Monday, April 22, 2013

Kindle News: Amazon Studios' TV pilots free viewing + ratings get big audience this wkend. Xbox smartglass app. NYT on Amazon Singles. Cox TV app. Android apps going Global.

A few newer stories before I get to the backlog

Amazon Studios' new TV pilots (Amazon Originals) pulls in big audience on Amazon Instant Video.

These TV pilots - 8 comedy and 6 for "kids" - "comprised 8 of the 10 most streamed episodes on Amazon Instant Video over the weekend" and thousands of customer reviews have been posted since the launch just 3 days ago, "with more than 80% of reviews at 4 and 5 star ratings," Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios said.

One draw is the participatory aspect - the customer viewing these "call the shots" as "your opinion matters" when it comes to which will make the cut for full series treatment.

Amazon of the big, long arms, into everything these days, is producing TV pilots (free to watch and review for another month or so) that are getting these high ratings against other fare that is more or less free for many of its most active customers.  Using established actors, the pilots are also receiving quite a few well-written rave reviews, a sampling given in one of Amazon's more interesting press releases.

  DigitalTVEurope reports that "The final, expanded slate of 14 pilots are available now to watch for free on the Amazon site in the US and free the Amazon-owned video-on-demand service LoveFilm in the UK."  One of these is "a Sony Pictures Television adaptation of Hollywood comedy movie Zombieland and Betas, about a group of tech-savvy millennial, which comes from Michael Lehmann (Dexter) and Michael London (Sideways). Both were added to the slate in March."

  They add that Amazon is "now developing scripts for a second round of pilots, which will also include dramas for the first time" as well as more comedies.

  While Amazon is most-discussed these days as a bookseller and tablet maker, going against large publishing houses and high-margin hardware companies, and is a general low-cost retailer for just about everything imaginable, it's showing unexpected and quite high creative energy.
  Some of this has been seen in the more or less unexamined plethora of features plus compatability and syncing services for its ereaders and tablets, which most mainstream gadget-reviews don't explore.

Xbox SmartGlass for Android, released today ($0.00) promises to turn your Kindle Fire 2nd Gen and Kindle Fire HD into a controller for the Xbox 360.   Engadget's Joseph Volpe writes that this app has been configured to scale natively on the three newer Kindle Fire models (though not on the original Kindle Fire), allowing users to navigate their Xbox 360 remotely, "push and pull streaming content, as well as access achievements, messaging and Xbox Music."

  Many customer reviewers are giving it 1-star because it doesn't work on the original Kindle Fire (which it does say on the 'purchase' listbox on the product page), but Microsoft developed the app for Android OS v4 and the original Kindle Fire is on v2.x.  The 2nd generation standard Kindle Fire works with it, however.

  One commenter at the app page cautions that it doesn't connect to HBO Go's second screen of content for Game of Thrones, so the map you can see while you drive, on iPad or Windows tablets, is not on Android devices, he says.

  XBox'rs who do have 2nd Generation Kindle Fires are very high on the app.

Amazon Singles store, its Editor and the reasons for its success
The NY Times's Leslie Kaufmann has an interesting story on the Amazon Singles service (novella-length journalism and fiction), its development, and its editor David Blum.

 Some points made:
  . Blum cherry-picks pieces from 1000 unsolicited manuscripts each month.
  . Authors can share in the profits instead of getting a flat fee. “The idea that writers would participate in the publishing model is just very bold,” he said.  
  . It's profitable, with almost 5 million copies sold since opening January 2011.
  . "Amazon has become the bĂȘte noire of the industry, using its market share to keep the prices of books lower than publishers and authors would like."  Brick-and-mortar bookstores have refused to carry these works, but the "literary terrain" for Singles is not crowded, and with magazines folding or shrinking because of financial pressures, long-form storytelling has few places to flourish" and Amazon, along with a few others, is filling that void .

  There's a lot more there about the resistance to the service, more details on how it works for authors, the concerns of publishers.  That includes an amusing description, by a formerly undiscovered author he's nurturing, of the challenges in working with Blum.

Those of you on Cox Communications can now use the Cox TV Connect app on the Kindle Fire
This is true for Google's Nexus® and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 and Note tablets as well.
  "With access to over 90 national cable channels, "the application creates a 'second screen' experience for customers to watch live television programming in their home on their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch device."

Amazon is finally expanding global app distribution to~200 countries.
Here's just a bit from their full description of their long-awaited movement in this direction.
' ...developers can now submit their apps for distribution in nearly 200 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, India, South Africa, South Korea, and even Papua New Guinea and Vatican City.  These apps will be made available in the coming months when the Amazon Appstore for Android launches internationally for consumers.

Registered developers who want international distribution will have their apps automatically made available for download, unless they designate otherwise. This international expansion is the latest in a series of Amazon Appstore for Android launches, which have included the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. '
There's a lot more information for developers there.

Current Kindle Models, worldwide, for reference, plus free-ebook search links.

  NOTES on newer Kindles.
Updated Kindle Fire 2 Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $269/$299
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $399/$499
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $119/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi+3G - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free slow web
Kindle DX - $379 $299 Discontinued
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - ~£89 Refurb'd
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, UK
Kindle Fire 2, UK
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB, UK
Canada - Kindlestore, CDN-$
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - $89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $139
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi+3G - $199
*OTHER International*
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Paperwhite WiFi $139, 3G/Wifi $199

France Boutique Kindle
Deutschland - Kindle Store
Italia - Kindle Store
Spain - Tienda Kindle
Brazil - Amazon Brazil
China - Amazon China
Japan - Amazon Japan

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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