Round up #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

Round up #271: bookstore paradox, the Amazonapocalypse

Attacking Amazon

Rage is all the rage right now. ;)

Even though I expect the

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

to do very well, and we are getting the Family Library (sharing books across accounts…although, presumably, in a limited fashion), and I bet we are going to get more cool services from Amazon in 2014 (expanding Firefly, the “real world recognition” software from Amazon is part of that…I find I’m using it pretty often to identify an actor on a TV episode, and to enter food into MyFitnessPal (at AmazonSmile*)), this is year where Amazon has been under attack…and I expect some of those aggressions are going to leave a mark (at least for a while).

Four years ago, I was writing about how super agent Andrew Wiley was in conflict with Random House over Wiley bringing e-book versions exclusively to Amazon.

Wylie riles

Now, Wylie has this to say:

If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.”

I guess it’s a good thing Random House got Wylie to back down…wouldn’t have wanted to see the poor thing get caught up in such a den of iniquity. ;)

Just kidding: I’m sure Andrew Wylie would say that Amazon isn’t the same place it was four years ago…and that Random House didn’t make the agent change any plans.

Then there is this

Salon article by Jim Hightower

which three ups Wylie by giving us “4 ways Amazon’s ruthless practices are crushing local economies”.

Hightower says:

“Amazon is insidious, far more dangerous and destructive to our culture’s essential values than Walmart ever dreamed of being.”

You see? It’s not just our literary culture, it’s our culture’s essential values.

I say it’s time to get the pitchforks and torches and storm the castle! Oh, we don’t have any pitchforks and torches? Here, I’ll 1-click some…we’ll be ready in two days. ;)

The 10 commandments of a book lover

The ever reliable EBOOK FRIENDLY has this

article by Ola Kowalczyk

with an image by Brittany Foster of ten commandments of a book lover.

I don’t agree with all of these, but I think it’s a fun graphic…and I wanted something fun after the first story.

I’ll just list one to whet your appetite:

“Thou shalt have more book covered surfaces in thine residence than not.”

Banned Books Week

Last week was Banned Books Week

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

and I realized I didn’t write anything about it.

Well, I could say that I did and it was censored, but that wouldn’t be true. ;)

I have written about it in years past, and I think readers know…I would always err on the side of openness. I would rather that someone reads something they “shouldn’t” than that ten people aren’t allowed to read something they should.

I believe that you want people exposed to ideas that you don’t like. It’s the only way they can judge them…you don’t want to be sprung on them when they aren’t expecting it.

For me, I’d say, “Let the hate speakers speak.” I don’t like it…I’m even thinking I was too harsh on Andrew Wylie in the first story (even it was in fun). However, hateful ideas are a bit like vampires…sunlight destroys them. If somebody thinks that all of x group should be hurt in some way, I want to know that before they do it…not after. I want the power of laughter and rational thinking to be unleashed. I want to give their opponents an opportunity to challenge the ideas in open forum.

There is an argument for age appropriateness for me. My feeling is that once your sense of right and wrong is reasonably established, a book advocating “evil” things won’t make you evil…but you may be open to a book advocating “good” things, which can make you a better person.

I’m always surprised, though, when families don’t want their children exposed to ideas different from theirs (I’m not talking about porn, here, but philosophical differences). It always makes me think that you must not consider your ideas to be very strong, or your child to have much respect for you.

I wanted our child to choose our ideas because the kid agreed with them…not because there was no other choice offered. We don’t agree on everything now that our kid is an adult, of course, but some of our fundamentals are the same…and we can accept the differences.

If you’ve never seen differences, how can you possibly accept them?

My First Bookstore

This

Huffington Post article by Celeste Ng

is an interesting remembrance, and comparison of the bookstore experiences of our youths with those of being a parent.

I don’t remember which was my first bookstore…because there have been so many.

I would go into a bookstore and spend hours there (and no, I’m not talking about when I managed one). ;)

I think I remember most dusty, cramped, used bookstores…there was such a hope there that you would discover a long lost treasure, a book that might change your world.

Oh, I haven’t told you this before…and it’s one of the weirder things in my life.

There was a comic book/science fiction store I would visit. On more than one occasion, I swear I would arrive there before I left.

