Fresh Pop Culture
Reports began circulating last month that Amazon Prime's annual fee would be increasing, and today comes official word from the online mega-store. The price for the service, which offers streaming video, free two-day shipping and some other perks, has been raised from $79 a year to $99 a year.
There’s a trend with the online giants like Google and Facebook, to create algorithms that resemble the way a human brain works in order to better serve up search queries or photo tagging. Netflix is also getting involved, but in a different way. The streaming movie service has always done a better than average job of recommending films and shows to users based on their habits.
Amazon Prime is, in my opinion, the only way to shop right now. I’ll get down on some local trinket shops to find that one-of-a-kind doohickey for the wife’s birthday, but as a rule I go Prime. And I go hard for the service. In addition to “free” two-day shipping, the service includes a Kindle library and streaming videos with no additional cost. After nearly a decade the cost of Prime may be going up, and the news is causing a bit of controversy.
Maybe someday, years from now, I’ll look back at the expression of curiosity mingled with disbelief on my face when I watched Amazon’s “Prime Air” video and I’ll laugh, because maybe in that not-so-distant future, unmanned aerial vehicles delivering packages to our doorstep in thirty minutes or less will be standard. But in the present day, it seems like something out of science fiction, and yet, Amazon appears to be working toward making it a reality.
Need help figuring out what to read next? Amazon released their list of Best Books of 2013, a selection of 100 “editors’ picks” as well as Top 20 lists in over two dozen categories, from Children’s & Teen to Cookbooks to Celebrity Picks. And nothing says “fill up your Kindle with all of these books” better than the helpful (free) guide Amazon has made available for all U.S. customers.
Popularity of a book doesn't automatically translate to box office success. For example, young adults seem to love Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, but that didn't do much for the film's opening box office, and the planned sequel has since been put on hold.
Following up on their excellent AutoRip feature and Whispersync for Voice, Amazon is introducing "Matchbook," a new incentive that offers a discounted price for select eBooks if you purchase or previously purchased the print edition of the book. This feature will go into effect this October, so if you're a Kindle reader who's ever purchased a print book from Amazon at any point since 1995, you may benefit from this feature come next month.
As we grow up, birthdays become a bit less of a gift affair and more of a cause for quiet celebration or maybe cake at the office or some good food and drinks with friends. There's also the inevitable flood of Facebook messages from all of your friends and acquaintances wishing you an awesome day, which, let's face it, is kind of great. Because when you're a grown-up, it's considered uncool to announce your birthday wherever you go.
My sister has a Kindle Fire, and my nephews can't keep their hands off it. They love it for the games, but the oldest is getting to reading age, which is partially why the promotional video caught my attention. The other reason is because, as a child of the 80s and as someone who was about my nephew's age when Reading Rainbow was first airing on PBS, I'm especially appreciative of the mentioned Reading Rainbow App for the Kindle Fire, not to mention LeVar Burton's appearance in the promo.
If the success of series like Fifty Shades of Grey and The Mortal Instruments tell us anything, it's that fanfiction can take a writer places. In the case of the former, E.L. James' steamy novel is said to have been developed from Twilight fan fiction. And Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments series, is known to have dabbled in other writers' worlds before penning her own series.
Just when I was sure I'd said every positive thing I could say about eReaders, and more specifically, my Kindle, Amazon comes out with an ad that focuses on kids and their love of reading. It caused me to wonder if my own reading habits would have been any different had eReaders existed during my youth. I've concluded that the answer is yes and no. In the end, what it comes down to is a love of reading. Books are the ultimate transportation device into the imagination.
Amazon.com announced the third annual list of Most Well-Read Cities in America this week, revealing that - once again - Alexandria, VA topped the list, which is determined by compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format since June of last year (2012), on a per capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents. So if your town didn't make the cut, it may simply be a matter of population, from the sound of it.
Whether you currently purchase CDs through Amazon, or you ever did at any point since 1998, Amazon's AutoRip feature certainly has its benefits. For one thing, those of us who maybe didn't take the best care of the CDs we bought from Amazon, or who've lost them over the years have access to digital versions of some of the albums we paid for more than a decade ago. And for another, it's an incentive to purchase the CD version of an album now.
If you bought a CD from Amazon.com at any point since 1998, you may be in for a treat. Amazon.com introduced their new AutoRip feature, which offers customers a free MP3 version of the CD they purchased (limited to certain albums). That in itself may not be cause to celebrate, especially if you stopped buying CDs years ago, but the feature works retroactively, which means if you purchased an AutoRip-compatible CD from Amazon.com at any point in the last fifteen years, you should have a digital version waiting for you on your Amazon cloud player right now.
Those who get most, if not all, of their music from iTunes may be unaware that Amazon.com occasionally offers amazing deals for mp3 albums. Just the other day, we pointed you in the direction of the Les Miserables highlights soundtrack, which Amazon is (still) offering for the low price of $5.00 to purchase/download. Today the online store is offering a number of popular albums for even less than that.