Tag Archives: eBooks

I won NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winnerIt only took ten years, but I finally won NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar it’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal is start Nov. 1, and by the end of Nov. 30 have 50,000 words written.

Every year for the last ten years I’ve at least done something. Some years it’s been open the site, be too busy to dedicate myself to writing, and close the site. Some years I’ve started writing, either something new, or picked up something I’d started randomly in the year. I’d get various amounts of words in, miss a day, then two, then four then I’d see that I was so far behind the average per day needed to win, I’d give up. Ten Years.

This year, my friend Tom and I both decided we’d do it again, both agreed to give it our all. I was especially motivated because a few months before Tom had shared a manuscript he wrote some 15 odd years before, and after reading it, I was more energized to create my own.

capture-2016-12-01-at-12-33-32-pmI don’t know what was different this year, other than being a bit lighter than usual on “stuff to do” work wise. But I was able to start strong, and even when I fell behind a few times, it was never so much so that it became impossible.

I actually thought I’d crush it over thanksgiving, but did the exact opposite, then when I was in the final week, the little author dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site was like at this pace you’ll finish on Dec. 2. “SO CLOSE” So I made time, and pushed through. I crossed the “finish” line around noonish on the last day.

I think one factor of the win was that I finally found an app I enjoyed using to write. I’ve tried most every app out there aimed at authors, and haven’t loved any. Some of come close, some haven’t, some have simply gone away. Scrivener, is here to stay, the iPad app is great for when I wanted to try to add a few more words but didn’t have my laptop, the Mac app is fairly intuitive to use.

Until the last week, I wasn’t sure I’d finish on time or finish at all. I have to say I’m pretty darned pleased with myself. My plan is to let it sit a week or two, then go back over the story with an eye for cleaning things up. Then anyone who’s interested may read it (warning it’s Sci Fi). Then Maybe I’ll toss it up on Amazon. Who knows.

Any how, wanted to share, because like I said, I’m pretty pleased with myself.

My Thoughts so far with Kindle Unlimited

tl; dr; I like it.

If you’re not familiar Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited a month or less ago (Less for sure since my 30 day trial hasn’t ended yet). The premise is, for $9.99 a month you get unlimited access to something like 500k eBooks.

That number is a little misleading, yes there’s 500k books to be read, but other than a few token high profile titles/series (Hunger Games), it’s largely smaller indie writers work. That’s not a terrible thing, but an observation, and warning, if you’re looking for the big publishers stuff, it’s not here (yet?).

If you like to read, and don’t necessarily care if the writer is famous, etc. You’re in the right place.

I’ve read several books so far (trying to make the most of my free month to see if it’s worth it), and have enjoyed them all.

What I like best:

  • Unlike the Lending Library, you’re not limited to 1 book a month. You can load your Kindle up with several books, from Kindle Unlimited. This is great for stocking up before a trip when network connectivity may not be an option. It’s also nice to not have to remember to come back for a book when you can borrow next. Just add as you come across them.
  • It’s a great way to discover new writers
  • Normally I’m not a renter (don’t like streaming music services, prefer to own TV and movies that I enjoy, DRM free and on my own hard drives) but for books, so far the idea of just borrowing, reading and returning isn’t that bad. When I find something i love, I’ll likely still buy it, but so far knowing the book would go back hasn’t been a big deal. Granted so far I’ve read good books, that i probably wouldn’t have bought, so…

My big issues/questions about Kindle Unlimited are:

  • Other than getting more money from me, why isn’t this part of Amazon Prime? Video streaming is lumped into Prime, why not Kindle Unlimited? To be clear I know it’s likely a legal thing, contracts, rights, etc. but still, I’d like it to be part of my already $100 spend. Heck I’d be happy if it was part of Prime and you had to choose, video or books. I know that sounds like “Gimme more shit for no more cost”, but I’d even be happy it prime was another $10 more. Really it’s just the notion of a separate service, that feels like it shouldn’t be separate.
  • What happens to the Kindle Lending library? This is mostly just a curiosity, but it covers a different selection of books, so I’m curious if they’ll merge or will i still be able to get some bigger name books that way?
  • For now reading more ‘unknown’ writers is totally cool, but at some point I’ll likely want to read something published by the big five, etc. I hope that’s something that works itself out sooner or later. Hopefully sooner, but not holding my breath.

