Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

I’m going to the World Series game today!

I’m also a lover of books.

I wanted to tie those two together…and since I’m going as a San Francisco fan (we live in the area, but not actually in the City), I thought I’d do a post pointing out some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s literary highlights…and other little cultural nuggets.

First, though, let me say a bit about baseball. I certainly can’t claim to be the Giants’ biggest fan. I don’t watch every game throughout the year, but I do keep casual track of it and tune in when we get to the post-season. Now, some people would say that’s not unlike the Giants themselves, but that wouldn’t be fair. ;)

I’ll be wearing a cap from the 2000 season, celebrating Pac Bell Park (now AT&T). Somewhere around the house, I have a “Croix de Candlestick”, the “medal” we got for surviving a game in that  park. :) We did go to see Matt Cain pitch in one of our recent World Series (yes, that’s right…we have multiple recent World Series. Somewhat like Star Trek movies, even years/numbers have been good for us). ;)

We didn’t buy the tickets to the games, though ($500 apiece is about what you would expect when they first go on sale). My parents generously buy tickets for the family to go…there will probably be twelve of us there today (including them).

My Significant Other’s father was offered a pitching contract with the Seals (who were in San Francisco before the Giants). It was at the same time he became a plumber, though, and the money was the same (this was some time ago). The family blames my SO’s older sibling, who was in the womb at the time…and that was the deciding factor. :)

So, yes, I’m a Giants fan…but if you think that they are a bigger part of your life than they are of mine, you are probably right.

As to San Francisco and books…I should say why I’m including the whole Bay Area (and even here, we debate about what “the Bay Area” includes). Out here, we are inclusive. San Francisco spills down the peninsula like an overflowing soy latte, but the community pride also goes South  to San Jose (and beyond), East to Oakland (and beyond), and North to Marin (and beyond). Some people (especially those outside the Bay Area) hated the baseball caps which are split down the middle…half for the Giants, and half for the Oakland A’s. They yell at us: “Pick a side! You can’t have two teams!”

In the Bay Area, you can…we don’t judge your lifestyle. ;)

Now, of course, if you are from L.A. and are a Dodgers fan, that’s different. ;) Even with that, we might say we hate the Dodgers…but for the most part, S.F. fans will welcome Dodgers fans to the game. In a meeting at work yesterday, there was a lot of Giants  paraphernalia…but when one of our team members shouted, “Go, Royals!” it wasn’t a dicey moment. We laughed…and knew that person came here from that area.

A native San Franciscan is a rare thing (my SO is one), and that’s a virtuous circle: we both welcome outsiders and are influenced by them.

Here, then, are some literary San Francisco facts (and I use the  term “facts” loosely) as well as some other cultural factoids to help you enjoy the games:

  • We usually call it San Francisco, but it is also commonly called just “The City”, even though San Jose (about 45 minutes South) has a bigger population. Some people are adamant that it not be called “Frisco”, but others defend the name. The late columnist Herb Caen even wrote a book called Don’t Call it Frisco (not available for Kindle)
  • Bay Area authors (they don’t have to have been born here…but they may have, or may have moved here, or just written about here) include: Scott Adams (Dilbert); Isabelle Allende; Peter Beagle; Michael Chabon; Dave Eggers; Allen Ginsberg; Dashiell Hammett; Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket); Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner); Shirley Jackson (The Lottery); Jack Kerouac; Maxine Hong Kingston; Fritz Leiber; Jack London; Armistead Maupin; Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts); Amy Tan; Walter Tevis; Mark Twain; Alice Walker; and Laurence Yep
  • One way we can tell if a TV series, movie, or book which is set in San Francisco actually has its origins in Los Angeles (or somewhere else) is that we don’t say the word “the” before the numbers of our freeways (although again, we aren’t completely dogmatic about it). For example, we wouldn’t say, “I took the 4, then headed South on the 680″. We would just say, “I took 4, then headed South on 680″. I’m not entirely sure why…that “the” doesn’t seem unreasonable. I wonder if all of the Russian influence we have around here has something to do with it…they stereotypically find using English articles a challenge
  • One big literary convention in the area is LitQuake…we consider earthquakes part of our heritage, and don’t hide the fact that they happen. The vast majority of earthquakes don’t cause any (or much) damage…those can be kind of fun. The biggest ones can be tragic disasters, but those are rare. A lot more people are killed and a lot more damage is done on the East Coast each year by the cold than earthquakes do out here
  • Speaking of which, we like to say that we do have four seasons here…we just have them all in one day ;)
  • There used to be a three-story tall used bookstore in the City, called Albatross Books. That was a destination for me…even though it was in the Tenderloin, a dangerous part of town. The Bay Area has many famous bookstores…and not just in San Francisco proper (although “San Francisco proper” seems like an oxymoron). ;) Berkeley has several (Moe’s, Dark Carnival, Pegasus), but I couldn’t mention bookstores in the area without mentioning Kepler’s in Menlo Park. I used to go there quite often. We respect bookstores here: we even have a plaque honoring the opening of the first one in San Francisco (in 1849). In fact, we are good at honoring books and authors generally…after all, one of the big tourist attractions in Oakland (right across the bay) is Jack London Square
  • I’m pretty sure that AT&T Park must have been one of the few places in the world where you could get both edamame (soybeans…a popular snack in Japanese ballparks) and Krispy Kreme donuts ;)
  • There are so many books set in San Francisco, that a search for “books set in San Francisco” on Google results in more than 100 million hits. I like the Buzzfeed list, but there are also lists from Goodreads (now owned by Amazon) and Wikipedia
  • We call our (partly) underground train system BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Again, we don’t say “the BART”…just BART. “I took BART to the game”, not “I took the BART”. Strangely, though, we don’t say, “I took bus to the game”, but “I took the bus to the game.” Isn’t English fun? ;)

