Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Kindle (page 1 / 1)

The Kindle Screensaver Should Be a Book's Cover Art

Now that I've established my kindle owner bona fides, here's my primary complaint about the Kindle.

To: kindle-feedback@amazon.com Cc: jeff@amazon.com Subject: Kindle Voyage—Use book cover art as screensaver


Please give me an official way of allowing me to use my current book's cover art as my Kindle screensaver. If not that, give me a semi-supported way to use 3rd party modifications on my Kindle, so that I can install someone else’s code that will allow me to use my current book's cover art as my Kindle screensaver. I'd prefer a solution directly from Amazon, but if you're unwilling to provide it, I'm willing to look for a solution somewhere else.

Mostly, I love my Kindle Voyage. My biggest complaint is that the Kindle doesn’t have a feature allowing me to use my book’s cover art as the screensaver image. I read. A lot. I think the cover art of each book is an important part of my emotional connection to each book. But the Kindle almost never allows me to see that cover art. I see it when I’m selecting a book from the home screen, and that’s pretty much it. When my Kindle is on, I see the text of the book. When my Kindle is off, I see a random image from a collection of boring stock art screensavers.

In the past, I’ve jailbroken my Kindle devices, just so that I can install a hack that will use the cover art of my current book (or magazine, or personal document) as the screensaver for my device. The Lab126 team has gotten too good at preventing jailbreaks and now I can no longer see book cover art as my screensaver. This is very disappointing and is the biggest thing I don’t like about my new Kindle Voyage.

Thanks, ~Joe

About 24 hours later, I got a form response from the Kindle development team.

I'm sorry; currently the option to set the Kindle book’s cover art as the screensaver image isn't available on Kindle device. It is certainly not our intention for our customers to have anything but a pleasant experience using Kindle.

I completely understand that this feature (To set the Kindle book’s cover art as the screensaver image) definitely would be of great help to our customers. It's unfortunate that this feature is not available right now.

Although at this time there is no option for this, we'll be sure to consider your feedback as we plan for further improvements. Rest assured that I have passed along your comments to our developers. We definitely value your opinion and will continue to listen and respond to our customers' concerns. We will make every effort to evaluate the information you have provided, and try our level best to lead it to program changes or enhancements.

About 24 hours after that, I got a chiding response from one of Bezo's minions.

I'm Elizabeth King of Amazon.com's Executive Customer Relations team. Jeff Bezos received your e-mail and asked me to respond on his behalf. I'll be sure to include Jeff’s office with this correspondence.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback on allowing Kindle users to download third party software to devices for custom screen savers.

Customer feedback is very important to us as it allows us to continue to improve the services we provide based on what our customers are looking for. I've forwarded your comments to the Kindle team. In the future, if you'd like to share any thoughts you have about Kindle with the Kindle team directly, please feel free to send them to kindle-feedback@amazon.com.

Please keep in mind we're unable to provide any troubleshooting for your Kindle devices if it appears the device has been rooted.

Please refer to the Kindle License Agreement and Terms of Use for information regarding the proper use of Kindle software:


This entry was tagged. Kindle Ebooks

My Kindle Owner Bona Fides

Because I almost exclusively read e-books, I occasionally offer criticsm of the Kindle and suggestions for enhancements. I'm not just offering drive-by criticisms. I've been a loyal Kindle owner for over 6 years now. My opinions are informed by my long experience using the devices and by my observations of what has—and hasn't—changed over the years.

Here's my experience as a Kindle owner.

  • Original Kindle: Purchased in August, 2008.
  • Kindle 2: Purchased in December, 2009, after my Kindle was stolen.
  • Kindle 3G: Purchased in December, 2010.
  • Kindle 3G Graphite: Purchased in January, 2012, on the promise of the higher quality eInk Pearl screen.
  • Kindle Paperwhite 3G: Purchased in September, 2012, on the promise of a brighter, whiter screen.
  • Kindle Voyage: Purchased in September, 2014, on the promise of a 300-dpi screen, better backlighting, and the return of physical page turn buttons.

With each edition, I've tried to buy the top-line model. Once the 3G wireless was available, I bought that with each new model. I always wanted to be able to get new books delivered, no matter where I was and whether or not I had WiFi. When Amazon introduced ad-supported models, I made sure to always buy the ad-free model. (Books are too important to be forced to look at an ad each time I want to read.)

