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Tuesday Links: The Kindle with Special Offers


Kindle with benefits

Amazon is offering a new discounted Kindle.   The catch is that the screensaver and home screen of the Kindle will feature ads.   The discount is only $25.00 and available only in the U.S. I’m not convinced that $25.00 is worth it and I think this signals in book advertising in some manner is on the horizon.   What is interesting is that these coupon codes, like the one shown in the ad above, will ONLY be available to the Amazon Kindle with special offers. If Amazon kept offering gift cards like the one in the screensaver, even I would be moved to get the Kindle with benefits.

In fact, 24Symbols, a Spanish company, is looking to bring ad supported content to the readers.   I’m not sure if it is a US oriented endeavor or a Spanish one or a European one.   The site is in English.


New Zealand author Nalini Singh is being sent on tour in the U.S.   This tour culminates with an author tea, much like the ones that HarperCollins has been experimenting with.   (It is, in fact, co sponsored by HarperCollins).   There are different pricing tiers which allows you VIP seating and/or seating with an Author of your choice (the most expensive at $75.00). I’m still of the opinion that this program is being tested to see if it can make money.   Each event has been a little different with different price tags. I think HC and other publishers are experimenting and frankly, I think that is smart.


A blogger cites some disturbing reading statistics from a study by the Jenkins Group. I can’t find the study at the Jenkins Group website although I have emailed to request more information.

  • 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 80 percent of US families did not read or buy a book last year.


According to this study, kids need to read to get ahead.   The lede is that kids who read go to universities and kids who play computer games don’t.   (Everytime I read this article, the song by Cake “Sheep Go to Heaven/Goats Go to Hell”).   The conclusion of the article, however, confuses the issue:

The research suggests teenagers who spend a lot of time playing video games should not worry too much about their career prospects. Playing computer games frequently did not reduce the likelihood that a 16-year-old would be in a professional or managerial job at 33, the research finds. Mr Taylor's analysis also indicates that children who read books and did one other cultural activity further increased their chances of going to university.

So who knows. I think the Guardian (where the article was published) wants people to read. Cake wants you to be a sheep.   Or a goat.


Speaking of Cake, this is a hilarious video:


At the London Book Fair this year, CEOs stated that digital books mean paying closer attention to the consumers.

"At every step, something dramatic is happening," Makinson said, from different forms and formats, to apps, mobility, and social networking activity, and “the changing character of content,” is shifting the role of publishers, and forcing them to learn new skills. This includes a more direct relationship with consumers and the need for better pricing analytics. "We have to understand what consumers want, and what they are prepared to pay," he said.

Makinson is the Chairman of the Penguin Group.   The consumers are talking and maybe the publishers are listening but maybe they are not.   Apparently there is a new premium paperback being produced.   The first one sighted was J.A. Jance’s Queen of the Night.   Noted as a mass market but sold for the price of $11.99, this product somehow falls between the mass market and the trade paperback in terms of price and size.   I’m not sure what consumer group was clamouring for this.

Consumers over at the Kindle boards usually have a lot to say about price.   Look at Michael Connolly’s reviews at Amazon.   Over 132 of the 199 reviews are one stars and those one star reviews given are primarily complaints about price.   The top low starred   review discusses the issue of price:

I notice that some people have a problem with reviewers commenting on the Kindle price for this book and others. Turns out that this is the only real forum for readers and fans to let the author and his publisher to know how much we despise this practice. There is no legitimate justification for charging prices for e-books that are higher than physical book prices.


The Smithsonian Magazine had a fascinating article about gender and clothing.   It starts out showing a picture of a child wearing a dress and holding a hat with feather trim.   That child is not a girl but it is FDR.   In 1884, when the photo was taken, it was the cultural norm for all children under the age of 6 or 7.   Jo B. Paoletti explores the gender division of clothing in Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America.   I’ll have to see if I can get that book from my library.