Well, there you go! That’s just a small taste of both San Francisco and literary San Francisco! You never know what is going to happen a San Francisco game…and we are really looking forward to it.

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

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 325 Donald Katz

DonKatz-2

Founder and CEO of Audible, Inc.

Interview starts at 8:05

I think we’ve done a lot to change the quality of the performances, and  the perception of the performances in the entertainment, and the learning and the retention values and everything that causes people to want to read.

Show Notes and Links:

News

“Amazon Closes Muliti-Year Deal With Simon & Schuster, The Other Big Five Publisher It Was in E-Book Pricing Negotiations with” by Julian D’Onfro at Business Insider – October 20, 2014

“Amazon Deal With Simon & Schuster Raises Questions for Other Publishers” by Lynn Neary on National Public Radio – October 21, 2014

“Speculation on the Amazon-Simon & Schuster Deal” by Hugh Howey – October 21, 2014

“Amazon again delivers soaring sales but posts a huge loss” by Sarah Halzack at The Washington Post – October 24, 2014

“Amazon Down 10%: The Real reason why and how to trade it” by Jeff Macke at Yahoo Finance – October 24, 2014

Tech Tip

Using the Kindle for iOS app with an Audible title for near-immersion reading

Interview with Donald Katz

Audible.com

Ralph Ellison’s author page at Amazon

Whispersync for Voice at Audible

Audible’s commitment to Newark

Content

Home Fires: An Intimate Portrait of One Middle-Class Family in Postwar America by Donald Katz

The Big Store: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears by Donald Katz

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

Amazon’s Q3 financials: net sales up 20%, operating loss half a billion higher

Amazon’s Q3 financials: net sales up 20%, operating loss half a billion higher

I think you know the basic story by now.

Amazon is selling more…a lot more.

Amazon is losing more…a lot, lot, lot more.

However…they gained more in sales than they lost in, well, losses.

You can see numbers in this

press release

and you can listen to the webcast here:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=97664&eventID=5171470

Compared to the same quarter last year:

“Net sales increased 20% to $20.58 billion in the third quarter, compared with $17.09 billion in third quarter 2013.”

“Operating loss was $544 million in the third quarter, compared with operating loss of $25 million in third quarter 2013.”

So, net sales were up $3.49 billion, while the operating loss was $.519 billion.

Looking at this, it looks good…but it’s scary to see losses more than twenty times higher.

Looking through the slides, it just looks bad…the “loss” slides are so dramatic!

During the question and answer session, Amazon sounded…resigned to what was happening. The investors asking the questions sounded…concerned. They were looking for something to explain the slide, but to me, not expecting to find it.

The lack of media sales growth seemed to be a particular concern. Amazon was suggesting that a shift from purchasing to renting (textbooks), for example, was a contributing factor. Give me an argument for why that is going to reverse going forward?

I’m listening to the Q&A as I write this, and sometimes, the Amazon representative just seems to trail off when answering a question.