I even demonstrated that to people. We’d leave the house at, say, 3:15, and get there at 3:05 (I think the trip should have been about twenty minutes, as I recall).

It made sense in a sci fi way, but I couldn’t quite explain it.

I’m sure that will surprise some of you, because I think I sometimes come across as very scientifically based…and this certainly doesn’t fit in with science. :)

My best weird story like that was in high school.

I had a history teacher I liked…we got along well. I remember asking if I could teach the causes of the Civil War one day, and was allowed to do that…it went very well.

So, one Friday, this teacher told a joke in our class: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” Yes, they do…fruit flies like all kinds of fruit. :)

I thought that was funny, and repeated it to friends.

Monday morning, the teach told the same joke. The teacher looked and me and said, “You’re not laughing.”

I said, “I thought it was funny on Friday.”

The teacher denied telling it on Friday…and the rest of the class denied hearing it. I was thinking they must have forgotten it, and then the teacher said, “It was in Herb Caen this morning.”

Herb Caen was a famous San Francisco area columnist, and I checked…sure enough, it was there Monday morning, and not Friday (I’m not sure I have the particulars right, but the basic story is right).

The people to whom I’d told it Friday? They remembered me telling it to them…and telling them I’d heard it in that teacher’s class.

Interesting that it was that joke…seems apropos.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite childhood bookstore? What made it special? Will Amazon shrug off the criticism? Will it drive them to give us more practical benefits…or eventually crush them or cause them to raise prices? What if you couldn’t take your child to a bookstore…would spending time online with them looking at books be similar? Would going to a public library be the same? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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


Top 10 blogs in the USA Kindle store

Top 10 blogs in the USA Kindle store

I last reported on the top ten blogs in the USA Kindle store in July of last year…and I’m a bit surprised at how much they are the same as they were.

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me too much…I don’t think this is particularly a dynamic and growing part of the Kindle store.

For me personally, it’s a very important part of my life! I’m thankful for my subscribers (thanks, subscribers!) every day. I (or I should say, “we”, since you are part of what makes this possible) have been doing ILMK for over five years now, and it is certainly my biggest creative focus.

I can’t say, though, that it is much of Amazon’s marketing or technical focus. You still can’t subscribe to blogs directly through Amazon on their tablets (or phone, for that matter)…and I don’t think there is any particular technical reason why they couldn’t do that.

I think strategically, they may just figure that blogs are a low profit item for them..but come on, when has Amazon ever cared about profit? ;)

It makes me wonder how much the EBR (E-Book Reader) market is growing, in terms of new people entering it. How many people are buying their very first EBRs?

My guess is that we bloggers in the Kindle store are largely coasting on the people who have already subscribed.

The new Kindle device product pages don’t even mentions blogs.

I’m not complaining about any of this. :) I really enjoy writing this blog, and I enjoy the communication I get with readers out of it. I do feel like I’m often helping people, and that’s the best feeling for me.

Well, let’s take a look at the list:

1. (last time: #1) Free Kindle Books and Tips (at AmazonSmile*)
by Michael Gallagher
4.4 out of 5 stars, 161 customer reviews

2. (last time: #2) The New York Times – Latest News (at AmazonSmile*)
3.3 stars, 121 reviews

3. (last time: #3) Free books OnKindle — bestsellers, top movers, new (at AmazonSmile*)
2.6 stars, 20 reviews

4. (last time: #5): Huffington Post (at AmazonSmile*)
2.9 stars, 36 reviews

5. (last time: #4): Free books for Kindle at AmazonSmile*
3.5 stars, 29 reviews

6. (last time: #8): National Review Online: Articles (at AmazonSmile*)
4.2 stars, 13 reviews

7. (last time: #6): Kindle Nation Daily (at AmazonSmile*)
by Stephen Windwalker
3.6 stars, 41 reviews

8. (new to the top ten) Free Kindle Games (at AmazonSmile*)
by Wendy Boswell
1.9 stars, 39 reviews

9. (last time: #7) I Love My Kindle (at AmazonSmile*)
by Bufo Calvin (that’s me, folks)
4.5 stars, 39 reviews

10. (new to the top ten): National Catholic Register: News & Blogs Feed (at AmazonSmile*)
4.1 stars, ten reviews

As you can see, the top three are unchanged, in terms of title or rank. Only two out of the ten are new to the top ten. There has been a bit of shuffling, but it’s really much of a muchness.

