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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kindle Library Lending Off to a Slow Start

Kindle Library Lending debuted last year, and has shown modest growth, but has a ways to go before it really takes off.  The number of libraries that offer the service has grown tremendously, but the selection of books offered has not.

My local library offers access to e-books for the Kindle, Nook, and other electronic devices.  But, I rarely find anything I like.  If I do, it already has a waiting list a mile long.

One of the biggest barriers to the program is reaction from publishers.  The Big 6 are having a hard time relinquishing their books for borrowing because they’re afraid that it will make a big dent in sales.

I read an article earlier today that got me thinking more about this dilemma, and I began to mull over ideas suggested in the article that might help them get over their fears.

E-books are easier to get and transport than regular books.  So publishers are afraid that book sales will go the way of music sales did about 10 years ago.

I think with careful handling through licensing, a compromise can be reached.  The result would be a benefit for both libraries and publishers.  By adding e-books to their collection, libraries can shake their old stereotypes and offer something that is new and exciting.

For publishers, the benefit is the exposure to books that can lead to a purchase.  There are people who borrow books from a library, like them a lot, then purchase them to read again.

Another option is to join Amazon Prime and use the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  It has a much broader selection, but you can only check out one a month.  I have checked out a lot more books from there than from my library.  I am currently waiting very impatiently until the next month to download the third book in the Hunger Games Series on my Kindle.

I think it is important to still get the word out about e-book borrowing in libraries.  Increasing the demand for books can’t hurt.  Just remember, it is the publishers not the libraries themselves, that are setting the book limits.  I hope to see a future where both print and e-books will be readily available to library patrons globally.

 

 

 

Kindle Touch Hidden Gem

There is one issue with my Kindle that I wish Amazon would make more intuitive.  That issue is deleting books directly from my Kindle.  I understand that there is a lot of room for books on the device itself, but often, people would like to get rid of books that aren’t really serving any purpose anymore.

On my Kindle 2, I just slid the 5 way toggle button to the side and it gave me a menu option to remove a book or game from the e-reader.  I just figured out how to do this randomly when I was maneuvering around on it.

Figuring out how to delete books are little more difficult on the Kindle Touch, but once you know the trick, it is quite easy.  If you have an iPad or iPhone you have to press down the app for a few seconds, and an x will pop up and allow you to close or delete the app.

Using this same idea based on the iPhone delete commands, I pressed down on a book on my Kindle’s Home screen for a few seconds and sure enough, a dialog box popped up giving me an option to delete the book.

So why is this worth mentioning?  Now that you can check out Kindle Books from the library or Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, there are a lot of books coming and going.  When you return a book, the title still shows up in the list, and says “recently returned.”

Frankly, they are annoying, and can really clutter up the device’s library.  They also hide the books you actually need or want.

A friend asked me once how to do this, so I thought I’d pass it along in case you were wondering the same thing.

And don’t worry, even if you delete a book from your Kindle, it remains stored in your account on Amazon.  You can always re download it on any Kindle or Kindle app supported device at any time.

 

 

Amazon Brings Harry Potter to Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

After years of waiting and fan requests, J.K. Rowling has finally got her Pottermore site running well and offering eBook versions the Harry Potter series to owners of Kindles, Nooks, and more.  She accomplished this in such a way that even Amazon, the bane of publishers and booksellers everywhere if you believe the news, was persuaded to redirect all interested buyers away from their main site and into Pottermore.  This makes it even more surprising for Amazon to announce the recent inclusion of the Harry Potter series in its controversial Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Those with access to the lending service will be able to select from the whole seven book series in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish starting next month, thanks to an exclusive agreement with Pottermore.  This means that anybody with an Amazon Prime account and a Kindle device can check out one installment of the series every month.  If you are planning to read through these books again anyway and don’t necessarily need to own new copies in a digital format, this means about $56 in savings that could offset the cost of a new Kindle eReader or Amazon Prime annual membership significantly.