Amazon is undeniably investing a lot of money…launching hardware, licensing content, creating their own content. Is that going to slow down, though? Is it becoming the expected thing for Amazon, and if they stop doing it, will that take some of the shine off the company for the average consumer?

I want to be clear, I’m not especially concerned about Amazon from this report…it’s kind of more of the same, even if the losses are up so much.

They are smart, and I think very focused. I expect Amazon to be around twenty years from now, certainly.

I have more concern with them losing customer goodwill…that’s what they need to have to continue to succeed.

In terms of the highlights in the press release, this stood out to me:

“Amazon Fire TV is now the best-selling streaming box on Amazon for the U.S., U.K., and Germany”

The

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

is a good device: I use mine every day.

The

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

looks to be a hit (they are having to restrict buying) and I think the new

7th generation entry level Kindle: “Mindle Touch” (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

will also do well.

The

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

?

Not so much.

I have one, and I see them advertising them a lot…but it may be a couple of years before we know if it will really get a solid slice of the market.

Amazon mentioned they had $83 million in Fire Phone inventory on hand…that’s not where they want to be. They are giving them away right now (with a plan)…and it sounds like people still aren’t going for it.

The Fire tablets, though, appear to be solid sellers.

All of this is only a small part of Amazon’s business (web services and fulfillment for others are two significant segments)…but a very large part of the public perception of the company.

They did confirm what I’ve been saying…content can be sold at a loss if it makes people Prime members, because Prime members buy what I call “diapers and windshield wipers”…the higher margin physical goods.

Update:

Lots of stories on this, generally negative towards Amazon (with a few exceptions). Here’s a search at Seeking Alpha:

http://seekingalpha.com/search/?q=amazon&avoid_symbol=&sort=date%3Ad&cx=018269914407235029540%3Acdhc2yeo2ko&cof=FORID%3A11%3BNB%3A1&goto_search_tab=

Notably, Seeking Alpha also has a transcript of the call…so you don’t need to listen to it to get the literal content (although the emotional content from hearing it is still interesting:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2592525-amazon-com-amzn-q3-2014-results-earnings-call-transcript?all=true&find=amazon

What do you think of this financial report, and of Amazon’s future in general? Will the stock tank (temporarily) based on these figures? Does Amazon need to change something significant, or is this all according to plan? 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.


Round up #274: Americans’ fear, hardware sales

Round up #274: Americans’ fear, hardware sales

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

Hardware sales

There are a lot of sales lately on hardware from Amazon.

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation – 3rd) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

$179…$20 off

This the model I use every day…and I like it well enough that I’m not looking to upgrade to this year’s models (although I’m hoping to get to review them for you).

In fact, I’m watching the World Series right now on mine, using the free

FOX Sports GO (at AmazonSmile*)

app. It looks great, by the way!

I saw some interesting reviews of the app…some may have been written for an earlier version, since it works fine for my Fire HDX. I also saw someone saying that it would kill cable…nope. I had to sign into our cable provider before it would let me watch.

I can also mirror it to my TV, using my Fire TV.

Right now, there is a sale on a bundle of the Fire HDX and the Fire TV:

Amazon Fire TV & Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Wi-Fi 16GB with Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

$259

If you think of the FHDX as $179, that makes the Fire TV $80…$20 off. That’s $40 off both!

I like my Fire TV a lot, too…this might be a case of you keeping both (they go together very well, thanks to the mirroring), or giving one or both as gifts at the holidays.

That deal is so good they are limiting it to one to a customer…while it lasts.

The

Amazon Fire Phone, 32GB (AT&T) (at AmazonSmile*)

which isn’t my favorite Amazon device at this point…but it does work as my phone, it’s available for as little as…free (with a plan).

Meanwhile, you can get a refurb (refurbished) Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ with 4G…for as little as $159!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AFKC9UO/ref=gb1h_rlm_c-3_4282_1b6b5d9c?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_t=701&pf_rd_s=center-new-3&pf_rd_r=109CTB24BCY6KJRT4A18&pf_rd_i=20&pf_rd_p=1952684282

To use the 4G (which is like a cellphone connection…it’s another way to connect to the internet, in addition to the wi-fi it can also do), you’ll need to pay for a dataplan…but$159 for an 8.9″ device is a really good deal.

This is the model that has an HDMI out, so you can show what’s on your tablet on your TV using a cable (if your TV has an HDMI in…most modern TVs will). That’s a plus, in just needing a cable. However, some apps will detect the HDMI cable and refuse to play…the Xfinity app used to do that for me.