I’m very proud to have the highest star-rating out of these bestsellers! I know I don’t please everybody every day, but I think there are a couple of strengths.

One is the amount of output, honestly. :) I told myself that I’d average a 1,000 words a day in this blog, and I do that. I think that people appreciate the sheer volume. :)

Also, I really strive to keep it eclectic…to cover different types of things. I want it to be that at least every few days, you feel like you are getting your money’s worth (if you are a subscriber…your time’s worth for everybody else). I can’t always avoid it, but I try not to write the same sort of thing two days in a row.

For example, I know some people don’t like the “mathy” posts. I know others don’t like the humor posts. Still others aren’t really interested in reading about devices other than the EBRs (the non-Fire Kindles).

Hopefully, what happens is that somebody might see one that is “meh” to them, and the next day or the day after, see something that they particularly like.

I’m pretty confident those aren’t the only two reasons, but I do think they are something which sets this blog apart from a lot of the other excellent blogs out there.

Well, there’s the list! I’ll probably check in on this in another year or so…

As always, I’m interested in what you think. Are you reading blogs on your EBR as much as you used to do? Why do you think there are some blogs in the top ten which are so poorly reviewed? Before blogs, did you read fanzines? I know, not quite the same thing, but I think there is a line of evolution there. Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Update: I also noticed something interesting when looking at the blogs. Amazon has a listing for hot new blogs…and erotica certainly seems to be a significant part of that. I’m warning you ahead of time: the listing contains images that are NSFW (Not Safe for Work), featuring nudity.

Hot New Releases in Kindle Blogs NSFW (at AmazonSmile*)

One of these blogs’ images (without nudity, but with what would certainly have been considered a  risqué  shot at one time) appeared on the blog store homepage.

Amazon runs into people concerned about that from time to time. There are some pretty explicit images that can appear when you are shopping at Amazon. There used to be a way to turn off images entirely when using Google, which was a sort of workaround, but I’m sure that is still available…and it doesn’t stop explicit text, of course.

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

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

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


New search tip: sort by Most Reviews

New search tip: sort by Most Reviews

I think a lot of times, people go into the Kindle store looking for a “mainstream” book. They want a “People Magazine book”, as I call them: one that would have been reviewed in that publication. They want what they consider a “real book”, a popular book.

You can’t sort in the Kindle store by Avg. Customer Review and find that…you’ll find many faith-based titles at the top of the lists (I think people tend to give those higher reviews), but not necessarily well-known ones.

Sorting by publication date doesn’t work, either. Not only are obscure indies added every day, but publication date is what the publisher puts on it…not when the book was originally published. A bestseller from 1942 may have a 2014 publication date: that’s just up to the publisher to choose. I see people asking sometimes why Amazon doesn’t put the date on there. Well, that’s a surprising amount of work. You’d have to verify that the book was the book you thought it was…that it wasn’t a new translation, or a book with the same name, or that a new introduction hadn’t been added to it. Then, you’d have to search publication records.

It might sound easy, but all of that would add to the cost of selling it, and would introduce another area for error on Amazon’s part…better to let the publisher choose, I think.

Interestingly, a strong indicator is the number of reviews.

I don’t think I’ve seen a book in the Kindle store with, oh, over 5,000 reviews where I hadn’t heard of it.

Up until recently, that hasn’t been a sort option.

I was surprised to see it today…at least for the Kindle Matchbook program books:

Kindle Matchbook sorted by most reviews (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That program lets you buy an e-book if you buy (or have bought from Amazon in the past) a p-book (paperbook). That’s only true for a certain set of books…45,297 at time of writing.

Here are the top books that appear:

I’m guessing you’ve heard of all three of those…and I might have had the three of them in the window when I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Unfortunately, as I was looking around the Kindle store, I wasn’t seeing that as a sort option. It could be that they are just rolling it out, or testing  (Amazon does that a lot) to see how it impacts sales and how often it is used.

However…

I did notice something when I did the search!

At the end of the URL (uniform or universal resource locator)…the web address, there was this phrase:

&sort=review-count-rank

I went to the main Kindle store listing, swapped out the sort at the end with that phrase…and it seems to have worked!