No details were released as to the nature of the exclusivity that Amazon mentioned in their press release.  Seeing as the Harry Potter series is already available in libraries across the country and has been since March, it is unlikely this will be exclusivity with regard to digital borrowing.  More likely, Amazon has an arrangement to be either the only purely digital lending service to carry the books or they have arranged unlimited distribution rights for the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library rather than a per-copy fee.  The only major impact this will have for users of Amazon’s library is that it will never have waiting lists.  Either way this will likely be more inconvenient for potential competition down the line than it is right now when the Lending Library is essentially the only one of its kind.

The usual Kindle Owners’ Lending Library rules apply to Harry Potter.  You get one book per month and the most.  You only get to borrow one book at a time.  There are no late fees.  To participate you must be both a Prime member and a Kindle Owner; the Kindle Apps do not qualify.  While reading, any notes, highlights, bookmarks, tags, or other personal interactions with the book will be saved via Whispernet in the hopes that you eventually decide you need to own the book.  Should you buy a copy, or borrow the same book a second time in the future, it will already have access to all of the marks you made in your library book.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this arrangement, the Harry Potter series will become available on June 19th.  Assuming you meet the requirements for Lending Library usage, you will be able to get your free rental then regardless of the level of popularity it enjoys on launch.  If you don’t yet qualify but are in the market for a tablet, the Kindle Fire comes with a convenient month of Amazon Prime membership and thereby takes care of both sides of the qualification at the same time.  Something worth looking into.

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Hits 100K Milestone; Can It Continue?

Amazon’s controversial Kindle Owners’ Lending Library has proven to be a hit among readers and an appealing option for many self-publishers, but there still remains some question as to how successful it can hope to be as an ongoing project.  The basic organization is simple.  Authors who are willing to make their work available exclusively through the Kindle Store will find themselves with the option to allow lending through the library.  When included, they get a certain share of the money pool being filled in each month by Amazon to keep the service going.  The more popular a book is among borrowers, the larger the share of that pool that goes to the contributing author.  For many self publishers who find they make the majority of their income through the Kindle anyway, going exclusive is not really a big deal in terms of income alteration.  The worst that can happen is that nobody borrows the book, and even then it doesn’t cost anything significant.

Leaving aside the philosophical issues in choosing to contribute to Amazon’s ever-growing list of exclusive content, which is an interesting and complex subject for debate that will probably come up again at greater length in its own post to better do it justice, as the number of participating authors grows we may see a drop in interest among new potential contributors.  The restrictions regarding access to the library play a fairly large part in this.  Each borrower must own a Kindle eReader or Kindle Fire, be an active Amazon Prime member, and remember to make use of their one monthly rental each time around if an author is to get anything.

This is a very specific audience to be targeting with your marketing and may prove to be somewhat hard to pin down.  Add into this the fact that, while the number of Kindle Editions now available through the library has grown past 100,000 titles, the amount of money being competed over has not been increased in any ongoing way and you have a complicated decision presented to self publishers.  A highly limited number of readers needs to be enticed to choose your book from an increasingly large pool of options in an environment where the reward for each individual choice is likely to count for less due to the pre-determined maximum award size and ever-increasing number of Kindle owners.

Can Amazon hope to keep the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library growing at a decent pace?  Chances are good that they can.  Will it continue to be a persuasive reason for new authors to agree to exclusivity?  That might be harder to keep up.  As numbers come out and we learn at least enough about the big success stories to determine how little of the cash pool was available for other authors to divvy up, we should be able to get a clearer picture of how well somebody can expect to do through this program,  After all, even if you were only making $1 per book sold on each of your hypothetical 30 annual sales through Barnes & Noble, that’s better than getting nothing at all from a lending library for Kindle owners.  A clearer picture should emerge as more time passes, but without a new source of big name titles or an increase in funding, Amazon’s Kindle Edition lending effort seems like it might have a limited shelf life.

Kindle Owner’s Lending Library Adds More Titles

The Kindle Owner’s Lending Library is a service for Amazon Prime members that lets you download a book a month for free.  There is no due date for the book once you check it out. For $79 a year, you can get free two day shipping, access to unlimited movie streaming, and the ability to check out a book each month.

At the launch I wasn’t totally thrilled with the selection available, but now, it has grown to over 100,000! titles.  The collection includes books from both large publishing houses and independent authors.  Independent authors have really made a name for themselves with Kindle Direct Publishing.