The refurbs have the same warranty as new ones.

New 10.1″ NOOK tablet

You think 8.9″ is big?

Barnes & Noble and Samsung have just announced a 10.1″ tablet:

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1

It’s $299.99 (with a $50 rebate), and comes with $200 of NOOK content (they pick, not surprisingly).

Yep, they are still in the game…

A charter for readers’ rights

I have to say, this

CBC article by Jason Proctor

strikes me as truly bizarre.

Certainly, it’s reasonable to write an article setting out what you think should be the rights of readers…I was expecting something to balance what the authors have recently been saying, and what the publishers and retailers say.

This one just has some very odd points.

Before I do that, let me say…the title actually says “reader’s rights”, and maybe that’s appropriate. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be plural, but just this writer’s personal pet peeves. ;)

Second, the photo that they have of a Kindle is the original, 2007 model.  Perhaps Proctor would be a bit less anti-Kindle if the current models were compared to paper?

Maybe not…

I’ll just mention the first complaint: movie tie-in editions. Yep, Proctor doesn’t like it that you can buy a copy of a book with pictures of the actors from the movie on the cover.

I think, perhaps, Jason Proctor doesn’t realize how much movies affect sales of books, and how much they can turn movie watchers into readers. This strikes me as a kind of literati snobbery…if you aren’t a “pure reader”, don’t be a reader at all.

I’d rather encourage everybody to read…and if a movie is a gateway to reading, great! I suspect it wouldn’t have been too hard to find an edition of the book without the movie cover, if you wanted to do that.

You can add your own comments as they build this list at

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/book-lovers-unite-a-plea-for-a-charter-of-reader-s-rights-1.2791581

I might do that, but I’d want to do it in a positive way. Of course, one of mine might be:

1. The right to read any edition of any book, even one with a movie tie-in cover, without having anyone look down on me and try to discourage me from reading ;)

British perspective on USA and book banning

I don’t want to suggest that there is only one British perspective on…well, anything. :) Just like there wouldn’t be only one American perspective on anything.

However, it does say something when a person from outside your group is stating that they are looking at you in that way…as an outsider.

This

The Guardian article by Mary O’Hara

The article looks at books being challenged in America (challenged in libraries, school curricula, that sort of thing) for being “anti-capitalist”.

I’m not sure that it’s a widespread problem, but it happens…remember that this isn’t censorship by the government, but individuals and groups requesting that books be withheld from readers.

I think the article reasonably makes its point: I believe that some people don’t want people reading books which go against “American values”.

I think that attitude is a non-productive one. As I’ve said many times on the blog before, I want people to be exposed to ideas which are the opposite of mine. I don’t want those ideas to slink around freely in the shadows: I want to shine the full light of day on them, and let people see them for what they are.

In the past, industry groups have imposed these sorts of rules on themselves. The old Comics Code Authority included a provision that “…Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”

In the USA, we’ve never applied a standard like that to books. Certainly, Huck Finn wouldn’t have passed a restriction like that, just to name one.

According to this article, this is being applied to non-fiction in addition to fiction.

People often ask on the Amazon Kindle forums how they can tell which books are “R rated”, or something like that.

The answer is simple: none of them.

The movie industry has its own rating system.

The music industry has its own rating system.

The videogame industry has its own rating system.

The book publishing industry does not…and I don’t think it is likely to establish one.

However, just because the publishers aren’t getting together to label books, that doesn’t mean that private groups aren’t doing it.

Those groups may also go after schools and libraries.

I’m not quite sure if the article is suggesting that this is an American flaw…that it is something which wouldn’t happen in the UK.

We have always had different standards. American movies have tended to be more lenient with violence and stricter with sexual content than European movies (and TV).

The Boris Karloff Frankenstein was given an “H certificate” in England…rating it too horrific for those under 16 years of age (this wasn’t universally ((no pun intended)) enforced).

I must say I found it an interesting perspective, and I think you may as well.

What do you think? Are Americans (not the government) more likely to try to block counter-culture material than Britons? The article really focuses on how the block can be against portraying poverty…do we only want our children to read through rose-colored glasses? Does a 10.1 inch tablet interest you…and will the NOOK brand still be around a year from now? Should Amazon bring out a tablet that large? What about an EBR (E-Book Reader) that size? What would you put on a list of “readers’ rights”? 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.


