The Guardian has carried out research into the reviews posted on Amazon, and its findings show many of them to be misleading, both in the field of books and other products available via Amazon. For example, one edition of Austen’s “emma” contained many errors, including the use of “buddy” instead of “friend”, and “guy” rather than man. For the article please see, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/05/amazon-shoppers-misled-by-bundled-product-reviews
I was somewhat taken back when, several weeks ago, I heard an item on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme concerning reading. This short piece (which I have, unfortunately been unable to find online), consisted of a series of viewpoints as to what constitutes reading and, in particular whether listening to audio books can be construed as reading in the true sense of the word. One listener expressed the view that listening to audio books was not reading, and that anyone who said that they had read a book (when they had, in fact listened to it being read) was “lieing”. Now “lieing” is a very strong word and to my mind was misused by the person who employed it here.
There is, of course a difference (technically speaking) between reading and listening to a book and one may enter into a debate as to whether someone listening to a book has the same experience as the person who turns pages and absorbs the book in print or ebook format.
I, personally feel that there is something very special about handling and reading a book. I also find that my mind is more inclined to wander when listening to (rather than physically turning the pages of) a book. I will sometimes go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea while listening, miss a short segment and not go back as (in my view) I haven’t missed anything of significance. In contrast I will put a physical book down, go and make my tea and return to the bookmarked page ensuring that I have missed nothing of the plot.
Having said the above, I am a huge fan of audio books and believe that to listen to a well narrated book is, in effect to read it. So while the person who described those who say they have “read” a book (when, in fact they have listened to it being read), is technically correct. He is, in point of fact splitting hairs as to concentrate on a book being read is, to all intents and purposes to read it.
So far as my own books are concerned, I must confess that I like the idea of people possessing a physical copy of my work. I see it sitting amongst other books and the feeling of my book being enjoyed, then going to join a library of much loved books to be re-read at a later stage gives me pleasure. I am, however delighted that my latest collection of poems, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” is available in paperback, Kindle and audio formats. Ultimately what matters is that my readers enjoy my work in the format that is most convenient/best suited to their needs and I certainly wouldn’t quibble where a reader to inform me that she had “read” my book when, in fact she had listened to the excellent audio narration of Alex Lee.
As ever, I would welcome the views of my readers. Do you feel that there is a difference between reading and listening to a book? And, if so in what lies that difference?
(For links to all of my books, including the print, Kindle and audio versions of “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” please visit my “About” page, https://newauthoronline.com/about/).
This review is of the Amazon Echo (Second Generation), which retails in the UK for £89.99 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amazon-Echo-2nd-Generation-Heather-Grey-Fabric/dp/B0749YXKYZ).
I first used the Echo in late September while visiting family in Liverpool. I was so impressed with the technology that on my return to London I purchased my own Echo.
As a registered blind person I was drawn to the Echo as one can control the device by voice. I have, thus far had the Echo read titles from my Kindle library, search for (and play) samples from audible.co.uk, find and play music and carry out searches in response to questions posed by me.
In order to gain access to the widest range of music, I signed up for Amazon Music at a cost of £3.99 a month (the first 30 days being free with the ability to cancel, without charge within that time-frame). I’ve found the selection of music extremely varied and the fact that one can simply say “play “No Angel” by Dido) and the Echo does so is wonderful.
The sound quality in terms of music, Kindle and audio books is good, however for those who wish to further enhance their experience there is (I understand) a means of attaching an additional speaker.
The Echo’s ability to respond to questions is reasonable but, on balance I think that this is one of its weaker points. For example (as someone who is interested in politics) I asked it “what was the British Union of Fascists?” and Alexa read out a relevant snipet from the web. However on asking “what is the Socialist Worker’s Party?” Alexa provided information on the US-based far-left party (with no mention of the UK-based organisation). So anyone wishing to find out about the (UK-based) SWP would be better served by trusting to Google or another search engine.
Notwithstanding the above, asking questions such as “what is the weather in central London” will render an accurate result, as will questions such as “what is the capital of Germany?”
The Echo can control smart devices. However I have no such devices in my home, therefore I was unable to put the device through it’s paces here.
When purchasing an Echo, the user should be aware that all information is being sent through to Amazon’s servers. I looked back at my interactions with Alexa on the Amazon site and saw a record of all the questions I had posed to the device (although not the answers provided). One can delete this record. However there is a risk (as with any web based activity) of one’s interactions being intercepted (although this is no greater than the danger of one’s computer being hacked when using Google or another search engine).