You will also find a number of bestsellers on the list.  Although, I have yet to see the bestsellers that are at the very top.  There are still some bestselling books that I have been eyeing for months, but they are still in high demand at the library, and are still expensive by e-book standards.

Amazon has the clout to make a “Netflix for books” of sorts.  Netflix offers all of the popular movies, so I don’t see why this can’t be done for Kindle e-books.  That service would probably have to come at a higher cost eventually to appease publishers.

The Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and Kindle Library Lending go a long way to help ease the burden of skyrocketing prices that are showing up for e-books.  They also reach out to readers who can’t get to a brick and mortar library or bookstore.  I hope that these services can work together to provide a delightful reading experience for everyone who reads e-books.

So, just keep an eye out on the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library’s book list.  It is growing constantly, so if you hold out for awhile, the top bestsellers will most likely eventually show up on there.

There is one thing I wish that Amazon would do.  The page for the service could showcase the genres a little better.  The Kindle Store does a good job of this.  The Lending Library could do the same.  Otherwise, it has a lot of potential, and can only get better.

Amazon Adds More Big Networks to it’s Prime Instant Video Collection

Amazon introduced a couple of big perks to the Prime membership in the past year.  For $79 a year, you can get free two day shipping along with free book and movie rentals with Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and Prime Instant Video.

The Kindle Owner’s Lending Library allows one book checkout a month, and includes a fairly good sized collection of books.  I’ve checked out a couple of them so far and have enjoyed having this option.

The latest news involves the Prime Instant Video collection. Amazon just announced that they sealed a deal with Viacom, which means that they now offer TV shows from hit networks such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, TV Land, MTV, and VH1.

When Prime Instant Video first started, there wasn’t much of a selection, but it now offers around 15,000 titles and is well on the way to giving Netflix a run for its money.

There are shows for kids like Spongebob and iCarly, as well as Dora the Explorer. Adults can check out Glee, Lost, 24, or The Wonder Years.  Newer shows still have to be purchased or rented, but aren’t limited to Prime members.

Prime Instant Video can be accessed on a Mac or PC, an internet enabled TV, or on the Kindle Fire.  With the videos on the Kindle Fire, you have a lot more portability as long as you have access to wi-fi.  Amazon includes step by step instructions on how to access and download movies and TV shows here.

Amazon’s streaming video collection is growing rapidly.  Netflix is still ahead since it includes unlimited DVD by mail, but I don’t think it will be long before the two are in fierce competition with each other.

So, keep tabs on Prime Instant Video.  Amazon is constantly adding new titles, and working out deals with major production companies.

 

 

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Exclusivity Pays Off For Some Authors

The December numbers are in for Amazon’s rather controversial Kindle Owners‘ Lending Library (KOLL) and for some people they turned out to be quite good.  Right around 295,000 rentals were made of the approximately 70,000 titles available to be checked out in December alone.  Given the $500,000 fund allotted to compensate KDP exclusive authors for these rentals, that means approximately $1.70 per lent copy was handed out.  Things went over so well, in fact, that Amazon is throwing another $200,000 into the pool for January’s authors.  This will bring the total to be divided up to $700,000, though of course it will also quite possibly be divided among even more authors this time around.

Among the more notable success stories, we know that the top ten most popular KOLL authors put together nabbed over $70,000 from these rentals alone.  That is around a 30% increase over other monthly income from the same works.  The top earner was Carolyn McCray, author of a number of paranormal romance and mystery/thriller titles, who is quoted in the Amazon Press Release as saying that “KDP Select truly is a career altering program”.  Romance writer Amber Scott, 16yr old children’s author Rachel Yu, and the puzzle book producing Grabarchuk family made up the rest of the highlighted triumphs, with over $6,000 in KOLL related income apiece.

In these cases, obviously there has been no significant downside to the program.  The fact that participation in it requires exclusively making one’s work available exclusively to Kindle owners may have more of an effect on many others, however.  What the press release numbers do not tell us is the average income that an author managed to pick up this month, aside from the fact that it was a measurable percentage increase over participating authors’ usual monthly income from Kindle Store proceeds.  It would be interesting, if pretty much impossible, to compare how many authors saw a jump in profits compared to the number who actually lost income due to exclusivity.  It seems safe to assume that this was the case for at least some people.