Amazon and Simon & Schuster reach a deal

Amazon and Simon & Schuster reach a deal

There is a future for Big Five books in the Kindle store.

That certainly seemed like the most likely outcome, although the day may come when Amazon doesn’t need them any more.

Why even doubt that the biggest bookstore would carry books from the biggest publishers?

Well, Amazon has been in a dispute with Hachette, another of the Big Five…for more than six months. What I call the “Hachazon War” certainly enters another phase with Amazon reportedly reaching an agreement with Simon & Schuster.

It makes it much harder for Hachette to paint Amazon as an “impossible to negotiate with” Big Bad.

It gives authors something to consider…how much of the stand-off is Hachette’s fault? When their deals with that publisher are done, should they be shopping? Douglas Preston, an author who has led the authors who have publicly expressed concerns with Amazon, wants to know the e-tailer has offered the same deal to Hachette. If it has…why didn’t Hachette take it? Retailers don’t have to give the same terms to everybody, of course.

It also changes the dynamic if there is a Department of Justice investigation of Amazon’s negotiating tactics (Authors United has asked for at least a look into it). If nobody can make a deal with you, that makes it a lot worse than a fifty/fifty split.

I’m going to link to stories on this, but I’ve seen both that this will be a return to the “Agency Model”, and that Amazon will be able to discount the books.

Those aren’t exactly contradictory. In the Agency Model, the publisher (not the retailer) sells the books (the former retailer just acts as an “agent”), and sets the customer prices. The publisher could set the price…and still, in some way, let Amazon discount under circumstances. For example, they might allow a three for the price of two deal to be offered. That doesn’t change the actual price of the book.

While we don’t actually know the terms of the deal, it is reassuring that a deal was reached at all. As a reader, I’d like Amazon to carry every book. However, the conditions under which they carry them do matter. I wouldn’t want Amazon to carry S&S books if the prices doubled…well, I guess I would, for folks who would pay that, but I wouldn’t like it for me. ;)

It’s possible that Amazon let the publisher set the customer price within certain constraints…that would be a form of compromise which could work for them both.

My intuition is that Amazon will make a deal with HarperCollins, and I would think they will with Penguin Random House. They’ve had trouble with Macmillan before…we could see a repeat there.

With publishers not standing united, though, I think everybody will deal before the end of the first quarter of next year.

This might also help Amazon’s stock a bit. Investors hate uncertainty.

Here are some of the articles:

Update: there has been a brief

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

in the official Kindle forum about the deal. They don’t say much about it, except that they are happy, it’s a multi-year deal, and it involves both e-books and p-books (paperbooks). Interestingly, they chose to make it a ” no reply thread”…they aren’t taking comments on it.

What do you think? Does Amazon need the Big Five? What should they be willing to give up to get their books? Where is the line in the sand? Will this mean Hachette settles quickly? 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.


Comparing the bestsellers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Comparing the bestsellers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

There was a time when the bestsellers at Amazon for the Kindle and at Barnes & Noble for the NOOK were pretty similar.

There were some few exclusives which made a difference, but the lists were pretty much the same.

No more.

Amazon clearly impacts its own bestseller list. That may be by publishing their books themselves, or putting them on sale, or making them part of the Kindle First program (which are books both published by them and “on sale”…they are actually free for Prime members ((one book a month)) and yet to be published.

No question: if you are with Barnes & Noble and not with Amazon, you are missing out on some very popular books.

Let’s take a look:

Kindle Rank Title Kindle $ NOOK Rank NOOK $ Diff
1 My Sister’s Grave 4.99 N/A
2 Gone Girl 4.99 1 8.99 4
3 Gray Mountain 11.99 13 14.99 3
4 The Fire Seekers 4.99 N/A
5 The Glassblower 4.99 N/A
6 Leaving Time 4.99 2 12.59 7.6
7 Stepbrother Dearest 3.99 41 3.99 0
8 I Love How You Love Me 4.99 26 4.99 0
9 Sleep Tight 1.99 N/A
10 Ruin Part Two 0.99 345 0.99 0
11 The Best of Me 4.99 7 4.99 0
12 Medicine Men 0.99 N/A
13 The Cycle of Arawn 0.99 6 0.99 0
14 Burn 4.99 13 12.99 8
15 Ruin 0.99 1386 0.99 0
16 The Heroes of Olympus Books Five 9.99 14 10.99 1
17 Yellow Crocus 3.99 N/A
18 Down and Out 3.99 75 3.99 0
19 Captivated by You 7.99 14 7.99 0
20 Blood Magick 6.99 57 8.99 2
Total 25.6

While there have been some excellent NOOK devices, and they have led in some innovations (notably lending and frontlighting), there is no question that if you backed Barnes & Noble against Amazon (and we’ll just treat it as a two horse race now), your money was in the wrong place (as a reader).

