Confetti-spewing box robots
You have to wonder if the advertising campaigns for Amazon events are done by inside staff – a group of pseudo-marketing people who haven’t worked in the cut-throat ad business.
I just don’t think that a self-respecting team from Madison Avenue would have ever approved the name Prime Day. The name was as flat as the event. It’s reminiscent of Test Day or Fish Stick Day. No pizzaz.
Other than the little boy under the tree reading his Kindle, Amazon’s fallen short in recent years with graphics and sales campaign names. I’ve criticized The Big Deal Sale name as blah. The Daily Deal isn’t any better, but it is half-way honest. It is daily; whether it is a deal is still open for discussion.
The confetti-spewing box robots (let’s all them boxbots) were okay. At first glance, they were awkward and heavy. I got the impression that box packers and dockworkers were goofing off in the warehouse one day and a boxbot was the end result. Highway construction workers make similar art from orange cones.
Amazon has been using the box idea for years and Prime members might have made the leap from boxbots to free shipping. By featuring the boxbots prominently, you could infer Amazon didn’t plan to include much digital content selling cheap on Prime Day.
The confetti added color and an air of festivity. Too little; too late.
Check out the price reductions on books published by Simon & Schuster. There aren’t many big name authors, but you might find a few you will want to add to your library, including non-fiction titles.
Click on the links below and then use the categories on the left side to narrow the search to the genre you enjoy reading. I encourage you to browse through all the pages as this is sorted by most popular and books that were higher priced will sell fewer copies and be further in the search.
Simon & Schuster books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Pocket Star books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Pocket Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Touchstone books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Washington Square Press books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Scribner books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Gallery Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Atria Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Free Press Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews
Howard Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews – Inspirational Books
Strebor Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews – Books for and about African-Americans
MTV Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews – Books for those who enjoy MTV
Simon Pulse Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews – Books for teens
Margaret K. McElderry Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews – Books for teens
Atheneum Books for Young Readers priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews for teens and children
Aladdin Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews – Books for children
Simon Spotlight Books priced from $1.99 – $2.99 – 3-star or more reviews – Books for children
Prime Day 2015 – What it was and what it wasn’t
When I was a child way back in the 60s and 70s, our small Midwestern town’s Chamber of Commerce sponsored an annual event in July. To lure shoppers, local merchants would advertise enticing prices on popular items and drastically reduce the prices on their stale inventory. The merchants set up their tables, clothes racks and more outside their stores and the Chamber called it the Sidewalk Sale.
My family would rise early and join the throngs to buy winter coats that didn’t sell the previous fall, shoes that were more function than fashion and other items that just didn’t move for the merchants.
Everyone knew it was an attempt to stir the slumping summer sales and clear the back room before the fall and Christmas merchandise arrived.
Prime Day at Amazon was the 2015 Sidewalk Sale. Amazon even convinced customers to spend $99 to be able to shop their stale inventory! That’s pure marketing genius and worked well according to Amazon’s press release after the event.
The Good and the Fleeting
Prime Day had a few popular items at good savings and it appeared that a large number were offered for sale. These included the Kindle reader, the 7” Fire HD, the Kid’s Fire, and the 6” Fire HD. I purchased a 7″ tablet – which will be delivered August 12.
The price on the Fire TV Stick was good, but the supply didn’t last long. Seems that everyone wanted a spare stick for another TV in the house. The deal sold out quickly, but at least the one I ordered has already been shipped.
The Amazon Echo was selling for $50 off. For 15 minutes, I used three different laptops to try to buy one. The site kept spinning until I was offered a chance to join the wait list.
In a bragging mid-day press release, Amazon announced that 4,000 Echos sold in 15 minutes. 4,000? Seriously Amazon? Why did you even bother? If you don’t have enough cupcakes for everyone in the class, don’t bring them to school!
That same press release stated, “The Kate Spade purse was gone in less than a minute.” Was there only one? Shame on you, Amazon!
The Books and Clothing Bust
The Kindle Daily Dud on Prime Day did nothing to excite the massive Kindle customer base. Even though the Kindle Deal is available to Prime and non-Prime members, Amazon missed an opportunity to offer something meaty that would have been popular.
A bestseller for $2.99 or $3.99 would have been welcomed. Mila 18 by Leon Uris was not a winner. However, it was originally published in 1961 when Sidewalk Sales were in their heyday so maybe it was appropriate.
Where were the book deals–not Kindle books, but traditional print books? The sale had a few Harry Potter novels, some business books and several less-popular cookbooks. The prices were mediocre at best. Amazon forgot what made it the company it is today. Epic fail!
