Kindle Tip – Saving 40%

by James Wallace Harris, Wednesday, September 4, 2018

I don’t know why, but sometimes Amazon tells me I have a promotional credit. I never know what they mean. The other day I bought a $1.99 sale ebook and was told I had a promotional credit that would last 60 days on my next Kindle purchase. I just ignored it. Then I bought a $1.99 sale book today and got another promotional credit. This time I read the email more closely.

Sense of Wonder - A Century of Science Fiction edited by Leigh Ronald GrossmanIt said I’d get 40% of my next Kindle purchase. Well, there’s a $40 Kindle book I’ve been wanting but wouldn’t buy because of the high price. It’s a textbook for teaching science fiction. Well, I checked, and it was now priced at $24, 40% less. I quickly bought it. I still think $24 is way too much of an ebook, but I’ve been wanting this book for some time now, and have almost paid the $40 for it a couple of times.

I don’t even know if this involved my promotional credit. It could just be coincidence and this book had a 40% price drop. (Tell me what price you see.)

I’ve researched these credits at Amazon and they seem rather unexplainable. I wonder if they’re just a gimmick to get us to buy more. Or Amazon’s way of justifying to publishers for offering extra discounting.

Does anyone know how these promotional credits work? They’re a mystery to me.

If you buy bargain Kindle books, keep an eye out for your promotional credit. Then go shopping for that ebook you wanted that was priced too high.


Cleaning Up My Kindle Library

By James Wallace Harris, Saturday, April 23, 2016

I had 501 ebooks in my Kindle library when I started this essay. I have 401 now. After reading an article that said 40-45% of all ebooks bought are never opened, I loaded up Kindle for PC, put it in cover view, and scanned my books. Damn, they were right. I’ve been acquiring Kindle books since 2007, and many of those books I had gotten for free in promotions, downloaded for free because they were in the public domain, or ones I bought on the cheap because their authors were anxious for me to try their work. Most I had never opened. Psychologically I assume, I’m buying books for a future, for when I have 72 hours in a day for reading.

This made me contemplate my Kindle library. I love shopping for used books every week and I also love snapping up ebook bargains. But scrolling through the cover images I saw several books I thought I wanted to buy that I already own. Damn! My Kindle library has gotten completely out of hand. I’m constantly buying $1.99 specials because of BookBub, Kindle Daily Deal, Book Riot Deals, or Early Bird Books.

SF Books On Kindle

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon and permanently deleted 100 books I knew I’d never read. This has proven to me that free ebooks aren’t something I actually want. From studying the dates purchased, I had already stopped adding free books years ago. However, I switched to compulsive buying. I bought 146 Kindle ebooks in 2015, probably three-fourths of them for $1.99. Since I average reading one book a week, I’m buying three years worth of reading every year. That’s illogical! You’ll think I’m even more insane when I tell you two-thirds of the books I “read” each year are with my ears, so I’m actually buying about seven years worth of ebooks each year. (I’m not sure if that fractional math works out—haha, a word problem for you.)

It would be a huge help if Amazon created some way to mark books read or unread. I need some method of reminding myself of how many books are waiting patiently for me to spend a week with them. I’m guessing I have a decade’s worth of unread Kindle books in my library. (I need to stop buying those sale ebook!!! It’s an addiction.)

When I scroll through the Kindle library now, I see only books I want to read, or have read and want to keep. But it’s in one big jumble, ordered by title, author or recent (date last accessed). I wish Amazon would let us permanently classify books in their “Manage Your Content and Devices” web application. I can create subject collections, but only for a device, like for Kindle for PC, and sometimes it seems, when the software gets updated, I lose those collections. The photo above is part of my “SF Novels” collection.

In recent years I’ve been buying classic science fiction book when they go on sale for $1.99, and have 70 novels, and 48 short story collections and anthologies. Today, I realized that I need to browse my collection at least weekly, to remember what I own, and inspire me to read rather than shop. Between hundreds of printed books, a thousand audio books, and these 401 Kindle ebooks, I have 30-40 years worth of reading queued up. Since I’m 64, I’m covered for the rest of my life. I should stop buying books. I won’t, but I should. At least, I should browse the covers as often as possible, to remind myself of all those books waiting to be consumed, and at least stop me from buying duplicates. That might slow me down some.

