ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Is Whispersync the Bundle I’m Touting?

For ages I’ve been touting the incredible merits of an audio book / ebook bundle. I’ve conjured. I’ve ranted. But nothing. At last, this.

Now you don’t have to put a good book down… Switch back and forth between Kindle book and the Audible audiobook without ever losing your place. (

Audible claims that Whispersync for Voice fans are consuming more books, and reader’s / listeners’ are pleased with the enriched experience. I’m guardedly optimistic. And interested in your experience. Off to poke around and see what the punditry is saying…

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part III

Welcome to kindle fire

I ordered my Kindle Fire late Thursday morning and it arrived Friday, charged, linked to my Amazon account and brandishing a batch of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Okay, so I made up the last… But my Kindle initiation was almost that perfect.

Of course, honeymoons don’t last forever, and three days of drive-my-bride-crazy-intensive-Kindle-Fire-field-testing later I’m ready to share my first impressions of the Kindle Fire. This post follows up on “Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part I” and “Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part II”, but my review doesn’t depend on first reading those posts, so if you’re heart is racing because you’re a mouse click away from investing two hundred clams in a K-Fire, skip the back story and scan, read, consider the following. Read the rest of this entry »

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part II

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Amazon founder J...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Time to swap $199 for a Kindle Fire. I’ve to discover firsthand what makes it sexy and/or clunky. I have cast around for reviews, but now it’s time to understand what this increasingly ubiquitous device is all about. While I wait for the brown truck, you can catch up on my journey so far… Read the rest of this entry »

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part I

Kindle Fire: Out of the Box

Image by Brian Sawyer via Flickr

I’ve decided that I need to understand the Kindle Fire. I’ve borrowed, dabbled and delayed. So far it hasn’t been love at first sight. Not like my bride’s iPad, for example. I love it. Crave it. Waiting for next gen to own my own. Happy fortieth birthday, virtualDavis! Perhaps…

But the K-Fire is here to stay. For a while. Until its sexy progeny dethrone it. K-Fire’s adoption rate alone has been staggering, so I need to test drive this chunky Technicolor gizmo posthaste. I’m placing my order tonight, and I’ll dish up pick-nits and plaudits aplenty soon. Stay tuned.

Until then, consider these Kindle Fire pros and cons posted by O’Reilly Media’s Joe Wikert (@jwikert).

Kindle Fire Pros

  • Form factor “It’s nice being able to wrap your hand around the entire device and the lighter weight is a big plus for the Fire.”
  • Meets the needs of typical consumer “Consumers who want a cheap tablet are OK without all the bells and whistles of the iPad…”
  • Connection to Amazon content “Connectivity to Amazon’s ebooks, video and audio content is second to none with the Fire.”

Kindle Fire Cons

  • Connection to Amazon content “As easy as it is for Fire users to access Amazon content it’s just that difficult to access anyone else’s… my next tablet will not be locked in to one provider’s content.”
  • Awful for the early adopter/tinkerer “.if you’re buying it to root and open it up you’ll be disappointed… [For example] some of the apps in the Android Market simply won’t run on it…”
  • Auto-updates “How in the world can Amazon think that forcing OS updates on every Fire owner is the right thing to do? … Really stupid.”
  • “Silk” browser “It turns out the browser isn’t that fast… in my totally unscientific side-by-side testing, the Fire almost always loaded pages slower than both my iPad and my RIM Playbook.”
  • Missing a “killer” app “Amazon should have invested some money with the developers of apps like Zite and Flipboard to make sure they were available when the Fire launched.”

(Kindle Fire pros and cons list via Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog.)

Everything Wikert has listed makes sense to me, but the most likely complaint likely to endure is the Amazon-centric content bias. I imagine the browser will get supercharged, and app developers are already following the consumer flood. But Amazon intends to exploit and nurture the content bias. No surprise there. And with millions of satisfied, well-trained consumers eager to gobble up Amazon distributed content, it’s no surprise that Bezos & Company aren’t eager to give away their monopoly.

Are you pleased or disappointed with your Kindle Fire? Share your experience in the comments below or Twitter, Facebook, Google+. And as soon as I’ve gotten my greedy paws (and eyes) on a Kindle Fire I’ll dish up my own Kindle Fire Pros & Cons. Now, let’s see how lickety-split Amazon Prime can hook me up…

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire (image by virtualDavis)

Isn’t digital storytelling just enhanced storytelling? It’s just the newest chapter in humanity’s quest to improve the way we tell stories. We instinctively yearn for better communication, for storytelling innovation. And yet digital books, audio books, multimedia books tend to meet resistance despite their obvious appeal.

New scares old. Old doesn’t quite understand new. Or doesn’t want to…

In “Is It A Book, Is It A Movie…No, It’s Movie-Book!” we get a glimpse at the book world’s awkward response to digitally enhanced storytelling.

Many eBook writers shy away from multimedia publishing, preferring instead to stay with straight text… An eBook that features multimedia is not an eBook, they say. It’s… an app… What IS an eBook with multimedia? Can we continue to call an eBook an eBook knowing that now it may feature multimedia? … What about audio books? … [Or] movie-books… (Technorati Entertainment)

Let’s call it digital storytelling. Or storytelling in the digital age. Maybe we should just call it storytelling, because — no matter how resistant the publishing industry and book critics and schools and libraries may be — the public is embracing (and will continue to embrace) storytelling in all of its innovative new forms.

