Archive for the ‘kindle’ Tag

How I Learned To Read   4 comments

OK, not the perfect sunset, but definintely my best afternoon, under the umbrella reading my Kindle on Ka'anapali Beach.

A perfect afternoon with my kindle, under the umbrella on Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach.

The Lady gave me a great Christmas gift in 2010. It changed the way I read.

Kindle 3It was a Kindle 3, with the ability to download and store more books then I need.

I am a voracious reader.

Prior to December 25, 2010, when I went on a business trip, I had to carry many paperbacks with me so that I had enough books to read while I was gone. If I was going to be out for several days … I carried several books. Four books was kind of my default. If I needed more than six books, I would take six and buy the rest at airports along the way.

But there was a better way.

With the kindle, I could buy books when I wanted, load them wirelessly, and read at my leisure.

I stopped buying paper books in 2011. I was not alone: Amazon.com is now the leading book retailer, and in 2014 they had a 65% share of electronic books.

I love my kindle. And then … one day, it wouldn’t wake up. I charged it. I searched for online solutions. I took it apart. I charged it again. Nothing worked. My kindle was not dead – the screen still had the screensaver – but it would not boot.

No kindle for my next trip.

Luckily, I had recently upgraded my smartphone, and part of my new package was Samsung tablet … and I quickly found a kindle app for that. I downloaded all of my books, and I was ready for my trip. Got to LAX, checked my bag … which had my tablet in it. I realized 3 minutes too late that my perfect plan for reading on my tablet was done for.

Plan B: I could read on my smartphone. Again, I had an app for that. And, come to find out, the smartphone automatically synced my titles in the Amazon cloud, so I always had an electronic bookmark in the book I was reading, whether I was reading on my tablet or the smartphone.

Come to find out, 5 year old technology (kindle 3) is sometimes not as good as new tech. My reading experience is now MUCH better, as I seamlessly move from smartphone to tablet & back again.

It’s good to learn new things … like how to read. Can’t imagine what I’ll learn next!

Posted September 11, 2015 by henrymowry in Reading

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The Power of Engaging   4 comments

A great story.  A social media lesson.  And a wonderful novel.

It’s tempting to say this is a triumph of new media.  And it is … but it’s really a triumph of a very good book.  That’s not a new media story — that’s a classic story.  Good products win; good marketing only helps them win faster.  And such is the case here.

Hugh Howey has successfully created a community that loves his writing.  That is not done easily, and he has done it independently.

He was a part-time writer and book store employee struggling to find his way.  He wrote a novella called Wool, which began to find an audience.  He marketed it as a e-book on Amazon.com.  As people began to find it, they became invested in his success.

They encouraged him to keep writing.  He published more parts of the Wool story.  Remember, this sort of episodic publishing is not new — authors have serialized their stories since soon after the printing press was published.

His readers volunteered to help with proof reading, and they helped correct Wool’s errors.

They submitted cover artwork.

Hugh Howey lives in Florida,.  He is still a fiercely independent author in the US, though Wool will be coming out in hardback in 2013, from Random House UK.

And he kept writing.  Howey recently gathered the first 5 Wool “books” into a single omnibus edition which is what I read.  It’s a fabulous book, and worth your time.  The movie rights to Wool were just sold to Sir Ridley Scott.  You’ve seen his stuff:  Thelma & Louise.  Alien.  Blade Runner.  Gladiator.  And he’s the executive producer of the best show on CBS:  “The Good Wife.”  Here’s hoping he can do something wonderful with Wool!

Today, some established authors have decried the lack of quality found among the independent authors that are self-publishing.  Sue Grafton famously talked about the “wannabes” of independent publishing in this article published in August.  It’s illuminating to note a few facts comparing Grafton’s latest novel, V is for Vengeance, with Howey’s Wool Omnibus.

V:  343 Amazon reviews averaging a 4.1 rating.  $14.99 for the kindle edition.

Wool:  1,908 Amazon reviews averaging a 4.8 rating.  $1.99 for the kindle edition TODAY … it’s Today’s Daily Deal!

I’ve read much of Grafton’s alphabet series; I have enjoyed following Kinsey Millhone, her private investigator that lives in the fictional southern California city of Santa Teresa.  I certainly appreciate the professional presentation of her traditionally published novels.  Who doesn’t appreciate good proof reading?  On the other hand, even her deep catalog on the kindle is still $5.99 each.  It seems traditional publishers expect readers to pay for that proof reading.  Handsomely.

Howey has succeeded in tapping into his audience in a way that old-school authors like the 72-year old Grafton just can’t emulate.  Check out my favorite part of Howey’s website, his chart of how many words he’s written for each of his ongoing projects.  His readers know exactly where he is and what he’s working on.

But back to Wool.

