Stream Unlimited Audiobooks

SkybriteIf you are an avid audiobook listener, you may be interested in Skybrite, a subscription service that offers unlimited streaming of audiobooks for your phone or tablet for a flat rate of $9.99 per month. The service is mobile only (no web service) and has apps for both IOS and Android.

However, according a CNET review of the service, there are a few limitations. First, you can only stream content. That means no download and offline listening. So unless you have a constant Wi-fi signal or a truly unlimited data, plan, this may be a deal breaker.

The Google Play store description  sounds promising:

With Skybrite, you can instantly stream thousands of best-selling audiobooks, entertaining performances, how-to courses, revealing interviews, spiritual talks, informative lectures, and more, on your Android phone or tablet.

You can listen to every title, as much as you want, wherever you are, unlimited to you.


* Discover a huge selection of premium audio programs from best-selling authors, entertainers, teachers, celebrities, and more.

* Enjoy unlimited fiction and non-fiction audiobooks, contemporary novels, classic literature, famous biographies, engaging memoirs, and more.

* Be entertained with unlimited stand-up comedy albums, audio theater performances, celebrity interviews, music biographies, and more.

* Improve your life and relationships with unlimited personal development, business trainings, spiritual talks, guided meditations, and more.

* Get healthy with unlimited fitness classes, yoga classes, self-help classes, nutrition classes, and more.

* Kids will love the selection of unlimited children’s stories, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and more.

* Take unlimited courses to quickly learn Spanish, learn Chinese, learn French, learn Portuguese, learn Japanese, learn Russian, learn German, and more.

* Never any ads, commercials, or interruptions. Available worldwide.

* Stream every title instantly at the push of a button. It’s easy and fun to use!

The feedback in the Google Play is mostly positive, although the app has few download and reviews yet.

The CNET review describes the content a bit less favorably:

Even so, there’s very little high-profile content to be found at the moment. Save for the “Hunger Games” trilogy, most of the titles in the Literature & Fiction category are from little-known authors, or are public-domain works like “Les Miserables.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but anyone hoping for mainstream, Audible-caliber selection will be disappointed.

Skybrite says that it is working on expanding content in 2015.

The service offers a 7 day free trial and doesn’t require a credit card for sign up.

I may give the trial a whirl to check it out. How about you? Does the service sound tempting?

Can you identify this vintage ad?

Madison web screenshotI am sort of addicted to a new game. When I take a break from whatever I am working on, I “play” for a few minutes. And, no, it’s not Flappy Bird.

The “game” I am playing is part of the archival project at The New York Times called Madison.  According to Ad Age, for the project, The NYT has collected all the print ads from the “Mad Men” era of the 1960s and is asking readers for help.

According to Alexis Lloyd of the Times R & D Lab, “… readers are asked to do one of the following as they scroll:

  • Find. This involves simply indicating whether a highlighted area is an ad, multiple ads or not advertising at all.

  • Tag. Readers enter the company that made the ad and its industry.

  • Transcribe. Dedicated readers transcribe the text of the ads.”

Going through the ads is addictive and definitely fun. The fun aspect is deliberate and designed to encourage readers to help.  Hopefully, the information provided by those who participate will lead to a archive which is searchable by everyone.

The ads themselves are also fun and informative. I had no idea that designer clothes cost that much in the 1960s! And with the recent loss of Lauren Bacall, it was poignant to see an ad for tickets to her performance in the play, Cactus Flower.

Now, isn’t that more fun than Flappy Bird? 🙂 Let me know what you think if you give it a try.


2-day sale: Fire TV stick only $19 for Prime members

Fire TV stickIf you are an Amazon Prime member and have been thinking about trying one of the Fire TVs, Amazon may have a great deal for you. For two days only, Prime members can pick up the new Fire TV Stick for $19 – that’s $20 off the regular price of $39.

The stick comes with a remote control, but it is not voice-activated like the Fire TV Box. Instead, there is a downloadable app for voice control that can be used with the device, or you can purchase a voice-activated remote control separately. You can play games with the included remote control and it also supports the use of the optional Fire game controller.

There are some differences between the Fire TV Box and the stick. The Box has a Quad-core processor and 2 GB RAM The Fire stick is a Dual-core processor with 1 GB RAM. Both devices are wireless, but the Fire TV Box can also connect directly with an Ethernet cable.

I had personally held off on the Fire TV Box because I already own a Roku box and a Chromecast stick, both of which I use pretty much daily. Truthfully, when the Fire TV came out, I didn’t see much of a need for another streaming system. But for only $19, I am willing to give this one a try. 🙂

ETA: The Fire TV Stick  is a pre-order and will be released on  November 19th.

How about you? Is the $19 price tag tempting to you?

A deal on e-book Westerns

max_brandIf you or someone you know is an avid reader of e-book Westerns, Amazon has a great deal going on you may be interested in. Until October 23, 2014, you can choose from 201 Westerns on sale for only $1.99 each. Authors include some of the greats in the genre: Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, Max Brand, Ernest Haycox, Will Henry,  Cotton Smith and many more.



A Return to Agency Pricing…

money fightSimon and Schuster has reached an agreement with Amazon to return to agency pricing, according to a report from Digital Book World. The deal is to go into effect January 1, 2015  and is said to  apply to both print and e-books. According to the rumored term s, “Amazon’s prerogative to discount the publisher’s ebooks is sharply limited.”  There is no word if this will have any effect on the negotiations between Amazon and Hachette.


Personally, I think this is very disappointing news. As someone who buys a lot of e-books, I still think that most of the Big Publishing House e-books are priced too high, especially many backlist books. I boycott any e-books priced over $9.99 and have had to leave several series unfinished because of pricing issues.  I also reject e-books that are priced as high as their paper versions. IMHO, this is not a move that is good for consumers.

I do predict that this will be good for the subscription services, however, especially if publishers try to return to the $12.99 to $14.99 price points. That monthly fee for Scribd or Oyster or Kindle Unlimited probably just got more attractive.

It is also probably good news for indie authors, at least in the short term. I am not convinced that books are necessarily interchangeable. I think I am somewhat of an anomaly because I am willing to abandon a series based on price or principle.

How do you feel about the news?




Who is still blocking text-to-speech access?

This is a timely post by Bufo Calvin. A lot of people, myself included, were disappointed when the list of features on the new Kindle Voyage ereader made it clear that it would NOT include text-to-speech (TTS) access. It is clear from many of the forums I read that the TTS function is a feature that many Kindle owners still want.

I Love My Kindle

Who is still blocking text-to-speech access?

A Kindle with text-to-speech access can use software to read aloud any text downloaded to it…provided that the ability to do that is not blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file which prevents it.

I haven’t written much about this in a while (although it still comes up), but it is an important issue to me. I believe that blocking the access disproportionately disadvantages the disabled. Personally, I don’t get books which have the access blocked, and I don’t intentionally link to books with the access blocked in the blog (I don’t want to give the publisher money on books where that decision has been made, and I don’t want to benefit from it by people clicking on the link in my blog).

However, I do believe this is a personal decision, and there are good arguments for supporting the author by…

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Did You Know: How to take a screen shot on a Kindle

Did you know that you can actually take a picture of your Kindle’s screen? And, no, it’s not in the manual. Nate from The Digital Reader blog has a great how-to post for taking screen shots that gives instructions for each model of e-ink Kindle. He also gives some tips for Fire owners as well. You do need to hook the Kindle up to a computer to locate and download the screen shot. 🙂