Let us imagine the first time a storyteller added innovative new technologies to their bag of tricks. Picture the proverbial caveman standing by the bonfire with his family, talking about the hunt from which he’s returned with a week’s food. In telling the story of creeping up on his prey, he describes his cautious steps, following the fierce Bigmacosaurus, slowly, quietly all afternoon. Until afternoon turned into evening. As daddy caveman describes the fall of night he slowly extinguishes the campfire leaving his wife and children sitting in the dark around the glowing embers. They pull closer together, absorbed in the story. Now dad begins to pace around them in the dark as he speaks, so that they are never quite sure where he is, and he begins to breath deeply, hoarsely, imitating the sounds of the Bigmacosaurus. And suddenly he leaps across the embers and pretends to drive his spear into the Bigmacosaurus, just barely illuminated as he writhes on the ground, bathed in the dull red glow of the embers.

The end.

“Time for bed, cave kiddies!” he bellows. But they don’t move. They cling to their mother, scared to death.

So dad adds kindling and blows on the embers, resuscitating the fire. Within a few minutes the interior of the cave is once again illuminated. The children are less afraid, but still too nervous for bed.

“But what if the other Bigmacosauri followed you home?”

“Yes, what if they come and get us tonight while we sleep?”

Dad takes a charred branch from the fire and proceeds to draw a picture on the cave wall. In the crude illustration a hunter with a spear crouches in tall grass beside a herd of Bigmacosauri. He explains to his children that he discovered the heard around mid-day, far away. He draws the sun directly overhead, and adds wavy water to portray the lake located half a day’s journey from the cave. Then he moves down the wall and draws himself in the mountains pursuing a single Bigmacosaurus, the sun much lower to the horizon now. He explains to his children that he successfully split the heard, forcing the biggest Bigmacosaurus to run toward the mountains which lay between their cave and the lake. He draws a herd of stampeding Bigmacosauri running off into the distance where the sun sets on the far side of the lake. His next drawing is of the the hunter right next to the Bigmacosaurus, spear high in the air about to plunge. A crescent moon is high overhead. He explains to his children that he wanted to drive the Bigmacosaurus as close as possible to home so that he could minimize the distance he would need to carry the meat. He explains how hard it was because wild Bigmacosauri are scared of cave men and don’t like to come near them. But daddy cave man succeeded, and now they have plenty of food. But the next time he wants to hunt a Bigmacosaurus, he will have to go all away around the lake to the far side where the sun sets. He draws one last picture, looking across the vast lake at tiny Bigmacosauri no larger than ants speckling the horizon beneath the setting sun.

The children have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, so the parents carry them to their beds and tuck them in.

So far, nothing’s unusual about this, right? Just another evening at the cave.

But when the parents tuck themselves in, the cave man’s wife rolls over to her husband to whisper.

“I don’t know what you thought you were doing tonight, extinguishing the fire, making all those beastly noises, reenacting the hunt, drawing on the walls. Look how much you scared the children.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare them so much. I always tell them stories…”

“I know. Stories are good. But all that other stuff, it’s just, I don’t know. Not right. Can you just stick with storytelling? Just words?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Thank you. Good night.”

“Good night.”

But the next day the cave kiddies beg for a story. “Like last night, daddy. Not the boring old way.”

“Yes, like last night. Pleeease?”

Mother grimaces.

Father looks at mother and shrugs.

Fast forward. YouTube, Audible, Vook, iPad, Storify and SoundCloud blur past. From cave fire to Kindle Fire… Onward!

Arm Wrestling Amazon for Authors

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle (Photo credit: agirregabiria)

Would you arm wrestle a two-ton gorilla? What if your life depended on it?

Mike Shatzkin tackles the two-ton gorilla in the publishing room in his post “Competing with Amazon is not an easy thing to do”.

According to Shatzkin, traditional publishing has no other choice but to belly up to the bar, prop their elbow on the sticky surface and palm-to-palm it with the furry behemoth. Daunting but unavoidable. Shatzkin identifies the foundation of Amazon‘s power play:

  1. Amazon is, by far, the most book-industry-focused company that is actually active in endeavors much larger than the book business…
  2. Amazon executes. Their hardware and software and platforms and content delivery all work just about perfectly…
  3. Amazon is the runaway market leader in the only two segments of the book business that are growing — ebooks and the online purchasing of print — and they are cleverly leveraging the leadership position they have to make challenging them even more difficult in the future… (The Shatzkin Files)

Amazon sounds more like a three-ton gorilla! Shatzkin acknowledges that competing with Amazon won’t be easy, and his perspective may oversimplify the equation for the sake of painting a clear picture, but — let’s face it — the picture’s clearer every day!

There is really only one way for publishers to compete with Amazon for authors in the future and that’s to find book customers Amazon doesn’t have, either by working through other retailers or by creating direct publisher-to-customer contact. The percentage of sales which go to Amazon is the single most important barometer of a book publishing company’s future. Of course, every publisher wants to make their Amazon sales grow. Their challenge is to make other sales grow faster. (The Shatzkin Files)

And with Amazon’s newest venture, the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, that proposition is growing even more challenging than it already was.

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