The Flip is officially dead.   The FLIP is a dedicated video camera designed to take short movies but apparently with smart phones and digital still cameras incorporating video recording capabilities, a dedicated device couldn’t withstand the competition.   Is this a harbinger of things to come for all dedicated devices?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Isobel Carr
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 15:03:46

    Apparently there is a new premium paperback being produced. The first one sighted was J.A. Jance's Queen of the Night.

    Is this a new incarnation of the “upback” that we all loved and adored? [sarcasm] I know I still see them in the thriller section occasionally (and I saw a UF new release in this stupid format over the weekend).

  2. Brian
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 15:21:59

    * 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
    * 80 percent of US families did not read or buy a book last year.

    I find this sad, if not surprising.

    I know my sister hasn’t read a book, other than to her kids, since she graduated college about 15 years ago. Neither has my brother-in-law (except for technical manuals). Even so they encourage both their kids to read and buy them books all the time.

    Apparently there is a new premium paperback being produced. The first one sighted was J.A. Jance's Queen of the Night. Noted as a mass market but sold for the price of $11.99, this product somehow falls between the mass market and the trade paperback in terms of price and size. I'm not sure what consumer group was clamouring for this.

    So now we have three sizes of MMPB? The regular 4.3″x6.8″, the upsized 4.1″x7.4″ and this new 5.2″x7.1″ sized one. Why bother? I mean I get that it’s an excuse for them to charge at a different price point, but…

    I think HC and other publishers are experimenting and frankly, I think that is smart.

    Absolutely. I think things like BookPerk (who did the Eloisa James & Julia Quinn tea party) are a good way for them to explore possible revenue streams.

    The Flip is officially dead. The FLIP is a dedicated video camera designed to take short movies but apparently with smart phones and digital still cameras incorporating video recording capabilities, a dedicated device couldn't withstand the competition. Is this a harbinger of things to come for all dedicated devices?

    The FLIP wasn’t a full blown video camera though, it was kind of an in-between device and it’s not surprising it had trouble competing with smartphones and digital cameras which do a similar job for short videos. I think full blown video cameras will still have a place for years to come.

  3. library addict
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 15:25:07

    Is this a harbinger of things to come for all dedicated devices?

    I sure hope not. There are some things dedicated devices do better. And I can’t see cell phones taking the place of actual video cameras. For short snippets, okay, but nothing too long.

    I do not want ads in my ebooks. I know this probably is the future, but I can’t say it often enough, I do not want ads in my ebooks.

  4. Sheryl Nantus
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 15:34:24

    Yet another reason why I like my Nook.

    B&N may have their problems but they’re a bookstore. Amazon is all about the money and how to get it as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

    Fine goals, but I hate getting ads for fitness equipment alongside my ebooks.


  5. Isobel Carr
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 15:36:12

    If they put ads in my eBooks, I’ll go back to paper.

  6. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 16:32:41

    I have to admit that I’m a little surprised that Amazon isn’t just giving Kindles away for free yet. After all, Kindles sell Kindle books, and that’s where Amazon’s real profit lies (or at least, where I imagine its profits lie; maybe I’m wrong about that). But given the buying habits of people with Kindles (and even people like me, who’ve just installed the app on other devices), it seems pretty clear that if you give a man a Kindle, you keep him buying ebooks from Amazon for life.

  7. Sunita
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 16:34:15

    The Jenkins Group is a book marketing company, right? I wonder who they contract to do their surveys, because they clearly have a dog in this hunt.

    That Guardian story is noteworthy because it’s quoting data from a panel study of people born in 1970 (they re-survey the same people over their lifetimes). So they would have been 16 in 1986, when the university entrance rate in the UK was quite different, and I’m guessing book buying was different as well. Our UK readers could tell us more. But I remember buying academic books in the UK then as a poor grad student, and they were extremely expensive; fiction was less so but still cost more than in the US, in terms of comparable purchasing power of the currency. Of course that doesn’t mean people had to buy books to read them, but availability can make a difference.