You can’t even get six of the top twenty Amazon sellers, and if you did buy all the ones you could, you would pay $25.60 more. On average, that’s $1.60 a book more, but you could pay as much as $8 more.

Well, I’m glad I looked at that!

Originally, when Amazon started  aggressively  pursuing exclusives, I did think it was Amazon versus B&N. Now, I tend to think of it as Amazon versus the traditional publishers…and interesting mind focus, I’d say.

I know some of you have both NOOKs and Kindles (and Kobos, and some others).

Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Edward Boyhan, asked me what it would look like if I did the comparison the other way…with the NOOK Books top 20. I originally intended to do that last night, but the frailties of the flesh overwhelmed the intent of the will (in other words, I was too tired). ;) I did eyeball it first, and I didn’t see a book on the B&N list that I didn’t think Amazon would have…and that was right (for the top 20). I created the table this morning:

NOOK Rank Title NOOK $ Kindle Rank Kindle $ Diff
1 Leaving Time $2.99 6 4.99 $2.00
2 Cut to the Bone $1.99 37 1.99 $0.00
3 Gone Girl $8.99 3 4.99 -$4.00
4 Day After Night $10.93 4191 9.32 -$1.61
5 Captivated by You $7.99 20 7.99 $0.00
6 The Best of Me $7.99 11 4.99 -$3.00
7 Holland Springs Box Set $0.99 74 0.99 $0.00
8 The Highlander’s Bride $0.99 102 0.99 $0.00
9 Desired: Club Sin $0.99 85 $0.99 $0.00
10 Deadline $11.99 24 10.99 -$1.00
11 Be For Me $0.99 153 0.99 $0.00
12 Someone Else’s Love Story $1.99 193 0.99 -$1.00
13 The Blood of Olympus $10.99 15 9.99 -$1.00
14 Burn $12.99 17 4.99 -$8.00
15 The Cinderella Murder $10.99 609 10.99 $0.00
16 The Circle of Ceridwen $0.99 308 0.99 $0.00
17 The Geneva Trap $7.51 23,400 6.15 -$1.36
18 Gray Mountain $14.99 2 11.99 -$3.00
19 The Pearl that Broke Its Shell $1.99 146 1.99 $0.00
20 Killing Patton $11.04 32 11.04 $0.00
Total -$21.97

Every top twenty NOOK book could be bought at Amazon as well. The price differentials were still overwhelmingly in favor of Kindleers (over NOOKers).

The number one NOOK book is cheaper at B&N than it is at Amazon…but that typically doesn’t last, since people can alert Amazon on the book’s product page about the differential, and they tend to match the prices.

Glancing at it (and I have a pretty good eye at doing that way), it appears to me that when the prices are the same, generally, that book is ranked relatively lower at Amazon. That isn’t always the case, but my intuition is that a book which $0.99 at both Amazon and B&N is pushed lower at Amazon by the presence of the Kindle exclusives.

I would also guess that the number of people who decide whether to buy a e-book at Amazon or B&N based on the price is pretty low. If they have the respective companies’ EBRs (E-Book Readers), they don’t really have that choice. However, they could have both companies’ apps on a tablet, for example, and then they could choose.

What do you think? This holiday season, will people choose to buy NOOKs as their very first EBRs (E-Book Reader), or is it mostly coasting on customers it already? Are Amazon’s exclusives something that has driven you to become more of an Amazon user? 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.


Trying the new Kindle Voyage glass screen in direct sunlight…

During our recent stay in Ocean Park, Maine, I took a review copy of the Kindle Voyage out to the beach on a sunny day to see if the micro-etched glass screen is as readable in sunlight as the plastic Kindle screens of yore. For the test, I put a Paperwhite and the Voyage side by side on a beach chair. You’ll see the result in this video.

If you are happy with your Paperwhite and have a slightly less obsessive love of new gadgets than I do, I can’t think of a reason to upgrade to the Voyage. It’s a sweet eReader, for sure. The improvement in readability because of the higher screen resolution is noticeable but not earth-shattering. The physical buttons are nice, but after a week of using the Voyage I am still tapping the screen to advance to the next page. I like the auto brightness controls on the built-in light. My favorite improvement is the smaller size and weight of the Voyage.

