Get free books in translation for World Book Day

To celebrate next week’s World Book Day, Amazon is offering nine free books from their AmazonCrossing imprint. The imprint focuses on translated works and it’s stated mission is “to connect readers across cultures with books from around the world.”

The genres of the titles include a memoir, mystery, suspense, literary fiction and literary fantasy. All of the titles are English translations of award-winning books originally published in foreign languages.

The available titles are:

A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa, translated from Japanese by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown: An Amazon Charts bestselling memoir about one man’s harrowing escape from the oppression of North Korea.

The House by the River by Lena Manta, translated from Greek by Gail Holst-Warhaft: An epic saga of love, adventure and family from Greece’s reigning #1 best-selling author.

Still Waters by Viveca Sten, translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy: The first book in the nearly 4 million-copy best-selling Swedish Sandhamn Murders series.

The Great Passage by Shion Miura, translated from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter: This award-winning novel, adapted into a major motion picture, about the making of a Japanese dictionary is a reminder that a life dedicated to passion is a life well lived.

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin, translated from Turkish by John W. Baker: A sweeping story of love, adventure and compassion, about a young Turkish couple traversing Nazi-occupied Europe to gain their freedom, from one of Turkey’s most beloved authors.

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, translated from Russian by Yuri Machkasov: An astounding and award-winning tale of a mesmerizing space where disabilities symbolize strengths.

The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak, translated from Indonesian by Laksmi Pamuntjak: A saga of love, revolution and resilience and one woman’s courage to forge her own path, from an award-winning Indonesian novelist.

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen, translated from Spanish by Simon Bruni: A haunting page-turner about a boy who lives underground and discovers that light exists in even the darkest of places.

Ten Women by Marcela Serrano, translated from Spanish by Beth Fowler: A group of women with divergent life stories bond over triumphs and heartaches in this beautiful tale about universal connections from an award-winning Chilean author.

The free books promotion ends at 11:59pm PDT on April 24, 2018.

AmazonCrossing books are frequently included as part of the First Reads (formerly Kindle Firsts) program and titles are available as part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service. You can browse other AmazonCrossing titles here.

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A thru O: Sue Grafton’s Alphabet titles on sale for $2.99 each

Today’s Kindle deal features the first 15 books in the late Sue Grafton’s bestselling Alphabet series. The books (A through O) are available for just $2.99 each.

If you want the entire bundle, Amazon conveniently has a button to buy all 15 books with one click. The bundle sells for $44.85 – still $2.99 per book, but it is easier than buying 15 titles separately.

Here’s a list of the titles:

“A” Is for Alibi
“B” Is for Burglar
“C” Is for Corpse
“D” Is for Deadbeat
“E” Is for Evidence
“F” Is for Fugitive
“G” Is for Gumshoe
“H” Is for Homicide
“I” Is for Innocent
“J” Is for Judgment
“K” Is for Killer
“L” is for Lawless
“M” Is for Malice
“N” Is for Noose
“O” Is for Outlaw

#mystery #Kinsey Millhone

Scribd brings back unlimited reading (sort of)

Once again, subscription service Scribd has changed its rules on how much content users are allowed to access. This makes at least the fourth time in the last two years that the service has changed the rules on its paying subscribers.

Originally, Scribd started off as an unlimited subscription service.  Upon finding that some users were actually voracious readers, in February 2016, the service removed a large number of romance books (a hugely popular category) and instituted content limits of 3 ebooks and 1 audiobook for the rest of its users. A few months later in March 2016, Scribd modified the limits again by introducing Selects, which made some books unlimited and others subject to the 3 ebook/1 audiobook limit. And finally, comics were removed the service’s catalog in January 2017.

Needless to say, if social media comments are anything to go by, a lot of subscribers have bailed on the service since 2016.

Scribd’s latest app update was released yesterday and as of today, the service will again be offering access to unlimited* access to books and audiobooks. (Please note the asterisk behind the word unlimited.)

The facts behind the asterisk can be found on the page with the EULA:

Your subscription entitles you to access an unlimited number of books and audiobooks in the Scribd library during the subscription period. For a small percentage of Scribd users who consume an unusual volume of materials, not every book or audiobook in the library will be immediately available. Scribd reserves and shall have the right in its sole discretion to add, modify, withdraw or delay at any time any particular Scribd Commercial Content from access by you for any reason including, without limitation, based on the costs generated to Scribd by such content or the nature of your use of the Scribd.com website. Scribd makes no guarantee as to the availability of specific titles or the timing of their availability. [Emphasis added]

In plain English, that means that if you consume too much content, Scribd can, and will, throttle you.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, the company’s CEO Trip Adler, the service has mechanisms in place “to limit particularly heavy consumption by a small percentage of its subscribers.” When overuse is detected, “controls will kick in to limit power readers’ access to the most expensive and popular titles.”  The service claims that even heavy users will still have access to a wide variety of content. There is no way of knowing how many books or audiobooks will be enough to kick in the controls.

It is that lack of transparency about how many is too many that is a real issue when evaluating their service. How does a consumer decide between subscribing to Audible or Scribd for audiobooks if one has a concrete limit and the other is unknown? And if Scribd want’s to woo back some of those former subscribers who felt betrayed over previous changes. This is particularly true for romance reader and audiobook listeners who tend to be heavy users of content and were really upset when they found out unlimited didn’t really mean unlimited. Even though Scribd is saying that upfront now, the lack of a solid number of allowable reads will make it a hard sell for many. Can subscribers trust that the service will be able to maintain this level of use (whatever that may be) at this price point?