    ETA: Less than 20% off to read ads for the lifetime of the Kindle? Those special deals had better be really really special.

  8. Lisa J
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 16:40:35

    No ads in my e-books!!! I don’t want additional content and really don’t want ads.

  9. Lynn S.
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 16:47:46

    Great set of links today, brought my workday to a grinding halt but that’s very okay with me.

    First off, why would an ereader need screen savers? If you aren’t reading, wouldn’t you just turn it off and don’t most readers have the capability to shut off after a certain period of nonusage in case you forget. This and the weird bundling stuff is making me happier with my decision not to go the Kindle route for my ereader which seems to operate just fine without screen savers. I’ve been using it non-stop for about a year now and nothing is burned into the screen yet. Not even any scratches.

    If the Jenkins Group statistics are right (sounds iffy/fishy to me), I suppose it’s a good thing that people who do read are generally addicted to it. I’m confused on lede; did you mean it in the journalistic sense or is it a typo?

    Premium paperbacks? Are those the strange new ones that are as wide as trade-size but as short as mass market? Yuck, worse than that slightly taller version they’re overcharging for.

    Enjoyed the Smithsonian article. So in other words, regardless of what the marketers and movements would have you think, you aren’t what you wear.

  10. Brian
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 16:53:03

    @Lynn S.:

    If you aren't reading, wouldn't you just turn it off and don't most readers have the capability to shut off after a certain period of nonusage in case you forget.

    They aren’t really screen savers in the normal sense, just a screen that shows when the device is in standby mode. Most eInk devices just use a standby mode and don’t actually turn all the way off when not in use (the screen only uses power when you change pages) and still get a week or two of battery life. You usually have to go out of your way to turn them all the way off which means you have to wait for the device to boot up which you don’t have to do with standby.

  11. DS
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 16:58:41

    apparently the new paperback is the “Digest” size– about the same height as regular paperback but nearly an inch wider.. I used the look inside feature to check the copyright data which listed a Digest edition.. Not interested.

    ETA: Booksellers probably think they are a nuisance also.

  12. Jody W.
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 17:14:23

    Boo, Kindle ads. Slippery slope.

  13. Ann Rose
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 17:28:26

    Queen of the Night is a “premium” paperback? I’m afraid I was too darned excited just to see this book in paper to pay any attention to the format. JA Jance is one of my favorite authors, and an auto-buy, though with some of her series, I’ll wait for the MMPB (Ali Reynolds, I’m lookin’ at you).

  14. Lynn S.
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 17:44:00

    @Brian: Thanks for the clarification. Checked and, yep, my reader when turned “off” is actually just asleep. I did know it uses the bulk of battery power for the page turns but the off not being off was news to me even though it was right there in the user’s guide. Also found out it does have an actual shutdown mode but I’m leery of how much start-up time would be involved in using that feature; when I want to read, I want to read right now. Still, the pretty graphics of those “screen savers” seem like bells and whistles to me.

  15. Heather
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 17:59:56

    I hate to break it to Sheryl, but Barnes and Nobles’ goal is the same as Amazon’s. To get money as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s why mine now has a large area for selling toys. I love my B&N, it’s a good store, except for all the damn toys. However, I know they only care about my money, just like Amazon.


  16. Annabel
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 20:13:46

    Two things…

    No ads in books! No! Never. Pfft.

    And Cake is the best band ever. Long live Cake!

  17. Lindsey
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 20:22:10

    I’m not sold on the ads. I don’t think I’d mind them too much as a screen saver for my kindle (which is what they are, right now), because I keep mine in a case, and never see it unless I’m about to read, but I do think it’s a slippery slope from screen saver ads to in-book ads.

    However, I’m pretty jealous of the $10 for the $20 gift card. Not enough to buy a whole new Kindle for it, but still, I want access to those kinds of savings.

  18. Jinni
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 20:25:35

    Um, just bought a Flip for a friend today . . . . I still LIKE dedicated devices. Combo devices are never as good, and when something on it dies, I’m stuck without anything.