As with anything related to self publishing, however, most of the success will have to come through some form of author driven advertising.  Random hits by interested browsers are nice, but word of mouth is frequently not enough to drive sales on its own even for a skilled and prolific writer.  The lending community opens the door to new readers, but so far is not arranged in such a way as to point readers toward any particular title.

Overall this success is a plus for any fan of the Kindle.  Owning one gains some ongoing perks in the form of book rentals, success stories among authors will surely lead to even more participants, and Amazon has immediately shown themselves likely to increase the compensation pool.  We’ll be watching the program here in months to come as the situation stabilizes.  You can’t really assume that holiday Kindle sales are having anything but a positive effect on everything related to the eReading line, so it might be the end of first quarter before we can say anything definitive about ongoing positive trends.  Still, off to a good note.

 

Amazon Introduces “KDP Select” For Kindle Direct Publishing Authors

The big news of the day is Amazon’s introduction of a potentially huge incentive for authors to make their content exclusive to the Kindle platform.  Starting immediately, any author or publisher who chooses to go entirely Kindle will be eligible for a share of the monthly Kindle Owners’ Lending Library fund after 90 days. it isn’t a guarantee of immediate profit any more than self publishing is an inevitable path to success, but for successfully marketed books it can spell some great new income in return for withdrawing from overall less profitable competing stores.

The payment scheme is based on the total number of rentals in the Lending Library, the percentage of rentals of a given book within that larger number, and the amount of money placed into the monthly fund by Amazon.  The promise they have given in the press release is for equal distribution based on the popularity of a title, meaning that if 500,000 people each borrow a book then every rental will earn one dollar.  If fewer than that join in, which seems likely at first since the pickings have been slim enough to prevent much excitement in the program so far, then each could be worth significantly more.  Best case scenario, this has the possibility of being more profitable than actual sales revenue for some authors.

Since at present the monthly installments are expected to remain at $500,000 through at least the entirety of 2012, the only real question is how much interest can be drummed up for a given title and the service as a whole.  Amazon does not release numbers on this, but the success of both the Amazon Prime program and the Kindle in all its many iterations would seem to indicate an impressive amount of overlap being likely, especially as the Kindle Fire continues to enjoy ongoing popularity and extra Amazon Prime functionality.  Each such instance is eligible to participate, supporting a favorite author if nothing else.

The fact that this requires the authors and publishers in question to completely withdraw from the Nook, Kobo, and other platforms will likely cause more ideological upset than financial distress for participants.  In general many make as much as 90% of their digital sales revenue through the KDP program already, according to some sources.  In doing so, however, these individuals may incur some bad press overall.  No author wishing to make a living on their craft is likely to easily make the decision to turn down an increase in income, but there is the very real possibility that this could be a crippling blow to other eBook vendors.

This is clearly a move on Amazon’s part to increase the Kindle platform’s lead over the competition.  Not only does the new program mean that more high quality titles will be showing up in the free-ish category that the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library represents, it decreases the value of competing devices by taking away the content they need to thrive.  Self publishing is an increasingly important area to control, given how much the Agency Model pricing scheme imposed on digital book vendors cripples competition over pricing of products passing through traditional publishing. It’s easier to get your books out on the market than ever before thanks to Kindle Direct Publishing, but it’s worth weighing the decision carefully when it could mean fewer options in the long run.

Don’t mistake me for being against the program.  I’m not.  Anything that supports authors and makes books more readily available to readers with Kindles is wonderful in my eyes.  There is definitely reason to worry about it being too successful in the end, however.

Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: How, What, and Why

Assuming you have both a Kindle and an active Amazon Prime membership, you now get to make use of Amazon’s latest eBook related service, the Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library!  Aside from having a rather unwieldy name attached to it, this will be a good thing for those who get to take advantage of it.  Of course, aside from being occasionally lucky it might be hard to figure out how to take advantage right off the bat.  We’ll start there.

