazon Echo mini-round up

The

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

went on public pre-order yesterday. I will be covering it as part of this blog, but yesterday’s post just on it was an anomaly. :) A few notes…

  • The return policy wasn’t on the product page…I was assuming it was thirty days, like Kindles and  Fires, but it isn’t. It’s 180 days! That’s right…about six months
  • There are now over 20,000 reviews…still average 4.5 stars
  • Somebody asked, so I checked: yes, it works with a synthesized voice. That can be important for people with certain challenges who need to use a synthesizer
  • I liked that it knew the appropriate response to, “Alexa:  Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
  • There are still pop culture questions and answers I think it should know…and I may set up something to inform Amazon. For example, I asked it today, “Alexa: who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?” The appropriate answer, of course, is “The Shadow knows…” followed by a maniacal laugh. I think people would really like it when the Echo said something like, “Ha haha haha” for the laugh :)

When is an average not an average?

I have to say, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.

According to this

CNET article by Ben Fox Rubin

and other sources, Amazon is changing its review system.

Certainly, the current system is flawed. There have been a lot of problems with…biased reviews, even ones which have apparently been purchased. For example, a company might give you a free copy of a book, if you are willing to write a five star review of it.

Amazon’s approach is going to be to use “machine learning” to put more weight on more popular and more recent reviews.

In terms of moving them up higher on the page, I have no problem with that. We’ve had those “most useful” reviews for a while.

What concerns me is that those weightings will affect the average of stars (which I often report…I did it on the Macdonald book above, for example).

I’m going to guess that the specific algorithm is not going to be revealed…so we will no longer know what 4.5 stars really means.

I’d be okay with it with the option to see either one…unweighted or weighted.

I’d also like to see an option to see the difference between Amazon Verified Purchase reviews and non-verified…that seems like useful data.

However, let’s just make something up. :)

Let’s say (and again, I have no reason to think these are the numbers) that reviews posted in the last week are worth twice as much as older reviews.

A book had five reviews which were all three stars more than a week ago.

Now, the publisher gets five people to put in five star reviews all at once.

The older reviews are worth 15 “points”. The new ones are worth 50 points (five reviews of five stars times two).

That makes the average 6.5 stars…on a scale of 1 to 5. :) Presumably, they’d round down to 5 stars.

It would appear the book had a perfect score, despite earlier mediocre reviews.

Now, it could certainly be argued that the newer reviews may be more valid. What if the publisher updated the book, fixing mistakes, and even adding new material?

I just don’t like that I’ll never know what the average actually means, and that I won’t be comparing apples to apples. They may all use the same algorithm, but one review getting votes as useful (when those votes might actually be because the review is well written) could raise the average on a book over another equally liked book.

What do you think? Do you like the new review system? If not, what should Amazon do about the review system, if anything? How about books on buses? Can you think of other ways for cities to encourage reading…and does the choice of the books by the government concern you? What are your best books published in 2015 so far? 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.

 

Echo goes on public sale: order yours now!

June 23, 2015

Echo goes on public sale: order yours now!

I expect this could sell out, so I’m going to post this and then update it.

Right in line with what I’ve expected, the

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is now available for general pre-order! Update shortly, but if you want one as soon as possible, I’d pre-order right now.

Update: Oh, I’ve had somebody ask me what the Echo is. :) It’s Amazon’s “ambient computing” device. The shorthand for most people is that it is “Siri for your house”, but it’s different from that. It is a Bluetooth speaker, but you can talk to it, and it generally understands you and can do some things you ask. It can answer questions, it can put things on a shopping list, it can read you events from your Google calendar, it can give you the news…many things.

Here are my

post on the Amazon Echo in ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

Update: okay, here is the

press release

Some things that stand out to me about this general public launch:

  • The price is $179.99, lower than the expected $199…unless you want the voice remote, which was included for people like me who were Prime members and got it early by invitation for $99. I do use the remote, in part because when the Echo is at top volume playing music, it’s hard for it to hear me. Using the remote (which has voice input) makes it work just fine. The remote (Voice Remote for Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile*)) is $29.99, making the price actually higher than predicted for what we got ($209.98  versus $199.00), but lower for the base device. You don’t need the remote, but it’s nice to have. My guess is that there will be a lot of those sold as gifts. Note that each Echo only works with one remote at a time
  • The “in stock” date is July 14th…but again, my guess is that will only be true for the very earliest orders. We waited weeks (or more…months in my case) to get it on the invitation only pre-release orders. I’m guessing that they can’t make them very quickly
  • No discount for Prime members
  • No new features announced with the release, although they do say, “…developers have been using a private beta of a free SDK to build new capabilities and skills for Alexa, which will start rolling out later this year.” An SDK is a “software development kit”. This should lead to some very interesting third party applications, perhaps even for major companies
  • I wasn’t quoted in the press release (never have been…I know some readers guess I have a very close relationship with Amazon, but outside of sending me press releases and some connections I have as a Kindle Forum Pro, I don’t really have a special relationship. Despite ILMK being one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the USA Kindle store for more than five years, I don’t get any special treatment. :) That’s fine with me, by the way…it’s up to them. I’ve always sort of hoped that might send me some scoop kind of information or, yes, quote me, but I’m okay that they haven’t), but my review was considered one of the three most useful, so it appears on the product page right now. That probably won’t last: there are 18,274 reviews as I write this (with a 4.5 out 5 star rating), and those numbers will jump up. Still, I’m always happy when my writing helps people, and that appears to be the case
  • Will we get Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) (and Fire TV Stick ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)) support by July 14th? Still a possibility…
  • No limit shown as to how many you can buy
  • It appears to only be available to customers in the USA at this point. I would expect it to be available in other countries later this year (Canada, for sure). Part of that, I think, has to do with getting approval for it as an electronic device that receives/broadcasts. I always say that Amazon would happily sell products to the moon, if they could…they want to sell their products everywhere! However, they have to do it legally and in a way that makes sense. I have no doubt that I’ll see people from other countries saying they are being “discriminated against” or “not getting love” in the Kindle forums ;)