  19. MaryK
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 00:49:55

    I’d like to try that Kindle to see how I feel about the ads. Supposedly, they’re not in the books themselves but in a banner at the bottom of the home page. There’s a picture of it on the Kindle with Special Offers page.

    I’d want to know 1) if the ads are going to stay in the banner and screen savers or eventually migrate into the books and 2) how often the special offers will be offered. If they’re offered periodically, I’d consider it; I’m not sure one time offers would be worth it. Though if you add up the potential savings of those offers, you’d probably come pretty close to recouping the cost of the Kindle.

    ETA – I really never thought I’d even consider buying an ad-supported product. But a $20 for $10 gift card adds up to 1/2 price books. I really want to know if that’s a one time offer.

  20. CK
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 01:01:48

    Two words: variable pricing. I just don’t see why that concept is so hard for the publishing industry. They clearly have an inability to learn anything from the fiasco of the music industry. Ads are definitely in the future but consumers can and should vote with their pocketbooks.

    Ads = free. Make the money of the advertising. No ads? pay $9.99. Want the Author’s Deluxe Edition (music, maps, character portraits, Kama Sutra positions)? $15.99. ARC six months before the official release date? List Price. (Hardcore fans would totally pay for the privilege.) Wait a year and those prices would probably drop 30-50%. (I’m just tossing numbers out there for examples.)

    It is all about the value to the consumer and frankly that is different for every one of us. In January, I totally would have paid list price for the ebook ARC of Nalini Singh’s Kiss of Snow. Wouldn’t have even blinked. Today? Nope. Maybe $15, but I’d have to think about it. When it’s released? I’ll troll Walmart or Target and still grumble about it. Would I consider reading the ebook version of it with ads for free the day it’s released? Absolutely.

    I’m lukewarm on the Kindle. The price is not quite there yet for me esp with ads. If Amazon drops the price another $50 and I’ll get one. Make it $39.99 and I’ll get one for me, my husband and my 9yo. At that price it would be hard to pass it by even with ads. Now imagine that price during Christmas season and the possibility of least one Kindle in practically every household. That would give them the market. LOL.

  21. DS
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 09:03:39

    I’m thinking about getting my brother the Kindle with the ads– I think he would like the coupons and specials.

    I doubt if Amazon did this out of the blue. They are careful about market research and I’ve filled out a number of surveys for them over the years– they usually give $5 coupons. Therefore they must have some reason to think that there is a market for this.

    The Flip was my favorite graduation present to give for the past few years. Kids could take it to their Commencements and record the fun. It was nicely packaged and priced reasonably (when on sale). You could usually find the nonHD 4 gb one for $100 or under. I’m hoping for major markdowns so I can stock up.

  22. Carolyn Jewel
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 09:52:21

    I read the author contract for 24 Symbols. It’s completely vague AND it wants a transfer of rights. And that’s pretty much all it says. Not what rights, just a transfer of rights.

    Hell. No.

    Let me say that again. Hell no.

  23. Kathleen O'Reilly
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 11:05:28

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say, I don’t mind the idea of ads — IF it would enable more consumers to purchase books. I talk to a whole lot of people who do not buy books because they cannot afford them. They loan books to their friends, they go to the library, they buy used books…. Book buying has become a luxury item, much like HBO (see every “How to Cut Your Budget’ column ever written). Books should not be luxury items, period.

    Advertising is a way for the publishing industry to interject income from a source other than the consumer and/or bookseller. Also, if I’m a publisher (or a self-published author) I would wanting to know what’s my stake in the ad revenue.

    Currently, every single one of the MMPB on my bookshelf has an ad in it. Now, usually it’s the publishers ads… upcoming releases, etc, but I’ve seen ads in books for years and it hasn’t diminished my enjoyment. All I ask is please do not put it between the story. Before the story, after the story, I’m cool with it, but not between the pages.

    My $.02, not brought to you by any sponsor other than me.

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