One thing that really bugs me is Amazon’s Origami Leather Case for the Voyage. Instead of opening like a book, it flips back like a reporter’s notebook pad. I’m not crawling into bed to take notes for a story. I’m in Book Reading Mode, like the old days when the physical thing was one of my favorite things in the world. I love the advances that Kindle technology have made possible in reading, but unnecessarily removing one of the touchable reminders of the book’s heritage seems perverse to me. I know the new cover makes a handy stand in portrait or landscape mode. But I don’t use my E Ink Kindles on a desk or table. I use them curled up before sleep or on the beach.

Luckily, I found a cover that opens the old-fashioned way and have it on order to replace the steno-pad cover. It’s available for $7.99 plus shipping from ACcase. I ordered one and will probably return the $59.99 Origami case.

Let me be clear: the Kindle Voyage is an impressive upgrade to the Kindle line, and I love how Amazon continues to invest time and money into dedicated eReaders. They do it for the love of it, in my opinion, and it shows. With the arrival of the Voyage, the Kindle lineup has three great price points and three good choices to consider for the very best in digital book reading.

Send to Kindle

Fire HD 6 + Kindle (basic, Paperwhite or Voyage) = Reader’s Delight

After using a Fire HD 6 for a week or so, I have decided it’s the perfect reading complement to my E Ink Kindle, currently a Paperwhite but next I’m switching to the Voyage. Sometimes I prefer the sepia color of the Fire’s Kindle view, as well as the faster access to links or looking up information related to the book I’m reading. I also enjoy listening to the Classical for Reading playlist at Prime Music, while I’m reading a book on the Fire HD. You can’t do that with any E Ink Kindle in the current lineup, because they don’t have audio capability.

The Fire HD is also is a great way to watch movies or TV shows, though the audio is a little soft for noisy environments, like the cross trainer in our basement during aerobic workouts. All in all, this is a sweet new tablet in a size that recalls the shape of a paperback book. I love it.

 

Send to Kindle

Fire HD 6 + Kindle (basic, Paperwhite or Voyage) = Reader’s Delight

After using a Fire HD 6 for a week or so, I have decided it’s the perfect reading complement to my E Ink Kindle, currently a Paperwhite but next I’m switching to the Voyage. Sometimes I prefer the sepia color of the Fire’s Kindle view, as well as the faster access to links or looking up information related to the book I’m reading. I also enjoy listening to the Classical for Reading playlist at Prime Music, while I’m reading a book on the Fire HD. You can’t do that with any E Ink Kindle in the current lineup, because they don’t have audio capability.

The Fire HD is also is a great way to watch movies or TV shows, though the audio is a little soft for noisy environments, like the cross trainer in our basement during aerobic workouts. All in all, this is a sweet new tablet in a size that recalls the shape of a paperback book. I love it.

 

Send to Kindle

Five things people who have read Dracula know…but most people don’t

Five things people who have read Dracula know…but most people don’t

Halloween is coming up, and despite all the options out there, it’s still pretty likely you’ll see some kid dressed as Dracula.

You’ll know it’s Dracula: maybe by the widow’s peak hairdo, the cape, or the toy bat cleverly taped on to a shoulder.

You know who wouldn’t recognize that character as Dracula?

Bram Stoker, who wrote the original 1897 novel.

As is often the case, the adaptations of the book have had a greater impact on the public imagination than the original book…or at least, a more lasting, widespread one.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you might want to do that…right now…before reading the rest of this post. ;)

You can get it for free here, as well as in many other editions:

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

Go ahead…we’ll wait.

Ready?

If not, then I guess I’ll just have to put up this

SPOILER ALERT

;)

Here, then, are five things people who have read Dracula know…that most people don’t:

1. Dracula has a mustache!

Stoker describes Count Dracula like this:

“Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.”

Why the mustache?

Stoker is explicit: Dracula is a specific historical figure, and that figure had a mustache:

“He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land.”

Here is a picture of Vlad:

Vlad

The term “Voivoide” that Stoker uses is a title, which evolved a bit over time…you can think of it like “Warlord” or maybe “Prince”, to give you an idea.

So, yes, Dracula has a mustache.