USA Kindle store books sorted by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Here are the most reviewed books in the USA Kindle store, based on that:

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins…32,047
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins…32,047
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green…31,372
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James…26,937
  • Good Girl by Gillian Flynn…23,221

Certainly, those are bestsellers which have been part of the cultural discussion.

There are multiple things which drive the number of reviews. Here are a few…I don’t have statistics on this, this is just my guess:

  • I think more recent books tend to be reviewed more (people don’t usually go back and review a book they read a decade ago)
  • I suspect that young people tend to write more reviews than older people
  • Degree of emotional reaction to a book (pro or con)

Now, I know some people tend to reject things that are popular, but I think this may be one of the best ways to identify an…impactful book (on society).

I’m certainly going to try this again in other places!

Try it out in areas of your expertise, and imagine if someone had come up to you and asked to read some books so they could be part of the conversation…not necessarily the best books (those might be obscure), but just to understand what the “buzz” is.

I think this tends to work in part because the number of reviews will include other formats…so p-books affect this. That may also mean that indies (independently published books) are at a disadvantage on this, but they generally aren’t going to be those People Magazine books anyway (not yet, anyway).

I just tried it on some other searches, and it does seem to have worked.

Always love to find something sort of hidden like this and share it with you! :) I’m hoping they add it to the dropdowns generally so everybody can use it, but until then, enjoy!

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

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

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


Kindle Voyage ad: Bezos=Nemo?

Kindle Voyage ad: Bezos=Nemo?

Amazon has posted a new

ad on YouTube

for the

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

their upcoming (in pre-orders now) top of the line EBR (E-Book Reader).

I like the ad: it’s slick, and is all about the product. They don’t type their customers demographically (which they’ve done in the past…early Kindle ads were often filled with young people) or knock down their competition (as they did with the “pool ad”).

It’s what I want an ad for a Kindle to be, in many ways…touting the reading, and what reading does for you, as well as pointing out a few of the technological things.

They show some text from a book in it, and I recognized it: it’s from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne.

Interestingly, that got me thinking.

Some people point to Captain Nemo as a James Bond type super villain…type “megalomaniacal” and “Nemo” into a search engine, and you’ll find several definitions of the character.

However, there is an argument to be made that although Nemo was a brilliant thinker, working outside the box, using new technology…the ardent environmentalist took a wrong turn into violence, but was trying to do good in the world.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is a brilliant thinker working outside the box, using new technology, and I believe, trying to do good in the world.

Has the CEO made that wrong turn into harming others as a means to an end? You’ll certainly find people who think so.

That’s why I found that book an…intriguing choice.

I’m unconvinced, though, that Amazon thinks that carefully about what associations people will make. When they named the Kindle the “Kindle” originally, they appear not to have anticipated the association people would make between “kindling” and burning books…that used to be something I’d see on the internet.

Without spoiling 20,000 Leagues (I think there is no statute of limitations on spoilers…a ten-year old reading it for the first time today deserves the same joy of discovery today as they did a hundred years ago), I want to put a couple of quotations here, and let you consider their possible connection (at least metaphorically) to Amazon.

Here’s one that I think points up how some people see Amazon as a company…the fascination with it:

“In every place of great resort the monster was the fashion. They sang of it in the cafes, ridiculed it in the papers, and represented it on the stage. All kinds of stories were circulated regarding it. There appeared in the papers caricatures of every gigantic and imaginary creature, from the white whale, the terrible ‘Moby Dick’ of sub-arctic regions, to the immense kraken, whose tentacles could entangle a ship of five hundred tons and hurry it into the abyss of the ocean. The legends of ancient times were even revived.”

Legends of ancient times…like the Amazon warriors, perhaps? ;)

As to Jeff, there is this riposte from Captain Nemo…is it that hard to imagine Jeff Bezos reacting similarly if someone in a meeting said, “But real business people don’t do it that way”?

“I’m not what you term a civilized man! I’ve severed all ties with society, for reasons that I alone have the right to appreciate. Therefore I obey none of its regulations, and I insist that you never invoke them in front of me!”