I don’t know the economics, but hope that amazon is treating those who participate in Kindle Unlimited well. I had read somewhere (I hope it was true) that in the Kindle Lending Library model, writers got more when a book was loaned, than they did when it was sold. I find that sad, but hope it’s also true here, in so far as i want to reward those writers I’m reading.

The One Downside of the Hardware Kindle

Ok let’s get a few things out of the way first, since these posts always illicit “I read on my iPad just fine, neener neener.”

  1. Reading on a backlight bugs my eyes.
  2. Reading on my iPad is one distraction after another. Bam new push about a tweet. Bam new article just downloaded. Bam another tweet. Now a message from a friend, why what did so and so post recently? etc. etc.
  3. Kindles are light. I read on the elliptical and hold it when i read. You spend an hour on a machine holding your iPad up and tell me how your arms feel.

Ok now to my point. I recently decided to hijack my wife’s Kindle Touch. She wasn’t using it. I’ve long had and loved what’s now called the Kindle Keyboard. But over the weekend really thought about how often I type on my Kindle. Not often. I highlight a lot of things, and when I make an annotation, it’s usually only a few words. So why lug around a larger kindle that’s a bit heavier? Also Amazon scraps old model support faster than Apple, so the Kindle Keyboard won’t get any new features. Heck the touch might not either but it’s got a few newer ones already.

De registering her account on the Touch, easy. Resetting to clear her data out, easy. Even registering my account on it, easy. Here’s where the process takes a dump. The reason it sucks… because of (shocker) DRM.

I use collections on my Kindle; Sci Fi, Fantasy, Fiction, Business, a few others. I’ve taken to simply storing my books on the kindle vs. removing from device when I finish reading. It’s nice to have all the books there, especially if I want to look something up I know i read a while back. The Kindle indexes all the books on it.

Now you might think it’s as easy as when you get a new iDevice. Restore from back up, etc. You’d be wrong.

And my library isn't as big as many others.

And my library isn’t as big as many others.

Instead what you have to do (Found on the kindle support forums) is manually (via the devices archived items view or the Manage my kindle website) bring each book down to the new device. One at a time. For me that meant picking from all but a few of my 202 books, clicking “send to” then the device I wanted them to show up on.

Then once that was complete, wait while the Kindle indexes all the books.

Then (yeah there’s a lot of “thens”) go into archived items -> Menu -> retrieve collections. Viola, your other registered kindles show up, and with a tap you select the kindle you want to import collections from. Unfortunately the collections are really just meta data, so the books have to be on the device first, and fully indexed. A few while later, you’re all set, new device, collections from your other device.

What a waste of time and effort. Why? From what I’ve read it’s a DRM thing, each device you download the book onto imprints it’s PID on it (The unique ID of the device). so simply copying over the entire library from one device to another can’t work, because the books need to be associated to this new devices PID.  What a bunch of shit. There’s at least a few easier solutions I can think of off the top of my head. One would be…

I already have to associate a kindle with my Amazon account, logging in on the device. Why not associate the books with my account (maybe a unique ID based on my account) vs. the device I’m keeping them on. That would enable a new kindle to simply import from another so long as it’s tied to the same account. You can limit the number of devices just like Apple does, etc.

Why punish the consumer who buys a new device? It was a 30 minute(ish) problem this weekend with 202 books, what about when I own 500 books? 1000 books? Amazon (and publishers) expect me to grab a snack, a cup of coffee and sit down to start manually downloading each book i own, all over again.

Talk about an incentive to not buy a new Kindle very often.

Of course I could take the time to strip the DRM out of each book i buy, up until now I was happy to play along with Amazon’s DRM solution, but I’m re-thinking that now.

The problem with eBook pricing

I saw this NYT blog post and retweeted it (props to @datingdad) with “Good for amazon”

My friend Dave (@courier_new) asked some questions clarifying my position, so I thought I’d write my thoughts up (not new here, check the eBooks category) in a bit more than 140 chars.