I have been saying that I think the Echo will be one of the biggest tech stories of the year…well, it has just really become a public story.

What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on his 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.

July 2015 Kindle book releases

June 22, 2015

July 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 4,770 (at time of writing…more than 500 fewer than last month) July releases in the USA Kindle store:

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

Of those, by the way, 902 (about fifty more than last month) are in

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

about 19% (almost 3% more than last month…a combination of fewer overall books  and more KU books).

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!

  • Libraries, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Enabling Access and Promoting Inclusion by Paul T. Jaeger and Natalie Greene Taylora
  • Never Die Alone (A Bentz/Montoya Novel Book 8) by Lisa Jackson
  • From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, 1950-2000 by Bob Leszczak
  • Words and Rules: The Ingredients Of Language (Science Masters Series) by Steven Pinker
  • Adapting Science Fiction to Television: Small Screen, Expanded Universe (Science Fiction Television) by Max Sexton and Malcolm Cook
  • Ideal by Ayn Rand
  • The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán
  • William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh: Star Wars Part the Second (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars) by Ian Doescher
  • Sex, Sadism, Spain, and Cinema: The Spanish Horror Film by Nicholas G. Schlegel
  • Down Among the Dead Men (A Detective Peter Diamond Mystery) by Peter Lovesey
  • The Poetry and Poetics of Michael Heller: A Nomad Memory by Jon Curley and Burt Kimmelman
  • Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1 by Peter J. Tomasi and Bogdanovic,Viktor
  • Animal Creativity and Innovation (Explorations in Creativity Research) by Allison B. Kaufman and James C. Kaufman
  • The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
  • Nemesis (FBI Thriller, An Book 19) by Catherine Coulter
  • Speaking in Bones: A Novel (Temperance Brennan Book 18) by Kathy Reichs
  • Brush Back (V.I. Warshawski Novels Book 17) by Sara Paretsky
  • Morna’s Legacy (Box Set #2): Scottish Time Travel Romances (Morna’s Legacy Series) by Bethany Claire
  • Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More by Dianne Jacob
  • Whose Harlem Is This, Anyway?: Community Politics and Grassroots Activism during the New Negro Era (Culture, Labor, History) by Shannon King
  • National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the World (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books by Elizabeth Carney
  • The New Adventures of Ellery Queen (and a number of other Ellery Queen books) by Ellery Queen
  • How Memory Works–and How to Make It Work for You by Robert Madigan
  • Deliberate Receiving: Finally, the Universe Makes Some Freakin’ Sense! by Melody Fletcher
  • The Science of Conjecture by James Franklin
  • Justice Society of America: A Celebration of 75 Years by Geoff  Johns and Roy Thomas
  • Real People and the Rise of Reality Television by Michael McKenna
  • A Heritage of Stars by Clifford D. Simak
  • Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years by Michael E. Newton
  • The Cthulhu Wars: The United States’ Battles Against the Mythos (Dark) by Kenneth Hite
  • Naked Greed (Stone Barrington)Jul 14, 2015 | Kindle eBook
    by Stuart Woods

Well, again…quite the mix!

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.

The most reviewed Amazon devices

June 21, 2015

The most reviewed Amazon devices

There are a lot of things you can say (and think) about Amazon product reviews.

Might some of them be from “sock puppets” (fake people created by the product manufacturer to write good reviews)?

Sure.

Could some reviews by for political purposes…say something is bad when really, you disagree with the philosophy of it or its creator?

Absolutely.

Might some be compensated without the review reader’s knowledge?

Undoubtedly.

However,  I think that many, most likely the majority, of reviews are from people sincerely giving their opinions.

Actually, that doesn’t matter much when doing a comparison of the number of reviews of similar products. It seems likely that the noise to signal ratio is going to be similar for similar products.

When we are talking about Amazon hardware, though, we do need to take into account that they cover more than a seven year period, so it may be reasonable to assume that the general evolution of customer reviewing has an impact. My guess is that more recently introduced items might have more reviews for that reason.