I do think Amazon, while undeniably imperfect, has brought a tremendous amount of good to the world. I’m a former brick and mortar bookstore manager, and a very minor author (although this blog is reasonably popular), and I think the book industry needed to be shaken up. I think that Amazon has made it so more books are available more easily to more people, and that is a good thing.

So, does Bezos=Nemo? Certainly not…but there a few similarities. ;)

What do you think? Am I underplaying Amazon’s negatives? Strikes in Germany, open letters against them by famous authors, complaints from small publishers…are these legitimate responses to ruthless policies? On the other hand, has the way that Amazon has enabled authors to bypass the tradpubs (traditional publishers) and make a living writing been a great benefit to readers? Would you compare Jeff Bezos to some other literary character or historical person? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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

 


TKC 321 Joshua Tallent

JoshuaTallent

Chief eBook Architect at Firebrand Technologies

Interview starts at 14:14

I think that, because self-publishing has gotten easier, because the tools have gotten easier to use and there are so many more services available to self-published authors, you can compete directly with the work that’s coming out of these major publishing houses.

 

Show Notes and Links:

News

Kindle Voyage Amazon video ad

E Inc Carta specifications at E Ink web site

David Carnoy, executive editor of CNET – video from NYC Amazon launch event

Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge – video from NYC event

“Andy Ihnatko wonders if he needs a new Kindle” by Andy Ihnatko at the Chicago Sun-Times – September 17, 2014

“Bookless library opened by new US university” by Alison Flood at The Guardian – August 29, 2014

“Downton Abbey Kindle Ads: Are they spoiling the mood of the period drama?” by Martin Belam at The Mirror – September 21, 2014

Amazon Prime credit for eBook or book when you choose Free No-Rush Shipping

Tech Tip

How to see Collections on your Kindle Paperwhite

[Click here to listen to Casper Fire Chief Kenneth King’s inspiring 8-minute eulogy for his fellow department member, Capt. Jeffrey P. Atkinson, son of my friend and E-Books for Troops helper Tom Atkinson.]

Interview with Joshua Tallent

eBook Architects, a service of Firebrand Technologies

eBook Ninjas training program

Firebrand’s new FlightDeck tool for preparing eBooks for sale by major retailers

Author Earnings website

Books available on Kindle by Joshua Tallent’s sister, Sarah Johnson

“One Year Later, the Results of Tor Books UK Going DRM-Free” by Julie Crisp at Tor.com – April 29, 2013

O’Reilly Media

Spritz

Content

“Line by Line, E-Books Turn Poet-Friendly” by Alexandra Alter at The New York Times – September 14, 2014

Poetry volumes by John Ashbery at the Kindle Store, published by Open Road Media

Open Road video profile of John Ashbery

A Poet’s Progress at Bennington – Vol. 1 by Len Edgerly

Music for my podcast is from an original Thelonius Monk composition named “Well, You Needn’t.” This version is “Ra-Monk” by Eval Manigat on the “Variations in Time: A Jazz Persepctive” CD by Public Transit Recording” CD.

Please Join the Kindle Chronicles group at Goodreads!

 

Send to Kindle

Whew


How To Get Away With Murder series premiere: one murder set in one timeline, another set in a timeline about three months later, with the show jumping back and forth between the two timelines while squeezing in all kinds of other subplots. I better lay off that second glass of wine if I'm going to try to keep up with this. I didn't realize I was tuning into Raymond Chandler crossed with Lost.

Big app giveaway, FTV discount…and free books

Big app giveaway, FTV discount…and free books

There is a

Limited Time App Giveaway (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right now in the Amazon Appstore.

It’s not a LTO (Limited Time Offer) that we get on our Kindle Fires…it will probably be there through today, and maybe another day, but they don’t  give a date, and it’s available to everyone who can use the USA Amazon Appstore. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button.

There are some good apps here, ones that I use regularly! I know at least one of them is usually about $15.

Twenty-three of the twenty-seven are good for the Fire Phone, twenty-five are good on at least some Fire tablets, and three are good on the Fire TV.

I’m going to get all the ones I don’t already have. :) One nice thing about apps: you can send to Cloud storage only, so they don’t take up any room on your devices unless you choose to download them. I wish that was an explicit option for e-books…I usually send those to my Cloud reader, but that’s not quite the same thing.