Clothing was selling for 30% off. Really, Amazon? 30%? My dear mother-in-law will model an outfit that she purchased at Belks for 25% off. I smile and compliment her on her shopping savvy. The truth is I don’t even slow down at a 50% off sales rack; I give a 70% off rack a cursory glance and buy from the 80%-or-more-off rack.
Most customers need a steeper discount than 30% for clothing.
The PC Items
Practically everything else offered on Prime Day fell into the PC category – Piddly Crap. For every decently-priced, practical item featured, there were seven iPhone covers, charging cords and/or HDMI cables. How many does a customer need?
Many items were selling for 60% or 70% off, but few of those were 100% claimed. I was surprised to see that the Sassy Jungle Theme Grooming Set sold out, but maybe only two were available.
To offer a lightning deal of only 20% off is almost insulting. There’s no sha-zam in 20% off. It’s reminiscent of every department in the grocery store offering up a deal for the weekly ad and the health-and-beauty department discounts store-brand make-up brushes 20%. It’s a waste of advertising space because no one buys make-up brushes at the grocery store. Few people clamored to a product at 20% off on Prime Day, either.
Why it Worked
If Prime Day was such a bust for the customer, why did Amazon do it? The $99 membership fee is a big reason. Also, statistically Prime members spend more money than non-Prime members. Logically if the Prime membership grows, Amazon sales will increase. Prime Day was about building membership worldwide and if the warehouses were cleared of stale merchandise, it was a win-win.
Amazon also played off the psychology of the buyer. If you were a new Prime member and spent $99 for the privilege of shopping at this sale, you were probably determined to buy something – anything – to justify the expense. You didn’t really want or need a Gordie Howe & Bobby Hull Autographed Picture, but at 60% off and free shipping, you one-click bought it to give to your brother-in-law next Christmas.
Amazon will have another Prime Day in 2016, when all the new members this year are up for renewal and need an enticement to make it worth another $99. I’ll be there watching the lightning deals and trying to get an Echo as I didn’t rise to the top on the wait list this year.
BTW – I did not put my name on the wait list for the Spiralizer, but I was amused that there was a wait list. Were you one of the lucky customers who bought one?
What did you think of Prime Day? Boom or bust? Did you get your Christmas shopping completed? Let us know your thoughts!
Next week I’ll talk about the confetti-spewing box robots in the Prime Day advertising.
Cheap Reads – Contemporary and historical mysteries for only 99 cents each
Officer Elvis (99 cents) After performing at a local old-folks home, off-duty police officer and part-time Elvis impersonator Tommy Reylander smoothes out his pompadour, climbs into his pink Caddy, and gets all shook up—fatally so, when a bomb explodes. Whether he was killed for his police work or bad singing is a mystery that detective Darla Cavannah is determined to solve.
Medium Dead (99 cents) Under Victoria’s reign, women are barred from calling themselves physicians, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Gladstone. As the first female doctor in Newton-upon-Sea, she spends her days tending sick villagers in the practice she inherited from her father.
After the corpse of village spiritualist Alvina Elwold is discovered aboveground at a church boneyard, wild rumors circulate through the charming seaside village, including one implicating a certain regal guest lodging nearby. Alexandra will need all the help she can get, because she’s stumbled upon dangerous secrets—while provoking a deadly adversary who wants to keep them buried.
Check in tomorrow when I’ll give my complete analysis of
Not-Quite-Ready-For Prime Day 2015.
I was up at 2:00am Central time Wednesday to post all the great Prime Day bargains, checking diligently for deals all day long. I remained awake until 2:00am Central time today (Thursday), eagerly watching Amazon.com to see if I would receive notice that the Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer Pro, 4-Blade was available after I joined the wait list.
Friday I’ll tell you my impressions of the first ever Prime Day. You will have a chance to respond then, too.
Prime Day – July 15
Maybe this is big enough that we should be on-line at midnight Pacific Time and stay on-line for 24 hours so we don’t miss a single one of the great deals on July 15. Then again, maybe the deals on Prime Day will be similar to the Daily Deals in recent months – just not that great.
However, I am hopeful that Kindle devices and tablets will be included in the day’s deals. In the United Kingdom Kindle Store, Amazon recently featured the 8.9″ HDX for one day at 65% off regular price. Perhaps a similar deal will be featured on Prime Day in the United States.
If you do find a few deals AND Amazon offers the $1 credit on Kindle books for taking the slow delivery method, you might get enough credits to purchase a current bestseller.