Given Scribd’s own history and the fact that Playster (the other “unlimited” reading service) has recently deleted customers’ accounts for using too much content and raised prices and placed content limits on their subscribers, trusting a subscription service may be hard sell right now.

So what do you think? Are you a former Scribd subscriber? Will this make you go back?

On being disconnected in a connected world…

Last week, our router died. So, POOF, no internet other than mobile phone access for a couple of days until our ISP got a new router out to us.

It was a bit of a culture shock for sure. Since my husband and I work from home, we really rely on the internet for most things that we do. Both of us are used to using a desktop rather than a mobile device to go about our internet business, so trying to function predominantly on a phone was a challenge. And, although we both have smartphones, we have a plan with only a limited amount of data (because we work from home and normally, we are always on Wi-Fi). That meant rationing data (UGH). That meant no Alexa or Google Home (MORE UGH). And that whole cord-cutting thing? It really works a lot better with the internet, even with an over-the-air antenna in the house.

Somehow, mostly by using our phones as mobile hotspots for my Chromebook, we muddled through until the replacement router arrived.

It turns out that my idea of a good router and my ISP’s idea of a good router are definitely not the same thing.The one that the service provider sent is definitely not doing the job – while I can get on the internet and get the ROKUs and the Google Home working, the network extender, our Amazon Echo devices and most of my Kindles don’t want to connect properly. (That makes it over a week with no Alexa, in case you are keeping score, LOL!)

So, I have now purchased yet another router (this one to MY specifications) and the one I purchased from our ISP will be relegated to being a back up. I’m spending the next few days trying to get all our toys back up and running. I’ll be back to blogging as soon as I get everything plugged back in…. 🙂

Anybody have any disconnected stories to share?

January 2018 Amazon First Reads

Every month, Amazon allows Prime members to download one upcoming book from one of Amazon’s imprints for free. Everyone else can purchase one book for $1.99. The books are chosen by Amazon’s editors. (These deals, formerly called Kindle First, are for US customers only.)

This month’s books are:

Tips for Living by Renee Shafransky – Psychological Fiction

As Good as True by Cheryl Reid – Historical Fiction

Punishment (Detective Barnes Series Book 1) by Scott J. Holliday – Thriller

Not Perfect: A Novel by Elizabeth LaBan – Contemporary Fiction

Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green – Mystery

The Birdwoman’s Palate by Laksmi Pamuntjak, Tiffany Tsao (Translator) – Literary Fiction

These books can also be purchased as hardcovers for $12.99 or less.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, all of these books will be available to read for free when they are released on February 1, 2018 as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Prime members can also sign up to receive a monthly e-mail announcing new Amazon First Reads picks.

Amazon First Reads

Public Domain Day 2018

Because of extensions to the term of copyright law, here in the United States, nothing new has entered the public domain for the last twenty years.  Every year on January first, The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University  writes a post on what would have entered the public domain on this day before copyright law was extended to its current terms. Here are some of the highlights from the post:

Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1961 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2018, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2057.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different—thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.

Books:

What books would be entering the public domain if we had the pre-1978 copyright laws? You might recognize some of the titles below.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster book cover
  • Joseph Heller, Catch-22
  • Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
  • J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
  • John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me
  • Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy
  • Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  • Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
  • William S. Burroughs, The Soft Machine
  • Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach
Films:

Consider the films from 1961 that would have become available this year. You could share clips with friends or incorporate them into fan fiction. Community theaters could show the full features. Libraries and archivists would be free to digitize and preserve them. Here are a few of the movies that we won’t see in the public domain for another 39 years.

Judgment at Nuremberg movie poster
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • West Side Story
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • A Raisin in the Sun
  • The Parent Trap
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • The Misfits
  • The Hustler
Music: 

What 1961 music could you have used without fear of a lawsuit? If you wanted to find guitar tabs or sheet music and freely use some of the influential music from 1961, January 1 2018 would have been a rocking day for you under earlier copyright laws. Patsy Cline’s classic Crazy (Willie Nelson) would be available. So would Stand By Me (Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller), Runaway (Del Shannon, Max Crook), and Let’s Twist Again (Kal Mann, Dave Appell). You could publicly perform or set short films to Surfin’ (Brian Wilson, Mike Love) or Crying (Roy Orbison, Joe Melson), all without permission or fee. Today these musical works remain copyrighted until 2057.4

Like West Side Story, some of the hit songs from 1961 borrowed from earlier works. Elvis Presley’s Surrender (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) was adapted from the 1902 Neapolitan ballad “Torna a Surriento” (Ernesto and Giambattista de Curtis), and his Can’t Help Falling in Love (Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George David Weiss) is derived from the 1784 French song “Plaisir d’amour” (Jean-Paul-Égide Martini).

The current copyright law also affects the status and availability of works of art and scientific research.

You can read the entire article here. Please also take a moment to read some of the articles on the Center’s site which explain the importance of the public domain, how it is shrinking due to copyright laws and why that matters.

The Center for the Study of the Public Domain

It’s Amazon Digital Deals Day!

Today, Friday, December 29, 2017, Amazon is holding its second annual Digital Deals Day sale. Today only, Amazon is offering thousands of digital-only on apps, games, movies, ebooks and more.

Amazon will be using the hashtag #DigitalDay on social media to update customers.

Some deal are available early, The biggest savings start at 12AM, Eastern Standard Time on Friday.

I am on the prowl for ebooks. What are you hoping for?