With all of that taken into account, I still think that looking at the number of reviews for Amazon hardware can give us an indicator of customer engagement.

I think that more reviews suggests more engagement with the device.

I have been absolutely shocked at the number of reviews that the Amazon Echo has gotten in a time period which is less than two days: 16, 371 a time of writing!

There are different circumstances here, since only people who got an invitation could get the device directly from Amazon (some people bought them off eBay and that kind of thing), but this still seems huge!

Here are the number of reviews for other current Amazon hardware:

  1. Fire TV Stick: 43,379
  2. Kindle Paperwhite 2: 41,872
  3. Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3): 42,733
  4. Amazon Fire TV: 29,415
  5. Kindle Fire HDX 7: 28,700
  6. Fire HD 7: 26.467
  7. Kindle Fire 1st generation: 23,722
  8. Kindle Paperwhite 1: 21,587
  9. Fire HD 6:  18,480
  10. Kindle 2: 18,260
  11. Amazon Echo: 16,371
  12. Kindle Fire 2nd generation: 14,289
  13. Mindle (my name for the fifth generation Kindle): 13,688
  14. Kindle Touch: 9,199
  15. Mindle Touch (my name for the current “entry level” Kindle): 9,197
  16. Kindle 1: 8,011
  17. Fire HD Kids Edition: 7,548
  18. Fire Phone: 7,231
  19. Kindle Voyage: 5,554
  20. Kindle DX: 5,272
  21. Kindle Fire HDX  8.9: 4,604

Update: I’ve added non-current models, and integrated them above.

I have to say, I found myself nodding in confirmation at some of the order above.

Clearly, there is some correlate with price. The least expensive item is at the top, pretty much (configurations matter) the most expensive at the bottom…but that isn’t a through line.

Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5? I use those every day. Number 21? Yes, probably my least favorite one that I owned (it was quite big…mine was stolen in a home break-in, but I had it long enough to understand it pretty well).

The Echo is going to jump way up: remember, it hasn’t even been released to the general public yet.

It’s possible that I’ve missed something above, and I don’t have all the shadings, but I am finding it an interesting ranking!

What do you think? Does number of reviews even matter? If it does, is it a measurement of customer engagement in any way? Would you say that the rankings reflect in any way how much you engaged with these devices? Is the number of Echo reviews so skewed by the roll-out methodology that it is hyper-inflated…or deflated? Will the Echo become part of people’s lives, or is this mostly due to early customers being Prime members (and presumably, more aligned with Amazon)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

* 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 echo owners now able to write reviews on Amazon

June 19, 2015

Amazon echo owners now able to write reviews on Amazon

Update: as June 23rd, the general public can now pre-order Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) with an “in stock” date of July 14th.

I am just on my phone, so just a quick note on this. I got an email from Amazon today telling me that I can now review the Amazon echo on the site.

That is, perhaps, another indicator that they will open it for general public purchase soon.

The email said in part:

“Thank you for being one of Amazon Echo’s earliest customers—your input has helped shape its evolution. Now you can share your experience with other customers by leaving a review.

Always ready, connected, and fast. Just ask.

I probably won’t write a review until at least this evening, but I will be interested to see what people say.

Update: I did already write a review, and I will link to it later. Holy moley! There are already over 12,000 reviews, and it is running at 4.5 stars out of five!

Update: here is my review…and now it is 4.5 with 13,086 reviews. That is, by the way, more reviews than the Kindle Touch (but not as many as the Kindle Paperwhite 2).

Bufo’s review of the Echo on Amazon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

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.

More than a million books in Kindle Unlimited

June 17, 2015

More than a million books in Kindle Unlimited

I’ve been a happy member of

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

Amazon’s “all you can read” subser (subscription service) which is $9.99 a month.

The number of books available through it has been growing pretty rapidly, and I noticed today that it is over one million titles (in the USA Kindle store).

When the entire Kindle store launched back in 2007, it didn’t even have 100,000 titles…this is ten times as many!

Now, interestingly, in my

Snapshot: June 1 2015

there were 3,530,378 total titles, and 984,701 in Kindle Unlimited (27.9%).

Today, those numbers are 3,588,503 and 1,006,072 (28.0%).

Let’s see: that’s 58,125 titles added overall and 21,371 added to KU…so about 36.7% of the books added were added to KU.

That’s a lot!

I’m still guessing one of the Big 5 trade publishers may join KU this year (at least with some of their backlist), but that wouldn’t up the total numbers all that much. The tradpubs (traditional publishers) are a tiny minority of the books published to the Kindle store each month. They are a lot more of the money generated than they are of the units sold, of course.

I find that there are plenty of books I want to read in KU, and that it does tend to encourage me to read books which are more expensive.

We’ll see how Amazon’s new royalty plan changes what’s in KU (it may mean fewer short books), which I wrote about recently:

Pay by the page read: Amazon revolutionizes royalties

Let’s see…by the end of next year, it wouldn’t surprise me if a third of the books in the Kindle store are in KU…

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.


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