Prime Day is a global shopping event, offering more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members. On Wednesday, July 15 new and existing members will be able to shop thousands of Lightning Deals, Deals of the Day, and will receive unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping. Members will find deals starting at midnight PST, with new deals starting throughout the day, as often as every ten minutes.
Not a Prime member? Try Prime today and get immediate access to deals on July 15.
What were we talking about?
Kathy asked recently where the Kindle Discussion Forum had gone.
If you look at any webpage in the Kindle Store, the menu ribbon includes a link for Discussions:
If you click on that link, you open a page on the discontinued Tag feature.
After a bit of amateur sleuthing, I found the Kindle Discussion Forum. You might want to bookmark the page.
Fill your Kindle with these mysteries and thrillers – selling today for only $1.99 today.
The Coffee Trader ($1.99) In his richly suspenseful ovel, author David Liss once again travels back in time to a crucial moment in cultural and financial history. His destination: Amsterdam, 1659—a mysterious world of trade populated by schemers and rogues, where deception rules the day.
Playing Dead ($1.99 Audiobook $4.49) “Dear Tommie: Have you ever wondered about who you are?”
The letter that turns Tommie McCloud’s world upside down arrives from a stranger only days after her father’s death. The woman who wrote it claims that Tommie is her daughter—and that she was kidnapped as a baby thirty-one years ago.
Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha ($1.99 Audiobook $3.49) Although recently married, Mrs. Pollifax is packed and ready to go to China, where a young agent, Sheng Ti, holds the answers to goings on at the sinister Feng Imports–a one-time agency front.
EXTRA! EXTRA! Extra posts today!
Scroll all the way down the page and continue on to Page 2 as we have extra posts today to make up for being off-line on Thursday. You will find mysteries, histories, romances, and more to read this holiday weekend.
Enjoy this Independence Day, celebrate our country and the bounty we have been given. Wave the Stars and Stripes and praise or criticize our government, remembering we have that freedom.
Read a newspaper, watch a news broadcast or shout at the radio as you remember the freedom of the press.
Sing a rousing chorus of God Bless America or The Battle Hymn of the Republic and remember we have the freedom of religion.
Shake hands with a neighbor, relax at the lake or enjoy a baseball game and remember we have the right to gather as we please.
Light a few firecrackers, put a punk to a sparkler and write your name in the nighttime sky Marvel in the beauty of the fireworks large and small, get a crick your neck, and smile at the wonder in the children’s eyes.
Revel in the delight of summertime foods – grilled meat and vegetables, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, ice cold watermelon, homemade ice cream and fruit pies.
Hug those you love, listen to a story told by an older person and thank anyone who has served in the military. Be kind to one who may not deserve it, smile at everyone and visit or call someone who needs a friend.
Celebrate the wonderful United States of America. She’s the grandest nation on this earth, bar none. We are blessed to live within her borders.
Eight Myths about Audiobooks
In the last two years I have become a huge fan of audiobooks. In the first half of this year, I’ve listened to more than 60 books.
Bookriot.com published an article titled “Listening to Books is Cheating” and 7 More Myths About Audiobooks. The author counters the comments often made by people who prefer books over audio.
The first myth: I’ll miss out on something if I don’t read the print. Yes, I’ve been distracted, tuned out, or even talked over the narrator when listening to books. When reading a traditional book, I’ve also skimmed pages and read the words without paying attention. I learned quickly to be a better listener to hear the important passages.
Another myth: Audiobooks narrators have super annoying voices. Having listened to more than 200 audiobooks, I’ve encountered one super annoying narrator. The men and women who read books are professionals. Listen to enough books by the same narrator and they become a friend.
If you haven’t tried audiobooks, I encourage you to take advantage of the Audible free trial. You receive two free audiobooks just for checking it out. You might become a hugs fan, too.
This Independence Day weekend might be the perfect time to read this book. In this shattering and iconic American novel, PEN prize-winning writer, Smith Henderson explores the complexities of freedom, community, grace, suspicion and anarchy, brilliantly depicting our nation’s disquieting and violent contradictions.
Fourth of July Creek ( $1.99 ) After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face to face with the boy’s profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times.
But as Pete’s own family spins out of control, Pearl’s activities spark the full-blown interest of the F.B.I., putting Pete at the center of a massive manhunt from which no one will emerge unscathed.
Number of review or percentage?
Amazon recently changed how they identify the reader rating of a book. The graphic below on the right is the new presentation; the graphic on the left is the previous format. Note: Presentation is for two different books.
My thoughts on the new method:
1) Why change it? What is gained by this new way of reporting?