This entry was tagged. Kindle Ebooks

I Read E-Books

I read e-books because I read. A lot. When I was in middle school, I'd bring home a stack of at least 20 different library books, which was usually enough to last the week until my next library visit. As I got older, I brought home fewer books but the number of pages per book increased. The height of the stacks stayed about the same, but each book was larger (and heavier!) than before.

Because I was homeschooled and did most of my reading at home, the size and weight of the books didn't bother me that much. Once I went to college and started carrying books around in a backpack, the size and weight of each book started to matter a lot more. I was fascinated when I first discovered e-books, looking at titles from Project Gutenberg and Baen Ebooks. E-Books offered the promise of carrying around as many books as I wanted, of any length at all, without any size or weight penalty.

I did my early reading on Palm devices. I believe the first was a Handspring Visor Pro, later followed by a Sony Clié. I read books using the original Mobipocket software. I started out with a 160x160 display, giving all of the books a pixelated, low-quality look. It didn't matter. I was happy just to be able to carry multiple books around in my pocket.

I first head of dedicated e-readers, based on the eInk technology, when I started hearing about the Sony Reader, called the Librie. The initial version was only available in Japan and the interface was Japanese only. But it was book sized, had longer battery life, and a better display. I wanted one so badly.

I still remember how surprised and excited I was when Amazon announced the first Kindle. It was announced in November, 2007, but sold out almost immediately and wasn't widely available until mid-2008. I finally bought one for myself in August, 2008. I've since owned almost all of the Kindle models.

From the Handspring Visor to the Kindle Voyage, I've seen a lot of change and improvements in e-books. From having almost nothing available as e-books to having millions of e-books available. It's been an expensive hobby, but one I've been utterly happy to indulge. I love reading and I love the fact that I can carry a multitude of large novels, several magazines, and a variety of non-fiction books around with me, everywhere I go. The future is here and it keeps getting better.

Coda: Aren't Physical Books Better?

There's a longstanding argument about whether or not e-books are as good (or better) than physical books. The argument goes that physical books are better because of the feel of the paper, the unique scent of books, the look of the text on the page, the memories associated with the physical object, etc. These arguments aren't wrong. Physical books do offer a lot of sentimental value that e-books may never be able to match.

I understand people that prefer physical books over e-books, but I don't feel the same way. Growing up, I read a prodigious amount but I didn't actually own many books. Almost everything I read came from either the Virginia Beach library system or the Norfolk library system. I didn't own them, so I couldn't dog-ear the pages, write notes in the margins, or develop an emotional attachment.

When I think of a book, I think of the ideas and people contained within the pages. I don't think of the pages themselves. "My" books were rentals. Someone else had them before me, I had them for a short while, then I gave them back, for someone else to have after me. The paper and ink were merely transient residents, passing through my life. An e-book carries the ideas and people just as well as paper and ink does. I sympathize with those who are attached to paper and ink, but I do it from a distance.

Throughout my reading life, I've loved stories and developed emotional attachments to various characters, places, and events, but I never loved the physical book itself. I don't miss what e-books don't offer, because I never really had it to begin with.

This entry was tagged. Ebooks Kindle

Literary Lions Take Themselves Too Seriously Against Amazon

Literary Lions Take Themselves Too Seriously Against Amazon →

Over 300 authors have decided to take a joint stand against Amazon.

[H]undreds of other writers, including some of the world's most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.

They also want to highlight the issue being debated endlessly and furiously on writers' blogs: What are the rights and responsibilities of a company that sells half the books in America and controls the dominant e-book platform?

They have a rather apocalyptic view of Amazon's role in the literary world. Here's agent Andrew Wylie.

"It's very clear to me, and to those I represent, that what Amazon is doing is very detrimental to the publishing industry and the interests of authors," the agent said. "If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America."

And here's Ursula K. Le Guin.

"We're talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, 'disappearing' an author," Ms. Le Guin wrote in an email. "Governments use censorship for moral and political ends, justifiable or not. Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable."

Full disclosure: I've been an Amazon customer for about 15 years now. I was both stunned and thrilled when they announced the very first eInk Kindle. I've owned almost every eInk Kindle they've made and the Kindle has been my preferred way to read for at least 6 years.

With that background in mind, my response to Ms. Le Guin is something along the lines of "Say, what? How's that again?".

Amazon has created a self-publishing platform that allows anyone (literally anyone, have you seen some of the dreck that's up there?) to publish a book. They give authors a platform to self-publish in both print and digital formats. How that correlates to dictating to authors what they can write and to readers what they can buy is beyond me. (As a reader of discriminating tastes, I sometimes wish that Amazon would exercise more control over what writers write and readers read.)