Spending the afternoon working with my Kindle for PC app has shown me the value of looking through my collection. Especially in cover view mode. I wish I had similar software for viewing my Audible books, or even wish the Kindle for PC could manage my Audible collection too. Amazon does own Audible. It would also be nice if I could enter my physical books into the same system, so I’d only need one program to browse my entire collection. I like seeing the covers. There’s software for the PC, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS that allows this, but it would mean maintaining two databases, and that would be a pain-in-the-ass.

Since I buy most of my books from Amazon, it would seem they should be responsible for helping me manage my library.


Should Amazon Charge Sales Tax?

Borders bookstores are closing and laying off 10,700 employees.  Bookstar closed months ago.  Record stores are almost gone.  How many other retailers are going out of business not because of the recession, but because of Internet sales?  And I have to admit I love Amazon and buy most of my books there, and when I bought CDs, I bought them mainly from Amazon.  I also buy my underwear, running shoes, pet supplies and other stuff from them too.

How can people not want to shop Amazon with it’s deep discounts and no sales tax, and if you buy $25, no shipping.  It’s a lean mean selling machine.  But is Amazon and other Internet retailers good for the economy?  My state, Tennessee, like so many others is really hurting for revenue.  If everyone bought locally the state would have more sales tax and maybe more people with jobs to pay even more taxes.

Taxes are considered satanic now, but I can’t help but wonder how much Tennessee would gain if they could collect taxes from Internet retailers.  Amazon has taken a rather arrogant approach to this – fighting states every way they can not to  charge sales taxes.  I don’t know why, I’d still buy from them if they charged sales tax, they offer deep discounts that are hard to resist.

The other thing I have to ask myself, is why am I buying more online when I should be buying less?  When I visited Borders last week I was shocked by changes I saw there, a store I’ve been shopping at for years.  It’s a national company like Amazon, so why should I feel any different about it going out of business rather than Amazon?  I think one reason we don’t pay sale tax with Amazon is because they are going to set up two distribution centers in Chattanooga, employing 1200 regular and 2000 seasonal people.  But does that offset the sale tax revenue and does it make up for all the jobs lost to Amazon’s competitors?  Isn’t this the same story as Walmart, but without the big superstores?

It’s way too hard to understand the subtle economics behind this issue, but I would love to see a well researched documentary on the subject.  I did find this video but it’s heavily bias.  I need to see an in-depth NOVA episode devoted to this issue.

Evidently, sometimes jobs are worth more than sale tax revenue, or so this article from The Tennessean suggests.  It hurts my head trying to understand this problem.  Should I feel good about shopping with Amazon, or should I not?  So Tennessee has made a deal and gets jobs instead of sales taxes, but what about all the other states that don’t get distribution centers?

I admit I have no answer for the question I asked at the top of the page.  Maybe it’s just too complex to answer.  Maybe I should just accept what my state law makers have decided, assuming they know best.  I don’t know.

Yet, I have one last thing to wonder about.  What if everyone bought everything they could online?  Besides book and record stores, what other kinds of merchandise can online retailers take away from local businessmen?  Mail order businesses have been around since the 19th century – do they show the limits of what people will buy sight unseen?  Could it be that book and record stores are disappearing because physical books and records are disappearing?

If that’s true, what’s going to happen to Amazon?  Well, they selling Kindles, MP3 songs and downloadable movies and TV shows.  If physical book and CD sales are down, then why do they need so many distribution centers?  Well, Amazon is selling other stuff.  I’ve also bought things like a HDMI cable, a Blu-ray player, computer parts, and TV antennas from Amazon, as well as running shoes and underwear.

Maybe the Amazon sales model is just progress and there’s no going back.  I still feel bad about Borders and Bookstar though.

JWH – 7/18/11

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