How to show/hide new items on the Carousel, aka the Home Screen

Hurrah, the big OS update for the Kindle Fire 10″ (2019) has finally cured my long-standing “stuck downloads” icons on the Carousel, aka the Home Screen. Newly delivered items can now be pressed on, and “Remove from Home” now works on them. Before this update they were totally unresponsive and “stuck”. So I had turned the feature off.

Here’s how to turn “show newly arrived items” feature back on:

1. Swipe down from the top of the screen and access Settings (it’s the white cogwheel icon).

2. Apps & Games.

3. Amazon Application Settings.

4. Home Screens.

5. “Show New Items on the Home Screen” turned ON.

The bloat-ification of books

When I first began reading science-fiction, a novel was perhaps 60,000 words and an anthology might run to ten stories. No more, and bloat-ification rules the shelves. Macleans magazine has a new blurticle on the topic today, musing on why “Books just keep getting longer”

“the ever-expanding girth of Stephen King’s recent oeuvre has earned him the derisive title of ‘King Bloat’ within the publishing industry.”

It makes one wonder how much of a market there may be for heavily abridged versions, if authors will stand for that. Of course, some audiobooks do offer abridged versions, with the author’s permission. And much non-fiction of the ‘pop best-seller’ variety (Malcolm Gladwell et al) can be heavily abridged with little loss, and services such as Blinkist and others already offer impartial short summaries (impartial compared to the summary on Wikipedia, which has to be assumed to be slanted and spun and snipped for any even a slightly politically-relevant book). So far as I know, the Blink summaries are written by humans and they can be read in 15 or 20 minutes. Marry that with three long reviews found online, and you’ll have a fairly good grasp of the book without having to spend a day reading it.

The risk will come in A.I. powered auto-abridgement, perhaps in tandem with ‘reader attention data’ from devices (which indicate the parts that ‘most people’ skip). We already have news-article summation tools, though I find they’re rarely better than a trained eye skimming down an article.

Already annoyingly automatic is the ‘book shortening’ found on the Kindle, in which Amazon will assume you don’t want to savour the art and typography of the front-cover, the introductory matter and Contents page, before starting a downloaded ebook. Amazon assumes you must immediately leap to the first word of the main body and start reading. This ‘leap’ is often very annoying, and I can’t see any setting in the Kindle dashboard which states: “Always start my ebook at the front cover”.

Of course, that assumes the front cover is worth seeing. In 95% of self-published ebooks, it’s ugly as hell. Apparently most ebook authors don’t want to spend $30 at Fiverr on buying services from a cover designer who knows about typography and who can source good free public-domain artwork. Too many book covers from establishment publishers are also mediocre.

Then, at the end of the book, I find that the Kindle ereader will again try to truncate the book. Too often it will want to whisk the reader away to engage with social media (Amazon Reviews, GoodReads etc), once the last word of the main body text is reached. Whereas there may well be endnotes of other matter in the book that are skipped by leaving at that point. For instance, that happened recently with an Arthur C. Clarke non-fiction book I’d purchased from the Kindle Store. If I hadn’t continued paging on, regardless, then I would thus have missed about 12 pages of endotes to the book. Some of them quite long. The same is true of the Kindle wanting to skip an index or bibliography. If I purchased a book, then I want to at least know about everything that’s potentially available to me in the book.

Amazon: please give readers a global “do not truncate or shorten my books” setting.

Comichaus

The Comichaus: the new indie British monthly has now reached an impressive eight issues. It’s the flagship comic title for the Comichaus indie website, which wants to be the Netflix of indie comics.


At first glance the site itself is not as impressive as it might be, though. No genre categories, and my initial search of the site for the phrase “science fiction” was not very promising: it had no results at all.

I see they also have a new app, launched at the end of November 2017, for a £3-a-month subscription streaming service for indie comic books. It’s an “all you can eat” pricing model. Sadly the Amazon store says it’s not compatible with my new Fire 10″ HD, and it doesn’t show up at all on the Store on my tablet. I suspect what Amazon mean is it competes too hard with the Amazon-owned Comixology.

Instapaper: “there’s definitely something wrong…”

Mobile Industry Review tests “Pocket vs. Instapaper”. I’m seriously looking at Paper, as I’m starting to loose count of how many times I’ve seen this frustrating notice from Instapaper, when trying to save out a Kindle .mobi collection of articles. The worst of this is, the wording suggests the user has done something wrong. When any regular user knows that it’s Instapaper that’s failed. If Instapaper can’t keep their servers online, and insults their users during such failures, then why bother with it when there are alternatives?

Amazon Global Store

Need a book that’s on Amazon.com but not on Amazon.uk? Amazon now have a searchable Global Store giving UK customers access to goods from around the world, with overseas shipping, tax and UK customs charges all pre-calculated. It’s pretty empty at present, though, with no search results at all for simple things like “tablet” or “jacket” or “book”. Seriously Amazon, don’t do the mega-publicity thing until the store is up. But it may improve in the future and, by encouraging U.S. sellers to sell outside the U.S., give access to otherwise unobtainable paper books.

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