2) If a book has 10 reviews and 2 are negative, that’s 20% in the new method. Two low reviews are not enough for me to reject a book, but 20% seems worse to me.
3) Most of us think in numbers, not percentages. This method isn’t buyer friendly. I find it confusing rather than helpful.
Improvement on the Manage Your Content Page
Amazon has improved the Manage Your Content page for those of us who have more than one, two, or even ten devices on our account. Now we can send a book to multiple Kindles, Fires and Kindle apps at the same time.
If you regularly read on more than one device or want to share a book with two people on your account, you will welcome this feature.
The Charlie Bradshaw Series, hard-boiled mysteries – $1.99 each
Stephen Dobyns wrote the ten books in the Charlie Bradshaw series from 1976-1998. The everyman detective, Bradshaw lives in Saratoga Springs, Florida, and finds himself embroiled in one murder after another. Buy the ten books in the series for $1.99 each today. Some have audiobooks, too.
Yesterday Amazon introduced the all-new Kindle Paperwhite, updating its most popular and best-selling Kindle with the highest resolution Paperwhite display, the exclusive Kindle font Bookerly, and a new typesetting engine for more beautiful pages. Even with these improvements, the price remains the same, starting at $119. Pre-order today for shipping beginning June 30.
The all-new Kindle Paperwhite is for the serious reader. Amazon has created an electronic device that mimics the look of print books through typesetting and presentation – and the presentation is preserved when a reader selects a larger font size.
The new Kindle Paperwhite offers an all-new typesetting engine that lays out words just as the author intended:
• Hyphenation and improved spacing–Kindle Paperwhite adds hyphenation to break words at the right place, creates paragraphs with consistent lines, and adjusts the space between words
• Improved character placement–New kerning and ligatures automatically adjust character spacing to make it easier and faster to recognize words at any font size.
• Beautiful page layout–Print books often use drop caps to add emphasis and beauty to the first page of a chapter. In eBooks, this is challenging to replicate given the ability to adjust font size and line spacing. The new typesetting engine presents drop caps, text, and images on Kindle just as the author intended, and dynamically adjusts the layout as the reader changes the text size.
• Large fonts, without compromises–Kindle Paperwhite automatically adapts when a reader chooses the largest font sizes, customizing the margins, columns, indents, nested lists, borders, and drop caps to keep the page easy to read.
The Bookerly font was “designed from the ground up for reading on digital screens.” According to the press release the font “introduces a lighter, more graceful look and outperforms other digital reading fonts to help customers read faster with less eyestrain.” View the font and read more here.
Same day or pay more
A recent Daily Deal was for the first three books in the Mia Quinn suspense series by Lis Wiehl. On the day the books were only $1.99 each, the companion audiobooks were also $1.99 each. I didn’t buy the audiobook at the same time as the Kindle book and now the audiobooks are $3.47 or $4.49 each. The great price on the audiobook used to last for several weeks.
While some audiobook prices may last longer, I suggest you buy daily deal audiobooks the same day to get the best price.
These two family sagas set in London are selling for only $1.99 each.
The Soldier’s Bride ($1.99) Torn between love and duty…Letty Bancroft longs to be married but her father has other ideas – he wants his daughter to stay at home and help run his East End shop.
Heartbroken, Letty must remain unwed while her sweetheart goes off to fight in France. But her love affair has had consequences that will see her more determined than ever to be a soldier’s bride…
Poppy’s Dilemma ($1.99) Sixteen-year-old Poppy Silk is one of the navvy community – a group of poor, rough-living men who work the railways and take their families wherever the tracks lead. When Poppy is left fatherless, her world becomes fraught with danger, men vying to claim her as their own.
Her one ray of hope is Robert, a young engineer, who she meets one day by the tracks. But his wealthy family have different plans for him… Can Poppy ever hope to win his heart?
And would she give up her whole way of life for him?
Girl on the Train Review
A couple of months ago we featured The Girl on the Train ($6.99) and many of you purchased this very popular book. I finally read it this past week. My first thought was “How did so many dysfunctional people come to live on the same street?”
Gripping? Unputdownable? Up-all-night reading it? None of those describes my reaction. The book seemed a bit tedious.
The women narrators did not appeal to me. Rachel, Anna and Megan were guilty of self-inflicted and avoidable trauma and drama in their lives. Their weak personalities were tiresome before the book ended. Historical romance readers have an expression for them – TSTL – too stupid to live. As a reader I just wanted to get in their faces and say, “Don’t be such a bowl of mush!”