Publishers are fighting companies like Amazon on eBook pricing. Many have won with agency pricing. Agency pricing lets the publisher set the price and more often than not you see this.

Continue reading

So an Amazon Tablet huh

Thought I’d take a minute to weigh in on the whole Amazon Kindle tablet thing now the buzz and punditry has kinda died down.

I’m interested, but still skeptical. I DO however LOVE my kindle 3 lest someone immediately jump to “Hater”

The touch model is uninteresting, I don’t see value in an e-ink touch screen. Even with improved refresh rate and such, I just don’t see a long term usability there. Add on the whole, “touch in the middle for menu, touch on the sides to change pages” thing, i just don’t see the use. in the long run. Typing might not suck completely but I’m guessing it’s not awesome.

The one with the D-pad but no keyboard. Ok but i think it’ll be only slightly useful. If nothing else entering wifi credentials is gonna suck, and I assume it still has note making capability, which will get old fast hunting and pecking across an on-screen keyboard. I do like the look of it, very clean. While I love my keyboard when I need it, it’s a definite space waste 90% of the time I’m using my Kindle. That 10% however is huge. I don’t surf the web or tweet (who are these people that bitch about the browser ON THEIR E-READER. YOu guys are doing it wrong) but I make lots of notes. Sometimes I share those notes out, most of the time I don’t. But I take lots of notes when I’m reading non-fiction. Since getting my K3 and seeing the shared highlights of others, it’s clear I’m not the only one. Tapping out a lengthy note to myself or observation on an on-screen keyboard that refreshes like e-ink… no thanks.

I hate typing my passwords on my AppleTV using the stupid remote, and dread when I need to do it on the PS3, all for the same reason. hunting and pecking via a direction pad is a terrible way to use a keyboard. So yeah the keyboard less one and the touch one likely will be huge to readers of fiction or those who see no value in adding any type of annotation. That’s not a criticism just an observation of usage.

Now the Nook color… oops the Kindle Fire I mean.

I don’t read on backlit things. I read way too much, and just can’t do it. I might read a page on my Xoom (kindle app) from time to time, but when it’s sit down and enjoy a book time, it’s not on a reflective backlit screen.

I love the size. The only thing RIM did right in the playbook in my opinion was the size. The OS was nice and had they executed in a way that in any way resembled a real world view of the market I have little doubt the playbook coulda been a real player. But that’s a different post. The size was great. It fit in my shorts pocket. My coat pocket, and the small outside pocket of my laptop bag(s). No I probably wouldn’t use it as an every day tablet for catching up on news feeds, or things like that. but for quickly reviewing email or twitter, for a quick (who am I kidding right) game of Angry Birds and such it’s perfect. The playbook had an incredible screen, I hope the Fire does too.

Watching things. My other big use case for any tablet is watching stuff. I’ll be leaving for Adobe MAX tomorrow and my Xoom is loaded with a movie or two and some episodes of TV I haven’t watched yet. Prior to the iPad and Xoom I watched stuff on my iPhone. The larger tablets are great, but my eyesight is fine, so a smaller screen is also cool. And the Playbook size screen i found to be just right. Not so heavy I get bored/tired of holding it up, and not so small I’m squinting to see the show. So I think the size of the Fire is a good choice and keeps it on my “I’m watching you” list. Had it been 10″ I probably wouldn’t care since I have the xoom. It does just fine.

Content is king. This applies over and over and you see things fail for this simple reason (cough RIM, HP, most android devices). Amazon unlike HP and android and RIM has content. It’s got amazon prime and cloud drive music. Remember why we all love our iDevices? The content and the ease of managing that content, and the ease of using that content. Amazon has a shot here. I thought HP did too, but frankly HP is clearly run by people who don’t get that it’s 2011 not 1992.

As Amazon adds more content to Prime, it gets more and more interesting to me. Since Netflix as a company is beginning to annoy me, I might just redirect my $ and attention to Amazon if they can get a bit more content. I know they compete but it’d be awesome if Amazon Prime VOD was added to AppleTV, that’d be a Netflix killer for me at least.