Here are some highlights:

  • Office Suite Professional, 3.9 out of 5 stars, 2130 customer reviews. I use this one quite often…it lets you read and do some light editing of Excel, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word files. I’ll e-mail the file to myself and then open the attachment in Office Suite Pro. This one is normally $14.99
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II, 3.7 stars, 166 reviews…Fire TV compatible
  • Riptide GP2, 4.5 stars, 475 reviews…I’ve played this on our FTV (at least a bit)
  • Sketchbook Pro, 3.9 stars, 289 reviews
  • PrinterShare Mobile, 3.8 stars, 830 reviews
  • Perfectly Clear, 3.8 stars, 260 reviews…just got this today. It improves the appearance of photos. I tried it…seemed to work well on the one overexposed image I tested
  • Another World, 3.5 stars, 16 reviews…retro gamer
  • Heroes of Steel RPG Elite, 4.9 stars, 9 reviews: great reviews on this role-paying game
  • Paper Camera, 4.1 stars, 544 reviews: one of my favorite apps for my phone…creates filters for images, and one looks like it is hand-drawn. I’ve used that one several times…classy! You can also just look through the camera and see the world that way
  • Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Pro, 4.0 stars, 8 reviews…list priced at $59.00? I like having a dictionary app on my device…this isn’t to do look-up from within books, but to use like a regular dictionary (albeit with a lot more features). I’m definitely trying this one

Also wanted to mention that the

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

is on sale for $84, which is about 15% off the normal $99 price. I use ours every day. When we buy another TV that can work with it, we might really cut the cord (stop paying for cable). This, when you mirror your Kindle Fire to it, can give you a lot to watch! It works much better than our Roku, by the way…it’s much faster.

Finally, I don’t like to write posts without giving something to the book readers. :) That’s the main focus of this blog, certainly, although I know that some people like the other content information as well.

This time, I thought I’d throw in some links to free e-books in some popular categories, sorted by popularity:

Enjoy!

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

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

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


Round up #270: “Amazon Idol”, Unlimited Finds #1

Round up #270: “Amazon Idol”, Unlimited Finds #1

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

Unlimited Finds #1

I do think that

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

has the potential to reshape the bestseller lists (at the Kindle store) by next year, and, along with other subsers (subscription services), really change people’s reading habits.

I’ve seen people make what I think is a mistake, and dismiss it as being “just independently published titles” (not that there would be anything wrong with that, in my opinion).

It’s much more than that.

I recently ran across a book in KU

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (at AmazonSmile*)

of which I had sold many copies when I managed a brick and mortar bookstore.  I wasn’t the only one: it was a New York Times bestseller.

If you are a KU member, I’d certainly consider this one…it’s non-fiction, and I knew people who loved it. I add KU books to a wish list I have for that purpose…I’ll probably borrow this one at some point.

If you aren’t a KU member? $8.63 at time of writing.

I’ve seen somebody recently say that you would “never” see New York Times bestsellers in KU. Well, okay, that might have been ones on the current list.

That doesn’t really work either. The #1 NYT bestselling non-fiction hardback is in KU right now:

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (at AmazonSmile*)

It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s that high in part because it is in KU. That gets it more exposure at Amazon, and more reviews…this one had a lot of other coverage, but I would guess it contributed.

I took a quick look, and it might be true that there aren’t any current NYT adult fiction bestsellers in KU…but I do think that will change by holiday season of 2015. Partially that’s because I expect KU to start driving those lists…

Wish with Tweets

Amazon’s Wish List feature is becoming more and more robust.

In this

press release

today, they announced “Wish with Tweets”.

If you reply to a tweet (on Twitter) that has an Amazon product link in it, and you include the hashtag

#AmazonWishList

it will automatically add it to your wish list (presumably, the default one).

You do have to do a little set up, but it isn’t hard…and you might have already done it to take advantage of

#AmazonCart

so you can add something to your cart to buy it yourself.