The story was suspenseful, the ending wasn’t quite what I expected and I’m glad I read it. But it was a 3-star read for me.
What’s your opinion of the book? Did you love it? Did you think it was over-hyped? Let us know.
Amazon.com Announces the Most Well-Read Cities in America
On June 2, Amazon.com announced its fifth annual list of the Most Well-Read Cities in America – just in time for summer reading season. The ranking was determined by compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format from April 2014 to April 2015, on a per capita basis in cities with more than 500,000 residents.
The Top 10 Most Well-Read Cities are:
1. Seattle, Wash.
2. Portland, Ore.
3. Las Vegas, Nev.
4. Tucson, Ariz.
5. Washington, D.C.
6. Austin, Texas
7. San Francisco, Calif.
8. Albuquerque, N.M.
9. Denver, Colo.
10. Louisville, Ky.
Read a mystery or thriller this summer. These two are only $1.99 each today.
Assassin ($1.99 Audiobook $3.99) Fearless intelligence operative Lord Alexander Hawke matches wits with a cunning and bloodthirsty psychopath in a desperate race to avert an American Armageddon. Hawke must call upon resources deep within himself. He must enter a race against time to stop a cataclysmic attack on America’s most populous cities and avenge the inexplicable and horrific crime that has left him devastated.
Kiss of the Bees ($1.99 Audiobook $3.99) Twenty years ago, a darkness rose up out of the blistering heat of the Arizona desert and descended upon the Walker family of Tucson. A personified evil, a serial killer named Andrew Carlisle, brought blood and terror into their world, nearly murdering Diana Ladd Walker and her young son, Davy. Now much has changed. The monster is dead, but his malevolence lives on . . . in another.
Predictions that didn’t pan out
PC Magazine recently listed the 8 Dumb Tech Predictions From Smart People. Clifford Stoll, author and astronomer, doubted that Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab had made a correct prediction in 1995 when he said “we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight from the internet.” Read more of unfulfilled predictions in the article.
I have no expertise in making predictions, so I won’t make the bold statement that Amazon will not introduce another e-reader. I do wonder what more Amazon might do to improve the Kindle. The Paperwhite and Voyage meet my needs of being reader friendly, the right size, and reliable. I would like some way to quickly indentify a book as read, but that’s not worth buying a new device.
Do you have a prediction? What could Amazon do to make a better e-reader than what’s available now? Where will we be buying our books and newspapers 20 years from now?
Goodreads 100 Books
The readers who use Goodreads voted on the best books ever. Most of the books are classics and a surprising number have been written for children and young adult.
If you enjoy a cozy mystery, you will want to buy these three for your summer reading. Only $1.99 each.
Murder in the Mystery Suite ($1.99) Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. Resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together. But when the winner of the scavenger hunt is found dead in the Mystery Suite, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer.
Nightmares Can Be Murder ($1.99) Business consultant Taylor Blake has returned to Savannah, Georgia, to help her sister Allison turn her dream of running an old-fashioned candy store into a reality. Allison invites Taylor to her Friday night Dream Club. When a local dance instructor is found dead in his studio, and the murder scene has an eerie resemblance to one of the dreams shared at their meeting, Taylor can’t help but be intrigued.
State of the Onion ($1.99) Never let them see you sweat-that’s White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras’s motto, which is pretty hard to honor in the most important kitchen in the world. She’s hell-bent on earning her dream job, Executive Chef. There’s just one thing: her nemesis is vying for it, too. Well, that and the fact that an elusive assassin wants to see her fry.
Finally we are enjoying summer weather and outdoor activities and Daily Cheap Reads is going to a summer schedule.
We will post the Daily Deals and 5-6 additional posts around 6:30am Central US time. The jr. edition will feature 1-2 posts each day in addition to the daily deal.
I’m frustrated by a couple of technical issues right now – Windows 8 updates that make my laptop useless and Amazon changing their images so that I can no longer access book covers to make posts. I am hopeful that I can find solutions quickly. If not, then I have to make tough decisions about the viability of the site.
Short Story On-Line Read
Have just a few minutes? “Mercy at Gettysburg,” by John Jakes is available to read on-line. A lost son, a vengeful father, and a rebel soldier are caught up in the saga of North vs. South. Read the story in just a couple of minutes here.
Words, Words, Words
Just a few phrases I’ve read in the last few weeks:
He was starch raving mad. Hmmmm – Light, medium or heavy starch raving mad?
Her voice went up an active. If you don’t know the word. . . . get active and look it up!
Eight years ago she left town riding on a greyhound. Here’s an image: a woman riding the racing dog sidesaddle.