What wasn’t talked about and what I’ve said over and over in regards to Android vs. Apple user experience is the content management. Android is catching up a little with Google Music, etc but has a LONG way to go, and if your media isn’t in their cloud, it’s a PITA to get it on your Android device. Lock in… gotta love it. But if Amazon makes managing my on device content easy and seamless (even if it means a simple upload from iTunes to Amazon to download to device) way to manage the stuff on my tablet, well they may be the alternative to Apple that Android promised to be. Of course the Kindle aspect of the device much like the Nook aspect of the Nook Color, not at all interesting, but the device itself… hmm

Of course nothing at all was shown in relation to that type of thing which doesn’t fill me with warm fuzzies, BUT the Fire doesn’t even ship for 2 more months so…

So my haven’t-even-seen-or-touched-it-yet opinion. I’m cautiously optimistic. I didn’t pre-order anything and I’ll wait for some hands on reviews before I make an moves.

Did you pre-order? What’d you get?

Read Books, it’s Good For You!

I’ve known this anecdotally for a long time. I think it extends beyond bloggers needing to read, and read fiction. It applies to every single person, everywhere.

The points outlined in the article all speak for themselves, so i don’t need to re-hash those.

Reading is good for you. Reading anything is better than nothing, but like all things, there needs to be a balance.

Reading only business books, is no better than reading only comic books. I haven’t read as many business books of late, but still keep 1 or 2 around at any given time, just to keep my brain working on business, I went through a phase where I read mostly business books, and fiction was the minority. Right now it’s the opposite, but that changes as availability of good fiction changes.

Read too many or only business books, and I think you lose an edge. Creativity. Business books, like business school (which I’m against) tell you how things have been done, what’s worked for someone else, how you should do X and Y and how you shouldn’t. Fiction opens your mind to possibilities. Sure i can’t sick a dragon on my competitors, but reading fiction at least keeps my mind able to consider other options.

Creativity is as valuable as knowing how Lou Gerstner brought IBM back, and unless your next job is running IBM, I’d argue that creativity, and a mind open to new thoughts is better than knowing how Lou did what he did.

This relates to the “I don’t have time to read” crowd. You’re fooling yourself, I’m sure you think it makes you look cool, and important that your every waking hour is consumed with something, but really you look like a Douche, and at least to me, and probably most ‘readers’ look like an imbecile. There’s time in the day for everything, and reading is one of those things you should make time for, maybe not daily, but heck, reading a page a week is still better than not reading a page a week…

 

Go grab a book, and be a better person, in business and in life.

In Which i disagree with @elleinthecity, Borders closing, not the end of reading.

I love books, just ask anyone who knows me. I read a lot. I still have a wall of paper books I re-read from time to time, and I have my Kindle (and of course the various iOS Kindle apps!). Books are as a big a part of my life as anything else is. I thank my mom for bribing me to read and do book reports in exchange for new GI Joes.

It makes me truly sad that we’re losing Borders, that Powell’s had to lay-off some of it’s employees, but the reality is, it’s 2011. Books in their old form are making less and less sense. Publishers of course refuse to see this truth. Neither can places like Borders who chose to ignore eBooks.

Reading isn’t dying, books are. Paper books to be specific. Don’t get me wrong, that makes me sad too, i love the feel of a book in my hands. But time’s they are a changin’ and the smart money isn’t on fighting the future, it’s about embracing it.

Remember The Warehouse? Tower Records? They’re gone, music isn’t. Remember Hollywood Video? Blockbuster? They’re gone, movies aren’t.

It’s the same thing, every single time. Over and over again, we see posts like (not surprisingly written by someone in Publishing) this bemoaning the march of time, the march of technology as the greatest sin ever to be committed against society.

Publishing needs to see the writing (pun intended) on the wall, and adapt. Fighting this forward movement, is like fighting the tide. Just ask the CEO’s of Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Tower Records, et. al. Don’t fight your customers, don’t make adapting to the future something your customers have to make a “us or them” choice.

Yes a street without bookstores is a sad street. Let’s not be melodramatic either. Book stores like Borders will go away, used book stores, classic bookstores, will thrive, as they always have. Publishers, should be embracing technology, making people WANT to buy eBooks.