2. Dracula doesn’t only turn into a bat

In Stoker’s novel, Dracula can also turn into a wolf…or even a mist. Does that make Dracula a werewolf, in addition to being a vampire? Well, there is a suggestion that they may be the same thing:

“I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd; so I quietly got my polyglot dictionary from my bag and looked them out. I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were “Ordog”—Satan, “pokol”—hell, “stregoica”—witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”—both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either were-wolf or vampire.”

The wolf is actually much more important in the book than the bat…and it isn’t the bat that bites anybody (which we often see in the movies).

Here is Van Helsing describing Dracula’s powers of transformation:

“He can transform himself to wolf, as we gather from the ship arrival in Whitby, when he tear open the dog; he can be as bat, as Madam Mina saw him on the window at Whitby, and as friend John saw him fly from this so near house, and as my friend Quincey saw him at the window of Miss Lucy. He can come in mist which he create—that noble ship’s captain proved him of this; but, from what we know, the distance he can make this mist is limited, and it can only be round himself. He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust—as again Jonathan saw those sisters in the castle of Dracula. He become so small—we ourselves saw Miss Lucy, ere she was at peace, slip through a hairbreadth space at the tomb door. He can, when once he find his way, come out from anything or into anything, no matter how close it be bound or even fused up with fire—solder you call it.”

That’s right: “elemental dust”. You can not board up the doors and windows to keep out Dracula…it’s not like fighting zombies!

3. Dracula doesn’t sleep during the day

It’s a bit complicated, but Dracula can move around during the day…the vampire doesn’t “sleep” all day in a coffin, and disintegrate if exposed to sunlight. In fact, Dracula can even transform during the day…but exactly at noon. Here, Van Helsing talks a bit about Dracula’s limitations:

“His power ceases, as does that of all evil things, at the coming of the day. Only at certain times can he have limited freedom. If he be not at the place whither he is bound, he can only change himself at noon or at exact sunrise or sunset.”

4. A wild rose can defeat Dracula

While we all know about garlic (and yes, that’s in the book) affecting Dracula, it isn’t just the “stinking rose” (a term for garlic) which works. Let’s hear from the Professor again:

“Then there are things which so afflict him that he has no power, as the garlic that we know of; and as for things sacred, as this symbol, my crucifix, that was amongst us even now when we resolve, to them he is nothing, but in their presence he take his place far off and silent with respect. There are others, too, which I shall tell you of, lest in our seeking we may need them. The branch of wild rose on his coffin keep him that he move not from it; a sacred bullet fired into the coffin kill him so that he be true dead; and as for the stake through him, we know already of its peace; or the cut-off head that giveth rest.”

5. Dracula hasn’t been undead and unchanging for centuries

I’ve written about this more extensively in my blog, The Measured Circle:

Dracula…race against mind

To me, one of the coolest elements of the book, and one which I don’t think I’ve seen exploited on screen, is that Dracula has just awakened when encountered by Van Helsing. The master tactician Vlad is not fully awake…doesn’t have it all mentally together yet.

When the Voivoide does, Van Helsing will be facing one of the greatest military minds in history.

As a proud geek myself, I completely see the fear this gives Van Helsing.

Van Helsing is a geek…an intellectual with an interest in odd things.

Physically, unlike some interpretations (quiet down there, Hugh Jackman), Van Helsing is not a competitor.

When that’s the case, we geeks count on our mental superiority to give us a chance in the “sport”.

Imagine that Dracula was, oh, a great football quarterback. Living in the Bay Area, I’m going to go with Joe Montana.

Count Montana has just awakened…slowly, the intellectual capacities are returning.

Van Helsing has to play football against the Count.

The first person who scores, wins.

Van Helsing, being a terrible football player, has to score…now. Four or five plays from now, there will be no chance whatsoever: the Count will be back to full capacity!

The Professor better get it all right, right away. No mistakes…every mistake costs valuable time, and Count Montana becomes less vulnerable.

That, to me, is where some of the strongest drama comes in the book. It’s not just Van Helsing versus Dracula…it’s Van Helsing versus Van Helsing’s own weakness.

There you go! All kidding aside, if you haven’t read the book, I recommend it. I like a lot of the movie versions, too…Bela Lugosi (who is the inspiration for that Halloween costumer) is very different from Christopher Lee in the part, but they both have their fascinations.

You can love the movies (and the TV shows, and comic books, and videogames, and…) and you can love the book (and the other books written about the Count), but they aren’t the same.

Now, about Frankenstein… ;)

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.