Great opening line:  “The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death; he could hear them squealing as only happy children do.”

Life has gotten very small in this post-apocalyptic story.  The exterior world is deadly; the living world is limited to the inside of a giant buried silo that holds everyone and everything.  The only view of the exterior world is limited by the cleanliness of the sensors mounted above ground at the top of the structure.  When a silo resident goes outside to clean those sensors, they die.

How did people get into this situation?  Why can’t they get out of it?  What IS out there?

Read the book.  You need to read this book.  Buy it today for your kindle; only $1.99 on Amazon.com!

Me, I just bought Wool 6, which is a prequel.  And since Wool 7 is already 60% done … can’t wait!

Apple: The Ugly Face of Big Business   1 comment

The LA Times said today that Apple’s illegal acts to conspire with publishers to fix the price of e-books was “a sign of an industry grappling with disruptive change.”  Hogwash.

Here’s what it is:  an illegal act by our country’s highest valued business.  Apple decided that it couldn’t compete legally with Amazon.com’s Kindle, so it conspired with 5 leading book publishers to fix prices at what these unlawful actors decided was “a fair price.”  I don’t know about you, but any time a bunch of fat cat bureaucrats have secret meetings to decide what they think is a fair price, I’m offended.  I am always offended by illegal activity.

Apple was on the other side of the problem when it helped bring an end to the old school music industry.  I was more than a passive consumer in this process:  Apple’s mandate that they would sell recorded music at 99 cents for a single was one of the signposts on the highway that lead to the closing of the business that employed me for 22 years.  Apple was in the right then … they told fat cat record label execs that they would not allow iTunes to support the bloated CD prices of the day.  Remember paying $17.99 for a CD?  Remember CDs being more expensive that hit movie DVDs?  Thankfully, those days are gone.

Apple’s 99 cent singles were very low priced — but remember the context.  When the iPod was released in 2001, seemingly every high school and college student was stealing their music with downloads from illegal sites like Kazaa or Napster.  Some people are still illegally downloading, and many court cases are still in process.  Those thieves should be punished.  I am always offended by illegal activity.

Understand, I’m a big fan of free enterprise.  If music retailers can get you to pay $17.99 for a CD, then I’m all for it.  On the other hand, it would be illegal for retailers & music labels to collude with each other to ensure that those CD prices were always $17.99.  That’s criminal conspiracy — which is exactly what the book publishers did with Apple.

Who would have thought that Apple would have been so right with music retailing and so wrong with book retailing?

I love my Kindle, and have read over 200 books on it.

Why did Apple engage in these criminal acts?  You’re going to read a lot of whining by the book publishers that they need to be able to pay authors “fairly.”  That whining will include statements that Amazon’s pricing policies are “too low” and “unfair.”  Hogwash.

Authors should be paid by their publishers as much as possible, given what readers are willing to pay for their books.  I’ve happily paid $10.99 for a paperback.  I’ve happily paid $15.99 for an e-book.  If I didn’t want to pay that much, then I didn’t have to buy that book.  That’s fair.

It’s certainly true book retailers are under no obligation to sell their e-books through Amazon.  Amazon charges substantially for publishers to sell their books directly through their portal (typically 30% of retail).  Some publishers, like Baen Books, do not use Amazon for e-books, and “force” consumers to buy electronic books exclusively through their own website, and then upload their books into your mobile device by hand.  That way, Baen gets to keep 100% of the revenue … but they make uploading the books much more difficult.  Their choice.

Personally, I wish that Baen didn’t do it that way.  But they have authors I like to read, so I go jump through their hoops so I can read about the Liaden Universe, or get the newest sci fi by John Ringo or David Weber on my Kindle.

I am a voracious reader, and being a consumer, I don’t want to over pay for the books I read.  When I got my Kindle, it literally changed the way I read.  I used to carry 5 paperbacks with me on business trips, and I had to buy more at many airport bookstores.  Today I only carry my Kindle (which has 27 books on it waiting to be read).

There is no doubt that the court approval of the settlement with the book publishers and Apple will change the way that books are retailed.  When the music business lowered their prices, they had less money to pay new artists.  If book publishers can’t illegally set high prices with Apple, then they will have fewer resources to develop new authors, and less money to buy promotional campaigns for established authors.

However, new authors will seize the opportunity to embrace their marketplace in new ways.  Hugh Howey, author of Wool and the Molly Fyde saga, is an incessant promoter on Facebook.  His mastery of social media is fueling his career … and his passion is not matched by the marketing methods of traditional publishers for best selling authors in your brick & mortar bookstore.

The bottom line is clear:  the rule of law prevailed and punished book publishers and Apple.  Consumers win.  Readers win.  You win.

Here’s my office desk … can you tell that I’m a reader?

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