The Times attempts to provide some evidence of Amazon's dastardly deeds and pernicious effects.

Even Amazon's detractors readily admit that it is one of the most powerful tools for selling books since the Gutenberg press. But how that power is used is increasingly being questioned in a way it was not during the company's rise.

So what are they guilty of?

Take, for instance, the different treatment Amazon has given two new Hachette books on political themes.

"Sons of Wichita" by Daniel Schulman, a writer for Mother Jones magazine, came out in May. Amazon initially discounted the book, a well-received biography of the conservative Koch brothers, by 10 percent, according to a price-tracking service. Now it does not discount it at all. It takes as long as three weeks to ship.

"The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea" by Representative Paul Ryan has no such constraints, an unusual position these days for a new Hachette book.

Amazon refused to take advance orders for "The Way Forward," as it does with all new Hachette titles. But once the book was on sale, it was consistently discounted by about 25 percent. There is no shipping delay. Not surprisingly, it has a much higher sales ranking on Amazon than "Sons of Wichita."

That's really reaching. First of all, the complaint isn't that Amazon is jacking up the prices on books that they don't like. They're complaining that Amazon isn't discounting Sons of Wichita, as if a discount were a moral right.

This anecdote ignores the fact that the central disagreement between Hachette and Amazon is that Amazon wants a wholesale pricing model for eBooks (like the one they have in print books) that would allow them to discount eBooks. Hachette is fighting that, insisting on an agency model that gives them full control over pricing. And, yet, here the complaint about Amazon's "abuse of power" is that they should be discounting more, not less.

Second. "Not surprisingly, it has a much higher sales ranking on Amazon than Sons of Wichita". I'm pretty sure that the pricing discount isn't the entire reason—or even the main reason—why a book by a national political figure is selling better than a book about comparatively obscure political donors. As much as Harry Reid wishes it weren't so, most of America neither knows nor cares who the Koch brothers are.

Here's what I think is going on. Andrew Wylie represents a large number of very successful literary figures. Like most successful people, these literary lights seem to feel that not only do they know their own craft better than anyone else, but that they know everything better than anyone else. As a result, they're confidently claiming to know how Amazon should run its business. Not only that, they're confident that they know how the entire publishing industry should be run. Not for their own benefit, of course, but for the good of civilization.

Personally, I think it's likely that the authors know far more about the craft of writing than Amazon does. And I think it's likely that Amazon knows far more about the craft of getting books into readers' hands than these writers do. As a longtime voracious reader, I appreciate what Amazon has done for me over the past 15 years. I've continually had access to an ever widening variety of books, especially the obscure ones that I despaired of ever getting access to.

I find Ms. Le Guin's and Mr. Wylie's comments to be more than a little ridiculous. I absolutely respect their right to free speech and their right to advocate for any position that they like. But the more I hear of what they have to say on this topic, the more my respect for them diminishes.

Could Amazon’s Lending Library End in Court?

Could Amazon’s Lending Library End in Court? →

This explains so many questions about the new Amazon Kindle Lending Library: why it has so few books, why you can only browse the books from your Kindle, and why you can only check out one title per month.

PW has learned that the overwhelming majority of publishers with titles featured in the program did not reach any agreement with the retailer. Rather, these titles were taken without publishers' knowledge or consent.

... As has been reported already, titles from the big six houses were not included in the Lending Library because these publishers sell on the agency model. The books featured in Amazon’s Lending Library are all either self-published, published by Amazon (under one of its imprints), or published by houses that sell on the wholesale model. Amazon was able to include publishers’ titles without their consent because the e-tailer is treating the borrowing process as a sale—each time a Prime user borrows a book, Amazon pays the publisher as if the book was bought.

Apparently, some of the publishers (and some authors) are quiet upset about this. Legally, I'm not sure how this works. If Amazon is essentially buying a book, each time it's checked out, the publishers are still getting sales and Amazon is eating costs. This seems to financially hurt Amazon far more than the publishers. But, intellectual property contracts and law can be very slippery things and there may be legitimate ways that this hurts publishers and authors.

This entry was tagged. Kindle

This Kindle Case Changed My Life

mEdge Kindle Platform Jacket Can a simple accessory change your life? I guess it depends on how easily the course of your life is altered. But this M-Edge Kindle 2 case did change my life in a minor way. Nothing earth shattering. I haven't discovered a new direction, found new motivation, or rededicated myself to the assistance of aged grandmothers caring for bewildered orphans. On the other hand, I do read my Kindle far, far more than I used to.