Here are some other features of Amazon Wish Lists that they, well, listed in the press release:

  • NEW Save-A-Photo: With the new Save-A-Photo feature, customers can snap a picture of anything from anywhere and save it to their Amazon Wish List.
  • Universal Wish List Add-on: The Amazon Wish List is truly universal. Customers can add anything from any online site to their Amazon Wish List with a simple add-on available for any browser.
  • Don’t Spoil My Surprises: This feature does not reveal to the Wish List creator which items have been purchased, so every gift is truly a surprise. However, once an item is purchased from an Amazon Wish List, other shoppers will see only what remains on the Wish List – avoiding duplicate gifts.
  • Virtual Notes: Customers can save an idea and search for it later by adding a virtual note to an Amazon Wish List. Jot down anything and give friends and family a little gifting inspiration.

Here’s some more information:

www.amazon.com/AmazonWishList (at AmazonSmile*)

Amazon’s new crowd-sourced publishing…with guaranteed advance

This is fascinating!

According to this

The Digital Reader post by Nate Hoffelder

Amazon is launching a new publishing program for indies (independent authors)…and they’ve already been approaching Kindle Direct Publishing authors about it.

The basic idea is that authors submit never-before-published books (including covers).

Amazon posts a few pages of it.

People “vote” on them, and the winners are reviewed by Amazon and may be chosen to be traditionally published by Amazon…with a minimum advance of $1,500.

I would guess North of 90% of indies publishing through KDP never see $1,500.

The terms actually seem pretty good to me, with decent reversion provisions:

“Easy reversions: After two years, your rights in any format or language that remains unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request – no questions asked.”

Essentially, if Amazon can’t promote it to the point you make $500 in the prior two years (after the first year), you can take the book back and do whatever you want with it. Indie publish it, sell it to somebody else…up to you.

Oh, and people who nominate a book that gets published? They get a free e-book copy.

You can sign up for the mailing list here for more info:

Updates on Amazon’s New Publishing Program mailing list (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s important to note that this is not crowd-funding…the readers don’t have to pay to get it published (like would happen on Kickstarter, for example). Amazon takes on the costs.

It’s more like a competition reality TV show.

My guess?

This will work.

They’ll get higher quality books, choose them, polish them, promote them…authors will see it as lower risk, with middle and up rewards…which is worth it.

Why would it not work?

If Amazon doesn’t choose enough for publication. If people invest in writing a review of a book, and it doesn’t get chosen, they might think it is some sort of trick.

Speaking of tricks, it’s going to be pretty hard to game the system, since it isn’t just the “voting”that counts…it’s still up to the judges.

Kindle Fire HDX update

My

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

updated yesterday to version 13.3.2.6.

This appears to be an incremental update…no big new features, just bug fixes and performance enhancements.

I haven’t noticed anything yet…if you have, let me know.

This could also have included foundations for changes which will come, including the Family Library.

I asked Amazon about FL…their upcoming feature that will allow sharing books with other people not on your account. At this point, they aren’t revealing which content will be involved (my guess is that it will be similar to Kindle Unlimited) or who will be eligible for sharing (I’m thinking it might be the “in the same household” rule they use for some other things, but not sure).

What do you think? Will “Amazon Idol” be successful? Would you participate, if you are an author? Am I overestimating the impact of KU on the market? Do you think it will change what you read…will you read more backlist books and indies, for example? Have you used #AmazonCart…and do you think you’ll use #AmazonWishList? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

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


Special Offer on Kindle Fire: Micro Digital Camcorder for $25 Deal starts at 4:30 PM ET/1:30 PM PT

Special Offer on Kindle Fire: Micro Digital Camcorder for $25 Deal starts at 4:30 PM ET/1:30 PM PT.

I am on my phone so I will update this later, but I did not want people to miss it.
.
This only applies to people with a Kindle Fire with Special  Offers.

Update:

These are special limited time offers, which are only available to Kindle Fire owners.

What happens is you can get a text to alert you to an upcoming deal (details in the links below). You don’t get much warning…maybe an hour (about half an hour in this case).

The deal also appears on the sleep screen of your Fire, and you can find it under Offers on the homescreen (all the way at the end).

Then, you say you want to “learn more”. You’ll get to a screen with a countdown clock. As soon as the clock gets to zero, you need to click to have a chance to get it.

They have often been selling out in seconds.

Here is information on the program:

As I’ve written before, I look at these LTOs (Limited Time Offers) sort of like buying a lottery ticket: I don’t expect to get one (win), but its exciting if I do! Of course, the “ticket” doesn’t cost me anything.