I was able to sign up to Amazon Music by voice (without the need to enter my Amazon password as the device is already logged into my account). On the one hand this is extremely convenient as there is no need to log on to one’s computer etc. However anyone with children should, in my view seriously consider disabling this feature (there are many stories in the media of teenagers running up bills on smart devices due to their parents not having disabled or password protected the ability to make purchases without first having to enter security credentials).
All in all I highly recommend the Echo.
I am pleased to announce that my collection of poems, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” is now available for preorder in the Amazon Kindle store (the book goes live on 3 September so, if you order prior to that date, your purchase will be delivered on the publication date).
The title poem runs thus:
“You accuse me of hiding in my ivory tower.
I answer that I have no power,
Other than my pen
The truth of the matter,
Causing the fine porcelain
Of your ideals to shatter,
Revealing the stain
Called human nature.
For each man is a prater
And the writer’s pen
Can interpret the hearts of men”.
For some time now, I have been working on a new collection of poems which will, I hope be published in September. The pamphlet, which contains a total of 44 poems, is entitled “The Writer’s Pen and Other poems”. Below is one of the poems which will be included:
“My hair is barely wet
The rain did fall
As I stood
In yonder wood.
Of a hammer
Reached my ear,
While the birds free
Sang to me
As I touched the flowers
That know not hours”.
My pamphlet will be available in print initially and (in the longer term) as an ebook from the Amazon Kindle store.
If you would like to register your interest in obtaining a print copy please send an email to me at newauthor online (at) gmail dot com (the address is given thus to avoid spam). The print version will retail at a cost of £4.50 and signed copies can be obtained at no extra charge.
For details of my previous collection, “My Old Clock I Wind” please visit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0735JBVBG.
Amazon has recently added the ability to publish a paperback on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). To learn more please visit the following link, https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AH8RA6CMVRN8Y&ref_=pe_2983330_227202760_kdp_BS_D_pgs
Many thanks to A (http://cupitonians.wordpress.com/) for inviting me to post on her excellent blog. You can find my post below
As a book lover I really feel for the lady in this article, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2521221/Opening-book-kill-English-student-forced-drop-university-potentially-fatal-dust-allergy.html. Imagine not being able to pursue your chosen subject, literature due to being allergic to the dust generated by old tomes. My immediate thought was to the effect “why can’t the lady read books on a Kindle avoiding the need to open dusty books?” On reflection I assume that not all of the books required for this student’s course are available as ebooks. I wish this lady well in her studies (she has moved to another course and is now studying from home).
Modern society is saturated with noise, much of it emanating from technology. I am a huge fan of my iPad. It is considerably lighter than my laptop and I have downloaded many useful apps including one for WordPress. However many of the apps contain a facility enabling the device’s owner to receive notifications when content is updated so, for example a notification is generated every time someone comments on one of my posts on WordPress.
It is wonderful to know that my content has provoked interest and/or likes but not when I am in the midst of a particularly beautiful passage of poetry or I’ve just reached a crucial sceene in the detective story on my Kindle! Of course I can go in and disable the notifications but I’m sure I am not the only one to be driven mad by “jo blogs liked your post on newauthoronline” when I am wrapped up in a good book.
As I said above, I really value all the comments and likes on my blog and I always try to respond to feedback. There is, however a time and a place for everything and this is not, in my view while I am reading a good book! Perhaps this mania for the enabling of notifications stems from a fear that we (the user of technology) might just miss something of importance if we are not always connected to every possible source of information. Like butterflies we flit from flower to flower without ever pausing long enough to truly savour each individual plants nectar. As I write this my e-mail and all other notifications are well and truly disabled!
I recently blogged about how I had, totally accidentally breeched KDP’s terms and conditions by my collection of short stories, The First Time, being available from an outlet other than the Amazon Kindle store (see http://newauthoronline.com/2013/10/20/terms-and-conditions/). One of the commenters on my post said that he had heard of other people experiencing this problem and that authors should be wary of publishing their work on a variety of platforms if they intended to make it exclusive to Kindle at a later date. I am inclined to agree with him given my recent experience! If you want to make your books exclusive to Amazon in order to benefit from the promotion features of KDP Select then I would, personally not publish your work elsewhere. Having said that my long short story, Samantha appeared on my blog prior to being made exclusive on Amazon. However I, naturally have control over my blog and was, as a consequence able to remove Samantha prior to making it exclusive to Kindle. Never again will I make the mistake of making my books available in a variety of stores when my intention is, at some point to make them exclusive to Amazon Kindle. It is, quite frankly not worth the hassle.