Last year, around this time, I read my Kindle frequently. But it wasn't in an all-out fight to my dominant mode of reading. It was nice, but it was somewhat awkward. I enjoyed reading it in bed and I enjoyed reading it while sitting on park benches. I enjoyed reading it while waiting for my grill to heat up, right before tossing a nice juicy steak on it. But I didn't enjoy reading it while eating.

See, I've always read while eating. At least from as far back as I can remember, anyway. I'd even say it's a healthy habit. If I eat while reading, I eat slowly and chew everything thoroughly. Medical type personnel are always apt to say that that's a good thing that promotes healthy digestion. Without a good book, I tend to just bolt my food down so I can get back to something more interesting -- like reading.

Anyway, without this case, it was awkward to read while eating. I had to find something near my plate that I could use to prop up my Kindle: a milk jug, a particularly sturdy napkin holder, a pot of mashed potatoes, etc.

But this case. This case does all of the hard work of propping up a book for me. It supports my book at a perfect reading angle and looks nice doing it. It's now my preferred way of reading while I eat -- by far. It beats a paper book all hollow. And, since so much of my reading time these days is confined to meals, it's my preferred way of reading any book.

Now, if only there were a Kindle lending library stocked with every book ever published, I'd be a happy man.

(About the build quality: I bought the "real leather" variety. Don't waste your money. The leather is probably real but feels little different from the fake leather that I've felt on other products. The padding underneath is adequate but thin. The straps do a great job of holding the Kindle in place and feel like they'll last for a while. Also, this case goes great with an M-Edge e-Luminator2 book light.)

This entry was tagged. Kindle

Al Mohler on the Amazon Kindle

Do not think of the Kindle as replacing the book. Bury that thought. Bury it deep. Then go and hold a favorite book in your hand. Enjoy. Then pile 50 of your favorite books and carry them with you all day, through airports, onto airplanes, checking into hotels, sitting in meetings, reading in bed at night. You get the point. You sit (gloriously) in a library. You take a Kindle in your briefcase.

Well said, sir. Well said.

This entry was tagged. Kindle Quote

Sarah Palin in Wasilla

I admit. I'm still intrigued by Sarah Palin. I'm not convinced that she's the blithering idiot that so many of my peers see. Nor am I convinced that she's the great conservative / libertarian hope that many others see. But I'm definitely intrigued by anyone who can attract as much attention as she has attracted.

That's why this op-ed caught my interest: Palin in Wasilla: Resistance to insider assimilation.

Early in the second chapter of "Going Rogue," a chapter titled "Kitchen-Table Politics," you learn everything you need to know to understand why [Palin is so hated].

... Recruited to run for the council in 1992 by local power broker Nick Carney, Palin was seen as an attractive face who would support the usual way of doing business in Wasilla. She wasn't.

In one of the first tests of her independence, Palin opposed a proposal touted by Carney, her political patron, to force residents to pay for neighborhood trash pickup rather than hauling their garbage to the dump themselves, as most did, and as Palin says she still does.

Why was this so important to Carney? Because he owned the local garbage truck company. If you've never had much exposure to local politics -- and this is largely true anywhere you go -- it's a pretty big deal for a young, inexperienced politician (especially a woman) to so blatantly go against the person who recruited you into politics and supported you in your first campaign. You come under tremendous pressure to fall into line. Most cave, right then and there, long before they ever sniff politics at a higher level.

Palin didn't.

During her terms on the council, she consistently opposed heavy-handed community planning initiatives and burdensome taxes.

... Among Palin-haters, one of the most popular canards is that she is an airhead, and clearly not capable of dealing with the intricacies of government. As this chapter demonstrates, nothing could be further from the truth.

Palin not only has a keen grasp of the details of governing and budgeting, she also understands the political difficulties inherent in making government responsive. Many of her antagonists at the national level scoffed at the notion that her experience in Wasilla was of any value. Quite the contrary, local government is where a public official's decisions have the most direct impact on the electorate. It's where you really have to understand the ins and outs of what you're doing.

Interesting, no? And, yes, I am planning on reading Going Rogue. I'll pick it up sometime after the Kindle edition comes out.

Kindle vs iPod

Seen on /.:

The main advantage of the Kindle over the iPhone is actually the fact that it's not a phone; do you realize how high you jump when you're sitting in a quiet place deeply into a horror novel, and right at the scariest part, the damn thing RINGS at you?!

This entry was tagged. Humor Ipod Kindle