These LTOs are one of the best arguments for having Special Offers…and yes, a good argument for having a  Fire (at AmazonSmile)!

Did you get one? Do you have any other comment on this? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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

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


October 2014 Kindle book releases

October 2014 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.…

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 6,152 (at time of writing) October releases in the USA Kindle store:

October 2014 USA Kindle store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

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

One interesting thing before I get into some individual titles: the first four (sorted by new and popular) are the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month!

Since Prime members can already be reading one of these (even though they aren’t officially released until October) at no additional cost, you can see how that would drive up their popularity as compared to actual pre-orders. The top four being Kindle First was also true the last time I did one of these.

The other thing is that there are some Kindle Unlimited titles 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!

To Kill a Mockingbird (Enhanced Edition) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Harper Lee
pre-order for October 21
Other formats: 4.6 out of 5 stars, 3370 customer reviews

When the first legal e-book of TKaM came out recently (it’s been overing around the top 400 mark in the USA Kindle store), it was also announced that HarperCollins was doing an “enhanced” version, which means it will include audio and or video content. At this point, the pre-order is priced at only $3.99, the same as the unenhanced version. I haven’t been able to find out yet what is in the enhancement, but this could make an excellent gift. Remember that you can delay the delivery of a gift e-book through the Kindle store for the appropriate date.

A Christmas Memory (at AmazonSmile*)
by Truman Capote
pre-order for October 28
$3.21 at time of writing
Other formats: 4.7 stars, 117 reviews

That’s right…Truman Capote for children.

Divergent Collector’s Edition (Divergent Series) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Veronica Roth
pre-order for October 21
Other formats: 4.5 stars, 18013 reviews
$4.99 at time of writing

They are adding a lot to this one for the Collector’s Edition!

72 pages of bonus content, including:

  • Two essays by Veronica Roth, including excerpts from early drafts of Divergent
  • An essay about the psychology behind fear and the “exposure therapy” of Dauntless initiation
  • Artistic renderings of the Choosing Ceremony Bowls
  • An excerpt from the movie script
  • Favorite quotes from Divergent, illustrated by fellow Initiates
  • A map of the Dauntless compound
  • Divergent discussion questions

I should mention, I don’t think you can pre-order a gift…you’ll have to wait for it to be published.

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton Science Library) (at AmazonSmile*)
by Richard Feynman
pre-order for October 26
4.6 stars, 105 reviews
$9.99 (but it appears you’ll also be able to rent it for $4.84…not until it is released, though)

Surely, you’re joking… ;)

I’ll just list some more:

  • Turing Evolved by David Kitson (October 1, 2014)
  • The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly (Oct 28, 2014)
  • Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming (Oct 7, 2014)
  • The Eye of Zoltar (The Chronicles of Kazam) by Jasper Fforde (Oct 7, 2014)
  • Theories of International Politics and Zombies: Revived Edition by Daniel W. Drezner (Oct 26, 2014)
  • A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids by Margot Datz (Oct 14, 2014)
  • The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Anniversary Edition by Mollie Katzen (Oct 28, 2014)
  • Maeve’s Times: In Her Own Words by Maeve Binchy (Oct 28, 2014)
  • Revenger: A John Shakespeare Mystery by Rory Clements (Oct 14, 2014)
  • Let’s Talk Terror (Nancy Drew Files) by Carolyn Keene (Oct 7, 2014)
  • The Baby-Sitters Club #78: Claudia and Crazy Peaches by Ann M. Martin (Oct 21, 2014)
  • Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, Jokei Molly Delight Whitehead and Shohaku Okumura (Oct 14, 2014)

One more interesting thing: this time, we can filter for books which will be in Kindle Unlimited! I may do a separate listing for those later, but here is the link for the 916 titles at time of writing:

Kindle Unlimited books in the USA Kindle store being released in October 2014 (at AmazonSmile*)

What I do is keep an Amazon wish list for Kindle Unlimited books I may want to read. That makes it easy for me to pick a new one when I want. :) If you do that, you will just need to check to make sure it is still in KU when you go to borrow it…some books will go in and out of that list. Indie publishers, for one thing, can change that.

Enjoy!

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

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

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