First off, it is helpful to be aware that you need to do your borrowing from the Kindle itself.  While you might find books that have borrowing enabled while browsing the Kindle Store on another device, in which case you will see “Prime Members: $0.00 (read for free)”, you cannot begin the borrowing until you pull it up on your eReader. If your Kindle software is up to date, the Kindle Storefront will now have a “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library” category to choose when you click on “See all…”.  Look around from there and choose your book!

As far as what is currently available, none of the Big 6 publishing houses are currently taking part in this program.  They have cited concerns that offering something like this will devalue the eBook as a format in the minds of customers.  Strange reasoning, but not much we can do right now.  Among the 5,000+ titles that are available, though, expect to find selections in pretty much every category.  Keep an eye out for things like Vook Classics titles, which will work just fine but encompass titles that most people will get just as much out of when reading for free anyway.  You only get one rental per month under this program, so it’s worthwhile to use it wisely.

That one rental will strike many people as rather little to get for the $79/year Amazon Prime membership, making this an ineffective marketing tool on its own, but it will probably help drive sales of the new Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire eReaders among existing Prime customers.  Amazon is clearly convinced about this since they are once again putting their own money into getting a Kindle program off the ground.  Not all of the books being offered are in the Library by publisher agreement, it seems.  In cases when Amazon is able to grab eBooks through non-Agency Model relationships, they are simply buying at wholesale and then lending to customers, eliminating any publisher participation.  The jury is still out on how long this will last before somebody gets really upset about it.

Reading a book every couple weeks is not at all unreasonable for anybody, and Amazon has said on multiple occasions that their data shows that Kindle owners buy more books than most people.  We have to hope that translates into more books being read as well.  Perhaps the intention here is to keep people interested in continual consumption and draw in those who haven’t yet gotten too invested in their Kindle.  Regardless of the reasoning behind it, there’s no downside if you’re in a position to take advantage.  Enjoy your book.

Amazon Kindle Lending Library Launched For Kindle Owners Only

After some speculation about the possibility a while back, it appears that Amazon has opened up what we can only hope is the earliest stage of its Kindle eBook Lending Library to the public.  It will provide customers with a free book loan from time to time, without due date.  Essentially a Netflix for Kindle Edition eBooks, available for only a select group.  Sadly, this service is far more exclusive than anything else Amazon has put out to date.

Ever since the first Kindle came out, Amazon’s position on the line was that users could “Buy Once, Read Everywhere”.  Overall they have done a great job of ensuring this, with apps for most any system and now the Kindle Cloud Reader which when complete will allow users to access their eBooks from any browser on any system.  So far, so good.  While the Kindle Owners Lending Library does not necessarily break this rule, it walks a fairly fine line.  Only people who own physical Kindle eReaders and who subscribe to Amazon Prime will be able to take advantage of the new service.

True, this is not a purchase.  It’s really not even an amazingly useful library yet, featuring just over 5,000 titles with none coming from the largest publishing houses. It does privilege people who use Amazon’s hardware, though, which is going to come as a bit of a shock to people who have become accustomed to receiving great Amazon service when using their Kindle for Android or Kindle for iOS apps.

What would motivate this potentially alienating move?  Partly it fits in with the Kindle Fire‘s launch.  Amazon is able to push their Prime service, which they are clearly hoping to catch a large number of Kindle Fire owners with, as well as offering one more reason for people to switch to a Kindle.  To make a broad generalization, it is fairly safe to assume that people who are used to doing their Kindle reading on an Android or iOS device are used to reading on back-lit LCDs, meaning that they are potential converts with the Kindle Fire’s eReading capabilities.

It is also of major importance to demonstrate to publishers who have not yet bought in to the idea that this can serve customers without devaluing the eBook image.  By only offering the option to owners of Kindle eReaders, it is perhaps possible to maintain the eBook as something with more weight behind it than your average cell phone app.  It’s doubtful that this can make much of an impression on companies clearly predisposed to hate the idea in the first place, but time will tell.

Despite these valid uses for the program, I think Amazon has made a mistake here.  Drawing a line between Kindle owners and app users only serves to push potential customers away.  Given how important Amazon is seeing their digital content distribution to be these days, that is not a smart move to make.  The underlying concept is great and would be a valid way to push Amazon Prime, but as it stands this seems likely to hurt more than it helps.